Balto (1995)

Director: Simon Wells

Writer: Cliff Ruby, Elana Lesser, David Steven Cohen, Roger S H Schulman (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Kevin Bacon, Bob Hoskins, Bridget Fonda, Jim Cumming, Phil Collins, Jack Angel, Danny Mann

 

Plot: An outcast half-wolf risks his life to prevent a deadly epidemic from ravaging Nome, Alaska.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Hero Story

 

Story: Balto starts as we see the sledge racing in Nome Alaska, Steele is the most famous lead dog in all the races, he breaks the rules as well as being feared by the other dogs, Balto a stray half breed roams the streets trying to impress the female husky Jenna with his bumbling sidekick goose Boris.

When Nome is struck down with diphtheria the town is running low on antidote they have no way of getting the antidote to the town directly, the only option is to put together a team of the fastest sledge dogs to pick up medicine with Balto showing the town he is fastest in town, but still not welcome to the town’s team.

When Steele’s team goes missing in the snowstorm, Balto goes out with Boris, Jenna and polar bears Muk and Luk to collect the medicine to save the town making himself the hero.

 

Thoughts on Balto

 

CharactersBalto is the outsider of the town, never fitting in but given the chance to prove himself to the whole town by returning the medicine, he is the reluctant hero type. Boris is the sidekick here for extra laughs in the story, with Jenna being the love interest needed for the story. Steele is the typical arrogant villain that doesn’t want anyone to take his place. All of the character blend together to make this a pleasant viewing experience.

StoryThe story is loosely based on the true events of the sledge team that saves a small town from a medical disaster, we get to see this from the dogs side of the events which does take away from the true story of heroism the real dogs went through.

Adventure/Family/HistoryThe adventure is great to see unfold keeping us on edge, it does have a couple of dark scenes going on through the film which could be slightly too much for the younger members of the family. I don’t think this story does enough justice to the true history story though.

SettingsThe settings all look fantastic showing just how peril filled the journey would have been for the dogs as well as the people stuck with no chance of rescue unless they get the medicine.

AnimationThe animation all looks great with the darker characters including the bear feeling terrifying and the heroes all looking pure.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great adventure movie but does forget the true story involved too much to make a family friendly movie.

 

Overall: Great fun animated movie that can be enjoyed by all.

Rating

 

 

Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan (Screenplay)

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Harry Styles

 

Plot: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Epic War Thriller

 

Story: Dunkirk starts as we English soldier Tommy (Whitehead) desperately making his way to the beach on Dunkirk for the evacuation of the British Soldiers, all 400,000 are waiting for this moment, as Commander Bolton (Branagh) is arranging this on the beach as the soldiers are being picked off from the air. Back home Mr Dawson (Rylance) is taking his son Peter (Glynn-Carney) and friend George (Keoghan) by his small weekend yacht to Dunkirk as the private boats are being called upon to rescue the soldiers. In the air spitfires pilots Farrier (Hardy) and Collins (Lowden) are leading the battle from the skies as they look to defend the returning ships.

The three stories play out through the different time leading up to the final moments of the film in what is known as one of the greatest rescue missions of all time in any war.

 

Thoughts on Dunkirk

 

Characters – Tommy, Gibson and Alex are three soldiers stuck on the beach of Dunkirk, they try their hardest to get off the beach of Dunkirk, we see their struggles like many of the soldiers who would have wanted safety in the horrors of war. Mr Dawson, Peter and George show three figures who couldn’t fight in the war but will do everything for their own part in saving the soldiers. The Shivering soldier shows us the effects of war on these soldiers as he doesn’t want to return to the horrors. Commander Bolton shows us how a leader should act on the battle field, being prepared to wait for his men to be saved before himself. Farrier and Collins show us the risk from the air and just how dangerous this side of the battle. We might not learn too much about the characters backgrounds but we also don’t need to, this story is about the heroic story not what these men did before became soldiers.

PerformanceTom Hardy is easily the stand out star of this movie, but it does help that he plays the character with the most intense scenes. Cillian Murphy shows us once again he doesn’t need to be the main star of a movie to be the star and Mark Rylance follows up his recent war time Oscar win with another brilliant supporting performance. We also get to see Kenneth Branagh give us the great leader role. Extra praise must go to the unknown actors here too, Fionn Whitehead in the leading role, fantastic, Aneurin Barnard who I recently saw in a terrible horror film was also fantastic, Tom Glynn-Carney and jack Lowden both seem to shine next to Rylance throughout too. The biggest talking point about this film came in the casting of popstar Harry Styles, I have always defended this choice, and even the biggest haters of this ‘singer’ will be left applauding the guy who is wonderful in this role.

StoryThe story is known as one of Britain’s greatest rescue missions, when all hope looked lost the miracle that stop 400,000 soldiers being slaughter happened, yes, we do know the end of this story from the start. The story is split into 3 times, one covering a week, one covering a day and the other covering hours but this is designed to build up to the one moment showing the struggles the character’s involved must face. I believe this does reward by the end but at times could be difficult for some people to follow.

Action/History/WarThe action sequences are fantastic throughout the film, we don’t see the blood and gore of the war like in Saving Private Ryan or Hacksaw Ridge and for me that was good. The history of this war time event will live long in the memory of those involved and is easily one of Britain’s finest moments of unity.

SettingsEach setting looks fantastic and you can fully believe you are part of this war with these soldiers.

Special EffectsAll the effects are created to show us the stark reality of the war for the men involved, we don’t have anything going over the top which also helps.

Scene of the Movie – Spitfire over Dunkirk, this scene feels haunting throughout.

I always get annoyed by one thing in a movie, this is that moment I would say the scenes when Farrier is looking at the instruments in the cockpit, everything just went over my head there.

Final ThoughtsThis is the best British story from a World War II film that could stand on the same levels as Saving Private Ryan any day of the week.

 

Overall: Breath taking experience from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Frost/Nixon (2008)

frostnixonDirector: Ron Howard

Writer: Peter Morgan (Screenplay) Peter Morgan (Play)

Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones

 

Plot: A dramatic retelling of the post-Watergate television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Compelling and Fascinating Drama

 

Story: Frost/Nixon starts going through the historical events behind Richard Nixon’s resignation after Watergate. With his resignation, British journalist David Frost (Sheen) sees it as a chance for a rating winning interview by hosting an interview with Richard Nixon (Langella). We follow how Frost turns to John Birt (Macfadyen) to secure the interview with Nixon letting Swifty Lazar (Jones) handling it from his end.

Frost must find a way to get funding and the interview put on air with James Reston Jr (Rockwell) and Bob Zelnick (Platt) joining his team to make this happen as we see how this side understands just how important this interview could be for America.

We follow the lead up to the series of interviews that have been pre-agreed subjects with only one of the four being open to the Watergate incident, this becomes a battle between the two men to get the first punches in seeing how each other will react to either question or answer.

 

Thoughts on Frost/Nixon

 

Characters/PerformanceLooking at the characters in this story they are all based on real people with former President Nixon and David Frost being the ones we get to connect with most, the background staff on each side have different opinions on how the interviews and research goes is show brilliantly.

Performance wise Langella and Sheen give arguable two of the best in leading performances of any pairing of modern cinema, they carry this film with their compelling performances. When you dive into the supporting cast Rockwell, Bacon, Platt, Macfadyen or Hall they are all great too not overshadowing the lead pairing.stars

StoryConsidering this story we must look at the deeper story before the events of the film, you do need to understand the basics of the Watergate incident to understand just how important this interview actually was. The build-up itself to the interview shows how much is at risk and seeing how both sides tried to keep one step ahead of the other is captivating throughout.

Biography/HistoricalLooking at this pivotal moment in both Richard Nixon and David Frost’s lives is what makes this hit on every level because one risked everything to make the truth came out while the other risks everything to be put back in the positive light of the country.

SettingsEach setting used through the film make us feel like we are part of the theatre experiences which is how this story first got told, we do get to see how the time in question would have looked in each and every scene.genre

Final ThoughtsLooking at history this event is one of the most impactful moments in American history and this shows just how it was finally exposed.

 

Overall: This is a must watch for all the film fans out there.

Rating

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The Lost City of Z (2016)

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray (Screenplay) David Grann (Book)

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid

 

Plot: A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow but Interesting Historical Drama

 

Story: The Lost City of Z starts as Colonel Major Percy Fawcett (Hunnam) is assigned to leave his family, wife Nina (Miller) and young child Jack to go to Bolivia to help map the land. Joined on the mission by drunk expert Henry Costin (Pattinson) but the land isn’t what they thought as they learn the inhabitants are not interested in having the white man on their land.

Braving it through the jungle Percy returns to England a national hero. Telling his stories Percy gets pushed into returning with other explorers to discover what is in the depths of Amazonia. Not making it back to his lost city Percy returns only to find World War I has broken out halting any future missions to search until the war is over, Percy dreams of being able to return to the Lost City of Z but can he make it and keep the loved ones happy.

 

 

Thoughts on The Lost City of Z

 

Characters/PerformancePercy Fawcett is a respected soldier, one of the highest ranked, he is pushed into mapping Bolivia for England where he leaves his family for years on end only return before heading back to Bolivia. He becomes one of the great explorers of the time but his balance on discovery and family is truly tested. Henry Costin becomes Percy’s trusted second on all his expeditions, he might have a slight drinking problem but he will always fight by his side and discover by his side. Nina is the wife of Percy who must spend most of the time raising the children while her husband is away, she does wish to join him with the family but understands the risk it wold have on the children. Jack is the eldest son that grows up while his father is away, he is the first to stand up against everything his father does but also believing he deserves more than he gets from the government.

Performance wise, Charlie Hunnam gives what I think is the best performance of his career here with Pattinson continuing to show he is capable away from the Twilight disaster for him. Miller is good in the supporting role which is a slightly stronger female character than normal and Tom Holland does well in his supporting role.

StoryThe story follows Percy Fawcett’s expeditions to Bolivia, how not every mission went well, but most importantly how he just wanted to learn. We do see the struggle to balance personal life and his exploring life as well as getting the respect of the British Government when it comes to the missions. This is a very interesting look into this explorer and his life’s work.

Action/Adventure/Biography/History – The action side of this film is mostly the battle sequences we are not used often which is good, the adventure shows just what a new discovery could feel like for these explorers. The biography and history is looking at of the explorer between 1900 and 1930 with what they learnt along their travels.

SettingsEach setting used shows us the different adventure and the difficult time it would have to be to find that one location in a previously unmapped location, we have beauty spots, but also the conflict of war.

EffectsThe effects used are mostly in the conflict scenes and are few and far between, but the ones used are all good when used.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the underrated movies of the year, it does tell an interesting story and one that could be enjoyed by all that watch.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but underrated movie.

Rating

 

 

Apollo 13 (1995)

apolo-13Director: Ron Howard

Writer: William Broyles Jr, Al Reinert (Screenplay) Jim Lovell, Jeffrey Kluger (Book)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, Kathleen Quinlan

 

Plot: NASA must devise a strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely after the spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage putting the lives of the three astronauts on board in jeopardy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intensely Brilliant Drama

 

Story: Apollo 13 starts on 20th July 1969, the date Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Jim Lovell (Hanks) a fellow astronaut who missed out on the moon landing on Apollo 8 is hosting a landing party with fellow astronauts Fred Haise (Paxton), Jack Swigert (Bacon), Ken Mattingly (Sinise) who are scheduled to work together on the Apollo 14 mission.

When the team who are planned for Apollo 13 lose their place Jim, Fred and Ken are placed in for Apollo 13 with Jack part of the backup team. This does mean moving the preparation forward 6 months but an astronaut with Jim’s experience is trust to lead this mission.

With the world seeing this mission as curse because of the number 13 the team does have to make a last-minute crew change with Jack replacing Ken who is according to medical records going to become sick on the mission, with two days to prepare with Jack the mission is a go with mission commander Gene Kranz (Harris) controlling the mission back at NASA.

With the mission going well, it turns out the television networks just don’t want to show the mission because they see no excitement from just going to the moon once again, but the astronauts don’t know this.

When disaster strikes, the astronauts must use their skills to survive while the NASA puts together a rescue solutions for the men who could be lost in space forever. With the disaster potentially happen the television networks pick up the story with the nation watching on to see if the crew of Apollo 13 will make it home.

 

Thoughts on Apollo 13

 

Characters/PerformanceAll the characters are based on the real people, with Jim Lovell being the experienced astronaut leading the team of first timers in space. The characters are all real and made to all be heroes through this story, unlike most films of similar nature we don’t have anyone remotely like a villain in this film.

Performance wise Tom Hanks shines in the decade where he just didn’t seem to put a foot wrong. We also get brilliant performance from the whole cast playing the characters perfectly throughout the film.stars

StoryThe story is one that even Hollywood couldn’t write, this is one if not the most famous story in space history that could rival the actual Moon landing. It shows how NASA could work in limited time to prevent disaster. You are drawn into this story for the whole film which is part history lesson and part edge of your seat thriller.

Adventure/HistorySpace travel became one of the most interesting parts of history in the late 60’s with the moon landing stealing the headlines, this story captures the idea to become one of the most important moments in history for NASA.

SettingsOutside the space shuttle all the settings including mission command all fit the time perfectly with the space shuttle being the highlight of the film because it shows how the men had nowhere to go to survive.

Special EffectsThe special effects for this film are brilliant as the film doesn’t turn to them too often but when it is needed we are left believing everything that is happening.genre

Final ThoughtsIf you want to learn about one of the most amazing stories of survival in human history this is the one for you to see.

 

Overall: Breath-takingly brilliant movie about one moment in human history.

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