ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – Q – Quartet (2012)

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Writer: Ronald Harwood (Screenplay) Ronald Harwood (Play)

Starring: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs

 

Plot: At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.


Tagline – Four friends looking for a little harmony

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Drama

 

Story: Quartet starts as we head to Beecham House retirement home for musicians, where Reggie (Courtenay), Wilf (Connolly), Cissy (Collins) are preparing for their latest show for Verdi’s birthday with director Cedric (Gambon). We follow their everyday life at the home before an icon of their industry Jean Horton (Smith) arrives causing old wounds to be opened for Reggie.

The four must rebuild their friendship to bring their once famous quartet back to the stage for the concert, but some bridges are harder to build for Reggie compared to the others, can they forgive and forget before the concert.

 

Thoughts on Quartet

 

Characters – Reggie is the calm member of the quartet, he has lived in the home for a few years with two of his former members Wilf and Cissy, he conducts himself well and teaches when the students visit, but his life is pushed when his ex-wife arrives leaving him resenting being there needing to learn how to forgive his former love. Jean is the biggest name from the former quartet, but now she is left alone in the world needing to get used to her new environment, where she is forced to come out of retirement for one final recording. Wilf is a horny former musician, he flirts at every opportunity, he gets the funniest lines through the film because he knows how to use his charm to enjoy the moments in their lives in the home. Cissy is the absent minded member of the group, it is her age getting to her but Reggie keeps her mind in the right track when needed to be directed the right direction.

PerformancesMaggie Smith is great in this role, this great British actor shows she can handle any role with grace and ease. Tom Courtenay is great too being the strong leading role where he shows the dignity his character requires. Billy Connolly is the perfect choice for the added comic relief of the film, he gains a laugh in nearly every scene, even the serious ones you know he can pull off the laugh needed. Pauline Collins rounds off the leading quartet and she is great throughout the film too, the cast gives us everything we want from their performances.

StoryThe story shows how the once respected performers reaching the retirement age, will need to find something to do in the retirement home to continue their love of music. The main group we follow have their problems between them but to have that one final moment in the spotlight drives them all to perform. The four have sacrificed during their lives to be known as the best, including families which they regret at times but wouldn’t give up what they achieved in their limelight.

ComedyThe comedy comes from how Wilf looks at life and the everyday life within the retirement home.

SettingsMost of the film is set in and around the retirement home, this shows us how the members are still enjoying life, now with like-minded people in their later years.


Scene of the Movie –
The performance building.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While funny, sometimes Wilf is just seemingly there for comic relief.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable light hearted comedy drama showing us just where people can be enjoy their passions at any stage of their life.

 

Overall: Nice touching drama.

Rating

 

 

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Dolph Lundgren Weekend – One in the Chamber (2012)

Director: William Kaufman

Writer: Benjamin Shahrabani, Derek Kolstad (Screenplay)

Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr, Dolph Lundgren, Claudia Bassols, Andrew Bicknell, Catalin Babliuc, Louis Mandylor

 

Plot: A seasoned assassin plays both sides in a Russian gang war and becomes the target of an unknown enemy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dull Actioner

 

Story: One in the Chamber starts as we follow Ray Carver (Gooding Jr) an assassin for hire working in Eastern Europe for the Russia mobs as two families wage war. When Ray doesn’t get the job done, he finds himself getting hired by the other side while the original job gets given to Aleksey Andreev The Wolf (Lundgren).

As the battle continues between the Russian gangs we wait to see just which one of the assassins will get the job done quickest but soon the battle will get too close to home for one when the work is in his home town of Prague.

 

Thoughts on One in the Chamber

 

Characters/PerformanceRay Carver is a hitman for hire by the Russian mob, he is good at his job but seems easily distracted and not the best at his job. Aleksey Andreev is the second assassin in this story, he comes off like a tourist and quick with his lines. Janice is a woman that Ray watches over who also has been running from her past.

Performance wise, well here you have an Oscar Winner in Cuba that gets out performed by Lundgren who is always a brilliant choice for the action man, he might not be the greatest choice but he knows what he can do. Claudia is fine without getting much time to show her skills. The rest of the cast is fine but very averagely performed.

StoryThe story is by the books with nothing original going on here. We have painful stereotypes that have no development and scenes which you would expect to unfold as we follow gangs of normal gangsters who will be created only to be killed.

Action/CrimeThe action is what you would expect, big and gun filled but nothing interesting going on here. The crime world is nothing new either.

SettingsThe settings play into the making the film fit the budget better, once again not being memorable.

Special EffectsThese all come off easy to achieve and not important to the main story.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of those direct to DVD forgettable movies with falling stars in.

 

Overall: Forgettable action film.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Outpost: Black Sun (2012)

Director: Steve Barker

Writer: Steve Barker, Rae Brunton (Screenplay)

Starring: Catherine Steadman, Richard Coyle, Ali Craig, Nick Nevern, Daniel Caltagirone, Gary McDonald, Julian Wadham

 

 

 

 

Plot: The year is 1945, the closing stages of WW2, and a German scientist by the name of Klausener is working on a frightening new technology that has the power to create an immortal Nazi army. Flash forward to present day, and a NATO task force is hurriedly deployed to Eastern Europe, where a sinister enemy appears to be mercilessly killing everything in its path. But this is no ordinary foe. Only Helena, a gutsy investigator on the trail of the notorious war-criminal Klausener, accepts the reality of that they are facing a battalion of Nazi Storm-Troopers, a veritable zombie army on the march. With the help of Wallace, a man who’s been chasing Nazi secrets for years, the two of them team up with a Special Forces Unit to venture deep behind enemy lines. Their mission to fight their way back to the source of this evil army and prevent the seemingly inevitable rise of the 4th Reich.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Idea for the Sequel

 

Story: Outpost: Black Sun starts as we follow Lena (Steadman) in Paraguay searching for German war criminals with her main target being Klausener the man that was involved in the mission Hunt (Wadham) went on last time around. We also see how the effects of the first film have led to the new Third Reich spreading like a virus from the source.

Lena teams up with Wallace (Coyle) to build a team to get to Klausener’s machine to try and bring an end to the war that could be about to bring the promise of the Nazi’s invasion into a world problem.

 

Thoughts on Outpost: Black Sun

 

Characters/PerformanceLena is a strong leading lady, she has been tracking war criminals in the modern time but learning of the existence of Klausener draws her back to Eastern Europe to put an end to his terror. Wallace is an engineer stationed near the bunker who reluctantly helps Lena on her mission as he knows how to stop the machine. The rest of the characters are generic soldiers you barely learn the names of and the now Nazi zombies.

Performance wise, Catherine Steadman does a good job coming into a very male heavy film easily becoming the star performer, with most of the male cast all becoming forgettable by the end of the film.

StoryThe direction the story goes is interesting because it builds on how the last film finished. The idea that the experiment is spreading is a big plus, but the first film had a lot of a supernatural vibe to everything, this time we just get zombies and an elevated sci-fi feel to what is going on. I can understand why things went this way for franchise value but I do feel it takes away from the first film.

Action/HorrorThe action is much heavier in this film as we get to see plenty of fights between the humans and zombies. This increased action does take away from the horror side of the film as it doesn’t reach the horror needed for what is happening.

SettingsThe settings are also a part of this film which lose out by making this a bigger picture, we lose the idea of just one solo location for a bigger battle.

Special EffectsHere is another weaker point, sure the battles and fights all look great but trying to show the effects of a EMP just look cheap whenever they are used.

Final ThoughtsThis is difficult to make my mind up on, I liked the bigger picture going on, but I did find the random jump cuts to after something has happened frustrating, the fast pace also leaves a mixed feeling because it does work but takes away the horror. This is what I would like to think of as a good franchise builder, not saying it is bad but relies on having seen the first and wanting to see more.

 

Overall: Good franchise building horror film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – U – Upside Down (2012)

Director: Juan Solanas

Writer: Juan Solanas (Screenplay) Juan Solanas, Santiago Amigorena, Pierre Magny (Adaptation)

Starring: Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst, Timothy Spall, Blu Mankuma, Nicholas Rose, James Kidnie

 

Plot: Adam and Eden fell in love as teens despite the fact that they live on twinned worlds with gravities that pull in opposite directions. Ten years after a forced separation, Adam sets out on a dangerous quest to reconnect with his love.


Tagline –  Two worlds. One future.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Ambitious

 

Story: Upside Down starts as we learn about the two different worlds, with their own gravity, but within communication distance. Adam (Sturgess) is from one world while Eden (Dunst) is from the other, the two fell in love, but they can’t be together for any length of time because of the different pulls on their gravities.

When their secret relationship is found out about, Adam believes that Eden died, 10-years later he learns she is still alive and goes to find a way to meet her again through a business that connects the two worlds.

 

Thoughts on Upside Down

 

Characters – Adam is from one world, raised an orphan after his parents were killed in an accident, he is fascinated by the other world which leads him to Eden, when he believes he loses her forever he starts to focus on other projects. When he learns that she is still alive he risks his life to try and find a way to meet her again and go to the world that he is not only forbidden from, but could kill him if he stays too long. Eden is the girl from the other world she has become injured losing her memory but rising up through the company, can he memory return in time to feel the feelings she once had.

PerformancesJim Sturgess is solid in the leading role, he plays the ambitious side to his character well, but he isn’t the most convincing on the romantic side of things. Kirsten Dunst does well enough as she can always be turned to for romantic based movies, this is no different. Timothy Spall gets good laughs in the supporting role.

StoryThe story here looks into forbidden love, we get a grander scale for this because the two lovers come from different worlds and can’t be together because of science. We have a lot of explaining as to why the two can’t be together which at times ends up being too much to follow because the science involved just seems like it goes on for about 10 minutes. The idea of two people wanting to be with the one they love is good part of the story though.

Fantasy/Romance/Sci-FiThe fantasy side of this film is taking us to the world where two worlds can’t be together while only being a breath apart, this leads into the romantic side of the film as our two loves must find a way to be together. The sci-fi side of the film comes on strong too because we then need to see how the worlds are different.

SettingsThe settings show us the difference in the two worlds, one for the rich, one for the poor, each has its own colour tone and area of pure beauty.

Special EffectsThe effects are weak here, we can see the fact we are watching actors perform on front of a green screen for most of the movie, which only disappoints.


Scene of the Movie –
Falling, it always looks good.

That Moment That Annoyed Me the green screen lets down.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic love story which tries to become very ambitious when it comes to where it wants to take the story.

 

Overall: Simple Love story, complicated world.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – F – The First Time (2012)

Director: Jonathan Kasdan

Writer: Jonathan Kasdan (Screenplay)

Starring: Britt Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, Joshua Malina, James Trecheville, Christine Taylor, Victoria Justice

 

Plot: A shy senior and a down-to-earth junior fall in love over one weekend.


Tagline – Nervous is normal.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cliched and Generic

 

Story: The First Time starts as we head to the most unrealistic high school party where senior Dave (O’Brien) is trying to put together a speech to try and get the girl he loves at his high school Jane Harmon (Justice), only he stumbles upon a junior Aubrey (Robertson) with the two bonding over the night, where the people are mostly just looking to hook up and get drunk.

As the two spend more time together over the weekend they learn that the ones they have crushes on are no the ones they want to be with.

 

Thoughts on The First Time

 

Characters – Dave is in his last year of high school, he is best friends with his high school crush without ever being able to telling her how he feels, he has his life planned out until he meets Aubrey. He wants to make a change in his future with her in it, tired of the just going around searching for parties. Aubrey is a junior, she has an older boyfriend and happens to be in the same party that Dave is at, the two click and soon become friends as they fall in love over the weekend, even if she doesn’t know her plan for her life. Jane is the popular girl all the guys want, she is the best friend to Dave and the one that Dave has a crush on, she makes the mistakes in her choice of guys. We get the traditional stereotypes for the characters that are friends of the two characters.

PerformancesBritt Robinson and Dylan O’Brien are both good in their roles, they make the most of the generic characters they are playing, they are good for the ages and show us they were two names that could have gone onto bigger projects. The rest of the cast get their laughs without needing to do too much.

StoryThe story here follows two high school students that fall in love over a weekend changing their perspective on life. Now to say this is a generically painful movie to watch because the lives these students are living is so unrealistic, while trying to touch on a serious matter because it tries to tell the story of how to virgins have sex for the first time. I don’t know what the target audience for this movie is either because it is way to slow for a teenage audience even if it is trying to tell us about more important things in life for teenagers before college.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film comes from the supporting friend characters which work for the film, while the romance in the focuses on the ideas of two people meeting and falling in love when they least expect it.

SettingsThis film uses the neighbour settings for the couple of spend time around, we don’t have anywhere standout, but it is slightly confusing how these kids are always out all night at parties.

 

Final Thoughts – This is a generic teenager rom com that doesn’t give us enough to focus on because of how unrealistic they make the lives behaviour of the kids.

 

Overall: Rom Com simples.

Rating