Surveillance (2008)

survDirector: Jennifer Lynch

Writer: Kent Harper, Jennifer Lynch (Screenplay)

Starring: Julia Ormond, Bill Pullman, Pell James, Michael Ironside, Kent Harper, Ryan Simpkins, French Stewart, Cheri Oteri

 

Plot: Two FBI agents attempt to clarify the murders occurring in a desolate region. They approach the witnesses of the latest incident with the help of the local police. All of them hide something and all have wildly different stories to tell.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Well Designed Thriller

 

Story: Surveillance starts with a bloody murder when FBI agents Elizabeth Anderson (Ormond) and Sam Hallaway (Pullman) come to investigate what has been going on much to the disagreement to the local law with Captain Billings (Ironside). The agents have a young girl Stephanie (Simpkins) who isn’t saying a word and a stoner Bobbi Prescott (James) worried she will get busted as their only witnesses.

With the cameras set up the interviews beginning as we learn what led to the events of the day in question. The longer the investigation goes on we get to learn how the two police officers involved took advantage of the victims for fun before we learn the outcome of the film.

 

Thoughts on Surveillance

 

StoryThe story is slow moving as we must go through the events of one day from three different points of view leading up to the final reveal. I did find this very slow because we had a lot of character development before everything kicks off, I think the final twist in the film is one you won’t see coming but the build-up takes too long.

Crime/Horror/Mystery/ThrillerThe whole film is circling around the idea of a crime being retold through the eyes of the witnesses which is all solid enough and you add in the mystery about what has happened to the mix you get the horror side to the story. the mix all work well to make us wonder what the hell is going on through the film.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters all come off feeling like different generic characters, we have the survivors of an incident one being innocent young girl, another being a stoner with the third being a shady cop. The FBI agents both come off very simple but instantly deal with the political material we are used too. As for performances, we get good from everyone because we don’t know who the killers really are throughout.

SettingsWhen it comes to the settings we have large part inside the police station with the rest just being on the open road, both settings are used well throughout the film.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the special effects they are only used when needed to make the accident look extra special when it finally happens.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow but well built up crime mystery horror thriller that is saved by the final twist within the film.

 

Overall: Slow thriller but rewarding by the end.

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Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – April Fool’s Day (2008)

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Plot: A year after an April Fool’s Day prank which resulted in the death of one of their set, a group of friends find themselves targeted by someone who is out for revenge.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: I Know What You Did Last April Fool’s Day

 

Story: April Fool’s Day starts with a rich party hosted with Desiree (Cole) and Blaine (Henderson) with guests Torrance (Taylor-Compton), Ryan (Egender), Barbie (Newsom) Charles (McKelheer) and Peter (Child). The April Fool’s Day party is in honour for Torrance joining the ranks of the elite but the night is going to be filled with pranks. The big prank of the night was going to be played on Milan (Aldridge) which ends with her dead and a nationwide study.

One year later the friends get a warning from someone claiming they know who kill Milan and will continue to kill the group until the person responsible admits their guilt. Time for the finger pointing and suspicious growing between them until the truth is revealed.

April Fool’s Day plays out just like I Know What You Did Last Summer having a prank go wrong and the friends being taken out by a killer who knows what happened. My problems with this is the title is too clear where the film will go and the characters are all very unlikable throughout. This isn’t anything original and does show how the elite believe they can get away with anything.

 

Actor Review

 

Taylor Cole: Desiree Cartier is the elite lady who is hosting the party for Torrance while trying to get plan a prank on an old friend Milan. When things go wrong she ends up controlling the family fortune but is guilt ridden. She has to put a side he social status to find out who really killed her friend. Taylor is solid lead without being too impressive in it.

Josh Henderson: Blaine Cartier is the playboy brother to Desiree who agreed to play an apart in the prank in the Milan. He becomes the prime suspect but gets away with any wrong doing through the court system. He must work with his sister to find out who is after them. Josh is solid without being anything special in this role.

Scout Taylor-Compton: Torrance is the young lady who is being welcomed into the rich society group, she is an aspiring actress who after the incident before is getting her first roles in film. Scout struggles to make the impact she has in other horror films.

Joe Egender: Ryan is the camera guy that takes what happens the most, he finds himself near broke having to work for a living unlike the rest of the friends. He becomes the prime suspect due to his strange nature. Joe is solid but basic in this role.

Support Cast: April Fool’s Day has a supporting cast which pretty much only includes a couple of other potential suspects along with the victim being very basic for the film.

Director Review: The Butcher BrothersThe brothers give us a good mystery horror that does keep us guessing from start to finish.

 

Horror: April Fool’s Day has all the elements of a slasher movie with how the characters are getting picked off one by one but is never truly scary.

Thriller: April Fool’s Day tries to keep us guessing to who is doing the killing.

Settings: April Fool’s Day uses the rich house for parts of the setting while the rest are just random around the town settings.
Special Effects
: April Fool’s Day has good effects with the kills without being over the top or bad.

Suggestion: April Fool’s Day is a late night TV viewing for horror fans. (Late Night TV)

 

Best Part: Twist.

Worst Part: Twist you know is coming from the title.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

Tagline: It’s gonna be a killer party!

 

Overall: Title gives away too much about this film.

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Franchise Weekend – Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)

residtDirector: Makoto Kamiya

Writer: Shotaro Suga (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Paul Mercier, Alyson Court, Laura Bailey, Roger Craig Smith, Crispin Freeman, Michelle Ruff, Michael Sorich, Salli Saffioti, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn

 

Plot: A warrior seeking revenge unleashes a deadly virus in Harvardville. Responding to the threat are former special forces members Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, who look to bring down a mutated monster before history repeats itself.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Watch

 

Story: Resident Evil: Degeneration starts as we learn about the aftermath of Racoon City where Umbrella have built a new facility under the name WilPharma in Harvardville which has led to protests against the Senator Ron Davies who agreed for it to be built. We move to the airport where he is inbound but we learn that the protestors have arranged to unleash the virus in the airport where survivor from Racoon City Claire Redfield is attending.

With the virus unleashed the airport is quarantined and Leon S Kennedy arranges a team to clear out the survivors bringing the old friendship back together. Escaping the airport Leon and Claire must enter WilPharma to learn who is really involved and what the plan really is about as Curtis Miller the prime suspect and known terrorist is the brother of fellow soldier on this mission Angela. Can these soldiers save the world from the outbreak?

Resident Evil: Degeneration is a follow on to the popular game franchise which unlike the live action version of the film gives us a chance to follow the heroes of the games. We get what feels like a chapter in the game which can easily add to future games or animated films keeping the story away from movie franchise. The story does everything you need for a game style and makes it all feel like it flashes by before you realize it is over. I do think this is one of the better version of the game series.

 

Character Review

 

Leon S Kennedy: Leon has to lead the military response to the attack on the airport, having dealt with the situation before he knows how to handle himself against the infected, he works with his old friend Claire to reveal the truth. Leon is a character pulled right from the games and is a strong one at that, he is your typical will give anything to stop the evil character.

Claire Redfield: Claire is now working to fight against any future repeat of Racoon City but just so happens to find herself in the wrong place at the wrong time as the next virus outbreak happens. She has to use her knowledge to find out who is really behind this latest outbreak and put a stop to it with her old friend Leon. Claire is a strong character in this world and one that can handle herself in a fight.

Angela Miller: Angela is a member of the force bought into deal with the outbreak, she works with Leon only to find out her mysterious older brother could be the one behind the outbreak in an act of revenge. Angela is quite a generic supporting character who doesn’t add much to the main story other than filling in the back story to why Curtis would do what he does.

Curtis Miller: Curtis is the known terrorist protest against WilPharma that is setting out on his own revenge plan for the death of his family in the Racoon City Incident. Curtis is a good character because you can sympathise with his decisions and loss.

Support Characters: Resident Evil: Degeneration has a supporting cast of characters that all have an involvement in what is going on in the bigger picture.

Director Review: Makoto KamiyaMakoto gives us an entertaining action film that is an easy watch for anyone who has played the games.

 

Action: Resident Evil: Degeneration has plenty of action going on with the final battle being the highlight to the film.

Animation: Resident Evil: Degeneration has good animation making us feel like we are part of the video game world the story could have come from.

Horror: Resident Evil: Degeneration has the horror inside the action side of the story never really hitting any scare marks.

Sci-Fi: Resident Evil: Degeneration throws us into a world where virus can turn people into the living dead and this is only the beginning.

Settings: Resident Evil: Degeneration only really uses a couple of settings and that is all the film needs to get the story out.

Suggestion: Resident Evil: Degeneration is one I do think the fans of the game would enjoy watching. (Gamer Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Final battle.

Worst Part: It does play out like a video game only.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Has one.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

Overall: Enjoyable animated version of the Resident Evil game series.

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Amy Adams Weekend – Doubt (2008)

casting cardDirector: John Patrick Shanley

Writer: John Patrick Shanley (Screenplay) John Patrick Shanley (Play)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Alice Drummond, Audrie Neenan, Susan Blommaert, Carrie Preston, John Costello, Lloyd Clay Brown

 

Plot: A Catholic school principal questions a priest’s ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intense Thriller

 

Story: Doubt starts in 1964 where Father Flynn (Hoffman) is still trying to lift his followers in the catholic church. We meet the strict Sister Beauvier (Streep) who strikes fear in all the student in the school while the perky Sister James (Adams) tries her own way to get through to the students.

When Sister James starts to question what Father Flynn has been up to she goes to Sister Beauvier with her suspicious about what he has been doing with the kids well one in particular. We watch as the three clash as they look for what is the truth in a world before all the catholic child molesting was being reported.

Doubt gives us one of the questions that is always good to leave the film with, which side do you believe? This really helps because we do see both sides of the situation and we are also left without a true answer leaving us with the important word doubt. The film does touch on subjects that we have come to see in life with catholic church being involved with child molesting.

 

Actor Review

 

Meryl Streep: Sister Aloysius Beauvier is the strict Sister on the catholic school that all the other Sisters have to turn answer to if they have any issues. When Sister James suspects Father Flynn she leads the charge against him because of her old school ways of beliefs. Meryl is brilliant in this role as we see her character going in a direction way before her time.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Father Brendan Flynn is the head of the parish where he picks the altar boys and works with the sisters to make the best decisions. When he gets closes to one of the boy’s heads start to turn and we are left to wonder if he is being a good man or taking advantage of this boy. Philip shows just how good he really was with this performance.

Amy Adams: Sister James is the innocent naïve Sister that teaches a class, she starts to piece together being the first person to suspect Father Flynn. She finds herself jumping between the sides never really knowing what to believe is true. Amy is great in this role almost being the character we are being able to relate to through the situation.

Viola Davis: Mrs Miller is the mother of the suspected victim of Father Flynn, she knows how difficult life is going to be for her son knowing that getting through this school will help any future he wants to have but the truth coming out could harm his future. Viola is brilliant in here few scenes supporting scenes.

Support Cast: Doubt has a supporting cast which includes the kids and the rest of the church who are only involved in the moments needed.

Director Review: John Patrick ShanleyJohn gives us one of the most intense films out there with how this subject.

 

Mystery: Doubt does keep us wondering just what is the truth out in the story.

Settings: Doubt keeps everything in the correct locations to make us believe we are in the right time period.

Suggestion: Doubt is one I think people should see at least once but I can see why it might be hard to see more than once. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Story.

Worst Part: Not one for re-watching.

 

Believability: This story might be fictional but the events are similar to certain moments.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for 5 Oscars

Budget: $20 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

Tagline: There is no evidence. There are no witnesses. But for one, there is no doubt.

 

Overall: Very interesting and intense film with great subject matter.

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Franchise Weekend – Transporter 3 (2008)

transporter 2Director: Olivier Megaton

Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova, Francois Berleand, Robert Knepper, Jeroen Krabbe, Alex Kobold, David Atrakchi, Yann Sundberg, Eriq Ebouaney

 

Plot: Frank Martin puts the driving gloves on to deliver Valentina, the kidnapped daughter of a Ukranian government official, from Marseilles to Odessa on the Black Sea. En route, he has to contend with thugs who want to intercept Valentina’s safe delivery and not let his personal feelings get in the way of his dangerous objective.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard Sequel

 

Story: Transporter 3 starts a Frank (Statham) gets a visit from a fellow Transporter who has given a job to, Frank finds himself having to finish the job as Johnson (Knepper) has a device attached to Frank that stops him going more than 25ft away from the car it is programmed with.

Frank must go on this reluctant mission with Valentina (Rudakova) for company. While Frank tries to find a way out of his situation we get to see the political side of this story where Johnson is pulling strings for something much bigger.

Transporter 3 gives us just what we would expect from the franchise we have all come to know. We get the wild action with have a bad guy with a big agenda that really doesn’t have much to do with Frank only for him to be a small part in the bigger picture but wanting to do the right thing. We don’t get anything new but will be easy to watch for anyone who is a fan of the genre.

 

Actor Review

 

Jason Statham: Frank Miller is still in the Transporter business but this time he is forced into this latest job. He has travel across Europe with Valentina breaking all his rules along the way. Jason is good in this role without doing anything we haven’t become sure he can handle.

Natalya Rudakova: Valentina is the passenger that Frank finds himself with, she is a party animal but just as trapped a him. She has a strange look on life being up and down through each situation making her the opposite to Frank. Natalya make a solid partner in crime for Frank but not enough mystery about her.

Francois Berleand: Tarconi is the inspector friend of Frank who helps from a distance giving us comic relief throughout. Francois is solid in this role without doing too much in this role.

Robert Knepper: Johnson is the American that gives job this to Frank, he shows just how deadly he is with his gun but doesn’t look like he will be fighter. He is also playing a political game. Robert does make for a good villain but a more calculated on for once.

Support Cast: Transporter 3 takes a step back with the supporting cast with most just being henchmen for Frank to fight off.

Director Review: Olivier MegatonOliver showed here he can handle the basic action side of any story but this never tests us like you would like after the improvement second time out.

 

Action: Transporter 3 very simple action which is designed to show how good Jason is at fighting or driving.

Crime: Transporter 3 gives us another crime story where Frank working for criminals finds himself on the wrong side of the law.

Thriller: Transporter 3 doesn’t keep us on edge because by now we know Frank is always going to make it.

Settings: Transporter 3 keeps Frank on the move which shows the use of setting is almost gone from this franchise.
Special Effects
: Transporter 3 doesn’t really use the effects well when needed with most just being wild driving.

Suggestion: Transporter 3 is one for the action fans to watch I do think they will enjoy but never really get tested. (Action Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Statham fighting.

Worst Part: Nothing really new here.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

Tagline: This time, the rules are the same. Except one.

 

Overall: Standard sequel that shows this was turning into the bog standard franchise idea.

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