ABC Film Challenge – Romance – C – Larry Crowne (2011)

Director: Tom Hanks

Writer: Tom Hanks, Nia Vardalos (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Pam Grier, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Holmes Osbourne, Taraji P Henson, Rob Riggle

 

Plot: After losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.


Tagline – Never too late in life to start living.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Clichéd Rom Com

 

Story: Larry Crowne starts as we meet Larry (Hanks) a hard-working sales man for a supermarket like company that is let go due to him not having a college education, in desperate search for a new purpose, he heads back to college with one of his lecturers being Mercedes Tainot (Roberts) who feels she is under achieving.

After meeting fellow student Talia (Mbatha-Raw), he learns to fit in with the students and helps him find a new purpose as he reinvents himself.

 

Thoughts on Larry Crowne

 

Characters – Larry Crowne spent years in the Navy as a chef, he has worked his way up the ranks at a superstore, only to find himself laid off because he doesn’t have a college education. Not finding a new job, he heads back to college where he makes new friends and clashes with the teachers, while finding himself. He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body and just wants to help people. Mercedes Tainot is a teacher that doesn’t feel she is achieving everything she could, she enjoys a drink to cover her failings in life with her marriage going down the toilet, she pushes her students while not always caring. Talia is a student that takes Larry under her wing, helps him join their gang and becomes the friend he needs through his college experience. She is the spark in the movie that keeps everything feeling fresh.

PerformancesTom Hanks takes many roles in this film, director, writer and leading man, he is good in this role, where he can play into the comedy he was once known for, but it is far from the best we know he can do. Julia Roberts is good too, she enjoys playing a less complicated character to the ones we know her for too. For me the star of the movie must be Gugu Mbatha-Raw who steals every scene we see her in with her pure positivity. The rest of the supporting cast are good throughout the film with some names that have gone onto bigger things too.

StoryWhen I look at this story it does show us how one man who loses his job, wife and is left facing no future because of his lack of education, it does play out like an important look at the real world, this side of the story is good, the problems I found with the story include how he goes to college, but we never learn what this is to achieve because on of the courses seems like a made up one too. We get a romantic angle which just doesn’t work and while it does show us about taking change in your life in your stride we do see to lose plot points quickly through the film.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film does work, it is mostly light hearted which works well. The romance in the film for me is mostly a miss because we do try to play into what could happen between the two, which shouldn’t be around in this story for Larry.

SettingsThe settings in the film take our main character back to college and to locations he wouldn’t have imagined he would have gone, even with they are cliched as they come.


Scene of the Movie –
Larry’s speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The subplots just seem to vanish through the story.

Final ThoughtsThis movie does want to give us an important message, but by the end it just falls into the clichés we know too often in rom coms.

 

Overall: By the book.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – Z – Ghost Storm (2011)

This is under Z because of the director Paul Ziller

Director: Paul Ziller

Writer: Paul Ziller (Screenplay)

Starring: Carlos Bernard, Crystal Allen, Cindy Busby, Kacey Rohl, Aaron Douglas, Brett Dier, Andrew Dunbar

Plot: An action packed chase led by Hal and Ashley to save the people on this small island from a strange electrical storm which is led by angry souls from a mass suicide looking for revenge.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Entertaining

Story: Ghost Storm starts when a group of teenagers witness a lightening strike in the remote island graveyard, this unleashes a spirit that kills one of the teenagers, Sheriff Hal Miller (Bernard) starts to investigate only to see more bodies disintegrated from a fog coming out of the grave. Hal’s ex-wife Ashley (Allen) sees the strange reading on her weather reporting system which is something a storm that can’t be explained overhead.

Hal and Ashley must put aside their differences to uncover the truth about a legend of the Island that involves the souls of a mass suicide, can they stop the spread of this before it is too late.

Thoughts on Ghost Storm

Characters – Sheriff Hal Miller likes his quiet town job, he has divorced his wife who still lives in the town too, where they take turns taking care of their teenage daughter, he starts to investigate the strange goings on and must race against time to keep his people safe, even after seeing many killed by this unknown force. Ashley is Hal’s ex-wife, she works on studying the weather in the area, she sees the first storm come and go, which is normal, but can’t get to the bottom of what is causing the unusual patterns on the island, she will work with Hal to save the town. Daisy is the daughter of the pair, she sees the first attack of the ghost storm, she does the most research into the truth of what happened and is the only one that does seem to have the intelligence to stay ahead of their ways. We completely the characters with the towns people, the one against Hal, the priest and the supernatural guy that understands more than the rest.

PerformancesWhen it comes to the performances, we don’t need the very best from anybody involved. Carlos Bernard does well in the leading role, as does Crystal Allen, though it could be anybody playing these roles. The supporting cast are all fine through the film, they all know what they are doing without needing to be centre of attention.

StoryThe story here follows a small island town that gets hit by a storm that unleashes evil spirits on the town that must be stopped before it spreads too far and has a source in their history. The story plays into the ideas of ‘The Fog’ which sees the spirits come back to haunt the village, it does come from through a storm which does bring a new twist on how the ghosts come after people literally turning people to dust. It is nice how we are trying to mix supernatural, science and religion into trying to battle the storm too. This isn’t going to be the story that you need to take seriously either and just up being fun enough to watch.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror comes from just seeing the number of people are getting taken out by the ghost storm, the sci-fi side of the film plays into the idea of the storm too, by seeing just how it was created.

SettingsThe film is set on a small island town, it shows how they have history which could bring around the supernatural side of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are fun, they show how the ghosts look like the smoke monster in Lost which does turn people to dust with some looking great at times.


Scene of the Movie – The first ghost attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – There are too many side characters we basically just meet to be killed with no consequences.

Final Thoughts This is a fun sci-fi horror movie that will entertain from start to finish bringing a new look at a haunting storm.

Overall: Fun and entertaining.

Rating

Chris Evans Weekend – Captain America: The First Avengers (2011)

Director: Joe Johnston

Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Screenplay) Joe Simon, Jack Kirby (Comic Books)

Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Richard Armitage

 

Plot: Steve Rogers, a rejected military soldier transforms into Captain America after taking a dose of a “Super-Soldier serum”. But being Captain America comes at a price as he attempts to take down a war monger and a terrorist organization.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Origin Story

 

Story: Captain America: The First Avenger starts in the middle of World War II as Steve Rogers (Evans) a rejected military soldier because of his size is living in New York where his best friend Bucky (Stan) is about to go back into conflict and America is treating the war as a display. Steve is desperate to help his country, he is given an opportunity by Dr Abraham Erskine (Tucci), which sees him being trained in military training by Peggy Carter (Atwell) and Colonel Chester Phillips (Jones).

Steve is selected for a procedure which will make him a super-soldier because his desires to be a soldier show him to be braver than any other soldiers. Johann Schmidt (Weaving) has been searching for power during the war and this will end up making his search organisation Hydra known to the world. Steve becomes Captain America who will lead the fight in the war inspiring the soldiers and looking to stop Johann attempts at becoming a powerfully enemy.

 

Thoughts on Captain America: The First Avenger

 

Characters – Steve Rogers is a small guy from Brooklyn, he wants to join the army, but his size is holding him back, he shows all the strengths of a hero, but this will only get him so far. Given a chance to be a guinea pig for a procedure he gets transformed into a super soldier an icon America can look for war. Once he shows his skills he gets to lead an onslaught on Hydra. Peggy Carter is part of the British side of conflict, she sees the potential in Steve, sees him as different to the normal soldier, while also relating to him as somebody trying to break walls down. Bucky is the best friend of Steve’s he has always stood up for him whenever he needed help, encouraged Steve when everybody doubted him, him being captured is one of the main reasons for Steve to show of his new abilities. Johann Schmidt is the leader of Hydra, he was part of the Nazi war effort, but he has turned to his own desire of power becoming Red Skull a psychotic leader who will kill anyone who fails him as quick as his enemies.

PerformancesChris Evans is great in the leading role, he shows the transformation he takes his character through he goes from the shy want to be soldier to the super soldier. Hayley Atwell is strong playing a woman who has already broken boundaries in her own time. Sebastian Stan is solid enough as the best friend, he best times will come later in the franchise. Hugo Weaving will always make an entertaining villain, which Red Skull is for this franchise.

StoryThe story here follows Steve Rogers transform into Captain America a super soldier designed to help fight the war against the Nazis and Hydra, as he must learn to be accepted in the war effort despite being different. This is the origin of Captain America, we see how he went from the skinny short young man, to the super soldier and ever after that needing to go from icon for America to leader of soldiers in the fight. We get to bring in a new villainous group in Hydra which will one day become one of Captain’s biggest enemies, while also playing into the idea of scientific experiments being part of World War II. For an origin story this is everything you need, seeing the hero become the stronger version of themselves only helps us support his cause.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in this film comes from the large scale battles which are war based that Captain America finds himself in, they get to show off all his skills, while keeping most of the action in the realms of possibilities. The sci-fi side of the film shows how the technology would come to make conflict on a different scale.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings simple, we see the New York setting for the Brooklyn boy, while also jumping into the war like situations Captain America finds himself preparing to fight in.

Special EffectsThe effects through this film are wonderful, from the CGI used to make Chris Evans small, to the explosive power involved with the new weapons the world could be about to experience.


Scene of the Movie –
Captain’s first mission.

That Moment That Annoyed Me A kiss goodbye.

Final ThoughtsThis is another entertaining origin story, it brings us yet another character with his own qualities that makes him stand out from the others and continue to world build.

 

Overall: Origin story with a bang.

Rating

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – V – Assassination Games (2011)

This is under V for Van Damme.

Director: Ernie Barbarash

Writer: Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Ivan Kaye, Valentin Teodosiu, Alin Panc, Kevin Chapman, Serban Celea

Plot: Two assassins agree to work together as one tries to avenge his wife and the other collect a reward for a job.


Tagline – Twice the fire… double the power!

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Action Revenge 101

Story: Assassination Games starts when Vincent Brazil (Van Damme) is hired to assassinate Polo Yakur (Kaye) a man released from prison to bait out another professional hitman Roland Flint (Adkins) who has been waiting for his chance to get his revenge on Polo after what he did to his wife.

When Vincent and Roland learn they are after the same man, they decide to work together to eliminate the dangerous criminal who knows the people are coming for him.

Thoughts on Assassination Games

Characters – Vincent Brazil is a lone assassin living in a small apartment in the small town, he keeps to himself which sees him work best. He has his connection in town which give him his jobs and his latest one is inside his own home, he must learn to work together with Roland to complete this job which sees him using all his skills. Roland Flint used to work undercover for Polo, once discovered his wife is beaten into a coma state, with Roland waiting for the day he can get revenge, once Polo is released from prison he goes in search of his target, willing to kill him for free, he will work with Vincent to get the job done. Polo Yakur is a ruthless gangster that has been in prison, he is released by the CIA as bait to capture Flint, but he has other ideas to clean up other problems left unfinished. The rest of the characters we meet are the CIA agents, the members of the gang and the loved ones they have lost along the way.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme does everything he needs to do as the action star lead, we know we are focusing on his action skills over his acting skills, this is the same for Scott Adkins, they both get their chance to shine in combat. Ivan Kaye does all he needs to as the villain, he does come off as the ruthless side his character requires.

StoryThe story follows two assassins that team up to take out a common enemy that has made his targeting of them personal. This is a Van Damme action film, the story is never going to be that deep and will focus on the action, this isn’t a problem though, because the basics of the story are here with an idea of revenge that the two must go on to get their man. Both men have different reasons to be after Polo, while one has been waiting for him another one has been taking another payday. By seeing this we get to see how the two men have a different mindset which does help support them through the fights.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film lets both Van Damme and Adkins show off their skills, which is all we want from them, while the crime world shows us just how dangerous Polo could be if you were to get on his bad side.

SettingsThe film is set in Romania which shows us how the crime world can still operate here without being questioned until the right people come along.


Scene of the Movie – Laser gun.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – How easy it was to get into Vincent secret apartment.

Final Thoughts This is an easy to watch Van Damme action film, it does everything you would expect without being anything you haven’t seen before.

Overall: Enjoyable action.

Rating

Robert Downey Jr Weekend – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) Movie Review

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney (Screenplay) Arthur Conan Doyle (Characters)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry

Plot: Detective Sherlock Holmes is on the trail of criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, who is carrying out a string of random crimes across Europe.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Feels Like a Game I Lost

Story: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows starts with Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr) on the tail of Professor Moriarty (Harris) following Irene Adler (McAdams) around believing there is an involvement in the terrorist attacks going across Europe.

Back home Sherlock has forgotten his responsibility to be the best man for Dr Watson’s (Law) wedding and ends up dragging him into the battle with Moriarty, one that is getting out of his control.

Thoughts on Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Characters – Sherlock Holmes has become entrapped in a battle of wits with Moriarty, this has seen him turn to disguise to elude him, turning to the one person he knows he can trust to help him, Dr Watson, he will risk his life to uncover the truth using his ability to see what will happen. Dr Watson is about to get married and is left disappointed by Sherlock for not preparing his part in the wedding preparations, he reluctantly joins Sherlock in the battle against Moriarty. Madam Heron finds herself caught in the middle of the battle with her brother going missing after working with Moriarty. Professor Moriarty is considered one of Holmes greatest rivals, here we see him in the middle of a grand plan which has seen Europe on the verge of war, always staying ahead of Holmes, letting him investigate just what he wants him to.

PerformancesRobert Downey Jr is mostly annoying in this role, he is trying to make Sherlock quirky and it just doesn’t seem to work. Jude Law is solid enough in the sidekick role, without making Holmes seem very interesting. Noomi Rapace does everything she needs to without making an impact in the film. Jared Harris is the most interesting performance in the film, with him needing to be calculated throughout.

StoryThe story here follows Sherlock Holmes facing off against his most famous enemy Professor Moriarty as he tries to uncover his plan which takes Holmes around Europe to do battle with the calculated villain. Now the first problem here comes from the fact the story is told with way too many, if you see it from this angle you will learn the truth, without giving us any hint that this is going on. When it comes to the back and fourth between the two, we are left wondering just how they got into the rivalry in the first place, wondering why Holmes and Watson have become separate after all these years. We don’t seem to get a true threat of Moriarty either, which should see him getting the upper hand a lot more, we are left feeling like this story does drag along for too long.

Action/MysteryThe action in this film does feel frustrating because nearly all the best bits are shot as if they have happened and then rewind it for something else, with the mystery in the film just not being as interesting as it should be.

SettingsThe film does use the era based settings well enough be it London or Paris which does make it understandable that bigger plans are in play.

Special EffectsThe effects are what are used for the rewinds, they don’t help make the action entertaining in anyway, leaving us feeling empty by the end of the film.


Scene of the Movie – Didn’t have one.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – How quirky Sherlock is made to be.

Final Thoughts This is a disappointing version of one of the most famous fictional detectives, it is shot badly leaving us all over the place.

Overall: Bad version of Holmes.