First Man (2018)

Director: Damien Chazelle

Writer: Josh Singer (Screenplay) James R Hansen (Book)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, Ciaran Hinds, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

 

Plot: A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.


Tagline – Experience the impossible journey to the Moon.

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Biopic

 

Story: First Man starts as we see how Neil Armstrong (Gosling) can solve problems in flight with one of his test mission to the limits of the atmosphere going wrong before he saved it, we meet his family wife Janet (Foy) and children Richard and Karen, we see how they suffered a tragic loss of young Karen, which drove him to apply to become an astronaut.

We follow the astronaut training program which showed Neil’s abilities to solve problems even after seeing his friends around him lose their lives to the pursuit of space. We follow up to the legendary mission he will always been known for as he was the first man to walk on the moon.

 

Thoughts on First Man

 

Characters – These characters are and were real people, Neil Armstrong is always going to be remembered as the first man to walk on the moon, we see how this shy man managed to overcome his own personal tragedies to achieve this as we see how he reacts and deals with everything that gets thrown at him until he made history. Janet is his wife, she also suffers through the tragedies, she will give Neil all the support he needs to make sure he will keep his promises to come home, we mostly watch how she must keep the life for their children normal and calm. Edward Higgins White is one of the fellow astronauts, one that becomes close friends with him through the training and the program, he is the one that will offer a shoulder if Neil ever needed it. We meet many famous names from the astronaut programs each gets there moment, we know Buzz Aldrin was onboard Apollo 11 and of the other big named astronauts we know Jim Lovell from the Apollo 13 mission.

PerformancesRyan Gosling gives us a magnificent performance as the icon of astronauts, he shows us how shy, timid and genius Neil was, never making him a cocky man, this simple performance makes you understand each emotion he is going through. Claire Foy sets away from the small screen to give us a flawless performance as the wife who must remain strong, but dealing with anxiety of the unknown through each mission. The rest of the cast are great through the film, each actor gets to pay the respect to the man they are performing as.

StoryThe story here follows Neil Armstrong’s life from 1961 to his moon landing in 1969. We do have plenty of interesting aspects to his life, be it the battle to remain strong after his daughter’s death or the feeling of proving himself worthy of being part of the astronaut program. While these are all wonderful to watch, they do feel like they are being told, like, this is what happened here, then this, then this and so on. It never feels like a smooth story and the movie does make out that Neil was an excellent astronaut, but terrible PR man, he didn’t do anything stupid or risky, he lack charisma that other astronauts had, he was just the right choice for the job. The biggest warning you must have before going in, is that this does follow his life over the space program, yes, we do have parts of the space program and they are the most entertaining parts, but we also follow his life away from this.

Biopic/History8 years in the life of the most iconic man to go into space, we see his lowest point in his life, to the crowning achievement, nobody can ever take away from him. The history side of the film shows us the key moments in the space race, if you know the basics you will know these moments.

SettingsThe film recreates the settings brilliantly, be it the world around the space race, or the cockpits the astronauts get rammed into with little space for any freedom on these deadly missions.

Special EffectsThe effects are mesmerizing, when we are in space we are left stunned by the beauty of the views these men had. The film is also used to make it feel like it is shot for the same time the events took place.


Scene of the Movie –
Apollo 11

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many close ups.

Final ThoughtsAs a space race fan this manages to shed new light on the man who made history, it gave us brilliant performance, effects and shows us there was more behind the man than just the icon.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Romance – P – Pompeii (2014)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson (Screenplay)

Starring: Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland

 

Plot: A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.


Tagline – No warning. No escape

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Mindless Action

 

Story: Pompeii starts as the last Celt Milo (Harrington) as slaved turned gladiator gets transported to Pompeii for the last arena to show his power in. while Milo is being prepared for his latest fight against fearless gladiator Atticus (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who has one last fight before freedom. Outside his prison, Cassia (Browning) is being lined-up for any bachelors from around the world including Corvus (Sutherland) the man that led the army that butchered Milo’s family.

When Milo and Cassia meet they know they are in love, though the different positions making their love impossible, shown the true colours of Corvus, it is the volcano Mount Vesuvius that will decide these characters fates.

 

Thoughts on Pompeii

 

Characters – Milo is a Celt, his family was butchered when he was a young boy, now he is the last of his kind, a slave turned gladiator, one that is unbeaten in combat. He falls for Cassia the heir to the throne of Pompeii and once the destruction starts he must risk his life to save her. Cassia is the heir to the throne, not interested in the men she is being arranged with seeing something different in Milo, she is being forced to marry Corvus to save her family until the volcano strikes and she needs saving by her true love. Corvus is the evil ruler from Rome, he has conquered around the world killing millions, he will do anything to survive including killing innocent people and uses his position of power to do whatever he wants. Atticus is fellow gladiator who fights with honour even though this could be his last fight because winning would me freedom, he becomes friends with Milo as they work together to escape their enemies.

PerformancesKit Harrington freshly out of Game of Thrones step into this role and does a good job without needing to do too much with the fighting being great to watch. Emily Browning is good too which is same for most of the supporting cast, we do have a couple of weak performances and over the top Kiefer Sutherland is one you will laugh off.

StoryThe story here tries to create the normal Roman traditions on the eve of the Mount Vesuvius eruption. So we do need to break this down a little bit more, first the whole gladiator fighting for freedom and the love of the heir of the city is mostly forgettable, it is almost trying to pull a Titanic with this angle for a love story in the mist of a disaster. Once the eruption starts the story gets more interesting because we learn the true colour of characters, though we do know the outcome making certain moments in the escape feel almost pointless including one where Atticus saves a little girl.  For a disaster movie with elements around it, we have an entertaining enough story, just one that tries too hard to give a fictionally twist on a real event.

Action/Adventure/History/RomanceThe action in the film is good to watch and easily the highlight, we have different sword or weapon fights, chase sequences and destruction. You could easily say the adventure side of things is Milo trying to escape which is a fair enough game to be watching. Now the history, this is hard because this eruption was a real event, what was going on at the time isn’t as clear. Mixing the real events with this nonsense romantic angle doesn’t help though.

SettingsThe film does make us feel like we are in Pompeii for the most part, the destruction sequences show us just how much of a panic it would have been for the victims of the disaster.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are mixed, we get moments that could have been better mostly to do with the larger sequences though.


Scene of the Movie –
The eruption.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Milo in the gladiator time, really?

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough disaster movie that does the action well though it has a pointless romance angle.

 

Overall: Simple disaster movie.

Rating

 

 

The Senator (2018)

Director: John Curran

Writer: Taylor Allen, Andrew Logan (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Clarke, Kata Mara, Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffigan, Olivia Thirlby, Clancy Brown

 

Plot: Depicting Ted Kennedy’s involvement in the fatal 1969 car accident that claims the life of a young campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne.


Tagline – The Untold True Story

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Political Thriller

 

Story: The Senator starts on July 18th 1969, man is about to land on the moon and Senator Ted Kennedy (Clarke) the last remaining Kennedy child is start his early Presidential campaign. That night Ted and friends are celebrating when he drives one of the campaign strategists Mary Jo Kopechne (Mara) home, when they are involved in an accident, killing Mary Jo.

The morning after the news breaks and Ted must use all of his team to help come up with a smart enough story that will cover him from any wrong doing, the bonus for Ted, man just landed on the moon is the biggest story in the world.

 

Thoughts on The Senator

 

Characters – When we look at the character, we must first acknowledge that these were real people. Ted Kennedy is the last of the Kennedy siblings, always in the shadows of his brothers, now embarking on his own journey to become President. He is involved in a car accident which leads to a death of a young woman and we see how he is planning to keep his career on the right path showing how difficult each decision he was making. Mary Jo Kopechne was the victim, she has been a key part of the previous Kennedy campaigns with her work and Ted was recruiting to his latest one. Joseph Gargan is the most trusted man to Ted, he knows what should have been done and gets increasingly frustrated with the attempted cover up. Joseph Kennedy is the father of the Kennedy’s he wants to see Ted follow in his brother’s footsteps always feeling let down by his last remaining son.

PerformancesJason Clarke is the leading role is wonderful, when it comes to serious roles he hasn’t always been given the leading role, here he shows us that he is ready to be taken seriously in a leading role. Kate Mara is good for her smaller part which is all we needed. Ed Helms surprises in a serious role because we are used to see him in comedic roles. Bruce Dern shines in role which shows him in a disabled role where he still shows the disappointment on his face.

StoryThe story we follow takes us into the week surrounding the death of Mary Jo Kopechne which had an impact on the political career of Ted Kennedy. The story shows us how the Kennedy camp was trying to put a spin on the accident to clear Ted of any wrong doing. This plays into how this is an incident is one that remained a talking point even though it was overshadowed by the bigger story in human history. Seeing how the politics system was run to spin any story to show innocence to the keep campaign strong even if it means stepping on the people who are affected by the act.  This is strange because we always seem to get two major news events together where one will end ups getting forgotten.  

History/ThrillerThis is a look at a moment in history that would have had a lot bigger story nearly any other day of the week, one that never really got too the truth about. This does keep us on edge as we wait to see just what will happen if the truth was to come out.

SettingsThe settings in this film show how behind closed doors the operation to clean up a political disaster works.


Scene of the Movie –
The speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It would have been interesting to see more of the girl’s impact after the death of their friend.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good political historical drama that shows us just how one story about one of the biggest iconic family’s in America history the Kennedys.

 

Overall: Interesting political thriller.

Rating

 

 

Summer of ’67 (2018)

Director: Sharon Wilharm

Writer: Sharon Wilharm (Screenplay)

Starring: Rachel Schrey, Cameron Gilliam, Bethany Davenport, Christopher Dalton, Sam Brooks, Sharonne Lanier, Jerrold Edwards

 

Plot: Based on real life events, Summer of ’67 brings to life the turbulent times of the sixties and the struggles faced by the men and women impacted by the Vietnam War.


Tagline – Their lives will never be the same again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Touching Look at the Effects of War

 

Story: Summer of 67 starts as the war on Vietnam is starting, we head to a small-town where we meet recently married Milly (Schrey) and her sister Kate (Davenport), Milly’s husband Gerald (Gilliam) is hoping he doesn’t get drafted, facing the reality he can’t get another job until he has done his service, while Beth’s boyfriend Peter (Dalton) would rather enlist that head off to college.

With Gerald and Peter going on the same ship the USS Forrestal, Mill facing bring their second child into the world alone, waiting for his return, while Beth looks to start searching for her future with hippie Van (Brooks). We get to see the effects of the separation as we get to see one more couple Reggie (Edwards) and Ruby Mae (Lanier) who have final found each other, but are being separated too.

 

Thoughts on Summer of 67

 

Characters – Milly and Kate both witnesses a tragic event in the opening of the film, Milly the older sister gets married and starts a family, one hoping to have their own home, but watches how her husband must go to war to be given an opportunity at a better job. Kate young and more impressable at her college age, with a college sweetheart, that wants to go to war, she is against any war which leads her into the arms of a hippie who is against the war. The two both are left waiting to see if their loves will return. Gerald is the husband of Milly who has no other option but to go to war, to give his family a future of stability. Peter is the college aged man that must choose between war or college. Van is one of the hippies that starts to sway Kate’s opinion on war with his anti-war views. We do get to see Ruby Mae who is a maid for the family and her new love Reggie, which does take a back burner even though they are going through the same situation.

PerformancesRachel Schrey is great in her role, we see how she makes her character need to be the big sister, wife and mother to three different characters each showing the strength she used through the anxious times away from her love. Bethany Davenport is good in her role, we get to see how she makes her late-teenage character be so unsure how to think about the war situation. When it comes to the male performers, they are good, but do have less time on screen. Sharonne Lanier is also good in her role, even if we could have given her more screen time.

StoryThe story here follows the wives and girlfriends that are left together in small-town while their partners head off to Vietnam. We have three women who while are around the same age (Well within 10 years) who are at different love stages, one with kids, one at the crossroads and one just fallen, this helps understand the different feelings the characters would be going through. Seeing how they try to stay together through the unknown, not knowing other than short television updates gives us a reflection of the war genre. This does touch on a real event, which if you know your history you will know the direction things will go. The best part of this not taking us to the war side of the film because we don’t need just another war movie.

History/RomanceThe does give us a look at the people left behind during the Vietnam war, this will look at people watching at home. The romance side of the film shows us how the three women are left to continue their lives while being unsure of the safety of their own loved ones.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small-town setting which does show us the unity between the women who are left behind waiting.


Scene of the Movie –
The television report.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t get enough time to watch the Ruby Mae and Reggie side of the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that shows us just how damaging going to war can be on the people that are left behind, the waiting, the anxiety of not knowing and the bravery they must put on to remain strong around family and friends.

 

Overall: Touching, strong and impactful

Rating

 

 

Mad to Be Normal (2017)

Director: Robert Mullan

Writer: Robert Mullan, Tracy Moreton (Screenplay)

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, David Tennant, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Gambon, David Bamber, Olivia Poulet, Trevor White

 

Plot: During the 1960s, a renegade Scottish psychiatrist courts controversy within his profession for his approach to the field, and for the unique community he creates for his patients to inhabit.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Average History Lesson

 

Story: Mad to Be Normal starts in the 1960’s R.D. Laing (Tennant) fills out lecture halls with his methods of battling the mentally impaired patients, with his methods refusing to give medication which strikes up an interest of fresh out of education Angie Wood (Moss).

R.D. offers a community home where the patients can be themselves asking for help when they require it, with his team of doctors ready to listen whether they need to be around, though when people start questioning his behaviour and methods he must prove with his results.

 

Thoughts on Mad to Be Normal

 

Characters – R.D. Laing was a psychologist in the 1960’s he tackles dealing patients problems in a different way compared to the electro therapy, he has them in an open house environment where he can support them as they are given a normal life. Angie Wood seems to be the one we follow as she enters his life at the start of this story and we follow their romance and respect. Jim is one of the patients that seems to be calmer than the rest even though he can be the closest to being a danger.

PerformancesDavid Tennant is easily the star attraction in this film, we get to see how he plays the laidback, while serious doctor searching for solutions to the problems people have. Elisabeth Moss does go toe to toe with Tennant for the most part with the supporting cast giving us good performances too.

StoryThe story here follows the experimental treatment that R.D. Laing in the mid-60’s. It showed how his vision was different to the rest of the people in his field which helped changed the ideas of treatment once it was complete. We do follow his personal life with his relationship with Angie Wood and get to see how his own tragedies in life may have affected his decision makings. While this is a history lesson on this man, we just don’t get sucked into everything that we go through as it does feel like we needed one big moment to happen.

Biopic/HistoryThe man R.D. Laing was a leading man in his field, we see his experiment which changed how treatment could be receiving, though this is a great moment from history we don’t get a chance to see just where everything could have been, how he got to this stage of his career and miss big parts of his career.

SettingsThe film shows us where the experiment took place which tries to give the patients everyday life over being locked away from the world.


Scene of the Movie –
The night it goes wrong.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t learn enough about how he got to the position he is in.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid biopic that doesn’t hit the high points it should have.

 

Overall: Biopic that does enough of a job.

Rating