Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Movie Review

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writer: Patrick Casey, Josh Miller (Screenplay) Yuji Naka, Naoto Ohshima, Hirokazu Yasuhara (Characters)

Starring: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Neal McDonough, Ben Schwartz, Adam Pally, Tika Sumpter, Leanne Lapp

Plot: After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help it defeat an evil genius who wants to do experiments on it.

Tagline – A whole new speed of hero

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fast Fun Film

Story: Sonic the Hedgehog starts as a young Sonic must leave his home after being discovered by creatures that want his power, he moves to Earth and a small Montana city Green Hill, where he follows the residents believing he is part of the town, even though nobody knows he is even there.

After Sonic unleashes his power, the government turn to Dr Ivo Robotnik (Carrey) to learn about what caused it, which sees Sonic needing to turn to Tom (Marsden) for help, so he can escape the danger or learn to fight, finally exposing himself to the human race, as Robotnik looks to use the power Sonic holds.

Thoughts on Sonic the Hedgehog

Characters – Sonic is the alien blue hedgehog that has great speed, which sees him elude being seen for years, he must leave his home world after being discovered, where he makes a life for himself on Earth, watching a small town, where his loneliness is slowly starting to catch up on him. He is hyper excitable once he makes a friend and must decide whether to continue running or make a stand and fight to remain with his new friend. It is amazing that we do get some real feelings towards the blue fella as we feel the sympathy of loneliness he is feeling. Tom is a local cop that has been looking for a new challenge in a big city, a chance that has come his way, until Sonic turns to him for help, where Tom must do the right thing, save a person in need. Maddie is his wife that has always dealt with her sister being against their marriage, not as big of part of the film compared to Tom. Dr Ivo Robotnik is the machine genius who the government has turned to after the energy surge, he will do anything to put people down around him and is determined to capture sonic to use his power for his machines.

PerformancesJames Marsden is fun in the leading role working well with the voice work of Ben Schwartz as Sonic, while working well with Tika Sumpter when they get time together. Jim Carrey is entertaining through the whole film being wonderful to watch in the film.

StoryThe story here follows an alien blue hedgehog that must turn to a human to help him find a new home to escape a mad man scientist who is looking to use his power for his own benefit. When it comes to video game movies, we know we need to take everything lighter than normal when it comes to storytelling, last year we got Detective Pikachu, which was a lot of fun, and Sonic the Hedgehog follows suit. Seeing how Sonic is becoming lonely in his life away from the rest of the world is something that people can relate too. The adventure to find an item which can solve the problem is an easy to watch story unfold, which is all we needed, with the performances helping the story become more entertaining. Everything we see in this story does give us a nice starting point for a potential franchise, with the rings being used in a way that could unlock any potential future.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film does work for the film with the fast paced Sonic, having scenes which work for the pace, even if some of those moments do feel like we are watching Quicksilver from X-Men. The adventure side of the film sees how Tom and Sonic must travel to San Francisco to get the rings back

SettingsThe film uses the small town setting to show how Sonic has created his own perfect world, one where he knows everyone and wants to call him home, he isn’t interested in the big city home where he must go.

Special EffectsAs the film was widely panned after the first look a Sonic, the effects we do see in the film are strong and bring the blue guy to life.

Scene of the Movie – The final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Olive Garden being an on running joke.

Final Thoughts This is a fun action movie that brings the video game character to life with ease to make us understand his pain and desire to be important in somebody’s life.

Overall: Enjoyable.

Una Great Movie (2020) Movie Review

Una Great Movie Premieres on the 14th February 2020 at Pan African Film & Arts Festival

Director: Jennifer Sharp

Writer: Jennifer Sharp (Screenplay)

Starring: JoNell Kennedy, Numa Perrier, Jake Olson, Jose Casasus

Plot: As a screenwriter takes notes from Hollywood executives, her beautiful diverse movie about a black American woman traveling to Mexico, slowly becomes a romantic comedy with an all-white cast. A quirky cerebral look into commercialism and greed, juxtaposed with a heartwarming movie that challenges stereotypes.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Important Look at the Hollywood System

Story: Una Great Movie starts as Zoe (Kennedy) is trying to sell her script in Hollywood, as she is telling the story we get to watch her lead character Susan (Perrier) travel to Mexico to look for a lost love, as the story continues, Zoe is forced and suggested different aspects to the character a story to help make it easier for producers to buy, only she isn’t comfortable about making all the changes.

As Zoe learns more about the Hollywood system she must look at the ideas they are offering her, with the idea of a known star Bryan Alonsio (Olson) taking the lead role, despite the fact he isn’t Mexican, imagining what he would be like in the story next to Susan.

Thoughts on Una Great Movie

Characters – Zoe is the screenwriter that believes she has her own brilliant screenplay, she has written a script that she understands the characters and is trying to pitch it to producers, each one seems to want to change things in her script, from changing the Mexican characters, the black lead and the motivation for the trip in her work. Zoe has support from friends, a support group, but her determination means she will start to change certain parts of her script hoping it will help get it made. Susan is the main character in the script, a woman heading to Mexico to look for a lost love, as Zoe is forced to change her script, we see the changes in Susan’s story, which helps show the differences in what Zoe wants and the generic figure the studios are looking for. Luis is the character that Susan is trying to get locate, the lost love, who has started his own life, only for his life to still be waiting for her. Bryan Alonsio is the actor everybody wants in their film, he is even suggested by one of the producers that wants him to play one of the Mexican characters in the film.

PerformancesJoNell Kennedy as the screenwriter shows us the struggles she is going through to get her script made, dealing with the questions about the work, while seeing the support from others. Numa Perrier is great as the character in the script, showing how the character should come to life and will be evolving in the process. The cast does include a mix of professional actors with non-actors to highlight the true identity of the Mexican community.

StoryThe story here follows a screenwriter who is trying to get her script turned into a film, only for her to find herself facing ideas that would change the film to become the generic Hollywood film, instead of using the realism that she dreams off, while also showing how the script would be evolving through the story. The story here is trying to highlight the big problem within the Hollywood system when it comes to diversity within the casting and the stereotypes producers want to follow, while spinning the reality of everything to show how everybody isn’t what Hollywood believes them to be. If we look just at the story, the idea that the story is evolving as the script ideas were being made, it does make it entertaining, because you don’t know what is coming next with the changes. This is an important story that shows the world to be clearer than a lot of people imagine it.

ComedyThe film does use moments of comedy to make fun of the changes that are being suggested, it does help get a laugh at certain moments during the film.

SettingsThe film uses two settings, we get to see Zoe in Hollywood, going through the different offices trying to sell the script, while also showing Susan the character in the film, enjoying her search in Mexico.

Scene of the Movie – Zoe gets help from an unlikely source.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The support group.

Final Thoughts This is a clever way to highlight the problems within the Hollywood system, showing stereotypes are still controlling how movies are made and taking the dreams of people who could bring us original.

Overall: Clever Statement.

By Day’s End (2020) Movie Review

Director: Michael Souder

Writer: Justin Calen-Chenn, Michael Souder (Screenplay)

Starring: Lyndsey Lantz, Andrea Nelson, Joshua keller Katz, Bill Oberst Jr, Maria Olsen, Devlin Wilder

Plot: Love is never an easy road. No one knows that better than Carly and Rina, whose relationship takes a turn for the worse after Carly decides to drop out of med school and Rina loses her job as an attorney. This forces them to move into a motel, a situation neither of them are happy with. To makes matters worse, Rina’s battles with depression have returned and Carly has decided to use what money she has left to buy a camera so she can pursue videography as a profession. Despite the cracks that are starting to show in their relationship, Carly and Rina pledge to repair what has been broken, no matter the circumstances, no matter the odds. But are they both as adamant as they say they are? Unfortunately, time is not on their side. When a pandemic disease ravaging the world appears in their city and starts turning people into crazed flesh eating machines, Carly and Rina decide to keep documenting the occurrence with their camera. Doing so, they are forced to band together like never before

Runtime: 1 Hour 12 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Plays Out Like An Opening Level of Video Game

Story: By Day’s End starts as Carly (Lantz) fresh after dropping out of medical school purchases her first camera to become a videographer while looking to get her feet back on the ground with her girlfriend Rina (Nelson) who has recently lost her job, leaving them living in the motel.

After Rina suffers another job rejection the day takes another turn for the worst when it turns out a pandemic has spread, one that brings the dead back to life, leaving the women trapped in their room, watching the world fall apart outside their door.

Thoughts on By Day’s End

Characters – Carly wants to become a videographer after spending years studying a med school, she is waiting for her chance to proposal to Rina, mostly hoping everything in life will work out, offering medical treatment where she sees fit, filming the day. Rina is trying to get back into job market after losing her job, she does wish Carly would get back to a more serious way of looking at life, while battling with her own demons. Wyatt is one of the residents that has a plan once the outbreak starts, he has been preparing for an incident for a while now, proving to be an excellent ally in surviving.

PerformancesLyndsey Lantz does have the most work to do, mostly because despite this being a found footage film and it is her character’s camera, she isn’t always behind it and more focused on the doing the right thing, showing us just how a dreamer can be living their life. Andrea Nelson does have one of the bleakest scenes early on, showing the best performance part of the film with it.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that have been going through hard times, that find themselves in the middle of a zombie outbreak, being trapped in the motel complex they are calling home. When it comes to zombie films it is hard to bring anything truly new to the genre, while this story on the zombie side of the film does feel like something we saw in both chapters of ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Left 4 Dead’ franchise of games, with a group of survivors needing to get out of a motel alive, while never being as intense as them, trying to show the slow outbreak. The relationship side of the film does show us how we just arrive in one day of their lives, instead of a big set up to place us there, which is nice to see, making this whole story feel like it could have happened within the day of the lives of the characters.

Horror/Romance The horror in this film comes from the idea that a zombie outbreak is happening, with the location being more secure than the open, only being shot in a mix of handheld found footage and security camera footage.

SettingsThe film is set in a motel area, be it the room, car park and corridors, it does offer up plenty of tight locations that facing a zombie would be difficult, which does keep the film even though set in the middle of a city, we don’t get a large number of zombies thrown into the mix.

Special EffectsThe effects are kept off camera with cuts to different angles to hide gore moments, relying on the blood splatter involved in the film.

Scene of the Movie – The plan to escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We have seen the basics of the surviving side before.

Final Thoughts This is a zombie outbreak movie that we have seen before, while keeping everything feeling more contained than normal.

Overall: Zombie Survival 101

Birds of Prey (2020) Movie Review

Director: Cathy Yan

Writer: Christina Hodson (Screenplay)

Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ewan McGregor, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Bojana Novakovic, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong

Plot: After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.

Tagline – Prey for Gotham! 

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Wonderful Blast

Story: Birds of Prey starts as Harley Quinn (Robbie) finally leaving Mr J or Joker to most people, people don’t believe she will stay away for long because her relationship means she can get away with anything, only after she blows up his compound, her immunity is gone and everybody is after her, with Roman Sionis (McGregor) looking to cash in on the position left behind.

After teenage pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Basco) steals a diamond, she finds a bounty on her head, with the only person that will help her is Harley, who learns she has people willing to help from other people detective Renee Montoya (Perez), mysterious assassin Huntress (Winstead) and singer Dinah (Smollett-Bell), as they face the numbers in Gotham.

Thoughts on Birds of Prey

Characters – Harley Quinn is having a life crisis after her break up from the Joker, she wants to remain the wild character, only she needs to learn who to trust after learning everybody wants her dead, she gets a chance to save a teenager that Roman Sionis is hunting. Harley is pure enjoyment to watch, she makes everything fun in her life, always looking at the bright side no matter what comes her way. Renee Montoya is a detective that has never gotten the recognition she deserves, she is trying to track down Harley and has always been working with an inside source in Roman Sionis, she is always considered an 80’s cop. The Huntress is the mysterious assassin that has appeared and started killing gang members, this is the character that does feel like the weakest, mostly because she is fully mysterious, until she isn’t which makes her feel flatter than the rest of the characters. Dinah Lance is the singer in Roman’s club whose voice can shatter glasses, she has always kept to herself, but will look at for people in life. Roman Sionis is the club owner gangster who lets people take the faces off his victims and after seeing what happens to the Joker’s compound, he believes it will be his rise to power.

PerformancesMargot Robbie is truly incredible in the leading role, she well and truly takes the movie and is a true delight to watch. Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jurnee Smollett-Bell are excellent too, working with Robbie perfectly. Ewan McGregor works well as the villain, showing the eccentric side to his character with ease.

StoryThe story here follows Harley Quinn as she finds herself alone, out of the Joker’s shadow, needing to fight for herself, where she must help a teenager that is facing the hunt from the new gangster looking to take over Gotham, finding she has unlikely allies waiting in the shadows. This story can be cut down to a simple, protection based story, which is always an nice concept, we get the extras from the flamboyant nature of Harley and how she tells the story, which is the saving grace for the entertainment value. The story is carried by the strength of Harley and just how purely entertaining to she is to watch and see stand up for herself.

Action/CrimeThe action gives us some unique and original fight scenes, with the funfair one being a true stand out and potentially being one of the best of the year already, all while being in the Gotham crime world.

SettingsThe film still uses Gotham as the backdrop, which is fine, it all works, where the settings stand out more though are with the fight scenes, taking us to the unique locations we haven’t seen before.

Scene of the Movie – Funfair fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The drunk opening sequence.

Final Thoughts This is Margot Robbie proving herself to be above and beyond with her talent, bringing to life Harley in a way that is filled with the entertainment we love to see in a comic book movie.

Overall: Entertaining Treat.

The Turning (2020) Movie Review

Director: Floria Sigismondi

Writer: Carey W Hayes, Chad Hayes (Screenplay) Henry James (Novel)

Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince, Barbara Marten, Joely Richardson, Niall Greig Fulton, Denna Thomsen

Plot: A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after their parents’ deaths. A modern take on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.”

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Basic Horror

Story: The Turning starts when tutor Kate Mandell (Davis) gets a job away from the classroom, to teach Flora (Prince) an orphaned little girl who has been living with her housekeeper Mrs Grose (Marten) in the mansion. While Kate it happy with this new opportunity, this job doesn’t seem as easy once Flora’s older brother Miles (Wolfhard) is expelled from boarding school.

After Kate starts experiencing strange events, nightmares and visions around the house, she starts trying to learn more about the past of the house and with Miles not making her time here easy, she must figure out the truth before it is too late.

Thoughts on The Turning

Characters – Kate is a teacher who is given a chance for this tutor role, a role which would mean only dealing with one kid instead of a classroom, she sees her own life in helping, with her father walking out on her and her mother dealing with her own mental health problems and tries to approach this role as something fresh. She does connect with Flora, but become friends with Miles proves to be more difficult and with her not sleeping she is torn between trying to help him or just leaving. Miles has been expelled from boarding school for assaulting another student, he has become friends with one of the housekeepers who died too, he doesn’t want to become friends with Kate and is happy to play games against her. Flora is the youngest member of the family, she witnessed her parent’s death, which has struck fear into leaving the home, she is just like any child of that age who wants to have fun, only she doesn’t have any friends in her life. Mrs Grose is the housekeeper and has been for generations with planning the daily meals and keeping the place clean.

PerformancesMackenzie Davis in the leading role does well dealing with the horror effects in the film, while the two young stars, Finn Wolfhard and Brooklyn Prince don’t put a foot wrong in their roles.

StoryThe story here follows a tutor that gets a new job in a mansion and while here she learns the house might well be haunted and wants to get to the bottom of this before it is too late. The story is one of the biggest talking points in this film, while it does start off routine, it ends up trying to become smarter than it needs to, only contradicting itself by the end. It is a shame because the basic haunting ideas all work very well, in fact I thought I was watching any of ‘The Haunting’, ‘Awakening’ and films along that line, which slowly builds, has a ghost investigation side to it, only for it is have a spanner in the final works which will leave you scratching your head, but is far from the ‘Non-ending’ people have spoken about.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes from the haunted house, every scene does give us a proper jump scare, rather than just a false one, though you would be left wondering why she didn’t just leave straight away. The mystery is what did happen, which is more disappointing than anything else, because we only learn things that we get told, rather than Kate learning about anything herself.

SettingsThe mansion setting is beautiful, it shows how you would have creepy noises around, the long dark corridors and massive gardens, which for some reason sees the time of day change when running through it.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are an interesting choice, with the ghostly figures fading in and out so eerily it does add something to the film.

Scene of the Movie – The first reaction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We get some interesting camera angles, which seem to be here for no apparent reason.

Final Thoughts This is a horror that does the basic horror moments well, even if certain moments might come off overly complicated with how it ends.

Overall: Simple Horror, Complicated Ending.