Clinton Road (2019)

Director: Richard Grieco, Steve Stanulis

Writer: Derek Ross Mackay (Screenplay) Steve Stanulis (Story)

Starring: Erin O’Brien, James DeBello, Ace Young, Katie Morrison, Bo Kietl, Cody Calafiore, Ice-T

 

Plot: A widowed firefighter seeks closure after his wife goes missing on an actual haunted road in rural New Jersey but must unlock the roads secret if he wants to get out alive.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Run Around the Woods Horror

 

Story: Clinton Road starts as we learn about a notorious stretch of road in the United States which within its 10miles stretch has an unusual number of murders and strange events going on along it. Michael (Young) has lost his wife along this stretch of road, without getting any closure, he has started to move on with his life with a new girlfriend Kayla (LaVera) when he gets called by his ex-wife’s sister Isabella (Morrison) who wants to investigate a new lead about what happened there.

After getting advice for a paranormal expert Begory (DeBello), Michael, Isabella, Kayla, Tyler (Calafiora) and Gianna (O’Brien) head out to the mysterious Clinton Road for answers, which takes them down a path they aren’t prepared to understand.

 

Thoughts on Clinton Road

 

Characters – Michael has experience the loss of his wife in unusual circumstances, he has moved on with his life, trying to finally put everything back together again, he does still want the final answers which Isabelle his sister-in-law could be about to give him, this sees him joined by his new girlfriend to look for the answers in the last place she was seen. Isabella is the sister of the missing woman, she has always wanted to get answers which leads her to turn to a paranormal expert to help solve the mysterious. Tyler is Michael best friend and the total opposite to him be louder, usually the one that gets them into trouble. Gianna is the connection with the paranormal expect, as we can tell here we don’t get the best development around the rest of the cast as we do with Michael and Isabella.

PerformancesAce Young in the leading role doesn’t do much wrong, but does struggle to bring his character to life, Katie Morrison struggles from this too because the characters aren’t written as strongly as they could be, they are difficult to bring to life, the whole cast struggles here and the big names are used more for the cameos to say they had a big name in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a group of friends that go in search for answers about one of their other friends that went missing a year ago on a mysterious well know haunted stretch of road only to find themselves the target of the strange goings on upon the road. The story here uses the inspired by true events line which does spike the interest and the research required to see how true this road is and after doing my research the road is real and the haunting events around it are real too, the story we watch happen here are not. The idea of investigating the haunted area without any experience in other worldly entities doesn’t help the character’s decision-making process which soon plays into all of the weak clichés in horror, being mostly running around in the dark.

HorrorWhen it comes to the horror elements in the film we get to see how the mystery about the road plays into the scares required for the film, the darkness and isolation add moments of tension, but we just never get the creep or scare factor we could achieve from this story.

SettingsThe film is set on a mysterious road and wooded area around it, is does create isolation by showing us just how much unexplained mystery is around the area.

Special EffectsThe effects are consistent through the film with how the ghostly characters are created, they have a glow about them, when the practical effects are used the wounds are strong throughout.


Scene of the Movie –
The leg injury reveal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too much just running around the woods in the dark.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book run around the wood horror movie that tries to play into a real life mystery only to end up being largely forgettable.

 

Overall: Basic horror.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – C – Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writer: Zhihong Bian, Nan Wu, Yimou Zhang (Screenplay) Yu Cao (Play)

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Li Gong, Jay Chou, Ye Liu, Dahong Ni

 

Plot: During China’s Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself.


Tagline – Unspeakable secrets are hidden within the Forbidden City.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Beautiful

 

Story: Curse of the Golden Flower starts in China, Later Tang Dynasty, 10th Century. On the eve of the Chong Yang Festival, golden flowers fill the Imperial Palace. The Emperor (Chow Yun Fat) returns unexpectedly with his second son, Prince Jai (Jay Chou). His pretext is to celebrate the holiday with his family, but given the chilled relations between the Emperor and the ailing Empress (Gong Li), this seems disingenuous. For many years, the Empress and Crown Prince Wan (Liu Ye), her stepson, have had an illicit liaison. Feeling trapped, Prince Wan dreams of escaping the palace with his secret love Chan (Li Man), the Imperial Doctor’s daughter. Meanwhile, Prince Jai, the faithful son, grows worried over the Empress’s health and her obsession with golden chrysanthemums. Could she be headed down an ominous path? The Emperor harbors equally clandestine plans; the Imperial Doctor (Ni Dahong) is the only one privy to his machinations. When the Emperor senses a looming threat, he relocates the doctor’s family from the Palace to a remote area. While they are en route, mysterious assassins attack them. Chan and her mother, Jiang Shi (Chen Jin) are forced back to the palace. Their return sets off a tumultuous sequence of dark surprises. Amid the glamour and grandeur of the festival, ugly secrets are revealed. As the Imperial Family continues its elaborate charade in a palatial setting, thousands of golden armored warriors charge the palace. Who is behind this brutal rebellion? Where do Prince Jai’s loyalties lie? Between love and desire, is there a final winner? Against a moonlit night, thousands of chrysanthemum blossoms are trampled as blood spills across the Imperial Palace.

 Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia (2006)

Thoughts on Curse of the Golden Flower

 

Final ThoughtsI am going to be honest, I couldn’t get into this movie at all, I found it hard to follow the story and description above is just copied of the IMDB. What I did like the visuals, the sets are fantastic, colourful and so easy on the eye, you just want to make screen savers out of them. The costumes a beautiful, authentic and stunning too. The performances from the cast are good throughout too, and the action sequences and romantic moments all check off the boxes well, it is only the story I didn’t like really, which is the main thing you need to be able to follow.

 

Overall: Visual treat on the eyes

Rating

 

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – C – Christine (2016)

Director: Antonio Campos

Writer: Craig Shilowich (Screenplay)

Starring: Rebecca Hall, Michael C Hall, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia, J Smith-Cameron, Timothy Simons, Kim Shaw

 

Plot: The story of Christine Chubbuck, a 1970s TV reporter struggling with depression and professional frustrations as she tries to advance her career.


Tagline –  In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in ‘blood and guts’, and in living color, you are going to see another first… Christine.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Lead Performance

 

Story: Christine starts as we enter the 1970s television studio, where Christine Chubbuck (Hall) works, she keeps her stories to her determination on how she wants things to be and is eager to get to the next stage of her career. She is happy to question decisions and has a crush on the lead anchor George (Hall).

With the struggles coming through strong, we do see how Christine pushes to get her stories air time, but it will always be her last story that people will remember her for.

 

Thoughts on Christine

 

Characters – Christine is an ambitious reporter that is always looking to forward her career, she can become difficult to work with, because of her search for perfection and by taking on the newest stories, her own personal problems with start to come through. George is the lead anchor on the network, he is filled with confidence believing he is the star of the show. Michael is the station manager that deals with Christine’s ideas while trying to put the stations on the map with higher ratings.

PerformancesRebecca Hall gives her best performance in this film, she is the most interesting part of the film as we see how she handles the problems she is going through. The rest of the cast are good and know not to take control of the scenes because the story is about Christine, not them.

StoryThe story here follows Christine, her career in television reporting, her personal problems both physical and mental ones which drove her to the shocking moment she will be remembered for. The problem with the storytelling process is slow because unless you know the outcome, you will feel like nothing much is happening, because we are only interested in learning Christine’s story and that is by seeing the motivation which lead to the end.

BiopicThe film follows Christine’s life in the news business and how her personal life affected her own decision as she couldn’t handle the pressure of everyday life.

SettingsThe settings bring us into the correct time era, the 1970s which shows how the lives of these characters would be operating in.


Scene of the Movie –
The therapy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The impact just doesn’t hit hard enough with the slow build.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most shocking moments in television history, it shows the pressure people can place on themselves to become the stars they are today.

 

Overall: Nice, but not spectacular biopic.

Rating

 

 

Michael Rooker Weekend – Cliffhanger (1993)

Director: Renny Harlin

Writer: Michael France, Sylvester Stallone (Screenplay) John Long (Premise)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner, Rex Linn, Caroline Goodall, Leon, Craig Fairbrass

 

Plot: A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.


Tagline – Hang on!

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun 90s Action Film

 

Story: Cliffhanger starts when Gabe Walker (Stallone) returns to the Rocky Mountains 8 months after a tragic event which saw his best friend Hal (Rooker) lose a girlfriend through a rescue attempt gone wrong. Gabe and Hal must put their differences aside when a distress call from a botch mid-air flight crash lands on the mountains.

Qualen (Lithgow) leads the criminals as they force Hal and Gabe to guide them to their loot, which takes them across the mountains with the only rescue team being led by Jessie (Turner) that can help them survive.

 

Thoughts on Cliffhanger

 

Characters – Gabe is known as being the best climbing around, he works on the rescues and can reach spots others wouldn’t event try to get too. After an accident he has walked away from this world, but his return is just in time as he needs to navigate the mountains to say ahead of the criminals searching for their money, picking them off one by one. Qualen is the leader of the criminals, he has a plan which would make him rich and money is the only thing that matters to him. Hal is the old friend of Gabe’s, he blames him for the accident and ends up becoming the reluctant guide for the criminals, using his knowledge to slow them down. Jessie is the final member of the search and rescue team who is working with Gabe to get ahead of the criminals, only her position makes for an extra problem for Gabe. The rest of the criminals fill in the generic roles, the British henchman, the pilot, the lover and the one with pride in a kill.

PerformancesSylvester Stallone was the prime example of one of the best action stars in the early 90s, this movie shows why because his one-liner deliver is on point and the physical side of the performance showed he was read for the role. John Lithgow as a villain is one of the easiest choice we see, he shines in this role which will make you just hate him. Michael Rooker in the good guy with a grudge role does work well too with Janine Turner filling out the main cast doing the best she can with her own character.

StoryThe story here is simple, two rescue mountain rangers are tricked into helping a group of criminals that have seen their heist go wrong and need to locate their money. This is as simple as it sounds, we never try to over complicate anything going on in this film, it is good guys versus bad guys on a mountain which adds to the peril, we have a small sub story about Gabe and Hal needing to put an accident behind them, which does work as they  must work together instead of just fighting or blaming each other. While we can work out how this will happen and we do get plenty of one-liners this all works for a 90s action film.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is strong, we focus on different fight, explosions and just difficulties of being that high up in the middle of a battle for survival, which does play into the adventure elements as this takes the characters on an unlikely journey to try and collect money.

SettingsThe film keeps the whole film on the mountain range, it shows just how difficult it would be to just escape and how knowing the lay of land the climbers have the advantage.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just how capable the villains are to do all the mountaineering.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical fun 90s action film, it will entertain the audience and gives us plenty of one-liners to laugh at.

 

Overall: 90s action through and through.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – C – Criminal (2016)

Director: Ariel Vromen

Writer: Douglas Cook, David Weisberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Jordi Molla, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt, Amaury Nolasco, Alice Eve

 

Plot: In a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot, a dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets, and skills are implanted into a death-row inmate in hopes that he will complete the operative’s mission.


Tagline –  Take me to the Dutchman.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Moving Action Thriller

 

Story: Criminal starts when CIA agent Bill Pope (Reynolds) is working on bringing The Dutchman (Pitt) to America in exchange for closing the wormhole on the dark web that he has created, the problem is Xavier Heimdahl (Molla) also wants the Dutchman and kills Bill before getting the answers.

Turning to Dr Franks (Jones) for an experimental memory transfer Quaker Wells (Oldman) the head of the CIA operation uses death-row inmate Jerico Stewart (Costner) to learn where the vital information is, but letting a killer lose becomes harder to control than believed.

 

Thoughts on Criminal

 

Characters – Jerico Stewart is the dangerous death-row inmate, we don’t learn what he has done, but anyone that crosses him usually ends up in a body bag. He is forced into receiving Bill’s memories in a hope that he can save a major release of secure information, he doesn’t want to work with the CIA and is happier to operate in his own means. Quaker Wells is running the CIA operation which goes wrong, he will go at any lengths to get the answers he needs to stop the information leak, company man who does go too far. Dr Franks has been working on transferring memories for 18 years, this is his first human attempt which shows how he wants to help with the new memories. Important to the story but lacking the impact he should have on the story. Bill Pope is the family man and CIA agent, it is his memories which hold the answers after he is killed. Xavier Heimdahl wants to bring an end to governments across the world, he will go public with his speeches while also having his darker side coming out when getting what he wants.

PerformancesKevin Coster is in the middle of his recovery/mid-life crisis roles in action movies, he knows how to make his performance work keeping everything entertaining throughout. Gary Oldman as a company man CIA agent, well this always works as he never needs o do anything challenging. Tommy Lee Jones likewise does what he needs to without bringing anything unique to the role. Reynolds is hard to judge because of the smaller part in the film. Jordi Molla does make a good villain showing the calmness needed for the character to feel calculated. Gal Gadot is solid in her supporting role without needing to do much.

StoryThe story gives us the idea that vital information is about to be leaked by a hacker if he doesn’t get a passport and immunity, but things go wrong when the agent with the connection is killed. The experimental idea of transferring memories is put in motion as the candidate doesn’t follow orders the way they had hoped and different agencies from around the globe want the information. This plays out like an action film, but in reality it should have been a tense thriller with the characters we have here. It is an easy to watch and enjoy even if the premise does seem wildly over the top for a simpler idea.

Action/Crime/Mystery/Sci-FiWhen we look at the themes being used action gives us the shoot out we have seen before with a couple of car chases, nothing overly memorable though. The crime world we are placed into shows how the CIA are trying to protect the world from a new threat in London, it seems weird the British intelligence agency are not involved in this. The mystery in this film doesn’t work too well as the only thing needing to be solved is where the package was left. The sci-fi side of the film does come from the idea of transferring the memories, it is only used here though.

SettingsThe film is set in London and the surrounding area, it does feel weird that an American operation happens in England though.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well when needed without being over used for the action scenes.


Scene of the Movie –
Ambulance chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does have a tonal problem with the action and thriller side of things.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid easy to watch action thriller that doesn’t test the audience too much, throws in a wild sci-fi idea and big-name actors hoping it will be a classic.

 

Overall: Easy to watch.

Rating