Monster Trucks (2016)

Director: Chris Wedge

Writer: Derek Connolly (Screenplay) Matthew Robinson, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Story)

Starring: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Holt McCallany

 

Plot: A young man working at a small town junkyard discovers and befriends a creature which feeds on oil being sought by a fracking company.


Tagline – On January 13, meet Creech

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Film

 

Story: Monster Trucks starts as we see how the oil company run by Reece Tenneson (Lowe) has an accident on one of their sites which see three creatures discovered underground, where one escapes. We meet Tripp (Till) a high school student that struggles to concentrate, who works at the local scrapyard to stay away from his step-father Sheriff Rick (Pepper).

When Tripp finds the creature in the scrapyard the two become friends as it hides in his truck, with fellow student Meredith (Levy) trying to explain the biological side to the creature, while Reece is trying to figure out how to solve a potential problem to the eco-system and his oil drilling.

 

Thoughts on Monster Trucks

 

Characters – Tripp is a high school student, living with his mother and step-father, he comes off like a slacker with dreams of leaving the small town. He works at the scrapyard working on his escape with the truck he has been building, when he befriends the unknown creature he gets to go on an adventure to save the new species. Meredith is a fellow student that works with Tripp to understand the creature but her character plays out with the idea of being a damsel in distress.  Jim works for the oil company, he learns of the intelligence the creatures have and wants to help make them free not destroying their environment. Sheriff Rick is the step-father of Tripp who must try to keep up with Tripp without letting him get in trouble, he isn’t a direct enemy of Tripp’s though. Reece Tenneson is the oil tycoon that is losing money with the creatures being alive and now he will do anything to get rid of them.

PerformancesLucas Till is good in this leading role even though himself and Jane Levy both feel too old for the high school role as we have seen both in more adult roles. Thomas Lennon makes good for the extra comic relief even though most of his jokes miss, Rob Lowe is a good businessman villain too.

StoryThe story follows an undiscovered creature being found in an oil drilling location, making it a battle to see whether the oil company can be bought down before destroying the creatures home. This works for the story, it may not be the most original idea but it brings us the character we can relate too who want to do right and the ones that don’t with their greed. We get good moments of unlikely friendships coming through different locations too.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/Sci-FiWe hit a lot of genres here, the action comes from the chase sequences that are pure fun once you switch your brain off, the adventure takes Tripp on a journey he never imagined he would be going on. The comedy is hit or miss though but the fantasy elements are part fantasy and part a potential reality because you never know about new species. This is designed well for a family film though.

SettingsThe film takes part in and around a small town in North Dakota, this idea is that you might not make it out of this town and this shows what could happen for the characters.

Special EffectsThe effects work well enough for the film without being the absolute best because with the budget the film has you would expect better.


Scene of the Movie –
The final chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Meredith could have been written stronger.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun film, don’t expect greatness but just something you could enjoy with ease.

 

Overall: Enjoyable family film.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – K – Kill the Messenger (2014)

Director: Michael Cuesta

Writer: Peter Landesman (Screenplay) Gary Webb, Nick Schou (Book)

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ray Liotta, Barry Pepper, Oliver Platt, Michel Sheen, Andy Garcia

 

Plot: Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb. The film takes place in the mid-1990s, when Webb uncovered the CIA’s past role in importing huge amounts of cocaine into the U.S. that was aggressively sold in ghettos across the country to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras’ rebel army. Despite enormous pressure not to, Webb chose to pursue the story and went public with his evidence, publishing the series “Dark Alliance”. As a result he experienced a vicious smear campaign fueled by the CIA. At that point Webb found himself defending his integrity, his family, and his life.


Tagline –  How the CIA’s crack-cocaine controversy destroyed journalist Gary Webb

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Investigation Journalism 101

 

Story: Kill the Messenger starts as reporter Gary Webb (Renner) has been investigating the handling of drug dealers who are fond not guilty in a court of law. This opens the door for Gary to a whole new story about how the CIA had been using drug trade to fund a war in Nicaragua.

The deeper Gary got into the story the more the CIA put pressure on him as he must regain his reputation after the CIA pulls the same tricks to disgrace him.

 

Thoughts on Kill the Messenger

 

Characters – The characters in this film are based on the real people, we are looking at their own decisions which would have put them in the position they find themselves in. Gary Webb is a reporter, he believes he has the biggest story of his career which puts his own family life and career on the line by trying to expose the CIA. Sue is the wife that sees her personal life become part of the sideshow in the press. We do have many other reporters, contacts, CIA agents, lawyers and even the drug dealers themselves who interact with Gary as the story comes to the light of day.

PerformancesJeremy Renner is the star of this film, he does a great job in the leading role dealing with the different situations he finds himself in. the film is filled with great performances from the characters actors we have seen in plenty of films through the years.

StoryThe story here shows us one man’s determination to try and bring a story to life, one that could expose the governments secrets. This brings him into a personal battle against the CIA who are trying to ruin his reputation and destroy his creditability. The is based on the real man and the real story which once again shows us just how governments can become corrupt for their own gain. Though this is based on the true story, it does feel like it is lacking something to truly bring us into the film, we find ourselves just on the side lines of the story which never reaches the levels it could do.

Biopic/Crime/MysteryThe biopic side of this film is the important part of the film, we focus on the man whose story turned people against him even though he was exposing a big crime within the government.

SettingsThe settings do take us around America and even through the North America countries as we see where the truth is being designed to send us to the different corners of the truth.


Scene of the Movie –
Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Driving looked terribly fake.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic movie that does set out to show us the truth about the CIA using the drug trade to fund a war but quickly turns into the CIA trying to discredit the man behind it all, it doesn’t reach the highest levels we are hoping for even it Renner does shine through the film.

 

Overall: One for the biopic fans out there.

Rating

 

 

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

Director: Wes Ball

Writer: T.S. Nowlin (Screenplay) James Dashner (Novel)

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Will Poulter, Jacob Lofland, Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper

 

Plot: Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”.


Tagline – Who Will Make it to the WCKD End

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Enough Finish

 

Story: Maze Runner: The Death Cure starts where the last movie finished off, Thomas (O’Brien) is leading the attempts to save the member of his team captured, Minho (Lee) and Teresa (Scodelario) from the hands of Ava Paige (Clarkson).

Thomas mission is to get into the city, joined by friends Newt (Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Darden), Brenda (Salazar) and Jorge (Esposito) they must do what they have been trying to avoid, getting into the city which are continuing their experiments in search for a cure for the ‘Flare’, joined by an old friend to help navigate the big city.

 

Thoughts on Maze Runner: The Death Cure

 

Characters – Thomas is continuing his fight against the people that placed him in the maze, he has become the leader in the fight back and now will risk everything to save the ones his side of lost, even if it risks his own life. He will be faced with the difficult questions and decisions in the final instalment of the franchise. Minho is the member of the team that has been captured, the one that Thomas fights to rescue, Minho goes through memories as we see his point of view from inside the laboratory. Teresa is now one of the scientists working on a cure, next to Ava Paige, this shows how she has seen the bigger picture, the cure, but deep down she is still conflicted with which side to support. Newt is Thomas’ brains, he pulls the strings when it comes to inventing and planning the attacks. Ava Paige is the mind behind searching for the cure, she knows this is the only way to save the remaining humans, but even she is starting to accept defeat in her efforts. Janson is the man hunting down the Glades, he will do anything to find them and won’t give up on the idea of a cure.

PerformancesDylan O’Brien in the leading role is good especially after what happened to him during production, he shows us that he is ready to become a leading man in the action genre. The returning cast in the younger performers have all gotten to the levels we have got used with the franchise. Patricia Clarkson and Aidan Gillen provide us with the villainous figures we need too.

StoryThe story continues the battle between the Glades and the rich using the children in hope of finding a cure for the disease which has swept the land. This time the kids are fighting back in an attempt to rescue their own, while the rich are facing the reality they can’t cure the disease. Unlike many other young adult book films, we only get one final chapter, thank God, we don’t need two every time. This follows the usual lines we are used to seeing, we have returning faces and being left in the middle of the final battle to end the divide.

Action/Sci-FiThe action is by the book, we are left for a final act which is a major battle sequence, like we have seen before. The idea the world has become devastated by this virus helps bring us into the sci-fi side of the story, seeing how the human race could be divided in the quest to survive.

SettingsThe settings bring us to the big city for the battle, we have escaped the dust of survival and now take the battle to the enemy. It feels like a generic city, one we have seen before.

Special EffectsThe effects we see through the film do the job well, they could be better, but they could be a lot worse.


Scene of the Movie –
The opening sequence feels like the best watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Why do they keep taking their masks off?

Final ThoughtsThis is everything you would want from the final instalment of a young adult series of books, it is easy to watch without being the most memorable.

 

Overall: Solid, average finish to the series.

Rating

 

 

Russell Crowe Weekend – Broken City (2013)

Director: Allen Hughes

Writer: Brian Tucker (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Alona Tal

 

Plot: In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler.


Tagline –  Proof Can Be a Powerful Weapon.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Long Feeling Crime Thriller

 

Story: Broken City starts as we see Bill Taggart (Wahlberg) who gets dismissed from his police duty by Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) after taking justice into his own hands. 7-years-later Billy is a private investigator catching cheaters with his assistant Katy Bradshaw (Tal), Billy gets a call from the Mayor who is on his latest campaign, who wants Billy to learn who Cathleen Hostetler (Zeta-Jones) is cheating on the Mayor with.

It isn’t long before Billy finds himself in the middle of a murder that looks to throw the election into turmoil, can Billy do the right thing and get the right man elected mayor?

 

Thoughts on Broken City

 

Characters – Billy Taggart was once a cop that went too far to make a criminal pay for a crime they committed, now just a private investigator he finds his latest case involving the Mayor a potential career ender, as he searches for the truth, while battling falling off the wagon. Mayor Hostetler has run the city for years now, he has used his place to get deals put through for his own profit keeping people in his pocket and never playing fair. He hires Billy to investigate who his wife Cathleen is cheating on him with. Cathleen Hostetler has been seeing someone behind her husband’s back only to be keeping a secret bigger than Billy can handle.

PerformancesMark Wahlberg does most of the leading in this movie, he is good through the film and at least he isn’t do his bad comedy routine in this one. Russell Crowe is great as the villainous mayor using his power to rule a city. Catherine Zeta-Jones is strong in her role too.

StoryThe story here follows a political thriller with conspiracies of what is and could be happening while people try to get in a position to change things in the right way. We have people that have suffered from other people’s greed, that are going to bring down the villainous mayor along the way. This does try the be one of those stories that tries to deal with greed in the human nature in a political world which has always been on edge, this continues as the film unfolds as we see what the big plan is.

CrimeThis is a crime thriller in a way that shows how the political criminals can stay in power by placing the right people in the right places.

SettingsNew York always makes for a brilliant setting and the scale of the city helps with the idea of a corrupt mayor.


Scene of the Movie –
The debate.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The alcoholic side seems just a tag on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough crime thriller, it does keep us guessing along the way to who is working for who and who is in the right when it comes to running the city.

 

Overall: Solid crime thriller.

Rating

 

 

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

mazeDirector: Wes Ball

Writer: T.S. Nowlin (Screenplay) James Dashner (Book)

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Alexander Flores, Jacob Lofland, Rosa Salazar, Patricia Clarkson, Lili Taylor, Barry Pepper, Alan Tudyk, Giancarlo Esposito

 

Plot: After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Didn’t See This Coming

 

Story: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials starts with our survivors from the first Maze Runner Thomas (O’Brien), Minho (Lee), Teresa (Scodelario), Frypan (Darden) Newt (Brodie-Sangster) to name a few. The survivors were rescued by Janson’s (Gillen) men as they see the reality of what has happened to the world with the infected attacking the base especially as our group of survivors are the key to finding a cure from the Flare Virus.grop

Once inside the group learn that there were other mazes with other groups that survivor and Janson is promising to take them to a new land for freedom but when long server survivor Aris (Lofland) shows Thomas the truth they find out just how much danger they are all in again.

After escaping early on the group find themselves coming face to face with the infected enemy where they learn the truth about how dangerous the outside is or the Scorch if you like as they search for a resistance movement to go against Ava Paige (Clarkson).

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials picks up where the first one finished and we finally get to see the world that we only see small parts off. We get to see both side in a war for a cure as well as the threat against both of them with the ‘Cranks’ well zombies really. This is a great sequel to a film that left you thinking, ‘oh come on’ by the end of it. I did say after both Maze Runner and Divergent I would judge the builder film on the sequel, this went the right direction by not over complicating the battle but does show the threat we are witnessing on front of us. Sure this does end up giving us another cliff hanger but we have jumped forward and I could be honest and say you don’t really need to see the first film to enjoy this.

 

Actor Review

 

Dylan O’Brien: Thomas is the reluctant leader of the group from the Glades, he learns about the danger his people find themselves in. he leads their escape as he guides them across the Scorch as they look for the next place of safety. Dylan steps up his game in this outing showing he could become the leading man the film deserves.  thomas

Ki Hong Lee: Minho is the trust best friend of Thomas, he is the combat expert and can match Thomas in any of the running mission. He will become your favourite character because he will be the one that stays to fight while his friends get to safety. Ki gives us a good performance making us want to see how his character does against the enemy.

Kaya Scodelario: Teresa is along for the journey and tries to talk Thomas into returning to the base, something was done to her during their time at the base. Kaya really doesn’t do anything in this film and feels slightly out of place.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster: Newt is the brains of the act but also the guy who wants to make sure everything is done through safety rather than taking any chances. Thomas doesn’t get as many scenes as we need from him but he does a solid in the scenes he has.

Support Cast: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials has a huge supporting cast that includes great performance from Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillian, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo and Adam Tudyk each character is involved with continuing the story and you fast decide which ones you want to cheer for and boo.

Director Review: Wes Ball Wes gives us a great sequel for the next instalment of a franchise I thought was going to be flat.

 

Action: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials has great action scenes throughout putting all our characters into peril making you wonder which one will make it out of each battle.

Sci-Fi: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials shows a future that ends up showing a world which has been devastated by a virus.

Thriller: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials keeps you guessing to watch will happen until the very end and makes you want to come back for more.

Settings: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials creates brilliant settings for the film showing the destruction that has happened because of the virus.
Special Effects
: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials has great effects with the creation of the Cranks especially with the ones that reminded me of the ‘Clickers’ from The Last of Us.

Suggestion: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is one I think could easily be one to watch and enjoy by all. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Clickers underground.

Worst Part: Teresa really is annoying and under used.

Action Scene Of The Film: Final Fight.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Yes

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Divergent, Hunger Games

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $61 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 12 Minutes

Tagline: The maze was just the beginning

Trivia: The plot, facts and characters from the movie are wildly different than from the book, including the story arc, the flare and character backstory and development.

 

Overall: One of the best young adult films of the recent Ocean of them

Ratingcard