ABC Film Challenge – 80’s Movie – N – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Director: Jeremiah Chechik

Writer: John Hughes (Screenplay)

Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, John Randolph, Diane Ladd

 

Plot: The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.


Tagline – Yule crack up!

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True American Christmas Film

 

Story: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starts when Clark Griswold (Chase) has decided his family, Ellen (D’Angelo), Audrey (Lewis) and Rusty (Galecki) are going to host Christmas for the whole family this year, as per normal for Clark he goes through a series of mishaps as the family reacts to his action.

Clark will soon learn that hosting Christmas isn’t going to be as easy as he once thought as the series of unfortunate events seem to be piling up.

 

Thoughts on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

 

Characters – Clark is the ever-enthusiastic father, husband and son that wants to impress his family with his first Christmas as a complete family, this soon leads him to make a series of clumsy errors which only he could find himself in. Ellen is the ever-supportive wife of Clark that isn’t sure this will be a good idea, though she supports this decision through. Audrey and Rusty are the children that are seeing their father and his series of events, while we do get to see many of the family members through the year.

PerformancesChevy Chase was always the heart of the vacation movies, his performance shows a comic timing are perfect through the film, while the rest of the cast know how to let him get the most out of his moments.

StoryThe story follows the events of the Griswold’s as they look to celebrate their first Christmas in Clark’s household. This continues the idea of seeing the holidays that the family go on and how they go wrong, while teaching the lesson about supporting your family no matter how different they are, because family is what is important at the holiday time. This doesn’t do anything to that we don’t already know and we have seen many movies try to do this since and failed. This is the one that the Christmas time will call for seeing once a year, at Christmas.

ComedyThe comedy here shows us just how brilliant at timing Chevy Chase is, because nearly every laugh comes from him, we do also get the set-up laugh moments which pay off well through the film too.

SettingsThe film is set in the Gridwold household which shows us how everyone can come together for Christmas.


Scene of the Movie –
Squirrel chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The neighbours is almost pointless.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant America Christmas movie that can be enjoyed by the whole family for years to come.

 

Overall: True Christmas classic.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – N – The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017)

Director: Cal Brunker

Writer: Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker (Screenplay) Scott Bindley, Peter Lepeniotis (Characters)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Bobby Cannavale, Bobby Moynihan, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Jackie Chan, Katherine Heigl

 

Plot: Following the events of the first film, Surly and his friends must stop Oakton City’s mayor from destroying their home to make way for a dysfunctional amusement park.


Tagline – A nutty adventure for the whole family!

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Much Better Than it Should Be

 

Story: The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature starts as we return to Liberty Park, Surly however has bought the animals to the now abandoned nut store, turning them lazy to surviving. Andie the love interest of Surly is still trying to make the animals use their instincts to survive in the park.

When the nut shop explodes the animals must return to the park, only the Mayor has decided to turn the park into an amusement park, the animals must fight for the park.

 

Thoughts on The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

 

Characters – Surly is the free-thinking squirrel that the animals in the park look up to, he does want to keep life easy, but when the park is in danger he must show how willing he is to fight for it using his ability to lead. Andie wants to keep the animals in the park using instinct to survive, be the opposite to Surly and the love interest for him. Precious is back after the first film the dog that joined the park, she gets plenty of laughs. We do get plenty of animals that are used in the fight against the humans, each gets plenty of laughs, the humans are made to be villainous with some of the being close to the line of psychotic.

StoryThe story is very simple and we have seen this style before, it shows the animals needing to fight for their home which the humans want to destroy. We get plenty of slapstick comedy to help with the fights, while the human characters are made to be truly villainous in their actions, giving us complete support for the animals. There are moments in the story which are going too far, the daughter of the mayor being abusive to the dogs is one of them, while we are glad that the humans get what they deserve by the end of the film, it can’t be helped but to think this can be misleading to the younger audience. The story does feel like it is easy to watch than the first one and for animation it will be a fun hour and half.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThe action plays into the comedy nicely, with most being slapstick which works for animation and the references to more famous fighting or action sequences will get a laugh from the older audience members which helps the whole family enjoy this one.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the same city, we have the beautiful park which is getting destroyed, with have the city which is dangerous for the animals, this isn’t anything ground breaking for settings, but it is everything we need.

AnimationThe animation standard is as always great to see, we can’t fault the techniques used with nothing looking out of place in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Mr Feng’s backstory.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The daughter’s treatment of the dogs.

Final ThoughtsThis is a surprisingly entertaining sequel that I had zero expectations going in watching, it will get laughs and does keep the story nice and simple to follow.

 

Overall: Fun family film.

Rating

 

 

Nothing But the Blood (2020) Movie Review

Director: Daniel Tucker

Writer: Daniel Tucker (Screenplay)

Starring: Rachel Hudson, Jordan O’Neal, Nick Triola, Les Best, Vivian Glazier

Plot: A small-town journalist sent to cover the opening of a controversial church. As the ministry digs its roots into the town and its residents, her life takes an unexpected, violent turn that will shake her foundations to their very core.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Cult Like Nightmare

Story: Nothing But the Blood starts as journalist Jessica (Hudson) looks to investigate a controversial church, she meets the Father (Best) whose words show they behaviour isn’t going to be good for the neighbourhood and when she meets Thomas (O’Neal) he finds himself in trouble with the church.

When the couple decide to have a baby together without marriage, they become the target for hate, they start receiving threats with the church looking over them, waiting for their next move.

Thoughts on Nothing But the Blood

Characters – Jessica is a journalist that will look for stories that will make an impact, with this new cult like church being her latest target, she knows they will be dangerous even though she falls in love with one of the members who can see the problems within the church, she feels targeted, is determined and is looking over her shoulder about what the church could do to her next. Thomas was once part of the church, but starts noticing the problems within the church and falls in love with Jessica. Father is the one that controls his followers, he believes the religion is the most important in the world and if you don’t follow him, he will target them.

PerformancesRachel Hudson must go through a range of emotions through the film, each one she shines in. Jordan O’Neal as the former church member shows us an enlightened character, with the performers from within the church showing us just how controlled they can become.

StoryThe story here follows a journalist who is investigating a controversial church, where she gets caught up in the middle with a follower that is willing to leave for her and how the church seems to have their own ideas for them. This story does bring us the ideas of a cult like church who have their own minds on life issues, they will go against the other churches and if you go against them, they look at you as a threat, including people leaving them. How the story is told is very different because a lot of the story takes place over a larger period of time, showing the slow hassling of the new couple, where you always feel like something will become the catalyst to everything else that happens. There is a lot of tension built up in the story and things will go in shocking directions.

HorrorThe horror is more focused on what could be happening, fearing what the church is capable off, making our characters live their life with them needing to look over their shoulders.

SettingsThe film uses the community settings, this shows us how the church has created a fear within the people, how they look to control people and how their words can be followed with the local environment.


Scene of the Movie – Tables turned.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – There seems to be a slower side to the opening part of the film.

Final Thoughts This is a cult following movie that does everything we have seen in them before, with the biggest change being the length of time the characters are left haunted by what could be going on, with tension being the driving force in this one.

Overall: Tension Filled Horror.

The film hits VOD, blu-ray, and DVD nationwide on August 4th

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – N – Nobody’s Fool (2018) Movie Review

Director: Tyler Perry

Writer: Tyler Perry (Screenplay)

Starring: Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Mehcad Brooks, Amber Riley, Whoopi Goldberg, Missi Pyle

Plot: A woman is released from prison and reunites with her sister. She soon discovers that her sister is in an online relationship with a man who may not be what he seems.


Tagline – She Shows Up. Everything Blows Up.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Misses the Serious Side

Story: Nobody’s Fool starts as Danica (Sumpter) has been in the middle an internet relationship, working in advertisment with her partner Kalli (Riley), she gets news her sister Tanya (Haddish) is being released from prison with Danica needing to offer her a place to stay. Danica needs to help Tanya find a job which ends up being easier than expected with her local coffee shop giving her a role.

As the Tanya learns about Danica’s mysterious relationship, she wants to try and prove whether he is real or not, believing she is a catfish just wanting to take advantage of her.

Thoughts on Nobody’s Fool

Characters – Danica is a workaholic that works in advertisement getting a project she has been looking forward too, she has an internet boyfriend that hasn’t shown her his face before. She reluctantly takes in her sister after her prison time, which soon sees her life turned upside down when she learns that her boyfriend might not be who he is and sees her career spiral out of control. Tanya is the loudmouth sister who is fresh out of prison and starts to question everything in Danica’s life, from her relationship, the flirts with the coffee guy and how much time she spends working. Frank runs the coffee shop next door to Danica’s work, he always has her coffee ready with a rose because of his crush on her, he has rebuilt his life after his own errors and is willing accept his past will never change who he is now.

PerformancesTika Sumpter does well with her career driven character, she does show how being heartbroken can make you do strange things, though the character isn’t that nice at times. Tiffany Haddish brings all her energy to this role, it does get annoying at times if we are being honest. Omari Hardwick is the mysterious man with a past which he is trying to fix, he is the strongest of the performers through this film. Amber Riley does bring the more sensible supporting comedy to the film too.

StoryThe story here follows a businesswoman whose life gets turned upside down when her criminal sister gets released from prison and ends up pointing out a few things about her life, seeing her need to make some strange decisions to learn who she really is. This story does have aplenty of confusing elements involved in it, the biggest problems comes from just how Danica acts towards Frank who she believes is wrong for her just because he committed a crime in his past, she doesn’t want to let somebody start a new life, then we add in the mysterious internet boyfriend with he catfish angle, which tends to get forgotten for part of the film too. Tanya seems to be a character we are meant to be supporting the road to recovery, only for her to end up just being comic relief, while being too much to deal with. The message here is clear, to focus on the idea that we need to let people live their life before judging them on the mistakes of their past.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy comes heavily from Haddish, who goes over the top, while Amber Riley nails the comedy well through the film. The romance in the film follows Danica as she learns to notice what love really is, instead of just covering up the reality of her own break up.

SettingsThe film is set in the big city, it shows us just how fast life can move for somebody trying to be a success and find love.


Scene of the Movie – Kalli being a fun best friend.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Danica being too shallow and judgemental.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that seems to get the serious message lost at times, it does have a heart to everything going on, only for it to fall slightly flat when it comes to character decisions.

Overall: This is a comedy that just doesn’t get the point over enough.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – N – Natural City (2003) Movie Review

Director: Byung-chun Min

Writer: Byung-chun Min, Jae-rim Han (Screenplay)

Starring: Ji-tae Yu, Jae-un Lee, Rin Seo, Eun-pyo Jeong, Doo-hong Jung, Hyo-Seon Kim, Ju-hye Ko

Plot: In the year 2080, the world is connected by a massive computer network. Combiners have developed a process that allows them to merge the souls of human and machine/cyborg, wreaking havoc in a deeply divided society.


Tagline – The war has begun…

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Less Interesting Blade Runner

Story: Natural City starts in the year 2080, in a world where cyborgs are part of the world, taking the place of human bodies, containing their souls, R (Yu) is one of the military police that hunts down cyborgs that are out of control, with his latest mission seeing him disgraced by his boss as they hunt for the deadly Cyper (Jung).

R has been illegal collecting the AI chips from the cyborgs to sell on the black market, he sells the chip from Cyper to buy himself a cyborg called Ria (Seo) one without much time left in her system. R’s latest assignment is to track down Cyon (Lee) who is an unregistered living in the city, that could hold answers to the future.

Thoughts on Natural City

Characters – R is a military police officer that has been struggling to deal with the work of eliminating cyborgs, he has been working on making money on the side with a plan to rescue a cyborg from the life she is stuck in. he isn’t the strongest soldier, but he will do what it takes to fight for what is right. Cyon is the mysterious young woman that is the key to the battle going on, she is unregistered and is wanted by the police for her work on the streets. Ria is the aging cyborg that R wants to save, she only has days left which see her being taken, while still trying to find her purpose in the world before it is too late. Noma is the leader of the police unit that R is in, he clashes with his friend even if they do want the same thing at times.

PerformancesThe performance in the film are solid enough from the whole cast, nobody looks out of place, though we could have seen more from them if we are going to reach the next level.

StoryThe story here takes us into a future where cyborgs are used with a limited life span, when they go rogue the military police track them down and in this story they are trying to break out to become the main force in the world. This story was difficult to keep up with in places because we are watching something that does seem similar to Blade Runner, in nearly everything single way. We the that we have three different sides coming into a potential war doesn’t help because too many different people are trying to prove themselves as the hero of their own story.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in this film is big and does show a style which has been borrowed from other films, it has great moments which will become the highlight of the film. The sci-fi world that we enter is wonderful too, it shows the typical ideas that we have been led to believe too.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the different worlds being lived in, showing us the environments that both are coming from or aiming to.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the different developments of the cyborgs, we get to see just how they are created and destroyed.


Scene of the Movie – Cyborg escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too many similarities to Blade Runner.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting spin on the Blade Runner idea, with a deeper story going on without hitting the neo-noir tone.

Overall: Just another Blade Runner.