Fall of a Kingdom (2019) Movie Review

Director: John Wynn, Akhtem Seitablaev

Writer: Rich Ronat, Yaroslav Voytseshek (Screenplay)

Starring: Tommy Flanagan, Robert Patrick, Poppy Drayton, Alison Doody, Alex MacNicoll

Plot: The Mongol Empire had grown to the largest the world had ever known. It’s armies now laid siege to much of Eastern Europe. A small village fights for freedom in the frontier landscape of the Carpathian Mountains.

Tagline – Family. Freedom. Legacy.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Fall of a Kingdom starts as we meet the small village chef Zakhar (Patrick) who wants his sons Maksim (MacNicoll) and Ivan (Myers) to invite the leader of neighbouring village Tugar (Flanagan) for a town meeting, which will see Maksim fall for the daughter Myroslava (Drayton) after rescuing her.

When the small villages find themselves coming under attack by the Mongol Empire, Maksim, Ivan and Petro look to free the people who are being put through the sadistic games.

Thoughts on Fall of a Kingdom

Thoughts – Fall of a Kingdom aims to give us a battle against the odds as a small village looks to try and unite with others to defeat an empire of warriors the Mongols who are sweeping across the lands, killing anyone who stands in their way. We get left in a conflict between the villages who don’t want to work together despite it being best for the people and the empire that will not stop for anyone, seeing people’s true colours. We have solid enough performances, but nobody manages to stand out in anyway through this film, the fights don’t feel fresh, with the battles going into the land of everything we have seen before. The most redeeming part of the film comes from a dramatic water based sequence, which does look super cool.

Final ThoughtsFall of a Kingdom fills in the basics of a battle between small villages and an empire that will stop at nothing, bring little fresh to the table.

Signature Entertainment presents Fall of a Kingdom on DVD and Digital HD from November 30th

Mosul (2019) Netflix Movie Review

Director: Matthew Michael Carnahan

Writer: Matthew Michael Carnahan (Screenplay)

Starring: Waleed Elgadi, Hayat Kamille, Thaer Al-Shayei, Suhail Dabbach, Adam Bessa

Plot: A police unit from Mosul fight to liberate the Iraqi city from thousands of ISIS militants.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Mosul starts as we meet a rookie police officer Kawa (Bessa) who along with his partner is cornered by the ISIS militant before getting rescued by Jasem (Dabbach) SWAT unit, Kawa gets recruited on the spot and gets to learn how this elite team operates within the city, looking to fight for the freedom they want their family to have.

We follow this unit as they work their way through the city in an attempt to eliminate the ISIS militant threat from the streets, leaving bodies behind, both the enemies and their own.

Thoughts on Mosul

Characters – Jasem leads the elite SWAT unit, he trusts his men to stand by him and fight, recruiting Kawa, knowing he will want to fight back against the people controlling the city, he is blunt, calm and isn’t afraid to challenge his men to be their best, creating the leadership skills in them all. Kawa is the young police officers thrown into this world after being recruited, he must learn on his feet if he is going to survive his time with the unit, learn the heart break of losing a fellow soldier and how to fight to the death to beat the relentless enemies. We do meet the other soldiers who are all fighting for something, they all follow the orders and know they can’t lose.

PerformancesSuhail Dabbach in the leading role is brilliant, showing his dominance on the unit, while keeping his character in control of every situation. Adam Bessa is the audience entry performance, which must go through the biggest evolution as the film unfold, going from rookie police officer, to relentless soldier. The rest of the supporting cast are strong too, without anyone looking out of place and the men looking like a unit.

StoryThe story here follows a group of Iraqi SWAT soldiers that are fighting the ISIS Militant who are controlling the city, we follow a rookie officer that gets to learn what the fight is for. This is a raw story that will show us just how much is at stake for the soldiers on the ground fighting an enemy that isn’t taking an prisoners, that will give up their own lives to take the innocence of others. The story does give us a character to help us understand how much this means to the men in Kawa, which will give us the questions needed to get us into the unit mindsets.

Action/WarThe action in the film is non-stop, with plenty of military fighting showing us the different position the men find themselves in during the ongoing war.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to create the war torn city that is realistic and shows us the destruction that has been happening for years, not just what has been happening during the recent conflict.

Scene of the Movie – The reveal of the mission.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nothing.

Final Thoughts Mosul is a truly relentless movie that will show us the truly costs of the conflict in Iraq for the soldiers looking to keep their family safe.

Safe Spaces (2019) Movie Review

Director: Daniel Schechter

Writer: Daniel Schechter (Screenplay)

Starring: Justin Long, Kate Berlant, Lynn Cohen, Michael Godere, Fran Drescher, Richard Schiff

Plot: An NYC professor spends a week re-connecting with his family while defending his reputation over controversial behavior at his college.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Safe Spaces starts as we meet the New York City creative writer professor Josh Cohn (Long) sees what looks like a positive class turn against him with the creative writing pushed one of the students the wrong way, outside of his work Josh is seeing his grandmother Agatha (Cohen) dying in a hospital, with his sister Jackie (Berlant) and brother David (Godere) visiting her daily.

Josh finds himself needing to face the reality of losing his closest family member and potentially losing his job that he has worked so hard for in an evolving world or political correctness.

Thoughts on Safe Spaces

Characters – Josh is a man in his mid-30s that has just got his dream entry level teaching job in creative writing, which looks like it is going well, until one lesson sees him offend a student causing him to try and understand what happened. His personal life isn’t going well either, with his sister needing his help, his older brother looking down on him, piling on the pressure to find something more on his life. Jackie is the sister that has turned to Josh for help after a break up with her boyfriend, she always turns to Josh for help, while still having her own problems with their father. Agatha is the grandmother that has been dying slowly in the hospital, she is still filled with plenty of positive attitude, but she knows deep down she doesn’t have much time left. David is the older brother, he has settled down starting his own family and usually takes on the more serious details of dealing with their grandmother. We do meet other family members that Josh needs to fix his relationships with or being the connection for other members that are feeling out of place. The students are the hardest part to get behind, because they are so opinionated nothing anyone does seems to be right anymore for the professor.

PerformancesJustin Long is great in the leading role, showing his nice guy persona, which will have a defensive side that will show how he doesn’t always understand how he could be wrong. Kate Berlant is strong in the supporting role, along with the whole cast that is easy to watch through the film.

StoryThe story here shows how a creative writer professor sees his career start to spiral out of control when is involved in a comment in class, while outside the college, he is having his own personal life problems, with his grandmother dying in hospital and the family not being as connected as he would hope. This is story that does show us how somebody might not know everything about someone else’s personal life, which will cause them problems that might offend, with it being reflected on how Josh is having his own problems. We do go to the extremes of what might be seen as the problems, which apart from the first person who is against the comment, the students seem like they are to opinionated about the world they know nothing about.

ComedyThe comedy in the film focuses on the life of Josh, which will have you laughing more at how extra the conversations end up being.

SettingsThe film is set in New York which shows us just how many different stories you might not know about people.

Scene of the Movie – The family together in the hospital.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Some of the students are unbearable.

Final Thoughts Safe Spaces shows how people will never know the problems in people’s lives, with Justin Long shining through the film.

Safe Spaces will be available on Digital Download from 7th December

Blind (2019) Movie Review

Director: Marcel Walz

Writer: Joe Knetter (Screenplay)

Starring: Sarah French, Jed Rowen, Caroline Williams, Tyler Gallant, Thomas Haley, Ben Kaplan

Plot: Faye, a former actress that lost her vision due to botched laser eye surgery, struggles to put her life back together while living alone in her dream house in the Hollywood Hills. Supported by her friend Sophia, she starts opening up to Luke, a personal trainer who is mute and can only communicate through his cell phone. When a masked stranger named Pretty Boy shows up, Faye will realize that she isn’t as alone as she thinks.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Blind starts as we meet Faye (French) a recently blinded actress that is still coming to grips with the changes in her life, her best friend Sophia (Williams) is also blind and is around to try and help with the transition, along with their personal trainer Luke (Gallant) who happens to be a mute.

When Faye is needing a day to herself, a new masked killer starts targeting the blind women, with Faye not being aware of his appearance inside her own home.

Thoughts on Blind

Characters – Faye was once a big name actress, but after a botched surgery, she is left blind, needing to readjust to her new life, something that has had moments which have come easier than other, but her time in the spotlight has started to fade. She is involved in support groups, trying to keep herself occupied to recover, with this night, she finds herself being stalked, only she doesn’t know this. Pretty Boy is the mysterious killer that is stalker Faye, the masked gives us the blank expression which will add to the fear of this ruthless killer. Sophia the best friend and support that Faye has through her transitions, she has been through it for longer and is ready to help her friend deal the changes she has experienced herself. Luke is the mute personally trainer that uses his phone to communicate, while being in the middle of a potential love story with Faye.

PerformancesSarah French in the leading role does bring to life the difficulties a once famous star trying to continue their lives with a massive change, with Caroline Williams being the louder member of the cast, which is needed to try and bring Sarah French’s character out of her shell.

StoryThe story here follows a newly blind actress that is coming to deal with the new changes in her life, ones that will make things very different for her, one that will see a new problem, a killer coming to stalk her. This story does try to show how life can change suddenly for someone and shows how needing to adjust can be difficult, though we don’t get to see just how long Faye has been recovering. When it comes to the killer, we don’t seem to get any motivation, which could add to the horror, but in reality we needed more shock value behind a former horror star being stalked, this side of the story does need a lot more explanation.

HorrorThe horror does have a moments of slasher horror, but most is stalking side of everything.

SettingsWe have the Hollywood home of Faye for the main setting, which shows how a big home being empty with nobody else around.

Scene of the Movie – Stalker shots.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does feel like a flashier Hush, without the tension.

Final Thoughts Blind is an interesting mix of the slasher and stalker genres, without getting the tension, but having the haunting shots.

FrightFest Presents and Signature Entertainment present Blind on Digital HD from November 16th

Ropes (2019) Movie Review

Director: Jose Luis Montesinos

Writer: Jose Luis Montesinos, Yako Blesa (Screenplay)

Starring: Paula del Rio, Miguel Angel Jenner, Jordi Aguilar, Ana Terrasa, Irene Terrasa

Plot: A girl paralyzed. A rabid dog. A duel to death for survival.

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Ropes starts as we meet Elena (del Rio) who has been paralyzed in a car crash which saw her twin sister killed, she is forced to move in with her estranged father Miguel (Jenner) who has arranged a trained Belgian Shepard Athos to help with the needs around the house.

When moving in Athos is bitten by a dying bat, Miguel suffers a heart attack and Elena is left trapped inside the house, with no way of contacting any help, while Athos starts to turn ravenous.

Thoughts on Ropes

Characters – Elena is the paralyzed teenager, she is filled with grief, because it was her accident which not only left her like this, but killer her sister, she has tried to kill herself before, with her needing to move in with her estranged father to try and help he rebuild her life. She has a pet ferret and is going to need to get used to having a support dog in her life, one she does not want in her life. She is still trying to get back into her first day with this new life when the support dog Athos gets infected with rabies and now, she needs to use her limited movement to try and survive in the house. Athos is a character himself, the Belgian Shepard dog that has been trained to help around the house, he gets infected with rabies and starts to get a blood lust, trying to use his intelligence to try and get to Elena. Miguel is the father that hasn’t always been there, but now he is trying to help her in her time of need. Vera is the twin sister that died in the car crash, she is still seen by Elena who is filled with the guilt for her death.

PerformancesPaula del Rio is wonderful in the leading role, she shows us the grief for the accident as well as completing the dual roles of being vision of the twin sister, she also does most of the work in the film needing to be centre stage.

StoryThe story here follows a paralysed teenager that finds herself trapped in a house with a rabies infested ravenous dog trying to break in to kill her, using the training it has been given to try and outsmart the teenager. This story is impossible not to compare to Cujo with the idea of a character needing to stay ahead of a rabies infested dog, this does however bring its own twist, with the character being unable to fight back and the dog being smarter because of the extra training it has been through. While this might look like a battle to survive against a dog, we do also have the message of battling against grief to try and move on with life coming through strong.

HorrorThe horror side of the film comes from seeing how Elena must think to stay ahead of the ravenous dog, with high tension required to show the situation being difficult.

SettingsThe film uses the one main location, the house that is slightly beaten down home that has been adapted in places for Elena to move into.

Scene of the Movie – The lift.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The face to face seemed too slow.

Final Thoughts Ropes is an intense horror that builds on the legacy of Cujo to bring us a fresh more intense version of the good dog turned ravenous.