ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – W – War Dogs (2016)

Director: Todd Phillips

Writer: Stephen Chin, Todd Phillips, Jason Smilovic (Screenplay) Guy Lawson (Article)

Starring: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas

 

Plot: Loosely based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a three hundred million dollar contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan.


Tagline – Money, corruption and the American dream

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Crime Comedy

 

Story: War Dogs starts as we follow David Packouz’s (Teller) story, he was a massage therapist and lost his money in a bad investment, with his girlfriend Iz (Armas) pregnant, he is left with little ideas for money until his old friend Efraim (Hill) returns to town. Efraim is an arms dealer that has been finding a way to sell weapons in the war.

We follow the two young men as they find a way to get one of the biggest deals done, but is this going to take a toll on their personal lives.

 

Thoughts on War Dogs

 

Characters – David is a young man, he works hard with his massage therapist job while trying to make a business of his own. When this goes wrong he is saved by his old childhood friend that introduces him to the world of arms dealing, he is telling the story to us too. Efraim is the old school friend of David’s that brings him in as a partner, showing him the ropes and just how much money could be getting made in this industry. He has a reputation that doesn’t make him one to trust at the times, which could ruin deals and friendships.

PerformancesMiles Teller and Jonah Hill are both great in these roles, they have great chemistry between them and it shows in their moments together and gives them both the time in solo scenes to be their own characters.

StoryThe story shows the rise of two unlikely young men that became one of the biggest international arms dealers in recent American history and how the greed can take over even the strongest friendships. We are told this story through one of the two men involved, so we do only get to see their own point of view of everything, when you feel there might be more to certain moments in the film. This is an easy to watch film and plays out just like Lord of War which does feel slightly more entertaining though.

Comedy/Crime/WarThe comedy comes mostly from the idea of this feeling completely out of place watching these young men enter this world of crime during the war time of selling weapons.

SettingsThe settings show how the characters go from comfortable America to countries with less money that offer these men a chance of something massive, this is good for the clash of cultures idea.


Scene of the Movie –
The first deal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Only seeing it from one point of view.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good Todd Phillips style comedy that we all know how his style comes through, it does have good moments throughout and strong performances too.

 

Overall: Good crime comedy well worth watching.

Rating

 

 

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Widows (2018)

Director: Steve McQueen

Writer: Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen (Screenplay) Lynda La Plante (Based on Widows)

Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson

 

Plot: Set in contemporary Chicago, amidst a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.


Tagline – Left with nothing. Capable of anything.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thriller of the Year

 

Story: Widows starts when Harry Rawlings (Neeson) and his crew are killed on their latest heist, their widows, Veronica (Davis), Linda (Rodriguez), Alice (Debicki) and Amanda (Coon) are left to grieve alone, seeing the consequences of their husband’s actions. Veronica is confronted by political campaigner Jamal Manning (Henry) who is trying to challenge the Mulligan reign in their neighbourhood, with Jack (Farrell) following in his father’s Tom (Duvall) footsteps.

Jamal wants his money back which is forcing Veronica to bring the fellow widows together to complete a job which will solve all their financial problems. Can they complete this heist which will give them a life after their husbands?

 

Thoughts on Widows

 

Characters – Veronica is the wife of Harry, she has been in the teaching union for her life even though she knew of Harry activities. After his dies in the latest job she is broken trying to keep herself together until she is forced into the world her husband was on top of. She is tough and lacks the humour the fellow widows show to deal with her grief. She does have to keep the group together and does love her little Westie. Linda has been running her own company which after her husband’s death she loses because of his problems leaving her and her kids with money problems. She is welcomed to Veronica’s team even if she doesn’t bring as much as the rest. Alice has been living off her husband’s heist money even after dealing with abuse from him, she must learn to make her own money which she can be pushed in the wrong direction for, she does join Veronica’s team which will bring her out of her shell and she fast becomes the one on the biggest learning curve. Belle completes the team and though she isn’t a widow, she knows how hard you need to work for money and she will take her chance with the team. Jack Mulligan is the new political candidate following in his father’s footsteps, he knows how to get a deal done and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty along the way. Tom is the politician stepping down because of his health, his old way thinking has been holding back the district from remaining in his family name. Jamal Manning is the crime lord who has decide to run for office which would be is way to stay on the right side of the law, he still will get his hands dirty when he needs to and lets his brother do most of the dirty work. Jatemme is the brother of Jamal, he is a loose cannon, he will push whatever limits available to get what he wants full crazy mode for the most part. This is the eight main characters that you will understand each decision they will make.

PerformancesWhen he dive into the performances Viola Davis shines in the leading role, she must deals with emotional moments that others simply will never understand why. Michelle Rodriquez gives her best performance of her career here that is simply brilliant and Elizabeth Debicki gives one of the best supporting performances of the year. Colin Farrell continues to show he is one of the best actors out there and demands the screen either against Robert Duvall. Daniel Kaluuya does a fantastic job because each scene he is almost uncomfortable to watch because of his actions. Brian Tyree Henry is wonderful too, it is easily one of the best acted movies you will ever see.

StoryThe story follows an unlikely crew of robbers who are following in their husband’s footsteps in the crime world to give themselves finical security from the other people in the world their husband’s worked in. Each of the widows must face the reality of being alone and learn how to adapt which is important to see and with a shocking reveal you simply won’t see coming makes this enjoyable to watch. This is a story that doesn’t have a wasted frame, it will keep you on edge from start to finish while addressing how political can play the people to get what they want. This is a story that will keep you wanting more and deals with the real problems people will be facing in the world.

CrimeThe crime world we enter shows us just how out of place the widows are to start with and we see how they must learn quickly.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago which shows us just how easily crime can take place with so much going on in the city, we see the divide between the higher class and lower class.


Scene of the Movie –
Performances fantastic.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Viola Davis doesn’t know how to walk a dog.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the best movies of the year, it will keep you on edge throughout the whole film. It is easily a must watch and the performances are simply fantastic.

 

Overall: Must watch movie.

Rating

 

 

Welcome Home (2018)

Director: George Ratliff

Writer: David Levinson (Screenplay)

Starring: Aaron Paul, Emily Ratajkowski, Riccardo Scamarcio, Katy Louise Saunders, Alice Bellagamba

 

Plot: A couple spend a weekend at a vacation rental home in the Italian countryside in an attempt to repair their relationship, but soon become victims of the homeowner’s sinister plans.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacklustre Thriller

 

Story: Welcome Home starts with our couple Bryan (Paul) and Cassie (Ratajkowski) heading to their Italian countryside rental home for the weekend, as they two look to rebuild their relationship. With the relationship still strained you can see the troubles they are having and when neighbour Federico (Scamarcio) arrives in their lives it only shows how things might never be fixed.

The closer Federico gets to the couple the stranger the events, we learn that he has the house rigged with cameras and is happy to help continue adding strain on the relationship either by pushing Bryan to get even or trying his own hand at seducing Cassie.

 

Thoughts on Welcome Home

 

Characters – Bryan has been struggling to deal with the fact his girlfriend cheated on him, he is torn between making the big step or walking away and this holiday will give him that chance for an answer. Cassie is the girlfriend that has cheated on Bryan, she is trying to do anything to help him forgive her though we are never truly sure she wouldn’t do something like this again. The problem with both of these two comes with the fact we don’t get to learn anything about who they are other than each other’s partner, we spend more time either watching Cassie shower or just watch her getting dressed than to give us any redeeming characteristics. Federico is the neighbour that offers a friendly hand to Cassie, soon we learn his motives as he watches over the house with a series of cameras as he inserts himself into the lives of the couple.

PerformancesAaron Paul is the leading role does continue to struggle on the big screen after his wonderful performances in Breaking Bad, he never looks that interested in what his character is meant to be. Emily Ratajkowski is known more for her modelling and music videos, sure she looks beautiful but when it comes to acting, she doesn’t leave too much to the imagination. Riccardo Scamarcio is the villainous role is creepy and seductive just like he needs to be for his role.

StoryThe story follows a couple that are rebuilding their relationship on a vacation where things end up getting pushed to new limits by a mysterious stranger. This is something we have seen before, there is no simply way of putting it, the way these usually works better is following the mysterious stranger because we learn what they are doing and wait to see when the others will. This gives us the information about what he is doing and still makes us sit through most of the fight the couple are struggling through, which again could have been highlighted stronger as the point of trying to get over it, but they are reacting like it only just happened. This story is weak for the most part, the highlight comes from the final moments, which could make you rethink everything you did just watch.

ThrillerThe film does try to put us on edge from the start to the finish as we learn what is going on and wait to see just how far things will go, the problem is that this film doesn’t hit the markers to suck us into everything that is happening.

SettingsThe film is set in Italy which as we saw in ‘Call Me By Your Name’ can have beautiful backdrops, this film fails to capture this in anyway.


Scene of the Movie –
The final moments.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Seriously how many shower scenes do we need in 90-minute movie?

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that follows a well known style of couple on vacation to fix problems only things go wrong, the acting is basic, the plot predictable and the settings are not used to their best capability.

 

Overall: Dull thriller.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – W – Where the Devil Hides (2014)

Director: Christian E Christiansen

Writer: Karl Mueller (Screenplay)

Starring: Alycia Debnam-Carey, Rufus Sewell, Thomas McDonell, Adelaide Kane, Leah Pipes, Jennifer Carpenter

 

Plot: When young girls start to go missing within a religious cult, older followers fear a long-told prophecy while the younger members suspect abusive elders are killing them off.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Horror Enjoyment

 

Story: The Devil’s Hand starts in a religious community away from the world still using non-technology based that live in fear of a prophecy involving the teenage girls of the community, Mary (Debnam-Carey) is one of these girls that suffers from fits that her friends are all aware of how to prepare for, but when they start becoming more common she gets horrifying visions too.

To make matters worse the girls start vanishing in the community leaving the girls coming together to figure out what the secret within the community is with local boy Trevor (McDonell) who isn’t part of the community.

 

Thoughts on The Devil’s Hand

 

Characters – Mary is one of the six girls born on the sixth day of the sixth month approaching her 18th birthday. When some of the girls start going missing the Mary must learn about the myth about her birth, her mother’s death and just how twisted the cult like life she is living in. Jacob Brown is Mary’s father, he has clashed with leader before and will do anything to keep his daughter safe from all the twisted ideas the community might have to stop the curse from coming true. Trevor is from the normal world, he helps where he can to try and being the Sheriff’s son is more of a convince than anything else.

PerformanceAlycia is making a name for herself in the horror genre now with this being the third horror based entertainment material I have seen her in and she does work for this film well. Rufus Sewell is good in the supporting role in this film with Thomas McDonell being good as the by the book love interest. It is the supporting performances that do come off the greatest with Jennifer Carpenter and Colm Meaney both being the best characters.

StoryThe story follows a small community that still live by the religious beliefs away from the technology of the world, they come together for the most part but when a legend and myth takes over the community the 5 remaining girls find themselves being targeted by something running riot through the community. The story does follow the traditional ideas of a potential evil or is it just someone evil idea which pushes the extremists away from the strict leader as everything turns into a control of power.

Horror/ThrillerThe horror side of this film splits between slasher as the girls seem to get picked off and the idea the devil is coming into our world.

SettingsMost of the film is set in the community which shows us how the beliefs of the people could be tested to new levels when they have never been able to experience the new world.

Special EffectsThe effects are only used at times and all well, they are no pointless CGI thrown in here which helps us understand just what is going on.

Scene of the Movie – The vision realization.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Everything just feels like nothing has happened until this moment for nearly 18 years.

Final ThoughtsThis does work as a horror thriller, it keeps us on edge, offers us twists and most of all balances the religion to reality beliefs.

 

Overall: Horror that sure works well through the film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – W – A Winter’s Tale (2014)

Director: Akiva Goldsman

Writer: Akiva Goldsman (Screenplay) Mark Helprin (Novel)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, William Hurt, Jennifer Connelly

 

Plot: A burglar falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he learns that he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her.


Tagline – This is not a true story. This is true love.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Fantasy Romance

 

Story: A New York Winter’s Tale starts as we meet Peter Lake (Farrell) left an orphan in New York City to become one of the most notorious thieves in the city, working for Pearly (Crowe) their business agreement goes south and now he is after Peter, who is saved by a mysterious magical horse.

Needing to get out of town, the horse guides him to the sick Beverly Penn (Findlay) who changes his views on life, until he learns of his own powers that shine through in this world where fairy-tales are only on the surface.

 

Thoughts on A New York Winter’s Tale

 

Characters – Peter Lake is nothing more than a thief working in New York City, when he goes against the plans of his boss he becomes a wanted man on the run with only a mythical horse to guide him, this shows him the light and the power his possesses as he walks the world as an empty sole. Beverly Penn is an heiress that is going to be dying within the next year or so, she opens Peter’s heart to be the one thing he never thought he could steal, it is her that shows him where his life might go. Pearly is the man trying to stop any miracles happening in the world, part demon he controls the ability to have miracles happening with his gangster like persona.

PerformancesColin Farrell is good in this leading role, at it shows he can handle a role that isn’t in the stranger roles like he has headed towards in recent years. Jessica Brown Findlay is the least known of the big roles in this film and she is great opposite Farrell. Russell Crowe does make for great villain which is what we always like to see. We do have a great supporting cast performing that do work for the main roles.

StoryThe story gives us a blend of fairy tale ideas in a growing world, this is an interesting story of enteral love, meaning and placement on the Earth, which is something people can find themselves asking, their place in this world. This will give the romantic fans a happy story that will play on nearly every emotion and is one that does give you a feel good moment or two through the film.

Fantasy/Mystery/RomanceThe use of the fantasy in the growing world gives us hope that things could happen that surprise us, which is where the mystery comes from as we see where Peter ends up because of the love he once felt.

SettingsThe New York setting is used to show us that miracles could happen even in the biggest city in the world.

Special EffectsThe effects through the film are good without being overly used, even though certain moments do feel green screen heavy.


Scene of the Movie –
The miracle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While I think Russell Crowe is good in this film his accent seems to bounce around a lot.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good, feel good movies that will leave you with a smile, hope and enjoyment by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Fantasy feel good.

Rating