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

 

 

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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

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror Franchise – Diary of the Dead (2007)

diaryDirector: George A Romero

Writer: George A Romero (Screenplay)

Starring: Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde, Joe Dinicol, Scott Wentworth, Philip Riccio, Chris Violette, Tatiana Maslany

 

Plot: A group of young film students run into real-life zombies while filming a horror movie of their own.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Found Footage Yay, Character Decisions No

 

Story: Diary of the Dead starts by taking us away from the original universe to the very start of the outbreak in the modern era of technology as we watch Jason Creed (Close) who makes a film about what happened with the original outbreak.

Jason has an idea to film the events of the outbreak with his fellow film makers, his girlfriend Debra (Morgan), Tony (Roberts) Tracy (Lalonde), Mary (Maslany) to mention a few. We watch their travel across country to find out how safe their families are.

Diary of the Dead takes out of the world we have come to know but it does take us to a world where the madness of the human curiosity into death has taken over the world as people want to see the outbreak happening on the internet. This continues to show Romero has the ability to evolve into the modern horror trends bring his own stamp to the found footage style film and once again bringing the new kills to the zombies with some of the most original of the time. On the negative we have to look at the poor character decisions in a world where they are actually making a horror movie the characters do seem to have no idea how to make rational decisions in a horror situation.

 

Overall: Wonderfully shot but poor character decisions loses a lot of the tension which should be created in the film.

Rating65

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – Hannibal Rising (2007)

Director: Peter Webber

Writer: Thomas Harris (Screenplay) Thomas Harris (Novel)

Starring: Gaspard Ulliel, Rhys Ifans, Li Gong, Dominic West, Kevin McKidd

 

Plot: After the death of his parents during World War II, young Hannibal Lecter moves in with his beautiful aunt and begins plotting revenge on the barbarians responsible for his sister’s death.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Prequel That Doesn’t Click

 

Story: Hannibal Rising starts when we meet a young Hannibal, his family live in a castle in Lithuania during World War II. When the war comes to their home they try to ride it out in the cabin in the woods but tragedy strikes and his parents are killed. Left to look after his younger sister Mischa, Hannibal finds himself trapped with evil soldier Vladis Grutas (Ifans) occupying their home and things will only get worse for him.

8 years later we see Hannibal (Ulliel) now a mute living in his castle but it is now an orphanage for the victims of war, tried of how he is being treated he escapes to find his Aunt Lady Murasaki (Gong) who takes him in, giving him a future. Hannibal studies to become a doctor and shines in that field but what he is really up to, is searching for the soldiers that are responsible for his sister’s death, so he can make them pay, which does grab the attention of war criminal inspector Popil (West) who is also wanting to make the evil pay.

 

Thoughts on Hannibal Rising

 

Characters/PerformanceHannibal is a character we all know from the Silence of the Lambs, one of the most iconic figures of film history. Now we get to learn why he was like this as we see the horrors of war leave him the lone survivor of his immediate family thanks to war horrors, he goes out to get revenge on the people responsible proving he was emotionless all along. Lady Murasaki is the Aunt that takes Hannibal in, she has lost her family through the war too and the two work together to get the revenge. Vladis Grutas is the evil soldier who used war for his own profit killing anyone who got in his way. Inspector Popil is tracking war criminals across Europe, slightly more legally than Hannibal.

Performance wise, Gaspard Ulliel is good as the emotionless killer, he shows a man with nothing left to live for. Li Gong is good but only in the smaller supporting role. Rhys Ifans always makes for a good villain and this time we get to see him in the lead villain role.

StoryThe story behind one of the great screen characters of all time will always be a test because we will be left wondering do we need to know his origin story? The answer here turns Hannibal into a full blown vigilante which could work for a fresh approach for a film but giving this to Hannibal come off feeling slightly short.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of the story is all in the revenge side of film as we see how Hannibal sets out to avenge his sister’s murder. The thriller tries to keep us on edge but fails to achieve this on all levels.

SettingsEach setting shows us the different places war criminals could hide out in, we get to see just how main different places Hannibal must look to find those responsible.

Special EffectsAll the effects come off very well making us truly understand what just happened with the moment of horror.

Final ThoughtsThis is a prequel that just doesn’t seem to click the way you would like it all to, we didn’t need to learn more about Hannibal’s early days, but this could be a fantastic thriller for an original character.

 

Overall: A film we didn’t need but one that could have worked.

Rating