ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – R – Replicas (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff

Writer: Chad St John (Screenplay) Stephen Hamel (Story)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, John Ortiz, Emjay Anthony, Emily Alyn Lind

Plot: A scientist becomes obsessed with bringing back his family members who died in a traffic accident.


Tagline – Some Humans Are Unstoppable

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Sci-Fi Questions

Story: Replicas starts as we see genius scientist William Foster (Reeves) who has seen his work of bringing people back from the dead in synthetic robots, struggling to achieve the required results, seeing him face the potential of losing his funding. Trying to spend some time with his family Mona (Eve), kids Matt (Anthony), Sophie (Lind) and Zoe (Leabu), they get caught in storm, which sees them have an accident, with William’s whole family killed.

William doesn’t want to accept this, he turns to his partner Ed Whittle (Middleditch) to help him clone and bring his family back to life. As William works on returning his family, he is left to make difficult decisions, while covering his tracks.

Thoughts on Replicas

Characters – William has been working on transferring minds into synthetics, he nearly has this ready to work, but things are always going wrong just when he sees things working out. He is already working on a tight rope and after his family dies in a car crash, he wants to break all the laws of his science by bringing them back to life, meaning he will work day and night to fix the problems, not even considering the side effects of his work. Mona is the wife to William, she dies in the accident and is cloned and has her memories placed into the new body. Ed Whittle is the partner that has been working with William for years, he agrees to help with the revival and will change him on the moral grounds of what he is doing. Jones is the man that William works for, he is pushing him to get everything he wants even if he might have his own reasons for the technology William is working on.

PerformancesKeanu Reeves in the leading role doesn’t do much wrong, but does struggle to show all the emotional trauma his character must go through. Alice Eve doesn’t get a chance to do anything of any difficultly, while both Thomas Middleditch and John Ortiz are both fine with what they do.

StoryThe story here follows a scientist that sees his family die in an accident, only for him to use his own project to bring them back to life even if the technology might not be ready to use. This is one of those stories that does look to dig into the ideas of whether if you could, would you bring family members back to life as clones, we get plenty of the discussions about the ethics behind it and what could go wrong if you got found out, while we do dig into the concept of trying to pick and choose what would be remembered by the loved ones. This side of the story is the most interesting because the final act of the story just seems to be thrown in here to try and make us have an action packed ending to the film.

Sci-FiThe film uses future technology that could be used to bring clones of loved one back to life, showing us just how science is always moving forward and how they could be looked at more in the future, keeping everything feeling like the realms of possibility.

SettingsThe film is set in Puerto Rico which I am guessing is used to try and show us how the laws of science at looser in this country.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are interesting with the synthetics looking unique, but never looking like they are operating correctly.


Scene of the Movie – The choices William must make.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The action tagged on story.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting sci-fi movie that does offer big questions about technology in the future and shows how desperate somebody would be to try and fix something out of their control.

Overall: Sci-Fi 101

Denzel Washington Weekend – Roman J Israel Esq. (2017)

Director: Dan Gilroy

Writer: Dan Gilroy (Screenplay)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Lynda Gravatt, Amanda Warren, Hugo Armstrong, Sam Gilroy

 

Plot: Roman J. Israel, Esq., a driven, idealistic defence attorney, finds himself in a tumultuous series of events that lead to a crisis and the necessity for extreme action.


Tagline – All rise.

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Lawyer Heavy Movie

 

Story: Roman J Israel Esq starts as legal defence attorney Roman J Israel Esq (Washington) who doesn’t attend the courtroom and helps his partner win his cases with his legal mind. When his partner falls into a coma, George Pierce (Farrell) takes over the business, looking to close the firm, but he sees something in Roman, believing he could be hired to help with his own case load.

Roman agrees to help with a charity with young lawyers, run by Maya Alston (Ejogo), while needing to learn how to be part of a team, rather than using his knowledge to put people down, being one of the few people that wanted to be a lawyer for the right reasons.

 

Thoughts on Roman J Israel Esq

 

Characters – Roman J Israel Esq is a genius in the law field, he can memorise every case, knows how to solve the case with logic before getting into a courtroom, only he doesn’t go to court, he helps his partner do the lawyer side of the cases. This does make him come of anti-social at times too, he does want to help people when other people don’t listen to their voices. He goes through his own Epiphany which will see him changing, because of one incident, this will see him facing a conflict in his head about his future. George Pierce is the lawyer for the big firm assigned to close the small firm, he sees the skills Roman has, deciding to hiring him to help with his own cases. Maya runs a charity for people who can’t afford lawyers, she is happy to let Roman help out, she sees the good he has to offer people and in him.

PerformancesDenzel Washington was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in this film, he doesn’t really shine on the levels we know he could, he handles the character well though, considering he is in nearly every scene of the film. Colin Farrell as the lawyer for the rich firm is strong as always in the supporting role, while Carmen Ejogo completes the main cast well.

StoryThe story follows Roman J Israel an attorney that works for a small firm only to see that one close down and him getting a chance in a big law firm, where his own good natured mindset can be left behind when temptation comes his way. The problems with the story are clear, because we don’t get to see Roman doing any real courtroom lawyer work which seems like why he is hired, the mindset he has isn’t bought forward soon enough to see his change for enough of an impact either. We are meant to be dealing with one man going to far which just doesn’t end up being as interesting as it should be.

CrimeThe crime side of this film comes from what Roman does, leading up to his crime before showing us the consequences.

SettingsThe film is set in the locations you would expect to see a lawyer operate, we see the small firm, the big firm and the charity firm he could work for, where he is driven to make his own choices.


Scene of the Movie –
The homeless man.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We didn’t believe how good-natured Roman was meant to be.

Final ThoughtsThis an interesting if not slow moving lawyer based movie, it tries to do something different which should be praised, but it never reaches the potential it had.

 

Overall: Doesn’t hit the required marks.

Rating

 

 

Red Handed (2019) Movie Review

Director: Frank Peluso

Writer: Frank Peluso (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Biehn, Ryan Carnes, Kenzie Dalton, Owen Burke, Rick Salomon, Christian Madsen, Michael Madsen

Plot: When their father is murdered, three brothers descend upon an Oregon mountain river to spread his ashes. After they arrive, one of their children goes missing. One of the brothers was himself abducted 30 years ago when they visited this same river, but he has blocked the incident out of his mind. Only by unlocking the mysteries inside his subconscious, will they be able find the child.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Thriller That Lacks Intensity

Story: Red Handed starts with a Pagan ritual that was once famous in the local area in the 12th century, one with real horrors. We see Lou (Michael Madsen) a car mechanic in the town now, he has three children Gus (Carnes), Pete (Burke) and Duffy (Christen Madsen) with his own relationship with his brothers Reynolds (Biehn) and Dale (Salomon) being distant.

When Lou gets murdered by his brother, the brothers return to the town for the first time in years to spread his ashes. This trip brings back the memories of the three’s childhood, where one of them once went missing, following the traditions of the area, which might have a reason for their father’s death.

Thoughts on Red Handed

Characters – Reynolds is the brother of Lou, he is older and has always remained closer to the family traditions. Duffy is the son that is closest to his father, he has his own family even if there are a few problems in his marriage, he is reluctant to sees his brothers, but must work with them over the weekend. Pete is the eldest of the brothers, he likes the quiet of the world unlike the other too, as well as having a trauma from his past which he doesn’t like to open up about. Lou is their father who has always tried to keep them close, but just like him with his brothers, has seen them becoming distant. We do have three brothers that have become distant, which sees them reuniting having issues between them.

PerformancesWe do have two big names in this film with Michael Biehn and Michael Madsen who are here to show the experience the film needs, while the younger cast, where Christian Madsen, Owen Burke and Ryan Carnes all work well in the dysfunctional siblings.

StoryThe story here follows three brothers that come together for their father’s funeral only to find themselves in the middle of a pagan community that their father didn’t want to be part off. This is a story that can be split into two, the brothers coming together shows that life can push family’s apart and coming back together can help problems be talked through, this is all great. When we look at the other side of the story we are dealing with pagan followers which is more about them planning in the background without getting into the true depths of the ritual.

ThrillerThe film tries to keep us guessing on what will be happening next, but we never get the intensity we could get with the pagan style movie.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small backcountry homes, which are near historic important locations, which does help keep everything contained.


Scene of the Movie – Brothers together again, touching moment between the brothers.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Most of the Pagan side didn’t feel like it was important enough.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that doesn’t hit the heights it could, the serious relationship between brothers is the highlight, while the pagan side almost feels tagged on.

Overall: Thriller without Intensity.

Reality Queen! (2019) Movie Review

Director: Steven Jay Bernheim

Writer: Steven Jay Bernheim, Schuyler Brumley, Chris Cobb, Gabby Gruen, Greg Lindasy, Allan Murray, John-Paul Panelli, Chandler Patton (Screenplay)

Starring: Julia Faye West, Denise Richards, Mike Tyson, Kate Orsini, John Witherspoon, Charles Fleischer, Loren Lester, Candace Kita, John R Colley

Plot: Reality Queen. follows an heiress’ quest to show the world she isn’t just another “it” girl and pretentious celebutante, chronicled by renowned BBC journalist Diana Smeltmarlin.


Tagline – Is London a marketing genius, or is she simply the accidental beneficiary of an overwhelmingly ignorant American public?

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Perfect Parody of Reality Stars

Story: Reality Queen! Starts is as we learn about celebrity London Logo (West) has risen to fame as an heiress, she has no talent and is shallow as they come. British journalist Diane Smelt-Marlin (Orsini) is running a story about London, which means she gets close to her, learning more about her attempts to remain relevant in the eyes of the world.

Diana learns how London relies on Winston Spritz (Lester) to handle all her problems, her fashion designer Simon Debris (Colley), her best friend actress Angelina Streisand (Richards), while trying to out do her rival Kristy Kim (Kita).

Thoughts on Reality Queen!

Characters – London Logo is a celebrity heiress who has becomes an international role model without doing anything worthwhile, her clothes inspire fashion trends, her social media is followed by millions, she is meant to be as dumb as they come, including thinking she has the smallest dog, when it is a gerbil. Angelina Streisand is the actress best friend of London, she does seem to stick around out of enjoyment of the high life. Diane Smelt-Marlin is the reporter trying to get a story about London and the more she talks and spends time around London, she learns more about the reality life that the famous try to hold onto. Winston Spritz is the man that cleans up any problems that London finds herself in, almost being a personal butler to London.

PerformancesJulia Faye West truly brings this airhead character to life being just how most people would imagine a pointless celebrity to act life. Kate Orsini brings us a more grounded in reality character in the journalist, which the different between the two characters. Denise Richards being one of the biggest names in the film gets to give a strong supporting performance while Loren Lester gets plenty of laughs in what is a completely straight-faced character in the film.

StoryThe story here follows an interview being prepared for a rich celebrity who is famous for being famous, as we see how she has somehow stayed on top of the industry for so long. The story is told in a mockumentary style which gets to have plenty of fun at the famous for being famous pointless reality celebrities we see flooding our screens, either television or social media, going behind the scenes means we get to see how London thinks her life is hard when she will do silly things believing it will be her important. For a story to make this much fun at the reality stereotypes, you simply can’t love it because they have taken up too much time, been popular and given the wrong messages across for years.

ComedyThe comedy is perfectly used to parody the reality celebrities that flood the screens, you will laugh at just how outrageous certain statements or actions are from somebody who thinks they are above everybody else.

SettingsThe film here shows us everywhere you would imagine seeing a reality star hanging out, the mansion they call home and their transport used for getting around town.


Scene of the Movie – The search for the micro dog.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The beach scene.

Final Thoughts This a comedy that manages to perfectly make fun of the reality star’s lives, it will show off just why people dislike them and how they think they are important for the world.

Overall: Laugh Out Loud Funny.

Rope (1948)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Writer: Arthur Laurents (Screenplay) Patrick Hamilton (Play)

Starring: Dick Hogan, John Dall, Farley Granger, Edith Evanson, Douglas Dick, Joan Chandler, James Stewart

 

Plot: Two men attempt to prove they committed the perfect crime by hosting a dinner party after strangling their former classmate to death.


Tagline – Nothing ever held you like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant

 

Story: Rope starts when two men Brandon (Dall) and Phillip (Granger) murder their classmate, just before hosting a party, they hide the body in the apartment, while hosting the guests Kenneth (Dick), Janet (Chandler), Mr Kentley (Hardwicke), Mrs Atwater (Collier) and Rupert (Stewart).

As the party goes on the character interact about everyday life matters as Janet explains her choice in man between David and Kenneth, while Brandon and Phillip boast about what it would be like to murder somebody.

 

Thoughts on Rope

 

Characters – Rupert Cadell is the last guest to arrive, he is the men’s former house master and has known the men since they were boys, he starts to get suspicious of what is going on with the party, he tries to learn the secret Brandon and Phillip are keeping. Brandon is the mastermind of the two men, he has every single guest in the palm of his hands as the party continues, he is almost become arrogant about what the two men have done. Phillip is more nervous about crime the men have committed, he gets put through the wringer by Rupert who thinks he will spill the beans. Janet is the woman that is dating the murder victim, she is part of Brandon’s game who is trying to set her up with another friend Kenneth.

PerformancesJames Stewart might well be the biggest name in this film, but his role is more of a supporting one, he is fantastic still being one of the many outstanding performances through the film. John Dall and Farley Granger are both wonderful to watch as a double act trying to remain calm through the film. the rest of the cast are wonderful too.

StoryThe story follows two men who are hosting a party after murdering a friend, they are trying to prove they can get away with the murder on front of their friends and former mentor. This story is based on a play which you can see from early on because the story plays out over the one party, we see how each person interacts and can have difference of opinions. We are kept wondering if anybody will learn their secret and if they can continue to keep everything secret from everybody through the night.

Crime/MysteryThe Crime side of the film shows how quickly a couple of men can kill somebody, we see this murder in the opening scene as well as discussing different types of murder through the film too, the mystery comes to just why or what the motive is behind their murder, waiting to see if they can complete their masterplan.

SettingsThe film is set inside on apartment building, we never leave this location which shows how both arrogant and nervous the two men are.


Scene of the Movie –
The closing discussion.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is very short, we could have gone on a little bit longer.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderfully entertain crime mystery, just to why the men committed the murder, we have top notch performances from the whole cast that never let anybody down.

 

Overall: Hitchcock’s master play.

Rating