Jack Black Weekend – Gulliver’s Travels (2010) Movie Review

Director: Rob Letterman

Writer: Joe Stillman, Nicholas Stoller (Screenplay) Jonathan Swift (Book)

Starring: Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Chris O’Dowd

Plot: Travel writer Lemuel Gulliver takes an assignment in Bermuda, but ends up on the island of Lilliput, where he towers over its tiny citizens.


Tagline – A magical land. A comedy of epic proportions.

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Insults a Classic Novel

Story: Gulliver’s Travels starts when New York magazine mailman Lemuel Gulliver (Black) wanting to impress the travel editor Darcy (Peet) accepts an assignment that everyone refuses, which sees him head towards the Bermuda Triangle.

This trip sees him end up in Lilliput where he is giant compared to the residents including King Theodore (Connolly), the stuck up general Edward (O’Dowd) along with Princess Mary (Blunt) and peasant Horatio (Segel), in the land where Gulliver becomes a hero of the land.

Thoughts on Gulliver’s Travels

Characters – Lemuel Gulliver has been living inside his safety zone, where he works in a mail room for a magazine, not looking to get out of the lowest level of the magazine, seeing people come and go through the office, he doesn’t have the guts to ask out the woman of his dreams, taking an assignment he has no qualifications to be part of. Gulliver travels to a new land where the people are tiny, where he starts a revolution taking advantage of their generous natures. Horatio is a peasant that has been locked up for trying to speak to the princess, who he loves and wants to be with, he is the one that helps Gulliver learn about the world he is now part of. Princess Mary believes she is meant to be marrying the man who earns her love, rather than being allowed to get to know the person. Darcy is the travel editor for the magazine that Gulliver wants to impress, she is willing to let people in the office have an opportunity to prove them.

PerformancesJack Black brings his routine of comedy which is too immature for this story, even if he can handle the heart to heart moments well. Jason Segel does all he can with his role, while Emily Blunt clearly decides to make this over the top because of how little she wanted to be part of the movie. Chris O’Dowd is arguably the only strong part of the film when it comes to the acting, knowing he is playing an over the top villain.

StoryThe story is meant to show a slacker that travels to a hidden royal kingdom where the people are tiny, here he helps take the people to the next level of the lives breaking them out of their royal ways. The problem with the story, is that it is based on a classic, which would have the same themes, only for this one to make everything about pop culture references that have completely dated becoming almost insulting to everything that it could have been. The story could easily have been about a slacker that wants to start achieving more from his life, instead of continue to show how much of a joke he is.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure side of the film does take Gulliver to a new land he would never have imagined getting too, though his nervous approach to travelling gets forgotten too quickly here. The comedy is mostly immature jokes that won’t get many laughs in anyway.

SettingsThe film does start with New York before moving to Lilliput, the problem with the setting here is the lack of scale, one minute it is just a palace, the next it feels like a big village or city, we just never learn how big this world is meant to be.

Special EffectsThe effects do look clunky with how the worlds are put together trying to create the fact that Gulliver is massive in this world.


Scene of the Movie – Mail room talk.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The comedy.

Final Thoughts This is an insulting movie that just never reaches the heights it could when it comes to telling the incredible story of Gulliver’s visit to Lilliput like the book does, we end up with immature comedy that misses more often than it hits.

Overall: Disappointing and bland.

Jon Favreau Weekend – Iron Man 2 (2010)

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: Justin Theroux (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (Comic Book)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L Jackson, Clark Gregg

 

Plot: With the world now aware of his identity as Iron Man, Tony Stark must contend with both his declining health and a vengeful mad man with ties to his father’s legacy.


Tagline – It’s not the armor that makes the hero, but the man inside.

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Sequel

 

Story: Iron Man 2 starts in the world where Tony Stark’s (Downey Jr) Iron Man has seen the world in peace for the longest time in modern history, the government however isn’t happy with the device and the world is trying to build their own versions of the Iron Man suit. With Tony’s device slowly causing more damage than it should, he is looking for a way to stop the affects being caused.

With Tony searching for answers, he must deal with new member of the law team Natalie Rushman (Johansson), giving Pepper (Paltrow) the CEO position, a rival inventor Justin Hammer (Rockwell) and a jilted victim of his father’s work Ivan Vanko (Rourke) better known as Whiplash, who has his own form of weaponised equipment and wants revenge.

 

Thoughts on Iron Man 2

 

Characters – Tony Stark revealed his identity at the end of the last movie, he has become even more famous as the man that ended conflict in the world, the government want control over the suit and worry that other parts of the world could develop their own version of the suit. He must deal with his own mortality when the one thing keeping him alive, is making him sick. He will also need to fight for his father’s mistakes, pushing his closest friends away. Pepper Potts has been given a promotion by Tony, to CEO, she already runs his affairs, she is now running his company, while trying to control him during his self-destruction. Rhodey is still in his role in the military, he is still challenging Tony, but gets to use his own suit the correct way, for guiding the military. Natasha goes undercover in Stark’s company, she is a member of SHIELD where she uses her skills in combat to keep Tony out of trouble. Justin Hammer is a rival inventor still trying to get ahead of Tony in the weapons business, he has been working on his own Iron Man suit, without much success, he hires Ivan to build him a suit. Ivan Vanko has built his own weaponised suit, he is the son of a rival of Tony’ father, which sees him want to take revenge on Tony for his father’s action, becoming whiplash, the one man that has created a suit that could rival Iron Man.

PerformancesRobert Downey Jr is still great to watch, he keeps the charisma required for his role, while bringing an emotional factor which is needed for where his character goes in this film. Gwyneth Paltrow does have a bigger role here and brings us a much stronger performance with her character. Don Cheadle is an improvement on Terrence Howard, bringing Rhodey to life more. Scarlett Johansson has the perfect look for this character which is only first jumping into the franchise. Sam Rockwell as another inventor arms dealer who is filled with the swagger required. Mickey Rourke as the villain has good motives he does everything he can even if he character does grumble a lot.

StoryThe story follows up the beginning of Iron Man dealing with the idea that the military would want control of the equipment and the rest of the world will be playing catch up, with their own versions of the Iron Man suit. This is a strong world building exercise to the Iron Man universe, we get to see how SHIELD are operating in the shadows watching over the potential threats. We have a villain that is competition and another one that is out for personal revenge. We up the stakes in this one, Tony does have to deal with his own problems by needing to improve the suit and we get to set up the position of who is one the good side with teases of the eventual Avengers team up.

Action/Sci-Fi The action in this film relies on a couple of big scenes, we have the racing introduction, the mid-life crisis sequence and the showdown, each has their own way to make an impact. The sci-fi side of the film continues to show the technology advances that Tony is dealing with.

SettingsThe film uses the settings more for the action with one of the most iconic action sequences in the franchise, we continue to see Tony’s lab which tends to get destroyed a lot too.

Special EffectsThe special effects in the film make each fight, drone or Iron Man suit look realistic through the film which is what needed for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Monte Carlo entrance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There is a small pacing issue.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun sequel that continues to build the universe we know now, Tony still needs to learn about his place and how to handle the suit which is important and shows the past could come back to haunt you.

 

Overall: Fun sequel.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – M – Mongolian Death Worm (2010)

Director: Steven R Monroe

Writer: Neil Elman, Kevin Leeson, Steven R Monroe (Screenplay)

Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Victoria Pratt, George Cheung, Drew Waters, Matthew Tompkins, Nate Rubin

 

Plot: When an American oil company sets up an experimental drilling plant out in the vast deserts of Mongolia, they awaken a nest. The deadly creatures begin to breed and spread, devouring everyone in their path.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: ABC Creature Feature

 

Story: Mongolian Death Worm starts as the American Drilling company in Mongolia (where else could this film be set with this title) have disturbed a creature below the surfaces that the locals believe is a myth that will come and take people. We also have a treasure hunter Daniel (Flanery) that has never made himself popular with the locals apart from the Sheriff Timur (Cheung). To increase the stakes, we also have a village with an outbreak of a virus that the charity HOPE and Dr Alicia (Pratt) are trying to cure must pay Daniel to take them to the village.

When the myth turns out to be true everyone must put aside their differences to fight to survive from the Mongolian Death Worms that are growing in numbers through the desert.

 

Thoughts on Mongolian Death Worm

 

Characters – Daniel is a treasure hunter searching for the burial grounds of Genghis Khan but has made his own enemies in the land but also knows how to handle himself, he isn’t the kindest of people always doing things for money over the right reasons, Alicia is a doctor that has been helping the locals of Mongolia with a virus outbreak and she is willing to die to save these people. Timur is the sheriff that is one of the few people that enjoys the company of Daniel and understands that he is harmless at heart.

PerformanceSean Patrick Flanery does seem to have fallen from the graces where he was about to make it to the big time but he is the star of this show. Victoria Pratt is fine in the supporting role with the brains and beauty needed for the film and George Cheung gives us the laughs when needed.

StoryThe story does mix myth with legend when it comes to dealing with new inhabitants to a land that must face the idea that a myth isn’t just a myth and must work together to defeat a creature in this case a Mongolian Death Worm. This is an easy to watch story as it is mostly a group of people needing to battle an unknown enemy before they take over the local area.

Action/HorrorThe action is mostly chases through the film which works when it comes to the enemies the people are facing with the horror side of the movie all coming from the creature feature idea which is always a lot of fun to watch.

SettingsThe film is set in Mongolia but this looks like it could be anywhere in the USA or anywhere that has dirt roads.

Special EffectsThe effects are better than I was expecting but still within the budget of a TV movie.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film could have been filmed in any location it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple creature feature that is a lot better than what I was expecting without being one of the best creature features you will see, I do think the fact it isn’t laughably bad does hinder it though.

 

Overall: Solid creature feature.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010)

Director: Susanna White

Writer: Emma Thompson (Screenplay) Christianna Brand (Characters)

Starring: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Oscar Steer, Asa Butterfield, Lil Woods, Maggie Smith

 

Plot: Nanny McPhee arrives to help a harried young mother who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war, though she uses her magic to teach the woman’s children and their two spoiled cousins five new lessons.


Tagline – The magic’s back, warts and all.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More Serious Sequel

 

Story: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang starts as we meet mother Isabel (Gyllenhaal) who is trying to run the family home and raise her three children, while her husband is away at war, adding to her pressure is her brother-in-law Phil (Ifans) that is looking to get money and two cousins added to the family that are used to the luxury life.

When Isabel starts struggling, she gets the call from Nanny McPhee (Thompson) who offers to help put the children back in line with her magic. The children must learn to work together to help the farm stay in the right hands.

 

Thoughts on Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

 

Characters – Nanny McPhee is the magical nanny that comes to family’s when they are in need of support, she has come to this family in their time of need to help teach them how to be together in one of the most difficult times in their lives, the war, she brings her rules like before as she looks to bring the best out in the people. Isabel is the mother of the three that is trying to run and farm and work, her husband is at war, with the uncertainty of whether he will be returning. She doesn’t want help, but must accept it to keep the pressures of her life away from her children. Phil is the brother-in-law to Isabel, he has created his own gambling debts and wants the farm to clear the debts, he will do anything to get what he needs. Mrs Docherty is the boss of Isabel and family friend, she isn’t quite all there which makes her character come off funnier than she should. The children do come from different worlds which does see them clash in the time of conflict.

PerformancesEmma Thompson does continue to enjoy playing this role which she handles with ease. Maggie Gyllenhaal gets to play the role well through the film, which shows us just how difficult a position her character is in. Rhys Ifans does everything you would imagine in the comedy role in the film, while Maggie Smith also adds plenty of comedy through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a mother that takes over the family farm with her husband away at war, with money running low and the stress of life getting to her, that gets help from Nanny McPhee. The story here easily becomes a much more serious one because we are dealing with children that are being separated from their parents during war, where they don’t know if their family will be together once the war is over. This story does have a very different tone to the first one, one that does feel real, even though it does seem slightly stranger for Nanny McPhee to be here, this time around. The story here is more entertaining than the original which is always a good thing.

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy in the film does hit better than the first film, most of it comes from the arguments which feel funnier, the fantasy in the film does work too, which ends up blending with the comedy involved.

SettingsThe film is mostly set within one farm which does show us just how much trouble the family will be facing in their time of need.

Special EffectsThe effects here are the biggest step back sadly because we can see the CGI moments looking completely out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
Connection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great sequel that does have a strong story to cover up the weaker CGI being used in the film.

 

Overall: Wonderful sequel.

Rating

 

 

Harrison Ford Weekend – Morning Glory (2010)

Director: Roger Michell

Writer: Aline Brosh McKenna (Screenplay)

Starring: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson

 

Plot: An upstart television producer accepts the challenge of reviving a struggling morning show program with warring co-hosts.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Truly Enjoyable Comedy

 

Story: Morning Glory starts as we follow Becky (McAdams) a new producer dreaming of one day going to the next level, when she believes she is about to get the senior producer role she finds herself losing her job instead. Not one to give up on her dreams to searches endlessly for a new job in the business and it is Jerry Barnes (Goldblum) that gives her a chance to work on saving the fourth best morning news station Daybreak.

Wanting to make an impact Becky fires the demoralising anchor, Becky must find a new anchor and her choice is going after News Icon Mike Pomperoy (Ford) who is under contract but doesn’t want to work. Becky must find a way for Mike to work with her current anchor Colleen Peck (Keaton) while making new friends with fellow producer Adam Bennett (Wilson) offering up a potential love interest.

 

Thoughts on Morning Glory

 

Characters/PerformanceBecky is an ambitious young woman desperate to make a career in producing the news. She gets her chance working on the lowest rated show and must use all of her good spirit and ideas to make the show climb the ratings, all while dealing with her own personal life that she has given up making her career important. This is a brilliant character because it shows how people can put their career before their own lives which is why this is something we have seen before but always good to go back too.

Mike is the difficult anchor to work with, he used to be a draw in the news reporting world but isn’t interested in working on anything he doesn’t think is news worth, he makes the job as difficult as possible for Becky by doing the bare minimum. Colleen is the seasoned anchor that is happy to take a chance on the wild stories that can bring in the ratings. Adam is the love interest for Becky as well as being involved with Mike before so he can give Becky advice when it comes to handling him.

Performance wise, McAdams is great in the leading role, not playing it overly funny which is how you can judge the whole cast, Ford does enjoy this role because it is different to the rest of his normal action material.

StoryThe story following a career driven woman following her dream putting everything she has into making it happen against all the odds if something that is fantastic to watch because we all like to enjoy watching someone reach that goal. Sure, most of this film does go around in the cycle you would expect but if it isn’t broken don’t fix it.

Romantic/ComedyThe romantic side is on the main story which I think works because it isn’t the most important part of the film, the comedy comes when needed without being a constant attempt at laughter.

SettingsThe settings for this film are mostly inside the news studio which shows how close everyone must be to work together. This helps us see how the tension looks between the characters.

Final ThoughtsI wasn’t expecting too much from this film going in, mostly because of the genres but in the end, I found myself enjoying everything as it was unfolding.

 

Overall: This is a good comedy drama that is worth watching.

Rating