Christmas Holiday Weekend – The Holiday (2006)

Director: Nancy Meyers

Writer: Nancy Meyers (Screenplay)

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell

 

Plot: Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Feel Good Christmas Film

 

Story: The Holiday starts as we see Iris (Winslet) a wedding columnist who is madly in love with a co-worker Jasper (Sewell) but discovers he is now engaged to a fellow co-worker destroying what she wanted in life. We move to LA where we meet Amanda (Diaz) who finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her.

Both women want to spend Christmas away from home and the stresses of their lives find themselves swapping homes for a couple of weeks. Both women find themselves like a fish out of water, with Amanda befriending Iris’ brother Graham (Law), while Iris meets composer Miles (Black) and her 90-year old neighbour Arthur (Wallach) who is just as lonely as she finds herself.

With the story unfolding the two women get to learn a new way of life they could never imagine and find themselves learning they could one day love again.

 

Thoughts on The Holiday

 

Characters/PerformanceAmanda is a movie trailer cutter who breaks up with her boyfriend and goes searching for a getaway from her life, she finds herself in England meeting Graham who shows her a new way of life. Iris is an English woman that has found herself trapped hoping that one day she will end up with one co-worker. She agrees to go on the house swap to LA where she meets a man whose getting older and feels forgotten by his work as well as a man in Miles who is going through the same problems is. Graham is a single father trying to balance any sort of relationship with a career and raising his children. Miles is a music composer for movies that offers friendship for Iris but connection on the levels,

Performance Wise, Diaz shows once again she is great for romantic comedies, with Winslet showing here that she can handle comedy, Law shows he is always good for this type of role and Jack Black steps up to go toe to toe with true A-listers.

StoryThe story is about love, how we these women go through a bad patch but will find a way to be stronger once they come through it. While it is all very much created to say there will always be a quick fix after a break up, we do get to experience the joy they go through. By the end of the film you will have said you enjoyed the journey we go through.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy isn’t too heavy but comes off when it needs to, with the romance side of the story tackling break ups, letting people go and most of all taking a chance on someone new.

SettingsThe settings are used well to show the different worlds both Amanda and Iris have come from and how they get used to the new lives they are living for two weeks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great Christmas film that gives us all hope when it comes to love even when we think we might have lost it all when it comes to hope.

 

Overall: Enjoyable Christmas film for all to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

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Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Director: Simon West

Writer: Jake Wade Wall (Screenplay) Steve Feke, Fred Walton (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Katie Cassidy, Tessa Thmpson, Brian Geraghty, Cark Gregg

 

Plot: During a babysitting gig, a high-school student is harassed by an increasingly threatening prank caller.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Remake Failure

 

Story: When a Stranger Calls starts when High School student Jill (Belle) is being punished for going over her minutes on her phone bill must take a babysitting job in a house in the middle of nowhere. Jill is currently going through a break up with her boyfriend Bobby (Geraghty) and questioning her own friends Tiffany (Cassidy) and Scarlett (Thompson) on their part in it.

After a strange phone call, noises around the home and the alarm going off Jill starts to believe something is going on in the house, is she alone with the kids anymore?

 

Thoughts on When a Stranger Calls

 

Characters/PerformanceJill is the naughty high school student that has gone over her cell phone calls limit and must pay for it by babysitting, while also dealing with her boyfriend and best friend cheating on her. She doesn’t know how to make a good decision when a stranger starts calling her during the night of babysitting. The Stranger calling is interesting because we know he is capable of murder from the opening sequences, but now we learn to how calculated he is when picking his prey. Most of his damage is only explained and shown through facial expressions of the police investigating his crimes. Tiffany and Scarlett are just plain friends on the generic scale that we are used too.

Performance wise, Camille Belle has to do most of the work in this film and she does struggle in a role that has created countless amazing female leads, the rest of the cast are fine but don’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThis is a remake so we know the basics of how this film goes because it follows a babysitter needing to figure out who a mystery call is only to learn the truth and need to fight to survive. We have a couple of addition to the idea here because we need to explain the cell phone situation through the film but otherwise the film is filled with too many false scares that don’t lead to much.

HorrorThe horror is just false jump scare after false jump scare which never comes to much, we have one sequence but otherwise it is mostly about how things could happen.

SettingsThe house is isolated which is the highlight of the film because we know how this character isn’t going to be able to have much help and the stranger can take his time stalking his victim.

Special EffectsThe effects are limited and are mostly used for use of lighting and a few stunts, which I think does work because we don’t need anything flashy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a remake that doesn’t use the potential and has already become outdated because of the technology that is used as the stumbling blocks.

 

Overall: Not all remakes work.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

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