ABC Film Challenge – Horror – R – Ravenous (1999)

Director: Antonia Bird

Writer: Ted Griffin (Screenplay)

Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, David Arquette, Jeremy Davies, Jeffrey Jones, John Spencer

 

Plot: In a remote military outpost in the 19th Century, Captain John Boyd and his regiment embark on a rescue mission which takes a dark turn when they are ambushed by a sadistic cannibal.


Tagline – Bon apétit!

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tasty Addition

 

Story: Ravenous starts as Captain John Boyd (Pearce) is left disgraced during a battle gets set to a quiet military outpost to save face for the army. The Outpost is filled with a mix of different men including Cleaves (Arquette), Toffler (Davies) and Hart (Jones).

When a stranger Colqhoun (Carlyle) is rescued he tells the tale of his journey which saw his men turn into cannibals but he escaped the panic. The men set out to rescue the remaining survivors across the harsh snow-covered mountain range with Colqhoun as their guide. When Colqhoun’s true nature is released it becomes a battle to survive against the blood thirsty maniac.

 

Thoughts on Ravenous

 

Characters – Captain John Boyd is known to the people as a hero, but he is anything but that as survived rather than won his battle. He is relocated to a small outpost where he can work with the quiet group of soldiers but soon he finds himself needing to face his own demons when a sadistic cannibal starts picking off his unit. Colqhoun is the stranger discovered with a story of a cannibal group in the woods, but soon we learn he is a lone sadistic cannibal just looking for more food. The rest of the characters are just other soldiers in the unit that have different drive through the film.

PerformancesGuy Pearce is great in this leading role of a man who must face his own demons while also questioning his own sanity. Robert Carlyle is also great in this film, we see his calm ability to keep people listening to him even if he is the one doing things wrong. The rest of the cast are good without getting too much time to shine on the level of the two leads.

StoryThe story takes us into a world of cannibals and disgraced soldiers, we see how one man is left to battle his own demons while dealing with a sadistic cannibal that no one else is believing his true colours. This is a battle between the two men to stay ahead of the other and as things unfold we get twists on how they will stay ahead of each other too, which does keep us guessing to how this will play out.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy side of the movie comes from the effects of cannibalism on the characters with the horror showing us just how far a character could go to survive, including eating human flesh.

SettingsThe setting helps because our characters feel isolated through everything that happens which helps Colqhoun get around so easily.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the horrors of what is happening with the most part being practical effects which helps us enjoy the environment we are placed into.


Scene of the Movie –
Mountain search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Wasting David Arquette.

Final ThoughtsThis was a good fantasy horror involving cannibals, it does have a few tonal problems mostly with Colqhoun because one minute he is calm but the next he is blood driven and it flicks between the two too often.

 

Overall: Great addition to the cannibal movies.

Rating

 

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Jakob the Liar (1999)

Director: Peter Kassovitz

Writer: Peter Kassovitz, Didier Decoin (Screenplay) Jurek Becker (Novel)

Starring: Robin Williams, Hannah Taylor Gordon, Bob Balaban, Alan Arkin, Liev Schreiber

 

Plot: In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast about Russian troop movements. Returned to the ghetto, the shopkeeper shares his information with a friend and then rumors fly that there is a secret radio within the ghetto. Jakob uses the chance to spread hope throughout the ghetto by continuing to tell favorable tales of information from “his secret radio.” Jakob, however, has a real secret in that he is hiding a young Jewish girl who escaped from a camp transport train. A rather uplifting and slightly humorous film about World War II Jewish Ghetto life.


Tagline –  He will make you believe.

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong, but Not Impactful Enough

 

Story: Jakob the Liar starts in Poland and the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Jakob (Williams) a pancake salesman is trying to avoid the curfew and while being accused of failing to follow the instruction he over hears the radio announcing the Russians are coming, he saves a young girl Lina (Gordon) the world spreads around the ghetto that the Russians are coming with Jakob giving them hope.

As the stories continue to grow Jakob learns he can no longer tell the truth because it will only leave the people with no hope and if he continues his lies he will give them false hope which might put the lives of fellow residents at risk.

 

Thoughts on Jakob the Liar

 

Characters – Jakob is one of the Jews confined the ghettos in Poland during World War II, he keeps his head down with his connection, until one day he makes the story up of hearing the Russians are coming which lifts the moral in the ghetto, only for everyone there wanting to listen to his radio, the one he doesn’t have, but he can’t tell the truth because it will bring back the suicides in the ghetto. The rest of the character we meet are the residents of the ghetto and a young girl Lina that has escaped the transport trains, they all see hope in Jakob’s stories.

PerformancesRobin Williams in the leading role does nail the accent, get his moments of humour and heart, but sadly it is hard to take the film seriously when you are waiting for a laugh even for the sensitive subject. The rest of the cast are good even if we are turning to Robin slightly too much through the film.

StoryThe story is a difficult one to watch with a humorous tone because it was a horrendous time in history, we know what happened to the Jews and how they were forced to live. Now saying this, how the Jews were given hope from the stories of Jakob does help the hellish life they were living through, but watching things get out of control does play into the what makes the story interesting to watch. This is a story that doesn’t balance the sensitive subject very well though which disappoints.

WarThe film is set in the war time, we get to see the conditions Jews were forced to live through for the most part, but not the conflict.

SettingsThe settings do make us believe we are there with the victims of the time which can be hard to watch like always.


Scene of the Movie –
Battling what to do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too humorous in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting idea for the how Jews would try to improve moral in a difficult time, but end sup being too humorous for the subject matter.

 

Overall: Not on the leave of the best holocaust movies.

Rating

 

 

Tim Burton Weekend – Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: Kevin Yagher, Andrew Kevin Walker (Screenplay) Washington Irving (Story)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Michael Gough, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee

 

Plot: Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.


Tagline – Who will it come for next?!

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Fantasy Horror

 

Story: Sleepy Hollow starts in 1799 when forward thinking constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) is set from New York City to the small farming community of Sleepy Hollow, where a series of murders have been happening by a headless horseman, who takes the heads of his victims.

Requested by Baltus Van Tassel (Gambon), Ichabod gets to use his forward-thinking ideas to investigate the crimes and learn about the town’s people with their strong male hierocracy that controls business, until he teams up with Baltus daughter Katrina (Ricci) to unlock the truth about the legend of the headless horseman.

 

Thoughts on Sleepy Hollow

 

Characters – Ichabod Crane is a constable who wants to start using the science to solve crimes instead of the torture techniques being adopted for the time. He becomes the fish out of water in the farming community trying to solve a crime that is surrounded by supernatural, he must use his skills to solve who is behind the supernatural events, using his quirky ways. Katrina is the daughter of the Van Tassel’s who is looking for husband, she takes a liking towards Ichabod and helps learn the truth. Hessian Horseman is the legend that slaughtered many before being defeated and beheaded, now he has risen from the dead to take the heads of the community. Lady Van Tassel is the wife of Baltus, she has a secret from him and for the most part enjoys the new life she is living. Baltus is the man that called for Ichabod to help solve the murders, he is one of the few that will stand up for Ichabod to get the truth. We do get plenty of different town’s people to meet that fill the gaps to help us understand the hierarchy of the community.

PerformancesJohnny Depp was truly making his name at time of this release and we knew he was capable of the quirky, this shows him balance the act perfectly in one of his more underrated roles. Christina Ricci is good, though she doesn’t seem to need to do more than be the damsel in distress. Miranda Richardson does a good job n her role showing her experience of how to handle the period piece films. Christopher Walken does give us a delightful dark character though I do know he doesn’t do a lot of the headless scenes in the film. if you look at the rest of the cast we have some of the great British actors mixed with Casper Van Dien who at the time was hot property after Starship Troopers.

StoryThe story is based on the legend of the headless horseman, which in its own right is an interesting fantasy horror. We keep to the time where science was first trying to get pushed in the crime world and still looked down upon, we also get the idea that science is meant to solve crime until the supernatural is thrown into the mix throwing everything out the window. The story does give us a serial killer to try and see stopped which can keep the detectives in the audience happy and the pace things unfold give us enough time for the twists to have effect in the story.

Fantasy/Horror/MysteryThe fantasy side of the film comes from the horseman coming back from the dead to take the heads of the community. This does play into the horror elements of the film too because we see how the community become scared of whether they will be next, this does also give us the blood and the creepy atmosphere before his arrival. The mystery gives us the questions about who is behind the horseman and his return, this does give us twists along the way too.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to the best levels as we get to see the excellent built sets to make us feel like we are in 1799 farming community.

Special EffectsThe effects use mostly excellent practical effects with the lost heads, the CGI moments do work well too when used mostly with the re-creation of the horseman from the skeleton to human again.


Scene of the Movie –
Horseman vs Ichabod & Brom, excellent fight sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The science does get forgotten in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun fantasy horror that gives us an iconic killer with a crime to solve around why he has targeted the farming community.

 

Overall: Fun horror with Burton’s token quirks.

Rating

 

 

Oklahoma! (1999)

Director: Trevor Nunn

Writer: Oscar Hammerstein II (Book) Lynn Riggs (Play)

Starring: Maureen Lipman, Hugh Jackman, Josefina Gabrielle, David Shelmerdine, Jimmy Johnston, Shuler Hensley

 

Plot: Cowboy Curly McClain tries to win the heart of a girl in a singing and dancing extravaganza.

 

Runtime: 3 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Theatre Experience

 

Story: Oklahoma! Starts as cowboy Curly (Jackman) is trying to get farm girl Laurey Williams (Gabrielle) to be his date for dance, her heart is torn between what she wants in him and what would be right, going with the farm hand Jud (Hensley).  Playing matchmaker is Aunt Eller (Lipman) who wants best for her niece.

The battle between the men is on leaving Laurey to make the difficult decision herself, while on route to the party just where will everything go.

 

Thoughts on Oklahoma!

 

Characters – Aunt Eller is the lady pulling the strings between her niece and the other single women in the west, she can keep peace between the different backgrounds. Curly is a cowboy that is full of confidence that wants to be with Laurey, he is honourable and desirable for the women in the town and sets his sights on Laurey only. Laurey is the farm girl in search of a husband and is torn over two men, one she loves and one that has helped her family the most. Jud is the rival that wants Laurey’s hand in marriage, she is rougher around the edges making him feel like he would be a bad husband.

PerformancesWhen going into the performance we must understand this is the stage recording of the story, the whole cast show their talents off here to make this feel truly believable like you are one of the audience, and Jackman doesn’t even stand out over the rest of the performers.

StoryThe story here is a theatre classic, it focuses mostly on a young farm woman that is searching for a husband and being torn between her feelings and marrying for supporting in the wild west era. This is a slow story and you can understand why it is a stage musical, making it 3 hours is strange because there isn’t too much going on for the most part though.

Musical/Romance/WesternThe musical numbers are big and magical, easily the most important part of the film. the romance side of the film follows Laurey as she must make her choice about how to treat love. The western side of the film comes from the setting and time which shows us just where we are meant to be watching.

SettingsThis is a recording of the theatre production, we know the settings are only going to be the stage and what can be placed on it, this does work for this very well.


Scene of the Movie –
Dream sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is way too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is a musical production that gets to highlight Hugh Jackman when he first broke into Hollywood, it is known as the classic show and has nothing wrong with the performance, but it is overly long.

 

Overall: Easy access to Musical world.

Rating

 

 

Edward Norton Weekend – Fight Club (1999)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Jim Uhls (Screenplay) Chuck Palahniuk (Novel)

Starring: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Meat Loaf, Helena Bonham Carter, Jared Leto, Zach Grenier, Richmond Arquette

 

Plot: An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soapmaker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.


Tagline – How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?

Runtime: 2 Hours 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Modern Classic

 

Story: Fight Club starts as we meet the insomniac known only as the Narrator (Norton) an office worker that starts crashing support groups to help him feel which brings his back his ability to sleep. Here he meets Robert Paulsen (Meatloaf) who is suffering from cancer before learning Marla Singer (Carter) is also treating the supporting group as a cure for her own problems.

This puts Narrator in a position of needing to find something new and here he meets soap salesman Tyler Durden (Pitt) and between them they start a secret underground fight club. As the club gains a following it starts to branch out and the Narrator finds himself in the middle of a much more dangerous world.

 

Thoughts on Fight Club

 

Characters – The Narrator starts his story at the end explaining how his own struggles with insomnia starts turning him into a support group junkie and co-founder of the Fight Club, the more involved in the fighting world he gets the bolder his moves become as he comes out of his shell. Tyler Durden is the outgoing soap salesman, full of confidence and knowledge that starts the Fight Club with the narrator. Bob is one of the men that the Narrator meets at one of the support groups and once he joins the fight club it gives him the new lease on life. Marla is the woman that the Narrator meets doing the same thing as him, crashing the support groups, she is struggling too and sees the escape with the Narrator and Tyler.

PerformancesEdward Norton continued to make his big impact on Hollywood in the mid to late 90s, he shines once again in this role which is one of the memorable leading roles. Brad Pitt is fantastic too, the performance he gives us shows just how twisted the character is and the confidence he shows makes him stand out in every scene. Helena Bonham Carter is great in her role as are the men in the fight club.

StoryThe story follows one man who is bored of everyday life and struggles to get through everyday life, he uses support groups for help before befriending a stranger who wants to help start a new revolution against the system with a Fight Club. This is a story that has the major twist in the final act which surprised the audience at the time and gives us something to look out for in repeat viewing. This shows us how difficult processing everyday life can be for certain people and shows us how they try to cope with extremes moments coming from his mind.

SettingsThe film shows us just where the Narrator goes from his quiet simple life to his much more darker one where the secret fight clubs take place in, the locations show us his descent into madness.


Scene of the Movie –
The Narrators true identity.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is a tad long.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the modern classic movies out there, it has such a big reputation that it deserves if only the twist hadn’t been revealed so often because the first viewing for anyone will not be enjoyed as much if you know the twist.

 

Overall: Modern Classic Filled with Brutality.

Rating