Casey Affleck Weekend – Out of the Furnace (2013)

Director: Scott Cooper

Writer: Brad Ingelsby, Scott Cooper (Screenplay)

Starring: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard

 

Plot: When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn’t follow through fast enough, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Crime Thriller

 

Story: Out of the Furnace starts as we meet the key character in this depressive downbeat town, we have aggressive new criminal Harlan DeGroat (Harrelson), the current crime boss John Petty (Dafoe), hardworking Russell (Bale) and his brother soldier Rodney (Affleck), Russell girlfriend Lena (Saldana) and Chief Wesley (Whitaker).

Russell looks out for Rodney but when he is involved in a manslaughter case he finds himself in prison, while away Rodney finds himself working for Petty owing him money. Rodney desperate to make the money quick forces John into booking a fight in Harlan territory, to make a large pay day.

When Rodney finds himself in more trouble, he vanishes after the fight for Harlan, leaving a note to Russell about the change he is going to make with his life. When Russell isn’t happy with the speed, the police are taking finding his brother and Harlan he takes matters into his own hands risking his own newly acquired freedom.

 

Thoughts on Out of the Furnace

 

Characters/PerformanceRussell is the everyday man who always looks out for his brother, works hard to make a living and start a family but his life is turned upside when he is involved in an accident landing him in jail. He shows that he will do anything to protect his own family. Harlan is you typical crime boss who believes he is toughest around, deadly when needed to be. Rodney is the easily led astray young man who feels like he doesn’t get what he deserves after his time in Iraq turning to underground fighting. Wesley is the basic cop we don’t see enough from, Lena is the girlfriend that only shows what could have been with John being a nice criminal if that makes sense.

Performance wise Bale shines in the leading role with Affleck showing all of his acting skills in the supporting role. Harrelson is good and creepy but also seems to enjoy this role slightly too much. Looking deeper into the cast Whitaker, Saldana and Dafoe are all good but could be replaced by another actor.

StoryThe story shows how the bleak desperate people will turn to illegal actions to make money. We have elements of the criminal underworld which all comes through as we see how the fighting takes place and we see how one brother seeks answers on a one man mission. I liked how this was just a body building count for Russell, he goes straight to the source of the problems. This also does feel like many films we have seen before with the huge issue I had was not knowing how long he was in prison for.

Crime/ThrillerThe criminal underworld fight scenes are great with the whole idea that the criminals control the town, we are kept on edge as we wonder just how far Russell will go.

SettingsEach setting shows us just how much of a struggle most days are for these people, giving the criminal life the only escape they can get.

Special EffectsWe don’t have many here, most are just well drawn out fight sequences and well placed gun shots.

Final ThoughtsThis is a dark gritty crime thriller that is a good watch, it does have a couple of plot holes but otherwise good addition to the genre.

 

Overall: Crime thriller fans enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Open Water 3: Cage Dive (2017)

Director: Gerald Rascionato

Writer: Gerald Rascionato (Screenplay) Gerald Rascionato, Stephen Lister (Story)

Starring: Joel Hogan, Josh Potthoff, Megan Peta Hill, Pete Valley, Mark Fell

 

Plot: Three friends filming an audition tape for an extreme reality show, take part in shark cage diving, only to be left in great white infested waters, turning their recording into life and death.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sinks Like the Boat

 

Story: Open Water 3: Cage Dive starts as rescue attempts have been put in place after a cage diving boat was hit by a freak wave in shark infested water, three American tourists are still missing and their camera has been discovered, we look back through this video.

As we look back we meet Jeff (Hogan) his brother Josh (Potthoff) and Megan (Hill) who are auditing for an extreme reality show, where they must prove they can work as a team with the ultimate goal to go cage diving with great white sharks. When they make it to the cage dive the three are inside the cage when the freak wave hits and they go crashing into the open water needing to survive shark infested waters.

 

Thoughts on Open Water 3: Cage Dive

 

Characters – Josh and Jeff are brothers who both love their extreme sports, they seem to have a strong bond and even with Jeff having his girlfriend as part of the team we get the side story that Josh has a thing with her two. Megan is the girlfriend of Jeff that is part of the team and also enjoys the extreme sports, other than that we don’t learn too much about them until the disaster hits.

PerformanceThe performances from the three actors are just what you expect, they do come off believable with their chemistry without overacting any of the distress scenes.

StoryThree friends trapped or lost at sea after a freak accident record the moments, this is by the book found footage. The biggest problem here is the film is shot like a report of what happened and the camera was found, so it kind of implies the direction the film is going. Another big problem is that the film is called Cage Dive which makes you believe they will be trapped in a cage under or in the water, we also fall into the terrible decisions being made by three characters that believe they could be experts.

Horror/ThrillerTrapped in the water surrounded by sharks, well this should work but loses all the tension by pointing out just how the film is being shown like a documentary into what happened.

SettingsThey are in the ocean, not a shark cage this just ends up being another re-hash of the original Open Water.

Special EffectsThe wave is the only need for major special effects which looks good as do the shark moments which I imagine are CGI.

Scene of the Movie – The wave moment looks panic filled and true.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Why did Megan become the stupid crazy character who doesn’t understand calm in the second half of the film, the group are meant to be together throughout not like this.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that is sold incorrectly, the only cage dive moment is in the calm, other than that it is just another Open Water movie of small group needing to survive potential shark attacks. Even though I disliked 47 Meters Down it is far superior.

 

Overall: How many times do we need to see survivors in water almost being eaten by sharks?

Rating

 

 

Okja (2017)

Director: Joon-ho Bong

Writer: Joon-ho Bong (Screenplay)

Starring: Seo-Hyun Ahn, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins

 

Plot: Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal named Okja.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Adventure

 

Story: Okja starts in the year 2007 as Lucy Mirando (Swinton) and her company have created super pigs to help halt the starvation problem the world is facing, these pigs will be raised in different countries around the world too.

10 years later Mija (Ahn) lives with her creature Okja as they live a peaceful life in the countryside. Here we see how the two help each other out through the challenges of a small farming life. The peacefully life is about to change when zoologist Johnny Wilcox (Gyllenhaal) arrives declaring Okja the winner of the super pig contest, wanting to take her back to New York.

Mija leaves home in search of Okja after learning the truth about what the super pigs are being bred for. Mija locates Okja in Seoul where activists ALF led by Jay (Dano) help release her to cause chaos in Seoul. Mija finds herself going on a world adventure with Okja becoming the face of Mirando while ALF continue to look to expose Mirando for what they really are.

 

Thoughts on Okja

 

Characters/PerformanceMija has lived with Okja for the ten years but once Okja is taken to America she sets out on a mission to find her life long friend in an adventure that takes her around the world. This is a brilliantly created vision of innocence, determination and exploitered young girl. Lucy Mirando is the owner of the company that created Okja, this is a PR stunt to help improve the image of the genetic experiments going on within the company. She is a brilliant business mind that is just waiting for her company to come good again. Johnny Wilcox is the expert and face of Mirando who has been working on the project for ten years, but slowly going insane with questionable morals and drinking problems. Jay is the leader of the latest ALF project, his team has been working to release the Super Pigs and expose the Mirando cooperation.

Performance wise, Seo-Hyun Ahn is the latest star to come out of South Korea giving us a brilliant performance in the leading role. Tilda Swinton once again show just how talented to she is even in dual roles. Paul Dano continues to know how to make his character stand out in any film too. It is Jake Gyllenhaal that steals nearly every single scene here with his completely over the top delivery that will have you in stitches everything single scene.

StoryThe story shows us how evil cooperation are willing to create animals just for consumer reasons, we see how the friendship can create an adventure that goes across the globe but this isn’t just a PG adventure this is an adult one. There are plenty of warnings in the story too, mostly around the idea of how to treat animals and not take things for granted. We do have moments of laughter and tears too so be prepared on all accounts.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action side of the film is mostly about the chases to get the freedom that Mija and Okja desire so much with the adventure being the two leaving a small farm and travelling the world. The sci-fi side of everything shows us the warning about the potential food crisis in the future.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully as we see the beauty of the home farm and the big city where Mija is lost searching for her friend.

Special EffectsThe effects are great through the film as we do have the CGI Okja and other super pigs that just seem to blend into the worlds perfectly.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the films that is part warning, part friendship and part social commentary as we learn the problems the world will face and how they are thinking of solving them.

 

Overall: One of the must watches of 2017

Rating

 

 

The Outsiders (1983)

outsidersDirector: Francis Ford Coppola

Writer: Kathleen Rowell (Screenplay) S.E. Hinton (Novel)

Starring: C Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lower, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise

 

Plot: The rivalry between two gangs, the poor greasers and the rich Socs, only heats up when one gang member kills a member of the other.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Coming of Age Film

 

Story: The Outsiders starts as we meet the Greasers Ponyboy (Howell), his brothers Darrel (Swayze) and Sodapop (Lowe), as well as Dallas (Dillon) recently out of jail, the loose cannon of the gang, Johnny (Macchio), Two-bit (Estevez), Steve (Cruise) and Tim (Withrow) this teenage gang get chased around town.

The Greasers are the poor gang in town and have a rivalry against the Socs the rich gang, when Ponyboy and Johnny find themselves getting into trouble which leads them to turn to Dallas for the way to make this disappear. This leads to Ponyboy and Johnny going into hiding while the police, Greasers and Socs search for the boys responsible for murder.

 

Thoughts on The Outsiders

 

Characters/PerformancePonyboy is the youngest of three brothers within this gang, his future looks set to be within the gang not getting a chance to have a future away from this dead-end life his elder brothers have had to give up to raise him after their parents death. Johnny is the best friend within the gang of ponyboy, he has the similar problems in life but his is about not being loved by his parent’s. Dallas is the wild one of the film with the Curtis brothers Darrel and Sodapop both working very well to be the guardians of Ponyboy.

The performances here are all great with Howell, Dillon and Macchio getting the most screen time all giving showing they were big child actors but if you look deeper Swayze, Lowe, Estevez, Cruise and Lane all show they were going to be big name stars in the future.stars

StoryThe story follows one group of poor teenagers struggling in small town America, getting themselves in trouble and with no clear out of the cycle they have become a unit against the rest of the world. The story of their unity shines through the story and you could follow everything the youngster members of the gang can go through. This could easily be looked at as one of the more underrated coming of age movies from the 80s.

CrimeThe crime side of this story comes from the accidental murder of one side of the gangs and how what starts off with a bit of hate escalates into a full-blown battle between them.

SettingsSmall town America makes for great setting for this film as it shows just how these guys could easily be in any town when it comes to the difference they both have.genre

Final ThoughtsComing of age, young adult whichever you want to call them are all popular, but this one of the most underrated ones I have seen.

 

Overall: A must watch for all the coming of age fans out there.

Ratingrating

 

 

George Clooney Franchise Weekend – Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)

oceanDirector: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Brian Koppelman, David Levien (Screenplay) George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell (Characters)

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Elliott Gould, Eddie Jemison, Don Cheadle, Shaobo Qin, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Ellen Barkin, Andy Garcia

 

Plot: Danny Ocean rounds up the boys for a third heist, after casino owner Willy Bank double-crosses one of the original eleven, Reuben Tishkoff.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: My Favourite of the Series

 

Story: Ocean’s Thirteen starts as Danny (Clooney), Rusty (Pitt) and Linus (Damon) returning to Vegas after Reuben (Gould) gets screwed out of everything he had by ruthless casino owner Willy Bank (Pacino). Bringing the team Livingston (Jemison), Basher (Cheadle), Yen (Qin), Virgil (Affleck), Turk (Caan), Frank (Mac) and Saul (Reiner) back to Vegas to give Bank a chance to return the money to Reuben which he refuses.

6 Months later the team are back together looking to pull off a revenge job on the Grand Opening of the casino. With the team in place we get to see how this latest heist unfolds right back where it started, but just how do they pull it off?

 team

Thoughts on Ocean’s Thirteen

 

StoryWhen you see how where the characters have been and how they all came together in the first two films this story feels like the final completion on their jobs. With this story, we have the most personal revenge job as one of their own has been struck by the villainous casino owner, unlike Benedict who has been fair with his ruthlessness Bank takes things past the bounds of fairness. We do get to see role reversal with our characters which adds to the twits along the way. I personally find this the most enjoyable watch of all three of the films.

Crime/ThrillerThe heist side of this film is just as slick as the first film which is just what you want from this film. you are kept guessing to where the heist will go too.

Characters/PerformanceWe know the characters by know and they are all great once again, the inclusion of Willy Bank is good because he is ruthless compared to Benedict but in the negative the loss of Tess is questionable. The performances are all great as each star knows how to make the most of every single scene they are in.

SettingsI am delighted they moved this film back to Vegas because when these characters are looking to rob a casino you love seeing how everything unfolds.

Recommending ScaleI would be giving this the seal of approval and you can Bank on that.

Final ThoughtsThis is by far the most fun the series has and you can find yourself gripped to every scene enjoying the heist unfolding.

 

Overall: This is easily the most enjoyable of the series.

Rating

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