Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Last Shift (2014)

lastDirector: Anthony DiBlasi

Writer: Anthony DiBlasi, Scott Poiley (Screenplay)

Starring: Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel, Hank Stone, J LaRose, Sarah Sculco

 

Plot: A rookie cop’s 1st shift in the last night of a closing police station alone turns into a living nightmare.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Horror

 

Story: Last Shift starts as we follow rookie police officer Jessica Loren (Harkavy) on her first assignment replacing veteran officer Grip Cohen (Stone) looking after a closing police station for the final night.

Alone in the station Jessica start receive calls from a woman in distress when all the calls should have been diverted as well as strange goings on around the station, things that she can’t explain as well as having a homeless continually breaking into the station.

When it becomes clear that Jessica is being haunted by the Paymon cult that her father died taking down, but now she must face a battle against the devil worshipers led by John Michael Paymon (Mikel).

 

Thoughts on Last Shift

 

StoryThe story here shows how one officer must survive the hauntings happening with her own police station. We have a good use of suspense in the story because we have a creditable lead character that wants to look past the supernatural and shouldn’t be scared around each scare. This is an easy to follow even if it is all by the book because you get the scare moment calm, slightly scary moment calm and this goes on until the outcome of the film.

Horror/Mystery/ThrillerWhen it comes to the horror this film is very good at build up and execution of the scare going on throughout with no false jump scares which can hold horror up. We are left on edge throughout with what could happen by the end of the film which keeps the thrilling side of the story up, the film balance pure horror and thrills together to complement each genre throughout.

Characters/PerformanceWe only really meet one character in this film with the Officer which means she does need to carry the whole film. We get the scares with the odd characters but we only learn about the characters from events in the past as Jessica does too which I think does help the film. Juliana Harkavy is brilliant in the lead role because if she is bad this film is bad it is as simple as that.

SettingsThe whole film is set within the police station which works because you wouldn’t expect to see a location like that being the main target of supernatural horror.

Special EffectsAll the effects going on in the film add to the horror making us feel like we are experience the horror with the character.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror that is well worth a watch for all the horror fans out there.

 

Overall: Good scares, good suspense, great horror.

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Last Vegas (2013)

lastDirector: Jon Turteltaub

Writer: Dan Fogelman (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara

 

Plot: Four friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming Entertaining Comedy

 

Story: Last Vegas starts as we see where four former friends from Brooklyn have lived very different lives Sam (Kline) married doing water aerobics, Archie (Freeman) recently retired grandfather who isn’t trusted to look after his own grandchild, Paddy (De Niro) who has been widowed for a year now and Billy (Douglas) who is about to get married to a woman half his age.

This brings the four friends back together to Las Vegas to a bachelor party for Billy, giving the three friends a chance live it up like the young men they once were for what could be the last time.

 

Thoughts on Last Vegas

 

Characters/PerformanceThe four lead stars have their own personalities like you would imagine between friends, Billy is living his life with regret, Paddy is filled with sadness, Archie just wanting to escaping his elder life and Sam is trying to figure out where his married life is going. The mix between the four has great chemistry and you could see them all being friends.

The performances are all good from the heavyweights Douglas, De Niro, Freeman and Kline all work very well together. Everyone plays their part to work with the main cast throughout.stras

StoryFour friends coming back together for what could be their last weekend together as they can finally put away their differences. I liked this story it is easy to follow even if it does force feed us that these are old men in a young man’s world of Vegas. We do have plenty of moments which look at moments of life that could happen to anyone.

ComedyWe have good laughs from the whole cast with moments poking fun at the stars past as well as handling the elder characters in the wildly considered youthful party city.

SettingsLas Vegas is always a brilliant setting for the any film so I do enjoy each setting from the film.genre

Final ThoughtsI did enjoy this film more than I thought, it can be enjoyed by all the people watching the film.

 

Overall: Easy to watch and enjoy film.

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The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Director: David Yates

Writer: Adam Cozad, Craig Brewer (Screenplay) Edgar Rice Burroughs (Creator)

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou

 

Plot: Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easy to Watch but Nothing Memorable

 

Story: The Legend of Tarzan starts when Leon Rom (Waltz) goes in search of diamonds in African Congo for the king Leopold of Belgium. Making a deal with Chief Mbonga (Hounsou) which involves bringing John Clayton (Skarsgard) back to the Congo.

In England John Clayton has reclaimed his title and now is being convinced into return to Congo with American George Washington Williams (Jackson) as an open invitation for England to work on building relationships with Belgium.

John along with his wife Jane (Robbie) returns to Africa to guide George and along the way he gets to reconnect with his friends both human and animal, while remember how he came to be known as Tarzan.

When Leon’s plan comes together he kidnaps Jane using her as bait to capture Tarzan but Tarzan knowing the land better than anyone joins the tribe to hunt down Leon and his men. Along the way Tarzan learns of the bigger plan in motion and must save the animals and people who raised him.

 

Thoughts on The Legend of Tarzan

 

Characters/PerformanceJohn Clayton is known as Tarzan, raised in the jungle but now living his royal title in England. He must face his past by returning to Congo and save it from invasion. This is a different look at how you would imagine Tarzan not facing much of his animal side. Jane is the feisty wife of John or Tarzan that returns to the jungle using all her knowledge to survive once she is captured. George Washington Williams is the American trying to prove the plan of thee Belgium King and a killer shot. Leon Rom is the man leading the invasion upon the Congo, his character is slightly mixed for me, one minute he is a deadly military leader the next he comes off quirky.

Performance wise, Alexander does look the part of Tarzan but he doesn’t reach all the leaves of potential you feel Tarzan needs. Margot is good as we have come to expect from this star for many years to come, Sam Jackson does his usual, turns up in a film brings a few lines of intensity even in a supporting role. Waltz continues his trend of being a bland villain in big blockbuster movies, partly because of the character or maybe because of him, we never seem to see if he is over the top or calm.

StoryThe story looks at life after the legend of Tarzan, which I did think works because how many times can we do a Tarzan meets Jane. The story does also battle the idea of stopping slavery within a country and returning to face your past which Tarzan must do. This comes off a lot more serious that I think people would imagine by not having any light-hearted moments but then it does turn into what you would expect from it.

Action/AdventureThe action is all standard to what you would expect from a jungle based movie. The adventure does take on a travel across the country feeling which does work.

SettingsThe settings look nice when they are real but too many are green screens.

Special EffectsThe special effects are weak here because you can see green screen through most of the animal human scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at the Tarzan character but in the end we have seen most of this before.

 

Overall: Simple and Entertaining.

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The Lost City of Z (2016)

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray (Screenplay) David Grann (Book)

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid

 

Plot: A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow but Interesting Historical Drama

 

Story: The Lost City of Z starts as Colonel Major Percy Fawcett (Hunnam) is assigned to leave his family, wife Nina (Miller) and young child Jack to go to Bolivia to help map the land. Joined on the mission by drunk expert Henry Costin (Pattinson) but the land isn’t what they thought as they learn the inhabitants are not interested in having the white man on their land.

Braving it through the jungle Percy returns to England a national hero. Telling his stories Percy gets pushed into returning with other explorers to discover what is in the depths of Amazonia. Not making it back to his lost city Percy returns only to find World War I has broken out halting any future missions to search until the war is over, Percy dreams of being able to return to the Lost City of Z but can he make it and keep the loved ones happy.

 

 

Thoughts on The Lost City of Z

 

Characters/PerformancePercy Fawcett is a respected soldier, one of the highest ranked, he is pushed into mapping Bolivia for England where he leaves his family for years on end only return before heading back to Bolivia. He becomes one of the great explorers of the time but his balance on discovery and family is truly tested. Henry Costin becomes Percy’s trusted second on all his expeditions, he might have a slight drinking problem but he will always fight by his side and discover by his side. Nina is the wife of Percy who must spend most of the time raising the children while her husband is away, she does wish to join him with the family but understands the risk it wold have on the children. Jack is the eldest son that grows up while his father is away, he is the first to stand up against everything his father does but also believing he deserves more than he gets from the government.

Performance wise, Charlie Hunnam gives what I think is the best performance of his career here with Pattinson continuing to show he is capable away from the Twilight disaster for him. Miller is good in the supporting role which is a slightly stronger female character than normal and Tom Holland does well in his supporting role.

StoryThe story follows Percy Fawcett’s expeditions to Bolivia, how not every mission went well, but most importantly how he just wanted to learn. We do see the struggle to balance personal life and his exploring life as well as getting the respect of the British Government when it comes to the missions. This is a very interesting look into this explorer and his life’s work.

Action/Adventure/Biography/History – The action side of this film is mostly the battle sequences we are not used often which is good, the adventure shows just what a new discovery could feel like for these explorers. The biography and history is looking at of the explorer between 1900 and 1930 with what they learnt along their travels.

SettingsEach setting used shows us the different adventure and the difficult time it would have to be to find that one location in a previously unmapped location, we have beauty spots, but also the conflict of war.

EffectsThe effects used are mostly in the conflict scenes and are few and far between, but the ones used are all good when used.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the underrated movies of the year, it does tell an interesting story and one that could be enjoyed by all that watch.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but underrated movie.

Rating

 

 

Life (2017)

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare

 

Plot: A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Scientific Alien

 

Story: Life starts as a team of astronauts Commander Ekaterina (Dihovichnaya), engineer Rory (Reynolds), Doctor David (Gyllenhaal), Pilot Sho (Sanada), Research Leader Hugh (Bakare) and Quarantine enforcer Miranda (Ferguson) are working on collecting samples from Mars.

Collecting a hibernating life form named Calvin that Hugh helps bring back to life, Calvin comes off friendly as it starts to grow but after a mistake in the lab it looks like Calvin has returned to it’s dormant state.

When Hugh finds a way to bring Calvin back once again it takes a turn for the worse as Calvin is deadlier than they could imagine. The crew must fight for survivor once Calvin breaks Quarantine but they must also consider Calvin’s threat to Earth if it ever makes it back.

 

Thoughts on Life

 

Characters/PerformanceDavid is the man who is about break the record spent in space, he is the doctor of the crew and slowly becoming addicted to being in the peace of space. Miranda is the emotionless scientists who must put away feelings to make the correct decision for mankind. Rory is the confident engineer who keeps everything light hearted when he is under pressure and the rest of the crew. The remaining members of the crew are all what you expect to see in this style of film.

Performance wise, Jake is the lead and is good throughout without reaching the levels we know he can even though we do get glimpses, Ferguson is also good continue to grow her reputation. Reynolds is fun throughout his time in the film with the remaining cast all good well.

StoryThe story is interesting because it focuses on the real idea that humans are searching for life from another planet or space in general. The idea of doing any research in space works because it would appear safer. These are the good elements of story the rest is just another way of telling us the Alien story, unknown lifeforce wants to kill everything to survive and the tea must fight to survive. This starts well but turns into everything we have seen before.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror involved in this film isn’t the most original because we have seen most of it before, but the sci-fi side does start very interesting.

SettingsThe film is set completely in space inside the space station which I do think works well because it shows the quarantine levels the characters must protect Earth.

Special EffectsThe special effects are fine with the creature looking good in moments but other times you can see the CGI.

Final ThoughtsWhile I do think this will be better than Alien: Covenant and I liked the scientific side of the film but in the end we have seen it all before.

 

Overall: Solid but nothing special in the sci-fi genre.

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