Michael Caine Weekend – Is Anybody There? (2008)

Director: John Crowley

Writer: Peter Harness (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Caine, Bill Milner, Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey

 

Plot: Set in 1980s seaside England, this is the story of Edward, an unusual ten year old boy growing up in an old people’s home run by his parents. Whilst his mother struggles to keep the family business afloat, and his father copes with the onset of mid-life crisis, Edward is busy tape-recording the elderly residents to try and discover what happens when they die. Increasingly obsessed with ghosts and the afterlife, Edward’s is a rather lonely existence until he meets Clarence, the latest recruit to the home, a retired magician with a liberating streak of anarchy. Is Anybody There? tells the story of this odd couple – a boy and an old man – facing life together, with Edward learning to live in the moment and Clarence coming to terms with the past.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Touching Drama

 

Story: Is Anybody There? Starts as we meet young Edward (Milner) a by that lives in a nursing home run by his mum (Duff), he likes to investigate the existence of ghosts which he gets to witness death in the home. When recently widowed Clarence (Caine) moves into the home, Edward doesn’t like him to start with.

When Edward learns that Clarence is a magician, he strikes up an unlikely friendship, as Clarence tries to teach Edward that he needs to make contact with the living not the dead.

 

Thoughts on Is Anybody There

 

Characters – Edward is being raised in an old people’s home, he doesn’t have any friends away from this world which has seen him turn to investigate the afterlife, he is determined to prove ghosts are real, he sees his parents struggle to hold everything together and Clarence gives him a new reason to focus on life. Clarence is the recently widowed former magician who doesn’t want anything to do with being in the home, with the only person that will give him attention being Edward, he doesn’t want Edward to follow in his footsteps and wants him to learn to make friends with the living. Edward’s mother is trying to run the home, she is dealing with the pressure of just what is going on with work and with her husband, while his father is on the verge of an affair.

PerformancesMichael Caine is the biggest name in the film, he does an excellent job in his role and work very well with young Ben Milner who is strong as the young boy struggle to find his place in the world. Anne-Marie Duff also deserves praise because of the strong scenes she must go through.

StoryThe story focuses on a young boy that has been raised in a nursing home, where he is starting to learn about life after meeting on of the new guests. We see how people need to be shown how to fit in life and just how hard they work to make sure they can go and enjoy life. The idea of them being in a nursing home does make it harder for Edward to make friends which is understandable and seeing the money problems almost taking its toll on the family comes through strong. The story gets to teach the lesson about making sure you enjoy your life and teaching others to not make the same mistakes one did.

SettingsThe film uses the nursing home as the main settings which shows how uncomfortable both Edward and Clarence are being in this position.


Scene of the Movie –
The end of the magic show.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The beginning of the magic show.

Final ThoughtsThis is a charming little drama that teaches the lessons about enjoying life rather than chasing the afterlife.

 

Overall: Sweet and Charming.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – M – Mutant Chronicles (2008) Movie Review

Director: Simon Hunter

Writer: Philip Eisner (Screenplay)

Starring: Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, Devon Aoki, Sean Pertwee, Benne Furmann, John Malkovich, Anna Walton, Tom Wu

Plot: 28th century soldier Mitch Hunter leads a fight against an army of underworld Mutants.


Tagline – Welcome to the 23rd century. The new dark ages.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Blood Soaked Adventure

Story: Mutant Chronicles starts with the world’s resources nearly depleted, a war like always is being fought between two sides trying to gain control of the remaining resources Major Mitch Hunter (Jane) is fighting on one side with his best friend Captain Nathan Rooker (Pertwee), with the enemy being led by LT Maximillian Von Steiner (Furmann), when they open a seal which releases mutants from the underworld, who are killing machines, taking the dead back to the machine to build more soldiers.

With the world facing extinction, Brother Samuel (Perlman) plays to lead a team into the underworld to blow up the machine from within, while the human race is rushing to escape the Earth. Samuel recruits, Mitch, John McGuire (Toussaint), Valerie Duval (Aoki), Juba Kim Wu (Wu), El Jesus (Echegaray), Severian (Walton) and Maximillian, all from different worlds, all willing to fight the future of mankind.

Thoughts on Mutant Chronicles

Characters – Major Mitch Hunter is one of the soldier who was fighting on the frontline when the door is opened, he witnesses first hand what the creatures can do and is lucky to escape with his life, turning to drink on his remaining days rather than escape, he will join the mission in exchange for loved ones safety, but will never give up his belief of doing the right thing for the stranded humans. Brother Samuel has the plan to end the pain and suffering from the creatures, he puts together the team to go into the hole to destroy the machine from within. Cpl Valerie Duval is a mother who uses this suicide mission to make sure her children get safety, deadly with a blade, she will be one that has the most to lose. Lt Maximillian von Steiner was once the enemy of Mitch, the two even have a showdown on the military field when the hole is opened, the two must put that difference aside to save humanity. The team is filled with other people from different backgrounds all willing to fight for what is right.

PerformancesThomas Janes was near the height of his power for the time, he is an action film leading man without a doubt and this proves this once again. Ron Perlman as the calmer religious leader is great to see, while Devon Aoki is always going to be a welcome addition for the combat side of the film. Benno Furmann is one of the unsung stars of the film where he must bring an enemy to life as one of the good guys and manages it. The rest of the cast do add things to the film, each getting a big moment to shine.

StoryThe story here takes us way into the future where mankind’s own weaknesses has led to another war for resources only for it to release a new threat to the world, one that will see mankind meet its match and need to unit to save the future, we follow one group risk everything in a suicide mission to save mankind. This might well be one of the typical mission to save the world stories, with the numbers being against the group for the most part, each one fighting for their own reason and each having their own strength and weaknesses. The most impression side of the story comes from seeing just how imaginative the world created is, showing how humanity might be known to be true evil, but what is uncovered is worse than anything imagined before and that humanity’s only hope is to run.

Action/Sci-FiThe action here is plenty of hand to hand, sword swinging and just gun blasting bodies piling up entertainment, which doesn’t hold back on the violence we get to experience. The sci-fi world is impressive as it shows how wars have reach a new level showing just how the people have been affected through the years, we also see different crafts that have steampunk around them too.

SettingsThe film sends us to a world in the future where Earth is on its final legs, humanity has run it to the ground and a new enemy is coming to destroy them, we might have a lot of green screen in use here, but we do get to see what the world is meant to look like.

Special EffectsThe effects are the biggest weakness in the film, the main problems here come from seeing just how the green screen is working, there are some horrible looking moments, but then we also have some bloody practical effects which work well.


Scene of the Movie – Going down.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The green screen looks bad.

Final Thoughts This is a highly entertaining blood bath of a movie, it knows it is meant to be violent, isn’t afraid of holding back and brings imagination to the world at war.

Overall: Highly Entertaining.

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