ABC Film Challenge – 80s Movie – M – The Money Pit (1986)

Director: Richard Benjamin

Writer: David Giler (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Shelley Long, Alexander Godunov, Maureen Stapleton, Joe Mantegna, Philip Bosco, Josh Mostel

 

Plot: A young couple struggles to repair a hopelessly dilapidated house.


Tagline – For everyone who’s ever been deeply in Love or deeply in debt.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Comedy

 

Story: The Money Pit starts Walter (Hanks) and Anna (Long) lose their apartment in New York City, they must scramble around looking for somewhere to stay and they come across a million-dollar house for a fifth of the price, they simply must jump at the chance.

They move into the house only to learn about the numerous problems the house has and must work on fixing it using up the remaining funds they have.

 

Thoughts on The Money Pit

 

Characters – Walter Fielding has been living in his father’s debt for years and he wants to settle down in a house over an apartment with his girlfriend. When the house becomes a dream, he jumps at the chance only to learn he is now living a nightmare. Anna Crowley is the girlfriend of Walter that has been living in her ex-husband’s apartment, she loves Walter but isn’t ready to get married, she supports Walter in his dream house and doesn’t care about the money troubles they will be facing. Max Beissart is the ex-husband that is an arrogant composer that believes he is the best, he does want Anna back and will try anything to do so.

PerformancesTom Hanks was in the middle of his comedy run here and it shows because he is great with his comic timing, something we don’t see enough in his newer films. Shelley Long works very well as the girlfriend which showed how her fame had risen with Cheers behind her. The rest of the film has good performances with the cast knowing where they can hit it off with comedy.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that must move out of their apartment and the only place they can afford in a massive house outside of the city. The house looks like a dream home, but soon turns into a nightmare and a money pit, needing repairs in every single part of the home. This is the basics of the story, we do have a small subplot surrounding Anna and her ex-husband who is trying to win her back, otherwise this is just about how the house is destroying the life and relationship of the couple.

ComedyThe comedy comes from all the events the couple must go through with making the house work, the best parts come from all the mishaps they have which does play more towards the slapstick.

SettingsThe film spends most of the in the new house, this is where the best moments happen, the comedy, when we are away from the house we get to go through the normal New York locations.


Scene of the Movie –
Bath Tub.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The subplot gets in the way of the comedy.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the comedies that showed us all just how capable Tom Hanks was going to be. The comedy hits well and even though we have a small subplot that takes away from the film.

 

Overall: Good comedy that still stands the test of time.

Rating

 

 

Mulan (2020) Movie Review

Director: Niki Caro

Writer: Rich Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, Lauren Hynek (Screenplay)

Starring: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li Gong, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Tzi Ma

Plot: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father. A live-action feature film based on Disney’s ‘Mulan.’


Tagline – Loyal, Brave, True.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Mulan starts as Bori Khan (Lee) looks to start a new war on the Emperor (Li), which sees the Emperor demand one male from every family to come forward and fight for China. Mulan (Liu) the eldest daughter of Zhou (Ma) disguises herself as a male soldier to represent her family in battle.

Mulan joins the forces under Commander Tung (Yen) who looks to bring out the best in her abilities, the abilities which could well be the difference in the war.

 

Thoughts on Mulan

Characters – Mulan grew up with a sense of adventure, she never wanted to follow the traditions of village, she wanted to become a warrior like her father, being a woman meant she wasn’t allowed to enter this world, but when it came to her family needing to send a male to war, she pretends to be a man to fight for the honour of her family, for her country, proving to be one of the deadliest warriors in the war. Commander Tung is assigned to lead the honour of China’s imperial army putting together the troops, following the rules of creating the fiercest male soldiers. Xianniang is the witch fighting against the Emperor, she sees the power in Mulan and wants to help her become the warrior she was destine to become, even if it meant they would fight on opposite sides of the battle. The Emperor is the leader of China, he needs to put together an army to protect the people from a vengeful threat. Bori Khan saw his father killed in the hands the Emperor, now he has built an army to take control of China at any price, bringing together other fallen soldiers to make his army feared and dangerous, with a witch leading their moves.

PerformancesYifei Liu in the leading role is great to watch, the handling of the conflict scenes, the undercover scenes and fighting against outdated traditions comes strong from her performance. Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee and Tzi Ma bring the male leads to life with their own style you would have come to expect to see in them. Li Gong brings us the colourful witch who wanted change to life.

StoryThe story here follows a young Chinese woman Mulan that defies the rules of her homeland to become a warrior that will look to fight for the dynasty to save the Emperor. This is a remake that does bring the animated favourite to life, losing a lot of the fantasy elements, focusing on the Mulan, a woman looking to defy the traditions to defend her homeland and family honour. This does show that traditions can be broken to make something big happen in life, break traditions to start new ones. While this does show the change happening, it still comes off very safe, with the villainous character not looking like a truly terrifying figure, not showing enough of what they are trying to fight for in their battles.

Action/AdventureThe action scenes are big, while they do have a couple of strange camera angles, while the massive battle scenes don’t bring anything new to the game.

SettingsThe film looks visually beautiful landscapes for the scenes, with discovery location that Mulan visits to be alone being a place of true beauty.


Scene of the Movie – Avalanche attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Bori Khan doesn’t feel like the threat he is implied to be.

Final Thoughts This is a beautiful Disney Live Action Remake that brings to life the characters in a way that feel most natural from the animated one.

The Mexican (2001)

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: J.H. Wyman (Screenplay)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, J.K. Simmons, Bob Balaban, Sherman Augustus, Michael Cerveris, Gene Hackman

 

Plot: A man tries to transport an ancient gun called The Mexican, believed to carry a curse, back across the border, while his girlfriend pressures him to give up his criminal ways.


Tagline – love with the safety off

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Adventure Film

 

Story: The Mexican starts when small time crook Jerry (Pitt) is forced to head to Mexico to collect a gun for mob boss Bernie Nayman (Balaban), only this mission goes wrong when he loses the gun and is let stranded in Mexico trying to locate it.

With the bosses not happy that he has failed they send Winston Baldry (Gandolfini) kidnap his ex-girlfriend Samantha (Roberts) to locate him and the missing gun known as the Mexican.

 

Thoughts on The Mexican

 

Characters – Jerry is a small-time crook that has been in the debt of crime boss for years, with his latest and seemingly last chance sees him travelling to Mexico to locate a famous pistol. He has a short attention span which has gotten him trouble before and this is no different, he needs to clean up his own mess before finding himself wanted by the crime bosses. Samantha is Jerry’s ex-girlfriend that gets forced in work with a hitman to locate Jerry against her wishes, she just wants a normal life instead of being part of the crime world. Winston is the hitman that forces Samantha to help him locate Jerry, while learning to expression his own feelings. Arnold Margolese is the man that has been left in jail thanks to Jerry’s sloppy mistakes, he is making Jerry make up the time he is lost.

PerformancesBrad Pitt does bring us a wonderful comic character that plays into the cool persona that he had at the time, Brad mixes both the styles together to make his performance standout. Julia Roberts showed that she was a powerhouse in film during the 2000s, she brings everything to this performance to make her a supportive character. James Gandolfini brings us a twist on the hitman role which is against everything we have seen him play before. Gene Hackman might only have a smaller role, but he makes the most of his screen time.

StoryThe story here follows a clumsy crook who is sent to Mexico in search for a gun for his boss, the gun has a history which many different people want, which drags his girlfriend into the mix as they get caught up in a bigger chase for the gun, letting the two put aside their differences and finding out how they really feel about each other. This story is one that has plenty of twists and turns along the way, like any interesting crime adventure film, we see how Jerry always manages to get himself into more trouble no matter what and how Samantha is always going to be the one that puts him back on the right path. We have a lot of details that are added to create the characters which keeps the film flowing with more information as each scene unfolds.

Adventure/Comedy/CrimeThe adventure side of this film takes Jerry to Mexico where he never feels comfortable or look like he should be there, the crime world shows us just how man people would be after the legendary weapon that the bumbling criminal is set to get. The comedy in the film comes from the actions of Jerry which always make him look out of place.

SettingsThe film shows us how the shady looking street around Mexico which shows just how out of place Jerry looks.


Scene of the Movie –
Leroy changes a tyre.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It could sometimes have too many different subplots going on within the world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun adventure that shows just how entertaining a crime comedy can be with its multiple different branches.

 

Overall: Fun filled adventure.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – M – Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017)

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Writer: Riko Sakaguchi, Hiromasa Yonebayashi (Screenplay) Mary Stewart (Novel)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Hana Suhisaki, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Yuki Amami, Fumiyo Kohinata, Hikari Mitshushima, Jiro Sato

 

Plot: Based on “The Little Broomstick” by Mary Stewart, a strange flower grants a girl magic powers.


Tagline – The magic returns.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical Family Film

 

Story: Mary and the Witch’s Flower starts as Mary moves to live with her Great0Aunt Charlotte outside of a forest, Mary being interested in learning more after being told she can’t help around the house, head into the forest to follow two cats, which lead her to some mystical flowers, left from an incident with a witch in the past.

The flower takes Mary to the witching school run by Madam Mumblechook who shows her around school including meeting the genius Doctor Dee. Mary will learn that Madam Mumblechook is trying to locate the flower which will give her the greatest power in the witching community, with only Mary being able to learn the power to fight back.

 

Thoughts on Mary and the Witch’s Flower

 

Characters – Mary is a clumsy young girl that is getting used to living in a new village waiting for her parents to arrive, she just wants to stay busy, which sees her heading into the forest finding the secrets of a witch, which will put her to battle against an evil mistress that wants to flowers that grant power to witches. She must learn her place in the world and who is worth saving with her new power. Peter is a young boy from the village that wants to be friends, only to find himself being used as a hostage from the evil Mumblechook. Madam Mumblechook runs the school, which is for witches from across the world, she is looking for ultimate power and is waiting for the return of the mysterious flower with that extra power. Doctor Dee is using the science in the world to mix with magic to gain the new power that is being searched for by Mumnlechook.

StoryThe story follows a young girl that finds herself transported to a world of witches, which ill give her new powers that she must learn to control to stop an evil force from trying to use the power to take over the witching world. this is adapted from a Mary Stewart book, which does give it a western feel with an Eastern style which does show how the storytelling can be combined to make an enjoyable story of learning about extra power in the world. when it comes to the witching side of the story everything is easy to follow and never feels like the threat is as big as it could be, which is a shame, but it is family friendly which is unlike the usual for a Japanese animated styled movie.

Adventure/FantasyThe adventure does take Mary to a new world, one she never thought she could visit, one with witches and spells which turn unwanted visited into creatures, this fantasy side of the film plays perfectly into the adventure side of the film with witches and spells happening throughout.

SettingsThe film uses a couple of main settings, the first is the new country home that Mary is living in, one that she isn’t used to, while the other world in the fantasy witching world.

AnimationThe animation being used in the film does have the look which does make it feel slightly older in style, rather than being on the level of the modern day animations that we are used to seeing.


Scene of the Movie –
Reverse the spell.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The threat doesn’t feel that big.

Final ThoughtsThis is an entertaining animation with plenty going on within the story, it is one that can be enjoyed by all.

 

Overall: Animation that puts a spell on you.

Rating

 

 

Monstrous (2020) Movie Review

Director: Bruce Wemple

Writer: Anna Shields (Screenplay)

Starring: Anna Shields, Rachel Finninger, Grant Schumacher, Hannah McKechnie, Catharine Daddario

Plot: A young woman goes searching for answers after her friend mysteriously vanishes in Whitehall, NY, an Adirondack town known for its Bigfoot sightings. She quickly learns that hiding in the woods is an evil more sinister than she could ever imagine.

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Spins the Bigfoot Myth on it’s Head

Story: Monstrous starts as we learn about the small town of Whitehall, a location that has declared Bigfoot the town’s animal, which has also seen a string of disappearances of young women, with people searching for answer behind the mystery.

When Sylvia (Shields) and Jamie (Schumacher) are searching for their friend, they make a connection with Alex (Finninger) they look to head to Whitehall, knowing Alex knows something about mysterious disappearances in the area, as they look to solve the mystery.

Thoughts on Monstrous

Characters – Sylvia has lost a friend in the bigfoot area, she has always wondered what happened, with her best friend Jamie helping her with the investigation, she agrees to go on a road trip to the area in search of answers, while looking to tackle her own demons from the past. Alex is the mysterious person found on the internet who is looking for a ride back to Whitehall, while the friends think she is will a guy, Sylvia is relived to see it being a woman and goes on the journey with her back to her home. She expects honesty knowing she is taking just as big of a risk travelling with a stranger across the country, but the two connect. Jamie is Sylvia’s friend that has done more research on the disappearances, connecting them to bigfoot in the area, arrange the meeting between the two, but bails last minute.

PerformancesAnna Shields does give us a strong leading character, she brings the vulnerable side of the personal demons, while the reluctant curiosity required to learn the truth. Rachel Finninger brings us a confident performance that shows the freedom of her character, while being in control of each interaction between the characters. The rest of the cast don’t get as many scenes to shine, while filling the supporting roles well.

StoryThe story here follows a woman that joins a stranger on a cross country journey to investigate a string of disappearances surrounding the mystery of bigfoot. Here we have another look into a bigfoot story, we know the mystery about bigfoot, so we need to learn something around it, which is where we go with the disappearances that could involve it. We do get a slow moving road trip movie, that follows the two strangers learning about each other, while everything do get turned on its head with what we are expecting.

HorrorThe horror does come from different moments of injury, with the bigfoot presences looking the most menacing we have seen in a long time.

SettingsBeing a road trip movie, we do see our characters travelling a lot, until we get to the cabin in the bigfoot area, we get the isolated away from the world feeling required for extra horror.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well, we see a lot more of the aftermath of injuries, which all look brutal along the way.


Scene of the Movie – The first look at Bigfoot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The road trip side isn’t as engaging as the cabin part of the film.

Final Thoughts This is a bigfoot film with a twist that does feel fresh, it doesn’t hold back on the violence and gives the bigfoot a strong image that continues to add the mystery about the creature.

Overall: Nice Bigfoot Twist.