Original v Remake – [Rec] (2007)

Director: Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza

Writer: Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza, Luiso Berdejo (Screenplay)

Starring: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso, David Vert

 

Plot: A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Atmospheric Horror

 

Story: [Rec] starts as reporter Angela Vidal (Velasco) is cover the local firefighter department for her latest report on While You’re Sleeping. The first incident the team gets called to is a domestic disturbance case inside an apartment building.

What seems like a simple and even boring story to cover quickly turns into a battle of life and death when the woman causing the disturbance attacks the police officer sent to help. The make the matters worse the people find themselves trapped inside the building which has been locked down by the authorities refusing to let anybody out. When the infection continues to spread, Angela must find a way to survive the terror inside the building and learn the truth about the source of the virus.

 

Thoughts on [Rec]

 

Characters/PerformanceAngela is the reporter that is covering a simple story but finds herself fighting for her life but wanting to report every single part of the story for her audience. The rest of the characters are cops, firefighters, residents of the apartment and the cameraman.

Performance wise, Velasco is good as the main screen attraction for this film, with everyone else all doing a great job with their roles through the film.

StoryThe story is simple to follow, people get trapped in a building as a virus is spreading through the people inside making them killing machines and the ones not infected need to find a way to survive. This all works and the added found footage keeps us believe this could be a breaking story unfolding.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is very good with each corner potentially having a threat as well as each character not knowing what is happening which I think adds to any horror element.

SettingsThe whole film is set within the apartment complex which adds to the tension and horror unfolding through the film.

Special EffectsThe special effects all great to with most being practical effects when it comes to the gore required.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great atmospheric horror that is short, sweet and hits all the marks for found footage horror needs.

 

Overall: One for all the horror fans out there.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

Crime Thriller Weekend – Zodiac (2007)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: James Vanderbilt (Screenplay) Robert Graysmith (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch

 

Plot: In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.


Tagline – There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great But Too Long of a Thriller

 

Story: Zodiac starts as the infamous Zodiac killer strikes in San Francisco before demanding his code be printed in the newspaper, the Chronicle, where Paul Avery (Downey Jr) is getting the letters and works with cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) who has a knack for cracking codes. As the body count continues to grow Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo) and Inspector William Armstrong (Edwards) investigate the crimes as the people of San Francisco start to panic throughout the spree.

With time passing by Avery uses the press the play with the Zodiac, making David’s job difficult as it draws out all the people who want to be known as the Zodiac, while Robert becomes obsessed with cracking the codes being left in letters and solving the case.

 

Thoughts on Zodiac

 

Characters – When looking at the characters you must remember these are based on real people, Robert Graysmith is a cartoonist working for the Chronicle newspaper that becomes obsessed with cracking the Zodiac codes while working with writer Paul Avery. Paul Avery is the writer at the Chronicle that is receiving the letters from the Zodiac killer, he is willing to take a risk to get the story and potentially making himself famous. Inspector David Toschi is the lead investigator working on the Zodiac case, he must overcome derestriction nightmares while tracking any clues, suspects or letters that come his way.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is brilliant in this leading role showing how a man out of his field can become a conspiracy driven man. Mark Ruffalo shows here that he will always be a shining light in an ensembled cast. Robert Downey Jr was always skilled enough to be a great character actor and this one started to show he could return to the top of the industry. The supporting cast through the film are also great with their roles.

StoryThe mystery of the Zodiac killer is one of the most famous unsolved serial killings in history. Most of the film follows Robert’s spiral into conspiracy theorist that is searching for the Zodiac killer, which does work and become the most interesting part of the film. the problem I am facing looking at this movie is that the first half seems to mix who the main character is trying to solve the case while the enjoyable part is all Robert and of course we don’t know the complete truth on these murders either.

Crime/Mystery/ThrillerThe crime is one of the most famous in modern history, one that is unsolved which does play into the mystery side to everything we are watching too.

SettingsThe timelines we follow give us authentic settings for everything as the film does span over two decades.


Scene of the Movie –
Robert’s face to face with a potential suspect.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film itself is too long.

Budget: $65 Million

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting look at one of the most interesting unsolved murder mysteries, it gives us a detailed look at three main men involved in investigating the crime all with different motives from different backgrounds.

 

Overall: Detailed but overly long look at the Zodiac case.

Rating

 

 

Butterfly on a Wheel (2007)

Director: Mike Barker

Writer: William Morrissey (Screenplay)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Maria Bello, Gerard Butler, Emma Karwandy, Claudette Mink

 

Plot: A perfect family’s dynamic is ruined by a kidnapper’s brutally efficient plot.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Thriller

 

Story: Butterfly on a Wheel starts as we meet successful business man Neil Randall (Butler) and his wife Abby (Bello) live their perfect little life where everything is comfortable for them, with Neil on the verge of a promotion to partner, the two head off the weekend.

The weekend takes a turn for the worse when Tom Ryan (Brosnan) holds the couple hostage with one of his partners keeping their daughter as a bargaining tool. Tom makes the two follow tasks around the city as we learn the motives of Tom’s ideas.

 

Thoughts on Butterfly on a Wheel

 

Characters/PerformanceNeil is an advertising man, family man but distant husband, he is about to get a promotion for all his hard work but once he is forced into playing the games we see his true nature unfold. Abby is the wife of Neil who has given up her career but with a new chance to start she finds herself being forced into playing the games. Tom is the man behind the games, he is forcing the couple to do everything he wants but the question remains why? This air of mystery makes him a very interesting character.

Performance wise, Brosnan is great as the cold-hearted man behind what is going on, Maria Bello is good too through the film showing she can be part of the leading lady in the film and Butler is strong throughout.

StoryThis story does follow the trends of the how far would you go to save your daughter routine, this does leave us with a good mystery about what we are expecting and happy to throw a twist or two our way. I feel the final twist is the saving grace of the film because we must rethink everything we have seen which is always a nice feeling with a film.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of this is kidnapping and abducting which work perfectly for the story and we are kept on edge through the film wondering just what are the motives.

SettingsEach setting unfolds to tell us the truth about what has been happening which works as we learn pieces of the puzzle.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that went under the radar, it is a good watch and one well worth watching if you are a thriller fan.

 

Overall: Enjoyable thriller with plenty of twists.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Messengers (2007)

Director: Danny Pang, Oxide Chun Pang

Writer: Mark Wheaton (Screenplay) Todd Farmer (Story)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett, William B Davis

 

Plot: An ominous darkness invades a seemingly serene sunflower farm in North Dakota, and the Solomon family is torn apart by suspicion, mayhem and murder.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easily Forgettable

 

Story: The Messengers starts as Solomon family Roy (McDermott), Denise (Miller), daughter Jess (Stewart) and baby Ben move to a farm house which has been abandoned for years after a serious of horrific events.

It doesn’t take long before Jess discovers ghostly figures attracted to Ben but they are never around when her parents are around, turning to the farm hand Burwell (Corbett) she learns more about what could cause everything but just how much danger is the family in?

 

Thoughts on The Messengers

 

Characters/PerformanceRoy has struggled for work to supporting his family for a couple of years and will do everything to make this new home work for them, Denise is the wife that is struggling to connect with their daughter the way they once did. Jess is the teenage daughter that must live with an accident she caused but finds herself distant from her parents.

Performance wise, you can see here just how far Stewart has come because she does struggle in the leading role here but now she can give us powerhouse performances like Personal Shopper, the rest of the cast are fine but nothing more.

StoryThe story is simple, a family looking for fresh start must deal with their demons to bring the divide in the family back together while dealing with a supernatural presence in the new home. This isn’t very original and does get slightly stuck between supernatural and real events never giving us a reason why the supernatural side happens in the first place.

Horror/Mystery The horror is mostly stuff running around behind the characters and lazy jump scares, the mystery is mostly about what happened before and why is it happening again.

SettingsMost of the film or at least the horror elements take place on the farm house which I guess does work for the film.

Special EffectsThe special effects are mostly weak throughout leaving us to not believe too much of what we see.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple, easy to watch horror mystery, it doesn’t test you enough on the horror or mystery side of things though.

 

Overall: Lacklustre horror mystery.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)

Director: Colin Strause, Greg Strause

Writer: Shane Salerno (Screenplay) Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Jim Thomas, John Thomas (Characters)

Starring: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Ariel Gage, Kristen Hager, Sam Trammell, Robert Joy

 

Plot: Warring alien and predator races descend on a rural US town, where unsuspecting residents must band together for any chance of survival.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Some Positives

 

Story: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem starts by picking up where the last film ended with the alien causing havoc on the predator ship, forcing it into crashing into small town America. With the alien causing havoc killing everybody or anything that gets in its way, we get to meet the town’s people who we must care about, bad boy just returned to town Dallas (Pasquale), returning solider Kelly (Aylesworth), her family Tim (Trammell) daughter Molly (Gade) sheriff Morales (Ortiz), troubled teenager Ricky (Lewis) and his crush Jesse (Hager).

As the people of the town go about their daily lives, the predators are preparing to clean up the mess left in this small town but will they make it before the aliens cause too much damage or can they face a new threat in a predator-alien hybrid.

 

Thoughts on Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

 

Characters/PerformanceDallas is the bad boy rebel who just happens to return to town the same day the crash happens. Kelly is the returning solider who is dealing with the idea that her young daughter has lost her connection with her while she was away but now must use her skills to save her daughter. Morales is the sheriff and old running buddy of Dallas who has put his bad boy ways behind him. Ricky gives us the high school dynamics with his crush on the beautiful Jesse who has an arsehole boyfriend.

Performance wise, well this is one of the negatives, Pasquale does struggle in the leading role, while it is partly down to writing and performance because Reiko doesn’t reach the levels of an alien trend setting strong leading ladies. The rest of the performances are largely forgettable with Hager clearly hired for her look.

StoryThe pure story is in parts very interesting, we know how deadly the aliens are and after last time we know the predators place in the battle. We know aliens will kill anybody which this film isn’t afraid to play on and we also see the swarm mentality which is caused with the aliens spreading. With these parts all in place this film does still end up coming off messy in places though because the humans are written so badly with the final pay off feeling flat.

Action/Horror/Sci-FiThe action is mindless and a lot is in too darker location so you can’t see what is happening with the horror side working in places but not in all scenes it needs to, with the sci-fi elements coming from building for the next part of the franchise which never happened.

SettingsMoving the action to a small town ups the stakes in the film, which also gives us a chance to see how deadly the aliens can be spreading through a population. This gives us a chance to get a large body count but also characters we don’t know anything about.

Special EffectsMost of the effects are good it is the lighting which hinders this film in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great idea for a sequel but it has problems all over it, mostly coming from badly executed action sequences that have large jump cuts, no lighting for those scenes and horribly written human character.

 

Overall: A true mixed bag of a sequel.

Rating