Ice Cube Weekend – Ghosts of Mars (2001) Revisited

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: John Carpenter, Larry Sulkis (Screenplay)

Starring: Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Clea DuVall, Pam Grier, Joanna Cassidy, Richard Cetrone

 

Plot: In 2176, a Martian police unit is sent to pick up a highly dangerous criminal at a remote mining post. Upon arrival, the cops find that the post has become a charnel house.


Tagline – Terror is the same on any planet

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Silly Fun Action Horror

 

Story: Ghosts of Mars starts when the lone survive of a prison transfer Melanie Ballard (Henstridge) is recount the events of her mission. The mission was for Melanie, Jericho (Statham), Bashira (DuVall), Commander Helena (Grier) going to an outpost on Mars in the year 2176 to transfer Desolation Williams (Cube).

When the team arrives, they find the outpost abandoned, bodies hanging from the ceiling and the only breath people seemed to have become infected by something. This forces the team to work with Desolation to battle the infected people coming after them.

 

Thoughts on Ghosts of Mars

 

Characters – Melanie Ballard is one of the police officers sent to the outpost to transfer the prisoner, she does use drugs to relax her, she is the one telling the story of the events, where she must take control of the situation trying to get the people out alive. Desolation Williams is the prisoner they are meant to be transferring, he has been accused and cleared of murder numerous times, he will have to work with Melanie to get out of this situation, where he skills will help the people fight to survive. Jericho Butler is one of the more experienced soldiers that is the go-to guy for weapons and fixing problems. Bashira is the rookie on the squad, who must learn quickly as the situation becomes deadlier. We do have too many characters, which will lead to many blink and you miss it deaths.

PerformancesNatasha Henstridge does a strong job as the reluctant hero, she handles the combat well, while trying to be the tough figure. Ice Cube brings the type of character that we know he will bring to most of his roles. With the large cast, most of the rest of the cast struggle to make any real impact on the story.

StoryThe story follows a group of military police on Mars looking to transfer a prisoner for a trial, only for them to find themselves coming face to face with a mysterious evil that has taken over the locals turning them into crazed killing machines. This is simple concept for a sci-fi horror, we get both sides of the law needing to work together to get the job of survival done, we do get the explanation about where the evil has come from. The problem with the story is that we have way too many characters, we have somebody telling the story, which sees them seeing the story through multiply viewpoints which does become frustrating because at times you hear a scene on the radio, only to cut back to the scene happening, which makes it feel like filler, rather than parts of the story.

Action/Horror/Sci-FiThe action here is plenty of bullets flying around, hand to hand combat and weapons which can see body parts flying off. The horror isn’t as strong as it could be because we don’t get the blood shed the film hints at, the sci-fi side of the film shows us how the colonies on Mars would operate.

SettingsThe film is set mostly on an outpost on Mars, it is remote, we know how long the team will be there before the transport returns, leaving us waiting to see how they could escape the situation.

Special EffectsThe special effects used in the film mostly from the body horrors the evil have been doing to themselves, it is strong use of make up but never feels terrifying like it should do.


Scene of the Movie –
Who is in charge now?

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those silly fun action films in which you can enjoy without expecting anything to be overly serious, it might have plenty of flaws but watch with enjoyment you can laugh along.

 

Overall: Easy to watch action horror.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – A – Ali (2001)

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Eric Roth, Michael Mann (Screenplay) Gregory Allen Howard (Story)

Starring: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Mario Van Peebles, Ron Silver, Jeffrey Wright, Mykelti Williamson

 

Plot: A biography of sports legend Muhammad Ali, focusing on his triumphs and controversies between 1964 and 1974.


Tagline – Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Boxing Biopic a Must Watch

 

Story: Ali starts on the brink of Cassius Clay (Smith) first title match in 1964, a match he wins to become heavyweight champion of the world, with his place on top of the world ready, Cassius joins forces with Malcolm X (Peebles) becoming a Muslim in the process, changing his name to Muhammad Ali.

With the Vietnam war drafting men from America, Muhammad is drafted, but he refuses to go and fight which leads him to be stripped of the title and banned from fighting in certain states, Ali uses his to create one of the biggest fights in history, The Rumble in the Jungle.

 

Thoughts on Ali

 

Characters – Muhammad Ali is one if not the most famous boxers in the world, in the history of the sport, he help shape the sport to be what we know now, with his charisma and loud behaviour against his opponents, we follow just ten years of his life, from his first title win, through his religious change, the battle against the government about fighting in the Vietnam war, to being part of one of the biggest fights in boxing history. When we focus on the rest of the real-life people we get to see the loyal people in his life, reporter Howard Cosell that seemed to have a wonderful relationship which included banter between the two and the promoters that make the fight possible.

PerformancesWill Smith in the role of Ali is brilliant, this is easily his best performance of his career showing the world that he can have his wise cracking side mixed with the serious side. We have an unrecognizable Jon Voight who is shows us all that how easily he can morph into any role. The rest of the supporting cast are good without being fantastic or taking away anything from Smith in the leading role.

StoryThe story here takes us into Muhammed Ali’s life for ten years, we get to see from the night he first won the title till the famous Rumble in the Jungle match. We do see the obstacles he must overcome to remain the man he was which in itself is an incredible story during late 60s America. My issues with the story come from not seeing everything that Ali went through in this career, mostly the rise to the top, which could have been an even more interesting story. for the story to only cover 10- years is interesting because we could have seen so much more of the legal battle against the government, the religious battles he faced because of his stance on war and action with the women. The truth is, Ali lived an amazing life and there are so many story we could learn about him from his career any film just can’t cover them all.

Biopic/SportsTen years of one of the great boxers in the history of the sport, one of the men that changed the sport almost doesn’t give it enough justice. The sports side of the film comes from the boxing scenes which are incredibly real through the film we do get a couple and they do go on a long time.

SettingsThe film here takes us to the important locations in Ali’s life, the ring of course is the most important one while we get scenes away from the ring to as we look at his church and his personal life.


Scene of the Movie –
Rumble in the Jungle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have like to see more of his life and career

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those biopics which is great to watch and has wonderful scenes, only for it to be missing that big it factor about it. The fights do feel real which is key and the performances are flawless, we could only have learnt more.

 

Overall: Biopic to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – B – Black Hawk Down (2001)

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Ken Nolan (Screenplay) Mark Bowden (Book)

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, William Fichtner, Ewen Bremner, Sam Shepard, Gabriel Casseus

 

Plot: 160 elite U.S. soldiers drop into Somalia to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord and find themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hard Hitting Military Movie

 

Story: Black Hawk Down starts as we learn about why the Americans are in Somalia during the conflict within the country in 1993. We meet the host of different soldiers with different ranks with the main focus on the squad leader Eversmann (Hartnett) on his first mission as leader, with experienced squad leader Hoot (Bana). The mission is simple extract to captured soldiers from the middle of the militant controlled town.

When one of the helicopters is shot down the mission changes and know the soldiers must fight the militants in the city to save as many men as possible.

 

Thoughts on Black Hawk Down

 

Characters/PerformanceGoing through the characters may take a while, it would be fair to say we barely learn anything about our characters outside of this combat, of the main focal ones we have on the day promoted to leader Eversmann who is good and being fair to his men which includes the desk soldiers Grimes who has never been in conflict before. McKnight is the vet that gives the orders from the ground. Hoot has been in conflict many times and takes the similar role to Eversmann as gives the loose advice on how to command a small unit. Sanderson is like the super soldier that runs into conflict knowing it will be the best defence against the enemy. The soldiers do all get their own small stories of the conflict, with Nelson Twombly being one of the most memorable.

Performance wise, we have a cast which plays out like a who’s who of Hollywood starts or stars to be, not a single person gives us a bad performance and each member of the cast could be believable as a soldier through the film.

StoryThe story is how one mission turned into a massive conflict for control of the city as the American soldiers must overcome the Somalian militant. This story is more about the action and as always does only show the American’s being the good guys even if they don’t understand the conflict they are walking into, while with that statement I am not saying I side with the Somalian’s either. The story could be considered thin because it does only show one long conflict but that does mean we get the extended look at each member of the unit in their own battle to survive.

History/WarThis is one of the many battles America has faced in the 90’s yes, it is only one battle but it shows just how this battle went down in one of the biggest battles of modern warfare.

SettingsThe city shows us just how difficult conflict would be for both sides, we see how vantage points could leave soldier exposed but also how difficult it could be to stay safe.

Special EffectsAll of the effects put us right in the middle of the battle showing us how brutal, deadly and horrific the battle was.

Final Thoughtsif you want to see one of the best modern warfare movies, this is the best conflict showing film out there, it has an amazing cast that would go onto bigger projects in Hollywood too.

 

Overall: Must watch war movie.

Rating

 

 

The Wedding Planner (2001)

Director: Adam Shankman

Writer: Pamela Falk, Michael Ellis (Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson, Justin Chambers, Judy Greer, Alex Rocco

 

Plot: Mary Fiore is San Francisco’s most successful supplier of romance and glamor. She knows all the tricks. She knows all the rules. But then she breaks the most important rule of all: she falls in love with the groom.


Tagline – His big day is her big problem.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Rom Com

 

Story: The Wedding Planner starts as we meet Mary (Lopez) a wedding planner, one of the best in the business, she makes the most money and the best ceremonies. Looking to get the biggest deal for company which could see her become partner, she impresses the bride Fran (Wilson) who hires her on the spot, but continuing about her business she finds herself in need from rescue, where dreamy doctor Steve (McConaughey) steps in.

When it turns out Steve is the groom for Fran’s wedding, the new happiness Mary was feelings are shattered, but she must go on with this wedding for her future, leaving her needing to face the rules she swore never to break.

 

Thoughts on The Wedding Planner

 

Characters – Mary has dreamed of planning weddings since she was a little girl, now it is her job, but she has given up any hope of love because of this, until she meets Steve, the groom of her latest wedding to plan. She is scared from a broken relationship which has closed her off from wanting to try again. Steve is a children’s doctor (you spell, I can’t) that saves Mary, the two click, but he is marrying Fran the latest client of Mary. He is starting to have second thoughts after spending time with Mary. Fran is the bride in this wedding, a busy businesswoman too, Penny gets a lot of laughs as the assistant to Mary who gets over excited easily.

PerformancesJennifer Lopez is good in this role, she has the look which could steal a heart, but also the determination needed to not let anyone get in her way. Matthew McConaughey is good in this role, he knows that he can pull of rom com which is why he worked so well at this time in his movie career. We do have a good supporting cast that all hit the marks too.

StoryThe story follows a woman that had given up on love for herself, that has made a career out of making people’s wedding days their greatest memory. When she does get that one chance moment and meets a wonderful guy she ends up breaking her own rules and needs to look at what love is truly about. While this looks like it is going in a certain direction, it does pose the question about how far long is too late to potentially break up an engagement or do you go through with it and regret a missed opportunity. This is nice question to ask the audience.

Comedy/RomanceThe romance comes from all the wedding talk and the idea that you might find someone in the last place you imagine. The comedy comes mostly from the supporting characters over the leads, which gives us good moments to laugh along with.

SettingsThe film takes us to plenty of different wedding preparation locations which does make us feel like we can see the different scale people can go for weddings.


Scene of the Movie –
Doll house.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Trying to figure out if her name is Mary or Maria

Final ThoughtsThis is a delightful romantic comedy that hits the marks it should with it giving the audience an idea of how love can change people’s lives forever.

 

Overall: Love is strange thing for all.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001) Revisited

This is a revisited review, I first did this as one of my very first reviews in 2012.

 

Director: Simon West

Writer: Patrick Massett, John Zinman (Screenplay) Sara B Cooper, Mike Werb, Michael Colleary (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig, Chris Barrie, Leslie Phillips

 

Plot: Video game adventurer Lara Croft comes to life in a movie where she races against time and villains to recover powerful ancient artefacts.


Tagline – Who Is Lara Croft?

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pure Fun

 

Story: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starts on the anniversary of Lara Croft’s (Jolie) father death, with a once in a lifetime planetary alinement happening, Lara just so happens to discover the all seeing eye in her mansion and now she is involved in an adventure she is interested in. Lara’s connection lead her to Manfred Powell (Glen) a man assigned to locate the eye for secret society that want to use its powers for their own desires.

Once Manfred takes the artefact, Lara must go on adventure showing her tomb raiding skills hoping to stop them powerful device causing havoc on the world.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

 

Characters – Lara Croft lifted straight from the video game, the Lady of Croft Manor, she has found treasures all over the world becoming slightly bored of the popular location, getting a hidden message from her later father Lara’s interest spikes and soon she will be battle a secret society that are using her latest discovery to hopefully control time. We know she is the kick ass action heroine from the video games, calm through each situation, competitive rivalry with Alex West and the best in her field. Lord Richard Croft had died before the story starts, he appears in dreams guiding Lara as he was the one that trained her, he started learning about this event long before it started. Manfred Powell is hired by an underground society that want control of time, he will do anything to get what he wants to prove his value to the society and doesn’t lift a finger when it comes to searching for treasure. Alex West is the American rival to Lara, he works for money over desire to find treasure even if the two do just have an honest rivalry. Bryce and Hillary are the two most trusted people in Lara’s life, one works on her tech while the other looks after the manor.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie was the perfect choice in the year 2001 for this role, she was the best action heroine for the time, had the look of Lara Croft down to perfection as well as the swagger filled attitude. Jon Voight while only in a couple of scenes is good as the father figure needed for Lara. Iain Glen is good as the calculated villain who can kill just as quickly as Lara, he shows the calmness through the film to stay a threat in the film. Daniel Craig as the rival tomb raider is fine, his accent is his weakness though. Noah Taylor and Chris Barrie get most of the laughs which keeps the story on a lighter note.

StoryThe story gives us one of Lara Croft adventures as a Tomb Raider against the Illuminati. The story shows us an established Lara, accepting her place in the high society with connections in the antique world, we see she is trained in combat and this helps us get right into the story. the story shows us how Lara is almost bored of the generic treasure hunts and this knew one sparks her interest once again. When it comes to the story it unfolds as you would imagine, going from one location to the next location for the next chapter of the adventure as we get the different parts to complete the quest.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is set pieces set up on the different adventures Lara is on, be it in the tombs or in the manor which get bigger as the film goes on.

SettingsThe settings take us from the manor, to the tombs in the jungle and Siberia as well as Venice. Each place would be where you could imagine Lara going on her adventures.

Special EffectsThe effects are a mix of good and bad, for the time however they would have been excellent to watch, with the stone figures in the tomb sequence.


Scene of the Movie –
First Tomb sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain effects have dated.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action adventure bring to life one of the most iconic video game characters in Lara Croft.

 

Overall: Action adventure worth watching.

Rating