Jean-Claude Van Damme Weekend – The Shepherd (2008) Movie Review

Director: Isaac Florentine

Writer: Joe Gayton, Cade Courtley (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Stephen Lord, Natalie J Robb, Gary McDonald, Daniel Perrone, Scott Adkins, Andree Bernard

Plot: A former New Orleans cop battles drug cartels and ex-Army Special Forces who are smuggling drugs from Mexico into U.S. through a Texas border town.

Tagline – Welcome To Mexico

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Van Damme 101

Story: The Shepherd starts when a former New Orleans cop Jack Robideaux (Van Damme) gets a new job as a border control officer under Captain Ramona Garcia (Robb), he gets told to keep his head down, which lasts a couple of hours, given a new partner in Billy Pawnell (McDonald), Jack does get a big bust early on in his career.

With Jack around it only ends up crossing criminal smuggler Benjamin Meyer (Lord) who wants to make this battle personal, trying to put his own business back in, can Jack figure out who to trust within the force.

Thoughts on The Shepherd

Characters – Jack Robideaux has left New Orleans to starts a new job on border control, he wants to keep his head down, but struggles with this, he starts tackling the problems in New Mexico, which sees himself getting targeted, even though he has his own reasons for being part of the patrol. Benjamin Meyer is the man smuggling across the border, an ex-military man who knows how to recruit the strong people around him, he is confident he can either buy or kill his way out of any situation. Captain Ramona Garcia runs the border patrol team, she welcomes are warns Jack about the area, she doesn’t want any attention on her team, which sees her challenging Jack from his first few days. Billy Pawnell is the agent that becomes Jack’s partner, trying to keep his head down after he gets in trouble early on, considered one of the best on the force, a perfect guide for a new member of the team.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is just an action star that does everything right for an action film, with his fighting skills taking him to centre stage. Sadly, the rest of the cast just don’t get enough time to make a big impact on the story, its not that they are bad, they just don’t have much to do.

StoryThe story here follows a newly appointed border patrol officer that gets into a battle with ruthless smugglers that have been controlling the borders for years. When it comes to the action in a Van Damme movie, we know the story isn’t going to be that deep, while we know there is going to be something behind the motivation for the career change, which there is. The good versus the bad is everything we have seen before, we know there will be twists along the way which works out well for the film.

Action/CrimeThe action comes when we let Van Damme loose to fight, where he will face a younger enemy played by Scott Adkins for the big fight scene, anything to stop the criminal actions being handed out by the cartel gang.

SettingsThe film is set in New Mexico right on the border, which does see how the criminal world would be operating.

Scene of the Movie – Van Damme versus Adkins.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is easy to see the twists coming.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book action film that does everything it needed to without challenging the audience in anyway.

Overall: By the book action.

The Snow Queen: Mirrorlands (2018) Movie Review

Director: Robert Lence, Aleksey Tsitsilin

Writer: Robert Lence, Aleksey Tsitsilin, Vladimir Nikolaev, Aleksey Zamyslov, Andrey Korenkov (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Laurie Hymes, Samia Mounts, Marc Thompson, Devin Bailey Griffin

Plot: After a powerful king traps all the world’s magicians in the Mirrorlands, Gerda battles to keep magic alive through kindness and friendship.

Tagline – All Gerda’s friends and even old enemy gather their efforts to protect magic world.

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fun Family Film

Story: The Snow Queen: Mirrorlands starts as we meet Gerda a young woman who sees her whole family having magic abilities, only she has none, they are all kind magicians using their abilities fo the better of the people of the town. The King Harald wants to eliminate the magicians from his world, sending them to the Mirrorlands, where he has already exiled the Snow Queen.

Greda must go on her own adventure to free the magicians from the Mirrorlands including her family and stop the evil plan of the King.

Thoughts on The Snow Queen: Mirrorlands

Characters – Gerda is the youngest member of a magic family, only she doesn’t know her abilities yet, she helps in the small family shop, is kind to the residents of the city, she must find a way to rescue her family and friends after they are taken to a hidden realm, she travels the land to first learn her abilities and secondly save the locals from the evil king. King Harald is the evil ruler that wants to eliminate magic from his world, turning to scientist for the improvements in his life and his kingdom, imprisoning anyone who has magic abilities. The Snow Queen is considered evil to the kingdom, trapped in isolation in the Mirrorlands, she freezes other people who are sent there, only she isn’t the evil most people believe, she is also a victim of the King. We do meet the other characters that are trying to help Greda on her adventure to save the people that have become trapped in the Mirrorlands.

StoryThe story here follows Gerda, a young woman who is still waiting for her magical powers to be revealed, who needs to travel the land to save her family and friends from the king that wants to eliminate magic from the world. This is a story that focuses on needing to learn about your own importance to the world, with Gerda needing to wait for her powers to come out, while her good-nature will make her positive impact on everyone around her. This is part of a series, which might have references to previous films, which unfortunately I can’t tell you how important the last two were. It does have the clear message of seeing the world through other people’s eyes before judging them and accepting people are different in life.

ComedyThe comedy in the film does work well, with most being slapstick level, with how certain characters will always find themselves in situation they make mistakes in.

SettingsThe film does create a beautiful kingdom for the events to happen through, we see just how they different locations are crucial for the next chapter of the adventure.

AnimationThe animation through the film does look great, right up there with the best companies in the business today.

Scene of the Movie – Anders book.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not knowing if the previous films have plot points I would need to know about.

Final Thoughts This is a fun animated movie that could be enjoyed by the family, it has a nice runtime for the younger audience to enjoy too.

Overall: Enjoyable.

Signature Entertainment presents Snow Queen: Mirrorlands in Cinemas nationwide July 10th

Silhouette (2019) Movie Review

Director: Mitch McLeod

Writer: Mitch McLeod (Screenplay)

Starring: April Hartman, Tom Zembrod, Jessica Dawn Willis, Savannah Solsbery, Kim Foster, Suzanne Racz

Plot: Silhouette is the story of Jack and Amanda Harms who, after the passing of their young daughter, set out into seclusion to begin their lives anew. Quickly upon their arrival, things go awry when the sins of their past come back to haunt them.

Tagline – This will hurt.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Darkness Filled Horror

Story: Silhouette starts when Amanda (Hartman) and Jack (Zembrod) are looking to try and rebuild their life after the death of their young daughter, they find a new home, with an attempt to set up their own new home for a fresh start.

Amanda does start to see figures around the house, with most of them reminding her of their daughter Sarah (Solsbery) only for these moments to bring bigger fear haunting Amanda in the new home.

Thoughts on Silhouette

Characters – Amanda is the grieving mother that has been struggling more with the loss of their daughter, she is in therapy, as she searches for answers, she starts believing she is seeing her daughter, which makes her question her husband and own sanity. Jack is the husband that is trying to support Amanda, only she believes he is cheating on her, he doesn’t see the horrors that she is seeing, while being the one that tries to push her into starting again. Dawn is a neighbour that turns the head of Jack, Amanda takes an instant dislike towards her too, leaving her feeling sorry for trying to be welcoming.

PerformancesApril Hartman in the leading role, does show the grief and fear her character is going through well, where she shows the uncertainty about what is happening. Tom Zembrod is the husband and he shows the patient and frustration well through the film too, with Jessica Dawn Willis completing the main cast here as the friendly neighbour.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that are trying to start a fresh life after the death of their young daughter, Amanda is taking it harder, which sees her start to see things around the house and experience things at night, while her husband Jack seems to be moving further away from here. This is a story that addresses the problems with grief, how losing a child will change anyone in different ways, bringing out a side that can create anything. This will leave you with a shock conclusion that does take longer to reach than it needs to, because we do spend too much time dealing with the husband’s activities, not enough on the struggles of Amanda.

HorrorThe horrors in the film come from what Amanda is experience, we never get a clear look at what she is going through, which only adds to the horror, both in her head and in her reality.

SettingsThe film uses the new home for a fresh start idea, this does mean whatever is causing the hauntings is attracted to the person, not the building, showing us how even the best wishes for change, aren’t always going to help cure pain.

Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much attention to the Husband’s actions.

Final Thoughts This is a horror that builds up the tension in the film, filling the darkness with the unknown and showing grief will haunt someone for years.

Overall: Tension Filled Horror.

The Spy (2019) Movie Review

Director: Jens Jonsson

Writer: Harald Rosenlow-Eeg, Jan Trygve Royneland (Screenplay)

Starring: Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Rolf Lassgard, Damien Chapelle, Alexander Scheer, Erik Hivju, Edvin Endre

Plot: Sonja Wigert is a diva and star in Stockholm when WW2 breaks out, rapidly getting attention from the Nazi officer Josef Terboven. She’s then recruited by Swedish intelligence as a spy, but Terboven makes her spy on the Swedes.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Spy Thriller 101

Story: The Spy starts as we see entertainer Sonja Wigert (Berdal) wow the crowds in Sweden, she has drawn the attention of new Nazi leader of the country Josef Terboven (Scheer). As it becomes clear the Andor Gellert (Chapelle) would like to keep Sonja around, the Swedish intelligence turn to her to start spying on him, giving them crucial information during the war.

As Sonja gets closer to Josef, she meets Hungarian officer Andor, she starts to find herself being torn between finding the secrets, giving away secret or just being with a man that she loves.

Thoughts on The Spy

Characters – Sonja Wigert is a star of the stage, a diva that turned heads across Scandinavia, performing in Sweden she grabs the attention on a Nazi leader and is drawn into getting close to him in an attempt to get information for the intelligence in Sweden, she is left in the middle of wanting to help the people or the feelings she is having for a man that is considered the enemy. Andor Gellert is the Nazi solider placed into a position of power in Sweden, he falls for Sonja, proving to her that not every Nazi is as evil as the stories have been made out. We od have the Swedish handler, trying to keep Sonja on the right path when it comes to learning the truth and collecting information.

PerformancesIngrid Bolso Berdal is great in the leading role, she brings the presence to the stage, the insecurity off the stage and what it means to show falling in love. Damien Chapelle is strong too, which is what we will see from the whole cast in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a star and diva that is drawn into the world of espionage during World War II as she is forced to spy on the Nazis, while falling in love with her mark and being left in a position of not knowing which side to help out the most. When it comes to seeing what people have achieved in history, this will give another glimpse into the life on one of those people. The idea we watch Sonja getting caught up in the middle of what she wants to do or what she is expected to do, does come through strongly through the film.

Biopic/WarThe biopic side of the film shows what Sonja did during the war, it shows what she was forced into, risked and changed over the time.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the different environments that Sonja finds herself in, with it in the entertainment world and the shady underworld.

Scene of the Movie – The time away.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t seem to see many secrets exchanged.

Final ThoughtsThis is a romantic thriller that shows how somebody can be drawn into the world without knowing where to stand in the middle of the war.

Overall: Wartime thriller 101

Signature Entertainment release The Spy on DVD and Digital HD 29th June

Shepherd: The Hero Dog (2019) Movie Review

Director: Lynn Roth

Writer: Lynn Roth (Screenplay) Asher Kravitz (Novel)

Starring: Ayelet Zurer, Ken Duken, August Maturo, Levente Molnar, Lois Robbins, Rebeka Rea

Plot: SHEPHERD is based on the award-winning and bestselling Israeli novel, “The Jewish Dog,” by Asher Kravitz. Kaleb, a beloved German Shepherd, is separated from his Jewish family when the Nuremberg Laws are enacted in WWII Berlin. He is adopted by an SS Officer who trains him to attack and round up Jews at a concentration camp. Kaleb is well cared for and good at his job until one day when he is distracted by a familiar scent. His original master, a young boy named Joshua, has arrived as a prisoner of the camp. Kaleb has not lost his loyalty to Joshua who finds solace in secretly visiting his dog at night. Joshua’s life is at risk. Together they escape the camp and after months of near-death experiences, they are found by partisans who help Joshua make safe passage to Israel.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Heart Warming

Story: Shepherd: The Hero Dog starts when young Joshua (Maturo) and his family have a new litter of German Shepherds, which Joshua becomes extreme close to one Kaleb, only when the Nazis start to take over their home town of Nuremberg, the Jewish family must rehome the dogs after becoming prohibited from owning pets.

Being rehomed, Kaleb finds himself alone is the city crumbling, with his original family long gone, he becomes a stray Kaleb is captured and trained by a German solider to hunt Jews and work on the prison camps, only for Joshua to arrive at the camp, with Kaleb leading him to freedom away from the camp.

Thoughts on Shepherd: The Hero Dog

Characters – Joshua is the young Jewish boy who becomes close to a German Shepherd puppy, the two have a bond which gets broken when Joshua’s parents are forced into getting rid of the dogs. Joshua finds himself separated from his family in a concentration camp. He is assigned to look after the animals, which just so happens to include Kaleb. Kaleb is the dog that gets confused about being rehomed and only wants to get back to his home, his family and Joshua. He thrives as a stray and looks to do the right thing if he sees people in danger. He is trained to hunt Jews, until he wants to save Joshua from the camp, where he knows his fate. We do meet the solider that trains Kaleb, as well as other people who support Joshua in the camp.

PerformancesAugust Maturo as young Joshua is the strongest performer, even though most of the work in the film comes from seeing the dog’s interactions, nobody is bad in this film no matter which location we meet them through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a dog taken away from his family, trained by Nazis before saving his former owner from a concentration camp. The story does show how the war affected a dog, we know the devastation the human factor had, but spinning this to an animal’s point of view, we get to see something new, we see the bond a dog will have with a child and shows just how it could never be broken. We do have strange few moments of memories, which show how the dog will remember good, even from a bad person.

SettingsThe film uses the locations to show us the different chapters of Kaleb’s life, while we know the locations would have a darker side to them, which isn’t shown to the full effect in the film.

Scene of the Movie – The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not dark enough.

Final Thoughts This is a heart-warming tale of one boy and his dog during one of the darkest moments in human history.

Overall: Nice Dog Drama.

Signature Entertainment presents Shepherd: The Hero Dog on Digital HD from June 29th