Brahms: The Boy II (2020) Movie Review

Director: William Brent Bell

Writer: Stacey Menear (Screenplay)

Starring: Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman, Christopher Convery, Ralph Ineson, Anjali Jay, Oliver Rice

Plot: After a family moves into the Heelshire Mansion, their young son soon makes friends with a life-like doll called Brahms.

Tagline – He’s made a friend

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Too Much Baiting

Story: Brahms: The Boy II starts when Liza (Holmes) and her son Jude (Convery) suffer a burglary gone wrong, which sees Liza injured and suffering in her own way and Jude turned to a mute, communicating only with his notebook, to escape and try to rebuild their lives, Liza, Jude and Sean (Yeoman) escape to the country, to a guest house next to Heelshire Mansion.

Jude discovers Brahms the doll buried in the woodland area around the house and starts to use it to communicate, but the rules Brahms wants in place lead to Liza getting worried about the power it might be having over him and the promises it is making.

Thoughts on Brahms: The Boy II

Characters – Liza does suffer a head injury after the burglary gone wrong as she was protecting her son, she is suffering her own traumas, but is trying to stay strong for her son, even though her trauma is rubbing off on him. She does start to question Brahms, with everything that she does, being for Jude. Sean is the typical father in horror films, he will always be the child’s best mate, try to be the voice of reason and usually not around when anything scary is happening. Jude is the young boy that witnesses his mum get attacked, he used to like pranks and now he is left to communicate through a notebook, he finds Brahms and brings him back to the house and is getting overly attached to the doll. Joseph is the local groundskeeper that always appears when the story needs just a little bit more mystery or explanation thrown in.

PerformancesKatie Holmes does well in the leading role, it is more her dealing with the trauma that shines through over anything to do with the horror. Owain Yeoman had a difficult job because the character is so flat, it is hard to bring him to life. Christopher Convery is creepy at times through the film, which does add plenty to the film.

StoryThe story here follows a family looking to rebuild their life and solve the trauma they have been through with an extended stay in the country, only for the son Jude to find Brahms the doll and bring him back to the home to join the family, which only leads to creepy events around the house. Well, this story was a lot to digest, first I would praise the fact that we are dealing with the idea of trying to overcome a trauma, which would explain a couple of events in the film, including why the doll was used as a way of getting back on his feet and how Liza could be unsure of what she is seeing. Where the story gets confusing, is by knowing what happened in the first film and while it might well get explained, it does feel like we are watching a completely different Brahms than we saw first time out. A lot of this, does first change the tone, it is a light feeling babysitting gig, it is a personal story about overcoming something, with a much darker tone through the film, that does give us a couple of potential theories as to what will happen, I personally had three different ideas of how it would end and none of them happen.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film is the basic jump scares, we know we will get silence, loud noise as something scary happens, they all happen to Liza, because the mother will always be the target in this style of film, though the doll does give us a creepy vibe. The mystery is why is Brahms different this time around, while we do get the generic research and slowly unwinding story from supporting characters, we don’t get enough clues or hints to anything that happens here.

SettingsThe film is set in the guest house next to the first film’s house, while still on the same land, the hallways are less creepy and we do spend time at the original house, it just isn’t the primary setting.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are used sparingly through the film, they seem weird when used around Brahms, though could be saved by something in the final act.

Scene of the Movie – Let go of the hat, that kid deserved it.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – What sort of parent would bring their asshole son to see a child who has been through a horrific trauma, when he has the sensitivity level of zero?

Final Thoughts This is a sequel that feels like they wanted to try and create a franchise, the performances are good enough, the scares are basic and we don’t spend enough time on the true trauma of the characters.

Overall: Strange Sequel.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Movie Review

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writer: Patrick Casey, Josh Miller (Screenplay) Yuji Naka, Naoto Ohshima, Hirokazu Yasuhara (Characters)

Starring: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Neal McDonough, Ben Schwartz, Adam Pally, Tika Sumpter, Leanne Lapp

Plot: After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help it defeat an evil genius who wants to do experiments on it.

Tagline – A whole new speed of hero

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fast Fun Film

Story: Sonic the Hedgehog starts as a young Sonic must leave his home after being discovered by creatures that want his power, he moves to Earth and a small Montana city Green Hill, where he follows the residents believing he is part of the town, even though nobody knows he is even there.

After Sonic unleashes his power, the government turn to Dr Ivo Robotnik (Carrey) to learn about what caused it, which sees Sonic needing to turn to Tom (Marsden) for help, so he can escape the danger or learn to fight, finally exposing himself to the human race, as Robotnik looks to use the power Sonic holds.

Thoughts on Sonic the Hedgehog

Characters – Sonic is the alien blue hedgehog that has great speed, which sees him elude being seen for years, he must leave his home world after being discovered, where he makes a life for himself on Earth, watching a small town, where his loneliness is slowly starting to catch up on him. He is hyper excitable once he makes a friend and must decide whether to continue running or make a stand and fight to remain with his new friend. It is amazing that we do get some real feelings towards the blue fella as we feel the sympathy of loneliness he is feeling. Tom is a local cop that has been looking for a new challenge in a big city, a chance that has come his way, until Sonic turns to him for help, where Tom must do the right thing, save a person in need. Maddie is his wife that has always dealt with her sister being against their marriage, not as big of part of the film compared to Tom. Dr Ivo Robotnik is the machine genius who the government has turned to after the energy surge, he will do anything to put people down around him and is determined to capture sonic to use his power for his machines.

PerformancesJames Marsden is fun in the leading role working well with the voice work of Ben Schwartz as Sonic, while working well with Tika Sumpter when they get time together. Jim Carrey is entertaining through the whole film being wonderful to watch in the film.

StoryThe story here follows an alien blue hedgehog that must turn to a human to help him find a new home to escape a mad man scientist who is looking to use his power for his own benefit. When it comes to video game movies, we know we need to take everything lighter than normal when it comes to storytelling, last year we got Detective Pikachu, which was a lot of fun, and Sonic the Hedgehog follows suit. Seeing how Sonic is becoming lonely in his life away from the rest of the world is something that people can relate too. The adventure to find an item which can solve the problem is an easy to watch story unfold, which is all we needed, with the performances helping the story become more entertaining. Everything we see in this story does give us a nice starting point for a potential franchise, with the rings being used in a way that could unlock any potential future.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film does work for the film with the fast paced Sonic, having scenes which work for the pace, even if some of those moments do feel like we are watching Quicksilver from X-Men. The adventure side of the film sees how Tom and Sonic must travel to San Francisco to get the rings back

SettingsThe film uses the small town setting to show how Sonic has created his own perfect world, one where he knows everyone and wants to call him home, he isn’t interested in the big city home where he must go.

Special EffectsAs the film was widely panned after the first look a Sonic, the effects we do see in the film are strong and bring the blue guy to life.

Scene of the Movie – The final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Olive Garden being an on running joke.

Final Thoughts This is a fun action movie that brings the video game character to life with ease to make us understand his pain and desire to be important in somebody’s life.

Overall: Enjoyable.

By Day’s End (2020) Movie Review

Director: Michael Souder

Writer: Justin Calen-Chenn, Michael Souder (Screenplay)

Starring: Lyndsey Lantz, Andrea Nelson, Joshua keller Katz, Bill Oberst Jr, Maria Olsen, Devlin Wilder

Plot: Love is never an easy road. No one knows that better than Carly and Rina, whose relationship takes a turn for the worse after Carly decides to drop out of med school and Rina loses her job as an attorney. This forces them to move into a motel, a situation neither of them are happy with. To makes matters worse, Rina’s battles with depression have returned and Carly has decided to use what money she has left to buy a camera so she can pursue videography as a profession. Despite the cracks that are starting to show in their relationship, Carly and Rina pledge to repair what has been broken, no matter the circumstances, no matter the odds. But are they both as adamant as they say they are? Unfortunately, time is not on their side. When a pandemic disease ravaging the world appears in their city and starts turning people into crazed flesh eating machines, Carly and Rina decide to keep documenting the occurrence with their camera. Doing so, they are forced to band together like never before

Runtime: 1 Hour 12 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Plays Out Like An Opening Level of Video Game

Story: By Day’s End starts as Carly (Lantz) fresh after dropping out of medical school purchases her first camera to become a videographer while looking to get her feet back on the ground with her girlfriend Rina (Nelson) who has recently lost her job, leaving them living in the motel.

After Rina suffers another job rejection the day takes another turn for the worst when it turns out a pandemic has spread, one that brings the dead back to life, leaving the women trapped in their room, watching the world fall apart outside their door.

Thoughts on By Day’s End

Characters – Carly wants to become a videographer after spending years studying a med school, she is waiting for her chance to proposal to Rina, mostly hoping everything in life will work out, offering medical treatment where she sees fit, filming the day. Rina is trying to get back into job market after losing her job, she does wish Carly would get back to a more serious way of looking at life, while battling with her own demons. Wyatt is one of the residents that has a plan once the outbreak starts, he has been preparing for an incident for a while now, proving to be an excellent ally in surviving.

PerformancesLyndsey Lantz does have the most work to do, mostly because despite this being a found footage film and it is her character’s camera, she isn’t always behind it and more focused on the doing the right thing, showing us just how a dreamer can be living their life. Andrea Nelson does have one of the bleakest scenes early on, showing the best performance part of the film with it.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that have been going through hard times, that find themselves in the middle of a zombie outbreak, being trapped in the motel complex they are calling home. When it comes to zombie films it is hard to bring anything truly new to the genre, while this story on the zombie side of the film does feel like something we saw in both chapters of ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Left 4 Dead’ franchise of games, with a group of survivors needing to get out of a motel alive, while never being as intense as them, trying to show the slow outbreak. The relationship side of the film does show us how we just arrive in one day of their lives, instead of a big set up to place us there, which is nice to see, making this whole story feel like it could have happened within the day of the lives of the characters.

Horror/Romance The horror in this film comes from the idea that a zombie outbreak is happening, with the location being more secure than the open, only being shot in a mix of handheld found footage and security camera footage.

SettingsThe film is set in a motel area, be it the room, car park and corridors, it does offer up plenty of tight locations that facing a zombie would be difficult, which does keep the film even though set in the middle of a city, we don’t get a large number of zombies thrown into the mix.

Special EffectsThe effects are kept off camera with cuts to different angles to hide gore moments, relying on the blood splatter involved in the film.

Scene of the Movie – The plan to escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We have seen the basics of the surviving side before.

Final Thoughts This is a zombie outbreak movie that we have seen before, while keeping everything feeling more contained than normal.

Overall: Zombie Survival 101

Birds of Prey (2020) Movie Review

Director: Cathy Yan

Writer: Christina Hodson (Screenplay)

Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ewan McGregor, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Bojana Novakovic, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong

Plot: After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.

Tagline – Prey for Gotham! 

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Wonderful Blast

Story: Birds of Prey starts as Harley Quinn (Robbie) finally leaving Mr J or Joker to most people, people don’t believe she will stay away for long because her relationship means she can get away with anything, only after she blows up his compound, her immunity is gone and everybody is after her, with Roman Sionis (McGregor) looking to cash in on the position left behind.

After teenage pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Basco) steals a diamond, she finds a bounty on her head, with the only person that will help her is Harley, who learns she has people willing to help from other people detective Renee Montoya (Perez), mysterious assassin Huntress (Winstead) and singer Dinah (Smollett-Bell), as they face the numbers in Gotham.

Thoughts on Birds of Prey

Characters – Harley Quinn is having a life crisis after her break up from the Joker, she wants to remain the wild character, only she needs to learn who to trust after learning everybody wants her dead, she gets a chance to save a teenager that Roman Sionis is hunting. Harley is pure enjoyment to watch, she makes everything fun in her life, always looking at the bright side no matter what comes her way. Renee Montoya is a detective that has never gotten the recognition she deserves, she is trying to track down Harley and has always been working with an inside source in Roman Sionis, she is always considered an 80’s cop. The Huntress is the mysterious assassin that has appeared and started killing gang members, this is the character that does feel like the weakest, mostly because she is fully mysterious, until she isn’t which makes her feel flatter than the rest of the characters. Dinah Lance is the singer in Roman’s club whose voice can shatter glasses, she has always kept to herself, but will look at for people in life. Roman Sionis is the club owner gangster who lets people take the faces off his victims and after seeing what happens to the Joker’s compound, he believes it will be his rise to power.

PerformancesMargot Robbie is truly incredible in the leading role, she well and truly takes the movie and is a true delight to watch. Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jurnee Smollett-Bell are excellent too, working with Robbie perfectly. Ewan McGregor works well as the villain, showing the eccentric side to his character with ease.

StoryThe story here follows Harley Quinn as she finds herself alone, out of the Joker’s shadow, needing to fight for herself, where she must help a teenager that is facing the hunt from the new gangster looking to take over Gotham, finding she has unlikely allies waiting in the shadows. This story can be cut down to a simple, protection based story, which is always an nice concept, we get the extras from the flamboyant nature of Harley and how she tells the story, which is the saving grace for the entertainment value. The story is carried by the strength of Harley and just how purely entertaining to she is to watch and see stand up for herself.

Action/CrimeThe action gives us some unique and original fight scenes, with the funfair one being a true stand out and potentially being one of the best of the year already, all while being in the Gotham crime world.

SettingsThe film still uses Gotham as the backdrop, which is fine, it all works, where the settings stand out more though are with the fight scenes, taking us to the unique locations we haven’t seen before.

Scene of the Movie – Funfair fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The drunk opening sequence.

Final Thoughts This is Margot Robbie proving herself to be above and beyond with her talent, bringing to life Harley in a way that is filled with the entertainment we love to see in a comic book movie.

Overall: Entertaining Treat.

The Turning (2020) Movie Review

Director: Floria Sigismondi

Writer: Carey W Hayes, Chad Hayes (Screenplay) Henry James (Novel)

Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince, Barbara Marten, Joely Richardson, Niall Greig Fulton, Denna Thomsen

Plot: A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after their parents’ deaths. A modern take on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.”

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Basic Horror

Story: The Turning starts when tutor Kate Mandell (Davis) gets a job away from the classroom, to teach Flora (Prince) an orphaned little girl who has been living with her housekeeper Mrs Grose (Marten) in the mansion. While Kate it happy with this new opportunity, this job doesn’t seem as easy once Flora’s older brother Miles (Wolfhard) is expelled from boarding school.

After Kate starts experiencing strange events, nightmares and visions around the house, she starts trying to learn more about the past of the house and with Miles not making her time here easy, she must figure out the truth before it is too late.

Thoughts on The Turning

Characters – Kate is a teacher who is given a chance for this tutor role, a role which would mean only dealing with one kid instead of a classroom, she sees her own life in helping, with her father walking out on her and her mother dealing with her own mental health problems and tries to approach this role as something fresh. She does connect with Flora, but become friends with Miles proves to be more difficult and with her not sleeping she is torn between trying to help him or just leaving. Miles has been expelled from boarding school for assaulting another student, he has become friends with one of the housekeepers who died too, he doesn’t want to become friends with Kate and is happy to play games against her. Flora is the youngest member of the family, she witnessed her parent’s death, which has struck fear into leaving the home, she is just like any child of that age who wants to have fun, only she doesn’t have any friends in her life. Mrs Grose is the housekeeper and has been for generations with planning the daily meals and keeping the place clean.

PerformancesMackenzie Davis in the leading role does well dealing with the horror effects in the film, while the two young stars, Finn Wolfhard and Brooklyn Prince don’t put a foot wrong in their roles.

StoryThe story here follows a tutor that gets a new job in a mansion and while here she learns the house might well be haunted and wants to get to the bottom of this before it is too late. The story is one of the biggest talking points in this film, while it does start off routine, it ends up trying to become smarter than it needs to, only contradicting itself by the end. It is a shame because the basic haunting ideas all work very well, in fact I thought I was watching any of ‘The Haunting’, ‘Awakening’ and films along that line, which slowly builds, has a ghost investigation side to it, only for it is have a spanner in the final works which will leave you scratching your head, but is far from the ‘Non-ending’ people have spoken about.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes from the haunted house, every scene does give us a proper jump scare, rather than just a false one, though you would be left wondering why she didn’t just leave straight away. The mystery is what did happen, which is more disappointing than anything else, because we only learn things that we get told, rather than Kate learning about anything herself.

SettingsThe mansion setting is beautiful, it shows how you would have creepy noises around, the long dark corridors and massive gardens, which for some reason sees the time of day change when running through it.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are an interesting choice, with the ghostly figures fading in and out so eerily it does add something to the film.

Scene of the Movie – The first reaction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We get some interesting camera angles, which seem to be here for no apparent reason.

Final Thoughts This is a horror that does the basic horror moments well, even if certain moments might come off overly complicated with how it ends.

Overall: Simple Horror, Complicated Ending.