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

 

 

Skinwalkers (2006)

Director: James Isaac

Writer: James DeMonaco, Todd Harthan, James Roday (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Natassia Malthe, Kim Coates, Sarah Carter, Tom Jackson

 

Plot: A 12 year old boy and his mother become the targets of two warring werewolf packs, each with different intentions and motives.


Tagline – For them to live, we must die.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Werewolf 101

 

Story: Skinwalkers starts as Varek (Behr) leads the hunt for a young boy for his werewolf pack, joined by Sonja (Malthe) he learns the location of Timothy (Knight) which takes him to small town to collect him.

Varek didn’t count on Timothy being under the watch of another prepared werewolf pack led by Jonas (Koteas) and his daughter-in-law Rachel (Mitra) who wasn’t ready to learn the truth that on Tim’s 13th birthday everything changes in the battle.

 

Thoughts on Skinwalkers

 

Characters – Varek is the leader of the werewolf pack that wants Timothy dead to stop the event he will cause, he hunts calmly through the film knowing how to get ahead of his enemies, though he is unaware of his connection to the child. Jonas has been protecting his nephew for years now, knowing what he means to the species, he has built the team his truss around him to make sure he is safe. Rachel is the mother of Timothy, she thinks he is just a normal kid and that she lives in a normal town, he must learn fast how to cope in this world filled with werewolves and protect her son. Sonja is the deadliest fighter on Varek side of the war, she enjoys hurting people and we see her take pleasure in this.

PerformancesJason Behr as the conflicted werewolf is good to watch, he shines on the bad boy side of this story, though when he must show the other side of the emotions we see him struggle at times. Elias Koteas is strong for his role which is one that we often see him in. Rhona Mitra does well in the reluctant heroes being the strong need to learn to battle mother figure in the film. everyone else in the film is fine without needing to be anything special, they fit their roles well to help the story flow.

StoryThe story here follows two warring werewolf packs that know the importance of a child for both their existences, so basically something we have seen before only with a modern style to it. The fact the story does feel like an introduction to a much big world building idea is promising and while it isn’t the film’s fault we didn’t see the next chapter, it does show us how story telling can think ahead of time. If we are being honest this is a by the book storyline, it doesn’t bring us anything new to the werewolf mythology it just tries to keep it in the modern world.

Action/Fantasy/HorrorThe action sequences are mixed bag because we have shoot-out which are routine and lack the peril for certain characters, while the fights show the effects that two werewolves fighting would have on each other. The fantasy world of werewolves living among humans is nicely done, showing two sides to them, though the horror does seem weak because we never feel terrified by what we are seeing.

SettingsThe film uses the settings in a mix of quality and generic, the small town gets the big surprise with everyone being part of the protection, then we hit the road and its nothing we haven’t seen before.

Special EffectsThe effects for the werewolves and wounds look nice, its just most are hidden from the full effect of the shock.


Scene of the Movie –
Town stand off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There are a few blink and you miss it moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book werewolf film, it has good moments, it has forgettable moments and ends up feeling like the pilot for a television show.

 

Overall: The werewolf genre done safely.

Rating