ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – H – The Hollow One (2015) Movie Review

Director: Nathan Hendrickson

Writer: Nathan Hendrickson (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Alden, Jesse James, Chelsea Farthing, Tony Doupe, Tonya M Skoog, Simon Hamlin, Dawson Doupe

Plot: While searching for her missing father, an emotionally damaged woman confronts her tragic past and a shadowy figure with sinister intentions.

Tagline – What it wants…is inside you.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Too Chaotic

Story: The Hollow One starts when a normal looking family with a mystery about the mother Linda (Skoog) get a sudden visit from something from her childhood, take her and changing Michael (Doupe) the father, two years later the daughters Rachel (Alden) and Anna (Farthing) are trying to move on with their lives.

When Matt is released from prison after the accident, Rachel and Anna get drawn back, only to find their father and the other locals acting very differently than normal, leading them to investigate more about the past of their mother.

Thoughts on The Hollow One

Characters – Rachel is the oldest daughter of the family, on the verge of adulthood, she works when the first incident happens, this sees her move away with her sister, trying to get over the trauma of that night, which still haunts her, when she returns she starts getting message which lead her down a darker path of confronting what happened and learning the truth about her mother. Matt was the boyfriend of Rachel’s who was driving when the accident happened, he served his time in jail and now wants to make up the best way possible, he notices his own father is now acting strange as he helps look for answers. Anna is the youngest daughter and had been working with her father to learn about her mother’s past, she understands the clues better than the rest of the characters involved here. Michael is the father that had been working on learning about his wife, what he discovers only makes things get out of hand.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are not the strongest, mostly because the characters just don’t get enough time to develop through the chaos we are seeing. It isn’t so much that the actors are bad, they just don’t get anything to work with.

StoryThe story here follows siblings that return home a couple of years after a tragic event, only to learn there is a more sinister force behind what happened all those years ago. The story has one major problem to start with, we have a big time jump to open, which is fine, only to introduce us and play out another ten or so minutes before another time jump forward, it just doesn’t give us enough time to get invested in the character we have been following from that moment, not understanding certain decisions. The story does try to have an interesting horror side to everything which does seem very interesting, only it just doesn’t unfold anything in an interesting way, nothing get solved in the way that makes it clear to the audience and we are left wondering just what could have been by the end.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror does come from the force that is trying to communicate with the people, they stay in the shadows, which only adds to their mystery. We get to see the sci-fi elements of the film by seeing just what is haunting the family and area, never over committing to whether it is from this world or another.

SettingsThe film is set in a farming community, which sees how close the family are and how distant they become after the incident in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to create the mystery behind the creatures, they do come off well for the most part of the film, with the camerawork being used to add to the mystery involved.

Scene of the Movie – Shadowy figures.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The time jumps.

Final Thoughts This is a sci-fi horror that does everything it needs to without getting to the level of intensity it could have, it struggles to let the characters develop properly, which just doesn’t help along the way.

Overall: This is a simple sci-fi horror film.

3 Generations (2015) Movie Review

Director: Gaby Dellal

Writer: Nikole Beckwith, Gaby Dellel (Screenplay)

Starring: Elle Fanning, Linda Emond, Susan Sarandon, Naomi Watts, Andrew Polk, Marcos A Gonzalez

Plot: After Ray decides to transition from female to male, Ray’s mother, Maggie, must come to terms with the decision while tracking down Ray’s biological father to get his legal consent.

Tagline – In this family change is relative

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Important

Story: 3 Generations starts as we meet the three generations of women, Dolly (Sarandon), her daughter Maggie (Watts) and Maggie’s daughter Ray (Fanning) living in one apartment in New York City, Ray is starting her transition into a man, which sees Maggie willing to support the decision, Dolly struggling to understand it, while the biggest problem comes, from tracking down Ray’s father who must agree to the decision.

Thoughts on 3 Generations

Characters – Ray was born a woman, that wants to become a man, she has started the treatment, but must wait for parental consent to go through the procedure, he wants to start a new school, to have a new life as a man, which isn’t going to be easy for the rest of the family. Maggie is Ray’s mother who is trying to make the right decision, she has the fears and questions about how she raised Ray, thinking it could have been her fault and is worried he might change his mind, she will say yes to helping though it means going into her past to ask for help. Dolly and Frances are the women that raised Maggie and are trying to help even if they are not the most understanding of the situation, with Dolly usually saying the wrong thing.

PerformancesElle Fanning is brilliant in the leading role of the film, balancing the last stages of being a woman and first steps to being a man, showing the struggles she is facing. Naomi Watts shows the conflict she is facing through the film with ease, with Susan Sarandon adding moments of comedy to the serious side of the film.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that is looking to go through the transition to become a man, with only the support of the women in her life, as we follow the family struggling to come to terms with the decisions being made. This story does show the difficulties in family’s that are going to go through this process, the complications if the family isn’t together still and the emotional damage it can do to the person who wants the change. Outside of this, we do look at the relationship between the generations involved, seeing how they do have their own problems to get through too.

SettingsThe film is set in New York City, which always is a wonderful place to have a backdrop for life stories.

Scene of the Movie – Family dinner.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain moments are overly complicated for no reason.

Final Thoughts This is an important look at the transitional process for a teenage girl, we get to see how families could always be fixed and how coming together can change things in life.

Overall: Importantly Well Acted Story.

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – F – Freaks of Nature (2015) Movie Review

Director: Robbie Pickering

Writer: Oren Uziel (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Braun, Mackenzie Davis, Josh Fadem, Denis Leary, Ed Westwick, Vanessa Hudgens, Keegan-Michael Key

Plot: In the town of Dillford, humans, vampires and zombies were all living in peace – until the alien apocalypse arrived. Now three teenagers – one human, one vampire, and one zombie – have to team up to figure out how to get rid of the visitors.

Tagline – “I think I’m having brain withdrawals.”

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Silly Sci-Fi Horror Comedy

Story: Freaks of Nature starts as we head to Dillford, where humans, vampires and zombies leave side by side, we follow three high school students, Dag (Braun) who doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps, Petra (Davis) that has been crushing a vampire, hoping to get turned into one herself and Ned (Fadem) a school geek that is destiny for better things, but is tired of his parents dreams in his brother, deciding he wants to become a vampire.

When aliens arrive in the town, the vampires and zombies go on a feeding craze, where Dag, Petra and Ned, must stand together in an attempt to survive the alien invasion even if they are different species now, they must put these difference behind them to survive.

Thoughts on Freaks of Nature

Characters – Dag comes from a normal family that sees him being in the middle of the high school hierarchy, he gets picked on by the jocks and just wants to be something more, waiting for the day he can be with his dream girl. Petra is dreaming of a vampire party, which sees her getting turned into one, looking for a chance to learn about her new blood lust. She hasn’t always fitted in, which has never bothered her. Ned is the smartest kid in school, his parents are more interested in their jock son, which sees them ignoring him more often than not, making him want to become dumber like the zombies. We do meet a host of other characters that are different a mix of humans, vampires and zombies each with their own stigma.

PerformancesNicholas Braun, Mackenzie Davis and Josh Fadem in the leading roles do bring out the colourful side of their characters even if they fit the generic types for a high school movie. We do have some big name comic actors that get their moments to shine too.

StoryThe story here follows three high school kids growing up in a world of humans, vampires and zombies when aliens visit causing chaos as the three unlikely friends must come together to save themselves and the town. This is meant to be more of a parody, more than a serious story, which for the most part is fine, it plays out like a zombie survival story when the outbreak just starts, finding a hiding place before figuring out what to do, while trying to deal with high school problems the three are facing. It isn’t as clever of a story as it thinks, which does leave parts of it feeling flat by the end.

Comedy/Horror/Sci-FiThe comedy is meant to be more parody, which tries to poke fun at the invasion genre, while the horror is meant to be about the creatures in horror, rather than being scary in anyway, with the aliens being the sci-fi side of the film, which is the biggest threat, but not focused on enough.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town which does bring the characters together through the problems they will be facing, how certain stories around town bring them together.

Scene of the Movie – Opening attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Doesn’t get enough laughs for a comedy.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that just doesn’t get enough laughs and ends up feeling flat by the end of the film.

Overall: Flat Comedy.

Slow West (2015) Movie Review

Director: John Maclean

Writer: John Maclean (Screenplay)

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistorius, Brooke Williams

Plot: A young Scottish man travels across America in pursuit of the woman he loves, attracting the attention of an outlaw who is willing to serve as a guide.

Tagline – Love and death are universal.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Just Slow All Around

Story: Slow West starts as Scottish young man Jay Cavendish (Smit-McPhee) heads to America, to travel across country to the west to be with his lose Rose (Pistroius), in the 1800s, he is travelling alone, which has made him a target, with drifter Silas Selleck (Fassbender) seeing him in need of aid, he offers to escort him across country for a fee.

Along the way Jay learns the harsh reality of travelling the open lands, with only Silas helping fix any of the problems he comes into contact with, learning just what happened in his memories of Rose, while Silas keeps his secrets for helping to himself.

Thoughts on Slow West

Characters – Jay is a naïve young man travelling from Scotland to the West Coast of America in search of his lost love, his nature wants to befriend everyone, even though not everyone is friendly, he sees this as the land of opportunity, instead of being prepared for the worst. Silas is a drifter and former bounty hunter that offers to help Jay across the country, knowing how to survive the environment, he does his own agenda for being so helpful, which becomes clear to see, though he doesn’t know how to avoid the troubles that they could face. Payne is the leader of a former gang that Silas was once apart of, which sees him following his old friend on this latest journey. Rose is the woman that Jay is travelling to see, she has left Scotland with her father to start a new life.

PerformancesMichael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee do everything they can in the leading role, they show they are from two different worlds that together can show each other the better sides of life, the performance reflect what the characters are trying to get across. The supporting performances are all solid enough, though most barely get screen time.

StoryThe story follows a young man trying to travel across America in the 18 hundreds where he meets a drifter to help him get past some of the troubles along the way, as he looks to get to his lost love. This story is a very slow moving one, we do get to see the scale of the journey by seeing just how much time to two must spend together, with different problems they would be facing, only for none of the problems feeling like they are as deadly as the film wants them too be. By making the journey lack perilous moments, it just doesn’t get to the moment that makes you want to sit back and enjoy.

WesternThis film does us the western themes to show the journey the two must go on, which does help us understand the era we are witnessing.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the open plains of America as the journey keeps us wondering just how far they have got on their journey.

Scene of the Movie – The arrival.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The pacing is too slow.

Final Thoughts This is a slow-moving western that just never gets going to the full levels it could, only for it to just plod along throughout the film, never getting going.

Overall: Slow moving, not slow west.

Point Break (2015) Movie Review

Director: Ericson Core

Writer: Kurt Wimmer (Screenplay) Rick King, W. Peter Iliff, Kurt Wimmer (Story)

Starring: Edgar Ramirez, Luke Bracey, Ray Winstone, Teresa Palmer, Matias Varela, Clemens Schick

Plot: A young FBI agent infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists.

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Praise the Stunt Team & That is it

Story: Point Break starts as Utah (Bracey) loses a friend in a extreme stunt, seven-years-later Utah has worked his way up the ranks in the FBI, getting his first training position, with the first case he gets to investigate being about a string of extreme sports robberies from around the world.

Utah manages to go undercover within the group run by Bodhi (Ramirez) needing to report anything he learns to Pappas (Winstone), while trying to keep his cover a secret from a group that aren’t afraid to eliminate the problems within their group.

Thoughts on Point Break

Characters – Utah is the former extreme sports stunts man who lost a friend on the latest stunt, he rebuilds his life for the better becoming an FBI agent, with his first case putting him in a position of following his love of the extreme sports from the past or stopping crime from around the world, after he goes undercover in a criminal gang that are using the extreme sports to escape. Bodhi is the leader of the gang, he was a follower of the man who created the idea for creating extreme enlightenment and now has placed it into action, he believes people are responsible for their own actions and must live with the consequences. Pappas is the English agent that Utah must work under, he doesn’t like many people and Utah is no different, with his cocky ways only holding him back. Samsara is the love interest that sees Utah become more torn between the worlds as she isn’t a devoted follower in the same mindset at Bodhi.

PerformancesIt was always going to be hard for the actors to step into the shoes of Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves, sadly both do struggling to get to the level of either of the original actors, with both lacking the charisma to show what it is to be in this world. Ray Winstone clearly enjoyed his pay-check for this film, while the rest just don’t get going either.

StoryThe story here follows a rookie FBI agent going undercover in an extreme sports criminal team that are committing crimes from around the world. While this is a remake, the story does become a lot bigger than just a group of criminal surfers, we do get a bigger motivation behind the criminal actions, which is one of the few highlights in the film, the problem in the story comes from the idea that we spend more time just showing off the glorified stunts, we just get little to no character development, the original gave us that big moment when Utah couldn’t do the right thing and it had an impact, this doesn’t reach that level for that same moment. We could have easily had an original set of characters with the same criminals involved instead of leeching off a popular film and got a darker gritty story too.

Action/Crime/SportThe action here is big stunt works, which should be praised, the team create amazing moments, but we can’t only have big stunts to make a film interesting, the crime side of the film doesn’t get very interesting, with most of the parts being after the criminal actions taking place. The sports again plays into the biggest extreme sports, without being anything that plays into the story enough.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to take us around the world for the biggest stunt locations, it doesn’t help for the idea of the story because nobody else thinks outside the box, when they clearly know they are dealing with criminals that do extreme escape plans.

Scene of the Movie – The stunt work gets the most praise.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The script gets the rest of the weakness.

Final Thoughts This is a pointless remake that could have stood taller being it own action movie and could have gotten its own legs for something bigger in the action world.

Overall: Pointless remake.