Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Dean Georgaris (Screenplay) Steven E de Souza, James V Hart (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerald Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger

 

Plot: Adventurer Lara Croft goes on a quest to save the mythical Pandora’s Box, before an evil scientist finds it, and recruits a former Marine turned mercenary to assist her.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Enough Sequel

 

Story: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starts when Lara Croft’s (Jolie) latest treasure hunt ends up with her team killed and her treasure stolen by Chen Lo (Yam) who is willing to sell the orb to arms dealer Jonathan Reiss (Hinds) a former MI6 agent turned evil, that wants to use the orb to locate Pandora’s Box which could bring about the next viral apocalypse on the world.

Lara working with MI6 is joined by disgraced former agent Terry Sheridan (Butler) as per her request as they race around the world to unlock the truth about Pandora’s Box before it ends up in the wrong hands.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

 

Characters – Lara Croft the treasure hunting heroine that travels the world to locate the treasure of the world before they fall into the wrong hands. She is still the kick ass resourceful heroine we know, we see how her connections around the world can help and hinder her quest. Terry Sheridan is the disgraced former MI6 agent, he is granted freedom for information and his former connection with Lara puts him in the middle of the two sides. Jonathan Reiss is the arms dealer that wants Pandora’s Box to be able to sell to the highest bidders to create chaos in the world. he knows how to get results and is happy to kill anyone that crosses his paths. Bryce and Hillary return in the same roles getting the laughs and doing the background work Lara. Kosa is one of the many connections that Lara has around the world, they are good friends after the previous work and respect between the cultures.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie continues to be great in the role of Lara Croft, she had the perfect look for the character and handled the swagger about the character perfectly well. Gerald Butler is good as the shady partner to Lara through the film, giving us rough around the edges figure. Ciaran Hinds is good in the villainous role even if the character is everything you would expect them to be. Barrie and Taylor continue to give the humour when needed. The rest of the cast are fine as they just fill the role required.

StoryThe story here follows Lara Croft on her next treasure hunt where she faces a new shady society lead by weapons dealer who wants to unlock the power of Pandora’s Box. We get to see her globe trot as she is aided by MI6 to locate the mysterious and deadly item. This does continue keep us in the peril filled situations, the idea that Lara has connections around the world to make treasure hunting possible, the shady organisation and treasure that could cause major destruction to the world. This doesn’t test us to the same levels as the first film because as it ends up just following the same formula.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is big as we have bigger stunts going on through the film including a motorbike sequence along the Great Wall China, flying through the streets of Hong Kong and giant monsters in Africa. The adventure does take us around the world once again which is what we want, but we don’t get enough in tomb locations.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world as we see different locations some iconic, some secret tombs with historic stories.

Special EffectsThe effects are weaker than last time without taking us too far out of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The Great Wall motorbike scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough Tomb location.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough sequel that the fans of the original should enjoy, but if you didn’t like the first one you won’t be enjoying as much.

 

Overall: Solid enough for a sequel.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Open Water (2003)

Director: Chris Kentis

Writer: Chris Kentis (Screenplay)

Starring: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis

 

Plot: Based on the true story of two scuba divers accidentally stranded in shark infested waters after their tour boat has left.


Tagline – Who will save you?

Runtime: 1 Hour 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Little Thriller

 

Story: Open Water starts as we follow our young couple Susan (Ryan) and Daniel (Travis) who set off for a holiday in the Caribbean, filled with sun, sea and sand. One of their planned activities is a diving trip and heading off in this paradise dive we a healthy amount of people.

Their dream paradise trip takes a turn for the worse when during their dive, a miscalculation by the crew leaves the couple stranded in the ocean. The couple find themselves surrounded by different sea life, starting with jellyfish, but soon turns into hungry sharks, how long can they survive this.

 

Thoughts on Open Water

 

Characters – Susan and Daniel are just your everyday couple looking for a vacation, they have the same arguments and making up moments as you would imagine, even after being left stranded in the ocean, they try to remain calm using their knowledge of documentaries to survive. We must follow them for most of the film, so you will have to get used to their characters.

PerformancesDaniel and Blanchard do a good job holding our attention through the film, they must work and not being given the whole over panicking idea does help with their performances.

StoryThe story keeps everything simple, a couple head off on a diving trip only to be left behind in the open ocean, we follow as we see if they can survive as they wait for rescue with sharks starting to sense an easy meal. This does everything it needs to with the story, we don’t need to get overly invested in the supporting characters and just focus on the hopelessness the main characters must be feeling.

Adventure/HorrorThe adventure takes our characters into the open ocean, the horror comes from being left there waiting for rescue, it is simple but effective.

SettingsThe setting is in the title, we have the couple in the middle of the ocean, no clue of direction which adds to the tension being felt through the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The first shark appearance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me the reckless counting system.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good thriller, it makes something people could be doing a leisure into a terrifying experience as the couple don’t do anything wrong to be left, they follow the ideas to survive and are left hoping someone could rescue them.

 

Overall: Simple and effective.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – J – Ju-On: The Grudge 2 (2003)

grudge-2Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Takashi Shimizu (Screenplay)

Starring: Noriko Sakai, Chiharu Niiyama, Kei Horie, Yui Ichikawa, Ayumu Saito, Emi Yamamoto

 

Plot: As their curse spreads on all around, the ghosts find their chance to live once again through the pregnancy of a cursed woman.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Complicated but Terrifying

 

Story: Ju-On: The Grudge 2 starts as we meet Kyoko (Sakai) a pregnant aspiring actress with her fiancé Masashi (Saito) who after hitting a cat find themselves haunted by a ghost boy who crashes their car and is drawn towards Kyoko’s baby. With Kyoko dealing with the ghost haunting her every day, we move onto to meet a friend of Kyoko’s Tomoka (Niiyama) who has been experience her own ghostly events in her apartment. Tomoka calls in ghost hunter Noritaka (Horie) to help example the unusual knocking at the same time every night.

Continuing the hauntings around the set of the horror production Megumi (Yamamoto) the star of the movie has her own experience with the ghostly presence but how are they all connected?

 

Thoughts on Ju-On: The Grudge 2

 

StoryWhen it comes to horror the last thing you want to do is put the pieces back together because thinking in the last thing you want to do. This film does make you think when you put together the events and unlike the first one the story is bigger, once you have figured out the story you will enjoy this horror story that continues the curse idea so well.

HorrorWhen it comes to horror you need to never look further than the Asian horror boom of the early 2000s and this is just one of those films that bought the ghost horror back to life in real terror for the audience.

Characters/PerformanceEach character in the film has a connection to another even though we only follow one character at a time and not always in order of events. The characters all react differently to the ghostly visits which will all come back to show the horror. The performances are all good as you believe all the fear the characters are experiencing through the film.

SettingsEach setting is used to become the final piece to the jigsaw that this film has become now, the settings are used to bring us the horror because they come from such surprising locations too.

Special EffectsWhen you look at the effects being used in this film you will find they have the ability to strike pure terror into the viewing which is something many horror never understand but the Asian ghost horrors capture so easily.

Final ThoughtsYou like your Asian horrors then watch this one, the first introduces the Grudge this one builds on it to the next level.

 

Overall: Welcome addition to the Asian horror genre that will scare you from start to finish.

Rating80

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – A – Atlantis: Milo’s Return (2003)

Director: Victor Cook, Toby Shelton, Tad Stones

Writer: Thomas Hart, Henry Gilroy, Kevin Hopps, Tad Stones, Steve Englehart, Marty Isenberg (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) James Arnold Taylor, Cree Summer, John Mahoney, Jacqueline Obradors, Don Novello, Corey Burton

 

Plot: Milo and Kida reunite with their friends to investigate strange occurances around the world that seem to have links to the secrets of Atlantis.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disney’s Bad Spell

 

Story: Atlantis: Milo’s Return starts as we see Atlantis has continued to grow after the event of the first film Queen Kida has bough peace to the land with Milo still lives here. The life does seem calm until a new threat comes to the land, one that Milo and Kida must investigate.

When they learn that they are facing a monster from the deep unlike anything they have seen before the Kraken that has powers of mind control, the battle to save Atlantis is on again.

 

Thoughts on Atlantis: Milo’s Return

 

Characters – Milo is still the adventurer at heart, returning from Atlantis to explore for other Atlantean weapons which are being used around the world. Kida is now the Queen of Atlantis she wants to see the world and protect it from the ancient powers that her ancestors created which are being used in the real world.

StoryThe story brings Milo and his friends into the real world to locate ancient Atlantean weapons that are being used in the real world. the story is designed to be a pilot to a potential television show and you can see this because the film is split into 20 odd minute adventures from different parts of the world, this is weak from Disney because the first film did have a fan base, this will only disappoint them.

Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe adventure takes our characters to new location which should be an adventure to enjoy, the problem is that we don’t spend enough time here in each place, the fantasy shows how ancient idea could being new ideas to treasure hunting but mostly feels like a Scooby Doo episode and the sci-fi shows us the new world that came from ancient powers created modern technology.

SettingsThe settings take us to new locations which does against what we are expecting with a film about Atlantis.

AnimationThe animation quality isn’t on the levels of the Disney movie either which disappoints us throughout.


Scene of the Movie –
The Kraken.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is just not interesting for what we knew from Atlantis itself.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappointing sequel to the weak Disney movie in the first place, this is sadly just like the pilot to the television show it wants to be.

 

Overall: Poor sequel Disney

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – W – Welcome to the Jungle (2003)

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: R.J. Stewart, James Vanderbilt (Screenplay)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries

 

Plot: A tough aspiring chef is hired to bring home a mobster’s son from the Amazon but becomes involved in the fight against an oppressive town operator and the search for a legendary treasure.


Tagline – Bulls, guns, whips, gold and one sacred cat

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Blast!

 

Story: Welcome to the Jungle starts as we meet debt collecting enforcer Beck (Johnson) that is working to get buy his own restaurant. Getting pushed to his limits he gets offered one last job, he must travel to the Amazon to bring back his bosses son Travis (Scott) and his dream of chasing El Dorado.

In Brazil Beck finds Travis and believes this job is going to be easy until the owner of the land Hatcher (Walken) that wants the information Travis has in his head, which leads Travis and Beck needing to put their differences a side to make it out alive.

 

Thoughts on Welcome to the Jungle

 

Characters – Beck is a debt collector, he can find anyone and handles himself in a fight, being able to take on multiple enemies, he does want out of this world and dreams of having his own restaurant, he must do one final job which will put his outside his comfort zone and taking on an army forcing him to resort to guns, the weapon he doesn’t want to be using. Travis is the son of the boss that employees Beck, he has been treasure hunting in Brazil in the middle of a battle between ruler Hatcher and the rebels looking for freedom, he is wise cracking which has lead to him finding himself in trouble more often than not. Beck and Travis work well as they are different on many levels with their bickering offering the laughs, but they are both dreamers in their own way too. Mariana is the bar tender in the town, she keeps both sides in peace while watching as her town gets pushed around. Hatcher is the owner of the town, well he claims to be, he is working the residents into slavery searching for gold that he can make money, he will do anything to make his fortune.

PerformancesDwayne Johnson was still making his first few steps in movies with this role and you can see all the potential he had in the action genre, he shines like always in the fight sequences and while moments of his performance were still in need of work, you can see what he was working towards. Seann William Scott was fresh off the American Pie franchise and one of the hottest comical actors, this showed us that he knew the moments to go that little bit crazy and the moments to hold back, he does have great chemistry with Johnson too. Rosario Dawson is good in her role, but it does end up not being as strong of a character as it should have been while Christopher Walken enjoys his role as the villain, where he gets to break loose and have some fun.

StoryThe story here plays out like one we have seen before, an enforcer for a criminal wants to do one last job before leaving the business behind, only this time it will be the most dangerous one of his career. This is a by the book story it works and plays into the comedy needed between the lead two characters while also offering us the fish out of water routine for the organised professional. We have elements of a treasure hunt which are fun to watch too. It would be fair to say this story is an easy to follow film that gets the kicks it needs without being anything too complicated.

Action/Adventure/ComedyThe action plays into the hands of Dwayne Johnson’s talents, plenty of combat sequences and the use of weapons to increase the peril level, the adventure takes Beck out of his comfort zone to deal with the battle he is about to face. The comedy for the film comes from the bickering between Travis and Beck.

SettingsThe film takes place in Brazil for the most part, the Amazon to be more exact, this proves to be uncomfortable for Beck that is used to being in the cities, this adds comedy and unexpected moments to the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well, not needed often but the team creates good moments when needed.


Scene of the Movie –
Final showdown

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts are not subtitled, which is annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good fun action blast that puts Dwayne Johnson in the position of action hero, a position he will carry for years to come, it had good laughs throughout and action sequences that are fun to watch.

 

Overall: Action movie fans will enjoy this one.

Rating