Elizabeth Olsen Weekend – Liberal Arts (2012)

Director: Josh Radnor

Writer: Josh Radnor (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, Elizabeth Reaser, John Magaro, Kate Burton

 

Plot: When 30-something Jesse returns to his alma mater for a professor’s retirement party, he falls for Zibby, a college student, and is faced with a powerful attraction that springs up between them.


Tagline – Sometimes students make the best teachers.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly High-Brow

 

Story: Liberal Arts starts when 30-something Jesse Fisher (Radnor) gets invited back to his college by his retiring professor Peter Hoberg (Jenkins) party. While returning he loved going down memory lane and gets to meet student Zibby (Olsen) who strikes up a friendship with him, before he returns home to New York.

When the two stay in contact a romance starts to blossom between the two, however difficult Jesse feels about the age difference between the two.

 

Thoughts on Liberal Arts

 

Characters – Jesse Fisher is a 30-something living in New York, reading his way through life, he gets invited back to his college for a retirement party, where he meets Zibby falling for her, seeing a future he couldn’t have in his current life, though he also sees a chance to help a brilliant student who is struggling through college. Zibby is a student in at the college studying drama, she sees something different in Jesse, a mature man in her life away from the usual college student, she likes to let things be and let them unfold. Professor Peter Hoberg is the retiring professor that invites Jesse back, only he doesn’t want to go through with his retirement. The rest of the character include the professors Jesse once studied under and the students he sees his own troubles in.

PerformancesJosh Radnor takes up a few roles in this film, director, writer and his performance is solid enough for the leading role, even though he is might be the weakest performer from his own hit sitcom, this performance feels like what Zach Braff did with Garden State. Elizabeth Olsen is good in her role, while Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney are going to give strength to the supporting roles.

StoryThe story here follows a former college student return to his old college where he gets caught up in wondering why the students don’t understand what life will bring them, be it love and understand underachieving. Now this should be an interesting story, Jesse is a character that tries to explain how life can change in the future and not wanting to waste it, only this is what he is doing himself. The problems mount up as we don’t address the problems strongly enough, where Jesse does get involved, only he doesn’t show any signs of knowing what is going on, we never learn what he does for a living which doesn’t help certain thought processes he could come up with. The story also feels like it is trying to look down on people in places.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy mostly doesn’t get many laughs, the light toned seriousness behind the story doesn’t come off clear enough which also disappoints. The romance is mostly looking at how love can be strange for all those involved in it

SettingsThe film does use two main settings with one being New York, well that is where all Americans seem to want to live, and the college which brings back memories for Jesse.


Scene of the Movie –
Helping Dean.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not giving the Dean side of the story enough focus.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story that tries to take things too seriously which sucks most of the comedy out of the film. The film has a lot to say only to skip over too much of the importance in the messages being talked about.

 

Overall: Frustrating overly intelligent movie.

Rating

 

 

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Christmas Weekend – Silent Night (2012)

Director: Steven C Miller

Writer: Jayson Rothwell (Screenplay)

Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Rick Skene, Ellen Wong

 

Plot: The police force of a remote Midwestern town search for a killer Santa Claus who is picking off citizens on Christmas Eve.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Horror Remake

 

Story: Silent Night starts in this small town where deputy Aubrey Bradimore (King) is forced to work Christmas Eve by Sherriff Cooper (McDowell), the town is overrun by Santa’s but we learn early on that one of them is killing he residents.

As the bodies start to build up Aubrey and Cooper must track down this serial killer Santa that has a past to the town that has caused the vengeful nature of the killer Santa.

 

Thoughts on Silent Night

 

Characters/PerformanceDeputy Bradimore is expecting Christmas off but that changes when she is forced into work, her day gets worse when a serial killer Santa starts killing people and she must face her worries to take down this killer. Sheriff Cooper is the heartless boss of the cops, he expects them to be good at his jobs and will stay loyal to them when they are in danger. The killer Santa is menacing through the film with his increased size making him a threat to anybody who gets in his way.

Performance wise, Malcolm McDowell is always a good for a horror film and he is solid throughout the film. Jaime King continues her run in horror remakes and is solid through the film too. The rest of the cast are fine but most only have the odd scene.

StoryThe original Silent Night Deadly Night is something of a cult classic now and these are the type of horrors you don’t mind getting a remake happen. This time we don’t get enough of the backstory to why the Santa has gone on the rampage, we also don’t have the best written characters as they all come of plain and the kills are all created to try and push some boundaries in the slasher kill list. The strong point is that this all happens over one day.

Comedy/Horror/MysteryCertain parts of the film will give you a laugh, this does include some of the kills too, the horror side is all slasher and a joy for the fans but does lack any suspense. The mystery comes into this one as we want to know why he is killing people.

SettingsThe small town setting does make for a good choice because the cops all know the victims and understand the trauma the families would be going through.

Special EffectsLooking at the effects the practical kills are good throughout but a couple of shots look very awkward CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is one for all the slasher horror fans to enjoy, I can’t see a mainstream audience wanting to see this film. most of the kills are not Christmas related which you feel is part of the ongoing joke of this style of film too.

 

Overall: Drunk Slashing Enjoyment.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

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