Jack O’Connell Weekend – Starred Up (2013) Movie Review

Director: David Mackenzie

Writer: Jonathan Asser (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack O’Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend, Sam Spruell

Plot: Eric Love, 19, is locked up in prison. On first day he assaults another inmate and several guards. He’s offered group therapy and his dad, an inmate as well, tries to talk sense into him. Can he be rehabilitated?


Tagline – We’re all different on the inside

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Gritty and Hard Hitting

Story: Starred Up starts as Eric (O’Connell) first arrives in prison, put in a single room being classed as high risk, he knows the tricks of the trade to get the things he needs that aren’t given out, it doesn’t take long before he gets into trouble, assaulting a fellow inmate and guards who try to restrain him.

Oliver Baumer (Friend) does see that Eric needs help to control his violence and offers to help him improve himself to stand a chance of getting back into society, which becomes more difficult with Eric’s father Neville (Mendelsohn) being somebody that does seem to run the prison.

Thoughts on Starred Up

Characters – Eric Love has been transferred from a young offenders prison to an adult one, he is violent with a short temper that can see him get into more trouble than he is already in, in this prison his distant father looks down on his decisions, while being offered a chance to learn to calm down in therapy, he is at the crossroads, where he must learn where to continue his violent ways or learn to become a better person and make up for his mistakes. Neville is his father and is one of the men that runs the prison from the inside, he wants to see his son clean up his act, but not get involved with any gang, he is racist in nature and wants to learn more about the therapy his son is on. Oliver is a man that is trying to help the angrier inmates by trying to get them to discuss their problems in group instead of seeing them fight for the sake of it, he is the one that will stick up for Eric.

PerformancesJack O’Connell gives a breakthrough performance here one that shows his ability to play the prisoner with problems, with glimpses of what he could have more of a serious character. Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend both shine in the supporting roles too.

StoryThe story follows a young offender being sent to an adult prison where he finds himself needing to navigate a new set of gangs that are looking to have control of the prison and it isn’t long before he gets himself in trouble. This story does show us just how difficult the system can be for the people of Eric’s age who never knew better and will continue to make the mistakes of his father. The prison setting shows us how the story acts along the idea that people will act violent for no reason here, though it would have been interesting to see just what Eric did to get himself locked up in the first place. Deep down this is about a father son relationship that gets to push the true boundaries of everything they never had.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows us just how the violence of criminals will only continue in prison because they are all acting like animals.

SettingsThe film is set in the prison, it shows how the men there will do anything for the position of power over the rest and how if they don’t fight back they will just get killed.


Scene of the Movie – Final incident.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not learning enough about the crimes in the first place.

Final Thoughts This is a hard hitting prison drama that focuses more on the father son relationship rather than what they did in the first place.

Overall: Hard Hitting.

Tobey Maguire Weekend – Labor Day (2013) Movie Review

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer: Jason Reitman (Screenplay) Joyce Maynard (Novel)

Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Tom Lipinski, Maika Monroe, Clark Gregg, James Van Der Beek

Plot: Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Lifeless

Story: Labour Day starts when single mother Adele (Winslet) who has become depressed hiding from the world with her son Henry (Griffith) who is used to her routine, on the latest trip to the store, the pair meet Frank (Brolin) an escaped criminal looking for somewhere to hide out.

Instead of continuing his escape plan, Frank ends up staying with two, as she starts to show Adele a good time, showing he is a nice guy, only the known murder charge left on his head, is only putting a toll on the relationship between Adele and Henry.

Thoughts on Labour Day

Characters – Adele is the depressed single mother that has seen her husband leave and start a new life, leaving her with their only son, she doesn’t like to leave the house and when she does, she will follow a strict routine, until Frank starts to show her something different in life. Frank is a criminal who escaped from prison while receiving medical treatment, he uses Adele and Henry to hide out, where he shows himself to be a nice person capable of being part of a family, giving Adele hope she never imagined. Henry is the teenage boy that has been helping his mother through her struggles, he does spend one day a week with his father and now he is starting to find himself in a position where he might be getting replaced by Frank, leading him to feel insecure about his own future with his mum.

PerformancesA film that has Kate Winslet in the leading role should be elevated, while her performance does this, she can’t save the film, neither can Josh Brolin who fails to make the big impact required. Gattlin Griffith does well for the youngster next to the big names, being the most interesting of the characters in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a depressed single mother that takes in a convict on the run and the two start to fall in love, helping her get out of her slump in life. This story isn’t the most interesting with the idea being that two people from different worlds could make each other happy even though we can see how many problems them being together could have with them being together. The story is told from a grown up son’s point of view, which shows how at the time he doesn’t understand everything, but now he understands everything that is going on.

RomanceThe romance side of the film shows the two falling in love slowly despite being in different stages of life.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the family home, with Frank being unable to be seen outside of the house, this keeps everything together for what is going on without needing the usual over the top romantic gestures.


Scene of the Movie – Cooking.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Pacing.

Final Thoughts This is a dull romantic drama that even with a-list stars, just doesn’t save this from being enjoyable.

Overall: Dull throughout.

Nicole Kidman Weekend – The Railway Man (2013)

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky

Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Andy Paterson (Screenplay) Eric Lomax (Book)

Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeremy Irvine

 

Plot: A former British Army officer, who was tortured as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during World War II, discovers that the man responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him.


Tagline – Revenge is never a straight line.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful True Story

 

Story: The Railway Man starts in 1980 where Eric (Firth) a train enthusiast meets a stranger on the train, Patti (Kidman), the two fall in love getting married. It isn’t long before Eric starts having terrifying flashbacks to his time in World War II, where he is held prisoner by the Japanese, here he is tortured by Takeshi Nagase.

With Eric’s behaviour only getting worse, Patti turns to Finlay (Skarsgard) one of the fellow prisoner of wars, that is still a close friend of his, he fills in the experiences the men went through under the hands of Takeshi, which will leads the older version of Eric to want to confront Takeshi or his time in the P.O.W Camp.

 

Thoughts on The Railway Man

 

Characters – We meet Eric at two stages of his life, we have the one that was tortured during the war and tried to do something to give the fellow soldiers hop in their prisoner of war camp, we also meet an older version that has been left traumatised with his experiences of the war, it has closed him off from the world, including his wife, he gets a chance to confront the soldier that tortured him, in a hope it could bring him closure. Patti is the wife of Eric, they meet on a random train journey and it is her love for Eric that first starts to seek help for him. Finlay is the closest friend to Eric, he has remained in his life after the years they have suffered through together, he fills in the blanks for Patti, after Eric closes up to her. Takeshi Nagase was the solider that tortured Eric during the war, he has since gone onto be the tour guide for the railway that was forced to be built by the English, he is surprised to get the visit from him former captive.

PerformancesColin Firth is brilliant here because he shows us just how closed off a man can be when they are dealing with the consequences of war. Nicole Kidman fits her role with ease, she plays the sympathetic figure that will help open Eric up again, showing us just how hard to is working to make happen. Jeremy Irvine as the younger version of Eric shows us the horrors of war with the pain his character must go through. Stellan Skarsgard does fill in the story telling side of the story, he will join in helping make the most of the traumatised man returning from war. Hiroyuki Sanada completes the main cast and he gives us a character that is filled with the regret of his actions in his life.

StoryThe story here follows a former prisoner of war that is still haunted by what he went through during the war and after he learns that the man who tortured him is still alive, sets out to confront him. This is an incredible true story that shows how prisoners can still be getting nightmares about what happened during the war, it shows they could close themselves off from the world. this does show us how the two men met years after the events, both are filled with memories they would rather forget and this has taken its toll on their lives for decades. It does pose the question about what you would do if you could meet the person that tortured you and what you would do, especially if it had come from during the war. Knowing this is a true story does help make it more amazing to think what Eric went through and how he would react if he could find the person that did it to him.

Romance/WarThe romance side of this film shows how Eric’s wife was able to try and pushing him to talk about what happened to him, showing her love would be what finally gets him to open up about the horrors of his war experience, the war side focuses on what it was like to be a prisoner of war, how they were forced into labour and tortured if they didn’t comply.

SettingsThe film has a couple of main settings, first we get the English home of Eric which shows him in his comfort area, we do see the prisoner or war camps which does show us just how horrific the locations were for the soldiers of war.


Scene of the Movie –
The embrace.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The do gloss over the older versions trauma too much.

Final Thoughts – This is an incredible true story that does show us just how difficult Eric’s life became after his time at war, it shows just how he had become effected and a meeting with the man that did this to him could change everything.

 

Overall: Brilliant true story.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – E – Europa Report (2013)

Director: Sebastian Cordero

Writer: Philip Gelatt (Screenplay)

Starring: Daniel Wu, Sharlto Copley, Christian Camargo, Karolina Wydra, Michael Nyqvist, Anamaria Marinca, Embeth Davidtz

 

Plot: An international crew of astronauts undertakes a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon.


Tagline – Fear. Sacrifice. Contact.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Idea of Found Footage

 

Story: Europa Report starts as we meet the international crew William Xu (Wu), James Corrigan (Copley), Daniel (Camargo), Katya (Wydra), Andrei (Nyqvist) and Rosa (Marinca) who have been selected for mission to Europa, the fourth largest moon of Jupiter, one that has been studied to be considered in real life as a location to visit, because of its liquid surface.

Dr Under (Davidtz) is reporting on what was discovered on the recording upon the spacecraft, which saw it go off the radar unexpectedly.

 

Thoughts on Europa Report

 

Characters – We need to look at the whole crew as one unit here, William, James, Daniel, Katya, Andrei and Rosa, they have come from different countries, to be part of this big mission, we do have level headed members of the team, which does take away any sort of individual characteristics to make them feel real. The crew all know how big this moment will be and will discuss the problems they come to face on it.

PerformancesThe cast does have some well-known names including Michael Nyqvist and Sharlto Copley who along with the rest of the cast do make use believe the mission we are following, nobody is over acting or being a hero, they are grounded scientist.

StoryThe story here is one of the most interesting ideas for a found footage film that I have seen, the idea follows a space mission to Europa one of the moons of Jupiter, but something goes wrong and we are watching the recordings. Now. Firstly, I want to point out that the idea of travelling to Europa has been one the scientific community has been talking about for years, every piece of information about the moon in correct (for the time of the film being made), this is what makes this such a fascinating story. the problem with this story comes from the fact that we know it is a found footage story, so you can guess how this all pans out. I did like how we were presented this story like a documentary of the events being revisited though.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery in this film comes from the ideas of what could be found on Europa, what the crew might have found and what happened to the crew. The sci-fi side plays hand in hand with this as we go into space to search for a potential new home.

SettingsThe film is set mostly inside the spacecraft which sees the science being discussed, it shows the beauty of space and how the crew must have full trust in each other.

Special EffectsThe effects are part of the weaker point of the film, they don’t look as flawless as other space based movies.


Scene of the Movie –
The final footage.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The clichés the film falls into in the end.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable sci-fi mystery, it uses the real idea of a space mission to add the horrors of what could happen if things went wrong and answers are required.

 

Overall: Smart, interesting sci-fi found footage film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – Z – Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

This is under Z for the ABC film challenge because of the director Harald Zwart.

Director: Harald Zwart

Writer: Jessica Postigo (Screenplay) Cassandra Clare (Novel)

Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Robert Sheehan, Robert Maillet, Kevin Durand, Lena Headey

 

Plot: When her mother disappears, Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called the Shadow World.


Tagline – Worlds will collide August 21

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Young Adult Blah

 

Story: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones starts when normal teenagers Clary (Collins) starts seeing and drawing a mysterious symbol which her mother Jocelyn (Headey) knows more about, this draws attention towards her which sees her mother disappear and Jace (Bower) teaching her about her mother’s past as a warrior fighting demons.

Clary enters a mysterious world beneath New York City, where Jace shows her just how big the battle between the two sides is, with Valentine (Meyers) searching for Clary.

 

Thoughts on The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

 

Characters – Clary is the normal teenager girl that has started seeing a strange symbol in her everyday life, this takes her down a new path to search for her mother, only to learn about her own true identity which will see her learning that she is a warrior that fights demons. Clary is the typical young adult figure that we always see, she isn’t given anything new to make her look special in anyway. Jace is the young man that is a shadow hunter that looks to protect Clary from the other evil forces that what her information. He leads the strongest team, he also becomes a love interest for Clary. Alec and Isabelle are the two other members of the team, they are suspicious of Clary and what it might mean to the rest of the shadow hunters futures. We do have plenty of senior figure that help guide the younger characters along their way, some help, some have their own motives.

PerformancesLily Collins does the best she can in this role, it is hard to figure out the mindset of the character which part of the problem in the performance. Jamie Campbell Bower struggles to, because it is trying to be mysterious only to look uninterested in what is happening, this is a problem most of the cast suffer from with only Jemima West being watchable because she does get some funny lines.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that learns she has a connection to a battle between good and evil going on in our own world, where she is one of the most important parts of bringing an end to it all. This is one of those young adult stories that made such an impact, we somebody in this case Clary learn about a world she wasn’t aware of, where he presence in will change it for every side of the battle. We do get thrown into a lot of information here because we get to see just how big this world is meant to be and how many different types of creatures, demons and monsters are living with in it. This is also one of those frustrating opening chapters of a set of stories which is meant to be growing to become much large in the future, the film idea failed, but the story does get to go to the small screen for answers.

Action/Fantasy/Horror/RomanceThe action comes from the battles between the different demons in the world that are preparing to fight against each other, the fantasy world we enter should be a lot more entertaining because of the creatures involved. We get the cheap horror moments involved which never feel remotely scary in anyway. The romance is angle does get awkward in places and tries to build a love triangle too.

SettingsThe film is set in New York, which is fine, the idea that there is a world out there that we don’t know about should be a lot more entertaining and visual special too.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are the flashing lights involved in the fights, most work well, with the demons looking the best.


Scene of the Movie –
Demons pause.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not following instructions.

Final ThoughtsThis is another one of the young adult movies that just doesn’t do anything special and falls into the, ‘we have seen this before’ category.

 

Overall: Disappointing Young Adult Film.

Rating