Atonement (2007)

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Christopher Hampton (Screenplay) Ian McEwan (Novel)

Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Juno Temple, Brenda Blethyn, Benedict Cumberbatch

 

Plot: Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit.


Tagline – Joined by love. Separated by fear. Redeemed by hope

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dull and Uninspiring

 

Story: Atonement starts when young Briony Tallis (Ronan) keeps seeing events between her older sister Cecilia (Knightley) and her lover Robbie Turner (McAvoy) from an angle she couldn’t understand believing he is hurting her. Keeping this secret until her cousin Lola (Temple) is raped in the middle of the night, she believes it was Robbie who committed the crime.

4 years later the lives of these people have changed, Robbie is now in the army World War II. Cecilia is still waiting for Robbie, though the effects of that night 4 years ago will never be forgotten between the people involved.

 

Thoughts on Atonement

 

Characters – Robbie Turner is the son of the housekeeper for the Tallis family, he was given an education while starting a romance with eldest daughter Cecilia. When things start getting steamy a misunderstanding derail he life, leaving him going to war and forever wondering what really could have been. Cecilia is the eldest daughter of the family she is involved in a romance with Robbie which is what she has been waiting for, for years, she doesn’t believe the stories against him either. Briony is the younger daughter that misread the situations she sees her sister in, she is the one that uses her creative mind to make stories, one of which would tear the lives apart, she will now spend the time making up for her mistake.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are never going to be in doubt, because we have top class actors. McAvoy shines as the shunned man forced into war, Knightley as the woman who loses her true love to a mistake and young Saoirse Ronan showing us just how talented she was going to become.

StoryThe story here follows one moment in a group of people’s lives which gets misread and tears them apart forever, one tries to rebuild the bridges broken though the damage is done. We do follow three lives that have been changed which seems like it is meant to be important though by then you are just not looking to care about what happened because we didn’t get enough time focusing on the aftermath of the incident.

Mystery/RomanceThere is a mystery, which focuses on who was really the person to be raping Lola, though we don’t investigate this, the romance shows us the damaging effects of a false accusation on two people who are meant to be together.

SettingsThe film is set in England, the first part is just rich country home, when we hit the war side of the film things get more difficult because we see the struggles of war.


Scene of the Movie –
Dunkirk beach.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Isn’t the most interesting story.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the duller period pieces that shows us just how many lives can be affected by a false accusation, we have great performances, though they don’t seem to have much to do.

 

Overall: Not a fan of this one.

Rating

 

 

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Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw IV (2007)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay) Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, Thomas Fenton (Story)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq bent, Athene Karkanis, Louis Ferreira

 

Plot: Despite Jigsaw’s death, and in order to save the lives of two of his colleagues, Lieutenant Rigg is forced to take part in a new game, which promises to test him to the limit.


Tagline – It’s a Trap

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Improving Once Again

 

Story: Saw IV starts as watch John Kramer’s (Bell) autopsy, but it uncovers a new recording for Lt Mark Hoffman (Mandylor) promising to pass on his work. Hoffman is getting help from FBI agents Peter Strahm (Patterson) and Lindsey Perez (Karkanis) who have been working on the Jigsaw case believing the bigger picture is going on with more than just John and Amanda.

Lt Daniel Rigg (Bent) becoming stressed and distant from his wife with the case learns that Eric (Wahlberg) is still alive and placed into a trap with Hoffman. Rigg gets placed into his own game where he has 90 minutes to save Matthews and Hoffman but with the FBI investigating Rigg becomes the prime suspect in the Jigsaw puzzle along with John’s ex-wife Jill (Russell) who reveals the motivation for John to become Jigsaw.

 

Thoughts on Saw IV

 

Characters – In the present time John is dead, but in this chapter we learn what motivated him to start his games or tests if you like, this does bring us to want to sympathise with John. Hoffman is the new lead detective on the case, where he must deal with the FBI turning up but worse for him, he gets caught up in the latest test with Matthews. Agent Strahm is from the FBI, he is searching for Jigsaw team as he believes it can’t have been the two-person operation, he believes someone in the force is involved and that John’s ex-wife is involved. Jill Tuck is John’s ex-wife, she is one of the prime suspects due to her connection to him, now she must give us the story to what motivated John. Rigg is the detective that has seen his friends on the force taken by Jigsaw, it is costing him his marriage so now he must go through the game learning that he can’t save everyone.

PerformancesThe performance across the board are good with Bell taking a smaller role but showing us, the sympathy needed. Patterson brings us a character we needed, one that knows the game is bigger and will do everything to stop it. The rest bring us the importance to certain moments in the film without being the full stars of the show.

StoryThe story continues to build the world that Jigsaw was from, we show that we will be facing more apprentices because Amanda and John couldn’t pull off the traps alone, this keeps us guessing on who it could be as well as teases potential returns of previous characters. The main game about a cop that needs to learn he can’t save everyone does feel like we are learning how John could recruit someone while the FBI investigation is the most interesting side of the film.

Horror/Mystery The horror comes from the games being played, they are becoming more graphic as we go along. The mystery is a lot more interesting here as we are left wondering who could in fact be the newest member of the team Jigsaw.

SettingsThe settings show us how the game can be performed in the small scale location in warehouse which would have no witness to what is going on.

Special EffectsThe effects are great here, when it comes to the games you can’t fault the effects team, we also see great moments of cutting between scenes that look flawless.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act and reveal twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain games do feel like gore for gores sake.

Final ThoughtsThis is a step back in the right direction, the bigger picture is a huge plus for the series as this film opened the doors to so many new directions for the film to go in. the only problem is there are sometimes one too many sub-stories to follow.

 

Overall: Good addition to the franchise.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

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