Ground Control (1998)

Director: Richard Howard

Writer: Mark Shepherd, Robert Moreland (Screenplay) Talaat Captan, Robert Moreland (Story)

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Bruce McGill, Kristy Swanson, Robert Sean Leonard, Kelly McGillis, Margaret Cho, Ruben Paul

Plot: A disgraced former air traffic controller is called back into service when the airport’s traffic control system malfunctions.

Tagline – No Radar. No Contact. No Control.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Smart Thriller

Story: Ground Control starts as air traffic controller Jack Harris (Sutherland) loses one of his planes in an accident, with nothing being his own fault. Jack is out the game working on developing a video game in air traffic controlling when his friend T.C. Bryant (McGill) comes to him in need of help because of the workload thrown upon his team.

When Jack reluctant agrees to work for one night, he must face his past, even with hot shot new trafficker Cruise (Leonard) not wanting to work with him and rookie Julie (Swanson) willing to learn off Jack.

Thoughts on Ground Control

Characters – Jack Harris was once one of the best air traffic controllers in the business, he does suffer the nightmare of all the air traffic controllers have, losing a plane, turning to the drink to blame himself for what happened. He has turned to designing video games, but it talked into return on a business night, where he must finally face his own past and deal with the pressure once again. T.C Bryant is the friend of Jack’s who has turned to him for help deal with the added pressure piled onto him, he controls the team with his work, which sees him showing off his micromanagement skills. Julie is the rookie on her first night in the team, nervous at the start, Jack offers to help her, while Cruise is willing to put her under pressure. Cruise is the hot shot that gets through the day with his abilities that could make him the best in the business, his attitude has been the one thing that has always held him back, where he is the closest to a villain we have in this film.

PerformancesKiefer Sutherland was a strange choice for this role, when it comes to being in the controller persons, he is great to watch, but when it comes to the unsure nervous filled with regret side of the character he does seem slightly miscast. Bruce McGill, Kristy Swanson and Robert Sean Leonard are all great to watch in their roles in the film.

StoryThe story here follows one night in an air traffic control station which has had increased number of flights thrown onto them and the pressure forces the boss to turn to his old colleague to help even though he has been battling his own problems. This is a story that does come from a strange angle because instead of doing anything glorified or over the top, it simply just looks to focus on the pressure these teams will be facing while working on daily basis. We do have the incidents that will show how calm they need to be and how easily they can work to solve the problems they face and by the end you will find yourself gripped to what is happening.

Action/AdventureThe action involved in the film is mostly off camera, it follows what could happen with the planes during difficult decisions, while it does have an adventure tone through how Jack wants to overcome his problems.

SettingsThe film is set within the air traffic control station which shows us how close the team must work together for when the pressure grows.

Scene of the Movie – The last plane to land, it is an intense scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Sutherland doesn’t seem to fit the nervous unsure figure.

Final Thoughts This is a tidy thriller that does keep us guessing just to what will happen next with the pressure being piled upon the team, it does keep everything feeling realistic too by only showing the team at work.

Overall: Air Traffic Thriller.

Jack Black Weekend – Gulliver’s Travels (2010) Movie Review

Director: Rob Letterman

Writer: Joe Stillman, Nicholas Stoller (Screenplay) Jonathan Swift (Book)

Starring: Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Chris O’Dowd

Plot: Travel writer Lemuel Gulliver takes an assignment in Bermuda, but ends up on the island of Lilliput, where he towers over its tiny citizens.

Tagline – A magical land. A comedy of epic proportions.

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Insults a Classic Novel

Story: Gulliver’s Travels starts when New York magazine mailman Lemuel Gulliver (Black) wanting to impress the travel editor Darcy (Peet) accepts an assignment that everyone refuses, which sees him head towards the Bermuda Triangle.

This trip sees him end up in Lilliput where he is giant compared to the residents including King Theodore (Connolly), the stuck up general Edward (O’Dowd) along with Princess Mary (Blunt) and peasant Horatio (Segel), in the land where Gulliver becomes a hero of the land.

Thoughts on Gulliver’s Travels

Characters – Lemuel Gulliver has been living inside his safety zone, where he works in a mail room for a magazine, not looking to get out of the lowest level of the magazine, seeing people come and go through the office, he doesn’t have the guts to ask out the woman of his dreams, taking an assignment he has no qualifications to be part of. Gulliver travels to a new land where the people are tiny, where he starts a revolution taking advantage of their generous natures. Horatio is a peasant that has been locked up for trying to speak to the princess, who he loves and wants to be with, he is the one that helps Gulliver learn about the world he is now part of. Princess Mary believes she is meant to be marrying the man who earns her love, rather than being allowed to get to know the person. Darcy is the travel editor for the magazine that Gulliver wants to impress, she is willing to let people in the office have an opportunity to prove them.

PerformancesJack Black brings his routine of comedy which is too immature for this story, even if he can handle the heart to heart moments well. Jason Segel does all he can with his role, while Emily Blunt clearly decides to make this over the top because of how little she wanted to be part of the movie. Chris O’Dowd is arguably the only strong part of the film when it comes to the acting, knowing he is playing an over the top villain.

StoryThe story is meant to show a slacker that travels to a hidden royal kingdom where the people are tiny, here he helps take the people to the next level of the lives breaking them out of their royal ways. The problem with the story, is that it is based on a classic, which would have the same themes, only for this one to make everything about pop culture references that have completely dated becoming almost insulting to everything that it could have been. The story could easily have been about a slacker that wants to start achieving more from his life, instead of continue to show how much of a joke he is.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure side of the film does take Gulliver to a new land he would never have imagined getting too, though his nervous approach to travelling gets forgotten too quickly here. The comedy is mostly immature jokes that won’t get many laughs in anyway.

SettingsThe film does start with New York before moving to Lilliput, the problem with the setting here is the lack of scale, one minute it is just a palace, the next it feels like a big village or city, we just never learn how big this world is meant to be.

Special EffectsThe effects do look clunky with how the worlds are put together trying to create the fact that Gulliver is massive in this world.

Scene of the Movie – Mail room talk.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The comedy.

Final Thoughts This is an insulting movie that just never reaches the heights it could when it comes to telling the incredible story of Gulliver’s visit to Lilliput like the book does, we end up with immature comedy that misses more often than it hits.

Overall: Disappointing and bland.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – G – Gemini Man (2019) Movie Review

Director: Ang Lee

Writer: David Benioff, Billy Ray, Darren Lemke (Screenplay)

Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Douglas Hodge, Theodora Miranne, Benedict Wong, Ralph Brown

Plot: An over-the-hill hitman faces off against a younger clone of himself.

Tagline – Who will save you from yourself

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: By the Books Action

Story: Gemini Man starts when government assassin Henry Brogan (Smith) is looking to retire after his latest job, but his latest job might not have been as clean as he thought, with the target turning out to be a specialist not a criminal terrorist. With his government turning on him, he meets rookie DIA agent Danny Zakarweski (Winstead) who was assigned to watch him, when they are all burned, Henry and Danny go on the run.

Henry must use all his connections including Baron (Wong) to stay ahead of Clay Verris (Owen) and his latest project, Junior (Smith) a younger, faster version of Henry, only one that finds himself in a pawn in the bigger scheme.

Thoughts on Gemini Man

Characters – Henry Brogan is a government assassin, the best assassin, only now he wants to retire because he doesn’t want to make a mistake, which he saw nearly happen on his last mission, he finds himself targeted by his former bosses that want to eliminate any loose ends, he uses his skills to fight back and stay alive. Junior is the cloned version of Henry that is younger fast and trained to be just as good if not better than Henry, he never knew this about himself and now he is stuck in the middle of completing his mission or learning the truth. Danny is a young agent that started as surveillance of Henry, but ends up fighting next to him to remain alive. Clay Verris runs the Gemini Project, he has raised Junior to be his own son and will do anything to keep America safe from anybody he sees as a threat.

PerformancesWill Smith in the leading role or roles, here is trying his best to recapture the magic that once made him the biggest star in the world, sadly he just doesn’t seem to be able to play the serious action roles the way he can handle the funny ones. Mary Elizabeth Winstead does well in her supporting role, handling the action well through the film, while Clive Owen just becomes the typical villain he can do in his sleep.

StoryThe story here follows a former government assassin that gets burned when he tries to retire and now he must go on the run with the very man hunting him being his younger clone from a project he never knew was real. This does try to spin another way of doing the burnt assassin who wanted out only to see his employer coming after him. We have seen the double idea before too, so we lose the originality idea too. We do have a lot of go to one location before heading to the next after having an action sequence of some sort. By the end of the story we just do the basics to give us a chance at a new technology rather than a new story.

Action/Sci-FiThe action scenes are interesting to see, we do get a great chase sequence through Columbia, while the rest are all designed to feel a lot more deadly than the last one, while the sci-fi side of the film seems to follow the idea that clones could be the future.

SettingsThe film does use plenty of settings, with each being used to give us a new action scene and that is about it.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to put the two Will Smith’s on screen together, which at times don’t look as good as they should be.

Scene of the Movie – Columbia chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The story just seems too slow.

Final Thoughts This is just another action film that is trying too hard to be different and only ends up failing to capture the magic of an action film.

Overall: Simple Action Film.

The Game (1997)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: John Brancato, Michael Ferris (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Anna Katarina

Plot: After a wealthy banker is given an opportunity to participate in a mysterious game, his life is turned upside down when he becomes unable to distinguish between the game and reality.

Tagline – Players Wanted.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Twist Filled Thriller

Story: The Game starts as wealthy banker Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas) has spent his life working forgetting to have fun, his rebellious brother Conrad (Penn) turns up to celebrate his birthday which sees him giving him a gift, one that would let him take part in a game that will change his life. Nicholas reluctantly decides to go through the process, finding himself involved in the game, which starts to fade his reality.

As the events continue, Nicholas does start to see his very controlled life start to get out of control with only a random waitress Christine (Unger) around for him to trust, can Nicholas unravel the mystery to save his career or will he lose the game.

Thoughts on The Game

Characters – Nicholas Van Orton is a banker that is in complete control of his life, he isn’t friendly to everybody he meets in life and is distant from most of his family, he is excellent at business, he gets a different present from his rebellious brother, which sees him break out of his controlling method of life to play along with an uncontrollable game where he doesn’t know what is or isn’t real, learning to navigate and try to stay one step ahead of the game. Conrad is the rebellious brother that has had personal problems in the past, he gives Nicholas a present, claiming it helped turn his own life around, only for this gift only make his brother’s life more difficult. Christine is a waitress that Nicholas gets fired, he must work with her even if she might in fact be involved in the game herself. Jim Feingold is the man behind the invitation, he has Nicholas give him plenty of information before unleashing everything to get into Nicholas life.

PerformancesMichael Douglas is wonderful in this leading role, he plays the controlling businessman with ease and watching him lose control of his life is a performance you feel was made for Douglas. Sean Penn is wonderful in the supporting role, where we see how his character’s life has been affected by the game. Deborah Kara Unger in her supporting role does shine, with the rest of the supporting cast all working very well through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a controlling businessman that decides to step away from his routine to play a game bought to him as a present by his brother, once the game has started he sees his life start to fall apart as he tries to figure out what is real and what is part of the game. This is a story that does keep you on your toes through the film as it does just keep trying to spin on everything going on. We do have an overall message going on which does show the Nicholas needs to become more open in his life, which is the point of the game, trying to teach them how important life is too. The fact that this film just keeps us guessing is what is the most important part of the film, nothing seems like reality, but it could be real, which is why this is such an impressive story.

MysteryThe mystery in this film keeps us wondering whether this is a game or whether there is something more intense going on, the fact we can balance this so effortless makes this one of the best mystery films you will see.

SettingsThe film is set in San Francisco which does show how a successful businessman will operate in a city know or think he knows all the shortcuts to make it through the difficult times.

Scene of the Movie – Rooftop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Who took his kids at the zoo?

Final Thoughts This is one of the most intense mystery thrillers ever made, we are truly kept wondering just what will happen next balancing on whether this is real or not.

Overall: Brilliant thriller.


The Good Liar (2019) Movie Review

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Jeffrey Hatcher (Screenplay) Nicholas Searle (Novel)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey, Jim Carter, Mark Lewis Jones, Laurie Davidson

Plot: Consummate con man Roy Courtnay has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish, worth millions. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes.

Tagline – Read between the lies

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tense Thriller

Story: The Good Liar starts as we meet Roy Courtnay (McKellen) a con man that has mark out his latest target, a widow Betty McLeish (Mirren) who he gets to romance getting close before presenting his plan with his partner Vincent (Carter).

Betty is happy to welcome Roy into her life despite her grandson Stephen (Tovey) not being as welcoming, only for this job to become one that will finally put Roy against his toughest match.

Thoughts on The Good Liar

Characters – Betty is a widow teacher that has always been smart with her money, with her only remaining relative being a grandson that always makes sure she is safe, she is looking for companionship with Roy and wants to remain her own confident self while making decisions with her money. Roy is a conman that is always working on his latest scheme to steal people’s money, he targets wealthy widows with Betty being the latest target, he always presents himself as a kind gentleman and even with the deals he is doing, he does have a violent side to him which he only shows when he needs to, making him a very dangerous man. Stephen is the grandson of Betty, he is always wanting to make sure she is safe and not being taken advantage of, not taking to fondly to Roy. Vincent is the partner of Roy, he is there for any final deal playing the person that will broker the deals, he does try to play into the human side of Roy too.

PerformancesHelen Mirren and Ian McKellen are absolutely brilliant together, seeing the two legends dominate the screen through the film. Russell Tovey and Jim Carter do well through the film to try and keep up with the legends too.

StoryThe story here follows a veteran conman that is still working on his cons with his latest target being a widow, worth millions, only this time he is meeting his match. This is a con man story that shows how one man has turned it into an art never fearing the job will go wrong, but Betty isn’t going to be an easy target. The big problem with this story comes from the fact you know this needs to have a twist and you are just waiting to see if you can figure it out before it is revealed, luckily it is a wonderful twist which can make the story revisited to pick up on the little clues being left through the film. It might not break the wheel with how everything unfolds because it is one where he learn and want Roy to get what he deserves through the film.

ThrillerThe thriller side of the film plays into the conman mindset being explored through the film, we are kept guessing, while we don’t need to have too many intense scenes.

SettingsThe film uses the locations to the advantages, with busy life of London, which Roy enjoys, to the quiet life which always makes him uncomfortable.

Scene of the Movie – Underground meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – You are left waiting for the twist to happen.

Final Thoughts This is one of the thrillers that can be enjoyed, it is smart, slick and has two legends of the industry shining through the film.

Overall: Entertaining Thriller.