ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – I – In Bruges (2008)

Director: Martin McDonagh

Writer: Martin McDonagh (Screenplay)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ciaran Hinds, Zelijko Ivanek, Clemence Poesy

 

Plot: Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be.


Tagline – Shoot first. Sightsee later.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Comedy

 

Story: In Bruges starts when Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) must leave London after a job goes wrong, they must head to Bruges where they must wait for instructions from their boss. Ray hates being in Bruges he sees it has a boring horrible place, while Ken is loving the idea of being a tourist.

When Harry (Fiennes) gives Ken the next job, which is to eliminate Ray for his error, while Ray gets involved with low level criminal Chloe (Poesy). Ken must give Ray the best send off before the difficult moment of his life happens.

 

Thoughts on In Bruges

 

Characters – Ray is a hitman that has made an error on the latest job when a stray bullet kills a little boy, he is filled with guilt for the death, he hates being in Bruges and always gets himself into trouble while trying to keep a low profile. We can see by his actions just how guilty he is feeling about what happened too. Ken is the partner to Ray, mentor if you like, he bought him into the world and is the connection to the boss, he loves the sightseeing in Bruges, he is put in the difficult position of needing to eliminate his partner and doesn’t want to go through with it. Harry is the boss that just wants loose ends cleaned up, seeing that Ray made a mistake, he ends up needing to get his hands dirty if he wants to get rid of the problems. Chloe is a dealer working around a movie set, she wins Ray’s heart giving him the only beacon of light in his life.

PerformancesColin Farrell shows us here just how good he can be in a mix of comedy and unsettling behaviour that he finds himself needing to put his character through. Brendan Gleeson is wonderful to watch too, while Ralph Fiennes proves once again that he can become a full-blown psychotic character with ease. The rest of the cast do add to the comedy we go through during the film.

StoryThe story follows two hitmen in hiding after a job goes wrong while their boss decides what to do next, which is kill Ray for his mistake. We get to see how mixed the two are about being in Bruges with one loving and other hating it which plays into the tourist vibes we are meant to feel with the trip. We get religious elements in this film too which play into just where the two will go once their lives are over and what punishment they should face if they are caught or killed. This is a clever story because it shows us just how each character plays an important part to the final outcome of the film too.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy in the film comes from the reactions of just being in Bruges, they we add in the reaction to seeing a dwarf not wanting to offend him and ends up making things worse. The crime side of the film shows us just the world the three main characters are from being hitmen.

SettingsThe film is set in Bruges which is a beautiful city, the setting shows us just how they can play into the comedy in the film because of the men’s reactions to the location.


Scene of the Movie –
The chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Canadian side of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun dark comedy that isn’t afraid to hold back on just where the jokes will come from.

 

Overall: Deliciously Dark Comedy.

Rating

 

 

Samuel L Jackson Weekend – The Spirit (2008) Movie Review

Director: Frank Miller

Writer: Frank Miller (Screenplay) Will Eisner (Comic Book)

Starring: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson

Plot: Rookie cop Denny Colt returns from the beyond as The Spirit, a hero whose mission is to fight against the bad forces in Central City.


Tagline – I’m gonna kill you all kinds of dead.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Style Over Substance

Story: The Spirit starts as former cop who survived against death’s will, The Spirit (Macht) continues to chase crime against the ruthless crime lord known as Octopus (Jackson) where the two fight against each other for years, Sand Saref (Mendes) is also interested in becoming rich, which sees her cross paths with both.

With both Spirit and Octopus chasing down Sand, she continues to try and improve her riches, even if the two are just waiting for the battle which will end the war between the two men once and for all.

Thoughts on The Spirit

Characters – The Spirit fights crime around his city, he has cheated death, who is waiting for a chance to take his life, he has been fighting Octopus for years now and is trying to find a way to get rid of him once and for all. He is trying to solve why Sand is committing crimes and what the Octopus is up to this time. Octopus is the crime lord of the city, he wants full dominance and enjoys the battle against Spirit, he has a big plan for the city that only Spirit can stop. Sand is the former childhood friend of Spirit’s, she has turned to a life a crime, where she steals whatever she wants to build her riches, she doesn’t kill cops though, which makes her different type of enemy for Spirit to face. Silken Floss the sexy assistant to Octopus that has been working with him to create something new and isn’t afraid to use her looks to get an advantage.

PerformancesGabriel Macht is an actor you must feel bad for, he took a shot at something different, only for the film to be received so badly, his performance isn’t bad in anyway, much like most of the performances from the men, they just seem bland characters. Eva Mendes and Scarlett Johansson ooze sex appeal with the comic character bought to life here.

StoryThe story follows the town’s vigilante Spirit as he goes up against his arch nemesis before he gets to release a new deadly threat on the world, all while the wild card of a thief is getting in the way of both of their plans. This is a comic book adaptation which is why the story does have a unique style to everything going on. The main story does seem to fill the idea of a hero needing to fight against a villain who wants power without it being anything we haven’t seen before. It just doesn’t work however much the story wants to try to be different to anything else out there.

Action/Crime/FantasyThe action side of the film is very simple stuff despite being a comic book, it never becomes style it wants to be, with the fantasy side of the film showing us just strong both Spirit and Octopus are.

SettingsThe film keeps us in this fictional city where everything is happening, it does feel like a comic book city for the most part.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are used to try and add the style to everything we are seeing, most don’t work as well as they could.


Scene of the Movie – All kinds of Dead.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The style just doesn’t work on the levels of Sin City.

Final Thoughts This is a comic book movie that just doesn’t hit the style it wants to by the end of the film, we can’t complain because it is different to the usual films we are seeing in the comic book genre.

Overall: Style is different.

James Bond Month – Quantum of Solace (2008)

Director: Marc Forster

Writer: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade (Screenplay)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright

 

Plot: James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organization from eliminating a country’s most valuable resource.


Tagline – Have Regrets. Get Revenge.

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Sequel

 

Story: Quantum of Solace starts right after the events of Casino Royale, James Bond (Craig) is searching for the organization that was controlling the events of the previous film. James is teaming up with M (Dench) only to learn the true scale of the organizations reach.

James travels to Haiti where he meets Camille (Kurylenko) a woman working with Dominic Greene (Amalric) who has been planning making a fortune on his own desires within the organization, Bond does continue to break the rules pushing M to the limits of her acceptance.

 

Thoughts on Quantum of Solace

 

Characters – James Bond is filled with vengeance after what happened in Casino Royale, he wants to hunt down the people involved within in the organization, he starts to go rogue in the eyes of the people in MI6, which sees him killing people before getting the information desired. He will go above the duty to get the people involved. Camille is the lady dating Dominic Greene, she has her own reason for being close to him and ends up working with James to get her own revenge on the organization. Dominic Greene has been working within the organization, he has a plan which will see him gain control of the nature resource with the idea to hold a country to ransom for the resource. He isn’t the most interesting villain in the franchise becoming of the more forgettable. M continues to get a large role within the franchise, here she is trying to decide whether to keep James in the field or not, getting tired of him breaking the rules.

PerformancesDaniel Craig does continue to handle the action side of the film well, he could easily be an action spy without the big name slapped to his character. Olga Kurylenko is fine as a Bond girl, she doesn’t get to bring anything overly new to the role though. Mathieu Amalric doesn’t get enough to work with for his villainous role, he is largely forgettable, though this isn’t about his performance. Judi Dench has suddenly become the most interesting character in this franchise, which is strange and you do want to see all her scenes.

StoryThe story continues to follow the first mission from James Bond as he has unfinished business with how that ended, he must investigate the organization that happens to be bigger than MI6 even knew about. By having a continuing story both works in the films advantage and against it, because you wouldn’t be able to watch this one without seeing the previous one, though it is nice to see a word building process happening. Keeping James on his first mission does continue to make the story feel fresh because we are seeing just how many reckless decisions he will be making through the mission. When it comes to the villain, we get a largely forgettable motive and he never feels like a danger to James.

Action/AdventureThe action continues to be the highlight of the film, we a much more edge of your seat feeling to the chase sequences being used in the film, with the adventure side of the film continues to take James around the world.

SettingsThe settings in the film takes James around the world to investigate the organization.


Scene of the Movie –
Roof top running.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The villain being forgettable.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sequel that works well for the franchise because it continues to show us how James is learning from his mistakes on the job.

 

Overall: Sequel that helps the franchise.

Rating

 

 

Jon Favreau Weekend – Iron Man (2008)

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (Characters)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leslie Bibb, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir

 

Plot: After being held captive in an Afghan cave, billionaire engineer Tony Stark creates a unique weaponized suit of armor to fight evil.


Tagline – Heroes aren’t born. They’re built

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict:  Great Start to the Franchise

 

Story: Iron Man starts as billionaire engineer Tony Stark (Downey Jr) is captured on a routine weapon visit to Afghanistan showing off his latest weapon, his capturer wants him to build a new weapon, but Tony was injured and is in shock at the number of weapons from his company they have.

Tony builds a suit which he will use to escape and save his own life, one which could be used to fight evil, he becomes Iron Man. His long-time friend Rhodey (Howard) is impressed with his new toy, and his partner Obadiah Stane (Bridges) wants to use the weapon to continue the war effort. Tony will have to learn the position he is know in the world to learn to protect it.

 

Thoughts on Iron Man

 

Characters – Tony Stark is a billionaire playboy engineer who has been developing the latest weapons to defend the home land, he looks down on most the people he meets including the soldiers showing around the warzone. He gets captured and designs a weapon that sees him escape, he makes himself Iron Man which will keep him alive, which sees him looking at life through different eyes, where he doesn’t want to supply weapons in conflict. Rhodey is the military best friend of Tony’s he uses the weapons created to help his men, he can get tired of Tony’s partying lifestyle. Obadiah Stane ran Stark enterprise after Tony’s parents death, he has mentored Tony in business, but is left with a difficult decision after Tony’s decision to stop making weapons. Pepper Potts is Tony’s assistant, she handles the affairs while he gets on with his business.

PerformancesRobert Downey Jr is fantastic in the leading role, we can believe his confidence and cocky nature that he is showing through the film. Terrence Howard is playing a more grounded character, he would go onto be replaced in this role, he just doesn’t have the complete opposite against that Robert brings. Jeff Bridges is strong as the villainous businessman who is controlled by greed. Gwyneth Paltrow does a solid job as Pepper, where she is going to become a character we get to know through the franchise.

StoryThe story shows us how Tony Stark went from businessman to Iron Man after learning the cost of his weapons which are being used on both sides of the war and must stop the man running his family’s company into the ground with these action. For origin stories we get to see the change in Tony’s mentality over the course of the story which is what will make somebody a hero. We don’t get the completely over the top destruction, with most of the fight scenes blending into the story where we see Tony learning how to control his suit. We get the first steps into the Marvel Cinematic Universe which brings the franchise to life with this just needing to give the hero an early villain that will make him a new hero in the world.

Action/Sci-Fi The action in this film comes war sequences and how Tony learns about his suits capabilities, the first mission shows what we are going to see in the future. The sci-fi elements in this film comes from how the suit is created to keep Tony alive and the new levels of technology involved.

SettingsThe film takes us to a couple of locations, Miami where Tony lives shows his playboy lifestyle, the Afghan locations show how the war is being fought with the two different sides and the same weapons.

Special EffectsThe effects used in this film show us the scale of what Tony will have do to survive, we have the idea of his heart that never looks out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
Iron Man’s first mission.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Rhodey isn’t the most interesting character in this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful beginning to the franchise which would go onto change how cinema is experienced, it has the origin of an unknown character to the casual fans of comic book movies, which works for laughs and action, without being a comedy.

 

Overall: Fun, entertaining and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

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