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

 

 

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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

 

 

Viggo Mortensen Weekend – Appaloosa (2008)

Director: Ed Harris

Writer: Robert Knott, Ed Harris (Screenplay) Robert B Parker (Novel)

Starring: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons, Renee Zellweger, Lance Henriksen

 

Plot: Two friends hired to police a small town that is suffering under the rule of a rancher find their job complicated by the arrival of a young widow.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid but Slow Western

 

Story: Appaloosa starts as we see just how much control Randall Bragg (Irons) has over this small western town, he murders the current Marshall which brings a new Marshall to town. Virgil Cole (Harris) and his partner Deputy Everett Hitch (Mortensen) come to town with their own laws to clean up the Bragg gang.

When Cole & Hitch do find a way to arrest Randall the courts find him guilty of murdering the former Marshall but on route to the prison the rest of the gang force Cole’s hand by using Mrs French (Zellweger) to force Randall’s release, this leads to them needing to find a new way to eliminate Bragg’s gang.

 

Thoughts on Appaloosa

 

Characters/PerformanceVirgil Cole is the freelance Marshall, fast with a rifle and only killing the men who break the law. His reputation follows him as one of the scrictiest law men out there with a lot of his trust in Everett. Everett is the longtime partner of Virgil that always stands tall next him in battle, completes the long words and is the calm influence between the two. Randall Bragg is the rancher who has control over the town of Appaloosa him and his gang take what they want, kill who they want and reign terror over the town. Mrs French comes to town a widow becoming the love interest for Virgil and we learn what type of woman she is.

Performance wise, Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen both work well together showing good chemistry throughout the film and both play the lawman well through the film. Jeremy Irons always makes for a good villain through the any film and this is no exception. Renee is here but you do feel like her character is almost pointless to the main part of the film.

StoryThe story fills in just what you want from a western story, we have an enemy of the town that out numbers them all but two lawmen come into town to help clean it up in their own way, be it through legal or other means. This was meant to be a start of a series of films which is why you feel the threat wasn’t as big as it could have been but still enjoyable enough to watch.

Crime/Western/RomanceThis is a nice western film with perfect use of the setting for the crimes to take place, the romance side of film does feel tagged on in places though.

SettingsEach setting looks great for the film never taking us out of the time in question for the movie.

Final ThoughtsThis is a western film which is fine, it isn’t bad but isn’t up there with the greatest.

 

Overall: Western fans will enjoy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – P – Prom Night (2008)

Director: Nelson McCormick

Writer: J.S. Cardone (Screenplay)

Starring: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Jessica Stroup, Dana Davis, Collins Pennie, Kelly Blatz, Idris Elba

 

Plot: Donna’s senior prom is supposed to be the best night of her life, though a sadistic killer from her past has different plans for her and her friends.


Tagline – A Party To Die For

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bog Standard Slasher

 

Story: Prom Night starts as Donna (Snow) witnesses her family being murdered by a crazed teacher Mr Fenton (Schaech). 3-years-later it is the senior prom and Donna still haunted by the events of that night, but with her boyfriend Bobby (Porter), best friends Claire (Stroup) and Lisa (Davis) look to have a night to remember.

The problem comes when Detective Winn (Elba) receives the news that Richard Fenton has escaped his prison and has turned up at the prom too. This prom will be one they will never forget as it becomes a fight to survive.

 

Thoughts on Prom Night

 

Characters – Donna is our damaged high school student that is still dealing with the effects of the murder of her family that she survived. Now it is her graduation prom and she is planning to have the time off her life but things soon take a turn when her stalker returns. Detective Winn catch the killer and now must do anything to stop him finishing off what he started. We do have the typical high school characters that are filled with terrible decisions on the prom night, the biggest one that cause is a problem was Lisa who wanted to be prom queen but decided to go upstairs to fool about before it gets announced even though it is the most important moment in the high school experience to her.

PerformancesThe performances, how we missed talking about how well actors perform with bad scripts, Brittany Snow is struggling here to make an impact as the lead which is the only character we only really are meant to care about if we are being honest. The other teenagers are poor to basic even if Dana Davis does look stunning in most scenes. Idris Elba is the highlight of the performances as the cop searching to the escaped killer.

StoryThe story follows one pro night when the stalker of one of the students comes to get his revenge, the idea this film takes place over one night is the best and only good thing about this movie. What follows in the story telling process is a series of awful decision, including when the fire alarm goes off, going upstairs to retrieve an item of clothing. Having a prom that feels like a film premier also doesn’t help because surely nothing we be this dramatic.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is the basic of all slashers and we don’t see any blood because of the age rating it received. It claims to be a mystery but most of this mystery is why the characters are written so poorly.

SettingsThe setting for the most part is the hotel for the prom, which feels like an everyday location but soon becomes a game of who can stay ahead of who.

Special EffectsThe effects are barely touched because of the lack of gore used in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
This is a tough decision here, well I am going to have to go shallow here and go Dana Davis prom dress.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The characters are written contradictable to their actions.

Final ThoughtsThis seems to be a remake that didn’t click, it is a bog standard to bad slasher with terrible characters, weak horror moments and just fades into a blur of bad decisions.

 

Overall: Yeah, no just forget about it.

Rating