ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – D – The Descendants (2011)

Director: Alexander Payne

Writer: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (Screenplay) Kaui Hart Hemmings (Novel)

Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer

 

Plot: A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Drama

 

Story: The Descendants starts as Matt King (Clooney) a land baron and lawyer who has been distant from his wife Elizabeth and children Alexandra (Woodley) and Scottie (Miller), when Elizabeth (Hastie) is involved in an accident and left in a coma, Matt must become the lead parent, something he hasn’t done in year.

In the middle of a massive sale of his family’s land Matt learns the reality of what will be happening to Elizabeth, wishing he could give it all up for more time with his family. This takes a turn when Matt learns that Elizabeth was having an affair and that is why Alexandra no longer wanted to speak to her mother.

Matt must put his own problems a side to become the father he never was even when his own life is coming crashing down around him.

 

Thoughts on The Descendants

 

Characters/PerformanceMatt has spent his life working and not being the family man he is should have been, he must face reality after his wife’s accident becoming the father he never was, learning about the secrets his wife was keeping from him. Alexandra is the eldest daughter who knows about the affair but standing on her father’s side, she must become the big sister lil Scottie needs through the situation. Scottie is the youngest daughter who is lost because of the accident not quite understand the situation. The rest of the characters all help Matt make his decisions he needs to be making for the good of the family.

Performance wise, Clooney is brilliant and easily gives one of his performances of his career, this is also a big break out role for Woodley who showed the world her abilities. Miller does well as does the rest of the cast who make each scene enjoyable to watch.

StoryThe story shows us the difficult situations a family would go through if a parent got injured suddenly, we see the rebuilding of a family, secrets exposed that would bring strain on everything as well as how they got through it all. It shows how difficult it would be for a parent learning the truth who must stay strong for their children too. This is a beautiful told story that you can understand each and every decision any character make through the film.

SettingsHawaii as the backdrop for this film is beautiful but it is quick to tell us just how it isn’t only a tropical paradise, it has the same problems the rest of the world does.

Final ThoughtsA film about loss is always hard to get through but this one is almost a joy because it shows just how difficult learning about secrets would be.

 

Overall: This is a great drama I feel everyone should see.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – B – Bridesmaids (2011)

Director: Paul Feig

Writer: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rebel Wilson

 

Plot: Competition between the maid of honor and a bridesmaid, over who is the bride’s best friend, threatens to upend the life of an out-of-work pastry chef.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard and Forgettable

 

Story: Bridesmaids starts as we meet Annie (Wiig) a woman down on her luck, be it love or in business, her best friend Lillian (Rudolph) gets engaged leading to Annie needing to meet Lillian’s other friends including biggest rival Helen (Byrne) and the mother of three Rita (McLendon-Covey), newlywed Becca (Kemper), loud mouth future sister in law Megan (McCarthy) as they prepare for the big day.

As the wedding planning continues Helen and Annie’s rivalry increases as Annie is forced into going to Vegas with the rest of the bridesmaids as the wedding day comes closer.

 

Thoughts on Bridesmaids

 

Characters – Annie is the woman watching how her best friend is getting married with a new group of friends where she doesn’t fit in with as much, she isn’t having her own luck in love either and her career is gone down the drain. Lillian is the one getting married, she must remain calm as her friends look to become friends with each other. Helen is the rival friend, she comes from money showing Lillian a different life than the one she would have without Annie around, Helen does seem to be trying to replace Annie. We have three other bridesmaids that all have their unique personas with the married with kids one, the newlywed and the crazy one that gets most of the laughs.

PerformanceKristen Wiig is good in the main role as the woman whose life is falling apart or never where she wanted to be. Maya Rudolph gives the most natural performance in the film never trying to grab a laugh like most of the rest of the cast. Rose Byrne continues to show he ability to dive into different roles. I am hugely confused why people went mad over Melissa McCarthy’s performance in this film got an Oscar nomination it was nothing memorable.

StoryThe story focuses on one woman whose life isn’t going the way she thought it would be, the engagement of her best friend seems to be the final straw, we do get to see how friendships can get tested to levels as time goes by and friends make new friends, a problem we all go through but in the end we get a lot of filler for the supporting bridesmaids in the film, that doesn’t connect to Annie which the story hints at it being her reaction to most things.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy does feel like it misses on the most part, we get a couple of good laughs but otherwise the jokes feel very forced.

SettingsThe settings mostly come off as misses as nothing becomes overly iconic in anyway which leaves us not sure where certain parts of the movie are set.

Scene of the Movie – Most of John Hamm’s scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The hype doesn’t live up to it.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that I only heard good things about and I couldn’t happen to think it was overrated and boring in places.

 

Overall: Standard comedy that doesn’t hit very often.

Rating

 

 

Abduction (2011)

Director: John Singleton

Writer: Shawn Christensen (Screenplay)

Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, Jason Issacs, Michael Nyqvist

 

Plot: A thriller centered on a young man who sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Badly Acted Action

 

Story: Abduction starts as we meet rebellious high school student Nathan (Lautner) that is under strict training from his parents Kevin (Isaacs) and Mara (Bello) as well as his therapist Dr Bennet (Weaver) helping him control his anger problems. Nathan gets assigned to work with his high school crush Karen (Collins) in the latest project, which involved looking at missing children’s websites only to discover one of the kids looks just like him.

When Nathan learns the truth, he finds himself getting targeted and Nathan is wondering just who to trust with Dr Bennett, Agent Burton (Molina) or Kozlow (Nyqvist) in what will turn into a race against time to find safety.

 

Thoughts on Abduction

 

Characters/PerformanceNathan is a rebellious high school student, struggling with girls, studying and generally fitting in. he learns that he is in fact adopted but this opens the doors for people coming to capture him leaving him one option, running. Karen is the crush of Nathan and ends up in the middle of the chase also running for her life. Burton is the CIA operative trying to bring Nathan in before Kozlow can get his hands on him. Kozlow is a European enemy that came to America in search for Nathan for bargaining, nothing overly fancy about this character. Dr Bennett, Mara and Kevin all have a secret about what is going on with Nathan.

Performance wise, we all know Taylor Lautner isn’t known for his acting and it does clearly show here. Lily Collins is similar, while she has come a long way now back here she struggles. When we look at the older respected actors we get good supporting performances without shinning on any levels.

StoryThe story follows the idea of a teenager learning his parents are not his parents leaving him on the run from enemies he doesn’t know who to trust. Having two teenagers outsmart CIA, international enemies and normal cops does come off rather farfetched which in places does nothing but disappoint in this film. as for entertainment value, this is simple enough for the fans of the genre.

Action/MysteryThe action is everything you expect with no extra special moments but the mystery about Nathan’s true identity is what is the only interesting part of the film.

SettingsBeing on the run leaves us going through a string of generic settings for this type of film.

Special EffectsAll the effects are fine without being anything special.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that has its flaws sure, but once it gets going it can become an edge of your seat thriller.

 

Overall: Simple, average and forgettable action film.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: Po and his friends fight to stop a peacock villain from conquering China with a deadly new weapon, but first the Dragon Warrior must come to terms with his past.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weaker Sequel

 

Story: Kung Fu Panda 2 starts as we learn of an evil peacock named Shen who has mastered the art of fireworks and has gone into hiding to make the perfect weapon. Meanwhile Po is continuing his training working as a unit in the now Furious Six and when not fighting he is training with Shifu.

With the Furious Six going into battle against Shen, Po must face the truth about where he came from as he finally confronts the realization he was adopted and what happened to his parents.

 

Thoughts on Kung Fu Panda 2

 

Characters Po is still clumsy but a warrior never the less but this time he must face his past while seeing his heroes disappoint him. Shifu lets his team do the work this time not being overly involved in the story. Shen is the peacock looking to conquer China with his powerful unstoppable weapon. The Furious Six all play their part again too with Tigress seemingly getting the biggest part. The characters do all work for the film and do make this feel like a sequel adventure for the characters taking on a new villain.

StoryThe story does feel slightly flatter this time around, now Po is trained it is just the group taking on a new villain as we try to learn about where Po came from and why he is the only Panda around. It feels like a sequel but lacks the punch the first one had by trying to go overly emotional.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThe action is all what we expect, big and martial arts that only works for animated, the comedy seems to have dried up more just not clicking enough. This is fine for a family film though that will keep the kids happier than the adults.

SettingsOnce again the settings do look great for battling kingdoms which are surrounded with smaller town.

AnimationWe know the animation is fantastic and once again it doesn’t let us down.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weaker sequel that just seems to lack the heart the first film had, leaving it all feel like it could have been a straight to DVD sequel.

 

Overall: Weak sequel you just can’t enjoy as much.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – The Hike (2011)

Director: Rupert Bryan

Writer: Rupert Bryan, Ben Loyd-Holmes (Screenplay)

Starring: Jemma Bolt, Stephanie Siadatan, Lisa-Maria Long, Zara Phythian, Barabara Nedeljakova, Tamer Hassan, Ben Loy-Holmes, Shauna Macdonald

 

Plot: This film is about a group of women who go on a camping trip in British countryside after one of them (Kate) gets back from doing a tour in Afghanistan where she witnessed her boyfriends death. While out in the bush area they come across a group of guys who are also camping out. But it all goes from having a good time and enjoying themselves to a fight for their lives as they are soon being hunted by someone in the forest. Who will survive?

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Boring at Best

 

Story: The Hike starts as five friends Kate (Phythian), Torri (Nedeljakova), Ellie (Long), Leanne (Siadatan) and Charlie (Bolt) head off into the countryside for a weekend away to help Kate get over the loss of her boyfriend while she was serving in Afghanistan.

As the girls hike goes on they meet a string off different characters also out in the woods but when one of their own goes missing, it is up to Kate to protect her friends and make it out of the woods alive using all her training.

 

Thoughts on The Hike

 

Characters/PerformanceKate is meant to be a soldier that is grieving the loss of her partner but soon must go back into soldier mode to save her friends from the enemy within the woods. The rest of the girls are all very painfully generic and never look like they would ever go into the woods camping. The villains are also generic and while we get a tease of who it could be either way would not surprise.

Performance wise, this isn’t the best acted movie all around, we get what feels like completely fake conversation between the girls, and villain performance that just comes off boring. We also have two bigger names thrown into the mix to sell the movie who are barely even in a scene.

StoryThe story is an easy follow, girls go down the woods and find themselves fighting for their lives from twisted rapist and murders, all in England, well I never. My problem with the story is we go for shock here by having member of the group killed without being able to put up a fight while the strongest member Kate is preparing herself for the battle, the story tries to force us into watching uncomfortable rape sequences that just don’t shock like ‘I Spit on your Grave’ and ends up just becoming forgettable.

HorrorThe horror does work in places when you look at how people could find it hard to watch the subject matter we are seeing but otherwise it is just girls running in woods and guys looking to rape and murder them.

SettingsWe are in the middle of the woods which is great for creating the isolation needed within the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used when it comes to the kills all look good for the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that feels like they put the wrong characters in the middle of a survival horror that also offers us nothing new.

 

Overall: Forgettable Horror.

Rating