ABC Film Challenge – Sci-fi – C – Cube Zero (2004)

Director: Ernie Barbarash

Writer: Ernie Barbarash (Screenplay)

Starring: Zachary Bennett, David Huband, Stephanie Moore, Martin Roach, Terri Hawkes, Richard McMillan

 

Plot: A young man whose job is to watch over the Cube endeavours to rescue an innocent woman trapped in one of its rooms.


Tagline – The first experiment in fear.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Never Hits the Levels It Could

 

Story: Cube Zero starts with the latest of the events going down, we watch engineers Eric (Bennett) and Dodd (Huband) watch over the latest game. Cassandra (Moore) is the latest player to join in as she is joined by others trying to navigate their way through the twisted games.

When Eric learns that Cassandra hasn’t agreed to take part in this experiment, he decides to break the rules to help her escape, risking his own life against the very people that have employed him.

 

Thoughts on Cube Zero

 

Characters – Erik is the former boy genius, he works in the engineering office of the Cube complex, he does start to question just what they are doing and enters the game to stop who he thinks is an innocent victim of the game. Dodd is the senior engineer that is trying to keep Eric in line, he is a company man that will do anything to keep his head down. Cassandra is one of the players in the game, she is one person that Eric doesn’t believe should be in the game, she has been taken and forced into playing the game.

PerformancesThis being the third movie in the series tells us something about the level of performances we will be receiving Zachary Bennett is solid enough in the leading role, with Stephanie Moore being the good leading lady in the game.

StoryThe story here takes us behind the curtains of the games we have seen previously, this does return to the darker levels of the original. The idea the victims are placed into a game of life and death is back, but we look at the outside looking in from the engineers point of view. This does add something to the film because we couldn’t just do another version of the game, it shows just how many people would be involved in the game too. This helps and hinders the movie because we do end up following the players at time but this just takes away the puzzle solving side of the film.

Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe horror is good to watch, we have gore filled deaths which the franchise is known for. The mystery of solving how to get out alive is taken away because of us being taken behind the curtain. The sci-fi elements come from the technology behind the game.

SettingsThe film remains inside the enclosed cube rooms with different traps, unlike the previous sequel we return to the dark feeling setting and the officers match this too.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the practical effect kills this movie seems almost flawless, when you look at the CGI moments, you will have to raise an eyebrow at the clear use of the CGI.


Scene of the Movie –
The first kill is gory and memorable.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The game doesn’t feel as original as before.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good chapter in the Cube franchise even if it doesn’t hit the marks it could.

 

Overall: We like the franchise.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – M – The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

Director: Walter Salles

Writer: Jose Rivera (Screenplay) Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Albertto Grando (Book)

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mia Maestro, Mercedes Moran, Jean Pierre Noher

 

Plot: The dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in his youth that showed him his life’s calling.


Tagline – Before he changed the world the world changed him

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Biopic

 

Story: The Motorcycle Diaries starts as Ernesto (Bernal) and Alberto (Serna) head off on their motorcycle journey across South America, starting in his native Argentina as they look for some self-discovery. As the journey continues they head through Chile and learn about a new culture as they use their skills to get supplies to continue their journey.

Using Ernesto’s medical training to help the poor that they have medical problems in exchange for supplies and rooms as they learn their purpose in life.

 

Thoughts on The Motorcycle Diaries

 

Characters – Ernesto is a medical student in Argentina, that goes on this journey of self-discovery before taking on his final year of studies. He gets to learn about life as he prepares for this next step in his life which will help him as he becomes the iconic figure Che. Alberto is the best friend joining him on the journey, he tries to push Ernesto to breaking the rules, being dishonest to get what they need supplies. Chichina is the woman that Ernesto falls in love with back in Argentina at the start of his journey, she gives him an extra reason to return.

PerformancesGael Garcia Bernal became a star after this performance, he has gone onto being one of the stars of Pixar’s new movie Coco, this shows the skills he must show the heart and kindness his character had towards helping the poor. The rest of the cast support his performance wonderfully as we do meet plenty of different people along the way.

StoryThe story here follows the two young men that travel across South America, learning different levels of poverty being experienced by people without access to medical supplies, they learn their purpose in the world which opens the eyes to one of the most iconic revolutionaries of all time Che. It does play out like an adventure like they would never be able to experience again and for that it must be praised, because any story which teaches life lessons is a must watch.

Adventure/BiopicThe adventure our two men go on takes them from their guaranteed future in science and medical to learning the troubles the people of South America are experiencing and learning different cultures. The fact this is based on Ernesto’s own story before becoming an icon of revolution only helps explain his decisions.

SettingsThe settings show us the different countries, the breath-taking views, the open roads and different weather conditions they must go through.


Scene of the Movie –
Peru party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me One part which could add something else would be to see where they have come from, money or poverty or whichever.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful biopic of an icon before he became the icon the world would know, this gives him motivation to follow his ideas.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mulan 2 (2004)

Director: Darrell Rooney, Lynne Southerland

Writer: Michael Lucker, Chris Parker, Roger S.H Schulman (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Ming-Na Wen, BD Wong, Mark Moseley, Lucy Liu, Harvey Fierstein, Sandra Oh

 

Plot: While preparing for their wedding, Shang and Mulan are suddenly sent off on a secret mission. Mushu starts to meddle, and a surprise attack by Mongolians doesn’t help either.


Tagline – Saving China was just The Beginning

Runtime: 1 Hour 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Warrior to Wedding Disappoints

 

Story: Mulan 2 starts as Mulan and Shang are planning to wed, but before they go through with the wedding the Emperor sends them on a mission to escort his daughters to Mongolia to marry to help keep the peace between the countries. Mushu on the other hand learns that he will lose his place as a guardian of Mulan if she marries, leading him to try and sabotage their engagement.

When Mulan’s previous experiences inspire one of the princess’ to follow her own heart, everything plays into Mushu plans to break the couple up, but this could bring war back to China.

 

Thoughts on Mulan 2

 

Characters – Mulan has gone from fearless warrior to bride in waiting, she does continue to show that women in Ancient China need to learn to be independent but is a shell of the person we met in the first movie. Shang is the warrior due to marry Mulan, their latest assignment causes a rift between them as he must learn that not all missions are important to complete. Mushu is the guardian about to lose his position if Mulan gets married, he sets out to sabotage their relationship.

StoryThe story here follows Mulan and Shang as they are planning for their wedding while going on a mission, if I am honest I just don’t want to talk about this story because it took a fearless warrior in Mulan into a character that just wants to prepare for her wedding. We have lost all the adventure that was in the first one to what is just a relationship drama.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThis is branded as an action movie and has one weak action scene to come, the comedy is mostly a miss but this is more family friendly over the first film.

SettingsThe film doesn’t use the settings as well, but still has good visual temples included.

AnimationThe animation look is good and is the only redeeming good part of this film.


Scene of the Movie –
Nothing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me ruining what Mulan created.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weak Disney sequel in the darker days of Disney where they just make rubbish sequels to loved games.

 

Overall: Poor sequel.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – D – Downfall (2004)

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Writer: Bernd Eichinger (Screenplay) Joachim Fest, Traudi Junge, Melissa Muller (Book)

Starring: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Kohler, Heino Ferch

 

Plot: Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator’s final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII.


Tagline – April 1945, a nation awaits its…

Runtime: 2 Hours 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful & Revealing

 

Story: Downfall starts as we see Traudi Junge (Lara) hired by Adolf Hitler (Ganz) to be his next secretary, she would stay in this role for 2 and half years, as we pick up the story as the Nazi’s soldiers are facing the battle to keep Berlin, one of their last strong holds in Europe.

In the final days we see how Hitler is losing the loyalty of the ones he trusted most and is finding himself facing certain defeat, but he isn’t going down without fighting.

 

Thoughts on Downfall

 

Characters – The characters in this movie are based on real people, any discussion is only about how they are depicted in this movie, my opinions are not being discussed here. Adolf Hitler is the leader of the Nazi’s they have been at war with Europe for years, not the battle looks like it will be ending, he has lost faith in the people he trusted to lead for him and no he is cleaning up the people that betrayed him, preparing for defeat, but never giving up full hope in recovering. This version of Hitler is like any dictator that is about to lose, he has given everything for his own belief and demands loyalty through even the worst times. Traudi Junge is the final secretary for Hitler, she is one of the only non-military people to know what Hitler was thinking, how he was acting in those final days. We do meet plenty of the people closest to Hitler, family and military in the final days the ones that stood with him and the ones that betrayed him.

PerformancesBruno Ganz is fantastic in this leading role, he gives us multiply memorable moments even though he is playing such a hated man in history. Alexandra Maria Lara is great in her role while the cast in the whole does nothing wrong all giving us great performances through the film.

StoryThe story here shows the final days of Hilter’s reign of terror over Europe, now this isn’t going to be something that everyone will want to see, because we know how diabolical the actions of the Nazis were. Withdrawing myself from any personal connection to this story, we are left with a very interesting take on how a fallen dictator will be taking everything before the battle is finally over, how the people closest to him would act, be it fear of him, fear of the consequences or even the reality they could now be free from his power. The chaos is clear to see, the betrayal he feels is shocking to see for someone that is meant to be so feared by his own side and the relief for the innocent is clear to see. This story isn’t going to be easy to watch, but the story is essential for any war historian.

Biopic/HistorySeeing the final days of Hitler before facing his impending defeat is interesting to see unfold the biopic and historical side of the film shows this in an accuracy unheard of before.

SettingsThe film does take us to what feels like a realistic setting for the whole film, the middle of battle at times and in the last strong hold Hitler held.


Scene of the Movie –
Protecting the family.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is very long over 2 and half hours.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most essential historical viewings of any movie, it shows the defeated dictator facing his reality while the high ranking generals etc doing whatever it takes to serve or betray him to survive.

 

Overall: Must watch historical drama

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Spiderman 2 (2004)

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Michael Chabon, Alvin Sargent (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (Comic Book)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons

 

Plot: Peter Parker is beset with troubles in his failing personal life as he battles a brilliant scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun

 

Story: Spider-Man 2 starts with the beautiful opening credits that recap what happened in the first film, before we follow Peter Parker (Maguire) in his new roles as a pizza delivery boy. Peter is still struggling to be on time for the important moments of his life including college, times for being there for Mary Jane (Dunst) and Harry (Franco) who is still holding the grudge against Spiderman.

Harry now running Oscorp where he has Dr Otto Octavius (Molina) working on fusion energy technology but when an accident happens Otto becomes Doc Ock, who has 4 extra arms that control him as they take over the city.

 

Thoughts on Spider-Man 2

 

Characters – Peter Parker still finds himself running late to his important matters but he still finds time to fight crime even though Spiderman has become hated by his best friend. He must deal with his life crashing down around him now, his best friend hates his loyalty to Spiderman, Mary Jane has moved on and his powers are draining. He must overcome the difficult moments in life to defeat his latest enemy. Mary Jane has moved on from Peter and Harry but deep down she does still love Peter. Dr Otto Octavius does believe he can help change the world for the better but when he loses his love and becomes controlled by Doc Ock he wreaks havoc on the city.

PerformanceTobey Maguire once again brings us a performance worthy of leading any movie showing us in the early 2000’s he was one of the best in the industry. Kirsten Dunst is good enough but once again falls into the damsel in distress role taking away the talent we know she has. Alfred Molina is great as the villain here, he is filled with the emotionless actions but also feeling like he is smarter than everyone else in the film. James Franco is good but we are continuing to build his character up.

StoryThe story has two main parts, the first is looking at Peter Parker trying to balance his normal life or education, love and friendship with being Spiderman, giving himself the decision on whether to give up the Spiderman side of his life to be a better man or not. We also have a villain on the loose that wants to continue his experiments which could destroy the whole city. The conflict is strong through the story as having a superhero question his part in the battle which gives s edge of your seat viewing.

Action/AdventureThee action is toned down in places when you look at the number of sequences but the reality is they are much bigger sequences throughout the film that have increased peril for Spiderman to fight.

SettingsWe stay in New York which was always key to making this film the enjoyable experience we know it was going to be.

Special EffectsSeemingly remaining with practical effects with editing around them, this film does seem to feel like we are in a real-world city with real superheroes battling.

Scene of the Movie – Train sequence

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel we need to start making Mary Jane stronger.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great continuation of the Spiderman evolution that was needed to keep things feeling fresh in the genre.

 

Overall: Enjoyable continuing Spiderman films

Rating