Keanu Reeves Weekend – Chain Reaction (1996) Movie Review

Director: Andrew Davis

Writer: J.F. Lawton, Michael Bortman (Screenplay) Arne Schmidt, Rick Seaman, Josh Friedman (Story)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman, Rachel Weisz, Fred Ward, Kevin Dunn, Brian Cox, Joanna Cassidy

Plot: Two researchers in a green alternative energy project are put on the run when they are framed for murder and treason.

Tagline – Reaction Time 8-4-96

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Simple Actioner

Story: Chain Reaction starts in a world where energy sources are running low, where scientists Eddie (Reeves), Lily (Weisz) and Paul (Freeman) are working on an alternative energy source using hydrogen, which proves to be a success, until somebody sabotages their project causing massive explosion.

Eddie and Lily find themselves targeted by an FBI investigation, leading them to go on the run to clear their names and prove who was really behind the explosion, a path which shows many different sides to the people they worked with.

Thoughts on Chain Reaction

Characters – Eddie Kasalivich is one of the scientists that has been working on the hydrogen project, he has cracked the problems they were facing and always looks after the people working on the project with him. He narrowly avoids being caught in the explosion, learning of the foul play involved with it, getting framed in the process. He goes on the run to prove he had nothing to do with the explosion and the research was for the greater good for humanity. Paul Shannon is the man that gets the funding for the project, he knows that is free energy could cause problems and is the connection between the truth and the escape. Dr Lily Sinclair is working on the project, which sees her being framed, going on the run with Eddie, learning more about the truth behind what happened. We also have the FBI agents who are following the basic clues, as well as the people who were behind the explosion looking to clean up the loose ends.

PerformancesKeanu Reeves doesn’t do anything wrong in the leading role, he doesn’t get too much to work with as he just doesn’t get loose on the full action side of things. Morgan Freeman and Rachel Weisz are strong enough without being let off the lease for their full potential.

StoryThe story here follows the aftermath of an explosion within an energy research facility, showing how two of the scientists become the suspects who must prove their innocence. This is an interesting idea for a story, using the ideas of a new energy source that could become free and friendly to the world and how people would want to control this. The whole fugitive angle is everything the director is known for works without being too serious with how it unfolds. This is a routine story, with the number of twists thrown in along the way.

Action/Sci-FiThe action does give away the biggest scene in the opening explosion, while the rest is more just chases, that never feel like they are edge of the seat in anyway.

SettingsThe film is set different locations starting with Chicago facing the explosion, while the rest shows the more secret locations a project like this could happen around.

Special EffectsThe effects have dated now, with the opening explosion does not look realistic in anyway.

Scene of the Movie – The escape the explosion.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The rest of the tame chases.

Final Thoughts This is an action film that gave away the biggest moment too early and ends up plodding along at a slow pace, while trying to get over a bigger message.

Overall: Easy Going Action

Parallax (2020) Movie Review

Director: Michael Bachochin

Writer: Michael Bachochin (Screenplay)

Starring: Naomi Prentice, Nelson Ritthaler, Hattie Smith, Ted Gianopulos, Bette Smith, Taylor Flowers

Plot: A young artist wakes up in a life that she doesn’t recognize, spending her time asleep haunted by nightmares of drowning in a black abysmal void. As she begins to uncover the truths of the life that she’s found herself in, the gravity of her failing reality weighs heavily on her psychological identity and the reliability of her sanity is called into question.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Thinking Person’s Film

Story: Parallax starts as Naomi (Prentice) is feeling lost in her life, not remembering everything, including her fiancée Lucas (Ritthaler) who has been trying to support her, seeing Dr Hill (Gianopulos) for guidance, to help him express his frustrations of where his relationship is going.

As Naomi starts trying to explore her own mind, she finds herself being able to create worlds, one where she meets Mikayla (Smith) someone who she can communicate with more than anyone in her life, leading her to see the two worlds blur into reality.

Thoughts on Parallax

Characters – Naomi is a young woman that is questioning her own reality, she uses art to escape and find her own reality, one that will give her more answers to life, she doesn’t remember people she thought were big parts of her life, she doesn’t know who to trust in life. Lucas is the fiancée that has been trying to help Naomi with her troubles, he seeks outside help, which does give him a chance to understand whether he is right to continue to support the way he does. Mikayla comes to Naomi in the other reality, offering Naomi conversations she doesn’t always get in life, giving answer to the unknow questions.

PerformancesNaomi Prentice and Nelson Ritthaler are both good in the leading roles, showing the differences that they are going through during the story, with each scene needing them to bring something different to the table.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman that finds herself being trapped in a world where she doesn’t remember everything around her, her fiancée tries to support her in remembering things, only for her to find herself question each and everything about her life. This is a story that does go very deep into the reality of life, while we don’t get this until later, it will get you thinking, scratching your head at times and needing to take a step back to analyse everything you watch. It could be considered one film that does go too deep into the thinking side of things, which doesn’t help us get the full enjoyment, and is 100% a movie you can’t just relax and watch.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi side of the movie dives into difference in reality, seeing what could or couldn’t be real. Constantly keeping us guessing along the way.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings in a family home for the relationship, while also creating open beauty space for the quiet moments of peace.

Scene of the Movie – The deep dive.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It goes too deep.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting sci-fi that could be analysed for hours to truly understand everything, but it will not be a casual viewing for anyone.

Overall: Brains Firmly On.

Think Like a Dog (2020) Movie Review

Director: Gil Junger

Writer: Gil Junger (Screenplay)

Starring: Gabriel Bateman, Josh Duhamel, Megan Fox, Madison Horcher, Minghao Hou, Izaac Wang, Kunal Nayyar, Janet Montgomery

Plot: A 12-year-old tech prodigy’s science experiment goes awry and he forges a telepathic connection with his best friend, his dog. The duo join forces and use their unique perspectives on life to comically overcome complications of family and school.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Enjoyable Family Film

Story: Think Like a Dog starts as we meet Henry, a family dog that lives with his human family Oliver (Bateman), Lukas (Duhamel) and Ellen (Fox), he knows they are smart, with Oliver being a genius child who is on the verge of being able to create a mind reader, grabbing the attention of professional scientists, Mr Mills (Nayyar) and Bridget (Montgomery).

After failing to prove his experiment works, he tries it one more time with Henry and ends making it work, being able to communicate with his dog, at the time he needs it most in life.

Thoughts on Think Like a Dog

Characters – Oliver is a genius young boy who has always been trying to create something to change the world, he has used the idea of mind reading, which fails at school, he succeeds with his own dog, being able to communicate with it to deal with a big life issue and growing up, like asking a girl to the dance and dealing with needing to earn respect in the school system. Lukas and Ellen are his parents, they are going through a difficult time, with Oliver working with Henry to try and help fix his parents marriage. Mr Mills is a world-famous billionaire creator, he has always scouted creators around the world to remain on top of the industry and will do anything to prove his brilliance. Henry is the dog of the family, he loves his owner, like every pet, he is narrating the life, through his own eyes, which adds the innocent side to everything.

PerformancesGabriel Bateman is great in the leading role, working well with the connection with the dog, he shows the success and failures of everyday life well through the film. Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox are great together are the parents in the film, with Kunal Nayyar getting laughs with his Elon Musk like character.

StoryThe story here follows a genius young boy that is trying to create a mind reading device, which sees him being able communicate with his dog, using this to help fix his parents relationship and learn to take the next steps in his early life. This is a family movie and you can tell by the story, as it shows the struggle through school, the relationship you will have with a pet growing up, while a big change might come in a young life. We get the moments of charm, the moments of fun and the moments that will help Oliver grow. The story is easy to watch and will be one that the whole family can enjoy.

Comedy/Sci-FiThe comedy in the film is for all ages, some will work, other parts won’t, with the sci-fi side of the film being about how the technology works, we are lucky the film doesn’t try to give us bad effects with unrealistic dog effects, we just have natural dog movements.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us the everyday life that Oliver and his family live in.

Scene of the Movie – The dog park.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The agent’s group doesn’t get enough screen time.

Final Thoughts This is a fun family film that could be enjoyed by all, it has the heart, the important life lessons and strong performances throughout.

Overall: Fun Family Film.

Lionsgate UK presents family comedy Think Like a Dog on digital download 6 July and DVD 20 July

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – # – The 12 Disasters of Christmas (2012) Movie Review

Director: Steven R Monroe

Writer: Sydney Roper, Rudy Thauberger (Screenplay)

Starring: Ed Quinn, Magda Apanowicz, Holly Elissa, Roark Critchlow, Andrew Airlie, Ryan Grantham, Greg Kean

Plot: It’s Christmas Eve when an ominous dark star appears in the sky; could this star be a sign that Judgment Day is near? When massive earthquakes and natural disasters tear apart cities, it seems that the day of reckoning is upon us – and now a small band of heroes must come together to save the world!

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Enjoyable Disaster Film

Story: The 12 Disasters of Christmas starts on Jacey’s (Apanowicz) 18th birthday as she has a climbing day with her father Joseph (Quinn), the day takes a turn when Jacey’s grandmother gives her a ring claiming she is the chosen one.

Once the sky starts raining shards of ice, it becomes clear that this is just the latest disaster which is claiming the end of the world is coming, through different disasters, with only one person that can stop it, Jacey

Thoughts on The 12 Disasters of Christmas

Characters – Joseph is the husband and father that has been fighting to save his town from new control after seeing the jobs disappear, when the events of the disasters start happening, he will join his daughter in putting the clues together to try and stop the world ending, even if people do try and stop them. Jacey has just turned 18, she enjoys the physical hobbies including climbing, she wants to move away for college, which is the biggest strain in the relationship between her and her father, until she learns she is the chosen one that can stop the disasters, she gets put through pain whenever one is about to hit too. Mary is the mother and wife that is always around for medical problems the town is facing. Kane owns the town, he did grow up there, but has been looking to turn the town around to make more money for himself.

PerformancesEd Quinn does well enough in the leading role, this is a Syfy movie, so we know the performances aren’t going to be winning any awards, they just need to make sure they are passable for a film like this, which they whole cast is strong enough through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a small town that happens to be the epicentre of the end of the world after the prophecy claims that 12 disasters will signal the end of the world, unless the chosen one can stop it. The story does spin the idea of the 12 days of Christmas by turning it into different theories about disasters, which sadly is one of the weakest parts of the film because the disaster doesn’t match the songs ideas. If you look at this as a series of disasters, this is a fun enjoyable story, it plays out just like you would imagine, knowing who will die and when, usually just after giving the message, but it does feel fresh compared to most of the disaster films that don’t feel like they can be stopped with the power of one.

Action/Sci-FiThe action is a lot of different disasters, we have slow chases, nothing is truly ground breaking or leaves us with a giant set piece like most disaster films, while the sci-fi side of the film focuses on the idea of the world coming to an end, where the fantasy elements could be the one thing to stop it.

SettingsThe film is set in a small mountain town, which shows how close everybody is and how they would react to crisis.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are the low-budget ones we would expect, there is a couple of moments that work very well, even with the budget.

Scene of the Movie – The invisible wall.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The disasters don’t match the song lyrics which is implied by the title.

Final Thoughts This is a fun disaster movie, it keeps things simple, has plenty of peril and an idea that bigger things could happen if they are not stopped.

Overall: Simple and Fun.

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – Z – Ghost Storm (2011)

This is under Z because of the director Paul Ziller

Director: Paul Ziller

Writer: Paul Ziller (Screenplay)

Starring: Carlos Bernard, Crystal Allen, Cindy Busby, Kacey Rohl, Aaron Douglas, Brett Dier, Andrew Dunbar

Plot: An action packed chase led by Hal and Ashley to save the people on this small island from a strange electrical storm which is led by angry souls from a mass suicide looking for revenge.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Entertaining

Story: Ghost Storm starts when a group of teenagers witness a lightening strike in the remote island graveyard, this unleashes a spirit that kills one of the teenagers, Sheriff Hal Miller (Bernard) starts to investigate only to see more bodies disintegrated from a fog coming out of the grave. Hal’s ex-wife Ashley (Allen) sees the strange reading on her weather reporting system which is something a storm that can’t be explained overhead.

Hal and Ashley must put aside their differences to uncover the truth about a legend of the Island that involves the souls of a mass suicide, can they stop the spread of this before it is too late.

Thoughts on Ghost Storm

Characters – Sheriff Hal Miller likes his quiet town job, he has divorced his wife who still lives in the town too, where they take turns taking care of their teenage daughter, he starts to investigate the strange goings on and must race against time to keep his people safe, even after seeing many killed by this unknown force. Ashley is Hal’s ex-wife, she works on studying the weather in the area, she sees the first storm come and go, which is normal, but can’t get to the bottom of what is causing the unusual patterns on the island, she will work with Hal to save the town. Daisy is the daughter of the pair, she sees the first attack of the ghost storm, she does the most research into the truth of what happened and is the only one that does seem to have the intelligence to stay ahead of their ways. We completely the characters with the towns people, the one against Hal, the priest and the supernatural guy that understands more than the rest.

PerformancesWhen it comes to the performances, we don’t need the very best from anybody involved. Carlos Bernard does well in the leading role, as does Crystal Allen, though it could be anybody playing these roles. The supporting cast are all fine through the film, they all know what they are doing without needing to be centre of attention.

StoryThe story here follows a small island town that gets hit by a storm that unleashes evil spirits on the town that must be stopped before it spreads too far and has a source in their history. The story plays into the ideas of ‘The Fog’ which sees the spirits come back to haunt the village, it does come from through a storm which does bring a new twist on how the ghosts come after people literally turning people to dust. It is nice how we are trying to mix supernatural, science and religion into trying to battle the storm too. This isn’t going to be the story that you need to take seriously either and just up being fun enough to watch.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror comes from just seeing the number of people are getting taken out by the ghost storm, the sci-fi side of the film plays into the idea of the storm too, by seeing just how it was created.

SettingsThe film is set on a small island town, it shows how they have history which could bring around the supernatural side of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are fun, they show how the ghosts look like the smoke monster in Lost which does turn people to dust with some looking great at times.

Scene of the Movie – The first ghost attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – There are too many side characters we basically just meet to be killed with no consequences.

Final Thoughts This is a fun sci-fi horror movie that will entertain from start to finish bringing a new look at a haunting storm.

Overall: Fun and entertaining.