ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – # – Squadron 303 (2018) Movie Review

Director: Denis Delic

Writer: Chris Burdza, Thomsz Kepski, Jacek Samojolwicz (Screenplay) Arkady Fiedler (Book)

Starring: Piotr Adamczyk, Kirk Barker, Gabriela Calun, Maciej Cymorek, Nik Goldman, Antoni Krolikowski, Cara Theobold, Maciej Zakoscielny

Plot: This is the story of the highly regarded fighter squadron, in which served mainly airmen from Poland, in the history of aerial combat and their heroic defence of England during WW2, Battle of Britain against Nazi attacks. The 303 Squadron shot three times more Luftwaffe planes than any other allied squadrons.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Weak War Movie

Story: Squadron 303 starts at the beginning of World War II, the Polish air force have joined forces with the British, Witold Urbanowicz (Adamczyk) leads the small squadron, while the higher ups in England don’t want to rely on outside help.

As the Polish pilots prove themselves to be deadly in the air, their reputations start to grow, with a once famous actress Victoria Brown (Theobold) is being used to learn about the skills of the Polish. The longer the Polish stay in England the bigger their part in the war defence, which will one day make them heroes.

Thoughts on Squadron 303

Characters – Witold Urbanoqicz is the Polish general that is sent to try and control the pilots that are starting to get out of hand, not getting involved in their behaviour, but answering to the superiors who know what they must risk. Donald is the flashiest pilot, he will often go against orders, knowing he has the skills to get the job done in the skies. Victoria Brown is an actress that is bought into show some photo for the papers, while getting assigned to help the British watch the Polish pilots, slowly falling in love with one of them. We get to meet other Polish pilots, who are close and cockier than the English, while the English are more stuck up and determined to not be out flashed.

PerformancesWhen it comes to the performances, most of the actors do struggle to make an impact, because the story decisions just make things more difficult for anybody to reach their potential.

StoryThe story here follows the Polish pilots that join forces with the British Air Force during World War II, where they must first overcome the discrimination towards them, and secondly get involved with the new heroism that is thrust upon them. This should be a story about the incredible fight the Polish pilots showed during World War II, only it just seems to dwindle into a bit of one upmanship and weird uncomfortable love angle. By the end of the film, you won’t feel anything, the random time jumps, showing why the man are fighting, only leaves us trying to keep up, though it could have show us a lot more from what it had to work with.

WarThe war side of the film does show us dog fights, which don’t look as intense as they could be, which also leaves us disappointed.

SettingsThe film uses the basic world war settings, showing how the people could have been in a new environment, waiting for the time that conflict comes their way.


Scene of the Movie – The first dog fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Bad time jumps.

Final Thoughts This is a disappoint war film that just doesn’t get going into the reality of war, making it feel like a small holiday with the way everything is shot.

Overall: Disappointing.

The Mouse and The Bread (2018) Movie Review

Director: Sharisse Zeroonian

Writer: Sharisse Zeroonian (Screenplay)

Starring: Eric Cober, Rachel Gordon, Alexander Hauck, Louise Mara, Michele Mortensen, Emily Pattison, Patil Roupelian, Bob Tourangeau, Miguel Velazquez, Sharisse Zeroonian

Plot: An experimental film that touches upon the changes in dynamics between members of a family when one of them commits a crime.

Runtime: 1 Hour 6 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Promising

Story: The Mouse in the Bread starts as young woman Lili (Zeroonian) is starting to try and figure out her own future, her parents John (Hauck) and Miriam (Mara) always support her, while the family starts to focus on a bigger problem, one they want to keep quiet from Lili.

Lili does see the dynamic between her parents slowly start to fall apart, while she still needs both of them in life, she is left in the dark to the problems they are facing.

Thoughts on The Mouse in the Bread

Final ThoughtsWe need to start by pointing out that this is a micro budget project from filmmaker Sharisse Zeroonian, who writes, directs and stars in this film. We do see the family dynamic that is always changing away from the children, whatever the age, as they both want to protect their children and have their own happiness, which see the strain coming. We have a cast which isn’t the most experienced that don’t do anything wrong and we are left to see just how much potential everyone in this film has, both behind and on front of the camera. Most of the film is kept in one central location within the house that helps show us just how close the family is despite the troubles they are facing.

Overall: Nice Family Drama

Quezon’s Game (2018) Movie Review

Director: Matthew E Rosen

Writer: Janice Y Perez, Dean Rosen (Screenplay)

Starring: Raymond Bagatsing, Rachel Alejandro, Kate Alejandrino, Billy Ray Gallion, David Bianco, Jennifer Blair-Bianco, Tony Ahn, James Paoleli

Plot: In 1938, Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon agrees to welcome Jewish refugees from Germany in the Philippines.


Tagline – A world on the brink of war. A people on the brink of annihilation. A leader on the brink of death.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Important, But Slow

Story: Quezon’s Game starts as word comes out of Germany about wanting to move the Jews to concentration camps, the news hit the Philippines, reaching the President Manuel Quezon (Bagatsing) who along with his wife Aurora (Alejandro) works with Alex Frieder (Gallion) to find a solution to the horrific news.

President Quezon must look at what is going around the world before making his decision to offer refugees a home in the Philippines, an idea which could leave his reputation shattered, while Alex is learning first-hand how the Jews are being treated.

Thoughts on Quezon’s Game

Characters – President Manuel Quezon has been given the information about the Jewish camps in Nazi Germany, he has advisors trying to help him make the decision on whether to help, even though he has already made up his mind, he wants to find a way to offer refugees a place to live, by doing it in a political manor, unlike the leaders from around the world, he sees shutting them out. Aurora is the wife of Manuel’s who wants him to do the right thing no matter what, seeing the human factor to what is going on in Germany. Alex Frieder is a Jewish man living around Germany, he sees the changes happening in the country and turns to his own President to help people escape. Paul McNutt is part of the American embassy that isn’t willing to let the refugees in the country, he doesn’t want to support Manuel’s choice because America still has control over the country.

PerformancesRaymond Bagatsing in the leading role is strong through the film, like the rest of the cast, Rachel Alejandro, Billy Ray Gallion and James Paoleli, they do bring their characters to life with ease, as we see the conflict in their performances.

StoryThe story here follows the Filipino President who learns of the horrors of the German’s towards the Jews before the war broke out, who set out to offer them a home, needing to overcome the obstacles that are thrown in his way by other countries, mostly the Americans. This is another interesting historical drama, showing us just how important the stories of the people that wanted to help save the innocent lives that were being taken, how people would put their own reputations on the line to make this happen. While certain moments of this story do seem to lack moments of pace, because most of the film focuses more on the political side of the events.

HistoryWhen it comes to any film about history, you want to learn something new and after watching this film, you will learn about the incredible, the work that Manuel Quezon achieved during the war.

SettingsMost of the film is set behind close doors, with it being offices or social events, where the conversations took place.


Scene of the Movie – The arrival.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not enough about how the people would be feel about the decision.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting history lesson film that will once again put a spotlight on another unsung hero of the war.

Overall: Important Story.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – W – All is True (2018) Movie Review

This is under W because we are looking at William Shakespeare

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Ben Elton (Screenplay)

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Nonso Anozie, Lolita Chakrabarti, Darryl Clark, Kathryn Wilder, Lydia Wilson

Plot: A look at the final days in the life of renowned playwright William Shakespeare


Tagline – In 1613 William Shakespeare Retired. He Still Had One Last Story To Tell – His Own.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Not as Entertaining as it Should be

Story: All is True starts after William Shakespeare (Branagh) has retired from writing plays to spend time with his wife Anne (Dench) and his adult daughters the married Susanna (Wilson) and the spinster Judith (Wilder), while dealing with his own grief of his son’s early death decades earlier.

As William is dealing with his own problems, he must address the problems his daughters might be going through and after a visit from an old friend the Earl of Southampton (McKellen), he starts to realize his own life mistakes.

Thoughts on All is True

Characters – William Shakespeare has retired from the playwriting industry, he moves back home to deal with his own personal problems, the long-time repressed grief of losing his son and the reality his daughters are not living the lives he had wished for them. Anne is the wife of William, she has accepted his life away on the big stage, raising their children, preparing for his return, she is happy to have him around and will always stick up for their daughters. Earl the Southampton is an old friend of William’s whose reputation could slander the name of William’s however much he disrespects the people around him. Judith is the oldest daughter who has never got close to marrying, she doesn’t want to and has lived with the reality that she might not be as loved as her deceased twin brother.

PerformancesKenneth Branagh in the leading role does everything right without hitting the levels we know he could see from him, while Judi Dench is flawless without needing to do much. Ian McKellen likewise is wonderful in his small role, it is Kathryn Wilder and Lydia Wilson that do the most to make names for themselves in this film as the daughters.

StoryThe story here follows the retirement era of William Shakespeare as he tries to put his personal life back together, deal with the problems that he has seen them face to make sure his daughters have the life they deserve, using his words to make any situation seem more important than the last. This is meant to show how William Shakespeare gave up most of his personal life to stay in the limelight of the theatre and that he never knew the truth about what happened to his son’s young death. We do see plenty of the references to how men only saw women as property to pass between them instead of looking for happiness, which William did want to see changed only for not much to have changed in his lifetime. In the end this isn’t the most interesting look at somebody who was a major part of history and you will end up not being as engrossed as this story as most of his work.

BiopicShowing the later years of the great writers life is something new, it is interesting to see just how much could have changed if he wasn’t the famous writer like we know him as.

SettingsThe film is set in William’s hometown of Strafford Upon Avon, where it shows us that behind his success, he wasn’t afraid to stay within a small town.


Scene of the Movie – The truth about Hamlet.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It just seems slower than it should be.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting, only not engrossing story about the greatest play write of all time, we focus on his life away from the stage, which is the least interesting side of his successful life.

Overall: The Wrong Focus.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch Up 2019 – V – The Vanishing (2018) Movie Review

Director: Kristoffer Nyholm

Writer: Joe Bone, Celyn Jones (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Mullan, Gerard Butler, Emma King, Gary Lewis, Connor Swindells, Ken Drury, Gary Kane

Plot: Three lighthouse keepers on the remote Flannan Isles find a hidden trunk of gold, leading to their mysterious disappearance.


Tagline – What’s left when the light goes out?

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Solid Mystery

Story: The Vanishing starts as the two experienced lighthouse keepers Thomas (Mullan) and James (Butler) take rookie keeper Donald (Swindells) to Flannan Isles for their stint on the island. The three go through the normal actions until after a storm washes up a small boat, with a trunk, giving Donald a fight against the lone survivor.

When the men open the trunk they learn it is filled with gold, Donald and James want to keep the gold, while Thomas isn’t willing to risk his career, even though he comes up with a plan to get the gold back to the mainland.

Thoughts on The Vanishing

Characters – Thomas is the head lighthouse keeper, he has 25-years of experience and is willing to give the youngster a chance on his team, he has been through his own tragic events with his job being the only thing he has left, he will remain calm through all the events, knowing how the defuse the situations the men find themselves going through. James has been part of the team for years, he has always struggled for money back home, though he will keep his family safe with his job. Donald is the youngster member of the team, he isn’t used to the sea environment and finds himself facing challenges he shouldn’t do, when the events start happening. These characters are based on the real people, that nobody heard from again, this is hard to tell just how much would have been turned into more drama or how much would have been real.

PerformancesPeter Mullan is great in the leading role, he shows all the calm required for this role with everything that is going on around him. Gerard Butler gives one of his better serious roles, not playing into the action hero he has become more famous for. Connor Swindells is strong through the film too showing the loose cannon side of his character too.

StoryThe story here is based on a true event of three lighthouse keepers that disappeared, what we see is the story created around what happened to these men, as they discover a trunk of gold and must protect it from the people that claim it is theirs. By basing this on a true story, it does make it difficult because it is looking at a mystery about what did happen, even though nobody really knows what happened. The only thing we do know, is that the men disappeared during their stint on the island. The story here shows how they wanted to fight to keep a treasure washed up on the island and how the original owners came back in search of their own gold, dealing with the consequences of actions over anything else. There is nothing supernatural, it is all about human actions, reaction and emotions.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film shows how the three lighthouse keepers are left pondering what would happen to them after their actions and whether they would be able to keep the gold, a lot of character driven to what they are afraid off if they return, living with what they did. The mystery should be more front and centre, this is meant to be about what happened to these men on their time spent on the island, only we don’t focus on that or investigating what might have happened.

SettingsThe film does use the setting of a remote island of the coast of Scotland to create moments of tension as the idea that these men are dealing with a lot of emotional factors, means they have nowhere to go for help and between them, they aren’t always helping each other out.


Scene of the Movie – They are on the island.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not really solving the mystery of what happened to these men in real life.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at characters who would be trapped on an island alone for a stretch of time, when it comes to treasure and consequences, only it doesn’t seem to solve the mystery of what really happened.

Overall: Interesting Character Study.