ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – V – Van Wilder: Freshman Year (2009)

Director: Harvey Glazer

Writer: Todd McCullough (Screenplay) Brent Goldberg, David Wagner (Characters)

Starring: Jonathan Bennett, Kristin Cavallari, Kurt Fuller, Steve Talley, Nestor Aaron Absera, Nick Nicotera, Jerry Shea

 

Plot: Van Wilder starts his freshman year at Coolidge College and embarks on an adventure to land the campus hottie and liberate his school from sexual oppression and party dysfunction.


Tagline – The man. The myth. The beginning.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Forced Prequel

 

Story: Van Wilder: Freshman Year starts with Van (Bennett) heading off to Coolidge college to follow in his family’s footsteps before graduating to work with his father. Arrive at the college Van learns that Dean Charles Reardon (Fuller) has it in for the family, the guys have been pushed into a military plan and the girls are religious.

Van joined by stoner Farley (Absera) and Yu Dum Fok (Shea) to turn the college around to become what Van is expecting and we learn how he become the iconic legend of the Coolidge.

 

Thoughts on Van Wilder: Freshman Year

 

Characters – Van Wilder was a character we met in 2002, this time we learn how he did in his first year at college, we see how he was always the quick witty that was willing to put himself out there to help people find themselves. We can let him off certain mistakes and differences from the later version of Van, but this one never seems to have the true confidence the high school implies he has. Kaitlin is the daughter of a military man, who is trying to follow in her father’s footsteps, everything else about her is just a carbon copy of the Tara Reid character first time around, dating a bad guy Van teaches her there is more to life. Dean Charles Reardon has been waiting for a Wilder to join the college to get revenge, he wages war on Van along with LT Dirk Arnold who is the bad boyfriend out to keep his woman and believes he is the best part of the military college.

PerformancesJonathan Bennett just doesn’t have the same charisma as Ryan Reynolds, he doesn’t have the same ability to be quick witted and you just don’t believe that his filled with that same natural confidence. Kristin Cavallari is trying her best, but as the character is basically just meant to be Tara Reid again we lack giving her a chance to make herself anything original. Kurt Fuller does his best with the material and could well be the best performer in the film. we get typical college level character performances here.

StoryThe story here brings us Van Wilder’s first year at college, now we get a few winks at where he character will end up and certain lines he uses in everyday life. The problems with this come from the fact it is exactly the same story, Van meets girl that is dating a bad guy and spends his time trying to win her heart making a rival, we have the foreign student who wants to learn the way of love and the Dean who doesn’t like a Wilder. This lacks any originality to the story, just wants to do the winks about the original, like look here this is where we got that from. We get the same grossed out comedy moments that are mostly just trying to keep one step ahead of the rest.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film is mostly grossed out humour, for me personally it misses a lot, but if this is what you like you will enjoy this. The romance is rinse repeat from the original and not that important to what we see.

SettingsThe film is set at the same college Coolidge, only in the prequel it is a military college, which seems strange because it was always meant to be a basic college with parties and classes.


Scene of the Movie –
Massage time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me College is never going to be like this.

Final ThoughtsThis is a forced prequel we didn’t really ask for let alone need, it has poor versions of the characters we did enjoy in the first one and just repeats the jokes from the original.

 

Overall: Pointless prequel.

Rating

 

 

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Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw VI (2009)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Mark Rolston, Betsy Russell, Shawnee Smith, Peter Outerbridge

 

Plot: Agent Strahm is dead, and FBI agent Erickson draws nearer to Hoffman. Meanwhile, a pair of insurance executives find themselves in another game set by Jigsaw.


Tagline – 6 Chances, 6 Lessons. 6 Choices.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weak Effort

 

Story: Saw VI starts as we finish the aftermath of Hoffman (Mandylor) cleans up the Strahm body. We move to Umbrella Insurance where William (Outerbridge) who has been handling claims along with his team that decide who does and doesn’t qualify for cover. Agent Erickson (Rolston) has taken over the investigation believing Strahm has gone missing and the new prime suspect in the Jigsaw murders.

Hoffman gets the deal done with Erickson to work together on the case with a surprise return from a previous film. in a twist of events Hoffman is now working with Jill (Russell) John’s (Bell) ex-wife who is following the final request, to take place William in the latest game in revenge for the insurance he refused to give him to cure his cancer.

 

Thoughts on Saw VI

 

Characters – John is still involved in these films, now we watch him continue to build the bigger picture as he teaches Hoffman about this theories, we also see how he did have other helpers including his ex-wife but this time the game is personal as he uses the insurance company that refused to help his cancer treatment. Hoffman finds himself in the clear of any suspicious after framing Strahm now, he builds one more game with Jill as he works with the FBI to solve where Strahm is now. Erickson takes over the lead of the investigation of the FBI, he brings Hoffman into the investigation to locate Strahm but just how much will he give away. Jill is revealed to be involved in the games after films where she denied being involved, she can work with Hoffman but seems to have been set her own game. William is the latest man to be tested, he must choice who lives and who dies from his team of ruthless insurance team.

PerformancesTobin Bell once again is the star of the show, being calm through each scene as we see how John would be calculating each decision through the movie. Costas has become the backbone of this franchise not getting the praise he deserves. Mark Rolston is good but doesn’t get enough time on screen. Betsy Russell finally gets a chance to shine in the one of the movies in her role. Peter Outerbridge is good too as the man going through the test.

StoryThe story once again is split into two, the game is frustrating to watch as it goes against the idea of Jigsaw, even though it is his game, it is personal and doesn’t leave the players any chance to survive, with a twist that doesn’t click. The over arcing story does work though, as we continue to watch Hoffman design the games where he is still must escape suspicious from the FBI. We do continue to build the bigger picture but for the most part we focus on the game too much

Horror/MysteryThe horror does continue with the high levels of gore which will work for the fans of the series, but the mystery side of the film does seem to have taken a step back here.

SettingsThe settings all work for the film showing us the underground trap design as the high life insurance people would never go down to that level to hear a story.

Special EffectsThe effects are as always great from start to finish of the film, sing mostly practical to create the gore.


Scene of the Movie –
Escape the Bear Trap.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The game goes against the ideas.

Final ThoughtsThis is the weakest of the franchise to date, it goes for shocks over the storytelling process which disappoints after the last two improvements.

 

Overall: Weakest of the franchise.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – A – Autumn (2009)

Director: Steven Rumbelow

Writer: Steven Rumbelow, David Moody (Screenplay) David Moody (Novel)

Starring: Dexter Fletcher, David Carradine, Dickson Tolson, Lana Kamenov, Anton Brejak

 

Plot: A horrible virus kills billions within minutes. The few survivors that are left have to deal with the shock of the apocalypse, and they have no idea that things are about to get much worse.


Tagline – Silence is your savior.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too slow.

 

Story: Autumn starts as a mysterious plague kills most people in the population instantly. The few survivors left seek shelter as we follow Michael (Fletcher), Carl (Tolson) and Emma (Kamenov) who try to find their way to the coast, knowing that the dead bodies would only spread disease.

As the three believe they have found safety things soon change when the dead do come back to life, not with a hunger, but just wondering aimlessly around searching for a place, until they start to become deadlier, leaving the three to board themselves in for safety.

 

Thoughts on Autumn

 

Characters – Michael was a school teacher that joins the group that leaves, he knows their choice is smart as he prepares for a new life. Carl and Emma join him but if we are honest we barely learn anything about them along the way. We have faceless characters to show it could be anyone trying to survive.

PerformancesThe performances are for a ack of a better word, fine, they are not good and are not bad, you understand why they are acting the way they are.

StoryThe story is like most end of the world stories, a virus kills millions, we follow a group of survivors as they search for a place to be safe while learning how big the damage to the world is. This does try to be difference by having the slow changing in the dead into the zombies we know now. As for the survival side of the film, it is nothing new and does feel slow.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror is the end of the world idea, zombies and the unknown, whereas the sci-fi comes from just where it could go wrong with the undead.

SettingsWe get the countryside settings which show the sensible locations to head to during the potential end of the world.

Special EffectsThe effects seem mostly practical with the camerawork hiding the weakness.


Scene of the Movie –
The first breakout.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is very slow.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow end of the world movie, it plays along the idea of zombies taking time to turn up and just doesn’t live up to any of the expectation.

 

Overall: Dull and boring for the most part.

Rating

 

 

Dorian Gray (2009)

Director: Oliver Parker

Writer: Toby Finlay (Screenplay) Oscar Wilde (Novel)

Starring: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall, Ben Chaplin, Fiona Shaw, Emilia Fox

 

Plot: A corrupt young man somehow keeps his youthful beauty eternally, but a special painting gradually reveals his inner ugliness to all.


Tagline – Forever Young. Forever Cursed.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacklustre

 

Story: Dorian Gray starts as Dorian Gray (Barnes) himself arrives in CGI London, I mean London around the 1800s to return to his childhood home. Dorian gets to mingle with the high society members including Lord Henry Wotton (Firth) as he learns his place in London.

Henry takes Dorian under his wing and with a portrayed showing his youthful looks offering him the desire to remain that way we see the world Dorian has been guided into by Henry. Dorian becoming his own man uses the painting to keep his aging while he remains young and becomes the womanising machine around town, but there is always a consequence to this.

 

Thoughts on Dorian Gray

 

Characters – Dorian Gray is the young man bought back into London, he starts full of innocence but after being guided down certain paths he changes becoming a man that has his youth preserved in a painting that has swapped with his physical body. Lord Henry Wotton is the high society man that takes Dorian down the darker paths, first for his own entertainment but soon fuelling his own jealously.

PerformancesBen Barnes is good as Dorian Gray the forever youthful looking and enjoying life forever. Colin Firth is the gentleman figure here being the mentor and easily being the highlight of the film.

StoryThe Dorian Gray story is a well-known story of the man that never ages while his painting showed the age and harm his body has taken as it slowly starts to consume him. The origin of this does lack the fantasy you would imagine it having and does just feel like a simple look at how high society believed they controlled London. While the story may well follow the original material well it does need some evolution to make the story compelling to the modern audience.

Fantasy/ThrillerThis should be a fantasy filled moment film but we lack anything past the concept of what is happening to Dorian.

SettingsThe settings are old London which look completely fake through the whole sucking us out of the location for the most part.

Special EffectsThe effects are a let-down in the most part disappointing on nearly every occasion through the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The Deal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lacks the final punch.

Final ThoughtsThis should be one of the greatest gothic stories you will ever see, but it lacks all the effects, twists and storytelling to make it.

 

Overall: Disappointing all around.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – U – Up (2009)

Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

Writer: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson (Screenplay) Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo

 

Plot: Seventy-eight year old Carl Fredricksen travels to Paradise Falls in his home equipped with balloons, inadvertently taking a young stowaway.


Tagline – Fly Up to Venezuela

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fantastic

 

Story: Up starts as two children Carl and Ellie fall in love because of their love of adventure and how they idolise the same man, Charles Muntz an explorer that became disgraced. The two have a full life with the ups and downs till they reach old age where Ellie sadly dies before Carl ever got the chance to take her to Paradise Falls (Bring you tissues).

Carl being forced out of his home by a ruthless business decides to take the home to Paradise Falls, Venezuela for a tribute to her with balloons, only to discover that Russell a wilderness explorer has become his stowaway on his adventure. Once at Paradise Falls Carl and Russell must work together to get the house to the location only to find themselves in the middle of a hunt for a giant bird that Russell adopts it calling it Kevin and the area is filled talking dogs including the hapless Dug. The adventure will put Carl against his idol Charles Muntz who has been hiding in Paradise Falls hoping to capture the bird.

 

Thoughts on Up

 

Characters – Carl Fredricksen has spent his life with his wife Ellie, the two are both adventurers at heart, he promised her from the moment they met he would take her to Paradise Falls, only for life to get in the way, once she passes, he sets out take their home there to honour her only along the way he needs to learn to open his heart to care for people again. Russell is the wilderness explorer trying to earn his last badge for helping the elderly, he wants to help Carl do something simple like cross the street only to find himself on the adventure, gaining a father figure along the way. Charles Muntz is the explorer that was famed for his adventures, only be become disgraced for not bringing back a live specimen to be studied. He has spent his life in Paradise Falls searching for one and willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. Dug is the outsider of the dogs that Muntz controls, he becomes friends with Carl and helps them in the troubles they are facing.

StoryThe story here follows a man who has lived his whole life waiting for adventure and once he loses his wife he goes on the adventure he promised his wife, along the way he learns that he has the adventure waiting for, one his wife would be proud of him going on. He learns to let people in again finding a new meaning for life. There is a story of peril as Carl must fight against his idol who has become obsessed with capture a bird which can take the back burner for most of the deeper meaning.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure shows us that you can go on an adventure at any age and the one they go on is wonderful to see.

SettingsThe films uses the settings well, the opening location is the busy city which has evolved through Carl’s life and the Paradise Falls look breath-taking.

AnimationThe animation looks fantastic which is what we would expect from Pixar.


Scene of the Movie –
Carl & Ellie’s life together opening sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Trying to figure out why Carl gets kicked out of his house?

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of Disney’s best movies off all time, it is brilliant, it will leave you in tears after ten minutes and make you laugh the next ten minutes.

 

Overall: Brilliant, emotional and fantastic.

Rating