Christmas Holiday Weekend – The Night Before (2015)

Director: Jonathan Levine

Writer: Jonathan Levine, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Evan Goldberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Jillian bell, Lizzy Caplan, Helene Yorke, Michael Shannon


Plot: On Christmas eve, three lifelong friends spend the night in New York City looking for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Enjoyable Christmas Movie


Story: The Night Before starts as we learn why Ethan (Gordon-Levitt) lost his parents over Christmas in 2001, his two best friends Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie) spend every Christmas Eve together and getting drunk, but as time went by his friends started to move on with Chris becoming a sports star and Isaac starting his own family. With Ethan, still almost stuck in his slump with his life working as a Christmas Elf.

This year has been mutually agreed to be the last one they spend together and Ethan has finally got the ticket to the biggest Christmas Party in town, the one they have always been looking to attended but before that, the traditions need to be celebrated for the last time. How will this night turn out for the friends on what is meant to be their final adventure?


Thoughts on The Night Before


Characters/PerformanceEthan is a man that lost his family at Christmas, he asks only one thing and that is to spend it with his two best friends, he hasn’t been able to find his path in life while his friends have found success but he knows this is his last Christmas Eve with friends. Isaac is about to become a father which leaves him knowing that he won’t be able to party as often as he can so he gets the chance to party on the last time but can’t handle the trip. Chris is suddenly becoming the big sports star he dreamed off but he finds himself in the middle of making new friends or keeping the ones he loves like brothers.

Performance wise, Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job in the leading role playing a role he has made his own in comedy movies, Rogen is what you expect from him but his character is slightly questionable in places. Mackie shows that he can handle comedy on a regular level after Pain & Gain, he proves he can handle the supporting role.

StoryDeep down this story has a story of friendship and just how important it is over Christmas. We get to focus on moving forward in life remember never to forget the people who spent it with you, accepting responsibility for mistakes you have made and finding a way to be ready for parenthood. I think this does have plenty of Christmas message but sadly does get bogged down with the almost pointless drug based side story going on.

ComedyThe comedy does come thick and fast through the film even if certain parts of the film are based the drug usage going on through the characters.

SettingsThe film is set in New York city which shows the hustle and bustle of the town during the Christmas Eve events. It all works for everything going on through the story.

Final ThoughtsI did enjoy the deeper meaning behind this film as the part of the story Ethan goes through but I got slightly tired on the Rogen drug filled character.


Overall: This is a great Christmas film that is well worth a watch if you want something non-family based.





The Nut Job (2014)

nutDirector: Peter Lepeniotis

Writer: Peter Lepeniotis, Lorne Cameron, (Screenplay) Daniel Woo (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, Stephen Lang, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Dunham, Gabrial Iglesias, Sarah Gadon


Plot: An incorrigibly self-serving exiled squirrel finds himself helping his former park brethren raid a nut store to survive, that is also the front for a human gang’s bank robbery.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Bland Animated Film


Story: The Nut Job starts as we meet selfish squirrel Surly who lives in the park only ever looking after himself against the rest of the park run by Racoon. When the park animals work on trying to get food together for winter clash with Surly he finds himself exiled from the park while the rest of the animals have to find food for the winter. This is basically going to be A Bug’s Life I am guessing.

When Surly locates a nut shop he is ready for the winter but plucky squirrel Andie is assigned to help feed the park having to team up with ‘heroic’ squirrel Grayson. When the two different side meet they arrange to work together to save the park and see Surly redeem himself and move back into the park.

The Nut Job is a heist movie mixed together to feel like a poor attempt of copying A Bug’s Life where one disgraced member of a group that gets a chance to prove his worth to the rest by helping them get enough food for winter. This is really just lazy story telling that doesn’t have anything original and just has poor slapstick attempts at humour throughout. The voice talents are wasted and in the end this is something I don’t think even children should watch.


Overall: Just plain bad reaching the levels of awful.




Never Leave Alive (2017)

Director: Steven LaMorte

Writer: J Amanda Sabater (Screenplay)

Starring: John Hennigan, Michelle Taylor, Eric Etebari, Joseph Gatt, Alistair McKenzie, J Michael Evans


Plot: Rick Rainsford is trapped on a deserted island with his reluctant companion, Anna. While attempting to save another gravely injured survivor they find themselves hunted by Zaroff, a sociopathic ex-KGB Agent long with his partner Ivan. In spite of their differences Rick and Anna must work together to disarm Zaroff’s deadly traps, survive his assistant’s brutal attacks, and escape the island alive.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Fun Survival Adventure Film


Story: Never Leave Alive starts as we meet drink dependant celebrity hunter Rick Rainsford (Hennigan) who along with his team Thomas (McKenzie) are heading to an island for a photoshoot with new photography Anna (Taylor), but when the ship they on ends up sinking with Rick and Anna washing up on the island.

Once on the island Rick and Anna are aided by Ivan (Gatt) and Zaroff (Etebari) to Russian men living on the island, but they have a plan for Rick and Anna, to become the latest victims in their hunting game, giving them the task of getting across the island to a boat or be picked off by the sadistic hunter.


Thoughts on Never Leave Alive


Characters – Rick Rainsford is a famous hunter being the face of magazines and living the celebrity life style, but now he must use all his skills against another hunter who brings his prey to the island to claim himself as a master hunter. Rick is quick witted and a constant flirt that relies on booze to function. Anna is a photographer hired to take Rick’s photos on his latest shoot, but they don’t get on which is made clear, but she will have to rely on him to get them off the island alive. Zaroff is the Russian hunter that has bought countless numbers of animals to the island for his own hunting pleasure but not he wants to go against the best human hunters with Rick being his latest target. Ivan is the assistant to Zaroff that is conflicted through the film about the code the two had originally put together.

PerformancesJohn Hennigan is good in the leading role making for a good potential action star, while Michelle Taylor is strong as the female lead not just being a damsel in distress. Eric Etebari is a good enough villain, he does well as the hunter with a code.

StoryThe story follows the celebrity hunter needing to use his skills to survive a deadly game, which turns the tables on what he is used to doing himself. The idea that two Russians are using the island as their own hunting ground is good because we know there are the people out there with the twist being they are bored of animals and want to battle hunters. This is an easy to watch adventure movie without being overly violent.

AdventureThe adventure side of the film is a lot of fun, it does have a life and death element but doesn’t have disposable characters.

SettingsThe film is set on an island which is good because it keeps us knowing just how difficult the escape would be for our characters, but it doesn’t use the visuals it could do with the setting.

Special EffectsThe effects used are low budget and are clear CGI moments which does take away from moments of the film.

Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The bad CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun survival adventure movie, it uses the small cast to keep everything on edge, solid banter between the two and the restrained moments of action.


Overall: Good little adventure movie.




Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror Franchise – Night of the Living Dead (1968)

nightDirector: George A Romero

Writer: John A Russo, George A Romero (Screenplay)

Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon, Charles Craig, S William Hinzman


Plot: There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt the remain safe from these flesh eating monsters.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: True Classic


Story: Night of the Living Dead starts when Barbra (O’Dea) and Johnny visiting their father’s grave when a stranger attacks them biting Johnny leaving Barbra running for her own life. Finding shelter Barbra works with Ben (Jones) to make the house safe from the undead that seems to be searching for their latest victims.

As the night continues we find out there are more survivors in the house with Harry (Hardman), Helen (Eastman), Tom (Wayne), Judy (Ridley) and Karen (Schon) which leads to both sides having to make the big decisions about whether they will make it through the night alive.

Night of the Living Dead is one of the most famous zombie movies in the history of film, it is also the start of one of the most well developed series of films that has evolved to keep up with the trends in horror. This one took risks with the low budget at for the time casting a well-spoken black lead actor. While that doesn’t look like anything that big now at the time Hollywood was still behind equality and this film didn’t care about that because the film is about the living needing to survive the dead. We also see the shocking moments happening through the film and with the brilliant use of music to amp the atmosphere within each and every scene this really is one of the all-time classics of the horror genre.


Overall: This is one of the greatest zombie movies ever made, one that built a franchise and gave us a new breed of horror creature.




Near Dark (1987)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writer: Kathryn Bigelow, Eric Red (Screenplay)

Starring: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Tim Thomerson


Plot: A small-town farmer’s son reluctantly joins a traveling group of vampires after he is turned by a beautiful drifter.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Underrated Vampire Film


Story: Near Dark starts as young country man Caleb (Pasdar) meets a beautiful woman Mae (Wright) one night and after spending the night seeing different locations Mae leaves Caleb with a strong hicky.

What Caleb discovers is that Mae is in fact a vampire and she has turned him into on too, joining her group of vampires including Jesse (Henriksen), Severen (Paxton), Diamondback (Goldstein) and Homer (Miller) he finds himself drawn into a world of crime while his family worry about him.

As the group travels around America at night Caleb needs to prove his worth to the group and learn to kill but when he doesn’t he must fight to survive against the vampire while learning the cure for this new disease.


Thoughts on Near Dark


Characters/PerformanceCaleb is just an everyday small town American young man who spends his nights looking to meet women and this time he meets a woman that will change his life, one that will turn him into a vampire as he must learn to adjust to this new life. Mae is the woman that attracts Caleb who does want out of this life or at least have someone else by her side. Jesse controls the group keeping them all in order not wanting to carry any dead weight. Severen is the character you will remember most because he is over the top and enjoys the kills.

Performance wise, Adrian Pasdar is fine but you can see he isn’t going to make it as a charismatic leading actor, Jenny Wright is also fine but doesn’t pull us into the whole stunning beautiful leading lay, with Lance Henriksen doing what you all know he can, be a good villain. Bill Paxton is the star of the show as we do remember nearly everything he does through the film.

StoryThe story follows one man as he is turned into a vampire as he needs to learn to kill to survive while on the run with a villainous group of vampires. This takes a new approach the vampire genre showing the family feel to a group, a new look at the transformation and even introducing the idea of a full cure. I like this and believe it is fresh feeling to the vampire genre.

Action/Crime/HorrorThe action is very simple and what we have come to expect, with the crime side of the story being how the vampires hunt feels very criminal in style with the horror being with what happens to the vampires meet sunlight.

SettingsThe settings make this feel like a western in places as the group travel from town to town hunting.

Special EffectsThe effects are all practical and they all look great when it comes to how the vampires are being affected by the sunlight.

Final ThoughtsThis may well not be the first film that comes to mind when you think vampires but when you look at the greats this doesn’t come too far off being on their level.


Overall: Enjoyable, gritty and dark vampire thriller.