Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Writer: Sheldon Turner (Screenplay) Sheldon Turner, David J Schow (Story)

Starring: Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, R Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lee Tergesen

 

Plot: Before being sent to serve in Vietnam, two brothers and their girlfriends take one last road trip, but when they get into an accident, a terrifying experience will take them to a secluded house of horrors, with a chainsaw-wielding killer.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gore Over Substances

 

Story: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning starts as we learn more about the origin of Leatherface (Bryniarski), how he was a misunderstand young man with mental problems that loses his job at the slaughter house once it goes out of business. We learn how this becomes the turning point for his family. On the other side of the story we have Eric (Bomer) returning to the Vietnam war along with his brother Dean (Handley) who is reluctant to return. We also have their girlfriends Chrissie (Brewster) and Bailey (Baird) on a journey across America.

After an altercation with a robber, the friends find themselves targets of the Hewitt family as Uncle Charlie now pretending to be a Sheriff and Leatherface look to make sure they have enough food to survive, human flesh.

 

Thoughts on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

 

Characters/PerformanceChrissie is take her boyfriend across country to reenlist in the army. She ends up on her own most of this film as she searches for a way to save her friends, before we know she will be involved in the final chase. Dean is the younger brother of the two who doesn’t want to go to war but hasn’t told his brother until this trip. Eric is looking to return to war with his brother this time and is the one most likely to stand up against the evil.  Bailey is the other girlfriend, that is about as much of her character we get. Leatherface is still simple minded here with Uncle Hewitt being the major part of the bringing the victims to the home, we also learn his origin story as it is a twist in the last version.

Performance wise, Let’s all be honest here, the characters are written horrendously so most of the actors didn’t stand a chance of giving a good performance in this film.

StoryAn origin of Leatherface, did we need one, well we got one, so deal with it. The story is basically the same as the original just without interesting characters, any scares or tension. We have group of friends get captured must fight to survive against leatherface and his family. So here it is nothing new, nothing original.

Horror This is all about the gore, we get little to no shocks in this film and the iconic killer is reduced to subplot to a bigger picture of a family.

SettingsWe get the iconic house, sure but otherwise nothing of any note here in the settings.

Special EffectsThe gore and effects do work well for shock value but otherwise it just becomes about making them look good.

Final ThoughtsThis is one from the franchise that falls flat on its face, you get little tension through any scene and are left wondering why this got made.

 

Overall: Disappointing addition to a much loved franchise.

Rating

 

 

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Monster House (2006)

Director: Gil Kenan

Writer: Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, Pamela Pettler (Screenplay) Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talens) Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Spencer Locke, Mitchel Musso, Catherine O’Hara

 

Plot: Three teens discover that their neighbor’s house is really a living, breathing, scary monster.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great but Dark Family Film

 

Story: Monster House starts as we meet DJ a boy who lives opposite the neighbourhood crazy old man Nebbercracker who terrorizes anyone who comes into his yard. When his parents go away for the weekend, DJ and his best friend Chowder find themselves trying to retrieve a lost ball only for Nebbercracker to have a heart attack.

With Nebbercracker away from the house DJ, Chowder and local girl Jenny start seeing the house coming to life but with no adult believing them, the three start to investigate. The three find themselves inside the house learning the truth about the house and the monster that is inside it.

 

Thoughts on Monster House

 

Characters DJ and Chowder are you typical best friends that are reaching the age where they need to look to grow up, DJ is ready to take that step while Chowder isn’t, the two work well as a team. Jenny plays into the idea that a girl can come between best friends and is the brains of the trio. Nebbercracker represents the neighbourhood crazy that once you get to know has a good reason for being like they are. The adults are always looking down on the children which is fine as for the story the children need to learn to grow up. The characters here, while not special all help tell the story well.

StoryThe story that plays into children’s imaginations to a new level, we all know children can create stories of the crazy person in their town and this takes that story and runs with it. It shows that the stories could be real but also have a reason for the stories that you should learn about a person’s past. There is also a story about children reaching the age to grow up which is greatly told for the kids.

Comedy/Family/FantasyWe have plenty of laughs from how the children see the adults, the family side works because we can see the whole family can enjoy with the fantasy side of the story coming from the idea that a house can come to life.

SettingsThe film is set all within a small town with it coming off as all in one day within one street as kids can come and play. This works for the house’s reputation within the neighbourhood.

Animation The animation is very impressive having it’s own style compared to other animated films around the same time.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good family film that can be enjoyed by all, it does have moments of darkness but comes off original which is very important.

 

Overall: Good film to be enjoyed by all.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan (Screenplay)

Starring: Lucas Black, Shad Moss, Brian Tee, Sung Kang, Nathalie Kelley, Leonardo Nam, Brian Goodman, JJ Sonny Chiba

 

Plot: A teenager becomes a major competitor in the world of drift racing after moving in with his father in Tokyo to avoid a jail sentence in America.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Weak Link

 

Story: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift starts as we meet typical quiet high school student Sean Boswell (Black) who gets tricked into a street race against the jock Clay (Bryan), this leads to all involved getting arrests and injured. Punishment for Sean it movie to Tokyo, Japan to live with his father Major Boswell (Goodman). Making friends the way only Sean can he finds Twinkie (Moss) who shows him the underground street racing where they don’t just race, they drift. It also doesn’t take long for Sean to make enemies with the best drifter in town D.K. (Tee) with Han (Kang) wanting to see just how good Sean is.

Sean fails in this first race but this drives him to learn how to drift with Han showing him but D.K keeping his eyes on him as he goes to impress the Yakuza uncle of his.

 

Thoughts on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

 

Characters/PerformanceSean is randomly selected to be our new lead, he has no connection to the previous films and is a high school student always getting himself into trouble, he is from a broken home and happens to enjoy racing, he gets set to a new country and ends up having to prove to be different to his own father. DK is a hot-headed villain but is nothing but his temper gets himself into trouble and answers to his uncle. Neela is the love interest but nothing more. We get our first introduction to Han in this film but he is only the wiser supporting character.

Performance wise, Lucas Black is miss-cast because he looks so old for a teenager, it would be fair to say none of the performances are that great in this film Sung Kang is good as we get to learn about his character more but otherwise, no one famous enough is in this film.

StoryHigh schoolers street racing, well this film completely confuses me for storytelling because how do these kids especially the poor one in Sean afford street racing cars and insurance? Come on this is ridiculous. Throw into the mix the idea of the Yakuza’s I guess we get a real threat in the villain now, well I just couldn’t get into this story it doesn’t fit into the franchise and is clearly the worst.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe only positive here, the race sequences are the best so far in the franchise, using the Yakuza’s doesn’t mean you have a good crime story because the only illegal actions in this film is the street racing, you are also not left on edge like before.

SettingsTokyo is a brilliant setting because it shows the different mindset for the street racing through the packed streets.

Special EffectsThis is another moment where the special effects are all you need them to be without being special in anyway.

Final ThoughtsThe story confuses but the race sequences are all fun, I couldn’t get my mind around how these high school kids are doing all this racing.

 

Overall: The worst in the franchise from the director who gave us the best too.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – The Plague (2006)

plagueDirector: Hal Masonberg

Writer: Hal Masonberg, Teal Minton (Screenplay)

Starring: James Van Der Beek, Ivana Milicevic, Brad Hunt, Joshua Close, John P Connolly, Dee Wallace, Brittany Scobie, Arne MacPherson

 

Plot: Ten years have passed since the world’s children fell into a coma. Tonight they’re waking up and all hell is breaking loose. An unholy battle between the generations is being waged, and time is not on the side of adults.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard

 

Story: The Plague starts like any other morning when David (MacPherson) finds his son in a coma only to rush him to the hospital as we learn the world’s children under 9 have all gone into a coma like stance. Ten years later the world still has no children in it with all new-borns being born comatose.

We go onto meet Tom Russell (Van Der Beek) who has returned to this small town to rebuild his relationship with the people he walked away from with his brother David and doctor Jean Raynor (Milicevic). When all the children suddenly wake up Tom must lead the rest of the adults to safety because the children seem to be hell bent on killing their elders.  

The Plague has what I feel is a great concept for the film where the children become comatose and the human race looks like it will face extinction, but this all goes wrong when the children turn into blood thirsty monsters searching to kill any adults. I could see so much potential in this but not have a reason for what has happened doesn’t help this and then a series of terrible decision making pulls this film apart. This is such a standard zombie film that ends up offering nothing new to the genre.

 

Actor Review

 

James Van Der Beek: Tom is freshly out of jail for a manslaughter charge where he returns to his home town searching for a way to rebuild the bridges he burnt. When he returns the children just so happen to awake from their comas and Tom must lead the fellow survivors against the children who seem to be after blood. James is solid in this role but he doesn’t really pull off the bad boy image well enough.

Ivana Milicevic: Jean is the doctor who has been treating all of these patients during the coma spell, she has seen all of the side effects but stayed by their sides but now she must fight them off just to survive. Ivana is solid in this role but even as a leading character she seems to fall into a supporting role.

Brad Hunt: Sam is the brother of Jean and good friend of Tom’s whose been struggling with the effects when he needs to fight off the children. Brad struggles to make the true impact on this film really never looking like a leading man.

Support Cast: The Plague has a supporting cast which comes off very generic for the style of film which doesn’t help push the story along enough.

Director Review: Hal MasonbergHal gives us a very generic story that doesn’t push any boundaries when it comes to the zombie style of film.

 

Horror: The Plague has elements of horror but not enough to reach any of the real high points needed in the film.

Settings: The Plague tries to keep everything within the small town even though the story is going on worldwide.
Special Effects
: The Plague has very basic effects that come off looking cheap throughout the film.

Suggestion: The Plague is one to try when it is on late night on television because it doesn’t hit all the essential points but is an easy watch. (Late Night TV)

 

Best Part: Concept sounds good.

Worst Part: Just comes off like a genetic zombie film.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Tagline: And the children shall lead them .

 

Overall: Bog standard zombie film that fails to use the concept well enough.

Ratingcard

 

 

Studio Ghibli Weekend – Tales From Earthsea (2006)

talesDirector: Goro Miyazaki

Writer: Goro Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa (Screenplay) Ursula K Le Guin (Novel)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jun’ich Okada, Aoi Teshima, Bunta Sugawara, Yuko Tananka, Teruyuki Kagawa, Jun Fubuki

 

Plot: In a mythical land, a man and a young boy investigate a series of unusual occurrences.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not their Best

 

Story: Tales from Earthsea starts as we see a mysterious fever sweeping through the kingdom of Earthsea with the King being attacked by a young boy who steals his sword, Arren escapes to the wastelands with his prize. Arren saved from wolves by Sparrowhawk who set out on their own adventure.

Captured by salvers Arren finds himself being sold into slavery only for Sparrowhawk to return to rescue him and continue guiding him. As Arren’s powers grow he becomes a wanted boy in the kingdom with Cob leading the chase for both him and Sparrowhawk.

 

Thoughts on Tales from Earthsea

 

StoryWhen you look at this story I can’t help but find that this one doesn’t ever reach the levels of what you have come to know and love from Ghibli’s work. I can’t quite figure out what it is that makes this happen but I think it falls into the dull characters for what you expect in a world that feels too outside the box of what fantasy world’s we have entered before. I could not find myself drawn into this story at all.

Adventure/FantasyIn what is meant to be an adventure film we only find our heroes on one adventure that just doesn’t feel as peril filled as it should be. The fantasy side of the story enters us into a world of wizards and witches but again like most of this film feels slightly short by the end.

Characters The characters all end up feeling very bland which is something Ghibli usually always gets correct none of these characters will be remembered once you have finished this film.

SettingsThe film does take us to a fantasy world that you can fully believe these characters being part of and can be one of the few highlights of this film.

AnimationThe visual look of this animation is brilliant and when it comes to the darker side of the story you can fully believe just how scary it aims to be.

Final ThoughtsI personally see this as one of the weakest stories from the great studio but I can see how people could enjoy parts of this film.

 

Overall: Not my favourite and I think it could struggle to get near my top 10 from Ghibli.

Rating45