Every Secret Thing (2014) Movie Review

Director: Amy Berg

Writer: Nicole Holofcener (Screenplay) Laura Lippman (Novel)

Starring: Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Nate Parker, Common

Plot: A detective looks to unravel a mystery surrounding missing children and the prime suspects: two young women who, seven years ago, were put away for an infant’s death.


Tagline – Don’t look away for even a second.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Excellent Mystery Thriller

Story: Every Secret Thing starts when Alice and Ronnie a young girls kill a baby, now they are 18-years-old Alice (Macdonald) is living back with her teacher mother Helen (Lane) who is trying to help get her back into society, while Ronnie (Fanning) gets back into work. When another toddler goes missing Nancy Porter (Banks) and Kevin Jones (Parker) a leading the investigation.

As the disappearance starts becoming lengthy, the detectives turn to Alice and Ronnie for answers, believing they might have an answer, which leads to a look into the past event which left the girls in juvenile hall, will the past unlock the truth and save the missing child?

Thoughts on Every Secret Thing

Characters – Alice is one of two girls that was sent away for a baby’s death, she has always been an outside and social awkward child, now 18, she wants to be part of the world, only she finds herself being lonely, distant from her mother and still in belief that she wasn’t involved with original death. Ronnie is the other girl that was sent away, she does seem like somebody that would get in trouble more and takes the baby, she has put her life back in order, while still coming off shady and broken. Helen is Alice’s mother, she is a teacher that has always wanted to help young people develop, but she struggles to get through to her own daughter. Nancy Porter is leading the investigation, she was the detective that discovered the baby and now she wants to learn more about the truth, trying to uncover the years of damage both the girls have and is in a race against time to not find another dead child.

PerformancesDanielle Macdonald gives a star making performance in this leading role, we see such a range in her performance it will leave you mesmerised by her performance. Dakota Fanning is great too, we see how conflicted her character is with the events of the film, while Diane Lane, brings the distant mother to life with ease. Elizabeth Banks is wonderful too, giving us a performance that showed how determined she is get the case closed.

StoryThe story here follows two detectives that must find a missing child, with the two teenage girls who recently got released from juvenile hall becoming the prime suspects as they were locked up for killing a baby. This story shows us plenty, while keeping the truth from us for so long, the story does give us plenty of hints to the truth and by re-watching you will pick up on all of them. We do get to see how mistakes of the past can do two things, break people with guilt or make them embrace their problems becoming a threat to the world. We are left guessing to what the truth will be which is extremely great to see in any crime mystery and everything is played into stories from the past and how people remember them.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of this film is the investigation to the missing child, we see how the clues are uncovered which only dives further into the mystery of the story.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town, which was rocked by the first crime and one that will come together to try and solve the new crime.


Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We get a strange first introduction to detective Jones, only for it to mean nothing.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that will keep you guessing, it has plenty of clues in the story that will give you the truth to everything that is happening in the film.

Overall: Must watch crime mystery.

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – J – Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014) Movie Review

This is under J because of director Jay Oliva.

Director: Jay Oliva, Ethan Spaulding

Writer: Heath Corson (Screenplay) Bob Kane, Lew Schwartz, John Ostrander, John Byrne, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Len Wein, Luke McDonnell (Creators)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch, Matthew Gray Gubler, Troy Baker, Eric Bauza, Chris Cox

Plot: Batman works desperately to find a bomb planted by the Joker while Amanda Waller hires her newly formed Suicide Squad to break into Arkham Asylum to recover vital information stolen by the Riddler.


Tagline – Get ready to root for the bad guys.

Runtime: 1 Hour 16 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Bloated, But Great

Story: Batman: Assault on Arkham starts as Batman takes down the Riddler, interfering the arrest by Amanda Waller, which sees her turn to the Suicide Squad, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, King Shark, Captain Boomerang, Black Spider and Killer Frost in an attempt to get their hands on the plans from Joker, who might be ready to take the city down once and for all.

The suicide squad must operate without attracting the Batman’s attention as they look to break into the asylum to break Joker and the Riddler out to make sure the bomb doesn’t become a threat.

Thoughts on Batman: Assault on Arkham

Characters – Batman will always be the central figure for a film set in Gotham, he is the hero that everybody who does something illegal is scared off, no matter what the bigger cause is going to be. He is hunting for the truth and is always trying to stop the squads plan. Deadshot and Harley Quinn are both members of the suicide squad who know they need to elude the Batman, while doing the job they could die doing just for their own freedom. Joker is the man that has planted a bomb in Gotham threatening to blow it up, with the Batman trying to get the truth. With the Riddler knowing the answers to everything, only keeping his answers secret in his riddles. Sadly, neither of the two biggest villains are used enough in the film, instead of us focusing on the suicide squad side of the characters.

StoryThe story here follows the suicide squad as they must elude Batman to go on a daring prison raid to capture the Riddler and stop the Joker. When it comes to comic book movies we like to have a lot going on, this one has so much going on, it makes it so enjoyable, we have countless numbers of iconic characters from the Batman universe here, we aren’t only following the cape crusader, we have the middle of the road characters, the twisted villains, it is like a whose who of characters from this universe and it was a true pleasure to see how everything unfolds, with the darkness and bloodshed not being held back.

Action/CrimeThe action is the big fight sequences, we get glimpse of what each villain or hero can do in combat which also leaves us feeling impressed with the crime riddled city that needs help.

SettingsThe film uses the Arkham Asylum as the main setting, a place that become massive because of the quality of the video game, that also explains why we have so many villainous characters around the place.

AnimationWhen it comes to the animation, nothing looks bad, we know we are going to have a style which isn’t on the par with Disney, but one we can get behind easily.


Scene of the Movie – Everyone Unleashed.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t get enough from the massive cast of characters.

Final Thoughts This is like having every possible villain thrown into one film, only not getting enough time to enjoy their menacing ways.

Overall: Enjoyable.

Tobey Maguire Weekend – Pawn Sacrifice (2014) Movie Review

Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay) Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Steven Knight (Story)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, Lily Rabe, Edward Zinoviev, Alexandre Gorchkov

Plot: Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.


Tagline – In 1972, Bobby Fischer faced the Soviet Union in the greatest chess match ever played. On the board he fought the Cold War. In his mind he fought his madness.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Chess Made Interesting

Story: Pawn Sacrifice starts as a young Bobby Fischer grows up learning chess, his reputation grows and before long he becomes the champion of America. Not happy with just winning in America Bobby (Maguire) wants to become the youngest world champion and take on the Russian players with the world champion Boris Spassky (Schreiber).

After learning how the Russians play, Bobby storms out of the game, knowing he wouldn’t get a chance to win, Paul Marshall (Stuhlbarg) and priest Father Bill Lombardy (Sarsgaard) agree to work with Bobby to put his name back on the map, to one get the showdown with the champion Boris.

Thoughts on Pawn Sacrifice

Characters – Bobby Fischer is an American chess prodigy, he has proven himself in America and wants to conquer the world, it doesn’t take long before he starts learning about the corruption within the game, which will hold him back, he does make himself difficult to work with, always believing he is being bugged by the Russians, storming out at certain moments, his determination to have thing done a certain done the right way, does make things more complicated for his future in the sport. It is clear that Bobby is dealing with a lot of mental issues, which don’t get dealt with properly. Boris Spassky is the Russian Grand Master, current World Champion, that like Bobby is being controlled by his handlers, he just wants to prove himself against the best, which means facing Bobby in whichever style of game possible. Paul Marshall is the man that brings Bobby back to the game, he becomes his manager, making thing happen for the player, however difficult Bobby is to work with.

PerformancesTobey Maguire is wonderful in the leading role, this is one of the movies which does seem to be one of the finally screen appearances in years, which is a shame because of how talented he is. Liev Schreiber is great to watch as the rival chess player, with the fellow supporting cast, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard both giving strong performances.

StoryThe story here follows the rise of chess genius Bobby Fischer as he deals with his own mental health when trying to break down the Russian dominance in the world of chess to become the new world champion. This is an interesting story because it does show how conflicted Bobby was when it came to the game of chess, he did want to become champion, but being in the middle of the cold war, only built up the tension between the nations playing the game too. If we were going to look to learn the full Bobby Fischer story, we will be left disappointed because his life because even more fascinating after the big championship match.

BiopicThe biopic side of this film only shows the build up to the big championship match, where the two heavyweights will come to face each other, instead of the more interesting later steps of his life.

SettingsThe film does show us just how many different locations that could be bugged that would cause the problems for Bobby.


Scene of the Movie – The chess matches.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could learn so much more about Bobby’s life after this big match.

Final Thoughts This is an enjoyable thriller about chess, who would have thought of this beforehand. Tobey Maguire is great to watch through the film.

Overall: Interesting Chess Thriller.

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – W – Icetastrophe (2014) Movie Review

This is under W because of star, Victor Webster.

Director: Jonathan Winfrey

Writer: David Sanderson (Screenplay)

Starring: Victor Webster, Jennifer Spence, Richard Harmon, Tiera Skovbye, Mike Dopud

Plot: A meteorite brings ice and freezing temperatures, which threatens to harm the residents of a small town at Christmas.


Tagline – Mankind is on thin ice.

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Typical SyFy Disaster Movie

Story: Icetastrophe starts when a small town is struck by a meteorite, Charlie Ratchet (Webster) must try to save the residents of his town, including his son Tim (Harmon), with research student Alex Novak (Spence) heading to the town to investigate, the side effects of the meteorite are shown, as a new flash ice wave covers the land, killing anyone caught in the path, it becomes a race against time to stop the whole area become an frozen wasteland before it is too late.

Thoughts on Icetastrophe

Characters – Charlie is the explosives expert in the town, he finds himself needing to save the town and his family after a freak meteorite strike hits the town covering it in a ice storm, he must save his family and work with a scientist to save the town from complete destruction. Alex Novak is the astrophysicist that had been following the meteorite and is now looking to study what has happened, bringing the expert opinions on how to stop the sudden change they have faced. Tim is the son of Charlie who risks his own life to save his girlfriend Marley, which show how the support cast are involved in small subplots while the bigger event is going on.

PerformancesThe film is led by Victor Webster who has the look of an action hero, with Jennifer Spence as the scientist who is helping, the two are the best part of the film, they don’t get challenged by any means, but for a disaster film we don’t have any truly bad acting, which is often the case for these movies.

StoryThe story here follows a small town that gets hit by a meteorite which brings a devasting ice storm, which is covering the land freezing people instantly, it become a race against time to save the land before it is too late. We know we get big ambitious ideas when it comes to the disasters, this does bring a wild idea to life, even if the peril related scenes are just a repeat scenario. We get the characters you would expect to see in the roles, the reluctant hero, the scientist out to prove themselves, the greed one who makes mistakes and of course the lost teenagers. It plays out like most of them, with the idea being the stand out from what we are seeing.

Action/Sci-FiThe action is more about trying to outrun the ice, the chase scenes don’t feel like they are filled with much peril, with the sci-fi side of the film being surrounding origin of the meteorite.

SettingsThe film does us the small mountain town as the setting, which shows us just how many different beauty spots this town could have.


Scene of the Movie – The warm woods.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The random flare showdown.

Final Thoughts This is everything you would expect from a SyFy disaster movie, it has fun, while not being original in character design, even if the concept is interesting.

Overall: Interesting Concept.

Get on Up (2014) Movie Review

Director: Tate Taylor

Writer: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth (Screenplay) Steven Baigelman, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth (Story)

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Lennie James, Fred Melamed, Craig Robinson, Jill Scott, Octavia Spencer

Plot: A chronicle of James Brown‘s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.


Tagline – The Funk don’t Quit

Runtime: 2 Hours 19 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Strong Performances

Story: Get on Up starts as we see James Brown (Boseman) in different stages of his life, the older famous one, the time he was just starting up and his childhood, where he was raised by his mother Susie (Davis) in a remote cabin in the woods, before his aggressive father Joe (James) returns, once James gets out of his cabin, he makes a good living, before ending up in prison for stealing a suit.

We see the rise of James Brown, with his push to always be seen the biggest name on the show and how his genius for music made him an icon, even if his personal life shows a much darker side to his way of thinking in life.

Thoughts on Get on Up

Characters – James Brown is one of the most influential musicians of the last century, there is no doubt what he did will live on forever. We get to see how James started with nothing, in an abusive childhood with no education, before learning to take the chances thrown his way, trying to make a difference to the world in the spotlight, even if he doesn’t always keep the crowd around him, not always as loyal as he should be. This doesn’t make James look like the most integral person behind the spotlight. Bobby Byrd is the man that gave James a chance to get out of prison, to start something with his singing in gospel, he will stand by James through all the troubles he faces, the bands he goes through, knowing James is the main talent and just being part of this would make him remembered. Ben Bart makes everything happen for James, he tries to help him navigate difficult moments in history, but will help him make the right choices which sees the friendship grow as the success does. Susie is the mother of James, she is forced to leave because of her partner and once he becomes famous wants to come back into his life, while James isn’t willing to let this happen.

PerformancesChadwick Boseman is fantastic in the leading role, he shows that his biopic man, he can bring James Brown to life on stage and in his personal life with ease. Nelsan Ellis is great in his role, showing us that he could provide excellent supporting performances in the film. Dan Aykroyd is strong too, with Viola Davis making a big impact in her scenes in the film.

StoryThe story here follows the life of James Brown, from his poverty like childhood, to his international success in the music industry, we see his ideas on wanting to make a change and just what it will do to the people that helped him get to the top. One of the biggest weaknesses in the film here comes from the early time jumps, we are constantly jumping between moments, which doesn’t help the story telling process. This story also doesn’t paint James as a nice person away from the spotlight, even if he was always trying to achieve something more from his career. The story does try to ram too much into the film, which does make it hard to understand each moment of his life.

Biopic/MusicThis does show a lot of his life, it doesn’t help us get invested in just how much of an impact each moment was. The music can’t be questioned with his hits playing through the film with every beat we know.

SettingsThe film creates some of the biggest stages of James career, never looking like we aren’t in the correct time period.


Scene of the Movie – The performances.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The time jumps.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book biopic, it has wonderful performances and the music you would expect to see, though we do cram too much in for everything to run smoothly.

Overall: By the Books Biopic.