ABC Film Challenge – Random – V – Vanilla Sky (2001)

Director: Cameron Crowe

Writer: Cameron Crowe (Screenplay) Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton, Michael Shannon

 

Plot: A self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate finds his privileged life upended after a vehicular accident with a resentful lover.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Trippy Fantasy Thriller

 

Story: Vanilla Sky starts as we meet David Aames (Cruise) a playboy publishing mogul that inherited this from his father. He sleeps with beautiful women including actress Julie Gianni (Diaz) but always finds time for his best friend Brian Shelby (Lee). But, his life has been shattered thanks to a car accident which has left him disfigured hiding behind a mask in jail.

While waiting for his hearing David recounts the events which led up to his charges to McCabe (Russell). We learn how David meets Sofia Serrano (Cruz) the woman of his dreams but Julie shows her jealous side causing a car crash which leaves him broken and living between reality and dreams, needing to face his new life.

 

Thoughts on Vanilla Sky

 

Characters/PerformanceDavid lived a life where he could have any women living the life of luxury until this lifestyle catches up with him, leaving him disfigured and in jail, recounting the events between the two moments. Sofia is the new love that David falls for, she has all the chemistry he requires for something different being the motivation for David to fix himself. Julie is the jealous former lover that causes the accident, she is an actress that is filled with self-confidence but all that isn’t everything we have come to know.

Performance wise, Tom Cruise is great in the leading role, not being afraid to make himself slightly disfigured for this role. Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz are both are both also great in the roles of the two women in David’s life.

StoryIn a story that leaves you questioning nearly everything going on even after you believe you have just worked everything out, well this story will keep you all over the place. I do think this does enough to keep us guessing without becoming tiring and will completely satisfied by the end.

Fantasy/Mystery/RomanceThe fantasy world created comes through in the end and it will leave you shocked with the outcome of the film, getting to this stage we are left with a big mystery into just what has been happening with the romance being how David falls in love with Sofia.

SettingsEach setting is used well, but the truly special moment in the New York being empty looks fantastic.

Special EffectsThe effects that are used to create the disfigured looking David all come off great with the other effects all doing the required effect in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis film will test your mind which is always something we like to see in films, yes, it is a remake or reimagination but still it looks fantastic.

 

Overall: This was a true mind bender of morale decision making.

Rating

 

 

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Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Charlie Murphy, Michael Lucker, Chris Parker (Screenplay) Eddie Murphy, Vernon Lynch, Charlie Murphy (Story)

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Allen Payne, Kadeem Hardison, John Witherspoon, Zakes Mokae

 

Plot: Maximillian is the only survivor from a race of vampires on a Caribbean Island, and as a vampire, he must find a mate to keep the line from ending. He knows that a child had been born to a woman who had a vampire father, and he searches for her in Brooklyn. 

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bland Horror Comedy

 

Story: Vampire in Brooklyn starts as the Caribbean based vampire Maximillian (Murphy) heads to Brooklyn to find a woman that can continue the race of vampires, a descendent of his family. Arriving in Brooklyn Julius Jones (Hardison) becomes his lackey and Detective Rita Veder (Bassett) and Justice (Payne) are investigating the sudden appearance of the ship Maximillian arrives on.

Maximillian believes Rita is the woman he is looking for and sets about spending the nights trying to win her over while keeping his identity secret.

 

Thoughts on Vampire in Brooklyn

 

Characters/PerformanceMaximillian is a Caribbean vampire who needs to find a woman to keep his bloodline alive and Brooklyn is the place where she lives, he is eccentric throughout the film and always planning for things to happen as he has planned. Detective Rita Veder is one of the cops investigating the strange shop that crashed into the docks and soon finds herself crossing paths with Maximillian but getting answers about to her childhood and the nightmares she has been having. Detective Justice is Veder’s partner, he is a good cop and cares for her more than he should do. Julius becomes the goon of Maximillian slowly turned into death after being given blood of Maximillian’s.

Performance wise, Eddie Murphy has always struggled post 80’s in the comedy roles and this clearly shows he wasn’t the powerhouse he once was. Angela Bassett looks beautiful as always but her character is written poorly for how she seems to be performed as. The rest of the cast are all fine without doing anything great.

StoryThe story here is vampire coming outside his comfort zone to search for other vampires. We get the whole crime situation with how the cops are investigating the killings that Maximillian is leaving behind him but otherwise this story just feels very flat.

Comedy/Fantasy/HorrorWe don’t get many laughs in this film, we enter the idea of shape-shifting vampires for the fantasy and nothing comes off scary which makes this film feel very plain.

SettingsThe film is set in Brooklyn, hey I guess the title gives that away here, this does make for a good setting because the crimes don’t get answered as quickly as other places.

Special EffectsThe effects used are all fine and are used more for the comical tone of things.

Final ThoughtsWes Craven is one of my favourite directors and we do have classic that he does, this isn’t going to be one of the classics in fact this could be his worst, the comedy doesn’t hit, Murphy mails in his performance and we are left with one of the most overly boring films of Murphy’s career.

 

Overall: Disappointing horror comedy.

Rating

 

 

Veronica (2017)

Director: Paco Plaza

Writer: Fernando Navarro, Pace Plaza (Screenplay)

Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna Gonzalez, Claudia Placer, ivan Chavero, Aa Torrent, Consuelo Trujillo

 

Plot: Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.


Tagline –  Alguien respondió a tu llamada. [Someone answered your call.]

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Scares

 

Story: Veronica starts in Madrid where a major event based on true events has happened, rewind 3 days and we meet Veronica (Escacena) the eldest of the four siblings and the one who takes care of them while their mother works late. On the verge of an eclipse, Veronica joins two classmates with a Ouija board which leads to an unknown presence becoming attached to Veronica.

When the presence starts to become more deadly Veronica must figure out a way to rid herself of this spirit, while continuing to be the responsible one around the house, what does this spirit want?

 

Thoughts on Veronica

 

Characters – Veronica is the 15-year-old girl, she does the house work, while looking after her younger siblings as their mother works after their father’s death. she is also like any other teenage girl, wanting to break the rules, interested in boys, but what she wants most is to reconnect with her father, this only unleashes the evil and she must protect her siblings before they end up in danger. We do have the siblings who are infant ages that do need to look up to Veronica.

PerformancesSandra Escacena is the star of this movie, her performance is very strong from start to finish and she must carry the movie for long times. The rest of the cast are good, but don’t get enough time to shines compared to Sandra.

StoryThe story does the based on true events card with us, but the reality is we don’t know how much is or could be true, as the policeman that is meant to be reporting the events only appears at the very end of the events. Taking away from this point we have one young woman that becomes possessed by a spirit while trying to do the right thing for siblings. The style of film is always a good watch and the performance is what makes the highlight of the film. it does have moments of shock which keeps us guessing through the film.

HorrorThe film does have good horror moments in, we have shock moments which you can tell something will happen, but left unsure what part will happen.

SettingsMost of the horror takes place inside the apartment, which shows the evil can follow you home.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film will leave you surprised and are used very well to add to the horror moments of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Follow the glass.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not sure where the true story comes from.


Overall: This is a good horror movie for the horror fans and it will give you the scares you need to see.

Rating

 

 

Victoria and Abdul (2017)

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Lee Hall (Screenplay) Shrabani Basu (Book)

Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Olivia Williams, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith, Adeel Akhtar

 

Plot: Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.


Tagline – History’s most unlikely friendship

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enlightening Historical Moment

 

Story: Victoria and Abdul starts as Abdul Karim (Fazal) and Mohammed (Akhtar) are selected to travel from India to England to present Queen Victoria (Dench) with a gift from the Indian Empire. When Queen Victoria sees something in Abdul, sees becomes friends with him, learning about the Indian culture in a way she could never understand from the English textbook.

While their relationship becoming the talk of the palace, they even start to question whether it is good for her, but the relationship gives Queen Victoria a chance to express the lost loves of her life, a face she could never have on front of her subjects.

 

Thoughts on Victoria and Abdul

 

Characters – Queen Victoria is the elderly Queen of England, Albert has passed on, her children have their own lives and now she goes for countless routines of meeting different people, with most people almost waiting for her to die. When she befriends Abdul she gets a new lease for life and she looks to embrace the Indian culture. Abdul is a clerk from India, he gets selected to present Queen Victoria a gift, he soon finds himself being her closest aid, teaching her about the Indian culture, causing a potential rift in the royal household. He treats Queen Victoria like a person rather than a royal figure which is what helps her enjoy her later life.

PerformancesJudi Dench is fantastic in the leading role, bringing us a performance that could rival her Mrs Brown performance as Queen Victoria too. Ali Fazal is brilliant in the partnership role with Dench, he helps give the light to the role that at times is treated with racial hate. The supporting cast across the board is great too showing all the different levels people treated outsiders.

StoryThe story follows the later years Queen Victoria who became friends with an Indian clerk against the will of rest of the palace. We see how this gave her a new lease for life if only for a couple of years. The story that history wanted you to forget about becomes a fascinating watch because like most interesting moments in history they have faced being erased.

Biopic/HistoryQueen Victoria was one of the great known members of the royal family, the former longest ruling monarch, she had many stories and this is another one that shows us what she was like.

SettingsThe settings all feel authentic for the time showing us what it was like for Abdul to learn the new culture.


Scene of the Movie –
You will respect Abdul speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end while following history is frustrating to see.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great history lesson on the iconic leader of the country. It has two wonderful performances and enough charm to enjoy for everybody watching.

 

Overall: Enjoyable historical film.

Rating

 

 

 

Videodrome (1983)

Director: David Cronenberg

Writer: David Cronenberg (Screenplay)

Starring: James Woods, Sonja Smits, Debbie Harry, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson, Jack Creley

 

Plot: A sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a very unusual fashion when he acquires a new kind of programming for his station.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Game Changing Movie

 

Story: Videodrome starts as we get to see cable TV President Max Renn (Woods) as he is looking for the next show for his network which will continue to push the boundaries for his audience. When Max learns from one of his technicians Harlan (Dvorsky) about an extreme torture show known as Videodrome.

Becoming obsessed with Videodrome he shows his new flame, radio presenter Nicki Brand (Harry) who wants to become a contestant on the show but just what is the marketing for this show, is it real or is it well staged?

Diving into the truth of Videodrome we see how Max starts to question his own reality when he starts hallucinating which leads him to find the truth through Bianca O’Blivion (Smits) in what is one of the most shocking outcomes you could imagine.  

 

Thoughts on Videodrome

 

Characters/PerformanceMax Renn is the typical president of a television network, he is always looking for the next show which could give his network the spike they require. He quickly becomes obsessed with learning the truth about Videodrome only to be sucked into the world it has created. Bianca is one of the potential people behind Videodrome while Nicki is a love interest that wants to be on Videodrome.

Performance wise, James Woods was brilliant in this leading role easily become the star of the show with the rest of the cast all doing good jobs throughout.

StoryThe story is one that is well before its time, when you look back now and see how people wanted to find the next level of television shows like we do now this offers up a look at just how far things could go. This story does have plenty of mystery about where everything could end up going and does have moments that make you react as simple as what the hell is going on but they are all worth it when it comes to the final outcome.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror in this film is filled around the gore effects going on and Max questioning just what is going on. The sci-fi world created shows us an extreme level of where television shows could go.

SettingsThe settings are not the most impactful but do all work for where the story goes.

Special EffectsThis is a practical effects exhibition showing us just what you can do if you know how to use them.

Final ThoughtsThis will always be a true classic on how to push the special effects limits, we get pushed as far as we can with them that are truly amazing for the time.

 

Overall: The violent classic we all know off.

Rating