Mean Dreams (2016)

Director: Nathan Morlando

Writer: Kevin Coughlin, Ryan Grassby (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Wiggins, Sophie Nelisse, Joe Cobden, Bill Paxton, Vickie Papavs, Colm Feore, Ryan Blakely

 

Plot: Follows Casey and Jonas, two teenagers desperate to escape their broken and abusive homes and examines the desperation of life on the run and the beauty of first love.


Tagline – The law won’t protect you

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bleak, but Hopeful

 

Story: Mean Dreams starts when teenager Casey (Nelisse) moves into a farming home with her sheriff father Wayne (Paxton), their neighbours are the Ford’s with teenager son Jonas (Wiggins) becoming friends with Casey, starting a romance, even with his father Elbert (Cobden) not wanting his son easily districted.

When Jonas tries to stand up for Casey against her abusive father, he gets put in his place, trying to get help he finds only barriers, until he takes a stand to save her as the two look to go on the run.

 

Thoughts on Mean Dreams

 

Characters – Jonas was raised to follow in his father’s footsteps on the farm, he only does this work and doesn’t get to meet anybody from town, until he meets his new neighbour. He sees her in danger, risking his own life to save her, going on the run, learning to live at last, while trying to escape the law that is after him. Casey is the abused daughter of one of the sheriffs who moved into town, he is a dirty cop living with his own regret. She sees a ray of sunshine in Jonas who could help her escape the hell she is living through. Elbert is the father of Jonas, he is known as a soft touch in town and wants his son to follow in his footsteps. Wayne is the abusive father of Casey’s, he is a dirty cop and his action led to his wife’s death.

PerformancesJosh Wiggins and Sophie Nelisse are both wonderful as the teenagers from broken homes who will do everything for each other in an attempt to escape a futureless life, the two show each emotion and moment of determination to escape. Bill Paxton as the abusive father is just as disturbing as you would imagine his character to be.

StoryThe story follows two teenagers who fall in love and want to escape their broken homes in search of a future together, they go on the run with stolen money which sees them need to learn how to survive of the grid. This does show us how children could be victims of abuse in Casey’s side of everything and still look normal on the outside, while Jonas is being kept away from the world to do a job he doesn’t have any interest in being apart of. We get to see how desperate the two have become to make it out of the life which doesn’t have much left for them already. This does show the bleak future, while leaving them feeling hopeful because everybody is against them even the law, which they didn’t break in the first place.

ThrillerThe film does keep you on edge as you wait to see just how everything will unfold, this does give us a sense of unease at times during the film too.

SettingsThe film takes us to a poorer area in America, this shows how the families have become used to the life rather than seeking something more from it.


Scene of the Movie –
Standing up for yourself.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It could have been bleaker in the end.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that shows us just how difficult the life would be for the teenagers, it shows how they enjoy the escape because it will give them the freedom they couldn’t see coming.

 

Overall: Bleak, beautiful and hopeful.

Rating

 

The Last Dance (2016)

Director: Amanda Sharp

Writer: Amanda Sharp (Screenplay)

Starring: Ray Liotta, Rose Leslie, Justin Bartha, Gina Rodriguez, Carmen Tonry

 

Plot: A story about love and loss. And maybe one day – love again.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dream Chasing Drama

 

Story: The Last Dance starts as we meet Athena (Leslie) a determined dancer still trying to prove herself in her field, she lets off steam with one-night-stands, with her latest one Bryan (Bartha) getting interrupted by her father Jack (Liotta) who announces he has cancer.

Jack calls Athena back to start his treatment with his 6-year-old daughter Honey Bunny (Tonry) which will lead to Athena needing to make the big decision about her future, right when her biggest opportunity comes his way.

 

Thoughts on The Last Dance

 

Characters – Athena has been working on her career in dancing, she is finally about to take the biggest chance of her career, until her father arrives barely bad news. She is left to decide whether to support her father or follow her dreams. Jack is the father who is set in his old ways in life, which sees his call his daughter back to help him through his cancer struggles, as he is left to see if she will stay with him to help him, while raising his 6-year-old daughter. Honey Bunny is the youngster daughter in of Jack’s she has an adventurous childhood, she has followed in his footsteps with what she has been taught. Bryan is the new guy that walks into Athena’s life for a one-night stand only to be one of the best friends through the struggles. Natalia is the oldest friend to Athena who is there for her when she returns home.

PerformancesRose Leslie is strong in the leading role showing that she does have a career after Game of Thrones. Ray Liotta gives one of his best modern day performances. Justin Bartha and Gina Rodriguez are solid when we see them, but sadly do see to have limited screen time.

StoryThe story follows a young lady who has been chasing her dreams only to see them come crashing down when her father is struck down with cancer, forcing her to care for him before ultimately needing to make the biggest decision of her life and learn to let people into her life once again. The story here does give us a wonderful family dynamic which shows the differences between the three generations that show how life has changed. This story however does have a major twist in the final act which turns a lot of what we have seen on its head, it also does confuse certain scenes though.

ComedyThe comedy in this film comes from how the three interact, it can get a laugh when needed to move the story and show how they can have inside jokes.

SettingsThe film uses too main settings, LA where the dreams are and Florida where Jack is, the two locations show the decision that Athena must make.


Scene of the Movie –
For my Honey Bunny.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t get enough from the supporting characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a drama that does hit home hard once we see the story of how the film ends, it shows how seeing a family member suffer will make life for anybody.

 

Overall: Hard Hitting drama.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mythica: The Godslayer (2016)

Director: John Lyde

Writer: Jason Faller, Kynan Griffin (Screenplay)

Starring: Melanie Stone, Adam Johnson, Matthew Mercer, Jake Stormoen, Nicola Posener, Christopher Robin Miller

 

Plot: As the Lich King’s zombie legions ravage the world, Marek, a cursed young sorceress, embarks on a quest to obtain a weapon from the gods, with her friend Dagen, a self-serving half-elf rogue. But when she joins her sworn enemy in a desperate attempt to save the world, she must recover the good in herself before her friends are all dead, and defeat the Lich King before the gods are destroyed and the world forever enslaved.


Tagline – When there’s nothing left, there’s nothing to lose.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fitting Conclusion

 

Story: Mythica: The Godslayer starts with Szorlok (Mercer) reign of terror sweeping through the land, bringing the dead back to life with his undead army, Teela (Posener) and Thane (Johnson) are trying to halt the bloodshed which is becoming too much of a challenge in time. Marek (Stone) is searching for a weapon of the gods with Dagen (Stormoen) where we get to see how she is questioning her decision to give Szorlok the last Darkspore, as they now face the undead army too.

Marek must learn about her past if she is going to defeat Szorlok once and for all, this will take her down a road of uncertainty about who is rather than her powers, with only Dagen to guide her, while Szorlok is trying to turn her to the dark side.

 

Thoughts on Mythica: The Godslayer

 

Characters – Marek after making the decision to give Szorlok the last Darkspore is left questioning whether it was the right thing, being drawn to the dark side and power he possesses, Marek will put together her own plan to fight the gods who want to stop the death coming to the world, she wants to do this alone. Dagen is with Marek fighting of the hordes of the undead, he helps fill in the blanks from his past, which paints him in a very different light, he keeps Marek’s motives going straight to the best of his ability. Thane is working with Teela to help fight off the undead, showing his pure strength and commitment to the cause. Szorlok has the power now, he has been bringing the dead back to life now causing terror over the world, he wants Marek to join him to gain complete control being able to defeat gods in this world.

PerformancesMelanie Stone continues to balance the emotional levels of her character in the film, she shows the uncertainty that could be her downfall or her strength. Jake Stormoen has constantly improved through the film series, with this being his best performance so far. Matthew Mercer continues to be powerful in his villainous role, while Adam Johnson gets to give his best performance to date here.

StoryThe story here brings the epic saga of Marek and her friends to a conclusion as they look to stop Szorlok from taking control of the world, learning their own destiny along the way. This is the type of story that has earnt this kind of ending, we have seen a lot of the work from the previous stories, which has shown the characters grow along the way, change and become better warriors. We need to have seen the previous films to understand what has been happening though, which can be an easy weakness of this film, but it is unlikely you will be watching this one without seeing the previous one. when it comes to finishing a franchise, this does draw back the comedy that made the last one fun, but it does become the serious levels required with the new peril involved in the film.

Action/FantasyThe action is bigger, more impressive and in new locations. The fantasy side of the film once again builds on the world we are in and just like we are used to seeing, we find ourselves in a new set of locations that fantasy can offer us.

SettingsThe film uses the new settings to help us see the world potential when it comes to people who are willing to risk their lives to save the world.

Special EffectsThe effects do continue to be the weakest part, but by now we are used to this style which hasn’t gotten better or worse through the series.


Scene of the Movie –
The hammer fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough undead fighting.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fitting conclusion to the franchise, it has the highest stakes and shows what everything has meant in the previous films.

 

Overall: Franchise finishing in style.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mythica: The Iron Crown (2016)

Director: John Lyde

Writer: Jason Faller (Screenplay) Jason Faller, Kynan Griffin (Creator)

Starring: Melanie Stone, Adam Johnson, Jake Stormoen, Nicola Posener, Christopher Robin Miller, Paris Warner, James Gaisford, Ash Santos, Matthew Mercer

 

Plot: When a team of unlikely heroes hijacks a steam-powered battle wagon, a daring young wizard (Marek) steals the final piece of the all-powerful Darkspore and embarks on a desperate quest to deliver the cursed artifact to the gods for safe keeping; but when they are caught in a death race between a ruthless team of elite mercenaries and a trinity of demons, Marek must learn to believe in herself before her friends are killed and the Darkspore is lost, to stop the evil necromancer (Szorlok) from uniting the Darkspore and flooding the living world with his legions of undead.


Tagline – The War is coming.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Best One Yet

 

Story: Mythica: The Iron Crown starts with Marek (Stone), Thane (Johnson) and Dagen (Stormoen) on their latest quest to capture the last remain Darkspore before Szorlok (Mercer) collects them all, giving him the power to bring the undead back to life, the quest is filled with peril with more enemies coming after them, while Marek is trying to take the spore to the place of the gods.

 

Thoughts on Mythica: The Iron Crown

 

Characters – Marek has now learnt to control her powers, she leads her team to make up for the previous mistakes of losing the Darkspores, she is filled with guilt after losing a member of her team on the last quest, now she wants to be the one to end the hunt for the Darkspores once and for all. Thane is still the brute of the group, being the strongest in combat, while Dagen continues to show he has connection around this world, even ones that want him dead, he continues to go through the evolution from lowlife thief to valued hero. Szorlok is the evil necromancer that is trying to collect all the Darkspores, now he has three, he won’t stop till he gets the final one, giving him the power against the undead.

PerformancesIn the performances, this is the first film that you can clearly see the cast understanding their roles, they look like they are having fun with what is going on in world created. Melanie Stone continues to show she is the strong leader of the group, while Adam Johnson and Jake Stormoen both keep up the strong work in the supporting roles. Matthew Mercer continues to give us a menacing performance in the villainous role.

StoryThe story here continues the battle for control of the Darkspores, with Marek looking to get the last one out of the possession of Szorlok, which will see her leading the team against more enemies before deciding what path she wants to make herself. For this story, we get the most together story yet, it is a simple adventure from location A to location B with different people trying to stop them, the story is told in such a way that it feels like it isn’t taking everything too seriously at last, which give us the relaxing mood through the film, which was needed after the last one started getting slightly stale.

Action/Fantasy The action in the film is a lot bigger than we have been seeing, we large set pieces created, even if they do all feel like they have a slower pace than required. The fantasy world continues to grow which is great to see, leaving us ready for the next stage of the franchise too.

SettingsThe film continues to use the travelling settings, which uses the different weather conditions to help show the difficult of each setting for both heroes and villains.

Special EffectsThe effects are still the weakest part of the film, we have large set pieces which did turn to the effects which are weak in parts of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Carriage fights.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pace of some of the fights.

Final ThoughtsThis is the best in the franchise so far, it feels bigger, it feels funnier and enjoyable for the first time in the franchise.

 

Overall: The best in the franchise.

Rating

 

 

It lives (2016)

Director: Richard Mundy

Writer: Richard Mundy (Screenplay)

Starring: Andrew Kinsler, Peter McCrohon

 

Plot: A lone scientist maintains an underground bunker for the coming global nuclear disaster. But after becoming prematurely isolated, he slowly begins to question his own reality and whether he is truly alone.


Tagline – Terror in the 21st Century

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Doesn’t Reach the Potential

 

Story: It Lives starts in the near future, where scientists have been set on solo mission to underground bunkers, Roy (Kinsler) is one of these scientists, he must live alone in the bunker follow answers from a computer system that can’t see errors happening and needing fixing.

When the unthinkable happens and the nuclear disaster happens on the surface, Roy is facing years alone preparing to return to the surface, but not everything is what it seems for Roy.

 

Thoughts on It Lives

 

Characters – Roy is the only character we meet, a specially selected scientist to run an underground bunker in case of a nuclear disaster on the surface, he struggles to follow the rules at times and soon finds himself question his own sanity when he believes something isn’t right here.

PerformancesAndrew Kinsler must carry this movie with his performance, well certain moments he is strong, it does struggle to capture our attention to the levels required for a solo performed movie.

StoryThe story here follows a scientist that has been placed in a bunker to prepare Earth for after a nuclear disaster which hasn’t happened yet, he soon starts to lose his mind and question just what is real or not. We are left to wonder along with the character whether this is just a test, or a nuclear disaster does actually happen. This on paper is a wonderful idea, the execution is what holds this film back at times because it soon descends into a story we have seen before offering nothing other than a man losing his mind and running around.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery revolves around why he is in the bunker, mostly what is he doing in there to keep himself occupied before turning into what is he thinking is going on. The sci-fi elements show us just how the world could go if things were to go this way.

SettingsThe film is set within the bunker, it keeps the action in the film feeling contained which is all we want for the most part of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well and only when we need them, this is another plus for this movie.


Scene of the Movie –
The infection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t get sucked into this film on the level we should do.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film with a lot of potential, it doesn’t reach it all, but by the end you will be scratching your head.

 

Overall: Just as unsure as Roy.

Rating