ABC Film Challenge – Animation – Y – Batman: Year One (2011) Movie Review

Director: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery

Writer: Tab Murphy (Screenplay) Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, Richmond Lewis (Graphic Novel)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie, Eliza Dushku, Jon Polito, Alex Rocco, Katee Sackhoff

Plot: A wealthy playboy and a Chicago cop both return to Gotham City where their lives will intersect in unexpected ways.


Tagline – A merciless crime – turns a man into an outlaw.

Runtime: 1 Hour 4 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Beautifully Dark

Story: Batman: Year One starts when Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne arrive in Gotham, one to start a new career, the other returning for the first time in years. Jim joins the force and sees just how corrupt the force is in this city, where he must wait for his time to bring them down, while Bruce is taking his first steps into fighting crime him own way.

When Batman starts building his vigilante reputation, Gordon is assigned to track him down and stop him from taking control of the city. Gordon must face him and learn that the two might want the same thing for the city.

Thoughts on Batman: Year One

Characters – Jim Gordon is the new lieutenant in Gotham City, he is here to start a new career with his pregnant wife, with his previous life showing him to have been the one to expose corrupt police officers, now in the middle of a corrupt department, he must wait for his time to bring them down, no matter who comes for him. He must decide whether Batman is going to be a threat or not. Bruce Wayne has returned home after years his parents death and wanting to start fighting crime, he has started small before evolving into the Batman, taking on the biggest crime boss in the city, he might be seen as the enemy, but shows his true colours. Selina is a small time criminal that has been waiting for her chance to make the most of the criminal uprising, seeing that Batman could be doing the right thing. Commissioner Loeb is the man who has been accused of being corrupt and now he has it covered up until Jim arrives to try and make the most of everything before losing everything he has worked for.

StoryThe story here follows one year in Gotham city as we see how the rise of the Batman and Jim Gordon through the police force dealing with the criminals both in the police force and the criminal underworld. The story does highlight how they both want to do the right thing in different ways, but both don’t want to turn to murder. They do also see enemies come from different directions in their lives too. The strange way this film plays out is when we see just how the time flies, we do have a couple of scenes which are literally one line and jump to the next week, which does make this feel rush, making you think it could have had a lot more in the story.

Action/CrimeThe action does mix with the crime, because it shows how both sides are fighting for what is right with bodies flying around the scenes.

SettingsThe film takes us to Gotham city which we all know is the iconic location that is known for the Batman to be set in.

AnimationThe animation style is great to see and will always work for the darker Batman stories.


Scene of the Movie – Batman escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The certain random scenes to show a sentence.

Final Thoughts This is a great dark Batman story which does show the origin of both Batman and Jim Gordon in there one year after returning and arriving in Gotham.

Overall: Great Origin Story.

Laurence Fishburne Weekend – Contagion (2011) Revisited

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Scott Z Burns (Screenplay)

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet

Plot: Healthcare professionals, government officials and everyday people find themselves in the midst of a worldwide epidemic as the CDC works to find a cure.


Tagline – Nothing spreads like fear

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense Thriller

Story: Contagion starts when people from around the world start getting sick, with Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) returning home with the same serious symptoms, dying in front of her husband Matt (Damon) and son Clark (Kane). Dr Ellis Cheever (Fishburne) and Dr Erin Mears (Winslet) are leading a task force to investigate the sudden amounts of people getting sick, with Dr Leonora Orantes (Cotillard) attacking the cases from the European side.

Journalist Alan Krumwiede (Law) is trying to get a big story from the outbreak, with the scientist racing against time to first find the infected, secondly to learn about the virus and thirdly just where it started before the population of the world starts dwindling.

Thoughts on Contagion

Characters – Dr Leonora Orantes works for the World Health Organization she starts the investigation from Europe through Hong Kong trying to trace the origin of the disease, showing how easily it was spread. Dr Ellis Cheever and Dr Erin Mears are from the CDC that are trying to contain the problem in America, building shelters for the sick, dealing with the pressure from people who want the story. Alan Krumwiede is an internet reporter that gets aggressive with his techniques in searching for the truth. Mitch sees his wife being one of the first victims, finding him being one of the few people immune to the disease.

PerformancesWe have a brilliant cast in this film, we have A-Listers and up and comers mixing together effortlessly, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard are all fantastic in their roles through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the outbreak of an unknown aggressive disease that is effecting the world globally, we have the race from the governments to try and figure out how to stop it and learn where it came from before it kills millions around the world. This story does show us just how quickly a disease could spread, how deadly it could be and how the world could start to fall apart even within the first month of the outbreak. We do get to see the scientific response to everything which is a lot more interesting instead of just following the traditional trends which we have seen before, we see how desperate the people have become and even how the structure of government can even hold up everything. This is an investigation based movie which is important to see for everybody as we are getting the search for the origin too.

ActionThe action in the film is more about the race to find a cure, to save lives, which does make this a thriller side of everything.

SettingsThe film takes place all over the world, showing just how quickly the disease started to spread, with people in the world getting sick, the disease spreads quicker.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film show us just how sick the people will get, this is mostly make-up effects which shows how sick people will become.


Scene of the Movie – The search for the truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The annoying daughter that is more worried about time passing than surviving.

Final Thoughts This is a great look at how quickly a disease could spread and cause millions of deaths and how much work would go into solving the problem.

Overall: Brilliant.

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