Casey Affleck Weekend – Out of the Furnace (2013)

Director: Scott Cooper

Writer: Brad Ingelsby, Scott Cooper (Screenplay)

Starring: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard

 

Plot: When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn’t follow through fast enough, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Crime Thriller

 

Story: Out of the Furnace starts as we meet the key character in this depressive downbeat town, we have aggressive new criminal Harlan DeGroat (Harrelson), the current crime boss John Petty (Dafoe), hardworking Russell (Bale) and his brother soldier Rodney (Affleck), Russell girlfriend Lena (Saldana) and Chief Wesley (Whitaker).

Russell looks out for Rodney but when he is involved in a manslaughter case he finds himself in prison, while away Rodney finds himself working for Petty owing him money. Rodney desperate to make the money quick forces John into booking a fight in Harlan territory, to make a large pay day.

When Rodney finds himself in more trouble, he vanishes after the fight for Harlan, leaving a note to Russell about the change he is going to make with his life. When Russell isn’t happy with the speed, the police are taking finding his brother and Harlan he takes matters into his own hands risking his own newly acquired freedom.

 

Thoughts on Out of the Furnace

 

Characters/PerformanceRussell is the everyday man who always looks out for his brother, works hard to make a living and start a family but his life is turned upside when he is involved in an accident landing him in jail. He shows that he will do anything to protect his own family. Harlan is you typical crime boss who believes he is toughest around, deadly when needed to be. Rodney is the easily led astray young man who feels like he doesn’t get what he deserves after his time in Iraq turning to underground fighting. Wesley is the basic cop we don’t see enough from, Lena is the girlfriend that only shows what could have been with John being a nice criminal if that makes sense.

Performance wise Bale shines in the leading role with Affleck showing all of his acting skills in the supporting role. Harrelson is good and creepy but also seems to enjoy this role slightly too much. Looking deeper into the cast Whitaker, Saldana and Dafoe are all good but could be replaced by another actor.

StoryThe story shows how the bleak desperate people will turn to illegal actions to make money. We have elements of the criminal underworld which all comes through as we see how the fighting takes place and we see how one brother seeks answers on a one man mission. I liked how this was just a body building count for Russell, he goes straight to the source of the problems. This also does feel like many films we have seen before with the huge issue I had was not knowing how long he was in prison for.

Crime/ThrillerThe criminal underworld fight scenes are great with the whole idea that the criminals control the town, we are kept on edge as we wonder just how far Russell will go.

SettingsEach setting shows us just how much of a struggle most days are for these people, giving the criminal life the only escape they can get.

Special EffectsWe don’t have many here, most are just well drawn out fight sequences and well placed gun shots.

Final ThoughtsThis is a dark gritty crime thriller that is a good watch, it does have a couple of plot holes but otherwise good addition to the genre.

 

Overall: Crime thriller fans enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Raze (2013)

razeDirector: Josh C Waller

Writer: Robert Beaucage (Screenplay) Robert Beaucage, Kenny Gage, Josh C Waller (Story)

Starring: Zoe Bell, Rachel Nichols, Tracie Thomas, Bruce Thomas, Bailey Anne Borders, Rebecca Marshall, Allene Quincy, Doug Jones

 

Plot: Raze, a horror/action film, focuses on two abducted women & 50 other women who are forced to fight each other using their bare hands.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Messy Fighter Film

 

Story: Raze starts as we watch Sabrina (Bell) and Jamie (Nichols) kidnapped and taken to remote building along with 50 other women who have been whittled down to 22 to fight to the death by Joseph (Jones).

The women are forced to fight or their loved ones will pay the price and we are left to wonder who will make it out alive.

Raze comes off as a fight for survival film which goes along the lines of an Unleashed just without the passion behind any of the character’s decisions or making us care about anyone in the film. This comes from introducing too many characters and having no structure to when they fight. In the end this has no shocks and the twists come off as complete fails by the end of the film.

 

Actor Review

 

Zoe Bell: Sabrina is the tough silent woman who is easy to turn into a deadly weapon. As all the women are fighting for something Sabrina’s battle is to save her daughter from these people. Zoe is solid but doesn’t really carry the film enough for the lead in it.

Doug Jones: Joseph runs the fighting competition and is very proud of his work hosting it. He keeps his fighters in check while keeping his clients happy with the fights. Doug is good with his few scenes but needs to be a much more impactful character for the story.

Tracie Thomas: Teresa is the eldest of the fighters who tries to keep the others calm but she is just as deadly in the combat room. Tracie is good for a supporting role.

Support Cast: Raze has a string of supporting characters who are all disposable fighters with weak generic back story to hopefully make us care about what is going on.

Director Review: Josh C WallerJosh gives us a film that has more potential but really just ends up falling very flat with unlikable characters throughout.

 

Action: Raze has very basic fighting action with nothing really reaching the brutality it could have.

Horror: Raze doesn’t have the elements of horror to become scary in anyway.

Settings: Raze keeps the settings looking very raw throughout to show the conditions the women have to fight in.
Special Effects
: Raze has good effects when it comes to the kills even if a lot is camera work.

Suggestion: Raze is really one you could avoid because it really just comes off messy in places. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: The final act is good.

Worst Part: Fighting choices have no really decision about them.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

Tagline: No man could survive this.

 

Overall: Messy action horror that lacks any moment of real shocks.

Ratingcard

 

 

Mark Strong Weekend – Mindscape (2013)

mindscapeDirector: Jorge Dorado

Writer:  Guy Holmes (Screenplay) Guy Holmes, Martha Holmes (Story)

Starring: Mark Strong, Taissa Farmiga, Brian Cox, Indira Varma, Noah Taylor

 

Plot: A man with the ability to enter peoples’ memories takes on the case of a brilliant, troubled sixteen-year-old girl to determine whether she is a sociopath or a victim of trauma.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mind Bending Thriller

 

Story: Mindscape starts by taking us to a world of memory Detectives who work for Mindscape run by Sebastian (Cox). The best detective is John Washington (Strong) who suffered a stroke on his last mission and suffering from the loss of his wife he wants to get back on the horse John takes the case of a troubled teenager Anna Greene (Farmiga).

John has to use the technology to go into the memories of Anna to try and unlock what is causing the decision to stop eating and acting the way she is. John has to work his way through Anna’s memories trying to figure out if she is a sociopath or a victim herself making this easy job one of the hardest of his career.

Mindscape is a film that does something we all like to see in a film, make us think as we have to watch the story unfold. We are led down different paths which does keep us guessing to just what is real or not with a final outcome that will leave you surprised. This is really a thinking film fans film which is well worth watching but not as a casual viewing.

 

Actor Review

 

Mark Strong: John Washington is a memory detective who has been struggling to keep his work separate from his personal memories and tragedies. He takes what looks like an easy job where he discovers the truth about Anna a troubled teenager. Mark is good in this leading role playing the good guy against his normal villainous role.

Taissa Farmiga: Anna Greene is the troubled teenager that is filled with stories, John is assigned to treat her but we are left to wonder which of her stories are real or just placed there to make John support her. Taissa is good in this role where we get to see her in a much more serious role that normal.

Brian Cox: Sebastian is the head of Mindscape who gives John this job knowing it should be an easier one for him to deal with. He has worked with John before knowing he is the best in the business he has also treated Anna in the past. Brian is solid in this supporting role but only in a couple of scenes.

Richard Dillane: Robert is the step-father of Anna who she believes is trying to get to the family money by putting her in a home, he is suspicious throughout but we are left to wonder what his try motives are. Richard is a solid supporting performance in this role.

Support Cast: Mindscape has a supporting cast that mostly leave us wondering what is going on with us wondering who is involved in what and fully keeping us guessing to the truth.

Director Review: Jorge DoradoJorge gives us a real mind twisting film that truly keeps you guessing.

 

Mystery: Mindscape is a film that throws us into a mystery leaving us to try and put the pieces together to find the truth.

Thriller: Mindscape sends us down different roads as we look for the truth behind the stories.

Settings: Mindscape keeps the settings simple with most being from inside the memories and where they take our characters.
Special Effects
: Mindscape has good effects when needed but tries to make more of the story about what might be going in the heads of the characters.

Suggestion: Mindscape is one that I would suggest the fans of the mystery genre to rally give a go. (Mystery Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Final act.

Worst Part: It can come off slightly too twist filled.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: Once you enter her mind, there’s no escape.

 

Overall: Twist filled thriller that just keeps you guessing.

Ratingcard

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Soulmate (2013)

soulmateDirector: Axelle Carolyn

Writer: Axelle Carolyn (Screenplay)

Starring: Anna Walton, Tom Wisdom, Tanya Myers, Nick Brimble, Emma Cleasby, Guy Armitage

 

Plot: Widowed Audrey retreats to an isolated Welsh cabin after a failed suicide attempt, to recuperate. Still haunted by the tragic death of her husband and struggling with her psychosis, she begins to hear strange noises.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow

 

Story: Soulmate starts as we see widowed Audrey (Walton) move to a small Welsh town to escape her life and get over her own suicide attempt. Being welcomed in by the caretaker Theresa (Myers) we see how small this town really is.

When Audrey starts hearing sounds around the cottage she finds herself face to face with Douglas (Wisdom) a spirit living in the house after his own heartbreak led to his suicide. Audrey starts to try and learn more about what happened to Douglas as the two become friends through their nightly conversations.

Soulmate tells us a ghost story which looks at the two characters who have been through the same loss but have had different outcomes to their suicide attempts. The story starts by trying to build tension only for it just end up being friends chatting which is a huge disappoint. The problem with this film is that we get a build up for a suspenseful horror only to become friendship conversation between living and the dead.

 

Actor Review

 

Anna Walton: Audrey is a struggling widow who has tried to take her own life with her grief. She takes a trip away where she can deal with her own problems through her music, but when she meets the ghost of the former owner of the home who has dealt with similar issues. Anna is a solid lead that we can see the side effects of her loss throughout.

Tom Wisdom: Douglas is the ghost living in the house that has been desperate for contact with a living being which Audrey can give him. He turns into a dangerous spirit who doesn’t want to let Audrey leave. Tom is solid but because of the design of the character we lack that special moment for his character.

Tanya Myers: Theresa is a caretaker for the property who has a connection with the house and the spirit inside. Tanya is solid but I do feel we needed slightly more from the character.

Support Cast: Soulmate doesn’t have the biggest supporting cast with odd scenes from Tanya husband and otherwise mostly voices. This does work to the films advantage with the smaller cast.

Director Review: Axelle CarolynAxelle gives us a solid but not scary ghost story.

 

Horror: Soulmate doesn’t reach any real horror levels with the early jump scares not being anything before it just turns into conversations.

Mystery: Soulmate does make us wonder about what happened to Douglas in the house.

Settings: Soulmate keeps the settings within the country side or inside the cottage which shows us where the characters are in the bigger picture of the world.
Special Effects
: Soulmate has good effects when needed to show Douglas first appear.

Suggestion: Soulmate is one I think can be watched late night for a horror fix. (Late Night TV)

 

Best Part: Not just being a ghost story.

Worst Part: No scares will disappoint people.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

Tagline: She Thought She Was Alone

 

Overall: Slow moving ghost story without any scares.

Ratingcard

 

 

Last Vegas (2013)

lastDirector: Jon Turteltaub

Writer: Dan Fogelman (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara

 

Plot: Four friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming Entertaining Comedy

 

Story: Last Vegas starts as we see where four former friends from Brooklyn have lived very different lives Sam (Kline) married doing water aerobics, Archie (Freeman) recently retired grandfather who isn’t trusted to look after his own grandchild, Paddy (De Niro) who has been widowed for a year now and Billy (Douglas) who is about to get married to a woman half his age.

This brings the four friends back together to Las Vegas to a bachelor party for Billy, giving the three friends a chance live it up like the young men they once were for what could be the last time.

 

Thoughts on Last Vegas

 

Characters/PerformanceThe four lead stars have their own personalities like you would imagine between friends, Billy is living his life with regret, Paddy is filled with sadness, Archie just wanting to escaping his elder life and Sam is trying to figure out where his married life is going. The mix between the four has great chemistry and you could see them all being friends.

The performances are all good from the heavyweights Douglas, De Niro, Freeman and Kline all work very well together. Everyone plays their part to work with the main cast throughout.stras

StoryFour friends coming back together for what could be their last weekend together as they can finally put away their differences. I liked this story it is easy to follow even if it does force feed us that these are old men in a young man’s world of Vegas. We do have plenty of moments which look at moments of life that could happen to anyone.

ComedyWe have good laughs from the whole cast with moments poking fun at the stars past as well as handling the elder characters in the wildly considered youthful party city.

SettingsLas Vegas is always a brilliant setting for the any film so I do enjoy each setting from the film.genre

Final ThoughtsI did enjoy this film more than I thought, it can be enjoyed by all the people watching the film.

 

Overall: Easy to watch and enjoy film.

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