ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – H – The Haunted Mansion (2003)

Director: Rob Minkoff

Writer: David Berenbaum (Screenplay)

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp, Nathaniel Parker, Marsha Thomason, Jennifer Tilly, Wallace Shawn

 

Plot: A realtor and his wife and children are summoned to a mansion, which they soon discover is haunted, and while they attempt to escape, he learns an important lesson about the family he has neglected.


Tagline – Check your pulse at the door… if you have one.

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Movie

 

Story: The Haunted Mansion starts when a hot shot realtor Jim Evers (Murphy) and his wife Sara (Thomason) get an opportunity to sale the mysterious mansion for Master Gracey (Parker), taking their children on their family vacation for an early valuation on the mansion.

When the truth comes out about the history of the mansion Jim must battles ghosts to save his family before the curse takes its next victims.

 

Thoughts on The Haunted Mansion

 

Characters – Jim Evers is a fast-talking hot shot realtor that often puts his career before his family despite loving them, he is always out to make more money to give his kids the chances he never had. It is his decision to take the latest job even though he isn’t the partner the client needed. Sara is the partner and wife of Jim, she has a different approach in places which sees her give her children more time. She is the one required to come to the mansion for the sale of the house, even though she finds herself wanted for something else. Master Gracey is the owner of the mansion, he has lived through a long legacy and has summoned for Sara to attend the mansion for his own reasons. Ramsley is the butler that has been planning everything out, he welcomes the guests, places them where he needs them.

PerformancesEddie Murphy was on the decline at the time of release, this performance is one of his better performances because he knows how to play to his audience. Marsha Thomason is strong in the role of wife, mother and realtor, she is the calm to Eddie’s pure energy. Terence Stamp is the well-spoken butler that we know he will always be, while Nathaniel Parker does work well against a charismatic Murphy.

StoryThe story follows a family of realtors that get drawn to a mansion for what they think is business only to find themselves in the middle of the haunting events that has kept the mansion away from the public’s eyes for years. This story is based on a Disney Ride, which follows in the footsteps of the Pirates of the Caribbean. The idea of what is going on within the house is an entertaining story which does have you guessing what the truth might be. The family dynamic works well because you do believe each character to have their problems which need to be addressed to bring the family closer, with this night at the mansion letting them prove themselves as a unit.

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy in the film comes from the actions of Eddie Murphy, he does get the laughs when required, with the supporting cast getting their moments. The fantasy elements mix into the idea of ghosts working on their own motivations to work with the living family.

SettingsMost of the film is set in the mansion, we get endless secret passages and secrets that could unlock the truth about the mansion’s past.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the film are strong, they are used to help add to the family friendly style the film is using.


Scene of the Movie –
Enter the crypt.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We see how Jim operates at work, it would have been nice to see how Sara works too.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun family film that will get the laughs required, it isn’t going to set the world a light, but can be enjoyed in the similar style as a Casper movie.

 

Overall: Simple and entertaining.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – House of 1000 Corpses (2003) Movie Review

Director: Rob Zombie

Writer: Rob Zombie (Screenplay)

Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon, Karen Black, Walton Goggins, Rainn Wilson, Chris Hardwick, Jennifer Jostyn, Erin Daniels

Plot: Two young couples traveling across the backwoods of Texas searching for urban legends of murder end up as prisoners of a bizarre and sadistic backwater family of serial killers.


Tagline – Dare You Enter…

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: This Really Is Messy

Story: House of 1000 Corpses starts when four friends Jerry (Hardwick), Mary (Jostyn), Bill (Wilson) and Denise (Daniels) go on tour of at Captain Spaulding (Haig) house of horrors and learning about mysterious tree, they go off in search in a storm, picking up a hitchhiker Baby Firefly (Moon), they find a place to stay, right around when the news is reporting about missing teenagers.

The four friends find themselves being the latest victims of the Firefly family with Otis (Moseley) willing to do anything to get his pleasure for pain, their only hope is that Denise’s father comes looking for them after they didn’t arrive at his house the night before.

Thoughts on House of 1000 Corpses

Characters – Captain Spaulding is the one that has his own house of horrors that he encourages tourists to look around, he knows the legends of the area, which is why he knows how to get the curiosity of the people to want to go in search for the legends about his house. Otis is the leader of the firefly house, he will talk the most, do the most torturous treatment of their victims. Baby Firefly is the one that brings people back to the house, the youngest member of the family that is just getting started in her ways compared to the rest. Mother Firefly is always looking for a younger man to play with before they murder.

PerformancesSid Haig does bring his character to life to be one of the very few highlights in this film, while Bill Moseley knows that he needed to make this character over the top, while the victims are generic performances, they are fine, but the rest of the cast struggles to work with the awful material.

StoryThe story here follows four friends that find themselves being the latest victims of the sadistic firefly family that like to torture, mutuality and kill their victims. The biggest problem with this story is that we cut away way too many times, it always looks like we are going into watch a torture filled horror story, which isn’t everyone cup of tea, but if we had stuck to this idea, we could have had a good story. The problems involve countless city away scenes of just random footage of violence happening to people, rather than having any context towards them. This story is mess and never makes you care about the victims, while not making the villains people you want to see either, making most shots of the film hard to care about.

HorrorThe horror in the film is meant to be focused on the different levels of violence that could be given to the victims, it is more for shock than making any sense.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the one house/ranch like environment where the family can do what they want without anybody coming to disturb them.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the violence, though most gets covered over with random slips of something else happening.


Scene of the Movie – Captain Spaulding’s tour.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The random cut clips that make no sense.

Final Thoughts This is a truly messy horror that misses on every mark, leaving it look and feeling like something you would forget within a hour of finishing it.

Overall: Poor and messy.

The Mexican (2001)

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: J.H. Wyman (Screenplay)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, J.K. Simmons, Bob Balaban, Sherman Augustus, Michael Cerveris, Gene Hackman

 

Plot: A man tries to transport an ancient gun called The Mexican, believed to carry a curse, back across the border, while his girlfriend pressures him to give up his criminal ways.


Tagline – love with the safety off

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Adventure Film

 

Story: The Mexican starts when small time crook Jerry (Pitt) is forced to head to Mexico to collect a gun for mob boss Bernie Nayman (Balaban), only this mission goes wrong when he loses the gun and is let stranded in Mexico trying to locate it.

With the bosses not happy that he has failed they send Winston Baldry (Gandolfini) kidnap his ex-girlfriend Samantha (Roberts) to locate him and the missing gun known as the Mexican.

 

Thoughts on The Mexican

 

Characters – Jerry is a small-time crook that has been in the debt of crime boss for years, with his latest and seemingly last chance sees him travelling to Mexico to locate a famous pistol. He has a short attention span which has gotten him trouble before and this is no different, he needs to clean up his own mess before finding himself wanted by the crime bosses. Samantha is Jerry’s ex-girlfriend that gets forced in work with a hitman to locate Jerry against her wishes, she just wants a normal life instead of being part of the crime world. Winston is the hitman that forces Samantha to help him locate Jerry, while learning to expression his own feelings. Arnold Margolese is the man that has been left in jail thanks to Jerry’s sloppy mistakes, he is making Jerry make up the time he is lost.

PerformancesBrad Pitt does bring us a wonderful comic character that plays into the cool persona that he had at the time, Brad mixes both the styles together to make his performance standout. Julia Roberts showed that she was a powerhouse in film during the 2000s, she brings everything to this performance to make her a supportive character. James Gandolfini brings us a twist on the hitman role which is against everything we have seen him play before. Gene Hackman might only have a smaller role, but he makes the most of his screen time.

StoryThe story here follows a clumsy crook who is sent to Mexico in search for a gun for his boss, the gun has a history which many different people want, which drags his girlfriend into the mix as they get caught up in a bigger chase for the gun, letting the two put aside their differences and finding out how they really feel about each other. This story is one that has plenty of twists and turns along the way, like any interesting crime adventure film, we see how Jerry always manages to get himself into more trouble no matter what and how Samantha is always going to be the one that puts him back on the right path. We have a lot of details that are added to create the characters which keeps the film flowing with more information as each scene unfolds.

Adventure/Comedy/CrimeThe adventure side of this film takes Jerry to Mexico where he never feels comfortable or look like he should be there, the crime world shows us just how man people would be after the legendary weapon that the bumbling criminal is set to get. The comedy in the film comes from the actions of Jerry which always make him look out of place.

SettingsThe film shows us how the shady looking street around Mexico which shows just how out of place Jerry looks.


Scene of the Movie –
Leroy changes a tyre.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It could sometimes have too many different subplots going on within the world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun adventure that shows just how entertaining a crime comedy can be with its multiple different branches.

 

Overall: Fun filled adventure.

Rating

 

 

My Life Without Me (2003) Movie Review

Director: Isabel Coixet

Writer: Isabel Coixet (Screenplay) Nanci Kincaid (Book)

Starring: Sarah Polley, Amanda Plummer, Scott Speedman, Mark Ruffalo, Debbie Harry, Julian Richings

Plot: A young woman conceals the fact of her terminal cancer to live her life with a passion she never had before.

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Polley is Exceptional

Story: My Life Without Me starts as we meet mother, wife and cleaner Ann (Polley) who has a routine in her day that puts her children first and gets the positives out of her life, until one day she collapses, learning she has terminal cancer.

Ann decides to keep the news to herself, trying not to bring the burden on her family, while she sets out her own plan of a bucket list, things that will leave her family with happy memories about her, while also looking to explore a few things she never got to, including meeting other men, with Lee (Ruffalo) being the one she turns to.

Thoughts on My Life Without Me

Characters – Ann is the mother, wife and cleaner, she has always put her kids first, only she never got to live her younger life, this has never bothered her until she learns she has terminal cancer, now she wants to remain happy for family, but take a few more chances in life, while making sure her family will remember her once she is gone. Ann shows us what it is like to see the world come crashing down around them, while needing to remain strong. Don is the husband to Ann, he works hard to help support the family too, he is always good to her, he does know that Ann is the strength in his life too. Lee is the stranger Ann meets, she does want to know more from love, which is why she turns to Lee for something she could never get from Don the man she loves, he is always friendly and caring towards here. We do also meet other people in Ann’s life, we have her mother, co-worker, children and doctors, all give Ann different decision to make in her remaining life.

PerformancesSarah Polley is amazing in this film, she steps up to be head and shoulders above the whole cast, bringing to life a character that feels like she could be in anybody’s life. We do have a strong supporting cast in mark Ruffalo, Scott Speedman and Amanda Plummer, who give Polley even more to work off through the film too.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman who has been living a routine life until she learns she has terminal cancer, she doesn’t want to let her family know, instead carry on like normal and take a few more chances in her own life. This does show a new way to make sure someone who is dying decides to show us a new way to make sure their family can be prepared once they are gone. We see how Ann is trying to do the right thing, both for the future and for her remaining time, without needing to dive into the painful treatment scene. The story is told in a such a way, where it sends the message to make the most of your own life no matter how difficult life could be for everyone.

RomanceThe romance in the film shows what Ann wanted in life, even though she is happy with what she has, it is all about what could be in her life.

SettingsThe film uses the setting to show us an everyday life that Ann lives in, the poorer family she is in, needing the two jobs to keep the trailer for her family.


Scene of the Movie – Making the list.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could see more of Don’s side of everyday life.

Final Thoughts This is a brilliantly acting movie that shows Sarah Polley at her very best, it has a touching story and gives an important message for all.

Overall: Touching Drama.

Signature Entertainment presents My Life Without Me on Digital HD July 31 and on Amazon Prime August 3rd

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.