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

 

 

Tolkien (2019) Movie Review

Director: Dome Karukoski

Writer: David Gleeson, Stephen Beresford (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Tom Glynn-Carney, Patrick Gibson, Anthony Boyle

Plot: The formative years of the orphaned author J.R.R. Tolkien as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school.


Tagline – A Life of Love, Courage, and Fellowship

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Biopic 101

Story: Tolkien starts as we see J.R.R Tolkien (Hoult) on the war field in World War I, suffering the effects of an attack, he starts to reflect on his early life, his troubled childhood before getting placed into a high society school, where his imagination ran wild, with his friends pushing the arts to come to life in them all.

As Tolkien starts to reach the crucial years of his life, his work was just starting to get looked at by the universities, while he was left to decide between love or education, just as the war was going to split everything open for him.

Thoughts on Tolkien

Characters – J.R.R. Tolkien does go through two main timelines, one is his search for his friends during the war, searching through the trenches, while the second seems to follow him from early school life, right up to the university, where he was looking to make his way in the writing field. Edith is the love interest that grow up with Tolkien, they both come from the same background and want to make the most of their lives, pushing them to expose their creative sides. We do the meet the group of friends that grew up together and learnt how to express their artistic sides.

PerformancesNicholas Hoult is strong in the leading role in the film, even though he doesn’t seem to have to do that much challenging, we have a cast that doesn’t put a foot wrong through the film, even if it is mostly easy to perform.

StoryThe story here follows J.R.R. Tolkien as he went through the education process right up to and including his time in World War I, which gave him the motivation to write the Lord of the Rings books. When it comes to breaking down the story, it is based on his real-life, this would be harder to over criticise because it is a lot of high society boys looking to break traditions of education and become artistic minds, instead of following the typical male career paths. This is about the bond of friendship which has been pushed to the limits once the war starts. We see plenty of glimpses of hints to what is coming with his Lord of the Rings material, which is something you just want to look out for.

Biopic/RomanceThe biopic side of the film shows us just how important his friends become to him, which would improve his creative mind unlike anyone else, with the romance side of the film falling short for the most part, as it is just in here.

SettingsThe film uses the high society lifestyle Tolkien was part of, it doesn’t give us enough hope that we could follow in his footsteps.


Scene of the Movie – First tea time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much high society.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book biopic that shows how important having the right people in life can inspire you to achieve more, we have strong performances only it doesn’t give us too much hope we could follow his story.

Overall: By the Book Biopic.

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – D – The Darkest Minds (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Writer: Chad Hodge (Screenplay) Alexandra Bracken (Novel)

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Bradley Whitford, Harris Dickinson, Patrick Gibson, Skylan Brooks, Miya Cech, Gwendoline Christie

Plot: Imprisoned by an adult world that now fears everyone under 18, a group of teens form a resistance group to fight back and reclaim control of their future.


Tagline – Together they will change everything.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Potential That Misses

Story: The Darkest Minds starts with a mysterious disease that swept across the country killing most of the young population, the survivors seemed to change too, with Ruby (Stenberg) being one of the children taken to the camps, separated by colours depending on the skills in the minds.

After a test shows that Ruby is an Orange, meaning she is more dangerous than the rest, Cate (Moore) breaks her out of the prison, with her powers being mind control. Learning Cate might not have her best interest in mind, Ruby escape a joins three fellow children Liam (Dickinson), Chubs (Brooks) and Zu (Cech) as they search for safety.

Thoughts on The Darkest Minds

Characters – Ruby was a normal child until the event happens, she spends 6-years in a prison camp, where she hides her true abilities, which does make her more dangerous than the rest of the children. She gets discovered, which sees her escape, joining another group of children on the run, her powers will make her a useful for avoiding trouble, but any touch can make her see the truth about people and make them follow her instruction. Cate is the doctor that helps Ruby escape, she has been looking to help children, though she might not be helping in the way Ruby believes. President Gray is the man that commission the prison camps for the children, his son is the poster child for the cure too in Clancy. Liam is one of the children on the run, he has a reputation as a hero for the number of children saved. Liam leads Chubs and Zu to safety, as they both have their own stories of survival.

PerformancesAmandla Stenberg is strong in the leading role, she has had a great couple of years, this might end up being one of her weaker films, but she doesn’t disappoint. Mandy Moore and Bradley Whitford are barely used, which is disappointing, though you feel their parts would have been bigger in a sequel. Harrison Dickinson, Skylan Brooks and Miya Cech do have good chemistry between the four kids on the run.

StoryThe story here follows Ruby who is in a world where children are kept in prison camps, because of a sudden new set of abilities they have gained, she gets broken out goes on the run and learns of a bigger battle going on in the world, where she needs to decide which side of the war she wants to be on. This is a story that falls into the young adult world which wants to build up to franchise, that we most likely will never get, this is just the first chapter where we learn as Ruby does about what is happening in the world, who she can trust or not. The world created is interesting though it is never truly explained, what happened or why, most of which would probably be filled in later in the franchise.

Action/Romance/Sci-FiThe action in the film is filled with an odd looking car chase, a mostly just the powers doing anything to make them control the situation, the romance shows us how the two young adults fall in love for no actual reason. The sci-fi world does show us the world we are in, though we don’t learn the complete truth to everything.

SettingsThe film doesn’t have any distinctively locations, which doesn’t help us understand the scale of the situation.

Special EffectsThe effects do look like they are part of a low budget television show for the most part.


Scene of the Movie – The mall.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The fact that this film is arrogant enough to believe it will be a franchise.

Final Thoughts This is a film that has potential to be massive, it gets caught up in trying to show how big the world could be by only creating first chapter to something much bigger.

Overall: First Chapter of franchise.

Witchfinder General (1968) Movie Review

Director: Michael Reeves

Writer: Tom Baker, Michael Reeves (Screenplay) Ronald Bassett (Novel)

Starring: Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Rupert Davies, Hilary Heath, Robert Russell, Nicky Henson

Plot: A young soldier seeks to put an end to the evils caused by a vicious witch-hunter when the latter terrorizes his fiancée and kills her uncle.


Tagline – He’ll hang, burn and mutilate you.

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Shock Horror 60’s Horror

Story: Witchfinder General starts in the middle of the English Civil War, where soldiers fight for and against Oliver Cromwell are travelling around the country. Matthew Hopkins (Price) leads a group of soldiers who play into the superstitions of small village, punishing women they believe to be witches, while Richard Marshall (Ogilvy) is preparing to marry Sara (Heath) the niece of a priest.

When Hopkins and his men arrive in the village, they continue their witch hunt, where they target the priest with John Stearne (Russell) the sadistic member continues to torture the people, until Richard decides to fight back for his people.

Thoughts on Witchfinder General

Characters – Matthew Hopkins is the man that believes he is right to be hunting for witches in towns, he will go to extreme lengths to get the witches giving them no chance of surviving the trials, letting his men do the more sadistic work for him, using his position of power to seduce women. Richard Marshall fights for the king, he sees the witchfinder come into his town and after what they do to his family, he risks his own life to hunt down the witchfinder to get revenge. Sara is the niece of a priest that is accused of witchcraft, she will do anything to save her uncle, being taken advantage of by Hopkins, while seeing her husband Richard going out for revenge. John Stearne is the man that enjoys performing the sadistic rituals to find out whether people are witches or not, though he can become paranoid about whether he will get captured or not.

PerformancesVincent Price is a horror icon and it shows how he could dominate the genre in his career here, easily be the star of the show, with the rest of the cast struggling to keep up with him.

StoryThe story here follows a group of soldiers that travel around to small village to torture people claiming they are witches, only after they picked the wrong village, as one of the soldiers for the king goes in search for revenge against the witchfinder. This does play into the superstitions of the world with witch hunting which will become the main source of the story and how people would react to the hunting. It does fall into a standard revenge thriller and is more interested in trying for shocks over anything else.

HorrorThe horror in this film comes from seeing how the world is treating potential witches and what Hopkins and his men do to them.

SettingsThe film does use the locations to show us the English countryside with small villages that would live in fear.


Scene of the Movie – The final shot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is too generic in how the story unfolds.

Final Thoughts This is your typical 60s British horror that does everything right without being anything as ground breaking as it could have been.

Overall: Typical British Horror.