ABC Film Challenge – Sports – N – Nacho Libre (2006) Movie Review

Director: Jared Hess

Writer: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, Mike White (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack Black, Ana de la Reguera, Hector Jimenez, Darius Rose, Moises Arias, Diego Eduardo Gomez

Plot: Berated all his life by those around him, a monk follows his dream and dons a mask to moonlight as a Luchador (Mexican wrestler).

Tagline – He’s not lean. He’s not mean. He’s nacho average hero
Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Poor Comedy

Story: Nacho Libre starts as we meet monk Nacho (Black) who has always been looked down on in his monastery left to be the cook, when a new nun sister Encarnacion (Reguera) arrives, Nacho wants to become friends, only for him to find himself deciding to chase his dream of becoming a luchador wrestler, joining forces with Esqueleto (Jimenez).

The pair do start bringing in the money, with the goal being to raise enough money to give the orphans a better life, even if this means going against everything his religion says.

Thoughts on Nacho Libre

Characters – Nacho has lived in the monastery his whole life becoming a monk, only he doesn’t get treated the same as the rest of the monks, he is the chef with little amounts of food to work with, with a dream of becoming a luchador wrestler. He is torn between following this dream to make the most with money which could help the orphans, or continuing his faith. Sister Encarnacion is the newest member of the monastery, she is turns heads with everybody wanting to get to know her better, with Nacho using her as inspiration to continue chasing his dream. Esqueleto is a homeless young man that Nacho convinces to becoming his tag team partner, with the two making money while entertaining to the crowds in the process.

PerformancesJack Black does seem to struggle to hit the comedy levels we know he can reach in this film, being too much of a parody for his own good. We don’t have the best from any of the cast here, because nothing feels natural enough for the comedy to flow.

StoryThe story here follows a monk that wants to follow his dream of becoming a luchador wrestler to help fund the monastery get the supplies required. This story doesn’t seem to get going with each scene seeming to look like a sketch show rather than a connected story. The idea of chasing someone’s dream is a nice idea, though it just doesn’t seem to become that believable in anyway. This is a story that has an idea of heart, only it just doesn’t seem to understand how to pull through the heart side of the film.

Comedy/SportsThe comedy in this film misses more often than not, it aims to try and copy Mexican stereotypes more than anything else., with the sports side of the film being about wrestling in the Mexican style, which seems to focus on real fighting, rather than what wrestling truly is.

SettingsThe film uses two main settings, the monastery and the wrestling areas, both become important to what is going on with Nacho.

Scene of the Movie – Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The random eagle egg scene.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that misses more often than it hits, it ends up feeling disappointing and not understand the true meaning in wrestler in Mexico.

Overall: Disappointing Comedy.

16 Blocks (2006) Movie Review

Director: Richard Donner

Writer: Richard Wenk (Screenplay)

Starring: Bruce Willis, Yasiin Bey, David Morse, Jenna Stern, Casey Sander, Cylk Cozart, David Zayas

Plot: An aging alcoholic cop is assigned the task of escorting a witness from police custody to a courthouse 16 blocks away. There are, however, chaotic forces at work that prevent them from making it in one piece.

Tagline – 1 Witness… 118 Minutes…

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: 16 Blocks starts when an alcoholic cop Jack Mosley (Willis) is asked to do one more job before his shift is over, transferring a witness Eddie Bunker (Bey) 16 blocks away, only what seems like a simple job takes a turn for the worse.

Eddie is the key witness that will expose police corruption, with Frank Nugent (Morse), Jack former partner looking to tie up loose ends, forcing him to fight against his friends to do the right thing.

Thoughts on 16 Blocks

Characters & Performances – Jack Mosely is an alcoholic cop who tends to keeps to himself on the job, he is just waiting for retirement, but is forced into taking one more job, escorting a witness across town, where he will need to learn who he can trust from within the force to do the right thing. Bruce Willis is strong in this role, he works well as the aging cop without doing the full action scenes. Eddie Bunker is the witness that needs transporting, he talks a lot and has a criminal background makes him come off like a normal criminal in the eyes of Jack, he has however turned his life around looking for redemption with what he has discovered. Yasiin Bey is fun to watch as the quick talker even if this is more of a serious action film. Frank Nugent is the man leading the hunt for Eddie, he is a former partner to Jack and tries to push him into following his instructions, he is trying to control the situation before it gets out of hand. David Morse is as always great to watch in the villainous roles in film, this is no different, always being the presence on camera.

StoryThe story here follows an aging alcoholic cop that is given an assignment to escort a witness across the town for a court case only to find himself being hunted down by a group of cops that want to keep their secret. This is one of the action films that does get to give us a simple idea that will rely on the characters needing to learn about change along the way. We get to see how Jack finds a new direction and a former criminal will look to keep his life on the right track, while the typical cops wanting to keep things quiet are hunting them down. It is an easy watch, without relying on twists along the way.

Themes16 Blocks is an action thriller that will keep the action in New York with the contained streets and the action being tactical, even if it is panicked. The pace of the story is great, give us time to breath as we learn about the characters between the action sequences.

Final Thoughts 16 Blocks is a great action film that will give us plenty of entertainment throughout with a good character development.

Signature Entertainment presents 16 Blocks on Digital Platforms 7th June and on Amazon Prime Video 18th June

Step Up (2006) Movie Review

Director: Anne Fletcher

Writer: Duane Adler, Melissa Rosenberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, Damaine Radcliff, De’Shawn Washington, Mario, Drew Sidora, Rachel Griffiths

Plot: Tyler Gage receives the opportunity of a lifetime after vandalizing a performing arts school, gaining him the chance to earn a scholarship and dance with an up and coming dancer, Nora.

Tagline – Every second chance begins with a first step.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Step Up starts when Tyler Gage (Tatum) finds his friends getting him into trouble, where they break in and destroy a fancy dance schools props, he gets his punishment, 200 hours of community service, where he must help out in the school.

When one of the students Nora (Dewan) needs a rehearsal partner, the only suitable person she can find is Tyler, who has the time to help, giving her a new perspective on life, and showing Tyler a more serious approach to everything.

Thoughts on Step Up

Characters – Tyler is a slacker minor criminal, causing problems with his friends most night, which sees him getting caught and forced into community service in a school that he was part of vandalizing. He ends up helping a dancer rehearse for her big performance, learning to try and take life more seriously, while still dealing with the rejection that has hindered his whole life. Nora is the dancer that is desperate to find herself rehearsal partner, this is her big chance in class and she learns more from Tyler to break out of the traditional style that has been left for her to follow. Mac and Skinny are brothers that are Tyler’s best friends who have gotten Tyler in trouble before, with Miles being one of the students that Tyler helps push himself to reach the next level of his career. With Lucy being the best friend of Nora, with her own problems.

PerformancesChanning Tatum proves himself in a leading role here, showing he has the dancing skills to match the troubled outside world role he is taking on, with Jenna Dewan fitting the dancing with ease, showing us the conflict her character is going through. The supporting performances are strong through the film, getting the serious moments when they need to, along with moments of comic relief.

StoryThe story here follows a directionless young man who finds himself doing community service in a dance school, where he finds motivation to fight for something when he teams up with one of the dancers in the school. This is a story that plays into the idea that people can change if they find their motivation in life, people can support people from different worlds, ones that people wouldn’t have expected to find them from either. It shows that if you don’t try, you might not even get a chance you deserve in life, no matter where you come from.

Crime/RomanceThe crime side of the film shows us just where Tyler has come from, showing how he needs to get things back on track if he is ever going turn his life around, with the romance, showing us what could happen when you least expect it.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the different backgrounds Tyler and Nora have come from.

Scene of the Movie – The performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nora’s outside the school life isn’t as inspiring to change as Tyler’s.

Final Thoughts This is an entertaining dance movie that shows us that you can learn to change by taking a chance from life.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – X – Superman Returns (2006) Movie Review

Superman Returns is The Best Superman Movie

We are going under X because of the Lex Luthor Character, more clutching at straws and all.

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris (Screenplay) Jerry Sigel, Joe Shuster (Characters)

Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Sam Huntington

Plot: Superman returns to Earth after spending five years in space examining his homeworld Krypton. But he finds things have changed while he was gone, and he must once again prove himself important to the world.

Tagline – On June 30, 2006! Look Up In The Sky!

Runtime: 2 Hours 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Superman Returns starts when ruthless businessman Lex Luthor (Spacey) unleashes something new onto the world causing a massive blackout, forcing Superman (Routh) to save the day, including his co-worker Lois Lane (Bosworth), with the latest daring rescue, Superman is the talk of the world, putting the attention on Superman, while Lex Luthor is continuing his grander plan.

As Clark tries to get closer to Lois, Lex’s masterplan is revealed, forcing Superman to go into battle against one of his smartest opponents to save the world.

Thoughts on Superman Returns

Characters & Performances – Superman has been helping the humans for years now, he has crossed paths with Luthor in the past and now he is being forced out of his isolation to deal with the latest threat, while still trying to manage his own life as a human, searching for the connections he longs for. We get the most human version of Superman here, where he will continue to help and will deal with the problems any human will go through. Brandon Routh is very good in this role, in both sides of it, the out of place human as well as the superhero side of everything. Lois Lane is the reporter that has go close to Superman before and is the one he will do anything to help, they have a spark, while she has her own family, she always wants to make her own way as a reporter, looking for a story that will standout over the rest of the reporters. Kate Bosworth does well in this role, even if a large part of her role is being thrown around. Lex Luthor is the known master criminal that swindles money off people for a living, now he has a new plan, one that will be designed to make him rich that he could ever imagine, he brings a human threat to what Superman will need to face. Kevin Spacey is the star of this show, he is devilish evil with his character that we know will always be looking for more. Parker Posey does get some of the funniest lines in the film as Kitty Kowalski, one of Lex Luther’s inner circle, her delivery is so dead pan it helps things hit home taking away from the serious side to everything.

StorySuperman Returns takes us into a world where Superman has been around a while, as he needs to come out of hiding to stop Lex Luthor once again, whose new plan is pure evil and greed. This was designed as a reboot of the iconic hero, it works very well, moving away from the campy side the story had headed towards, bringing a more grounded and serious tone to everything. We do get the drama about the relationship between Superman and Lois, which does hold the bigger picture down, but the desire to take on evil, comes from well through the film.

ThemesSuperman Returns uses the action sequences to give us a large moment, including the airplane shuttle, which is brilliant, along with the plan that Lex has, which creates a whole new playground for the action to take part in.

Final Thoughts Superman Returns is one of the most enjoyable Superman movies out there, never getting to be built into the greatness we could well have seen.

Kidulthood (2006) Movie Review

Director: Menhaj Huda

Writer: Noel Clarke (Screenplay)

Starring: Aml Ameen, Red Madrell, Noel Clarke, Adam Deacon, Jaime Winstone, Femi Oyeniran, Nicholas Hoult

Plot: A day in the life of a group of troubled 15-year-olds growing up in west London.

Tagline – Before adulthood comes…

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Streets Trouble 101

Story: Kidulthood starts as we follow the school teenagers in a west London school, where Sam (Clarke) controls people, Trife (Ameen) is starting to break into the drug world, while Alisa (Madrell) is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, where the bullying through the school is shocking to see, with the gang mentality leading to the suicide of one of the students.

We follow the day after the suicide, where Alisa and Becky (Winstone) go on a bender, drinks and drugs, while Trife, Jay (Deacon) and Moony (Oyeniran) are getting into trouble with their rivalry with Sam.

Thoughts on Kidulthood

Characters – Trife or Trevor does make drugs with his time in school, he learns his ex is now pregnant and is getting tired of the gangs around the area, causing the problems in his life, Alisa is pregnant after teaching on Trevor, she doesn’t know who the father is and is still in the shock of seeing a friend from school commit suicide. Sam is the biggest bully in the school, he pushes people into doing his dirty work and forces people to do what he wants with intimidation. We do see the friends of Trevor’s who are more trouble than they seem to be, the selfish friend Becky who doesn’t help Alisa through her struggle and the people that are the brunt of the abuse. Most of these characters are not likable, while Trevor and Alisa are trying to escape this world for the better, they are still making the naïve decisions.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are strong with Aml Ameen, Red Madrell and Noel Clarke bring the strength and weaknesses in their characters to life, showing just how aggressive the world around them is.

StoryThe story here follows the day in the life of a group of teenagers in the aftermath of a suicide of a bullied classmate, showing how they are out of control and making mistakes which will stop them escaping the vicious circle. This story does take focus on how the gang mentality in the London can take a hold on young people, forcing them to make bad decisions in life which will ruin their chances of a future. We do have a couple of important themes, first is the underaged pregnancy and how to deal with it, while the suicide doesn’t get enough attention, because nobody seems to get to pay for their behaviour for this incident. The themes of growing up don’t seem to get the full attention because the young people seem like they are in a position where they simply can’t be saved from.

Crime/Romance The world the characters are in shows us just how the criminal behaviour of the youngsters is in , will continue to grow, with the romance being what could have been, with everyone seemingly willing to cheat on each other.

SettingsThe film uses the London setting to show how the gangs are always protecting and shows the divide between people in such a close area.

Scene of the Movie – The party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The characters.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at how the neighbourhood would act around London, even though it wants to try and tackle bigger issues, it fails to address them well enough.

Overall: Interesting Vision of London.