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.

The Doorman (2020) Movie Review

The Doorman – Die Hard in a Hotel

Director: Ryuhei Kitamura

Writer: Loir Chefetz, Joe Swanson (Screenplay) Greg Williams, Matt McAllester (Story)

Starring: Ruby Rose, Jena Reno, Aksel Hennie, rupert Evans, Julian Feder, Kila Lord Cassidy

Plot: A woman returns from combat and befriends a family in NYC. A gang of thieves plot to take the family’s valuables, and she is all that stands between them and their lives.

Tagline – Her Second chance is their Last Hope
Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Doorman starts as we see how Ali (Rose) gets caught up in an ambush in her military service, being the lone survivor, Ali is trying to put her life back together in New York when Uncle Pat (Whitchurch) gets her a job as the Doorman in the Carrington hotel, the same hotel where her late sister’s family live.

With hotel is coming up for renovation, which the lead doorman Borz (Hennie) has been planning for with Victor Dubois (Reno) looking for his fortune in the hotel, it just so happens to be in the same room as Ali’s family Jon Stanton (Evans) and his kids, Max (Feder) and Lily (Cassidy), which will see her needing to use her skills to save her family.

Thoughts on The Doorman

Characters & Performances – Ali is a former decorated soldier who was left traumatised by her last mission leading her to return home to New York City, she is given help from family in the form of a job opportunity, one which will keep her calm and helping people as a doorman. She is given a chance to reconnect with her family, which will become easier when she needs to use all her military skills to save them from criminals that hold them hostage. Ruby Rose does get to show us her action chops here, taking this role and letting it make her one of the strongest action heroines of the year. Victor Dubois is the man behind the criminal action, he has put a team together and believes he will be doing everything for a better cause, to make himself richer, he will get frustrated that the people around him aren’t as smart as he is though. Borz is the doorman that hires Ali, he is however the person that has arranged the operation, he has planted himself in deep, which will give him the connection to the residents in the hotel. Jean Reno is entertaining as the posh villain, while Aksel Hennie is the one who is more of a loose cannon, goes against him well, showing the clash in styles we see. The rest of the cast include the men in the criminal group, who are mostly disposable for Ali to pick off, we also get the family who have been through a tragedy that are falling apart, but this event will start to bring them closer.

StoryThe story here follows a former soldier that takes a small job role as a doorman to get her feet back on the ground, reconnect with her family, until she needs to step up and fight to save them from a group of criminals holing them hostage. If you are going to break this story down, there is no easier way than to say it is like Die Hard, it is a lone fighter, fighting back against a group of criminals in a tower building, this time a hotel, that must use their skills to pick them off, one by one. This is a formula that has worked well before and this story does nothing wrong to make this an enjoyable experience. It isn’t difficult to watch, it doesn’t offend, it keeps everything simple and effective.

ThemesThe Doorman brings us a broken soldier into an action situation, one where they will need to look to fight back to save loved ones and stop criminals. The action sequences are designed to show off Ruby Rose’s fighting abilities, trying to create a new action star here, which does work for the most part. The singular location shows us how a building being worked on could easily turn into a battleground even in the middle of New York City.

Final Thoughts The Doorman is a fun action movie, that uses the Die Hard formula well to create a Ruby Rose action character.

The Doorman is available on Digital Download 18 January and DVD 25 January 2021 from Lionsgate UK

ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2020 – R – Greenland (2020) Movie Review

This is under R because of director Ric Roman Waugh.

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Writer: Chris Sparling (Screenplay)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd, Scott Glenn, Randal Gonzalez, Rick Pasqualone

Plot: A family struggles for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Greenland starts as we meet John Garrity (Butler) and his family, wife Allison (Baccarin) and son Nathan (Floyd) who are going about their everyday life, knowing a comet known as Clark is passing by being a major event for a party, only when the first part of the asteroid hits, the shockwave hits John’s neighbourhood.

When John gets a message to inform him, he has been selected for shelter re-location, he must travel with his family to this location to survive a potential global killer coming to Earth, only not everything goes as planned and now John must locate his family and save them before it is too late.

Thoughts on Greenland

Characters – John has a career in building skyscrapers with his reputation being one of the best in the country, he is selected with his family for a re-location shelter when a asteroid is heading towards Earth, he needs to make difficult decisions, but when the plan goes wrong, he must first find his family if he is to have any chance of saving them. Allison is John’s wife, who is left with their son after they are rejected from the plane, she needs to keep his health up as she looks for the next best place to go for safety, believing John is killed in an incident at the airbase. Nathan is the diabetic son that stops the family getting on the plane because they will not accept anyone with an illness, he is put through a series of traumatic experiences looking for safety. We do meet different people that will get involved in helping or hindering the family’s attempts to escape the impending doom.

PerformancesGerard Butler does everything we would expect in the film, having a few glimpses of action, not doing anything wrong in the film, Morena Baccarin works well in her role, with neither needing to do that much work in the film. The support cast is fine, with the surprise actions of certain supporting characters getting more chance to shine.

StoryThe story here follows a family as they looks to find safety after an asteroid is going to hit the Earth and destroy a large part of it, if not most of the surface, this does take on what feels like just one chapter of ‘Deep Impact’ with the idea of following an impossible journey to safety, which will see the most unlikely events happen along the way. It could have been a lot more intense or shocking, but by the end we are left with one that doesn’t do anything new, feels safe, even with the peril and fails to give us enough shocking action moments.

ActionThe action disappoints more than anything, if you have seen the trailer, you have seen all the best parts, with more focus on the drama over the action.

SettingsThe film takes us across America as we look to see how the family is going to find safety, starting in Florida, heading to Greenland, we don’t seem to get any iconic settings being used.

Scene of the Movie – The landing is a beautiful set of shots.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not enough action.

Final Thoughts Greenland is a disaster movie that doesn’t seem to pack enough punches for everything it is trying to sell us on, despite the large scale destruction involved.

Outside the Wire (2021) Movie Review

Outside the Wire – Standard War Movie

Director: Mikael Hafstrom

Writer: Rowan Athale, Rob Yescombe (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Damson Idris, Pilou Asbaek, Michael Kelly, Kristina Tonteri-Young, Brady Dowad, Henry Garrett

Plot: In the near future, a drone pilot sent into a war zone finds himself paired with a top-secret android officer on a mission to stop a nuclear attack.

Tagline – Defiant by design.

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Outside the Wire starts when Lieutenant Thomas Harp (Idris) a drone pilot goes against orders to hit a missile strike, which will see two marines killed, instead of being court marshalled, he is sent into combat in the Ukraine to work with Leo (Mackie) a top-secret android officer that has intelligence on the warlord leading the battle against Victor Koval (Asbaek) who is leading the war to take Ukraine back into Russia.

Working with Leo taking Harp on his mission, which will see him needing to go head to head with the warlord on a mission where Leo has put himself into a position where he is willing to help more than any human soldier could, teaching Harp the reason why he was redeployed here.

Thoughts on Outside the Wire

Characters & Performances – Lieutenant Thomas Harp is a drone pilot who has an excellent record until he goes against orders to try and save as many members as possible of a unit ends up seeing two marines killed, his punishment is to get sent to the ground to experience active combat under an android soldier, where he will get to see the effects of his work from the sky on the local population and learn the fight isn’t just on the computer screens. Damson Idris does a great job in this film. Captain Leo is an android that has been collecting intel for the military in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with the Americans trying to keep the peace, he shows Harp around, showing him the consequences of war, where he does end up learning more about what could be the right thing. Anthony Mackie in the leading role is the most entertaining part of the film, with his charisma being the part of the film which keeps everything flowing nicely. We get to meet a lot of military figures that all have their own opinion on Harp, which will show how he needs to prove himself to them, while also meeting the residents that are involved in the war, the warlord striking fear in the people.

StoryThe story here follows a drone pilot whose mistake leaves him being sent to conflict zone to learn about the consequences of his action, only to find himself in the middle of a battle which could bring about the start of the next world war. This story does show us how war has been getting fought in different ways, without a soldier ever needing to leave his own country, while the ground will still have the same problems of consequences which will cause people to go in different directions with who to blame, we get to see how a man-made intelligence system will study the problem and look to see what the best solution would be to save more people.

ThemesOutside the Wire does bring us plenty of war action which will have plenty of cuts to chop up the action and not make anything as smooth as it could be, while the fights Leo gets involved in looks more like a superhero movie that an android fight, the settings do show us just how difficult the environment would be for the victims and we do get some great special effects, which include seeing the body Leo has, which is shocking to see first, but looks amazing.

Outside the Wire is a war movie that might well ask a bigger question, but gets caught up in the action, which has way too many fast cuts.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch Up 2020 – N – A Score to Settle (2019) Movie Review

This is under N because of Nicolas Cage.

Director: Shawn Ku

Writer: Shawn Ku, John Stuart Newman (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Benjamin Bratt, Noah Le Gros, Karolina Wydra, Mohamed Karim

Plot: An ex-enforcer for a local crime syndicate has vowed to enact retribution on his mob bosses after 19 years of wrongful imprisonment. The only thing diverting his violent plans is a new found relationship to his beloved son.

Tagline – Revenge is coming.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Strange Movie

Story: A Score to Settle starts when Frank (Cage) gets released from prison due to his medical condition, he wants to reunite with his son Joey (Gros) to make up for the lost time with him and starts making enquires about his former boss, the man who he took the fall for.

As the reunions continue, Frank must decide to go out for revenge or look for peace in his life, leaving the world his own way.

Thoughts on A Score to Settle

Characters – Frank is an ex-con that is being released from prison after taking the fall for his boss, he wants to reunite with his son and look for the people who left him in to rot in prison for longer than promised. He is torn between fixing the past or moving forward with future, even if he doesn’t have much time left in his life. Q is the man that used to work with Frank, he is out of the business now and is helping Frank with the connections with the underworld. Joey is Frank’s son that has come to him in an attempt to help him get back on his feet, the two are making up for lost time, with Joey showing how hard he has worked to get out of his own hole. We do meet other people involved in the world, with most being in a position where they are out of the world or higher than they deserve.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is the main reason people will watch this film and this one is saved from being terrible with his odd ball actions through the film. Noah Le Gros does well next to Cage, but the rest of the cast are mostly forgettable through the film.

StoryThe story here follows an ex-con who is released and looks to make up for lost time with his son and looks to get revenge on the people that took this time from him. This does look like one of the standard get out of prison and get revenge movies, only it does end up taking things in a different direction, this works for the final third of the film and saves everything from being completely bland, which the first two thirds are, there just isn’t a spark in the reunion as you always feel like something isn’t quite right and are waiting to see what it is, most of the people seem to be acting like they are out of the business, where they end up being just a quick conversation without going any further.

ActionThe action is very simply, not much, we have shoot outs that don’t bring anything original to the table.

SettingsThe film puts Frank in the high rent apartment for a good time a moment of luxury with his son and with his first time since prison, other nothing else seem fresh for locations.

Scene of the Movie – Defeating the dragon.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It just doesn’t feel connected in how the story unfolds.

Final Thoughts This is Nicolas Cage trying to save a movie without getting the chance to make the impact being the only redeeming factor in the whole film.

Overall: Disappointing Thriller.