Robert De Niro Weekend – Hide and Seek (2005)

Director: John Polson

Writer: Ari Schlossberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Irving, Dylan Baker, Melissa Leo

 

Plot: As a widower tries to piece together his life in the wake of his wife’s suicide, his daughter finds solace, at first, in her imaginary friend.


Tagline – If you want to know the secret, you have to play the game.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Confusing Horror

 

Story: Hide and Seek starts when psychologist David (De Niro) loses his wife to a sudden suicide, to help his daughter Emily (Fanning) through the trauma he decides to move to a more remote location upstate of New York.

David is trying to settle in with Emily, who soon starts to have her own imagine friend named Charlie, David does turn to colleague Katherine (Janssen) for advice, while trying to move on with both their lives, only Charlie starts to show an evil side.

 

Thoughts on Hide and Seek

 

Characters – David is a psychologist in the big city of New York, he has a wife and daughter, only all his skills can’t help him see the depression his own wife is suffering through, needing to put his life back together with his daughter, he needs to  make sure Emily doesn’t fall into needing more help, while navigating learning to live in a new town. Emily is the daughter that became traumatised after the death of her mother, she uses her imaginary friend to get away with doing evil things around the house. Emily is a character that you can understand the acting against the normal because dealing with loss can be difficult for a child. Katherine is the colleague that specialises in helping children, she is the one that David turns to for added advice for helping his daughter. Elizabeth is a local divorced woman with a child the same age as Emily, David tries to build a friendship for both himself and Emily with her, Elizabeth shows that people can be patient when searching for new friendship.

PerformancesRobert De Niro stepping into the horror genre is something refreshing, he does show how difficult it could be for a father to keep everything together after losing a wife. Dakota Fanning as the traumatised daughter brings the fear required, while also being creepy through the film. Famke Janssen and Elisabeth Shue are both solid enough supporting the film, without needing to make that big of an impact in what is going on.

StoryThe story follows a recently widowed father taking his daughter to start a new life in a quieter neighbourhood, only for her to get a new imaginary friend that doesn’t like the people in her life. Now this story could and does start by showing the effects of a trauma on a young girl, after she witnesses her mother’s suicide, this could explain the actions she ends up causing through the film, the problem with the story comes from the fact the film sets this up, only to go in a direction which makes zero sense for anything we have seen in the first act. It also doesn’t help the fact we have five yes FIVE different endings too. This is a story that completely derails because of a simple choice and ends up just being difficult to watch.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film is confusing too, mostly because it is weak dream sequences before anything being remotely scary happening until the final third of the film which, does have strong moments, just doesn’t make sense to what we knew before. The mystery in the film comes from trying to figure out who Charlie is, because we get suggestions it could be a person with the number of people that get introduced around the new home, add in that it could be supernatural, we are left to figure out who they are.

SettingsThe film is set in upstate New York where the father and daughter are trying to start a new life away from the busy life that could have caused added stress in life. It does give the family an isolation factor which adds to the potential suspense in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Not interested in new friends.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The third act twist just confuses everything.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that was going in a smooth direction to be interesting only to take a twist which makes it frustrating by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Weak ending horror.

Rating

 

 

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Antono Banderas Weekend – Haywire (2011)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Lem Dobbs (Screenplay)

Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas

 

Plot: A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.


Tagline – They left her no choice.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disappointing Action

 

Story: Haywire starts as Mallory Kane (Carano) a black ops soldier for the CIA is currently on the run after her partners Aaron (Tatum), Kenneth (McGregor), Rodrigo (Banderas) an Alex (Douglas) have set up to eliminate her. Mallory looks back on her career with the mission which things went wrong, one where she must get to know a MI6 agent Paul (Fassbender).

Mallory needs to bring down the men who have been setting her up, while finding the only person she can trust John (Paxton) her father, here she knows she can trust him to help her expose the corruption that is framing her.

 

Thoughts on Haywire

 

Characters – Mallory is the black ops soldier, now on the run after being set up by her own people, she uses her skills to remain ahead of them, using her combat skills to disarm the situations and tries to figure out who she can trust. This is basically a female version of Jason Bourne. Kenneth is the one the liaised on the last mission and the one that is currently after Mallory, he answers to people above his head, while control the ones below. Paul is the agent that Mallory is meant to meet, the one that she ended up coming to blows with leading to her to being chased. We have the people above Mallory that just want to see a mess cleaned up, while others are just facing orders.

PerformancesGina Carano is the star of the showing in the leading role, she handles all the action with ease and makes us believe she could be a threat for anybody who messes with her. The supporting male cast handle the heavy dialogue scenes, which takes away the one weakness Gina could have.

StoryThe story follows a black ops soldier that must clear her name, while being hunted down by the employees after a mission goes wrong. This is a style of story we have seen before, it is one that is a tried and tested formula, this way of telling the story, however, is weak, mainly because we are doing a large part of it in flashback style, which takes away any peril in the film for Mallory. We also try to get over-complicated with the motivation behind trying to frame her and by the end we don’t feel like we have experienced a tense enough action film. the music doesn’t help this movie either because it makes it feel like we are just watching slick heist movie.

ActionGina Carano does her best to save this film with her action star abilities with combat, they are the only enjoyed scenes in the film.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world for the action scenes, showing this to be a worldwide operation.


Scene of the Movie –
The hotel escape sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end fight feels like just a training montage.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action film that had potential, only for it to become to average with the story, with the one highlight being Gina Carano.

 

Overall: Basic action flick.

Rating

 

 

The Hour of the Lynx (2013)

Director: Soren Kragh-Jacobsen

Writer: Jonas T Bengtsson, Soren Kragh-Jacobsen, Tobias Lindholm (Screenplay) Per Olov Enquist (Play)

Starring: Sofie Grabol, Signe Egholm Olsen, Frederik Christian Johansen, Soren Malling, Borje Ahlstedt, Pelle Falk Krusbaek

Plot: Helen, who is a priest, is approached by scientist Lisbeth with a desperate plea for help. A young man, who has been sent to a high security psychiatric ward after having killed an old couple, has attempted suicide while rambling about God. In a race against time the two women begin a shocking journey deeper and deeper into the sick mind of a young man’s soul.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Interesting Throughout

Story: The Hour of the Lynx starts when a young man Drengen (Johansen) butchers a family before trying to commit suicide, he fails, two years later his psychologist in a psychiatric prison Lisbeth (Olsen) turns to a priest Helen (Grabol) to understand why he used the excuse of God when he committed the murders.

Lisbeth has been using animals to help keep the patients calm, with Drengen getting a cat and showing huge improvements, only once another patient hurts the cat, the pure rage in him comes out, throwing right back to where he started, this brings Helen back to help give him a knew way to cure this disturbed young man.

Thoughts on The Hour of the Lynx

Characters – Helen is a priest asked to come and help understand what is troubling a young man who has committed a seemingly random crime, she is asked to join by a psychologist who is struggling to find answers behind his religious beliefs behind his crimes. Lisbeth has been trying to help her patients by giving them animals to keep them calm, it has worked with some, but not others and she is facing pressure to prove her findings, which sees her needing to turn to Helen to help find a solution. Drengen has committed the murder of two people, he tries to kill himself afterwards claiming it to be in the name of God, he spent two years in a psychiatric hospital where he doesn’t seem to improve until Helen starts communicating with him about God, where we learn his disturbing truth. Knud is the head warden in the hospital, he wants to keep both sides safe and finds certain things difficult to make happen.

PerformancesSofie Grabol gives us a great listening performance, we see how her character needs to let people speak instead of speak for them. Signe Egholm Olsen shows us a character which will fight for what she wants well, showing how much this means to her. Frederik Christian Johansen is disturbing while looking vulnerable through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a young man that seemingly kills two random people in the name of God, they try to get through to him and turn to a priest to help, this does unlock his troubled past which explains his actions, it just all about unlocking the truth. This is an interesting story because it does show how scientist could put their own career above helping people and even with God being an answer, it is communication that will unlock the truth of a troubled life. This story does show us just how difficult life can be for some young people which could see them being led down the wrong paths in life.

CrimeThe crime side of film shows us what Drengen did and how his treatment is being handled.

SettingsThe film is set in the hospital which sees Drengen being held until he can understand about his actions.


Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We do spend a lot of time looking at Lisbeth pet experiment.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting crime drama, we see the consequences of a murder and needing to find the motivation at times.

Overall: Crime with consequences.

Rating

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – H – Hudson Hawk (1991)

Director: Michael Lehmann

Writer: Steven E de Souza, Daniel Waters (Screenplay) Bruce Willis, Robert Kraft (Story)

Starring: Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Andie MacDowell, James Coburn, Richard E Grant, Sandra Bernhard

 

Plot: A cat burglar is forced to steal Da Vinci works of art for a world domination plot.


Tagline – Watch your step. Hold your breath. Hang on for dear life. And catch…the hawk.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Terrible Crime Comedy

 

Story: Hudson Hawk starts when Hudson (Willis) is released from prison, only to be drawn into committing one more burglary with his partner in crime Tommy Five-Tone (Aiello). The next day Hudson learns that not everything was as simple as just stealing a horse figure.

Hudson learns that the piece that he steals is involved in the world dominations and follow a strange amount of events, finds himself working for Darwin Mayflower (Grant), stealing the great works of Da Vinci.

 

Thoughts on Hudson Hawk

 

Characters – Hudson Hawk is a cat burglar that even after getting released from prison ends up back in the world of crime, only after stealing the first piece of art, he ends up needing to battle a world domination plan which takes him to the most famous art galleries in the world. he is wise-cracking that often on makes his own holes deeper without trying to. Tommy Five-Tone is the best friend of Hudson and does work with him on the crimes, he is often the butt of most of the jokes going on through the film. Anna Baragli is a nun that is undercover trying to stop the Da Vinci crystals coming together, she pushes off the flirts from Hudson who doesn’t learn her true place until too late. George Kaplan is the head of the CIA team tracking down Hudson, he knows each move he makes and will follow him to every location the job takes him too.

PerformancesBruce Willis really struggles with anything comical and this shows just how badly he handles this material, Danny Aiello does ok with the supporting comic moments. Andie MacDowell looks lost in this role for the most part, with only James Coburn seemingly knowing his place in the film.

StoryThe story follows a cat burglar that gets given a job which soon sees him travel the world forced into helping criminals try to claim world dominance. The story here does feel very messy, it might well surprise where things go, but they do end up feeling completely random and make you feel like you are watching a sketch show rather than a coherent story. this is just a story that becomes difficult to watch and will end up making you lose interest quickly in the film.

Action/Crime/Comedy The action plays into the comedy, we have silly moments throughout the film which try to get laughs and fail to achieve this, we do enter a crime world that does feel like it will just be robbery before getting out of hand.

SettingsThe film does use the locations of the famous galleries from around the world for the main locations, with each needing to used for the latest robbery.


Scene of the Movie –
The first robbery.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The comedy is a big miss throughout the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sloppy comedy that misses more often than it hits, it feels like a drag to watch and completely miss-cast movie.

 

Overall: Sloppy throughout.

Rating

 

 

Howl (2015)

Director: Paul Hyett

Writer: Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler (Screenplay)

Starring: Ed Speleers, Holly Weston, Shauna Macdonald, Elliot Cowan, Amit Shah, Sam Gittins, Rosie Day

 

Plot: When passengers on a train are attacked by a creature, they must band together in order to survive until morning.


Tagline – Last train. Full moon. All change.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Werewolf Film

 

Story: Howl starts as train conductor Joe (Speleers) is forced into another shift, the graveyard shift on the train across country, the train has the normal passengers, the businesswoman Kate (Macdonald), the student, the couple returning home, the rebel and Joe’s love interest coffee server Ellen (Weston).

When the train breaks down in the middle of the countryside, Joe must take charge and keep the passengers safe after the driver does missing. The passengers soon learn they are under attack from creatures in the night and must work together to survive the impending threat.

 

Thoughts on Howl

 

Characters – Joe is the train conductor, he has just completed a long shift and is forced int going on the late shift because of his lack of tickets, he tries to be fair on his passengers taking the abuse, he is trying to get a date with Ellen the drinks vender, once the train gets stuck, he must lead the passengers in a battle to survive against the unknown creatures. Ellen is the drinks vender, studying for a better career and offers up an easy love interest for Joe, while being the only one that can offer medical attention during the attack. Kate is the professional businesswoman on the train, often looking down on the rest of the passengers while offering help to one of the other passengers. When we look at the rest of the passengers we get the usual mix for any horror film which adds to who we know will get picked off when.

PerformancesEd Speleers in the leading role is good as the reluctant hero that must keep his passengers safe, we can see his frustration with his job and his reluctant side of following through with saving them. Holly Weston does offer the love interest well and to be fair to most of the cast they all know where they stand in the film making the most of their moments to shine.

StoryThe story here is quite simple, it follows a group of survivors that must battle against unknown creatures in an attempt survive the night. We get the unlikely group of people that must work together which has always worked well for the genre. The creatures put us into a world where the characters would have never seen or dealt with werewolves which has been an issue in horror before, but for this is fine as they must learn how to deal with the creatures. The film doesn’t offer any crazy twists along the way and by keeping things simple we can enjoy.

HorrorThe horror in the film comes from the different moments against the creatures, we start off seeing small part before getting a full reveal which is always wonderful.

SettingsThe film is set on a couple of train carriages in the middle of the night, this puts our characters in an isolated location where they must figure out how to survive until daytime being safer inside than outside.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are good, we get practical ones which show how unique the creatures look and when it comes to the attacks wounds come off realistic too.


Scene of the Movie –
The first attack on the train when they thought they were safe.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Kate the character jumps around in style too often, not the actresses fault it is the characters decision making process.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable werewolf movie that can be enjoyed by all the fans of the genre, it keeps everything contained which does help give us all we want.

 

Overall: Contain werewolf movie.

Rating