Ben Stiller Weekend – Dodgeball (2004)

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Ben Stiller, Rip Torn, Justin Long, Stephen Root, Joel David Moore, Alan Tudyk, Gary Cole

 

Plot: A group of misfits enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament in order to save their cherished local gym from the onslaught of a corporate health fitness chain.


Tagline – Grab Life by the Balls 

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: One of the Best Sports Comedies

 

Story: Dodgeball starts as we meet the two gym owners, White Goodman (Stiller) who is obsessed with perfection with bodies only accepting beautiful model like members, on the other side of the street we have Peter La Fleur (Vaughn) owner of Average’s Joe a gym that is open to all, with the regulars and staff including Justin (Long), Gordon (Root), Owen (Moore), Dwight (Williams) and Steve the Pirate (Tudyk).

When Average Joe’s is facing a financial crisis with lawyer Kate Veatch (Taylor) preparing to close them in 30 days with White Goodman wanting to buy it and demolish it. The only plan is to train and enter a dodgeball competition where the prize is the money they require, only problem is, White has made his own team of super-athletes to stop Average Joe’s winning.  

 

Thoughts on Dodgeball

 

Characters – Peter La Fleur is a gym owner, he is laidback and willing to let anybody join at their own pace, this mentality has left him facing financial crisis and he reluctantly accepts entering a dodgeball tournament, he can bring the team together as he gives the whole team hope. White Goodman is the owner of Globo Gym he only accepts beautiful people in his gym even offering cosmetic surgery for his members. He is completely over the top believing he is God’s gift to women with his success coming from his family’s money, he will do anything to eliminate Average Joe’s. Kate Veatch is the lawyer that is assigned to study the finances of Average Joe’s, she becomes the love interest for both men even though she has no interest in White, she joins the team to help eliminate Globo Gym. Patches O’Houlihan is the dodgeball expert, he trains the Average Joe’s to help become competitive in the competition. The rest of the cast include the Average Joe’s members Justin, Gordon, Owen, Dwight and Steve the Pirate that each have their own stories behind their characters to help motivate them to compete.

PerformancesVince Vaughn is one of those actors whose comedy can go either way, it is a laidback style which work perfectly for his character here, because he brings us a real person compared to Ben Stiller. Stiller on the other hand nails his completely over the top character that you are meant to be laughing at with everything he does and says. Christine Taylor is good in her role which like the rest of the cast shine, we get a mix of different comedies from the supporting cast which blend together to show the different styles of real life people.

StoryThe story here follows to rival gyms going to compete for a dodgeball tournament to help keep the little gym with no money a chance to stay afloat before the global franchise closes them down. The story does botte down to a simple underdog story which is fine we can all enjoy a story about an underdog, we do get moments in the film from the Average Joe’s characters that help them learn to become more than they are which is the whole point of a gym, to improve yourself in your own way and everything Globo Gym shouldn’t be. If you want a simple fun sports comedy to watch, this is going to be the one for you without a question.

ComedyThe comedy in this film comes from many different levels, we get moments of slapstick with the dodgeball scenes, we get over the top characters in White Goodman and his team and finally each member of Joe’s team has their own quirky to make them funny.

SettingsThe look at the different gyms helps the settings because it shows how people can be intimidated by certain gyms over others, when we head to Vegas for the tournament the competition feels are authentic as you would imagine.


Scene of the Movie –
Most of the dodgeball scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lance Armstrong scene is awkward now.

Final ThoughtsFor a sports comedy this has laughs, heart and quality performances from the whole cast, this is one that will stick with you for years to come and I hope to see everyone else enjoy it.

 

Overall: Sports comedy done to near perfection.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – T – Taking Lives (2004)

Director: D.J. Caruso

Writer: Jon Bokenkamp (Screenplay) Michael Pye (Novel)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Gena Rowlands, Oliver Martinez, Tcheky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Andlande, Paul Dano

 

Plot: An FBI profiler is called in by French Canadian police to catch a serial killer who takes on the identity of each new victim.


Tagline – He Would Kill To Be You.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Good as it Should Be

 

Story: Taking Lives starts as we see a young man kill another young man to steal his identity, years later a body is discovered in Canada which leads to the local French-Canadian police to call in FBI profiler Illeana (Jolie) to help with the new mystery body. Things take a turn when a man Costa (Hawke) believes he interrupted the next attempted murder before the killer is finished dealing with the body.

When the police learn this killer has been killing and stealing identities the case takes a turn and now they must figure out who the latest victim is and who he has become.

 

Thoughts on Taking Lives

 

Characters – Illeane Scott is an FBI Profiler bought in to help with the case of a killer that is stealing identities of the people he is murdering, she gets the profile correct and wants to had home after starting to become interested in one of the key witnesses. Costa is a key witness who interrupts one of the murders before the killer can complete his plan, he gives the information to track the killer. Hart is a man that soon enters Costa’s life after the incident making him the prime suspect as the killer.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie is solid enough in this leading role which disappoints because we know she can be a fantastic cop figure. Ethan Hawke struggles with his role too which is only really filled with disappointment as he never convinces in his witness role. Kiefer Sutherland disappoints because we know how good he can be and want to see him more often in a film.

StoryThe story is a FBI agent needing to help track down a serial killer who steals identity, yeah these are usually entertaining to watch but this just doesn’t reach the levels of mystery it needs, this might be because this is a repeat viewing and I know the ending, but there are never really any hints or suspects to work with through the film. the film lacks the true tension needed in a film that is filled with twisted crimes going on.

Crime/MysteryThe crime is interesting for a killer to be acting the way they do, the weakest part is the mystery as we just don’t meet enough potential suspects.

SettingsThe film is sent in a big city which plays into the idea that someone could steal and identity and kill someone without people noticing someone going missing.

Special EffectsThe effects are good because we get to see practical effects when it comes to the kills and aftermath from them.


Scene of the Movie –
The lift opening.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough suspects.

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime thriller that lacks the punch to make it stand out from the crowded market, we always need a large group of suspects, but this didn’t give us enough, while it did create a great killer.

 

Overall: Lacklustre crime thriller

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – D – District 13 (2004)

Director: Pierre Morel

Writer: Luc Besson, Bibi Naceri (Screenplay)

Starring: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D’Amario, Bibi Naceri, Dany Verissimo-Petit, Francois Chattot

 

Plot: Set in the ghettos of Paris in 2010, an undercover cop and ex-thug try to infiltrate a gang in order to defuse a neutron bomb.


Tagline – Welcome to District B13 Welcome to the future

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Quality Action

 

Story: District 13 starts in the near future well 2010 (it was the future when the film was made) Paris has blocked of ghettos which has only created more crime within the walls. Leito (Belle) is trying to fight a drug war himself against Taha Bemamud (Naceri) with his henchmen K2 (D’Amario) doing the leg work.

In an attempt to get back at Leito by taking his sister Lola (Verissimo-Petit) it only escalates the battle between the two. Trying to go to the cops, Leito is left locked up and Lola taken back, hooked up on the drugs by Taha who has taken over complete control of the district. Captain Damien Tomaso (Raffaelli) joins Leito to eliminate the threat after a neutron bomb is place in the middle of the district.

 

Thoughts on District 13

 

Characters – Captain Damien Tomaso is one of the best officers on thee force, he can go undercover to take down most criminals with his latest operation going perfectly, now he must work with Leito to return a stolen weapon which is due to explode within the day. Leito is a local resident of the district who has been trying to clean up the district, this ends him up in jail and being given a chance save his sister and end the war and get his freedom. The pair both uses their fighting and parkour skills to stay ahead of the game. K2 is the lead henchmen for Taha, he will confront any enemy before the fight even if he ends up looking like an idiot more often than not. Taha is the drug lord controlling the criminal activities in the district, he has an army that will not stop when it comes to following his instructions.

PerformancesCyril Raffaelli and David Belle are fantastic in the leading roles with their own style of parkour action which brings a new style of action to the already well know genre, we don’t have ropes or nets for most of the stunt work either. When we get to the supporting cast the villains are entertaining enough and give the heroes a chance to do what they do best.

StoryThe story is simple and does borrow from the likes of ‘Escape from New York’ by having the districts used to control criminals, while not everyone is a criminal, we see a cop and a rebel needing to take down the leader and stop a weapon being used on the richer side of the country. The film does focus on the action more than anything, which can take away any deepness in the story, though the simplistic idea keeps the action flowing for the audience.

Action/Crime/Sci-FiThe action is a mix of parkour and fighting which felt original at the time, certain stunt moments are fantastic to watch which feels like a breath of fresh air. The criminal world we are entering show us just how it can grow when the government give up on them and the sci-fi world shows us just how the future could become bleak when shutting people away.

SettingsThe film shows us the district have been built up to keep people in only to turn them against each other and the outside world, it creates great moments of parkour for the action to take place in.


Scene of the Movie –
The parkour escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not the deepest story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful action film that bought the audience parkour for the first time, something which has been used more famously in bigger movies since, while it doesn’t have the deepest story, it makes up for this with the action.

 

Overall: Action fans treat.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – K – Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Director: Stephen Chow

Writer: Stephen Chow, Kan-Cheung Tsang, Xin Huo, Man Keung Chan (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Chow, Xiaogang Feng, Wah Yuen, Zhihua Dong, Kwok-Kwan Chan

 

Plot: In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious “Axe Gang” while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf.


Tagline – A new comedy unlike anything you have seen before

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny Enjoyable Comedy

 

Story: Kung Fu Hustle starts when hustler Sing (Chow) and his sidekick Bone (Lam) arrive in the slums in Shanghai, Sing wanting to become part of the notorious Axe Gang ends up calling them there to help him, only to discover the slums are filled with masters of kung fu.

To be welcomed into the gang Sing must prove he can kill someone which brings him back to Pig Sty Ally to get the deed done. Sing will now need to learn which side of the law he need to be on.

 

Thoughts on Kung Fu Hustle

 

Characters – Sing is a hustler that wants to be a gangster, this leads him to getting into the situations he finds himself in as he is drawn between the two different sides of the law. Bone is Sing’s sidekick, he doesn’t get things done playing the simple card too often. Brother Sum is the leader of the Axe gang, he must find a way to kill the kung fu masters.

PerformancesThe performances are good from the whole cast, Stephen Chow gets the most laughs, while letting the rest of the cast do most of the kung fu performances until the end sequence.

StoryThe story plays into the idea of gangster movies can be wildly over the top as one man needs to find his own place in the world with gangsters, kung fu masters and honest people. This works if you like gangsters movies because everything unfolds like you would expect and being wildly over the top.

Action/Crime/ComedyThe action is kung fu, but madly over the top which does play into the comedy which is good fun to watch, this plays into the crime side of gangs trying to take over.

SettingsThe settings shows the different worlds the gang and the masters live which is where the battle takes place.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to add to the comedy in this movie as we get slapstick and even cartoonish effects through the movie.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Holding Stephen Chow back too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is one hell of a great fun comedy movie that checks off everything it needs to as it makes you laugh from nearly the opening sequence to the credits.

 

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw (2004)

Director: James Wan

Writer: Leigh Whannell (Screenplay) Leigh Whannell, James Wan (Story)

Starring: Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Michael Emerson, Monica Potter

 

Plot: Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there or why, and soon discover they are pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.


Tagline – How do you solve a puzzle with pieces missing?

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Horror

 

Story: Saw starts as Adam (Whannell) and Dr Lawrence Gordon (Elwes) awaken in a bathroom, with their ankles chained and a dead body between them. They both have a tape from notorious murderer Jigsaw that wants to play a game with them.

Dr Gordon fills in who Jigsaw is to Adam and us, as we learn the Detectives David Tapp (Glover) and Steven Sing (Leung) who have been hunting Jigsaw and even suspect Dr Gordon at one stage. It becomes an obsession for Tapp who believe Dr Gordon is Jigsaw leaving him to watch his home, but as Adam and Lawrence get to know each other the twists on the true identity of Jigsaw come to light.

 

Thoughts on Saw

 

Characters – Dr Gordon is one of the latest victims of Jigsaw, a respected doctor why would he be selected is a mystery but his personal life isn’t as clean as his medical career. Dr Gordon plays the vital role of filling in the blanks to who Jigsaw could be as he has been considered a suspect. Adam is the other victim in the room, he seems clueless to everything going on but we learn his reason for being selected and his connection to Dr Gordon. Detective David Tapp has been hunting Jigsaw, it nearly cost him his life and has now become an obsession for him. Detective Sing is the partner of Tapp that has been working on the case with him.

PerformancesCary Elwes and Leigh Whannell are both great in the leading roles of the film both show the desperate position they find themselves one being calm the other panicked with their responses. Danny Glover wasn’t too old for this shit, in fact he is good throughout in the supporting role of the film.

StoryThe story is a mystery of why the two are being locked in bathroom, the film opens the door to the bigger picture to who and why Jigsaw does what he does, the selecting the victim process and the concept of keeping us guessing to just who Jigsaw is. We have a nice number of twists that keep us guessing from early on in the film which only gives us more when we look back on second viewing. This is a brilliant start to what became a Halloween tradition in cinema.

Horror/Mystery The horror is what has happened to previous victims of the Jigsaw murders, we also have the idea of what could happen to our leads in the bathroom. The mystery comes from the idea of just who is behind the crimes as we watch the investigation unfold before us.

SettingsThe settings for the film are used perfectly, we have the games which are mine fields for the victims with the bathroom being the biggest of all of them, which is what makes this the icon film we know.

Special EffectsThe effects are practical which is good to see, we are left in shock with moments even if some of the film is based more of what has happened over forcing us to watch.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act

That Moment That Annoyed Me Part of Tapp’s storyline seems tagged on.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most iconic horrors of modern time, it has everything and most importantly took the horror genre to a much needed new direction.

 

Overall: Must watch horror film.

Rating