Pyewacket (2017)

Director: Adam MacDonald

Writer: Adam MacDonald (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicole Munoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose, Eric Osborne, Romeo Carere

 

Plot: A frustrated, angst-ridden teenage girl awakens something in the woods when she naively performs an occult ritual to evoke a witch to kill her mother.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thriller Lacking the Bite

 

Story: Pyewacket starts as we meet the mother Mrs Reyes (Holden) and her daughter Leah (Munoz) who are both struggling with the loss of their husband and father, Leah has turned to the occult for answers while Mrs Reyes has become distant from her daughter, she decides to leave their home because of the memories, forcing Leah to need to travel to and from school for the remain part of the year.

Deciding she wants to get back at her mother, Leah performs a ritual to summon a witch to kill her mother, one that she instantly regrets when she gets haunted by a mysterious figure in the dark.

 

Thoughts on Pyewacket

 

Characters – Leah is a teenage girl struggling with the death of her father, becoming distant from her mother and wanting to look at the occult. After she is moved away from her friends, she continues to hate her mother which leads her down a dark path against her mother turning to the occult once again for answer, this only fills her with paranoia and fear of just what she has unleashed. Mrs Reyes is the mother of Leah, she is struggling too which is shown with her relationship with Leah, she is trying to keep everything together though. Janice, Aaron and Rob are the friends Leah hangs around though we never see enough of them.

PerformancesNicole Munoz is in the leading role, she is in every scene and is the one we need to see perform, she is great through the film, each decision her character makes we believe her performance throughout. Laurie Holden is the only other star that gets any major screen time and does a good job.

StoryThe story here follows a troubled teenager that turns to the occult to help her with her problems only to regret the decision she makes once she gets visited by the unknown. This story tries to address the grieving process that people will go through after losing a family member, we see the extremes someone will turn to and just how difficult the communication can be. When we see the horror side of the story we get to look at how dangerous the occult is and just what it can do to your mind through the increased isolation from friends. This isn’t the most engaging story and does go in the directions you would expect without having that shock moment before the end.

HorrorThe horror elements of the film focus on the occult and what you could unleashes when you mess with something you just don’t understand.

SettingsThe film starts in a family home location which holds memories, moving to the woods we create the isolation which only adds to the horror in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are not needed too often, the times we need them, they are mixed in quality too.


Scene of the Movie –
The final moments.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough focus on anyone else supporting the grieving family.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that tries to channel real emotions with everything it goes through, it uses the occult to try and balance the grieving process only to miss the point of both sides of this idea.

 

Overall: Simple occult horror.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Romance – P – Pompeii (2014)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson (Screenplay)

Starring: Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland

 

Plot: A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.


Tagline – No warning. No escape

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Mindless Action

 

Story: Pompeii starts as the last Celt Milo (Harrington) as slaved turned gladiator gets transported to Pompeii for the last arena to show his power in. while Milo is being prepared for his latest fight against fearless gladiator Atticus (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who has one last fight before freedom. Outside his prison, Cassia (Browning) is being lined-up for any bachelors from around the world including Corvus (Sutherland) the man that led the army that butchered Milo’s family.

When Milo and Cassia meet they know they are in love, though the different positions making their love impossible, shown the true colours of Corvus, it is the volcano Mount Vesuvius that will decide these characters fates.

 

Thoughts on Pompeii

 

Characters – Milo is a Celt, his family was butchered when he was a young boy, now he is the last of his kind, a slave turned gladiator, one that is unbeaten in combat. He falls for Cassia the heir to the throne of Pompeii and once the destruction starts he must risk his life to save her. Cassia is the heir to the throne, not interested in the men she is being arranged with seeing something different in Milo, she is being forced to marry Corvus to save her family until the volcano strikes and she needs saving by her true love. Corvus is the evil ruler from Rome, he has conquered around the world killing millions, he will do anything to survive including killing innocent people and uses his position of power to do whatever he wants. Atticus is fellow gladiator who fights with honour even though this could be his last fight because winning would me freedom, he becomes friends with Milo as they work together to escape their enemies.

PerformancesKit Harrington freshly out of Game of Thrones step into this role and does a good job without needing to do too much with the fighting being great to watch. Emily Browning is good too which is same for most of the supporting cast, we do have a couple of weak performances and over the top Kiefer Sutherland is one you will laugh off.

StoryThe story here tries to create the normal Roman traditions on the eve of the Mount Vesuvius eruption. So we do need to break this down a little bit more, first the whole gladiator fighting for freedom and the love of the heir of the city is mostly forgettable, it is almost trying to pull a Titanic with this angle for a love story in the mist of a disaster. Once the eruption starts the story gets more interesting because we learn the true colour of characters, though we do know the outcome making certain moments in the escape feel almost pointless including one where Atticus saves a little girl.  For a disaster movie with elements around it, we have an entertaining enough story, just one that tries too hard to give a fictionally twist on a real event.

Action/Adventure/History/RomanceThe action in the film is good to watch and easily the highlight, we have different sword or weapon fights, chase sequences and destruction. You could easily say the adventure side of things is Milo trying to escape which is a fair enough game to be watching. Now the history, this is hard because this eruption was a real event, what was going on at the time isn’t as clear. Mixing the real events with this nonsense romantic angle doesn’t help though.

SettingsThe film does make us feel like we are in Pompeii for the most part, the destruction sequences show us just how much of a panic it would have been for the victims of the disaster.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are mixed, we get moments that could have been better mostly to do with the larger sequences though.


Scene of the Movie –
The eruption.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Milo in the gladiator time, really?

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough disaster movie that does the action well though it has a pointless romance angle.

 

Overall: Simple disaster movie.

Rating

 

 

The Predator (2018)

Director: Shane Black

Writer: Fred Dekker, Shane Black (Screenplay) Jim Thomas, John Thomas (Characters)

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen

 

Plot: When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.


Tagline – You’ll never see him coming.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Commits to Comical Tone

 

Story: The Predator starts as we meet elite sniper Quinn McKenna (Holbrook) whose latest job sees a spacecraft crash land with a Predator butchering his team, with a few goodies he finds, he sends home, knowing what is coming. With his son Rory (Tremblay) being an Asperger’s sufferer, he accidently unlocks the code trapped within the system.

Government agent Traeger (Brown) is trying to unlock the system and when the captured Predator escapes, Quinn must team up with other soldiers branded crazy, Nebraska (Rhodes), Coyle (Key), Baxley (Jane), Lynch (Allen) and Nettles (Aguilera) who help scientist Casey (Munn) find a solution for the new Predator problem.

 

Thoughts on The Predator

 

Characters – Quinn McKenna is a sniper who finds himself in the middle of the latest Predator ship crash landing, surviving his first encounter with the creature, he uses the technology to escape, he must use his training to protect his son and save the world from the impending attack. We do know he isn’t the best family man, but this night should bring him closer to his son. Nebraska is one of the ‘crazy’ soldiers, he will help Quinn becoming the connection between the rest pushing them to do the right thing. Rory is the Asperger’s sufferer that can solve puzzles others can barely unpack, he is your typical different student and school, the outsider if you like. Casey is the scientist bought in to help understand just what is happening with the Predator’s visiting Earth and certain questions about their DNA. Traeger is the government that is trying to keep the lid on everything, he will kill anyone that cross the government to keep secrets and has a dark sense of humour. The rest of the soldiers, Coyle, Baxley, Lynch and Nettles do have their own problems from serving in the military with this battle giving them a chance to redeem themselves.

PerformancesBoyd Holbrook in the leading role is good for the film, he doesn’t reach the levels of Arnie and will fit in well with the rest of the leads. Trevante Rhodes is the guy you most want to watch, he gets the best scenes for the military unit. Jacob Tremblay is getting a reputation for playing kids with troubled sides, he seems to be excellent at this type of role, this however would be his weakest outing so far. Olivia Munn is good even though she doesn’t get the best scenes to work with. Sterling K Brown makes for a great fun human villain and the rest of the unit show good chemistry.

StoryThe story here follows another group of soldiers that come face to face with a Predator and must fight back to survive, this time we have a bigger, badder Predator. Now is a fun story to watch, however if you are a fan of the original this will not give you everything you want to see. The biggest plus in this movie is explaining why the Predators visit Earth, watching this is the right move for the franchise. The story does show insensitive when it comes to dealing with the military unit that clearly have their own mental health problems which sadly gets overlooked and turned into a running joke. For a man of Shane Black’s calibre, we would expect better written scenes, instead of just lazy insults. The key element to take away from the story is that we are watching something fun that has moved away from the original tone.

Action/Adventure/Horror/Sci-FiThe action is big, we get the fights which are big and bloody which is all we want to see, the horror does take a back burner as even when the film tries to be suspenseful it falls short, but the blood does help us out here. The sci-fi side of the film comes from trying to build a bigger world for the Predators to visit from.

SettingsThe film doesn’t make use of the settings too, we get the woodland area which plays into Predators speciality.

Special EffectsThe effects here are very weak for the budget, the opening sequence alone is poor for what we would expect, when it comes to the camouflage ability doesn’t even look better than the 87 film.


Scene of the Movie –
Hello big boy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Making a joke of the mental health problems soldiers face.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun sequel, the tone does stay the same from start to finish which other big blockbusters have failed to do, we get to see more about the history of Predators and most importantly we learn just how deadly they can be.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

Edward Norton Weekend – Primal Fear (1996)

Director: Gregory Hobilt

Writer: Steve Shagan, Ann Biderman (Screenplay) William Diehl (Novel)

Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Terry O’Quinn, Andre Braugher

 

Plot: An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.


Tagline – Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Thriller

 

Story: Primal Fear starts when the Archbishop is murdered, all clues point to bloody covered Aaron (Norton) as the murderer, he shy stuttering alter boy. When former district prosecutor Martin Vail (Gere) turned defence lawyer sees this as a spotlight for his new career direction and going against former colleague Janet (Linney) and her boss the district attorney Shaughnessy (Mahoney) the case goes to trial.

When Martin learns that Aaron has a split personality disorder with a much more aggressive Roy doing the dirty work for Aaron and the bigger picture of the motivation behind the murder comes to light.

 

Thoughts on Primal Fear

 

Characters – Martin Vail is the lawyer, he once was one of the biggest prosecutors in the city but has turned his back on that career to become a defence lawyer. He sees this case as the one that will give him his big break as a defence lawyer doing this case for free. He has a strong trusted team, he is made out to be a womaniser, though we never see him hit on anyone, only that he once had a fling with Janet in the past. Janet is the prosecutor that is taking the case, she is the one taking over Martin’s role and with a previous relationship with him. She knows this will be a career maker for her and is enjoying going head to head with her former mentor. Shaughnessy is the District Attorney that wants the death penalty and will not let Janet forget this. Aaron is the shy alter boy that is accused of murder but with him being found covered in blood even if you can’t see him doing this murder, Roy is the aggressive personality next to Aaron that knows the truth and seems to be the release of everything Aaron holds in. Shoat is the judge trying to control the case in what lawyers are trying to pull for their wins. Molly is psychologist that is studying Aaron trying to figure out what his mindset learning about Roy.

PerformancesRichard Gere is fantastic in the leading role, you see here how he shows the desperate he is to win this case. Laura Linney is strong in her role which must go against Richard Gere. Edward Norton gives one of the best debut roles of any actor in the history of film, he is disturbed when needed and calm when Aaron and crazed when Roy. The supporting cast are great too without taking the spotlight of the rest of the cast.

StoryThe story follows the trial of a disturbed young man accused of murdering an archbishop. While the court case unfolds like you would expect with twists coming from every corner and evidence coming to light through nearly every witness. As a fan of courtroom dramas this plays into everything I enjoy and I love watching crimes get solved in a courtroom. The story is very well paced and even being over 2 hours long doesn’t feel like you are giving the film this much time.

Crime/MysteryThe crime focuses on the murder and what gave the killer motivation, the mystery plays into the motivation too and just how the shy timid altar boy could have committed the murder.

SettingsThe film uses the courtroom for most of the scenes, we have the location involved in the crime too which shows how the lawyers are operating on both sides of the case.


Scene of the Movie –
The final twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would say the side case Martin worked on being touched on through the main case gets slightly annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best courtroom dramas of all time, with a crime which does balance the line between what would be considered a bigger crime and performances that could be considered the career best for members of the cast.

 

Overall: Courtroom delight.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – P – Piranhaconda (2012)

Director: Jim Wynorski

Writer: J Brad Wilke, Mike MacLean (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Madsen, Rachel Hunter, Rib Hillis, Terri Ivens, Chris De Christopher, Shandi Finnessey, Michael Swan, Noah Blake

 

Plot: Two piranha/anaconda hybrid creatures hunt down the scientist who stole their egg and a film crew; making a slasher film in the jungle.


Tagline – Part Snake! Part Fish! All Killer!

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Trash

 

Story: Piranhaconda starts when scientist Lovegrove (Madsen) takes a new snake egg of a piranha & anaconda hybrid, the snake heads off into the jungle island in search of it killing anyone who gets in its way. Elsewhere on the island Mile (De Christopher) is directing a low budget slasher movie with diva leading lady Kimmy Weston (Finnessey), add into the mix the local gang that are kidnapping people for ransom, we have three groups that are being targeting by the snake who must now work together.

 

Thoughts on Piranhaconda

 

Characters – Lovegrove is the scientist trying to study the eggs of a piranhaconda which only disturbs them from their home, he somehow manages to elude the snake unlike anyone else on the island and fills in information. Talia is one of the kidnappers, she is the right-hand woman and that is about it. Jack is the stuntman that is dating one of the behind the scenes woman while batting off the interest of the leading lady, he kind of becomes the reluctant hero. Rose is the crew member that is starting to date Jack who gets jealous of the leading lady. We also have the director, the diva star and the kidnapping locals.

PerformancesTime to rant without insulting, Michael Madsen has been in Tarantino movies, how did he end up in this? He is clearly her for some form of pay check as he looks like he just turned on at the resort one day and was given the role. Rachel Hunter fills the quota of just having models in the film, she does absolutely nothing. Rib Hillis is the strongest of the performers in this film with Terri Ivens doing the second best, even though I did enjoy watching the diva actresses played by Shandi Finnessey. Most of the performers are women in bikinis running around Hawaii.

StoryThe story follows unlikely group of people needing to work together to escape a giant hybrid piranha anaconda mix, superfast, super hungry and super aggressive. This is simple enough and for sure this is easy to watch if that was all we had, we don’t we have terrible character development as we spend half the story seemingly meeting random people on the island that get selected to be the next victim, usually hot women. The science behind the creation is loose to say the least and to say the storytelling process is smart would be an insult to anyone.

Action/Adventure/Horror/Sci-FiThe action gives us the shoot as many bullets at a creature whose skin just bounces bullets off with a couple of explosions. The horror would come off as the creature feature concept which has always worked well, but not this time. The sci-fi side of the film give us the idea of an unknown creature causing the problems.

SettingsThe film is set in Hawaii which looks pretty, but the reality is that it could be any jungle island.

Special EffectsThis is a sci-fi level movie, we know the level of special effects and this is particular weak because it just uses the same technique for every kill which gets boring quickly.


Scene of the Movie –
Most of Jack solo scene, because he knew what the tone of the movie is all about.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The kill move.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those truly bad low budget films, it has weak acting, effects and storytelling with only one actor seemingly understanding the tone of the movie.

 

Overall: Not even so bad its funny.

Rating