ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – F – The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest (2002)

Director: Mick Jackson

Writer: Jon Favreau, Gary Tieche (Screenplay) Po Bronson (Novel)

Starring: Adam Garcia, Rosario Dawson, Jake Busey, Enrico Colantoni, Ethan Suplee, Anjul Nigam

 

Plot: Andy, a successful marketing guy quits his job, because he feels disconnected with the values about work he learned from his father. He gets a new job at a top notch research facility, where he quickly makes a powerful enemy who makes him volunteer for a nearly impossible project: The $99 Personal Computer. He recruits the only available guys at the lab, three sociopaths. Together they really compile a revolutionary PC for $99, but then they become the victims of a venture capitalist and Andy’s old foe from the research lab. Can he and his new friends find a way to overcome the problems?

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Comedy

 

Story: The First $20 Million is Always the Hardest starts when marketing man Andy Kasper (Garcia) decides he wants to get back to his inventing ways by being transferred to the developmental department. Not being welcomed to department by Francis (Colantoni) on the main project, he accepts what seems like an impossible project, a $99 laptop.

Andy is joined by the outsiders of the developmental department Salman (Nigam), Curtis (Suplee) and Darrell (Busey) as they look achieve the impossible in the limited time.

 

Thoughts on The First $20 Million is Always the Hardest

 

Characters – Andy Kasper is a top marketing guy, making money that could keep him happy for his whole life, beautiful girlfriend, he gives this all up to get back to the developmental side of things, where he uses his leadership and motivation skills to build a revolutionary computer. Alisa is the new neighbour for Andy that is a dreamer like him, that welcomes Andy and his team to the duplex to make their own idea. Darrell is the loud aggressive genius that is part of the team, he is also afraid of germs which making any connect with humans. We have the normal characters involved here too, the shy one, the traditional one, the enemy that wants to steal ideas and the rich one that only cares about money too.

PerformancesAdam Garcia is good in the leading role, he has the image of marketing guy which helps his need for the leadership required. Rosario Dawson is good in her role, but it seems to just be love interest 101 character. Jake Busey, Ethan Suplee and Anjul Nigam are all good at the team, they work well together to get certain laughs.

StoryThe story here focuses on one man wanting to focus on what he loves, designing and development. He gets to follow his dream using his motivational skills he brings the world something fantastic, but in the dot com boom era, he learns the brutal truth behind the business. The story here has aged in places because the technology boom that this focuses on has past in places, but it almost plays out like a documentary in places too.

ComedyThe comedy is good for the most part, it ticks the basic boxes without being anything over the top, just little moments that will make you chuckle.

SettingsThe film shows how tech firms can offer the resources, but the smaller garages offer the ideas, showing the different locations inventions can be made.

Scene of the Movie – The big answer.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It could escape the generic characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good comedy that proves that the dream of invention can drive people to achieve greatness.

 

Overall: Comedy well worth watching.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Horror – # – Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

Director: Ellory Elkayem

Writer: Ellory Elkayem, Randy Kornfield (Screenplay) Jesse Alexander, Ellory Elkayem (Story)

Starring: David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E Doug, Rick Overton, Leon Rippy, Matt Czuchry

 

Plot: A variety of horrible poisonous spiders get exposed to a noxious chemical that causes them to grow to monumental proportions.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Creature Feature

 

Story: Eight Legged Freaks starts by showing us the Mike Parker (Terra) visiting Joshua the spider expert of the town who has been feeding his spiders enlarged crickets and of course they now escape. One week later when Mike goes to return his mother Sheriff Samantha Parker (Wuhrer) stops the visit because of waste being dumped into the local watering hole.

With this we get to see the rebellious teenage daughter Ashley (Johansson) who is dating bad boy biker Bret (Czuchry) step-son of Mayor Wade (Rippy) who is trying to cover up the fact the town is nearly broke. Chris McCormick (Arquette) a local who returned to town after his father’s death refusing to sell the mine in a deal which could save the town.

When Mike makes it back to Joshua’s he learns of the super-sized spiders that have been released into this small town, the resident must now fight against the spiders that have infested the town.

 

Thoughts on Eight Legged Freaks

 

Characters/Performance –  Chris McCormick returns to his hometown to claim what is his, the mine, he also needs to make up for the mistakes he has made and this gives him the perfect chance too. Sheriff Parker is a single mother of two trying to keep the local community together and being the former love interest of Chris. Mike is the expert on everything going on playing out as the reminder to all the different spiders attacking styles. Ashley is the bad girl daughter of Samantha who is mostly trying to discover who she is. We have the rest of the town which includes the conspiracy crazed radio host, the greedy mayor the comic relief deputy.

Performance wise, David Arquette is great in this leading role managing the comedy side of everything as well as the action horror when needed. Kari Wuhrer fits the part of sexy sheriff very well too. Both Scott Terra and Scarlett Johansson are good choices too. The rest of the actors all give good performances to fit the films mentality.

StorySmall town gets invaded by giant spiders thanks to cost cutting measures. We do have a reluctantly hero needing to help save the day but otherwise this is everything you need in a creature feature, plenty of potential victims, plenty of creature and plenty of laughs.

Action/Comedy/HorrorThe action is all big and plans into the idea of the comedy being used in the creature feature side of the film.

SettingsThe small town setting helps with the story telling here because they have no communication with the outside world after the attack starts and not many escape routes of places to hide.

Special EffectsWe have a mix of practical and CGI here which all help create the low budget feel behind this film and while moments have dated other parts are all fun.

Final ThoughtsThis is by far one of my favourite creature features out there, it is fun, over the top and filled with perfect comic timing, never trying to be serious.

 

Overall: Purely fun creature feature.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – # – 28 Days Later (2002) Revisited

Director: Danny Boyle

Writer: Alex Garland (Screenplay)

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Noah Huntley

 

Plot: Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.


Tagline – The Days Are Numbered

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Modern Horror

 

Story: 28 Days Later starts in the aftermath of a virus being unleashed, Jim (Murphy) wakes from a coma in a hospital unaware of what has occurred, searching the empty streets of London, it doesn’t take him long to run into an infected member of society, where Selena (Harris) and Mark (Huntley) who explain what has happened to the country.

After an attack by the infected Jim and Selena are left alone searching the streets of London they discover Frank (Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Burns) hidden in an apartment building. Together the four of them target a radio transmission by the military where Major Henry West (Eccleston) answers their calls, but not everything is as it seems from the military outpost.

 

Thoughts on 28 Days Later

 

Characters – Jim is the man waking to the destroyed, infected ruled world, he like us learns the full extent of the damage and as the film rolls on he becomes tougher, prepared to fight back in this world. there isn’t too much more to Jim as a character other than this. Selena is one of the two people that rescue Jim, she is tough as nails, doesn’t blink when it comes to killing the infected be it the long-term infected or the ones that are about to turn. For the first half of the film she is a fantastically strong character being the one of the group you would fear the most, the more she opens up to others in her life and a future other than surviving, the weaker she becomes. Frank is a caring father, he has done everything to protect his daughter during the outbreak, he knows he needs help to get to the rescue point because going along would be too risky with just his daughter. Major West leads the military outpost, he has promised his men salvation, but it isn’t what you would expect it to be, strict leader, his men will follow all his orders.

PerformancesCillian Murphy got his big break after this film, his performances and transformation in his character are brilliant. Naomie Harris comes in here strong from the moment she hits the screen you see just how strong she is going to make her performance. Brendan Gleeson is great in the supporting role, while the same can be said about Eccleston too.

StoryThe story follows a small group of survivors in an infection riddled world as they look for safety. This is generally the purpose of all infected or zombie movies, it keeps things simple and makes the tension rise as we do get a chance to meet and support the group of survivors on their adventure. This is easily one of the more intense stories once everything goes on with the music adding to the final sequence of the movie. The story does have two endings with both being just as strong as the other too depending on how you believe the story should become.

Horror/Sci-FiThe infected bring us the villainous monsters in the film, they are runners, which means they won’t stop till they get you, only hiding or killing them will stop them, the infected are not the only monsters in this film though as we focus on the human affects of the outbreak. The sci-fi side of the film shows us just how quickly the world could change with an outbreak of a virus which turns people into the undead searching for food, in humans.

SettingsThe film is set in London to start with, getting the empty streets is an achievement in itself, the haunting idea of London being abandoned will be one you will remember, the travelling side, well we have seen before with the empty sequences being what makes this film stand out.

Special EffectsThe effects come from the practical world which we like to see because it makes everything feel real to us the audience.


Scene of the Movie –
The mansion final.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I do feel Selena should have stayed stronger through the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best modern zombie movies, it is intense at times and the visually creation of the world is amazing.

 

Overall: Masterpiece of Modern horror.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Spiderman (2002)

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: David Koepp (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (Comic Book)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons

 

Plot: When bitten by a genetically modified spider, a nerdy, shy, and awkward high school student gains spider-like abilities that he eventually must use to fight evil as a superhero after tragedy befalls his family.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Truly Enjoyable Spiderman Movie

 

Story: Spider-Man starts as we meet high school student Peter Parker (Maguire), he only had one friend at school and that is over privileged Harry Osborn (Franco) and his high school crush Mary Jane (Dunst) attending a field trip at science laboratory where Peter gets bitten by one of the spiders.

The next day Peter finds himself stronger and more aware than ever, he has gained the spider skills, Peter uses his time to learn his abilities, but when his Uncle Ben (Robertson) becomes a victim of crime, Peter becomes Spiderman protecting New York City from the criminals.

With high school finished Peter and Harry move to New York, where they find jobs, but Peter has been fighting crime become front page news. Harry’s father Norman a CEO at Oscorp determined to make the most money unleashes the Green Goblin on the city, giving Spiderman his first opponent that will tests his abilities.

 

Thoughts on Spider-Man

 

Characters – Peter Parker is the socially awkward high school outcast, he does have the brains to become anything but when he gets bitten he becomes Spiderman where he starts to fight to protect his city after losing his Uncle. Norman Osborn is the career driven genius that will go to any lengths to be the leading developer in government technology, but when he loses his way, he goes out to stop anyone with his Green Goblin persona. Harry is Peter’s best friend and son of Norman, he watches how everything unfolds but also starts dating Mary Jane. Mary Jane is the high school crush of Peter, she does stick up for him as they share the same dreams.

PerformanceTobey Maguire is great in this leading role showing the innocence side of Peter but away from the high school age. Kirsten Dunst is a beautiful Mary Jane and while mostly the damsel in distress does give us a good performance. James Franco showed us all the potential he has started to show us in this role. Willem Dafoe enjoys the villainous role through the film and is easy one of the better conflicted villains in the universe.

StoryThis is an origin story for Spiderman that came out just when the superhero boom was starting up, it bought us a new hero to root for and one that was filled with the odd joke. We have the motivation for Peter to become Spiderman, a friendship which will become important through this franchise and a villain that is conflicted with why he is doing the things he is doing. It may well be a by the book origin story it does have enough darker moments to make us see the light in his actions.

Action/AdventureThe action fits the comic book genre perfectly with the adventure side of the film coming from just what Peter is learning of his new skills.

SettingsNew York City makes for the setting here, much like in the comics, it works because of the landscape that Spiderman will be taking on with his web slinging.

Special EffectsThe effects for this film show us that practical effects could still make an excellent film, the CGI feels very little.

Scene of the Movie – The parade.

That Moment That Annoyed Me You do feel like we needed more of the high school side of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an origin film that does hit the marks, a villain that can do enough damage but is never a true threat, learning the correct path and building a bigger picture for the whole franchise.

 

Overall: Easily one of the best origin stories.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Featdotcom (2002)

Director: William Malone

Writer: Josephine Coyle (Screenplay) Moshe Diamant (Story)

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Natascha McElhone, Stephen Rea, Udo Kier, Amelia Curtis, Jeffrey Combs

 

Plot: A New York City detective investigates mysterious deaths occurring 48 hours after users log onto a site named feardotcom.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fear Dot Wrong

 

Story: Feardotcom starts as New York detective Mike (Dorff) teams up with environmental health officer Terry (McElhone) to investigate a string of death which look like a viral outbreak but could just be murders, the first investigation takes them into a German metal couple fans that seem to have died mysteriously but soon the cases become more significate.

With three different victims, with three unrelated backgrounds the crime seems all unrelated until they look deeper into the computer history and that all three have visited a website called ‘feardotcom.com’ that blasts horrific images into the viewers face leaving the viewer 48 hours to live, but there is also a connection to serial killer Dr Alistair Pratt (Rea).

 

Thoughts on Feardotcom

 

Characters – Detective Mike is haunted by his failure to capture a serial killer, this doesn’t make him bad at his job but does show how he never gives up but he also can’t follow simple instructions. Terry, I believe worked for the environmental health and is called into be sure there isn’t a viral outbreak happening, she does seem to be the one that puts the pieces together within the puzzle. Dr Alistair Pratt is the serial killer Mike was never able to capture, he is still active tracking down new victims but just how much of a connection does he have to everything going on. In all honesty, the characters are written to be as dumb as they come, we have a lady working with the police who visits the site and just hides what has happened, and the main two characters both warn the other not to view the site and both run off within moments and watch the site.

PerformanceStephen Dorff is fine in this but he can’t do much with the character written, Natascha McElhone is also fine in this role and handles what she has better than the rest, Stephen Rea does pull of psychopathic well but we just don’t see us enough. Most of the performances are just ok without really doing anything special.

StoryThe story follows detectives needing to solve a mystery about a haunted website or a serial killer, I am not sure which as things just seem to get caught between the two. The idea of having the cops fail miserably to solve this or act rational only confuses things for the story, I could understand if it was a reporter like we had in The Ring but now this does just seem to be trying to rip that idea off using the internet over a video.

Crime/HorrorPeople are dying I guess that does offer up the crime mystery side of this story but in the end the that part turns into horror which is mostly just throwing images at the camera while shaking it a lot.

SettingsThe settings are mixed, we have the idea of New York having a serial killer so we get mixed cultures but otherwise we just have typical dark locations.

Special EffectsThe special effects do just feel like a lot of shaky cams being used to throw us around the horror happening. We do also have moments of dated CGI that don’t help.

Scene of the Movie – Dr Alistair’s first appearance because it adds the horror needed and is the only truly scary moment in this film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Decision making from the police officer characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a messy, hard to watch film that tries to capture the magic of horror that The Ring did, it grabbed itself 3 respected lead actors and tried to give us an investigation film but misses on nearly every single level.

 

Overall: Disappointing Horror Mystery.

Rating