Thomas Jane Weekend – White Bird in a Blizzard (2014)

Director: Gregg Araki

Writer: Gregg Araki (Screenplay) Laura Kasischke (Novel)

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Ava Acres, Thomas Jane

Plot: In 1988, a teenage girl’s life is thrown into chaos when her mother disappears.


Tagline – I was 17 when my mother disappeared…

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Uninspiring Teenage Mystery

Story: White Bird in a Blizzard starts when 17-year-old Kat (Woodley) comes home from school to find her father Brock (Meloni) worried about where he mother Eve (Green) has gone, just vanished, taking nothing with her. Following the normal missing person reports through Detective Scieziesciez (Jane) trying to help the best he can.

As Kat examines her life, she starts to think that her mother might have run off with someone else, but the uncertainty around the truth is driving her crazy as she continues to push on her new sexual desires.

Thoughts on White Bird in a Blizzard

Characters – Kat is the 17-year-old girl that is nearing the end of school, has a boyfriend that isn’t given her enough attention for her own desires and then her mother vanishes, she is left wondering why she would just leave right when she was become a woman and needed her help. Eve is the mother of Kat, she has changed over the recent years and now has vanished, we learn about her character through Kat’s memories of her. Brock is the father that Kat thinks is a loser, he is worried about his wife and does the best to stay strong for Kat. Phil is the boyfriend of Kate, he lives across the street and is the opposite to who she was looking for in a man.

PerformancesShailene Woodley does everything fine through this film, she is the strongest of the performers, though that isn’t saying much. Eva Green, Christopher Meloni and Shiloh Fernandez all have one strong scene, while largely being forgettable in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that must deal with the sudden disappearance of her mother, not knowing the truth or who could offer the truth about what has happened. This isn’t the inspiring story because it offers up a mystery only for the story to spend too much time on wondering if Kat is going to get laid and by who, we really don’t spend anytime investigating why or what could have happened to her mother, which only disappoints us. This story does drag along to, which for a 90-minute movie is a giant disappointment.

MysteryThe mystery behind this film does leave us feeling like it forgets there is a mystery halfway through the film, it just doesn’t shine enough of a spotlight onto the mystery.

SettingsThe settings in the film show us a small town that our main character wants to get out off, which sees more people knowing things than they are willing to give away, when it comes to the truth.


Scene of the Movie – Freezer search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The mystery doesn’t seem to be the main focus.

Final Thoughts This feels like a long movie even though it has only a 90-minute runtime, it just drags and doesn’t focus on the mystery enough.

Overall: Dull.

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – N – Notorious (2009)

Director: George Tillman Jr

Writer: Reggie Rock Bythewood, Cheo Hodari Coker (Screenplay)

Starring: Jamal Woolard, Anthony Mackie, Derek Luke, Angela Bassett, Antonique Smith, Charles Malik Whitfield

 

Plot: The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm.


Tagline – The story of the man behind the legend.

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fans of the Icon will Enjoy

 

Story: Notorious starts with the final moments of Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace (Woolard) life, before he flashes back to his childhood, raised by his single mother Voletta (Bassett), getting given a chance to start making money from drug dealing where he becomes addicted to make money, until he gets busted.

At 19 he gets a chance to enter the music industry when Puffy Daddy (Luke) gives him a way to escape the life of drug dealing, however difficult it seems. When Biggie finally get the record deal, he soon becomes an international sensation grabbing the attention from another rapper Tupac Shakur (Mackie) who soon becomes a rival with deadly consequences.

 

Thoughts on Notorious

 

Characters – Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace was a rapper from Brooklyn, he started on the streets as a drug dealer, before showing his rapping skills that saw him become one of the biggest rap stars in the world in the 90’s, we get to see how he has to deal with his vices with women chasing his desire to have too much money. The film doesn’t show him to be a nice man, he cheats on his partners, commits crimes and gets violent when he gets upset, it is a shame for somebody with talent to be such a horrible person. Sean Puffy Combs is the man that takes a chance on Biggie even after losing his position in a record company, he had an eye for talent and knew how to make the most out of it. Tupac is a rival rapper that starts with respect, but because of his continuing side business in drugs, the tension grows and Tupac soon starts a war against Biggie which became a bigger story than any of their music. Faith is Biggie’s wife that has the talent he has though she does become the one that stays with him even if they have an abusive relationship toward each other, well that is what the film shows us.

PerformancesJamal Woolard is brilliant in this leading role, he shows the laidback style Biggie presented himself as, while showing just how easily he can snap. Derek Luke and Anthony Mackie are both strong in the supporting roles, while the rest of the cast give us strong performances too.

StoryThe story here follows the life of Biggie one of the biggest rappers of the 90s that wanted to prove music could inspire change only to get drawn into a gang war with another rapper Tupac, one that made the two even more famous. We follow Biggie in and out of the music world, seeing how he was trying to escape a life of crime, but is drawn into relationship problems. The story doesn’t always paint him as a nice guy though, the way he handles the women in his life is getting into the abusive area. Otherwise this shows us how Biggie wasn’t interested in getting involved in the gang war, he just want to make honest money.

Biopic/Crime/MusicThe biopic side of the film shows how Biggie was being drawn towards a life of crime or leaving it behind to become a big music sensation and how his life changed with the new, making him part of one of the biggest rap battles in history. The crime world is showing how Biggie was always trying to get out of this world and give you hope to others that are facing it. While I personally wasn’t a fan of the music involved, it will please the fans of his music.

SettingsThe film is set in the backdrop Brooklyn shows where he has come from and how he wants to stay loyal to the people who supported him.


Scene of the Movie –
Making the choice.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film doesn’t show him able to treat his women with respect.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic that showed how easily a rivalry can start within the business that could end up becoming deadly between two biggest names in the music industry.

 

Overall: Music biopic that defined a decade.

Rating

 

 

Bumblebee (2018)

Director: Travis Knight

Writer: Christina Hodson (Screenplay)

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Dylan O’Brien, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett, Megyn Price

 

Plot: On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.


Tagline – Every Hero Has a Beginning

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming & Delightful

 

Story: Bumblebee starts when Bumblebee is sent to Earth to prepare a base for the Autobots from the war against the Decepticons, getting injured in the landing he goes into hiding. Charlie (Steinfeld) is turning 18 trying to finish fixing a car that her and her late father worked on, she stumbles upon the Volkswagen Bug in a junkyard taking it home.

Learning that the bug is actually Bumblebee she finds a new friend, Dropkick and Shatter have been hunting down Bumblebee in search for the new base, with Agent Burns (Cena) working with them to stop humans getting caught in the middle of a war between the robot factions.

 

Thoughts on Bumblebee

 

Characters – Charlie is an 18-year-old girl still recovering from the death of her father, even though the rest of the family has moved on, she isolates herself from people working on fixing her car. She finds Bumblebee becoming her first friend as she tries to teach the robot about the world, she is the heart and soul of this movie because you feel each moment that tests her in life, as she needs to move on with her life. Agent Burns is a military man that is there when Bumblebee lands, he has spent time hunting down the robots he saw kill his men, wanting both answers and revenge. Bumblebee is a warrior back n Cybertron, he is sent to Earth to prepare for the next battle, only he loses he voice in the battle and his memory has faded, he goes into hiding until Charlie brings him out of his shell showing him what is worth fighting for on Earth. Shatter and Dropkick are the two Decepticons that are hunting down the Autobots before they can regroup, they know how to work the humans to get what they need.

PerformancesHailee Steinfeld gives us the best performance in any Transformers movie, she brings a heart to this character that we actually care about for the first time in the series. John Cena continues his rise in Hollywood giving us a good performance without needing to be truly tested.

StoryThe story follows Bumblebee who comes to Earth to prepare it for a new base for the Autobots and defend it from any of the Decepticons that could make the base known, he meets a human in Charlie who offers him friendship guidance and helps fix him. The unlikely friendship helps both the isolated figures learn their place in life which makes this one of the surprisingly refreshing stories of the year, for a big action film. the villains are only a smaller part of the war which is nice because we don’t need or want to see Bumblebee battle Megatron. We could sit here and complain about different aspects of the large scale of the story from the previous films, but we don’t need to, we also get a nod to a future character in the series. The best part of the story comes from the idea that everything becomes simple again which keeps us only focusing on one story between the Charlie and Bumblebee.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action when unleashed is good with the fights between the Transformers becoming easier to watch than previous films with each having their own ability in the fights to become stronger. The adventure takes Charlie from what she thinks is a dead-end life to learn to move on with life. The sci-fi side shows us the Transformers war we are going to be part of soon.

SettingsThe film puts us in San Francisco, well just outside with the locations of the beach showing us the beauty in the open road, which is what Charlie wants to be on.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are brilliant, the fights between the Transformers all feel flawless with the world they are from looking like everything you thought it would be.


Scene of the Movie –
Final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Why are they vehicles on Cybertron?

Final ThoughtsThis is easily the best movie from the Transformers universe, it brings a heart and soul to the characters making you care about what will happen to them.

 

Overall: Wonderful and will you with a smile.

Rating

 

 

Mission Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie (Screenplay) Bruce Geller (Television Series)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Wes Bentley, Alec Baldwin

 

Plot: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.


Tagline – Some missions are not a choice.

Runtime: 2 Hours 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Adrenaline Blast

 

Story: Mission Impossible: Fallout starts when Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team Luther (Rhames) and Benji (Pegg) have a mission gone wrong with plutonium falling into the wrong hands. CIA director Erica Sloan (Bassett) wants it back and her team to do the job, but know Ethan has everything lined up she assigns them her best man August Walker (Cavill) to join the team.

The mission is to retrieve the plutonium which leads them to cross paths with old allies and enemies before they can be used as a weapon that would devastate the Earth.

 

Thoughts on Mission Impossible – Fallout

 

Characters – Ethan Hunt is the man, agent the leader of the group, he will go into any situation with a plan, trusting the people behind him, this time his loyalty puts the world in peril and his must prove he can find a way to save the day without comprising his position. August Walker is a CIA agent, a fixer if you like, he will get the job done by shooting first asking questions later, which has led him to clash with Hunt, they have both made mistakes which could have got the job done earlier and now he is the one man you don’t want to fight against. Luther and Benji are the key components to Ethan’s team, they have the know how to get the job done and are two of the only people he will trust. Ilsa Faust returns and this time she crosses paths with Ethan turning up at the same locations on her own mission, still deadly and a figure that you will be on the fence about what side she is fight for. We have our authority figures in Alan Hunley and Erica Sloan who of course are clashing, as well as other figures that would be in the criminal world.

PerformancesTom Cruise, what more can say about this guy, when it comes to action he commits big time and this is no different, the action sequences he puts his body through and even the emotional factors included in this film show just how talented he is, with this easily being one of his best action performances of his career. Henry Cavill, I haven’t always been a fan of because Superman is kind of boring, in this film however, we get to see that this man is a talent, we believe he will kick your ass if you crossed him and the moments of emotionless moments are key to his character. Pegg and Rhames do have great chemistry and the comic relief, while Ferguson returns to keep enough mystery about her character for long enough in the film. Bassett and Baldwin will always make good authority figures and to see Vanessa Kirby fresh from The Crown in a big movie, she is great to watch here.

StoryThe story here follows Ethan on his latest mission, this time we get to see what could happen if the by the book mission goes wrong for his own personal reasons over a traitor in the group like the normal opening. The idea he needs to work with an outside isn’t new, the idea that he could be the traitor in the eyes of the authority isn’t new, but it has been tried and tested. Making this feel like a direct sequel is new though, the previous instalments have always felt like, just another mission, this one references previous stories and that increases the peril even if everything plays out to not completely mock certain aspects, but poke a tiny bit of fun at them.

Action/AdventureThe action, the reason we go to these films, while you do get a glimpse of nearly all the sequences in the trailer, the length and intensity to them isn’t shown there and you will be watching from the edge of your seat just to see where or what Hunt does next. The adventure side of the film does take Ethan across the world to save it before it is too late.

SettingsThe film uses key locations, with have Paris, London and Kashmir, each one offers a different action sequences to take place.  

Special EffectsThe effects show us just how committed or crazy Tom Cruise is, while they are prepared stunts everything is practical and looks it in every single scene.


Scene of the Movie –
London chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The opening credits give snippets of the action we are about to see.

Final ThoughtsThis is another quality addition to the Mission Impossible franchise, it is going to go down as one of the best usages of practical stunts for years to come and shows how they can still be used to this day.

 

Overall: Pure rush of an action film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – M – Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Director: Stephen J Anderson

Writer: Jon Bernstein, Michelle Bochner Spitz, Don Hall, Nathan Greno, Aurian Redson, Joseph Mateo, Stephen J Anderson (Screenplay) William Joyce (Book)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Angela Bassett, Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Matthew Josten, John H H Ford, Dara McGarry

 

Plot: Lewis is a brilliant inventor who meets mysterious stranger named Wilbur Robinson, whisking Lewis away in a time machine and together they team up to track down Bowler Hat Guy in a showdown that ends with an unexpected twist of fate.


Tagline – If you think your family’s different, wait ’til you meet the family of the future.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice and Simple Animation

 

Story: Meet the Robinson starts as we meet orphan Lewis, a brilliant inventor that keeps getting over looked for adoption, tired of this, he uses his intervention skills to build a machine which could open the door to memories. When this ends up going wrong, he meets Wilbur a boy from the future, the two go into the future where Lewis will be in his element with the world being full of inventors.

Lewis while happy here must fix the time machine and return to his own time to finish his memory scanner before the future he is in now changes.

 

Thoughts on Meet the Robinson

 

Characters – Lewis is an orphan with bring dreams of being an amazing and brilliant inventor, when he gets a new friend in Wilbur that takes him to the future and his family of inventors, Lewis might have found his place in the world. Lewis is the typical Disney hero figure, worried about one part of their life while missing the truth about another part. Wilbur is the boy from the future that is trying to make up for his own mistake which could change the future he now lives in, this character shows us just what type of responsibility youngsters will need to learn about.

StoryThe story follows a young boy as he looks for answers to why he became an orphan, but over the span of his adventure he ends up in the future where he learns the importance of keeping on working towards his own destiny in typical Disney storytelling process. The story does feel like a flashy version of the Sims video game which is strange for large parts, it does have too many easy twists too.

Adventure/Comedy/Family/Sci-FiThe adventure takes our young orphan inventor to the future which plays into the sci-fi ideas which is his dreams throughout. The comedy is hit or miss with most missing in the most part though.

SettingsThe settings bring us to a future where inventors have become celebrities and their creations are everywhere with everyone using them.

AnimationThe animation works well but you do feel it could have been at a higher level for Disney.


Scene of the Movie –
Closing sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It misses the jokes too many times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic animated movie that is everything Disney do when it comes to being safe.

 

Overall: Safe Disney movie.

Rating