ABC Film Challenge – Action – J – Jane Got a Gun (2015)

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Writer: Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis, Joel Edgerton (Screenplay) Brian Duffield (Story)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Noah Emmerich, Boyd Holbrook, Rodrigo Santoro

 

Plot: A woman asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him.


Tagline –  Strength, justice, power, vengeance

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Boring

 

Story: Jane Got a Gun starts when Jane’s (Portman) husband returns home shot up on deaths door, she nurses him back to health while preparing or the Bishop boys led by John (McGregor) to come and finish off the job, she turns to her ex-lover and soldier Dan Frost (Edgerton) to assist her in the battle.

We watch how the two look back on a life they once had and prepare the ranch for attack with traps as they know they will be facing large numbers when they finally arrive.

 

Thoughts on Jane Got a Gun

 

Characters – Jane is the wife that needs to look into her past to keep her husband and child safe from outlaws that are not afraid to kill anyone that gets in their way. Even though the film is titled after Jane, we don’t learn too much else about her. Dan Frost however is her ex-lover and former soldier, one with stories behind his time in the war, he drinks too much while reluctantly helping Jane defend herself against the outlaws. John Bishop is the leader of the gang, he is conducting the business of taking women one of which was Jane, now he wants to clean up his loose ends which includes Jane and her husband Bill, he is ruthless and demanding of his men and wants to be treated like a true authority over them. Bill Hammond is the husband of Jane’s that returns home shot, he was part of the gang, but left once things got too far.

PerformancesNatalie Portman is fine, though it just doesn’t reach the levels we know from her through the years. Joel Edgerton is solid enough and seemingly just about the best performer in the film. Ewan McGregor did need more screen time for his character which was meant to be psychotic business man in the wild west. The rest of the performers are fine, but no one stands out.

StoryThe story follows a reluctant wife that will do anything to protect her house, husband and future from a gang of outlaws who want him dead, we see the set up, the build up and the flashbacks to how everything ended up where we are now before finally getting to see the showdown. Most of this involves a lot of talking about where the former lovers could have gone after crossing paths. The pace of the story telling is very slow and focusing on the talking for such a large period of time, doesn’t give us the character development needed for any of the three main characters. this is one that could easily be missed because it doesn’t offer anything new to the western genre either.

Action/WesternThe action is left for one final showdown with bullets flying, though placing it in complete darkness makes it hard to see everything going on. The film does have a western feel with the use of setting, weapons and storytelling, though it just doesn’t stand close to the levels of the good ones, let alone the great ones.

SettingsMost of the film is set on he isolated farmhouse Jane lives on, the setting up for the defence of the home, this however slows the film down and when we leave it just becomes worse too because they are generic locations.

Special EffectsThe effects are solid enough with the bullets flying around with the impacts showing the blood splatter.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing is so slow.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced western that just doesn’t deliver the way it should, it had potential only it doesn’t make Jane a strong enough character with her being the title one.

 

Overall: Slow, pace less and boring.

Rating

 

 

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Junebug (2005)

Director: Phil Morrison

Writer: Angus MacLachlan (Screenplay)

Starring: Amy Adams, Embeth Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola, Frank Hoyt Taylor, Scott Wilson, Celia Weston, Ben McKenzie

 

Plot: A dealer in “outsider” art travels from Chicago to North Carolina to meet her new in-laws, challenging the equilibrium of this middle class Southern home.


Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming

 

Story: Junebug starts as art dealer Madeleine (Davidtz) gets a promising piece of business near her husband’s George (Nivola) family, which give her a chance to finally meet them. George parents Eugene (Wilson) and Peg (Weston) have been waiting this for years and his brother Johnny (McKenzie) whose wife Ashely (Adams) is about to give birth open their doors to the loving couple.

With the time with the family Madeleine becomes friends with the overly talkative pregnant Ashley, while trying to strike up a deal with the artist before losing him to another gallery.

 

Thoughts on Junebug

 

Characters – Madeleine is an art dealer that gets to meet her husband’s family for the first time, where she must learn about the family while trying to find time for the deal she is about to make, making friends and being friendly is her role. George is Madeleine’s husband and he gets to return to his family home for the first time in years, where he must rebuild his relationship with his brother. Ashley is the pregnant wife of Johnny, she talks way too much for her own good, but it is in an innocent way as she wants to learn about Madeleine’s life.

PerformancesEmbeth Davidtz is god in the leading role, which can be said for the most part. Amy Adams completely steals this movie with her loveable character.

StoryThe story here is simple, it is a meeting the family of a loved one for the first time, having to deal with the pressure to not say anything inappropriate and get out the time being loved. It isn’t overly original, but it falls into the idea of if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. We get the idea of our main couple sometimes being considered looking down on others and needing to learn how to come together for a celebration.

ComedyThe comedy in the film is a nice balance between the drama, making us smile rather than laugh out loud.

SettingsThe small town settings helps show how Madeleine could be a fish out of water, with the idea that the family hasn’t gotten too far from the family home while she and George live an open world lifestyle.


Scene of the Movie –
The baby is coming.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We did need more focus on George.

Final ThoughtsThis is a charming comedy drama that gives us one of the best performances from Amy Adams.

 

Overall: Charming and Entertaining.

Rating

 

 

 

The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

Director: Lewis Teague

Writer: Mark Rosenthal, Lawrence Konner (Screenplay) Diane Thomas (Characters)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Spiros Focas, Avner Eisenberg

 

Plot: When Joan Wilder is abducted while on a trip along the Nile, her boyfriend, Jack Colton, and pal Ralph rush to rescue her and retrieve a fabled jewel.


Tagline – When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun 80s Adventure

 

Story: The Jewel of the Nile starts when struggling author Joan (Turner) can’t think of her latest romance novel, offered a chance to go down the Nile by Omar (Focas), she must leave her boyfriend adventurer Jack (Douglas) to explore the mystery about a mysterious jewel.

When it turns out Omar isn’t the man he presented himself to Joan, Jack must team up with an old friend Ralph (DeVito) to steal the jewel back for the rightful owners and save Joan from the danger she unwittingly finds herself in.

 

Thoughts on The Jewel of the Nile

 

Characters – Jack is the adventure seeker, who travels around the world in search for his own adventure, he has his girl Joan and would give up the time with her for an adventure, only this time he must go after her to rescue her from a villainous man, he gets lucky in fights not being the first to step up and get his hands dirty. Joan is an author that is struggling to start her latest work, she goes to Omar believing it will be a new story only to find herself needing to write a story she isn’t willing to write and learn about her own feelings for Jack. Ralph is the old friend that has always clashed with Jack, he finds himself in the middle of this not prepared for where things will go. Omar is the man that has the jewel, he wants it to control the people of the land which only caused the nation to be torn about who to follow.

PerformancesMichael Douglas in the leading role is a fun choice, you wouldn’t put him down as a leading adventure star, but his performance only adds to the humour in the film, making everything more enjoyable. Kathleen Turner is good to in her role, she shows us a strong female character that does still need the man’s help. Danny DeVito gets to give us the comic relief through the film which does work at times while at other times it misses. Spiros Focas does make for a good villain role.

StoryThe story follows the events of Jack and Joan as they get caught up in another adventure in search of treasure, even though the treasure this time is a person. This is what the 80s stories were all about, we had people outside of their comfort zone battle to survive against an evil ruler trying to take over the control. It plays out like you would imagine as our characters must learn a new culture, make new friends and stumble across defeat the villain. It is an easy watch one that can be enjoyed without being overly complicated and gives us the idea of peril throughout.

Action/Adventure/ComedyThe action shows us just where the characters must fight to survive mostly from bullets flying their way on their adventure across the country hoping to survive and find the treasure. The comedy shows us not taking things too seriously when it comes to the style they survive the adventure.

SettingsThe film takes us across a Middle Eastern country in search for the treasure, it shows a culture people can easily ignore, show the good and bad in people.


Scene of the Movie –
Jet craft.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The racial jokes which wouldn’t work now.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical 80s adventure film that will give you everything you want from the genre and help you enjoy things along the way.

 

Overall: Enjoyable adventure.

Rating

 

 

Jem and the Holograms (2015)

Director: Jon M Chu

Writer: Ryan Landels (Screenplay) Christy Marx (Animated Series)

Starring: Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayler Kiyoko, Molly Ringwald, Isabella Kai Rice

 

Plot: As a small-town girl catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden.


Tagline – very Generation Needs a Voice

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good for the Target Audience

 

Story: Jem and the Holograms starts as Jerrica (Peeples) is coming to clean to her fans on the internet, we learn how she and her sisters Kimber (Scott), Shana (Perrieneau) and Aja (Kiyoko) become the internet sensations after Jerrica final came out of her shell and is picked up by producer Erica Raymond (Lewis) who wants to make them the biggest ‘It’ of the time.

Jerrica is recreated as Jem she becomes the biggest mystery in music and they become the biggest act in the planet, but can they handle the additional pressure in life.

 

Thoughts on Jem and the Holograms

 

Characters – Jerrica is one of the four sisters, the quiet and shiest one, she is also the most gifted musically, writing songs, performing privately, she creates Jem to be stay anonymous and remembers her father’s guidance everyday. She is telling the story of the rise to fame and how it made her feel. Kimber is the younger sister of Jerrica, she is social media addict, spending all her time posting on social media about anything and everything, she leaks the video of Jem and enjoys coming along to the new role in the band. Shana is one of the adopted sisters, she is a fashionista that always wanted to help the girls of the house have their own unique look. Aja is the other adopted sister, she is the true genius of the four, though she does have a habit to borrow from people without asking and can become the bad girl image. Erica Raymond is the ruthless producer that is always out to make as much money from as many different corners as possible.

PerformancesWhen we look at the performances I feel it is unfair to go through any of the four sisters in any different ways because they are all good and you do believe the family chemistry between them.

StoryThe story here shows us how quickly a life of an overnight YouTube sensation can change for the good and the bad. We get to see how the idea of making money to save the family home can bring the biggest divide between the sisters after seeing just how special the rise and first show was for them. For the weaknesses in this film we have a lot, first it based on an animated series I had no idea existed, secondly, it happens so fast we can easily miss what is going on, we never really get an indication of days/weeks or months that we are following. The final negative comes to the issue of trying to show how YouTube can be turned to for fame, it will never happen this quickly.

Adventure/Fantasy/Music/Romance/Sci-FiThe genres this film tries to cross are all getting effected by lack of opportunity, the only one that truly gets the right time is the music side because that is the heart of the film. the fantasy sci-fi side of the film feels like an attachment to the main story.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which is always going to be the right choice for an American film about glitz and glamor.


Scene of the Movie –
The first show.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While it is meaningful, the sci-fi fantasy side story is just left in the back burner.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that will keep the target audience happy, it doesn’t offer too much for the casual fans of the genre and can get lost trying to do too much.

 

Overall: The good and the bad of YouTube success.

Rating

 

 

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)

Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass

Writer: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, Rae Dawn Chong, Steve Zissis

 

Plot: Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his widowed mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his unhappily married brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.


Tagline –  The first step to finding your destiny is leaving your mother’s basement.

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Family Based Drama

 

Story: Jeff, Who Lives at Home starts as we meet Jeff (Segel) a stoner that lives in his mother Sharon (Sarandon) basement, he is always looking for his destiny and a mysterious call from a stranger looking for a Kevin leads him to go out of his way to find the truth. When going out on to do a household chore he finds himself joining his older brother Pat (Helms) as they go on the chase to figure out if Pat’s wife Linda (Greer) is cheating on him.

 

Thoughts on Jeff, Who Lives at Home

 

Characters – Jeff is a slacker that is desperate to find a purpose in his life believing he will be given signs in life to find this goal, he doesn’t have a job and today he goes on an adventure in hope of finding his place in the world. Pat is the older brother to Pat, he has recently impulse bought a Porsche which has only continued his strain of his marriage which leads him to share his honest truth with Jeff while trying to figure out if his wife is cheating on him. Sharon is their mother of the boys who is a widow still working a day job, today she gets secret message which adds some spice to her birthday.

PerformancesJason Segel in the leading role works because he does have a good understanding of withdrawn character his playing. Ed Helms does give us a good performance in his role where he does play louder of the two brothers. Susan Sarandon does a good job with her role even if her story does feel distant from the rest of the film.

StoryThe story follows one day in the lives of the three family members, Jeff finding his place Pat facing the truth and Sharon getting an unexpected surprise in her life. The story shows how things can come together for the series of events to bring a family closer and how they need to support each other through struggles, the sprinkling of comedy helps us along the way too. This does focus on needing to express feelings for the people that are important in your life however much you feel like it is a weakness in their eyes.

ComedyThe comedy in this film helps takes moments of seriousness out of the story, which does give it elements of realness in the film.

SettingsThe film gives us an everyday city for the film to take place in, showing how these people do have to operate in an everyday situation.


Scene of the Movie –
The lunch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While it shows her day, Sharon’s storyline doesn’t feel as connected to Jeff’s.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful drama that shows the difficult decisions people will be making on an everyday basis, being it following a believed destiny, fixing a marriage or taking a chance.

 

Overall: Wonderful drama

Rating