The Game (1997)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: John Brancato, Michael Ferris (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Anna Katarina

Plot: After a wealthy banker is given an opportunity to participate in a mysterious game, his life is turned upside down when he becomes unable to distinguish between the game and reality.


Tagline – Players Wanted.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Twist Filled Thriller

Story: The Game starts as wealthy banker Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas) has spent his life working forgetting to have fun, his rebellious brother Conrad (Penn) turns up to celebrate his birthday which sees him giving him a gift, one that would let him take part in a game that will change his life. Nicholas reluctantly decides to go through the process, finding himself involved in the game, which starts to fade his reality.

As the events continue, Nicholas does start to see his very controlled life start to get out of control with only a random waitress Christine (Unger) around for him to trust, can Nicholas unravel the mystery to save his career or will he lose the game.

Thoughts on The Game

Characters – Nicholas Van Orton is a banker that is in complete control of his life, he isn’t friendly to everybody he meets in life and is distant from most of his family, he is excellent at business, he gets a different present from his rebellious brother, which sees him break out of his controlling method of life to play along with an uncontrollable game where he doesn’t know what is or isn’t real, learning to navigate and try to stay one step ahead of the game. Conrad is the rebellious brother that has had personal problems in the past, he gives Nicholas a present, claiming it helped turn his own life around, only for this gift only make his brother’s life more difficult. Christine is a waitress that Nicholas gets fired, he must work with her even if she might in fact be involved in the game herself. Jim Feingold is the man behind the invitation, he has Nicholas give him plenty of information before unleashing everything to get into Nicholas life.

PerformancesMichael Douglas is wonderful in this leading role, he plays the controlling businessman with ease and watching him lose control of his life is a performance you feel was made for Douglas. Sean Penn is wonderful in the supporting role, where we see how his character’s life has been affected by the game. Deborah Kara Unger in her supporting role does shine, with the rest of the supporting cast all working very well through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a controlling businessman that decides to step away from his routine to play a game bought to him as a present by his brother, once the game has started he sees his life start to fall apart as he tries to figure out what is real and what is part of the game. This is a story that does keep you on your toes through the film as it does just keep trying to spin on everything going on. We do have an overall message going on which does show the Nicholas needs to become more open in his life, which is the point of the game, trying to teach them how important life is too. The fact that this film just keeps us guessing is what is the most important part of the film, nothing seems like reality, but it could be real, which is why this is such an impressive story.

MysteryThe mystery in this film keeps us wondering whether this is a game or whether there is something more intense going on, the fact we can balance this so effortless makes this one of the best mystery films you will see.

SettingsThe film is set in San Francisco which does show how a successful businessman will operate in a city know or think he knows all the shortcuts to make it through the difficult times.


Scene of the Movie – Rooftop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Who took his kids at the zoo?

Final Thoughts This is one of the most intense mystery thrillers ever made, we are truly kept wondering just what will happen next balancing on whether this is real or not.

Overall: Brilliant thriller.

Rating

James Bond Month – Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Director: Roger Spottiswoode

Writer: Bruce Feirstein (Screenplay)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Ricky Jay, Gotz Otto, Joe Don Baker

 

Plot: James Bond heads to stop a media mogul’s plan to induce war between China and the UK in order to obtain exclusive global media coverage.


Tagline – The Man. The Number. The License…are all back.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Non-Stop Action

 

Story: Tomorrow Never Dies starts as James Bond (Brosnan) completes another high-risk mission, before heading home. We move to the Chinese sea, where a British military ship a sunk after a clash with Chinese fighter planes, with both sides suffering causalities at the hands of media mogul Elliot Carver (Pryce) who is building stories for his own benefit.

James must investigate this latest case using his connection to Elliot’s wife Paris (Hatcher), James is joined by Chinese agent Wai Lin (Yeoh) as they look to stop Elliot’s plan before the next world war is started.

 

Thoughts on Tomorrow Never Dies

 

Characters – James Bond is back once again, his past is once again the reason he is selected for this mission, we know how he acts, how he can be stealth with his investigation and survive being outnumbered, we don’t learn to much new about him here, just more of the same. Elliot Carver is the media mogul that wants to create his own headlines by starting his own war between China and Britain. He believes he will control the worlds media if this war starts. Wai Lin is the Chinese agent who starts working with James for her side of the potential terrorist attack, she can handle herself in combat, being given fight sequences unlike most female Bond characters. Paris Carver is the wife of Elliot, she did once have a fling with James, which is how James gets into the party to start with, she gets put in the difficult position of choice her power hungry husband or her former fling.

PerformancesPierce Brosnan’s second outing as Bond, sees him handling the comic moments better, he feels like he has grown even more into the role, where he has made his own version of the Bond character. Jonathan Pryce does make for a great villain, his character needs to be well-spoken which Jonathan does bring to the part. Michelle Yeoh does seem to break the trends of the Bond girl figure, being able to handle herself in the fight. Teri Hatcher might have a smaller role, but it works for what the film needs.

StoryThe story here follows a media mogul that wants to create a new war between Britain and China, so he can have full control of the media outlet in the world that only James Bond can stop. This does bring us a new villain with a master plan that is way over the top which does work, the investigation does seem to feel like it blends into the action, unlike most of the film in the franchise. The idea the media wants to control the affairs of the world does seem more realistic to what is happening now. The story might end up playing out how you would imagine, though it does feel more connected than the previous ones.

Action/AdventureThe action in this film is brilliant, we have one of the best chase sequence in the franchise has ever offered, we have the Bond girl bring able to handle herself in fights too. The adventure does take James around the world, might like what we have come to expect.

SettingsThe film uses the setting to make memorable moments, be it the chase or the final base battle.


Scene of the Movie –
Motorbike chase,

That Moment That Annoyed Me It has dated with the media moguls plan.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun addition to the franchise, it does have the smoothest action which seems to be strong in the 90s film and a villain that does feel realistic.

 

Overall: Fun action film.

Rating

 

Horror Franchise – Scream 2 (1997) Revisited

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Kevin Williamson (Screenplay)

Starring: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jamie Kennedy, Jerry O’Connell, Jada Pinkett, Liev Schreiber, Elise Neal, Joshua Jackson, Timothy Olyphant

 

Plot: Two years after the first series of murders, a new psychopath dons the Ghostface costume and a new string of killings begins.


Tagline – Someone has taken their love of sequels one step too far

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Sequel

 

Story: Scream 2 starts a couple of years after the events in the first film, a motion picture called ‘Stab’ is just being released from the Gale Weathers (Cox) book about the events, at the premier two teenagers are murdered. We pick up with Sidney (Campbell) at college still dealing with prank phone calls.

We get to see old faces in Randy (Kennedy) Gale, Dewey (Arquette) along with new friends Cici (Gellar), Mickey (Olyphant), new boyfriend Derek (O’Connell) and roommate Hallie (Neal) who bring us a brand new selection of suspects and potential victims, add Cotton Weary (Schreiber) the man who did time for a crime he never committed to the picture we will be kept guessing through this one.

 

Thoughts on Scream 2

 

Characters – Sidney is back studying a college and over the events of the first film, she has moved on with a new boyfriend and new friends, that is until the ‘Stab’ movie is released. Sidney becomes the primary target of the killer and must use the experience with surviving a massacre before to make it out alive. Dewey still suffering the effects of his injuries in the first film, he is no longer a cop and with the events occurring he arrives back in Sidney’s life to try and help before the killer can get near her. Gale wrote the book on the murders, the one that the movie is based on, she is still trying to get a story, but does start to learn the errors in her way when she deals with other reporters. Cotton Weary does have a bigger part this time, as he is trying to piece his life back together after the wrongful accusations. Randy returns to give us the rules needed to make a sequel which an important part of the original. Of our new characters we get the new boyfriend in Derek who seems to be the best part of Sidney’s new life. Cici is the best friend at the college that is the more popular one at the college. This movie does have a larger cast than the first film which doesn’t always give the characters enough screen time.

PerformancesNeve Campbell is still good in her role, she does make us believe she is the everyday student that is being tormented by the killer. Courteney Cox and David Arquette continue their good work in the supporting roles, where this film struggles to get the best of the of the supporting cast is by introducing too many characters, with Sarah Michelle Gellar seemingly filling the Drew Barrymore type role, where we expect to see her more in the film.

StoryThe story picks up in a universe following the events of the first film where Hollywood makes movies on massacres, with this release we get to see the darker side of Hollywood taking advantage of real-life murders and how the innocent victims and survivor can be painted differently to cinematic purposes, well that seems to be the message I picked up on in this one. when it comes to the slasher side of things we get to watch the victims getting picked off by the killer, this does feel the same as before, while the references through this film focus on the idea of the sequels that Hollywood makes, and how they always story to improve on the last, though we do step away from the horror discussion this time.

Horror/MysteryThe horror side of the film comes from the ideas that people can take advantage of tragic stories for a bigger story, reflecting the events of the film, the mystery can keep us guessing to just who could be behind it this time around with plenty of potential suspects.

SettingsThis time the film is set in a college that show us just where Sidney is now in her life which is important as she has moved on, but the event will always be part of her life.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film once again show us how blood and gore can be achieved without going over the top.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many supporting characters this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sequel that is well worth the watch, it shows progression in the horror genre with a sequel that does make sense to how an everyday person would be moving on with their life after the events in the first one, while still having the tragedy on their shoulder.

 

Overall: Good fun sequel.

Rating

 

 

Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Writer: Becky Johnston (Screenplay) Heinrich Harrer (Book)

Starring: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, BD Wong, Mako, Danny Denzongpa, Victor Wong

 

Plot: True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet.


Tagline – At the end of the world his real journey began.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drags Along

 

Story: Seven Years in Tibet starts when Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer (Pitt) heads to India to climb in the Himalayas, he doesn’t get on with his team with leader Peter Aufschnaiter (Thewlis) forcing him to return, which does see him taken a prisoner of war.

Escaping from the prison camp, Heinrich and Peter head into the Himalayas before reaching Tibet, where he befriends the young Dalai Lama which sees a unique friendship started between the two.

 

Thoughts on Seven Years in Tibet

 

Characters – Heinrich Harrer is an explorer from Austria, he heads out for his next quest in the Himalayas to avoid the war heading to his country, he leave his pregnant wife behind him, but his nature isn’t to be friendly with anybody else on his team, he must learn to work as a team when the team are captured, and the escape sees him travelling around the Himalayas. Peter is the guide on the quest, which sees him being the one that does end up becoming the only friend for Heinrich, the two do their mission across Asia to the religious city. Ngawang is one of the Dalai Lama’s advisors, he wants to use the friendship to his advantage. Kungo is the man that welcomes the outsiders into the city, The young Dalai Lama is interested in Heinrich, being somebody with outside knowledge, he wants to keep him around.

PerformancesBrad Pitt really does struggle in the leading role, his accent is all over the place and for a charismatic explorer he doesn’t drag you into his performance. David Thewlis is solid enough in his role which is where he is always an actor to turn to. The rest of the cast have a mix of experience and screen time which just doesn’t let them effect the story.

StoryThe story tells us the events that led to Austrian explorer becoming friends with the Dalai Lama during World War II and the Chinese invasion of Tibet. It does show a different in culture, how the Dalai Lama was willing to gain knowledge from people outside of his village even at a young age. We do get a lot of jumping in time, with very little happening in places, which doesn’t help the flow of the story, which is meant to be a big moment in history. The narration from Brad Pitt doesn’t help too, because it sounds like he is just mumbling the lines which are meant to fill in the gaps.

Adventure/Biopic/WarThe adventure shows the incredible will to survive that Heinrich has, the ability to adapt to each situation which will take him across Asia. This plays out in the biopic side of the film, showing us just how the event of his story unfolded. The film is most set during the war, be it the second world war or the Chinese invasion of Tibet.

SettingsThe film does use the authentic locations for the events of the film, it shows the harsh reality certain locations are for Heinrich.


Scene of the Movie –
The meetings with the Dalai Lama.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing is slow for no reason.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced biopic that could show us a real moment of history, only it ends up not giving us enough to care about.

 

Overall: Disappointing a slow biopic.

Rating

 

 

Wilde (1997)

Director: Brian Gilbert

Writer: Julian Mitchell (Screenplay) Richard Ellmann (Book)

Starring: Stephen Fry, Jude Law, Vanessa Redgrave, Jennifer Ehle, Gemma Jones, Michael Sheen, Tom Wilkinson

 

Plot: The story of Oscar Wilde, genius, poet, playwright and the First Modern Man. The self-realization of his homosexuality caused Wilde enormous torment as he juggled marriage, fatherhood and responsibility with his obsessive love for Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie. After legal action instigated by Bosie’s father, the enraged Marquise of Queensberry, Wilde refused to flee the country and was sentenced to two years at hard labor by the courts of an intolerant Victorian society. 


Tagline – The story of the first modern man

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Biopic

 

Story: Wilde starts as we meet Oscar Wilde (Fry) the popular play writes of the upper class of London, he marries Constance (Ehle) as they start their own family, however Oscar lives a secret life among the upper class where has male friends, with Lord Alfred Douglas (Law) becoming his latest obsession.

As Oscar and Alfred’s relationship continues to grow, we see the differences between the two men and Alfred’s father The Marquess of Queensberry (Wilkinson) doesn’t make it any easy between the two.

 

Thoughts on Wilde

 

Characters – Oscar Wilde is one of the most famous poets and play writes of all time, here we meet him on top of the world as he has a family and has his men on the side, taking up most of his time. He was openly gay in a society that frowned upon him, though he did keep his actions secret and behind closed doors, it is his latest relationship which causes the most problems as the man’s father refuses to be involved in any of that activity. Lord Alfred Douglas is the latest man to come into Oscar’s life, he has the title which draws the attention of the city to the couple, though he isn’t as loving as Oscar towards each other. Constance is the wife of Oscar, who must see her husband’s name dragged through the mud because of his action.

PerformancesStephen Fry shines in this leading role, only he could have bought us the strength in speech that his brings Oscar, with his emotions coming through when needing. Jude Law does a wonderful job here too as the young lover of Oscar, he brings the bratty side to the high society too. When it comes to the actresses they are all strong with their performances, knowing they need to let Fry shine more often.

StoryThe story follows the life of Oscar Wilde, from where he was the most famous play writes in London, while known for having a tendency to go around town looking for men, even when it was frowned upon. We see how one man can break the sensible side of Oscar, making him make the mistakes in his life which will see him lose everything and be punished for his action. He story shows us how somebody can get power over anybody when it comes to love even if they don’t mean to, the greatest mind can take away moments from life and send it in a direction which is just as painful.

Biopic/RomanceThe biopic in this film shows the personal life of Oscar Wilde, how he didn’t care if he went against society for the time. The romance shows how Oscar was stuck in a position where Alfred managed to get control over Oscar without meaning too, showing how love can make you do crazy things.

SettingsEach setting feels like we are in the right time period where we get to see how the upper class lived during this time too.


Scene of the Movie –
The poems.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The frustration this is how human society once treated people.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant biopic that showed how one of the greatest minds in history was shunned because of his sexual preference, showing the annoyance of how the world treats people.

 

Overall: Wilde by name, Wild by nature.

Rating