ABC Film Challenge – Horror – X – X Moor (2014)

Director: Luke Hyams

Writer: Luke Hyams (Screenplay)

Starring: Melia Kreiling, Mark Bonnar, Nick Blood, Olivia Popica, Simone Kirby, Sophie Harkness

 

Plot: A £25,000 reward offered by a local newspaper brings documentary makers Matt and his girlfriend Georgia to the remote North Devon moor in a bid to capture the fabled Beast purported to be a wild cat, like a panther or a puma on film.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Dark to Enjoy

 

Story: X Moor starts with Georgia (Kreiling) and her cameraman boyfriend Matt (Blood) head to North Devon to enter Dartmoor in search of the legendary beast of Dartmoor which in its glimpses has been compared to different big cats, the team is joined by tracker Fox (Bonnar) on this adventure.

The hunt takes an unexpected twist when Fox has used the team to help him try and capture a serial killer he believes is dumping the bodies of their victims on the moor. The leads to the battle to survive the horrors of the moor.

 

Thoughts on X Moor

 

Characters – Georgia is the documentary film maker that heads into the moor in search of the beast in the area, she seems to come off as a woman who wants to get ahead in the game becoming a big name in her field. Matt is the boyfriend and cameraman for Georgia that would like to enjoy a holiday in the sun but does support her decisions. Fox is the tracker that has tricked thee crew into the big discovery that even he wasn’t ready for.

PerformanceThe performances through the film are not the best through the film, we only get a lot of running, arguing and screaming through the film.

StoryThe story does follow the documentary film crew that head into the Moors to find a creature and get more than they bargained for, simple enough to follow but very difficult to see anything. This is another film that falls into the idea of filming at night which is needed but making it nearly impossible for us to see anything going on. The story does have a twist on the idea of hunting a mythical beast and does have plenty of potential to be an enjoyable horror film.

HorrorThe horror in this film is mostly survival horror which does work for the story, it all heads in a mix of directions that can only keep us wanting to see what the big bad will be capable off.

SettingsThe film is set mostly in the moors of Dartmoor which shows us the mystery behind the place which is filled with legends and myths.

Special EffectsThe effects are mostly down to the camerawork going on which I do feel let a large part of the film down because we are left not being able to see anything in the darkness as times.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Impossible to see the darkness scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis was a good idea for a film but fails to give us the chance to see most of the important scenes due to the darkness it takes place in.

 

Overall: Simple Horror with nice twist on the monster hunting idea.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – X – X: Past is Present (2015)

Director: Hemant Gaba, Pratim D Gupta, Sudhish Kamath, Nalan Kumarasamy, Anu Menon, Sandeep Mohan, Quashiq Mukherjee, Rajshree Ojha, Raja Sen, Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Suparn Verma

Writer: Hemant Gaba, Pratim D Gupta, Sudhish Kamath, Nalan Kumarasamy, Anu Menon, Sandeep Mohan, Quashiq Mukherjee, Rajshree Ojha, Raja Sen, Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Suparn Verma (Screenplay)

Starring: Rajat Kapoor, Radhika Apte, Anshuman Jha, Piaa Bajpai, Sara Bhaskar, Neha Mahajan

 

Plot: A filmmaker with a mid-life crisis meets a mysterious young girl who reminds of every woman in his past.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Reminiscing Never Felt so True

 

Story: X: Past is Present starts as K (Kapoor) is at a party when he meets a young woman that reminds him of his former love, each moment he sees her through the night reminds him of previous women in his life and we follow the young K (Jha) through these relationships.

Each memory brings back a moment in his K’s life, one that he will never forget and one he can never live through again, these stories have made K the man he is now even the missed opportunities he went through.

 

Thoughts on X: Past is Present

 

Characters – K is the womanising filmmaker having a mid-life crisis, he meets a young lady at a party and starts to reminisce on the women that have help inspire his movies through the years. He is filled with happiness and sadness with memories that have made him and broken him in the past. The young woman likes the stories she is hearing and does have motivation for arriving in K’s life. Rija is the wife that K lost in his story of love, she wanted a normal life, something K never offered.

PerformancesRajat Kapoor is great in this leading role showing us the memories that K is having with the happiness and regrets like we all do. This does have strong performances from the whole case too.

StoryThe story follows the man having a mid-life crisis remembering the women that came into his life, some for the better, others for the worst, each one brings their own story and lesson he learned through life. While looking at the different stories is wonderful too, it does become difficult to understand the different times everything is happening for K because the jumps seem ransom for the different time eras. Away from that slight flaw the idea is something I could enjoy watching and is one that I feel people will understand.

Mystery/RomanceThe romance in this film comes from the different memories that K has been having the loves he once had for years and the small slings which lasted a lifetime. The mystery comes from who the mysterious girl is and even if she is real.

SettingsThe film takes us to plenty of different settings that K has been through his life they have helped him write his own movies.


Scene of the Movie –
How the flashbacks feel, because they feel like they are how memories would be.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Keeping up with the timeline in the flashbacks

Final ThoughtsThis is a very good look at how life can lead us down different paths, some that will show us the best and most memorable moments and others which will remind us of the mistakes in our life.

 

Overall: Lovely look at life’s best moments.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – X – X+Y (2014)

 

Director: Morgan Matthews

Writer: James Graham (Screenplay)

Starring: Asa Buterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Jo Yang, Martin McCann

 

Plot: A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.


Tagline – True genius comes from opening your heart

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sweet Drama

 

Story: X+Y starts as we meet the social awkward Nathan (Butterfield) whose father is killed in a car crash when he is young, his mother Julie (Hawkins) has struggled raising him with his awkwardness but with former prodigy and now teacher Martin Humphreys (Spall) who helps develop his own skills in maths to get to the level to compete in the Olympiad.

Qualifying Nathan finds himself going to Taiwan to compete for Britain with fellow gifted children from around the UK, guided by Richard (Marsan) in the competition. To help with learning the new country the British team is paired with the Chinese team, this gives Nathan a chance to learn a new culture with a new friend Zhang Mei (Yang). The trip teaches Nathan to open up more in his life, while back home Martin learns to stop make the excuses about his failures to perform in the Olympiad that he failed in.

 

Thoughts on X+Y

 

Characters – Nathan is a social awkward teenager, he has autism which makes it difficult for him to interact and has a gift for numbers. When he gets invited to join the British Olympiad team he must learn a new culture, meet new people and come out of the shell he is in. Martin Humphreys is a teacher that mentors Nathan, he once competed in the Olympiad but didn’t succeed, Nathan gives him hope to carry on his depressed life with his own sickness. Julie is the mother of Nathan, she has struggled with his disability but does the best she can to give him the chances he deserves. Richard runs the British team, he expects to win sometimes putting too much pressure on his team. Zhang Mei is the Chinese competitor that befriends Nathan showing him even after the troubles he has people will open up to him, she also must deal with the pressure of competing for Uncle.

PerformancesAsa Butterfield is great in this leading role, not over playing his characters condition. Rafe Spall gives us a performance that is filled with the regret his character is feeling through the film. Sally Hawkins shines in the supporting role as the supportive mother desperate to connect with her son. Jo Yang connects with Asa’s character perfectly giving us a moving supporting performance too.

StoryThe story follows how one teenager must learn to open up when it gets a chance to compete in a maths Olympiad, he has always struggled with social sides of life but uses maths to escape. Watching a story that shows the struggles of a teenager to find his place while still dealing with his own grief of losing a parent, that gets that chance to meet new people to open the world up for him is something we all like to enjoy.

Drama/RomanceThe drama comes from the troubles Nathan has been through and must learn to move on from, the key comes from the romance side of the film opening his eyes to the world.

SettingsNathan has lived a closed life, when he opens up to more by the travelling he becomes more open to everything in life being able to see things from other people’s point of view.


Scene of the Movie –
The competition in Cambridge.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We focus on moments of problems the other British team have but we don’t see enough of them.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that surprised me a lot, I enjoyed nearly every moment of the film and believe it is one I would be recommending in the future.

 

Overall: Delightful little drama.

Rating

 

 

XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

xxxDirector: D.J. Caruso

Writer: F Scott Frazier (Screenplay) Rich Wilkes (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Samuel L Jackson, Toni Collette, Michael Bisping

 

Plot: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Surprisingly Entertaining

 

Story: XXX the Return of Xander Cage starts when Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) is doing his recruitment trick once again with Neymar Jr (Yes, the footballer) before a satellite crash lands killing them both (Guess Jackson didn’t want the full pay check).

We move to CIA headquarters who are working out who crashed the satellite with Jane Marke (Collette) leading the investigation when Xiang (Yen), Serena Unger (Padukone), Hawk (Bisping) and Talon (Jaa) steal it back leaving the best of the best for dead.

There is just one man for this job, Xander Cage (Diesel) the extreme sports maniac returning to avenge his handler’s death. Xander must build a new team Adele Wolff (Rose), Torch (McCann) and Nicks (Wu) to go head to head with the deadliest opponents in the series of films.

 

Thoughts on XXX the Return of Xander Cage

 

StoryThe story does feel more complete than other XXX films but is one you really do have to go into with your brain off and just enjoy everything unfold. If you were to study this film for flaws you sure could find a few but this one is a story written to entertain. Bringing back Xander was the most important thing about this film working because he is what the draw of the extreme sports super-agent that is off the books stopping the bad guys.

Action/Adventure The action is wildly over the top and that is why we enjoy this style of films at time, we just need to switch off and enjoy.

Characters/PerformanceLet’s look at the characters now, Xander Cage is back and he was definitely the best of the two original XXX’s and this time he is still in love with his extreme sports and willing to fight for the country. Xiang is a good villain and a hell of a lot more interesting that other villains in the series. We do get a lot of comic relief from the supporting characters with Torch, Becky Nicks, and Wolff all doing the state the obvious or playing generic stereotypes. While the weakest character is Serena because she is just like any other female love interest in this style of film.

Looking at the performances Vin Diesel does seem to be mailing this one in which is disappointing because the character and attitude are all over the place this time around. It is fantastic to see Donnie Yen in his second American movie in a matter of months and being the star of the film. Deepika does also do a good job even if I felt the character was weakly written. The rest of the supporting cast are all fun with them all getting to show off their talents.

SettingsWe get our characters being put in the exotic locations for all the action sequences until we also end up in Detroit because I guess the budget couldn’t afford another beach location.

Special EffectsWhen you look at the special effects they all work for the film we get the nonsense over the top action getting made to look realistic throughout.

Final ThoughtsNot being the biggest fan of the XXX series after the first one I wasn’t expecting too much going into this one but you know what sometimes you just need to be entertained without thinking and this film delivers on all of that.

 

Overall: Switch off your brain and enjoy this adrenaline rush of an action film.

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Franchise Weekend – XXX 2 The Next Level (2005)

casting card

 

Plot: Darius Stone, a new agent in the XXX program, is sent to Washington, DC to defuse a power struggle amongst national leaders.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Poor Sequel

 

Story: XXX 2: The Next Level starts as the NSA base with Agent Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) is stationed meaning they need to find themselves a new XXX that is deadlier than the previous one. The man they turn to is Lieutenant Darius Stone (Cube) who is currently behind bars.

When all the government start searching for Darius and Gibbons they find themselves hunted down by General Deckert (Dafoe) making this a personal situation after he takes down Gibbons. Darius must use all of his training to uncover the truth with Deckeret after him and Agent Steele (Speedman) not knowing what he is walking into.

XXX 2: The Next Level is a sequel to a standard action film only it doesn’t bring back the lead actor and has to find a quick excuse to fit a new hero into the film and suddenly they are all one unit of former soldiers and everything stays within the US. This doesn’t really achieve what the first film does and ends up just being a plain action film that story comes off flat.

 

Actor Review

 

Willem Dafoe: General George Deckert is our main bad guy this time, he is the sectary of Defence that is out to us the NSA project as a cover up for his master plan which means he has to take out all of his former men including Gibbons and Stone. Willem as a villain what a surprise there where he is just solid in this role.

Samuel L Jackson: Agent Augustus Gibbons has his base attacked leading him to find a new X agent where he turns to one of his old soldiers as we learn a lot more about the back story behind this character this time. Samuel is solid in this role but it feels like it could just have been pay check for him.

Ice Cube: Darius Stone is the new agent X he is a former soldier that has been locked up but after Gibbon breaks him out he puts all of his skills to use to uncover the truth as the battle comes to home ground in America. Ice doesn’t reach the levels of Vin as you never feel he could have been a soldier.

Scott Speedman: Agent Kyle Steele is the man investigating the attack on the NSA but as he learns more about the story he works himself with Darius to protect the nation. Scott is solid but doesn’t make that big of an impact in the story.

Support Cast: XXX 2: The Next Level much like the original has your typical supporting cast but I do feel this one does a larger range on the whole sidekick side of the story.

Director Review: Lee TamahoriLee gives us a sequel that doesn’t reach the levels of the original but having to fast track a new hero into the story didn’t help.

 

Action: XXX 2: The Next Level has very basic action being used throughout without being anything fresh.

Adventure: XXX 2: The Next Level lose the adventure side of the story which doesn’t help the ideas in the film.

Thriller: XXX 2: The Next Level should keep us on the edge but just doesn’t pull us in anymore.

Settings: XXX 2: The Next Level keeps all the action in America which doesn’t help the idea in the film because of the adventure angle.
Special Effects
: XXX 2: The Next Level has a few solid special effects but also a laughable effects.

Suggestion: XXX 2: The Next Level is one to most likely miss, it doesn’t add anything to the original and almost comes off as a parody of the first. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: No

Worst Part: Car on the train tracks.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Yes

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $87 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Tagline: The greatest threat to our nation comes from within.

 

Overall: Terrible sequel really.

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