Max (2015)

Director: Boaz Yakin

Writer: Boaz Yakin, Sheldon Lettich (Screenplay)

Starring: Thomas Hayden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali

 

Plot: A Malinois dog that helped American Marines in Afghanistan returns to the United States and is adopted by his handler’s family after suffering a traumatic experience.


Tagline – Best Friend. Hero. Marine.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Movie

 

Story: Max starts as we meet Kyle Wincott (Amell) an American Marine who works with a tracker dog Max, who helps locate dangers in Afghanistan. When Kyle is killed in action, his family, Ray (Church), Pamela (Graham) and little brother Justin (Wiggins) who is a gamer high school student get to meet Max for the first time and only see his aggressive nature, apart from around Justin.

They take Max home as he is suffering PTSD and the only person he will listen to and remain calm around is Justin, with a new friend in Carmen (Xitlali), Justin learns to take responsibility for the first time in his life.

 

Thoughts on Max

 

Characters – Max is the loyal marine trained dog that has served in Afghanistan locating potential threats for his soldiers. He sees his handler killed in action leaving him suffering with PTSD and now he needs a new owner, and the brother of his handler is the only one he will listen to. Justin is the younger brother of Kyle, he has spent more time on video games and illegal deals, not having responsibility needed like his brother. When Max enters his life, he learns about taking responsibility and following in his brother’s path. Ray is the father of the boys, he served before which has made him patriotic towards the cause while dealing with the grief of losing his son too.

PerformancesJosh Wiggins as the younger brother is good in this movie, we do see this sort of character a lot and he handles it well. Thomas Hayden Church is good in the supporting role, but if we are honest it is the dog that is the star of the show here.

StoryThe story here shows the effects war can have on a dog that has been trained to locate threats, but the aftermath of losing that handler with their connection. We see the loyalty shown by the dog and how he can teach responsibility to the next generation of family. This is the strongest part of the movie, the rest does feel like a version of a home alone sort of thing because we follow a story about Max knowing right.

Adventure/Family This does show the family needing to come together after their own tragedy which will give their youngster member a chance for an adventure.

SettingsWe get a small look at the war scenario that Max has been and how he must adjust to normal life, which is where the struggle comes.


Scene of the Movie –
Max search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me –  I feel there was more to the Reyes story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie, that should be seen by dog owners that understand loyalty that could be given to the owner.

 

Overall: Dog Owners dream film.

Rating

 

 

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Christmas Blood (2017)

Director: Reinert Kiil

Writer: Reinert Kiil (Screenplay)

Starring: Stig Henrik Hoff, Jorgen Langhelle, Sondre Krogtoft Larsen, Frank Kjosas, Truls Svendsen

 

Plot: Murderer gets caught after terrorizing and killing people during Christmas night for past 13 years in Norway. After being in solitary for almost 6 years, psychopath escapes couple days before Christmas night. Police tracks next target of the psychopath to be in small village in the northernmost part of Norway. Group of friends are having reunion in the same village and unexpectedly end up being in part of Santa’s plan. 

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Bloody Christmas MOvie

 

Story: Christmas Blood starts as detective Thomas Rasch (Hoff) shoots the notorious serial that has murder 121 people over 13 years, every Christmas, this was in 2011. It is now 2016 and the killer has been locked up since the attacks.

CID agent Terje Hansen (Larsen) has being trying to learn from the killer which sees the aggression increase around Christmas time each year. Thomas is still investigating the list that has been made with over 300 names which the killer hasn’t finishes checking off. A group of friends celebrating together in a remote village, giving them a chance for drinks, but their quiet Christmas is about to become a nightmare when the killer escapes hoping to check off more names on his list.

 

Thoughts on Christmas Blood

 

Characters – Thomas Rasch is the detective that hunted down the killer for 13 years and wanted to make sure he was dead, by putting bullets in him when they finally captured him. He has been watching over the names on the list believing he has made a mistake and he gets to make up for his mistakes when the killer escapes. Terje is the CID agent that must race against time to recapture the killer after he escapes. We have our killer to whom is aggressive at Christmas and has been targeting a certain list of names, he escapes prison in an attempt to continue to check off the names. The have the killer, we now need some victims and this is where the group of friends are involved as they try to have a quiet Christmas together.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are good with Stig Henrik Hoff being the grief-stricken detective wanting to make up for not finishing the job and Sondre Krogtoft Larsen matching him during the investigation. When it comes to the women playing the victims they are mostly interchangeable for what they are doing in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a serial killer that targets people in his list at Christmas escaping prison to continue on his spree to complete his list, he has new victims lined up and it is up to the detective that stopped him before to stop him again. This does play out like every slasher movie we have seen, which is good if you want to see films like that. It gives us an opening that shows the high body count the killer is capable of too, meaning we could see him in action plenty more times. I do think the party side of the story is overly long though because we just don’t get enough investment in these characters, when we get focus on the police dealing with their own problems.

HorrorThe horror in the film comes from the bloodshed which is a lot making this feel like a true bloody slasher it is planning to be, we do get one scene which is the bloodiest to watch too.

SettingsThe film takes us to Norway where the killer has been racking up the numbers, this latest spree takes him to a remote village to collect his latest victims one that is isolated from the rest of the country.

Special EffectsThe effects in the movie are good because we get to see the full amount of blood flying around.


Scene of the Movie –
The blood covered death.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters in the cabin.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun Christmas horror movie, we get plenty of blood which shows us the true slasher feeling.

 

Overall: Christmas bloodbath.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Dean Georgaris (Screenplay) Steven E de Souza, James V Hart (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerald Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger

 

Plot: Adventurer Lara Croft goes on a quest to save the mythical Pandora’s Box, before an evil scientist finds it, and recruits a former Marine turned mercenary to assist her.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Enough Sequel

 

Story: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starts when Lara Croft’s (Jolie) latest treasure hunt ends up with her team killed and her treasure stolen by Chen Lo (Yam) who is willing to sell the orb to arms dealer Jonathan Reiss (Hinds) a former MI6 agent turned evil, that wants to use the orb to locate Pandora’s Box which could bring about the next viral apocalypse on the world.

Lara working with MI6 is joined by disgraced former agent Terry Sheridan (Butler) as per her request as they race around the world to unlock the truth about Pandora’s Box before it ends up in the wrong hands.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

 

Characters – Lara Croft the treasure hunting heroine that travels the world to locate the treasure of the world before they fall into the wrong hands. She is still the kick ass resourceful heroine we know, we see how her connections around the world can help and hinder her quest. Terry Sheridan is the disgraced former MI6 agent, he is granted freedom for information and his former connection with Lara puts him in the middle of the two sides. Jonathan Reiss is the arms dealer that wants Pandora’s Box to be able to sell to the highest bidders to create chaos in the world. he knows how to get results and is happy to kill anyone that crosses his paths. Bryce and Hillary return in the same roles getting the laughs and doing the background work Lara. Kosa is one of the many connections that Lara has around the world, they are good friends after the previous work and respect between the cultures.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie continues to be great in the role of Lara Croft, she had the perfect look for the character and handled the swagger about the character perfectly well. Gerald Butler is good as the shady partner to Lara through the film, giving us rough around the edges figure. Ciaran Hinds is good in the villainous role even if the character is everything you would expect them to be. Barrie and Taylor continue to give the humour when needed. The rest of the cast are fine as they just fill the role required.

StoryThe story here follows Lara Croft on her next treasure hunt where she faces a new shady society lead by weapons dealer who wants to unlock the power of Pandora’s Box. We get to see her globe trot as she is aided by MI6 to locate the mysterious and deadly item. This does continue keep us in the peril filled situations, the idea that Lara has connections around the world to make treasure hunting possible, the shady organisation and treasure that could cause major destruction to the world. This doesn’t test us to the same levels as the first film because as it ends up just following the same formula.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is big as we have bigger stunts going on through the film including a motorbike sequence along the Great Wall China, flying through the streets of Hong Kong and giant monsters in Africa. The adventure does take us around the world once again which is what we want, but we don’t get enough in tomb locations.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world as we see different locations some iconic, some secret tombs with historic stories.

Special EffectsThe effects are weaker than last time without taking us too far out of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The Great Wall motorbike scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough Tomb location.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough sequel that the fans of the original should enjoy, but if you didn’t like the first one you won’t be enjoying as much.

 

Overall: Solid enough for a sequel.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001) Revisited

This is a revisited review, I first did this as one of my very first reviews in 2012.

 

Director: Simon West

Writer: Patrick Massett, John Zinman (Screenplay) Sara B Cooper, Mike Werb, Michael Colleary (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig, Chris Barrie, Leslie Phillips

 

Plot: Video game adventurer Lara Croft comes to life in a movie where she races against time and villains to recover powerful ancient artefacts.


Tagline – Who Is Lara Croft?

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pure Fun

 

Story: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starts on the anniversary of Lara Croft’s (Jolie) father death, with a once in a lifetime planetary alinement happening, Lara just so happens to discover the all seeing eye in her mansion and now she is involved in an adventure she is interested in. Lara’s connection lead her to Manfred Powell (Glen) a man assigned to locate the eye for secret society that want to use its powers for their own desires.

Once Manfred takes the artefact, Lara must go on adventure showing her tomb raiding skills hoping to stop them powerful device causing havoc on the world.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

 

Characters – Lara Croft lifted straight from the video game, the Lady of Croft Manor, she has found treasures all over the world becoming slightly bored of the popular location, getting a hidden message from her later father Lara’s interest spikes and soon she will be battle a secret society that are using her latest discovery to hopefully control time. We know she is the kick ass action heroine from the video games, calm through each situation, competitive rivalry with Alex West and the best in her field. Lord Richard Croft had died before the story starts, he appears in dreams guiding Lara as he was the one that trained her, he started learning about this event long before it started. Manfred Powell is hired by an underground society that want control of time, he will do anything to get what he wants to prove his value to the society and doesn’t lift a finger when it comes to searching for treasure. Alex West is the American rival to Lara, he works for money over desire to find treasure even if the two do just have an honest rivalry. Bryce and Hillary are the two most trusted people in Lara’s life, one works on her tech while the other looks after the manor.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie was the perfect choice in the year 2001 for this role, she was the best action heroine for the time, had the look of Lara Croft down to perfection as well as the swagger filled attitude. Jon Voight while only in a couple of scenes is good as the father figure needed for Lara. Iain Glen is good as the calculated villain who can kill just as quickly as Lara, he shows the calmness through the film to stay a threat in the film. Daniel Craig as the rival tomb raider is fine, his accent is his weakness though. Noah Taylor and Chris Barrie get most of the laughs which keeps the story on a lighter note.

StoryThe story gives us one of Lara Croft adventures as a Tomb Raider against the Illuminati. The story shows us an established Lara, accepting her place in the high society with connections in the antique world, we see she is trained in combat and this helps us get right into the story. the story shows us how Lara is almost bored of the generic treasure hunts and this knew one sparks her interest once again. When it comes to the story it unfolds as you would imagine, going from one location to the next location for the next chapter of the adventure as we get the different parts to complete the quest.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is set pieces set up on the different adventures Lara is on, be it in the tombs or in the manor which get bigger as the film goes on.

SettingsThe settings take us from the manor, to the tombs in the jungle and Siberia as well as Venice. Each place would be where you could imagine Lara going on her adventures.

Special EffectsThe effects are a mix of good and bad, for the time however they would have been excellent to watch, with the stone figures in the tomb sequence.


Scene of the Movie –
First Tomb sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain effects have dated.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action adventure bring to life one of the most iconic video game characters in Lara Croft.

 

Overall: Action adventure worth watching.

Rating

 

 

Locked In (2016)

Director: Ivan Silvestrini

Writer: Elena Bucaccio, Stefano Sardo, Ivan Silvestrini, Mauro Uzzeo (Screenplay) Roberto Recchioni (Story)

Starring: Katrina Bowden, Jay Hayden, Brandon W Jones, Lauren McKnight, Damon Dayoub, Justine Wachsberger

 

Plot: A mother and her son plan a surprise visit to Los Angeles to see her husband/his father. Halfway there they get into a terrible accident in the middle of nowhere and now must fight to survive.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bad Parenting 101

 

Story: Locked In starts as Sandra (Bowden) is taker her baby David across country in new car a monolith, a new state of the art car that offers protection and safety unlike anything else on the market.

When travelling the car informs Sandra of an accident which leads her down a back road, where she is involved in an accident and like all responsible parents, she gives her mobile to her child to play with, well distract while trying to figure out what to do. The problem is that he locks her out the car and she is left stranded in the middle of know where with her son trapped in the car.

 

Thoughts on Locked In

 

Characters – Sandra is the stressed-out mother needing to take her baby son across country, she is questioning whether her husband is cheating on her and dealing with the new car that is technology driven. She does the modern parenting technique of given the kid the phone which leads to him locking himself in the car and her having no way of getting in to rescue him. We don’t really meet any other characters for more than a phone call.

PerformancesThis film relies on the strong performance from the lead, but the problem comes from the performance from Katrina Bowden who doesn’t have the range to take a leading role in this movie, we struggle to believe her actions.

StoryThe story here plays into the idea of the nightmare situation where a parent finds their child locked in their car which they can’t get into. The problem here is that is sums up two problems in the world, the new technology boom and bad parenting that uses smart technology which children can cause problems getting the wrong material. By the end of the film it does feel like I was playing a computer game and got lose myself.

ThrillerThis is meant to keep you on the edge of your seat, but sadly you will be checking the time a lot.

SettingsWe are set in the middle of nowhere, which works, but it seems like there are easier ways out of the situation.


Scene of the Movie –
End credits because I didn’t have to see anymore.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It felt like a car commercial.

Final ThoughtsThis isn’t a very interesting thriller which does just end up feeling flat from start to finish.

 

Overall: Forget about this one.

Rating