ABC Film Challenge – Animation – W – Watership Down (1978)

Director: Martin Rosen

Writer: Martin Rosen (Screenplay) Richard Adams (Novel)

Starring: (Voice Talents) John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox, John Bennett, Ralph Richardson, Simon Cadell

 

Plot: A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.


Tagline – All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and when they catch you, they will kill you… but first they must catch you.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disturbing Animation

 

Story: Watership Down starts when young rabbits Hazel and Fiver start to believe something is wrong with their warren a danger coming that will kill them all. Wanting to warm the warren, they see the chief rabbit, who dismisses their claims, forcing the rabbits to abandon the warren going against the traditions.

Hazel leads a group of rabbits across the English countryside in search for a new warren, where they must face enemies in nearly every turn in their journey.

 

Thoughts on Watership Down

 

Characters – Hazel is our brave leader rabbit, he knows how to handle the different rabbits in the warren and will always look after his little brother and follow his belief danger is coming to the warren. He is our reluctant hero of the story. Fiver is the rut of the litter, he sees danger coming to the warren wanting to leave and guide his fellow rabbits to safety. He is a nervous member of the group, with his belief guiding the rabbits to safety. Bigwig is the only authority in the rabbit council that will listen to Hazel, risking his own life to help them escape.

StoryThe story here has a couple of meanings, we can tackle the simple idea of a group of rabbits needing to find a new home because they are in fear of their current one, the journey side of everything it what you would expect and works wonderfully. The second side of this story looks and plays as a warning to humans that are taking wildlife’s homes away from them forcing them into the hostel nature towards each other.

Adventure/Family/ThrillerThe adventure does take our rabbits across the countryside, needing to take on and avoid new enemies waiting to make a meal out of them. The biggest weakness is seeing this as a family film, it is way to violent for the younger kids. It does however leave you on edge of your seats through the peril moments.

SettingsThe settings look at the English countryside which looks beautiful, we do go into the warrens too which shows the lives the rabbits live underground.

AnimationThe animation through the film adds to everything, it looks brilliant for the late 70s and while certain moment are slightly trippy, it is an achievement in film making.


Scene of the Movie –
Bright Eyes

That Moment That Annoyed Me The television version is edited way too much.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that gave me nightmares as a child, it does have an important message to mankind while also having an adventure story that is filled with perils around nearly every corner.

 

Overall: Dark animated movie.

Rating

 

 

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The Jurassic Dead (2018)

Director: Milko Davis, Thomas Martwick

Writer: Milko Davis, Michele Pacitto (Screenplay))

Starring: Matt Block, Cooper Elliott, Ben Johnson, Mia Klosterman, Adam Singer, Ruselis Aumeen Perry, Andy Haman, Raquel Pennington

 

Plot: A cracked scientist aligns with the Axis of Evil to bring down the US of A with EMP blasts, toxic zombification gas and an unleashing of the ultimate undead killing monstrosity — the Z-REX. When a hot-wired militia squad and a crew of college hipsters are thrown together to do something about it, chaotic Predator-Thunder action runs amok.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not As Good as You Would Imagine

 

Story: The Jurassic Dead starts when Dr Borge (Elliott) unleashes his own pathogen that can bring the dead back to life, the five-person military team Duque (Haman), Cuchilla (Pennington), Stick (Perry), Swat (Gonzzalez) and Spivey (Le Page) are being sent to clear out an unground base Dr Borge has occupied.

When they are joined by a group of college students Gunnar (Johnson), Sadie (Klosterman), Cameron (Singer) and Roxanne (Goeke) who become stranded in the desert, the two groups learn that Dr Borge has been working on, a Z-Rex and zombified T-Rex.

 

Thoughts on The Jurassic Dead

 

Characters – Duque is the leader of the military unit, he will go in first against any threat, be it human or dinosaur and show his dominance in combat. He is your cigar chopping, sunglass wearing figure you see in nearly alpha male military leader. The rest of his unit fill the generic figures we have come to know, the loose cannon, the calm one and the weapons expert. On the student side of things we have the dumb jock, the dippy blonde, the stoner geek and the rebellious one, they fill the clichés the way you would expect.

PerformancesThe performances here are not at the highest level, mostly because we have actors just starting out in the business or Andy Haman from bodybuilding and Raquel Pennington from UFC, no one is terrible, but on the other hand no one really stands out as being great in this film, which is fine because it is people fight a dinosaur and zombies.

StoryThe story here follows a military team and a group of students that end up in a secret bunker battling an evil scientist and his undead dinosaur. While this is a story that fills the boxes for what I enjoy watching in the brain off and enjoy movie, it would be fair the story is pretty shallow and doesn’t offer everything it should do. It does feel generic with how the events unfold even if the idea of undead dinosaur is original.

Action/Horror/Sci-FiThe action in the film goes down to plenty of guns shooting at dinosaurs and the big finale. The horror looks at the idea that dinosaurs are looking to eat people and even turn them into zombies. The idea of undead dinosaurs is a sci-fi ABC which works.

SettingsMost of the film takes place in the bunker which keeps the action contained with no escape.

Special EffectsThe effects are mixed, the practical effects are good enough, but when the CGI gets bought in things go downhill.


Scene of the Movie –
The first dinosaur appearance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The CGI moments in the close of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun easy to watch film, it doesn’t have enough dinosaurs for my liking.

 

Overall: Undead dinosaurs movie fun.

Rating

 

 

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

Director: Wes Ball

Writer: T.S. Nowlin (Screenplay) James Dashner (Novel)

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Will Poulter, Jacob Lofland, Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper

 

Plot: Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”.


Tagline – Who Will Make it to the WCKD End

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Enough Finish

 

Story: Maze Runner: The Death Cure starts where the last movie finished off, Thomas (O’Brien) is leading the attempts to save the member of his team captured, Minho (Lee) and Teresa (Scodelario) from the hands of Ava Paige (Clarkson).

Thomas mission is to get into the city, joined by friends Newt (Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Darden), Brenda (Salazar) and Jorge (Esposito) they must do what they have been trying to avoid, getting into the city which are continuing their experiments in search for a cure for the ‘Flare’, joined by an old friend to help navigate the big city.

 

Thoughts on Maze Runner: The Death Cure

 

Characters – Thomas is continuing his fight against the people that placed him in the maze, he has become the leader in the fight back and now will risk everything to save the ones his side of lost, even if it risks his own life. He will be faced with the difficult questions and decisions in the final instalment of the franchise. Minho is the member of the team that has been captured, the one that Thomas fights to rescue, Minho goes through memories as we see his point of view from inside the laboratory. Teresa is now one of the scientists working on a cure, next to Ava Paige, this shows how she has seen the bigger picture, the cure, but deep down she is still conflicted with which side to support. Newt is Thomas’ brains, he pulls the strings when it comes to inventing and planning the attacks. Ava Paige is the mind behind searching for the cure, she knows this is the only way to save the remaining humans, but even she is starting to accept defeat in her efforts. Janson is the man hunting down the Glades, he will do anything to find them and won’t give up on the idea of a cure.

PerformancesDylan O’Brien in the leading role is good especially after what happened to him during production, he shows us that he is ready to become a leading man in the action genre. The returning cast in the younger performers have all gotten to the levels we have got used with the franchise. Patricia Clarkson and Aidan Gillen provide us with the villainous figures we need too.

StoryThe story continues the battle between the Glades and the rich using the children in hope of finding a cure for the disease which has swept the land. This time the kids are fighting back in an attempt to rescue their own, while the rich are facing the reality they can’t cure the disease. Unlike many other young adult book films, we only get one final chapter, thank God, we don’t need two every time. This follows the usual lines we are used to seeing, we have returning faces and being left in the middle of the final battle to end the divide.

Action/Sci-FiThe action is by the book, we are left for a final act which is a major battle sequence, like we have seen before. The idea the world has become devastated by this virus helps bring us into the sci-fi side of the story, seeing how the human race could be divided in the quest to survive.

SettingsThe settings bring us to the big city for the battle, we have escaped the dust of survival and now take the battle to the enemy. It feels like a generic city, one we have seen before.

Special EffectsThe effects we see through the film do the job well, they could be better, but they could be a lot worse.


Scene of the Movie –
The opening sequence feels like the best watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Why do they keep taking their masks off?

Final ThoughtsThis is everything you would want from the final instalment of a young adult series of books, it is easy to watch without being the most memorable.

 

Overall: Solid, average finish to the series.

Rating

 

 

Darkness Reigns (2018)

Director: Andrew P Jones

Writer: Andrew P Jones (Screenplay)

Starring: Zachary Mooren, Linara Washington, Casper Van Dien, Peter Mayer, Ford Fanter, Jennifer Wenger, James Packard

 

Plot: A film crew is ravaged by a demon, who is hell bent on cashing in on a deal he made with someone on set who was seeking fame and fortune.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Twist on the Found Footage

 

Story: Darkness Reigns starts when Daniel (Mooren) is releasing his new documentary on the events that happened on the film set one year ago. Daniel is working as the cameraman filming the behind the scene footage for a brand new low budget horror movie starring Casper Van Dien. The film is set in a haunted hotel and we get to meet the cast and crew of the movie.

When the hotel turns out to be truly haunted by a demon, the cast and crew face a race to survive against a demon that enjoys playing towards the weakness of its victims.

 

Thoughts on Darkness Reigns

 

Characters – Daniel is the cameraman working on the behind the stage footage, he dreams of becoming the next big director in the world with this being his first steps in the film world. We have him holding the camera which does make sense for the use of the found footage camera work style. Vanessa is the make up artist on the set, she is one of the people needing to find a way to survive. Casper Van Dien is playing a version of himself, he plays the biggest star on set which gets to play out like he is the most important part of the film. we do have the remaining of the cast and crew involved in the horror movie, it would have been nice to meet a few other characters though.

PerformancesZachary Mooren is the lead in the movie, he does make us believe his character has been on edge through the film because we know he makes it out. Linara Washington is good, but we don’t believe her pain when she gets put through the horror moments. Casper Van Dien does play his character role and does look like he is enjoying his role. Where the film is set as a behind the scene filming, we do get to see the performers look like they are trying to avoid the camerawork which makes us understand why they look at act nervous.

StoryThe story here follows the events of a film production that gets taken over by a demonic presence, while Daniel has turned the events into a documentary, we learn this in the opening scene. This is shot like a found footage because it follows the behind the scenes shooting for the extras on the DVD. We learn elements of how a low budget horror movie gets worked on and even having Casper Van Dien playing the most important actor in the movie. There isn’t the deepest story, but I did like how we didn’t go through the ‘set up’ of a found footage film and just jump into the horror when it starts, it is a sudden moment which doesn’t let go.

HorrorThe horror uses demonic presence haunting a film set with a twist that comes late in the film. we keep the horror moments happening mostly off camera and the ones we do see are creepy imagines.

SettingsThe film is set in the abandoned hotel, we learn that most of the doors are blocked off which means the exits are not where they should be, which helps when the endless running to escape because there isn’t an easy way out.

Special EffectsFor the effects we get a mix of CGI and practical, the practical clearly is good, while the CGI looks weak in places.


Scene of the Movie –
The first encounter with the demon.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not meeting enough of the film crew.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid horror thriller that brings us a fresh approach to the found footage idea and gives us some secret to how a low budget horror gets made.

 

Overall: Horror fans to watch.

Rating

 

 

Natalie Portman Weekend – Leon (1994)

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Peter Appel

 

Plot: Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Assassin Film

 

Story: Leon starts as we see just how deadly of an assassin Leon (Reno) is, you know the usual easy job to show he can pull tricks to confuse the enemy. Leon lives in a small apartment in New York where he has neighbours with middle child Mathilda (Portman) feeling out of place with her abusive father and sister. When we see how her father has gotten them in trouble with Stansfield (Oldman) he murders the whole family.

Leon reluctantly welcomes Mathilda into his home but they soon make an agreement that Leon will train Mathilda to be a ‘cleaner’ just like him so she get kill Stansfield and the men that killed her family.

 

Thoughts on Leon

 

Characters – Leon is the loner assassin that is brilliant at getting the job done and spends his free time keeping his planet in the sun and watching old movies in the cinema. He has a code, no women or children which is why he takes Mathilda in so he can teach her the ways and help her get revenge on the man who killed her family. Mathilda is the 12-year-old girl that has never fitted in her family and is being abused by her family, she sees her family murdered and her only hope is Leon, she wants to be trained to be like him so she can get revenge. We get a lot of different characteristics from this character that acts a lot older than she should but it makes sense because of her childhood being ripped from her. Stansfield is the cop that killed Mathilda’s family, he is a dirty cop with a love for classical music that doesn’t care who he kills to keep his business alive.

PerformanceJean Reno is fantastic in this role, he plays a character perfectly to make us see his kindness to go against his heartless nature as a killer. Gary Oldman makes for a brilliant villain as we see just how emotionless he can be. Natalie Portman gave us her first performance here and it is one of the best child actor performances you will see which makes you understand why she has had such a long career.

StoryThe story follows the idea that a lone assassin teaming up with a young girl who has become a victim of a dirty cop as their friendship blossoms the revenge becomes personal. This is easily one of the best relationship between two people from different worlds coming together for a common goal without anything needing to get complicated.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of the film shows the world of assassins, dirty cops and innocent victims as we are left on edge waiting to see what will be happening to our characters.

SettingsNew York always makes for a wonderful setting as we get to see how the overcrowding can let hitmen get away easily.

Scene of the Movie – Mathilda’s Gift for Stansfield.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nothing, really.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the best movies of all times, it shows how to make a lone assassin movie can be one of the best of all time.

 

Overall: Brilliant, masterpiece movie.

Rating