ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – N – Natural City (2003) Movie Review

Director: Byung-chun Min

Writer: Byung-chun Min, Jae-rim Han (Screenplay)

Starring: Ji-tae Yu, Jae-un Lee, Rin Seo, Eun-pyo Jeong, Doo-hong Jung, Hyo-Seon Kim, Ju-hye Ko

Plot: In the year 2080, the world is connected by a massive computer network. Combiners have developed a process that allows them to merge the souls of human and machine/cyborg, wreaking havoc in a deeply divided society.


Tagline – The war has begun…

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Less Interesting Blade Runner

Story: Natural City starts in the year 2080, in a world where cyborgs are part of the world, taking the place of human bodies, containing their souls, R (Yu) is one of the military police that hunts down cyborgs that are out of control, with his latest mission seeing him disgraced by his boss as they hunt for the deadly Cyper (Jung).

R has been illegal collecting the AI chips from the cyborgs to sell on the black market, he sells the chip from Cyper to buy himself a cyborg called Ria (Seo) one without much time left in her system. R’s latest assignment is to track down Cyon (Lee) who is an unregistered living in the city, that could hold answers to the future.

Thoughts on Natural City

Characters – R is a military police officer that has been struggling to deal with the work of eliminating cyborgs, he has been working on making money on the side with a plan to rescue a cyborg from the life she is stuck in. he isn’t the strongest soldier, but he will do what it takes to fight for what is right. Cyon is the mysterious young woman that is the key to the battle going on, she is unregistered and is wanted by the police for her work on the streets. Ria is the aging cyborg that R wants to save, she only has days left which see her being taken, while still trying to find her purpose in the world before it is too late. Noma is the leader of the police unit that R is in, he clashes with his friend even if they do want the same thing at times.

PerformancesThe performance in the film are solid enough from the whole cast, nobody looks out of place, though we could have seen more from them if we are going to reach the next level.

StoryThe story here takes us into a future where cyborgs are used with a limited life span, when they go rogue the military police track them down and in this story they are trying to break out to become the main force in the world. This story was difficult to keep up with in places because we are watching something that does seem similar to Blade Runner, in nearly everything single way. We the that we have three different sides coming into a potential war doesn’t help because too many different people are trying to prove themselves as the hero of their own story.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in this film is big and does show a style which has been borrowed from other films, it has great moments which will become the highlight of the film. The sci-fi world that we enter is wonderful too, it shows the typical ideas that we have been led to believe too.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the different worlds being lived in, showing us the environments that both are coming from or aiming to.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the different developments of the cyborgs, we get to see just how they are created and destroyed.


Scene of the Movie – Cyborg escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too many similarities to Blade Runner.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting spin on the Blade Runner idea, with a deeper story going on without hitting the neo-noir tone.

Overall: Just another Blade Runner.

Franchise Weekend – Bad Boys II (2003) Movie Review

Director: Michael Bay

Writer: Ron Shelton, Jerry Stahl (Screenplay) Marianne Wibberley, Cormac Wibberley, Ron Shelton (Story)

Starring: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Jordi Molla, Gabrielle Union, Peter Stormare, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Shannon

Plot: Two loose-cannon narcotics cops investigate the flow of Ecstasy into Florida from a Cuban drug cartel.

Runtime: 2 Hours 27 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Bigger, Badder, Ballsier

Story: Bad Boys 2 starts as Marcus (Lawrence) and Mike (Smith) are undercover with their latest job, with Marcus getting shot in the ass, with Marcus recovering, Mike has secretly started to date Marcus’s sister Syd (Union) a fellow officer from New York.

When Mike and Marcus find themselves in the middle of Syd case in Miami, they want to help out, which sees them trying to take down Cuban drug lord Hector Juan Carlos Tapia, known as Johnny (Molla) who has bought a new deadly drug to the streets.

Thoughts on Bad Boys 2

Characters – Marcus is suffering with middle-life crisis problems, he recently got hurt on duty, which has seen him milk the sympathy, he is worried about his sister on her case and will do anything to protect her, while always getting worried about Mike’s actions. Mike is still the smooth loose cannon, he has started dating Marcus’s sister in secret waiting for the chance to tell him, he is still caring about his car more than anything else, usually killing more of the suspects than he needs too. Hector is the Cuban drug lord who is making his major play to take over Miami, he will not take perfection from his men. Syd is the sister of Marcus, she has been working on a case in Miami, giving her a chance to spend more time with Mike, while proving herself as a top-level cop to her brother.

PerformancesWill Smith and Martin Lawrence do both continue to show their chemistry, though the characters do seem to have changed and become more exaggerated with Will Smith being more like the player persona his blockbusters have made, while Martin Lawrence does seem to bring us more of a whiny figure. Jordi Molla fills the generic villain without needing to do much more than say threating lines, while Gabrielle Union bought a different dimension to the film.

StoryThe story here follows the two narcotics detectives as they get involved with trying to take down the latest drug lord who has been working with Marcus’s undercover sister, bringing the fight to a new personal level for the two men. The story might well follow the same basic idea of the first film, it does make everything feel a lot bigger and making everything more personal only helps, the bigger the characters the two men have is noticeable here too. This one doesn’t really leave too much to the imagination but is sure a hell of a fun watch for the simplistic side to the story.

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe action in the film is much bigger than the first film, we have car chases, explosion and massive shoot outs, which become the set pieces. The comedy is all about how the two are always bickering, which does get laughs through the film, while we do dive into the world of drugs once again.

SettingsThe film does keep the Miami setting for the most part, while giving us an ending in Cuba for the final action set piece.


Scene of the Movie – The Cuba chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We do focus more on the action over the story, unlike the first film.

Final Thoughts This is a bigger and bolder action film that has massive set pieces, which is a great watch, with great chemistry between the leads.

Overall: Entertaining blitz.

Heath Ledger Weekend – Ned Kelly (2003) Movie Review

Director: Gregor Jordan

Writer: John Michael McDonagh (Screenplay) Robert Drewe (Novel)

Starring: Heath Ledger, Orland Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts, Joel Edgerton, Laurence Kinlan

Plot: An innocent man becomes one of the most wanted criminals the world has ever known.


Tagline – When the law tried to silence him a legend was born.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Biopic 101

Story: Ned Kelly starts in 1871 Australia where an Irish family the Kelly’s have settled in with the eldest son Ned (Ledger) ends up getting into trouble with the law, that has always targeted his family, seeing him placed in prison for a couple of years. Once out Ned does start to try and turn his family’s luck around with his friends Joseph Byrne (Bloom) and Aaron Sherritt (Edgerton), while working for an English family where Ned falls for Julia (Watts).

When Ned gets framed for assault by the constable that has always been out for his blood, his family gets targeted, but not the police are not going to stop until they have his head, forcing Ned to go on the run to protect his family, making him one of the most wanted criminals in the world.

Thoughts on Ned Kelly

Characters – Ned Kelly is a young Irish man that has always seen his family targeted by the law, he has gotten himself in trouble because of this, which sees him falsely accused and becoming a target. Ned refused to back down from the law needing to go on the run, leading to him becoming an outlaw taking from the rich inspiring the poor as he fights for what is right and his family’s pride. Joseph Byrne is Ned’s best friend, he will stand by his side through his battles, needing to do the right thing. Superintendent Francis Hare is the man charged with capturing the Kelly gang, he doesn’t want to hear the story, he just wants them gone. Julia Cook is an English woman that Ned was working for, she is one of the few that will help him seeing the good in his nature, but being held back by her own family.

PerformancesHeath Ledger does a great job here showing how he wanted to break his pretty boy image, this performance makes this happen with ease. Orlando Bloom in the supporting role is strong without being truly great, while Geoffrey Rush feels wasted, with him being involved but not getting too much screen time, same goes for Naomi Watts, she just doesn’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThe story here follows the innocent man that gets forced into become an outlaw who becomes the most wanted man in Australia. This story shows how settlers in other countries would always be unfairly targeted by the locals who saw them as threats, how people’s words could create outlaws because nobody would listen or understand the truths within a world. The story is only really told from Ned’s which will always make him look like the innocent man he was, but we do hear and see that most of the group have served time, so they might not be as innocent as they look (this is only from what the film shows, not what I know about the truth).

Action/Biopic/WesternThe action is everything you would expect from a western, we have seen the shooting like always. The biopic does only show one side of the story and it does feel like there is more to tell.

SettingsThe film utilises the location to show how Ned Kelly has to go into hiding and including the showdown.


Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does seem one sided.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book biopic that showed one of the most famous outlaws in Australia, though it doesn’t seem to reach an intensity level that it could have.

Overall: Nice biopic.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – Z – The Core (2003) Movie Review Revisited

I have put this under Z because of the character Zimsky

Director: Jon Amiel

Writer: Cooper Layne, John Rogers (Screenplay)

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, Bruce Greenwood, Tcheky Karyo, Richard Jenkins

Plot: The only way to save Earth from catastrophe is to drill down to the core and set it spinning again.


Tagline – The only way out is in

Runtime: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fun Disaster Movie

Story: The Core starts when people from around the world die suddenly when their pacemakers all stop, bringing in scientist Josh (Eckhart) and Serge (Karyo) to confirm this isn’t just a weapon, it doesn’t take long before over events in nature start bringing a worrying reality to the world, this becomes clear when astronauts Commander Richard Iverson (Greenwood), Beck (Swank) and Timmins (Johnstone) see their landing plan thrown out the window, forcing them into a daring landing in downtown LA.

Turning to Zimsky (Tucci), Josh, Serge, Beck and Richard are selected for an impossible sounding mission with the invention of Dr Brazzelton (Lindo) that would take a team into the centre of the Earth through the core of the planet in an attempt to kick start the planet once again, hoping to save the world from destruction, can they do the impossible or not?

Thoughts on The Core

Characters – Josh is a lecturer that gets assigned to help figure out what caused a sudden amount of deaths, he is a man that likes being able to use science to help solve problems and comes off like the cool teacher. His theory is what leads to the mission and he brings the brains to the operation. Beck is the astronaut who has always wanted to lead a mission, she is ready but held back, though she does know how to save the day for her craft, she is selected as one of the two pilots for this mission which sees her facing a task she has never seen before. Brazzelton is the man that has created the theory behind the ship which would take them to the core, he has seen himself become an outside in the science community, but the one they have to turn to, to save the day. Zimsky works for the president which shows him going to a different direction to his former partner Brazzelton, he does want to use this mission as his chance for his next best seller. He is the closest to a villain that you will see in this film.

PerformancesAaron Eckhart in the leading role is strong being the reluctant hero that is better with his brains that his actions, not having the physical image required for the role. Hilary Swank doesn’t have as much to do as her talent deserves, though she does get to show a strong female presence in the astronaut world. Stanley Tucci in the villainous role is amazingly smug with his character. Delroy Lindo as the one that is considered the crazy one does bring the genius scientist to life well.

StoryThe story here follows a group of scientist that must go into the Earth’s core to restart the planet before the world comes to an end after a string of natural disasters have hinted the end is coming. When it comes to disaster movies, we started with the extremes of a realistic disaster, then this one comes along, building on the desire to have bigger bolder edgy ideas for total destruction in new ways. If you are happy to watch a wildly over the top idea for a disaster story this is a joy to watch, we do focus on the human side of the mission, where the crew must make difficult decisions along the way, not putting too much focus on the disasters happening back on the surface, the only time we go into the world is for snippets of what is happening. You will need to suspend your disbelief for this one and once you do this we are going to see.

Action/Sci-FiThe action is big to see, we do get a couple of large scale disaster as well as the chase down through to the core, while this jump largely into sci-fi however much it wants to play on the idea the science could be real.

SettingsThe film has the disasters in big cities, which is what we would expect, the poor Golden Gate Bridge didn’t stand a chance. Inside the core we get different ideas to what we could see in the different layers.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film haven’t aged the as well as they could, these are mostly used to try and create a big moment or two along the way too.


Scene of the Movie – The dive down.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The effects have one or two bad spells.

Final Thoughts This is a fun disaster movie that will do everything you want in a disaster movie, it has bonkers science which does work and an idea that is so far out there you can enjoy.

Overall: True Blast.

Maggie Gyllenhaal Weekend – Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

Director: Mike Newell

Writer: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal (Screenplay)

Starring: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ginnifer Goodwin, Dominic West, Juliet Stevenson, Marcia Gay Harden

Plot: A free-thinking art professor teaches conservative 1950s Wellesley girls to question their traditional social roles.


Tagline – They had everything. She showed them more.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brilliant

Story: Mona Lisa Smile starts when Katherine Ann Watson (Roberts) takes a teaching role at the prestigious Wellesley College, one with the social traditions taught to girls studying they’re from the upper-class families. Katherine learns that her class with includes Betty Warren (Dunst), Joan Brandwyn (Stiles), Giselle Levy (Gyllenhaal) and Connie Baker (Goodwin) know the whole textbook on the first day.

Katherine must learn to keep her head down, while trying to teach the young women about being thinking instead of following the traditions they have been raised to believe are the only way to go. With Katherine showing them a new look at life the pressure starts getting thrown back at her by the parent’s of the students, with some wanting to accept it, while others are happy to stay in the line they believe is right.

Thoughts on Mona Lisa Smile

Characters – Katherine Ann Watson is an arts history teacher that is known for her free-thinking ways that doesn’t follow the traditional ways of the school, she does want to teach the women they don’t have to just get married and become housewives, she must remain in a position which will see the higher ups in the school question her beliefs and methods. Katherine will help develop these young women to understand they can be more in life. Betty Warren is the daughter of the head of the school, she is engaged and ready to finish school and become a housewife, everything she has been taught is right for her, she isn’t afraid to report anyone going against the traditions and questions her own friends for trying to be different. Joan Brandwyn is one of the students who also believes she is meant to just get married, she did want to study law and Katherine pushes her to follow her dream an apply for law school, this puts Joan in a position of not knowing what she should do next. Giselle Levy has been having an affair with one of the professor, she pushes the other girls into trying to break the rules more which is the way she feels like she fits in.

PerformancesJulia Roberts is wonderful in this leading role, being the truly free-thinking which does seem to reflect her own acting career at times. Kirsten Dunst is great too showing that in the early 2000s, she was nearly untouchable in her acting. Julia Stiles is great to breaking away from the romantic comedies she had been doing. Maggie Gyllenhaal shows that she was going to go onto bigger projects with her wonderful supporting performance and Ginnifer Goodwin is wonderful in this film too.

StoryThe story here follow a free-thinking professor that takes a job in a prestigious women’s school where she wants to help the young women start to think for themselves instead of following the traditions set up for them to follow, her thinking does upset the normal in the beliefs, as she just wants to make a difference to these women’s lives. When you look back at the story and time it is set, it does show us just how frustrating the mentality was. You could compare this to ‘Dead Poets Society’ with a teaching trying to show students life can be different to what they have been raised to believe. The story does show us enough of a previous problem in life and does show how people would have changed if they were given a glimpse into the life they could have.

SettingsThe film is set around the school in which Katherine teaches, it shows how the rules are going to be difficult to follow or understand and how people will constantly be looking down on people trying to change thing.


Scene of the Movie – The flowers of goodbye.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain characters are too generic.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderful look at how somebody wanted to help make a change to the normal which should never have been the normal, we have five excellent leading lady performances too.

Overall: Wonderful look at change.

Rating