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

 

 

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Daniel Craig Weekend – Defiance (2008)

Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Clayton Frohman, Edward Zwick (Screenplay) Nechama Tec (Book)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, Allan Corduner, Mark Feuerstein, Tomas Arana

 

Plot: Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters, and endeavor to build a village, in order to protect themselves and about one thousand Jewish non-combatants.


Tagline – Freedom begins with an act of defiance!

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Amazing Story of the Tragedy of War

 

Story: Defiance starts as the Bielski brothers Tuvia (Craig), Zus (Schreiber) and Asael (Bell) set up camp in the forests of Belarus for Jews during the war, knowing they would become slaughtered if the Germans came across them. Tuvia wants to make sure the group survive, while Zus wants to fight back against them.

As the conflict between the brothers becomes clearer, Zus joins the Russian resistance to fight back, while Tuvia continues to grow the group offering the only hope of survival for the men, women and children.

 

Thoughts on Defiance

 

Characters – Tuvia wants safety for the innocent people in the war, mostly the Jews of Belarus, he offers them shelter in exchange for labour to make their community whole, guards them from the dangers that could come from the war, he makes the difficult decisions others simply couldn’t decide on. Zus wants to combative defence against the German’s he will eventually clash with his brother before joining the Russian’s against the German, always being left to wonder if he made the right decision. Asael is the younger of the three brothers, he learns to grow up through this war and his action show that he has given his own older brother the hope he needs to survive. Lilka is one of the women saved from the ghetto, she becomes somebody that challenges Tuvia to make the right decisions through the difficult times he is going through. We have a lot of support character who are part of this journey to show just how difficult surviving the war would have been for the innocent or helpless.

PerformancesDaniel Craig takes the leading role and shows all his strengths as an actor, he makes us believe that he is struggling with each and every expression he makes, this is likewise for Schreiber as the two show even with conflict they can work together. Jamie Bell continued to show he was growing up into a great actor ready for the more adult roles and with a supporting cast that contains Oscar nominated stars, we see the abilities involved with the cast.

StoryThe story here shows the incredible story of the Bielski brothers that gave hope to thousands of Jews during World War II, while the two oldest might fight over ideas of how to survive the war, they both want the same thing, freedom and safety for their people. We have seen many different stories of people doing incredible things to survive the war and never ask for anything in return is always growing, it is an important part of history that should never be forgotten and this film’s story shows us just how impossible their stories seemed.

Action/History/WarThe action in the film shows us the fighting suffered through war, the sequences show how quickly the peaceful locations can become ruined and just how war made people do things they never thought they would. This is also an important part of history which simply shouldn’t ever be forgotten.

SettingsSet mostly in the forest, this shows how the victims of war would be in hiding just hoping they never got seen by anybody who would come after them.


Scene of the Movie –
The journey.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The faith side while important does seem to take over at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is yet another amazing story of survival during the war, it showed how one family risked everything to make sure others were safe and shouldn’t ever be forgotten.

 

Overall: Powerful and important.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – Y – Yes Man (2008)

Director: Peyton Reed

Writer: Nicholas Stoller, Jarred Paul, Andrew Mogel (Screenplay) Danny Wallace (Book)

Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, John Michael Higgins, Rhys Darby, Danny Masterson

 

Plot: A man challenges himself to say “yes” to everything for an entire year.


Tagline – One word can change everything.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Comedy With Laughs

 

Story: Yes Man starts as we meet Carl (Carrey) a banker that doesn’t like to socialise with his friends, co-workers or seems to always say no to everything. when Carl bumps into an old friend Nick (Higgins) who has turned his life around by always saying ‘Yes’ to everything in life.

Carl ends up joining the same group deciding to take the whole year just saying yes, in this time he meets Allison (Deschanel) a musician who is completely different to himself and gets closer to his best friend Peter (Cooper), one of the few people that still encourages him to go out, the question remains just how extreme everything will go.

 

Thoughts on Yes Man

 

Characters – Carl lives a very restricted life, mostly because of his divorce and life not going any direction he is enjoying. This has made his friendship group dwindle down, after being encouraged to take the risk of the ‘Yes’ motivation group, he starts saying Yes to everything, from helping a homeless person to approving a bank loan to a stranger. Allison is the woman that Carl meets in the year after saying yes to something he never would, she is different to anything he would usually go for, being spontaneous on every opportunity. Peter is the best friend of Carl’s the one that will always try to push his friend to get out there and enjoy his life, he has been let down by Carl before and the friendship is what keeps them close together. Nick is the man that inspires Carl to follow through with the idea to say yes, he used to be like Carl and now he is enjoying his life.

PerformancesJim Carrey in the leading role is good for the most part, the problem with this is that he lets too much of his slapstick comedy going on and this role would have bern fantastic for a straight-faced actor to pull off. Zooey Deschanel is good as the love interest, she always is great to see as the girlfriend and she gets to show her singing skills at times too. Bradley Cooper was continuing to make a name of himself in supporting roles where he once again gets his timing right. The supporting cast all get good laughs through the film.

StoryThe story follows a man who believes his life isn’t going well stuck in a rut which he is happy enough with, when he gets given a chance to take chances he starts saying yes to everything which opens up his life to new opportunities. This does show us the meaning of life even if we see the extremes of it here, we get to see how taking chances with make for an enjoyable life however mad certain parts might be. We do see moments of people who will take advantage of that person, which isn’t ever addressed enough especially when one is a close friend, overall this story shows us just how important living life is, taking chance because you never know what you might find in life.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film comes from the reactions and participation in the events that Carl get put through, we do get laughs from the supporting cast with Rhys Darby as Norman getting the most. The romance side of the film comes from taking a chance, Carl had been divorced and not wanting to take a chance on meeting new people which saying yes offers him.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which is fine, it could have been set in any city because none of what is achieved makes a different to the actual settings.


Scene of the Movie –
Close stage.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Carrey sometimes goes to slapstick too quickly.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun motivational movie, sure it becomes a basic comedy and could have been better with somebody not known for comedy in the leading role, but it does everything it needs to.

 

Overall: Fun comedy.

Rating

 

 

Valkyrie (2008)

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Terrence Stamp

 

Plot: A dramatization of the 20 July assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Hitler during World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Thriller

 

Story: Valkyrie starts in the middle of World War II, outspoken German Colonel Claus Stauffenberg (Cruise) is assigned duty in Tunisia where he gets injured. Back in German Major General Henning von Tresckow (Branagh) has been working on a plan to assassinate Hitler and ending the war.

When Henning’s latest choice fails, he gets his fellow General Friedrich Olbricht (Nighy) to recruit a new member to this secret group and Claus is that man. We follow as the plan to assassinate Hitler comes together with espionage between the ranking officers, secret meetings and changes in potential candidates.  

 

Thoughts on Valkyrie

 

Characters/PerformanceColonel Claus von Stauffenberg is the soldier injured during the war and now he is the man with the plan to assassinate Hitler. Major General Henning von Tresckow is the officer that brings Claus into the circle as he wants to find the end of the war. General Friedrich Olbricht is the handler of Claus in the ranking side of things but off the books he must follow the instructions of Claus. The characters are all based on real people all involved in the real assassination attempt on Hitler.

Performance wise, well first we need to address that this is an English-speaking movie about what is happening within German during the war so we need to look past that when judging these performances of Tom Cruise who is good showing he can do serious movies over action sequences. Nighy, Branagh and Wilkinson are all great through the film as are the rest of the cast.

StoryThis is a look at a moment in history that many people don’t know about, we all know how World War II went and the bigger events, but looking at the story of a revolution within the German army to stop Hitler ending the war. The amount of people that would risk their lives to stop Hitler but the weak point here is we know the truth that it failed.

History/War Looking in the history of World War II we get to learn about a smaller detail which get covered up because they were failed missions to end the war and this gives us that story.

SettingsEach setting shows us the image of war time Germany with little issues with the look of the sets.

Final ThoughtsNice look into history about a moment that could have changed the end of the war forever.

 

Overall: Historical film that does show us a moment of great risk that ended in failure.

Rating

 

 

Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw V (2008)

Director: David Hackl

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Julie Benz, Meagan Good, Mark Rolston

 

Plot: Following Jigsaw’s grisly demise, Mark Hoffman is commended as a hero, but Agent Strahm is suspicious, and delves into Hoffman’s past. Meanwhile, another group of people are put through a series of gruesome tests.


Tagline – In the end all the pieces will fit together

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Arc, Pointless Game

 

Story: Saw V starts where we finished the last film, Hoffman (Mandylor) locking Agent Strahm (Patterson) in the death room of John, Strahm must go on his own test to make it out of the warehouse where he ends up in a trap using his intelligence to survive the impossible to escape trap.

Hoffman considered a hero now gets a promotion and gets known as the man who stop Jigsaw, Jill Tuck (Russell) gets a message from John (Bell) following his death with a box that will have clues on what to do next. Hoffman is presenting his own game with five victims needing to escape the tasks they are placed in with Brit (Benz), Luba (Good), Charles, Mallick and Ashley being involved. Strahm taken off active duty starts looking into Hoffman himself, while Hoffman tries to lead Strahm replacement into believing it is him.

 

Thoughts on Saw V

 

Characters – John is long dead now, but in this film we learn how he recruit Hoffman to be part of his team, we see how he passes on the ideas believing Hoffman has better control than Amanda. Hoffman is now in control of the games, he is running his own while also trying to shift the suspicious surrounding him, placing it on Strahm. Agent Strahm survives one of the games to the surprise of Hoffman, now he is placed on leave but doesn’t want to rest until he can get his proof Hoffman is the man behind the traps. The people in the game include Jill as they all have a connection to what is the bigger picture.

PerformancesTobin Bell is the presence we all have come to know in the franchise and while only in a smaller role he is good, Costas Mandylor steps up to the starring role as we see the clogs turning through each scene he is in. Scott Patterson is also good in the desperate detective figure. It the rest of the cast which are fine with their roles but not to the level we believe they should be at.

StoryThe story is split into the bigger picture as we learn how Hoffman is involved with the Jigsaw murders and how he must keep on top of his true identity to stay in the game. The otherwise seems like a random game which doesn’t seem to have any connection to what is going on in the bigger picture which takes us away from the film. this is why I both enjoy and hate this franchise, I love the bigger picture side of the film but hate the pointless games we watch.

Horror/MysteryThe gore used is heavy for the film but it is strange that the horror side of the film only seems to come from the games which don’t involve the biggest and best part of the film, the mystery side to where things will go next.

SettingsThe settings continue to show us the warehouse feeling where the games need to make them feel like the characters are hitting rock bottom.

Special EffectsThe effects do looks great still with most coming off practical throughout the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Final game.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The five person game did feel almost pointless to the bigger story.

Final ThoughtsThis does continue to have a great bigger picture storyline but it does fill in the gaps with mindless gore.

 

Overall: Solid continuation of the Hoffman story.

Rating

 

 

Director: David Hackl

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Julie Benz, Meagan Good, Mark Rolston

 

Plot: Following Jigsaw’s grisly demise, Mark Hoffman is commended as a hero, but Agent Strahm is suspicious, and delves into Hoffman’s past. Meanwhile, another group of people are put through a series of gruesome tests.


Tagline – In the end all the pieces will fit together

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Arc, Pointless Game

 

Story: Saw V starts where we finished the last film, Hoffman (Mandylor) locking Agent Strahm (Patterson) in the death room of John, Strahm must go on his own test to make it out of the warehouse where he ends up in a trap using his intelligence to survive the impossible to escape trap.

Hoffman considered a hero now gets a promotion and gets known as the man who stop Jigsaw, Jill Tuck (Russell) gets a message from John (Bell) following his death with a box that will have clues on what to do next. Hoffman is presenting his own game with five victims needing to escape the tasks they are placed in with Brit (Benz), Luba (Good), Charles, Mallick and Ashley being involved. Strahm taken off active duty starts looking into Hoffman himself, while Hoffman tries to lead Strahm replacement into believing it is him.

 

Thoughts on Saw V

 

Characters – John is long dead now, but in this film we learn how he recruit Hoffman to be part of his team, we see how he passes on the ideas believing Hoffman has better control than Amanda. Hoffman is now in control of the games, he is running his own while also trying to shift the suspicious surrounding him, placing it on Strahm. Agent Strahm survives one of the games to the surprise of Hoffman, now he is placed on leave but doesn’t want to rest until he can get his proof Hoffman is the man behind the traps. The people in the game include Jill as they all have a connection to what is the bigger picture.

PerformancesTobin Bell is the presence we all have come to know in the franchise and while only in a smaller role he is good, Costas Mandylor steps up to the starring role as we see the clogs turning through each scene he is in. Scott Patterson is also good in the desperate detective figure. It the rest of the cast which are fine with their roles but not to the level we believe they should be at.

StoryThe story is split into the bigger picture as we learn how Hoffman is involved with the Jigsaw murders and how he must keep on top of his true identity to stay in the game. The otherwise seems like a random game which doesn’t seem to have any connection to what is going on in the bigger picture which takes us away from the film. this is why I both enjoy and hate this franchise, I love the bigger picture side of the film but hate the pointless games we watch.

Horror/MysteryThe gore used is heavy for the film but it is strange that the horror side of the film only seems to come from the games which don’t involve the biggest and best part of the film, the mystery side to where things will go next.

SettingsThe settings continue to show us the warehouse feeling where the games need to make them feel like the characters are hitting rock bottom.

Special EffectsThe effects do looks great still with most coming off practical throughout the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Final game.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The five person game did feel almost pointless to the bigger story.

Final ThoughtsThis does continue to have a great bigger picture storyline but it does fill in the gaps with mindless gore.

 

Overall: Solid continuation of the Hoffman story.

Rating