ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – # – 13 Hours (2016)

Director: Michael Bay

Writer: Chuck Hogan (Screenplay) Mitchell Zuckoff (Book)

Starring: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Max Martini

 

Plot: As an American ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya, a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Action Thriller

 

Story: 13 Hours starts with the history of what had been going on in Libya leading up to the events of the secret CIA base that had been watching for black market deals, this base was held by on 6 elite soldiers. The team is led by Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods (Dale) and includes the men his trusts Jack Silva (Krasinski), Tanto (Schreiber), Boon (Denman), Tig (Fumusa) and Oz (Martini).

The team work in Benghazi the one city in the world where all the other embassies have left but the American one refuses to leave. As the weeks go by they go through chases but mostly just waiting for something to go wrong. When the US Embassy gets invaded the unit must wait for the moment to fight back and now they find themselves in the middle of the chaos needing to survive using all their skills.

Thoughts on 13 Hours

 

Characters/PerformanceJack Silva is the latest member of the unit, he has left his family behind for what should have been an easier role but not in the middle of a deadly conflict he must use all his skills to survive. Rone is the leader of the unit, he knows how to think fast and knows how to keep his unit in order. The rest of the soldiers all come off like something we have seen before, not getting enough extra development.

Performance wise, John Krasinski brings us a performance not many people believed he could have done and this is great to see. James Badge Dale is also good throughout the film. the rest of the cast do all do great jobs as we are left believing they are real soldiers.

StoryThe story is based on the real events, we get to see how the Americans had to fight against the Libyan revolution against the odds in a desperate attempt to survive the night in hopes of getting rescued. This is slightly long as a story but it does work as we get time to look at the human aspect pre-and during the event in question. There isn’t any twists in the story it is just about the survival.

Action/Thriller/WarThe action is big and well created war like battle sequences that make us believe we are in the middle of the battle. We are left on the edge of our seat wondering who will happen next. The war side of the film is all about the modern wars which mostly revolve around revolutions in country that our Americans are trapped in.

SettingsEach setting is designed perfect for the conflict scenes, we are always thrown into the action and this is just how the modern war would feel.

Special EffectsAll the effects are used to make for the explosions look great as well as showing the good mix of practical and special effects.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best modern, full-blown action war movies of the recent years and it fully engages with the audience even if some of the unit are not developed as well as others.

 

Overall: Brilliant watch for the modern warfare film fans.

Rating

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Random – # – The 33 (2015)

Director: Patricia Riggen

Writer: Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten, Michael Thomas, Jose Rivera (Screenplay) Hector Tobar (Book)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Mario Casas

 

Plot: Based on the real-life event, when a gold and copper mine collapses, it traps 33 miners underground for 69 days.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Incredible True Story, Slow Film

 

Story: The 33 starts as we follow our Chilean miners including family man Mario Sepulveda (Banderas) and safety inspector Don Lucho (Phillips) who is reluctantly backs down from their boss about the conditions inside the mine, believing the mountain will start to collapse in on itself.

When the mine does collapse, it leaves all 33 miners trapped hoping they might get rescued, well that is inside the mine. Outside the mine the miner’s families led by Maria Segovia (Binoche) demanded answers and help from the government with Laurence Golborne (Santoro) calling the shots, doing the best he can to find a way to rescue the miners. This is the incredible story of how the Chilean miners survived and were rescued.

 

Thoughts on The 33

 

Characters/PerformanceThe film is based on the real people involved, Mario is the one that takes control inside the mine, the reluctant hero even against the odds. Laurence is the government man that must do the right thing while working with the experts as well as keep the families happy. Maria is the sister of one of the miners and leads the protest to find answers about her brother and other miners.

Performance wise, Banderas shows himself to be the biggest star within the mine, we do get strange casting choices up next because we have a French actress playing a Chilean lady, and Irish man as a Chilean. But away from this we have good performances all around from the whole cast.

StoryThe story is one that we all followed on the news, it was one of the most must watch news stories of the 21st Century. Seeing the amazing story of how the men survived, the way a small town can together to bring a nation, then the world to see, beg and pray for these men is an incredible story of courage, strength and belief in the human race.

Biography/HistoryWhile we don’t truly get to know the men personally, we do see the 69 days that changed their lives. This will go down in history as one of our moments of greatness as a human race.

SettingsThe film is set between the mine which shows us just how trapped the character will be but we also see how the family members are working towards rescue.

Final ThoughtsThis is an incredible story that was one we followed and seeing this brings back the memories but in places this is slightly slow.

 

Overall: Great glimpse into history.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – Z – The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

Director: Niki Caro

Writer: Angela Workman (Screenplay) Diane Ackerman (Book)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenberg, Daniel Bruhl, Timothy Radford, Efrat Dor, iddo Goldberg

 

Plot: The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Heartbreakingly Brilliant Drama

 

Story: The Zookeeper’s Wife starts in 1939 Warsaw, Poland as we meet Antonina (Chastain) and Jan (Heldenbergh) Zabinski the zoo keepers of the Warsaw zoo, both committed to giving their animals a good life and their customers an experience they could never imagine.

When the invasion in hits Warsaw, the zoo is hit hard with the animals running wild many are killed, German zoologist Lutz Heck (Bruhl) does offer to protect the remaining quality animals by moving them to a German zoo, but the rest end up getting killed.

When Lutz agrees to let the non-Jewish couple keep their zoo open as a pig farm, they start doing what they can to help as many Jews escape the ghetto they are being forced to survive in. How many people can they save, how long can they keep everything up before getting caught out by the German’s that is the questions we are left with.

 

Thoughts on The Zookeeper’s Wife

 

Characters/PerformanceAntonina is the animal lover, people lover that works with her husband to help protect as many Jews during the war as possible, she uses her status to help keep the remaining animals safe and people safe too. Jan is the husband of Antonina that takes the biggest risks by going into the ghetto housing the Jews but he becomes increasingly jealous of Antonina and Lutz working relationship. Lutz Heck is the German zoologist that uses the Warsaw zoo for his own desire to continue breeding animals and his attraction to Antonina keeps him returning.

Performance wise, Jessica Chastain is fantastic in the leading role show us once again we how she can become any part put on front of her. Daniel Bruhl does give us a great role in which we absolutely hate his character through the film even though he isn’t truly evil. Johan Heldenbergh is also great through the film standing tall next to the two bigger names of the acting world.

StoryWe have heard this horrific story before, we know what the Nazi’s did to the Jews and we know Schindler’s List is the most famous and well-respected film version of these events. While the plot giving is slightly miss-leading because we are expecting to see more about the animal saving, we do find ourselves looking at the incredible story of how the zookeeper’s risk their lives to save as many as Jews as possible during the war. We know how amazing the heroes of the war were and learning new stories of their heroics is always good to see. I do feel this film does have certain pacing issues because you can have your heart broken in the open 30 minutes as you would be looking to see something slightly different in the next chapters of the story.

Biography/History/WarSeeing the story of the Zabinska’s struggle during the war shows us how brave they were trying to save, the difficult decision they made and the part of history they were part of.

SettingsThe settings all look fantastic putting us in the middle of the war in Warsaw showing us just how difficult everything was for the people involved.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most heart-breaking films you will see this year, but it does fall into another incredible story of how people risked their own lives to save Jews from the Nazis. I would say parts of the synopsis are miss-leading as I was expecting a lot more about how the animals were being saved but saying this we can seeing another incredible story from World War II.

 

Overall: Brilliant story of heroic actions.

Rating

 

 

The Post (2017)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer (Screenplay)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie

 

Plot: A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government.


Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Historical Thriller

 

Story: The Post starts as we learn how the Presidents have been involved in Vietnam war, either trying to control the country or sending troops there. With one man Daniel Ellberg (Rhys) taking the top secret pages to expose the truth. When the New York Times start publishing these secrets the President starts to panic.

In Washington the Post owner Kay Graham (Streep) is about to turn her paper over to the stock exchange, her editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) is always up for taking a risk and when he learns of the papers he will stop at nothing to get the story to the people even if the government halts the publishing of the story.

 

Thoughts on The Post

 

Characters – Kay Graham inherits the role of owner of the paper, she takes over after her husband’s death with her position being questioned by the male board as she tries to turn the paper public as the biggest story unfolds. This is a perfect example of a person needing to take a role they are not prepared for. Ben Bradlee is the editor of the Post, he will push to get any story out believing the press should be able to report a story. He was also friends with the Kennedy’s putting him the elite of society. We do meet plenty of other members of the paper and the families of the people involved.

PerformancesMeryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the leading roles, do we need to talk about the performances anymore, we know they are two of the greatest actors in history and they show us just how good they are. The rest of the cast are fantastic too showing that Spielberg can get performances out of any actor.

StoryThe story follows the days before the Watergate scandal which shock America to its knees when it came learning the truth about Vietnam. We focus on just one paper as they were deciding if they should expose the truth which could find them going to jail. We get to see the balance between which is the right or the wrong side of the story which makes this a captivating story to see unfold.

Biopic/History/ThrillerThe people we follow took a massive risk to expose the truth because they new it was the right thing to do as they helped show a moment of history which people will never forget. We are kept on edge of our seat as we see how the story could bring down parts of American history.

SettingsThe film does use the settings well making us feel like we are in the time the movie takes place, we see the different classes involved in the story.


Scene of the Movie –
Deciding whether to publish is not.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Moments of the camerawork feel unnecessarily shaky.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant thriller that helps expose the biggest scandal that hit America and how the press were trying to find a way to expose the truth.

 

Overall: Thriller that brings us in to a biggest secret.

Rating

 

 

 

Crime Thriller Weekend – Zodiac (2007)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: James Vanderbilt (Screenplay) Robert Graysmith (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch

 

Plot: In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.


Tagline – There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great But Too Long of a Thriller

 

Story: Zodiac starts as the infamous Zodiac killer strikes in San Francisco before demanding his code be printed in the newspaper, the Chronicle, where Paul Avery (Downey Jr) is getting the letters and works with cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) who has a knack for cracking codes. As the body count continues to grow Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo) and Inspector William Armstrong (Edwards) investigate the crimes as the people of San Francisco start to panic throughout the spree.

With time passing by Avery uses the press the play with the Zodiac, making David’s job difficult as it draws out all the people who want to be known as the Zodiac, while Robert becomes obsessed with cracking the codes being left in letters and solving the case.

 

Thoughts on Zodiac

 

Characters – When looking at the characters you must remember these are based on real people, Robert Graysmith is a cartoonist working for the Chronicle newspaper that becomes obsessed with cracking the Zodiac codes while working with writer Paul Avery. Paul Avery is the writer at the Chronicle that is receiving the letters from the Zodiac killer, he is willing to take a risk to get the story and potentially making himself famous. Inspector David Toschi is the lead investigator working on the Zodiac case, he must overcome derestriction nightmares while tracking any clues, suspects or letters that come his way.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is brilliant in this leading role showing how a man out of his field can become a conspiracy driven man. Mark Ruffalo shows here that he will always be a shining light in an ensembled cast. Robert Downey Jr was always skilled enough to be a great character actor and this one started to show he could return to the top of the industry. The supporting cast through the film are also great with their roles.

StoryThe mystery of the Zodiac killer is one of the most famous unsolved serial killings in history. Most of the film follows Robert’s spiral into conspiracy theorist that is searching for the Zodiac killer, which does work and become the most interesting part of the film. the problem I am facing looking at this movie is that the first half seems to mix who the main character is trying to solve the case while the enjoyable part is all Robert and of course we don’t know the complete truth on these murders either.

Crime/Mystery/ThrillerThe crime is one of the most famous in modern history, one that is unsolved which does play into the mystery side to everything we are watching too.

SettingsThe timelines we follow give us authentic settings for everything as the film does span over two decades.


Scene of the Movie –
Robert’s face to face with a potential suspect.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film itself is too long.

Budget: $65 Million

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting look at one of the most interesting unsolved murder mysteries, it gives us a detailed look at three main men involved in investigating the crime all with different motives from different backgrounds.

 

Overall: Detailed but overly long look at the Zodiac case.

Rating