ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – Z – Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: David Koepp, John Kamps (Screenplay) Chris Van Allsburg (Book)

Starring: Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz

 

Plot: Two young brothers are drawn into an intergalactic adventure when their house is hurled through the depths of space by the magical board game they are playing.


Tagline – A new adventure from the world of Jumanji

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Adventure

 

Story: Zathura: A Space Adventure starts as two brothers Danny (Bobo) and Walter (Hutcherson) are trying to get the attention of their father (Robbins), with his work getting in the way they must learn to occupy themselves, which leads to them finding a board game Zathura which leads to them ending up in outer space.

The two brothers must learn to put their differences behind them to survive the game which is filled with multiply different space based threats.

 

Thoughts on Zathura: A Space Adventure

 

Characters – Danny is the youngest of the three children, he wants to be accepted by his brother even though he isn’t as good at sports and has a habit to cheat when playing games. Walter is the middle child, he wants to spend time with his father and get angry when Danny is allowed time too, he hates having Danny around never wanting to spend time with him. The Astronaut is a stranger from the game that assists the brothers through the game.

PerformancesThe performances are next up and we must first consider that we have two child actors, they are good in their arguments and it is strange to see that only one made it to the adult level in Josh Hutcherson. Dax Shepard is good and never gets to the annoying we know from him now, while Stewart and Robbins are good for the supporting roles.

StoryThe story does follow many of the same ideas as Jumanji, we have two brothers this time being forced into playing the game, needing to put aside their difference to finish the game to return to normality. We have the similar peril only in space which brings a freshness into the concept, there is a weird side story going on which brings a twist which is disturbing more than clever. If you want something just fun, this will hit the marks.

Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe adventure takes our two brothers to a place they could never imagine which plays into the fantasy elements of the film, the sci-fi side of things takes the whole story into space.

SettingsThe film is set inside the house, which is works because what would happen if your house was in space suddenly.

Special EffectsThe effects are surprisingly brilliant, I say this because Jumanji had weak effects, even though this is set in space it never looks out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
The game first moments.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The twist seems weird.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun family film that can be enjoyed by everyone, it feels like it has full adventure that can be enjoyed by all.

 

Overall: One for the adventure fans out there.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – W – War of the Worlds (2005)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Josh Friedman, David Koepp (Screenplay) H.G. Wells (Novel)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Rick Gonzalez, Yul Vazquez

 

Plot: As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival.


Tagline – They’re already here

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sci-Fi Spectacular

 

Story: War of the Worlds starts when the deadbeat dad figure Ray (Cruise) is left to look after his children Rachel (Fanning) and Robbie (Chatwin) for a weekend, while he ex-wife Mary Ann (Otto) goes away with her new partner. We see early on the problems and strain in the relationship, but when an unknow storm hit New York a robotic creature comes out of the ground, killing everyone.

Ray grabs his kids and gets the hell out of the city racing across the country in hope of getting to Mary Ann where the kids want to be, the problem is the America is going into chaos and it becomes survival of the fittest against these unkillable robots.

 

Thoughts on War of the Worlds

 

Characters – Ray is the deadbeat dad that has always be a let down to his kids, he doesn’t live in the nicest house, but the neighbours all love him. He is distant from his children after the divorce and after the attack happens this everyday man must do everything he can to keep his children safe. Rachel is his youngest child, she is insecure about being away from her mother, needing to put trust in her father, reacting panicked during the attacks like a young girl would, but strangely offering mature advice with dealing with the older brother. Mary Ann is the ex-wife and mother that is the target for the journey across America. Robbie is the eldest son that does hate his father, as he sees the good in his father he wants to join the fight back against the invaders. Harlan Ogilvy is a stranger that offers help only to be the one that could put Ray’s family in the most danger.

PerformancesTom Cruise is wonderful in this leading role, he proves he can be the everyman in this role, he shows the vulnerable moments needed as his character only has one goal, save his family. Dakota Fanning continued to show she was a force in the future of Hollywood with her performance where she shines. Tim Robbins gives us a truly creepy character while the rest of the cast is great too.

StoryThe story is a modern version of one of the greatest radio recordings of all time, we bottle the story down nicely to focus on one father that is doing everything he can to keep his children safe during an alien invasion. Sure, the ending is weak, but this is much like Jurassic Park, it isn’t about the aliens, its about the people surviving the situation. The story is simple to follow to as we see the family getting caught up in different moments of the attack each one showing the panic that would surround it.

Adventure/Sci-FiThe adventure is filled with peril and shock as the family races for survival, this survival will show the horrors of what will happen if they don’t become safe. The sci-fi side of the film showed us just how the aliens came to invade, came rom beneath us and prepared against our own weapons.

SettingsThe film shows us the destruction of the aliens leave in their path, we see how the big cities are destroyed and how the quiet location are just as dangerous.

Special EffectsThe effects for the film are fantastic, from the early destruction to the special look of the wide shots of the attack going on.


Scene of the Movie –
Basement scene with Harlan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end of the story is always weak.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the great modern sci-fi films, it modernises one of the greatest stories, we have excellent special effects and a story that is simple enough to be effective.

 

Overall: Sci-Fi fans must be watching.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – S – Stealth (2005)

Director: Rob Cohen

Writer: W.D. Richter (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard, Richard Roxburgh, Joe Morton, Ian Bliss

 

Plot: Deeply ensconced in a top-secret military program, three pilots struggle to bring an artificial intelligence program under control before it initiates the next world war.


Tagline – Fear The Sky

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Long Sci-Fi Actioner

 

Story: Stealth starts as we meet the three elite pilot squad leader Lt Ben Gannon (Lucas), risk assessment calm team member LT Kare Wade (Biel) and hotshot Lt Henry Purcell (Foxx) who under Captain George Cummings (Shepard) control have become the leading choice in aerial combat.

When the three person team get assigned a fourth member, an artificial intelligence unit things don’t go to plan, when the AI is studying plans it gets the idea to go on its own mission which could bring on World War III, now the human pilots must stop this from happening before it is too late.

 

Thoughts on Stealth

 

Characters – The three pilots do have their own personalities, Ben Gannon is the leader that struggles to follow orders, but will die for his crew, Kara Wade is the one that assess the danger the crew might find themselves getting into. Henry Purcell is the hotshot that will show off for any excuse just to do so. Captain Cummings runs the operations trying to do the right thing for his country. We don’t really learn too much more about these characters other than they are considered the elite of the elite of pilots, they should have made Kara a much stronger character than what we get with her.

PerformancesJosh Lucas trying his luck in a leading role, well this didn’t work, be is such an average and forgettable leading man, saying this I do feel if you had swapped him and Jamie Foxx around the performances would have been better because Josh is better at cocky support over leading man. Jamie Foxx can pull off all three of the male roles in this film and is the only one that seems like he is doing a good job. Jessica Biel is written to be strong, but she must show her damsel in distress for the second half of the film, which isn’t her fault though.

StoryThe story follows Americans best pilots needing to fight against an AI unit which was meant to be supporting them but has turned to their programming for answers. This is another be careful what you ask for when it comes to technology film which will soon become one story that doesn’t hold much weight and is all about the explosions, aerial duals and quick cuts.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is shot in such a bad way it is nearly impossible to keep up with, because the planes are going at such velocity it is like watching blurs on the screen at times, this is a side effect of having the ultrafast planes involved in dogfights. The adventure side of the film shows what Ben must go through to win, the sci-fi side of the film shows us how the technology in the planes could bring the next level of aerial combat, the way they would look to stay ahead of the radar and enemy weapons.

SettingsThe most part of the film takes place in the skies with an American crew above their enemy nations, Russia, North Korea which shows how deadly the combat it going to be.

Special EffectsThe effects beings used in the film are for the most part weak, this is because the action sequences have terrible camerawork and feel like we are just watching them in a greenscreen.


Scene of the Movie –
Well this is awkward, to pick anything I did enjoy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The action scenes.

Final ThoughtsThe is all action, badly shot and no substance behind everything going on, it is too long to get away with this mad action to keep us interest and turns into a bog standard AI turning on humans.

 

Overall: Bog standard.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – V – Valiant (2005)

Director: Gary Chapman

Writer: Jordan Katz, George Webster, George Melrod (Screenplay) George Webster (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, John Hurt

 

Plot: Set in 1944, Valiant is a woodland pigeon who wants to become a great hero someday. When he hears they are hiring recruits for the Royal Homing Pigeon Service, he immediately sets out for London. On the way, he meets a smelly but friendly pigeon named Bugsy, who joins him, mainly to get away from clients he cheated in a game of find-the pebble, and helps him sign up for the war.


Tagline –  Some pigeons eat crumbs, others make history.

Runtime: 1 Hour 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Film

 

Story: Valiant starts as small young pigeon Valiant wants to help out during World War II by joining the Royal Homing Pigeon Service, taking his chance a heading to London he meets hustler pigeon Bugsy as the pair con their way into the recruitment process.

Going through the recruitment process the pigeons are sent on their first mission with the danger of the falcons with the evil Von Talon waiting for any pigeons that try to cross the ocean.

 

Thoughts on Valiant

 

Characters – Valiant is a plucky young pigeon that wants to be a hero of war by becoming a carrier pigeon for the royal homing pigeon service, he has the guts even if he doesn’t have the build for it, he will risk his life to save his country. Bugsy is a cowardly con artist pigeon that uses joining the service to escape magpies, only to try to get out of it on a constant basis. Von Talon is the evil falcon that has been hunting the pigeons trying to return home, he is the typical foreign villain for this film.

StoryThe story follows an unlikely group of homing pigeons that must deliver secrets back to the soldiers in England during World War II. This gives you everything you want to enjoy in an animated story, the idea of a character overcoming his weaknesses to become the strongest part of a team, even if this does make light of the war itself, even when it is trying to tell the importance of the animals in the war.

Adventure/Comedy/FamilyThe adventure out pigeons go on is life or death and a real one pigeons would have gone on during the war, the comedy does hit well for the British audience which is nice to see with a string of British comedies offering the laughs. This will be one the whole family could enjoy too, having moments that all ages will understand.

SettingsThe settings play into the idea that the animals will be involved in the war and just how they will be seeing the biggest moments too, while also decreasing the scale of everything.

AnimationThe animation looks great in the foreground, while the backgrounds have been scaled down, which is fine, but doesn’t show the busyness around the big cities.


Scene of the Movie –
The crossing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I personally didn’t like how small London seemed to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun animation that can be enjoyed by everyone, though it does have a very British core, certain jokes might miss for a more international audience.

 

Overall: Enjoyable and fun.

Rating

 

 

Jessica Alba Weekend – Fantastic Four (2005)

fanDirector: Tim Story

Writer: Mark Frost, Michael France (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Jack Kirby (Comics)

Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Hamish Linklater, Kerry Washington

 

Plot: A group of astronauts gain superpowers after a cosmic radiation exposure and must use them to oppose the plans of their enemy, Doctor Victor Von Doom.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Superhero Film

 

Story: Fantastic Four starts as Reed Richards (Gruffudd) and Ben Grimm (Chiklis) trying to negotiate a deal with Victor Von Doom (McMahon) a business man who runs the city as the two plan their mission in space. With the mission lined up the three are joined by Sue (Alba) and Johnny Storm (Evans) but when the solar storm heads to them earlier disaster strikes the space station with the whole crew getting exposed to the solar winds.

Put in quarantine the astronauts soon start seeing side effects and almost extra abilities they have gained, Johnny is literally a human torch, Ben turns into a rock man, Reed can stretch, Sue can turn invisible and Victor is dealing with telepathic powers. While the Fantastic Four are born, Victor Doom sees his empire crumble as his evil side comes out.

With Victor becoming a danger to the Earth the Fantastic Four must embrace their powers to save the world and become the heroes the world comes to love and accept.

Fantastic Four is a superhero film straight off the back of the X-Men and Spiderman success. The origin story works well and the battle is all good enough for what we expect for the first battle they face.  The negatives are clear here and that is with the special effects that have dated badly. The settings also don’t leave too much to the imagination as they are just the standard superhero fight locations.

The cast are all picked perfectly really with each one of the characters suiting the actor’s abilities. Chris Evans stands out as the cocky Human Torch character but it is his chemistry with Michael Chiklis that gets most of the laughs in the film. Julian McMahon as the villain works because he always looks like the powerful business man.

 

Overall: For the time this was a great addition to the genre but now it feels slightly out of place.

Ratingcard