Franchise Weekend – The Legend of Zorro (2005)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman (Screenplay) Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio (Story)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell, Nick Chinlund, Adrian Alonso

 

Plot: Despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum, a threat to California’s pending statehood causes the adventure-loving Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) — and his wife, Elena (Zeta-Jones) — to take action.


Tagline – This Fall, adventure begins with a Z.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Become a Parody of Itself

 

Story: The Legend of Zorro starts as Don Alejandro (Banderas) is still riding under the mask of Zorro, his wife Elena (Zeta-Jones) wants him to retire the mask and be the father to their son Joaquin (Alonso), with his desire to continue to help California prepare for the statehood, has put a strain on their relationship.

When the two go through a divorce, Elena starts dating Armand (Sewell) from Spain looking to make a vineyard only he has other plans which only Zorro could stop.

 

Thoughts on The Legend of Zorro

 

Characters – Alejandro is Zorro, he has been working on trying to retire, but America needs him, he is left with a hard choice on whether to protect the land or be there for his father. He choices wrong and ends up falling back in the same circle he once did, before needing to put the mask on again to save California. Elena is the wife of Alejandro that wants him to give up the life, when he doesn’t, she divorces him to go under cover with an old family friend that has moved to the area, who has his own ideas. For some reason this character goes in a different direction from the stronger figure we met in the first film. Armand has moved to California to open a vineyard, he has stolen Elena from Alejandro and now he has bigger plans for America, which brings Zorro out of his retirement.

PerformancesAntonio Banderas has all the right parts to make this character legendary, he just struggles to make the impact we know he can this time, this follows Catherine Zeta-Jones who disappoints too as we know she could lead the film with ease. Rufus Sewell does a solid enough job in the villainous role, though he never makes his character feel like a threat.

StoryThe story takes place 10 years after the first movie, this does work for the film because it takes us to a time where the couple have a child and must decide what to do (following in the Mummy’s footsteps here) with their future adventures. The decision-making process shows us just how important the figure of Zorro has become to the people and just how difficult walking away from it would be for the city. The problem comes with the tone of the story which seems to just spend more time watching the couple bicker it just takes everything out of the life of the story.

Action/Adventure/RomanceThe action continues to bring us the sword swing fights we are used to seeing from the Zorro character, with a stronger final chase, this doesn’t seem to offer much new to the western action genre, with the adventure that we go on, never seeming like it will go anywhere new for the characters. the romance is the most annoying part of the film because it just focuses on the bickering between the characters.

SettingsThe film is set in the early stages of California which never looks out of place for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Train chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The bickering.

Final ThoughtsThis is not on the same level as the previous film, it feels like it wants to be taken seriously, only for it to become somewhat of a parody of itself.

 

Overall: Disappointing sequel.

Rating

 

 

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Junebug (2005)

Director: Phil Morrison

Writer: Angus MacLachlan (Screenplay)

Starring: Amy Adams, Embeth Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola, Frank Hoyt Taylor, Scott Wilson, Celia Weston, Ben McKenzie

 

Plot: A dealer in “outsider” art travels from Chicago to North Carolina to meet her new in-laws, challenging the equilibrium of this middle class Southern home.


Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming

 

Story: Junebug starts as art dealer Madeleine (Davidtz) gets a promising piece of business near her husband’s George (Nivola) family, which give her a chance to finally meet them. George parents Eugene (Wilson) and Peg (Weston) have been waiting this for years and his brother Johnny (McKenzie) whose wife Ashely (Adams) is about to give birth open their doors to the loving couple.

With the time with the family Madeleine becomes friends with the overly talkative pregnant Ashley, while trying to strike up a deal with the artist before losing him to another gallery.

 

Thoughts on Junebug

 

Characters – Madeleine is an art dealer that gets to meet her husband’s family for the first time, where she must learn about the family while trying to find time for the deal she is about to make, making friends and being friendly is her role. George is Madeleine’s husband and he gets to return to his family home for the first time in years, where he must rebuild his relationship with his brother. Ashley is the pregnant wife of Johnny, she talks way too much for her own good, but it is in an innocent way as she wants to learn about Madeleine’s life.

PerformancesEmbeth Davidtz is god in the leading role, which can be said for the most part. Amy Adams completely steals this movie with her loveable character.

StoryThe story here is simple, it is a meeting the family of a loved one for the first time, having to deal with the pressure to not say anything inappropriate and get out the time being loved. It isn’t overly original, but it falls into the idea of if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. We get the idea of our main couple sometimes being considered looking down on others and needing to learn how to come together for a celebration.

ComedyThe comedy in the film is a nice balance between the drama, making us smile rather than laugh out loud.

SettingsThe small town settings helps show how Madeleine could be a fish out of water, with the idea that the family hasn’t gotten too far from the family home while she and George live an open world lifestyle.


Scene of the Movie –
The baby is coming.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We did need more focus on George.

Final ThoughtsThis is a charming comedy drama that gives us one of the best performances from Amy Adams.

 

Overall: Charming and Entertaining.

Rating

 

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Elektra (2005)

Director: Rob Bowman

Writer: Zak Penn, Stuart Zicherman, M.Raven Metzner (Screenplay) Frank Miller (Comic Book)

Starring: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kristen Zien, Will Yun Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Terrence Stamp

 

Plot: Elektra the warrior survives a near-death experience, becomes an assassin-for-hire, and tries to protect her two latest targets, a single father and his young daughter, from a group of supernatural assassins.


Tagline – She’s the last thing that stands between good and evil.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Generic and Average

 

Story: Elektra starts as Elektra (Garner) has survived the events of the Daredevil movie and is now an assassin to hire, her reputation strikes fear into the enemies that learn she is coming. Elektra’s latest job involves killing Mark (Visnjic) and his daughter Abby (Zien) only for her to have a change of heart.

Elektra must now protect them from a group of assassins led by Kirigi (Lee) who is trying to collect a treasure that can see the secret organisation known as the Hand finally gain power.

 

Thoughts on Elektra

 

Characters – Elektra is an assassin for hire, she is known around the world as the one that can get any job done. Her latest job tests her because she doesn’t want to kill a child, this brings her employers after her and she finds herself into the middle of battle between two different factions, to add something else to the mix, she sudden has OCD too. Mark Miller is the father of Abby who is doing everything he can to keep her and her secret safe. Abby is a teenager that people want dead, she has a secret which could bring her to be a threat to anyone, but must remain safe. Kirigi leads the assassins that are after Abby, working for The Hand, he is supernatural in ability along with his assassins.

PerformancesJennifer Garner is one of the few highlights in this film, she has been doing this style of role for a while and steps in effortlessly even if she is not meant to have enjoyed making the film. Goran Visnjic and Kirsten Zien both struggle to make any sort of impact in this film, while Will Yun Lee does the best he can with his role.

StoryThe story here follows Elektra in one of her own adventures as an assassin for hire, only this time she goes against the deal, so this is the typical assassin with a heart fighting back against her employers, only we end up dealing in supernatural assassins, which takes away anything we would have seen from the human enemy side of Daredevil. This is a by the book movie you know can right the checklist out of how things are going to unfold without being challenged, while this isn’t going to make you surprised by any sort of twists in the ideas.

Action/AdventureThe action is down to the fights which are played out well with a martial arts base to them, the supernatural elements do add small parts to the fights though.

SettingsThe film does take us to a couple of settings which are more open instead of being in a big city, this is fine, as it plays into Elektra’s back story.

Special EffectsThe effects used are basic and do make for believable elements when it comes to how the villains are killed and use their own abilities.


Scene of the Movie –
Snakes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The random OCD element added for no reason.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple to watch assassin going against their employer’s movie, it keeps most things safe, with entertaining action when turned too.

 

Overall: Simple to watch.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – H – Hustle & Flow (2005)

Director: Craig Brewer

Writer: Craig Brewer (Screenplay)

Starring: Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji P Henson, DJ Qualls, Ludacris, Paula Jai Parker

 

Plot: With help from his friends, a Memphis pimp in a mid-life crisis attempts to become a successful hip-hop emcee.


Tagline – The music will inspire them. The dream will unite them. This summer get crunk.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Insight to the Hip-Hop World

 

Story: Hustle & Flow starts as we see the everyday pimping life of Djay (Howard) forcing his prostitutes to do there thing with Nola (Manning) being he most requested girl, he has girls in the strip club too which Lexus (Parker) being the one he is closest too, he also has a pregnant one in his home with Shug (Henson) waiting to give birth.

When Djay meets an old friend Key (Anderson) he starts to have a craving to try and become a hip-hop star as the two work together to make song where he learns that Shug is the real talent in his household.

 

Thoughts on Hustle & Flow

 

Characters – Djay is a pimp going through a mid-life crisis, he is tired of struggling to make his girls collect his money and wants to try and new career as a hip-hop star, he must first shake his old ways though and accept criticisms for his vision. Key is a music producer for a local church, he comes from a very different background to Djay and is willing to give this music venture a chance. Nola is one of the prostitutes that is still working the streets she is his go to girl at the moment with the others out of the picture at the moment, she does get frustrated about being the only one on the streets though. Shug is the pregnant girl working for Djay, she shows herself to have real talent when it comes to singing which only brings the music alive for Djay.

PerformancesTerrence Howard in the leading role is great because we see his character’s full evolution through the story trying to find himself in the world. Anthony Anderson continues to show everyone he can be an great supporting performer while Taryn Manning and Taraji P Henson both show us they were going to go onto bigger projects.

StoryThe story shows us how a mid-life crisis can drive somebody to go down unusual paths with his Djay wanting to become a hip-hop star getting out of the pimping business. The story does break up into a couple of acts with the pimping business playing out like you would imagine, while the middle part of the film focuses for a long time on the making of the song which does go on longer than it needs too. With the third acting showing us just how difficult the industry is to get into. The idea that we can dream helps this movie out big time because it is important to see, though seeing just how far people will go for the dreams is the bleak side to things.

Crime/MusicThe crime world we see is just how the pimping world operates and how close to the line certain hip-hop stars can go to the law, this blends nicely with the music side of the film.

SettingsThe film is set in Memphis which shows us the difficult neighbourhood that Djay is operating in, it shows he tensions can fly and how the special want to get out of the place.


Scene of the Movie –
The club drinks.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too long spent recording the song.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story about dreams and just how far people will go to try and make dreams come true, whether you will go too far too.

 

Overall: Dreams Big or fail.

Rating

 

 

Joyeux Noel (2005)

Director: Christian Carion

Writer: Christian Carion (Screenplay)

Starring: Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canete, Daniel Bruhl, Gary Lewis, Dany Boon

 

Plot: In December 1914, an unofficial Christmas truce on the Western Front allows soldiers from opposing sides of the First World War to gain insight into each other’s way of life.


Tagline – France 1914. A moment of humanity that made history.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Stunning Christmas Story

 

Story: Joyeux Noel starts after World War I has broken out, each country believes it would be over by Christmas and we meet soldiers on three sides of the war. The German, Lieutenant Horstmayer (Bruhl) who has famous opera Nikolaus Sprink (Furmann) in his unit. We have the French side with Lieutenant Audebert (Canet) and the Scottish side with Pasteur Palmer (Lewis).

With Christmas Eve upon us Nikolaus gets a visit from his girlfriend Anna Sorensen (Kruger) bring her back to the trenches to performer which brings a response from the enemies, the three side agree and truce to celebrate Christmas which showed us the humanity behind the horrors of war, one of the most incredible stories you will hear about.

 

Thoughts on Joyeux Noel

 

Characters – Anna Sorensen is located in Germany and is one of the best opera singers in the country, her partner is in the trenches a fellow opera singer, she arranges to see him which leads her to the trenches with her performance helping bring the sides together for Christmas. She wants to spend the rest of the war with her partner and will take a drastic step to make it happen. Nikolaus Sprink is the famous opera singer on in trenches, his fame upset his lieutenant who doesn’t want celebrity figures in his unit, though his performance brings the sides together for a moment of truce. Lieutenant Audebert is the French leader that is missing his wife and will take part in the truce bonding with the fellow lieutenants. Lieutenant Horstmayer is the Germany one that reluctantly lets his men meet the enemy, he does want peace too which shows in how he is still strict with his men. Lieutenant Gordon is the Scottish one who is happy to see his team take peace for a day or two. Each of the lieutenants must face the consequences of what happened because putting the human factor ahead of the war isn’t accepted by the superiors.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are fantastic from start to finish, it also brings names we know from big Hollywood films to our attention with Diane Kruger and Daniel Bruhl, none of the actors put in a bad performance which makes us believe these could have been the real men involved in the war.

StoryThe story follows the famous story that during World War I both sides put down their guns to celebrate Christmas together. We see the German, French and Scottish who learn that they aren’t as different from the opposite sides, they are just men forced into battle. This shows us how the men who were put on the front line without being truly prepared for war and are dealing with the loss of friends during the war, this shows us just how things can be different and will change you mind on everything you thought about any enemy in war.

History/Romance/WarThe history about this story will be remembered forever because it showed how people were different during war where the innocent men were being killed.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the trenches during the First World War, it shows how close the different sides were when it came to the war which bought them together for this incredible moment.


Scene of the Movie –
The Christmas Eve meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The aftermath.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the most important Christmas films you will ever see, it has such an important message and a heart-breaking truth behind it.

 

Overall: Must watching Christmas Movie.

Rating