ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – U – UFO (2018) Movie Review

Director: Ryan Eslinger

Writer: Ryan Eslinger (Screenplay)

Starring: Alex Sharp, Gillian Anderson, Ella Purnell, Benjamin Beatty, Cece Abbey, David Strathairn

Plot: A college student, who sees a UFO, uses his exceptional math skills to investigate the sighting with his friends while the FBI follows closely behind.


Tagline – Sightings are never a coincidence. The cover-up ends here.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Deep Mystery

Story: UFO starts when a UFO sighting happens over an airport, the FBI look to get control of the situation with Franklin Ahls (Strathairn) leads the covering up process, which is going well until student Derek (Sharp) starts looking into the maths behind the sighting, trying to understand what it might have been and the size of it.

The more Derek dives into the study, the more attention he gathers from the FBI, putting his own life on the line, his studies under the brilliant Professor Hendricks (Anderson) and his lab partner Natalie (Purnell), all to uncover the truth.

Thoughts on UFO

Characters – Derek is a brilliant math student, he can always put together problems, always looking for something outside of the logic, which sees him challenge his professor, he gets caught up in wanting to study a UFO sighting, which he believes does have a deeper meaning, only he will see himself being put under pressure by the FBI. Professor Hendricks is the strict teacher of Derek’s she doesn’t take any arguments from her students but does believe they are ready for greatness, with Derek being one of her very best. Natalie is the lab partner of Derek’s she starts to be left feeling distant and doesn’t want to ruin her own chances of success. Franklin Ahls is running the FBI task force to cover up the event, he doesn’t need it spreading but will listen to theories about the truth.

PerformancesAlex Sharp is great as the student who will push the limits of his greatness, he shows how obsession can take over somebody’s life. Gillian Anderson makes for a great choice for the professor role, with Ella Purnell struggling to make an impact with her character showing the distance Derek is creating between his friends. David Strathairn is always going to be somebody who could be a military or government professional with ease.

StoryThe story here follows the aftermath of a UFO sighting, which sees a brilliant maths student put his studies on hold to try and uncover the mystery behind the signal that has been left from the visit, while the FBI are trying to cover everything up. This is a UFO based story unlike anything you have seen before, it looks more into the science behind everything that has come from the message we set into space and how if we got a reply, what might happen. We do have a lot of mathematical talk, which will go over plenty of people’s heads along with the astrophysics behind it all. It is nice not to have the biggest creation of a villain, a story that people are working towards the same thing.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery in this film comes from the message in a signal, which shows us how the sci-fi side of the film coming from the idea that we might have got a message back from the message we sent into space.

SettingsThe film does take place in Cincinnati, it shows the airport where the first incident happens and the university that Derek attends, it is all about creating an environment to study about the truth.


Scene of the Movie – The meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much technical talk.

Final Thoughts This is a sci-fi film that is trying to be very deep, which is achieves, though it does get too complicated for its own good at times.

Overall: Deep Sci-Fi Film.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – U – Under the Tree (2017)

Director:  Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson

Writer:  Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, Huldar Breiðfjörð (Screenplay)

Starring: Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson, Edda Björgvinsdóttir, Sigurður Sigurjónsson,
Þorsteinn Bachmann, Selma Björnsdóttir

Plot: When Baldwin and Inga’s next door neighbours complain that a tree in their backyard casts a shadow over their sundeck, what starts off as a typical spat between neighbours in the suburbs unexpectedly and violently spirals out of control.


Tagline – Two Families. One Tree. A Bloody Mess.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Quirky Dark Comedy

Story: Under the Tree starts when Atli gets kicked out by his wife for watching porn, which happens to star him and a woman they know, he is forced to move back into his parents Inga and Baldvin who have their own problems, being in a bitter battle with the neighbours Konrad and Eybjorg about an overhanging tree.

As the battle between the family’s starts getting more personal, the mystery about Inga’s missing son starts to come to the forefront, while Atli is doing everything he can to put his life back together, without getting any success along the way.

Thoughts on Under the Tree

Characters – Atli is caught by his wife watching an old sex tap of himself with another woman, he kicked out and spends the time trying to put his life back together, trying to make sure he gets time with his daughter, with his wife not willing to give him any time of day, he will cross the lines, though he is doing this in an act of desperation. Inga has taken the rivalry with the neighbours much more personally than her husband, she gets into a battle which will see her do things she shouldn’t even consider, while deep dpwn she is dealing with grief about the loss of her own son. Baldvin is the long suffering husband that is willing to talk out the problems with the neighbours, but is caught up needing to support his wife, even turning on her with her actions. Konrad and Eybjorg are the neighbours that have simply asked for one thing and end up being the victims of all of Inga’s hate despite doing what they can to remain calm.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are wonderful, you do understand each characters mindset, why they are acting up the way they are, leading to the decisions which will only end up making their lives more difficult.

StoryThe story follows the lives of one family, the son who is trying tos save his marriage and his parents that get caught up in the middle of a battle over the position of a tree in the garden, which gets personal quickly. This does give us a story that is dealing with marriage troubles, where people get to a stage where they will make silly decisions, which could cost them everything, which does reflect just how petty the actions of the parent characters are, when it comes to the actions when arguing about a tree. We do go to a couple of very dark places in how everything unfolds, which is what makes this such a brutally honest way of seeing how people can make more out of nothing important.

Comedy/MysteryThe comedy in this film is very dark throughout, it shows the extremes that a bitter rivalry between neighbours can get, when things get out of hand. The mystery involved in the film does focus mostly on a missing cat, which is why the battle becomes more personal.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings simple, we see the neighbours going at it, trying to stay ahead of each other, keeping most of the action between the houses, with only Atli story stepping away from here.


Scene of the Movie – The Tree changes everything.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Inga is a truly horrible person.

Final Thoughts This is one of the darkest comedies you will see, it has a simple idea which focuses on neighbourly rivalry and how things can get out of hand so easily.

Overall: Dark comedy delight.

Small disclaimer, I haven’t used the actors names because I don’t have the correct way to spell them available on my computer.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – U – USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (2016)

Director: Mario Van Peebles

Writer: Cam Cannon, Richard Rionda Del Castro (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, Matt Lanter, James Remar, Brian Presley, Yutaka Takeuchi

 

Plot: During World War II, an American navy ship is sunk by a Japanese submarine leaving 890 crewmen stranded in shark infested waters.


Tagline – Based on a true story of survival.

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Confusing

 

Story: USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage starts when the USS Indianapolis is selected for a new mission, Captain McVay (Cage) must lead his ship solo in an attempt to deliver weapons on the secret mission, the ship can handle any ship or plane, but the weakness comes from submarines, which they usually have destroyers to help with.

After completing the mission they are returning home, when the ship gets torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, the men get scattered in the ocean with limit supplies and sharks waiting to pick them off, this turns into a battle to survive in wait for rescue.

 

Thoughts on USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage

 

Characters – Captain McVay has the respect of the crew, they know they can trust him, they know he will treat them well, he is part of the crew that is sunk, he will make sure his men are safe taking control in a fair way where everybody is given the same, he will spend his time searching for more crew. McWhorter is one of the crew that gets injured in the sinking, he fights through with McVay by his side. Lt Adrian Marks is a pilot that manages to finally find the crew while searching for lost planes. We do meet way too many crew members to keep on top of who was who in this film, which only confuses us while trying to keep on top of the cast.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is the highlight of the performances and he ends up making certain scenes feel like a comedy. Tom Sizemore does all he can, while Thomas Janes doesn’t have enough time to do anything. The overly large cast just makes everything confusing, making it hard to judge any of the performances.

StoryThe story looks at the history behind the USS Indianapolis sinking after delivery the weapons that bought about the end of the war. The story should be one that brings historical survival moment to life, instead we spend way too much time following too many characters just stranded in the water, which I understand is a big part of what happened, but seeing the political side of the story felt a lot more interesting. This is a story that does seem to end up falling into one that drags for way too long, we are left wondering just why we need to end up seeing too many characters, which makes it difficult to support any of the characters involved. This is hard to say because we know this really happened and these were real people of the horrors of war.

Action/History/WarThe action in the film is war based which is solid enough, to tell the historical moment at the end of the war.

SettingsThe film is set mostly in the ocean as the survivors need to wait in hope of rescue, surrounded by sharks with limited supplies.


Scene of the Movie –
Court Case.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis should be a much better movie when you see just how serious the story should be, sadly moments feel like comedy and it is hard to keep up with he pure number of characters involved.

 

Overall: Misses the point.

Rating

 

 

Union Bridge (2019) Movie Review

Director: Brian Levin

Writer: Brian Levin (Screenplay)

Starring: Scott Friend, Emma Duncan, Alex Breaux, Elisabeth Noone, Bobby J Brown, Lateicia Ford

Plot: After burning out in the city, Will Shipe is summoned back home where he uncovers dark truths about his family and the town he grew up in.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow Burner

Story: Union Bridge starts when Will Shipe (Friend) returns to his hometown to refresh his life, he learns one of his oldest friends Nick (Breaux) has lost the plot, turning to hopes of unearthing gold on the land, while Will meets Mary Burke (Duncan) that gives him the conversation he needs in his life right now.

The longer Will spends in the town, the stranger his nights become Will wants to get to the bottom of what is really going on in his old town before it is too late.

Thoughts on Union Bridge

Characters – Will grew up in this town, he moved away and started his own life, only when it got too much, he returns home, he sees his friend struggling with his own mentality and meets a new woman in his life. He sees something good from his return, only it is coming at a price with his sleeping turning into nightmares. Mary Burke is the woman that comes into Will’s life, she has mystery about herself, which may have a connection to why Will isn’t sleeping. Nick is the old friend that has now lost his job, he is searching for gold, mostly to take his mind off his dying mother.

PerformancesScott Friend in the leading role does a solid job, showing us how his character always seems to be learning about what is happening in his life. Emma Duncan works well as the mysterious woman entering somebody’s life. Alex Breaux shows the unstable side to his character well through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a man returning to his home town, where he starts seeing the changes in the town and trying to understand what has driven people to change the ways they have. In this story we do get to do the memory lane, it has the air of mystery about what is going on and leaves plenty out there for people to piece together. Everything builds up to make a conclusion that will give Will the most difficult decision of his life. The pace can be slow for large points in the film leading to things feeling like they are dragging along.

ThrillerThe film does create tension around what is happening within the town, Will is always on edge about what is happening.

SettingsThe film uses the small town setting to show us just how the return will see how Will remember moments and learn of change.


Scene of the Movie – The final night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The slow building can take too long.

Final Thoughts This is a slow burner that doesn’t quite spark the way it would like to, it ends up dragging along more than it needs to, without getting to the point quick enough.

Overall: Overly slow.

Una Great Movie (2020) Movie Review

Una Great Movie Premieres on the 14th February 2020 at Pan African Film & Arts Festival

Director: Jennifer Sharp

Writer: Jennifer Sharp (Screenplay)

Starring: JoNell Kennedy, Numa Perrier, Jake Olson, Jose Casasus

Plot: As a screenwriter takes notes from Hollywood executives, her beautiful diverse movie about a black American woman traveling to Mexico, slowly becomes a romantic comedy with an all-white cast. A quirky cerebral look into commercialism and greed, juxtaposed with a heartwarming movie that challenges stereotypes.


Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Important Look at the Hollywood System

Story: Una Great Movie starts as Zoe (Kennedy) is trying to sell her script in Hollywood, as she is telling the story we get to watch her lead character Susan (Perrier) travel to Mexico to look for a lost love, as the story continues, Zoe is forced and suggested different aspects to the character a story to help make it easier for producers to buy, only she isn’t comfortable about making all the changes.

As Zoe learns more about the Hollywood system she must look at the ideas they are offering her, with the idea of a known star Bryan Alonsio (Olson) taking the lead role, despite the fact he isn’t Mexican, imagining what he would be like in the story next to Susan.

Thoughts on Una Great Movie

Characters – Zoe is the screenwriter that believes she has her own brilliant screenplay, she has written a script that she understands the characters and is trying to pitch it to producers, each one seems to want to change things in her script, from changing the Mexican characters, the black lead and the motivation for the trip in her work. Zoe has support from friends, a support group, but her determination means she will start to change certain parts of her script hoping it will help get it made. Susan is the main character in the script, a woman heading to Mexico to look for a lost love, as Zoe is forced to change her script, we see the changes in Susan’s story, which helps show the differences in what Zoe wants and the generic figure the studios are looking for. Luis is the character that Susan is trying to get locate, the lost love, who has started his own life, only for his life to still be waiting for her. Bryan Alonsio is the actor everybody wants in their film, he is even suggested by one of the producers that wants him to play one of the Mexican characters in the film.

PerformancesJoNell Kennedy as the screenwriter shows us the struggles she is going through to get her script made, dealing with the questions about the work, while seeing the support from others. Numa Perrier is great as the character in the script, showing how the character should come to life and will be evolving in the process. The cast does include a mix of professional actors with non-actors to highlight the true identity of the Mexican community.

StoryThe story here follows a screenwriter who is trying to get her script turned into a film, only for her to find herself facing ideas that would change the film to become the generic Hollywood film, instead of using the realism that she dreams off, while also showing how the script would be evolving through the story. The story here is trying to highlight the big problem within the Hollywood system when it comes to diversity within the casting and the stereotypes producers want to follow, while spinning the reality of everything to show how everybody isn’t what Hollywood believes them to be. If we look just at the story, the idea that the story is evolving as the script ideas were being made, it does make it entertaining, because you don’t know what is coming next with the changes. This is an important story that shows the world to be clearer than a lot of people imagine it.

ComedyThe film does use moments of comedy to make fun of the changes that are being suggested, it does help get a laugh at certain moments during the film.

SettingsThe film uses two settings, we get to see Zoe in Hollywood, going through the different offices trying to sell the script, while also showing Susan the character in the film, enjoying her search in Mexico.


Scene of the Movie – Zoe gets help from an unlikely source.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The support group.

Final Thoughts This is a clever way to highlight the problems within the Hollywood system, showing stereotypes are still controlling how movies are made and taking the dreams of people who could bring us original.

Overall: Clever Statement.