ABC Film Challenge – Horror – J – Jackals (2017)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer: Jared Rivet (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Deborah Kara Unger, Johnathon Schaech, Alyssa Julya Smith, Jason Scott Jenkins, Nico Roux, Chelsea Ricketts

 

Plot: Set in the 1980s, an estranged family hires a cult deprogrammer to take back their teenage son from a murderous cult, but find themselves under siege when the cultists surround their cabin, demanding the boy back.


Tagline – Family First

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disturbing Home Invasion Movie

 

Story: Jackals starts as Jimmy Levine (Dorff) is hired to help the Powell family, Kathy (Unger), Andrew (Schaech) whose son Justin (Sullivan) has turned his back on his family including his girlfriend Samantha (Ricketts) and daughter, has joined a cult. Jimmy is hired to help deprogram him for the beliefs he now has.

The cult Justin has joined aren’t going to let one of their brothers be taken so easily, which sees them target the house, with Justin claiming that they have come for the baby, the family must put aside their differences to work together fighting for their loved ones.

 

Thoughts on Jackals

 

Characters – Jimmy Levine has been deprogramming cult members for years, after being part of one before, he will push Justin, but this time he may have met his match. Kathy is the mother of the family, she has turned to drink after her marriage fell apart, she does enjoy the grandmother role though. Andrew is the father that brings in Jimmy, willing to face his own mistakes to save his son from the cult. Justin is the son that joined the cult, he believes he is part of a new family and they have come in search for his baby daughter to join the cult.

PerformancesWe do have a couple of well-known actors in this film, Stephen Dorff, Deborah Kara Unger and Johnathon Schaech being the big three, the problem is with the story, the three actors struggle to make the impact in this film they could have. Nobody gets to make the most of their work in this film apart from the cult members that makes us feel like we are watching the creepy crazed figures.

StoryThe story follows a family try to save their son from a cult he joined, only the cult isn’t accepting one of their members to leaving, even if he doesn’t want to leave. This does take a spin on the home invasion film because we have a ready made established member of the cult being taken against his will, the cult size is scary big with the action against being deadly. The problems with the story come from the idea that we don’t learn the true motives of the people in the cult, why he joined them in the first place and with the ending feeling like they just ran out of money. This story has so much more potential, it feels like something was just missing in the execution as the ending is completely rushed.

Horror The horror in the film comes from just what the cult is willing to do, they will make you feel uneasy every time they are just stood in the shadows, this is easily the highlight of the film. we are left to keep guessing on just what will happen in the film too.

SettingsThe film is set in a cabin the woods, we have no signal, the cars are the only way out, but taken away early meaning the family is isolated and trapped, perfect for what the cult want to do to them.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are solid enough, we see most of the aftermath of any damage, which the one time we get to see the shocking damage we can easily turn away from that.


Scene of the Movie –
The figures in the shadows.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The ending.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film that was filled with potential, we could have seen so much more even if the horror side of the film is the highlight of the film.

 

Overall: Disturbing, yet unfulfilling horror.

Rating

 

 

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Joker (2019) Movie Review

Director: Todd Phillips

Writer: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver (Screenplay)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Shea Whigham, Brett Cullen, Brian Tyree Henry

Plot: A gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society.


Tagline – Put on a happy face.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dark Twist on the Origin Story

Story: Joker starts as we meet want to be entertainer Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), he works as a clown through a range a roles, though he does have a reputation for being difficult, he lives in a rundown apartment with his mother Penny (Conroy), with dreams of making it as a stand up comedian, with his idol being Murray Franklin (De Niro) the host of a daily show.

As Arthur starts to see certain parts of his life fall apart, he sees a blossom relationship with his neighbour Sophie (Beetz) until he learns the truth about his past and learns to put on his happy face to become Joker.

Thoughts on Joker

Characters – Arthur Fleck is a loner that has been struggling for work, he wants to be an entertainer and is working on his own material to try his luck at stand-up comedy. He starts a new relationship and thinks his life is going in a new direction, until he learns the truth, becoming the icon we know. Murray Franklin is the host of his own talk show, he handles the comedy of the real events and is the man Arthur sees as an idol, he sees one of the clips of the stand up and puts it on his own show. Sophie is the neighbour and single mother that starts a relationship with Arthur, showing him in a better life. Penny is the mother of Arthur, she sees only the good in the richest man in the town and writes to him often waiting for a reply from her former employer. While most of the characters do have more about them, though most details will contain full spoilers.

PerformancesJoaquin Phoenix gives us a wonderful performance, showing his commitment to the role, which will be one people will talk about when award season hits. Robert De Niro is joy to watch as the charismatic talk show host. Zazie Beetz is good to watch, though she just doesn’t get enough screen time. Frances Conroy is strong to through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a man that has been failed by the society and the mental health system, which sees him struggle to deal with reality and begin his path to become one of the most iconic comic villains. This is much like Venom, a strange choice for a character to bring to the centre stage because we shouldn’t be backing a villainous character, but this time we do get everything connecting to why Joker became who he is. By stepping into how mental health can be brushed aside at times forcing people to fall through the cracks, not being treated the correct way to help them. If you are expecting any sort of comic book movie, you will be lost in this one because nothing we see has anything that couldn’t become a reality, which is what could make the film feel unsettling in places. This is also a story that could have been told without needing to throw a big character name like the Joker in around it and it might have been even better if it didn’t rely on the familiar name.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows how Arthur starts by being a victim, before he starts to try and show just how far he will go to stand up for himself.

SettingsThe film does use the settings brilliantly, showing how Arthur has come from the bottom, never been given a thing in life, which does reflect just how we would see a Batman figure born with wealth.


Scene of the Movie – Talk show time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – I didn’t like the laughing stuff, it would include spoilers to why though.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting a dark spin on the world for one of the biggest names in comic book history, without making it feel like a comic book in anyway.

Overall: Dark and as Twisted as You Would Imagine.

ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – J – Jasper Jones (2017)

Director: Rachel Perkins

Writer: Shaun Grant (Screenplay) Craig Silvey (Story)

Starring: Levi Miller, Toni Collette, Hugo Weaving, Angourie Rice, Dan Wyllie, Matt Nable, Myles Pollard, Aaron L McGrath

 

Plot: JASPER JONES is a coming of age story about Charlie Bucktin, a bookish boy of 14. On the night that Jasper Jones, the town’s mixed race outcast shows him the dead body of young Laura Wishart, Charlie’s life is changed forever. Entrusted with this secret and believing Jasper to be innocent, Charlie embarks on a dangerous journey to find the true killer. Set over the scorching summer holidays of 1969, Charlie defeats the local racists, faces the breakup of his parents and falls head over heels in love as he discovers what it means to be truly courageous.


Tagline – The iconic Australian best seller now a major most picture

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Mystery

 

Story: Jasper Jones starts when Charlie Bucktin (Miller) gets awoken by the town outcast Jasper Jones (McGrath) after he discovers a dead body of a local girl on his property. Asking Charlie to help him learn who was behind the crime, Charlie must keep his mouth shut when he knows the girl is the sister of his friend Eliza (Rice).

Setting out to solve the mystery Jasper must evade the curfew put on the kids of the town as he believes the town stranger Mad Jack Lionel (Weaving) is the man behind it all, but the mystery is harder to solve than this.

 

Thoughts on Jasper Jones

 

Characters – Charlie Bucktin is the teenager that is in the middle of the mystery about the death of the girl in the town. He befriends the one person everyone thinks it is as he must see the prejudice that the non-locals deal with being in the town. Ruth is Charlie’s mother that is always worrying about Charlie when he keeps breaking the curfew. Eliza is the sister of the dead girl, she becomes friends with Charlie as she needs someone to keep her feeling the right mind set during the wait. Jasper Jones is the outcast of the town who is easily the suspect the town will blame for the murder.

PerformancesLevi Miller is good in the leading role, we have seen him in other movies and he has been making a reputation with this type of role. Toni Collette shines as we know she always will, she is such an incredible actress. Angourie Rice after The Nice Guys is an actress we want to see where she went next, here she is good and shows her potential. The rest of the stars are good for what they need to do.

StoryThe story follows the mystery surrounding the death of a young woman and the mystery about who was the one responsible. We get secrets which help with the mystery as well as dealing with racial behaviour of the town’s people towards the ones that aren’t Australian. We do touch on other important subjects which come from the ending of the film, so won’t be spoiling them. This feels like a story that should have such a big impact though we don’t get enough time to process each moment to its full effect, this only disappoints because you do need to process large parts of this film.

MysteryThe mystery in this film comes from just wondering who was behind the death of the girl, even though this isn’t the only major talking point in the film as we end up seeing other subjects getting dealt with.

SettingsThe small town setting in one that works for the film, it shows you could never know everything about your neighbours and you will need to be friends when things go wrong.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth about the body.

That Moment That Annoyed Me So many serious subjects, not enough time to process.

Final ThoughtsThis does feel like a massively powerful movie that just doesn’t give us the time to process all the major talking points within the movie, this needed to be longer or a television show.

 

Overall: Too much to process at times.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – J – Joyride (2017)

Director: Matt Murphy

Writer: Matt Murphy (Screenplay)

Starring: Dean O’Gorman, James Rolleston, Ashleigh Cummings, Antonia Preddle, Matt Whelan, Siobhan Marshall

 

Plot: Pork Pie tracks the escapades of a trio of accidental outlaws as they travel the length of the New Zealand in a yellow mini, protesting conformity and chasing lost love, with a posse of cops and a media frenzy hot in their pursuit.


Tagline – The misfits. The Mini. The mayhem.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Little Adventure

 

Story: Joyride starts when Luke (Rolleston) steals a mini escaping from thugs, he nearly hits author who is travelling across New Zealand for a wedding Jon (O’Gorman) and on their journey they pick up feisty young woman Keira (Cummings) as they are running from a past they can’t control.

As the three bond they each reveal why they are on the journey and they three start to guide each other through their problems and their causes, all while evading the law.

 

Thoughts on Joyride

 

Characters – Jon is trying to crash a wedding, not to steal the bride or anything, to try and make up with his ex, who he left at the altar. He wants to make up for everything, though he doesn’t know how to go about it. Luke is the young man who stole the car, he is on the run from some thugs, while dealing with his own loss, he needs somebody to be there for him. Keira is an animal activist that works in a fast food restaurant she joins the guys after learning they are travelling towards a protest, she wants to be part of, showing that she is planning to us the incident to make an impact. Susie is the ex of Jon that was left at the altar, she doesn’t anything to do with Jon, however much he tries to come back to her.

PerformancesDean O’Gorman and James Rolleston are both good in their roles in the film, they manage to have good chemistry and handle the emotional sides of their story too. Ashleigh Cummings completes the main line up with her performance equalling theirs.

StoryThe story shows an unlikely trio travel across New Zealand for different reasons, as they travel they must help each other with their problem as they become outlaws through the country. This does feel like a coming of age movie with the Luke character, a sort your life out movie for Jon and learn about yourself movie for Keira, the three stories mix together to show us how adventure can bring new meaning to life. We get the emotional levels required to make you laugh and cry which can be hard to achieve. This is a story that will stick with you without being one that gets bogged down with too much going on.

Action/Comedy/Crime/RomanceThe action comes from the car chases around the country which are entertaining and like many films include minis. The comedy comes from moments the three go through trying to escape, which shows how the crimes they are committing will only make things worst for the group. The romance is motivation for Jon which shows just how far he would go for love.

SettingsNew Zealand is the backdrop for the movie which shows us how beautiful the country is and how driving across it can be achieved.


Scene of the Movie –
The final car chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The love story takes over too easily.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun film that balance three stories well at times before falling slightly short with concluding a couple of them as well as it should.

 

Overall: Good little action crime comedy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Jarhead 3 The Siege (2016)

Director: William Kaufman

Writer: Chad Law, Michael D Weiss (Screenplay)

Starring: Charlie Weber, Scott Adkins, Tom Ainsley, Erik Valdez, Dante Basco, Sasha Jackson, Dennis Haysbert

 

Plot: A group of Marines must protect a US Embassy in the Middle East when it suddenly comes under attack from enemy forces.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Siege Movie

 

Story: Jarhead 3: The Siege starts as new recruit Evan Albright (Weber) who has just gotten a role working in the US Embassy in the Middle East, welcomed by Hansen (Ainsley) and under the orders from Gunny Raines (Adkins) with the job to protect the Ambassador Cahill (Hogan). With Evan going through the lesson of how to operate in the embassy we are ready to begin.

Evan notices somebody outside the normal outside the embassy, which soon sees him learning the lessons of the protocol. The marines find the embassy under siege and must use all their training to keep the Ambassador alive against countless enemies.

 

Thoughts on Jarhead 3: The Siege

 

Characters – Evan is the newest marine bought into the embassy, he does fill in the gaps for the protocol that must be followed by the team, learn to work with the rest of the unit and is the first to suspect something is going on around the embassy and ends up being the one leading the fight back. Gunny Raines is the leader of the marines, you play by his rules or face the consequences. Major Lincoln is the one leading the rescue attempt, bringing the back-up required to hopefully help the stranded marines, spends most of the film in a helicopter racing to the scene. Olivia Winston is the computer operative at the embassy, she like Evan has bigger dreams when it comes to rising up through the military rankings.

PerformancesCharlie Weber does take the leading role here where we follow his character entering the world, he works as a soldier never setting the world alight, which can be same for the whole cast sees Scott Adkins, Sasha Jackson and Dennis Haysbert.

StoryThe story here follows a newly recruit marine in an US embassy that must deal with a siege from the locals on the building meaning he will join the marines to show off their skills to defend the embassy. This is one of the simplest stories you will ever see, we follow Evan as he and we learn the lay of the land, the siege is everything you would expect too, following the usual ideas of needing to have safety and out live the numbers that are trying to kill you. It does feel like the story is safe rather than challenging.

Action/WarThe action plays into the war side of the film, we get plenty of military manoeuvres to see bullets flying around.

SettingsThe settings in the film show us the embassy and how the marines operate within it, we see how this makes the positions difficult to defend.


Scene of the Movie –
The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too by the books.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to follow military action film, it doesn’t do anything wrong, only it just seems to be by the book and overly safe.

 

Overall: Safe Military Film.

Rating