ABC Film Challenge – 80’s Movies – P – Pale Rider (1985) Movie Review

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack (Screenplay)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress, Chris Penn, Richard Dysart, Sydney Penny, Richard Kiel

Plot: A mysterious preacher (Clint Eastwood) protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land.

Tagline – .. and hell followed with him.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Gritty Western

Story: Pale Rider starts as we see how Hull Barret (Moriarty) is leading a prospector village that is getting terrorised by the LaHood mining company, owner Coy (Dysart) and his son Josh (Penn) are trying to run them off the land with the raids. Hull who is starting to mount up the debts finds himself being protected by a mysterious Preacher (Eastwood) who gives the village more hope than ever.

The Preacher proves that the men could fight back giving the village a reason to fight, but without him around the LaHood’s look to take advantage of the situation.

Thoughts on Pale Rider

Characters – The Preacher witnesses the attack on Hull, he shows how to win a fight in non-lethal combat, he stays with Hull’s family showing the whole village that they could have somebody to protect them, he doesn’t want any part of a war, just to support a hard-working village. Hull is the one member of the village everybody looks up to, he will continue to go against anything that the LaHood’s want and has been trying to keep the village together. Sarah is the woman Hull lives with, she has seen her husband pass away and wants the best for her daughter, even if that might end up being Hull, she only ever puts her daughter’s safety out first. Josh LaHood is the son of the owner of the mining company running the operations, he will use the dirty tactics to try and push Hull and his people out.

PerformancesClint Eastwood plays into his strengths through the film, not giving himself too many lines and playing the mysterious figure that has a past. Michael Moriarty and Carrie Snodgress bring the more serious longer sequences as the characters who seem to have more to lose if things don’t come out in their favour. Chris Penn does make his villainous figure stand out as somebody truly evil not just greedy.

StoryThe story here follows a prospector village that is being raided by a mining company that find an unlikely savoir in a mysterious preacher that brings them hope to defeat the rich company who is trying to push them out. The story does play out like nearly every western you have seen, a dangerous gang trying to use the numbers to put a small group under pressure before a stranger comes to their rescue. The pace plays out like normal to with the small incident slowly gathering steam before the two sides come to a full blown war towards each other. It might not be original, but it does the basics right with each moment feeling like it does make a big impact on the characters involved.

WesternThe western side of the film shows us just how the themes are being used to show what happens to the characters, with the sets and the story.

SettingsThe film does create the village you would expect to see for the time, the town and the backdrop looking beautiful through the film.

Scene of the Movie – Town showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Way too much time spent deciding whether a 14/15-year-old should love an adult.

Final Thoughts This is a gritty by the book western, it does everything right without being anything we haven’t seen before.

Overall: By the Book Western.

The Sisters Brothers (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jacques Audiard

Writer: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain (Screenplay) Patrick DeWitt (Book)

Starring: John C Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rebecca Root, Allison Tolman, Rutger Hauer

Plot: In 1850s Oregon, the infamous duo of assassins, Eli Sisters (John C. Reilly) and Charlie Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix), chase a gold prospector and his unexpected ally.

Tagline – Make a killing. Make a living. 

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow

Story: The Sisters Brothers starts by following Eli (Reilly) and Charlie (Phoenix) as the two brothers are travelling across a developing America in search of Hermann Kermit Warm (Ahmed) who John Morris (Gyllenhaal) is escorting to show of his latest formula which could help America grow.

As the two pairs continue their journey, they start to seen the strengths and weaknesses coming through more, showing how they could see the mindset changing over time.

Thoughts on The Sisters Brothers

Characters – Eli is the calmer of the two brothers, he is willing to try a new invention and will do anything to watch over his brother. Charlie has always enjoyed a drink, which usually shows him letting his guard down, getting into fights, though he will become important during any battle. John Morris is meant to be tracking Warm, only he starts working with him trying to allude the Sisters brothers. Hermann Kermit Warm has created an idea which could bring the country together more than ever, his ideas will help, though it has also drawn a target on his back because of it.

PerformancesWe have four of the best actors in the business today in the leading roles, not even with their abilities, could we get saved from the mostly boredom this film puts us through.

StoryThe story here takes us the 1850s America where four men are trying to make their way in the world, with two hunting the other two, only to learn that there is more in working together than killing each other. This is a story that drags along and is trying to put a highlight on the prospecting era in America. We don’t seem to get very deep into this idea before things start getting slow early and it just doesn’t really because that interesting in how things unfold.

Crime/WesternThe crime and western themes balance well here showing us how both will be used to achieve what the men want from the story.

SettingsThe film does have the nice backdrops where we get to see how the men are travelling open plains trying to get to the next locations on their story.

Scene of the Movie – Water side shootout.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The pace is so slow.

Final Thoughts This is an uninteresting western that moves are a poor pace which never gets going, despite having a brilliant cast.

Overall: Dull.

Slow West (2015) Movie Review

Director: John Maclean

Writer: John Maclean (Screenplay)

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistorius, Brooke Williams

Plot: A young Scottish man travels across America in pursuit of the woman he loves, attracting the attention of an outlaw who is willing to serve as a guide.

Tagline – Love and death are universal.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Just Slow All Around

Story: Slow West starts as Scottish young man Jay Cavendish (Smit-McPhee) heads to America, to travel across country to the west to be with his lose Rose (Pistroius), in the 1800s, he is travelling alone, which has made him a target, with drifter Silas Selleck (Fassbender) seeing him in need of aid, he offers to escort him across country for a fee.

Along the way Jay learns the harsh reality of travelling the open lands, with only Silas helping fix any of the problems he comes into contact with, learning just what happened in his memories of Rose, while Silas keeps his secrets for helping to himself.

Thoughts on Slow West

Characters – Jay is a naïve young man travelling from Scotland to the West Coast of America in search of his lost love, his nature wants to befriend everyone, even though not everyone is friendly, he sees this as the land of opportunity, instead of being prepared for the worst. Silas is a drifter and former bounty hunter that offers to help Jay across the country, knowing how to survive the environment, he does his own agenda for being so helpful, which becomes clear to see, though he doesn’t know how to avoid the troubles that they could face. Payne is the leader of a former gang that Silas was once apart of, which sees him following his old friend on this latest journey. Rose is the woman that Jay is travelling to see, she has left Scotland with her father to start a new life.

PerformancesMichael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee do everything they can in the leading role, they show they are from two different worlds that together can show each other the better sides of life, the performance reflect what the characters are trying to get across. The supporting performances are all solid enough, though most barely get screen time.

StoryThe story follows a young man trying to travel across America in the 18 hundreds where he meets a drifter to help him get past some of the troubles along the way, as he looks to get to his lost love. This story is a very slow moving one, we do get to see the scale of the journey by seeing just how much time to two must spend together, with different problems they would be facing, only for none of the problems feeling like they are as deadly as the film wants them too be. By making the journey lack perilous moments, it just doesn’t get to the moment that makes you want to sit back and enjoy.

WesternThis film does us the western themes to show the journey the two must go on, which does help us understand the era we are witnessing.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the open plains of America as the journey keeps us wondering just how far they have got on their journey.

Scene of the Movie – The arrival.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The pacing is too slow.

Final Thoughts This is a slow-moving western that just never gets going to the full levels it could, only for it to just plod along throughout the film, never getting going.

Overall: Slow moving, not slow west.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – I – In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Director: Ti West

Writer: Ti West (Screenplay)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, Karen Gillan, Toby Huss


Plot: A mysterious stranger and a random act of violence drag a town of misfits and nitwits into the bloody crosshairs of revenge.

Tagline – Keep Your Finger on the Trigger

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: John Wick the Western


Story: In a Valley of Violence starts when lone drifter Paul (Hawke) rides into a remote town with his trusty dog Abby, trying to keep to himself he gets the town drunk Gilly (Ransone) gets involved in a fight, which Paul wins with one punch. This grabs the attention of the Marshal (Travolta) and father of Gilly, who gives him a chance to walk away no questions asked, no more trouble.

When Gilly and his men comes for Paul in the dead of night, they leave him with nothing and now he swears to break his promise of no more killing, one last time.


Thoughts on In a Valley of Violence


Characters – Paul is the former soldier, he has lost everything while in battle and is heading to Mexico with his horse and dog. When this is taken from him, this former soldier will go on to show his skills by tracking down the men in an act of revenge. Marshal is trying to keep the peace in the town even after his son’s actions, he gets caught in the middle of follow the law and protecting his son. Mary-Anne is one of two sisters in this town, she is one of the few people in town that is vocal of her dislike to Gilly and offers Paul a reminder of his own daughter.

PerformancesEthan Hawke is wonderful in this leading role, he gives us a performance we can believe as the lone drifter with skills that can leave any town running red. John Travolta is strong in his scenes which are seem rare but are a major part of the film. Taissa Farmiga is good even if her character doesn’t get enough to do out of the typical girl in the west.

StoryThe story does bottle down to a simple revenge movie, think John Wick the western and you have the story set up. We have the lone trained killer that takes out the people that have don him wrong. This is a simple and enjoyable style of storytelling, the pace makes the film fly by and will leave you wanting more.

Action/Crime/WesternThe gun slinging action is all good and fits the western style the film is taking on, we get a simple crime story which works for the film.

SettingsThe film takes place in just one singular location in this remote town in the wild west which keeps things contained for the story.

Special EffectsThe effects are used with the kills and are done nicely without being over the top.

Scene of the Movie –
The main street shoot out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The women characters are written bland.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good, blood filled action western film that is well worth watching, this is a good watch and has a strong performance from Hawke.


Overall: Good addition to the western genre.




Heath Ledger Weekend – Ned Kelly (2003) Movie Review

Director: Gregor Jordan

Writer: John Michael McDonagh (Screenplay) Robert Drewe (Novel)

Starring: Heath Ledger, Orland Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts, Joel Edgerton, Laurence Kinlan

Plot: An innocent man becomes one of the most wanted criminals the world has ever known.

Tagline – When the law tried to silence him a legend was born.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Biopic 101

Story: Ned Kelly starts in 1871 Australia where an Irish family the Kelly’s have settled in with the eldest son Ned (Ledger) ends up getting into trouble with the law, that has always targeted his family, seeing him placed in prison for a couple of years. Once out Ned does start to try and turn his family’s luck around with his friends Joseph Byrne (Bloom) and Aaron Sherritt (Edgerton), while working for an English family where Ned falls for Julia (Watts).

When Ned gets framed for assault by the constable that has always been out for his blood, his family gets targeted, but not the police are not going to stop until they have his head, forcing Ned to go on the run to protect his family, making him one of the most wanted criminals in the world.

Thoughts on Ned Kelly

Characters – Ned Kelly is a young Irish man that has always seen his family targeted by the law, he has gotten himself in trouble because of this, which sees him falsely accused and becoming a target. Ned refused to back down from the law needing to go on the run, leading to him becoming an outlaw taking from the rich inspiring the poor as he fights for what is right and his family’s pride. Joseph Byrne is Ned’s best friend, he will stand by his side through his battles, needing to do the right thing. Superintendent Francis Hare is the man charged with capturing the Kelly gang, he doesn’t want to hear the story, he just wants them gone. Julia Cook is an English woman that Ned was working for, she is one of the few that will help him seeing the good in his nature, but being held back by her own family.

PerformancesHeath Ledger does a great job here showing how he wanted to break his pretty boy image, this performance makes this happen with ease. Orlando Bloom in the supporting role is strong without being truly great, while Geoffrey Rush feels wasted, with him being involved but not getting too much screen time, same goes for Naomi Watts, she just doesn’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThe story here follows the innocent man that gets forced into become an outlaw who becomes the most wanted man in Australia. This story shows how settlers in other countries would always be unfairly targeted by the locals who saw them as threats, how people’s words could create outlaws because nobody would listen or understand the truths within a world. The story is only really told from Ned’s which will always make him look like the innocent man he was, but we do hear and see that most of the group have served time, so they might not be as innocent as they look (this is only from what the film shows, not what I know about the truth).

Action/Biopic/WesternThe action is everything you would expect from a western, we have seen the shooting like always. The biopic does only show one side of the story and it does feel like there is more to tell.

SettingsThe film utilises the location to show how Ned Kelly has to go into hiding and including the showdown.

Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does seem one sided.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book biopic that showed one of the most famous outlaws in Australia, though it doesn’t seem to reach an intensity level that it could have.

Overall: Nice biopic.