ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – N – Neon City (1991)

Director: Monte Markham

Writer: Jeff Begun, Buck Finch, Monte Markham, Gus Peters (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Ironside, Vanity, Lyle Alzado, Valerie Wildman, Nick Klar, Juliet Landau

 

Plot: “Mad Max” clone set in the not-too-distant future about a group of people trying to escape to a safe haven called Neon City after a solar disaster that has decimated the Earth.


Tagline – Take a deep breath, it may be your last. Welcome to the year 2053.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Mad Max Rip Off

 

Story: Neon City starts in the 2053 as lone drifter Harry M Stark (Ironside) goes around the wasteland searching for the next payday, his latest was Reno (Vanity) being the choice in a hope to get to a place known as Neon City, a safe haven from the wasteland.

With the latest transport heading from Jericho to the Neon City, Harry is forced into the transport along with a host of colourful characters, but the journey isn’t going to be that easy for them.

 

Thoughts on Neon City

 

Characters – Harry M Stark is the lone drifter looking to make the money to head to Neon City to extract his revenge on the man that murdered his mutated son, he has nothing to lose but will make sure the transport gets to the city in the best condition possible. Reno is the latest criminal that Harry is transferring to jail for the murder of her parents, she is a fighter and will help the people in need on the transport too. Bulk is the old friend of Harry that is leading the transport, he knows his clients are the most valuable part of the transport and will do the right thing for the people he is transporting. The rest of the characters we meet are the different people with different stories to why they are on the transport.

PerformancesMichael Ironside is the biggest name in the film, he does a good job in the leading role and shows why he is the star of the film. Vanity is good for the supporting role showing enough fire in her performance and Lyle Alzado is good fun in the role he plays too and the whole cast does look like they are enjoying their roles enough to be good throughout.

StoryIf you don’t compare this movie to Mad Max, then you would be lying about knowing too much about film, the wasteland the concept and even certain styles are just what we have seen in those movies. The story does follow a group travelling across a wasteland in hopes of reaching a safe haven from the harsh conditions, each character has their own reasons for being on the trip which gives meaning to what they are willing to risk in the battle to survive. This is an easy watch with how the story flows keeps the pacing good throughout.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action follows the transport as they go from one city to the safe haven, we get the shoot outs from the vehicles which give us general explosion, this plays into the adventure side of the film as we see the obstacles they must face. The sci-fi side of the takes us to the wasteland where we see just what has become of the world.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just how the wasteland can look for the journey which can hold the problems they will be facing.

Special EffectsThe effects are solid enough, but never come off to standout for the film to great.


Scene of the Movie –
The final run in.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It isn’t the most original.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable and easy to watch sci-fi movie in the same ideas as Mad Max, which can be fun to watch.

 

Overall: Fun and easy to watch.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – O – Only Yesterday (1991)

Director: Isao Takahata

Writer: David Freedman, Isao Takahata (Screenplay) Hotaru Okamoto, Yuuke Tone (Manga)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Miki Imai, Toshiro Yanagiba, Yoko Honna, Mayumi Izuka, Mei Oshitani

 

Plot: A twenty-seven-year-old office worker travels to the countryside while reminiscing about her childhood in Tokyo.


Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not Ghibli’s Strongest

 

Story: Only Yesterday starts as Taeko an office worker looks to return to the countryside for her vacation, this brings back her memories of when she was younger growing up with school and her love for the countryside.

As Taeko’s memories continue to flood back she remembers her first embarrassing moments at school, when she gets her first period and learns from fellow student it is natural, while the boys are making fun of her. We jump back to the adult Taeko who is back for the farming and she meets Toshio a young farmer that see the world the same as her, which offers her a romantic interest in her life.

 

Thoughts on Only Yesterday

 

Characters – Taeko is our leading character we look at two moments of her life, we have her childhood struggles and her returning adult self to the peace of the countryside. This character shows us the difficulties that growing up offers and adult life can be when you look back on where you could have gone. Toshio is a local farmer that shows Taeko around, keeping her company while offering a potential love and path back to the life she once loved.

StoryThe story tackles growing up and returning home after time away, following the life you love compared to the one you need to live. The ideas in the story focus on real events and don’t bring any fantasy elements into the story telling which can either interest you or put you off because when you watch a Ghibli movie you are expecting moments of fantasy at times. The real feel both takes away from the story and adds to the personal touch needed to be told.

RomanceThe romance starts off soft because it mostly focuses on the idea that home could bring a love you want over the city the love you can have.

SettingsThe settings show the two different lives that Taeko has lived, the one in the small farming village, the other from the big city, this shows which one he wants to be part of more.

AnimationThe animation works for the time because Ghibli has a different style to Disney to make it stand out.


Scene of the Movie –
Dreams.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story, while good lacks that moment to make it stand out.

Final ThoughtsThis was a good watch, but isn’t going to making it to the top of many of the re-watching of Ghibli movies for me.

 

Overall: Solid addition to the Ghibli world.

Rating

 

 

Kurt Russell Weekend – Backdraft (1991)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glen, Rebecca De Mornay

 

Plot: Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don’t get along must work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Slow

 

Story: Backdraft starts when a young Brian McCaffrey witness his firefighter father killed putting out the fire. 20 years later Brian (Baldwin) is desperate to follow in his father’s footsteps much like his brother Stephen (Russell). Passing his tests Brian joins Stephen’s unit, the strictest in town.

As the number of fires increase, the number of firefighters are being cut and with each fire brings the investigator Donald Rimgale (De Niro) who uses slow methods but gets results. When Brian becomes worried about the safety of his brother’s actions he agrees to work with Donald to track down an arsonist operating within the city.

 

Thoughts on Backdraft

 

Characters/PerformanceStephen is the tough firefighter who enjoys the job knowing he and his team can save as many lives as possible. Brian is the brother of Stephen, son of a firefighter who became the photo of a generation after witnessing his father’s death at a young age. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps but finds himself having to turn on his brother to investigate arson rather than fight the fires. Donald is a grizzled veteran who has seen the worst in fighting fire, he now leads the investigations into the fires, he works with Brian to locate the arsonist and reckless behaviour being portrayed by the firefighters. The rest of the characters fill the loyal unit, the ex-wife and potential lover without being a major part in the film.

Performance wise, Russell is solid but never reaches the levels we know he can. Baldwin just doesn’t capture the level of performance you would see from other members of the family while De Niro is good in the supporting role.

StoryThe story shows the life of firefighters struggling with the demands placed upon them by dwindling resources, the lives get put at risk. We get to see the investigation into an arsonist but sadly this isn’t the focus of the story. the focus is on the broken relationship between the two brothers who have gone in different paths when it comes to following in their father’s footsteps. The story is fine but too long in my opinion.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe firefighting scenes are brilliant action set pieces without a doubt but the crime side which should be a major side just doesn’t get the focus required. The mystery also suffers because of this too.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully to show the intensity of the fires for the firefighters while outside the fires it just feels like a normal city which could be any.

Special EffectsThe special effects are stunning for the creating of the fires, using mostly practical effects which still look amazing today.

Final ThoughtsThe special effects in this movie do save it from being awful but in the end the story is just too flat for my liking.

 

Overall: Flat story, too long but amazing effects.

Rating

 

 

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

Writer: Linda Woolverton (Screenplay) Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (Original Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Robby Benson, Jesse Corti, Rex Everhart, Angela Lansbury, Paige O’Hara, Jerry Orbach

 

Plot: A young woman whose father has been imprisoned by a terrifying beast offers herself in his place, unaware that her captor is actually a prince, physically altered by a magic spell.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Truly Classic Disney

 

Story: Beauty and the Beast starts as we learn the curse placed upon the Beast, who must wait until love can be felt before he can return to human form. In the small French town Belle is different to all the other girls, she enjoys reading and thinking for herself and lives with her inventor father. Belle has caught the attention of the town stud Gaston, the self-centred man that other woman dive at the feet off, but Belle is just not interested.

When Belle’s father goes missing she goes in search of him finding the Beast castle and being kept captive by the Beast and his living furniture. To escape the castle Belle must fall in love with the Beast but back home Gaston leads an attempted rescue for her. Can the fairy tale be cured and love found in an unlikely place?

 

Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast

 

Characters Belle is the typical strong lead female that wants to be independent unlike most of the other women she knows but only to find herself falling in love with the man kept her hostage. The Beast finds himself transformed in this form after not being accepting to other people, he is aggressive, grumpy and short tempered but once he opens up to Belle he could lift the curse. Gaston is the man all the women love and he believes he can have anything he wants and isn’t used to women rejecting him like Belle does, he is always planning to make it happen.

StoryThe story is about love, it is about love coming from a place you least expect it in fairy tale form. It would be fair to say there is a huge questionable flaw in this story because keeping a woman captive who then falls in love with you is creepy to say the least, but for the younger audience the story is perfect about finding a happy ending while being the strong independent woman.

Family/Musical/RomanceThe family can all enjoy this together because of the catchy musical numbers and the simple romance story.

SettingsEach setting shows us the different worlds Belle came from to be with the Beast showing the small-town girl could end up in a castle.

AnimationThe animation looks fantastic which adds to the fantasy animation you saw in the Disney films during the 90s.

Final ThoughtsThis is one film that the princess lovers will always love because it is about a normal girl that gets to be treated like a princess.

 

Overall: Wonderful fantasy romance film.

Rating

 

 

Vintage Franchise – Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Director: Nicholas Meyer

Writer: Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal (Screenplay) Gene Roddenberry (Characters)

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Kim Cattrall, Christopher Plummer

 

Plot: On the eve of retirement, Kirk and McCoy are charged with assassinating the Klingon High Chancellor and imprisoned. The Enterprise crew must help them escape to thwart a conspiracy aimed at sabotaging the last best hope for peace.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Addition to Franchise

 

Story: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country starts as the Klingon race is facing extinction after a mining accident, Spock (Nimoy) and the federation have looked at options to create a peace agreement and Spock suggests the near retirement Kirk (Shatner) to escort the Chief in Command of the Klingons for negotiations.

When the escort goes wrong all clues point to the Enterprise attacking and members of the crew boarding the ship to assassinate the Chief in Command, this leads to Kirk and McCoy (Kelley) being arrested for the assassination, leaving Spock to uncover the truth during this delicate time between the space races.

 

Thoughts on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

 

Characters – Kirk is on the verge of retirement and reluctantly accepts an escort mission searching for a chance of peace even against his own dislike towards the Klingons after their hand in his son’s death. Kirk is framed for the assassination of the Klingon leader and joins McCoy in a mining prison hoping his crew could turn around the conviction. Spock is the one trying to put together peace treaty and must take control of the Enterprise after the assassination and the investigation from within the ship to who was really behind it all. Chang is the Klingon general that believes himself and Kirk are both great warriors and he also isn’t supporting the peace talks, he is quick to point the finger at Kirk for the assassination.

PerformanceBy now we what performances we are going to get from the crew, with Shatner and Nimoy both doing what we expect now. Christopher Plummer is the biggest addition to this cast and he does well even though you could question an actor as respected as him joining in this late in the franchise.

StoryThe story shows the point of the Federation, looking for peace between all races but the crew must deal with the few extremists that don’t want the peace in the galaxy. This does play out as a strategical part of the series as we learn more sides to the overall battle which makes everything feel a lot more interesting. If you are going into this looking for big battles you won’t get that one though.

Adventure/Mystery/Sci-FiThe adventure does take a step back in this story as we are left to focus on the mystery behind who is against the peace talks.

SettingsThe mostly just spend the time on the ships which is fine because this story focuses on the idea of peace in the galaxy over a battle there.

Special EffectsThe effects are good without being great through this film.

Scene of the Movie – The assassination looks great.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lack of use of the supporting crew.

Final ThoughtsThis is another nice addition to the Star Trek franchise which shows even after 6 films you can still enjoy the film.

 

Overall: This is a nicely built up film in the franchise.

Rating