ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – Q – Three Kingdoms (2008) Movie Review

Clutching at straws again here, we are going with Q because of Maggie Q.

Director: Daniel Lee

Writer: Ho Leung Lau, Daniel Lee (Screenplay) Guanzhong Luo (Novel)

Starring: Andy Lau, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Maggie Q, Cunxin Pu, Andy Oh, Rongguang Yu, Hua Yueh, Lung Ti

Plot: His country torn asunder by civil war, Zhao Zilong, a common man heeds the call of duty and from the humblest of roots rises through the ranks on wings of courage and cunning to command an army charged with liberating the land from an evil warlord. Inspiring by action, honor and a dream of unifying his divided nation, Zhao Zilong’s heroism becomes legend, but as the years pass and the throne changes hands the war still rages on. When a newly enthroned king decides peace can only be achieved by defeating the warlords once and for all, the aging Zhao Zilong embarks on his final and greatest campaign, a road to adventure that will crown his name in glory for all time.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice History Lesson

Story: Three Kingdoms starts in the middle of a three kingdom war going on in ancient China, common man Zhao Zilong (Lau) joins Liu (Yueh) army which is winning the war with the circle opposing forces, where he meets a fellow country man Luo Ping-An (Hung) as they prepare for battle against Cao’s army.

After Zhao braves going alone to search and rescue the Emperor’s wives and child escaping the capture of the enemy army, making himself an icon in the war, and somebody Cao promises to capture one day. After decades of fighting, Zilong is the last remaining general under the Emperor and now he wants to go into one more battle which could finally unity China against Cao’s granddaughter Ying (Q).

Thoughts on Three Kingdoms

Characters – Zhao Zilong was just a small town common man that went to war to fight for peace so he could start a family, his acts of bravery saw him rise the ranks to become one of the most trusted generals for Emperor Liu, his abilities in battle show why he was the longest lasting of the generals and why he made himself a legend in the eyes of the people. Luo Ping-An was the first friend Zilong made in the army, he understands directions and stays by his side for every battle with his knowledge of the landscapes unlike anybody else. Cao Ying is the granddaughter of the enemy general, she has seen her family fall and now leads the army to finally end everything from her side of the battle. Zhuge is one of the original generals that Zilong learns from, one who would go between soldier camps to help them win battles they were outnumbered in.

PerformancesAndy Lau in the leading role shows off his fighting skills with his serious side to his character to his performance, he is the star of the film, which sees him being the best performer even though most of the cast don’t put a foot wrong.

StoryThe story shows us just how one common man turned into one of the most famous generals in ancient Chinese history, we see his rise from the bottom right to his position of legend status. This is an interesting look at one of the great wars in history, seeing how both sides were trying for something that would unit a country, even though decades of fighting didn’t help them achieve this. We mostly focus on just one man’s journey from the bottom to the top and how he became a legend in the war because of his abilities in combat and ability to motivate his army. We do skip a lot of time through the film which does take away from trying to get all the details of the war though

Action/History/WarThe action is massive when it comes to the numbers involved in the battle sequences, they look beautiful to watch too, when it comes to the history of the war we do skip over large parts of it which can be disappointing at times.

SettingsThe film here recreates the ancient Chinese era with ease, making us feel like we are part of this bigger battle.


Scene of the Movie – The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The large time jump.

Final Thoughts This is a good interesting look at history and just how much was risked during these wars, we see one man’s journey to find his own position in power too.

Overall: Strong History film.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – U – USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (2016)

Director: Mario Van Peebles

Writer: Cam Cannon, Richard Rionda Del Castro (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, Matt Lanter, James Remar, Brian Presley, Yutaka Takeuchi

 

Plot: During World War II, an American navy ship is sunk by a Japanese submarine leaving 890 crewmen stranded in shark infested waters.


Tagline – Based on a true story of survival.

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Confusing

 

Story: USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage starts when the USS Indianapolis is selected for a new mission, Captain McVay (Cage) must lead his ship solo in an attempt to deliver weapons on the secret mission, the ship can handle any ship or plane, but the weakness comes from submarines, which they usually have destroyers to help with.

After completing the mission they are returning home, when the ship gets torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, the men get scattered in the ocean with limit supplies and sharks waiting to pick them off, this turns into a battle to survive in wait for rescue.

 

Thoughts on USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage

 

Characters – Captain McVay has the respect of the crew, they know they can trust him, they know he will treat them well, he is part of the crew that is sunk, he will make sure his men are safe taking control in a fair way where everybody is given the same, he will spend his time searching for more crew. McWhorter is one of the crew that gets injured in the sinking, he fights through with McVay by his side. Lt Adrian Marks is a pilot that manages to finally find the crew while searching for lost planes. We do meet way too many crew members to keep on top of who was who in this film, which only confuses us while trying to keep on top of the cast.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is the highlight of the performances and he ends up making certain scenes feel like a comedy. Tom Sizemore does all he can, while Thomas Janes doesn’t have enough time to do anything. The overly large cast just makes everything confusing, making it hard to judge any of the performances.

StoryThe story looks at the history behind the USS Indianapolis sinking after delivery the weapons that bought about the end of the war. The story should be one that brings historical survival moment to life, instead we spend way too much time following too many characters just stranded in the water, which I understand is a big part of what happened, but seeing the political side of the story felt a lot more interesting. This is a story that does seem to end up falling into one that drags for way too long, we are left wondering just why we need to end up seeing too many characters, which makes it difficult to support any of the characters involved. This is hard to say because we know this really happened and these were real people of the horrors of war.

Action/History/WarThe action in the film is war based which is solid enough, to tell the historical moment at the end of the war.

SettingsThe film is set mostly in the ocean as the survivors need to wait in hope of rescue, surrounded by sharks with limited supplies.


Scene of the Movie –
Court Case.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis should be a much better movie when you see just how serious the story should be, sadly moments feel like comedy and it is hard to keep up with he pure number of characters involved.

 

Overall: Misses the point.

Rating

 

 

Gary Oldman Weekend – Child 44 (2015)

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Writer: Richard Price (Screenplay) Tom Rob Smith (Novel)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel, Fares Fares

 

Plot: A disgraced member of the Russian military police investigates a series of child murders during the Stalin-era Soviet Union.


Tagline – How many more must die before the truth is exposed?

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burner

 

Story: Child 44 starts as we see how Leo Demidov (Hardy) escaped an orphanage joining the military at a young age, he went on to become a war hero leading his men Alexei (Fares) and Vasili (Kinnaman), after the war he remains in the military making sure the Soviet Union isn’t compromised by anybody who could be against the country.

When one of Alexei’s children is murdered, the country covers it up as an accident, Leo reluctantly starts to investigate and after two more murders, Leo finds himself becoming an enemy of the country, exiled from the capital under General Mikhail Nesterov (Oldman), where the killings continue. Leo continues his investigation which only draws more attention to himself, as murder can’t happen in paradise.

 

Thoughts on Child 44

 

Characters – Leo Demidov was raised an orphan only to escape and become part of a military unit, he spent years within the Russian military rising up the ranks to become one of the most respected men in the military. He remains in the military where he helps keep traitors out of the capital, he soon learns about a string a child murders, which the country wants to cover up, which puts his reputation on the line as he looks to solve them exposing a killer in a country that doesn’t admit to murder. Raisa is the wife of Leo, she has started to become a target for country believing she is a traitor, she is tired of the life within the rules given and must soon start to lie to her husband to stay safe before working with him to solve the case. General Mikhail Nesterov is the man that Leo is sent to serve under, he does notice the trends in the murders and will send Leo out to solve the case. Vasili is one of the soldiers that served next to Leo, he was considered a coward during the war, but after the war he became stricter breaking the rules creating tension between the unit for his behaviour towards prisoners.

PerformancesTom Hardy in the leading role does everything asked of him, he handles each his characters actions, while giving us a solid enough Russian accent throughout. Noomi Rapace continued to grow her reputation as she shows that she can adapt to nearly every role placed on front of her. Gary Oldman brings the experience to the role, though he does fall into the supporting role for too long through the film. The rest of the supporting cast doesn’t make the impact required with their time.

StoryThe story here follows a Russian military man that starts investigating a string of child murders that grab the attention of the country who refuses to admit that murder can happen within it. While we get to see how the investigation becomes deeper with each and every turn, it is the trying to conduct an investigation in a country that simply won’t accept murder that piles on the pressure within the story, see how he must fight his country to stop a serial killer is interesting, even if it is slightly slow at times. We don’t get many suspects because we can’t completely investigate which can hold up that side of the film at times.

Crime/HistoryThe crime side of the film follows the serial killer taking the children, the other side of the crime story comes from how the country was treating people that didn’t follow their strict orders, this does show how the history of the country did hold it back at times.

SettingsThe film is set in Russia and Ukraine, showing how secretive the country was with how they didn’t want to admit anything going on wrong.


Scene of the Movie –
The first kidnapping is creepy as the film gets.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The over slow building.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow moving crime thriller that is more interested in showing the countries strict rules that focus on solving the crime.

 

Overall: Pacing just lets it down.

Rating

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – S – Mary Queen of Scots (2018) Movie Review

Director: Josie Rourke

Writer: Beau Willimon (Screenplay) John Guy (Book)

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce, Gemma Chan, Ismael Cruz Cordova

Plot: Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution.


Tagline – Born to Power

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Beautifully Shot

Story: Mary Queen of Scots starts as Queen Mary (Ronan) returns to Scotland a widow, her presence in Britain as put Queen Elizabeth (Robbie) position of Queen of England under pressure, as Mary has a rightful claim to the throne.

Mary does want to create peace, asking for one simply thing, to be the heir to the throne, while Elizabeth isn’t willing to accept this demand unless Mary marries an English nobleman, with her choice being Robert Dudley (Alwyn), while Mary falls for Henry Darnley (Lowden). As the tensions between the two queens rises, a potential war starts brewing for control of Britain.

Thoughts on Mary Queen of Scots

Characters – Queen Mary has returned from France after the death of her husband, she takes her place as Queen of Scotland looking to rebuild a nation, she wants to keep the peace between the two nations with her sister Queen Elizabeth, she wants to put her own place as heir on the line, believing she will get the chance if Elizabeth doesn’t have children. She has her own marriage with an English man, the one not selected for her and is always finding herself controlled by the actions of men, despite wanting to find her position of power. Queen Elizabeth is worried that Mary will put them into a war, she wants to stop the threat sooner, though her demands are simply, marry an English noble man and the two can live in harmony. We do know Elizabeth tendencies from history, though we also see how she is being controlled by the men around her, just like Mary. When it comes to the men we meet, we see countless noble men that are trying to put their own name of power into position so they could one day control their country, none of them want what is best for either Queen.

PerformancesSaoirse Ronan is incredible in the leading role showing that she is a major talent in the industry who can step into any role, while Margot Robbie shines in the supporting role, never looking out of place in her role in the film. Everyone else is strong through the film, letting both the two leading ladies shine the most.

StoryThe story here follows Mary Queen of Scots who returned to Scotland looking to unite the two countries with her sister Queen Elizabeth ruling England, while the people around them, always try to stop the two working things out. This is a story based on history, it shows how leaders will try to create peace, only for people around them never wanting to let this happen, it showed how Queen might have power, but they didn’t have control however much they tried to get their ideas through. It shows how in a by gone age, people would look down on a woman in power, believing they had duties to produce babies and heirs rather than actually rule the land. We do focus more on the struggle of Queen Mary and how she tried to always do the right thing and the downs that came her way.

BiopicThe biopic side of this film plays into the history of the two Queen of Britain who both tried to do the right thing to help bring people together and never were given the control.

SettingsThe settings look beautiful for each shot, with the sets look stunning, while the outdoor locations are breath taking.


Scene of the Movie – The meeting between the two.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could have seen more from the Elizabeth side of the story.

Final Thoughts This is a beautifully shot movie that tells a huge moment in history that showed that the women in power never got the power they were meant to have.

Overall: Important Historical Drama.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – M – Munich (2005)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Tony Kushner, Eric Roth (Screenplay) George Jones (Book)

Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciaran Hinds, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zurer, Geoffrey Rush, Mathieu Kassovitz

 

Plot: Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day.


Tagline – The world was watching in 1972 as 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Munich Olympics. This is the story of what happened next.

Runtime: 2 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense True Story

 

Story: Munich starts in the aftermath of the tragic events of the Munich Olympics where 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Arabic terrorists. The Israeli prime minister isn’t taken what happened to her men lightly, she assigns a team led by Avner (Bana), with Steve (Craig), Carl (Hinds), Robert (Kassovitz) and Hans (Zischler) to eliminate everybody involved in the terrorist action.

The mission will take the team around Europe as they track down each and everyone of the people responsible, we see the obstacles they found along the way, but ultimately to complete their mission.

 

Thoughts on Munich

 

Characters – Avner is the special agent in the Israeli government, he is assigned to lead the retaliation against the people responsible for Black Sunday. He must leave his pregnant wife behind to go on this mission, a mission which would be his first, as he hasn’t been in the field before. He is left making the difficult decisions on the mission, to keep the men in order. Steve is the member of the team that has the most experience in the field, he does question Avner’s choice as leader, though he will follow the orders for his country. Carl is another member of the team, he does seem like the mot educated of the team. Robert is assigned to be the explosives expert, his bombs often fail, because of his own training which is about disarming them rather than making them. We see the characters that are the connections, the people that authorise the vengeance, each character is based on a real person involved in this.

PerformancesEric Bana is the star of the show here, he is put through the widest range of emotions when it comes to everything his character goes through. Daniel Craig leads up the supporting cast we, showing he was always going to be more than just James Bond. Ciaran Hinds is the ever-reliable supporting cast member that never once looks out of place. the whole cast is wonderful through this film, bringing the complex number of characters to life.

StoryThe story follows the aftermath of events of the Black Sunday tragedy, which sees a group of Israeli soldiers look to get vengeance on the men behind the terrorist attack. We get to see how the operation was handled, the hunting of the terrorists, with the different hiding places around Europe. This does show how a country was left in mourning after the tragic events, how they went about changing this, fixing this, so they weren’t considered the weaker nation in the war within the country. We mostly focus on one man who was seen to have been put into a world he wasn’t prepared for, one where he would have to do things he wasn’t trained for, to protect his home land.

HistoryThis is a moment in history that shocked everybody, we see how the people in the government went out for their own revenge.

SettingsThe film does take us around Europe as we see where the terrorist were hiding out after their actions.


Scene of the Movie –
The bomb sequences are brutal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slightly too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant look at one of the most secret missions of revenge after one of the darkest days in Olympic history.

 

Overall: History revenge.

Rating