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

 

 

Advertisements

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

 

 

Patient Zero (2018)

Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky

Writer: Mike Le (Screenplay)

Starring: Natalie Dormer, Stanley Tucci, Matt Smith, Clive Standen, Frederick Schmidt, Frederick Schmidt, Agyness Deyn, John Bradley

 

Plot: After an unprecedented global pandemic turns the majority of humankind into violent “Infected,” a man gifted with the ability to speak the Infected’s new language leads the last survivors on a hunt for Patient Zero and a cure.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Promising Outbreak Movie

 

Story: Patient Zero starts as we enter the world with a global pandemic where an aggressive strain of rabies known as ‘Mad Dog’ has taken over the population, it infects within minutes and turns its infected violent. The human race is now in hiding, with the group we follow led by Dr Gina Rose (Dormer) searching for patient zero in hope of finding a cure, joined by bitten, but never infected Morgan (Smith) and surrounded by the military, this is a race against time, that isn’t being won by the humans.

Morgan has the ability to communicate with the infect which helps him search for the answer to just who patient zero is and now they are getting closer than ever, until the Professor (Tucci) turns up with his own agenda from the infected side of the battle.

 

Thoughts on Patient Zero

 

Characters – Dr Gina Rose is leading the search for the cure for the infection, she has been since the first outbreak, she demands to be in control of the base never letting any army member intimidate her. She is however taking her own risk with her love interest on the base. Morgan is a soldier on the base that once got bitten, though he never got infected, with this ability he gained the ability to learn how to understand the language the infected speak. He interviews the infected as they search for patient zero, hoping to be able to save his wife from the infection. The Professor is one of the infected, one that doesn’t act the same as the rest, he gets interviewed and tries to reflect the nature on the humans. The rest of the facility includes infected being interviewed, soldiers that are risking their own lives and would rather pull the trigger and survivors.

PerformancesNatalie Dormer in the leading role is easily the strongest part of the film, we believe her characters desperation to be the one that helps cure the world. Matt Smith on the other hand, well his acting is good, but his accent is horrendous don’t worry he isn’t the only one that loses his accent at times. Stanley Tucci is good to watch in this film, as soon as he appears he grabs your attention. Outside these three we get average performance for characters that were never developed fully.

StoryThe story in the zombie genre of films is always getting people trying to bring a fresh spin, the story here does start promisingly with the idea that this isn’t a full zombie movie it is an infection which causes rage, but can be controlled. Now searching for a patient zero to find a cure is good to watch and having the one man that was bitten and never turned being able to communicate with the infected does bring a fresh feeling. The problems with this story come from the ending which just goes the way all zombie style movies go and you will just lose the interest we have gathered from the early parts in the film. If you did see the movie ‘The Cured’ it touches on similar subjects even if it is further down the line of recovery.

Action/HorrorThe action falls into the generic infected/zombie panic stuff we have seen before. The horror never feels scary because we are focusing on the bigger picture over going for scares.

SettingsThe film keeps nearly all the action in the bunker which makes sense for the whole film, the only time we leave is with flashbacks showing the moments of infection, which are interesting scenes.

Special EffectsThe effects are very simple with the one big moment looks great.


Scene of the Movie –
The bite to the doctor.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The ending is cliched.

Final ThoughtsThis is a promising infection style movie that starts so, well only to fall into the generic style we have seen too often and the less we talk about Matt Smith’s accent the better.

 

Overall: Infection Film 101

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – P – The Piper (2015)

Director: Kim Kwang-Tae

Writer: Kim Kwang-Tae (Screenplay)

Starring: Goo Seung-Hyeon, Seung-ryong Ryu, Woo-hee Chun, Joon Lee, Sung-min Lee

 

Plot: Shortly after the Korean war, a father and a son are wandering through the country and make a stop in a remote village, where strange and dangerous happenings occur.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Keeps Getting Better

 

Story: The Piper starts with the father (Seung-ryong) and his son Yeong-nam (Seung-Hyeon) travelling through the mountains in the aftermath of the Korean war. With the father being a musician and his son being sick, they are looking for a new home, they come across a remote village where Village Head (Sung-min Lee) lets them stay th night.

As the night unfold the Father learns of a rat problem in the town and offers to use his musical talent to lead them away, but soon he learns about the superstitions mindset of the people in the village which puts both him and his son in danger.

 

Thoughts on

 

Characters – The father is doing everything he can to keep his son alive, he will work on any job which the village offers him, he has a musical side which helps him become welcoming to strangers as well as offering an escape for the rats and other animals. He believes he is doing good, but soon learns the danger he has put his son in. Yeong-nam is the son of the Father, he is sick with a lung disease, he wants to help his dad the best he can, which does involve getting into trouble. The Village Head offers him a place to stay while he son can be saved, he makes a deal, he has power over the rest of the village which becomes the weakness that the Father fails to see. Mi-sook is the single woman in the village, blessed with spirit coming to save her, she starts helping the Father who see the danger coming.

PerformancesThe cast do give us good performances through the film, the lead shows the heart and desperation he needs, while the villain shows his plans as they could bring down everything.

StoryThe story here starts of pretty routine, a father trying to keep his son safe and healthy, it turns into a good deed before a hell breaks loose and it turns into a twisted horror movie. The pace of the movie is strange because it is slow to start with as most of the first hour is calm with an air of tension, the second half of the film we learn secrets and twists come thick and fast to make this a wonderful story to see unfold in the second half of the film. it gets dark which helps save the slow start too.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is brilliant in the second half of the film we have gore and tension blending together wonderfully, the mystery comes from just what is meant to be going on in the village as we learn early there is some form of secret behind everything.

SettingsThe settings keep us in this remote village which shows how superstition can grab hold off villagers making them make bad decisions.

Special EffectsThe practical effects are strong through the film as we see effects of different events, but at times the number of rats we see does feel CGI heavy.


Scene of the Movie –
Final act.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slightly too low of a start.

Final ThoughtsThis is another enjoyable Korean horror, sure it doesn’t reach the levels of others, but it gets the horror down to the level we want to for a final showdown.

 

Overall: Good horror throughout

Rating

 

 

The First Purge (2018)

Director: Gerard McMurray

Writer: James DeMonaco (Screenplay)

Starring: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Patch Darragh, Marisa Tomei, Luna Lauren Velez

 

Plot: The film will be a prequel that will focus on the events that lead up to the very first Purge event.


Tagline – Witness the Birth of an American Tradition

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Prequel

 

Story: The First Purge starts as scientist Dr Updale (Tomei) has come up with an experiment to let people have a 12-hour crime free night to help unleash stress from the world, with the new government rising, Chief of Staff Arlo Sabian (Darragh) has funded this experiment on Staten Island.

The residents are from the lower class divided between the druggies and the minimum wagers, Nya (Davis) who supports her younger brother Isaiah (Wade) know the hardship of the life of crime, her ex-boyfriend, the King of Staten Island Dmitri (Noel) has thrived in it, however they are both against the Purge. When the Purge starts we get the usual mixed results before the bigger picture becomes clear and Dmitri must lead the war against the invading groups coming to the island, this is just the beginning of the bigger picture.

 

Thoughts on The First Purge

 

Characters – Dmitri or D is the king of the island, running the drug world, keeping the closest to him out of it, he demands loyalty from his soldiers, but grants respect if people don’t get involved in his business. He still has a candle in his heart for Nya and once her learns the truth about the Purge he goes to war to protect his neighbourhood. Nya is one of the lead campaigners against the Purge, she wants to keep the people safe, especially the ones with nowhere to go. Her brother is the most important part of her life and she will not let anything happen to him or let him fall into the wrong crowd, tonight will be her biggest test as her past will become key to surviving. Isaiah soon becomes the one character you hate the most, he is a high school kid (I think) that has tried to enter the life of crime, even with a door open to him to make clean money, he sees the Purge as a chance to get revenge on druggie that attacked him, he is one of the examples of what it would be like if a real purge happened, he would be all talk and not be able to follow through. Dr Updale create the concept, she wants it contained to prove it would be a success, but little does she know the real plan for the idea. Arlo Sabian is the Chief of Staff overseeing the operation and he will get results no matter what happens. In the rest of the mix of characters we get, the friends from the neighbourhood trying to survive something they had no choice but to be a part off, the psychos who come out of the woodwork with Skeletor being both over the top and interesting to watch and we have the gang that surround Dmitri with their own quirks that are never fully used.

PerformancesY’lan Noel for me was the true star of this film, he had to step into the shoes left by Frank Grillo as the bad ass action figure in the film and he shines, it felt at times like we were watching a Blade audition from this actor. Lex Scott Davis is good for the emotional material, but when her character comes to making smart decisions we don’t see her at her best because Nya makes too many horror cliché mistakes. Joivan Wade is fine, but nothing more as are the rest of the cast, Patch Darragh is never as menacing as he should been and Tomei doesn’t get the time to give her character the full development.

StoryThe story here teaches us how the Purge came about, with an experiment in a contained environment, now this is a good and a cad thing, first the good, we do have an early interaction between Dmitri and Nya opening discussion how a drug lord acts with murder everyday of the year, what will the Purge do differently, this was smart, but never followed up on. The whole how with the people react as they need the money thing worked too. The negatives come from the idea the psychos are ready for this night, we understand that for later instalments, but the first one seems strange. The second thing that seemed strange was, diving straight in the political agenda, we know this happens later in the franchise, but if you were to watch the film in order of events, the very first film would feel completely out of place now. As for the most part of the night, we know how these go now, we watch a small group try to survive the purge against the odds and it becomes a wild action ride story.

Action/Horror/Sci-Fi The action once let loose if great, it doesn’t hold back and potentially gave us a new action star. The horror has continued t go downhill in this franchise as it becomes more of an action franchise, we get a couple of jump scares and that is it. The sci-fi used in this film follows a world where a night of killing or committing crime can happen, while this does seem to be the first in the franchise to address the idea murder isn’t the only crime, which is better for the concept.

SettingsStaten Island is the setting, now the contained environment is a good thing, the problem here is, if you don’t know anything about this location, you won’t know what the neighbourhood will mainly contain regarding race and class of the people there.

Special EffectsNow the effects are interesting, the kills, well you can’t complain at all, but when it comes to the contact lenses that make them look like 80s werewolves, well this becomes weird and annoying, even if it makes sense why they are wearing them.


Scene of the Movie –
The tower block.

That Moment That Annoyed Me What happens to Dr Updale.

Final ThoughtsThis is another good addition to this franchise, that does know it is over the top and has continued to keep he social messages on the nose.

 

Overall: Great addition to the franchise.

Rating