ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominated – E – The Elephant Man (1980)

Director: David Lynch

Writer: Christopher De Vore, Eric Bergren, David Lynch (Screenplay) Frederick Treves (Book)

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Freddie Jones

 

Plot: A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.


Tagline – I am not an animal! I am a human being! I…am…a man!

Runtime: 2 Hour 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Essential Viewing

 

Story: The Elephant Man starts when Victorian surgeon Frederick Treves (Hopkins) discovers a heavily deformed man John Merrick (Hurt) being used as a side-show freak by Bytes (Jones). Frederick sees the potential in searching for a cure and a break through in science by showing the fellow doctors that he can help John.

However, over time, Frederick learns that underneath all the deformities, John is an intelligent man that is no different than any other man in the world, but not everybody else in the city of London, wants John to have his freedom.

 

Thoughts on The Elephant Man

 

Characters – Frederick Treves is a surgeon that has the respect of London because of the incredible work he has achieved through the years. He learns of John and wants to help him, he soon learns that he is just like him, smart, educated and must learn to teach the world to accept John. John Merrick is the Elephant Man, a side-show freak to the man who hold shim captive, once rescued he learns that not everybody in the world is wanting to laugh or scream at him, some want to help him live a normal life, inside he is a kind sensitive man that only wants to live like any other man. Mrs Kendal is a celebrity in London who is the first to help John in the public light, showing the people just how gentle and intelligent John is.

PerformancesAnthony Hopkins in the leading role is fantastic, show the world that he could pick up the intelligent role perfectly while showing the kind nature behind his character. John Hurt is the true star of the film, he brings the kind nature to the man that others look at with fear, he shows the bravery to be different in the society that only looks down on people that were different. The rest of the cast are strong throughout the film, they show us the emotional impact the film would have on the people involved.

StoryThe story here follows the relationship between doctor Frederick Treves and John Merrick, we see how Frederick saves John from the life of misery, lets him be respected and shows him another side of life away from the freak shows in which he had been trapped in. the story shows us just how cruel the people of the Victoria era were towards people that looked different. Through the story we get to see a fine balance between the men that wanted to use John for financial profit and Frederick that was willing to have him at the forefront of his determination to be remembered for what he bought to science, this one does turn into friendship, but the first impression are clearly there.

BiopicWe follow the time between John Merrick and Frederick Treves as we see the men with similar education and desires in life are both in very different worlds, together they help show the world, just because John looked different, it didn’t make him a bad person, unlike the people that uses him for their own gain.

SettingsThe film is set in the Victorian era London, it shows the difference in class between the people and how the people would have been entertained by seeing someone different.


Scene of the Movie –
I am a human being.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The way John was treated.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful biopic, it shows how cruel the world was towards John Merrick and how the people that wanted a change showed the world he was just like them.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

Rating

 

 

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Escape Room (2019)

Director: Adam Robitel

Writer: Bragi F Schut, Maria Melnik (Screenplay)

Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nik Dodani

 

Plot: Six strangers find themselves in a maze of deadly mystery rooms, and must use their wits to survive.


Tagline – Solve the Puzzle. Escape the Room. Find the clues or die.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Best Escape Room Movie

 

Story: Escape Room starts as we meet our six random strangers Zoey (Russell), Ben (Miller), Jason (Ellis), Mike (Labine), Amanda (Harper) and Danny (Dodani) who have been involved in a traumatic experience accept an offer for a $10,000 prize for an Escape Room.

Once inside the Escape Room, they find themselves fighting for their lives once it turns out the game isn’t a game, it is a race to survive, leading to the strangers needing to put a side their difference to escape.

 

Thoughts on Escape Room

 

Characters – Zoey is a student study quantum physics while being hiding from the world because of a traumatic experience, she keeps to herself and is dared to take a risk over the holiday. She is the smartest, even though she is the quietest. Ben is a slacker living with his own guilty for an accident, he wants to put his life back together with this game being a good start for him. Jason is a successful stock broker that has always seen himself as a winner, he takes the leader position when trying to solve the problems. Mike, Amanda and Danny complete the line-up, each has their own reason being in the game with their own trauma from their past. Danny gets to explain to the team and audience about escape rooms.

PerformancesWhen it comes to the performances, it is clear that we have the tension from strangers working together, we see the difference and they all make themselves get their moment in the limelight. It could be fair to say that we don’t always need much in a horror, but these six get to show their grief too.

StoryThe story follows 6 stranger who have been selected for an escape room, only for it to turn into a battle for survival over any game. Now we have had at least two escape room movies in the past, this thankful is the best when it comes to the story even if the rooms are wildly imaginative. The story does make it clear that each of the six has some moment of trauma in their past, which makes is clear that is why they have been selected too. My biggest issues with the story telling process, is the opening scene, which takes away any peril we feel for that character, we could have used the Danny character for the idea of escape room here. The second is that we only see the lives of three of the six which from the way I would read it, would be they are going to be the easy picks for the final three in the movie. We can say this movie does use elements from other films including ‘Cube’ only it does enough to make it, its own, the rest of the positive lead us into spoiler land so we will leave them for another day.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe is what escape rooms are all about, the mystery of how to get out of each room, this is like many of them, which is good to see as it keeps us wondering what will happen next, the sci-fi elements play more into the bigger picture of the events going on.

SettingsEach room created has something unique about it, it will make it clear how far along we are with items being placed to remind our characters of what is happened in their past that could hold them up.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the effects, we once again have high quality going on here, the ‘hatch’ room will become the biggest divide with the audience for what it achieves.


Scene of the Movie –
The ‘hatch’ room.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The opening scene.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily the best escape room movie we have had to date, it will keep you guessing, characters that make sense and is ready for bigger ideas too.

 

Overall: Enjoyable mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Best of 2018 – # – Eighth Grade (2018)

Director: Bo Burnham

Writer: Bo Burnham (Screenplay)

Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Daniel Zolghadri, Fred Hechinger

 

Plot: An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Surprising Look at Middle School Life

 

Story: Eight Grade starts as we meet teenage girl Kayla (Fisher), she has her own YouTube channel where she tries to provide confidence to her viewers while being brand the ‘quietest’ girl in school on her final week of eighth grade before moving onto high school.

We see how Kayla decides to make the most of the final week, by becoming more confident and even attending a party which is against anything she would normally do. Kayla is preparing for high school while battling her own problems inside, being confident on camera and a nervous wreck in person.

 

Thoughts on Eighth Grade

 

Characters – Kayla is in her final week of eighth grade, she is a quiet student, shy from her fellow students, but in her home, she puts herself forward as a confident YouTuber trying to promote people to be themselves not worrying about what people think or say. She is branded the quietest girl in her grade which makes her depressed and alone because of the lack of friends in her life. She does befriend her high school shadow believing life could be different when she gets to high school, but like all school kids they are addicted to their phones. Mark is Kayla’s father that is trying his hardest to let her have her space grow up on her own, he does however want to make sure she is safe in her own life, he does have to take a lot of abuse from his daughter who won’t open up to him. Olivia is a high school student that Kayla must shadow for a day, she is one of the first people that opens up to Kayla about being herself in life. Gabe is one of the few people her age that talks to her like nothing is different between them, willing to be away from their phone.

PerformancesElsie Fisher is outstanding in the leading role of this film, she shows every moment of anxiety a school student could be going through with each decision process her character must go through. Josh Hamilton is wonderful in the father role, he shows us how parents can be there without interfering with their child’s life, giving us the perfect expressions to deal with the situations. The rest of the cast do fit their generic school figures without being involved in anything different.

StoryThe story here follows Kayla a middle school student that hasn’t got any friends about to get through the high school with her final week being her time to take the risks she had never imagined taking, all this while she tries to discover her place in the world. this is a surprisingly look at how school kids even as young as Kayla operate with mobiles pretty much glued to their hands, not wanting to have a conversation with an actually person. This does show us how difficult school can be for an outsider and how people need to be accepting people whoever they are.

ComedyThe film does offer us laughs at times, they blend well with the serious moments which show us just how difficult this moment in life will be for Kayla.

SettingsThe film doesn’t give us any major solo setting we mostly follow the different locations that Kayla visits to be outside her normal self.


Scene of the Movie –
The last video.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The back seat.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hard hitting look at school life for you Kayla, we see how difficult her time can be and how she gets through without letting anybody bother her.

 

Overall: Harsh reality of school exposed.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – E – Exit Wounds (2001)

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak

Writer: Ed Horowitz, Richard D’Ovidio (Screenplay) John Westermann (Novel)

Starring: Steven Seagal, DMX, Isaiah Washington, Anthony Anderson, Michael Jai White, Bill Duke, Jill Hennessy, Tom Arnold

 

Plot: Orin Boyd, a tough cop in an inner-city precinct discovers a web of dirty cops and corruption.


Tagline – This Is Gonna Hurt

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Seagal Action 101

 

Story: Exit Wounds starts when tough police officer Orin Boyd (Seagal) prevents an assassination attempt on the Vice President against orders from his superiors and Secret Service. This loses him his job at his prescient and being sent to a rougher one where new Captain Annette Mulcahy (Hennessy) sends him anger management.

When Orin starts investigating a known gangster Latrell Walker (DMX) he is assigned a partner in George Clark (Washington) and the two only honest sounding cops trying to bring him down and uncover the dirty cops in the force.

 

Thoughts on Exit Wounds

 

Characters – Orin Boyd is a tough no nonsense cop that will always run in first to do the right thing for people in danger, he doesn’t like dirty cops or criminals or partners and will go all out to bring down the criminals. Latrell Walker is the criminal that Orin is tracking, he is a genius, but not everything about what we learn about him is what it seems on the outside. George Clark is the partner that gets forced onto him, he has a family and just wants to do the right thing but could easily be another one of the dirty cops. We do meet plenty of cops that are dirty through the film, we see many different clichés for the genre in our characters too.

PerformancesWe know what Steven Seagal is capable of as an actor, he can handle the fighting fine, but when it comes to the line delivery he isn’t the best, this is typical for what we know about him. DMX was trying to make an acting career and he does show promise in a time when all musicians seemed to want to get into acting. When we look at the rest of the cast they are what we need in the film without anyone standing out too much, Anthony Anderson gets the funniest moments in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a tough cop trying to bring down criminals and corruption from within the force. This does play into Seagal’s strengths where he gets to beat people up and be the good guy doing this. We have a big third act twist which does turn the film on its head and doesn’t really get implied early on which is nice. By the end this will have checked the boxes for a fun easy to watch action film and that is all we want from a story at times

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe action is short fight sequences, shootouts and chases sequences which are fun to watch with plenty going on through them making the action all we want. The comedy is in small moments and does give a couple of laughs with Anderson being the one with the most. The crime world we enter is everything we know when it comes to corrupt cops which is fine for the film.

SettingsThe film brings us to Detroit with crime running through it, we know it is generic for crime world, so this works for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Seagal versus White sword fighting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The comedy works, but can takeaway from the main story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard Seagal action film, it is easy to watch and will keep you entertained throughout.

 

Overall: Simple to watch action film.

Rating

 

 

Elves (2018)

Director: Jamaal Buden

Starring: Lisa May, Deanna Grace Congo, Stephanie Marie Baggett, Amy Jo Guthrie, Melissa L Vega, Chelsea Bella, Loran Haskins, Norma Mendiola 

 

Plot: The Holiday Reaper, a ruthless killer that terrorized a small Texas town, has been caught. While celebrating, a group of friends find an elf inside a magical toy box.  When a freak accident kills one of them, they discover a group of elves have been scattered throughout town, each representing one of the seven deadly sins.  It’s a race against time to survive the elves’ wrath before Christmas ends.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disappointing Sequel

 

Story: Elves starts when a group of friends including Clover (Congo), Tiffany (Martinez) and Leah (Baggett) add themselves to the naughty list for a laugh, only to learn they have become part of a sinister action involving a mysterious elf toy figure that appears in their lives.

Once you see the elf, you start to see people looking differently as you become intent on either killing yourself or somebody else, have the group been naughty or not, how can they escape this situation without losing too many of their own friends.

 

Thoughts on Elves

 

Characters – Clover is the member of the friends who is trying to help the rest get out of the curse placed on them, she will team up with Leah to see who placed it on them and how she can lift it. Tiffany is the loose cannon of the friends, she enjoys her drugs more than the rest, so much so it has been an addiction to her. Leah is the friend that is desperately trying to lift the curse where she believes she is next on the list. Elves does take the film in a different direction which does give us a host of characters who are mostly here to be introduced only to become a disposable character.

PerformancesDeanna Grace Congo is solid enough in the leading role of the film, Elves does have one big problem with all the performances though, we just don’t get enough time with any of the characters to let the actors make a big enough impact.

StoryThe story here follows a group of friends that seem to have become cursed by an elf figure that makes them do unthinkable actions. The story does leave you questioning a lot because this is meant to be a sequel to a film with a story that made sense, felt twisted and seems to forget the first film. now this does help the story get its own identity as a form of horror that does borrow from the weird effects from the ‘Truth or Dare’ movie and almost ‘Final Destination’. The film is short which doesn’t help because we do have a large cast and we give each character a large time to go through the moment of terror against what is after them.

HorrorThe horror we get to experience in this film is a mixed bag, the slow build and twist to the graphic action works well, then we get the moments of bad effects which don’t hit home well enough to make it scary.

SettingsThe film is set in a Texas town, that is about all we see from the use of setting in this film, nothing becomes creepy, nothing becomes important to the plot, its just a town that gets cursed.

Special EffectsThe effects at times are good for the budget, the elf faces are creepy as they come, then we get the injuries which just don’t ever come off realistic for what the film should be achieving.


Scene of the Movie –
Red fury, any scene with this character, I think her name is Sky as they never introduce her by name.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There isn’t a strong enough connection to the first film and the twisted games the Elf played in it.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappointing sequel, it feels like it should have been a stand alone movie over a sequel because of the lack of connection to the first film. The horror fans could easily have a good time when it comes to watching the kills though.

 

Overall: Christmas Horror has started with a lump of coal

Rating