ABC Film Challenge – Random – T – This is Where I Leave You (2014)

Director: Shawn Levy

Writer: Jonathan Tropper (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant

 

Plot: When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Must Watch

 

Story: This is Where I Leave You starts as the father of the house passes away, his dying wish is that his family respect Shiva which means the family must spend the week under one roof. This brings Judd (Bateman), Wendy (Fey), Phillip (Driver) and Paul (Stoll) to live with their mother Hillary (Fonda).

As the family comes together memories of the childhood come out as tensions between the siblings come out, as we see the family dynamics come out, we also get to see how the lives they siblings have been living haven’t gone the way they had planned, but most importantly how much they need the family.

 

Thoughts on This is Where I Leave You

 

Characters/PerformanceJudd is a big city producer who earns his wife has been cheating on him, he must return to his home town to be with his family after his father’s death but now he must look at himself and wondering whether he should take more chances in his life. Wendy is the only sister of the siblings who has been married with children but we see the regret in her life as she always wondered what could have been. Phillip is the youngster sibling that has been the loose cannon mostly acting up about not being able to live up to his elder siblings. Paul is the eldest sibling that has been running the family business and trying to start his own family but having troubles. Hillary is their mother that brings the family back together for the funeral, she has always controlled them but also let them live their own life. We also see loved ones and lost loves coming the lives the siblings have lived or are living.

Performance wise, we do have an all-star cast here with Jason Bateman is in the leading role he shows just how capable of an actor he can be, Tina Fey even steps away from the comedy she is known for very well too, Jane Fonda shows us once again she can never be forgotten just how skilled she is, Adam Driver continues to grow his ever-growing body of work with Corey Stoll continuing to make his move up the film world. We also have wonderful performances from the rest of the cast.

StoryThe story of the family coming back together for their father’s or husband’s funeral is one we have seen before, we get to see the problems the family has been having too. This is one of the good ones that covers everything, sure it does seem to be slightly too much for one family but this is one of the most interesting dynamics between the siblings over the weeklong visit.

Comedy/DramaThe comedy used isn’t about a laugh a minute, it is more about the light-hearted moments in life and the drama involved around it shows the relationships the people have with each other.

SettingsThe hometown setting shows how the people of the world have to come back to where it all started to look at how lives went.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best bringing the family together for a funeral to look at life, the what could have been, the where things are going and is easily one of the most powerful and interesting ones I have seen.

 

Overall: Wonderful family reuniting drama.

Rating

 

 

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Tomb Raider (2018)

Director: Roar Uthaug

Writer: Alastair Siddon, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Screenplay) Evan Daugherty, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Story)

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi

 

Plot: Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.


Tagline – Her legend begins.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Adrenaline Rush

 

Story: Tomb Raider starts as we meet Lara Croft (Vikander) a bike courier in and around London, she is independent and short of money. She learns a clue about her long time missing father Lord Richard (West) that shows Lara about the secret life he once lived as a treasure hunter.

Wanting answers Lara heads to Japan, the location of his case known case, the search for Himiko a story from Japanese legend, to learn the answers from the mysterious island, joined by Lu Ren (Wu) the son of the captain that also went missing with Richard, only to learn that her father wasn’t the only one after the legend, Mathias Vogel (Goggins) has his sights set on the tomb too. Lara will need to learn about her new identity before taking on the island and its secrets.

 

Thoughts on Tomb Raider

 

Characters – Lara Croft is the character we know from the video games, we had a couple of movies, but this is a fresh take on her. She is trying to be independent, she doesn’t live off the money her father has made, she isn’t even a treasure hunter, this is her origin into that life, her first adventure looking for her first treasure, the truth. We see a lot of Lara is action sequences, something we always want to see, we do see a vulnerable side to her too, which is important. Lord Richard Croft is Lara’s father, he made his fortune in business and loved his daughter, he has gone missing because of his secret life as a treasure hunter, he is the motivation for everything Lara does. Mathias Vogel is our villain, he is on the island searching for the same thing Richard did before Lara, stranded here until he gets what his employees are seeking, while he is a simple villain, he is never the leader of the people Lara is facing, just the general of this group. Lu Ren is a drunk captain that lost his father in the same mission that took Richard away from Lara, while has given up hope, Lara motivates him to go on an adventure to learn the truth.

PerformancesAlicia Vikander is great in this role, she has the look of Lara, she handles to vulnerable moments well and the action sequences on a level you wouldn’t have expected, but the accent does feel hit or miss at times. Dominic West is good in this role, he handles the mentor, father figure well through the film. Walton Goggins works very well in the villain role because he never over plays his character which he could easily have done. Daniel Wu brings us a fun supporting character that we would like to see in any further adventures too.

StoryThe story here follows Lara as she learns the truth about her father and his secret adventures, she is trying to hide away from the fact he is gone, but the clue she learns about sends her on the adventure that will kick start her love for treasure hunting. This is an origin story for Lara Croft, something the first films never gave us, this does work because we feel like she could get hurt or die at any moment, which isn’t always the case in a main character in peril situation. I do think the story plays out wonderfully for a video game adaptation because we learn about this life with Lara and are ready to follow her adventure.

Action/AdventureThe action sequences here are fantastic to watch, they all feel like you are playing the video game and wanting to help her jump, climb, hang on or whatever situation she finds herself in, each moment because increasingly more perilous for her too. This is what I would say is a perfect adventure fan movie, it has a reluctant character put into a situation of life or death and she thrives in it.

SettingsWe have wonderful use of setting here, I did worry at first because the London side of things didn’t interest for the start of the film, but once we hit the boat, it is everything you could imagine a treasure hunting movie would include.


Scene of the Movie –
The plane.

That Moment That Annoyed Me First arrival in Japan, I could never see a Lara who lives in London being so naïve about locals and security of property.

Final ThoughtsIf you want a video game movie that is fun, enjoyable and a blast, this one will be the one that gets it right, the action sequences are edge of your seat, the story is interesting and it keep everything so simple to follow.

 

Overall: The movie video game fans want.

Rating

 

 

To The Beat! (2018)

Director: Jillian Clare

Writer: Susan Bernhardt, Jillian Clare (Screenplay)

Starring: Laura Krystine, Brisa Lalich, Jayden Bartels, Veronica St Clair, Marie Wilson, Lilly Melger, Martha Madison

 

Plot: To The Beat follows 14 year old twins Mia and Mackie Castillo – dancers since they were toddlers. Beginning at just three years old, that’s been their one true passion. They support each other through competitions and rehearsals, even though they dance different styles. Mia loves tap and Mackie loves jazz. When their favorite pop star launches an online contest to find the most unique dance group for his next music video, the twins each form their own team to compete for the chance to dance in the video – enlisting their friends and family to help gain online votes. Meanwhile, their arch rival and neighbor, Avery, the best dancer of all (who knows it too) uses her charm and resources to get the upper hand in the competition.


Tagline – Dance for Love or Dance to Win

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Feel Good Family Film

 

Story: To the Beat starts when popstar Chris Trousdale (a real singer that I have never heard off) announces he is holding a contest for his latest video, teenage twins Mackie (Kystrine) and Mia (Lalich) believe they can make an impact, while rival neighbour and spoilt girl Avery (Bartels) goes full Veronica Salt (Yes, this is a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Reference) to get her chance.

With the twins having different dance techniques they compete in a friendly rivalry, while Avery is pushing people around like always, as the teenage girls battle for their dream.

 

Thoughts on To the Beat!

 

Characters – Mackie is one half of the twins, her dance style is jazz based, Mia the other half of the twins with her dance style of choice being tap. The two support each other in this contest and their own personal struggles of dealing with life after their father’s death, with their older sister and mother being their examples when it comes to chasing dreams. The two girls are perfect match without showing us any individual strengths or weaknesses. Avery is the Veronica Salt figure, she has always got what she wants, bossy and demanding throughout the film, she does get the funniest reactions with her behaviour.

PerformancesThe performances from the cast are good, Laura Krystine and Brisa Lalich as the twins get to show off dance techniques with both having different styles, they do have to handle moments of seriousness which they do handle well. Jayden Bartels will make you never want to have teenage daughters, this is because of the performance, she handles the character you are meant to hate with ease, that does need praising. It has to be said the girls in the groups are great performers and the actors playing the parents and families are good too.

StoryThe story follows 3 young teenage girls that love dance, that create teams to compete to be the dancers in a pop star’s latest video. This does show how competition can bring sisters closer and drive a rival into the selfish way. It shows us how coming together through struggles can bring light to life for the family that always got pushed to follow the dreams. There would be flaws here, we have teams, but we don’t learn about the rest of the teams, which should be just as important to what they are achieving.

Comedy/FamilyThe film will get you laughing throughout, mostly for how Avery reacts to anything happening to her, this does have all the feelings of a family film and the idea of coming together when needed.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show how the families are together in their support, the dance studios and the stage for the final battle is what you expect to see.


Scene of the Movie –
Final performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning about the rest of the team, even the names of the characters would have been nice, as they are chasing the same dream.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that you can see your teenage daughter loving, it does have wonderful dance routines and a coming together when one family needed it, encourages the idea of enjoying yourself while chasing your dreams and doing everything to take that one chance which comes your way.

 

Overall: Family dance film that will make you smile.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – T – Titanic (1997)

Director: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron (Screenplay)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton

 

Plot: A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.


Tagline – Collide With Destiny

Runtime: 3 Hours 14 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Masterpiece in Cinema

 

Story: Titanic starts as treasure hunter Brock Lovett (Paxton) and his team are searching the Titanic wreckage for any remaining treasure that could make them rich, on their latest voyage they find a picture of woman wearing a long-lost necklace, the heart of the ocean. With this picture becoming international news Rose (Stuart) comes aboard the ship to tell her story of her trip in the doomed ship.

Returning to 1912 we follow Rose (Winslet) from a rich family using the trip with her fiancée Cal (Zane) to return to America to start their life together. Jack (DiCaprio) on the other hand wins his ticket in a poker game to be a passenger on the ship, in the third class.

As the two get involved in a chance meeting, Rose is shown the life that is care free away from her prim and proper lifestyle that she has only ever been shown, the two fall in love in their short time together but after the ship hits the iceberg, they must battle to survive the fateful night as the panic of the tragic event occurs.

 

Thoughts on Titanic

 

Characters – Rose is shown to us in two different times, we first meet the modern day one, well 1997 where she has lived the life she had always dreamed off, now she gets to return to the Titanic wreckage to tell her story of events on the maiden voyage that will be remembered forever. The other Rose we meet is the younger one, the 19 year-old that is moving to America to start her life of luxury with her fiancée Cal, at this age she isn’t sure this is what she wants and meeting Jack shows her a new look and even a new love in life, she takes risks that she would never have even imagined taking before meeting Jack. Jack Dawson is a drifter, artist and traveller of the world, winning his ticket in a game of poker, he sees this as his chance to return to America with his new craft, he falls for Rose and his carefree lifestyle shines on her and he is shunned by anyone in the first class of the ship. Cal is the fiancée of Rose, he has used his wealth to get all the benefits in life, he looks down on anyone not from the same class as himself and takes an instant dislike to Jack, he tries to control Rose’s every decision making him the villain of the piece. We have the controlling mother, the fish out of water with money in Molly who steals nearly every scene being the only one that can relate to Jack and the portrays of the real people behind the ship tragedy.

PerformancesLeonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet became international A-Listers after this movie, their performances are fantastic and showed the world the talent they both had at this early moments of their career. Billy Zane does make a great villainous character through this film and you will find yourself hating his character. Kathy Bates is fantastic too in a role you could have watched all day long. The whole cast is fantastic in this film and their performances show us just how good they are.

StoryThe story shows us one of the most tragic moments in modern human history, this sinking of the Titanic, an accident in which no one was prepared for, seeing the supporting characters who are based on the real people is fascinating to see how they were to believed to have acted, saying this the love story does feel very forced and having one person telling the story doesn’t give us the understand how she would know what other people were doing at the times without her in the movie. Clocking up at over 3 hours, this story never seems to find a low point well telling the story of this tragedy.

RomanceThe weakest part of the film here, because this event didn’t need a fictional love story which in all fairness is a by the book routine love story of the rich meets poor.

SettingsThe creation of the Titanic for the setting is fantastic, as we follow the journey you feel like you are part of this doomed voyage which is filled with the beauty of first class and the cramped conditions of third class.

Special EffectsThe visual effects used in this movie were ground-breaking at the time, they stand this test of time and deserved any credit the team working on this got.


Scene of the Movie –
The search for survivors, is haunting, disturbing and tragic.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How would Rose know what people were doing in her story.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the greatest movies of all time, a record breaking in its own right, career making, career defining and moment in history that will forever be stuck in tragic events.

 

Overall: Brilliant, and a must watch

Rating

 

 

The Terrible Two (2018)

Director: Billy Lewis

Writer: Billy Lewis (Screenplay)

Starring: Donny Boaz, Cari Moskow, Reid Doyle

 

Plot: This horror/paranormal thriller follows the lives of Albert and Rose Poe over the course of 4 days that happens to include the one year anniversary of their 5 and 6 year old daughters deaths. The day the girls died was their birthdays too. We soon learn there is more to the girls deaths and the house the Poe’s thought was their safe haven.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks the Punch

 

Story: The Terrible Two starts as we learn that Rose (Moskow) and Albert Poe (Doyle) have reached the one-year anniversary after the death of both their young daughters, Albert has tried his hardest to put that day behind him and carry on with life, while Rose still has attachment to their toys.

Once the day passes Rose starts believing she is hearing the voices of her daughters, while Albert tries to hold things together even after he starts seeing strange things around the house.

 

Thoughts on The Terrible Two

 

Characters – Rose and Albert are both the parents, both have been dealing with the tragic death of their daughters in different ways, Albert by keeping busy and trying to move on. Ros on the other hand has struggled, using their toys to try and keep an attachment to them, trying to deny what had happened.

PerformancesThe performances are not the best here, both the two leads struggle to make the impact they need to for the story to make an impact with their character decisions.

StoryThe story here seems to get confused and fails to grab any focus on either of the two stories we are focusing on, we have Rose that seems to be investigating while potentially losing her mind, but then stops, we had over the Albert who gets told about the history of the house which doesn’t end up coming full circle. We seem to go down storyline branches and only seem to forget the previous scene I could see what was planned (I think) it just doesn’t use the focus direction it needed.

HorrorThe horror in the film just doesn’t reach the levels it starts to head towards, we are left to see the build without the payoff.

SettingsThe film keeps everything inside the house which does help as this is where the accident happens and the parents must move on after it.

Special EffectsThe effect are solid enough, but you can see them being used for the CGI moments.


Scene of the Movie –
Learning the event.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Failing to focus on the storyline directions.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappoint horror that does miss the marks it was aiming for, the idea works, just isn’t executed well enough.

 

Overall: Disappointing horror movie

Rating