ABC Film Challenge – Animation – V – Valley of the Lanterns (2018) Movie Review

Director: Caleb Hystad

Writer: Caleb Hystad (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Samantha Ferris, Thomas Haddaway-Graham, Ian Hanlin, Jonathan Love, Nicole Oliver

Plot: An old woman’s hold on the past puts her family’s future in jeopardy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Animation 101

Story: Valley of the Lanterns starts as young village boy Porter is asked to help his mysterious grandmother Olistene out with her work, she builds lanterns for the village for a yearly celebration, all while searching for her own mystery that has been a lifetime of searching for.

When Olistene finds the secret, she ends up putting the village in an endless cycle, which sees her living the same day on repeat trying to fix the problem she created.

Thoughts on Valley of the Lanterns

Characters – Olistene is the grandmother of the family that builds the village lanterns every year for a celebration, all while searching for her own solution to the magic, she is willing to teach her grandson about the ways of the lanterns, until she finds herself repeating the same year over again, looking for a different outcome to save the village from repeating the day. Porter is the grandson that enjoys kicking a ball around, but is being encouraged to learn from his grandmother, passing on the traditions of the family. Keelan is one of the few people that bought into the cycle, where his greed puts Olistene in a difficult position of wanting to fix things or get what he wants.

StoryThe story here follows a woman that has found herself repeating the same year, a special day for the village, where her magic has caught everyone in a loop, where she needs to start finding a way to change things before it is too late for the people. This is a story that examines accepting time in life and seeing just how greed can leave people stuck in a cycle they can’t control, it also focuses on the idea of tradition still needing to be followed no matter what. This is told in a sweet way, that will appeal to the younger audience that are watching.

SettingsThe film keeps us in a small traditional village which has got plenty of history behind what has happened there and shows us just how close the community really is.

AnimationThe animation might not be the strongest, but it doesn’t hold it back from showing us just how the story is meant to be seen.

Scene of the Movie – The first change.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does play the repeat card too often with how everything happens.

Final Thoughts This is an easy watch animated movie, this can be enjoyed by all and without being anything overly complicated, with a nice sweet message behind it all.

Overall: Sweet Animation.

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – Z – Venus (2017) Movie Review

We are under Z because of star Zena Darawalla.

Director: Eisha Marjara

Writer: Eisha Marjara (Screenplay)

Starring: Debargo Sanyal, Jamie Mayers, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Zena Darawalla, Gordon Warnecke, Amber Goldfarb

Plot: A dramatic comedy about a transitioning woman who discovers that she’s the father of a 14 year old boy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Interesting Life Drama

Story: Venus starts as we meet Sid (Sanyal) a man that has been going for the transitional process to become a woman, almost reaching the final stages, when she learns that she has a son Ralph (Mayers) who has been searching for his father for years.

As Ralph continues to become distant from his own mother, he is starting to get closer and even accepting to Sid, unlike a lot of people in and around Sid’s own life, the parental figure is starting to get strong between the two, even though they never knew about each other.

Thoughts on Venus

Characters – Sid was born a man and is going through the transitional stage to become a woman, this goes against everything his Indian parent’s want to, well more his mother than his father, he gets funny looks in work and life, only to discover he fathered a child when at high school. She is in a relationship where she doesn’t get to show their love in public, where she is the one that is being hidden from the world. She is trying to break down his parents and with the son, she will get more acceptance from her mother. Ralph is the high school student who comes to Sid about being his son, he gets to hand out with Sid where he accepts his life choice and in return gets treated with more respect than his mother. Daniel is the partner of Sid, he is less willing to come out publicly which has always been the problem in their relationship, no matter how close they are with each other. Mamaji and Papaji are the parents that aren’t as supportive as they could be, they are very family orientated, which is why they can show signs of displeasure only to learn to love their child no matter what the choice in life will be.

PerformancesDebargo Sanyal in the leading role is great showing the difficult life anyone going through a transition would have different problems in life. Jamie Mayers is strong too, being the teen who has his own problems in life, while the rest of the supporting cast are solid enough without doing too much else.

StoryThe story here follows Sid who is going through the transition from a man to a woman only to discover they fathered a child while in high school, dealing with yet another problem in life, not only being a parent, but trying to get acceptance from their own family. The story does put the spotlight on the difficulties that anyone going through the transition would be facing in everyday life, how family will want to accept, but not always knowing how to embrace their choice. It also shows how learning to become a parent could be difficult too, with the pure shock of learning and not knowing how to be one. Dealing with the most difficult moments in life is the most important part of the film and they get the right time to shine.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy is more to do with reactions to certain moments, not looking for laughs like it could have, while the romance shows us what love could have been, what love was and how you need to show it.

SettingsThe film doesn’t go big with the settings, showing us the home environments for the three different families.

Scene of the Movie – Sid taking control.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t get enough about what happened in the past between Sid and the mother.

Final Thoughts This is an important look at how difficult life can be for anybody going through a transition, it shows how normal in life they are and the world can make things more difficult.

Overall: Important.

Valhalla: Legend of Thor (2019) Movie Review

Director: Fenar Ahmad

Writer: Fenar Ahmad, Adam August (Screenplay) Peter Madsen (Comics)

Starring: Roland Moller, Salome Gunnarsdottir, Patricia Schumann, Jacob Lohmann, Andreas Jessen, Lara Johanna Jonsdottir, Saxo Moltke-Leth, Cecilia Loffredo

Plot: The Viking children Røskva and Tjalfe embark on an adventurous journey from Midgard to Valhalla with the gods Thor and Loki. Life in Valhalla, however, turns out to be threatened by the dreaded Fenrir wolf and the god’s barbaric archenemies, the Jotnar. Side by side with the gods the two children must fight to save Valhalla from the end of the world – Ragnarok.

Tagline – Let the journey begin

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dark Norse God Story

Story: Valhalla: Legend of Thor starts in a small village where children Tjalfe (Moltke-Leth) and Roskva (Loffredo) live, they get visits from Gods, with Thor (Moller) being one of the most regular, Thor offers to take Tjalfe and Roskva back to Valhalla, the home of the Gods, with his brother Loki (Al-Jabouri), where the two will have a chance to learn about the home of the Gods.

As the two children learn more about Valhalla, they find themselves separated, with Roskva learning she could be part of a prophecy that could bring about the end of the Valhalla, with the Ragnarok event happening, the two must work with the Gods to stop this happening.

Thoughts on Valhalla: Legend of Thor

Characters – Tjalfe is the mortal who is selected to go to Valhalla, he is taken and takes his young sister in this journey, where he starts to lose his faith in the gods, falling into the hands of the giants, the greatest enemies of the gods. Roskva is the younger sister who learns her place in the world, she is bigger than the gods believed, being a sign for the end of the world in Valhalla, proving herself along the way. Thor is guiding the mortals through Valhalla, he isn’t like anything we have seen in comic book movies, but he is a warrior that will step up to any challenge, Loki is calmer and smarter that his brother, he will fight when needed, but is always needing to be watched.

PerformancesWe have a strong cast here with both child stars Cecilia Loffredo and Saxo Moltke-Leth both showing the learning side, while the God characters played by Roland Moller and Dulfi Al-Jabouri working very well too, being different to anything we have seen before.

StoryThe story here follows two mortals being taken to the world of the gods, where they find themselves important parts of the battle for power between the gods and giants. When you hear the name Thor, you automatically think of the Marvel superheroes, plenty of flash, only the original origins of Thor, Odin, Loki and others comes from Norse mythology, this story dives into the Norse mythology for the story showing the heroes like warriors instead of superheroes, what we end up with is something that we have seen many legends, myth or fables of the past achieve in the battle to survive. It does show us how gods were seen from the history behind them, showing us a new way to understand the heroes of the past.

AdventureThe adventure takes the two children are taken to a new world where they are able to make an impact in a fight for the land, a position they have never been able to be in at their home.

SettingsThe locations used are beautiful, with the open spaces being truly breath taking, while the interiors showing the darker environment the characters would be in.

Scene of the Movie – Fenrir first appearance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The contests.

Final Thoughts This is a much darker, but truer to the origin of the Norse gods mythology, it is an adventure that shows the reason for the connection between the two worlds.

Overall: Entertaining Mythology Movie.

Signature Entertainment presents Valhalla: Legend of Thor on DVD & Digital HD from June 29th

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – V – Videoman (2018)

Director: Kristian A Soderstrom

Writer: Kristian A Soderstrom (Screenplay)

Starring: Stefan Sauk, Lena Nilsson, Morgan Alling, Martin Wallstrom, Sven Wollter, Helena Jansson, Amanda Ooms

Plot: A VHS collector and a woman obsessed with the 80s, both alcoholics, initiates a romance that helps them battle their personal failures.

Tagline – A movie can turn your life around

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Memory Lane Thriller

Story: Videoman starts as we meet Ennio Midena (Sauk) who 20-years ago had the best video shop in Sweden, now with videos out of fashion, his collection is vast, but just not giving any money, even though he continues to add to the collection, with hopes of once again opening up a Video store, believing they will come back into fashion like vinyl to music.

When Ennio gets a call from infamous video collection Faceless, he agrees to sell her some of his collection for a large amount, which would solve some of the money problems Ennio is facing, only to learn that not many people live long after meeting Faceless, putting him on edge about his own well being and the new woman in his life Simone (Nilsson) who like him, is also obsessed with the 1980s.

Thoughts on Videoman

Characters – Ennio is a businessman, who made his money from a video store back in the 80s and 90s, now with the format dying out he want to make a comeback with his video collection being amongst the best in the world. He sees part of his collection attract a huge fee which could help clear his debts, just as he meets a new woman with the similar love of the 80s as him. He doe start to question his own reality after becoming obsessed certain parts of his collections are happening to him in real life. Simone is the assistant that is getting bogged down with work that she searches social media for attention when she isn’t drinking, her love for 80s doesn’t help he situation as most people in her life have moved on, until she meets Ennio. We do meet people in both their lives, with Simone having a tragic life of lost dreams, while Ennio meets his fellow collectors who give him the conversations about movies he enjoys the most.

PerformancesStefan Sauk and Lena Nilsson both give us wonderful leading performances, they both show the problems their characters are struggling through during the film. When we look into the supporting performances, everyone feels like they are in the world they are in.

StoryThe story does follow two people with their own addictions that find love through their addictions, they must look at their own life to see what is going wrong in their life and figure out if they can fix it before it is too late. We do get to see how one person is still hung up on an aging format, much like how we are seeing streaming services take over the modern media format, the collectors will always want hard copies of their love. We do get a serious look at how alcohol has taken over bigger parts in life too. This is an interesting story and does show how paranoia can take over when addictions are getting out of control.

Comedy/ThrillerThe comedy side of this film comes from seeing how Ennio is reacting to certain things that are happening in his life, the thriller side of the film does its best to keep us wondering just what could be real or not.

SettingsThe film does show us how the two people operating in everyday life, we see how the collectors are not always going to be where you think they are too.

Special EffectsThe effects are strong through the film, we get to see a couple of clever moments which are effective to understand Ennio mentality.

Scene of the Movie – Sleeping on TV?

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The collection talk will go over some people’s heads.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at how collectors still will make room for new additions to their collection, however much money comes their way, as well as showing how addiction can work.

Overall: Thriller that shows problems with addictions.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – N – Valhalla Rising (2009) Movie Review

This is under N because of the director Nicolas Winding Refn.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Roy Jacobsen (Screenplay)

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Alexander Morton, Stewart Porter, Maarten Stevenson, Matthew Zajac, Gordon Brown, Gary McCormack

Plot: Forced for some time to be a fighting slave, a pagan warrior escapes his captors with a boy and joins a group of Crusaders on their quest to the Holy Land.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: What Was This?

Story: Valhalla Rising starts as One Eye (Mikkelsen) is forced into fights to prove his owner has the strongest fighter, waiting for his chance to escape, he does joined by The Boy (Stevenson) the two go in search for something more, when they join Kare (Lewis) as a Crusader heading to the Holy Land.

As the journey continues, One Eye slowly sees the Crusaders start to lose their own minds, believing they are doing God’s will, with their blind following, while One Eye proves just how dangerous he is.

Thoughts on Valhalla Rising

Characters – One Eye is a slave in early mankind, he is forced into fights, where he always kills the enemies, after he escapes, he becomes a warrior that leads people in a direction they aren’t ready to go down. He doesn’t say a word. Kare, Gorm and Eirik are Christian Vikings from the Crusades looking for the Holy Land, they each believe there is something different in the message sent to them with One Eye, which sees them lose control between themselves.

PerformancesMads Mikkelsen is the highlight of the film here, he keeps his character looking mysterious, while also being deadly. The rest of the cast might handle the dialogue which fills in a lot of the story, they don’t do much else in the film.

StoryThe story follows a slave kept for fighting that breaks free going on his own adventure leading a group of Crusaders into the depths of a place they haven’t been to before. This is a story that doesn’t seem to get very deep, with most of the story being travelling and see how blind the Crusaders would be in their beliefs and see one man break free and becoming a leader, the ending will leave you scratching your head though.

Action/FantasyThe action in the film follows the fight sequences that One Eye goes through, though a lot of action is being held back from what could happen, with the fantasy side of the film showing us just how the world doesn’t seem as real as the characters believe it is.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the new discoveries that the character go on along their journey.

Special EffectsThe effects are used for the brutality of the fights, which show us just what is going on in the fights.

Scene of the Movie – One Eye’s first fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – There is a lot of walking.

Final Thoughts This isn’t the most engaging film you will see, it seems to have plenty of walking and symbolism around the early era of the Crusades.

Overall: Something or Nothing.