Tommy Lee Jones Weekend – In the Valley of Elah (2007)

Director: Paul Haggis

Writer: Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Mark Boal, Paul Haggis (Story)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon, James Franco, Barry Corbin, Josh Brolin

 

Plot: A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son’s disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.


Tagline – Sometimes The Truth Is Best Left Buried

Runtime: 2 Hour 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Slowly Driven Thriller

 

Story: In the Valley of Elah starts when retired military investigator Hank Deerfield (Jones) receives a phone call informing him his son Mike (Tucker) has gone AWOL which leads him to head to the base to investigate the motives and hopefully find his son before it turns into a criminal case. Hank turns to the local police and detective Emily Sanders (Theron) for help, but derestriction causes the problems.

When Mike’s body is discovered the military want to keep things quiet, but Hank isn’t accepting the answers given to him, working with Emily the two investigate what really happened to Mike and the truth will leave us shocked.

 

Thoughts on In the Valley of Elah

 

Characters – Hank is a retired military investigator, he has lost one son in war and no his second has gone missing, he goes to solve the case using his years of experience to get to the bottom of the case. He is from an older school of military with a determination unlike what people are prepared for. Detective Emily Sanders is used to getting dead end cases, but she does care about the people who are in need of help, she listens to Hank’s ideas and takes lead on the case having to face the truths of not being able to help everybody. Joan is the wife of Hank and mother of Mike, she stays home while Hank tries to solve the case where we learn about the struggles she has faced with dealing with the boys she let go into war.

PerformancesTommy Lee Jones shines in this role, he carries the film with a performance that is up there with his very best. Charlize Theron is also strong in the supporting role showing she can step away from glamourous roles with ease. Susan Sarandon is good as the supporting role which we are used to seeing from her. The whole cast is great throughout the film never giving too much away.

StoryThe story starts off as if it was a simple missing persons case, but it soon turns into a murder with conspiracies about what could have happened on that night of his death. we are never driven down one path and the crime takes time to unfold which makes this a fascinating watch as we see things unfold like Hank. The other side of the story remains how parents must deal with losing children who are in the military.

Crime/MysteryThe crime starts as a missing person and soon turns into a murder that needs to be solved with the conspiracies about who could have committed the murder.

SettingsThe settings show us the town next to a military base and how it operates, it keeps everything simple which is what the story calls for.


Scene of the Movie –
Final piece of the puzzle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I didn’t get annoyed by a single moment of this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an amazing crime mystery thriller, it keeps the pace perfect to not give too much away and tackles the idea of the modern horrors of war.

 

Overall: Must watch for crime mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Romance – K – Knocked Up (2007)

Director: Judd Apatow

Writer: Judd Apatow (Screenplay)

Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill

 

Plot: For fun-loving party animal Ben Stone, the last thing he ever expected was for his one-night stand to show up on his doorstep eight weeks later to tell him she’s pregnant with his child.


Tagline – A one night stand that turned into something more.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hilarious

 

Story: Knocked Up starts as we meet Ben Stone (Rogen) a stoner who along with his friends are looking to create a ‘Flesh of the Stars’ website when he isn’t getting high. We also meet Alison Scott (Heigl) who has just been given a promotion to become an on-air talent for E entertainment.

When the two hook up on a drunken night having a wild night of sex they go their separate ways. When Alison learns she is pregnant the twos lives change, Alison needs to keep it secret from work and the two must get to know each other if they are to raise their child, even though they are very different.

 

Thoughts on Knocked Up

 

Characters – Ben Stone is a slacker, stoner that wants to get rich quick. He gets Alison pregnant and tries to do everything to support her, but he doesn’t find a way to get an income to support the baby. He tries to make light of the situation which is his way of dealing with everything. Alison Scott is about to become an on-air talent for an entertainment network her career is what has driven her for years, but when she becomes pregnant she needs to accept her new incoming baby and tries to have Ben on her side through everything. Pete and Debbie give the couple a view on what could become of married life with children.

PerformancesSeth Rogen broke into the leading man roles with his performance here, he is great through the film even if he style of comedy isn’t for everyone. Katherine Heigl is good in this role, her reaction to thing happening are believable and it is a shame that her career hasn’t gone onto bigger things. We get a lot of the regular cast members of the gangs which help the supporting characters have natural chemistry.

StoryThe story follows two different people from different worlds that end up getting pregnant together, we see how the difference must be put aside for the new life they are bringing into the world. It was disappointing that we didn’t get to see Ben grow up in more detail because it does seem like a major part of the film that only becomes a minor montage. Saying that we do get a good look at how the relationship between the two gets compared to the married couple which adds extra laughs and a mirror for the twos potential future. The story does feel like a real reaction to an unexpected pregnancy too which is important for this movie.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy might not be for everyone because a lot of it can be considered the stoner humour, but luckily Paul Rudd’s character offers something different. The romance in the movie shows how a relationship happens instead of being over the top gestures.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which shows the different people living there following their dreams and attempting dreams, but this could have been any city.


Scene of the Movie –
Growing up moment for Ben.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story takes way to long for Ben to grow up.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great comedy that will get you laughing and give you moment of real behaviour from the characters, you should be enjoying this one throughout.

 

Overall: Hilarious comedy that will make you laugh.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – U – Underdog (2007)

Director: Frederik Du Chau

Writer: Adam Rifkin, Joe Piscatella, Craig A Williams (Screenplay) W Watts Biggers (Television Series)

Starring: (Voice Talent) Jason Lee, Peter Dinklage, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warbuton, Alex Neuberger

 

Plot: A Beagle must use his newly-bestowed superpowers to defend Capitol City from mad scientist Simon Barsinister.


Tagline – One Nation, Under Dog.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Little Movie

 

Story: Underdog starts as we meet the beagle on the police force that fails his training, only to be left homeless a stray in the city. Taken by Dr Simon Barsinister (Dinklage) who wants to perform an experiment on the strays of the city.

When the experiment goes wrong the beagle becomes Underdog a crime fighting super dog, but Simon isn’t finished with Underdog yet.

 

Thoughts on Underdog

 

Characters – Underdog is a simple beagle kicked off the police force and forced into becoming part of an experiment which gives him super powers, now he must make a choice between a family that is willing to welcome him in or saving the city from evil. Dr Simon Barsinister is the genius scientist that have been coming up with a formula to create genetically enhanced animals to fight crime, but when things go wrong he uses his creation for evil. Dan Unger is the former cop that adopts Underdog for his son to keep him company.

PerformancesJason Lee as the voice of Underdog works well because he knows how to handle the comedy required. Peter Dinklage is a great villain and has wonderful chemistry with Patrick Warburton as his assistant. Jim Belushi is good but mostly under used in his role.

StoryThe story is nice and simple a dog becomes superpowered after being involved in an experiment to take on an evil scientist that wants to destroy the city. We do have a deeper story about being accepted into a family for a dog. Overall this is a by the book family film too.

Adventure/Family/Sci-FiThe adventure side of the film is where the dog goes to fight crime, this does have a message for family and welcoming a dog into the family. The sci-fi side of the film looks at how the experiment could create superpowered dogs.

SettingsThe settings keep us in New York which plays into the idea of parodying the superhero genre.

Special EffectsThe effects are hit or miss throughout because of the flying moments do seem strange.


Scene of the Movie –
The final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is pretty short.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple fun enjoyable family movie that never pushed the limits.

 

Overall: Simple enough.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Spiderman 3 (2007)

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Alvin Sargent (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (Comic Book)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Toper Grace, Bryce Dallas Holland

 

Plot: A strange black entity from another world bonds with Peter Parker and causes inner turmoil as he contends with new villains, temptations, and revenge.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Ending to Trilogy

 

Story: Spider-Man 3 starts as Peter Parker (Maguire) now living with Mary Jane (Dunst) with the whole city loving the Spider-Man which leaves Peter on top of the world, but Mary Jane is struggling to fit in after a string of poor reviews on her performing. Meanwhile Flint Marko (Church) the man that killed Uncle Ben has escaped prison as he looks to make amends for his errors finds himself in the middle of an experiment that turns him into the sandman.

Peter has plenty of life questions to find answers in for through the film because he wants to ask Mary Jane to marry him, faces competition from Eddie Brock (Grace) trying to take his job at the newspaper and Harry (Franco) trying to get his revenge loses his memory leading to the friendship to become fresh.

What Peter doesn’t know is there is a creature from space known as Venom starts attaching itself to Peter, giving Spiderman a darker side the Peter must learn how to fight off to remain the hero the city knows and loves, once this is done Eddie becomes Venom figure.

 

Thoughts on Spider-Man 3

 

Characters – Peter is in the happiest part of his life, he is with Mary Jane, Spiderman is loved by the city and Harry has forgotten the vengeance he holds towards Peter. When Peter starts seeing his life come tumbling down around him once he gets infected by Venom he will face is toughest battle yet. Mary Jane has finally made it to the big stage but is being critically panned and without Peter’s support goes back to Harry, this is starting to become a one-dimensional character. Harry has been waiting for his chance to take out Peter but after it fails forgets his hate towards him until his memories return. Eddie Brock is a new rival photographer that wants to put Peter out of business but soon we learn the truth about him. Flint Marko is the man that really killed Uncle Ben and once he escapes from prison looks to make amends for his failures to his daughter but with new powers that make Peter need to fight him off. Gwen Stacy is a new love interest that could bring an end to Mary Jane and Peter.

PerformancesTobey Maguire doesn’t give as strong of a performance after the first two films but when you look at the reactions to everything Peter goes through you can see it in how he is acting. Kirsten Dunst does continue to slide in quality too but that is because the character continues to be written weakly.  James Franco does get to show a bigger range but also doesn’t get enough time for his character development to show his full talent. Thomas Haden Church does a good job here showing the pain his character feels through the film. Topher Grace does feel out of place at times in this film, he starts strong but slowly fades by the end.

StoryThe Peter Parker story arc is once again the most interesting part of the film as we see how he must face his own flaws to stop the problems in his life, he must learn the ups and downs of his actions.  The new enemies tests Spiderman to the next level as Sandman gives him a moral compass he needs to face while Venom shows who he could have become if he takes the wrong path but the battles are standard for the genre.

Action/AdventureThe action set pieces are bigger but are also fewer in number which makes them feel rewarding when we see the showdown.

SettingsWe do thankfully stay in New York for the setting which helps us show how the city has gotten used to the idea of Spiderman being there now.

Special EffectsThe effects were the most ambitious of the franchise, the Sandman was always going to be CGI and it does look weak now. When things are practical they work otherwise the weakness are clear.

Scene of the Movie – Sandman creation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I wasn’t a fan of the CGI

Final ThoughtsThis is the most panned of the Spiderman films but I feel it is a fitting ending to the trilogy, yes, it is weaker but the truth is, that it is being ambitious with the villains Peter must take on and reflects the problems he would face if someone he loved knew the truth.

 

Overall: Good ending to the trilogy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – M – Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Director: Stephen J Anderson

Writer: Jon Bernstein, Michelle Bochner Spitz, Don Hall, Nathan Greno, Aurian Redson, Joseph Mateo, Stephen J Anderson (Screenplay) William Joyce (Book)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Angela Bassett, Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Matthew Josten, John H H Ford, Dara McGarry

 

Plot: Lewis is a brilliant inventor who meets mysterious stranger named Wilbur Robinson, whisking Lewis away in a time machine and together they team up to track down Bowler Hat Guy in a showdown that ends with an unexpected twist of fate.


Tagline – If you think your family’s different, wait ’til you meet the family of the future.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice and Simple Animation

 

Story: Meet the Robinson starts as we meet orphan Lewis, a brilliant inventor that keeps getting over looked for adoption, tired of this, he uses his intervention skills to build a machine which could open the door to memories. When this ends up going wrong, he meets Wilbur a boy from the future, the two go into the future where Lewis will be in his element with the world being full of inventors.

Lewis while happy here must fix the time machine and return to his own time to finish his memory scanner before the future he is in now changes.

 

Thoughts on Meet the Robinson

 

Characters – Lewis is an orphan with bring dreams of being an amazing and brilliant inventor, when he gets a new friend in Wilbur that takes him to the future and his family of inventors, Lewis might have found his place in the world. Lewis is the typical Disney hero figure, worried about one part of their life while missing the truth about another part. Wilbur is the boy from the future that is trying to make up for his own mistake which could change the future he now lives in, this character shows us just what type of responsibility youngsters will need to learn about.

StoryThe story follows a young boy as he looks for answers to why he became an orphan, but over the span of his adventure he ends up in the future where he learns the importance of keeping on working towards his own destiny in typical Disney storytelling process. The story does feel like a flashy version of the Sims video game which is strange for large parts, it does have too many easy twists too.

Adventure/Comedy/Family/Sci-FiThe adventure takes our young orphan inventor to the future which plays into the sci-fi ideas which is his dreams throughout. The comedy is hit or miss with most missing in the most part though.

SettingsThe settings bring us to a future where inventors have become celebrities and their creations are everywhere with everyone using them.

AnimationThe animation works well but you do feel it could have been at a higher level for Disney.


Scene of the Movie –
Closing sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It misses the jokes too many times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic animated movie that is everything Disney do when it comes to being safe.

 

Overall: Safe Disney movie.

Rating