Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

Director: Ari Sandel

Writer: Rob Lieber (Screenplay) Rob Lieber, Darren Lemke (Story)

Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Ken Jeong, Chris Parnell

 

Plot: Two young friends find a magic book that brings a ventriloquist’s dummy to life.


Tagline – Halloween comes to life.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Fun as it Should Be

 

Story: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween when college bound Sarah (Iseman) is left to look after her little brother Sonny (Taylor) and his friend Sam (Harris) who have their own business known as the ‘Junk Bros’, the two discover Slappy while on the job and must deal with the psychotic dummy.

The three soon find themselves needing to fight off Slappy and his creations, leading to them needing to uncover the book by R.L. Stine which can stop his reign of terror, bringing to life the creations from the books.

 

Thoughts on Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

 

Characters – Sarah is the older sister, she is about to head off to college if she can figure out how to write her application letter. She must reluctantly babysit her younger brother and his friend, while dealing with her own personal problems, even if this could bring her the answer she requires. Sonny is the younger brother that gets himself into trouble a lot, when it comes to his creation, along with his best friend Sam. Sam is the wise talking of the two he offers the business, he must help solve the problem of Slappy. Kathy is the single mother forced to work longer hours to make sure her kids have the future, she remains calm through the chaos going on through the film.

PerformancesThe performances are simple enough, the younger stars, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Caleel Harris are good for what they have to do, only to not be on the same level of the previous film. Wendi McLendon-Covey gets the basic parent role done without bring too much new to the character.

StoryThe story here sees the creations of R.L. Stine coming to life causing chaos in a city once again. This is where the story falls flat quickly because the story feels like just a remake of the first, the Goosebumps books are an amazing source of stories and maybe instead of just throwing every monster made into one story, we should think about making one of the stories into a movie, or even as an anthology. We try to have some family bonding put into the story and even elements of coming of age, with Sarah needing to decide her future. In the end this story just isn’t that interesting and by the end you won’t have missed much.

Adventure/Comedy/FamilyThe adventure takes the teenagers into a battle that only they can solve, which is basic to say the least, but they must save the town. The comedy is hit or miss without being much laugh out loud material. This plays into the family side of the film because more of the younger audience will be enjoying this one.

SettingsThe film is set in a town which is considered small where the people need to get out of if they are going to make something with their life.

Special EffectsThe effects in this film are good for the most part, the creations all look like they could be in the world.


Scene of the Movie – 
Gummy bear fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story not being original.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic sequel that just copies the original too much, it offers nothing new and is just passable watch for the younger audience.

 

Overall: Simple and not original.

Rating

 

 

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Before I Wake (2016)

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writer: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, Topher Bousquet, Dash Mihot

 

Plot: A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps.


Tagline – Fear your dreams

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Surprising Horror

 

Story: Before I Wake starts when couple Jessie (Bosworth) and Mark (Jane) decide to adopt after losing their own son, they take in Cody (Tremblay) who seems like a pleasant young boy that there seems to be a mystery about why other families haven’t been able to care for him.

The days that follow show that Cody has an ability to bring his creation to life during his sleep, first with butterflies, then Sean but what comes from his dreams also comes from his nightmares in the form of the Canker Man.

 

Thoughts on Before I Wake

 

Characters – Jessie is the mother of the house, she is filled with guilt because of the death of their son, she doesn’t sleep much and gets addicted to the idea that Cody can give her time with her late son. Mark is the father of the house, he has grieved in his own way and is eager to become friends with Cody as quickly as possible to fill the void he has been left with. Cody is the young boy the couple adopt, he has been going through families even though he comes off pleasant, he isn’t a bad kid, he just has his dreams and nightmares come to life.

PerformancesKate Bosworth is good in this leading role being what we need for this film, it isn’t truly stand out but does everything it needs to, Thomas Jane works well too and Jacob Tremblay also goes a great job for the young actor who seems to be wonderful throughout.

StoryThe story follows a family that has lost their own child and now want to adopt to help move to the next stage of their life, the problem comes from the idea that the child’s dreams come to life when he is sleeping. We are in the horror world which does take the back burner to everything because we are dealing with personal loss and trying to move on. We do have horror moments too, the idea that a child could dream things that come to life which brings wonder and terror unlike anything the adults could imagine. We do get an investigation too which again is something we always see and works for these types of films.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy involved in this film plays into the idea that dreams and nightmare can come to life bringing new horror to the victims.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the activities in the home which makes sense because that is the main place you would sleep.

Special EffectsThe effects show us how what can be created in a child’s mind and just how it can bring joy and terror into the world, the moment he awakes if just vanishes.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth is wonderful to see unfold.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I got confused when Cody was attacked in his sleep.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror that does bring us into a word that can be filled with wonder and terror without even realizing it.

 

Overall: Wonderful horror with beauty visuals.

Rating

 

 

Scrooged (1988)

Director: Richard Donner

Writer: Mitch Glazer, Michael O’Donoghue (Screenplay) Charles Dickens (Novel)

Starring: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, John Glover, Bobcat Goldthwait

 

Plot: A selfish, cynical T.V. executive is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve.

Tagline – The spirits will move you in odd and hysterical ways.
Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Reimagining of Christmas Carol

 

Story: Scrooged starts as we meet TV executive Frank Cross (Murray) who is preparing the Christmas line up with his own live production of Scrooge. He puts pressure on his assistant Grace, fires staff who go against him in Eliot (Goldthwait) and pushes the boundaries of television.

When Frank gets visited by his former boss Lew Hayward (Forsythe) he gets an encounter from beyond the grave that warns him he will get a visit from three ghosts over the next day to show him his past, present and future.

 

Thoughts on Scrooged

 

Characters – Frank Cross is the ruthless TV executive that sees Christmas as a chance to prove his value by getting the highest ratings, when he pushes people to far he gets a visit from three ghosts that show him the errors of his way, but can he change. Frank is one of the first characters in a Scrooge role that he is going on the same trip, so he doesn’t believe it on the same levels. Claire is the former love that Frank let go for his own career, she was the only person that could get through his selfish ways in the past.

PerformancesThis film is a Bill Murray vehicle, it was designed for his comic timing and quick wit as a stand-alone performer which is something he hasn’t done much previously. It is strange because I am not the biggest fan of his comedy, but in this role, I enjoyed his performance that is filled with arrogance to make us hate his character while also being able to sympathise with him. The rest of the cast work well for the film that show us how Murray can get the best out of many different talents.

StoryThe story is a different take on the classic Christmas Carol, first the film shows characters who know the story, so they know where the ghosts are taking them, which is different and refreshing to see. I can see the traditionalist not enjoying this version, but let’s be honest how many times can you tell the same story? the problems I do have with the film is that we don’t get the full impact of what the supporting characters of the story get enough time see their impact on the story, in the way they were originally designed.

Comedy/Fantasy/RomanceThe comedy comes from Bill Murray, it only comes around him which can give and take from the bigger picture too often, the fantasy and romance both suffer in the same feint.

SettingsThe film is mostly set inside the TV studio showing how Frank sees the characters and the production going on and how he treats them.

Special EffectsWhile the effects are not used very often, but when they do they all work very well for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Final Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The dramatic moments are lacking the punch needed.

Final ThoughtsIf you want to see a different version of the Christmas Carol, this works because it brings us into a world where the book exists.

 

Overall: Nice little Christmas Film.

Rating

 

 

Aquaman (2018)

Director: James Wan

Writer: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall (Screenplay) Geoff John, James Wan, Will Beall, Mort Weisinger, Paul Norris (Story/Characters)

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

 

Plot: Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.


Tagline – He’s not from around here.

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Blast

 

Story: Aquaman starts as we learn about Arthur’s (Momoa) parents, mother the Queen of Atlantis Atlanna (Kidman) and father a mortal lighthouse keeper Tom (Morrison), Atlanna had to leave Arthur on land after her failed attempt to escape the rulers of Atlantis. We see how Arthur is being pressured into going to Atlantis and claiming his throne by Mera (Heard) to stop his half-brother King Orm (Wilson) who wants a war with the land by uniting the armies underwater.

Arthur must go on the quest to unlock his own position in Atlantis to prevent a war which will have mass causalities, along the way he will learn the truth about the ways of the Atlanteans if he is going to take the throne.

 

Thoughts on Aquaman

 

Characters – Arthur is the Aquaman, not wanting to be a hero on either land or in the ocean, he has always been against Atlantis because of what they did to his mother, he does protect the water from the helpless, while not being as friendly as the other heroes in this universe. He must go on a quest to take on his half-brother and become the true king of Atlantis. He does try to give us plenty of one liners through all the film. Mera is the princess and daughter to King Nereus, she knows that Arthur is the right person for the throne, though she is arranged to marry King Orm, she does come off as the smarter of the two while on the quest. Vulko has trained both to be prepared for fights, he is the advisor to King Orm, even if he believes that Arthur is the rightful king. King Orm wants to go to war with the land, he believes and is tired of how the oceans are treated, he wants to unite the different factions even if it means by going with force. He will use both sides to his advantage to put himself in the position of power. Atlanna is the mother of both Arthur and Orm, killed for her actions, one of the few people that commanded respect from all kingdoms. We do have the kings from each kingdom being pushed into following King Orm and Manta who wants revenge for Arthur’s action, he is human and a pirate, even if he ends up looking like a Power Rangers villain.

PerformancesJason Momoa is great in the leading role, he looks like he is having fun at times, which feels important, while he can get serious when needed, he also looks the part too. Amber Heard is good in her role where she gets to fill in the gaps for the audience. Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman and Dolph Lundgren are good in the supporting roles which you could watch them play for days. Patrick Wilson deserves praise too because he is one of the best villains in the DC universe.

StoryThe story gives Aquaman his first solo adventure after his appearance in Justice League, where he must learn about Atlantis and take on his half-brother before a war between the land and the ocean starts. This is kind of an origin story, which seems to be the way DC are doing them, lets us meet them in a team up movie before moving into their own story, this is that movie. The idea that two half-brothers are fighting to power does seem to borrow from the Thor first movie, which does have a different game as Arthur is the one that doesn’t want to be king. The idea that one man must learn his place and stand up and be counted is a great hero story which is needed for Arthur.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action in this film is good with the battle in Sicily being the highlight for me, we get a unique use of camerawork too for shooting the action. The adventure does take Arthur around the world in search for answers above or below the ocean. The fantasy world plays into the idea that Atlantis has been living under the ocean to make their own technology which again plays into the sci-fi elements being used in the film.

SettingsThe film does use the settings well, with Sicily being a new fight location, though the underwater sequences look fantastic to be absorb within.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are fantastic for the ambitious scale of the world needed to be created, there are a couple of shots which do look weaker than the rest though.


Scene of the Movie –
Sicily fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story does feel safe for an origin story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a blast for an origin film, we can have a lot of fun with everything happening in the film and we now have a character in the DC universe to make us excited that we don’t only have Wonder Woman.

 

Overall: Great fun to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001) Revisited

This is a revisited review, I first did this as one of my very first reviews in 2012.

 

Director: Simon West

Writer: Patrick Massett, John Zinman (Screenplay) Sara B Cooper, Mike Werb, Michael Colleary (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig, Chris Barrie, Leslie Phillips

 

Plot: Video game adventurer Lara Croft comes to life in a movie where she races against time and villains to recover powerful ancient artefacts.


Tagline – Who Is Lara Croft?

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pure Fun

 

Story: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starts on the anniversary of Lara Croft’s (Jolie) father death, with a once in a lifetime planetary alinement happening, Lara just so happens to discover the all seeing eye in her mansion and now she is involved in an adventure she is interested in. Lara’s connection lead her to Manfred Powell (Glen) a man assigned to locate the eye for secret society that want to use its powers for their own desires.

Once Manfred takes the artefact, Lara must go on adventure showing her tomb raiding skills hoping to stop them powerful device causing havoc on the world.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

 

Characters – Lara Croft lifted straight from the video game, the Lady of Croft Manor, she has found treasures all over the world becoming slightly bored of the popular location, getting a hidden message from her later father Lara’s interest spikes and soon she will be battle a secret society that are using her latest discovery to hopefully control time. We know she is the kick ass action heroine from the video games, calm through each situation, competitive rivalry with Alex West and the best in her field. Lord Richard Croft had died before the story starts, he appears in dreams guiding Lara as he was the one that trained her, he started learning about this event long before it started. Manfred Powell is hired by an underground society that want control of time, he will do anything to get what he wants to prove his value to the society and doesn’t lift a finger when it comes to searching for treasure. Alex West is the American rival to Lara, he works for money over desire to find treasure even if the two do just have an honest rivalry. Bryce and Hillary are the two most trusted people in Lara’s life, one works on her tech while the other looks after the manor.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie was the perfect choice in the year 2001 for this role, she was the best action heroine for the time, had the look of Lara Croft down to perfection as well as the swagger filled attitude. Jon Voight while only in a couple of scenes is good as the father figure needed for Lara. Iain Glen is good as the calculated villain who can kill just as quickly as Lara, he shows the calmness through the film to stay a threat in the film. Daniel Craig as the rival tomb raider is fine, his accent is his weakness though. Noah Taylor and Chris Barrie get most of the laughs which keeps the story on a lighter note.

StoryThe story gives us one of Lara Croft adventures as a Tomb Raider against the Illuminati. The story shows us an established Lara, accepting her place in the high society with connections in the antique world, we see she is trained in combat and this helps us get right into the story. the story shows us how Lara is almost bored of the generic treasure hunts and this knew one sparks her interest once again. When it comes to the story it unfolds as you would imagine, going from one location to the next location for the next chapter of the adventure as we get the different parts to complete the quest.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is set pieces set up on the different adventures Lara is on, be it in the tombs or in the manor which get bigger as the film goes on.

SettingsThe settings take us from the manor, to the tombs in the jungle and Siberia as well as Venice. Each place would be where you could imagine Lara going on her adventures.

Special EffectsThe effects are a mix of good and bad, for the time however they would have been excellent to watch, with the stone figures in the tomb sequence.


Scene of the Movie –
First Tomb sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain effects have dated.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action adventure bring to life one of the most iconic video game characters in Lara Croft.

 

Overall: Action adventure worth watching.

Rating