ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – G – Gallowwalkers (2014)

Director: Andrew Goth

Writer: Andrew Goth (Screenplay) Joanne Reay (Story)

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kevin Howarth, Riley Smith, Tanit Pheonix Copley, Simona Roman, Steven Elder

 

Plot: A cursed gunman (Snipes) whose victims come back from the dead recruits a young warrior to help in the fight against a gang of zombies.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Misses the Targets

 

Story: Gallowwalkers starts as gunslinger Aman (Snipes) travels around the wild west in search for the dead, executed men and women that come back from beyond the grave with Kansa (Howarth) being the leader of the zombie like gang that he killed years before.

Kansa has built up an army but is still searching to find a way to bring his son back from the dead, killing people in hopes of being able to give him the ability his gang has. Aman recruits Fabulos (Smith) to help him battle the gang as both side wants to eliminate the other once and for all.

 

Thoughts on Gallowwalkers

 

Characters – Aman is the gunslinger roaming the wild west in search for the undead that have returned causing havoc across the land. He has a connection to the gang as he is the one who killed them in an act of revenge and is happy to spend his days killing them again. Kansa is trying to bring his son back from the dead, like he has been able to, he will kill people in search for the chance and has been waiting to showdown with the man that killed him for years. Fabulos is the young hero that Aman recruits to help him defeat the undead, he learns as the times goes on about his skills and reason to fight.

PerformanceWesley Snipes is here in name only, he gets to have a few fight scenes which you feel he enjoys more than he should because his delivery is sloppy throughout. Kevin Howarth does make a good villain without being as twisted as you think his character should be while Riley Smith looks lost at times out there.

StoryThis is a story that doesn’t seem to click, but you do have to respect the idea they didn’t want the traditional undead zombie problem rather focusing on resurrection. The problems with this story is that we only seem to focus on Aman or Kansa story and they were only meeting in the final act of the film. we have Aman just wondering around killing odd undead while Kansa looks to resurrect his son. It does feel like we needed more of a connection between the two storylines instead of just focusing on the captive’s boobs.

Action/Horror/WesternThe action is mostly lazy western styled action, a few gunshots here a few there while we also focus on a couple of by the book fights. The horror side of the film comes off weak too as we do want to see a lot more from the zombie figures.

SettingsThe western settings put us in the desert for most of the film which does work without being anything truly iconic like the best westerns.

Special EffectsThe effects are the highlight of this film because we do get to see plenty of head explosion through the film which is a lot of fun.

Scene of the Movie – The train meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lack of connection with the stories.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple to watch action horror that is basically a tame western, it has action scenes we have seen before, a story that doesn’t work but the head explosions are the highlight of the film.

 

Overall: Watchable but not great.

Rating

 

 

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Cassidy Red (2018)

Director: Matt Knudsen

Writer: Matt Knudsen (Screenplay)

Starring: Abby Eiland, David Thomas Jenkins, Jason Grasl, Jessy Knudsen, Gregory Zaragoza, Rick Cramer, Lola Kelly

 

Plot: Cassidy Red is a western romance set against the backdrop of the 19th century American southwest. The film follows the headstrong daughter of a prostitute who returns to her hometown, seeking vengeance against the corrupt lawman she believes murdered her lover.


Tagline – Hell hath no fury…

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Western Adventure

 

Story: Cassidy Red starts with the town’s storyteller Cricket (Zaragoza) telling Quinn (Knudsen) the story of Joe Cassidy (Eiland). Joe is out for revenge on her ex-fiancée Tom Hayes (Jenkins) that has killed her new fiancée Jakob (Grasl). The story isn’t as simple as this though, the three grow up together, Tom and Jakob going from different backgrounds and we see the training Joe must go through to prepare for her own vengeance.

 

Thoughts on Cassidy Red

 

Characters – Joe Cassidy is a woman that grew up to with both Tom and Jakob, after falling in love with one she only finds herself going on a revenge mission after the other kills the one she fell in love. This is a strong character, we focus on how she was loyal to her mother, dealt with her father’s flaws and would follow love over money. Tom is the son of a rich member of the town, he has seen his family kill for their own success, but the one thing he can’t buy is Joe’s love, which cause him targets them both. Jakob is an apache boy that gets adopted by Tom’s family only for him to steal Joe’s heart from under Tom. He shows Joe a different life of happiness over money.

PerformancesAbby Eiland in the leading role is one of the two strongest performances in the film, she shines in this leading role. David Thomas Jenkins does give us the second strong performance, as the villain of the piece, he gives us a performance which feels just as twisted as his character needs to be. While I don’t think Jason Grasl gets enough time to show everything he has, this is mostly done to wanting to make the Joe character a stronger force than the Jakob one.

StoryThe story here throws us into a love triangle in the old west that is spiked with revenge, while this does sound like it should be a tried and tested formula that we all know and enjoy, this story takes a spin on this which does make things feel refreshing, but does feel like an extra chapter in the ‘Red Dead Redemption’ game franchise, as we follow the steps which become more challenging as the story unfolds. This is a fun story to watch along with even if moments of the timeline can jump in places.

Action/Adventure/Romance/WesternThe action is the gunslinger style we know, it works, but isn’t the most original to the genre. The love triangle gives us the motivation for the story, with the western genre being used to show us the environment we are watching the battle unfold in.

SettingsThe film is set in the wild west, the town could be any because in that time, the towns nearly all look the same and ran the same.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the film are used sparingly which helps because we don’t have any over the top bloodshed for the gun battles.


Scene of the Movie –
Learning to shoot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me One twist comes too early.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good western that gives us a good love triangle to see unfold, with twists along the way and a strong final showdown.

 

Overall: The western stands strong.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: Nic Pizzolato, Richard Wenk (Screenplay) Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard

 

Plot: Seven gunmen in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Remake

 

Story: The Magnificent Seven starts as we see how Bartholomew Bogue (Sarsgaard) is terrorising a small village that he wants to mine for gold, the residents have 3-weeks to pay his demands. Emma Cullen (Bennett) leaves her town in search for men to help the town fight back, first port of call is warrant officer Chisolm (Washington) who looks to port together men.

The men recruited include hustler Josh Faraday (Pratt), outlaw Vasquez (Garcia-Rulfo), quick shot Billy Rocks (Lee), Goodnight Robicheaux (Hawke) veteran soldier Jack Horne (D’Onofrio) and lone native American Red Harvest (Sensmeier). The men arrive in town and look to train the villagers for battle as they look to shut down Bartholomew’s group once and for all.

 

Thoughts on The Magnificent Seven

 

Characters – Chisolm is a warrant collector that gets recruited to protect the small town, we see how he can bring together the group of different backgrounds to unite them to fight for the right thing. Faraday is the hustler and usually the one ready for a joke. Goodnight Robicheaux is the legend in the field an expert marksman but still dealing with the consequences of what happened in the war. Jack Horne is the experienced soldier that will surprise his enemies. Billy Rocks is the knives expert that will kill you with a knife before you can get a shot off. Vasquez is the outlaw on the run but gets Chisolm off his back to join the tea, Red Harvest is a native American joining the team giving him a purpose in life after going away from his tribe. The seven don’t get too much character development outside of Chisolm, Faraday and Goodnight. Bartholomew Bogue is the villain of the piece, he will take what he wants not caring who he steps on to get rich.

PerformanceGoing into the performance we will only look at the bigger names, Denzel is as always, a great lead for any movie and fits his role, Chris Pratt is likewise because we all know he can be a joker. Ethan Hawke gets his reunion with Washington and the two show they have great screen chemistry together. Peter Sarsgaard does seem to be a go to guy for a villain role and you can believe him even if what we get is nothing overly fresh. The performances throughout the film are good from everyone involved.

StoryThe story is one that we know has been told before, be it in the original of the same name or even the original before that in Seven Samurai. Small village must recruit fighters to take on savages, that is the core of the story, I did like how this time we seem to get men from different backgrounds bringing their own styles to the fight. I did also find this one easier to follow than the 60’s one but I also don’t think this story goes quite as deep.

Action/Adventure/WesternThe action is everything you have come to know about the action side of a western movie, plenty of shoot outs, while this is main just one giant one that last about 45 minutes, the adventure side comes from the training the characters in the village go through and how the 7 strangers unite to protect the town.

SettingsEach setting looks great and makes you feel like you are part of this world, without feeling out of place.

Scene of the Movie – One-eyed Jacks.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I do feel the villain did better development.

Final ThoughtsWhen it comes to remakes we always get that one debate, did we need it? The answer I feel here is yes, the film need a makeover with a modern all-star cast with different cultural backgrounds and that all works here.

 

Overall: Enjoyable remake that could be enjoyed by the modern audience.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake – Magnificent Seven (1960)

Director: John Sturges

Writer: William Roberts (Screenplay)

Starring: Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn

 

Plot: An oppressed Mexican peasant village hires seven gunfighters to help defend their homes.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Americanised Remake

 

Story: The Magnificent Seven starts as the small Mexican town gets visited and raided by Calvera (Wallach) and his men, they promise to back again for more too. Worried about the future of their village the town goes in search for a defence against the raiders and find seven cowboys, Chris Adams (Brynner), Vin Tanner (McQueen), Chico (Buchholz), Bernardo O’Reilly (Bronson), Lee (Vaughn) Harry Luck (Dexter) and Britt (Coburn) who all come for different reasons.

The gunmen set up a defensive line ready to do battle as the town is ready to go to battle against the Calvera and his men, who will come out on top in this battle to protect a small town.

 

Thoughts on The Magnificent Seven

 

Characters/PerformanceThe seven gunmen all have different reasons for going to this town, but the one thing they all have in common if just how deadly they are with a weapon which is the most important characteristic needed for our characters. Calvera is the villain of the piece and easily a great by the book villain needed for this film.

Performance wise, instead of going through all the actors it would be fair to say each and every one of the cast does a great job in the roles they are playing.

StoryThe story one a small group of gunmen protecting a small town from raiders is a remake of the Seven Samurai, which was one of the most popular films ever made. This version brings the story to the American audience dealing with the cowboys battles which does work but doesn’t change the formula to make anything complicated for the audience.

Action/Adventure/WesternThe action is all big cowboy style which works for the film, the music adds to the adventure side of the film which is fun through a situation that is darker. The western theme also works because it makes it easy to relate to for the American audience.

SettingsThe settings are simple but effective for the film as we know we will be in the old west for this battle.

Final ThoughtsThis is yet another classic film that took me time to watch and it gave us a mega cast of big names, simple to follow story and a western worth watching.

 

Overall: Classic western fun.

Rating

 

 

Kepler’s Dream (2017)

Director: Amy Glazer

Writer: Sylvia Brownrigg, Ann Cummins, Amy Glazer, Vijay Rajan, Sedge Thomson (Screenplay) Juliet Bell (Novel)

Starring: Isabella Blake-Thomas, Sean Patrick Flanery, Holland Taylor, Kelly Lynch, Steven Michael Quezada, Esperanza Fermin, Kelly Hu

 

Plot: Eleven-year-old Ella is a city girl forced to spend the summer on the New Mexico ranch of her reclusive grandmother, Violet Von Stern. while Ella’s mom undergoes chemotherapy in another state. As she tries to cope with her grandmother’s strict rules and snooty friends, Ella longs for her mother and begs her estranged father for rescue. But Ella’s dad has his own reasons to stay away from his childhood home. Meanwhile, Ella finds allies in fatherly ranch hand Miguel and his down-to-earth daughter, Rosie. But when a priceless book is stolen from Violet’s collection, Miguel is the key suspect, and Ella must find the real thief in order to save her friends. Emotional connections are reshaped, and a family that was lost finds its way. The music of Patrick Neil Doyle helps tell this unusual and heartwarming story.


Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming Coming of Age Tale

 

Story: Kepler’s Dream starts as we meet Ella (Blake-Thomas) an 11-year-old girl that lives with her mother Amy (Lynch) who is about to undergo surgery for her leukaemia, which means Ella needs someone to look after her, when her father Walt (Flanery) doesn’t make himself available he sends her to New Mexico to stay with his mother Violet (Taylor), a relative she has never met.

Ella gets a friendly welcome from Miguel (Quezada) and his daughter Rosie (Fermin) who helps out on Violet’s ranch, while Violet is a mystery to Ella, a well-travelled lady who enjoys collecting artefacts from her journeys, but we have no wi-fi here.

As Ella’s time in the house continues she learns about a Kepler’s Dream book, one of only two in the world, but this only shows ore of the strict rules her grandmother has, be it using proper English or not touching anything. It is Miguel that offers her the only positive moments in the summer, teaching her to ride a horse. When he priceless book is stolen the suspects are a very short list and now Ella wants to solve the mystery and save the friendship she has started with Rosie.

 

Thoughts on Kepler’s Dream

 

Characters – Ella is an 11-year-old girl, daughter of divorced parents with her mother battling cancer, her father distant, she must spend her summer with her grandmother who she has never met. This is always going to be hardest summer of her life, but it also offers her new adventure in the world. Violet is the grandmother, she has travelled the world as well as collected books and objects to add to her prized collection. She hasn’t ever met Ella but tries to help even with her stricter rules. Miguel is the ranch hand that helps out, he offers Ella the friendship she requires with his own daughter Rosie as the two bond over the summer. Walt is Ella’s father who always found a reason to be busy and away from his daughter even when she needs him.

PerformancesIsabella Blake-Thomas is our new face and lead in this movie, she is full of the innocence needed for this role. Holland Taylor is great as the strict grandmother who has lived an enjoyable life. The rest of the cast are good through the film showing us the different emotional range needed for what is happening through the film.

StoryThe story does follow the development Ella needs for life, she is going to go through a tough summer that will help define her life. The big case that needs solving though is the weakest part of the film because we don’t dive into it enough. The story does focus on Ella and her experiences, her feelings her difficulties she will be face which is good to watch because it shows how growing up will be painful if they go through the same experiences.

Adventure/Family/MysteryThe adventure side of the film comes Ella experiencing a new location, which is plays into the western themes being used. The this a very family oriented movie even though it does have a small mystery moment going on.

SettingsThe settings are important here, first we have the busy city where Ella is but taken her to a new location where she wouldn’t know or have experienced teaching her more about the bigger world.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth about the book.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would like more about the missing book.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good coming of age film, it will be targeted more for the young girls, with certain decisions being made, the troubles she goes through could apply to either sex though. It does have an important message but has the tagged-on mystery in places.

 

Overall: Good coming of age movie. 

Rating