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

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – I – Invictus (2009)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Anthony Peckham (Screenplay) John Carlin (Book)

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Patrick Mofokeng, Matt Stern, Julian Lewis Jones

 

Plot: Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.


Tagline – He was a prisoner who became a president. To unite his country, he asked one man to do the impossible.

Runtime: 2 Hours 14 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Important Biopic

 

Story: Invictus starts when Nelson Mandela (Freeman) becomes the President of South Africa, this causes a divide in the country with the white people rejecting his election, with the black people seeing him a hero. Nelson wants to try and put the past behind them and unite the country, with him first introducing mixed raced bodyguards, even if his own Jason (Kgoroge) and Linga (Mofokeng) disapprove.

When Nelson sees the divide in a simple rugby match, he sees a opportunity to unite his country, as the black community will cheer whoever the Springbok are playing, inviting the captain Francois Pienaar (Damon) to tea, he explains his plans to unite with the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

 

Thoughts on Invictus

 

Characters – Nelson Mandela is one of the biggest icons in history, we follow his life from the time he becomes President of South Africa, he has been in prison for 27 years beforehand and has decided he wants to unite the race war within the country. He must put aside what he was raised to believe to change the mindsets, starting with his own staff, Nelson sees the Rugby World Cup as a chance to bring the country together to celebrate if they can defy the odds and win it. Francois Pienaar is the captain of the Springbok, he comes from a wealthy family and becomes the connection to the President as they look to change the country together. Jason Tshabalala is the head of Nelson’ security, he must put aside he own feelings towards the white community to help Nelson achieve the union he desires.

PerformancesMorgan Freeman is fantastic in this leading role, he delivers the speeches to make us believe we are watching the incredible man himself. Matt Damon did seem like a strange pick for the South African rugby player, though he does make us believe he will help bring the team together. The supporting cast might not be as well known, but they all give performances that help us understand the struggles being experienced.

StoryThe story follows the time that Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa and his first year in charge with the build up to the Rugby World Cup where he uses the tournament as a way to bring the nation together to try to stop the racial divide. This shows how any sport can see differences put aside to see the better future, one without them needing to hate people just because that is what they once were told. If you want to see how a truly inspirational leader operates, he sees the peoples love and finds a way to make them work together to support a common goal. We could look at the story a say, this only happened because of the Rugby World Cup falling at the right time, but that is over thinking.

Biopic/SportLearning what Nelson Mandela achieved in this year is incredible, we might not learn his whole story, but this is the chapter that helped change a nation. When it comes to the sports side of the film, we get to see Rugby in all its glory, seeing the hard hitting nature of the sport, showing that sport can bring people together.

SettingsThe film is set in South Africa, with it setting showing us the divide between the people and how the biggest occasion in the countries sporting history being the most important one.


Scene of the Movie –
The prison visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Casting Scott Eastwood, he is a good young actor, but his role is too important for family casting roles.

Final ThoughtsThis is an incredible look at what Nelson Mandela achieved in a year as President in the country, the spirit of sport bringing a nation together and a moment in sporting history.

 

Overall: Incredible sporting drama.

Rating

 

 

Moonshot (2009)

Director: Richard Dale

Writer: Tony Basgallop (Screenplay)

Starring: Daniel Lapaine, James Marsters, Andrew Lincoln, Nigel Whitmey, William Hope, Anna Maxwell Martin

 

Plot: The story leading up to the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 moon landing launch.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic History Lesson

 

Story: Moonshot starts as we meet the main three astronauts Neil Armstrong (Lapaine), Buzz Aldrin (Marsters) and Michael Collins (Lincoln) as they go through the training regime wondering if they will become the ones that are selected for the first moon landing.

We tend to focus on Buzz’s point of view as he must deal with the idea of being the second man on the moon, even if he is better with the press and has more experience than Neil with actual time in space, but we know the story and how the three men created history.

 

Thoughts on Moonshot

 

Characters – The men involved are version of the three men that created history, Neil Armstrong is the quiet but brilliant pilot who must command the mission, Buzz Aldrin who does seem to be the one we follow most, he desire to impress his father by being the first on this mission, he questions the most however much it seems like he could be a perfect PR guy for the moon landing. Michael Collins in the one that didn’t walk on the moon, he goes through his own problems leading up to the mission including a life changing operation which could ruin his chances.

PerformancesThe three main actors are solid with the roles they are given, they have to play history makers, Daniel Lapaine keeps everything simple and distant which was how Neil is meant to be looked as. James Marsters brings energy to his performance, while Andrew Lincoln is being used to sell the DVD versions of this because of his Walking Dead status.

StoryThe story is designed to show the history of the three men’s journey to the mission which defined their lives. We do seem to follow Buzz slightly more than the rest, but this is more focused on the mission over the personal relationship. It is strange to watch this level of story after seeing just how masterful ‘First Man’ was for the same story. if you know the basic history of the events, you will barely get anything out of this film because it is just the ABC of what happened, rather than showing the scientific nature behind the story.

SettingsThe settings used feel authentic even if they are just the basics of what was used, it does feel like we do use moments of actual footage too which helps when it comes to the settings.


Scene of the Movie –
Deciding who walks on the moon first.

That Moment That Annoyed Me First Man being a lot more interesting.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic version of one of the most important moments in history, it has since been improved upon when it comes quality of storytelling, but for the basic history lesson it does what it needs to.

 

Overall: History Lesson 101

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

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