Jem and the Holograms (2015)

Director: Jon M Chu

Writer: Ryan Landels (Screenplay) Christy Marx (Animated Series)

Starring: Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayler Kiyoko, Molly Ringwald, Isabella Kai Rice

 

Plot: As a small-town girl catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden.


Tagline – very Generation Needs a Voice

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good for the Target Audience

 

Story: Jem and the Holograms starts as Jerrica (Peeples) is coming to clean to her fans on the internet, we learn how she and her sisters Kimber (Scott), Shana (Perrieneau) and Aja (Kiyoko) become the internet sensations after Jerrica final came out of her shell and is picked up by producer Erica Raymond (Lewis) who wants to make them the biggest ‘It’ of the time.

Jerrica is recreated as Jem she becomes the biggest mystery in music and they become the biggest act in the planet, but can they handle the additional pressure in life.

 

Thoughts on Jem and the Holograms

 

Characters – Jerrica is one of the four sisters, the quiet and shiest one, she is also the most gifted musically, writing songs, performing privately, she creates Jem to be stay anonymous and remembers her father’s guidance everyday. She is telling the story of the rise to fame and how it made her feel. Kimber is the younger sister of Jerrica, she is social media addict, spending all her time posting on social media about anything and everything, she leaks the video of Jem and enjoys coming along to the new role in the band. Shana is one of the adopted sisters, she is a fashionista that always wanted to help the girls of the house have their own unique look. Aja is the other adopted sister, she is the true genius of the four, though she does have a habit to borrow from people without asking and can become the bad girl image. Erica Raymond is the ruthless producer that is always out to make as much money from as many different corners as possible.

PerformancesWhen we look at the performances I feel it is unfair to go through any of the four sisters in any different ways because they are all good and you do believe the family chemistry between them.

StoryThe story here shows us how quickly a life of an overnight YouTube sensation can change for the good and the bad. We get to see how the idea of making money to save the family home can bring the biggest divide between the sisters after seeing just how special the rise and first show was for them. For the weaknesses in this film we have a lot, first it based on an animated series I had no idea existed, secondly, it happens so fast we can easily miss what is going on, we never really get an indication of days/weeks or months that we are following. The final negative comes to the issue of trying to show how YouTube can be turned to for fame, it will never happen this quickly.

Adventure/Fantasy/Music/Romance/Sci-FiThe genres this film tries to cross are all getting effected by lack of opportunity, the only one that truly gets the right time is the music side because that is the heart of the film. the fantasy sci-fi side of the film feels like an attachment to the main story.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which is always going to be the right choice for an American film about glitz and glamor.


Scene of the Movie –
The first show.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While it is meaningful, the sci-fi fantasy side story is just left in the back burner.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that will keep the target audience happy, it doesn’t offer too much for the casual fans of the genre and can get lost trying to do too much.

 

Overall: The good and the bad of YouTube success.

Rating

 

 

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Love & Mercy (2014)

Director: Bill Pohlad

Writer: Oren Moverman, Michael A Lerner (Screenplay) Brian Wilson (Based on the life of)

Starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Kenny Wormald, Brett Davern

 

Plot: In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.


Tagline – The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson 

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Look at a Great Musician

 

Story: Love & Mercy starts by taking us to two different stages of Brian Wilson’s life, first the 60’s (played by Dano) as he starts to isolate himself from the band as he works on the latest album for the band, one that gives them a different sound to what the Beach Boys were known for.

The second time is in the 80s where Brian has been struggling with his own health issues dealing with his psychosis, which makes him socially awkward at times, trying to start dating car saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Banks) with the watchful eye from therapist Dr Eugene Landy (Giamatti). We follow both the struggling times Brian goes through and how he deals with them.

 

Thoughts on Love & Mercy

 

Characters – Brian Wilson was one of the greatest musical minds of all time, following two different stages of his life in this film. The 60s version of Brian shows how the success has been making the band one of the biggest in the world, how he wanted to stop touring to work on the next album with a different tone to the music. In this time, we see how the drugs start to take over his life and his obsession with trying to find a new sound risks the success of the band and we see the early moments of his psychosis coming through. In the 80s version we meet a broken man, one that has been through the worst part of his life, but needing guidance and medication to get through the day. He is trying to have a relationship with his disease controlling what he goes through, we see the darkness take over at times. Melinda is a car saleswoman that meets the older Brian and the two strike it off as we see how she tries to get involved in the relationship while dealing with the Eugene figure. Dr Eugene Landy is controlling Brian’s life in the 80s, he has helped him turn his life around after the problems he faced in the 70s, his methods seem extreme and what he puts Brian through are exposed by the end of the film.

PerformancesThe performances here are brilliant throughout, Paul Dano as the younger Brian shows just how wonderful a performer he is, by using certain scenes for his singing skills. John Cusack is great in the older version of Brian showing us that given the right material he can shine. Elizabeth Banks is great in the supporting role looking just as confused and concerned to everything going on in Brian’s life. Paul Giamatti is great too and we know he can always hit the marks in this type of role.

StoryThe story here follows two moments of Brian Wilson’s life, the first is the one where he is trying to change the music and starts to get the first signs on his psychosis, the other is how easily he could become exploited by having someone try and control his life. The first part is a story we could believe happening to a wonderful musician, the second is a story that is hard to believe that someone would do that to someone. This story is set so the stories run side by side showing us how he can be fully functional at times, but how he can become distant and isolated at others. I know this is more about the personal battle Brian goes through, but I would have liked a little bit more on the history of the musical side of his career.

Biopic/MusicThe two moments, well years that we follow in Brian’s life include the 60s and 80s, they are part of the most interesting as it shows the biggest change Brian goes through and the biggest battle he must come up against. We do have moments of the singing, if you don’t know the Beach Boys songs you might struggle to understand what the biggest songs are.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just which era we are going through, they show the lifestyles the characters would be going through without needing to throw in any main stream events.


Scene of the Movie –
Creating God Only Knows.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked to see how Brian ended up under the care of Eugene.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful look at the musician Brian Wilson, follow two parts works too, instead of the full life moments. If you like the Beach Boys this is a must watch.

 

Overall: Beach Boys fans watch.

Rating

 

 

Tom Hiddleston Weekend – I Saw the Light (2015)

Director: Marc Abraham

Writer: Marc Abraham (Screenplay) Colin Escott, George Merritt, William MacEwen (Book)

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford, Cherry Jones, Maddie Hasson, Wrenn Schmidt, David Krumholtz

 

Plot: The story of the country-western singer Hank Williams, who in his brief life created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. The film chronicles his rise to fame and its tragic effect on his health and personal life.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks That Interest Factor

 

Story: I Saw the Light starts as we see Hank Williams (Hiddleston) slowly making his name in the music industry in the mid 40’s, his new marriage to Audrey (Olsen) does get questioned because she doesn’t have the singing voice he does and this shows early on when he must decide whether to supporting her singing or make his own career.

We follow how Hank continued to rise in fame but struggled with his own alcohol problems, his rocky marriage and his womanising, which led to his early death.

 

Thoughts on I Saw the Light

 

Characters/PerformanceHank is the famous country singer who rose to fame in the late 40s to become an icon, he has his own personal demons of drinking, womanising and rocky marriage. Audrey is the wife of Hank, she does want to be part of the singing but she doesn’t have the talent Hank has with brings a strain to their marriage.

Performance wise, well where do we start? Hiddleston is fine in this role as is Olsen and do the best with what they can with the story.

StoryNow I like watching bio-pics even if I don’t know who the film is centred around. I don’t know who Hank Williams is or what his most famous song was which I am not using as an excuse for not enjoying this film. I found the story way too long with very little happening and no focus on the music Hank has been making.

Biography/MusicThe story telling takes away from where the bio-pic side of the film should be focusing on where the music is all fine without being anything special.

SettingsThe settings are all fine for the time period in question which is all we need from the story of late 40s early 50s.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very weak bio-pic that doesn’t give us enough to like about the musician Hank Williams to look back and go, he was an interesting guy. The storytelling side of the film comes off confusing and doesn’t give us enough time on the music side of the film.

 

Overall: Weak bio-pic that lacks everything that is needed.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – H – Hustle & Flow (2005)

Director: Craig Brewer

Writer: Craig Brewer (Screenplay)

Starring: Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji P Henson, DJ Qualls, Ludacris, Paula Jai Parker

 

Plot: With help from his friends, a Memphis pimp in a mid-life crisis attempts to become a successful hip-hop emcee.


Tagline – The music will inspire them. The dream will unite them. This summer get crunk.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Insight to the Hip-Hop World

 

Story: Hustle & Flow starts as we see the everyday pimping life of Djay (Howard) forcing his prostitutes to do there thing with Nola (Manning) being he most requested girl, he has girls in the strip club too which Lexus (Parker) being the one he is closest too, he also has a pregnant one in his home with Shug (Henson) waiting to give birth.

When Djay meets an old friend Key (Anderson) he starts to have a craving to try and become a hip-hop star as the two work together to make song where he learns that Shug is the real talent in his household.

 

Thoughts on Hustle & Flow

 

Characters – Djay is a pimp going through a mid-life crisis, he is tired of struggling to make his girls collect his money and wants to try and new career as a hip-hop star, he must first shake his old ways though and accept criticisms for his vision. Key is a music producer for a local church, he comes from a very different background to Djay and is willing to give this music venture a chance. Nola is one of the prostitutes that is still working the streets she is his go to girl at the moment with the others out of the picture at the moment, she does get frustrated about being the only one on the streets though. Shug is the pregnant girl working for Djay, she shows herself to have real talent when it comes to singing which only brings the music alive for Djay.

PerformancesTerrence Howard in the leading role is great because we see his character’s full evolution through the story trying to find himself in the world. Anthony Anderson continues to show everyone he can be an great supporting performer while Taryn Manning and Taraji P Henson both show us they were going to go onto bigger projects.

StoryThe story shows us how a mid-life crisis can drive somebody to go down unusual paths with his Djay wanting to become a hip-hop star getting out of the pimping business. The story does break up into a couple of acts with the pimping business playing out like you would imagine, while the middle part of the film focuses for a long time on the making of the song which does go on longer than it needs too. With the third acting showing us just how difficult the industry is to get into. The idea that we can dream helps this movie out big time because it is important to see, though seeing just how far people will go for the dreams is the bleak side to things.

Crime/MusicThe crime world we see is just how the pimping world operates and how close to the line certain hip-hop stars can go to the law, this blends nicely with the music side of the film.

SettingsThe film is set in Memphis which shows us the difficult neighbourhood that Djay is operating in, it shows he tensions can fly and how the special want to get out of the place.


Scene of the Movie –
The club drinks.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too long spent recording the song.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story about dreams and just how far people will go to try and make dreams come true, whether you will go too far too.

 

Overall: Dreams Big or fail.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – D – Dreamgirls (2006)

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Bill Condon (Screenplay) Tom Eyen (Book)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose

 

Plot: A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.


Tagline – One Dream Will Change Everything

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical Musical

 

Story: Dreamgirls starts as we meet the three soul singers from Detroit Deena Jones (Beyonce), Effie White (Hudson) and Lorrell Robinson (Rose), the Dreams, they are trying to make a name for themselves and catch the attention of Curtis Taylor Jr (Foxx) who arranges them to be back up singers for James ‘Thunder’ Early.

When Curtis sees the girls future alone, but with Deena taking the lead of the trio it doesn’t set well with Effie and with the act breaking barriers across the world it builds the tension between the band before eventually seeing Effie leaving the act as Deena becoming the international star and Effie must face the consequences of giving up her own chance of stardom.

 

Thoughts on Dreamgirls

 

Characters – Curtis Taylor Jr gave up his car dealership to turn the Dreams into stars, he knows how to challenge the market to get the goes famous, taking a shine to Deena he sees her being the front of the trio which causes the tension within the trio, he delivers on his promises even if things don’t come off as clean as they should. Deena is one of the trio, she gets the most attention because she is the most attractive and while taking over the leading role in the trio where her stardom divides the friendship. James ‘Thunder’ Early is the artist that the Dreams start as backup, he watches the Dreams go onto be bigger stars than he had ever been because of the lack of support. Effie White is the best singer in the trio, she is the first to oppose being just a backup singer, wanting to take her position to the next level, which only sees he removed from the band.

PerformancesJamie Foxx was at the top of his career here and it shows because he is great, the biggest surprises come from the rest of the main cast, Eddie Murphy, well this is easily his best performance in the last 30 years and shows everyone just what he is capable off. Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson are both fantastic in their roles as the completely understand how difficult the music industry can be for anyone.

StoryThe story follows the trio of soul singers who start in just a talent contest to hopefully get a big break, only to find themselves becoming international superstars, but with success comes at a price as the trio go their own ways with one becoming the biggest name in music and the other resorted to performing in clubs. We get to see the harsh reality of the music industry from the four main characters and directions they end up taking. Having a film balance the four characters stories so, well is unusual and a great watch.

MusicalThe song and numbers are all wonderful with plenty of different genre touched on as the sound of the band changes through the years too.

SettingsThe film shows the different worlds these women could be living in, the riot filled streets of Detroit or the fame and celebrity world.


Scene of the Movie –
Final performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Wondering why Eddie Murphy can’t perform this well more often.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable musical that shines a spotlight on the soul music scene during the 60’s, it has wonderful performance throughout and is a must watch for the fans of the music genre and musical fans in general.

 

Overall: Beautiful movie.

Rating