ABC Film Challenge – Animation – U – Up (2009)

Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

Writer: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson (Screenplay) Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo

 

Plot: Seventy-eight year old Carl Fredricksen travels to Paradise Falls in his home equipped with balloons, inadvertently taking a young stowaway.


Tagline – Fly Up to Venezuela

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fantastic

 

Story: Up starts as two children Carl and Ellie fall in love because of their love of adventure and how they idolise the same man, Charles Muntz an explorer that became disgraced. The two have a full life with the ups and downs till they reach old age where Ellie sadly dies before Carl ever got the chance to take her to Paradise Falls (Bring you tissues).

Carl being forced out of his home by a ruthless business decides to take the home to Paradise Falls, Venezuela for a tribute to her with balloons, only to discover that Russell a wilderness explorer has become his stowaway on his adventure. Once at Paradise Falls Carl and Russell must work together to get the house to the location only to find themselves in the middle of a hunt for a giant bird that Russell adopts it calling it Kevin and the area is filled talking dogs including the hapless Dug. The adventure will put Carl against his idol Charles Muntz who has been hiding in Paradise Falls hoping to capture the bird.

 

Thoughts on Up

 

Characters – Carl Fredricksen has spent his life with his wife Ellie, the two are both adventurers at heart, he promised her from the moment they met he would take her to Paradise Falls, only for life to get in the way, once she passes, he sets out take their home there to honour her only along the way he needs to learn to open his heart to care for people again. Russell is the wilderness explorer trying to earn his last badge for helping the elderly, he wants to help Carl do something simple like cross the street only to find himself on the adventure, gaining a father figure along the way. Charles Muntz is the explorer that was famed for his adventures, only be become disgraced for not bringing back a live specimen to be studied. He has spent his life in Paradise Falls searching for one and willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. Dug is the outsider of the dogs that Muntz controls, he becomes friends with Carl and helps them in the troubles they are facing.

StoryThe story here follows a man who has lived his whole life waiting for adventure and once he loses his wife he goes on the adventure he promised his wife, along the way he learns that he has the adventure waiting for, one his wife would be proud of him going on. He learns to let people in again finding a new meaning for life. There is a story of peril as Carl must fight against his idol who has become obsessed with capture a bird which can take the back burner for most of the deeper meaning.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure shows us that you can go on an adventure at any age and the one they go on is wonderful to see.

SettingsThe films uses the settings well, the opening location is the busy city which has evolved through Carl’s life and the Paradise Falls look breath-taking.

AnimationThe animation looks fantastic which is what we would expect from Pixar.


Scene of the Movie –
Carl & Ellie’s life together opening sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Trying to figure out why Carl gets kicked out of his house?

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of Disney’s best movies off all time, it is brilliant, it will leave you in tears after ten minutes and make you laugh the next ten minutes.

 

Overall: Brilliant, emotional and fantastic.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – U – Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (1998)

Director: Jeff Woolnough

Writer: Peter M Lenkov (Screenplay)

Starring: Matt Battaglia, Andrew Jackson, Eric Bryson, Kevin Rushton, Desmond Campbell, Michael Copeman, Gary Busey, Burt Reynolds

 

Plot: The Universal Soldiers are used to smuggle diamonds for a CIA Director, but Luc Deveroux continues to cause him problems.


Tagline – No memory. No emotion. No mercy… Until one of them decides to become human again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Ouch!

 

Story: Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms starts as Luc Devreaux (Battaglia) has escaped with reporter Veronica (West) the only known living members of the universal Soldier project run by Otto Mazur (Busey). Wanting Luc back they set out his programming to return to base where Veronica must track him down while avoiding the law.

When Veronica reaches the base, she must sneak in (as you do) and work with Luc’s long lost brother Eric (Wincott) another member of the program to rescue him and stop Otto’s plans.

 

Thoughts on Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms

 

Characters – Luc Devreaux is the universal soldier, one of the last ones standing and now he has been reprogramed, but can his memories be stirred to bring back the human side from inside him. Veronica is the reporter that has found out the secret about the program and now she wants to expose it with Luc, she will do what it takes to save Luc from the base. Eric is the elder brother of Luc’s he has been missing for years, but he is one of the original universal soldiers now he works to save his brother. Otto is the recruiter for the program, he finds the dead soldiers, or he makes his own to keep the program filled for his bosses.

PerformancesDo I want to talk about the acting, well no because most of it is almost painful to watch through the film, Matt Battaglia doesn’t come close to Jean-Claude Van Damme and for the rest they are better but nothing overly convincing.

StoryThe story follows the idea of the universal soldiers being developed and how the government want it kept a secret. The story lacks the punch that the first one had, it does feel like the pilot for a television show which was the point. The story doesn’t have the twists but does want to continue to world build.

Action/Sci-Fi The action is also messy, we get too many cuts with not enough pure fighting which you would have had with Van Damme. The idea of enhanced soldiers works for the story, but we don’t get enough time to see everything going on with the project.

SettingsThe settings do feel almost pointless, we don’t get much happening with knowing as the we have plenty of random roads and no iconic buildings.

Special EffectsThe effects continue to show the weak points off the film which doesn’t connect the way they should.


Scene of the Movie –
Karaoke time

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just the acting in general.

Final ThoughtsThis is a pretty poor to terrible action sequel, the film just doesn’t hit the marks the other films in the franchise have and you will be left disappointed by the end.

 

Overall: Universally Bad.

Rating

 

 

The Unwilling (2016)

Director: Jonathan Heap

Writer: Jonathan Heap, David Lipper (Screenplay)

Starring: David Lipper, Dina Meyer, Lance Henriksen, Bree Williamson, Austin Highsmith, Levy Tran

 

Plot: After the death of a much despised patriarch, a mysterious box shows up during the reading of the will, forcing the family to reckon with each of their own deadly sins.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Clever Idea

 

Story: The Unwilling starts when Father Harris (Henriksen) dies bringing his family together for the will reading, they must go to David’s (Lipper) house because of his OCD, the rest of the family and new connection include Michelle (Meyer), Cheryl (Williamson), Kelly (Highsmith) Darren (Thomas), Rich (Rusier).

The reading doesn’t go as expected when a mysterious box arrives and the family must put their differences aside to learn the reason why they have been summoned for this event.

 

Thoughts on The Unwilling

 

Characters – David is the owner of the house the event takes place, he suffers from agoraphobia and OCD, he is the first to suspect that his father might be haunting them from beyond the grave, we get to see about his troubles through the film. Michelle is the sister of David, divorced from Rich and escaped from the home at childhood. Father Harris is the man that has died and bought his family together for his will reading. The rest of the characters are what w know from this style of movie, though Cheryl seems different to what we know when it comes to the young woman with older rich guy as she does have intelligence and medical training instead of just being a bimbo.

PerformancesThe performances in this movie are the weakest part of the film, mostly because we have a lot of over reacting screaming, a stoner that is beyond annoying and the playing into the OCD too much while not being consistent.

StoryThe story shows a family coming back together to read a will only for things to take a turn when a mysterious box arrives, it soon becomes a battle to survive. Where this story becomes fascinating is when everything gets rolling and the story goes into direction you wouldn’t imagine it going in and with a final third that is wonderful to see unfold.

ThrillerThe film uses the thriller genre well because it builds the tension between the characters and keeps us guessing just where the film could go in the later part.

SettingsThe film takes in the home of David, it keeps the story in one location and shows it isn’t within walking distance to anywhere else.

Special EffectsThe effects in the movie are used well enough, one moment stands out more than the rest with a mirror.


Scene of the Movie –
Mirror sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Darren character got very annoying quickly as a stoner.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that that does start slow and doesn’t have most interesting characters, but once we get into the story it becomes one of the most interesting ones in a long time.

 

Overall: Great story unfolding.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – U – Untraceable (2008)

untracDirector: Gregory Hoblit

Writer: Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker, Allison Burnett (Screenplay) Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker (Story)

Starring: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hurt, Peter Gray Lewis

 

Plot: FBI agent Jennifer Marsh is tasked with hunting down a seemingly untraceable serial killer who posts live videos of his victims on the Internet. As time runs out, the cat and mouse chase becomes more personal.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dark Thriller

 

Story: Untraceable starts as we meet a partnership within the FBI computer division where Jennifer Marsh (Lane) and Griffin Dowd (Hanks) search for cybercrimes. This is show as we see how good the pair are at tracking down and capturing the criminals.

The main story starts when Jennifer discovers a website called ‘Kill With Me’ showing a tortured cat that can’t be closed down. When the killer returns, he picks a human victim with brings in Detective Eric Box (Burke) to work with Jennifer to figure out the motive behind the killer’s actions.

 

Thoughts on Untraceable

 

StoryWe all like to see a good dark crime thriller and this story delivers on that, we get plenty of graphic murders happening by the killer as we are left to wonder just what his motives are. I do think we have a killer with good motives once we learn them and I also like how everything in circled around societies new obsession with the internet and viral videos. This is a crime story I would expect that fans of the genre to enjoy even if certain elements are slightly too dark for some.

Crime/Mystery/Thriller We get a crime story that is full of the everything you need for an intense thriller that shows just how dark crimes can be when you looking for why the crime is taking place. We do have the mystery side of the story as we have to figure out why the killer is committing these crimes.

Characters/PerformanceWhen it comes to the characters Jennifer Marsh is developed to be the solo parent who seems to be the only one smart enough to figure out how to stop the killer, well her and her partner Griffin. When you look at the Detective Box character you are left wondering how he was in that position because he has no clue about the crimes going on. The killer does have good motives but in the end we are left feeling he is defeated slightly too easily. I do think the performances are all good without being considered any of the best of that year.

SettingsI think the settings are solid because the killer wants it hard to find him but in the end, nothing feels like it is anything special to where the events of the film take place.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good dark thriller I do think people can enjoy even if it is too dark for the casual fans.

 

Overall: Deliciously dark crime thriller that tries to push boundaries with the killer.

Ratingcard

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – U – Up in the Air (2009)

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer: Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (Screenplay) Walter Kirn (Novel)

Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Amy Mortonm Melanie Lynskey, J.K. Simmons, Sam Elliot, Danny McBride

 

Plot: Ryan Bingham enjoys living out of a suitcase for his job traveling around the country firing people, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a potential love interest and a new hire.


Tagline – From Paramount Pictures comes the story of a man ready to make a connection

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Comedy Drama

 

Story: Up in the Air starts as we meet Ryan Bingham (Clooney) whose job involves travelling around America firing people for companies, he loves being on the road clocking up countless air miles. When young analyst Natalie Keener (Kendrick) comes to Ryan’s boss Craig (Bateman) with an idea that could cut the costs by running the process from the office meaning Ryan and his team are grounded.

To prove his value to the company and show Natalie the ropes, Ryan must take Natalie on the journey to show her how personal the process is and how important the job is too him. Along the way he teaches her life lesson along with his new friend Alex (Farmiga) who enjoys a similar lifestyle.

 

Thoughts on Up in the Air

 

Characters – Ryan Bingham has a career in travelling around firing people for companies, he has it down to an art form, be in conducting the firings or travelling through the airport. He doesn’t like commitment and when he learns that his job is going to be minimized and grounded from travelling, he sets out to prove to his boss and the young woman who created the idea how importance of the personal approach is during this process. Natalie is the young idealistic woman that believes she can help the company save money by taking the role away from Ryan and his co-workers travelling expense, she has her life planned out, but spending time with Ryan she learns more about what life is really about and how to not take away the personal touch out of the process. Alex is a woman that Ryan meets on the road, she travels as often as he does, they start a relationship and meeting her helps Ryan realize what he wants from life.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is brilliant in this role, his biggest strength has always been to be the confident guy that excels at his job and he gets to show this in every scene as we learn from his characters decisions. Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are both wonderful in their supporting roles, they both get to help Ryan understand different generations of goals.

StoryThe story follows one man whose dream job is being downsized for economic reasons as he must look to show a young woman who has come up with the plan for this process. We get to look at a couple of big life issues going on here, first we see how companies are always looking to downsize for financial reasons, second focuses on the loneliness people have when they focus on their careers, and third just how the plans people believe to have can never go as planned. This is one of the most interesting stories that seems like it has got to a newer level than ever before.

RomanceWe have moments of romance which don’t overshadow the dramatic moments as we light-heartedly follow the story unfold.

SettingsThe film takes us all over America to see different reactions from different people about losing their jobs.


Scene of the Movie –
Letting loose.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I did enjoy every moment of this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful and delightful movie that hits all the levels it aims for, for me this is the best Clooney performance of his career and handles the sensitive subject of downsizing and unemployment.

 

Overall: Truly enjoyable movie.

Rating