ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – W – The Wolfman (2010) Movie Review

Director: Joe Johnston

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self (Screenplay) Curt Siodmak (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Rick Baker, Hugo Weaving, Simon Merrells, Gemma Whelan

Plot: Upon his return to his ancestral homeland, an American man is bitten, and subsequently cursed by, a werewolf.

Tagline – When the moon is full the legend comes to life

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Beautiful Gothic Horror

Story: The Wolfman starts when Gwen Conliffe (Blunt) travels to London to locate Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) to ask for his help to locate his brother and her fiancée Ben (Merrells) who mysteriously disappeared, Lawrence returns to his family home to face his estranged father Sir John (Hopkins) to pay his respects to his brother after his brother’s body is discovered.

Learning the rumours of a terrifying creature lurking the woods, Lawrence isn’t allowed to return home one night, finding himself involved in a hunt through a gypsy camp, where he faces the creatures, using his expert shooting skills, only to find himself bitten. With the curse passed onto Lawrence learns that the legend of a wolfman is real and now he is that wolfman, with the town searching to hunt him down and put an end to his terror.

Thoughts on The Wolfman

Characters – Lawrence Talbot is a stage actor in New York City, one of the most popular in the city too, he gets called to return home to help is his brother’s death and soon finds himself bitten by the mysterious creature that took his brother. Lawrence must learn to control the new curse placed on him, while the rest of the village wants him dead. Sir John Talbot is his father that has been distant from him because of traumatic event from his childhood, he has lived over looking the village for years now, he will protect Lawrence even if he knows the truth. Gwen is the fiancée of Lawrence’s brother, the one that comes to him in search for help, she knows the problems between Lawrence and John, but believes he could be the only one to help with the mystery about his brother. She is the only one willing to help Lawrence once things start to get out of hand. Aberline is from Scotland Yard investigating the attack that happened to Lawrence, his reputation is around how he was once involved in the Jack the Ripper case and now he has been left to hunt down Lawrence.

PerformancesBenicio Del Toro in the leading role is strong in this film, we get to see just how much his character must got through during the film and he shows all the emotional range required for the character. Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt complete the main cast where neither put a foot wrong in their roles.

StoryThe story here follows a stage actor that must return home to search for answers about his brother’s death, only to find himself in the middle of hunt for a creature that has gone onto infect him with the curse. This is a remake of the classic universal monster collection, we get the gothic feeling to the story, in a time when legends would feel like they are true stories that small villages would believe to be true. We get to see the uncomfortable relationship between a father and son, as well as seeing the horrors of the wolfman being released upon the world. This is an entertaining story to watch, which is one that would be enjoyed by the horror fans.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy horror side of the film shows us just how the wolfman has come from, playing into the first real horrors of the silver screen too.

SettingsThe settings used in this film does bring us back to the Gothic era, which helps elevate the film to the next level, being it the buildings or the mist layered woodland area.

Special EffectsThe effects might well be more CGI focused when it comes to the transformation, but they still feel just as terrifying as they should be, if you were a witness to the event.

Scene of the Movie – The wolfman unleashed.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Gwen is still just a damsel in distress.

Final Thoughts This is an entertaining blood covered horror that brings a familiar character back to the bring screen, we have a strong cast and nice pacing which will keep the action flowing.

Overall: Blood Filled Horror.

Thomas Jane Weekend – White Bird in a Blizzard (2014)

Director: Gregg Araki

Writer: Gregg Araki (Screenplay) Laura Kasischke (Novel)

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Ava Acres, Thomas Jane

Plot: In 1988, a teenage girl’s life is thrown into chaos when her mother disappears.

Tagline – I was 17 when my mother disappeared…

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Uninspiring Teenage Mystery

Story: White Bird in a Blizzard starts when 17-year-old Kat (Woodley) comes home from school to find her father Brock (Meloni) worried about where he mother Eve (Green) has gone, just vanished, taking nothing with her. Following the normal missing person reports through Detective Scieziesciez (Jane) trying to help the best he can.

As Kat examines her life, she starts to think that her mother might have run off with someone else, but the uncertainty around the truth is driving her crazy as she continues to push on her new sexual desires.

Thoughts on White Bird in a Blizzard

Characters – Kat is the 17-year-old girl that is nearing the end of school, has a boyfriend that isn’t given her enough attention for her own desires and then her mother vanishes, she is left wondering why she would just leave right when she was become a woman and needed her help. Eve is the mother of Kat, she has changed over the recent years and now has vanished, we learn about her character through Kat’s memories of her. Brock is the father that Kat thinks is a loser, he is worried about his wife and does the best to stay strong for Kat. Phil is the boyfriend of Kate, he lives across the street and is the opposite to who she was looking for in a man.

PerformancesShailene Woodley does everything fine through this film, she is the strongest of the performers, though that isn’t saying much. Eva Green, Christopher Meloni and Shiloh Fernandez all have one strong scene, while largely being forgettable in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that must deal with the sudden disappearance of her mother, not knowing the truth or who could offer the truth about what has happened. This isn’t the inspiring story because it offers up a mystery only for the story to spend too much time on wondering if Kat is going to get laid and by who, we really don’t spend anytime investigating why or what could have happened to her mother, which only disappoints us. This story does drag along to, which for a 90-minute movie is a giant disappointment.

MysteryThe mystery behind this film does leave us feeling like it forgets there is a mystery halfway through the film, it just doesn’t shine enough of a spotlight onto the mystery.

SettingsThe settings in the film show us a small town that our main character wants to get out off, which sees more people knowing things than they are willing to give away, when it comes to the truth.

Scene of the Movie – Freezer search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The mystery doesn’t seem to be the main focus.

Final Thoughts This feels like a long movie even though it has only a 90-minute runtime, it just drags and doesn’t focus on the mystery enough.

Overall: Dull.

Seth Green Weekend – Without a Paddle (2004) Movie Review

Director: Steven Brill

Writer: Jay Leggett, Mitch Rouse (Screenplay) Fred Wolf, Harris Goldberg, Tom Nursall (Story)

Starring: Dax Shepard, Matthew Lillard, Seth Green, Ethan Suplee, Rachel Blanchard, Ray Baker, Burt Reynolds

Plot: After their friend dies, three men decide to fulfill their childhood dream by going on a camping expedition for the lost D. B. Cooper bounty, with calamitous results.

Tagline – Three lifelong friends… One lost treasure… What could go wrong?

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Enjoyable

Story: Without a Paddle starts as three best friends Tom (Shepard), Jerry (Lillard) and Dan (Green) return home after the sudden death of their fourth member Billy, spending time together they remember a promise they once made when they were children about searching for D.B. Cooper Bounty.

The three head off into the wilderness following a map that Billy left them, on an adventure they couldn’t imagine, search for a treasure and learning the importance of life.

Thoughts on Without a Paddle

Characters – Jerry has become a businessman, he isn’t enjoying this career choice, he likes to surf and isn’t the most committed in remember important dates in his relationship, he must bring the guys back together for the funeral, he is on the edge of a mid-life crisis, which will get the focus of his decision making process on this adventure. Tom is the lose cannon of the friends, he has always got a story from what he has been doing in his life, while most seem to be tall tales, which often get them in trouble. Dan has become a doctor that is nervous in life, he keeps everything safe and this adventure is completely against his lifestyle, where he spends most of his time worried about what happens.

PerformancesMatthew Lillard, Seth Green and Dax Shepard are the three friends, they do have great chemistry, they play into their comedy strengths and make this movie more enjoyable with their performances.

StoryThe story follows three friends that go on an adventure in the woods in search for D.B. Cooper’s treasure in memory of their friend who passed away. This is a story that is about finding themselves, learning to overcome their fears in life, learn their place in life and making the most of the life they are given. While some of what happens is silly and plays into parodies of many films, it is an enjoyable story that shows the strength of friendship through the good times and the bad.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure shows us how friends will need that moment in life where the can be together even through the adult struggles in life. The comedy can be silly at times, which does take away from the serious time of the story.

SettingsThe film is set in the wilderness, which sees how the different locations from the river rapids to the cannabis farm they stumble along, it plays into the fears of going into the wild.

Scene of the Movie – The treehouse of memories.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Some of the comedy.

Final Thoughts This is a fun adventure about finding yourself in life, the cast has a great chemistry only for the comedy to come off slightly short at times.

Overall: Fun Adventure.

The Wave (2019) Movie Review

Director: Gille Klabin

Writer: Carl W Lucas (Screenplay)

Starring: Tommy Flanagan, Justin Long, Donald Faison, Katia Winter, Sheila Vand, Sarah Minnich, Bill Sage

Plot: A man on the verge of a promotion takes a mysterious hallucinogenic drug that begins to tear down his reality and expose his life for what it really is.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Mind-Bending

Story: The Wave starts when a safe lawyer Frank (Long) is about to get a promotion, he co-worker Jeff (Faison) is trying to push him into partying a little bit more, instead of following his routine with his wife Cheryl (Minnich). When Frank decides to go along with a night on the town, he finds him at a party meeting mysterious strange Aelous (Flanagan) who offers him a hallucinogenic drug that sees him lose track of time.

Waking up alone in a random house, he finds his life falling apart, the big meeting not going as planned and simple journeys just randomly getting skipped, he needs to put his life back together before it is too late.

Thoughts on The Wave

Characters – Frank is a safe worker, he lives his life through a strict routine that never sees him taking any chances, deciding he needs a change he heads to a party, takes a drug and sees his whole life change overnight, needing to figure out what he has gained with his decision to take a drug which sees him lose time. Aeolus is the mysterious man that supplies the drug for Frank, he pushes him into taking the drug which he promises will be different than anything he has had before. Jeff is the best friend of Frank, he pushes him into going on the night out, wanting him to loosen up, only to show concern with what happened. Natalie and Theresa are two women that friends meet that give answers to what might have happened that night.

PerformancesJustin Long is the star of this film, he can always make the routine based character shine and look out of water when they are pushed. The rest of the supporting cast are both strong without taking any of the spotlight of Justin.

StoryThe story here follows a man that has lived his life with a routine until one night he agrees to let loose and party, only for things to get out of control and he finds himself losing his own sense of reality. This story is one that you do need to watch carefully or you will end up missing one of the key ingredients to the outcome, we are left to try and piece together each incident Frank finds himself going through, it does all make sense by the end too. The clear question in this story does come from the idea of how Frank goes from not doing anything questionable, to willingly taking drugs off a stranger. Outside this we can enjoy this story and how everything unfolds.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi side of the film comes from seeing how Frank suddenly starts losing sense of reality and how everything in his life comes crashing down.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to keep us moving around the different incidents that Frank finds himself in, with great transitions between them too.

Scene of the Movie – Boom a car chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The sudden jump to unknown drugs seems to drastic.

Final Thoughts This is a wildly bonkers sci-fi film that could sit next to Donnie Darko or The Butterfly Effect for mind being storytelling.

Overall: Wildly out there.

Well Water (2017) Short Movie Review

Director: Sharisse Zeroonian

Writer: Sharisse Zeroonian (Screenplay)

Starring: Kathy-Ann Hart, Marcus McDermott, Kevin O Peterson, Maureen Vlaco, Katraya Wier

Plot: Ben and Cora, two teenagers in love, learn to slow down and embrace their youth instead of being in a hurry to grow up.

Runtime: 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fun Relationship Start Drama

Story: Well Water starts as we meet young couple Ben (McDermott) and Cora (Wier) who have just started dating, while having different ideas of life, we follow how the two look to a future they may never have, a future they could both enjoy together, having certain ideas of what could make them happy.

Thoughts on Well Water

Characters – Ben seems to be the more laid back about his future, while being very much planned and keeping everything calm for his own life choices for now, while Cora is a free spirit that wants to have fun, trying to get Ben to break out of his shell. The two are discovering more about each other, the more time they spend together, which does show them both opening up like any relationship.

PerformancesMarcus McDermott & Katraya Wier are both strong in the film, they show how comfortable, while sometimes unease that can come from just starting to get to know somebody.

StoryThe story here follows a young couple as they continue to get to know each other, plan their future together and just become even more comfortable around each other, we don’t get the drama of how friends feel, just two people that are falling in love, which does make this a much more interesting version of what falling in love can be. It is also nice not to learn more about the character’s lives away from this relationship because it is only about getting to know each other.

Final Thoughts This is a nice look at how love can start, the getting to know each other stage of it, which is the most enjoyable part of any relationship.

Overall: Sparks Can Fly.