ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – V – Van Wilder: Freshman Year (2009)

Director: Harvey Glazer

Writer: Todd McCullough (Screenplay) Brent Goldberg, David Wagner (Characters)

Starring: Jonathan Bennett, Kristin Cavallari, Kurt Fuller, Steve Talley, Nestor Aaron Absera, Nick Nicotera, Jerry Shea

 

Plot: Van Wilder starts his freshman year at Coolidge College and embarks on an adventure to land the campus hottie and liberate his school from sexual oppression and party dysfunction.


Tagline – The man. The myth. The beginning.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Forced Prequel

 

Story: Van Wilder: Freshman Year starts with Van (Bennett) heading off to Coolidge college to follow in his family’s footsteps before graduating to work with his father. Arrive at the college Van learns that Dean Charles Reardon (Fuller) has it in for the family, the guys have been pushed into a military plan and the girls are religious.

Van joined by stoner Farley (Absera) and Yu Dum Fok (Shea) to turn the college around to become what Van is expecting and we learn how he become the iconic legend of the Coolidge.

 

Thoughts on Van Wilder: Freshman Year

 

Characters – Van Wilder was a character we met in 2002, this time we learn how he did in his first year at college, we see how he was always the quick witty that was willing to put himself out there to help people find themselves. We can let him off certain mistakes and differences from the later version of Van, but this one never seems to have the true confidence the high school implies he has. Kaitlin is the daughter of a military man, who is trying to follow in her father’s footsteps, everything else about her is just a carbon copy of the Tara Reid character first time around, dating a bad guy Van teaches her there is more to life. Dean Charles Reardon has been waiting for a Wilder to join the college to get revenge, he wages war on Van along with LT Dirk Arnold who is the bad boyfriend out to keep his woman and believes he is the best part of the military college.

PerformancesJonathan Bennett just doesn’t have the same charisma as Ryan Reynolds, he doesn’t have the same ability to be quick witted and you just don’t believe that his filled with that same natural confidence. Kristin Cavallari is trying her best, but as the character is basically just meant to be Tara Reid again we lack giving her a chance to make herself anything original. Kurt Fuller does his best with the material and could well be the best performer in the film. we get typical college level character performances here.

StoryThe story here brings us Van Wilder’s first year at college, now we get a few winks at where he character will end up and certain lines he uses in everyday life. The problems with this come from the fact it is exactly the same story, Van meets girl that is dating a bad guy and spends his time trying to win her heart making a rival, we have the foreign student who wants to learn the way of love and the Dean who doesn’t like a Wilder. This lacks any originality to the story, just wants to do the winks about the original, like look here this is where we got that from. We get the same grossed out comedy moments that are mostly just trying to keep one step ahead of the rest.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film is mostly grossed out humour, for me personally it misses a lot, but if this is what you like you will enjoy this. The romance is rinse repeat from the original and not that important to what we see.

SettingsThe film is set at the same college Coolidge, only in the prequel it is a military college, which seems strange because it was always meant to be a basic college with parties and classes.


Scene of the Movie –
Massage time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me College is never going to be like this.

Final ThoughtsThis is a forced prequel we didn’t really ask for let alone need, it has poor versions of the characters we did enjoy in the first one and just repeats the jokes from the original.

 

Overall: Pointless prequel.

Rating

 

 

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Valkyrie (2008)

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Terrence Stamp

 

Plot: A dramatization of the 20 July assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Hitler during World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Thriller

 

Story: Valkyrie starts in the middle of World War II, outspoken German Colonel Claus Stauffenberg (Cruise) is assigned duty in Tunisia where he gets injured. Back in German Major General Henning von Tresckow (Branagh) has been working on a plan to assassinate Hitler and ending the war.

When Henning’s latest choice fails, he gets his fellow General Friedrich Olbricht (Nighy) to recruit a new member to this secret group and Claus is that man. We follow as the plan to assassinate Hitler comes together with espionage between the ranking officers, secret meetings and changes in potential candidates.  

 

Thoughts on Valkyrie

 

Characters/PerformanceColonel Claus von Stauffenberg is the soldier injured during the war and now he is the man with the plan to assassinate Hitler. Major General Henning von Tresckow is the officer that brings Claus into the circle as he wants to find the end of the war. General Friedrich Olbricht is the handler of Claus in the ranking side of things but off the books he must follow the instructions of Claus. The characters are all based on real people all involved in the real assassination attempt on Hitler.

Performance wise, well first we need to address that this is an English-speaking movie about what is happening within German during the war so we need to look past that when judging these performances of Tom Cruise who is good showing he can do serious movies over action sequences. Nighy, Branagh and Wilkinson are all great through the film as are the rest of the cast.

StoryThis is a look at a moment in history that many people don’t know about, we all know how World War II went and the bigger events, but looking at the story of a revolution within the German army to stop Hitler ending the war. The amount of people that would risk their lives to stop Hitler but the weak point here is we know the truth that it failed.

History/War Looking in the history of World War II we get to learn about a smaller detail which get covered up because they were failed missions to end the war and this gives us that story.

SettingsEach setting shows us the image of war time Germany with little issues with the look of the sets.

Final ThoughtsNice look into history about a moment that could have changed the end of the war forever.

 

Overall: Historical film that does show us a moment of great risk that ended in failure.

Rating

 

 

Vampires (1998)

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: Don Jakoby (Screenplay) John Steakley (Novel)

Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell

 

Plot: Recovering from an ambush that killed his entire team, a vengeful vampire slayer must retrieve an ancient Catholic relic that, should it be acquired by vampires, will allow them to walk in sunlight.


Tagline – They’ve been around for 600 years…and they’re very, VERY thirsty.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable addition to the vampire genre

 

Story: Vampires starts as Jack Crow (Woods) and his gang of vampire hunters including Anthony Montoya (Baldwin) as they clean out a nest of vampires only they can’t find the master. Celebrating the success of the day the gang party but when the Master Jan Valek (Griffith) arrives looking for revenge he kills every member of the team except Jack and Anthony while turning Katrina (Lee).

Jack ordered to rebuild the team, must first regroup before he goes against his orders with a new priest Father Guiteau (Guinee) using Katrina as bait to locate Jan Valek who is in search for a legendary relic that would allow Valek to walk in the sunlight.

 

Thoughts on Vampires

 

Characters – Jack Crow is the leader of the vampire hunters, he has been hunting them his whole life, training other to aid in his quest to kill them all. He is ruthless in his action not accepting excuse from any man, woman or priest. Anthony is the only other member of the team that makes it out of the attack, he is a trusted second to Jack but keeps a secret from him during this story. Katrina is the young lady that gets bitten by Valek, Crow uses her to find him while she must battle the turning process. Jan Valek is the ancient vampire that has been terrorising for centuries, he isn’t getting killed as easily as others and now he targets immortality in the day light.

PerformancesJames Woods is great in this leading role, he takes the aggression needed to make us believe the vampire hunter is doing the right thing also showing the loyalty required in his performance. Daniel Baldwin is good but not to the level of Woods while Sheryl Lee does make for a good sexy vampire figure. Thomas Ian Griffith does make for a great vampire villain too being imposing in every single scene.

StoryThe story follows the old school vampire hunters hunting vampires but this time the enemy is stronger than they have ever faced. This film does move away from the gothic tones of previous film and takes us into a realistic setting for our characters to do battle with the vampires. This does work for the story because we now need to see a new less traditional style to vampires even if the story follows the normal it is a fun watch.

Action/HorrorThe action comes with the battles with the vampires, it is bigger than normal for the genre and we get plenty action. The horror comes from how we see the vampires disposed of along with how powerful Valek is

SettingsThe western settings make this feel like a race against time for gunslingers to stop an outlaw, which is what the idea was going for.

Special EffectsThe effects all seem practical with the fire behind the sunlight being some of the most horrific in the vampire genre.


Scene of the Movie –
Valek’s revenge is bloody.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was slightly confusing why stakes were used when they didn’t kill.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very enjoyable modern take on the vampire genre, it adds action and realism to a traditional gothic style of film which on one hand works but the other hand could get people not enjoying it.

 

Overall: Vampire fans must watch.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – The Victim (2011)

Director: Michael Biehn

Writer: Michael Biehn (Screenplay) Reed Lackey (Story)

Starring: Michael Biehn, Jennifer Blanc, Ryan Honey, Danielle Harris, Denny Kirkwood

 

Plot: A man lives alone in a remote cabin and is surprised by his visitors.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thriller That Lacks That Punch

 

Story: The Victim starts when police officers Jonathan Cooger (Kirkwood) and James Harrison (Honey) kill Mary (Harris) (Yes, they did kill Danielle Harris in the opening sequence), Annie (Blanc) escapes through the woods to the remote cabin owned by Kyle (Biehn).

Kyle agrees to help Annie as we are luckily saved from wasting Harris with flashbacks which explain why the two friends found themselves in the woods partying. The two look for proof which can save her life but Kyle’s quiet life soon turns into a nightmare.

 

Thoughts on The Victim

 

Characters/PerformanceKyle is the lonely man who enjoys being away from the world in his cabin in the middle of the woods. He uses his brains to get to the bottom of the situation with the strangers. Annie is the woman in need of help after her best friend is murdered. James Harrison is the cop who killed Mary but now he needs to cover it all up to save his future.

Performance wise, Michael Biehn does take dual roles as director and star but he never convinces in the leading role even if he is the best performer. The rest of the acting is weak throughout the film never being convincing in any of the emotions needed for the characters.

StoryThe story is easy to follow even though you feel there will be a twist because that is the only thing that could make this feel good. The flashbacks do all feel random because you find yourself wondering what the point actually is about them.

ThrillerThe film does try its best to keep us on the edge of our seats but in the end just feels like it fizzles away.

SettingsThe woods make for a good setting because we know the characters can’t just run from the situation but are going to make sure it all ends there.

Special EffectsThe effects are used lightly and do come off but are not important.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that doesn’t click on the levels it needs to, we are left just watching not the best acting in not the best story.

 

Overall: Plain old thriller

Rating

 

 

The Vault (2017)

Director: Dan Bush

Writer: Dan Bush, Conal Byrne (Screenplay)

Starring: James Franco, Scott Haze, Taryn Manning, Francesca Eastwood, Q’Oiranka Kilcher, Jeff Gum, Clifton Collins Jr

 

Plot: Two estranged sisters are forced to rob a bank in order to save their brother. But this is no ordinary bank.


Tagline – No one is safe.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strangely Disappointing

 

Story: The Vault starts as three siblings Michael (Haze), Vee (Manning) and Leah (Eastwood) put together their team to get what seems like a perfect bank robbery done, to solve Michael’s personal problem. With the hostages locked up and the alarms dealt with things look like they are going smoothly, then they open the vault to discovery next to no money.

Assistant manager Ed Maas (Franco) offer to help get into the old vault, but this is where the terror begins because this bank has a history one, none of the robbers were prepared for.

 

Thoughts on The Vault

 

Characters – Vee is the fiery short tempered of the siblings, she will get the rest of the robbers in more trouble, this is a front to her own insecurity. Leah is the leader of the robbers, the calmer of the group that doesn’t go over the limits, until she does and we lose any support for this character, the one we are meant to be following. Michael is the brother who has gotten himself into trouble and needs the money to fix the problem, he wants to no one hurt mentality and seems to be the only good one of the group. Ed Maas is a man that was one of the hostages that offers to get the money for the robbers.

PerformancesThe cast here is confusing, because James Franco is fine, but completely looks out of place in this movie. When we see the sister performers which does work well together as you feel the strained relationship between them.

StoryThe story is a bank robbery gone wrong, when are they not right? This time it goes wrong when it turns out the location the bank is haunted and now the spirits have returned. This could work for the most part but in the end it doesn’t deliver on the level it could do, mostly because we don’t seem to support anyone because they don’t dive into what Michael has done to need money, the two sisters both come off twisted and evil and the horror side is almost unwatchable.

HorrorThis movie uses the horror to put a twist on the heist idea in the story, the horror side of the film is difficult to watch though as everything comes off just too dark.

SettingsThe film is set inside the bank which keeps the story contained for where the events could go.

Special EffectsThe effects are fine, we only get to see them used sparely which is nice to see when it comes to the horrors.


Scene of the Movie –
Final twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many difficult moments that don’t add up.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappointing horror that doesn’t scare us in anyway and has a complete by the book heist movie.

 

Overall: Lacklustre movie.

Rating