ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – H – Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (2012)

Director: Stewart Hendler

Writer: Aaron Helbing, Todd Helbing (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Green, Anna Popplewell, Enisha Brewster, Ayelet Zurer, Masam Holden, Mike Dopud

 

Plot: UNSC Cadet Thomas Lasky must conquer his inner fears and join forces with super-soldier John-117 to take down a massive faction of the Covenant.


Tagline – The story of Halo begins at dawn.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Bad

 

Story: Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn starts with one of the UNSC cadets Thomas Lasky (Green) following in his brothers footsteps in training to become a Soldier in the war. He doesn’t follow the rules which has left him getting questioned by his team and captain April Orenski (Brewster).

Thomas must battle his own personal problems before being sent into the field because his tactical knowledge has shown his potential, but the war isn’t everything they thought it would be.

 

Thoughts on Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

 

Characters – Thomas Lasky has had added pressure put on him after his brother fought in the war. He is rebellious in his actions often lead his unit into trouble, but his skill is there for all to see. We do have other cadets who just blend into each other too easily.

PerformancesThe performances are not strong here, the actors feel like they are playing too young of characters which shows in their weaker performances. Most of the performances feel like they are starring in a school level production.

StoryI will start this by saying I do feel you will ned to have played the games to have any idea just what the hell is going on because this does feel like a basic training to go into war against enemies they are not prepared to do battle against. This takes so long to get going with the escape being the only redeemable part of the movie.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action does feel like a mostly parody of most that you have seen, the adventure isn’t the best either while the sci-fi side of film feels just like the beginning.

SettingsThe settings could be any training location, nothing about what we see makes us feel like we are on a different planet.

Special EffectsThe effects are not used very often and don’t seem to look very effective once we get into the bigger battle


Scene of the Movie –
The Master Chief looks cool.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nothing seems to happen.

Final ThoughtsIf you are a fan of the game you might get something out of this film, but if you haven’t you will just find yourself being bored.

 

Overall: Bland and boring.

Rating

 

 

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The Humanity Bureau (2018)

Director: Rob W King

Writer: Dave Schultz (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sarah Lind, Jakob Davies, Hugh Dillon, Vicellous Shannon, Kurt Max Runte, Destee Klynee

 

Plot: A dystopian thriller set in the year 2030 that sees the world in a permanent state of economic recession and facing serious environmental problems as a result of global warming.


Tagline – Escape from New America.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Enjoyable Sci-Fi Film

 

Story: The Humanity Bureau starts as we enter an America where productivity is measured to help keep the country together after famine and a civil war. An agency known as the Humanity Bureau decides if people are helping society enough, with Noah Kross (Cage) being the agent we follow, we see he can handle himself if situation go wrong too.

On his latest case investigates single mother Rachel (Lind) and son Lucas (Davies) who have been selected to move to the New Eden location as they can’t support themselves enough. When Noah starts to learn the truth about the New Eden he goes against the bureau to save Rachel and Lucas with his old partner Adam (Dillon) leading the chase for him.

 

Thoughts on The Humanity Bureau

 

Characters – Noah Kross is a Humanity Bureau agent with his assignments being to figure out who should be sent to New Eden, when he starts to be shown the truth about New Eden he gives up his role to save a mother and son, using his memories of his childhood to guide them to freedom. Rachel is the single mother that is doing everything she can to keep her son safe. Lucas is the son, he is like any growing boy that just wants to enjoy his life, he has a terrible attention span though. Adam Westinghouse is the old partner of Noah’s he is forced to track him down knowing the truth, he doesn’t care as much as Noah to what happens.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is an actor I could watch in anything, however good or bad he or the film is, in this one he is good without going into the full Cage mode we know he is capable off. Sarah Lind is solid too even if most of her work needs to come from the conversations over the action. Jakob Davies is fine as for kids in films, he does get annoying at times, but that is the character not the performance. Hugh Dillon as our main villain is mostly forgettable being filled with the generic traits we know too well.

StoryThe story here takes us to a future where the world could have ended as we know it, famine and war swept across America and now one agency controls the country offering hope. We follow one agent that learns the truth about the hope and the Eden and goes out to save a mother and son. This is something we have seen before and it always works, there are shocking twists along the way which will surprise and will entertaining for the time it flows by.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in the film does feel like it is one of the first takes, everything felt like it was one step behind with the shoot outs coming off weak and the chases over before they start. The sci-fi world we enter is interesting, I would have liked to see more but where we go works well.

SettingsThe film takes us through the empty landscapes that have been hit by the effects of the change in the Earth.

Special EffectsThe effects are weak for the film too, as mentions the action looks weak, but the computer elements seem like a near future idea.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown

That Moment That Annoyed Me This felt like the opening sequence for a television show.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to watch sci-fi thriller which could have been strong but isn’t terrible.

 

Overall: Watchable Sci-fi Film.

Rating

 

 

How It Ends (2018)

Director: David M Rosenthal

Writer: Brooks McLaren (Screenplay)

Starring: Theo James, Kat Graham, Forest Whitaker, Kerry Bishe, Nicole Ari Parker, Grace Dove, Lanie McAuley

 

Plot: A desperate father tries to return home to his pregnant wife after a mysterious apocalyptic event turns everything to chaos.


Tagline –  No One Survives Alone

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Terrible Leading Character, Interesting Story

 

Story: How it Ends starts as we meet couple Will (James) and Samantha (Graham) who are trying to break the news to her father Tom (Whitaker) about wanting to get married, let alone that she is pregnant. With Will in New York to try and break the news Sam is left in Seattle.

The morning after an unknown event happens on the West coast of America, which leads to Will and Tom putting aside their differences to drive cross country to try and save Sam from whatever has happened.

 

Thoughts on How It Ends

 

Characters – Will is a lawyer I think, he has a job where he wants to start his own practise, he is dating Samantha and the two are now expecting a baby, when the event happens, he must travel across country with his potential new father-in-law, this character could well be the very worst of the year, he makes SOOOOOOOOOO many terrible decisions along the way, you will actually hate this character by the end of the film. Tom is the father of Samantha, he has spent years in the marines and seemingly is the only prepared for an event like this happening, he wants to keep things together on the journey, willing to do anything to save his daughter. Samantha is the daughter left to experience the event, we don’t know what she has gone through, she offers the motivation to go on the journey. Ricki is the engineer the guys pick up along the way, she offers moments of comedy in what is a serious film.

PerformancesTheo James is an actor that hasn’t struck much gold through the years, mostly because the characters he plays are awful, this is one of his better performances even if you hate his character. Forest Whitaker is good as the one prepared for everything, he gives us the calm persona we know him for. When we look at the rest of the cast we get solid enough performances with the actors doing the best they can with the time they are given.

StoryThe story here follows two men that must travel across America to save their daughter and girlfriend after an unknown event happens off the Western Coast of America. The side of the film that takes us to down the unknown mystery about what happened is the highlight of the story because we get filled with the speculation like you would imagine. As for the journey, well it is basic, travel, bump into group mostly likely trouble and have to figure out how to get out of the situation. This will pass for the fans of the potential end of the world films, even if it doesn’t address just what happened.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is by the book which is the odd chase and gun showdowns, we get to see the idea of an adventure of the two men travelling across the country. The sci-fi side of the film shows us just what would happen if an event could take out a whole coast in an instant.

SettingsThe film takes us on a road-trip after an unknown event, we get to see the back country between the two locations, nothing stands out as memorable even if the shots of the city look bleak.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are solid, they are never turned to, too often and when they do they come off short.


Scene of the Movie –
The visual of Seattle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing what caused the incident.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good idea for a film that doesn’t hit the levels it could do.

 

Overall: Strong idea that just doesn’t hit the marks.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – H – The Hypnotist (2012)

hypnoDirector: Lasse Hallstrom

Writer: Paolo Vacirca (Screenplay) Alexander Ahndoril (Novel)

Starring: Tobias Zilliacus, Mikael Persbrandt, Lena Olin, Helena Af Sandeberg, Oscar Pettersson, Anna Azcarte

 

Plot: A detective pairs himself with a famous psychologist on a case involving a traumatized young witness to a crime.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid and Intense Thriller

 

Story: The Hypnotist starts with the graphic murder of a family with just the son Josef (Bokman) survive the attack, Police Officer Joona Linna (Zilliacus) needs to investigate but with the boy not looking great a nurse Daniella (Sandeberg) suggest Erik Maria Bark (Persbrandt) to help with the investigation.

With one family member, missing Joona must work with Erik to hypnotise Josef in search of any details which help locate the killer and save his missing sister from a fate the rest of their family has endured. When the serial killer learns of this partnership he takes Erik’s son threatening to kill him if Erik continues to help the police.

 

Thoughts on The Hypnotist

 

StoryWe have a story which is focused on a serial killer being hunted down by a cop and a psychotherapist who specialises in hypnotherapy to treat his patients. We get all the check list ticked off with an intense story that includes twists coming from different directions and a story which does keep us guessing. If you are a fan of the crime thrillers you are going to enjoy this one.

Crime/Drama/ThrillerWe have a very graphic crime happen here with what is an intense investigation into who is behind everything with all the twists on a crime novel could give us.

Characters/PerformanceI feel like I will be getting harsh here but I didn’t find the characters written to be very interesting with the police officer being very forgettable and the use of a hypnotist being almost pointless to what was going on with the crime story. the performance on the other hand are all good and I can’t criticise any of them.

SettingsSweden is always a beautiful setting because of the open landscapes making wonderful backdrops to everything going on with this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid crime thriller that is well worth a watch but when it comes to Swedish thrillers this is not the starting point.

 

Overall: Solid but not solid gold which is the expectation from Swedish cinema.

Ratingcard

 

 

Hereditary (2018)

Director: Ari Aster

Writer: Ari Aster (Screenplay)

Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel

 

Plot: When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited as it slowly destroys everything they know.


Tagline – Every family tree hides a secret.

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Take Time to Analysis

 

Story: Hereditary starts as the family Annie (Collette), Steve (Byrne) Peter (Wolff) and Charlie (Shapiro) are dealing with the death of Annie’s mother and the children grandmother, we go through the funeral and life seems to be going on for them. In their remote house Charlie the younger member of the family however still has a connection to her grandmother which sees her acting in strange ways.

After another tragedy in the family, Annie turns to the dark arts to try and communicate only to learn the truth about her family’s ancestry that has put them all in danger.

 

Thoughts on Hereditary

 

Characters – Annie is the mother of the house, she always had a distant relationship with her mother and works on miniature models for gallery showings. She tries to understand hr grief and when the next tragedy happens to wants to communicate which only shows her the truth about hr mother, this character is always on edge and has the most important scenes in the movie, some of which will leave you disturbed for a while. Steve is the father of the house, he tries to keep everything grounded through the grief, he tries to support, but will draw the lines at certain points. Peter is the eldest child, a slacker in school that enjoys drugs, he has also become distant from his mother (we do learn why) and he must suffer the most when it comes to the events of the film. Charlie is the youngest child, she is definitely the strangest member of the family and we see her do some very strange activities. She also have the closest bond with the later grandmother.

PerformancesWe have one of the best performance in horror, no scratch that, any film this year from Toni Collette, her character is on edge throughout the film and the confrontation scene with Peter is easily one of the best performed scenes of the year. Gabriel Byrne is great here, he does take a step back from reacting the way Toni does and that is by design, he needs to play the calmer, serious character and it shows. Alex Wolff who turned into Dwayne Johnson a few months back in Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, does a very good job here, the only part of his performance I wasn’t convinced by, was his sobbing didn’t feel real. Mill Shapiro is great to and has disturbing scenes to pull off effortlessly too. We have a fantastic family dynamic created by these actors.

StoryThe story here follows a family through the grief process, though it gets a supernatural twist on how they deal with it. While the pacing of the story is slow in the first half of the film, that sudden moment that changes everything ramps up the tension in the story and we don’t go the traditional route to get to the scenes you would expect after the incident. This is a story that is like a giant puzzle, I do feel every single long scene where seemingly nothing does happen, means something and this will be a film that could be analysed for years to come. The final third of the film’s story is where everything picks up and it will leave you shocked and disturbed.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film is built up moments, a mix of nightmares surrounding grief which can be shown in a mix of different ways. The mystery is just what is going on in the second half of the film because things get weird quickly.

SettingsMost of the important family related scenes happen in the house, that is where they are closest and issues come out, when we step away from the house, one character does have events happen to them away from the house, but otherwise the highlights happen at home.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are strong throughout, there was however one scene that stood out badly because it looked like some form of overlay couldn’t quite be put together correctly.


Scene of the Movie –
The final 20 minutes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There is one scene that I could help but pick up on the CGI being used and it annoyed me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that is getting mixed opinions, I do think it is slow paced, but it is rewarding because of this pacing. This is one that will make you think and will leave you shocked by the credits.

 

Overall: One to think hard about.

Rating