Vince Vaughn Weekend – The Cell (2000) Movie Review

Director: Tarsem Singh

Writer: Mark Protosevich (Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jake Weber, Dylan Baker, James Gammon

Plot: An F.B.I. Agent persuades a social worker, who is adept with a new experimental technology, to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer in order to learn where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim.


Tagline – This Summer… Enter The Mind Of A Killer

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Stunning

Story: The Cell starts as we meet Catherine Deane (Lopez) who works by going into the mind of people in comas to try and help them get out of the trauma, with her patient being a young boy, elsewhere serial killer Carl Stargher (D’Onofrio) who drowns his victims before performing sadomasochistic acts on the bodies, with FBI agents Gordon (Weber) and Peter Novak (Vaughn) trying to track him down.

When the FBI find Carl, they learn he has fallen into a coma, with little chance of waking up, he has taken another victim and they need the location, which leads them to Catherine, who is assigned to go into the mind of the serial killer to learn the location before the time runs out.

Thoughts on The Cell

Characters – Catherine is the doctor that goes into the minds of comatose people in hope of finding a cure that will let the victim get over the trauma that has locked them in. she experiences all sorts inside the minds of people, usually helping a young boy, now she gets to go into the mind of a serial killer who has a victim locked away somewhere. Peter Novak is an FBI agent leading the investigation into the serial killer, he turns to Catherine to help, being the one that explains just how difficult this case has become. Carl Stargher is the serial killer that has been racking up the kills with a method being as twisted as they come, he has started getting more regular and with the latest victim taken he falls into a coma, which sees him needing to have his mind visited to learn the truth about the location of the missing woman. We fill out the characters with fellow officers and the scientists that work with Catherine.

PerformancesJennifer Lopez is wonderfully in the lead role, she shows how calm her character needs to be even in the face of pure nightmares. Vincent D’Onofrio is disturbing as the serial killer, because he is so cold in how everything is delivered you don’t want to see what he does next. Vince Vaughn as the FBI agent is great, but doesn’t have the level of work that the lead two must get through during the film.

StoryThe story here follows a FBI agent that turns to a new form of science to get help from Catherine Deane to figure out where a comatose serial killer has left his latest victim. Where the serial killer hunting of this side does get trimmed off, so we can focus on the searching for the missing victim, by diving into the idea of explore the mind of a comatose person is where the film stands out. The world we enter is incredible and shows that serial killers could have been raised in a world of pure torture causing them to break, while the story is fantastic, it could easily be one that gets bought to today world to explore the mental side of serial killers even more. The race against time element also helps makes this story feel like we are in the real time frame to get everything done.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror in this film comes from what we see Catherine experience as well as seeing what Carl does to his victims, while the sci-fi of the film does look at the idea of being able go into the mind of somebody else without truly getting into the science of it.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to give us the routine FBI searching areas, but where the settings improve are the different environments Catherine finds herself going through during her trip into the mind, each one could be more shocking than the last.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are wonderful too, they really do push the boundaries for the time and don’t look like they have been dated.


Scene of the Movie – The first entry into Carl’s mind.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The cops do come off pretty routine.

Final Thoughts This is an amazing sci-fi film that takes the hunt for a serial killer in a new direction, one that has endless possibilities of horror.

Overall: Disturbing Thriller.

Kevin Costner Weekend – Thirteen Days (2000) Movie Review

Director: Roger Donaldson

Writer: David Self (Screenplay) Ernest R May, Philip D Zelikow (Book)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp, Stephanie Romanov, Lucinda Jenney, Frank Wood, Henry Strozier, Kevin Conway

Plot: In October 1962, the Kennedy administration struggles to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Tagline – You’ll Never Believe How Close We Came

Runtime: 2 Hours 25 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: History Lesson

Story: Thirteen Days starts like a normal day in the Kennedy administration, his assistant Kenny O’Donnell (Costner) joins the President John F Kennedy (Greenwood), his brother Robert F Kennedy (Culp) and advisers from every side for an emergency meeting.

The meeting is called to discuss the appearance of nuclear warheads in Cuba, believing Russia are moving to a closer position which could destroy large parts of America in minutes. What follows in Kenny trying to help JFK make the smartest decision, despite how many different people are advising with multiply options, all leading to one of the most intense stand offs in military history.

Thoughts on Thirteen Days

Characters – Kenny O’Donnell is the assistant advisor to the President, he gives him advice which would see him make decisions which would support the image of the President and the country instead of agree with the fast track answers which would see America go to war, he is the man that people turn to if they are not prepared to challenge the President’s decisions. President John F Kennedy is the man in the middle of the situation, the man that needs to make the final decision after taking on all the advice from his experts, he wants to remain in control of the situation to the best of his ability. Robert F Kennedy is one of the men advising his brother, he knows how John thinks and knows how the help him make the right decisions to remain calm and in control. We do have plenty of different advisors who are trying to offer a plan to what could make this stand off end quicker.

PerformancesKevin Costner is always entertaining to watch in a political movie, this is no different as he plays the pivot to everything going on. Bruce Greenwood as the President is great to watch through the film, with the whole cast looking like they would have been the people they are playing.

StoryThe story here follows the events around the Cuba Mission Crisis, from the point of view of the Americans. This does break down to be a political thriller that does keep us on edge as we see all the potential ideas that were thrown out which could have seen the world in a different place if different outcomes had been used, while this is a 2 hour story, we only focus on the different ideas, which is interesting to see. Each person could have their own agenda which could show the mindset of the public during the events. We could have more intense moments, but it just doesn’t really do that much more, which doesn’t display just how dangerous the event could have been.

HistoryThis is a big historical moment and it does show how the people in power were put on panic station when the events started to unfold.

SettingsThe film uses the political settings for the most part, which does show us just how the people stayed together through the events of the crisis.


Scene of the Movie – Putting the Admiral in his place.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could have had more intense sequences.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at one of the biggest stand offs in modern history, we do see how it could have gone very differently and how everything unfolded.

Overall: Interesting look at history.

Horror Franchise – Scream 3 (2000)

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Kevin Williamson, Ehren Kruger (Screenplay)

Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Patrick Dempsey, Jenny McCarthy, Parker Posey, Dean Richmond

 

Plot: While Sidney and her friends visit the Hollywood set of Stab 3, the third film based on the Woodsboro murders, a new Ghostface begins to terrorize them once again.


Tagline – The best Scream is always the last one. Just hope the last one isn’t your own.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Best Horror Trilogy

 

Story: Scream 3 starts as we see just how successful Cotton Weary (Schreiber) has become, only now he has become the target of Ghostface who wants Sidney. Sidney now living off the radar helping abuse victims over the phone, with Gale Weathers (Cox) still making money off the murders.

Stab 3 is now being made with a string actors Tyson (Richmond), Tom (Keeslar), Sarah (McCarthy), Angelina (Mortimer) and Jennifer (Posey) playing the loved characters from the first film. Dewey (Arquette) is working on set and with Detective Kincaid (Dempsey) trying to get to the bottom of the murders.

With Sidney forced out of hiding, she must go face to face with Ghostface once again and learn just why the killer has returned in search of her.

 

Thoughts on Scream 3

 

Characters – Sidney is now living off the map, helping women in need of a helping hand, when the killer tracks her down, she comes to help from her hiding where she will come face to face with the true killer. Dewey is now working on the set of the Stab films, he is helping one of the stars of the film understand her character and gets stuck into the investigation this time. Gale isn’t as cut throat as she once was, her career didn’t go as well as it could have, she must put up with the needy actress who is playing her in the film. Detective Mark Kincaid is the cop assigned to try and track down the killer willing to push boundaries to uncover the truth. We get a string of actors that will be playing to the roles of the characters in the franchise, with Jennifer Jolie preparing to be Gale being the highlight of these and if not the whole movie. Our suspect list is long which only adds to the mystery we might be seeing through the film.

PerformancesNeve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette all return and give good performances through the film, they don’t build on what we know from them, Parker Posey however steals the whole movie, every scene she is in we want to see more from her. This film does suffer from having too many actors which does stop giving the stars the time required to truly shine.

StoryThe story follows the production of the third ‘Stab’ movie which is from the series of films that are based on the events of the Scream films, that starts getting its own body count from a new killer with connections to Sidney’s mother. This could easily be considered the weakest story of the three so far in the franchise, this is mostly because of the idea of being on the film set with the actors and real people gets overly complicated and takes away from the suspense we previously experience. As for the twists we learn the rules that make things feel like a larger scale operation which even after seeing the previous film do fit together much like what many of the 80s slashers did.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes from the slasher side of things which are all routine enough and work for the film, with the mystery coming from just who is truly behind the murders.

SettingsSetting the film in Hollywood, mostly in and around a film set makes us relive the moments we have gotten to know through the years and most importantly show us how a film could be getting made.

Special EffectsThe effects in the movie continue the style we have seen before, it gives us the blood we need to make look real without being over the top.


Scene of the Movie –
The continuing reference to how difficult Scream 2 was to make.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Some of the supporting characters, mostly the actors don’t get much screen time.

Final ThoughtsThis is the third part of one of the greatest horror trilogies, it continues to show us behind the curtain of horror movies with a twist we didn’t know about to keep the story feeling fresh throughout the film.

 

Overall: This is how to make a trilogy.

Rating

 

 

Sam Neill Weekend – The Dish (2000)

Director: Rob Sitch

Writer: Santo Cilaruo, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch (Screenplay)

Starring: Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long, Patrick Warburton, Genevieve Mooy, Tayler Kane, Billie Brown, Roy Billing

 

Plot: A remote Australian community, populated by quirky characters, plays a key role in the first Apollo moon landing.


Tagline – Man’s first step on the moon nearly stumbled on earth

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Look at the Apollo 11 Mission

 

Story: The Dish starts as a small town named Parkes which has the largest satellite dish in the south hemisphere is selected by NASA to communicate the Apollo 11 mission, the team is a four man operation run by Cliff Buxton (Neill) with his normal team, Ross ‘Mitch Mitchell (Harrington), Glenn Latham (Long) and NASA representative Al Burnett (Warburton).

With the news that Parkes has been selected the whole town gets a buzz with the Mayor (Billing) seeing this a chance to meet the Prime Minister (Brown) and gossip flying around, while the men deal with the added pressure of being part of one of the most important moments in human history.

 

Thoughts on The Dish

 

Characters – Cliff Buxton is the director of the facility, he remains calm for the additional pressure placed on him by this mission, he knows how to welcome a new member to the team and keep his loyal team showing the respect required, Cliff has been through his own personal tragedy which has given him extra motivation to be part of this moment in history. Mitch is the senior member of the team in Australia, he has worked with Cliff for years now and doesn’t take too keenly to Al, he must learn to accept his own mistakes and that everyone involved wants the same thing. Glenn is the youngest member of the team, he is nervous person in life and has a side story of whether he will ask a local woman out. Al is the representative from NASA, he is very much by the book figure and this does cause tension in places because he isn’t as laid back as the rest of the team, even though he does have the utmost respect for the team.

PerformancesSam Neill is brilliant in this film, he has always been one of the actors that can portray knowledge with ease and will always be engaging. Kevin Harrington, Tom Long and Patrick Warburton are all wonderful to watch, showing great chemistry throughout the film.

StoryThe story here follows the small team of satellite team in Australia that have been selected to be the link in communication for NASA for the Apollo 11 mission to be the first man to walk on the moon, we see how they team had to overcome their own problems to make sure they are part of history. When it comes to the moon mission, it has to go down as one of the biggest moments in human history and over the years we have seen many stories about the people involved in making this moment in history happen. By seeing how a small crew has operated to make this event visible for the world is entertaining. Seeing how things didn’t go to plan shows how they had to show their skills to adapt to the situation is interesting and the side story of the Mayor seeing how proud he is to be selected for this. This is a complete story that shows us just how wonderful this event was for the people involved.

Comedy/HistoryThe comedy involved in the film shows us just how the crew can make the events fee light-hearted with what happens, showing us how they can feel like they are can operate best with the laidback nature. This does circle around one of the biggest events in human history.

SettingsThe film uses a couple of main locations, first and most importantly is the dish which shows how contained the operation was and how the town came together to be remembered in history.


Scene of the Movie –
Rudy the security guard, he gets so many laughs it is brilliant.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nothing about this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the most underrated movies involving the moon landing, it is one that is easy to enjoy with laughs and historical moments blend effortlessly.

 

Overall: Wonderful drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – Y – The Yards (2000)

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray, Matt Reeves (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron, James Caan, Ellen Burstyn, Faye Dunaway, Steve Lawrence

 

Plot: In the rail yards of Queens, contractors repair and rebuild the city’s subway cars. These contracts are lucrative, so graft and corruption are rife. When Leo Handler gets out of prison, he finds his aunt married to Frank Olchin, one of the big contractors; he’s battling with a minority-owned firm for contracts. Willie Gutierrez, Leo’s best friend, is Frank’s bag man and heads a crew of midnight saboteurs who ruin the work of the Puerto Rican-owned firm. Leo needs a job, so Willie pays him to be his back-up. Then things go badly wrong one night, a cop IDs Leo, and everyone now wants him out of the picture. Besides his ailing mom and his cousin Erica, to whom can Leo turn?


Tagline – He’s the target of the most merciless family in New York. His own

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: By the Books

 

Story: The Yards starts when Leo (Wahlberg) gets released from prison, needing to lock down a job his Aunt Kitty (Dunaway) sets him up with her husband Frank Olchin (Caan) who runs a railway construction company in Queens. Without the skills set, he can’t be given a job, but his bag man Willie (Phoenix) who is also Leo’s best friend recruits him to do the dirty work for the company.

When a job goes wrong Willie and Leo both commit an act of violence, only Leo can be identified, he must go on the run while finding everybody trying to hunt him down, trying to expose the truth before it is too late, with only is mother Val (Burstyn) and cousin Erica (Theron) to trust.

 

Thoughts on The Yards

 

Characters – Leo is an ex-con that is released from prison, he best friend and Uncle offer him two different jobs, one he isn’t qualified for and one would mean working against the law. He finds himself on the wrong side of the law after a job goes wrong needing to do anything he can to clear his name, while being considered the most wanted man in Queens. Willie is the best friend of Leo, he has made a career being the bag man for Frank which will see him complete the deals to make the business succeed. He ends up leading Leo down the wrong path, when it is him that makes the biggest mistake. Erica is the cousin of Leo and girlfriend to Willie, she is completing her education and gets caught between who to remain loyal towards. Frank runs the corrupt railway construction company that has nearly every political figure in his back pocket. He keeps himself looking clean, letting his men do the dirty work, leading to him being forced into a difficult decision. Val is the mother of Leo that has always tried to give him everything he could give him in life, left to suffer when he gets blamed for the crimes.

PerformancesMark Wahlberg is strong in the leading role, he gives us a performance that shows his regret, confusion and worries about the future he is meant to have once out of prison. Joaquin Phoenix brings us a performance which shows us just how he can make us hate a character. Charlize Theron in the supporting role shows us everything she needs to without getting the same spotlight as the rest of the cast, while James Caan works in the corrupt businessman role with ease. The rest of the cast are solid without doing anything outside the comfort zones.

StoryThe story here takes us into the world of corruption within the Queens railway service construction company that pays off to get jobs after doing their own dirty work to make others look worse, we follow one ex-con being placed into this world who sees the bad only to become the prime suspect in the investigation of a murder. The story does try to keep us guessing to what will happen and who Leo could trust only for it to become to run of mill in the genre to make it new or original. It might be loosely based on a real case, it however doesn’t offer enough to make things feel like we could see too much going on, rather than focusing on the cover up itself.

Crime/RomanceThe crime world we enter is the political corruption of construction which shows us how quickly people can turn on each other without doubt. The romance side of this story takes a back burner which is here to show how difficult of a position Erica is put into.

SettingsThe film is set in Queen which shows us how the community will come together to work together or turn on somebody.


Scene of the Movie –
The incident.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story is overly generic.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting crime story that does everything by the book without doing anything overly special.

 

Overall: Simple crime film.

Rating