ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – Z – Escape from Planet Earth (2013) Movie Review

We are under Z because of the small Steve Zahn appearance.

Director: Cal Brunker

Writer: Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker (Screenplay) Tony Leech, Cory Edwards (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, Ricky Gervais, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara

Plot: Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet.

Tagline – Earth’s greatest secrets are about to break out!

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fun Little Animation

Story: Escape from Planet Earth starts as we meet two alien brothers, Scorch is the macho brave heroic figure on the planet, while Gary is the smart one that always manages to get Scorch out of trouble. When the two clash after the latest mission, Gary refuses to help Scorch on his latest mission, which sees him get caught on Earth.

Gary decides to go and rescue his brother, only to discover a bigger problem that Scorch finds himself in, where Gary leads the rescue of other alien species being held by humans at Area 51.

Thoughts on Escape from Planet Earth

Characters – Scorch is the big strong heroic alien that the species sees as an ideal, even though he is a clumsy fool, he rushes in head first usually needing someone else to save him, this sees him clash with his brother and end up getting captured. Gary is the smart one of the two, he always helps his brother out, despite having the insecurity of not being seen as much of a hero of his brother. He decides to risk everything in an attempt to save his brother, where he gets to be the hero for the first time. General Shanker is running Area 51 with his own plan for holding different aliens, while Gary and Scorch’s own species have their own dramas back on their home planet.

StoryThe story follows two brothers from a different planet that are going through their own problems, one being the hero of the world, while the other does the work behind the scenes, with then refusing to work together, only for them to realize they need each other to complete the missions at hand. This does show the importance of family, the consumption of greed of power and learning to work together will always get the best results. The story does have plenty of heart, without being one of the most original with the ideas being put into it.

Adventure/Comedy/Sci-FiThe adventure takes the aliens to Earth, a world they haven’t been to before, one where they need to learn from, with the comedy coming from the different alien creations, the sci-fi side of the film shows us that life could be out there on every planet.

SettingsThe film does create the typical settings you would imagine, with the evil laboratory and the colourful open world.

AnimationThe animation in the film looks great without every looking weak, with the style adapting to the slapstick used through the film.

Scene of the Movie – The escape

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too generic.

Final Thoughts This is a fun enjoyable animated movie that gets laughs when needed and brings the heart required from the story.

Overall: Enjoyable Comedy.

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – W – The Way Way Back (2013) Movie Review

Director: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Writer: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (Screenplay)

Starring: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James

Plot: Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

Tagline – Everybody has a summer that changes their life.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Delight

Story: The Way Way Back starts as Duncan (James) is joining his mother Pam (Collette), her new boyfriend Trent (Carell) and his daughter for a summer vacation along a popular location for family summer vacation. Trent doesn’t want to be here, he doesn’t fit in with the crowd looking for time on the beach and becomes friends with the girl in the house next door Susanna (Robb).

With Duncan continuing to struggle to fit in this summer vacation, he meets Owen (Rockwell) the manager of a water park called the Water Wizz. Duncan learns more about his own life when he is around Owen, giving him an escape, he has never experienced before.

Thoughts on The Way Way Back

Characters – Duncan is a child of divorce, he lives with his mother and getting used to her new boyfriend and his family, he doesn’t fit in the crowds they give him, he finds social interaction awkward at times too, when he meets Owen, he gets to come out of his shell for the first time in years as he gets caught in the confliction that his parental relationship causes him. Owen is the manager of the water park, he has a laid back attitude that has seen him create the image of a slacker, but he offers Duncan the life advice he so badly desires to help him through the difficult stage he will be facing, while learning to grow up himself. Pam is the mother of Duncan, she is trying to keep her life together for him and with Trent, she is hoping to start something new, Trent is the boyfriend of Pam’s who isn’t as friendly towards Duncan as he could be, always trying to put him down.

PerformancesLiam James does take the leading role in this star studded cast, he is great showing how awkward teenager through the film, Sam Rockwell is wonderful to watch as always, while the parental figures of Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Allison Janney are great through the film too.

StoryThe story here follows a teenager forced into a summer vacation where he never fits in, only to find somewhere he finally fits in and can look to move on with his life. This story is a brilliant coming-of-age tale, showing us all that you can find your place in the world, from a place you might never imagine. It does show how the children of divorce will always face the uncertainty around how they believe their parents are feeling about them, with the parents hiding certain truths they believe would destroy the child’s mindset. The weakness in the story comes from not truly knowing how long the events of the film take place, with one scene making it seem like it is a month, while others could show it being around a week.

ComedyThe comedy in the film comes from see how certain arguments get blown out of the water and seeing how they Owen reacts to a lot during the film.

SettingsThe film does use the settings to show us how the families require the time in the summer homes as a blow off, with the water park being Duncan’s safe place during this.

Scene of the Movie – Slide challenge.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Just Trent.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderful coming of age story that can hit hard with the emotions as well as the reality of life, balancing the two well, with brilliant performances throughout the film.

Overall: Brilliant Coming of Age Film.

ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – F – Felony (2013) Movie Review

Director: Matthew Saville

Writer: Joel Edgerton (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Wilkinson, Joel Edgerton, Jai Courtney, Melissa George

Plot: An accident involving a young child sets off a chain of events that brings an Australian police officer’s world crashing down.

Tagline – There are two sides to every alibi.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Felony starts after hero cop Detective Malcolm Toohey (Egderton) celebrates his latest success and is driving home after a few drinks, leading to him being involved in an accident where a child is knocked off their bike.

Rookie detective Jim Melic (Courtney) and his experienced partner Detective Carl Summer (Wilkinson) arrive on the scene as they are looking to deal with their pursuit of a paedophile, giving Jim the first hand look at how the cops look after their own.

Thoughts on Felony

Characters & Performances – Detective Malcolm Toohey is a hero cop after his latest capture, taking a bullet to the vest, getting a heroes celebration, only his drive home sees him involved in what looks like a minor knock, leaving a child seriously injured on the road, asked to cover up the story for the benefit of the force, not just himself, he becomes conflicted with what to do as he sees just how serious the situation becomes. Joel Edgerton is great here showing the confliction he is going through after an incident. Detective Jim Melic is the young rookie just on the force, he wants to do everything by the book and starts question both his partners motivations and Malcolm’s story, as he looks to expose the truth, being pushed into trying to do right. Jai Courtney showed us why he is doing well in his career, he brings this character to life with ease, working well with the rest of the cast. Detective Carl Summer is the veteran of the three, he has Jim under his wing, trying to teach him the way the forces act when it comes to dealing with criminals, he has been hunting one down for years and looks to use his experience to help cover Malcolm’s mistake. Tom Wilkinson brings the much needed experience to this role, where he will show us just how important his character is to this world.

StoryThe story here follows a hero detective that is involved in a car accident after a few drinks which will see a young child injured and a rookie detective that is looking to do the right thing, but being shown the force by an experienced detective. This story does dive into the world that will leave us asking questions about what is morally right, each detective has their own problems to get through, each one will offer up bigger questions, be it taking down a known criminal or dealing with an accident which could ruin a career. We are left to see the battle to keep everything together, which will keep us see the bigger questions being asked throughout the film. It is nice to see an engaging drama that will offer the bigger questions, instead of everything be completely cut and dry.

ThemesFelony is a crime thriller that will look at how three detectives will look to decide the outcome of an incident, it will look at the work they have achieved compared to the incident which could have caused more damage to the department. We might get a flashy action chase at the start, we don’t get anymore through the film, focusing more on the discussion going on.

Felony is a thought provoking movie that will keep us asking the same questions between us.

ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – C – Closed Circuit (2013) Movie Review

Director: John Crowley

Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay)

Starring: Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent, Julia Stiles, Ciaran Hinds, Riz Ahmend

Plot: A high-profile terrorism case unexpectedly binds together two ex-lovers on the defense team – testing the limits of their loyalties and placing their lives in jeopardy.

Tagline – They see your every move

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tidy Thriller

Story: Closed Circuit starts with a terrorist attack in London, with the prime suspect locked away before trial, Attorney General (Broadbent) has promised two trials, one for the murders and one secret trial which can’t be heard by the public. Martin Rose (Bana) is taking on the case after the original lawyer’s suicide, he must work with Devlin (Hinds) and on the secret side of the case Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall) who has always followed in her father’s footsteps with her career.

While Claudia and Martin did once have a relationship, which could compromise the case, they have agreed to have zero contact, like the law states. When the pair start their own investigations, they both learn that not everything is the truth and must do the right thing to stay out of the cover up themselves.

Thoughts on Closed Circuit

Characters – Martin Rose is a lawyer bought in to defend the terrorist suspect, it looks like an easy case to start with, he must put his personal mistakes behind him, then decide whether to us the truth which would put his own life in danger and even expose the weaknesses behind the British Intelligence agency. Claudia Simmons-Howe is on the secret defence trial, she and Martin did once have an affair, which should compromise their positions in the case, she is willing to try and fight for the truth more than Martin, as she learns about the consequences that come from trying to get to the truth. The Attorney General just wants a quick case that will put the guilty person in jail for the action. Devlin is the man that is allowed to connect the two lawyers, he is always calm and knows his place in the case.

PerformancesEric Bana in the leading role does seem to be putting on an Orlando Bloom accent through the film, which is strange, but otherwise he does well in the leading role, next to Rebecca Hall that is flawless as always. Jim Broadbent and Ciaran Hinds are always a joy to watch, this is no different, with the supporting cast never looking out of place here either.

StoryThe story here follows two different defence lawyers that are trying to defend a suspect in a terrorist attack, one for public court, the other for secret court, only for the truth to be a lot more alarming as the investigation puts in a different direction. This story shows how the legal response to a terrorist attack would unfold, where a government will always look for a quick answer instead of admitting their own mistakes. We get plenty of twists and turns along the way, which will give us the truth about everything that has happened.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of this movie focuses on the aftermath of the terrorist attack, which seems pretty much cut and dry, until the truth is revealed behind everything, showing how some people can use the criminal actions to cover up the truth, which does come with the mystery behind what might have happened and why it unfolded the way it does.

SettingsWe use London as the only setting here, we get the attack here, with the cover up nature behind it, showing how a busy city will try to cover up everything.

Scene of the Movie – The secret court case.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The ending.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that shows us just how governments will want to cut off the long investigation when it comes from a terrorist attack on a country.

Overall: Impressive thriller.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – L – Like Father, Like Son (2013) Movie Review

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda (Screenplay)

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Lily Franky, Keita Ninomiya, Shogen Hwang

Plot: Ryota is a successful workaholic businessman. When he learns that his biological son was switched with another boy after birth, he faces the difficult decision to choose his true son or the boy he and his wife have raised as their own.

Tagline – At what point does a father truly become a father?

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Like Father, Like Son starts as workaholic businessman Ryota (Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Ono) get the shocking news their son Keita (Ninomiya) was swapped by accident at birth, the couple get to meet the couple Yukari (Maki) and Yudai (Franky) who have raised their son Ryusei (Hwang) in a different environment, with both couple facing the difficult decision on whether to swap the children back after creating memories and emotional bonds with them.

We follow both sides as they go through the legal consequences of what happened and look to make the final decision about their own son’s futures.

Thoughts on Like Father, Like Son

Characters – Ryota is the workaholic businessman that has given his family a secure good life with his commitment to his work, which at times means time away from his family, but he will always make time for his son, when he learns the news, he turns to his lawyer in an attempt to try and adopt them both, trying to use his position of money to solve the problem. Midori is Ryota wife who has an emotional bond with their son, she does feel guilt for not knowing it wasn’t her son, and is willing to try an exchange idea, but isn’t comfortable about giving up their son. Yukari and Yudai are the parents that have been raising the other son, they come from a small business family, where the boy is raised with siblings, without the luxuries that Keita has been living with, they do have a much more joint hands on approach to the parenting process.

PerformancesMasaharu Fukuyama in the leading role is brilliant, he brings us a man that believes he has everything, only to show how it is slowly falling apart in front of his eyes, needing to find the love a parent would have for a child. Machiko Ono shows us how the mother would feel about the change in her life, with Yoko Maki and Lily Franky showing us a different approach to the parenthood approach.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that learn their babies were swapped at the hospital and now they are left with the difficult decision on whether to continue living in the pain of raising someone else’s child or swap the children back only to confuse them about who their real parents are. This is a story that will ask the ultimate question, that will test parenthood to a new level, nobody should be put through, shown in a such complex way, where ever decision is going to change the way everyone involved will live their lives. Such an important story, that almost feels like the best thing to do, would have to not tell anyone the truth and let them all live their lives without knowing the truth.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the different lives both families have, one is well off, where they can afford the luxuries in life, while the other runs a small shop but feel like they are closer.

Scene of the Movie – The final shot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nothing.

Final Thoughts Like Father, Like Son is a beautifully told movie that will give us the ultimate question about parenthood, through a impossible decision.