Forsaken (2015)

Director: Jon Cassar

Writer: Brad Mirman, Tari (Screenplay)

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Michael Wincott, Brian Cox, Chris Ippolito

 

Plot: In 1872, an embittered gunslinger named John Henry Clayton attempts to make amends with his estranged father Reverend Samuel Clayton while their community is besieged by ruthless land-grabbers.


Tagline – Haunted by his past, searching for peace.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Westerner

 

Story: Forsaken starts when John Henry (Kiefer Sutherland) returns to his family town where his father Reverend Samuel (Donald Sutherland) has a strained relationship due to him not returning to help his mother on her deathbed.

With the Clayton’s discussion their own beliefs in God, James McCurdy (Cox) has taken over the town and starting to expand his empire with Dave Turner (Wincott) doing his dirty work, John refuses to go down without a fight and decides to challenge the rule of the town.

 

Thoughts on Forsaken

 

Characters – John Henry Clayton left his town for war, he never returned until his mother died, he has become distant from his father not believing in God, the town does fear his actions in the past, which has made him the threat to the gang controlling the town and when things become personal, he becomes the man people need to fear. Reverend Samuel Clayton is respected in the town which he has made a place believing in God, he doesn’t like his son returning, but learns that he hasn’t for a good reason. James McCurdy is the man running the town, he lets his men kill to get the property he wants. Dave Turner is one of the men that works for James, one that does play by honour over many of the shot first men in the gang.

PerformancesKiefer Sutherland in the leading role is fine, though his mumbling doesn’t help us care enough his character, opposite his father Donald who isn’t the most entertaining either. Michael Wincott was the most interesting character because he seems to get some development and want to see more from him. Brian Cox feels completely wasted in his role that gives him nothing.

StoryThe story follows a man returning home with a reputation while he needs to learn how to make a stand to protect his town which has become a problem overrun by a gang of outlaws. This does follow the generic idea of a returning man helping clean up his town without offer anything new, it keeps us seeing how the action are building up to the problems that will be facing before the final showdown. The pacing does become slow which does make things unfold at a snail’s pace which just doesn’t keep our attention for long enough.

Action/WesternThe action does feel flat, we just don’t get enough of it to make us believe it is action heavy movie, though the mood makes us feel like the western we are entering.

SettingsThe film does make us feel like we are the small town which has a community feeling about it.


Scene of the Movie –
Dave doesn’t like his men not following orders.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The mumbling from Kiefer.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced action western movie that just never gets going and ends up feeling the pace taking age to get through.

 

Overall: Slow and bland.

Rating

 

 

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El Dorado (1967)

Director: Howard Hawks

Writer: Leigh Brackett (Screenplay) Harry Brown (Novel)

Starring: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt, Paul Fix, Arthur Hunnicutt, Michele Carey

 

Plot: Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.


Tagline – Range War! A lawless time when no man dares turn his back… even to a friend!

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Typical Western

 

Story: El Dorado starts when Sheriff Harrah (Mitchum) turns to his former gunslinger partner Cole Thornton (Wayne) for assistance against a ruthless rancher Bart Jason (Asner) who wants to force another rancher off their land.

Cole meets a young man Mississippi (Caan) that proves he can handle himself in a fight, which sees him continue to build a team to take down Bart Jason once and for all.

 

Thoughts on El Dorado

 

Characters – Cole Thornton is the gunslinger for hire, he doesn’t mind which side of the law he works as long as he gets paid, his loyalty comes back to show that sometimes he doesn’t get bought, when his old friend comes asking for help, he will help people he does believe are getting into trouble for the right reasons and will fight for the people next to the people he trusts the most. Sheriff J.P. Harrah turns to his old friend for help, only to see him turn to the bottle after failing to help on the levels he most requires. Mississippi is the young bounty hunter that is deadly with a knife, he will need to use a gun if he is to work with Cole, who he wants to learn from.

PerformancesJohn Wayne is one of the most famous actors for westerns, he really is a commanding presence on screen even if he doesn’t always hit up the most realistic acting. Robert Mitchum gives us a performance that gets laughs at time and easily goes through the biggest arc through the film. James Caan does well when he gets his time to shine, though he does get overshadowed in places.

StoryThe story follows two men from either sides of the law that team up to take down a rancher and his men that are causing problems in the town. When it comes to westerns nearly every single story is the same, the law makers and reluctant gun for hire joins forces to take on a troublesome group of ranchers or outlaws or something, this is everything we have seen before without needing to offer anything new to the mix. We get a time jump which does come randomly which does disappoint too. We do have a mentor like position which ends up falling short in the way everything pans out.

Romance/WesternThere is meant to be a romance angle in this film which doesn’t seem very interesting in anyway, the western side of the film is everything you are expecting it to be without taking away any of the normal western traits.

SettingsThe film is set in the normal western towns which feels like the sets most likely were used in other films too.


Scene of the Movie –
Drunk J.P.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is just like every other western.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book western, it is easy to follow with stronger performances, but just offers nothing new to the genre.

 

Overall: Simple Western.

Rating

 

Franchise Weekend – From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (1999)

Director: P.J. Pesce

Writer: Alvaro Rodriguez (Screenplay)

Starring: Marco Leonardi, Michael Parks, Temuera Morrison, Rebecca Gayheart, Ara Celi, Lennie Loftin, Sonia Braga

 

Plot: Set 100 years ago in Mexico, this horror/western is the story of the birth of the vampire princess Santanico Pandemonium.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Western Re-Hash of Original

 

Story: From Dusk till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter starts when an outlaw Johnny Madrid (Leonardi) escapes his hanging, taking the Hangman’s (Morrison) daughter Esmeralda (Celi) with him, to reunite with his gang, with a new rescuer who offers them a new job which will see them trying to rob Ambrose Bierce (Parks) the gang gear up.

It isn’t long before the outlaws end up in a mysterious saloon which will offer the men anything they want, which will soon put them in the false sense of security as it turns out the saloon is run by vampires.

 

Thoughts on From Dusk till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter

 

Characters – Johnny Madrid is one of the most feared outlaws in the west, about to be executed, he is rescued and returns to his gang to continue his life of crime, he will kill some people, while protecting others, making him a morally confusing figure. Ambrose Bierce has come from America where he has survived a shooting, he wants peaceful life only to find himself in the middle of the battle. The Hangman is trying to eliminate the threats in the gang world including Johnny, mostly to protect his daughter, only it isn’t for him to choose. Esmeralda is his daughter that has been getting controlled for too long and is in love with Johnny, she goes on the run with him only to be left questioning his choices.

PerformancesThe performances here are poor once again, Marco Leonardi overplays is role in the film, while Michael Parks does the best he can with his role. We do end up meeting too many random characters that just seems to make everything struggle to get going in the performance side of the film.

StoryThe story does return to the original format only in the western era, we have the outlaws, the victims and the authorities all ending up in the bar which is crawling with vampires and must put their difference aside to survive. This style did work first time, it doesn’t fail this time, but it is hard to become invested in the characters. the build up before the bar is a lot of filler because we do have a lot of people to learn their place and mentality which makes it hard to figure out who is the good and bad guys for the piece. We try to have a connection to the original movie with the creation of one of the vampires which better than the last time out too.

Horror/WesternThe horror involved in the film is returning to the vampire outlet which again doesn’t feel scary as it could have been. The western side of the film just uses the criminal side of the last one only making it a prequel to the original.

SettingsThe film is set in the western area, we do eventually hit the saloon made famous from the first film and this time we get to dive into the larger scale of the building.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are not at the best, we do get a couple of good moments only nothing that reaches the levels of the first film.


Scene of the Movie –
Escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me To many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough prequel, at least it does feel connected to the previous film which helps build on the legacy of the bar.

 

Overall: Simple prequel.

Rating

 

 

The Keeping Room (2014)

Director: Daniel Barber

Writer: Julia Hart (Screenplay)

Starring: Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru, Sam Worthington, Kyle Soller, Ned Dennehy

 

Plot: Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three women must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army.


Tagline – Some things are worth fighting for

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow & Effective

 

Story: The Keeping Room starts as during the civil war, Augusta (Marling), Louise (Steinfeld) and their slave Mad (Otaru) must work together to look after their family home together, while the men are out at war, they are getting by with Louise wanting to do more than just work around the house.

The women soon become targets for the rogue soldiers Moses (Worthington) and Henry (Soller), without the normal support they must defend their home before the war comes to them.

 

Thoughts on The Keeping Room

 

Characters – Augusta is the lady of the house, keeping Louise in line, while making it fair for everyone under the roof, no matter what their status is. She will be the one that will go for help and risk her life to protect the rest. Louise is the younger of the two women, she doesn’t like being forced into work believing the slave should do it all, her failure to follow instructions only makes it difficult for Augusta. Mad is the slave that has been welcomed as part of the family, joining in the defence of the home too. Moses is one of the soldiers that is leaving a path of destruction as they run away from the war. He targets the women’s home and the women to make his own for the time being.

PerformancesBrit Marling is good in the leading role, we see strong performances from the three women if we are being honest, Hailee Steinfeld continues to show her ability, where as unknown Muna Otaru should be a name we pay more attention too. Sam Worthington does a fine job in the villainous role where we see him deliver lines in a disturbing manner.

StoryThe story follows three women that must put their classes a side during the American Civil War to protect their home from rogue soldiers that only want to do unthinkable things to them. We get to see how the women do have their own problems to deal without the soldier adding to them, the unsure feeling about whether they will have the men in their lives returning to them. Once the soldiers arrive it does become a survival story which is good, it shows how difficult and risky it would be for either side just to attack they must focus on defending. The pacing of the story seems solid with giving away too much too early before leading to the night of the event.

WesternThe film does use the western themes in the elements of the war time western not the wild west style it works well enough with the rogue soldiers trying to take a home.

SettingsThe film uses the lone settings of the house in the middle of nowhere and the paths leading to it, to show us how isolated people would become during the war time.


Scene of the Movie –
The night of the event.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts feel slow though.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow-moving western that shows the effects of the civil war on the women left behind that could face their own uncertain future as the men out at war. It has strong performances and a dark feeling about what could happen next.

 

Overall: darkly depressive look at the American Civil War.

Rating

 

 

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Russo (Screenplay) Fran Striker, George W Trendle (Characters)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale

 

Plot: Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.


Tagline –  Never Take Off the Mask

Runtime: 2 Hours 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun, But Long

 

Story: The Lone Ranger starts with Tonto (Depp) telling the story of how he met the Lone Ranger John Reid (Hammer) the district attorney of Texas, we see how Butch Cavendish (Fichtner) killed John only for Tonto to bring him back from the dead to get their vengeance on the outlaws.

The journey takes the two men across the wild west to expose the truth behind everything that has been going on between the outlaws and the native Americans.

 

Thoughts on The Lone Ranger

 

Characters – John Reid is a district attorney in Texas, living in the shadow of his brother, but this time he gets to go on an adventure with his brother only to be murdered and bought back to life by Tonto. He must work with Tonto to get the people behind his brother’s death. Tonto is the native American that shows John the way as his own past makes him the colourful character that does things in his own direction. Butch Cavendish is the villainous outlaw not afraid to kill anyone who gets in the way of what he desires.

PerformancesArmie Hammer in this leading role is good through the film, he must play the straight-laced character and pulls this off. Johnny Depp is going on one of his stranger character missions again here and at times is fine, but at others gets annoying. William Fichtner as a villain is something we always want to see.

StoryThe story follows the origin of The Lone Ranger and Tonto as they faced their first enemy together in the wild west. The story plays out nicely just how you would imagine any Disney related material to, as an unlikely hero is born, even if it does follow elements of the Pirates beginning. This does have an adventure across the west feel which is nice to see and the twists and turns do seem to be easy to see unfolding, with a villain that knows the danger the two heroes pose to him.

Action/Adventure/WesternThe action sequences do come off feeling like the highlight of the movie, with an amazing opening train sequence. The adventure side of the film is written all over the idea of going across the wild west to stop the villainous characters. The western feel comes through strong too, while not the most serious we do see both sides of the law.

SettingsThe settings take us all over the wild west fitting into nearly ever typical location we know about.

Special EffectsThe effects are good too in the film while only being used to cover up certain moments of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Ladder trick.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is a lot of fun even if it is too long in places, the cast do a good job and this one will be a film that you can switch off and enjoy.

 

Overall: Enjoyable action adventure.

Rating