Edward Norton Weekend – Primal Fear (1996)

Director: Gregory Hobilt

Writer: Steve Shagan, Ann Biderman (Screenplay) William Diehl (Novel)

Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Terry O’Quinn, Andre Braugher

 

Plot: An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.


Tagline – Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Thriller

 

Story: Primal Fear starts when the Archbishop is murdered, all clues point to bloody covered Aaron (Norton) as the murderer, he shy stuttering alter boy. When former district prosecutor Martin Vail (Gere) turned defence lawyer sees this as a spotlight for his new career direction and going against former colleague Janet (Linney) and her boss the district attorney Shaughnessy (Mahoney) the case goes to trial.

When Martin learns that Aaron has a split personality disorder with a much more aggressive Roy doing the dirty work for Aaron and the bigger picture of the motivation behind the murder comes to light.

 

Thoughts on Primal Fear

 

Characters – Martin Vail is the lawyer, he once was one of the biggest prosecutors in the city but has turned his back on that career to become a defence lawyer. He sees this case as the one that will give him his big break as a defence lawyer doing this case for free. He has a strong trusted team, he is made out to be a womaniser, though we never see him hit on anyone, only that he once had a fling with Janet in the past. Janet is the prosecutor that is taking the case, she is the one taking over Martin’s role and with a previous relationship with him. She knows this will be a career maker for her and is enjoying going head to head with her former mentor. Shaughnessy is the District Attorney that wants the death penalty and will not let Janet forget this. Aaron is the shy alter boy that is accused of murder but with him being found covered in blood even if you can’t see him doing this murder, Roy is the aggressive personality next to Aaron that knows the truth and seems to be the release of everything Aaron holds in. Shoat is the judge trying to control the case in what lawyers are trying to pull for their wins. Molly is psychologist that is studying Aaron trying to figure out what his mindset learning about Roy.

PerformancesRichard Gere is fantastic in the leading role, you see here how he shows the desperate he is to win this case. Laura Linney is strong in her role which must go against Richard Gere. Edward Norton gives one of the best debut roles of any actor in the history of film, he is disturbed when needed and calm when Aaron and crazed when Roy. The supporting cast are great too without taking the spotlight of the rest of the cast.

StoryThe story follows the trial of a disturbed young man accused of murdering an archbishop. While the court case unfolds like you would expect with twists coming from every corner and evidence coming to light through nearly every witness. As a fan of courtroom dramas this plays into everything I enjoy and I love watching crimes get solved in a courtroom. The story is very well paced and even being over 2 hours long doesn’t feel like you are giving the film this much time.

Crime/MysteryThe crime focuses on the murder and what gave the killer motivation, the mystery plays into the motivation too and just how the shy timid altar boy could have committed the murder.

SettingsThe film uses the courtroom for most of the scenes, we have the location involved in the crime too which shows how the lawyers are operating on both sides of the case.


Scene of the Movie –
The final twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would say the side case Martin worked on being touched on through the main case gets slightly annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best courtroom dramas of all time, with a crime which does balance the line between what would be considered a bigger crime and performances that could be considered the career best for members of the cast.

 

Overall: Courtroom delight.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – O – OtherLife (2017)

Director: Ben C Lucas

Writer: Kelley Eskridge, Ben C Lucas, Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica De Gouw, Thomas Cocquerel, T.J. Power, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Sarah Anjuli, Liam Graham, Tiriel Mora, Clarence John Ryan

 

Plot: After inventing a drug that induces time-compressed virtual realities, young Ren grapples with partner Sam over how to use their powerful creation.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Sci-Fi Film

 

Story: OtherLife starts as Ren Amari (De Gouw) is trying to sale her brilliant invention, a virtual reality world creator that can let you experience breath taking moments within minutes of your life. With her partner Sam (Power) they could be about to change the world, though Ren has been working on a side project to help save her brother, who didn’t survive the virtual experience.

When Ren puts her boyfriend Danny (Cocquerel) on her latest project disaster strikes and she is left facing jail time, unless she complies with Sam and the correction department that want to use her creation to teach criminals a lesson in a matter of minutes, she becomes the first person to go through one year in one minute, can she survive this isolation, until she learns the truth about the last year of her life.

 

Thoughts on OtherLife

 

Characters – Rem Amari is a brilliant programmer who created OtherLife, a virtual reality program that lets people live life experiences in minutes, as her ambitious continues to grow, so does the risks she is willing to take, this is until something goes wrong. She is meant to be the first trialist of a long-term experience in correctional behaviour, but after her year in the system she learns the truth and must learn what has actually happened to her. Danny is the boyfriend of Ren’s that she believes she accidentally kills leading her to take the deal in the first place. Sam is the partner in the company, he is interested in profit over the science which causing friction between the two, he even talks Ren into making the deal in the first place.

PerformancesJessica De Gouw is wonderful in the leading role, we get to see how someone can be changed with a limited capacity that does make us believe everything she is going through, she is clearly the best performer in this film. when we look at the rest of the cast we do get good performances without them being at the same level as Jessica.

StoryThe story here takes us to a world where we are looking at the reality of virtual reality experiences in minutes as we follow one woman that wants her design to help bring her brother out of his coma, but the risks push things too far leading to her needing to take the next experience. This is a sci-fi film that will make you think from start to finish and does have twists along the way which is all I ever ask for in sci-fi films. The biggest aspect behind this film is playing into the idea of experiencing something yourself or tricking your brain into experiencing it for you.

Crime/Mystery/Sci-Fi The crime side of the film comes to us through the human experiments that were not legal for certain parts of them. The mystery comes from Ren’s experience in the correctional system as she needs to learn to unlock the truth about what is happening. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the technology and the usage it receives by playing the programs in the brain.

SettingsThe film takes us on the locational tour of the film, we have the office complex as well as the isolated location Ren finds herself in, while we also head to the locations which would be off the map.

Special EffectsThe effects are strong throughout as we see the different moments being used for different positions the characters are in.


Scene of the Movie –
The clocks countdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It would have been nice to see a couple more locations you could experience.

Final ThoughtsThis is a smart sci-fi film that does offer the questions I enjoy seeing in sci-fi films about increased usage of technology, it has a strong leading performance from Jessica De Gouw and does keep you guessing until the very end.

 

Overall: Sci-fi to enjoy testing the brain.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – L – Lifeforce (1985)

Director: Tobe Hooper

Writer: Dan O’Bannon, Don Jakoby (Screenplay) Colin Wilson (Novel)

Starring: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart, Michael Gothard

 

Plot: A race of space vampires arrive in London and infect the populace.


Tagline – In the blink of an eye, the terror begins.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Clever Sci-Fi Film

 

Story: Lifeforce starts when an international space mission to research Halley’s comet finds a mysterious artificial object, they investigate finding three human like bodies around bats, bringing the bodies back Dr Bukovsky (Gothard) unintentionally lets the female space girl (May) escape the facility.

With the girl on the loose and bodies starting to pile up Col Caine (Firth) and returning from space Col Carlsen (Railsback) must race to stop her spreading the infection around London.

 

Thoughts on Lifeforce

 

Characters – Col Carlsen is one of the astronauts that located the strange vessel in space, the lone survivor from the mission and tormented by the events, though eager to make sure he stops what she has spreading. Col Caine is bought into finding out what is going on and cleaning it up before it is too late, he must work with Carlsen which shows the difference between the two as he is calmer in the investigation. Dr Fallada and Dr Bukovsky are both trying to solve the case from a medical standpoint both learning from each incident that happens. The Space Girl is the gorgeous woman from space that uses her beauty to seduce the men into giving them her lifeforce.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are good throughout, Steve Railsback shows the panic required and Peter Firth keeps everything looking calm through the film. Mathilda May looks stunning in her role which mostly revolves around her walking around naked for most of her screen time. An early role from Patrick Stewart is nice to see here too.

StoryThe story follows the idea that man had been enter space and never knowing what was out there, this plays into the horrors of what we could find in space, a virus, an infection and species that could take over our lives. We ask the question, ‘what would happen if we bought it back?’ this obviously shows the worst case scenario and one scientist would warn people about. The story keeps everything feeling interesting as the truth comes out and by the end of the film you will also be happy to have the conversation about space travel.

Action/Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe action in the film comes from the chaos caused trying to contain the spread, which is military style. The horror comes from what the vampires do when they suck the lifeforce out of their victims, this is a wonderful set of scenes to watch. The mystery keeps us guessing to what the main intentions the vampire shave by coming to Earth, we watch as this is getting solve through the film. the sci-fi side of the film explores the ideas that we could find unknown threats in space that cause chaos back on Earth as we continue to learn about the space around us.

SettingsThe film is set in and around London which is nice for the horror scene, we see iconic location destroyed too.

Special EffectsThe practical effects are wonderful as they look like a blink of an eye to where things go, the CGI moments are not the best though.


Scene of the Movie –
The effects between the mummified sides.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end does feel rushed.

Final ThoughtsThis is a clever sci-fi movie that shows the weaknesses in going into space which could bring horrors to Earth, the effects are wonderful, and the acting is strong throughout.

 

Overall: Sci-Fi film for fans of the genre.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – F – Fire in the Sky (1993)

Director: Robert Lieberman

Writer: Tracy Torme (Screenplay) Travis Walton (Book)

Starring: D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Bradley Gregg, James Garner

 

Plot: An Arizona logger mysteriously disappears for five days in an alleged encounter with a flying saucer in 1975.


Tagline – For five days, a man was borrowed. The story that Travis Walton and five other witnesses told is so unbelievable, so unimaginable, that it has become the most famous case of UFO abduction ever recorded.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: That One Scene Shines

 

Story: Fire in the Sky starts as five loggers Mike (Patrick), Allan (Sheffer), David (Berg), Greg (Thomas) and Bobby (Gregg) return to town in a panic with a story to tell the authorities, which brings in Sheriff Frank Watters (Garner). The story the guys tell is the they investigated a mysterious light in the woods which took Travis (Sweeney).

With the search going on for Travis, Mike and the crew find themselves prime suspects in a cover up, until Travis returns with his own account of the story.

 

Thoughts on Fire in the Sky

 

Characters – Travis Walton was a logger that went missing for five days, he doesn’t remember at first what happened, but the truth ill haunt him for the rest of his life as he remembers being taken by aliens. Mike Rogers is the best friend of Travis’ that doesn’t know how to handle his disappearance and his reappearance, but knows that nothing was done by the men in his crew. Frank Watters is the sheriff trying to prove this is a hoax or a cover up depending which side of the events are. The characters are based on the real people which does help make this feel like a good real story to follow.

PerformancesThe performances across the board are good, with D.B. Sweeney showing the pure terror needed during the abduction scene. Robert Patrick works well in his role where he could easily be the lead of the film. James Garner brings an extra bit of class to the performances too.

StoryThe story follows one of the most famous and detailed encounters from alien abduction in history. The story first treats the events like a murder cover up which is wonderful to watch on the screen because we don’t need to watch a full abduction routine which we do see later in the film. the story balances the ideas of what could be truth and what people would want the truth to be too.

Fantasy/Mystery/Sci-Fi The fantasy part of this film comes from what you want to believe about the events, because there is no proof it is real, this adds the mystery too which does also circle around the truth too. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the moment in space which shows what the aliens did to Travis.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small town location where the events happened which does keep us understand how the town would react to the situation.

Special EffectsThe effects are spared for the final moments of the film where we see what happened to Travis, they all look great too.


Scene of the Movie –
Memories nightmare

That Moment That Annoyed Me I was expecting more from the alien abduction side of things.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good sci-fi film, it does balance the event between what could have happened, what is believed to have happened and leaves you to make up your own mind, with a sequence in the ship which will be haunting.

 

Overall: A sci-fi film that hasn’t dated like others

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-fi – C – Cube Zero (2004)

Director: Ernie Barbarash

Writer: Ernie Barbarash (Screenplay)

Starring: Zachary Bennett, David Huband, Stephanie Moore, Martin Roach, Terri Hawkes, Richard McMillan

 

Plot: A young man whose job is to watch over the Cube endeavours to rescue an innocent woman trapped in one of its rooms.


Tagline – The first experiment in fear.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Never Hits the Levels It Could

 

Story: Cube Zero starts with the latest of the events going down, we watch engineers Eric (Bennett) and Dodd (Huband) watch over the latest game. Cassandra (Moore) is the latest player to join in as she is joined by others trying to navigate their way through the twisted games.

When Eric learns that Cassandra hasn’t agreed to take part in this experiment, he decides to break the rules to help her escape, risking his own life against the very people that have employed him.

 

Thoughts on Cube Zero

 

Characters – Erik is the former boy genius, he works in the engineering office of the Cube complex, he does start to question just what they are doing and enters the game to stop who he thinks is an innocent victim of the game. Dodd is the senior engineer that is trying to keep Eric in line, he is a company man that will do anything to keep his head down. Cassandra is one of the players in the game, she is one person that Eric doesn’t believe should be in the game, she has been taken and forced into playing the game.

PerformancesThis being the third movie in the series tells us something about the level of performances we will be receiving Zachary Bennett is solid enough in the leading role, with Stephanie Moore being the good leading lady in the game.

StoryThe story here takes us behind the curtains of the games we have seen previously, this does return to the darker levels of the original. The idea the victims are placed into a game of life and death is back, but we look at the outside looking in from the engineers point of view. This does add something to the film because we couldn’t just do another version of the game, it shows just how many people would be involved in the game too. This helps and hinders the movie because we do end up following the players at time but this just takes away the puzzle solving side of the film.

Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe horror is good to watch, we have gore filled deaths which the franchise is known for. The mystery of solving how to get out alive is taken away because of us being taken behind the curtain. The sci-fi elements come from the technology behind the game.

SettingsThe film remains inside the enclosed cube rooms with different traps, unlike the previous sequel we return to the dark feeling setting and the officers match this too.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the practical effect kills this movie seems almost flawless, when you look at the CGI moments, you will have to raise an eyebrow at the clear use of the CGI.


Scene of the Movie –
The first kill is gory and memorable.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The game doesn’t feel as original as before.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good chapter in the Cube franchise even if it doesn’t hit the marks it could.

 

Overall: We like the franchise.

Rating