The Pelican Brief (1993)

Director: Alan J Pakula

Writer: Alan J Pakula (Screenplay) John Grisham (Book)

Starring: Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Sam Shepard, John Heard, Tony Goldwyn, James Sikking, William Atherton, Robert Culp, John Lithgow

 

Plot: A law student uncovers a conspiracy, putting herself and others in danger.


Tagline – Two Supreme Court Justices have been assassinated. One lone law student has stumbled upon the truth. An investigative journalist wants her story. Everybody else wants her dead.

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Political Thriller

 

Story: The Pelican Brief starts when two Supreme Court Justices are assassinated, bring the country to a stand still in shock. Law student Darby Shaw (Roberts) puts together a theory of who was behind the assassinations, which she presents to her boyfriend and professor Thomas (Shepard), one theory that has turned his head.

After the theory is presented to the people investigating, Darby and Tom start getting targeted, when journalist friend of one of the victims Gray Grantham (Washington) start investigating a bigger conspiracy going on within the government, one that will put both their lives in danger.

 

Thoughts on The Pelican Brief

 

Characters – Darby is a law student having an affair with her professor, after the assassinations, she comes up with a theory about who was behind them, which sees her become a target for the people behind it, she doesn’t know who to trust seeing anybody she does get killed, her last resort is Gray. Gray is a journalist that has worked with the victims in the past, he is willing to dig for the truth, he does become Darby’s last resort and works with her to expose the truth which will become the biggest story of his career. Thomas Callahan is the connection between Darby and the people involved, he is a professor, with her theory interesting him at his own risk. We do go through many different political figures in search for the truth here, each one has their own agenda and could be involved.

PerformancesJulia Roberts in the leading role is strong as she gives us a strong independent figure that has been running for her life trying to expose the truth. Denzel Washington was a growing star at the time of release, here he makes us believe that he is a star in the role which is filled with the determination and skill to start ahead of the game. The rest of the cast are all strong with them each getting the moments to shine with them all having the importance to the story.

StoryThe story follows a law student and journalist that must team up to investigate the assassinations of the two members of the supreme court that puts both their lives in danger as it could bring the political system down. This story does give us plenty of swerves along the way as it does keep us guessing just to where everything will be going, it does show us how a political system will be used to gain an advantage and can be used to cover up anything that will incriminate them. The idea of the cover up shows just how corruption can effect so many lives and is ready to be exposed.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film shows just how the laws can be bent to help the people who want to make the most money, how much they will do to cover up their secrets and how corrupt they will become. The mystery side of the film show just how the corruption needs to be investigated, how far up the chain it could go too.

SettingsThe film is set in a couple of major cities in America Washington and New York mostly, which show just how the big companies will use the political power to make the most money.


Scene of the Movie –
The video.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too long, with too many characters at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a political thriller that does keep you guessing, it shows how far up the chain corruption can go and how covering it up can be the only option.

 

Overall: Political thriller 101

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – T – Tombstone (1993)

Director: George P Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre

Writer: Kevin Jarre (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston

 

Plot: A successful lawman’s plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.


Tagline – Justice Is Coming

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Good as Wyatt Earp

 

Story: Tombstone starts when the successful lawman Wyatt Earp (Russell) has hung up his gun moved with his brothers Virgil (Elliott) and Morgan (Paxton) to Tombstone to follow in the silver boom. Wyatt does get his hands in plenty of pots, helping the town turn to their successful ways.

When the Marshall is killed by the cowboys the mayor turns to the Earp’s with Virgil and Morgan try to bring order to the town Wyatt reluctantly agrees to join them, which will see them come face to face with the deadly cowboy gang who want control of the town.

 

Thoughts on Tombstone

 

Characters – Wyatt Earp’s reputation precedes him as he cleaned up the town of Boulder, now he wants to put his gun away and head to Tombstone to start a business life with his brothers, he knows how the get a deal done, which will see him need to get rid of the cowboy gang running through the town causing chaos. Doc Holliday is the gambler that will and has stood by Wyatt’s side in combat, he will drink a lot even if he does face health problem that will slowly make his life harder. Virgil and Morgan are the brothers that take the roles in the law enforcement which will see them put their own lives at risk.

PerformancesKurt Russell does do a solid job in the leading role, the action scenes are where he shines the best. Val Kilmer does well making his character feel like he is standing out more in the film at times. We do get plenty of actors in this film, most do what is needed without being on the top of their games.

StoryThe story follows Wyatt Earp in his time in Tombstone only which does show how he was trying to live a non-conflict life only to be drawn back into the old ways which saw him become the legendary lawman. The story is difficult to watch after recently seeing the ‘Wyatt Earp’ film, which does cover a larger amount of his life, including the Tombstone time, we just don’t seem to get enough focus on the life outside of the battle in the town, which fails to give the wives required screen time in the story or show us what led to Wyatt becoming the famous lawman. This will give us the simple look at the battle with the cowboys which is good to see, but we would always want to learn more about the character involved.

Action/BiopicThe action in the film does see bullets fly around like we are used to, for a western, the biopic side of the film only shows us the Tombstone stage of Wyatt’s life which does focus more, only it doesn’t explain why he is such a famous figure.

SettingsThe film does create the authentic setting for the western genre, which is does make us feel like we are watching the story unfold with the characters.


Scene of the Movie –
Stand off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning enough about Wyatt’s life before Tombstone.

Final ThoughtsThis is the weaker of the two Wyatt Earp biopics that hit the cinema in the same year, it might have more entertaining action, but it just misses too much of his life out.

 

Overall: Disappointing biopic.

Rating

 

 

Michael Rooker Weekend – Cliffhanger (1993)

Director: Renny Harlin

Writer: Michael France, Sylvester Stallone (Screenplay) John Long (Premise)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner, Rex Linn, Caroline Goodall, Leon, Craig Fairbrass

 

Plot: A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.


Tagline – Hang on!

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun 90s Action Film

 

Story: Cliffhanger starts when Gabe Walker (Stallone) returns to the Rocky Mountains 8 months after a tragic event which saw his best friend Hal (Rooker) lose a girlfriend through a rescue attempt gone wrong. Gabe and Hal must put their differences aside when a distress call from a botch mid-air flight crash lands on the mountains.

Qualen (Lithgow) leads the criminals as they force Hal and Gabe to guide them to their loot, which takes them across the mountains with the only rescue team being led by Jessie (Turner) that can help them survive.

 

Thoughts on Cliffhanger

 

Characters – Gabe is known as being the best climbing around, he works on the rescues and can reach spots others wouldn’t event try to get too. After an accident he has walked away from this world, but his return is just in time as he needs to navigate the mountains to say ahead of the criminals searching for their money, picking them off one by one. Qualen is the leader of the criminals, he has a plan which would make him rich and money is the only thing that matters to him. Hal is the old friend of Gabe’s, he blames him for the accident and ends up becoming the reluctant guide for the criminals, using his knowledge to slow them down. Jessie is the final member of the search and rescue team who is working with Gabe to get ahead of the criminals, only her position makes for an extra problem for Gabe. The rest of the criminals fill in the generic roles, the British henchman, the pilot, the lover and the one with pride in a kill.

PerformancesSylvester Stallone was the prime example of one of the best action stars in the early 90s, this movie shows why because his one-liner deliver is on point and the physical side of the performance showed he was read for the role. John Lithgow as a villain is one of the easiest choice we see, he shines in this role which will make you just hate him. Michael Rooker in the good guy with a grudge role does work well too with Janine Turner filling out the main cast doing the best she can with her own character.

StoryThe story here is simple, two rescue mountain rangers are tricked into helping a group of criminals that have seen their heist go wrong and need to locate their money. This is as simple as it sounds, we never try to over complicate anything going on in this film, it is good guys versus bad guys on a mountain which adds to the peril, we have a small sub story about Gabe and Hal needing to put an accident behind them, which does work as they  must work together instead of just fighting or blaming each other. While we can work out how this will happen and we do get plenty of one-liners this all works for a 90s action film.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is strong, we focus on different fight, explosions and just difficulties of being that high up in the middle of a battle for survival, which does play into the adventure elements as this takes the characters on an unlikely journey to try and collect money.

SettingsThe film keeps the whole film on the mountain range, it shows just how difficult it would be to just escape and how knowing the lay of land the climbers have the advantage.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just how capable the villains are to do all the mountaineering.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical fun 90s action film, it will entertain the audience and gives us plenty of one-liners to laugh at.

 

Overall: 90s action through and through.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – I – In the Line of Fire (1993)

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Writer: Jeff Maguire (Screenplay)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, Fred Dalton Thompson, John Mahoney

 

Plot: Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan couldn’t save Kennedy, but he’s determined not to let a clever assassin take out this president.


Tagline – An assassin on the loose. A president in danger. Only one man stands between them…

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliantly Tense

 

Story: In the Line of Fire starts as we meet seasoned veteran of the secret service Frank Horrigan (Eastwood) who wants to get back in the field, granted he returns to protecting the President after getting a mysterious phone call from Mitch Leary (Malkovich) who is threatening to murder the President.

As Frank tries to stay ahead of Mitch, the game of cat-n-mouse starts to catch up with him, as Frank starts to see his career fall apart on political grounds and Mitch now has Frank exactly where he needs him.

 

Thoughts on In the Line of Fire

 

Characters – Frank Horrigan once worked on President Kennedy’s detail, now older he is reaching the age where his secret service work is usually behind the desk or in the field, not around the President, after receiving a threat towards the President he positions himself on the detail again, which puts his experience on the line to protect the president. Mitch Leary is the psychotic man who is threatening the President, he wants to play games with Frank as his master of disguise helps him blend into a crowd. He always believes he is ahead of the game with his planned calculated with each movement. Lilly Raines is the new agent that must work with Frank, she is mostly the question about female agents through the eyes of an older member of the community. Al is the current partner of Frank who has been struggling with the reckless behaviour he has been working with.

PerformancesClint Eastwood in the leading role is great because he is the perfect age for this movie which makes us understand that he is good man still trying his best for the President. John Malkovich is stunning as the villain as we believe each word and action his commits to this role, being haunting and calculated throughout. Rene Russo offers us the young agent role, she does well with what she has to do without taking from the spotlight shone upon the lead two. The rest of the cast are good and know how to make the most of their limited scenes.

StoryThe story here follows the aging Secret Service agent that is caught up in a cat-n-mouse assassination attempt from an anonymous criminal. The story gives Frank a backstory of regret as he was one the President Kennedy service team and he will forever deal with the pain that he couldn’t save him, this adds determination to his character and it also gives Mitch a motive to beat the man who would ne known to have failed twice. This story shows us how to make cat-n-mouse style story where the villain will do anything and will spend time mocking the hero when he fails to capture him. We do get a heavily influenced America is great theme though which in places can be annoying to see. The pacing and use of foreshadowing works well in the film too showing us just what we are waiting to see where things go.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is mixed because most of the scenes involves an aging actor that is meant to not be able to handle the physicality of the job anymore. The crime side of the film is where we get the most interesting side of everything which shows us just how far one man is willing to go to put his name in lights by killing the President.

SettingsThe film uses the settings show to us how compact any situation where the President would be attending can become with threats from nearly every corner.


Scene of the Movie –
The rooftop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too patriotic like no one else could have helped.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great crime thriller that shows us just how deadly a villain can be when they are completely set on completing a mission, we have two brilliant performances from Eastwood and Malkovich that will keep you on edge throughout.

 

Overall: Must watch crime thriller.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – F – Fire in the Sky (1993)

Director: Robert Lieberman

Writer: Tracy Torme (Screenplay) Travis Walton (Book)

Starring: D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Bradley Gregg, James Garner

 

Plot: An Arizona logger mysteriously disappears for five days in an alleged encounter with a flying saucer in 1975.


Tagline – For five days, a man was borrowed. The story that Travis Walton and five other witnesses told is so unbelievable, so unimaginable, that it has become the most famous case of UFO abduction ever recorded.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: That One Scene Shines

 

Story: Fire in the Sky starts as five loggers Mike (Patrick), Allan (Sheffer), David (Berg), Greg (Thomas) and Bobby (Gregg) return to town in a panic with a story to tell the authorities, which brings in Sheriff Frank Watters (Garner). The story the guys tell is the they investigated a mysterious light in the woods which took Travis (Sweeney).

With the search going on for Travis, Mike and the crew find themselves prime suspects in a cover up, until Travis returns with his own account of the story.

 

Thoughts on Fire in the Sky

 

Characters – Travis Walton was a logger that went missing for five days, he doesn’t remember at first what happened, but the truth ill haunt him for the rest of his life as he remembers being taken by aliens. Mike Rogers is the best friend of Travis’ that doesn’t know how to handle his disappearance and his reappearance, but knows that nothing was done by the men in his crew. Frank Watters is the sheriff trying to prove this is a hoax or a cover up depending which side of the events are. The characters are based on the real people which does help make this feel like a good real story to follow.

PerformancesThe performances across the board are good, with D.B. Sweeney showing the pure terror needed during the abduction scene. Robert Patrick works well in his role where he could easily be the lead of the film. James Garner brings an extra bit of class to the performances too.

StoryThe story follows one of the most famous and detailed encounters from alien abduction in history. The story first treats the events like a murder cover up which is wonderful to watch on the screen because we don’t need to watch a full abduction routine which we do see later in the film. the story balances the ideas of what could be truth and what people would want the truth to be too.

Fantasy/Mystery/Sci-Fi The fantasy part of this film comes from what you want to believe about the events, because there is no proof it is real, this adds the mystery too which does also circle around the truth too. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the moment in space which shows what the aliens did to Travis.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small town location where the events happened which does keep us understand how the town would react to the situation.

Special EffectsThe effects are spared for the final moments of the film where we see what happened to Travis, they all look great too.


Scene of the Movie –
Memories nightmare

That Moment That Annoyed Me I was expecting more from the alien abduction side of things.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good sci-fi film, it does balance the event between what could have happened, what is believed to have happened and leaves you to make up your own mind, with a sequence in the ship which will be haunting.

 

Overall: A sci-fi film that hasn’t dated like others

Rating