Jack O’Connell Weekend – Starred Up (2013) Movie Review

Director: David Mackenzie

Writer: Jonathan Asser (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack O’Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend, Sam Spruell

Plot: Eric Love, 19, is locked up in prison. On first day he assaults another inmate and several guards. He’s offered group therapy and his dad, an inmate as well, tries to talk sense into him. Can he be rehabilitated?


Tagline – We’re all different on the inside

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Gritty and Hard Hitting

Story: Starred Up starts as Eric (O’Connell) first arrives in prison, put in a single room being classed as high risk, he knows the tricks of the trade to get the things he needs that aren’t given out, it doesn’t take long before he gets into trouble, assaulting a fellow inmate and guards who try to restrain him.

Oliver Baumer (Friend) does see that Eric needs help to control his violence and offers to help him improve himself to stand a chance of getting back into society, which becomes more difficult with Eric’s father Neville (Mendelsohn) being somebody that does seem to run the prison.

Thoughts on Starred Up

Characters – Eric Love has been transferred from a young offenders prison to an adult one, he is violent with a short temper that can see him get into more trouble than he is already in, in this prison his distant father looks down on his decisions, while being offered a chance to learn to calm down in therapy, he is at the crossroads, where he must learn where to continue his violent ways or learn to become a better person and make up for his mistakes. Neville is his father and is one of the men that runs the prison from the inside, he wants to see his son clean up his act, but not get involved with any gang, he is racist in nature and wants to learn more about the therapy his son is on. Oliver is a man that is trying to help the angrier inmates by trying to get them to discuss their problems in group instead of seeing them fight for the sake of it, he is the one that will stick up for Eric.

PerformancesJack O’Connell gives a breakthrough performance here one that shows his ability to play the prisoner with problems, with glimpses of what he could have more of a serious character. Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend both shine in the supporting roles too.

StoryThe story follows a young offender being sent to an adult prison where he finds himself needing to navigate a new set of gangs that are looking to have control of the prison and it isn’t long before he gets himself in trouble. This story does show us just how difficult the system can be for the people of Eric’s age who never knew better and will continue to make the mistakes of his father. The prison setting shows us how the story acts along the idea that people will act violent for no reason here, though it would have been interesting to see just what Eric did to get himself locked up in the first place. Deep down this is about a father son relationship that gets to push the true boundaries of everything they never had.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows us just how the violence of criminals will only continue in prison because they are all acting like animals.

SettingsThe film is set in the prison, it shows how the men there will do anything for the position of power over the rest and how if they don’t fight back they will just get killed.


Scene of the Movie – Final incident.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not learning enough about the crimes in the first place.

Final Thoughts This is a hard hitting prison drama that focuses more on the father son relationship rather than what they did in the first place.

Overall: Hard Hitting.

Tobey Maguire Weekend – Labor Day (2013) Movie Review

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer: Jason Reitman (Screenplay) Joyce Maynard (Novel)

Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Tom Lipinski, Maika Monroe, Clark Gregg, James Van Der Beek

Plot: Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Lifeless

Story: Labour Day starts when single mother Adele (Winslet) who has become depressed hiding from the world with her son Henry (Griffith) who is used to her routine, on the latest trip to the store, the pair meet Frank (Brolin) an escaped criminal looking for somewhere to hide out.

Instead of continuing his escape plan, Frank ends up staying with two, as she starts to show Adele a good time, showing he is a nice guy, only the known murder charge left on his head, is only putting a toll on the relationship between Adele and Henry.

Thoughts on Labour Day

Characters – Adele is the depressed single mother that has seen her husband leave and start a new life, leaving her with their only son, she doesn’t like to leave the house and when she does, she will follow a strict routine, until Frank starts to show her something different in life. Frank is a criminal who escaped from prison while receiving medical treatment, he uses Adele and Henry to hide out, where he shows himself to be a nice person capable of being part of a family, giving Adele hope she never imagined. Henry is the teenage boy that has been helping his mother through her struggles, he does spend one day a week with his father and now he is starting to find himself in a position where he might be getting replaced by Frank, leading him to feel insecure about his own future with his mum.

PerformancesA film that has Kate Winslet in the leading role should be elevated, while her performance does this, she can’t save the film, neither can Josh Brolin who fails to make the big impact required. Gattlin Griffith does well for the youngster next to the big names, being the most interesting of the characters in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a depressed single mother that takes in a convict on the run and the two start to fall in love, helping her get out of her slump in life. This story isn’t the most interesting with the idea being that two people from different worlds could make each other happy even though we can see how many problems them being together could have with them being together. The story is told from a grown up son’s point of view, which shows how at the time he doesn’t understand everything, but now he understands everything that is going on.

RomanceThe romance side of the film shows the two falling in love slowly despite being in different stages of life.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the family home, with Frank being unable to be seen outside of the house, this keeps everything together for what is going on without needing the usual over the top romantic gestures.


Scene of the Movie – Cooking.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Pacing.

Final Thoughts This is a dull romantic drama that even with a-list stars, just doesn’t save this from being enjoyable.

Overall: Dull throughout.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – O – Olympus Has Fallen (2013) Movie Review

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt (Screenplay)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Rick Yune, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell

Plot: Disgraced Secret Service agent (and former presidential guard) Mike Banning finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack; using his inside knowledge, Banning works with national security to rescue the President from his kidnappers.


Tagline – When our flag falls our nation will rise. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Action-Packed Thriller

Story: Olympus Has Fallen starts after disgraced secret service agent Mike Banning (Butler) has found an office job near the White House after failing to save President Benjamin Asher’s (Eckhart) wife after an accident. With the President holding talks with the South Korean Prime Minister, Washington comes under attack with the President finding safety is the bunker, only to learn known terrorist Kang (Yune) has been planning this attack for a long time.

Mike Banning finds his way into a battered White House to help save the President’s son first before looking to rescue the President with his only communication being from the current leaders of the country, can he save the day from this ruthless terrorist.

Thoughts on Olympus Has Fallen

Characters – Mike Banning was once the President’s closest friend in the secret service, the one his trust, he lost this trust after an accident sees Mike choosing to save the President over his wife (even though that is his job). He is left disgraced, but always ready to protect his country and his president, which he will have to do today, showing off all of his military training to take on the full army of enemies stood in his way. Mike is clearly designed to be like John McClane too, with how he goes about dealing with the enemies. President Benjamin Asher is a much-loved President, he is looking to help South Korea with the problem they are facing from the North only to find himself held captive, he doesn’t want to see his team injured or killed, forcing them to help give away the codes Kang wants, trying to prove America won’t negotiate with terrorists. Kang is the terrorist that has been known to the world by name, never face, until today, he takes over the White House with his men and wants the President to help him withdraw forces in the oceans around South Korea, he isn’t afraid to kill people to get what he wants and will make the President watch too. Speaker Trumbull takes control of the country with the President and Vice-President held captive, he must help make the difficult decisions which could see people killed.

PerformancesGerard Butler is intense as the action hero, we know he is always going to be strong in these type of films and here is no different. Aaron Eckhart as the president is always going to be a good choice because he does have a calming presence which we saw in places during The Dark Knight. Rick Yune as the villain is strong showing his cold side through the film, while Morgan Freeman does lead a strong cast through the table of power.

StoryThe story here follows a disgraced secret service agent that will get the chance to redeem his name after the President is taken hostage in the White House by a terrorist. This is a pure action film, it does everything that we saw in the likes of Die Hard, with one man needing to do everything he can to save the hostage, which just so happens to be the President. We don’t get many twists or turns along the way, with everything just being what we need to keep us guessing to what will happen next, because we know Mike isn’t going to be losing along the way. The side of the story which does shine, comes from just how deadly the terrorists are by how many people they are willing to kill.

Action The action in the film does include large scale destruction with bodies flying everywhere, we do calm this down with a much more scaled down approach within the walls, but this is still showing us how good Butler is at action.

SettingsThe film is set in the White House, one of the safest places and hardest to break into, this does help show how dangerous this situation has become because the people being held hostage have the power to destroy the world.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the special effects, this could well be the weakest part of the film because we see a clearly CGI attack happening from the outset, which looks like it has dated badly.


Scene of the Movie – The attack might well have CGI issues, but the scale is brilliant.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Seems too easy to pull off.

Final Thoughts This is a pure fun action movie that easily knows what it is, with it being action packed fun, it is one man verses an army which is all we need at times.

Overall: Big action spectacle.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourite Films – C – The Conjuring (2013)

ABC Film Challenge

Favourite Films

C

The Conjuring

Why I’ve Picked this choice – The Conjuring was the first instalment of the Warren movies, showing the story of the paranormal investigators that solves cases from all over the world, with the most famous being the Annabelle doll, we only get a fleeting visit to how the couple get the doll itself, with the story having focus elsewhere. The Warren’s are asked to help with a new case about a farmhouse with a new family moved in, that soon start getting haunting events. Where the haunting start tame and become more dangerous as the film unfolds. While the Warren’s are always dealing with the ideas of how the media report about them and their work. We do have some excellent scare moments, showing James Wan is easily one of the best horror directors in the business. The hand clapping the light out and the demon in the hand mirror are two of the great moments in the film.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)

logoDirector: Don Scardino

Writer: Jonathan M Goldstein, John Francis Daley (Screenplay) Chad Kultgen, Tyler Mitchell, Jonathan M Goldstein, John Francis Daley (Story)

Starring: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Jim Carrey, James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin, Jay Mohr

 

Plot: A veteran Vegas magician tries to revive his career after his longtime partner quits, he gets fired from his casino act, and an edgy new “street magician” steals his thunder.

 

Verdict: Magical fun?

 

Story: We start by following our young Burt Wonderstone as he deals with school bullies, neglectful parent and meeting his partner as he gets his first magic kit. We fast forward till when they are hits in Vegas with their partnership shining through all their hard work. After ten years of doing the same show over and over their friendship is wearing thin. When a new street magician comes along with his new era of magic the two friends have to start upping their game by embracing the new era of magic and give up their old act. After their big act goes horribly wrong the friendship ends but Burt wants to continue his act as a solo artist. After Burt’s career hits rock bottom he tries everything to make his comeback.

This story has a very real look at how the magic scene has been changing over recent years, it looks at how the pure magic show has become out dated with the new edgy magic. We also look at how you should be respecting the people who opened the door to a talent. This all comes together to make an original idea even if it plays out like something we have already seen. It lets the comedic actors do what the fans of theirs will enjoy but in the end doesn’t let them show off all their skills. (6/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Steve Carell: Burt Wonderstone magician who is so caught up in his own success and after a new magician becomes an overnight sensation Burt has to learn to cope with the new era of magic. This gives Steve the basic for him to use his comic skills but he never really goes anywhere original. (6/10)

 burt

Steve Buscemi: Anton Marvelton partner with Burt who is the man behind the tricks but after the friends go their separate ways he tries to help the world. Steve shows that he can fit into many different types of roles and his comic timing as an awkward character always comes off. (7/10)

anton

Olivia Wilde: Jane dragged into becoming the assistant of the pair and has to overcome her stage fright to but still feels out of place on stage with the act. Olivia continues her rise as a constant solid supporting actress. (7/10)

 jane

Jim Carrey: Steve Gray new street magician whose new extreme magic changes the game in the business, but his over the top tricks will push the old school magicians to go to their next levels. Jim takes a step back as the edgy magician role where he gets to have plenty of fun at how silly that type of magician can look. (7/10)

 steve

Support Cast: All of the supporting cast add something to the overall storyline, be it the boss in Vegas, or other magicians who help Burt find his way again.

 

Director Review: Don Scardino – Don does a solid job with directing the film using clever ideas for the magic and manages to keep it all at a fun level. (6/10)

 

Comedy: Has a few laughs but nothing outrageously funny. (5/10)

Settings: Vegas makes for a great setting for the film as it shows how the magicians have reaches their dreams and want to get it back. (9/10)

Suggestion: This is one to try, it isn’t the funniest film but the fans of the actors will enjoy this. (Try It)

 

Best Part: The final trick

Worst Part: Some of the Steve Gray tricks are awkward.

Believability: It looks at the change in real magic which is real but the rest is a little bit too much to believe. (5/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $22.5 Million

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

Tagline: Abracatastic!

 

Overall: Magic, Stars but not Sparkle

Rating 60