VFW (2019) Movie Review

Director: Joe Begos

Writer: Max Brallier, Matthew McArdle (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Fred Williamson, Martin Kove, David Patrick Kelly, George Wendt, Tom Williamson

Plot: A group of war veterans must defend their local VFW post and an innocent teen against a deranged drug dealer and his relentless army of punk mutants.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Big, Bloody and Violent

Story: VFW starts as we head into a world where a new drug nicknamed Hype has taken over the streets, causing the junkies to do anything to get their hands on it. Fred Parras (Lang) runs the bar in the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign War), with the locals Walter (Sadler), Abe (Williamson), Lou (Kove), Doug (Kelly) and Thomas (Wendt) meeting on a nightly drink, with a new member Shawn (Williamson) joining them this night.

When a young woman called Lizard (McCormick) arrives in the bar running from the drug dealer Boz (Hammer) the former soldiers must use their skills to fight back and protect their bar and life, to understand what has caused the new guest to enrage the drug dealer.

Thoughts on VFW

Characters – Fred Parras runs the bar, he served with the regulars and isn’t afraid to get into a fight to protect his bar. He does try to find the best solution for the regulars and former soldiers once they come under attack, even if it does mean giving up his own life for what he sees as his soldiers. Walter, Abe, Lou and Doug served with Fred and get another chance to show of their military skills defending their bar. Boz is the drug dealer that will kill for his product or anyone who gets in his way, including Lizard who ended up in the VFW. Lizard wants revenge for her sister’s death by Boz, she is lucky to end up with the vets because they will fight for her.

PerformancesStephen Lang is great to watch taking the leading role along with the veteran actors of William Sadler, Fred Williamson and Martin Kove, while the young stars don’t get the chance to make as big of an impact on the story.

StoryThe story here follows a group of war veterans who see their bar come under attack by a group of junkies and their dealer who want their product back and are willing to kill to get it back. The story does become an easy watch because it is mostly older or people with respect, versus young junkies, while have a different location and style, it could easily be compared to Assault on Precinct 13 with the numbers game being against the soldiers, and the enemy being people showing no respect. We don’t get into anything deep, it is just battle between two different sides.

Action/HorrorThe action is blood filled with violent weapons which only give us plenty of violent action in the fights, which can end up in the horror world, by showing us just how violent the battle between the two sides.

SettingsThe film does keep us in a contained area, with the battle between both sides coming from two opposite buildings.

Special EffectsThe effects are used very well to show the injuries through the film and they aren’t afraid to hold back.


Scene of the Movie – The final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Shaky Cam, even though it is meant to show the effects of injuries suffered.

Final Thoughts This is a wildly over the top action horror that isn’t afraid to show the bloodshed, it might not get the strongest character development, but does feel like a throwback to 80’s action horror movies.

Overall: Throwback 101

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – V – Volcano (1997) Movie Review

Director: Mick Jackson

Writer: Jerome Armstrong, Billy Ray (Screenplay) Jerome Armstrong (Story)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Gaby Hoffmann, Don Cheadle, Jacqueline Kim, Keith David, John Corbett

Plot: A volcano erupts in downtown Los Angeles, threatening to destroy the city.


Tagline – L.A. Erupts in 1997

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Entertaining Disaster Film

Story: Volcano starts when a small earthquake hits LA, Michael Roarke (Jones) the director of the office of emergency management gives up his holiday with his daughter Kelly (Hoffman) to make sure everything is getting cleaned up without needing his help, with Emmit Reese (Cheadle) trying to cover for him.

Needing an expect Mike turns to Dr Amy Barnes (Heche) who is an expert in geology and earthquake activities as they discover lava under LA and soon it erupts putting the whole city in danger and the race to save as many people as possible is on.

Thoughts on Volcano

Characters – Mike Roark is the director of the office of emergency management in LA, he has been through a messy divorce, giving him less time with his daughter and is a workaholic. He is spending his vacation with his daughter only a small earthquake leads him back to work, putting a strain on his relationship with his daughter, but when things start escalating, he will do everything to protect the city from more chaos, trying to save as many lives as possible. Dr Amy Barnes is a geologist who is used to facing the press, she leads her team in searching for the answers and will fill in the science that Mike isn’t away for. Kelly is the daughter of Mike, she is often a deer in the headlights type of teenager, never understanding how to get away from danger, though she does get to learn quickly when she is helping around the medical area of the disaster. Emmit Reese works under Mike, he secretly wants his job and is planning to take over one day, he learns in this situation that he isn’t ready for this role anytime soon.

PerformancesTommy Lee Jones in the leading role seems like a perfect choice, he is a man that can demand centre stage and needs to in this role, while showing he needs advice to make things right. Anne Heche handles to scientific role very well throughout, not coming off as a know it all character like she could have been made to look like. Gaby Hoffmann as the kid fills the role well, even if she isn’t written as well as they could have done. Don Cheadle is more in a commentary role which he is great to see in.

StoryThe story here follows the emergency services and geologist working together to try and save the city of LA from an unexpected volcano that was laying beneath the city. When we look at the story we get the disaster elements where people need to team up to save the city from disaster, we see how they work together to find solutions with any troubles between people never being more than a little argument, no real human villains does make this feel more natural. It is nice to see a story that doesn’t over complicate anything too.

Action/Sci-FiThe action is big, it comes from the erupts that hit when the people are trying to avoid getting hurt, we get more action from the plans to keep the city safe too. The sci-fi side of the film comes from just seeing how people could have been with science fiction behind it happening.

SettingsThe film is set in LA, a place you wouldn’t expect to see a volcano erupt, it does show the chaos the locals will be going through.

Special EffectsThe effects are wonderful to see just how the destruction happens with the lava not stopping for much.


Scene of the Movie – The sound of silence

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Most of Norman’s scenes.

Final Thoughts This is a fun disaster film that flows at a great pace, showing us just how people could work together to get over a problem they are all facing, with great acting throughout.

Overall: Disaster film that is a joy to watch.

A Very Bad Day (2017) Movie Review

Director: Judy Greer

Writer: Gary Lundy (Screenplay)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Bradley Whitford, Katie Holmes, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, Kumail Nanjiani, Common, Andres Holm, Storm Reid

Plot: During the course of one day, a group of students at a school in Los Angeles find themselves caught up in a plot of sex, lies and dead bodies.

Runtime: 1 Hour 21 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict:

Story: A Very Bad Day starts when staff at a high school Principal Nichols (Jenney) and Mr Pendlehorn (Riggle) discover a body on the school, needing to move it before the student turn up. Outside of the school single parent Daniel (Common) sees his affair exposed by the husband Bob (Reeves), all in a working day.

When the events of the day seem to get mixed up the many different people we meet, teachers, students and parents see this being on of the bad days of their lives.

Thoughts on A Very Bad Day

Characters – Daniel works for a publishing company, he is a single parent preparing to talk at his daughter’s career day, he also learns that the husband of the woman he has been having an affair with has learnt about them and wants to meet. Principal Nichols discovers a dead body on the school and wants to protect the school only to learn the problems with doing that. We get the school kids trying to understand love and the different teachers dealing with their day.

PerformancesIt is hard to judge the performances because we have such a big cast and nobody gets enough time to give a career best performance, everyone does well without shining to the top level. Everybody does get the laughs required though.

StoryThe story here follows a day in lives of many different people who all connect, with most having bad days about everything going on today. This story does connect together well, though it doesn’t feel like this many different people having a bad day isn’t that normal, but we don’t get enough into the details of why everything is falling apart on the levels it could have. It does show how life can be difficult if things aren’t going your way. The big problem with the story comes from how the story doesn’t seem to end up the way it could, leaving most people looking left out.

ComedyThe comedy in this film shows how people can have a bad day can have a funny twist to everything.

SettingsThe film does bring us to everyday locations which shows how easily life can see you having a bad day without warning.


Scene of the Movie – The fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not really going into Mr McRow’s problems, which seem much deeper.

Final Thoughts This is an overcast comedy that just doesn’t give the massive cast enough time to show how bad the day is going for them.

Overall: Too big for its own ambition.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch Up 2019 – V – The Vanishing (2018) Movie Review

Director: Kristoffer Nyholm

Writer: Joe Bone, Celyn Jones (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Mullan, Gerard Butler, Emma King, Gary Lewis, Connor Swindells, Ken Drury, Gary Kane

Plot: Three lighthouse keepers on the remote Flannan Isles find a hidden trunk of gold, leading to their mysterious disappearance.


Tagline – What’s left when the light goes out?

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Solid Mystery

Story: The Vanishing starts as the two experienced lighthouse keepers Thomas (Mullan) and James (Butler) take rookie keeper Donald (Swindells) to Flannan Isles for their stint on the island. The three go through the normal actions until after a storm washes up a small boat, with a trunk, giving Donald a fight against the lone survivor.

When the men open the trunk they learn it is filled with gold, Donald and James want to keep the gold, while Thomas isn’t willing to risk his career, even though he comes up with a plan to get the gold back to the mainland.

Thoughts on The Vanishing

Characters – Thomas is the head lighthouse keeper, he has 25-years of experience and is willing to give the youngster a chance on his team, he has been through his own tragic events with his job being the only thing he has left, he will remain calm through all the events, knowing how the defuse the situations the men find themselves going through. James has been part of the team for years, he has always struggled for money back home, though he will keep his family safe with his job. Donald is the youngster member of the team, he isn’t used to the sea environment and finds himself facing challenges he shouldn’t do, when the events start happening. These characters are based on the real people, that nobody heard from again, this is hard to tell just how much would have been turned into more drama or how much would have been real.

PerformancesPeter Mullan is great in the leading role, he shows all the calm required for this role with everything that is going on around him. Gerard Butler gives one of his better serious roles, not playing into the action hero he has become more famous for. Connor Swindells is strong through the film too showing the loose cannon side of his character too.

StoryThe story here is based on a true event of three lighthouse keepers that disappeared, what we see is the story created around what happened to these men, as they discover a trunk of gold and must protect it from the people that claim it is theirs. By basing this on a true story, it does make it difficult because it is looking at a mystery about what did happen, even though nobody really knows what happened. The only thing we do know, is that the men disappeared during their stint on the island. The story here shows how they wanted to fight to keep a treasure washed up on the island and how the original owners came back in search of their own gold, dealing with the consequences of actions over anything else. There is nothing supernatural, it is all about human actions, reaction and emotions.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film shows how the three lighthouse keepers are left pondering what would happen to them after their actions and whether they would be able to keep the gold, a lot of character driven to what they are afraid off if they return, living with what they did. The mystery should be more front and centre, this is meant to be about what happened to these men on their time spent on the island, only we don’t focus on that or investigating what might have happened.

SettingsThe film does use the setting of a remote island of the coast of Scotland to create moments of tension as the idea that these men are dealing with a lot of emotional factors, means they have nowhere to go for help and between them, they aren’t always helping each other out.


Scene of the Movie – They are on the island.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not really solving the mystery of what happened to these men in real life.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at characters who would be trapped on an island alone for a stretch of time, when it comes to treasure and consequences, only it doesn’t seem to solve the mystery of what really happened.

Overall: Interesting Character Study.

VHYes (2019) Movie Review

Director: Jack Henry Robbins

Writer: Nate Gold, Nunzio Randazzo, Jack Henry Robbins (Screenplay)

Starring: Kerri Kenney, Thomas Lennon, Mark Proksch, Courtney Pauroso, Charlyne Yi, John Gemberling, Mason McNulty

Plot: This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, follows 12-year-old Ralph as he accidentally records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Runtime: 1 Hour 12 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Strange & Unique

Story: VHYes starts in 1987 when young boy Ralph (McNulty) gets a camcorder for Christmas, which he learns will record late night television, which he does, diving into the weird and whacky world of late night television and filling everyday life, trying to capture some of the strangest moments in life.

AS the nights alone continues Ralph continues to watch more of the late night shows, he learns about new ideas of what to film, which soon blurs the lines of reality.

Thoughts on VHYes

Final Thoughts This is a story that is very strange to watch, mostly because there is a connection between everything that is going on, it might well be a series of what looks like random clips, from shopping network, antique show and even badly acted pornos. A lot of the clips we see do have political messages about the future or the world we live in now, which is nice to see. This story is so difficult to truly judge, because it is the filmmaking that is making a bigger impact, with the unique plan put in place to show us a message about blending reality with. This film should be praised for the filmmaking, it is original in way, though it could be a way of telling a story that leave people feeling like they missed something.

Overall: Unique Filmmaking.