Samuel L Jackson Weekend – Black Snake Moan (2006)

Director: Craig Brewer

Writer: Craig Brewer (Screenplay)

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, S Epatha Merkerson, John Cothran, David Banner

 

Plot: A God-fearing bluesman takes to a wild young woman who, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, looks everywhere for love, never quite finding it.


Tagline – To save his soul he must save hers.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Redemption Story

 

Story: Black Snake Moan starts as we see how God-fearing Lazarus (Jackson) who has his own problems with his family, he does always look after people who help him knowing the struggle they are going through and the support hard work deserves. Rae sees her boyfriend Ronnie (Timberlake) has gone to war and with her reputation around town of being a party animal that enjoys drugs, drink and sex with anyone until one night she gets left beaten on the side of the road.

Lazarus finds her and takes her back to his house to help clean her up only for Rae to make things a lot more difficult than he first thought they would be, can he help her even if he is keeping her captured in his own home.

 

Thoughts on Black Snake Moan

 

Characters – Lazarus is the local God-fearing man, he has always been good to the people that help him around town, while having issues with he family. He wants to help Rae get back on the right path and end her destructive ways. Rae is the party animal, hooked on drugs, drink and sex with anyone and seemingly everyone. She is left for dead on the side of the road after a sexual assault, where she is rescued by Lazarus who tries to help her, she must learn to clean herself up to realise her own worth in the world. Ronnie is her boyfriend of Rae, he went to war leaving her behind and couldn’t make it there.

PerformancesSamuel L Jackson is wonderful in the leading role of this film, we can believe his characters struggles with and without his alcohol problems. Christina Ricci shows us just how she has transformed herself from the child star we knew to the grown woman with a risqué and brave role with the extra sexuality bought onto her character. Justin Timberlake is fine without being overly used in the film as we focus on the two main stars.

StoryThe story here follows an unlikely man helping an unlikely young lady that is on a path of destruction, both from the same background, though from different sides of the tracks, both are in need of saving in their own way and spending the time together they learn the lessons in life they have been searching for. The story does show us how two people who are on the last legs with the rest of the world giving up on them can fall into each other’s lives without needing a relationship just friendship to put their lives back on track.

SettingsThe film is set in the deep south where you can still see the divide between the white and black families, while we don’t see the racial hate between the two either. This shows the struggle both are having with lives in a dead end feeling town.


Scene of the Movie –
Performing live.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We learn snippets of the past, but not enough to make us truly understand the motives in the younger life.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good redemption story that shows the struggle of small town America, how two different people can come together to help each other through their struggles and showing the right path can come from an unlikely source.

 

Overall: Redemption is what we want to see.

Rating

 

 

James Bond Month – Casino Royale (2006)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Novel)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian

 

Plot: Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007, and must defeat a private banker to terrorists in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro, but things are not what they seem.


Tagline – The new Bond. Living for Love. Dying for Thrills.

Runtime: 2 Hours 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mission Impossible Bond Edition

 

Story: Casino Royale starts with James Bond (Craig) going on hi very first mission as the 007 which sees him look to track down a bomb making that is being financed by an unknown terrorist, James builds his own style which M (Dench) doesn’t agree with, though she does reluctantly leave him in the field to search for the banker, Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen).

James must work with Vesper Lynd (Green) to get close to Le Chiffre, in a hope to get information about the people he works with, James goes undercover in a mega stakes poker game in Montenegro.

 

Thoughts on Casino Royale

 

Characters – James Bond is back, only this time it is the first mission, he isn’t like the previous 00’s being more reckless than they are used to seeing, he must use his poker skills to take down a dangerous banker that is working with terrorists and learn the his ego can’t get in the way of his mission. This is the biggest lesson he will need to learn as a 00. Vesper Lynd is the British agent that is working with James, she decides whether he is allowed to spend more money, almost keeping on an eye on him for M. Le Chiffre is the banker for terrorists, he plays the stock market on their actions making him one of the most powerful men in the world, his weakness is that he likes to play poker at the high stakes end. M picks the agents, she has put James in the field and now she is left to decide whether she has made the right decision.

PerformancesDaniel Craig does brings us an entertaining tough agent character, though he never feels like he is James Bond, yes it is his first mission, but this performance could easily have been an original agent figure. Eva Green while looks beautiful doesn’t get the full Bond girl treatment and doesn’t get to make the biggest impact in the film. Mads Mikkelsen is a great villain, but he is easy to place in any film as the villain. Judi Dench continued to make a big impact in the Bond franchise with his being her best outing to date.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond going on his first mission for MI6, one which will see his skills at a poker table being used to get close a mastermind banker for terrorists. The story here is an interesting spin on the Bond franchise because we have always seen James as an established agent, seeing his first mission unfolding, shows us his imperfections as an agent, this is the biggest strength. The basics of getting close to the villain is one we have always seen and understand works for the franchise. It is when the story decides to become more like a Mission Impossible story than a Bond story which can take us away from the story. the poker scenes are also very difficult to watch because they just never come off as believable.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is amongst the best in the franchise, we have stunt based action too with one of the most memorable sequences coming from the opening of the film. the adventure side of the film takes James around the world in his hunt for Le Chiffre.

SettingsThe film uses a few main settings, we get the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro and Venice as our world tour.


Scene of the Movie –
opening chase sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The opening credits are awful.

Final ThoughtsThis is a new start for the Bond franchise, it does go in a different direction, only it does feel like it just wants to become the British version of the more aggressive spy movies like Mission Impossible and Jason Bourne.

 

Overall: Bond only more serious.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Crank (2006)

Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Writer: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Efren Ramirez, Dwight Yoakam, Carlos Sanz

Plot: Professional assassin Chev Chelios learns his rival has injected him with a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops.


Tagline – If his heart stops pumping adrenalin… It will be the day Chev Chelios dies

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Relentless Action

Story: Crank starts when assassin Chev Chelios (Statham) has been poisoned by his rival assassin Verona (Cantillo) in an attempt at revenge for a job gone wrong. Chev has one hour to live before his heart stops, he learns that if he can keep his adrenaline up, he can remain focused and keep himself alive for longer, which sees him racing around LA in an attempt to locate Verona.

With Chev leaving a host of bodies in his path, he finds a way to keep his heart rate up thanks to his trusted doctor Miles (Yoakam) as he starts to face his own fate before seeking his own girlfriend Eve (Smart) to tell him his mistake.

Thoughts on Crank

Characters – Chev Cheilos is an assassin that has been drugged while knocked out, he has one hour to live unless he can keep his heart rate up, he uses all his violent side to keep his heart rate up as he searches revenge before his time runs out, he uses his connections and isn’t afraid to attack either side of the law. Eve is Chev’s girlfriend, she doesn’t know about his life as an assassin thinking he has a normal everyday job, she doesn’t understand to start with just what is going on. Verona is the man that has poisoned Chev, he is enjoying the idea of getting one over Chev, only he doesn’t want to face the consequences. Kaylo is the connection around town, he looks for the people that Chev wants to find keeping his ears to the floor.

PerformancesJason Statham is the clear star of the film, he gets to unleash all his action star potential, while using his straight-faced delivery to get a couple of laughs along the way. Amy Smart is mostly the damsel in distress figure, she doesn’t play the smartest character doing what she can with it. Jose Pablo Cantillo is the main villain only he doesn’t feel like a threat to Chev in his performance.

StoryThe story here follows an assassin that must race against time to get revenge on the people that have poisoned him before the poison in his blood ends his life. The story isn’t going to be get into any levels of deep, which is all we need it too be, it is just one man on a rampage, it does have a real-time feeling to everything as Chev only has an hour to live. We get the usual dealings with gangs always searching for power which is why the two sides are going to war with Chev in the middle of it all.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is wildly over the top with each fight, chase or incident becoming larger in scale as the film roles on, with the crime side of the film taking us into the criminal world seeing how the assassins and leaders try to stay in control.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which helps the film show us just how busy the streets would be, with the criminal behaviour happening around every corner too.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the different levels of suffering that Chev is going through, be it the blurred vision or seeing how his heart is shaping up after or before an incident.


Scene of the Movie – Final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is hard to support Chev either after what has happened to him.

Final Thoughts This is a non-stop action adrenaline ride, once it starts it just doesn’t stop which show the energy needed to make this film work on so many different levels.

Overall: Fun and over the top.

Rating

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – P – Perfect Creature (2006)

Director: Glenn Standring

Writer: Glenn Standring (Screenplay)

Starring: Dougray Scott, Saffron Burrows, Leo Gregory, Scott Wills, Stuart Wilson, Craig Hall

 

Plot: The vampire myth is given a stylish 1960s treatment, where a human cop partners with a vampire cop to stop a vamp bent on creating a war between the two “separate but equal” races.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Underworld Rip Off

 

Story: Perfect Creature starts in a world where vampires are known as the Brotherhood, an elite society that doesn’t feed on humans instead lives above them, for 300 hundred years this has been the way but now things are about to change. Edgar (Gregory) one of the brotherhood has gone rogue and started feeding on humans, Silus (Scott) his brother must team up with a human cop Lilly (Burrows) to stop him.

Once they capture Edgar, Silus learns more about the bigger plan in the brotherhood and the work Edgar had been working on. When Edgar escapes we get to see Silus team up with Lilly once again to save the outbreak of a virus that could wipe out both races.

 

Thoughts on Perfect Creature

 

Characters – Silus is the vampire from the brotherhood, he has a connection with his brother Edgar and will not let him take over once he becomes the blood thirty infected version of himself. Lilly is the nonsense cop that has suffered her own share of heartache with the viruses in the world, she doesn’t take any shit from anyone she believes to be guilty. Edgar is the brother of Silus that has become infected while trying to find the next cure for the human and Brotherhood medical problems which makes him the first member of the brotherhood to kill a human.

PerformanceDougray Scott is fine without being that impactful in the leading role and the same could be said for Saffron Burrows, the highlight of the film would be Leo Gregory as the Edgar the bloody thirsty crazy vampire.

StoryThe story does feel like it could be another chapter of the Underworld saga, it has the vampires of the world living in peace with the humans but when one goes rogue it becomes personal. This isn’t the most original and strays too far into the middle of the fantasy world we are trying so desperately to head towards. We don’t find enough time to create the fantasy world that could become a franchise let alone a new story because in the end this could have just been a crime thriller.

Action/Fantasy/HorrorThe action is fine, it mostly contains fights that try to offer an extra punch where needed but isn’t the most original, while the fantasy world doesn’t click for the story we are experiencing, the horror is tame too with it only being a couple of vampire like moments.

SettingsWe have murky settings which is designed to show us the different in class between the two races.

Special EffectsThe effects are all fine and at least the film doesn’t turn into a bad CGI moment film.

Scene of the Movie – The special gun that instant sleeps and enemy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It just doesn’t seem to feel fresh in any way.

Final ThoughtsDisappointing movie that doesn’t connect with the audience on the levels it could have because it wants to be a fantasy film but plays out only like a dark crime thriller.

 

Overall: Disappointing film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – B – Black Sheep (2006)

Director: Jonathan King

Writer: Jonathan King (Screenplay)

Starring: Oliver Driver, Nathan Meister, Tammy Davis, Peter Feeney

 

Plot: An experiment in genetic engineering turns harmless sheep into bloodthirsty killers that terrorize a sprawling New Zealand farm.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bonkers Horror Comedy

 

Story: Black Sheep starts as Henry Oldfield (Neister) returns home after 15 years away after suffering a traumatic experience at the hands of his brother to sell his half of his family farm. Angus (Feeney) is the brother that remained on the farm running it and performing genetic experiments. When environmentalists Grant (Driver) and Experience (Mason) try to expose what is going on, on the farm they accidently release a mutant sheep that starts infecting the rest of the sheep on the farm.

When the infected sheep start to increase Henry, Experience and farm manager Tucker (Davis) must find a way back to safety while having to fight off seemingly endless amounts of sheep.

 

Thoughts on Black Sheep

 

Characters/PerformanceHenry is the successful brother that gets traumatised when he is young, now grown up he comes to back to the farm to collect his part of the money. When he learns the truth, he must now face his nightmares and fight off the killer sheep running over the farm. Angus the brother that has been experimenting on sheep for his own personal gain, this puts his own life and members of his farm. Experience is the environmentalist that wants to expose the farm but she quickly turns when she needs to fight to survive.

Performance wise, each performance adds to the comedy being told through this film, no one is great but they all know just how to get the extra laugh needed from their characters.

StoryOnly in horror could you come up with an idea of genetical altered sheep that will try to kill people. If you watch this story with this in mind, you will truly enjoy this story because it is just that bonkers it works.

Horror/ComedyThe horror would be, how scary do you find sheep? Well what about killer mutant sheep, that is your horror side to the story but this could also be used to describe the comedy involved in this film too.

SettingsThe film is set upon on the farm which is good for the horror isolation side of the film as they must use the land to fight the sheep off.

Special EffectsAll the effects are practical and all come off looking fantastic when you look to add the extra element of gore to the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those horrors you can put on and enjoy because the laughs and idea are so farfetched you just must laugh to get through it all.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable horror comedy.

Rating