Franchise Weekend – Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (2009)

Director: Martin Barnewitz

Writer: Todd Farmer (Screenplay)

Starring: Norman Reedus, Heather Stephens, Claire Holt, Richard Riehle, Darcy Fowers

 

Plot: Doing what he believes must be done in order to save his family and livelihood, farmer John Rollins places an odd scarecrow among his crops and promptly reaps the benefits. The thing is, his luck probably won’t last for long.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Better Built In Story

 

Story: The Messengers 2: The Scarecrow starts by following the family that previously lived in the house, the Rollins, John (Reedus), Mary (Stephens) along with their children Lindsey (Holt) and Michael. We the family is struggling to make ends meet and to get the crop to flourish.

Searching for a way to rib the land of the crows, John finds an old scarecrow with a strange look and decides to use it on his field. When the scarecrow works killing all of the crows, John starts to change and his family notices these changes becoming scared of him.

 

Thoughts on The Messengers 2: The Scarecrow

 

Characters/PerformanceJohn finds his life crashing around him, his farm failing, his marriage falling apart and his money almost gone, but when he puts up a scarecrow his luck changes for the better, at first. Mary is the wife ready to walk away from John with the children. Lindsey is the daughter that clearly wants out of the town, that is about her character.

Performance wise, Normal Reedus does a solid job in the leading role without reaching the levels we know of him now in the Walking Dead, but it would be fair to say the women are written poorly which then shows in their bang average performances.

StoryThe story is a prequel to the first film but it also doesn’t have any real connection other than being set on the farm and the character names. Looking away from that problem, you will find this film having a much better story because it followers the struggling farmer that finds himself having his life controlled by a scarecrow. Sure, there is a human factor to this too as we see him deal with his own problems at home too. The story does feel a lot better and more engaging than the first film.

HorrorThe horror side of the film is slightly improved but we never find ourselves feeling terrified by any of the events in the film.

SettingsThe horror all happens on the farm which is good and all we need from the direction the story goes.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all simple and used to the effects required for the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good follow up but we kind of know how the film will end thanks to the original but the mythology behind it all comes off nicer.

 

Overall: Solid sequel but average film.

Rating

 

 

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World Cinema Weekend – Summer Wars (2009)

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Satoko Okudera (Screenplay) Mamoru Hosoda (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nanami Sakuraba, Mitsuki Tanimura, Takahiro Yokokawa, Meiko Nobusawa

 

Plot: A student tries to fix a problem he accidentally caused in OZ, a digital world, while pretending to be the fiancé of his friend at her grandmother’s 90th birthday.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fantasy Social Commentary

 

Story: Summer Wars starts in a world with an operating system known as OZ, a place where you can be anybody, talk to anybody, work, play and arrange your life, Kenji is one of the many small time engineers keeping it all operational, he gets asked to join Natsuki on a trip to her Grandmother’s 90th birthday only to be a fake fiancé.

When somebody or something takes over the OZ system Kenji is the prime suspect but the bigger problem is that everybody’s accounts to everything runs through OZ causing endless amounts of false accidents reports disrupting Grandmother’s birthday. Kenji must work with the family to get into the system to bring down the problem and save the world from a war they would be prepared for, a cyber war.

 

Thoughts on Summer Wars

 

Characters Kenji is a student that must go through visiting a family he has no knowledge off, this gives us a good sense of his isolation while meeting them a family so big while he has a family so small. He is also a genius working on the computer system the whole world relies on. Natsuki is one of the family members, the one that brings Kenji back to meet her family, she is loyal to her family and a mean card player. The rest of the family are all big characters to what is happening as they show the unity they have as well as the dysfunction a normal family would have to.

StoryThe story is very interesting because it focuses on the world where an internet community has become something taken for granted but if it was infected by a virus parts of the world could start to fall apart. It also shows how different generations have dealt with the change but the core idea of family and togetherness is very important. Overall thee storyline shows how family can come together to defeat the biggest threat to the world as long as they work together. It also shows us how the world controlled by an internet community could take away social interaction.

Action/Comedy/Family/Sci-FiThe action inside OZ is great anime action sequences with the comedy coming from how the family is always panicking. The family side of the story comes seeing how the family all come together for a celebration. The sci-fi side comes from the world needing the technology heavy world to do everything on the internet.

SettingsThe settings are good because we get to see the family home where we see everyone together, this helps put our characters together for the story to unfolding.

AnimationAll the animation is done brilliantly as you would expect from any anime film.

Final ThoughtsThe social commentary going on through this film is great, the story also is fantastic to show how being together with family is still important and this is one I do think everyone could enjoy.

 

Overall: Strong addition to the anime genre.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror Franchise – Survival of the Dead (2009)

survivialDirector: George A Romero

Writer: George A Romero (Screenplay)

Starring: Alan Van Sprang, Joshua Peace, Hardee T Lineham, Dru Viergever, Eric Woolfe, Kenneth Welsh, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson, Kathleen Munroe

 

Plot: On an island off the coast of North America, local residents simultaneously fight a zombie epidemic while hoping for a cure to return their un-dead relatives back to their human state.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: This Was Bad

 

Story: Survival of the Dead starts as we meet Sarge (Van Sprang) who decides to take his men away from the army to fend for themselves. We also meet a small family on Plum Island where O’Flynn (Welsh) and his family clean up their small island for survivors, but this only leads to conflict between him and another family the Muldoon (Fitzpatrick).

When the soldiers find themselves in the middle of the battle between the two families they learn that the zombies are not the only enemies they have to face in this world.

Survival of the Dead is the 6th instalment of the franchise and this film takes place in the same universe as the Diary of the Dead film where we follow the military men who rob our heroes in that one. The problem here is we get an awful story about two rival families wanting the island to save themselves. There is not a single redeemable character in this film and it could easily be considered the worst of the whole franchise. Just don’t get me started about the awful accents being used throughout either.

 

Overall: Worst of the bunch by a very long way.

Rating30

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – Amer (2009)

Director: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani

Writer: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani (Screenplay)

Starring: Cassandra Foret, Charlotte Eugene Guilbeaud, Marie Bos, Biancamaria D’Amato, Harry Cleven, Jean-Michel Vovk

 

Plot: Three key moments, all of them sensual, define Ana’s life. Her carnal search sways between reality and colored fantasies becoming more and more oppressive. A black laced hand prevents her from screaming. The wind lifts her dress and caresses her thighs. A razor blade brushes her skin, where will this chaotic and carnivorous journey leave her?

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Difficult but Fascinating

 

Story: Amer starts with the youngster age of Ana (Foret) who lives in a mansion filled with strange characters, this includes the mysterious Graziella and the body of her father, I am not going to lie, this was complicated to follow, but we look at a lot of imagery to try to shock us.

We move onto the adolescent age of Ana (Guibeaud) who has built the relationship with her mother now and is learning how to use her body to get what she wants. Nothing much happens here though.

In the final part of the film we meet the woman as an adult (Bos) who goes on a taxi ride that pulls on the sensual sexual fantasies she has, as she returns to her childhood home.

 

Thoughts on Amer

 

Final ThoughtsThis film is very hard to review like I would normally attempt to, we have three different moments of a young woman’s life, each filled with horror, sexual fantasy and sensual moments. The film uses a lot of imagery to achieve most of the films moments but you might feel slightly empty when looking for an actual story. this film is completely about what you see, hear but not what is going on.

 

Overall: One for the acquired taste in horror fans.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – Horsemen (2009)

Director: Jonas Akerund

Writer: Dave Callaham (Screenplay)

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Ziyi Zhang, Lo Taylor Pucci, Clifton Collins Jr, Barry Shabaka Henley, Patrick Fugit

 

Plot: A recently widowed detective still grieving over his wife’s death discovers a shocking connection between a serial killing spree and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dark Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Horsemen starts as Detective Aidan Breslin (Quaid) a widower raising his two children Alex (Pucci) and Sean (James), but his quiet life gets thrown wide open when a dish of teeth is found on an ice-covered pond and a woman tortured to death left hanging.

When the bodies continue to be discovered Aidan learns that there is a connection to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, making this or these serial killers a major threat to the city. When one of the killers makes, themselves know Aidan must find the rest of the killers before too many people become their victims.

 

Thoughts on Horsemen

 

Characters/PerformanceDetective Aidan Breslin is your 101 detective, he is grieve his lost loved one and not being there as a father, but he is a brilliant detective. Kristen starts off being one of the victim’s family but soon we learn her true part in everything. Alex is the eldest son of Aidan who has taken the responsibility within the house while still dealing with his own grief of losing his mother.

Performance wise, Dennis Quaid is always a solid lead actor and in this film he goes well throughout the story. Ziyi Zhang does well in one of her first English movies with Lou Taylor Pucci also doing well with his final third of the film being the highlight.

StoryThe story is a dark crime thriller which involved tracking down a serial killer that full believes in their cause. We have seen this style of film before and playing into the religious side of thing isn’t the most original either, but it is all a good watch and has plenty of twists along the way.

Mystery/ThrillerThis film does keep you guessing to just what will happen next and this gets a brilliant payoff in the final act, this does also keep us on edge with some horrific looking kills.

SettingsThe town is fine but doesn’t get used to the full level other than the shock of it happening in the town.

Special EffectsMostly all practical effects we get great effects to show just how methodical the killers are.

Final ThoughtsI do like a good crime serial killer hunting film and this does everything I want without being on the very best level, it kept me guessing until the final moments.

 

Overall: Good little thriller most people missed.

Rating