Abstruse (2019) Movie Review

Director: Harley Wallen

Writer: Harley Wallen (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Sizemore, Dennis Haskins, Jesi Jensen, Colleen Gentry, Clahoun Koenig, Harley Wallen, Jerry Hayes, Kris Reilly, Kaiti Wallen

Plot: Two young women get themselves into a very compromising situation that proves life changing, the aftermath is almost worse as all trails of the event has been wiped out and all of a sudden the tables turn and Amanda goes from being the victim to the accused. Amanda’s father decides to look into it only to realize it’s much bigger than they first anticipated. The story heads to a Good Vs. Evil showdown to settle the score.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense

Story: Abstruse starts when the playboy son of a senator Justin Stevens (Reilly) is getting tired of the normal call girls, he wants to make his own movies, adult movies, he recruits a couple of barmaids Mindy (Johnson) and her friend Amanda (Kaiti Wallen) to be their first stars of their movie, only for the night to take a turn for the worse, when Mindy is killed.

With Justin turning to his father Senator Stevens (Haskins), the police detectives Caldwell (Harley Wallen) and Morris (Hayes) have nothing to go on, even starting to investigate her. Amanda has one last out for the truth, her father Max London (Sizemore) a known killer who will stop at nothing to learn the truth.

Thoughts on Abstruse

Characters – Max London is an ex-con, a killer that has been used in protection before, he has connections that will get a job done and after he is released from prison, he must help his daughter, he will use his skills to try and learn the truth and his connections to make sure the people pay. Senator Stevens has always financed his son’s hobbies, he has always looked to save face whenever his son has done wrong and this is no different. Amanda is one of the barmaids that goes from having a good time, to seeing her friend murdered, she becomes the target by the senator who wants to spin the story on her, her father is one of the only people that could help her out of the position which could see her end up dead. Justin in the son of a senator, he has always lived off his daddy’s money, with his latest desire to make adult movies, which soon turns into filming a murder, now he will do anything to cover it up and get pleasure from hurting people.

PerformancesTom Sizemore back on the bring screen in great to see and this is the right type of role for his strengths. Kris Reilly does make for a wonderful psychotic rich person, while Kaiti Wallen as the victim looks as helpless and desperate as her character would be. The while cast do a good job here, showing us how to make their character make an impact in the film.

StoryThe story here follows the cover up of a murder, which sees the witness becoming one of the main targets of the cover up, with everyone needing to figure out who is working for who. This story does start slower that we get with the introduction to all of the characters, but once every pieces get put on the table, we do get a crime thriller that becomes edge of your seat, we literally don’t know who will be working for who, will people stay on certain sides etc. we have an antagonist that only seems to get more twisted as they get pushed. We even get to see how themes of money being able to get people off crimes and even try and turn the tables on the witnesses.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is more about the violent acts rather than being flying bullets or car chases, which it easily could be, the crime side of the film is much more complex as we see just how everything is unfolding between the characters after a crime has happened.

SettingsThe film does keep us in the city, which is filled with people that could do anything illegal to keep their names in the clear.


Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Did nobody see a dead body on the streets for that long?

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime thriller that does keep you guessing which is wonderful to see with strong performances throughout.

Overall: Great Crime Thriller

Automation (2019) Movie Review

Director: Garo Setian

Writer: Rolfe Kanefsky, Matthew L Schaffer, Garo Setian (Screenplay)

Starring: Elissa Dowling, Sadie Katz, Parry Shen, Graham Skipper, Sarah French, Jeff Rector, Anahit Setian, Marv Blauvelt

Plot: A workplace robot, AUTO, transforms into a killing machine when he discovers he will be replaced by a more efficient model. AUTO fears being terminated and will stop at nothing to prevent his own destruction. The human employees must band together to stop him before it’s too late. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: The Office Terminator

Story: Automation starts with a business using the AUTO robot, which has decreased the costs of staff, while including upping efficiency and now Susan (Katz) is arranging with Bill (Rector) into replacing all of the staff with the new line of models improved from the AUTO one they already have.

While AUTO has made friends around the warehouse with Jenny (Dowling) an aspiring singer seeing the good in him, even if AUTO is suffering from nightmares of murdering the employees. Alan (Shen) is recruited to bring in the new robots in and like the human employees, AUTO gets reacts badly to being replaced, causing AUTO to get dangerously destructive.

Thoughts on Automation

Characters – AUTO is the robot that has help improve the company, he has befriended Jenny and gets on with most of the employees around him, even if he has caused the people to lose their jobs. He learns he is getting replaced and deactivated wanting to stop this, his previous mindset has come out, showing a deadlier side. Jenny is a freelancer that has been working for the company for years, she is a singer on the side dreaming of making it big and has created a friendship with AUTO unlike anybody else in the office, she becomes the person he most wants to protect. Susan is one of the managers that wants to bring in the robot employees, she will do what will make the most money for her and is happy to turn on the loyal employees.

PerformancesElissa Dowling in the leading role brings us an ambitious likeable character that could be any of the dreamers out there. Sadie Katz brings the cutthroat boss to life, showing she doesn’t feel for anybody through the film. Parry Shen has been in sci-fi horror for a while now, if you have seen him before you know you will get a fun character from his performance.

StoryThe story follows a greedy business that is looking to replace its employees with robots after a successful trial with an early model, but when the model learns it is getting replaced, it is resorts back to its original programming looking to try and save its job, by any means necessary. The story is putting a firm focus on the idea of workers getting replaced by technology and how they are getting upset, but the spin comes from how the technology might react to finding themselves getting replaced. It poses plenty of questions about whether technology is needed, despite turning into a bit a slasher styled sci-fi where the human employees need to avoid the destructive nature of the robot.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi side of the film does take us into the near future where we get to see how technology is being used in everyday life, and how they AUTO robot might not be functioning correctly.

SettingsThe film is set in a city that has continued to grow with technology with most of the action within the warehouse location that contains the action unfolding.


Scene of the Movie – Present.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The pursuit does seem to go on longer than it needs to.

Final Thoughts This is a sci-fi movie that does ask a big question about employment in the future and shows that not only the humans getting upset, but the robots that could get upgraded and replaced too, it does turn into a fun slasher chase film, which does work well, even if it is slightly repetitive.

Overall: Sci-Fi 101

A Simple Favour (2018) Movie Review

Director: Paul Feig

Writer: Jessica Sharzer (Screenplay) Darcey Bell (Novel)

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Jean Smart, Linda Cardellini, Rupert Friend

Plot: Stephanie is a single mother with a parenting vlog who befriends Emily, a secretive upper-class woman who has a child at the same elementary school. When Emily goes missing, Stephanie takes it upon herself to investigate.


Tagline – We all have secrets to hide.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slick & Stylish

Story: A Simple Favour starts when parental blogger Stephanie (Kendrick) present her latest show, calling for help to locate her new best friend Emily (Lively), leading to flashback to how they met, through their kids at school and a play date between the two friends.

Stephanie decides to investigate the disappearance of Emily and becoming friends with her husband Sean (Golding) and the case is only waiting for the mystery to be solved.

Thoughts on A Simple Favour

Characters – Stephanie is a single mother who runs a vlog for other parents, mostly on cook, but other life issues parents could face, she has a quirky little life always keeping busy helping around the school. She becomes unlikely friends with Emily and her caring nature sees her offer to look after the children, before her wanting to investigate the disappearance. Emily is the businesswoman who is known as being quite cold in personality with her high class status, she enjoys a drink to get through the day and doesn’t look like the sort of person that would be friends with anybody. Sean is the husband of Emily that is an author that has been struggling to find the motivation on his latest book.

PerformancesAnna Kendrick is wonderful in the leading role bringing her innocence to the role always looking like she is the girl next door. Blake Lively easily gives the performance of her career her being a controlling woman. Henry Golding had a wonderful year in 2018, with this top supporting performance too.

StoryThe story follows a single mother with a safe normal life that befriends the high-class woman and becomes best friends only for her to disappear and Stephanie goes in search for answers, only to find a truth she isn’t prepared for. This is a story that starts with the mystery of what happened to Emily, it offers up plenty of what if, with the mystery about what happened coming through strongly, it does go in a direction that you shouldn’t be able to solve which is nice and is filled with style because Stephanie is a woman that you would never see in this position and thrives from the new excitement in life. The story is filled with plenty of twists along the way which will always keep you on your toes which is fun too.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy from the film comes mostly from how Stephanie enters this new lifestyle and how the other single parents act towards everything. The crime side of the film focuses on the crime and mystery behind the disappearance.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to help evolve the story and shows just how out of her comfort zone Stephanie finds herself in.


Scene of the Movie – The single parents gossip time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It could have one too many twists for its own good.

Final Thoughts This is a slick and stylish thriller that has plenty of twists and turns along the way, it puts people outside of their comfort zones just to show what people could be.

Overall: Enjoyable and Stylish.

Animal Among Us (2019) Movie Review

Director: John Woodruff

Writer: Jonathan Murphy (Screenplay)

Starring: Larisa Oleynik, Erin Daniels, Heather Tom, Christian Oliver, Christine Donlon

Plot: Fifteen years ago, two teenage girls were murdered at Merrymaker Campgrounds. The case was filed an animal attack, the camp was condemned and the killer never found – but something horrific still waits in those woods.


Tagline – This is a story about a monster.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: You Will Never See This Coming

Story: Animal Among Us starts as two sisters Anita (Oleynik) and Poppy (Donlon) are preparing to reopen the Merrymaker Campground, one that had an incident before with an unsolved murder, one that author Roland Baumgarner (Oliver) made famous in his book. When a stranger turns up the girls must investigate her video which could explain her mindset.

The girls start to notice strange footsteps getting closer to the camp and with the opening coming closer, they start to wonder if they are alone or not.

Thoughts on Animal Among Us

Characters – Anita is the older of the two sisters, she has dedicated her life to preparing the camp that has been in her family for generations. She does know who she can trust to help make this happen and isn’t going to let any story of monsters stop this happening. Poppy is the younger sister, she wants to help Anita, even if she does have more belief in the stories than her sister, she is flirty and more open than her sister too. Roland Baumgarner wrote a book which was based on the same camp ground, he is invited to be there for the grand opening, which sees him needing to leave his wife and baby behind, he does have a reputation back home for not being faithful and easily seduced, he is also out of his depth when it comes to anything outdoorsy. Christine is the wife of Roland, who has suspected his unfaithful ways, but doesn’t have any proof, until he goes away.

PerformancesLarisa Oleynik in the leading role is great to watch, you can never put your finger on what her character is thinking through the film, while Christine Donlon does make her character seem more naïve without being as naïve in the film. Christian Oliver does well through the film however hard ti is to support his character.

StoryThe story here follows the reopening of a camp that has a history of a mysterious attack years before, an author who made his career’s only big hit is visiting for the opening, where the real monster is revealed to the world once more. This is a story which is filled with plenty of miss-direction which is a delight, what starts off looking like your typical bigfoot movie, plays along those lines well, until we take a different direction that spins everything on its head and turns into on of the most interesting stories of the year. We can’t get into everything that happens because it would spoil too much, though we can talk about certain pacing, which does leave you wondering more about most of the first half of the film, which ends up not being as big as it could be.

HorrorThe horror side of this film comes with just how the world sees this location which is filled with an event that doesn’t have everyone convinced. Which does show us that in America there are going to be locations which are covered in mystery.

Special EffectsThe effects are used when needed without being anything overly special because the film doesn’t turn to them.


Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Couple of random feeling characters.

Final Thoughts This is a movie that will keep you wondering what will be happening instead of just becoming a generic horror film and it will even play that out to the audience.

Overall: Twisted Filled Horror.

James Bond Month – A View to a Kill (1985)

Director: John Glen

Writer: Richard Maibaum, Michael G Wilson (Screenplay)

Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau

 

Plot: An investigation of a horse-racing scam leads 007 to a mad industrialist who plans to create a worldwide microchip monopoly by destroying California’s Silicon Valley.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 11 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Doesn’t Feel Like a Bond Film

 

Story: A View to a Kill starts when James Bond (Moore) is assigned his latest mission, one in California looking into Max Zorin (Walken) whose horses never seem to lose, this has attracted known criminals who want to invest in his horses.

James gets an invite to the mansion of Max as he investigates his other business, microchips and ones that can withstand nuclear explosion, he is taking a monopoly on the market which will leave him to demand any price and deal with the highest bidder.

 

Thoughts on A View to a Kill

 

Characters – James Bond remains the man we know, he still uses his charm to get closer to the enemy and always finds a way to get out of the trouble, he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to getting to the bottom of the mission. Max Zorin is the man behind the microchip monopoly, he wants to eliminate the threat of Silicon Valley before it becomes competition, but hi past time in horses paints a target on his chest. Stacey is the Bond girl for the film, she has worked with Zorin which has seen her taking a payoff to become quiet. May Day is the henchwoman this time, strong as anybody else and standing by Zorin’s side, simply to stop him ever needing to get his hands dirty.

PerformancesRoger Moore does seem to struggle more in this more serious role, he is strongest on the campy side which this film doesn’t have much off. Tanya Roberts could be the weakest Bond girl to date, mostly because she doesn’t get much to do in the film. Christopher Walken as the villain is great fun and just as menacing as you would imagine. Grace Jones makes for one of the better henchwomen, what she does is up there with the Jaws character.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond on his latest mission where he must take on a technological genius that is planning to take control of the Silicon Valley technology boom. This story does feel tonal strange because it does feel like a strong action film, only it has James Bond thrown in here, this doesn’t ever feel like a Bond story which confuses as it is an entertaining story. The stakes are high in this film and bringing that extra fear factor to everything what is unfolding here. The fact this isn’t connected to previous films helps too because it doesn’t rely on you needing to have seen them either.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film does have a few chases one with a fire truck being the most notable and the final sequence which has bodies flying everywhere.

SettingsThe film takes place in America which does work and in the San Francisco location would be right where the technology boom would be taking place.


Scene of the Movie –
Fire truck chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It never feels like a Bond movie.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great action movie which does show us just how original stories can be made, the problem is, that it struggles to feel like a Bond movie.

 

Overall: Great action movie.

Rating