ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – L – Lost in the Sun (2016)

Director: Trey Nelson

Writer: Trey Nelson (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Duhamel, Josh Wiggins, Lynn Collins, Emma Fuhrmann, Al Hayter, Larry Jack Dotson

 

Plot: The story of John, a small-time crook, who finds an unlikely accomplice in Louis, a newly-orphaned teenage boy. As their open-road adventure progresses and John drags the kid on a string of robberies, the pair forge an unexpected and powerful bond.


Tagline – How far can one man go?

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Action Coming of Age Film

 

Story: Lost in the Sun starts as small-time crook John (Duhamel) visits a funeral of a young mother, her son Louis (Wiggins) is being sent to live with his grandparents, John sees this and volunteers to drive him across America, where he decides to use Louis to help him settle a couple of debts.

As the time together continues John pushes Louis into helping him commit the crimes as the two get to know each other as over the week.

 

Thoughts on Lost in the Sun

 

Characters – John is a crook, he seems to be freshly out of prison needing to payback debts for protection in prison, he offers to take Louis to his grandparents and starts using him to help pay of the debts, showing him the life of crime, it is clear early on that he does have a connection to Louis, we are left to see what that connection is. Louis is the teenager that has been left orphaned when his mother dies, he reluctantly joins John in the cross-country trip where he gets to learn certain things he wouldn’t have before, including how to drive and how to shoot a gun. We do only meet characters along the way, some help and most are the people they are robbing.

PerformancesJosh Duhamel is good in the leading role, it is one of his better performances as she shows how conflicted his character is and just how desperate he is to clear his debts, while trying to guide the teenager. Josh Wiggins is great in his role of the film, he gets to show moments of grief and moments of moving on with life as he is the one that needs to learn the biggest life lessons. The rest of the cast are solid without needing to do that much.

StoryThe story here comes down to one man trying to make up for his own mistakes in life by helping a young teenage boy across country to live with his grandparents only along the way we see him teach him life lessons which could one day prepare him for the real-world. This gives us a chance to see a redemption story while also giving us a coming-of-age chapter in Louis’s life, this isn’t going to break any ground in the genre and does everything it needs to do for the characters. We do get moments of questioning moments of what Louis is forced to do and for the most we don’t get enough time to look at the crimes that have left John where he is in life.

ActionThe action in the film is simple, we get a couple of weak chases and robberies, they are easy to watch and barely break into a sweat.

SettingsThe film takes us across America, we don’t hit any landmarks which just shows us small town after small town or open roads.


Scene of the Movie –
The final moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Boys don’t just want to drive cars and shoot guns.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple coming of age film, it checks the boxes well without doing anything we haven’t seen before.

 

Overall: Coming-of-age 101

Rating

 

 

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The Little Stranger (2018)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Writer: Lucinda Coxon (Screenplay) Sarah Waters (Novel)

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Ruth Wilson, Liv Hill, Charlotte Rampling, Oliver Zetterstrom, Kathryn O’Reilly

 

Plot: After a doctor is called to visit a crumbling manor, strange things begin to occur.


Tagline – These Delusions Are Contagious

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More Like a Little Dull

 

Story: The Little Stranger starts when small village Doctor Faraday (Gleeson) treats a maid at a mansion that is often seen as the outsiders of the village, the Ayres, with the mother of the house (Rampling) and her children Caroline (Wilson) and the injured war hero Roderick (Poulter) filling the mansion.

Faraday decides to help Roderick with his injuries, while becoming closer to Caroline, Faraday starts getting memories of his time in the mansion as a child, before strange events start happening around the mansion, ones that a medical person couldn’t answer with ease.

 

Thoughts on The Little Stranger

 

Characters – Dr Faraday is a young doctor who takes a fondness of an outcasted family, he wants to help the injured brother, wants to save Caroline, while being left in the middle being able to help them or a potential supernatural presence in the house. Roderick is the injured war hero, he was left with a limp and burns to his face, which make him feel outcasted from the rest of the village and useless to his family, he is struggling with the mental side of everything too, leaving him to make rash decisions. Caroline is the daughter of the household, she is the one that they family has hope of seeing escape their impending poverty and becomes the ones that Faraday takes an interest in. she comes off unsure of what to make of her own future. Mrs Ayres is the mother of the house, she wants the best for her children and is still haunted by the one that she lost.

PerformancesI don’t think any of the performances in this film are bad, Domhnall Gleeson does everything he can in the leading role, as does Will Poulter in his supporting role, Ruth Wilson and Charlotte Rampling don’t disappoint with what they try to bring to the film, the problem with most of this film, comes from the characters be so bland and the story not going anywhere.

StoryThe story here follows a doctor getting close to a family that are seen as outcasts only to start to fall in love with one member of the family just as the strange events start to happen within the mansion. This is where the story just doesn’t get going, we are promised a horror element to this film which just never comes to life, which makes the story feel like more of a class position story. if that sounds confusing, well that doesn’t change from the story in full, because we have very little happening here and end up just shrugging our shoulders at the end, wondering if anything was actually meant to happen.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film does seem to be non-existent, where anything supernatural does seem to only be part of the mystery over anything else going on in the film.

SettingsThe film is set mostly in the mansion in a village in the English countryside, it shows how the family can be seen as outcasts and how people can look out at these types of buildings hoping to be part of this society.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are down the practical additions to Will Poulter, they look great, everything else just seems basic.


Scene of the Movie –
The dog attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The aftermath of the dog attack.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that seems to hint at something big, only to end up feeling dull and uninspiring.

 

Overall: Just fails to deliver.

Rating

 

 

The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)

Director: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan

Writer: Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern, John Whittington (Screenplay) Hilary Winston, Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Pena, Abbi Jacobson

 

Plot: Shunned by everyone for being the son of an evil warlord, a teenager seeks to defeat him with the help of his fellow ninjas.


Tagline – Find Your Inner Piece

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good for the Kids

 

Story: The Lego Ninjago Movie starts in the city of Ninjago, where evil genius Garmadon is always putting the city through terror as he is looking to rule the city with his attacks, stopping him are a group of mysterious ninja, whose identity is revealed early on to be Lloyd, the son of Garmadon and his school friends, looking to keep the peace in the city.

With the guidance of Master Yu, Lloyd must learn his place in the world after Garmadon’s latest attack leaves the city in ruin because Lloyd was planning to make a move against his own father Garmadon, now Lloyd must make up for his own mistake and save the city.

 

Thoughts on The Lego Ninjago Movie

 

Characters – Master Yu is the leader of the ninjas trying to protect the city, he has trained them for years because of his own connection to the evil Garmadon. Lloyd is the teenager trying to fit in the world, he wants to get to know his father Garmadon whose action cause him to get hated in the land, he is fighting back with his close friends trying to teach him how he needs his father. Garmadon is the evil villain that wants control of the city, he always thinks of new ideas and always seems to fail, he is Lloyd’s father though he has never been around for him. Lloyd has a group of friends which are fellow ninjas that help defend the city.

StoryThe story here takes us to a new Lego world, one with ninjas, as we follow a son seeking acceptance from his father who is trying to conquer the city his son lives in. this does have a message about a father son relationship, getting over the regrets of the past and learn about people’s flaws. This does feel like a safe with a villain trying to conquer a city and the reluctant heroes trying to stop him. It does have glimpses of Megamind and just lacks the magic of the original Lego movie.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/FamilyThe action is large scale battles between the Lego figure which is simple and works for each location our characters find themselves on this adventure to save their world. the comedy is basic at best which disappoints through the film and it wouldn’t be appealing to the whole family, with the younger audience getting much more than the older out of this.

SettingsThe film puts us in another Lego setting with the outskirts being any location we have seen in most Asian cinema of forests of the unknown perils.

AnimationThe animation is good for the most part, though it does struggle the mix the animation between the real life cat involved in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The true purpose of life discovery.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The cat reminds me too much of the South Park guinea pig episode.

Final ThoughtsThis is one that the kids could enjoy easily even though it doesn’t come close to the levels of the Lego Movie.

 

Overall: Kids will be entertained.

Rating

 

 

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Russo (Screenplay) Fran Striker, George W Trendle (Characters)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale

 

Plot: Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.


Tagline –  Never Take Off the Mask

Runtime: 2 Hours 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun, But Long

 

Story: The Lone Ranger starts with Tonto (Depp) telling the story of how he met the Lone Ranger John Reid (Hammer) the district attorney of Texas, we see how Butch Cavendish (Fichtner) killed John only for Tonto to bring him back from the dead to get their vengeance on the outlaws.

The journey takes the two men across the wild west to expose the truth behind everything that has been going on between the outlaws and the native Americans.

 

Thoughts on The Lone Ranger

 

Characters – John Reid is a district attorney in Texas, living in the shadow of his brother, but this time he gets to go on an adventure with his brother only to be murdered and bought back to life by Tonto. He must work with Tonto to get the people behind his brother’s death. Tonto is the native American that shows John the way as his own past makes him the colourful character that does things in his own direction. Butch Cavendish is the villainous outlaw not afraid to kill anyone who gets in the way of what he desires.

PerformancesArmie Hammer in this leading role is good through the film, he must play the straight-laced character and pulls this off. Johnny Depp is going on one of his stranger character missions again here and at times is fine, but at others gets annoying. William Fichtner as a villain is something we always want to see.

StoryThe story follows the origin of The Lone Ranger and Tonto as they faced their first enemy together in the wild west. The story plays out nicely just how you would imagine any Disney related material to, as an unlikely hero is born, even if it does follow elements of the Pirates beginning. This does have an adventure across the west feel which is nice to see and the twists and turns do seem to be easy to see unfolding, with a villain that knows the danger the two heroes pose to him.

Action/Adventure/WesternThe action sequences do come off feeling like the highlight of the movie, with an amazing opening train sequence. The adventure side of the film is written all over the idea of going across the wild west to stop the villainous characters. The western feel comes through strong too, while not the most serious we do see both sides of the law.

SettingsThe settings take us all over the wild west fitting into nearly ever typical location we know about.

Special EffectsThe effects are good too in the film while only being used to cover up certain moments of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Ladder trick.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is a lot of fun even if it is too long in places, the cast do a good job and this one will be a film that you can switch off and enjoy.

 

Overall: Enjoyable action adventure.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – L – Live by Night (2016)

Director: Ben Affleck

Writer: Ben Affleck (Screenplay) Dennis Lehane (Novel)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Remo Girone, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Chris Messina

 

Plot: A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.


Tagline – The American Dream has a price

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Long & Complex

 

Story: Live by Night starts as we meet Joe Coughlin (Affleck) a former soldier in World War I, who returned to Boston to live the life of crime as an outlaw. When Joe gets blackmailed into killing his boss or risk having his boss learn about his secret affair with his girlfriend Emma (Miller) he finds himself in the middle of a battle he didn’t want a part of.

After the secret is revelled Joe is left for dead blamed for killing cops, after 3 years in jail he gets sent to Florida to track down Albert White, to stop his business and kill him for the new gangster running things in Boston.

With his being a success Joe ends up clashing with the Klux Klan while trying to continue to watch the money roll in to his bosses and even himself.

 

Thoughts on Live by Night

 

Characters – Joe Coughlin is our narrator our gangster, well reluctant gangster, forced into the world after his life as an outlaw gets him mixed up with the wrong people. We learn he is fantastic at handling himself in the meeting striking a deal and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The other characters seem to just be in chapters of his life, Emma is in Boston being a love interest, while Graciela business partner and lover in Florida. Chief Figgis is the man that will let Joe conduct business and to be honest we don’t get to learn enough about them to care about.

PerformancesBen Affleck is the only lead performer in this movie, he is fine through the film, he doesn’t reach the levels we know he can. When you dive into the supporting cast we get a host of known names and even unknowns who get the same amount of time that are solid without anyone standing out.

StoryThe story follows Joe Coughlin as he starts out as a thief and becomes a gangster, this should work and I would have been fine with this, the problems build up as we see how many different situations Joe must solve to get the next chapter of the story through, because we don’t get enough time to see the problems he must overcome and everything just becomes glimpses into the gangster life without doing anything new.

Action/CrimeWe have plenty of shooting going on, though the final one does feel like a level of Grand Theft Auto. This does from us into a gangster heavy crime world where the prohibition is ongoing through America.

SettingsThe settings place us in the prohibition era America, be it Boston or Florida nothing does seem out of place with these locations.


Scene of the Movie –
Final shoot-out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not giving us the time to know the supporting characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a messy gangster film, it has the moments of potential but in the end just jumps too fast to grab us to care about certain moments which do seem to have a bigger impact on the story.

 

Overall: Disappointing, ending Affleck’s streak behind the camera.

Rating