Big Miracle (2012) Movie Review

Director: Ken Kwapis

Writer: Jack Amiel, Michael Begler (Screenplay) Tom Rose (Book)

Starring: John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore, Ted Danson, Tim Blake Nelson, Stephen Root. Andrew Daly, Ahmaogak Sweeney, Kristen Bell, Vinessa Shaw

Plot: In small-town Alaska, a news reporter recruits his ex-girlfriend – a Greenpeace volunteer – on a campaign to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Big Miracle starts when local reporter Adam Carlson (Krasinski) doing a story around Alaska, he finds himself finding a big story, three grey whales trapped in the ice. When the story grabs the attention of America, with Rachel Kramer (Barrymore) the ex-girlfriend and Green Peace activist looks to make help, with oil driller J.W. McGraw (Danson) seeing the PR stunt to help increasing his popularity.

Bringing everyone together for the difficult operation to rescue the whales, the world watches the incredible rescue attempt that will bring more people together.

Thoughts on Big Miracle

Characters & Performances – Adam Carlson is a small time reporter that has been working in Alaska for years, putting together small pieces, getting to know the people. This new story will help him gain the headlines, where he will be doing the right thing for the whales, the people and for his career. John Krasinski brings the charisma to this role, as well as he everyday nice guy figure we all know now. Rachel Kramer is the Green Peace activist that is always caught in a fight for the wildlife of the world. This latest story sees her doing everything she can, working with people she hates to rescue the three whales. Drew Barrymore is great here showing the emotional core behind the determination. We get to see the team effort here, from the oil barrel J.W. McGraw who is always looking for PR stunt before he gets emotionally invested in the saving the whales. The endless amounts of journalists looking for the big story. The locals that must embrace change and the military people involved in trying to make the change.

StoryThe story here follows what seems like a small story of three trapped whales, that become an international story of an unlikely rescue attempt of the trapped whales, that had the world watching what seemed like an impossible task. This is based on the true story that took over the world, seeing how the world would come together in an attempt to rescue three whales, showing the different struggles they must look to overcome along the way. We see how different people’s thinking was put aside for the rescue attempts, letting people learn the different points of view that would end up changing parts of the world forever.

ThemesBig Miracle is a biopic that show the incredible people that came together from different worlds to save three whales, they each have their own reason for being there, with the same goal, to rescue the whales. The locations show us how the freezing temperatures would make this harder for outsiders to adapt too and how the town would look to let them into their lives to learn their culture.

Big Miracle is a heart warming drama that will show us just how much the human race could achieve if they worked together.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – A – Act of Valor (2012) Movie Review

Director: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh

Writer: Kurt Johnstad (Screenplay)

Starring: Rorke Denver, Dave, Sonny, Weimy, Ray, Ajay, Mikey, Roselyn Sanchez, Jason Cottle

Plot: An elite team of Navy SEALs embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent.

Tagline – of their own accord

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Training Montage.

Story: Act of Valor starts when undercover CIA Agent Lisa Morales (Sanchez) is abducted, with a specialist Navy SEALs team look to extract her, Dave, Sonny, Weimy, Ray, Ajay, Mikey the real Navy SEALs show how they would complete a extraction before learning about the bigger picture.

The SEALs return to the field to track down the people that took Lisa in the first place to bring down a new terrorist threat to the world.

Thoughts on Act of Valor

Final ThoughtsThis is a unique take on an action film, we get to see a real Navy SEAL team as they work as a unit, have each other’s back and eliminate threats in the most effective way. By highlighting the abilities of the men, we get to see how people could become more eliminated without anyone noticing the threat coming, while having a more traditional look at how the terrorists around the world operate within the shadows, always having someone more dangerous on top of them. This is a very patriotic movie, showing us how it seems that only America can solve the problems in the world and does suffer from lack of emotional response for the person side of the story. It ends up feeling more like a highlight reel for the Navy over anything fresh that we haven’t seen before.

Overall: Easy to Watch Action.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – U – Dredd (2012) Movie Review

This is under U because of Karl Urban as Dredd.

Director: Pete Travis

Writer: (Screenplay) John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra (Characters)

Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Tamer Burjaq, Domhnall Gleeson

Plot: In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.

Tagline – Judgment is coming

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Dredd starts as we meet Judge Dredd (Urban) the best police officer in the futuristic town, whose power gives him the ability to judge somebody’s crimes. Dredd is assigned a rookie Anderson (Thirlby) who has psychic abilities. Dredd is given the day to see if Anderson can keep up.

The first day will see the pair heading into a block run by drug lord Ma-Ma (Headey) who has just executed people who betrayed her. Dredd and Anderson must enter the most dangerous building in the city and bring an end to Ma-Ma reign of terror before her new SLO-MO drug leaves the building.

Thoughts on Dredd

Characters & Performances – Judge Dredd is the best law enforcement officer in the city, judge, jury and executioners. He is given a rookie to show the ropes, which will see him given out the rules for her to follow, letting her make the decisions, assessing her, while doing his duty. He will always keep his helmet on, being truer to the original content. Karl Urban is brilliant in this leading role, giving us the calm authoritarian character who is always in control no matter what the odds are. Anderson is the rookie with psychic abilities, she isn’t at the level required to be a judge yet. This is her training day, given one shot to prove herself under Dredd. She must use her abilities to help Dredd get through situations he wouldn’t normal be able to brute force he way through. Olivia Thirlby does a great job in this role that goes hand in hand with Urban’s character, she brings the more grounded version of the character to life. Ma-Ma is the drug lord who runs the tower block. If you cross her, she will make you suffer before killing you. Everybody in the building either fears her or respects her, but everyone follows her rules. Lena Headey gives us one of action films best modern-day villains, one that is cold, calculated and ruthless. We do get endless amounts of villains for Dredd to plough through on his way to getting justice.

StoryThe story here follows the legendary Judge Dredd as he takes a rookie under his wing, with the pair finding themselves going into battle against the ruthless drug lord in her tower block filled with criminals who will do anything she says. The story does give us an idea which is easy to follow, two judges against a building full of enemies who will kill for their leader. Each floor with offer up a new problem and while this might well get overshadowed by The Raid, we do get to see just what measure this graphic novel character will go to get the job done.

ThemesDredd brings us an onslaught of action, which just doesn’t stop, we get to see the different floors offering different challenges, bringing different weapons to the battle. We get hand to hand combat, which is as equally entertaining. The singular location shows us just how big the building is, increasing the enemies the Judges must go through. The special effects to show us how the SLO-MO works, is brilliant too, being used to add a new dimension to the fight scenes.

Final Thoughts Dredd is an excellent action movie that should continue to have the following it deserves.

Skin Collector (2012) Movie Review

Director: Julian Richards

Writer: Robert D Weinbach (Screenplay) Brian Harper (Novel)

Starring: Danielle Harris, John Jarratt, Casper Van Dien, Rae Dawn Chong, Brad Harris, Valerie Harper

Plot: Wendy Alden, a young secretary in Portland lacking in self- confidence becomes victim of a savage killer who has claimed the lives of a number of other women. Somehow Wendy finds the resources of courage to fight back and escape.

Tagline – The Perfect Killer Had Met His Match

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Skin Collector starts as the Griffin (Jarratt) a serial killer has started picking off the vulnerable women in Portland, starting to play games with Detective Delgado (Van Dien) and Detective Burdine (Chong), until his latest victim Wendy Alden (Harris) escapes this grasp.

Franklin Rood isn’t going to let Wendy escape him and a dangerous game of cat-n-mouse starts between the two, where Wendy needs to find a way to survive and come out of the shell she has been stuck in.

Thoughts on Skin Collector

Characters & Performances – Wendy is a secretary that does lack her own self-confidence that has just started to come out of her shell, when she becomes the target of a serial killer, needing to fight back and figure out how to survive the situation, she does learn that she has lived a similar childhood as the serial killer, giving her a chance to feel sympathy for him. Danielle Harris in the leading role continues her position as the character that needs to overcome a serial killer, making for someone who can fight back with ease. Franklin Rood is the mild-mannered serial killer that has been working on killing women, with his latest target being Wendy, he shows us just how unstable he is, going from calm to controlling to murderous in an instant. John Jarratt is known for his role in Wolf Creek, which will show us just how easily he can step into a psychotic character. Detective Delgado and Burdine are the two trying to find the serial killer, filling in most of the information about who he really is. Casper Van Dien and Rae Dawn Chong fill these roles well through the film, even if they are mostly filling in the blanks.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman that gets targeted by a serial killer, which will see her needing to finally stand up for herself to fight back and survive the calculated killer. This is a cat-n-mouse style horror thriller, with the killer needing to go through his own routine to get his satisfaction. We get the basic idea of how twisted the killer can be, but we hold back on the violence, we don’t seem to get much time focusing on his process, this is the same for Wendy, we get a phone call to highlight her problems, but otherwise, we don’t see how much damage has been done to her early life, showing the fighting back being more of a revelation. When it comes to the battle between the two, it is all tidy with how it unfold, leading it to everything in the final battle, even if it does seem to end softly for what the killer is meant to have done before.

ThemesSkin Collector is a horror thriller that will have the dark side of the serial killer’s mind, which does have a twisted desire that gets revealed slowly.

Release Date: Feb 15th (DVD & VOD)

Final Thoughts Skin Collector is an easy watch cat-n-mouse style horror thriller with genre queen Danielle Harris shining.

Franchise Weekend – Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012) Movie Review

Director: Shinji Aramaki

Writer: Shinji Aramaki, Shigehito Kawada, Joseph Chou (Screenplay) Robert A Heinlein (Novel)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Luci Christian, David Matranga, Justin Doran, David Wald, Andrew Love, Leraldo Anzaldua

Plot: A black op has gone terribly wrong. Now, Captain Carmen Ibanez and a hardcore trooper famed as Major Henry “Hero” Varro must lead a team of battle-weary troopers to find the missing ship and discover what went wrong.

Tagline – Everyone Fights. No One Quits.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Great Once the Action Starts

Story: Starship Troopers: Invasion starts as we see how the war on the bugs has continued on, with Captain Carmen Ibanez losing her ship to paranormal general Carl Jenkins, while the soldiers barely escape the ship alive.

Returning home the ship gets a call from Captain Johnny Rico who needs the crew to go on a rescue missing for the very ship Jenkins has taken which has turned dark, with the soldiers agree on one stipulation, that their Major Henry ‘Hero’ leads them despite being under arrest.

Thoughts on Starship Troopers: Invasion

Characters – Carmen Ibanez is the Captain of her own ship, one which she is has lost control of because of people above her command, she wants it back and will do what it takes when the ship goes dark and is in need of rescue. Still the character we know from the very first live-action movie, she will not let anybody hold her back from her part in the war. Johnny Rico assigns the ship to go in search of the dark ship in space, he does answer to others, only here he will need to turn to his old friends to get what is required. Carl Jenkins is the one that has taken the ship, his paranormal warfare department sees hope in taking another queen, only his mistake will lead to the events in the film. Hero is the leader of the solider that has been arrested, they refuse to fight without their leader who will always put his soldiers first. We do get the typical group of soldiers with their own vices, be it macho, sniper skills or religious, every type you could imagine.

StoryThe story here follows the next chapter in the war, seeing how the paranormal warfare unit are looking to us the bugs to the human advantage, only the experiment goes wrong leading them to needing rescuing from a bug infested ship. This is a much darker movie that we are used to seeing, with the events all taking place in a life or death tone like the first, putting most of the action on the ship in space does help contain, showing how the bugs have evolved to deal with human conditions, rather than just their own home world. We do get a lot of baggage in the first 30 minutes or so to introduce all the new soldiers we are likely to see die, to try and give thin backstories for them, but once the mission starts we get everything he need.

Action/Sci-FiThe action plays into the blood spatter that we see through the film, using the sci-fi elements of the space and bugs strengths to the films advantage, easily being the most exciting part of the film.

SettingsThe film does use the settings to keep everything contained on one ship at a time, we see how the soldiers are caught in the middle of a life and death situation where they must fight to survive.

AnimationThe animation in the film does work, it does have a more adult feel, with this being a more adult theme film, which all works for the film.

Scene of the Movie – The new bug.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We do spend too much time meeting all the different soldiers who you know will be disposable.

Final Thoughts This is a darker sequel to the original live action film, it does show the continuing conflict between the three friends from school who have all gone in different directions in the military fields to fight the bugs.

Overall: Darker Sequel.