Skyline (2010) Movie Review

Skyline – Brilliant Special Effects Sci-Fi Film

Director: Colin Strause, Greg Strause

Writer: Joshua Cordes, Liam O’Donnell (Screenplay)

Starring: Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel, Crystal Reed, Neil Hopkins, David Zayas, Donald Faison

Plot: Strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing people outside like moths to a flame where an extraterrestrial force threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the Earth.


Tagline – Soon, our first encounter will become our last stand.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Skyline starts when Jarrod (Balfour) and his girlfriend Elaine (Thompson) head to LA to celebrate with Jarrod’s buddy Terry (Faison). Jarrod learns that Elaine is pregnant and that Terry is planning on offering him a role in LA, leaving him with a big life choice.

That choice will be put on hold when an alien attack happens, one with beaming lights that start to take control of people, the group must think of a way to escape the aliens, with rising tensions as they looks to solve the problem.

Thoughts on Skyline

Characters & Performances – The characters in this film are pretty thin when we look at them. We have Jarrod who is a brilliant mind that is left in a position of learning he is about to become a father and might need to be moving to start a dream career, who was already facing a hard decision before the alien invasion. He might well be quick thinking in his approach, he seems to be the only character that gets a deeper storyline than, girlfriend. Eric Balfour does well with the role that could have seen him break out more in the action genre. Elaine is the newly pregnant girlfriend that hasn’t seen this side of his life before, she is just dealing with the news herself and what it might mean for her own future too. Scottie Thompson does the best she can in this role without having much to work with. The characters really do take second fiddle in this film, which shines on the special effects.

StoryThe story here follows a group of friends in LA that find themselves in the middle of an alien invasion, one that will see the aliens dominate the major cities of the world, taking the humans, we only follow a few people as they look to survive. This does keep the story simple, with the fight to survive against technologically advanced aliens being all we need to follow. We go through the typical routine of thinking of ideas to survive without getting anything original, but again this is about the special effects.

ThemesSkyline is a sci-fi horror that involves an alien invasion, the strongest part as you might have read already, is the special effects, they look amazing with the unique for the time creations of what the aliens are looking like and attacking. The lighting gives us the blinding feeling of when they are around which elevates this above so many films trying to make an impact in this world.

Skyline is a film that is carried by the excellent special effects, which all look brilliant to witness the creation.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – F – Faster (2010) Movie Review

Director: George Tillman Jr
Writer: Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton (Screenplay)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Maggie Grace, Carla Gugino, Mike Epps, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jennifer Carpenter, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Moon Bloodgood

Plot: An ex-con gets on a series of apparently unrelated killings. He gets tracked by a veteran cop with secrets of his own and an egocentric hit man.


Tagline – Slow Justice is No Justice

Runtime:1 Hour 38 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Faster starts when a man known only as Driver (Johnson) is released from prison, running straight to his prized car, driving straight to a location to execute a man in the middle of an office, drawing the attention of detective Cicero (Gugino) and Cop (Thornton).

As Driver continues the rampage against the people that killed his brother and left him for dead, he will find himself being tracked down on an assassin Killer (Jackson-Cohen) who is suffering from an identity crisis, leading to a battle of wits, with bodies left laying everywhere Driver passes through.

Thoughts on Faster

Characters & Performances – Driver has been in prison for years, waiting for his chance to get free and get revenge on the people that betrayed and murdered his brother and left him for dead. He has one thing on his mind, bloodshed, he will not stop going after the people, he doesn’t care who sees him commit the crimes, his relentless nature if the driving force for him, only targeting the people that took his family. This is the first film that Dwayne Johnson did after the family friendly roles, he gets to show the new levels of intensity that help make him a true action star. Cop is the drug addict that is nearing retirement, his addictions are only causing more problems in his life and seeing Driver on his rampage gives him a case he doesn’t want to be involved in. he seems to still be in his role because of the reputation, rather than his current abilities. Billy Bob Thornton does make this character very interesting, as we never know how this character is going to act next. Killer is an assassin hired to kill Driver he has been going through his own identity crisis wanting to find a purpose from his actions, not feeling challenged anymore, he wants to settle down, which is girlfriend wants him to do, but he gets fascinated with trying to capture Driver. Oliver Jackson-Cohen does give us one of the most interesting performances in any assassins, showing us the one that is skilled enough, but not interested enough in completing jobs. This movie does have a big set of characters that will look to either investigate or be in the way of Driver, each one makes sense to the world, with each performance working very well in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a man released from prison that goes on a rampage to track down the people that left his brother dead and him for dead, not stopping until he gets everyone. This is a simple enough story, with the revenge theme in the story working well, we know this is going to become a clean revenge action story, that is going to give us a few twists along the way, which seem to get reflected in the assassin hunting him down, not quite sure what to make of the situation anymore. This is an easy to watch film and will leave us wanting to see more from this world created.

ThemesFaster is an action movie that doesn’t hold back on the shooting, we don’t get into more than one hand to hand combat fight, it is a pure shot and kill to get the message across. We have the fast cars used to show the urgency of the time between the kills, with the different cities and open roads, showing how far Driver must travel to get his revenge.

 

Faster is a high octane action experience that doesn’t relent from the pacing of revenge.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – J – Animal Kingdom (2010) Movie Review

This is under J because of Jacki Weaver’s Oscar nominated performance.

Director: David Michod

Writer: David Michod (Screenplay)

Starring: James Frecheville, Jacki Weaver, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Sullivan Stapleton, Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn

Plot: A seventeen-year-old navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him.


Tagline – Protection, manipulation, morality, survival, loyalty.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Animal Kingdom starts when Joshua (Frecheville) finds his mother having an overdose, which will see him turn to his grandmother Janine (Weaver) who welcomes him into her criminal family with Baz (Edgerton), Darren (Ford) and Craig (Stapleton) who start to try and teach him how they operate for Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody (Mendelsohn).

When the family starts clashing with the police, Josh finds himself in the middle of helping his estranged family and working with the cops to bring the family down.

Thoughts on Animal Kingdom

Characters – Josh has lived with his mother that has been on drugs most of his life and now she has overdosed leaving him without family needing to turn to the estranged one he hasn’t had contact with, he is thrown into a world of drugs and crime, where he isn’t willing to take part in, but can’t escape without being left alone. Pope is the most aggressive member of the criminal family, often left out of family get togethers, but always able to manipulate the family members into committing the crimes. Janine is the grandmother that lets her boys do the dirty work for the business, without needing to get involved herself, keeping herself clean from any police action. Detective Nathan Leckie is the man that tries to help Josh escape this world, looking to bring the family down once and for all.

PerformancesJames Frecheville in the leading role does bring us the reclusive performance that doesn’t know how to grief and how to escape this world well, with star making performances in the supporting roles for Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver.

StoryThe story here follows a young man that finds himself drawn into a criminal family after his own mother dies, needing to figure out what is best for himself in a world where he doesn’t know if there is an safe way out. This does fall into the set of stories which will see the new person thrown into a world they are not used to, needing to figure out how to survive it, when any wrong move could see him killed. We are kept guessing with plenty of shocking moments we don’t see coming happening, which highlights just how deadly this world is for everyone involved. We do however have some strange choices as to why certain characters commit certain decisions.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows just what the family does get up to and how they will do anything to keep their operation running smoothly.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us how drug dealer can be operating in any neighbourhood, how they will feel like part of the community, grabbing the attention when the police do get involved.


Scene of the Movie – We need to talk, Pope and Josh.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain moments with Pope feel like they could have even more shock value to them, with what goes through his head.

Final Thoughts Animal Kingdom is a gritty crime drama with excellent performances that help elevate everything we see along the way.



ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – B – Beginners (2010) Movie Review

Director: Mike Mills

Writer: Mike Mills (Screenplay)

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller

Plot: A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer and that he has a young male lover.


Tagline – This is what love feels like.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Charming

Story: Beginners starts as Oliver (McGregor) tells us about his life and that after his mother’s death, his father Hal (Plummer) comes out as gay, looking to explore this side of his life, before dying, leading to Oliver needing to move on with his life, while remember the change in his father’s life.

When Oliver meets Anna (Laurent) at a party the two hit it off, Oliver finds someone new to confined in, while trying his hardest to care for his dad’s dog who is feeling just as heartbroken as he is.

Thoughts on Beginners

Characters – Oliver has seen his life has change, first his mother died, then his father came out as gay, he does fully support him, only things take turn when his father gets cancer, we see how he helps him through his treatment and tries his hardest to move on with his life after he is gone, falling in love with a new woman, while learning to keep his father’s dog with him, never wanting to be alone. Hal is Oliver’s father, he did love his wife, only he was secretly gay until her death, he looks to explore the world he couldn’t enter while married, he takes his cancer news in with ease, never letting it get to him, while trying to make up for lost time. Anna is the new woman that walks into Oliver’s life, she gives him someone to open up to about his struggles in life as he looks to get his own life back on track, she has her own stories which will make her easy for Oliver to connect too.

PerformancesEwan McGregor in the leading role shows us the full grief levels he is going through during the film, we see the struggles before and after his father’s death. Christopher Plummer is wonderful to watch, showing us how someone can make the most out of limited time, with Melanie Laurent complete the main cast with a strong performance throughout.

StoryThe story follows a man that is dealing with changes in his father’s life, both before and after his death, where he looks to put his own life back together. This does have two main timelines to follow, which we blend between effortlessly, both rely on Oliver having that other person in his life, be it his father or Anna. It does show us how difficult moving on with life can be for someone when it comes to death. It does show how moving forward will see change and that you never know who will coming into your life.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy comes from how everything is played out, with the strange relationship with the dog, with the romance being shown to bring things back to life for Oliver.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just how Oliver’s life has gone through, giving us a look at how he lived and now wants to live.


Scene of the Movie – Conversations with the dog.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nothing.

Final Thoughts This is a charming and enjoyable movie that could be used to show just how difficult loss can be in life.

Overall: Enjoyable

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – K – All Good Things (2010) Movie Review

We are under K because of the star Kirsten Dunst.

Director: Andrew Jarecki

Writer: Marcus Hinchey, Marc Smerling (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella, Lily Rabe, Philip Baker Hall, Michael Esper, Diane Venora, Nick Offerman

Plot: Mr. David Marks was suspected but never tried for killing his wife Katie who disappeared in 1982, but the truth is eventually revealed.


Tagline – The Perfect Love Story. Until It Became The Perfect Crime.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Lacks Focus

Story: All Good Things starts as we see David Marks (Gosling) the son of a property tycoon Sanford (Langella) who meets Katie (Dunst) who eventually becomes his wife, only for the perfect marriage to take a turn when Katie learns David doesn’t want to have kids.

The marriage continues to spiral out of control after Katie gets pregnant, with her disappearance being the reason why David sees his own life come under the spotlight, with people believing her murdered her and he doesn’t help his case.

Thoughts on All Good Things

Characters – David Marks comes from a property tycoon family who could have walked into any job for his father, he decides to go away from this lifestyle, dating a woman before marrying her, which shows a darker side to his nature, or is he just cold, he are never let into see if he is a calculated person or just somebody dealing with the issues bought on from his mother’s suicide. Katie is the woman David marries, she does give up her career and after learning of his own life decision, spirals out of control with drinks and drugs, before disappearing without a trace. Sanford is the father of David who wants him to remain in the wealthy lifestyle following in his footsteps over anything else. We do see many other people who are involved in the lives who have been involved in the lives even if the names have been changed.

PerformancesWe have a brilliant cast on paper here with Ryan Gosling in the leading role, where he really doesn’t show his skills, Kirsten Dunst does the most with her character, only it seems we don’t get the right outlet for the character, where we also seem to waste Frank Langella too.

StoryThe story follows a heir to a successful business that marries a women his family don’t approve of, only for her to go missing, with him being the prime suspect in the disappearance. The problems mount up quickly in this story because we do spend way too much time focusing on the early relationship and not enough time on the investigation to what might have happened, this is clearly the more interesting side of the story that we need to get watching before needing to care that much about their relationship as a hole.

Crime/Mystery/RomanceThe crime is more about if, buts or maybes, with no concrete evidence to what might have happened, which shows in the mystery not being solved in the film, while the romance starts strong before showing why it might not have worked out.

SettingsThe film uses a couple of settings which shows us the luxury lakeside house the couple have, while showing how they interact with people on a social occasion in the big parties.


Scene of the Movie – Strange new friendship.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not enough focus on the disappearance investigation.

Final ThoughtsThis does feel like a film that gets caught up following the wrong part too easily, we don’t seem to get any clues to what did actually happen, just following the man’s life for large parts both before and after the disappearance.

Overall: Disappointing mystery.