Abstruse (2019) Movie Review

Director: Harley Wallen

Writer: Harley Wallen (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Sizemore, Dennis Haskins, Jesi Jensen, Colleen Gentry, Clahoun Koenig, Harley Wallen, Jerry Hayes, Kris Reilly, Kaiti Wallen

Plot: Two young women get themselves into a very compromising situation that proves life changing, the aftermath is almost worse as all trails of the event has been wiped out and all of a sudden the tables turn and Amanda goes from being the victim to the accused. Amanda’s father decides to look into it only to realize it’s much bigger than they first anticipated. The story heads to a Good Vs. Evil showdown to settle the score.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense

Story: Abstruse starts when the playboy son of a senator Justin Stevens (Reilly) is getting tired of the normal call girls, he wants to make his own movies, adult movies, he recruits a couple of barmaids Mindy (Johnson) and her friend Amanda (Kaiti Wallen) to be their first stars of their movie, only for the night to take a turn for the worse, when Mindy is killed.

With Justin turning to his father Senator Stevens (Haskins), the police detectives Caldwell (Harley Wallen) and Morris (Hayes) have nothing to go on, even starting to investigate her. Amanda has one last out for the truth, her father Max London (Sizemore) a known killer who will stop at nothing to learn the truth.

Thoughts on Abstruse

Characters – Max London is an ex-con, a killer that has been used in protection before, he has connections that will get a job done and after he is released from prison, he must help his daughter, he will use his skills to try and learn the truth and his connections to make sure the people pay. Senator Stevens has always financed his son’s hobbies, he has always looked to save face whenever his son has done wrong and this is no different. Amanda is one of the barmaids that goes from having a good time, to seeing her friend murdered, she becomes the target by the senator who wants to spin the story on her, her father is one of the only people that could help her out of the position which could see her end up dead. Justin in the son of a senator, he has always lived off his daddy’s money, with his latest desire to make adult movies, which soon turns into filming a murder, now he will do anything to cover it up and get pleasure from hurting people.

PerformancesTom Sizemore back on the bring screen in great to see and this is the right type of role for his strengths. Kris Reilly does make for a wonderful psychotic rich person, while Kaiti Wallen as the victim looks as helpless and desperate as her character would be. The while cast do a good job here, showing us how to make their character make an impact in the film.

StoryThe story here follows the cover up of a murder, which sees the witness becoming one of the main targets of the cover up, with everyone needing to figure out who is working for who. This story does start slower that we get with the introduction to all of the characters, but once every pieces get put on the table, we do get a crime thriller that becomes edge of your seat, we literally don’t know who will be working for who, will people stay on certain sides etc. we have an antagonist that only seems to get more twisted as they get pushed. We even get to see how themes of money being able to get people off crimes and even try and turn the tables on the witnesses.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is more about the violent acts rather than being flying bullets or car chases, which it easily could be, the crime side of the film is much more complex as we see just how everything is unfolding between the characters after a crime has happened.

SettingsThe film does keep us in the city, which is filled with people that could do anything illegal to keep their names in the clear.


Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Did nobody see a dead body on the streets for that long?

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime thriller that does keep you guessing which is wonderful to see with strong performances throughout.

Overall: Great Crime Thriller

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Movie Review

Director: Jake Kasdan

Writer: Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg (Screenplay) Chris Van Allsburg (Book)

Starring: Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Madison Iseman, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Awkwafina

Plot: In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to rescue one of their own, the players will have to brave parts unknown from arid deserts to snowy mountains, to escape the world’s most dangerous game.

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Popcorn Fun

Story: Jumanji: The Next Level starts a couple of years after the first adventure, Martha, Bethany, Fridge and Spencer have moved onto the next stage of their lives, heading home for the Christmas holiday, Spencer however has started to become distant from the rest, he finds his room being shared with Grampa Ed (DeVito) and decides to try and fix Jumanji.

After Spencer doesn’t arrive for the meet up with the old gang, the friends find themselves sucked into the game, along with Grampa Ed and his old business partner Mile (Glover) as they must complete a new challenge in the world of Jumanji.

Thoughts on Jumanji: The Next Level

Characters – Outside the game Spencer has found himself alone in New York for university, he has a job in a shop which has seen him starting to wonder what is life is actually going to be about, broken up with Martha, he doesn’t know where what to do next, ignore his friends and home just to see his family. He decides to try and rebuild the game, so he could return to being Dr Smolder Bravestone to regain his confidence. Bethany has continued to travel the world, Martha has found popularity in college, despite still being incredibly insecure and Fridge has continued to build his sports career. These three are still close and want to keep Spencer in their circle, only they have continued to be positive in life. Grampa Ed is now living in with Spencer’s mum, in his room after a hip operation, he has fallen out with his old business partner Milo, Milo has come to try and make up with Ed after their lifelong friendship ended suddenly. Inside the game we get the same characters Smolder Bravestone, Franklin Finbar, Dr Shelly Oberon and Ruby Roundhouse, they are the same basic character with a few new additions, much like any video game sequel, with that we get new additions in Ming who has a whole new set of skills and a horse. There are some mix ups to who are each of the characters in the game.

PerformancesDwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are strangely two of the weaker points in the movie, this is because this time around they have to almost be parodies of well-known actors instead of reacting to traits characters are meant to have, while Hart is more restrained, Johnson does crack his role on this side of the film enough. Jack Black and Karen Gillan have excellent comic chemistry which shines through in the film, while the addition of Awkwafina is great for laughs, coming off stronger in the second half do the film than the first.

StoryThe story here follows the friends return into the game of Jumanji joined with a couple of new characters, where they need to travel their way through the game one more time to save Jumanji from a new enemy. While the adventure inside the game side of the story is bigger and the entertaining part of the story, where we try to put a big emphasis on the story is on friendship, we see how people can become more distant, how you should always try to make time, no matter where you are in life and even see the consequences of not always being there for somebody. The story really doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, nor did it need to.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure side of the film does give us a brand-new adventure within the game, new dangers, new locations, it feels like we are getting a brand-new video game with the same loved characters. The comedy here is a mix, because a lot of the old people jokes get tiresome quickly, but once the statue quo is returned to normal the comedy is back to its best, just takes too long getting there.

SettingsThe film uses the new locations within the game, including the desert, mountain range and amazing bridge crossing location.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film can be mixed too, it doesn’t help with the pure ambition behind the set pieces which are needed for the CGI moments.


Scene of the Movie – The bridge crossing, such a unique creation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain body swaps.

Final Thoughts This is a fun sequel that once again gets stolen by the supporting cast of Karen Gillan, Jack Black and newcomer Awkwafina that get most of the laughs.

Overall: Fun Sequel.

Marriage Story (2019) Movie Review

Director: Noah Baumbach

Writer: Noah Baumbach (Screenplay)

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Merritt Wever, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, Alan Alda

Plot: Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Powerful

Story: Marriage Story starts as we meet theatre director Charlie (Driver) and his wife actress Nicole (Johansson) they are about to go through a separation, with Nicole starting a new life in LA where she is trying to return to the television or film, moving away from the New York theatre lifestyle.

With the lives going on completely different directions, Nicole is pushed into getting a lawyer in Nora Fanshaw (Dern) which sees the two looking at a divorce, something neither thought would come their way, where they end up seeing the darker side of a break up even if they want to remain friends for their son.

Thoughts on Marriage Story

Characters – Nicole is an actress, mother and wife, she is given a chance to leave the theatre and return to television, while the couple are going through a separation and her moving to LA. She has given up a lot of her dreams for her marriage in the past, which is one of the reasons why she wants to get a divorce. Charlie is the theatre director, father and husband in New York, he wants to stay in New York running his theatre company. He is more stubborn that he wants to admit. Nora Fanshaw and Jay are both the lawyers hired to represent the divorcing couple, they show their ruthless sides whenever the two are trying to get the upper hand.

PerformancesAdam Driver gives us one of the best performances of the year, where he shows one that suddenly sees his whole life come crashing around him, showing the signs of his anger of everything happening. Scarlett Johansson is fantastic too where we see how she is escaping from a trapped life showing her character start a new life. Laura Dern and Ray Liotta are both great in the supporting roles usually getting the bigger and louder scenes.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that are going through a separation that turns into a messy divorce as they expose the problems, they both had through the years. The best way to describe this story is brilliant, when we break it down, it shows how relationships can break down and how two people want to end things calmly and for the right reasons, remaining friends for their son. It shows us how things can get out of hand when lawyers get involved and how everybody seems to know best apart from the two who are going through the breakup. We see how lives can change, people can move on and how holding on can be heart breaking. It is watching how both Nicole and Charlie are reacting to how everything is spirally out of hand which is easy for the highlight of the storytelling.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film is brilliant, it does get a perfectly laugh when needed, while staying straight when it doesn’t, the romance does show us how love can go from the heights to the end.

SettingsThe film uses the two main settings of cities, New York and LA, the locations are used to show how the lives will need to be changed, not just for Nicole and Charlie, but their son too.


Scene of the Movie – Let’s try and talk this through without a lawyer.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The timeline isn’t the best.

Final Thoughts This is easily one of the best films of the year, it shows us how love can end and how a divorce can spirally out of control, the two lead performances are easily within the best of the year too.

Overall: Awards Guaranteed.

The White Massai Warrior (2019) Movie Review

Director: Benjamin Eicher

Writer: Peter Eicher (Screenplay)

Plot: Southern Kenya and northern Tanzania are home to the Massai, one of the world’s last great warrior tribes. They are considered the most courageous and dangerous hunters in Africa and live isolated from any civilization. For the first time a man gets the chance to live with the Massai and join their infamous Massai Warrior School. Never before has a white man been invited to experience this experience.

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Basic Documentary

Story: The White Massai Warrior starts as Benjamin Eicher has been invited to join and document the Massai Warriors in South Kenya and North Tanzania, a tribe that is completely one with nature, they sleep in the wilderness, protect the wildlife and don’t have any modern luxuries.

Benjamin and his crew will slowly learn to be part of the tribe, which sees the playful side of the tribe, before getting into the more traditional ways, this is a month-long journey for Benjamin and his crew.

Thoughts on The White Massai Warrior

Final Thoughts This is a documentary that wants to put the spotlight on a once deadly tribe or warriors who have turned into protectors of nature instead of fierce hunters they were once known for. This does have the beautiful nature shots, which are always going to make any film in nature look wonderful. On the more negative or warning side of the film, the animal slaughter is far too much for the documentary and could easily be mentioned not shown. There are elements of this documentary that do feel more staged than a natural feel, which is meant to be implied with how everything has come from. This does give us the important look at how smaller tribes are still operating around the world, but never reaches the heights it could do.

Overall: By the Book Documentary.

Blood Bags (2019) Movie Review

Director: Emiliano Ranzani

Writer: Emiliano Ranzani, Davide Mela (Screenplay)

Starring: Makenna Guyler, Emanuele Turetta, Marta Tananyan, Alberto Sette, Salvatore Palombi, Denitza Diakovska

Plot: A creature stalks the corridors of an abandoned mansion. Two friends break in and discover that all exits have been sealed off and the creature that hunts them is growing hungry for their blood; there is no escape.

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Creepy Creature Feature

Story: Blood Bags starts when two students one American, Tracy (Guyler) a photography major and Petra (Tananyan) are in their final term, go in search of a new location to take the photos in, they find an abandoned mansion in the middle of the Italian city they are living in, but once in, they find themselves needing to hide from a bloodthirsty creature.

Joined by thief Alex (Turetta) who has become trapped in the mansion on his latest job, the survivors must stay ahead of this creature before becoming its latest victims.

Thoughts on Blood Bags

Characters – Tracy is an American student studying photography in Italy, she is fascinated by the older buildings and it is her decision to go in search of more work in this mansion, she doesn’t seem to care about the law, willing just walking into private property, she doesn’t seem to care about the culture, because she hasn’t learnt the language in her time there as well as making plenty of the wrong horror decisions. Alex is a thief that has become trapped in the house after his partner is taken, he has been waiting for his time to escape and with help from Tracy he could get out now. Petra is the best friend that at the university, she is considered the slutty friend who reluctantly agrees to go on the trip.

PerformancesMakenna Guyler is the best of the performers in this film where she gets to shine when dealing with the creature that is coming for her, even if the character comes off arrogant for the most part. Emanuele Turetta, Marta Tananyan and Alberto Sette lead the supporting cast which is solid enough in a film that focuses more on the creature appearance than anything else.

StoryThe story here follows two students and a thief that break into a mansion for various reasons, they learn that there is a creature lurking in the mansion that is looking for victims, with the people needing to figure out how to get out alive. This story has the simple message, don’t break into somebody’s house, the student’s behaviour comes off reckless, the thief well we know he isn’t going to be a good guy and the creature just lurks around waiting for stupid people to come into its house. Away from the frustrating characters, we do get to see creepy moments with the lurking around the mansion, while seeing something bigger going on in the walls. Everything unfolding is interesting to see and does have moments of suspense as we are waiting to see things unfold.

HorrorThe horror comes from seeing the creature lurking in the corridors stalking his latest victims. The first-person shots are the highlights of the film.

SettingsThe film takes place in the singular location being the mansion which is dark with positions where people could be hiding in the shadows.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the creature, which is hidden for large parts of the film, which adds the fear to what it will look like.


Scene of the Movie – The first person searching from the creature.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Why hasn’t Tracy either bother or learnt any Italian in her time studying there?

Final Thoughts This is an atmospheric suspenseful horror that uses the location to its advantage to give everything an edgy feel.

Overall: Atmospheric Horror.