ABC Film Challenge – 80’s Movies – P – Pale Rider (1985) Movie Review

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack (Screenplay)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress, Chris Penn, Richard Dysart, Sydney Penny, Richard Kiel

Plot: A mysterious preacher (Clint Eastwood) protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land.

Tagline – .. and hell followed with him.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Gritty Western

Story: Pale Rider starts as we see how Hull Barret (Moriarty) is leading a prospector village that is getting terrorised by the LaHood mining company, owner Coy (Dysart) and his son Josh (Penn) are trying to run them off the land with the raids. Hull who is starting to mount up the debts finds himself being protected by a mysterious Preacher (Eastwood) who gives the village more hope than ever.

The Preacher proves that the men could fight back giving the village a reason to fight, but without him around the LaHood’s look to take advantage of the situation.

Thoughts on Pale Rider

Characters – The Preacher witnesses the attack on Hull, he shows how to win a fight in non-lethal combat, he stays with Hull’s family showing the whole village that they could have somebody to protect them, he doesn’t want any part of a war, just to support a hard-working village. Hull is the one member of the village everybody looks up to, he will continue to go against anything that the LaHood’s want and has been trying to keep the village together. Sarah is the woman Hull lives with, she has seen her husband pass away and wants the best for her daughter, even if that might end up being Hull, she only ever puts her daughter’s safety out first. Josh LaHood is the son of the owner of the mining company running the operations, he will use the dirty tactics to try and push Hull and his people out.

PerformancesClint Eastwood plays into his strengths through the film, not giving himself too many lines and playing the mysterious figure that has a past. Michael Moriarty and Carrie Snodgress bring the more serious longer sequences as the characters who seem to have more to lose if things don’t come out in their favour. Chris Penn does make his villainous figure stand out as somebody truly evil not just greedy.

StoryThe story here follows a prospector village that is being raided by a mining company that find an unlikely savoir in a mysterious preacher that brings them hope to defeat the rich company who is trying to push them out. The story does play out like nearly every western you have seen, a dangerous gang trying to use the numbers to put a small group under pressure before a stranger comes to their rescue. The pace plays out like normal to with the small incident slowly gathering steam before the two sides come to a full blown war towards each other. It might not be original, but it does the basics right with each moment feeling like it does make a big impact on the characters involved.

WesternThe western side of the film shows us just how the themes are being used to show what happens to the characters, with the sets and the story.

SettingsThe film does create the village you would expect to see for the time, the town and the backdrop looking beautiful through the film.

Scene of the Movie – Town showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Way too much time spent deciding whether a 14/15-year-old should love an adult.

Final Thoughts This is a gritty by the book western, it does everything right without being anything we haven’t seen before.

Overall: By the Book Western.

ABC Film Challenge – 80s Movies – H – Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) Movie Review

This is under H because of director John Hughes.

Director: John Hughes

Writer: John Hughes (Screenplay)

Starring: Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins, Michael McKean, Kevin Bacon, Dylan Baker

Plot: A man must struggle to travel home for Thanksgiving with a lovable oaf of a shower curtain ring salesman as his only companion.

Tagline – Pack in the Laughter! 

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Simple Road Trip Movie

Story: Planes, Trains & Automobiles starts when businessman Neal Page (Martin) who is trying to get home from New York for Thanksgiving, he first misses his taxi with Del Griffith (Candy) taking the cab, and his plane gets diverted to Wichita, where Neal must trust the help of Del to get home.

The unlikely pair clash, with Neal wanting to keep himself to himself, while Del is always wanting to chat, with connections all the way home, only things don’t always go to plan.

Thoughts on Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Characters – Neal is a successful businessman that has to get home for Thanksgiving from New York, he has it planned, but gets caught up in the middle of rush hour traffic, missing his plane home, where he sees his plane is diverted an dis left with mild-mannered happy go lucky Del. He constantly tries to ditch Del, but the two keep meeting and helping him along the journey. Del Griffith is a travelling salesman, he is always smiling through life, which rubs Neal the wrong way. The two constantly clash together. We do meet the colourful characters they meet along the way, who are played more for laughs than anything else.

PerformancesSteve Martin does work well as the stuck up businessman, while John Candy as the ever positive character gets to bounce of Martin well through the film.

StoryThe story here follows one man trying to get from New York to California in time for Thanksgiving, only everything goes wrong along the way and an unlikely friendship starts between him and a travelling salesman. This story does focus too heavily on Neal’s life and what he wants, which does play into his selfish nature, we get the idea that Thanksgiving will bring out the crazy in people who are trying to travelling across country and what it means to get there, while neglecting the big heart that we don’t see until the final act. We seem to focus on a situation for laughs, rather than furthering the story too, which just makes it an simple one to watch too.

ComedyThe comedy is hit or miss really, we have the occasional strong moment, while the rest seems to focus on forced laughs which don’t always come.

SettingsThe film is a road trip movie, so we do see our characters in plenty of different locations, which usually all including somewhere travel related.

Scene of the Movie – I want a car.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It doesn’t get the heart side of the film out enough.

Final Thoughts This is an easy to watch comedy that tries more for laughs than the heart it wants to push to front and centre.

Overall: Average Comedy.

Peninsula (2020) Movie Review

Director: Sang-ho Yeon

Writer: Sang-ho Yeon, Ryu Yong-Jae (Screenplay)

Starring: Dong-Won Gang, Jung-hyun Lee, Re Lee, Hae-Hyo Kwon, Min-Jae, Kim, Gyo-hwan Koo, Do-Yoon Kim

Plot: Peninsula takes place four years after the zombie outbreak in Train to Busan. The Korean peninsula is devastated and Jung Seok, a former soldier who has managed to escape overseas, is given a mission to go back and unexpectedly meets survivors.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Peninsula starts as the spread of the virus as become worldwide news, seeing any Korean turned away from any country, with the rest of the world managing to contain the problem. 4 years after the outbreak soldier Jung Seok (Gang) who managed to escape, only he is still filled with pain for what happened on his escape.

Jung Seok is recruited to head back to South Korea with a group of other survivors as they go in search of money, only for the team to come under attack by the remaining zombies and more surprisingly, survivors Jooni (Lee) and Yu Jin (Lee) from the first attacks.

Thoughts on Peninsula

Characters – Jung Seok is a soldier that was part of the rescue off the coasts of South Korea, he lost his family in the events, while ignore others, four years later he is hiding out in Hong Kong, when he is recruited to return to Korea for a job which will give him freedom, here he finds out there is more than just a simple heist going on, he needs to deal with survivors who have turned the land into their own playground. Min Jung is a woman Jung Seok didn’t help in the escape, she has raised her daughters in the world filled with zombies and human threats, trained them to defend themselves and stay alive, she wants them safe, which sees her team up with Jung to plan an escape for them. Jooni and Yu Jin are the daughters who get an explosive entrance as they bring us a completely over the top car chase around the abandoned streets and are open to a new life. When it comes to the human villains we get a group of thug like figures that wouldn’t look out of place in a Mad Max film, with what they are planning withing their kingdom.

PerformancesDong-Won Gang in the leading role does bring us an entertaining hero to watch look make amends for his errors, with Jung-hyun Lee being the strong fighting mother in the film, with Rel Lee and Ye-Won Lee being the entertaining kids that steal the action scenes. With most of the villainous roles being well over the top, being different enough from the first film.

StoryThe story here takes us back to the world where the zombie outbreak devastated Korea, with the rest of the world remaining virus free, a former soldier must return to capture his freedom with a heist only to find himself in a battle between a family trying to escape a land filled with an evil tyrant and his sick games. This is a sequel to one of the greatest zombie movies ever, with the only connection truly being the world we are in, none of the surviving characters return, which is a disappointment, and we lose the contained environment, which also made the first one feel so unique and special. Away from the flaws from the first one missing, we do enter into a completely new idea of a world, which does blend the Mad Max and Escape from New York environment, with a heist like story. We do have one big overrunning story of redemption involved here too, which does play heavily into characters decision making.

Action/HorrorThe action is bonkers, with massively over the top chase sequences which will see zombies flying everywhere, without having any physics involved with what is happened.

SettingsThe film does show us a post-apocalyptic world after a zombie outbreak, which will see the devastation of what has been happening in the world.

Special EffectsThe effects are the weakest part of the film, this is because none of the sequences look remotely real with the over the top look to them.

Scene of the Movie – The escape chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The effects don’t look great.

Final Thoughts This is a wildly over the top sequel that doesn’t reach the heights of the original, only for it to bring us a new vision to the zombie world that works well.

Project Power (2020) Netflix Movie Review

Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Writer: Mattson Tomlin (Screenplay)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Rodrigo Santoro, Courtney B Vance, Amy Landecker

Plot: When a pill that gives its users unpredictable superpowers for five minutes hits the streets of New Orleans, a teenage dealer and a local cop must team with an ex-soldier to take down the group responsible for its creation.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Plenty of Sparks

Story: Project Power starts as we learn about a new drug, one that gives you a new user an ability for five minutes, not all are good though, teenage dealer Robin (Fishback) is protected by cop Frank (Gordon-Levitt) who uses the drug to equal the odds on criminals, while Art (Foxx) is searching for the people who are selling the drug.

When the three cross paths, they learn they want the same thing, the end of the drug, they must work together in an attempt to bring down the designer before the drug becomes a worldwide problem.

Thoughts on Project Power

Characters – Art has arrived in New Orleans in search of people that took his daughter, the former military man will break down doors, shoot anyone who crosses him, but will give them all a fair chance to explain their involvement in the situation. He is wanted by people who are involved, dangerous in a fight, relentless in the hunt. Frank is a street-smart cop that uses the drug to fight back against other users, he isn’t afraid to go against the rules and is left to hunt down Art before learning the truth, he is also useless with a gun. Robin is the young teenage dealer that works with Frank, she supplies him, while he protects her. When it comes to the dealers, creators and middlemen, we are left with pretty flat characters here.

PerformancesJamie Foxx brings the toughness required for the role, with the determination shining through from him, Joseph Gordon-Levitt works well as the gritty cop that is more honest that most on the force. Newcomer Dominique Fishback is great addition to the leads in the film, she shows us the desire of a better future from a teenager.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage dealer, cop and a visitor to New Orleans who are caught up in the middle of a new drug that gives abilities for five minutes for the user, with a host of different consequences. We do get an original idea here that mixes the drug usage consumption with superhero abilities, showing how the fixes people want can come at a price. We do get the characters we would expect to see in the crime side of a film like this, only the villains are very flat, not given enough time to make a true impact on the film. We do spend a lot of the film waiting to see what powers could be unleashed, wanting to see side effects etc, with most being created well, we just could have seen some more bad effects.

Action/Sci-FiThe action comes from the fighting, which is a mix of good and bad, with certain moments coming off very well, while we get the typical over the top moments too. The sci-fi side of the film brings a fresh approach to a X-Men idea mixed with drug usage, showing the effects, which could easily be seen as the true side effects of the drug.

SettingsNew Orleans is the setting for this film, which is important for the bigger picture of the events, even if we don’t get any of the iconic locations for the events to unfold in.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are strong, we get moments when the transformations are happening, each one looks great and does enough to look fresh in the world where we have seen it too often.

Scene of the Movie – The sell meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Could have seen more from the villains.

Final Thoughts This is a nice original movie that breaths something new in the superhero idea, mixing it with the drug underworld, with a dash of The Purge to give us an entertaining ride.

Overall: Entertaining.

The Pool (2018) Shudder Movie Review

Director: Ping Lumpraploeng

Writer: Ping Lumpraploeng (Screenplay)

Starring: Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham

Plot: In an abandoned 6-meter deep pool, a couple is stranded there with a deadly predator.

Tagline – No water. No Ladder. No Way Out.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense

Story: The Pool starts as Day (Wongpuapan) is finishing off work on a film that is using the giant swimming pool, when he decides to relax while everyone heads off, little does he know that someone has started to flush the pool and before he notices, he finds himself too deep in the pool, with everyone else gone, he finds himself trapped in the pool.

Once the pool is drained, Day must care for his injured girlfriend Koi (Ratchiratham) who got inured diving in and he must deal with a hungry crocodile that is trapped with him, in a race to survive.

Thoughts on The Pool

Characters – Day is the slacker that finds himself stuck in the swimming pool, he has always not taken life too seriously, where he must try and figure out how to get out of the pool alive, save his girlfriend and escape from it add in a crocodile, he has everything to fight for. Koi is the girlfriend that gets injured, which needs protecting, she is kept in safety, while waiting for Day to take things more seriously.

PerformancesBoth actors are great with Theeradej Wongpuapan needing to get involved in the more physical side of everything in the film.

StoryThe story follows a couple that find themselves trapped in an empty swimming pool with no escape and a crocodile in a battle to survive. This story might well have been made before ‘Crawl’, but it does have such a similar feeling in the battle to survive. The story does keep everything super simple as it is just the survival against the odds. The plan to stay ahead does keep everything feeling intense and by the end of the film, you literally don’t know what will happen next.

Action/HorrorThe horror in the film comes from the crocodile attacking, showing how deadly it could be and how Day must try and stay ahead of the threat.

SettingsThe film is set in the swimming pool, it has no escape, the pipe system do offer a potential outcome, but with nowhere to go the battle against the crocodile.

Special EffectsThe effects are strong at times, but the crocodile never looks real during the proper attacks.

Scene of the Movie – The big battle against the crocodile.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain crocodile scenes seem too CGI heavy.

Final Thoughts This is an intense horror that truly keeps us on the edge of our seats during the incidents, being the one that people who liked Crawl, will love this.

Overall: Loved Crawl? Love This.