The Rocketeer (1991)

Director: Joe Johnston

Writer: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, William Dear (Screenplay) Dave Stevens (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton, Paul Sorvino, Terry O’Quinn, Ed Lauter, James Handy

 

Plot: A young pilot stumbles onto a prototype jetpack that allows him to become a high flying masked hero.


Tagline – Three years before the United States declares war, Cliff Secord leads America’s first battle against the Nazis.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Adventure Film

 

Story: The Rocketeer starts in 1938 as young pilot Cliff (Campbell) and his engineer Peevy (Arkin) find a mysterious jetpack in one of their planes after a group of mobsters crash in their airstrip. Neville Sinclair (Dalton) wants the rocket and has Eddie Valentine (Sorvino) and his men try to retrieve it.

With Neville turning out to be one of the biggest stars in an emerging Hollywood, Cliff’s girlfriend Jenny (Connelly) has a part in his latest movie, which brings him to the attention of Neville and his goons, once he uses the jetpack to save a friend.

 

Thoughts on The Rocketeer

 

Characters – Cliff is a quiet, shy and clumsy pilot, well clumsy on land, he has a blossoming romance with aspiring actress, he is always trying to prove he is the best in the sky and when he gets his hands on a jetpack he becomes the Rocketeer. Jenny is the aspiring actress that has only been getting small roles and only wishes Cliff would support her dreams more. Peevy is the engineer that can fix anything for Cliff, he watches him risk his life and knows he can handle himself. Neville Sinclair is a big-name actor in Hollywood, he wants to get his hands on the jetpack and will use his goons to get his hands on it.

PerformancesBilly Campbell is good in this leading role, you can see the innocent reactions in his eyes. Jennifer Connelly is good even if she is just mainly the damsel to Cliff’s character. Alan Arkin does get to have fun in his role, while Timothy Dalton works well as the primary villain in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a young man that suddenly gets the equipment to make him superhuman with the addition of the jetpack, though the mob are also after the jetpack and he must protect his friends from his secret. This is adapted from a graphic novel and you can see this as it is mostly an origin story about how Cliff became the Rocketeer. When it comes to the villains we get cliched mob figures throughout which is fine, but soon becomes tiresome with their reactions to everything going on. This is however a fun story that can be enjoyed throughout.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action in the film is a lot of fun because it is wildly over the top and fits the comic book ideas we are now used too. The adventure takes Cliff from a small time role of a pilot to one of the most wanted men in Hollywood and not for the good reasons. The sci-fi elements from the film come from the inclusion of the jetpack and how it comes from the mind of Howard Hughes.

SettingsThe film is set in Hollywood where we have the rise of mobsters in the corrupt on the early stages of Hollywood are shown through the use of the settings.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are good for the most part, the flying sequences are a step forward from the old school Superman films and have dated when it comes to modern film stylings.


Scene of the Movie –
First time with the Rocket.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The mobsters feel too cliched.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice fun film that can be enjoyed, it has dated in places but for a time when comic book movies didn’t come along that often this shows you can make them fun without them being connected.

 

Overall: Fun from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – G – Grudge Match (2013)

Director: Peter Segal

Writer: Tim Kelleher, Rodney Rothman (Screenplay) Tim Kelleher (Story)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger, LL Cool J, Jon Bernthal

 

Plot: A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout, thirty years after their last match.


Tagline – Never give up the fight.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More Heartfelt Than You Would Think

 

Story: Grudge Match starts as we see the history of two boxing legends Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Stallone) & Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (De Niro) who has two fights and before The Kid got his rematch, Razor walked away from the sport. 30-years-later after an altercation between the two goes viral, Dante Slate Jr (Hart) arranges one more match between the two.

The two get back into training, Razor uses his old coach Lightning (Arkin) while The Kid turns to a new gym he helped fund run by Frankie Brite (Cool J) but it is his unknown son BJ (Bernthal) that knows how to train, the two go through the press campaign giving everyone buzz about the fight between two fighters past their prime and out of shape.

 

Thoughts on Grudge Match

 

Characters – Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp won the last fight between the two, he then walked away from the sport losing his fortune along the way becoming a factory worker. When the chance to make money by returning for one fight however reluctant he is, he must confront the problems which left him walking away from the ring to be ready for his in-ring return. Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen lost the last fight between the two, he wants rematch, but his reasoning behind him losing is the same as Razor leaving the ring. He has his own bar and jumps at the chance of a rematch. Dante Slate Jr is the fast taking promoter that has followed in his father’s footsteps. Lightning is the trainer for Razor he always has been, the old man cliché is all about him in this film. we have Sally who is the woman that got between the two men trying to rebuild her relationship with Razor.

PerformancesStallone and De Niro both have legendary careers where they both appeared in boxing movies, Rocky and Raging Bull respectable, this performance from the both doesn’t mock what they achieved, but does let them have fun at knowing they are older than when those films were part of their highlights. The supporting cast all get to play into their strengths, Hart with his quick talking, Arkin with his grumpy old man persona and Basinger doing the old flame figure.

StoryThe story follows to old rivals in the Boxing ring that get bought back together for the grudge match with the two having one a single match win each. The story shows how rivalries can last for decades and how they both have survived after leaving the world of boxing. We get to see the ‘old man’ in tech heavy world moments as this fight goes viral which works in places but not others. We see how the personal lives of everyone involved has been affected by the rivalry too.

Comedy/SportsThe comedy is solid in most places we get Hart doing his thing most and Arkin do the grumpy old man routine which gets the most laughs. The sports brings us in the boxing world with former rivals.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings in the two boxers home city of Pittsburgh which shows the sport will bring the city together.


Scene of the Movie –
The match itself.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain jokes miss.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that was a lot better than I would expect, the jokes can hit and by the end you will enjoy this movie with two boxing legends finally ending their tie.

 

Overall: Fun sports comedy.

Rating

 

 

Jakob the Liar (1999)

Director: Peter Kassovitz

Writer: Peter Kassovitz, Didier Decoin (Screenplay) Jurek Becker (Novel)

Starring: Robin Williams, Hannah Taylor Gordon, Bob Balaban, Alan Arkin, Liev Schreiber

 

Plot: In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast about Russian troop movements. Returned to the ghetto, the shopkeeper shares his information with a friend and then rumors fly that there is a secret radio within the ghetto. Jakob uses the chance to spread hope throughout the ghetto by continuing to tell favorable tales of information from “his secret radio.” Jakob, however, has a real secret in that he is hiding a young Jewish girl who escaped from a camp transport train. A rather uplifting and slightly humorous film about World War II Jewish Ghetto life.


Tagline –  He will make you believe.

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong, but Not Impactful Enough

 

Story: Jakob the Liar starts in Poland and the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Jakob (Williams) a pancake salesman is trying to avoid the curfew and while being accused of failing to follow the instruction he over hears the radio announcing the Russians are coming, he saves a young girl Lina (Gordon) the world spreads around the ghetto that the Russians are coming with Jakob giving them hope.

As the stories continue to grow Jakob learns he can no longer tell the truth because it will only leave the people with no hope and if he continues his lies he will give them false hope which might put the lives of fellow residents at risk.

 

Thoughts on Jakob the Liar

 

Characters – Jakob is one of the Jews confined the ghettos in Poland during World War II, he keeps his head down with his connection, until one day he makes the story up of hearing the Russians are coming which lifts the moral in the ghetto, only for everyone there wanting to listen to his radio, the one he doesn’t have, but he can’t tell the truth because it will bring back the suicides in the ghetto. The rest of the character we meet are the residents of the ghetto and a young girl Lina that has escaped the transport trains, they all see hope in Jakob’s stories.

PerformancesRobin Williams in the leading role does nail the accent, get his moments of humour and heart, but sadly it is hard to take the film seriously when you are waiting for a laugh even for the sensitive subject. The rest of the cast are good even if we are turning to Robin slightly too much through the film.

StoryThe story is a difficult one to watch with a humorous tone because it was a horrendous time in history, we know what happened to the Jews and how they were forced to live. Now saying this, how the Jews were given hope from the stories of Jakob does help the hellish life they were living through, but watching things get out of control does play into the what makes the story interesting to watch. This is a story that doesn’t balance the sensitive subject very well though which disappoints.

WarThe film is set in the war time, we get to see the conditions Jews were forced to live through for the most part, but not the conflict.

SettingsThe settings do make us believe we are there with the victims of the time which can be hard to watch like always.


Scene of the Movie –
Battling what to do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too humorous in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting idea for the how Jews would try to improve moral in a difficult time, but end sup being too humorous for the subject matter.

 

Overall: Not on the leave of the best holocaust movies.

Rating

 

 

Abigail Breslin Weekend – Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Writer: Michael Arndt (Screenplay)

Starring: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell

 

Plot: A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.


Tagline – A family on the verge of a breakdown

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Amazingly Charming Movie

 

Story: Little Miss Sunshine starts as we meet our family, motivational speaker Richard (Kinnear), hardworking mother Sheryl (Collette), depressed teenage son Dwayne (Dano) who has taken a vow of silence, hyperactive young daughter Olive (Breslin), veteran grandfather Edwin (Arkin) and Uncle Frank (Carell) who is fresh out of a hospital after a failed suicide attempt.

The six go on a road trip across America to enter Olive into the Little Miss Sunshine competition and along the way the family must deal with their own ups and downs to help their youngster member fulfil her dream.

 

Thoughts on Little Miss Sunshine

 

Characters – Olive is the youngest member of the family, cute but never going to be able to truly compete in the beauty contests, but this is her dream and the family will come together to help her achieve her dream. Richard is the father of the family, a motivational speaker who believes he has the next big catch for a book, he always encourages his family to believe they will succeed over just trying. Dwayne is the eldest son in the family, taking a vow of silence until he can become a jet pilot, he hates everyone with the only one he will help is Olive. Grandpa Edwin has been kicked out of a retirement home and living with the family, he swears and enjoys a drug or two. Sheryl is the mother of the family who will do anything for her kids which involves taking Olive across country for the contest. Frank is the suicidal genius brother of Sheryl, released under her care in case he tries it again, he sees the family for their flaws and even takes Dwayne under his wing on the journey.

PerformancesWe have six fantastic performances here, we had the established stars, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Alan Arkin shining and the star making performances from Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano and Steve Carell who was the it star of 2006.

StoryThe story follows a dysfunctional family that must travel across America to enter their youngest member to a beauty contest. We get the characters with their flaws that can be worked on through the film which gives us a natural feeling about the family. It does have the idea that family will need to come together no matter what gets in their way. This is a fun enjoyable story that can be enjoyed by everyone.

ComedyThe comedy here is delightful it hits on every level and does mostly come from real life moments.

SettingsThe road trip moments give us the idea of how far the family will go and we see this in the settings.


Scene of the Movie –
The dance routine.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The colour-blind test is fake because I am colour blind and I could see the test, when normally I haven’t been able to.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the greatest comedies of all time, it is just delightful on every account with wonderful performance from the whole cast.

 

Overall: Wonderful throughout.

Rating

 

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – G – Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Director: James Foley

Writer: David Mamet (Screenplay) David Mamet (Play)

Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce

 

Plot: An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.


Tagline – Lie. Cheat. Steal. All In A Day’s Work.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Drama

 

Story: Glengarry Glen Ross starts as we see how a real estate office is struggling to close deals, Blake (Baldwin) is hired to put down the firm law on the employees, office manager John Williamson (Spacey) tries to be strict with his staff as we see struggling aging expert Shelley (Lemmon), upcomer Dave Moss (Harris) the hot shot Ricky Roma (Pacino) and George (Arkin) that are given one week to make as many closes as possible.

As the pressure gets to the men things only get worse when the contracts are stolen which shows the true characters in the ruthless business.

 

Thoughts on Glengarry Glen Ross

 

Characters – Ricky Roma is the best estate agent in the office, he closes the biggest deals in the office which fills him with all the confidence in the world. Shelley Levene is the eldest member of the office, he has been down on his luck recently knowing this could be his last chance to keep his job. Dave Moss is the hot-head of the office that goes against the ultimatum about the jobs and comes up with a plan to make sure he gets the best leads. George is the timid member of the office but a fantastic salesman, he gets talked into Dave’s plan. John Williamson runs the office handing out the leads while making sure the teams get good sales. Blake is the man that puts the ultimatum down on the office, he is blunt when it comes to doing the deal.

PerformancesThe cast here is filled with award winners, the highest calibre of actor in the industry at that time. Pacino, Lemmon, Baldwin, Arkin, Harris, Spacey and Pryce are all fantastic it is unfair to single anyone out for more praise than any other.

StoryThe story follows 24-hours in life at the office of a real estate agents as the are pressured into improve their sales which includes dealing with a robbery that throws everything up in the air. This is a character driven story as we see how people can react under pressure as it comes from a play and you can feel that about the story all the way through. The story doesn’t get over complicated as we see how things unfold and it shows the desperation man will go for his own greed.

Crime/MysteryThe crime that takes place is partly how the deals get done and how the contracts get stolen which leads to the mystery to just who is the person behind everything.

SettingsThe settings are kept simple, the office, the bar and a house for discussions, this keeps everything grounded through the film from start to finish.


Scene of the Movie –
Truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Blake being in more scene would have been good.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fantastic assembled cast that give powerful performances that just deliver from the first frame until the final frame, simple fantastic cinema.

 

Overall: Fantastic from start to finish.

Rating