Alpha (2018)

Director: Albert Hughes

Writer: Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt (Screenplay) Albert Hughes (Story)

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Marcin Kowalczyk, Jens Hulten, Natassia Malthe, Spencer Bogaert

 

Plot: In the prehistoric past, a young man struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe during a buffalo hunt. He finds a similarly lost wolf companion and starts a friendship that would change humanity.


Tagline – Leaders are born from survival.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Adventure

 

Story: Alpha starts as we meet Keda (Smit-McPhee) a young man and member of a prehistoric tribe, this is his chance to go on the hunt with the chief and his father Tau (Johannesson) to complete his path to manhood in the tribe, along with the other recruits, the week doesn’t end well for the young man when he becomes separated from his tribe.

Keda must find his tribe while dealing with the perils of the wilderness including the wolves, one of which he rescues making an unlikely friendship in the harsh world he is travelling through.

 

Thoughts on Alpha

 

Characters – Keda is the young man, the son of the chief of his tribe, he must go on his first hunt which only leaves him alone in the world. he must earn fast how to survive this environment with his caring nature showing with a wounded wolf that he nurses back to help. Alpha is the wolf that was hunting Keda, only to get wounded, she sticks around after being nursed back to health which brings her a new connection, one with a human. The two remain loyal to each other through the bitter winter which will test both of them. Tau is the chief of the tribe and father to Keda, he wants his son to follow in his footsteps showing strength to the rest of the tribe and wisdom to his son.

PerformancesKodi Smit-McPhee is fantastic in the leading role, he has to go through such a physical performance while balancing the emotion impact of believing he could be alone in the world. he does have to deal with most of the work in this film and the connect he has with the wolf. The supporting cast is good with what they need to do without having to do as much as Kodi.

StoryThe story follows one young man that gets separated from his tribe and must figure out how to get home, making a new friend along the way, a wolf. This does follow the survival story very clearly and the bond between man and animal starts coming through during the film. even with the formulaic storyline you are kept on edge through out as we want to see if Keda and Alpha can make it home. The connection between the two makes us see how humans and wolfs became one together. The simple story is what keeps us happy.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure takes Keda who is part of the tribe through the prehistoric world with threats that a solo man would be struggling to survive through. This does have moments that would be slightly too dark for the younger family audience.

SettingsThe world created is beautiful, we have the open plains to the snow filled background each condition becomes more difficult as we go on the adventure.

Special EffectsThe effects are strong for the most part, we do have moments that are not good but for the scale of the film should be applauded for the world we see.


Scene of the Movie –
The tiger attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not understanding the bison hunt.

Final ThoughtsThis is a visual treat for the audience with a connection between man and dog that is fantastic to see, the story might be generic but it works well.

 

Overall: Entertaining adventure

Rating

 

 

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Max (2015)

Director: Boaz Yakin

Writer: Boaz Yakin, Sheldon Lettich (Screenplay)

Starring: Thomas Hayden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali

 

Plot: A Malinois dog that helped American Marines in Afghanistan returns to the United States and is adopted by his handler’s family after suffering a traumatic experience.


Tagline – Best Friend. Hero. Marine.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Movie

 

Story: Max starts as we meet Kyle Wincott (Amell) an American Marine who works with a tracker dog Max, who helps locate dangers in Afghanistan. When Kyle is killed in action, his family, Ray (Church), Pamela (Graham) and little brother Justin (Wiggins) who is a gamer high school student get to meet Max for the first time and only see his aggressive nature, apart from around Justin.

They take Max home as he is suffering PTSD and the only person he will listen to and remain calm around is Justin, with a new friend in Carmen (Xitlali), Justin learns to take responsibility for the first time in his life.

 

Thoughts on Max

 

Characters – Max is the loyal marine trained dog that has served in Afghanistan locating potential threats for his soldiers. He sees his handler killed in action leaving him suffering with PTSD and now he needs a new owner, and the brother of his handler is the only one he will listen to. Justin is the younger brother of Kyle, he has spent more time on video games and illegal deals, not having responsibility needed like his brother. When Max enters his life, he learns about taking responsibility and following in his brother’s path. Ray is the father of the boys, he served before which has made him patriotic towards the cause while dealing with the grief of losing his son too.

PerformancesJosh Wiggins as the younger brother is good in this movie, we do see this sort of character a lot and he handles it well. Thomas Hayden Church is good in the supporting role, but if we are honest it is the dog that is the star of the show here.

StoryThe story here shows the effects war can have on a dog that has been trained to locate threats, but the aftermath of losing that handler with their connection. We see the loyalty shown by the dog and how he can teach responsibility to the next generation of family. This is the strongest part of the movie, the rest does feel like a version of a home alone sort of thing because we follow a story about Max knowing right.

Adventure/Family This does show the family needing to come together after their own tragedy which will give their youngster member a chance for an adventure.

SettingsWe get a small look at the war scenario that Max has been and how he must adjust to normal life, which is where the struggle comes.


Scene of the Movie –
Max search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me –  I feel there was more to the Reyes story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie, that should be seen by dog owners that understand loyalty that could be given to the owner.

 

Overall: Dog Owners dream film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – # – Cars 3 (2017)

Director: Brian Fee

Writer: Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, Mike Rich (Screenplay) Brian Fee, Ben Queen, Eyal Podell, Jonathon E Stewart (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talent) Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, Armie Hammer

 

Plot: Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world.


Tagline – One last chance, One last dream

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Sequel

 

Story: Cars 3 starts as Lightning McQueen cruising his way to titles with two close competitors until hot shot rookie Jackson Storm with a brand-new model that increases speed and ability over Lightning and his older models which slowly go out of the sport, before he loses his spot on the grid.

Needing a make over, Lightning sees his team taken over by Sterling who could bring Lightning a new training program with trainer Cruz Ramirez, all to get back on the track and prove he hasn’t lost it.

 

Thoughts on Cars 3

 

Characters – Lightning McQueen is now one of the top drivers in the world, experienced on the field, that is until the next generation model comes through taking his spot on the track, now an aging star, his time might be up. He must prove he still has the skills to race against the younger cars, following the footsteps of many sport stars. Cruz is a trainer for Lightning new team, she helps young drivers prepare for racing without ever getting the chance to go on the road. She does have her own dreams and Lightning will help her learn these dreams. Jackson Storm is the hot shot new racer ready to become the star of the sport, he acts like he respects Lightning, only to be the cocky arrogant new driver. Sterling is the new owner and big fan of Lightning, he wants to give him a chance, the problem comes from needing to win and Lightning just won’t give his team that.

StoryThe story here sees Lightning McQueen reaching the end of his career, seeing the younger drivers taken his spot in the sport he loves. He must improve to compete, while learning valuable life lessons about stepping away from the spotlight on top on his own accord rather than being pushed out and forgotten. This story puts Lightning in a position that Doc Hudson had been and missed out on, his mentor manages to show him from his career the mistakes he made. This does always feel like an aging sports star sticking around longer than they should and ends up getting the same ideas that we see in the later Rocky movies. This does feel like the right sequel to the original with the time spent between the films.

Adventure/Comedy/Family/Sport The adventure side of this film does take Lightning back to his roots to learn his next step in the driving world, the comedy comes from the events that happen to Lightning along the way, they will give you laugh when needed without being used to often. It would be fair to say the whole family can enjoy this one and get enjoyment from different moments of the story. the sports side of the film is big because it shows us just how a star of the game can be left behind too quickly.

SettingsThe film returns to older settings which show Lightning needing to go soul searching through different worlds away from the glitz and glamour of the normal racing world.

AnimationPixar are the leading team in visual animation, nothing in this movies look can be questioned as it looks perfect in every single shot.


Scene of the Movie –
The make it or break it race.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is a very safe sequel.

Final ThoughtsThis is a safe and enjoyable sequel to the much-loved franchise, it gets the story correct for the time between this and the first film which helps by forgetting the second film.

 

Overall: Enjoyable respect filled sequel.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – Z – Zapped (2014)

Director: Peter DeLuise

Writer: Billy Eddy, Matt Eddy, Rachelle Skoretz (Screenplay) Leslie Margolis (Novel)

Starring: Zendaya, Chanelle Peloso, Spencer Boldman, Emilia McCarthy, Adam DiMarco, William Ainscough

 

Plot: When Zoey’s mom remarries, Zoey finds it hard adjusting to her new life – no longer the only kid in the family.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disney Movie 101

 

Story: Zapped starts when Zoey (Zendaya) moves after her mother remarries, she must get use to living with four guys suddenly, the school is different that she is used to with Rachel (Peloso) being the first to show her friendship and it doesn’t take her long to meet the school heartthrob Jackson (Boldman).

Zoey’s life changes after she downloads an app to try and control the family dog only for it to get amplified to being about to boys which she starts to use to her advantage to clean up the problems in her life.

 

Thoughts on Zapped

 

Characters – Zoey has lived a normal life with her mother, she must learn to change after her mother gets married and she must move in with his family which includes 3 boys. She must learn to adapt to her new school and turns to an app on her phone to control the men in her life. She is the typical new girl that doesn’t get the welcome she should from most, but soon learns her place in the school with her new app. Rachel is one of the few people that welcomes Zoey, she is an outsider nervous at times even if she is confident in herself. Jackson is the school heartthrob with mystery about him, he takes a shine to Zoey which only makes the other girls at the school jealous. Taylor is the dance team leader that doesn’t want to let Zoey be part of the team.

PerformancesZendaya takes the leading role and it is clear that this movie was built for her, she is good in the leading role showing both sides of her character. Chanelle Peloso gives us plenty of laughs in her role as the best friend. Spencer Boldman as the mysterious boy at school is good for the film. Emilia McCarthy does struggle to be the bad girl we need her to be, this is due to writing rather than acting though.

StoryThe story here shows how the new girl to a family and school struggles to deal with the boys in her life and when her phone gives her an app which can control them she uses it to make life easier, with the normal consequences. This teaches Zoey a life lesson that she must learn to change because not everything will go her way, no matter how much she wants to control things, it does show us how difficult starting a new school can be this almost shows how people can dream a way to move away from the struggle. We also learn about new family life, which is weird because the family on move in together after the wedding.

Comedy/Family/FantasyThe comedy in this film comes from how Zoey controls the guys and just what happens with different instructions. It is one the whole family can get a laugh out of because of the different moments of comedy with the fantasy side of the film coming from the idea a phone app can control people.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in and around high school which puts us through the normal locations we would imagine seeing problems taking place in.


Scene of the Movie –
Dance off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Surely the family would have tried living together before getting married.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those Disney channel movies that will hit the target audience perfectly, it knows the strengths and plays into them.

 

Overall: The target audience will enjoy.

Rating

 

 

The Flintstones Viva Rock Vegas (2000)

Director: Brian Levant

Writer: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont, Jim Cash, Jack Epp Jr (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Addy, Stephen Baldwin, Kristen Johnston, Jane Krakowski, Joan Collins, Thomas Gibson, Alan Cumming

 

Plot: In this live-action prequel to the 1994 comedy hit, the Flintstones and the Rubbles go on a trip to Rock Vegas, where Wilma is pursued by playboy Chip Rockefeller.


Tagline – Get ready to rock!

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not On the Same Level

 

Story: The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas starts with Fred (Addy) and Barney (Baldwin) graduate into employment and head out to celebrate. Wilma (Johnston) is looking to escape her life from the rich friends and family she has lived in and finds herself meeting waitress Betty (Krakowski) becoming friends.

When the two friends meet they fall in love with Wilma’s past family being the rich gets the couples an invite to Rock Vegas for a holiday of a lifetime.

 

Thoughts on The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

 

Characters – Fred Flintstone is the working class citizen of Bedrock, he wants to meet a woman and he does meet Wilma, only to show us that he has a dark side when it comes to gambling. Barney is the bumbling best friend of Fred, which is strange because this time he is made out to be a bigger idiot than Fred. Wilma is escaping her life from the rich which leads her to Betty and then Fred while Betty is a waitress that falls in love with Barney. We don’t get the full character development we need for these characters this time around.

PerformancesMark Addy does fit the Fred Flintstone role well and to be honest the performances are not bad they just don’t have much to work with even if they do look the part more than the first cast.

StoryThis is a prequel and looks at how the couples met, which is fine, but not something we needed to see, we know how this story is going to end which also takes away from the story because we know Fred and Wilma and Barney and Betty end up together, so any mistakes made along the way mean nothing. We also focus on the idea of trying to do too many parodies of modern times.

Comedy/Family/RomanceThe comedy seem thicker than last time out, mostly because it comes too often with too many pop culture references which have dated badly, the family will struggle to enjoy this because there are not enough jokes for the older audience, with the romance being here working even if we know how it ends.

SettingsThe look of Bedrock still looks great and the idea of Rock Vegas works for the fil showing the bigger idea the movie wanted to give us.

Special EffectsThe practical effects do work for the film but when the CGI get used we see the short comings the film has.


Scene of the Movie –
The Viva Rock Vegas number.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Playing a romance angle on characters we know get married.

Final ThoughtsThis movie doesn’t hit on the same level as the first, the performances are fine, but the story just falls flat on its face.

 

Overall: Substandard sequel.

Rating