Franchise Weekend – Crank 2: High Voltage (2009)

Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Writer: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, Efren Ramirez, Julanne Chidi Hill, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Reno Wilson

Plot: Chelios faces a Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working.


Tagline – He was dead… but he got better.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Jumps the Shark

Story: Crank 2: High Voltage starts right where the last film finished and Chev Chelios (Statham) somehow has survived his fall and is rescued and given a new heart, an electric one, Chev goes in search for his own heart, but needs to keep his current one full charged or face the same fate as the first film.

Chev must track down the man who stole his heart, which will see him returning a few familiar faces including his girlfriend Eve (Smart) and brother to his old friend Venus (Ramirez).

Thoughts on Crank 2: high Voltage

Characters – Chev Chelios somehow survives his mile high fall from the first film, he is given a new artificial heart which he must keep charged or he will die, he goes in search of his own heart which will see him go against another gang in LA, Eve now knows about Chev’s career, she has become a stripper and will supporting him trying to get his heart back. Doc Miles will do everything he can to help Chev giving him advice on how to keep his heart going. Venus is the brother of Kaylo who goes on to help Chev to get revenge for his own brother’s death. We have more gangs that are working against Chev this time, some return others are new.

PerformancesJason Statham does what he can with the leading role, he handles the action with ease, only he just doesn’t reach the same levels as before, this does affect the rest of the cast who do struggle to make an impact in this film.

StoryThe story does follow the next chapter of Chev’s life, the one after he should have died, only for him to get a new chance which sees him needing to race against time to get his own heart back. This side is simple enough at does work for what the film is doing, Chev take on endless amounts of enemies, the problem here with the story is that we dive too much into the side characters of what is going on and end up getting too many completely random scenes which just seem offensive on too many levels. This story does end up becoming messy and just has one of the worst scripts out there.

Action/CrimeThe action does try to become bigger, only for it to be shot in a style which doesn’t make it easy to connect. The criminal world does feel bigger, but now everything does seem more personal rather gang controlled.

SettingsThe film remains set in LA which does continue to show the crazy gangs that are meant to operate in this city.

Special EffectsThe effects do feel like they are being more ambitious, only for some to be so farfetched they only seem to make things look confusing, including an insulting looking Godzilla like fight.


Scene of the Movie – Final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Godzilla like fight.

Final Thoughts This is a wildly over the top sequel which only ends up becoming too much to handle for the crazy nature of everything going on.

Overall: Too wild.

Rating

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ABC Film Challenge – Crime – N – Notorious (2009)

Director: George Tillman Jr

Writer: Reggie Rock Bythewood, Cheo Hodari Coker (Screenplay)

Starring: Jamal Woolard, Anthony Mackie, Derek Luke, Angela Bassett, Antonique Smith, Charles Malik Whitfield

 

Plot: The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm.


Tagline – The story of the man behind the legend.

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fans of the Icon will Enjoy

 

Story: Notorious starts with the final moments of Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace (Woolard) life, before he flashes back to his childhood, raised by his single mother Voletta (Bassett), getting given a chance to start making money from drug dealing where he becomes addicted to make money, until he gets busted.

At 19 he gets a chance to enter the music industry when Puffy Daddy (Luke) gives him a way to escape the life of drug dealing, however difficult it seems. When Biggie finally get the record deal, he soon becomes an international sensation grabbing the attention from another rapper Tupac Shakur (Mackie) who soon becomes a rival with deadly consequences.

 

Thoughts on Notorious

 

Characters – Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace was a rapper from Brooklyn, he started on the streets as a drug dealer, before showing his rapping skills that saw him become one of the biggest rap stars in the world in the 90’s, we get to see how he has to deal with his vices with women chasing his desire to have too much money. The film doesn’t show him to be a nice man, he cheats on his partners, commits crimes and gets violent when he gets upset, it is a shame for somebody with talent to be such a horrible person. Sean Puffy Combs is the man that takes a chance on Biggie even after losing his position in a record company, he had an eye for talent and knew how to make the most out of it. Tupac is a rival rapper that starts with respect, but because of his continuing side business in drugs, the tension grows and Tupac soon starts a war against Biggie which became a bigger story than any of their music. Faith is Biggie’s wife that has the talent he has though she does become the one that stays with him even if they have an abusive relationship toward each other, well that is what the film shows us.

PerformancesJamal Woolard is brilliant in this leading role, he shows the laidback style Biggie presented himself as, while showing just how easily he can snap. Derek Luke and Anthony Mackie are both strong in the supporting roles, while the rest of the cast give us strong performances too.

StoryThe story here follows the life of Biggie one of the biggest rappers of the 90s that wanted to prove music could inspire change only to get drawn into a gang war with another rapper Tupac, one that made the two even more famous. We follow Biggie in and out of the music world, seeing how he was trying to escape a life of crime, but is drawn into relationship problems. The story doesn’t always paint him as a nice guy though, the way he handles the women in his life is getting into the abusive area. Otherwise this shows us how Biggie wasn’t interested in getting involved in the gang war, he just want to make honest money.

Biopic/Crime/MusicThe biopic side of the film shows how Biggie was being drawn towards a life of crime or leaving it behind to become a big music sensation and how his life changed with the new, making him part of one of the biggest rap battles in history. The crime world is showing how Biggie was always trying to get out of this world and give you hope to others that are facing it. While I personally wasn’t a fan of the music involved, it will please the fans of his music.

SettingsThe film is set in the backdrop Brooklyn shows where he has come from and how he wants to stay loyal to the people who supported him.


Scene of the Movie –
Making the choice.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film doesn’t show him able to treat his women with respect.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic that showed how easily a rivalry can start within the business that could end up becoming deadly between two biggest names in the music industry.

 

Overall: Music biopic that defined a decade.

Rating

 

 

The Unborn (2009)

Director: David S Goyer

Writer: David S Goyer (Screenplay)

Starring: Odette Annable, Gary Oldman, Cam Gigandet, Meagen Good, Idris Elba, Jane Alexander

 

Plot: A young woman fights the spirit that is slowly taking possession of her.


Tagline – Evil will do anything to live.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Fast Paced Horror

 

Story: The Unborn starts when young woman Casey (Annable) starts seeing visions and getting warnings about someone wanting to be born, with her best friend Romy (Good) and her boyfriend Mark (Gigandet) Casey starts to investigate and learns that she did in fact have a twin brother who died in the womb.

When Casey turns to a friend of her mother’s she learns about a spirit that is trying to find his way into the real world and she must turn to Rabbi Sendak (Oldman) for answers and a potential cure from the possession.

 

Thoughts on The Unborn

 

Characters – Casey is a young woman that seems to have a normal life until one day she starts seeing visions, getting strange messages, she must research her past to protect her future, a past that is filled with pain and loss as well as a secret she would never be prepared for. We do follow Casey for most part of this film, the problem with her character is that we don’t learn anything about her before the unusual starts happening, is she a good or bad person, we learn nothing, it just starts with her being visited. Rabbi Sendak is the man Casey must turn to for help, he understands how the exorcizing would need to be done while offering the basic advice to Casey before stepping in himself. Mark is the boyfriend, that is about all we learn about him, he isn’t as supportive of the supernatural side of the events. Romy is the best friend, she will help on everything Casey is going through in an attempt to save her friend from the evil haunting her.

PerformancesOdette Annable is the perfect fit for the leading role, she is a beautiful woman whose life is falling apart, she has a good horror scream and you believe it when she is scared. Gary Oldman, well the guy needs to make money, he does bring class to the role even in his limited role. Cam Gigandet is fine without doing too much Meagan Good gives us the only laughs in the film without being anything great in the supporting role.

StoryThe story here follows one young woman that gets starts getting haunted by visions of a young boy and must figure out how to rid herself of this haunting. This story doesn’t take long to start with us going instantly into the first haunting and this pace doesn’t seem to let off, we are constantly going from moment of scares or explanation to what is causing the haunting. This hinders the story because we don’t get a chance to learn anything about the characters we are meant to be supporting, mostly Casey we know nothing about her or what her everyday life is, making it harder to support her. The story follows the horror genre with ease and is saved by a strong twist ending.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes from jump scares, well attempted jump scares, most of the horror happens in the dark and is a small child haunting Casey, it does the basics well, though it won’t get the hardcore horror fan to jump. The mystery is more interesting as we must learn the truth about the haunting which goes in direction you wouldn’t see coming.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago which only adds to the horror because of the big city feeling to everything Casey is experience showing that even in the biggest crowd people could suffer possessional activity.

Special EffectsThe effects have good moments, we the body folding moments being the highlights of the effects which gives us more towards the horror in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Sofi’s last night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning anything about who or what these people do in everyday life.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic horror that gets the scares done simply, gives us weakly written characters and could pass the time simply enough.

 

Overall: Simple late night horror.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Goal III (2009)

Director: Andrew Morahan

Writer: Mike Jefferies, Piers Ashworth (Screenplay)

Starring: Kuno Becker, JJ Field, Leo Gregory, Kasia Smutniak, Anya Lahiri, Nick Moran

 

Plot: The heroes compete on the greatest stage of all, the FIFA World Cup Finals.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Soap Opera Boredom

 

Story: Goal III starts as we follow three footballers from Real Madrid Santiago (Becker) and two England internationals Liam (Feild) and Charlie (Gregory), they have finished their season and now the World Cup is on the horizon. Charlie gets a movie role, Liam will need to find a new club, which sees him return to Newcastle, while Santiago gets an injury which sees him ruled out of the world cup and leaving Real Madrid.

The Santiago watching from the touchline and seemingly forgotten about in this movie, we focus on the England lads who must learn life lesson while trying to make history.

 

Thoughts on Goal III

 

Characters – Santiago was the main character in the first two movies, here he is just the teammate that watches his teammates play in the world after getting injured, we have the smallest possible scene of him looking back at the love he lost in Roz, though they don’t mention names. Liam is being released by Real Madrid, returning to Newcastle, where he discovers a big surprise, a daughter he never knew he had, Liam must learn to give up his party style life to become the father he never knew he could be. Charlie remains at the big club, he gets a film role and meets the girl of his dreams, with his life turning around, he is ready to make history. Sophia is the actress that Charlie falls in love with, she is willing to make a new life with him too.

PerformancesKuno Becker has been the highlight of the franchise until this film, he is barely in the film which disappoints greatly. When we look at the newcomers JJ Feild and Leo Gregory, they both struggle in this film too. In fairness none of this acting is in any way shape or form near the standards we are used too.

StoryThe story decides to make this film become an England story by pretty much writing Santiago out of the film, with his teammates needing to sort their careers and lives out during the World Cup. First problem, this is going to be a list,

·        we have no timeline between the end of the last one and the events in this one.

·        Where did Gavin Harris go?

·        Who are these two new players, are they world beaters or just squad fillers?

·        Why did we forget Santiago’s story, which the franchise is about?

·        When did this become a soap opera?

Enough of the lists now, we do seen to have a script that feels like scraped soap opera, because everything that happens is too unrealistic, with too many, badly delivered lines. Plus that ending, really, are we ending a trilogy like that?

Romance/SportsThere is a romance in this film, it isn’t realistic in anyway though, the sports side of the film also takes a backburner here to life, we are meant to care if these players can make an impact right?

SettingsThe film is meant to be follow the England camp preparing for the world cup, we are meant to be in Germany, though we never see any locations to make us believe this.


Scene of the Movie –
Ummm, pass.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Pushing Santiago to the background.

Final ThoughtsThis is a terrible finally to the franchise, this forgets the original character turning the film into a soap opera.

 

Overall: Painful watching.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – Y – The Young Victoria (2009)

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Writer: Julian Fellowes (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong

 

Plot: A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria’s rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.


Tagline – She was the queen of an empire, but her heart belonged to one man.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Biopic

 

Story: The Young Victoria starts as young Victoria (Blunt) has been guarded from the world, knowing she will be next in line for the throne, Sir John Conroy (Strong) has been trying to get her to sign a regency order, meaning he would become king until she came of age, only for Victoria to refuse. We follow her 17th year as she starts meeting suiters for her husband, Belgium’s Prince Albert (Friend) being the prime candidate.

When King William (Broadbent) dies, it places Victoria in the position of Queen of England, Lord Melbourne (Bettany) must try to guide her in the decisions that she may face, while Victoria and Albert stay in contact through letters, that shares their love.

 

Thoughts on The Young Victoria

 

Characters – Victoria was raised to become Queen one day, forced to follow strict rules including walking down stairs holding somebody’s hand and sharing a bedroom with her mother. She is always under pressure about signing a regency, only to refuse because she knows that one day she will become Queen, she wants to make her rule, her own, which sees her wanting to pick her love, instead of following the rules the rest are trying to place for her. Prince Albert is the son of King Leopold of Belgium, the two fall in love and know that their union will keep the countries together stronger. Lord Melbourne is the advisor to Victoria, he has his own agenda which he wants to put into place, making him a danger figure in her connection to the common people of England. The Duchess of Kent is the mother of Victoria, who has been following the rules to protect her daughter and stuck following whatever John Conroy says.

PerformancesEmily Blunt shines in this leading role as the young Victoria, she brings the grace and determination to change the country through with her performance which you could believe the real Victoria doing to Britain. Rupert Friend as Prince Albert is wonderful too as he shows us the one person that would truly stand up against the Queen as many others would be in fear of her. Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson round off the main cast as they both are great in their roles through the film.

StoryThe story follows the firs year that Queen Victoria was on the throne, we see how she had to learn quickly with how the politicians would try to sway her, meet a husband and try to help sort out a country with big divides between the upper class and the lower class. We see that even at a young age she was able to make these decisions to bring Britain forward and mark herself down as one of the most important leaders the nation ever saw. After becoming a fan of The Crown this was an easy story to step into as smaller moments made sense, if you don’t know certain historic rules the Queen must follow, you might not get why certain scenes in the film happen.

Biopic/History/RomanceThis movie shows us how important Queen Victoria’s reign was, we might only follow around a year, but she wanted to start making changes early on which will later become her legacy, the romance that she goes through shows how the Albert came into her life and showed her, they could rule together if they challenged the rules they believed to be wrong.

SettingsEach setting used in this film feels like the true settings we would see the royals living in, each one shows just how they could be living in the upper class, with the set design showing the beauty within the buildings.


Scene of the Movie –
The ride around town which changed everything.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We do have certain rules that never get explained, which people might not understand.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beautifully shot biopic that shows us the first year’s reign of Queen Victoria, the difficulties she faced and how she overcame them all.

 

Overall: Must watch historical drama.

Rating