The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

Director: Mark Waters

Writer: Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum, John Sayles (Screenplay) Tony DiTerlizzi, Holly Black (Book)

Starring: Freddie Highmore, Mary-Louise Parker, Nick Nolte, Sarah Bolger, Andrew McCarthy, Joan Plowright, David Strathairn

 

Plot: Upon moving into the run-down Spiderwick Estate with their mother, twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of faeries and other creatures.


Tagline – Experience Their World In IMAX

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Fantasy Adventure

 

Story: The Spiderwick Chronicles starts when a family mother Helen (Parker) and children, Mallory (Bolger), twins Jared & Simon (Both played by Highmore) move to a remote Spiderwick estate. Not long after arriving in the home Jared to rebellious of the twins starts investigating the home only to discovery a mysterious book from the former owner.

Once Jared reads the book, he unleashes a goblin army that has been after the book for years and Mulgarath (Nolte) will do anything to get his hands on the book.

 

Thoughts on The Spiderwick Chronicles

 

Characters – Jared is the out going of the twins, he is the one that reads the book and must convince the rest to fight back against goblins, his nature means people are less likely to believe him through any of his decisions though. Simon is the quieter and smarter brother that must look for the solution to the problems being caused. Helen is the mother that is dealing with raising the three children after her marriage has fallen apart and she needs to start a new life, one she isn’t prepared for. Mallory is the older sister that must be the warrior for the twins. Mulgarath is the goblin king that wants the book to kill any species in the surrounding area.

PerformancesFreddie Highmore takes twin roles here and handles them both very well showing how he can be the smarter kid and the adventurous one too. Mary Louise Parker in the parental role works well as we need her to bring the serious side to the story now. Sarah Bolger is strong too needing to be the strongest member of the children.

StoryThe story takes three siblings into a battle with goblins with fantasy creatures being used to guide the way in this battle. This will bring the broken family back together, well back to the level they are going to need to get used too. The scale of the book doesn’t give the story enough credit because it feels like this book has created a massive world only for us to get a snippet into everything. this story doesn’t re-invent the wheel because we can see the formula unfold without needing to guess to much on just how thing go on. We do deal with a big family change which should be the focal point through the film too.

Adventure/FantasyThe adventure side of the film takes the family into battle against the creatures of the forest which are invisible to most of the world, this plays into the fantasy side too because of the creatures we see at war.

SettingsThe film takes the family to a new house that is in the middle of the forest, which shows us the finical change the family must take, as well as the adventures waiting in the forest for people to experience.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are strong for the most part because we get to see the different creation looking like they would fit in the normal world.


Scene of the Movie –
Come with me.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not getting a full grasp of the scale of the fantasy world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun fantasy adventure that brings the characters into a world which will unite them as they deal with the biggest change of the children’s life.

 

Overall: Simple and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

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The Killing Death (2008)

Director: Ian Russell

Writer: Ian Russell (Screenplay)

Starring: Jeremy Dangerfield, Tyhr Trubiak, Neil Reimer, Darren Felbel, Stephen Washen, Veronica Ternopolski

Plot: Two Cops on the trail of a killer making the ultimate pizza.


Tagline – Terror by the slice!
Runtime: 1 Hour 5 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Micro Budget 101

Story: The Killing Death starts when two detectives Frank (Dangerfield) who is about to retire and Jimmy (Trubiak) who is on his first case, must figure out the connection between a string of murders, with the suspect Chicago Phil (Reimer) committing a string of murders around town, each suspect is introduced to give him a fresh kill.

The closer the detectives get to solving the case, the increased number of bodies that keep turning up, can they solve the case before it is too late.

Thoughts on The Killing Death

Characters – Frank is an aging detective that has always finished his cases, he is about to retire and now he wants to finish this last case before he goes, Jimmy is the rookie working his first case, he is learning from Frank too, proving he needs to solve the case to make it. Chicago Phil is a pizza delivery guy that has a habit of killing his clients, he is trying to make a perfect pizza along the way.

PerformancesThis is a hard film to criticise because of the fact it is micro budget, the problem with the acting comes from the fact that nothing feels natural in how things are delivered.

StoryThe story here follows two detectives trying to solve the case of a serial killer in their town. The outside of this story seems simple and one that could be enjoyed, only for it to come up very short in delivery, the killer and weapon of choice does seem to become random, even though we have a couple of scenes where it is clear choice, the detectives seem to just be making up their own story to make the case easy to close and apart from investigating the case, they never seen to search for answers. For a micro-budget story this does do what it needs to by laying out the format, only it just doesn’t come close to becoming easy to enjoy.

Comedy/HorrorThe comedy in this film does come from how awkward the two detectives are when it comes to communication, it is very hard to see these jokes coming off. The horror is only around the kills, which are meant to show a serial killer at work.

SettingsThe film uses the different houses that could have a pizza delivery as the main locations, which work for the film.

Special EffectsThe effects for a micro budget are the strongest part of the film, they show how certain things can work in films.


Scene of the Movie – Take it easy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Most of the comedy.

Final Thoughts This is a micro budget film that does try to give us something original even though it does miss for the most part on comedy, it is a film that looks like the people behind it enjoyed making.

Overall: Sometimes you just need to enjoy what you do.

Rating

The Bank Job (2008)

Director: Roger Donaldson

Writer: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner, Alki David, Michael Jibosn

 

Plot: Martine offers Terry a lead on a foolproof bank hit on London’s Baker Street. She targets a roomful of safe deposit boxes worth millions in cash and jewelry. But Terry and his crew don’t realize the boxes also contain a treasure trove of dirty secrets – secrets that will thrust them into a deadly web of corruption and illicit scandal.


Tagline – Based on a true story

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Busy Heist Film

 

Story: The Bank Job starts when former lover Martine Love (Burrows) turns to Terry Leather (Statham) to do a bank job which can get him out of his debts and start a fresh life, Terry puts together a team including Kevin (Moore), Dave (Mays), Guy (Faulkner), Bambas (David) and Eddie (Jibson) for a Foolproof plan.

The job does seem easy, but Terry doesn’t know that Martine is working for the government who are trying to get condemning evidence back and that Terry is just a pawn in this game, can they get the job done without being caught?

 

Thoughts on The Bank Job

 

Characters – Terry Leather is a car salesman in London, he has amounted debts which will see his business go under if the loan sharks don’t get to him first. He has worked on small crimes before, but a former lover offers him a job he can’t turn down, one that can get him out of his problems once and for all. Martine is the former lover and model who has been assigned to steal the photos from the safety deposit box in exchange for charges being dropped, she picks Terry and his team to get the job done, not giving away her own side of the deal.  Kevin and Dave are two members of the team doing the robbery, the two closest to Terry which gives us the friendship being put on the line between the men.

PerformancesJason Statham as a wise talking Londoner this sounds like something he can do well, he looks the part, you could see him in the underworld without needing to use his muscles either. Saffron Burrows can make herself the model figure that uses her looks to get a job done. When we look at the supporting cast, they all handle their roles well through the film.

StoryThe story follows a group of Londoners that get offered a chance to commit a bank robbery to get out of the area only to find themselves in the middle of a much bigger operation to retrieve photos which can be used to bring down important political figures. This is a heist story which does have an extra edge because it isn’t just about the job, it is about the bigger picture which puts the rich and famous live into chaos. While we do have a lot going on, which is part of the idea because the chaos is meant to be getting out of control once the robbery is complete, though it does feel like we see too much to keep up on at times.

Crime/RomanceThe crime is set-up to work perfectly well and goes well, it is the aftermath which shows us just how chaotic the crime world can become for the people who commit the robbery or have been robbed.

SettingsThe film is set in London which shows us just how corrupt certain parts of the city can be at times and if you are the right person, you can get around like nothing is happening.


Scene of the Movie –
The robbery.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too much going on post-robbery.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very busy heist movie, it does work with just how much is going on which is good, though it isn’t as relaxing as a lot of heist film can be.

 

Overall: Heist film that keeps everything going on.

Rating

 

 

Seventh Moon (2008)

Director: Eduardo Sanchez

Writer: Eduardo Sanchez, Jamie Nash (Screenplay)

Starring: Amy Smart, Tim Chiou, Dennis Chan

 

Plot: Melissa and Yul, Americans honeymooning in China, come across the exotic ‘Hungry Ghost’ festival. When night falls, the couple end up in a remote village, and soon realize the legend is all too real. Plunged into an ancient custom they cannot comprehend, the couple must find a way to survive the night of the Seventh Moon.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Camerawork Ruins the Film

 

Story: Seventh Moon starts as newlywed Melissa (Smart) and Yul (Chiou) are travelling around China for their honeymoon, we get the montage to show the best bits, before they take a trip with their trust guide Ping (Chan) who leaves them in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.

Getting concerned the two investigate only to learn not everything is as it seems and now they must battle to survive against the locals and their spirits that are visiting on the Seventh Moon,

 

Thoughts on Seventh Moon

 

Characters – We know horror movies don’t get the best character development and this movie shows why, we have American Melissa who would rather be swimming with dolphins than going to China the homeland of her husband, she is stronger when it comes to surviving horror, forcing her husband to do the manly thing. Yul is the Chinese American that married Melissa and is heading to his homeland for their honeymoon, she doesn’t speak fluent which shows during the non-English moments and needs to be pushed to do the right thing.

PerformancesDoes any remember when Amy Smart was shine in the teenage romantic comedies over the turn of the century, Road Trip and later Just Friends? Well this is where she ended up doing horrors which doesn’t involve too much actual acting. Tim Chiou doesn’t give the best of performances, again this is down to the material and awful camerawork.

StoryThe story wants to be something a lot bigger than what we got, in reality it is American tourist not understand culture and getting caught in the middle of a ritual they don’t understand, mostly running around the woods/forest screaming and hiding. When we watch horror, we don’t always need the best stories, granted but we do at least need something to care about, characters to root for an enemy we might understand. This gives us none of this and ends up feeling flat and boring throughout.

Horror/ThrillerThe horror in this film comes from what is in the woods/forest, it uses the myth of the Seventh Moon to say spirits will come out looking for fresh blood and these creatures are what we must see our character hide and fight against.

SettingsThe setting is the woods or forest, this is fine and works for the idea in the movie, we know that small communities will have different beliefs and while the settings are not used in the most terrifying way they suit the film we are watching.

Special EffectsThe effects are the confusing part of this film, this is because the make-up works very well for the creatures, but the camerawork makes this borderline unwatchable at times.


Scene of the Movie –
The creatures attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The camerawork is terrible.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid idea for a horror film, but the camerawork starts to make this feel unwatchable for the most part.

 

Overall: Camerawork ruins a smart idea that should work.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – R – RocknRolla (2008)

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie (Screenplay)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Karel Roden, Toby Kebbell

 

Plot: Lenny Cole, a London mob boss, puts the bite on all local real estate transactions. For substantial fees, he’s helping Uri Omovich, a Russian developer. As a sign of good faith, Omovich loans Cole a valuable painting, promptly stolen off Cole’s wall. While Cole’s men, led by the dependable Archie, look for the canvas, three local petty criminals, the Wild Bunch, steal money from the Russian using inside information from his accountant, the lovely Stella. Meanwhile, a local drug-addled rocker, Johnny Quid, is reported drowned, and his connection to Cole is the key to unraveling the deceits and double crosses of life in the underworld.


Tagline – A story of sex, thugs and rock ‘n roll.

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over Saturated Film

 

Story: RocknRolla starts when One Two (Butler) and Mumbles (Elba) learn the hard way how London mobster Lenny Cole (Wilkinson) operates, needing to collect a large amount of money. Lenny is in the middle of a big deal with a Russian Uri Omovich (Roden) that would be the biggest of his career.

When a piece of art gets stolen Lenny is put under pressure to return the art work to Uri, he turns to his right-hand man Archy (Strong) to get it back, turning to One Two for help as we see how the underworld coming together to get one up on each other.

 

Thoughts on RocknRolla

 

Characters – One Two is the leader of the Wild Bunch, he gets left owing a lot of money within the month and it soon becomes his connections that help with the mystery about where a painting is hiding as he plans to solve his own problems. Mumbles is the best friend in the Wild Bunch, he is the one that One Two turns to for advice through the problems. Lenny Cole is the mobster that runs London, he has everyone in his pocket to get what he wants, with his greed taking over when he can have a deal with a billionaire Russian, though his past could cause the trouble in this deal. Stella is the accountant that has each party doing her dealings, she knows how to have each side in the palm of her hands. Archy is the one telling the story, he has the right-hand man for Lenny and the go between all the different sides of the underworld. In this film we do get too many characters with so many different arcs going on through the film.

PerformancesThe acting in this film is good from the whole cast, we have a large cast which does hinder them from getting a true star turn in this film. Butler, Wilkinson, Newton, Strong, Elba, Hardy all show how they can become good at making moments of impact in shorter scenes.

StoryThe story here follows three levels of mobsters as they deal with a deal gone bad as they are trying to stay ahead of each other, in typical Ritchie storytelling we get thrown all over the place with the story telling and miss the most interesting action aspects of the film. when it comes to the criminal underworld side of the story, we don’t get anything new with generic characters who just go through the emotions that don’t always make us enjoy the characters we are enjoy watching.

Action/CrimeThe action is disappointing because we have scenes which should be good, only Ritchie’s style of shooting chops too much hiding the best parts. The crime world created is good because we see just how many different levels of the crime world we are entering.

SettingsThe film is set in London which is good for the film because if these type of deals are happening it would need to be in a busy city location like London.


Scene of the Movie –
Sporting goods fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The action editing.

Final ThoughtsThis is your typical British gangster film, it has its own flair which can help and hinder the film at times, we have too many characters to stay on top of which only disappoints with the storytelling process.

 

Overall: Typical mobster movie.

Rating