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

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Animation – C – Coraline (2009)

Director: Henry Selick

Writer: Henry Selick (Screenplay) Neil Gaiman (Book)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Dakoka Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr

 

Plot: An adventurous girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets.


Tagline – An Adventure too Weird for Words

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dark Animated Fantasy

 

Story: Coraline starts as we meet Coraline Jones, a young girl that moved into a new home with her over busy parents, who never find time for her, her imagination tris to run wild and once she discovers an alternative world where her parents always have time for her, she starts on this new adventure.

The longer Coraline stays in this dream world with her other parents the deeper the truth about this world will strike fear into her, as she tries desperately to return to her real parents.

 

Thoughts on Coraline

 

Characters – Coraline is a young girl that needs to let her imagination free, which her parents are not letting happen, when she gets into this new world she goes on the adventure she dreams off only to see what is the most important to her. The parents are too different sides of what Coraline is wanting, one side busy the other side always free to play. We do have the other colourful characters which help Coraline unlock the truth.

StoryThe story plays into the idea that a young child (this time a girl) imagination can run wild leaving them to get into trouble and going on an adventure to save her family. To me this felt like a Studio Ghibli story, with the fantasy elements and the young girl needing to save the day in a world which could contain nightmares. This story does contain large amounts of peril which will keep you wanting to see where things will end up going next for Coraline.

FantasyThe fantasy elements being used in this movie are wonderful to see, as it uses moments and worlds that could easily grace a horror film.

SettingsThe film does take place in and around the one house which shows how the mind can create an adventure that only a little girl could uncover.

AnimationThe animation used looks wonderful and plays into the fantasy elements of the film that are going on through the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Searching for parents.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slightly too dark for a kids film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful animated movie that knows how to keep the story interesting and keeps us guessing until we get to the end.

 

Overall: Animation must watch.

Rating

 

 

Justin Long Weekend – Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi (Screenplay)

Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza

 

Plot: A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.


Tagline – Even nice people can go to hell.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Scary Filled Horror

 

Story: Drag Me to Hell starts where we meet mild manner loan officer Christine (Lohman), trying for the vacant assistant managers job, dating a professor Clay (Long) and generally just being a nice timid person. Christine’s day seems routine enough, but when Mrs Ganush (Raver) comes to her for an extension on the loan she must reject it.

Mrs Ganush begs and pleads for an extension, before being shamed, this forces her to put a curse on Christine, one that causes nightmares, day terrors and the need to solve this before it is too late.

 

Thoughts on Drag Me to Hell

 

Characters – Christine Brown is one of the best modern horror characters, she does an honest job, she isn’t rude, pushy or arrogant, she just makes a living the best she can. She has worked her way up to a potential assistant manager role. She is filled with innocence it adds to the horrors we see her having to experience after she gets cursed. Clay is the supportive boyfriend, a professor of psychology, he doesn’t believe in the supernatural even being the annoying rude figure to a fortune teller. Mrs Ganush is the gypsy that has seen her loan go bad, she needs an extension again which Christine much reject, we feel little sympathy towards her and the motivation for putting the curse on Christine.

PerformancesAlison Lohman is brilliant in this role, we truly believe that she is the character of innocent nature. Alison is the true star of this movie, she goes through the most too. Justin Long is good in his role even if he is only the supportive boyfriend. Lorna Raver is great as the gypsy woman as you are filled with fear watching her.

StoryThe story follows one young woman that is doing her job and she gets cursed by a vengeful customer. While this story does follow the traditions with its linear idea of woman needs to find away to lift curse as the hauntings are getting worse each time she is haunted. We get to look into curses and how they can have people attempt to lift them while haunting continue to get worse. It could easily be thrown into the idea of one woman dealing with guilt.

HorrorThe horror in this movie is almost none stop, when it hits we do know when things happen and each moment becomes more terrifying.

SettingsThe film does keep us in a normal American city, it shows how the everyday life of Christine is routine until the curse gets thrown on her, this takes us to more horror related location.

Special EffectsThe effects are mixed for the most part, we have great horror effects when it comes to practical, but hits us with weak CGI moments only draw us back.


Scene of the Movie –
Prepare the goat.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Clays behaviour to the fortune teller, way to generic.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best modern horror movies out there, we have terrifying scenes which are built up perfectly for the horror.

 

Overall: Must watch horror movie.

Rating

 

 

Malin Akerman Weekend – Couples Retreat (2009)

Director: Peter Billingsley

Writer: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin David, Kali Hawk, Tasha Smith, Jean Reno

 

Plot: A comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. While one of the couples is there to work on the marriage, the others fail to realize that participation in the resort’s therapy sessions is not optional.


Tagline –  A comedy about a vacation in paradise they’ll never forget

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Well Casted Comedy

 

Story: Couples Retreat starts as we meet the four couples at the different stages of their relationships, Dave (Vaughn) & Ronnie (Akerman) who have infant kids, Joey (Favreau) & Lucy (Davis) who are about to see their kid go off to college, leaving them to go their desperate ways, Shane (Love) who has just separated from his wife and dating 20-year-old Trudy (Hawk) and Jason (Bateman) & Cynthia (Bell) who are struggling to conceive and want the support of their friends by going on the tropical retreat.

Once the couples arrive on the island they learn they all must take part in the exercises, which isn’t what they signed up for and we are left to see which couples will make it through under the guidance of Marcel (Reno) and his theories.

 

Thoughts on Couples Retreat

 

Characters – We have a lot of characters here, we are going to go through the couples first, Dave is a video game designer who has a young family, married to Ronnie, he is the most reluctant to go because of the age of their kids. Ronnie is similar to Dave, the kids are taking their time, taking away from their free time. Jason & Cynthia are the couple that request the help on the holiday, they want children and are two people that are almost identical with their planning. Joey & Lucy have accepted they are going to separate once their daughter goes to college, they are both looking for options on the island because they have been together since high school. Shane has separated from his wife already, he has fallen into a relationship with a 20-year-old in Trudy as part of his mid-life crisis. Trudy is a youngster of the group always unhappy that Shane can’t keep up with her.

PerformancesWe do have a very good cast here, Vince Vaughn gives us his normal comic idea, which is something I enjoy watching, it goes well opposite Jason Bateman’s slightly uptight style. Jon Favreau is good in his role and the most unknown f the four men is Faizon Love that keeps up with the rest well. The women get to focus on the different stages of life too, the thing is they could all be interchangeable in their roles if we are being honest. Kali Hawk is the stand out of the women performers.

StoryThe story follows four couples at different stages of their relationships, this is important because friends will need to learn from their friend’s positions and see where things could go. While this doesn’t always give each relationship, the time required to show where things are going for the couples, but this unleashes more comical moments in the film. While not overly loved by everyone, I feel this does work for the people that will enjoy a simple comedy movie.

ComedyThis comedy does work in most places, we have couples moments and solo moments which work to keep things flowing.

SettingsMost of the film is on the tropical island which gives us the beautiful backdrop for the events.


Scene of the Movie –
Clashing with employees.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We have the man problems, but we don’t see enough of what the women problems are.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable comedy that hints more often than it misses and has good cast working towards their strengths.

 

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – U – Up in the Air (2009)

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer: Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (Screenplay) Walter Kirn (Novel)

Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Amy Mortonm Melanie Lynskey, J.K. Simmons, Sam Elliot, Danny McBride

 

Plot: Ryan Bingham enjoys living out of a suitcase for his job traveling around the country firing people, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a potential love interest and a new hire.


Tagline – From Paramount Pictures comes the story of a man ready to make a connection

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Comedy Drama

 

Story: Up in the Air starts as we meet Ryan Bingham (Clooney) whose job involves travelling around America firing people for companies, he loves being on the road clocking up countless air miles. When young analyst Natalie Keener (Kendrick) comes to Ryan’s boss Craig (Bateman) with an idea that could cut the costs by running the process from the office meaning Ryan and his team are grounded.

To prove his value to the company and show Natalie the ropes, Ryan must take Natalie on the journey to show her how personal the process is and how important the job is too him. Along the way he teaches her life lesson along with his new friend Alex (Farmiga) who enjoys a similar lifestyle.

 

Thoughts on Up in the Air

 

Characters – Ryan Bingham has a career in travelling around firing people for companies, he has it down to an art form, be in conducting the firings or travelling through the airport. He doesn’t like commitment and when he learns that his job is going to be minimized and grounded from travelling, he sets out to prove to his boss and the young woman who created the idea how importance of the personal approach is during this process. Natalie is the young idealistic woman that believes she can help the company save money by taking the role away from Ryan and his co-workers travelling expense, she has her life planned out, but spending time with Ryan she learns more about what life is really about and how to not take away the personal touch out of the process. Alex is a woman that Ryan meets on the road, she travels as often as he does, they start a relationship and meeting her helps Ryan realize what he wants from life.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is brilliant in this role, his biggest strength has always been to be the confident guy that excels at his job and he gets to show this in every scene as we learn from his characters decisions. Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are both wonderful in their supporting roles, they both get to help Ryan understand different generations of goals.

StoryThe story follows one man whose dream job is being downsized for economic reasons as he must look to show a young woman who has come up with the plan for this process. We get to look at a couple of big life issues going on here, first we see how companies are always looking to downsize for financial reasons, second focuses on the loneliness people have when they focus on their careers, and third just how the plans people believe to have can never go as planned. This is one of the most interesting stories that seems like it has got to a newer level than ever before.

RomanceWe have moments of romance which don’t overshadow the dramatic moments as we light-heartedly follow the story unfold.

SettingsThe film takes us all over America to see different reactions from different people about losing their jobs.


Scene of the Movie –
Letting loose.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I did enjoy every moment of this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful and delightful movie that hits all the levels it aims for, for me this is the best Clooney performance of his career and handles the sensitive subject of downsizing and unemployment.

 

Overall: Truly enjoyable movie.

Rating