ABC Film Challenge – Animation – L – The Land Before Time (1988)

Director: Don Bluth

Writer: Stu Krieger (Screenplay) Judy Freudberg, Tony Geiss (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Judith Brasi, Pat Hingle, Gabriel Damon, Helen Shaver, Bill Erwin, Burke Byrnes, Candance Hutson

 

Plot: An orphaned brontosaurus teams up with other young dinosaurs in order to reunite with their families in a valley.


Tagline – The adventure that started it all!

Runtime: 1 Hour 9 minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Family Adventure

 

Story: The Land Before Time starts as we head back to the dinosaurs, we follow Littlefoot a longneck travelling with his family, but when an earthquake separates them, Littlefoot must join forces with fellow baby dinosaurs including triple horn Cera, big mouth Ducky, flyer Petrie and spiketail Spike.

The dinosaurs must use their memories passed down by their parents to head to the Great Valley a paradise for leafeaters, but they are tracked by Sharptooth who is looking for his next dinosaur snack.

 

Thoughts on The Land Before Time

 

Characters – The characters are dinosaurs and instead of using the scientific names, we get names that are going to be easier to relate to for the audience. Littlefoot is a longneck, he watches his mother killed by Sharptooth and needs to get to the Great Valley, he guides the other baby dinosaurs on their adventure. Cera is the stubborn triplehorn, she won’t back down from a fight despite being scared of what is out there waiting for them. Ducky is the fast-talking big mouth that joins the adventure keeping them group together, Sharptooth is the villain of the adventure a meateater meaning he will be hunting the baby dinosaurs and their parents, a threat throughout the film.

StoryThe story that follows five unlikely dinosaur friends that must travel to the Great Valley after becoming separated from their parents, this shows the courage they need to make it and survive this time and shows just how unlikely the friendship will help them make this happen. This is a standard and enjoyable journey movie which hits the marks needed for everyone to enjoy.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure takes our dinosaurs across the land in need of safer grounds, which is an easy to follow adventure and one that needs to be experience.

SettingsThe settings show the different worlds that the dinosaurs must travel through to get to their next safety area, the great valley

AnimationThe animation looks wonderful from start to finish, there might be a few issues with colour schemes, but it looks great.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle against Sharptooth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slightly too short.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good simple family adventure animation, it checks all the boxes and is short enough for kids to enjoy.

 

Overall: Enjoyable family animation.

Rating

 

 

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Natalie Portman Weekend – Leon (1994)

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Peter Appel

 

Plot: Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Assassin Film

 

Story: Leon starts as we see just how deadly of an assassin Leon (Reno) is, you know the usual easy job to show he can pull tricks to confuse the enemy. Leon lives in a small apartment in New York where he has neighbours with middle child Mathilda (Portman) feeling out of place with her abusive father and sister. When we see how her father has gotten them in trouble with Stansfield (Oldman) he murders the whole family.

Leon reluctantly welcomes Mathilda into his home but they soon make an agreement that Leon will train Mathilda to be a ‘cleaner’ just like him so she get kill Stansfield and the men that killed her family.

 

Thoughts on Leon

 

Characters – Leon is the loner assassin that is brilliant at getting the job done and spends his free time keeping his planet in the sun and watching old movies in the cinema. He has a code, no women or children which is why he takes Mathilda in so he can teach her the ways and help her get revenge on the man who killed her family. Mathilda is the 12-year-old girl that has never fitted in her family and is being abused by her family, she sees her family murdered and her only hope is Leon, she wants to be trained to be like him so she can get revenge. We get a lot of different characteristics from this character that acts a lot older than she should but it makes sense because of her childhood being ripped from her. Stansfield is the cop that killed Mathilda’s family, he is a dirty cop with a love for classical music that doesn’t care who he kills to keep his business alive.

PerformanceJean Reno is fantastic in this role, he plays a character perfectly to make us see his kindness to go against his heartless nature as a killer. Gary Oldman makes for a brilliant villain as we see just how emotionless he can be. Natalie Portman gave us her first performance here and it is one of the best child actor performances you will see which makes you understand why she has had such a long career.

StoryThe story follows the idea that a lone assassin teaming up with a young girl who has become a victim of a dirty cop as their friendship blossoms the revenge becomes personal. This is easily one of the best relationship between two people from different worlds coming together for a common goal without anything needing to get complicated.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of the film shows the world of assassins, dirty cops and innocent victims as we are left on edge waiting to see what will be happening to our characters.

SettingsNew York always makes for a wonderful setting as we get to see how the overcrowding can let hitmen get away easily.

Scene of the Movie – Mathilda’s Gift for Stansfield.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nothing, really.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the best movies of all times, it shows how to make a lone assassin movie can be one of the best of all time.

 

Overall: Brilliant, masterpiece movie.

Rating

 

 

The Lighthouse (2016)

Director: Chris Crow

Writer: Paul Bryant, Chris Crow, Michael Jibson (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Lewis Jones, Michael Jibson, Ian Vrigo, Nathan Sussex, Gerald Tyler, Stephane McDade, Joshua Richards

 

Plot: Based on real events which saw two lighthouse keepers stranded for months at sea in a freak storm, the film tells a tale of death, madness and isolation; a desolate trip into the heart of human darkness.


Tagline – Save Our Souls…

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Moving Thriller

 

Story: The Lighthouse starts in the year of 1805, two men Thomas Griffiths (Jones) the head lighthouse keeper and Thomas Howell (Jibson) must man the lighthouse 25 miles from land in one of the most dangerous straights of water in the Irish sea. With only each other to keep themselves company, things are going smoothly to start with.

When a storm comes to the lighthouse and the two men must survive on limited rations until the storm passes, here is where madness comes out in the men as they have no idea how long it will be until they are rescued.

 

Thoughts on The Lighthouse

 

Characters – We have two Thomas’ here, Griffiths has been a lighthouse keeper for years, it runs in his family, he knows the commitment needed to cope with the condition they may well be facing. Howell has found religion after his own errors, he doesn’t see eye to eye with Griffiths and his beliefs are considered bad luck. We see how both the men must deal with the idea of being trapped, they cope in different ways.

PerformancesWhen we look at performances we have a two man show here, Mark Lewis Jones and Michael Jibson are both great as you do believe their minds going as the film unfolds.

StoryThe story is meant to be based on a real story, it keeps things looking at how the men would survive not knowing how long the storm will last with dwindling resources. The time period helps us too because there is no quick fix for the situation. I would have liked to have seen more of how the lighthouse operates because when it comes to dealing with the wait, the pace of the story slows down and there isn’t too many directions the twists and turns could go in the waiting process.

ThrillerThe film does want to keep us guessing to how long or if the men will make it through the storm, this is where everything it placed for the tension required in the film.

SettingsThe film takes place on the lighthouse, it gives us complete isolation from any rescue and show us how the madness could take over from the endless wait.


Scene of the Movie –
The final 20 minutes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The storm doesn’t feel like it is deadly enough to stop ships.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow-moving thriller that is meant to be based on a real event, it is an interesting idea because we know the one or two people based films in a singular location can keep us on edge, if the performance connects. The performances are good, but sadly the story does hit a lull in the middle.

 

Overall: Slow moving, cut 20 minutes you would have a tidy thriller.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – L – Ladder 49 (2004)

Director: Jay Russell

Writer: Lewis Colick (Screenplay)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Jacinda Barrett, Robert Patrick, Morris Chestnut, Billy Burke

 

Plot: A firefighter, injured and trapped in a burning building, has flashbacks of his life as he drifts in and out of consciousness. Meanwhile, fellow firefighters led by the Chief attempt to rescue him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thought Provoking Action Thriller

 

Story: Ladder 49 starts as Jack Morrison (Phoenix) is performing a daring tower block fire rescue only for disaster to strike and Jack finds himself trapped inside the burning inferno. This causes Jack to have flack backs to his early firefighting days as a rookie in the 39th under Mike Kennedy (Travolta).

As Jack continues to fade between consciousness we learn about his personal life and how he met and married Linda (Barrett) as well as seeing just how his team became the unit through the good and bad events of being a firefighter, this will give him a chance to believe who could save him.

 

Thoughts on Ladder 49

 

Characters/PerformanceJack Morrison is the firefighter that gets trapped in the fire, we get to see his rise from rookie firefighter to one of the most respected in his team, get married and have children but through the events of the film we are left to wonder like himself whether he was right to stay in the force. Captain Mike Kennedy keeps his team united through the good times and the bad, he knows how to motivate them and how to let them celebrate, but he won’t leave a man behind. Linda is the wife of Jack that he meets on one of his first few days on the job, she is concerned after the first death in the squad. The rest of the unit are what you expect, the best friend, the wise one, the confrontational one you know the picture.

Performance wise, Joaquin Phoenix is great in the leading role showing he was ready to make the jump from supporting actor to leading man. Travolta shows that he can turn out good performances around the weaker ones people can slam him for. Jacinda Barrett is good but doesn’t get the full levels you would like to see from the supporting character. The cast all give us good performances throughout the film too.

StoryThe story is told as one man is looking back on his life wondering if he made the right decisions in his life when he becomes trapped during the latest fire he is fighting. This does show the stress firefighters would go through from either a good rescue or seeing a friend hurt or killed, dealing with personal life and the peril of going into a blaze with no true idea of what is waiting for them. I like how this is told because it shows how Jack got to where he is in his ranking within the unit.

Action/ThrillerThe action sequences are all different types of fires the crew must battle and they are all shot wonderfully to suck us into the story as we don’t know what will happen in each fire. This does help keep us on the edge of our seats at times but we know we don’t need to worry about Jack during the flack backs.

SettingsThe settings show us just how dangerous battling fires can be, how the men risk their lives and how they can be different on each occasion.

Special EffectsAll the effects are used to make the fires look as dangerous as they should be which is good to see throughout the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that will make you respect the firefighters of the world even more because you get to see how much they are willing to risk to save people’s lives. It is shot very well with the only negative being knowing there is only one fire Jack is in any peril through.

 

Overall: One for all the action thriller fans out there.

Rating

 

 

Abigail Breslin Weekend – Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Writer: Michael Arndt (Screenplay)

Starring: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell

 

Plot: A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.


Tagline – A family on the verge of a breakdown

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Amazingly Charming Movie

 

Story: Little Miss Sunshine starts as we meet our family, motivational speaker Richard (Kinnear), hardworking mother Sheryl (Collette), depressed teenage son Dwayne (Dano) who has taken a vow of silence, hyperactive young daughter Olive (Breslin), veteran grandfather Edwin (Arkin) and Uncle Frank (Carell) who is fresh out of a hospital after a failed suicide attempt.

The six go on a road trip across America to enter Olive into the Little Miss Sunshine competition and along the way the family must deal with their own ups and downs to help their youngster member fulfil her dream.

 

Thoughts on Little Miss Sunshine

 

Characters – Olive is the youngest member of the family, cute but never going to be able to truly compete in the beauty contests, but this is her dream and the family will come together to help her achieve her dream. Richard is the father of the family, a motivational speaker who believes he has the next big catch for a book, he always encourages his family to believe they will succeed over just trying. Dwayne is the eldest son in the family, taking a vow of silence until he can become a jet pilot, he hates everyone with the only one he will help is Olive. Grandpa Edwin has been kicked out of a retirement home and living with the family, he swears and enjoys a drug or two. Sheryl is the mother of the family who will do anything for her kids which involves taking Olive across country for the contest. Frank is the suicidal genius brother of Sheryl, released under her care in case he tries it again, he sees the family for their flaws and even takes Dwayne under his wing on the journey.

PerformancesWe have six fantastic performances here, we had the established stars, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Alan Arkin shining and the star making performances from Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano and Steve Carell who was the it star of 2006.

StoryThe story follows a dysfunctional family that must travel across America to enter their youngest member to a beauty contest. We get the characters with their flaws that can be worked on through the film which gives us a natural feeling about the family. It does have the idea that family will need to come together no matter what gets in their way. This is a fun enjoyable story that can be enjoyed by everyone.

ComedyThe comedy here is delightful it hits on every level and does mostly come from real life moments.

SettingsThe road trip moments give us the idea of how far the family will go and we see this in the settings.


Scene of the Movie –
The dance routine.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The colour-blind test is fake because I am colour blind and I could see the test, when normally I haven’t been able to.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the greatest comedies of all time, it is just delightful on every account with wonderful performance from the whole cast.

 

Overall: Wonderful throughout.

Rating