ABC Film Challenge – Animation – B – The Black Cauldron (1985)

Director: Ted Berman, Richard Rich

Writer: David Jonas, Vance Gerry, Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Al Wilson, Roy Morita, Peter Young, Art Stevens, Joe Hale (Screenplay) Lloyd Alexander (Novel)

Starring: (voice talents) Grant Bardsley, Susan Sheridan, Freddie Jones, Nigel Hawthorne, Arthur Malet, John Byner

 

Plot: A young boy and a bunch of misfit friends embark on a quest to find a dark magic item of ultimate power before a diabolical tyrant can.


Tagline – Magic twelve years in the making. Magic that will live forever.

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dark Fantasy Animation

 

Story: The Black Cauldron starts as we meet young pig farmer Taran, who has been getting trained to take over the care of Hen Wen a pig that is the only creature on Earth that knows the location of the Black Cauldron, the place where the evil Horned King can regain his power.

When the King learns that Hen Wen knows the locations he goes in search of the pig, which leads Taran to go on an adventure across the fantasy world to stop the Horned King regaining his power and bringing a new era of terror across the land.

 

Thoughts on The Black Cauldron

 

Characters – Taran is the traditional Disney reluctantly hero, he was a small pig farmer that goes on an adventure to fulfil his destiny by stopping the evil and bringing together a group off unlikely characters. Eilonwy is the princess that joins the adventure, her care free attitude helps along the way and makes for a strong character than we think. The Horned King is the ruler trying to gain his power to take over the land and will do anything to make sure he has this power. These characters are the by the book for this genre and don’t becoming anything overly memorable.

StoryThe story follows an unlikely hero that goes on an adventure to hopeful save the fantasy world from an evil ruler. This does follow the idea of bringing unlikely friends together on the adventure and does become very dark for a Disney movie, but does follow the whole traditional ideas we have come to know.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/HorrorThe action goes hand in hand with the adventure as we see how the characters must work together to win and battles with the use of the fantasy world, there are elements of horror too because of certain chase sequences and events that happen around the Cauldron.

SettingsThe settings take us on the adventure fantasy world that you could see in any of these movies, which is fine for me.

AnimationThe time this movie was made, you would think this is good high standard for the time.


Scene of the Movie –
Final moments.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too dark for a Disney animation.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good fantasy adventure that follows everything you need it to, but will be too dark for the younger audience.

 

Overall: Very dark animation from the Disney brand.

Rating

 

 

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Breakdown (2016)

Director: Jonnie Malachi

Writer: Jonnie Malachi (Screenplay)

Starring: Craig Fairbrass, Emmett J Scanlan, James Cosmo, Mem Ferda, Tamer Hassan, Olivia Grant, Bruce Payne

 

Plot: A professional contract killer, haunted by visions of his violent past, spirals out of control. His work compromised as he reaches breaking point, he is forced to defend his family from his ruthless employers.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burning Crime Thriller

 

Story: Breakdown starts as we see how contract killer Alfie (Fairbrass) starts getting visions of his previous kills, this compromises his life and family time when he shows this weakness on front of his boss Albert (Cosmo).

Needing to prove himself to Albert and one of the best clients they have Iraz (Hassan), Alfie must complete a cold-hearted execution on his daughter’s 16th birthday. The test is just the beginning as Alfie wants out of the crime life but his boss isn’t as happy to let him go.

 

Thoughts on Breakdown

 

Characters – Alfie is the contract killer and family man, he has balanced the two lives well but now he starts to get nightmare visions of his previous kills, Alfie now wants out and his family is the reason that he must go through on final mission to kill to end the threat to them. Connor is the partner of Alfie, he is younger and seems to have learnt from Alfie over the years. Albert is the crime boss living in a mansion turning to the few men he trusts for the more difficult jobs.

PerformanceCraig Fairbrass is fine in the leading role working around his weaknesses to look the part, Emmett makes for a good partner in crime but doesn’t shine the way he could have and James Cosmo is good as the gang leader.

StoryThe story is a tried and tested formula, hit man wants out of the business but the boss won’t let him, this time we do get a slight twist on why he wants out but otherwise this doesn’t offer too much on the fresh side.

ThrillerThe film does try to keep you on the edge of the seat but the slow pacing holds everything back for the most part.

SettingsWe have the settings that you would have come to expect as we see the two lives the kill works in, but no iconic scenes to be had here.

Special EffectsThe effects are used for the most part in the visions side of things and are fine when they are used.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the books hitman wanting out of the business film that doesn’t offer enough fresh but is still going to be enjoyed by the fans of the genre.

 

Overall: By the book crime thriller.

Rating

 

 

Big (1988)

Director: Penny Marshall

Writer: Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Jared Rushton, David Moscow, Jon Lovitz

 

Plot: After wishing to be made big, a teenage boy wakes the next morning to find himself mysteriously in the body of an adult.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Family Comedy

 

Story: Big as teenager Josh (Moscow) is tired of the rules he must face, not being considered big enough to ride fairground rides and not being noticed by the girl he has a crush on. Josh goes to a wish granting machine wishing he could become big.

The next Josh (Hanks) wakes up as a 30-year old man, needing to hide from his parents. Josh moves to New York getting himself a job in a toy company where he gets promoted after befriending the boss MacMillan but deep down he is waiting for information about the machine which could bring him back to his original age. This gives Josh a chance to grew as a person and learn about himself too.

 

Thoughts on Big

 

Characters – Josh is the teenager that grows up overnight, he must learn to be an adult where his innocent charm helps his rise through the toy industry as the adults learn from him not to take things too serious. Susan is one of the co-workers also high up in the company, she learns the most from Josh about relaxing and enjoying life over the stress filled life she had been living. MacMillan is the boss of the toy company that takes a shining to Josh believing he can help continue to make the profits and making the toys fun once again.

PerformanceTom Hanks is fantastic through the whole film showing that he always had the ability to handle comedy and carries this movie throughout. Elizabeth Perkins is good in her role as is Robert Loggia as the friendly boss.

StoryThe story shows us what would happen if a teenager became an adult overnight and having to learn about an adult life. The idea of this must have felt fresh for the time and with the first boom of technology it also works because the teenager would have been just as good with computers as a lot of the workforce. This is a feel good story about growing up fast and not taking life too seriously at times.

Comedy/FamilyThe comedy being played out in the film works because it isn’t this wild over the top which we have seen from the genre before and it is one the whole family could enjoy.

SettingsPutting the teenager as an adult in New York City needing to learn about grown up life.

Scene of the Movie – Piano scene, because it has become an iconic scene in cinema.

That Moment That Annoyed Me As I saw Elf first, I just felt like I was watching the inspiration for that film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic comedy that could and should be placed inside Tom Hanks’ top 5 of all time.

 

Overall: One of the all time classics.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – B – Big Game (2014)

Director: Jalmari Helander

Writer: Jalmari Helander (Screenplay) Jalmari Helander, Petri Jokiranta (Story)

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson, Victor Garber, Mehmet Kurtulus, Ted Levine

 

Plot: A young teenager camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Little Action Film

 

Story: Big Game starts as Oskari (Tommila) is entering his right of passage as a 13-year-old that must go into the woods and hunt alone, like his father and his grandfather. Over his time in the woods Air Force One is overhead with President William Alan Moore (Jackson) on board, but it is shot down leaving Moore (I am going to call him this from now on) stranded in the woods while the traitor Morris (Stevenson) works to recover the Moore.

Oskari rescues Moore and uses his skills to help him out of the woods while Morris and his business partners treat this as a hunting trip with the CIA running operations back in states to figure out who has targeted the President and who has betrayed him.

 

Thoughts on Big Game

 

Characters – President Moore is the man losing approval rating, not used to being in the wild but brave enough to take anyone who would get in his way, he shows the inspiration, selfless nature you would expect from the leader of the free world. Oskari is the teenager sent into the woods to prove himself as a hunter, even though people doubt him, he stands up for what he believes in making him the President’s only hope of survival. Morris is the secret service agent that has betrayed the President for money and he leads the plans to keep the President away from rescue. We do also have the officials trying to find the President back in America all using their own set of skills and the billionaire trying to kill the President.

PerformanceSamuel L Jackson looks like he does have a lot of fun in this role where he understands he is playing the mentor figure to Oskari. Onni Tommila is great as the young man looking for his right to passage. Ray Stevenson is good as the main villain but you do feel we could have had slightly more from the character.

StoryThe story is about a terrorist plan to kill the President but a boy on his right to passage is the only one that can save him, this side of the story I found entertaining enough with a couple of moments that show both facing their own weaknesses to improve themselves. With that being positive we most look at the negatives, first I don’t really understand the motives of the villains and you just gloss over the war room politics of what was going on which seems like it should be a lot more interesting than we are shown.

Action/AdventureThe action is big when we see it, mostly CGI with the big plane crash and mega explosion at the end, the adventure side of things show Oskari learning the important lessons to become a man in the woods showing he is just like the villagers he is from.

SettingsMost of the film is set in the woods showing how the hunting side of the film is going to become the clear point of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are CGI for the action sequences, we get plenty going on with the moments and the final explosion feels like one of the biggest I have seen in a pure action film.

Scene of the Movie – Final explosion is shocking impressive.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We spend time in the war room with the Americans trying to fine the President and it is a mix of pointless additional storyline or not involved storyline going on there.

Tagline – The President has one small chance of survival

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to watch action film, it does have a weak side story which does feel out of place at times but away from that you can enjoy this one.

 

Overall: Easy to watch action film.

Rating

 

 

Russell Crowe Weekend – Broken City (2013)

Director: Allen Hughes

Writer: Brian Tucker (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Alona Tal

 

Plot: In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler.


Tagline –  Proof Can Be a Powerful Weapon.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Long Feeling Crime Thriller

 

Story: Broken City starts as we see Bill Taggart (Wahlberg) who gets dismissed from his police duty by Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) after taking justice into his own hands. 7-years-later Billy is a private investigator catching cheaters with his assistant Katy Bradshaw (Tal), Billy gets a call from the Mayor who is on his latest campaign, who wants Billy to learn who Cathleen Hostetler (Zeta-Jones) is cheating on the Mayor with.

It isn’t long before Billy finds himself in the middle of a murder that looks to throw the election into turmoil, can Billy do the right thing and get the right man elected mayor?

 

Thoughts on Broken City

 

Characters – Billy Taggart was once a cop that went too far to make a criminal pay for a crime they committed, now just a private investigator he finds his latest case involving the Mayor a potential career ender, as he searches for the truth, while battling falling off the wagon. Mayor Hostetler has run the city for years now, he has used his place to get deals put through for his own profit keeping people in his pocket and never playing fair. He hires Billy to investigate who his wife Cathleen is cheating on him with. Cathleen Hostetler has been seeing someone behind her husband’s back only to be keeping a secret bigger than Billy can handle.

PerformancesMark Wahlberg does most of the leading in this movie, he is good through the film and at least he isn’t do his bad comedy routine in this one. Russell Crowe is great as the villainous mayor using his power to rule a city. Catherine Zeta-Jones is strong in her role too.

StoryThe story here follows a political thriller with conspiracies of what is and could be happening while people try to get in a position to change things in the right way. We have people that have suffered from other people’s greed, that are going to bring down the villainous mayor along the way. This does try the be one of those stories that tries to deal with greed in the human nature in a political world which has always been on edge, this continues as the film unfolds as we see what the big plan is.

CrimeThis is a crime thriller in a way that shows how the political criminals can stay in power by placing the right people in the right places.

SettingsNew York always makes for a brilliant setting and the scale of the city helps with the idea of a corrupt mayor.


Scene of the Movie –
The debate.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The alcoholic side seems just a tag on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough crime thriller, it does keep us guessing along the way to who is working for who and who is in the right when it comes to running the city.

 

Overall: Solid crime thriller.

Rating