City Slickers (1991) Movie Review

Director: Ron Underwood

Writer: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel (Screenplay)

Starring: Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, Jack Palance, Noble Willingham

Plot: On the verge of turning 40, an unhappy Manhattan yuppie is roped into joining his two friends on a cattle drive in the southwest.


Tagline – Yesterday They Were Businessmen. Today They’re Cowboys. Tomorrow They’ll Be Walking Funny.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Little Comedy

Story: City Slickers starts as three 40-year-olds Mitch (Crystal), Phil (Stern) and Ed (Kirby) have been spending years going on adventure holidays together with their families. Mitch however is getting tired of his everyday life in New York City where he believes he should have done more with his life and for his birthday, Phil and Ed get him a special present.

The three are going on a boys holiday in a cattle drive across the south, one which will bring them back to nature and learn to find a new lust for life, while Phil must decide about his future after being caught teaching on his wife.

Thoughts on City Slickers

Characters – Mitch is the one of the three who has been having the biggest mid-life crisis, he has always worried and now he has seen him career take a turn he wasn’t prepared for, he gets sent on the cattle drive which would have given him a chance to reconnect with nature for the first time. Phil has been stuck in a marriage where he is controlled, he works horrible hours and gets caught out cheating on his wife, left with nothing, he starts to stand up for himself when it comes to facing a future with nothing in it. Ed has always been a womaniser, he has just got married though, which sees him wondering if it was the right thing to do. The three have always been there for each other and now they are finally needing to talk to each other about the problems they kept secret.

PerformancesBilly Crystal in the leading role of the three does bring his charm, while some of his comedy might well miss or feel like it is all pop culture references, he works wonderfully well with Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby, the three each get a moment to shine and have great chemistry together.

StoryThe story here follows the three lifelong friends that have been vacationing together for years and now after starting to worry about their own futures, get to go on a boys trip on a cattle run, where they can final start to see just what the future might hold for them. This is a story that for the 90’s would have translated to everything that people get caught up in during life, but when you look at the more model society, the friendship would be a lot closer with the technology use. With this story we do get an interesting look at what people might find a happiness in life, in a world they would never have imagined.

ComedyThe comedy in the film comes from Billy Crystal trying to bring his wise cracking lines forward during most of the scenes, it doesn’t always work either.

SettingsThe film is set in the South of America which would see cowboys and cattle drives happening, the backdrops could be from any western too.


Scene of the Movie – The birth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The witty lines just don’t work.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that focuses on friendship and finding the reality of life, it does show how the three friends must learn they are just getting started in life.

Overall: Life’s an Adventure 101.

James Bond Month – Casino Royale (2006)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Novel)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian

 

Plot: Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007, and must defeat a private banker to terrorists in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro, but things are not what they seem.


Tagline – The new Bond. Living for Love. Dying for Thrills.

Runtime: 2 Hours 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mission Impossible Bond Edition

 

Story: Casino Royale starts with James Bond (Craig) going on hi very first mission as the 007 which sees him look to track down a bomb making that is being financed by an unknown terrorist, James builds his own style which M (Dench) doesn’t agree with, though she does reluctantly leave him in the field to search for the banker, Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen).

James must work with Vesper Lynd (Green) to get close to Le Chiffre, in a hope to get information about the people he works with, James goes undercover in a mega stakes poker game in Montenegro.

 

Thoughts on Casino Royale

 

Characters – James Bond is back, only this time it is the first mission, he isn’t like the previous 00’s being more reckless than they are used to seeing, he must use his poker skills to take down a dangerous banker that is working with terrorists and learn the his ego can’t get in the way of his mission. This is the biggest lesson he will need to learn as a 00. Vesper Lynd is the British agent that is working with James, she decides whether he is allowed to spend more money, almost keeping on an eye on him for M. Le Chiffre is the banker for terrorists, he plays the stock market on their actions making him one of the most powerful men in the world, his weakness is that he likes to play poker at the high stakes end. M picks the agents, she has put James in the field and now she is left to decide whether she has made the right decision.

PerformancesDaniel Craig does brings us an entertaining tough agent character, though he never feels like he is James Bond, yes it is his first mission, but this performance could easily have been an original agent figure. Eva Green while looks beautiful doesn’t get the full Bond girl treatment and doesn’t get to make the biggest impact in the film. Mads Mikkelsen is a great villain, but he is easy to place in any film as the villain. Judi Dench continued to make a big impact in the Bond franchise with his being her best outing to date.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond going on his first mission for MI6, one which will see his skills at a poker table being used to get close a mastermind banker for terrorists. The story here is an interesting spin on the Bond franchise because we have always seen James as an established agent, seeing his first mission unfolding, shows us his imperfections as an agent, this is the biggest strength. The basics of getting close to the villain is one we have always seen and understand works for the franchise. It is when the story decides to become more like a Mission Impossible story than a Bond story which can take us away from the story. the poker scenes are also very difficult to watch because they just never come off as believable.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is amongst the best in the franchise, we have stunt based action too with one of the most memorable sequences coming from the opening of the film. the adventure side of the film takes James around the world in his hunt for Le Chiffre.

SettingsThe film uses a few main settings, we get the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro and Venice as our world tour.


Scene of the Movie –
opening chase sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The opening credits are awful.

Final ThoughtsThis is a new start for the Bond franchise, it does go in a different direction, only it does feel like it just wants to become the British version of the more aggressive spy movies like Mission Impossible and Jason Bourne.

 

Overall: Bond only more serious.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Crank 2: High Voltage (2009)

Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Writer: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, Efren Ramirez, Julanne Chidi Hill, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Reno Wilson

Plot: Chelios faces a Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working.


Tagline – He was dead… but he got better.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Jumps the Shark

Story: Crank 2: High Voltage starts right where the last film finished and Chev Chelios (Statham) somehow has survived his fall and is rescued and given a new heart, an electric one, Chev goes in search for his own heart, but needs to keep his current one full charged or face the same fate as the first film.

Chev must track down the man who stole his heart, which will see him returning a few familiar faces including his girlfriend Eve (Smart) and brother to his old friend Venus (Ramirez).

Thoughts on Crank 2: high Voltage

Characters – Chev Chelios somehow survives his mile high fall from the first film, he is given a new artificial heart which he must keep charged or he will die, he goes in search of his own heart which will see him go against another gang in LA, Eve now knows about Chev’s career, she has become a stripper and will supporting him trying to get his heart back. Doc Miles will do everything he can to help Chev giving him advice on how to keep his heart going. Venus is the brother of Kaylo who goes on to help Chev to get revenge for his own brother’s death. We have more gangs that are working against Chev this time, some return others are new.

PerformancesJason Statham does what he can with the leading role, he handles the action with ease, only he just doesn’t reach the same levels as before, this does affect the rest of the cast who do struggle to make an impact in this film.

StoryThe story does follow the next chapter of Chev’s life, the one after he should have died, only for him to get a new chance which sees him needing to race against time to get his own heart back. This side is simple enough at does work for what the film is doing, Chev take on endless amounts of enemies, the problem here with the story is that we dive too much into the side characters of what is going on and end up getting too many completely random scenes which just seem offensive on too many levels. This story does end up becoming messy and just has one of the worst scripts out there.

Action/CrimeThe action does try to become bigger, only for it to be shot in a style which doesn’t make it easy to connect. The criminal world does feel bigger, but now everything does seem more personal rather gang controlled.

SettingsThe film remains set in LA which does continue to show the crazy gangs that are meant to operate in this city.

Special EffectsThe effects do feel like they are being more ambitious, only for some to be so farfetched they only seem to make things look confusing, including an insulting looking Godzilla like fight.


Scene of the Movie – Final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Godzilla like fight.

Final Thoughts This is a wildly over the top sequel which only ends up becoming too much to handle for the crazy nature of everything going on.

Overall: Too wild.

Rating

Franchise Weekend – Crank (2006)

Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Writer: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Efren Ramirez, Dwight Yoakam, Carlos Sanz

Plot: Professional assassin Chev Chelios learns his rival has injected him with a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops.


Tagline – If his heart stops pumping adrenalin… It will be the day Chev Chelios dies

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Relentless Action

Story: Crank starts when assassin Chev Chelios (Statham) has been poisoned by his rival assassin Verona (Cantillo) in an attempt at revenge for a job gone wrong. Chev has one hour to live before his heart stops, he learns that if he can keep his adrenaline up, he can remain focused and keep himself alive for longer, which sees him racing around LA in an attempt to locate Verona.

With Chev leaving a host of bodies in his path, he finds a way to keep his heart rate up thanks to his trusted doctor Miles (Yoakam) as he starts to face his own fate before seeking his own girlfriend Eve (Smart) to tell him his mistake.

Thoughts on Crank

Characters – Chev Cheilos is an assassin that has been drugged while knocked out, he has one hour to live unless he can keep his heart rate up, he uses all his violent side to keep his heart rate up as he searches revenge before his time runs out, he uses his connections and isn’t afraid to attack either side of the law. Eve is Chev’s girlfriend, she doesn’t know about his life as an assassin thinking he has a normal everyday job, she doesn’t understand to start with just what is going on. Verona is the man that has poisoned Chev, he is enjoying the idea of getting one over Chev, only he doesn’t want to face the consequences. Kaylo is the connection around town, he looks for the people that Chev wants to find keeping his ears to the floor.

PerformancesJason Statham is the clear star of the film, he gets to unleash all his action star potential, while using his straight-faced delivery to get a couple of laughs along the way. Amy Smart is mostly the damsel in distress figure, she doesn’t play the smartest character doing what she can with it. Jose Pablo Cantillo is the main villain only he doesn’t feel like a threat to Chev in his performance.

StoryThe story here follows an assassin that must race against time to get revenge on the people that have poisoned him before the poison in his blood ends his life. The story isn’t going to be get into any levels of deep, which is all we need it too be, it is just one man on a rampage, it does have a real-time feeling to everything as Chev only has an hour to live. We get the usual dealings with gangs always searching for power which is why the two sides are going to war with Chev in the middle of it all.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is wildly over the top with each fight, chase or incident becoming larger in scale as the film roles on, with the crime side of the film taking us into the criminal world seeing how the assassins and leaders try to stay in control.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which helps the film show us just how busy the streets would be, with the criminal behaviour happening around every corner too.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the different levels of suffering that Chev is going through, be it the blurred vision or seeing how his heart is shaping up after or before an incident.


Scene of the Movie – Final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is hard to support Chev either after what has happened to him.

Final Thoughts This is a non-stop action adrenaline ride, once it starts it just doesn’t stop which show the energy needed to make this film work on so many different levels.

Overall: Fun and over the top.

Rating

The Curse of La Llorona (2019) Movie Review

Director: Michael Chaves

Writer: Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis (Screenplay)

Starring: Linda Cardellini, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez, Patricia Velasquez, Sean Patrick Thomas

Plot: Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm.


Tagline – She Wants Your Children

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Jump Scare 101

Story: The Curse of La Llorona starts when widowed mother and social worker Anna (Cardellini) looks into one of her cases which has taken a sudden turn for the worst, taking the children away from the mother, the children end up getting killed, with the mother claiming it was La Llorona (Ramirez).

When Anna’s children Chris (Christou) and Samantha (Kinchen) get touched by La Llorona, they have been cursed, with Anna needing to investigate the myth of La Llorona, where she learns that the grieving widow will come for children to replace her own.

Thoughts on The Curse of La Llorona

Characters – Anna is the widowed social worker and mother who while doing her job, checking up on children that might be suffering abuse, trying to keep them with their parents, get involved in a curse, which puts her own children in danger. Baring in mind, she is a social work and was married to a cop, she doesn’t make the best decisions, we see how she struggles to communicate with her children, often leaves them alone and when they get injuries, she doesn’t demand answers, which remaining unanswered would mean she could be considered abusive. Chris and Samantha are the children, they are both dealing with the loss of their father, which would be difficult for any child, they become cursed by La Llorona who wants to take them, meaning they must first learn to communicate with their own mother, when the events start to happen. Rafael Olvera is one man that turned his back on the church in order to fight the evil in the world, he is the last resort for Anna, where he knows how to stop La Llorona from causing more pain in the lives of family.

PerformancesLinda Cardellini in the leading role does well through the film without doing anything you wouldn’t expect for a horror film. The child actors both do a solid job through the film too.

StoryThe story here follows a widowed mother that ends up getting a cursed by an evil spirit that wants to take her children and she must figure out how to stop her before it is too late. This is a horror story that does do everything it needs to, to put a character in a position where everything they do know, can be turned on its head, when it comes to child protection. The story does however fall into the position of the start of the La Llorona appearance seeming quite random to the first victim, with not enough investigation into that side of the story, while the battle to protect is pretty much every sort of possession based film we have seen before.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film does work if you want jump scares, it does build some up very well, with an umbrella sequences which is the standout for me. The mystery behind the film comes from just why La Llorona has appeared in the first place, which never seems to get answered, only how to beat her.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the scares in and around the family home, it does make a point that it is the family that is haunted not the house, which is key to how the ghostly figure appears. Being haunted in your own home is always going to be a scary idea.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to make the figure of La Llorona look frightening, it will give the scary figure a look which would get a scream too.


Scene of the Movie – Umbrella.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is pretty routine for a horror film.

Final Thoughts This is a routine horror that does have a couple of good scares without hitting the heights of the rest of the universe it has come from.

Overall: Easy to watch horror.