ABC Film Challenge – Crime – T – Taking Lives (2004)

Director: D.J. Caruso

Writer: Jon Bokenkamp (Screenplay) Michael Pye (Novel)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Gena Rowlands, Oliver Martinez, Tcheky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Andlande, Paul Dano

 

Plot: An FBI profiler is called in by French Canadian police to catch a serial killer who takes on the identity of each new victim.


Tagline – He Would Kill To Be You.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Good as it Should Be

 

Story: Taking Lives starts as we see a young man kill another young man to steal his identity, years later a body is discovered in Canada which leads to the local French-Canadian police to call in FBI profiler Illeana (Jolie) to help with the new mystery body. Things take a turn when a man Costa (Hawke) believes he interrupted the next attempted murder before the killer is finished dealing with the body.

When the police learn this killer has been killing and stealing identities the case takes a turn and now they must figure out who the latest victim is and who he has become.

 

Thoughts on Taking Lives

 

Characters – Illeane Scott is an FBI Profiler bought in to help with the case of a killer that is stealing identities of the people he is murdering, she gets the profile correct and wants to had home after starting to become interested in one of the key witnesses. Costa is a key witness who interrupts one of the murders before the killer can complete his plan, he gives the information to track the killer. Hart is a man that soon enters Costa’s life after the incident making him the prime suspect as the killer.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie is solid enough in this leading role which disappoints because we know she can be a fantastic cop figure. Ethan Hawke struggles with his role too which is only really filled with disappointment as he never convinces in his witness role. Kiefer Sutherland disappoints because we know how good he can be and want to see him more often in a film.

StoryThe story is a FBI agent needing to help track down a serial killer who steals identity, yeah these are usually entertaining to watch but this just doesn’t reach the levels of mystery it needs, this might be because this is a repeat viewing and I know the ending, but there are never really any hints or suspects to work with through the film. the film lacks the true tension needed in a film that is filled with twisted crimes going on.

Crime/MysteryThe crime is interesting for a killer to be acting the way they do, the weakest part is the mystery as we just don’t meet enough potential suspects.

SettingsThe film is sent in a big city which plays into the idea that someone could steal and identity and kill someone without people noticing someone going missing.

Special EffectsThe effects are good because we get to see practical effects when it comes to the kills and aftermath from them.


Scene of the Movie –
The lift opening.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough suspects.

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime thriller that lacks the punch to make it stand out from the crowded market, we always need a large group of suspects, but this didn’t give us enough, while it did create a great killer.

 

Overall: Lacklustre crime thriller

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Dean Georgaris (Screenplay) Steven E de Souza, James V Hart (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerald Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger

 

Plot: Adventurer Lara Croft goes on a quest to save the mythical Pandora’s Box, before an evil scientist finds it, and recruits a former Marine turned mercenary to assist her.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Enough Sequel

 

Story: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starts when Lara Croft’s (Jolie) latest treasure hunt ends up with her team killed and her treasure stolen by Chen Lo (Yam) who is willing to sell the orb to arms dealer Jonathan Reiss (Hinds) a former MI6 agent turned evil, that wants to use the orb to locate Pandora’s Box which could bring about the next viral apocalypse on the world.

Lara working with MI6 is joined by disgraced former agent Terry Sheridan (Butler) as per her request as they race around the world to unlock the truth about Pandora’s Box before it ends up in the wrong hands.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

 

Characters – Lara Croft the treasure hunting heroine that travels the world to locate the treasure of the world before they fall into the wrong hands. She is still the kick ass resourceful heroine we know, we see how her connections around the world can help and hinder her quest. Terry Sheridan is the disgraced former MI6 agent, he is granted freedom for information and his former connection with Lara puts him in the middle of the two sides. Jonathan Reiss is the arms dealer that wants Pandora’s Box to be able to sell to the highest bidders to create chaos in the world. he knows how to get results and is happy to kill anyone that crosses his paths. Bryce and Hillary return in the same roles getting the laughs and doing the background work Lara. Kosa is one of the many connections that Lara has around the world, they are good friends after the previous work and respect between the cultures.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie continues to be great in the role of Lara Croft, she had the perfect look for the character and handled the swagger about the character perfectly well. Gerald Butler is good as the shady partner to Lara through the film, giving us rough around the edges figure. Ciaran Hinds is good in the villainous role even if the character is everything you would expect them to be. Barrie and Taylor continue to give the humour when needed. The rest of the cast are fine as they just fill the role required.

StoryThe story here follows Lara Croft on her next treasure hunt where she faces a new shady society lead by weapons dealer who wants to unlock the power of Pandora’s Box. We get to see her globe trot as she is aided by MI6 to locate the mysterious and deadly item. This does continue keep us in the peril filled situations, the idea that Lara has connections around the world to make treasure hunting possible, the shady organisation and treasure that could cause major destruction to the world. This doesn’t test us to the same levels as the first film because as it ends up just following the same formula.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is big as we have bigger stunts going on through the film including a motorbike sequence along the Great Wall China, flying through the streets of Hong Kong and giant monsters in Africa. The adventure does take us around the world once again which is what we want, but we don’t get enough in tomb locations.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world as we see different locations some iconic, some secret tombs with historic stories.

Special EffectsThe effects are weaker than last time without taking us too far out of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The Great Wall motorbike scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough Tomb location.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough sequel that the fans of the original should enjoy, but if you didn’t like the first one you won’t be enjoying as much.

 

Overall: Solid enough for a sequel.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001) Revisited

This is a revisited review, I first did this as one of my very first reviews in 2012.

 

Director: Simon West

Writer: Patrick Massett, John Zinman (Screenplay) Sara B Cooper, Mike Werb, Michael Colleary (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig, Chris Barrie, Leslie Phillips

 

Plot: Video game adventurer Lara Croft comes to life in a movie where she races against time and villains to recover powerful ancient artefacts.


Tagline – Who Is Lara Croft?

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pure Fun

 

Story: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starts on the anniversary of Lara Croft’s (Jolie) father death, with a once in a lifetime planetary alinement happening, Lara just so happens to discover the all seeing eye in her mansion and now she is involved in an adventure she is interested in. Lara’s connection lead her to Manfred Powell (Glen) a man assigned to locate the eye for secret society that want to use its powers for their own desires.

Once Manfred takes the artefact, Lara must go on adventure showing her tomb raiding skills hoping to stop them powerful device causing havoc on the world.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

 

Characters – Lara Croft lifted straight from the video game, the Lady of Croft Manor, she has found treasures all over the world becoming slightly bored of the popular location, getting a hidden message from her later father Lara’s interest spikes and soon she will be battle a secret society that are using her latest discovery to hopefully control time. We know she is the kick ass action heroine from the video games, calm through each situation, competitive rivalry with Alex West and the best in her field. Lord Richard Croft had died before the story starts, he appears in dreams guiding Lara as he was the one that trained her, he started learning about this event long before it started. Manfred Powell is hired by an underground society that want control of time, he will do anything to get what he wants to prove his value to the society and doesn’t lift a finger when it comes to searching for treasure. Alex West is the American rival to Lara, he works for money over desire to find treasure even if the two do just have an honest rivalry. Bryce and Hillary are the two most trusted people in Lara’s life, one works on her tech while the other looks after the manor.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie was the perfect choice in the year 2001 for this role, she was the best action heroine for the time, had the look of Lara Croft down to perfection as well as the swagger filled attitude. Jon Voight while only in a couple of scenes is good as the father figure needed for Lara. Iain Glen is good as the calculated villain who can kill just as quickly as Lara, he shows the calmness through the film to stay a threat in the film. Daniel Craig as the rival tomb raider is fine, his accent is his weakness though. Noah Taylor and Chris Barrie get most of the laughs which keeps the story on a lighter note.

StoryThe story gives us one of Lara Croft adventures as a Tomb Raider against the Illuminati. The story shows us an established Lara, accepting her place in the high society with connections in the antique world, we see she is trained in combat and this helps us get right into the story. the story shows us how Lara is almost bored of the generic treasure hunts and this knew one sparks her interest once again. When it comes to the story it unfolds as you would imagine, going from one location to the next location for the next chapter of the adventure as we get the different parts to complete the quest.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is set pieces set up on the different adventures Lara is on, be it in the tombs or in the manor which get bigger as the film goes on.

SettingsThe settings take us from the manor, to the tombs in the jungle and Siberia as well as Venice. Each place would be where you could imagine Lara going on her adventures.

Special EffectsThe effects are a mix of good and bad, for the time however they would have been excellent to watch, with the stone figures in the tomb sequence.


Scene of the Movie –
First Tomb sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain effects have dated.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action adventure bring to life one of the most iconic video game characters in Lara Croft.

 

Overall: Action adventure worth watching.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – T -The Tourist (2010)

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Writer: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes (Screenplay) Jerome Salle (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff, Rufus Sewell

 

Plot: Revolves around Frank, an American tourist visiting Italy to mend a broken heart. Elise is an extraordinary woman who deliberately crosses his path.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: This was Rather Boring

 

Story: The Tourist starts as we watch Inspector John Acheson (Bettany) track Elise Flifton-Ward (Jolie) across Europe in search for a mysterious Alexander Peirce. While travelling to Venice Elise is assigned to find someone who looks like Alexander, which brings in Frank Tupelo (Depp) an American tourist travelling through Europe that ends up enjoying the company of Elise.

When Acheson knows that Frank is a nobody in his case, he continues his case tracking Elise but crossed information leads to Frank finding his own life in danger from a gangster who is searching for Peirce too.

Frank must escape and stay alive but Elise needs to get her job done but now wants to keep Frank safe with multiple people after them, you know what I lost the plot here.

 

Thoughts on The Tourist

 

Characters/PerformanceElise is a mysterious woman that has connection to a known and wanted criminal, she finds herself trapped in the middle of saving an innocent man she has gotten in the middle of her misleading plan or getting the job done. Frank is the widowed American tourist who gets pulled into the world of criminal activity all while being innocent.

Performance wise, Depp clearly is in the middle of his pay day run here never reaching the heights we know he can while Jolie isn’t too much better in her role.

StoryThe story is mostly about a femme fatale trying to keep everyone away from her boss but soon learns that this random man has stolen her heart. We have twists turns but you just don’t care about the operation going on through the film, which just makes everything come off plain.

Action/RomanceThe action is very basic and you wouldn’t expect any tension through the film with the romance almost getting thrown down our throats too much without being believable.

SettingsVenice makes for a beautiful setting but the film just doesn’t capture everything in its full.

Special EffectsThe special effects are again all basic never pulling you into the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a star driven action borefest, we rely on the idea that Depp and Jolie could pull in any audience member but then forget to give us an interesting story.

 

Overall: Easily forgotten movie

Rating

 

 

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Director: James Mangold

Writer: James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan (Screenplay) Susanna Kaysen (Book)

Starring: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Elisabeth Moss, Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor, Vanessa Redgrave

 

Plot: Based on writer Susanna Kaysen’s account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the 1960s.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Drama

 

Story: Girl, Interrupted starts as Susanna (Ryder) reluctantly accepts an offer to head to a mental hospital to help her deal with her drinking and drug problems which leave her in a depressive state in the 60s. In the hospital Susanna meets the fellow patients Lisa (Jolie), Georgina (DuVall), Daisy (Murphy), Polly (Moss) Janet (Bettis) and others each with their own problems.

Over her 18-months in the hospital, Susanna experiences the ups and downs she is struggling with but see that people have worse problems than she does and doing the right thing to help people can be a cure for anyone.

 

Thoughts on Girl, Interrupted

 

Characters – Susanna has recently tried to kill herself which has put her inside a mental hospital, she must deal with her own personal depression but finds hope in a place filled with people with their own problems. Lisa is the loud patient that always becomes the centre of attention in the ward as well as becoming Susanna’s closest friend through the time, she is a bad example but is always trying to help in the long run. Georgina is the roommate of Susanna that comes off the most normal of all the women in the ward. Valerie is the nurse that tries to give the time to all the girls knowing the struggle she had to overcome to be where she is in the 60s but will try to guide them all. We have the string of different patients in the ward with their own problems.

PerformanceWinona Ryder is brilliant in the leading role here showing us just how she was on top of her game at this time. Angelina Jolie showed the world just what she can do with a performance that won her an Oscar and you can see why. Whoopi Goldberg is great in her supporting role and looking through the cast you get great performances from the whole cast including Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Elisabeth Moss, Jared Leto and Jeffrey Tambor and many more.

StoryThe story follows how one woman struggles with her own mentality issues over an 18-month period. We see how she needs to learn about herself, her strengths and weaknesses as well as not wanting to follow the traditional go to college route the high school friends did, her own decisions must be made to escape the world she finds herself in. This is an important story for people who do suffer from their own depressive issues to see because it will show the strength you can get from yourself.

BiographyThis 18-months of Susanna’s life helped pave the way for this story, they are personal moments that show how important this story can be.

SettingsMost of the film is set within the mental home which is what you need to see for the best moments of the film.

Scene of the Movie – Last night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There was nothing told about what happened to the rest of the women.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily on the par with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, it shows the importance of understand mental illness.

 

Overall: A must watch for anyone that has suffered from mental illness.

Rating