ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – R – Refuge (2013)

Director: Andrew Robertson

Writer: Lilly Kanso, Andrew Robertson (Screenplay)

Starring: Carter Roy, Amy Rutberg, Eva Grave Kellner, Chris Kies, Sebastian Beacon, Travis Grant

 

Plot: Refuge is a suspense-thriller about a family struggling to survive in the wake of a great catastrophic event.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 14 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Thriller

 

Story: Refuge starts as we learn of the mysterious virus which has spread across America, there is no cure, you just need to survive away from people, we meet one family Jack (Roy) Nell (Rutberg), Birdie (Kellner) and Kyle (Kies) do what they can to survive, while giving Birdie some sort of childhood.

When the threat or marauders comes to the home, the family must make the rash decision to go in search of a new sanctuary through the woods which is where they will face a new amount of threats.

 

Thoughts on Refuge

 

Characters – The characters focus on a family, Jack the father, the man that will do everything to keep his family safe, even if it means taking risks by saving strangers, he doesn’t back down from enemies or threats, but is forced into decisions he doesn’t want to make. Nell is the wife and mother, we don’t really learn too much about her though, she falls in the woman being protected circle. Birdie is the daughter that doesn’t fully understand the world and wants to just be a child in this world. Kyle is one of the people that Jack has saved in the past.

PerformancesThe performances from the cast are great throughout, we feel their bleak outlook on the life they are living which is what we want to see, the final act shows them at their best too.

StoryThe story here follows a family in a post-apocalyptic world where the biggest threats marauders and the virus that has wiped out most of the world. This is a bleak story that helps show us just how desperate the world now is and not having any sort of zombie side to everything giving us the only enemy the human one. This keeps everything simple because it is all we need, even though it does follow the typical mistakes being made by the characters.

ThrillerThis does try to keep us on the edge of our seats about whether our characters will survive and what is next in line for them.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the bleak locations from start to finish, they show where people will survive and keeps us away from the big city.


Scene of the Movie –
The break in.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just shot them.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best looking bleak virus outbreak movies, it does have questionable character decisions but that does add to the drama.

 

Overall: Simple and effective.

Rating

 

 

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Robert De Niro Weekend – The Family (2013)

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson, Michael Caleo (Screenplay) Tonino Benacquista (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, John D’Leo, Tommy Lee Jones, Jimmy Palumbo

 

Plot: The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the Witness Protection Program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging, as their old habits die hard.


Tagline – Some call it organized crime. Others call it family.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Twist on the Mafia Movie

 

Story: The Family starts when the Manzoni family head into witness protection in Normandy, France, under the names, Fred (De Niro), Maggie (Pfeiffer), Belle (Agron) and Warren (D’Leo) where they must start new lives. The problem the family have, is that they keep getting themselves into troubles with their violent behaviour, which sees Robert Stansfield (Jones) needing to keep moving them around.

The family are also being hunted down by Fred’s former boss, who is the reason why he has gone into hiding which will see the family needing to improve their behaviour just to survive.

 

Thoughts on The Family

 

Characters – Fred Blake is a former Mafia leader that has gone into hiding after taking a deal, he is trying to remain calm for the most part, but his violent tendencies take over whenever things are not going his way, while he tries to write his memoirs. Maggie is the wife that has gotten used to the lifestyle, now she has got just as a dark side towards people that upset her. She is turning to religion for answers in her life once again. Belle and Warren are the teenage children that use their skills to stay ahead in school even if it means they show their own violent side too. Robert Stansfield is the agent that is trying to keep the family away from the spotlight, finding it more difficult because of their actions.

PerformancesRobert De Niro gets to poke fun at the idea that he was famous for his gangster roles and now needs to be put in a retirement age, where he is strict, smart and able to stay ahead of the game. Michelle Pfeiffer brings us the frustrated housewife that wants more normality in her life. Both Dianna Agron and John D’Leo bring us strong teenage character performances. Tommy Lee Jones is great too as an FBI agent that is struggling to keep the lid on everything.

StoryThe story follows a former Mafia family that have gone into hiding after giving up other members of the family to the authorities, the problem with the family, is that they are too violent and often bring attention to themselves, as they are still being hunted down. The idea that a Mafia family is living in the shadows only they can’t stay out of trouble, does feel original in how everything is executed. The number of times we have seen a Mafia story end with ‘they are not in the witness protection program’ without following the life they end up living. This almost feels like the next chapter that we have never gotten before because they will still be wanted for their action. Each of the family members does get their own issues to deal with too which makes them feel like real people too.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy in the film comes from just seeing how the criminal fan acts once they are meant to be out of the criminal life, it does create laughs through the film.

SettingsThe film is set in a small Normandy village which shows the new life the family must adapt to after the life in New York City.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The family must surely need to learn to act better with this world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice spin on the Mafia film, it gets plenty of laughs when it needs it, while trying to show the world could still be looking for them.

 

Overall: Fun twist.

Rating

 

 

The Returned (2013)

Director: Manuel Carballo

Writer: Hatem Khraiche (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Hampshire, Kris Holden-Ried, Shawn Doyle, Claudia Bassols, Melina Matthews, Barry Flatman, Olunike Adeliyi

 

Plot: In a post-zombie world, where the infected live normal lives, their retroviral drug is running out.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Idea

 

Story: The Returned starts in a world which lost 100s of millions to a zombie outbreak, now however, there is a cure turning people into The Returned, who need to take a daily medication to remain human. Kate (Hampshire) work with the Returned searching for a longer term cure, but certain people in the world don’t want the zombies returned.

When the extremist groups start targeting The Returned, the race to find a cure intensifies and for Kate it becomes about saving her loved one Alex (Holden-Reid) one of the returned.

 

Thoughts on The Returned

 

Characters – Kate is one of the leading doctors in the field of searching for a complete cure for the Returned, her husband is one of them and she does believe that a cure is achievable if people work together, they problems comes when she gets targeted needing to go on the run. Alex is the husband to Kate, a guitar teacher that got infected trying to help somebody, he is one of the lucky ones that never turned, but he does need to stay on top of the medication to stop him from turning. He goes on the run with Kate while the storm passes over, though he is running low on his medication. We do have the couple that help Kate and Alex, the government figures that are trying to bring him down and the people who are just looking to survive.

PerformancesEmily Hampshire and Kris Holden-Reid do take the leading roles in this film, they are both solid enough in their roles with them both getting one or two scenes where they are great, but most is just seem basic scenes. The rest of the cast are basic too without anyone making any impact on the film.

StoryThe story here brings us into a new vision of a zombie world, one with a cure that has started to get back to normality, until the cure starts running out the world returns to chaos as the uninfected don’t want to be around people that could turn. Bringing this fresh look to a zombie story is interesting, it does borrow ideas from the Dead Rising video game, with the idea of a daily injection can keep the zombie virus at bay. The story does show the struggle between doing the right thing and doing the safe thing, because once the infected get out, there wouldn’t be a way to stop them. It does feel fresh, however it doesn’t play out as strongly as it should, the world seems to modern and undamaged from an outbreak which only disappoints.

Crime/Sci-FiThe crime side of the film shows us just how far people will go to survive in a world which is running out of resources of the cure to stop people turning into zombies. The sci-fi world shows us how people can be saved, though as mentioned it never feels lived in.

SettingsThe films biggest weakness is the settings, the city looks no different than our current one, but with 100s of millions of people dying from a zombie outbreak, the building wouldn’t look this clean and fresh.

Special EffectsTh effects are used to show the change, they are nothing new with most just being zombie turning make up which looks strong for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The zones created.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The city looks to untouched from a disaster.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good idea for a zombie movie, it changes weak elements others have shown to give us a smart look at how the problem could be addressed.

 

Overall: Smart even if it does fail in places.

Rating

 

 

The Hour of the Lynx (2013)

Director: Soren Kragh-Jacobsen

Writer: Jonas T Bengtsson, Soren Kragh-Jacobsen, Tobias Lindholm (Screenplay) Per Olov Enquist (Play)

Starring: Sofie Grabol, Signe Egholm Olsen, Frederik Christian Johansen, Soren Malling, Borje Ahlstedt, Pelle Falk Krusbaek

Plot: Helen, who is a priest, is approached by scientist Lisbeth with a desperate plea for help. A young man, who has been sent to a high security psychiatric ward after having killed an old couple, has attempted suicide while rambling about God. In a race against time the two women begin a shocking journey deeper and deeper into the sick mind of a young man’s soul.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Interesting Throughout

Story: The Hour of the Lynx starts when a young man Drengen (Johansen) butchers a family before trying to commit suicide, he fails, two years later his psychologist in a psychiatric prison Lisbeth (Olsen) turns to a priest Helen (Grabol) to understand why he used the excuse of God when he committed the murders.

Lisbeth has been using animals to help keep the patients calm, with Drengen getting a cat and showing huge improvements, only once another patient hurts the cat, the pure rage in him comes out, throwing right back to where he started, this brings Helen back to help give him a knew way to cure this disturbed young man.

Thoughts on The Hour of the Lynx

Characters – Helen is a priest asked to come and help understand what is troubling a young man who has committed a seemingly random crime, she is asked to join by a psychologist who is struggling to find answers behind his religious beliefs behind his crimes. Lisbeth has been trying to help her patients by giving them animals to keep them calm, it has worked with some, but not others and she is facing pressure to prove her findings, which sees her needing to turn to Helen to help find a solution. Drengen has committed the murder of two people, he tries to kill himself afterwards claiming it to be in the name of God, he spent two years in a psychiatric hospital where he doesn’t seem to improve until Helen starts communicating with him about God, where we learn his disturbing truth. Knud is the head warden in the hospital, he wants to keep both sides safe and finds certain things difficult to make happen.

PerformancesSofie Grabol gives us a great listening performance, we see how her character needs to let people speak instead of speak for them. Signe Egholm Olsen shows us a character which will fight for what she wants well, showing how much this means to her. Frederik Christian Johansen is disturbing while looking vulnerable through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a young man that seemingly kills two random people in the name of God, they try to get through to him and turn to a priest to help, this does unlock his troubled past which explains his actions, it just all about unlocking the truth. This is an interesting story because it does show how scientist could put their own career above helping people and even with God being an answer, it is communication that will unlock the truth of a troubled life. This story does show us just how difficult life can be for some young people which could see them being led down the wrong paths in life.

CrimeThe crime side of film shows us what Drengen did and how his treatment is being handled.

SettingsThe film is set in the hospital which sees Drengen being held until he can understand about his actions.


Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We do spend a lot of time looking at Lisbeth pet experiment.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting crime drama, we see the consequences of a murder and needing to find the motivation at times.

Overall: Crime with consequences.

Rating

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – Z – Zulu (2013)

Director: Jerome Salle

Writer: Julien Rappeneau, Jerome Salle (Screenplay) Caryl Ferey (Book)

Starring: Orlando Bloom, Forest Whitaker, Conrad Kemp, Inge Beckmann, Tinarie van Wyk Loots, Regardt van den Bergh

 

Plot: Policemen Ali Sokhela and Brian Epkeen investigate the brutal murder of a young white woman, apparently provoked by the availability of a new illegal drug and somehow connected to the disappearance of black street children.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Crime Drama

 

Story: Zulu starts when a young woman is murdered, police officer Ali Sokhela (Forest) and his team that includes the washed up Brian Epkeen (Bloom) and rookie Dan Fletcher (Kemp) must start to investigate the case.

As the investigation deepens Brian must hold himself together while Ali must face his demons from his past which becomes deadly as they fall into an illegal drug dealing ring with a new devasting drug on the market.

 

Thoughts on Zulu

 

Characters – Brian Epkeen is a washed-up police officer, he is great at solving crimes, he tends to have a different woman every night, which has made him distant from his son. He never looks professional but will always do the right thing for his team. Ali Sokhela is scared by his childhood in the racial torn country, now he is a captain in the police force which sees him needing to forgive the men his father fought against to work in the same team, he does have connections which helps him through the city, with his own demons he must locate the killer. Dan is a rookie officer that is part of the team, his innocence isn’t ready to be in the field with the seasoned vets. Ruby is Brian’s ex-wife that hates him and that Brian hassle when he feels like it.

PerformancesOrlando Bloom does show us that he can still be a leading man, an edgy side to his character is a big plus too, we could happily watch more of his work here. Forest Whitaker is great too, he has the darker backstory which pushes him into his decisions and hits the accent. The rest of the cast don’t get as much screen time as he does, but you do feel like they hired a lot of local talent which helps make the film feel authentic.

StoryThe story follows two cops, one with a dark past because of his skin colour as a child, the other lives in darkness because of his addiction that must use their skills to solve a crime which starts simple enough until things get out of hand to a much bigger problem running through the city. This does feel gritty with how we investigate things, it doesn’t hold back with what happens to the characters and shows us just how far the criminal underworld will go to keep a secret. While this doesn’t rely on twists to get the final outcome, it does show us just how far these two would go to solve a crime and bring the criminals to justice.

CrimeThe crime world we enter here shows us just how both sides in a drug war are waging against each other, we get bodies piling up that will only increase the battle with a racial tension that just increases the tension between the twos.

SettingsThe film is set in South Africa, we get to see how difficult the drug war is with the racial tension still between the people in the city.


Scene of the Movie –
Brian’s escape plan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The scene where the head turns up, there is such a pointless line here.

Final ThoughtsThis is a gritty crime drama that shows us the harsh reality of the drug world, the two cops must overcome demons that will put them through a major test to get to the bottom of a crime.

 

Overall: Crime fans surprise.

Rating