S. Darko (2009) Movie Review

Director: Chris Fisher

Writer: Nate Atkins (Screenplay) Richard Kelly (Characters)

Starring: Daveigh Chase, Briana Evigan, James Lafferty, Ed Westwick, Walter Platz, John Hawkes, Bret Roberts

Plot: Donnie Darko’s little sister Samantha and her best friend Corey are on a cross-country road trip, but soon find themselves entangled in a dangerous glitch in the time-space continuum.

Tagline – What Would You Do If You Knew The Future?

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Pointless Sequel

Story: S. Darko starts seven years after the events of Donnie Darko, Samantha (Chase) his little sister has grown up to become a lost soul in the world, drifting with Corey (Evigan), still struggling with the grief of what happened to her brother’s unsolved death. The two women find themselves in a small country town while their car is getting fix.

As the two spend the time in the town, they learn about the secrets, including the estranged war veteran known as Iraq Jack (Lafferty) who is considered a danger in the local area, though he starts getting visits from Samantha talking about the end, will the rest of the town’s secrets get revealed.

Thoughts on S. Darko

Characters – Samantha is the younger sister of Donnie Darko, she has seen her family destroyed by what happened to him, seeing her left alone in the world, drifting with her friend, she has always been spaced out, but now she starts to experience the same visions that Donnie once did, sleepwalking and visiting people with warnings of an impending doom coming to this town. This is a strange twist for the character that starts of shier and more innocent, but soon is trying to find the truth about her own visions. Corey is the confident of the two friends, she likes to party and flirt, which has seen her getting tired of Samantha’s awkwardness. Iraq Jack is a war veteran that has been branded a creep in the town, the police are just waiting to blame him for any crime to get rid of him, but he has a story to tell, one that Samantha can connect too. Randy is the local bad boy that befriends the two girls, he has lost his brother and this has turned him to drink for comfort, while he battles his own demons once the girls arrive in the town.

PerformancesDaveigh Chase is the only actors to return to the franchise, she doesn’t give us a bad performance, she does look like the innocent lost soul she is meant to be playing. Briana Evigan as the confident flirty best friend is strong through the film, while the rest of the cast really do what they can with the material, this isn’t one that the actors should be criticised for.

StoryThe story here follows the sister of Donnie Darko as she discovers that she has her own journey with the time travelling universe saving rabbit figure that is desperately trying to put the warning out there to this small town. Well that is about as much as I could figure out, much like Donnie Darko, we do get a town filled with secrets that the time travelling is meant to expose or save, but we just try to get an overly diluted version of the genius of the original story. The idea that somebody in this town has their own bunny mask confuses more than anything and by the end you will be left wondering what the point in the story here was, the sequel ideas never seem to understand the uniqueness of the original, losing the direction it is trying to show.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery in this film comes what is going on, though it doesn’t even feel solved by the conclusion of the film, while the sci-fi side of the film follows the idea of time travel.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town which does have a few secrets that people want to keep secret, but are about to be exposed.

Special EffectsThe effects are fine they have the keep the goo water trail that we had in the first film.

Scene of the Movie – Umm, pass.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – So many plot holes.

Final Thoughts This is a sequel that just seems to become pointless, he doesn’t dig any deeper and only confuses the timeline with plot holes everywhere.

Overall: Hopeless Sequel.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – M – Mother (2009) Movie Review

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Writer: Eun-Kyo Park, Bong Joon Ho (Screenplay) Bong Joon Ho (Story)

Starring: Hye-ja Kim, Won Bin, Goo Jin, Je-mun Yun, Mi-seon Jeon, Sae-byeok Song

Plot: A mother desperately searches for the killer who framed her son for a girl’s horrific murder.

Tagline – She’ll stop at nothing.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dark Crime Thriller

Story: Mother starts as we meet young man Yoon Do-joon (Bin) whose mother (Kim) always watches over him, making sure he doesn’t get into trouble, he best friend does tend to get him into trouble and when a 12 year-old girl gets murdered, Do-joon becomes the prime suspect.

With Do-joon in jail waiting for a trial, his mother isn’t as convinced that he is guilty and pleads with the lead detective Je-moon (Yun) an old school friend to help find the truth, before deciding she is the only one that can clear his name.

Thoughts on Mother

Characters – The Mother who never gives her name, always watches over her son, making sure he doesn’t get into trouble, dealing with his disabilities, when he gets accused of murder, she is the only one that will believe he is innocent and goes in search of answers, a determined figure that isn’t going to let her son go to jail for something he never did. Do-joon is the mentally challenged young man that people do take advantage off, his mother does watch over him to try and stop this happening, but he is accused of murder and even here he is taken advantage off, when looking for a suspect. Jin-tae is one man that has always used Do-joon, he is the closest thing to a friend and once he teams up with Mother, he starts helping her find the answers she is looking for, in his own violent way.

PerformancesHye-ja Kim is excellent in the leading role, she shows all the desperation her character is going through, along with the constant worry she is experiencing for her son. Won Bin plays his role with a natural feel, showing us that he can be taken advantage off, but he is capable of everyday function, the rest of the cast are great through the film, never looking out of place in this everyday life that has a sudden incident.

StoryThe story here follows a mother that will do anything to try and get her son of a murder charge, a crime he didn’t commit, but was made to be the prime suspects because of his behaviour of the night of the crime. This does show us how an overprotective mother will do whatever it takes to prove the innocence of their child, how not every crime is cut and dry and shows us just how the bigger story could have many bigger issues going on in the background. We are kept guessing to how this will unfold, with a list of potential suspects growing as the story unfolds, though we never seem to address how the police pushed Do-joon into a confession, knowing he wasn’t capable of understanding the situation fully.

CrimeThe crime is the murder of a 12-year-old girl, we don’t see it, we don’t learn about what was done to them, we just know they were killed and that the killer is still at large, unsure of their own motivation for committing this crime.

SettingsThe film keeps us in a small town, one where everybody does know the strengths and weaknesses in people, one where any news moves quickly and people are always looking for a quick answer.

Scene of the Movie – The visit to the homeless man.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not addressing how Do-joon was treating in his interrogation.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderfully dark crime thriller that brings to life a story about proving innocence at any cost.

Overall: Wonderfully Acted Thriller.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – W – Woochi (2009) Movie Review

Director: Dong-hoon Choi

Writer: Dong-hoon Choi (Screenplay) Ho-min Ju, Park Myeong-Chan (Comic)

Starring: Dong-won Gang, Soo-jung Lim, Yook-seok Kim, Hae-jin Yoo, Young-chang Song, Sang-ho Kim

Plot: Jeon Woo-chi, an undisciplined womanizing Taoist from the Joseon era, ends up in present day Korea causing mayhem with his knack for magic.

Tagline – World beware. The wizard is coming.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fun Fantasy Adventure

Story: Woochi starts as we enter a world of goblins which become life sized animals like rats or rabbits and wizard of ancient times, where Woochi (Gang) a mischievous wizard that has great power to calmly take over the king if he needs to, he is wanted amongst the world with his trusted sidekick Chorangyi (Yoo) who could be transformed into any animal.

On Woochi’s latest quest he comes to save a widow Seo IN-kyeong (Lim) only to find himself in the middle of a battle between the goblins and the pipe that would give them control of the world, with Master Hwa-dam (Kim) the most powerful wizard in the land trying to take the pipe.

When Woochi is trapped within a painting for five centuries, he is summoned back after the goblins have returned for the pipe, now in the modern day Woochi must continue to master his skills to save the world from destruction from the Archgod.

Thoughts on Woochi

Characters – Woochi is a young wizard, he likes to cause trouble with his powers, he believes he is the most powerful wizard in the land, even though he isn’t and wants to use his powers to do the odd criminal action against bad people, he does get put in his place by his master, and trapped in a world that he isn’t prepared for needing to fight for the right thing once again. Seo In-kyeong was the widow in the ancient times, the woman Woochi falls for, in the modern era she is an assistant to an actress who finds herself caught in the middle of the battle, having no knowledge of what could come her way. Hwa-dam is a master wizard, the most powerful in the land, he does become consumed by the power the goblins could give him, wanting the pipe for himself, it is against him Woochi must prove his own power. Chorangyi is the sidekick to Woochi, he is a dog that has been turned into a human, with the ability to turn into other animals too, including the trust horse.

PerformancesDong-won Gang as Woochi is great to watch, he embraces the cocky side to his character which only is meant to make him look foolish, without being a fool and makes us see that the confidence he brings to the role helps his character overcome the odds. Soo-jung Lim gets to play two different characters both from different eras which does make her show off the change in how the woman was perceived between the eras. Yoon-seok Kim does well through the film as the evil master wizard, showing his ability to adapt to both worlds too, while Hae-hin Yoo will bring us the most laughs through the film as the dog figure.

StoryThe story follows a cocky young wizard that gets caught up in the middle of a battle between humans and goblins for control in the world, where he gets frozen in time to continue the battle five centuries later. This is a story that is based in fantasy and does established early on and is one we can take into what we are getting into. The idea of moving to different era does help add something to the story because of the fish out of water idea and with the lack of belief in the former traditions or mythical enemies that could come towards the modern day. We do have a character that needs to learn his place in the world and learn to use his power for good instead of just being cocky about what he could do.

Action/Comedy/FantasyThe action in this film is entertaining, it is big just like you would expect it to be, using the fighting techniques to increase everything, while using elements of the comedy to lighten the mood and the fantasy to show us the world we are in.

SettingsThe film does use to eras for the settings, first the ancient world before hitting the modern era which helps show how out of place the Woochi looks in it.

Special EffectsThe effects are wonderful to see, we get to see just how many are used for the fights which do include the elements being used, transformation through flat services too.

Scene of the Movie – The first goblin fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does have a moment of confusion in the final battle.

Final Thoughts This is a fun adventure that embraces the fantasy world we are entering and with make you laugh along the way.

Overall: Entertaining from start to finish.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – N – Valhalla Rising (2009) Movie Review

This is under N because of the director Nicolas Winding Refn.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Roy Jacobsen (Screenplay)

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Alexander Morton, Stewart Porter, Maarten Stevenson, Matthew Zajac, Gordon Brown, Gary McCormack

Plot: Forced for some time to be a fighting slave, a pagan warrior escapes his captors with a boy and joins a group of Crusaders on their quest to the Holy Land.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: What Was This?

Story: Valhalla Rising starts as One Eye (Mikkelsen) is forced into fights to prove his owner has the strongest fighter, waiting for his chance to escape, he does joined by The Boy (Stevenson) the two go in search for something more, when they join Kare (Lewis) as a Crusader heading to the Holy Land.

As the journey continues, One Eye slowly sees the Crusaders start to lose their own minds, believing they are doing God’s will, with their blind following, while One Eye proves just how dangerous he is.

Thoughts on Valhalla Rising

Characters – One Eye is a slave in early mankind, he is forced into fights, where he always kills the enemies, after he escapes, he becomes a warrior that leads people in a direction they aren’t ready to go down. He doesn’t say a word. Kare, Gorm and Eirik are Christian Vikings from the Crusades looking for the Holy Land, they each believe there is something different in the message sent to them with One Eye, which sees them lose control between themselves.

PerformancesMads Mikkelsen is the highlight of the film here, he keeps his character looking mysterious, while also being deadly. The rest of the cast might handle the dialogue which fills in a lot of the story, they don’t do much else in the film.

StoryThe story follows a slave kept for fighting that breaks free going on his own adventure leading a group of Crusaders into the depths of a place they haven’t been to before. This is a story that doesn’t seem to get very deep, with most of the story being travelling and see how blind the Crusaders would be in their beliefs and see one man break free and becoming a leader, the ending will leave you scratching your head though.

Action/FantasyThe action in the film follows the fight sequences that One Eye goes through, though a lot of action is being held back from what could happen, with the fantasy side of the film showing us just how the world doesn’t seem as real as the characters believe it is.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the new discoveries that the character go on along their journey.

Special EffectsThe effects are used for the brutality of the fights, which show us just what is going on in the fights.

Scene of the Movie – One Eye’s first fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – There is a lot of walking.

Final Thoughts This isn’t the most engaging film you will see, it seems to have plenty of walking and symbolism around the early era of the Crusades.

Overall: Something or Nothing.

Michael Caine Weekend – Harry Brown (2009) Movie Review

Director: Daniel Barber

Writer: Gary Young (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles, David Bradley, Iain Glen, Sean Harris, Plan B, Jack O’Connell

Plot: An elderly ex-serviceman and widower looks to avenge his best friend’s murder by doling out his own form of justice.

Tagline – The law has limits. He doesn’t.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense and Gritty

Story: Harry Brown starts as we meet mild-mannered ex-marine and widower Harry Brown (Caine) who is living on a London estate where his only friend Leonard Attwell (Bradley) spend time in the pub where they play chess at get worried about the local youth that are always causing chaos, from small harassment to murder.

After Leonard is murdered by the gang, the police Alice Frampton (Mortimer) and Terry Hicock (Creed-Miles) visit and inform Harry of the news, which soon turns Harry into wanting his on form of defence, which sees him looking to take on the gangs, while Alice is charged with trying to find the mysterious vigilante.

Thoughts on Harry Brown

Characters – Harry Brown is trying to live a quiet life of retirement, hoping his wife gets better, having one friend on the London estate, after losing his wife and his best friend gets murdered, Harry uses his past as a marine to look for answers, taking out anybody he sees as part of the problem. D.I Alice Frampton has just been transferred to the area, she comes off more approachable than most members of the police force, she is trying to get things done without needing to turn to name calling. She seems to be the only person trying to solve the case. D.S Terry Hicock has been working the estate for years, he has become warned down with the crimes, making him distant in his behaviour towards the incidents. Leonard Attwell is the best friend of Harry’s the two spend most afternoons together in the pub, though Leonard has started to fear for his life more as he is being targeted by the youth in the neighbourhood.

PerformancesMichael Caine is fantastic in the leading role showing a grittier performance than we are used to seeing from him. Emily Mortimer does show us a much calmer officer than we are used to seeing in the police force. In the supporting roles everyone is strong with the younger cast getting their chance to shine.

StoryThe story here follows a retired marine that decides to come and take a stand against the local youth problem that murdered his friend. We have seen the vigilante taking a stand before and it is nice to see a version that still kept the story looking fresh, with a new spin on it, by having a veteran needing to fight back against young people causing troubles, this could reflect real life with the gangs keep giving problems to the local people. The way everything unfolds is given a nice slowly built up moment which shows how Harry’s rage can be seen growing slowly too.

Action/CrimeThe action is kept in a more tame realm, though this is good for the film because it is meant to be a tighter enclosed environment for the events of the film, while the crime shows us just how the youth have started to take over.

SettingsThe film keeps the film in and around the London estate, it shows the different people living on it and how their lives will be affected by what is happening there.

Scene of the Movie – The underground.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The police don’t seem that helpful.

Final Thoughts This is a great action vigilante movie that shows just how far somebody could go to clean up their streets when they see nothing happening, where Michael Caine truly shines.

Overall: Brilliant.