ABC Film Challenge – Adventure – R – The Missing (2003) Movie Review

This is under R because of director Ron Howard.

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Ken Kaufman (Screenplay) Thomas Eidson (Novel)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd, Aaron Eckhart, Val Kilmer, Sergio Calderon, Eric Schweig

Plot: In 1885 New Mexico, a frontier medicine woman forms an uneasy alliance with her estranged father when her daughter is kidnapped by an Apache brujo.

Tagline – How far would you go, how much would you sacrifice to get back what you have lost?

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Missing starts when a frontier medicine woman Magdalena (Blanchett) must look to put aside her distant relationship between her and her apache father Samuel (Jones) to go in search for her daughter Lilly (Wood) who has been abducted by a rogue group of Apache Brujos.

As the pair head out on the search for the group who took Lilly, they are joined by Dot (Boyd) the younger daughter, as the three learn about the open country and see just how Samuel has survived this world, with this much danger in.

Thoughts on The Missing

ThoughtsThe Missing brings us a western that isn’t the cowboy needing to become the hero, instead focusing on a woman needing to fight back against a rogue group of native Americans to try and save her daughter who is to be sold. This is the journey needed to show the resolve in just wanting to survive and making sure the distant family could come back together after being apart for so long. The film does look beautiful with the scenery being used to show the open frontier era of the film. Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett in the leading roles are both excellent, as are the supporting cast through the film. This is a great and highly entertaining western adventure that showed the continuing struggle between the two sides, who fought of resources, instead of learning to work together.

Final Thoughts The Missing is an entertaining look at the bleakness of the frontier era in America, with excellent performances, but can get held back by the long runtime.

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – J – Just Married (2003) Movie Review

Director: Shawn Levy

Writer: Sam Harper (Screenplay)

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy, Christian Kane, David Moscow, Money Mazur, David Rasche, Thad Luckinbill

Plot: A young newlywed couple honeymoon in Europe, where obstacles challenge their ability to sustain the marriage.

Tagline – It was the perfect honeymoon… Until it began.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Just Bad

Story: Just Married starts as Tom (Kutcher) and Sarah (Murphy) return from their honeymoon, which has been a complete disaster, which sees the two looking back at what made them fall in love to start with. From the first meeting, to the wedding day, where everything is perfect.

The honeymoon on the other hand is very different, as the two start to reveal other secrets about their lives and the love they once had starts to shatter.

Thoughts on Just Married

Characters – Tom has always had to make his own way in the world, working in radio for his career, he has always been through the women in his life until he met Sarah. He won’t let her family’s money get involved in their relationship and isn’t happy to enter into the cultural experience of the honeymoon. Sarah comes from a wealthy family, she has always been pressured into being with the family pick, which isn’t Tom and gets her head turned after the honeymoon doesn’t go to plan. Peter is the ex-flame of Sarah’s the man the family wanted her to marry, being the success the family always wanted for her.

PerformancesAshton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy are both entertaining enough in their roles, they have some silly comedy moments that don’t work, they do work on screen together well.

StoryThe story here follows the events of the honeymoon from hell for a newlywed couple who are left to wondering why they fell in love in the first place. This is a film that uses the comedy to try and wrap a story about different incidents, while showing the painful ignorance of the American characters, while also showing how the stereotypes are painful to play out. We even waste the backdrop of Europe for the most part, which just doesn’t get used enough, the story is more about the arguments rather than showing how things went truly wrong.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film doesn’t always work, it is mostly slapstick that just doesn’t work and feels unrealistic, while the romance is trying to show how important love can be, even if people can come from different backgrounds.

SettingsThe film wastes the settings here, with the European backdrop never getting used to show where we are in the film.

Scene of the Movie – Couldn’t find one.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The ignorance of the Americans in Europe.

Final Thoughts This is a poor comedy that misses so often and hopes the romance works to save it, with the only highlight being the chemistry between Kutcher and Murphy.

Overall: Lazy Comedy.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – B – Biker Boyz (2003) Movie Review

Director: Reggie Rock Bythewood

Writer: Craig Fernandez, Reggie Rock Bythewood (Screenplay) Michael Gougis (Article)

Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Derek Luke, Orlando Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Lisa Bonet, Brendan Fehr, Larenz Tate

Plot: A son of the leader of a legendary group of an urban biker gang tries to retain his championship title.

Tagline – Survival of the fastest.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Late Night Action Film

Story: Biker Boyz starts as we enter the world of urban motorbike racing, where Smoke (Fishburne) is the king everyone respects him and nobody can defeat him, only on this latest race, one of his most loyal followers is killed in an accident, leaving Kid (Luke) waiting for his chance to get the biker gang.

Kid wants to prove he is the best biker in the city, he must make his own gang with Stuntman (Fehr) and Primo (Gonzalez) the founding members of the crew, they must earn their reputation, if Kid is every going to get the race he desires against Smoke.

Thoughts on Biker Boyz

Characters – Smoke is the king of the biker gangs, he wins every race he competes in, everyone respects his rules, you need to earn the right to race him and he will look out for people that fall. Kid is an up and coming biker that’s father was part of the crew with Smoke, only to get killed in an accident, Kid decides to make his own move for power in the crews, create his own gang the Biker Boyz to change the system for their own benefit. Soul Train is Smoke’s most trusted partner, he deals with arranging racing and calming the problems. We do meet a love interest, rival racers and parental figures that all have their own agenda without needing to do too much in the main film.

PerformancesLaurence Fishburne in the mentor leader role is always a demanding screen presence, with his being no different, he is the highlight of the acting in this film. Derek Luke does well enough in his role, with a supporting cast filled with talent that just don’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThe story here follows a young biker that is looking to take on the king of the city, where he must learn the respect needed to rise up the ranks after losing his father in an accident. This is a story that was trying to capitalize on the success of The Fast and the Furious, by having a youngster trying to make their way into a racing group, while we might add more of by the books respect angle to everything, we do get a story that is an easy watch, one we could get behind without needing to expect too much from what we see. It is an easy watch, it does play out like you would imagine, even though it doesn’t develop certain characters enough.

ActionThe action comes from the races we see, which are not the most intense, but they do work for what we need from the film.

SettingsEach location seems to be a big party, or a race meeting, each one seems different, which only adds more to what is going on in the bigger side of the film.

Scene of the Movie – Final race.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The women don’t seem to get involved in any racing, only here to walk around in bikinis and be pieces of meat for the riders.

Final Thoughts This is an action film you could easily enjoy one night, it isn’t the most intense, but does everything you need an easy to watch action to do.

Overall: Late Night Action 101.

Franchise Weekend – House of 1000 Corpses (2003) Movie Review

Director: Rob Zombie

Writer: Rob Zombie (Screenplay)

Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon, Karen Black, Walton Goggins, Rainn Wilson, Chris Hardwick, Jennifer Jostyn, Erin Daniels

Plot: Two young couples traveling across the backwoods of Texas searching for urban legends of murder end up as prisoners of a bizarre and sadistic backwater family of serial killers.

Tagline – Dare You Enter…

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: This Really Is Messy

Story: House of 1000 Corpses starts when four friends Jerry (Hardwick), Mary (Jostyn), Bill (Wilson) and Denise (Daniels) go on tour of at Captain Spaulding (Haig) house of horrors and learning about mysterious tree, they go off in search in a storm, picking up a hitchhiker Baby Firefly (Moon), they find a place to stay, right around when the news is reporting about missing teenagers.

The four friends find themselves being the latest victims of the Firefly family with Otis (Moseley) willing to do anything to get his pleasure for pain, their only hope is that Denise’s father comes looking for them after they didn’t arrive at his house the night before.

Thoughts on House of 1000 Corpses

Characters – Captain Spaulding is the one that has his own house of horrors that he encourages tourists to look around, he knows the legends of the area, which is why he knows how to get the curiosity of the people to want to go in search for the legends about his house. Otis is the leader of the firefly house, he will talk the most, do the most torturous treatment of their victims. Baby Firefly is the one that brings people back to the house, the youngest member of the family that is just getting started in her ways compared to the rest. Mother Firefly is always looking for a younger man to play with before they murder.

PerformancesSid Haig does bring his character to life to be one of the very few highlights in this film, while Bill Moseley knows that he needed to make this character over the top, while the victims are generic performances, they are fine, but the rest of the cast struggles to work with the awful material.

StoryThe story here follows four friends that find themselves being the latest victims of the sadistic firefly family that like to torture, mutuality and kill their victims. The biggest problem with this story is that we cut away way too many times, it always looks like we are going into watch a torture filled horror story, which isn’t everyone cup of tea, but if we had stuck to this idea, we could have had a good story. The problems involve countless city away scenes of just random footage of violence happening to people, rather than having any context towards them. This story is mess and never makes you care about the victims, while not making the villains people you want to see either, making most shots of the film hard to care about.

HorrorThe horror in the film is meant to be focused on the different levels of violence that could be given to the victims, it is more for shock than making any sense.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the one house/ranch like environment where the family can do what they want without anybody coming to disturb them.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the violence, though most gets covered over with random slips of something else happening.

Scene of the Movie – Captain Spaulding’s tour.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The random cut clips that make no sense.

Final Thoughts This is a truly messy horror that misses on every mark, leaving it look and feeling like something you would forget within a hour of finishing it.

Overall: Poor and messy.

My Life Without Me (2003) Movie Review

Director: Isabel Coixet

Writer: Isabel Coixet (Screenplay) Nanci Kincaid (Book)

Starring: Sarah Polley, Amanda Plummer, Scott Speedman, Mark Ruffalo, Debbie Harry, Julian Richings

Plot: A young woman conceals the fact of her terminal cancer to live her life with a passion she never had before.

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Polley is Exceptional

Story: My Life Without Me starts as we meet mother, wife and cleaner Ann (Polley) who has a routine in her day that puts her children first and gets the positives out of her life, until one day she collapses, learning she has terminal cancer.

Ann decides to keep the news to herself, trying not to bring the burden on her family, while she sets out her own plan of a bucket list, things that will leave her family with happy memories about her, while also looking to explore a few things she never got to, including meeting other men, with Lee (Ruffalo) being the one she turns to.

Thoughts on My Life Without Me

Characters – Ann is the mother, wife and cleaner, she has always put her kids first, only she never got to live her younger life, this has never bothered her until she learns she has terminal cancer, now she wants to remain happy for family, but take a few more chances in life, while making sure her family will remember her once she is gone. Ann shows us what it is like to see the world come crashing down around them, while needing to remain strong. Don is the husband to Ann, he works hard to help support the family too, he is always good to her, he does know that Ann is the strength in his life too. Lee is the stranger Ann meets, she does want to know more from love, which is why she turns to Lee for something she could never get from Don the man she loves, he is always friendly and caring towards here. We do also meet other people in Ann’s life, we have her mother, co-worker, children and doctors, all give Ann different decision to make in her remaining life.

PerformancesSarah Polley is amazing in this film, she steps up to be head and shoulders above the whole cast, bringing to life a character that feels like she could be in anybody’s life. We do have a strong supporting cast in mark Ruffalo, Scott Speedman and Amanda Plummer, who give Polley even more to work off through the film too.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman who has been living a routine life until she learns she has terminal cancer, she doesn’t want to let her family know, instead carry on like normal and take a few more chances in her own life. This does show a new way to make sure someone who is dying decides to show us a new way to make sure their family can be prepared once they are gone. We see how Ann is trying to do the right thing, both for the future and for her remaining time, without needing to dive into the painful treatment scene. The story is told in a such a way, where it sends the message to make the most of your own life no matter how difficult life could be for everyone.

RomanceThe romance in the film shows what Ann wanted in life, even though she is happy with what she has, it is all about what could be in her life.

SettingsThe film uses the setting to show us an everyday life that Ann lives in, the poorer family she is in, needing the two jobs to keep the trailer for her family.

Scene of the Movie – Making the list.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could see more of Don’s side of everyday life.

Final Thoughts This is a brilliantly acting movie that shows Sarah Polley at her very best, it has a touching story and gives an important message for all.

Overall: Touching Drama.

Signature Entertainment presents My Life Without Me on Digital HD July 31 and on Amazon Prime August 3rd