Passengers (2016)

passengerDirector: Morten Tyldum

Writer: Jon Spaihts (Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers

 

Plot: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Stunning

 

Story: Passengers starts with the Starship Avalon heading towards Homestead II with 5000 passengers and 258 crew members on board. When the ship goes through an asteroid field the ship shows its ability to repair itself in any damage is received. But then the reset process goes through Jim Preston (Pratt) is awoken from his sleep chamber.

Jim entering the preparation process soon discovers he is the only one to have been awoken 90 years early. Spending over a year alone with only an android Arthur (Sheen) to talk to Jim becomes obsessed with fellow passenger Aurora Lane (Lawrence) and wanting to wake her up and once he finally goes through with it he wants to keep that a secret while other odd malfunctions are going on through the ship.

When the romance between the two blossoms, the truth comes out building the tension between the only two living awake humans on the ship but soon the real reason why Jim was woken up when Gus Mancuso (Fishburne) a member of the crew wakes up.

 

Thoughts on Passengers

 

StoryThe story side of this of this film does bottle down to one man alone for 90s years and what would you do to keep yourself busy? We do also end up falling into the ship is damaged and needs fixing which has been done plenty of times. I did enjoy the story in places but much like Oblivion is does feel like a really long music video.

Romance/Sci-FiThe romance side of this story does have elements which do feel slightly creepy in places because could you fall in love with the person that destroys you future? The sci-fi side of this story does show a side to real world where humans would need to find a new planet to live on and this tackles the idea of going on that mission which I did like.

Characters/PerformanceJim is a good everyday person who finds himself alone for the journey giving us the ultimate question if you could wake someone up to be with you would you? Aurora is a strong minded character whose character arc I do feel is very clichéd and I feel not every decision she makes would be realistic. We only have two other characters with Arthur the android who feels like he has just been ripped out of The Shinning and Gus who is only included to fill in the gaps. There are no other characters involved enough to make a real impact.

Looking at the performances we get what you expect from Pratt and Lawrence without reaching the highest levels of their abilities. Sheen fast becomes the star of the show as you do want to see his character as often as possible, Fishburne is good for his role but I was left questioning just what was the point in Andy Garcia being he captain who doesn’t even have a line in the film.

SettingsThis film is set entirely on the spacecraft which helps with the character decisions Jim makes because what would you do if you were alone in space with nobody to talk to or spend time with what would you do. The setting also looks fantastic as you fully believe every inch of the ship.

Special EffectsThis is one of the most visually stunning movies you will see and this is achieved with all the special effects used to make this happen.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great visual watch but it does lack the real depth in the overall story.

 

Overall: Beautifully shot movie that falls short in the depth in character stories because it does feel like a live action version of Wall-E

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Presumed Innocent (1990)

posterDirector: Alan J Pakula

Writer: Frank Pierson, Alan J Pakula (Screenplay) Scott Turow (Novel)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Raul Julia, Bonnie Bedelia, Paul Winfield, Greta Scacchi, John pencer, Joe Grifasi

 

Plot: When a female D.A. is killed, the D.A. assigns his assistant to handle the investigation. Only problem is that he was having an affair with her. And the evidence reveals that he is the killer. So he suspects that the man who wants his boss’ job is trying to frame him. He turns to Sandy Stern a highly celebrated defense attorney to represent him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Courtroom Drama

 

Story: Presumed Innocent starts when Carolyn Polhemus (Scacchi) an assistant D.A. attorney is killed the D.A. Raymond Horgan (Dennehy) assigns chief deputy Rusty Sabich (Ford) to investigate a case that doesn’t make sense for the cases Carolyn takes part in.

When the case gets complicated it is her past with Rusty that doesn’t make the case easy for him to investigate as what seems like a rape case could turn out to be set to look like a rape case pointing the finger at one of the criminals she had put away.

When Rusty becomes the main suspect for the murder and must turns to his courtroom rival Alejandro ‘Sandy’ Stern (Julia) to take on the D.A. office who have all turned on Rusty using his previous affair as the main motive for the murder.

 

Thoughts on Presumed Innocent

 

Characters/PerformanceRusty is a very questionable character, he has had an affair which takes away any respect you could have for him even if he is a brilliant attorney, Sandy you can see as a brilliant attorney in his own right that goes out of his way to get the case in his direction which is good to see playing about what could be considered the disgraced attorney. Raymond the D.A. does feel like your typical political figure that abuses their power as often as they like.

Performance wise everything is good but not their best work no one does anything that stands out and by the end you don’t think this will be a memorable role for the iconic Harrison Ford or Raul Julia.preumed

StoryI am usually a fan of a good courtroom drama as they can pull us in until the final outcome of the crime. This story flows very slowly with a court cast that does feel like you could see solved with ease. I felt this story just doesn’t pull us in enough to care about the case mainly because our defendant isn’t painted to be the most respectable character in the first place so we just don’t care who if he is innocent or not.

Mystery/ThrillerWe get a mystery but we don’t get many suspects for the crime which disappoints the thrilling side as we don’t get a chance to figure out who could be behind the crime.

SettingsWe have the traditional courtroom settings that show us just how most of the suspects would have understood just how to cover up murders with ease.genre

Final ThoughtsThis just doesn’t capture us like the other courtroom dramas and then could have been a lot more intense.

 

Overall: A Courtroom drama that just doesn’t hit all the levels it could.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017)

Director: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg

Writer: Jeff Nathanson (Screenplay) Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert (Characters)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Orland Bloom, Keira Knightley

 

Plot: Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Better Than Expected

 

Story: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge starts as a young Henry Turner visiting and promising to break the curse on his father Will Turner (Bloom) against his father’s wishes because it means finding Jack Sparrow (Depp).

Move forward nine years and Henry (Thwaites) in part of the British Navy hunting down pirates in search of Jack Sparrow, when his ship heads into the Devil’s Triangle they find themselves attacked by the ghost Captain Salazar (Bardem), a man in search for Jack Sparrow who cursed his crew.

Finding himself locked up, Henry learns he is on the same island as Jack Sparrow and sets out on finding him as well as an astronomer Carina (Scodelario) who gets treated like a witch because of knowledge. The three team up with Jack’s crew to search for Poseidon’s Trident the one object that can break all curses in the ocean.

With Captain Salazar terrorising the ocean he joins the current ruler of the ocean Captain Barbossa (Rush) in the hunt for Jack as the pirates do battle to break the curses over the ocean.

 

Thoughts on Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

 

Characters/PerformanceCaptain Jack is back, but this time we get a mix of what we expect from the style of the character at times being fun and over times feeling like a parody of himself. Captain Salazar is a good additional villain to this franchise because he was once a man doing the right thing but now hunts the seas for any victim. Captain Barbossa does have the best story arc in this film as we see how he has become the wealthiest pirate at sea and always stays one step ahead of everyone else. Henry is good for this film because it brings us back into the original characters origins learning about Will Turner and now his son, even if the character feels just like a copy of his father, Carina is written to be a strong independent woman in the time of the film which she is but she does also turn into the normal damsel in distress when it comes to conflict moments.

Performance Wise, Johnny Depp does feel like he is doing what you expect but does have moments of parody. Javier Bardem is good and enjoys the villainous role. Rush continues to be good without excelling, Brenton and Kaya are good addition but they do feel like they were just creating a new version of Bloom of Knightley.

StoryOne of the strongest points of any pirates movie is being able to tell us a continuing story, Black Pearl entered us into this world very nicely and the next two chapters continued the story along building on the characters legacy, when it came to Stranger Tides things went off the rails and the film came off boring. This story brings us back to the original arcs and continues to build on them like we enjoy seeing. This isn’t the overall best but it certainly isn’t the worst of the Pirates films and if you enjoyed the stories in the first couple you will enjoy this one.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is all fun, we get a couple of rip off ideas from bigger action franchises, most notable the bank heist, the sword fighting is fine but does become inconstant by the end of the film as ghosts can’t have sword fights. the adventure is the highlight here because this time you do feel like you are back where you want to be. The fantasy side of the film continues on nicely as we dive into the myths of the ocean.

SettingsEach setting looks perfect for a pirates film as we can continue to enjoy the visual experience of a pirates movie.

Special EffectsThe special effects are good, I did like how the deliberate slow flow of Salazar’s hair almost becomes a characteristic of its own too.

Final ThoughtsSure this film will get slammed but it doesn’t need to be, if you just go in look for some fun you will find yourself enjoying this one enough.

 

Overall: Sit back, switch your brain of and enjoy.

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Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Prowl (2010)

 

prowlDirector: Patrick Syversen

Writer: Tim Tori (Screenplay)

Starring: Courtney Hope, Ruta Gedmintas, Josh Bowman, Perdita Weeks, Jamie Blackley, Saxon Trainor, Bruce Payne

 

Plot: Amber dreams of escaping her small town existence and persuades her friends to accompany her to find an apartment in the big city. When their transportation breaks down, she and her friends gratefully accept a ride in the back of a semi. But when the driver refuses to stop and they discover the cargo is hundreds of cartons of blood, they panic. Their panic turns to terror when the truck disgorges them into a dark, abandoned warehouse where blood-thirsty creatures learn to hunt human prey, which, the friends realize, is what they now are the human prey fighting to save their lives the realize they must work together but will they survive.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Little Horror

 

Story: Prowl starts with Amber (Hope) looking for a new start but having to spend time with the friends she is leaving Susie (Gedmintas), Peter (Bowman), Fiona (Weeks), Ray (Blackley) and Eric (Hawes). The small town is getting to be too much for Amber who knows her future is going to be in the big city.

Needing a ride to get to the big city the six friends see this is a chance to go on a road trip but metres after leaving the town they breakdown but they get a lift with a truck driver showing that Amber could finally make it out of her town.

Well this is a horror film which means this road trip is never going to run smoothly as Amber, Susie, Peter, Fiona and Ray find themselves trapped in the back of the truck that is transporting blood and Eric, well he is dead. The friends find themselves lambs to the slaughter for blood thirsty creatures in a battle to survive, who will make it out alive?

Prowl is a horror thriller that follows the very basic needs for a horror, group of disposable teenagers, remote location, blood thirsty creatures and darkness. With all these checked off we off course have the strong leading character usually the female and this is no different who can suddenly become a survival expert.

Courtney Hope is good in the leading role with the rest of the cast being nothing more than glorified body count never getting enough time in the horror side of the story to show their characters in the crisis. The creatures seem to be a mix of infected and vampire keeping very human form with added abilities to make them deadlier predators. Having this set up like a training exercise for the creatures works because it opens everything up to a future threat from these creatures.

 

Overall: Blood filled horror that never stops once the creatures are unleashed.

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Jeffrey Dean Morgan Weekend – The Possession (2012)

possesDirector: Ole Bornedal

Writer: Juliet Snowden, Stiles White (Screenplay) Leslie Gornstein (Article)

Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, Madison Davenport, Matisyahu, Grant Snow

 

Plot: A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl’s father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Surprisingly Good

 

Story: The Possession starts as we see how the box has the power to make people possessed before we meet our main characters. We have recently divorced couple Clyde (Morgan) and Stephanie (Sedgwick) who are trying to keep their daughter’s Em (Calis) and Hannah (Davenport) happy through the difficult time.

After Clyde purchases a mysterious box his youngest daughter Em starts acting strange as the house seems to be getting infested with moths and she becomes very protective of the box. When Em’s behaviour gets worse we see just how the evil spirit is taking over and the possession is becoming deadly to all the people involved.

 

Thoughts on The Possession

 

StoryThis story is very loosely based on a real series of events in which an ancient cursed box caused nightmares and possession like symptoms in its owners. The story we get told is very simple for the possession genre of films with the youngest member getting taken over by the spirit and because of her parents’ divorce she is easier to target. The story does have good attempts at trying to balance the idea of a young girl acting out against the divorce but falls into the supernatural side of the story easily which tries to go with shock moments throughout. While this is one of the better modern day possession films it doesn’t reach the true shock value it could have.

Horror/ThrillerThe horror comes with the possession side of the story which is usually a side of horror I don’t find scary or interesting but this one at least has moments of interest because the real case behind this story is one that I find interesting. You do wonder where the story will go as in can it pull off anything shocking and original as the story unfolds. The MRI scene is the stand out scare scene though.

Characters/PerformancesLooking at the characters you get very little new, we have the divorcing parents who are trying to stay friends for their kids. We get the busy teenager who is too busy worrying about herself than her family. The main victim is the youngest and quieter of the two daughters whose behaviour starts out with it mostly being against the divorce, this character is the most important and must go through the most. When you look at the performances they are all good without being The Exorcist level.

SettingsKeeping the settings simple we get the homes which show that it could happen to anyone in their safe place with all the other settings being ones you would expect to see with events of the story, police station, hospital, church and schools.

Special EffectsWe have good special effects throughout without having to turn to them for every single scene going on through the film which other possession films do.

Final ThoughtsWhen it comes to possession films this is one of the better ones out there, it shows the struggle the family go through without going over the top with the shock moments.

 

Overall: Enjoyable for all the horror fans out there.

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