ABC Film Challenge – Catch Up 2020 – S – The Scorpion King: Book of Souls (2018) Movie Review

Director: Don Michael Paul

Writer: David Alton Hedges, Frank DeJohn (Screenplay)

Starring: Zach McGowan, Nathan Jones, Peter Mensah, Mayling Ng, Katy Kouise Saunders, Howard Charles

Plot: The Scorpion King teams up with a female warrior named Tala, who is the sister of The Nubian King. Together they search for a legendary relic known as The Book of Souls, which will allow them to put an end to an evil warlord.

Tagline – New quest, new villains, one legend – the Scorpion King returns.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fun Adventure Movie

Story: The Scorpion King: Book of Souls starts as Nebserek (Mensah) gains the power of Anubis destroying the land around him, becoming desperate to hunt down the last Akkadian, Mathayus, The Scorpion King (McGowan). When Mathayus is captured, he is saved by lone warrior Tala (Thusi), daughter of Balthazar who wants him to take his throne back on the land.

Mathayus and Tala travel to the underworld in search for a way to stop Nebserek, being the only ones that bring about the stop to his evil tirade against the land.

Thoughts on The Scorpion King: Book of Souls

Characters – Mathayus the former Scorpion King is now living as a blacksmith away from the world in a small city, a place where he is encouraged to return to his warrior wars, he is left no choice when Nebserek comes for him, he must reluctantly go on a quest to defeat him and save the land. Nebserek is the new tyrant who has been looking to control the land, he is invisible in battle thanks to his weapon and people are left with little choice than to join or fight him. Tala is the daughter of Balthazar, the warrior Mathayus fought alongside in the first film, she has been searching for Mathayus believing he could bring hope back to the land, showing she is just as deadlier as her father. Amina is the guardian of the book of souls, the one thing that could finally defeat Nebserek, she is amazed by the real world, finally free from her prison. Enkidu is the clay golem guardian of Amina, he will always protect her no matter what the odds, bringing a lot of humour the film, which is much needed.

PerformancesZach McGowan is the latest name to step into the role of the Scorpion King, he does bring something fresh to the role too, not being a fierce as Dwayne Johnson, but looking like the broken man in need of redemption. Peter Mensah is great in the villainous role, showing the evil his character has through the film. Pearl Thusi brings us the fierce warrior with ease, Nathan Jones however is a complete scene stealer through the film, getting so many laughs.

StoryThe story here continues the adventures of the Scorpion King, he is trying to live away from the world, only for him to get drawn back into the battle with a new evil, forced into a quest that will one day free the land once again. The Scorpion King is now five films big of a franchise, which is amazing to think about, this is the first chapter to actually feel connected to the original though, by bringing back the daughter of one of the characters in that film to show that Mathayus was once the fierce warrior and still could be. The quest is everything we would expect, given us some moments of humour along the way. We do have a story that does feel strong, playing into the mythology that could have happened around the mysterious weapon that could bring fear to the land.

Action/FantasyThe action does give us fight scenes which are entertaining to watch without being too much bigger than we have seen before, with the fantasy being about the world Anbus and the underworld.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to keep everything looking fresh, with the open desert areas, with different people’s in it, the underworld looks great and use of lighting helps bring everything to life.

Scene of the Movie – The visit to the underworld.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not enough of the villains actions.

Final Thoughts This is a fun adventure that breaths new life into the Scorpion King character, much needed life too, bringing us back to the roots of the character.

Overall: Return of the King.

Heartlock (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jon Kauffman

Writer: Jon Kauffman, Chris Cummings (Screenplay)

Starring: Alexander Dreymon, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Erik LaRay Harvey, Cedric Young, Wayne David Parker

Plot: A rogue love story centered on a female correctional officer whose life is turned upside down by the fleeting affections of her lover – a male convict whose charm is only as genuine as his desire to be free.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Strong Performances

Story: Heartlock starts when Lee Haze (Dreymon) is looking for a way out of prison, he has always kept himself to himself and he looks towards Continental (Harvey) who controls the prison from the inside to help him, which sees Lee turning towards rookie correctional officer Tera Sharpe (Brandt).

As the two get closer, Lee looks to risk it all to get out, while Tera knows the consequences if she gets too close to an inmate, left with the two needing to decide what to do next.

Thoughts on Heartlock

Characters – Lee Haze has been in prison for years now, waiting for his chance to be back together with his partner, only to find his letters returned to him, wanting to escape, he turns to try and turn on of the guards to help him escape, only can thing left to ask, is whether he can get away with it. Tera Sharpe is the correctional officers that is following in her father’s footsteps, she is struggling outside the job with her father, while slowly starting to fall for Lee. Continental runs the prison from the inside, he has guards in his pockets, who will do anything for him, running a drug trade from the inside.

PerformancesAlexander Dreymon in the leading role does reflect the confliction he is going through to get out of jail. Lesley-Ann Brandt does show us the difficulties of seeing a family member struggling with their health, showing that life isn’t going her way. Erik LaRay Harvey does show the confidence for a man that is in complete control of the situation he finds himself in.

StoryThe story here follows a prisoner who is looking to escape by getting closer to a corrections guard, but finds himself getting too close and not wanting to see her life ruined for his own personal gain. Here we get to focus on the problems you could face by trying to risk everything for freedom, from either behind bars or from one’s own life. It shows how easily prison guards could become corrupt without finding an option to escape. It has the message about taking responsibility for your actions coming through strong here.

Crime/RomanceWe are set in a prison, that does show us the criminal actions still being committed by the prisoners, which gets caught up in a romance between an inmate and one of the guards.

SettingsThe film does use the prison setting to not only show us how Lee has no escape, but outside of this world, we see how Tera is in her own prison, trying to protect her father.

Scene of the Movie – Tell the truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Tera does seem to change her mind about Lee way too quickly.

Final Thoughts This is a nice romance about how you could find love from someone you didn’t know at the wrong time in life, leading you to make decision which will only cause more problems.

Overall: Nice Romance.

Whitney (2018) Movie Review

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Plot: An in-depth look at the life and music of Whitney Houston.

Tagline – Her story: intimate, unguarded, in her own words

Runtime: 2 Hours

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Proof We Lost Talent Too Early

Story: Whitney starts as we learn about the early life of Whitney Houston, daughter of a world famous backup singer, surrounded by music from a young age, groomed into the industry before making her big break, stealing the headlines becoming one of the most famous artists in the world.

With fame comes the press, the stories, the decision being made to keep Whitney on the rise of fame to keep things on track, not let certain taboos for the time ruin her career, all before her marriage to Bobby Brown, which saw her fall into the vices of drugs, never knowing who she could trust.

Thoughts on Whitney

Final Thoughts Whitney looks at one of the most successfully singers of all time, she broke barriers on her way to the top, while on the top and with deals she achieved. We get to see interviews with Whitney’s family that helped her get to the top, helped her with her drug problems, treating it like something they could do as a family, while her husband’s controlling her life, never addressing her own problems. We get to see how the celebrity status ruined her career, took her life and how she was never given the support she needed to get out of her problems to continue to bring the music they enjoyed bringing the world. While this documentary looks at the tragedy of her life over getting to put the spotlight on some of her amazing musical moments, which should be remembered by everyone.

Overall: Eye-Opening Drama

Christmas Film Weekend – Holly Star (2018) Movie Review

Director: Michael A Nickles

Writer: Michael A Nickles (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael A Nickles, Katlyn Carlson, Erik Van Wyck, John Farrell, Teya Patt, Gary Galone, Brian Muller

Plot: A broke puppeteer returns home for the holidays and gets caught up in a treasure hunt with her paintball-obsessed best friend, her tango-dancing grandmother, and a childhood sweetheart.

Tagline – Sometimes the Treasure Finds You

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Standard Christmas Movie

Story: Holly Star starts as puppeteer Sloan Kelly (Carlson) loses her job in the big city, right before Christmas and is forced to return home to start again. Sloan’s parents have gone away for Christmas, leaving her with just her tango-dancing Grandma (Chabora) and takes a job helping with local Christmas tree stand with old school friend Andy (Muller) and catching up with her old friend Kay K (Patt).

When Sloan gets a memory of a Santa burying what looks like a treasure, she teams up with Kay to learn about the vision, which takes her down memory lane where she learns to accept the little things in life again.

Thoughts on Holly Star

Characters – Sloan has made a career out of her puppeteer, through television adverts, only for her latest gig comes to an end, leaving her with no job and needing to leave the big city. She is returning home for Christmas, facing the reality her dreams have come to an end and she needs to look at her future once again. She spends time with her best friend and goes on a treasure hunt, while finding herself over Christmas. Andy is the Christmas Tree salesman that offers Sloan a job to help through the Christmas period as well as being an old troublemaker partner of Sloan’s as kids. Kay K is the best friend of Sloan’s, she is obsessed with paintballing and is a master of stealth always looking to surprise Sloan. Grandma Kelly is the only family Sloan has left, she is in a home and always around to give her advice in life.

PerformancesKatlyn Carlson is the lead and is the best part of the film, as her character needs to go on the self-discovery, while Teya Patt gets most of the laughs through the film, Pamela Chabora is fun to watch too through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a woman who loses her dream just before Christmas and is looking for any sort of sign to help put her life back together, which a near death experience gives her. This story does give us the focus on how difficult life can be when you lose everything you worked for, it shows how putting things together will help you become happier, you just got to read the signs around you and trust the people in your life to bring your smile back. We do use the Christmas miracle idea to help with this, with Sloan getting miserable over the holidays until she finds it just intime to enjoy Christmas.

ComedyThe comedy in this film comes more from the supporting cast with Kay K getting most of the laughs with her extreme love of paintball and military when sneaking up on Sloan.

SettingsThe film does use the small town setting to help highlight how the past will always be there for you, people will remember the little things you do for people in life too.

Scene of the Movie – 55 Star location.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Andy isn’t given much of a character.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book Christmas film that is an easy watch and could be enjoyed by all, one you can sit back relax and feel the holiday with.

Overall: Holiday film 101.

Memories of Christmas (2018) Movie Review

Director: Tibor Takacs

Writer: Valerie Alexander, Jamie Pachino, John Wierick (Screenplay)

Starring: Christina Milian, Marky Taylor, Jaime M Callica, Garry Chalk, Brandi Alexander

Plot: At Christmastime, a young businesswoman travels to her childhood home with the intention of selling it, but instead finds a renewed love for the holidays.

Runtime: 2 Hours

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Memories of Christmas starts when busy businesswoman Noelle (Milian) is forced into taking a break over Christmas, meaning to can return home to finish of the sell of her mother’s house, sending her down memory lane about the childhood she had with the Christmas tradition her mother started.

Spending time around town she gets to meet her neighbour Dave (Taylor) who has always helped continue the tradition, which might have to end with the main location up for sale, Noelle will learn her position in her company might have already started to cause a problem for the people back home.

Thoughts on Memories of Christmas

Characters – Noelle is a hotshot businesswoman that spends more time at her desk in her personal life, she is looking to work through Christmas, she is forced to return home to finish off selling her mother’s home, which will see her diving into memories of the fantastic community Christmases that she grew up on, learning to open on more than she has been. Dave is the man that does the most work around the town, he helps the community and has continued the traditions Noelle’s mother started, he helps Noelle come back out of her shell to see the magic of Christmas, proving to be the honest hard working community man. Rex is the man from Noelle’s office that usually turns to her for help with his work, always needing to turn to complete this work. We get to meet plenty of members of the town who will get to help around with Noelle returning, knowing the Christmas is the important part of the year

PerformancesChristina Milian is lovely to watch in the leading role, showing the changes she is going through, while showing the happiness she has in her life, with Mark Taylor giving us a great hard working member of the community.

StoryThe story here follows a businesswoman that returns to her home town for Christmas to sell her family home, only to find herself helping fight to continue the traditions her mother started. This will bring the magic of Christmas to life by reminding someone what is important about the holiday. This is just the simple Christmas film, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, giving us everything in an enjoyable way.

SettingsThe small town setting shows us how Noelle needs to start to look to slow down in her life, with the home town having a slower, but community feeling about it.

Scene of the Movie – The Christmas Ball.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nothing.

Final Thoughts Memories of Christmas is an enjoyable Christmas Movie that is easy to watch with the important message.