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

 

 

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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

 

 

Joyeux Noel (2005)

Director: Christian Carion

Writer: Christian Carion (Screenplay)

Starring: Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canete, Daniel Bruhl, Gary Lewis, Dany Boon

 

Plot: In December 1914, an unofficial Christmas truce on the Western Front allows soldiers from opposing sides of the First World War to gain insight into each other’s way of life.


Tagline – France 1914. A moment of humanity that made history.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Stunning Christmas Story

 

Story: Joyeux Noel starts after World War I has broken out, each country believes it would be over by Christmas and we meet soldiers on three sides of the war. The German, Lieutenant Horstmayer (Bruhl) who has famous opera Nikolaus Sprink (Furmann) in his unit. We have the French side with Lieutenant Audebert (Canet) and the Scottish side with Pasteur Palmer (Lewis).

With Christmas Eve upon us Nikolaus gets a visit from his girlfriend Anna Sorensen (Kruger) bring her back to the trenches to performer which brings a response from the enemies, the three side agree and truce to celebrate Christmas which showed us the humanity behind the horrors of war, one of the most incredible stories you will hear about.

 

Thoughts on Joyeux Noel

 

Characters – Anna Sorensen is located in Germany and is one of the best opera singers in the country, her partner is in the trenches a fellow opera singer, she arranges to see him which leads her to the trenches with her performance helping bring the sides together for Christmas. She wants to spend the rest of the war with her partner and will take a drastic step to make it happen. Nikolaus Sprink is the famous opera singer on in trenches, his fame upset his lieutenant who doesn’t want celebrity figures in his unit, though his performance brings the sides together for a moment of truce. Lieutenant Audebert is the French leader that is missing his wife and will take part in the truce bonding with the fellow lieutenants. Lieutenant Horstmayer is the Germany one that reluctantly lets his men meet the enemy, he does want peace too which shows in how he is still strict with his men. Lieutenant Gordon is the Scottish one who is happy to see his team take peace for a day or two. Each of the lieutenants must face the consequences of what happened because putting the human factor ahead of the war isn’t accepted by the superiors.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are fantastic from start to finish, it also brings names we know from big Hollywood films to our attention with Diane Kruger and Daniel Bruhl, none of the actors put in a bad performance which makes us believe these could have been the real men involved in the war.

StoryThe story follows the famous story that during World War I both sides put down their guns to celebrate Christmas together. We see the German, French and Scottish who learn that they aren’t as different from the opposite sides, they are just men forced into battle. This shows us how the men who were put on the front line without being truly prepared for war and are dealing with the loss of friends during the war, this shows us just how things can be different and will change you mind on everything you thought about any enemy in war.

History/Romance/WarThe history about this story will be remembered forever because it showed how people were different during war where the innocent men were being killed.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the trenches during the First World War, it shows how close the different sides were when it came to the war which bought them together for this incredible moment.


Scene of the Movie –
The Christmas Eve meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The aftermath.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the most important Christmas films you will ever see, it has such an important message and a heart-breaking truth behind it.

 

Overall: Must watching Christmas Movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – J – Just Before I Go (2014)

Director: Courteney Cox

Writer: David Flebotte (Screenplay)

Starring: Seann William Scott, Olivia Thirlby, Garret Dillahunt, Kate Walsh, Kyle Gallner, Mackenzie Marsh

 

Plot: On the verge of giving up on life, a guy travels to his hometown to make amends.


Tagline – Ending it all was only the beginning.
Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Moving Story

 

Story: Just Before I Go starts as Ted Morgan (Scott) fills in the reasons why he returned home to kill himself, the average life he has been living and the recent break up, first he wants to return home to confront the people that pushed him back in his hometown, before he goes.

Staying with his brother Lucky (Dillahunt) and his family, he sets his plan in motion until he meets Greta (Thirlby) who wants to document this situation.

 

Thoughts on Just Before I Go

 

Characters – Ted Morgan was a dreamer in high school, but he was bullied and as soon as he was old enough he left town, he lived a normal life, in a normal employment role, but after his wife cheats on him, he decides he wants to confront his past before killing himself. Ted is the average man that never became the guy he thought he would, middle-aged and alone facing a reality he doesn’t want to be here anymore. Greta is a stranger to Ted, she wants to record document the motivation behind Ted’s choice and to try and help him find a direction. Lucky is the older brother that never put his arm around his younger brother when he was younger. This movie has wonderful characters that have affected Ted’s life in different ways.

PerformancesSeann William Scott is an actor I grew up watching his comedies, but he seemed to fade away, this performance seems to be a career highlight for him, he keeps everything calm through the film which is something that is important for this role and something new for him. Olivia Thirlby is great in the supporting role too which is the type of role we can see her doing a lot. Garret is an actor you can always find in good supporting roles and this is no different.

StoryThe story here follows one man who sees his life going nowhere and wants to face his past before killing himself, this is a simple side to everything, we end up dealing with a lot of everyday issues about treating people equally, dealing with the fine line between loneliness and emptiness, as well as showing that other people close to you will have their own problems. For me this is one of the most underrated stories I have seen and having been through elements of these issues I could relate to as well.

ComedyThe movie has moments of comedy, but doesn’t rely on the comedy which is something I was happy with, the drama was the main part of the film.

SettingsThe film takes our character back to his own home town which shows how many people might not leave and still make a life for themselves, the settings work for the going down memory lane.


Scene of the Movie –
On top of the world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The sister-in-law is difficult to talk seriously and we don’t need her weakness.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that hit home hard for me, I can understand Ted’s mentality and difficulties which makes this a film I wish more people could see.

 

Overall: Must watch for anyone that has had a hard time.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – J – Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word (2016)

Director: Simon Rumley

Writer: Ben Katai, Marc Haimes (Screenplay) Tony Giglio, Ben Ketai (Story)

Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Erin Cummings, Mike Doyle, Dodge Prince, Mike Gassaway, Sue Rock

 

Plot: When a young man is executed for committing murder, he leaves behind a curse letter, promising vengeance for all those connected to his unfair trial.


Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Revenge Horror

 

Story: Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word starts with the trial of Johnny that leads to a guilty verdict, which leads to his execution, where his final words are ‘Kiss my ever-loving ass’.

Soon after his execution the people involved in the trial start getting visions, strange feelings and the feeling they are being watched by a spirit that seems to be out for revenge from beyond the grave. This leads Adam Redman (Doyle) one of the jurors to investigate what happened with the crime.

 

Thoughts on Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word

 

Characters – Adam Redman is one of the jurors on the trial, he is the only one that wasn’t going with an instant guilty verdict, but had to fold to the pressure of the rest of the jury. After the execution his son gets targeted by the spirit and he goes to investigate who really committed the crime. Danny Hill is the district attorney that took the case, getting the result, he wanted a guilty verdict.

PerformancesMike Doyle takes the leading role in this film, he is the best of the performers as you believe he descent into madness as he finds himself haunted. The rest of the cast are fine, but just don’t get a chance to shine on the levels they can reach.

StoryThe story follows a wrongfully committed man that is executed for a crime he never committed, coming back from the head to haunt the people who were involved in the trial to get his own revenge. Everything plays into the ideas that the execution might not be the best thing because not all crimes are as clear cut as they need to be to go through with it, but only following one man trying to solve the case doesn’t seem to be the most entertaining as we only see a couple of people from the trial face the wrath of Johnny.

Crime/HorrorThe idea behind the crime shows how the justice system can be flawed, the horror plays into the idea that a spirit can come back and get revenge for the crime he gets executed for.

SettingsThe settings show that certain states in America still use the death penalty in a time where it is no longer considered an option.

Special EffectsThe effects are fine when needed but never get overused when it comes to the scares.


Scene of the Movie –
Teacher time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We only follow a couple of potential victims when a lot more people were involved.

Final ThoughtsThis plays well into the idea of person coming back from dead to get revenge for a crime they never committed, it has by the book scares, jumpy vision sequences, but never reaches any peek levels of tension, suspense or conclusion.

 

Overall: Not strong enough.

Rating