ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominated – E – The Elephant Man (1980)

Director: David Lynch

Writer: Christopher De Vore, Eric Bergren, David Lynch (Screenplay) Frederick Treves (Book)

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Freddie Jones

 

Plot: A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.


Tagline – I am not an animal! I am a human being! I…am…a man!

Runtime: 2 Hour 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Essential Viewing

 

Story: The Elephant Man starts when Victorian surgeon Frederick Treves (Hopkins) discovers a heavily deformed man John Merrick (Hurt) being used as a side-show freak by Bytes (Jones). Frederick sees the potential in searching for a cure and a break through in science by showing the fellow doctors that he can help John.

However, over time, Frederick learns that underneath all the deformities, John is an intelligent man that is no different than any other man in the world, but not everybody else in the city of London, wants John to have his freedom.

 

Thoughts on The Elephant Man

 

Characters – Frederick Treves is a surgeon that has the respect of London because of the incredible work he has achieved through the years. He learns of John and wants to help him, he soon learns that he is just like him, smart, educated and must learn to teach the world to accept John. John Merrick is the Elephant Man, a side-show freak to the man who hold shim captive, once rescued he learns that not everybody in the world is wanting to laugh or scream at him, some want to help him live a normal life, inside he is a kind sensitive man that only wants to live like any other man. Mrs Kendal is a celebrity in London who is the first to help John in the public light, showing the people just how gentle and intelligent John is.

PerformancesAnthony Hopkins in the leading role is fantastic, show the world that he could pick up the intelligent role perfectly while showing the kind nature behind his character. John Hurt is the true star of the film, he brings the kind nature to the man that others look at with fear, he shows the bravery to be different in the society that only looks down on people that were different. The rest of the cast are strong throughout the film, they show us the emotional impact the film would have on the people involved.

StoryThe story here follows the relationship between doctor Frederick Treves and John Merrick, we see how Frederick saves John from the life of misery, lets him be respected and shows him another side of life away from the freak shows in which he had been trapped in. the story shows us just how cruel the people of the Victoria era were towards people that looked different. Through the story we get to see a fine balance between the men that wanted to use John for financial profit and Frederick that was willing to have him at the forefront of his determination to be remembered for what he bought to science, this one does turn into friendship, but the first impression are clearly there.

BiopicWe follow the time between John Merrick and Frederick Treves as we see the men with similar education and desires in life are both in very different worlds, together they help show the world, just because John looked different, it didn’t make him a bad person, unlike the people that uses him for their own gain.

SettingsThe film is set in the Victorian era London, it shows the difference in class between the people and how the people would have been entertained by seeing someone different.


Scene of the Movie –
I am a human being.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The way John was treated.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful biopic, it shows how cruel the world was towards John Merrick and how the people that wanted a change showed the world he was just like them.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

Rating

 

 

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Martin Scorsese Weekend – Raging Bull (1980)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Paul Schrader, Mardik Martin (Screenplay) Jake LaMotta, Joseph Carter, Peter Savage (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, Maria Gallo

 

Plot: An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over Hyped Boxing Film

 

Story: Raging Bull starts in 1941 the Bronx, New York City where we meet boxer Jake La Motta (De Niro) and his promoter, sparing partner and brother Joey (Pesci). The two look to set up the next fighter even though the married Jake spots the 15-year-old Vickie (Moriarty) who has connections with the mob.

Through the 40’s Jake remains unbeaten and marries Vickie and on the verge of a potential title fight. With his career taking off, his personal life is starting to fall apart as he becomes paranoid about what Vickie is doing with his violent side coming through.

 

Thoughts on Raging Bull

 

Characters/PerformanceJake is a brilliant boxer, one of the best of his generation but his out the ring temper causes more problems in his life as he is insecure about his wife’s loyalty, his brother’s loyalty and the people in his life. Vickie is the long-suffering wife that must deal with the temper of Jake while trying to retain a personal life against his wishes. Joey is the brother of Jake who also trains and books his fights but the two are always at conflict with each other.

Performance wise, De Niro is great through this film and you can see why people rave of his performance but I feel and we know he is capable of even better now. Pesci does a good job in what must have been a break through role for him. With Moriarty in her debut hanging with the big names very well.

StoryThe story does follow the career of Jake La Motta from small time boxer to champion to what happens to him after his career in the ring is over, we follow his paranoia in his personal life which comes out in his aggression. If you are into your boxing history you will enjoy the story otherwise you might not connect as well.

Biography/SportsLooking at the career is interesting but I do feel other boxing films are painted a more interesting career, the boxing itself looks fantastic through the film.

SettingsThe settings show us the time we are seeing the events unfold in which is done well throughout.

Final ThoughtsThis is a boxing film that I have heard huge things about, but I didn’t find myself getting engaged with the story in the way I was expecting and found elements of this film kind of boring.

 

Overall: This is one of the most popular boxing films of all time but it won’t make the top of any of my lists.

Rating

 

 

Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

Director: Antonio Margheriti

Writer: Antonio Margheriti, Dardano Sacchetti (Screenplay) Dardano Sacchetti (Story)

Starring: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Cinzia De Carolis, Tony King, Wallace Wilkinson

 

Plot: Giovanni Lambardo Radice and John Saxon are Vietnam vets that bring back contagious virus that turn people into cannibals when bitten.


Tagline – When you think you’ve seen it all…think again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Splatter Fest

 

Story: Cannibal Apocalypse starts as two men return from Vietnam Norman Hopper (Saxon) who returned to his family with the nightmares still haunting him and Charlie (Radice) who has been recovering from a virus he caught while over there.

While both have become infected by the virus which causes them to want human flesh, but keeping their human form, Charlie finds himself causing a siege in public, while Norman has the nightmares reminding him what happened and tries to talk Charlie down. As the virus the two have starts to spread the mayhem unfolds for the latest infected.

 

Thoughts on Cannibal Apocalypse

 

Characters – Norman is one of the soldier that returned from Vietnam, he was bitten by fellow soldier, but has gone back to his normal life apart from the seductive girl next door. Norman is one of the few people that has battled the virus without giving into it. Charlie was infected for longer and returns like an abandoned veteran, he is drawn to the cannibalism, as he starts to spread the virus. Mary is the neighbour of Norman that gets the school girl crush on him which leaves her facing the trouble of what he could become.

PerformancesJohn Saxon is the big drawn in this movie, he is a popular horror actor and you can see why, best in an authority role and the captain of a unit works for the performance he must give here. Giovanni is good as the unhinged man trying to get used to the new state he finds himself in. both Turner and Carolis are good but this films never wrote the women to be strong.

StoryThe story does offer a different spin on the zombie movie, we have the spread of a virus which turns people into flesh eaters, but they do keep their brains about them which is the unique take on the film. the film does also play into the idea that we never know what could have come back from a warzone in virus form. For the style of film the story works without being anywhere near testing for the audience.

Horror/Sci-FiMost of the horror comes from the gore, which is as gruesome for the time as you could imagine. The sci-fi elements come from the idea a virus could spread the way it does.

SettingsThe setting show us how the virus spreads from the warzone to the big cities and how hard it would be to contain.

Special EffectsThe effects are practical, they work for the gore shows the team could work with the budget.


Scene of the Movie –
Who needs eyes

That Moment That Annoyed Me The best gore moments are edited too much.

Final ThoughtsIf you were a fan of the 80’s gore based movies, this one will be one for you, but if you want a deeper story you will not be enjoying this one.

 

Overall: 80’s Horror fans enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Super Hero Franchise – Superman II (1980)

Super Hero Franchise – Superman II (1980)

 Superman II Poster

 

Directors: Richard Lester, Richard Donner (uncredited)

 

Writers: David Newman, Leslie Newman, Mario Puzo

 

Starring: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Terence Stamp, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty

 

Plot: Superman foregoes his powers to start a relationship with Lois Lane before three Kryptonian super-criminals travel to Earth. They have one thing on their minds: to gain revenge on their jailor by destroying his son, Kal-El, aka Superman.

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: One of the decade’s finer sequels

 

Story: Three Kryptonian criminals had long been sentenced to the Phantom Zone by Superman’s father, Jor-El. When Superman hurls a hydrogen bomb into space to avoid it exploding in Paris and killing Lois Lane (as well as millions of others), it breaks the chains binding the criminals. Seeing as they possess otherwordly powers, there is only one “man” who can stop them.

In the meantime, Superman has give up his powers so that he can live as a mortal with his beloved Lois Lane. Oh, and Lex Luthor has promised the criminals, led by General Zod, to take them to the Man of Steel so that they can destroy the Man of Steel.  There is only one thing that Superman’s arch-nemesis has asked for in return: Australia.

In 1980, those seeking entertainment were limited to the cinema, four TV channels and video (remember Betamax, anyone?). Now we have access to a wealth of movies from Sky, as well as online providers, such as Netflix delivering an extensive catalogue of movies and TV shows. The internet as a whole now provides us with seemingly endless entertainment we could previously only access offline, including gaming and sports betting. As added bonuses to our digital life, there are even numerous promotions, such as the offer to “beat the dealer” on the 21st of every month on 888casino… We’d fancy our chances of beating the dealer more than we would taking on three interplanetary bad guys any day of the week.

 

Thoughts on:

 

Characters/Performance: Christopher Reeve shows us just how comfortably he has learned to slip into the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman. Delivering a sympathetic performance as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, he is strong and suave any time he feels compelled to remove his glasses and don the hero’s cape.

 


Gene Hackman / Christopher Reeve – Filmi” (CC BY 2.0) by PSParrot

 

Gene Hackman comes close to stealing every scene in which he appears as criminal mastermind Lex Luthor.

Adventure/Mystery/Sci-Fi: Just how Clark Kent can regain his powers and save Earth from being conquered by the villains is the greater mystery and keeps us on the edge of our seats.

Offering us further insight into Planet Krypton, through the three super-villains, the interaction between humans and Kryptonians is one of the film’s more intriguing aspects.

Settings: The contrast between Earth and Krypton is visually appealing and works well as a contrast to the regular big-city world we see in Metropolis.

Special Effects: The effects may not be much to look at now but they were a visual feast at the time.

Director: This is a complicated one, as it began with Richard Donner at the helm before he was replaced due to cost overruns. Taking over was Richard Lester, who went on to direct Superman 111. For anyone interested, Donner’s cut was released to DVD in 2006.

 


S is for Superman” (CC BY 2.0) by Xurble

 

Final Thoughts: While the first movie in the franchise takes time to find its rhythm, Superman 11 takes us straight into the action, delivering a darker, albeit occasionally humorous, superhero fest.

Overall: The most compelling of the series.

 

Rating: 8.8/10

Gene Wilder Weekend – Stir Crazy (1980)

Director: Sidney Poitier

Writer: Bruce Jay Friedman (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Georg Stanford Brown, JoBeth Williams, Miguel Angel Suarez, Craig T Nelson

 

Plot: Set up and wrongfully accused, two best friends will be sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit, however, no prison cell can keep them locked in.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacklustre Comedy

 

Story: Stir Crazy starts as meet Skip Donahue (Wilder) and Harry Monroe (Pryor) two New Yorkers that find themselves out of work and decide to move to LA to start over. This plan goes wrong when the two’s first paying gig involves being mascot like figures, but when they are on a break they get framed for a bank robbery.

As the two misfits find themselves in prison for 30 years they must learn the ways of prison, find a way out and use their skills to stay alive and change their ways inside.

 

Thoughts on Stir Crazy

 

Characters/PerformanceSkip is the overly friendly man who believes a conversation can solve any conflict, he can find himself in trouble because of this but can also look to solve problems when they come up. Harry is Skip’s best friend and the one that looks at the smarter ways to survive.

Performance wise, Wilder and Pryor have a brilliant reputation as a comedy duo, I can see the chemistry they have and the two are good in this film without being a great comedy performance.

StoryThe story of two wrongfully convicted criminals needing to survive in prison and find a way to escape, this is a simple formula and works for the comedy of the film.

Crime/ComedyWe get moments of comedy through this film where it would be fair to say is designed as a vehicle for Wilder and Pryor to show off their skills rather than create the best jokes.

SettingsWith the film set in prison which does help try to build the comedy up but I can’t help but think they miss moments they could use.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic pairing but I just feel the comedy doesn’t hit on all the levels it should do.

 

Overall: Easy comedy that I feel needs that little bit more from.

Rating