Nicholas Hoult Weekend – Dark Places (2015)

Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner

Writer: Gilles Paquet-Brenner (Screenplay) Gillian Flynn (Novel)

Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Andrea Roth, Chloe Grace Moretz

 

Plot: Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.


Tagline – In 1985, her entire family was murdered. 30 years later, the truth emerges.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Dark Places starts as we meet Libby Day (Theron) one of the daughters that became somewhat of a celebrity after her family’s murder when she was 8, with the support funds running low, she accepts an offer from Lyle Wirth (Hoult) a member of a private investigation group that look at crimes and whether they are solved correctly, who want to prove her brother Ben (Stoll) didn’t commit the murders.

As Libby starts to investigate the case, she must face her past and learn about Ben’s past as a teenager as well as her mother Patty (Hendricks) struggle to keep the family together. This will help her confront her past and learn the truth of the events of murder.

 

Thoughts on Dark Places

 

Characters – Libby Day has spent her life trying to escape the fame that followed her after the murder of her family, her light is dwindling as she gets older and now she is forced into learning the truth about what happened in her past, plagued by nightmares we see just how she looks to remember the nightmare events the 8-year-old self-experienced. Lyle Wirth is the leader of a group that are investigating the night of the murder privately, however he comes of nervous about trying to figure out the truth even with his own theory. Patty Day is the mother and victim of the murder, we see her in the flashbacks are she tried everything she could to keep a roof over the children’s heads. We meet characters from the past and present version of the stories, as we flashback and forth learning more about the events from these characters.

PerformancesCharlize Theron is the star of this film, we get to see the withdrawn from the world character that wants to hide from her past and how she has accepted the outcome of the case, we see the range in how she deals with the problems she is facing in everyday life. Nicholas Hoult like most of the supporting performers are fine without being anything standout.

StoryThe story here follows one of the survivors of a family murder facing her past to learn the shocking truth about the events of the deadly night to which her brother was convicted of. The story adopts a mixture of flashbacks and forwards to show us just how different parts of the story played out, each clue brings the next tale in the story. The story does try to keep us guessing about who was responsible for the murders, it gives us plenty of suspects along the way and shows us just how a young girl would struggle to have grown into a mid-30s woman still lost in the world. this is from the same author as Gone Girl, and if you were to compare the two, this is easily the weaker of the stories.

Action/MysteryThe film has moments of action, but doesn’t turn to it that often as we wait to see how the murder really unfolded. The mystery is the highlight of the film because of how it keeps us wondering to just what really happened.

SettingsThe settings show us the struggles that the family would have had during the events leading up to the murder, when we are in the modern time we see the faceless city of Kansas which could have been any city really.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well when needed, with most happening off screen we see the aftermath of the events.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We do seem to spend too much time watching seemingly pointless moments of the back story and one aspect with Ben doesn’t seem to get answered enough.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that does keep you guessing, but never draws you in enough, it has a strong cast of talented names and by the end you will b shocked even if the narrative does spiral down some dead ends at times.

 

Overall: Off-track thriller

Rating

 

 

Ben Stiller Weekend – Dodgeball (2004)

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Ben Stiller, Rip Torn, Justin Long, Stephen Root, Joel David Moore, Alan Tudyk, Gary Cole

 

Plot: A group of misfits enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament in order to save their cherished local gym from the onslaught of a corporate health fitness chain.


Tagline – Grab Life by the Balls 

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: One of the Best Sports Comedies

 

Story: Dodgeball starts as we meet the two gym owners, White Goodman (Stiller) who is obsessed with perfection with bodies only accepting beautiful model like members, on the other side of the street we have Peter La Fleur (Vaughn) owner of Average’s Joe a gym that is open to all, with the regulars and staff including Justin (Long), Gordon (Root), Owen (Moore), Dwight (Williams) and Steve the Pirate (Tudyk).

When Average Joe’s is facing a financial crisis with lawyer Kate Veatch (Taylor) preparing to close them in 30 days with White Goodman wanting to buy it and demolish it. The only plan is to train and enter a dodgeball competition where the prize is the money they require, only problem is, White has made his own team of super-athletes to stop Average Joe’s winning.  

 

Thoughts on Dodgeball

 

Characters – Peter La Fleur is a gym owner, he is laidback and willing to let anybody join at their own pace, this mentality has left him facing financial crisis and he reluctantly accepts entering a dodgeball tournament, he can bring the team together as he gives the whole team hope. White Goodman is the owner of Globo Gym he only accepts beautiful people in his gym even offering cosmetic surgery for his members. He is completely over the top believing he is God’s gift to women with his success coming from his family’s money, he will do anything to eliminate Average Joe’s. Kate Veatch is the lawyer that is assigned to study the finances of Average Joe’s, she becomes the love interest for both men even though she has no interest in White, she joins the team to help eliminate Globo Gym. Patches O’Houlihan is the dodgeball expert, he trains the Average Joe’s to help become competitive in the competition. The rest of the cast include the Average Joe’s members Justin, Gordon, Owen, Dwight and Steve the Pirate that each have their own stories behind their characters to help motivate them to compete.

PerformancesVince Vaughn is one of those actors whose comedy can go either way, it is a laidback style which work perfectly for his character here, because he brings us a real person compared to Ben Stiller. Stiller on the other hand nails his completely over the top character that you are meant to be laughing at with everything he does and says. Christine Taylor is good in her role which like the rest of the cast shine, we get a mix of different comedies from the supporting cast which blend together to show the different styles of real life people.

StoryThe story here follows to rival gyms going to compete for a dodgeball tournament to help keep the little gym with no money a chance to stay afloat before the global franchise closes them down. The story does botte down to a simple underdog story which is fine we can all enjoy a story about an underdog, we do get moments in the film from the Average Joe’s characters that help them learn to become more than they are which is the whole point of a gym, to improve yourself in your own way and everything Globo Gym shouldn’t be. If you want a simple fun sports comedy to watch, this is going to be the one for you without a question.

ComedyThe comedy in this film comes from many different levels, we get moments of slapstick with the dodgeball scenes, we get over the top characters in White Goodman and his team and finally each member of Joe’s team has their own quirky to make them funny.

SettingsThe look at the different gyms helps the settings because it shows how people can be intimidated by certain gyms over others, when we head to Vegas for the tournament the competition feels are authentic as you would imagine.


Scene of the Movie –
Most of the dodgeball scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lance Armstrong scene is awkward now.

Final ThoughtsFor a sports comedy this has laughs, heart and quality performances from the whole cast, this is one that will stick with you for years to come and I hope to see everyone else enjoy it.

 

Overall: Sports comedy done to near perfection.

Rating

 

 

The Dwelling (2016) Movie Review

Director: Jeff Maher

Writer: Cody Calahan, Jeff Maher (Screenplay)

Starring: Colin Price, Alysa King, Gwenlyn Cumyn, Dennis Andres, George Krissa, Hamza Fouad, Alex Loubert

Plot: Four twentysomethings find themselves stuck on a haunted antique bed where leaving means suffering a gruesome death. Plagued with frightening hallucinations, they must figure out the bed’s secrets before they are ultimately picked off one by one.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Twist to a Genre

Story: The Dwelling starts when four friends look to stay in a hotel for the night Ren (Andres), Fred (Krissa), Sandy (King) and Nancy (Cumyn), they stay in room 18 and have all been murdered, Virgil (Price) is leading the investigation into what happened, as we get to flashback to the events of the night.

As the night unfolds, Virgil tries to unlock the truth, when we see how the four friends had become trapped on an antique bed, where if they leave they will get picked off by something unknown and add in the spin that the friends start to communicate with Virgil from a different time.

Thoughts on The Dwelling

Characters – Virgil is a detective that is given the crime scene, he has his own tortured past which has seen him turn to substance abuse and his alienation of the rest of the team, he does figure stuff out the rest of the team doesn’t seem to pick up on and when he starts to speak to one of the victims, he finds himself trying to save them. Sandy, Nancy, Ren and Fred are the four friends that are in the hotel room, what starts as a night away, soon takes a turn when they become trapped, drawn towards something from their past or from their fears. Most of them have small additions to their character, but nothing overly memorable within their actions.

PerformancesColin Price as the detective is the strongest of the performers, he does make us think that we are going to see him look like an outsider through the film. When it comes to the four trapped in the room, not everything is as strong here because we don’t seem to feel the natural chemistry of the characters on screen.

StoryThe story here follows a group of friends that find themselves trapped on a bed in a hotel room, where if they get off the bed, they will die, until a cop gets in contact with them and starts to try and guide them out of the situation, which has seen them die. This is an interesting spin on the trapped genre, because we open the film knowing people have died in this room and now it is about cleaning up and solving the situation, but seeing the communication between the two sides shows how things have gone in a different direction to the normal. This does seem to start off seemingly like it is going to be a ‘saw’ like story, before turning more into a psychological story that will keep you guessing.

HorrorThe horror comes from seeing just what will be happening to the friends if they stay in this room for too long, we get moments of gore, but most in playing into the mindset of the characters.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the film inside the one location, a hotel room, mixing between the two different times with the events of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are used well when needed, but this film doesn’t want to turn them too often.


Scene of the Movie – The first incident.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The four friends don’t seem to have much about their characters away from this night.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting spin of the trapped genre in horror and will keep you on your toes, even if some of the performances are not the strongest.

Overall: Genre Spinning

James Bond Weekend – Die Another Day (2002)

Director: Lee Tamahori

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade (Screenplay)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, Judi Dench, John Cleese

 

Plot: James Bond is sent to investigate the connection between a North Korean terrorist and a diamond mogul, who is funding the development of an international space weapon.


Tagline – Events don’t get any bigger than..

Runtime: 2 Hours 13 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weakest of Brosnan’s Bonds

 

Story: Die Another Day starts as James Bond (Brosnan) is captured by the North Korean army, he is tortured for 14 months before getting traded back for brother of man he was training to capture Zao (Yune). Taken off duty, James goes solo in search for Zao, which sees him meet Jinx (Berry) who is on her own secret mission against Zao.

The investigation leads James towards the diamond trade, with Gustav Graves (Stephens) becoming the main focus of the investigation, Gustav has a huge reputation and soon James gets close to learn what his master plan is all about.

 

Thoughts on Die Another Day

 

Characters – James Bond finds himself captured in this outing, tortured for months for information, never giving up any secrets. Once he is traded, he is taken off active duty, but wants to go in search of the man traded for him, it shows him working more covertly trying to take down Gustav, who he believes will lead him to his target. Jinx is the mysterious stranger that James meets on his mission, she is on her own mission against Zao. Gustav Graves is a diamond mogul that has risen to fame with a brand-new secret project in the works, this has captured the attention of James who is in search of his secret. Miranda Frost is the PR woman for Gustav, she is also undercover from MI6 one of her first missions.

PerformancesPierce Brosnan does everything right in his role, he never looks out of place in what would be his final outing. Halley berry brings us a much strong American performance which was needed after the last film. Toby Stephens makes for a basic Bond villain, he does have to play a slightly more complicated role than we have seen before. Rosamund Pike does the best she can with her role, she does get a fight sequence though.

StoryThe latest adventure of James Bond takes things to a darker tone than before, because we see how he is captured and held for a long period of time, no easy escape meaning he will need to figure out how to get his payback once he is released, which sees him hunting down a diamond mogul. This does continue our trend of James needing to work with someone to stop the villainous plan, everything tends to play out as you would imagine, with the only part that feels fresh being the idea that James isn’t easily freed from his captive state.

Action/AdventureThe action here is mixed to say the least, when we have the practical action this is entertaining and even the best scenes in the movie, when we get to the CGI moments it is horrible to watch.

SettingsThe film does return to the exotic location with Cuba and Iceland being the stand out locations of the film.

Special EffectsThis is the first Bond film where the effects need to be discussion because we have some of the worst you will ever see in any film, the tidal wave scene and the invisible car just look pathetic.

Scene of the Movie – Ice car chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That Tidal Wave.

Final ThoughtsThis is another film in he Bond franchise that just doesn’t deliver, it has some entertaining action sequences, but the CGI moments almost make moments laughable.

 

Overall: Disappointing Another Day

Rating

 

 

James Bond Month – Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Writer: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz (Screenplay)

Starring: Sean Connery, Jill St John, Charles Gray, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Bruce Cabot, Putter Smith

 

Plot: A diamond smuggling investigation leads James Bond to Las Vegas, where he uncovers an evil plot involving a rich business tycoon.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Back to the Best

 

Story: Diamonds are Forever starts as James Bond (Connery) goes out for blood in his battle against Blofeld (Gray) killing him in his base, returning home James gets his latest mission to learn about a mysterious diamond smuggling ring, first sending him to Amsterdam.

James going undercover becomes part of the ring where he finds himself in Las Vegas joined by Tiffany Case (John) to find out just who is the mastermind behind the ring.

 

Thoughts on Diamonds are Forever

 

Characters – James Bond gets to finally take care of his arch nemesis Blofeld before going on his latest mission going undercover searching for diamonds, he shows us his usually swagger, getting the women along the way as he looks to solve this latest mystery. Tiffany Case is one of the connections in the chain of the diamond smuggling, the first one James makes contact with, she must learn the help along the way to get out alive. Blofeld is the old enemy that James gets to take care of early on, the man that has held James up from multiply other mission. We do get to meet plenty of people involved in the ring which only make James’s mission more difficult.

PerformancesSean Connery is back and back to his best in this outing as the iconic spy, it is great to have him back even if it is only for one last time. Jill St John is good as the Bond girl for the movie though offers nothing new for the series. Charles Gray keeps the role of Blofeld nicely giving us just what we need from the villain role.

StoryThe story here shows James finally getting his hands on Blofeld before needing to head off on a new mission, one that gives him everything he wants, beautiful women, casinos and a villain he wants to stay ahead off. This story plays out just like one of the more famous ones in reverse which becomes very interesting to watch, it has everything you need for the latest adventure for Bond, a villain that is prepared for the intelligence of Bond and the world needing saving once again. This does feel like it has given the life back to the franchise which needed to be bought back from the weaker outings, the story is simple enough and continues to keep us watching along with Bond.

Action/AdventureThe action is good even if the fights are simple enough to show how Bond can beat most in combat. The adventure just takes Bond to new and old locations for his mission.

SettingsFrom Amsterdam to America, we get a much more knowledge set of locations with the bases being in locations which would make sense for a super villain to be hiding in.


Scene of the Movie –
The base attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me They seem to be too friendly Bond and Blofeld.

Final ThoughtsFor the Bond franchise this is a new feel to them, one that is more interesting and strong then the last few instalments.

 

Overall: Returning to what we want to see.

Rating