ABC Film Challenge – Action – I – Immortals (2011)

Director: Tarsem Singh

Writer: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides (Screenplay)

Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, John Hurt, Joseph Morgan

 

Plot: Theseus is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion, who is on a rampage across Greece to obtain a weapon that can destroy humanity.


Tagline – The Gods Need a Hero

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Glossy Greek Muscles

 

Story: Immortals starts in a world where the immortals battled, the winners became Gods, the loser became Titans and buried under the mountain. With King Hyperion (Rourke) destroying village after villages in search for a stone that will grant him power. An average farmer Theseus (Cavill) trained in combat sees the war come to him, he is destined for greatness as the Gods watch over him with Zeus (Evans) knowing who will win the battle, but unable to interfere.

With the oracles including Phaedra (Pinto) knowing the truth about Theseus, she plans to release him and his fellow prisoners to go into battle against King Hyperion before becoming part of his plan.

 

Thoughts on Immortals

 

Characters – Theseus is from a quiet village that has lived in peace, but when the war comes to him, he must us his fighting skills to defeat the tyrant trying to conquer the land ad fulfil his destiny. He is the man that we see in many of these titles, a man that is meant to bring people together. King Hyperion has been taking control of the land of Greece, his armies are not taking prisoners in their conquering ways. This is a villain we are used to seeing because it is one that will go to any lengths to get what he wants. Stavros is a thief that joins Theseus and with this gets to plant the comical lines in places. Phaedra is the oracle that has seen the paths in which Theseus will take, believe he can bring the country to the freedom is deserves. Zeus is the all powerful God that is watching from the skies, he doesn’t want to interfere in this battle or any of the Gods to with the punishment of death.

PerformancesThe actors all have the look for their roles, so that won’t need discussing anymore. Henry Cavill is fine in the leading role, he doesn’t handle the emotion moments enough, but is saved with the fighting. Mickey Rourke is always good as a villain and he does a good enough job for the film. The rest are fine they just have nobody that sticks out long enough to be memorable.

StoryThe story plays into the idea of Gods and Titans that once ruled Greece, we see how they watched over the world waiting for the war which the humans will bring on themselves, now they must wait to see if the on man can fulfil the destiny. This is sword and saddles with what you are expecting to see after seeing 300. It all works fine but won’t become one of the more memorable within the genre.

Action/Fantasy/RomanceThe action is the highlight of the film, with plenty of big sequences that are left to see elements of the mythology. This dives us into the fantasy world we will be entering and there is a weaker romance side to the story.

SettingsThe film makes us feel like we are part of this world with ease, though most scenes look like they are from the same location and not looking special enough.

Special EffectsThe effects are nice to see because they play into this over the top style the film tries to make its own. Zeus coming to Earth is the highlight moment.


Scene of the Movie –
Hammer time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Feels long.

Final ThoughtsThis will keep the fans of the films like 300 will enjoy this one, this is an entertaining watch if you don’t need to want to think and can be enjoyed.

 

Overall: Simple saddles and swords.

Rating

 

 

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Oscar Isaac Weekend – Sucker Punch (2011)

Director: Zack Snyder

Writer: Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn

 

Plot: A young girl is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather, retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, envisioning a plan to help her escape.


Tagline – You Will Be Unprepared.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sexy & Stylish

 

Story: Sucker Punch Starts when Babydoll (Browning) is se to a mental institute by her evil step-father, looking to cope with this new world, she creates an alternative reality where the other patients Sweet Pea (Cornish), Rocket (Malone), Blondie (Hudgens) and Amber (Chung) entertain clients for Blue Jones (Isaac) the orderly who in this world is a gangster.

Babydoll has a plan to escape which involved winning over the girls, most support him, while Sweet Pea isn’t so happy to go along with the plan, with each performance putting the girls in a life or death situation outside of the current reality.

 

Thoughts on Sucker Punch

 

Characters – Babydoll is thrown into a mental home after trying to defend her younger sister from their abusive stepfather, here she knows she has five days before it is lights out, which means she must plan her escape, which sees her create alternative reality where she can escape the hands of the people who will end her life. Sweet Pea is the eldest the girls in the home, she is most opposed to going through with the escape plan, believe it will get the rest of the girls in trouble. Rocket is the first of the girls to let Babydoll in after being rescued by her, she guides her around the home teaching her just what they need to know to survive. Blondie and Amber some off as the two naïve of the girls as they will go along with any idea which would make their lives easier. Dr Gorski looks after the girls preparing them for their performances. Blue Jones is the one that runs the club, an orderly in the home that holds the key to the only exit.

PerformancesEmily Browning in the leading role fits the part perfectly, we needed her character to look the youngest of the group. Abbie Cornish fits the oldest of the girl’s role well too because she see her vulnerable side through the film, while trying to be the strongest. Jena Malone plays the middle ground between the girls well as we see just how conflicted her character becomes through the film. When we get into the supporting cast, we do know that we performances that fit the film without looking out of place in any point in the film.

StoryThe story can be cut down to a simple escape plan movie, that would be the simplest way to describe the story, only this isn’t a simple movie. It creates worlds, within worlds to cope with an impending outcome for Babygirl. The idea that we jump into other realities does help the film feel a lot more enjoyable because the wildly imaginative ideas only improve the story, even if it could have borrowed from many subgenres. While this does have a comic book feel and you could easily see more chapters being added to make more adventures, it does have to go down as original in the story front, something that shouldn’t ever be criticised.

Action/FantasyThe action is massive set pieces each one from a different eras from a samurai to war, they all work and feel unique to this film, which is filled with fantasy ideas of just what the characters use to create the world they can fight through.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just where the girl’s minds will go through the performances, each one makes the mission to escape feel like we are fighting for something.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are fantastic, they show us just how you can create something this visually stunning no matter how big it could be.


Scene of the Movie –
Dragon fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Blondie and Amber are too similar.

Final ThoughtsThis is a truly ambitious movie, it shows us just how you can make an original movie which will completely go against anything you believed you would be seeing.

 

Overall: Brave, ambitious, wildly over the top, what more could you want?

Rating

 

 

Tom Hiddleston Weekend – War Horse (2011)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Lee Hall, Richard Curtis (Screenplay) Michael Morpurgo (Novel)

Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, Niels Arestrup, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch

 

Plot: Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.


Tagline – Separated by war. Tested by battle. Bound by friendship.

Runtime: 2 Hours 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Incredible Story

 

Story: War Horse starts as the poor farming family Narracotts, former war veteran Ted (Mullan), wife Rose (Watson) and son Albert (Irvine) end up with a horse that shouldn’t be able to work on a farm that Albert manages to teach how to plough, being the only one Joey will listen to.

When the latest crop fails, Ted is forced to sale Joey to the military once the first World War breaks outs, Captain Nicholls (Hiddleston) takes him promising to bring him back safely, however much it breaks Albert’s heart. When Captain Nicholls is killed in action, we see Joey’s next chapter in the war, as Albert enlists in an attempt to become reunited with Joey on the front lines.

 

Thoughts on War Horse

 

Characters – Albert is the farmers boy that proves he will never give up and shows us when it comes to training the horse, which will achieving things it should never get through, he has bonded with Joey who is taken away from him, determined to be reunited with Joey, he enlists in the British army heading off to World War I to fight and find his horse. Ted is the war veteran father, who drinks to get over his problems with what happened in his own battle, reckless in his behaviour, he must make the difficult decision to sell the horse. Rose is the ever-supporting wife and mother that sees the good in both her husband and son, knowing while they might clash they will forever be doing the right thing. Lyons is the landlord that is making the life of the Narracotts difficult forcing him into the decisions that could take the family out of their home. Captain Nicholls is the man that buys Joey, taking him to the war promising to keep him safe and return him after the war with Major Jamie Stewart being the one that naively going into battle underprepared.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are impacted by the number of characters involved in the film, with the likes of Hiddleston and Cumberbatch left with only supporting roles where they make an impact with their limited time. The two main stars of the film would be Jeremy Irvine and the horses themselves that go through the biggest struggles through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the incredible journey through the first World War that a horse endured being forced to work for both the British and the Germans, somehow surviving through the difficulties both sides were facing. We see how one young farmer’s boy risks his life to head to war in hopes o finding his horse in a battle which would take millions of lives. The story itself is incredible, the pacing of the story however does feel inconsistent because we spend ten to fifteen minutes with each chapter, which never gives us enough time for the impact of those scenes.

History/WarThe history involved in the First World War is a moment that changed everyone involved, this is clear from the characters we see, each war scene does feel realistic even if it is more focused on the less graphic moments involved.

SettingsThe film uses the settings wonderfully to make us feel like we are involved in the scenes with the war scenes showing us how difficult the moments were for the men and horses.


Scene of the Movie –
Running free in no man’s land.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not getting enough time with each of the characters we meet.

Final ThoughtsThis is an incredible story showing the journey of one horse through the first World War, this creates the shocking truth of war, while it does lack the time spent on each character.

 

Overall: Incredible story of one horses journey through war.

Rating

 

 

Oliver Platt Weekend – The Oranges (2011)

Director: Julian Farino

Writer: Ian Helfer, Jay Reiss (Screenplay)

Starring: Alia Shawkat, Hugh Laurie, Oliver Platt, Allison Janney, Catherine Keener, Leighton Meester, Adam Brody

 

Plot: The enduring friendship between the Walling and Ostroff families is tested when Nina, the prodigal Ostroff daughter, returns home for the holidays after a five-year absence and enters into an affair with David, head of the Walling family.


Tagline – Sex. Betrayal. Scandal. Make yourself at home.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny Family Drama

 

Story: The Oranges starts as we meet two neighbouring families, the Walling and Ostroff who are best friends, husbands David (Laurie) and Terry (Platt), wives Cathy (Janney) and Paige (Keener) and children Vanessa (Shawkat), Nina (Meester) and Toby (Brody) who all come back together for the first time in years for Thanksgiving.

This weekend goes wrong when David starts having an affair well a kiss with Nina which causes problems as each side when everyone finds out breaking all the relationships between everyone involved.

 

Thoughts on The Oranges

 

Characters – David is the head of one of the two families, he is in a falling apart marriage that sees him staying in the pool house, he is best friends with Terry which sees him jogging plenty of times a week. He gets involved with Terry’s daughter which sees his wife leave him, his friendship shattered and his daughter wanting to turn on him. Nina is the wild child daughter of Terry that has spent years away from home, she used to be Vanessa’s best friend and has spent her time exploring the world. she returns home after a bad break up and gets involved in an affair of sorts with David, this is partly because it is something new and partly to get at her mother. Vanessa is our narrator that is recalling the events, she is the daughter of David that has always planned for a future that hasn’t happened yet, she is the opposite to Nina with her life, not taking the chances she always thought would come her way, she does struggle to deal with new relationship mostly because her life hasn’t taken off. Terry is the father of Nina that is struggling to deal with the new relationship, not only because it is his best friend and his daughter, but ends up finding a new lease for life himself. Paige is the wife that moves out after David’s affair which sees her book up a full bed and breakfast as part of her plan to get back at him. Cathy is the interfering mother of Nina’s that always wanted to see her daughter happy and ends up trying to set her up more than she should.

PerformancesHugh Laurie stepped away from House with his role, he gets to continue to show that he is a talent actor in the leading role and once again showed that he does work very well with Leighton Meester who is also very good in her role. Oliver Platt, Allison Janney and Catherine Keener are staples of any ensembled cast showing they can get their moments in smaller moments in any film and Alia Shawkat gives us a performance which many people can relate to.

StoryThe story here shows us how mid-life crisis happen, they show us what would happen if a father started dating his best friends daughter. It sparks changes in everyone’s life showing how much the parents are getting older and not taking the chances they once thought they had and the young adults learn to take the chances they hadn’t found themselves doing. The story does pose the question about love and whether age should be a problem. We also get to play into the idea of the holiday period being chaos in America with the secrets of family can come out as the strain between them becomes more apparent. It is interesting seeing the effects on the affair on everybody which makes this movie more interesting to watch.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film fits in nicely, it isn’t designed to be a laugh out loud comedy, but have moments that will make you laugh. The romance shows us how an affair between a father and daughter of best friend can be nice to start with and soon show the truth about real feelings.

SettingsThe settings are New Jersey with two houses opposite each other showing us just how close the connection is between the two families.


Scene of the Movie –
Christmas drive.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nearly every character gets development with what happens apart from Cathy which is the only disappointment.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun romantic comedy that shows how one moment between an unlikely couple can easily change lives to go in directions nobody involved could see happening.

 

Overall: Happy relationship comedy drama.

Rating

 

 

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)

Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass

Writer: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, Rae Dawn Chong, Steve Zissis

 

Plot: Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his widowed mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his unhappily married brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.


Tagline –  The first step to finding your destiny is leaving your mother’s basement.

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Family Based Drama

 

Story: Jeff, Who Lives at Home starts as we meet Jeff (Segel) a stoner that lives in his mother Sharon (Sarandon) basement, he is always looking for his destiny and a mysterious call from a stranger looking for a Kevin leads him to go out of his way to find the truth. When going out on to do a household chore he finds himself joining his older brother Pat (Helms) as they go on the chase to figure out if Pat’s wife Linda (Greer) is cheating on him.

 

Thoughts on Jeff, Who Lives at Home

 

Characters – Jeff is a slacker that is desperate to find a purpose in his life believing he will be given signs in life to find this goal, he doesn’t have a job and today he goes on an adventure in hope of finding his place in the world. Pat is the older brother to Pat, he has recently impulse bought a Porsche which has only continued his strain of his marriage which leads him to share his honest truth with Jeff while trying to figure out if his wife is cheating on him. Sharon is their mother of the boys who is a widow still working a day job, today she gets secret message which adds some spice to her birthday.

PerformancesJason Segel in the leading role works because he does have a good understanding of withdrawn character his playing. Ed Helms does give us a good performance in his role where he does play louder of the two brothers. Susan Sarandon does a good job with her role even if her story does feel distant from the rest of the film.

StoryThe story follows one day in the lives of the three family members, Jeff finding his place Pat facing the truth and Sharon getting an unexpected surprise in her life. The story shows how things can come together for the series of events to bring a family closer and how they need to support each other through struggles, the sprinkling of comedy helps us along the way too. This does focus on needing to express feelings for the people that are important in your life however much you feel like it is a weakness in their eyes.

ComedyThe comedy in this film helps takes moments of seriousness out of the story, which does give it elements of realness in the film.

SettingsThe film gives us an everyday city for the film to take place in, showing how these people do have to operate in an everyday situation.


Scene of the Movie –
The lunch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While it shows her day, Sharon’s storyline doesn’t feel as connected to Jeff’s.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful drama that shows the difficult decisions people will be making on an everyday basis, being it following a believed destiny, fixing a marriage or taking a chance.

 

Overall: Wonderful drama

Rating