Killing Them Softly (2012)

Director: Andrew Dominik

Writer: Andrew Dominik (Screenplay) George V Higgins (Novel)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta

 

Plot: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse.


Tagline – In America you’re on your own

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow & Uninspiring

 

Story: Killing Them Softly starts when Frankie (McNairy) and Russell (Mendelsohn) rob Markie’s (Liotta) mob protected card game, putting a bounty on themselves. With the men not happy with this incident, they hire Jackie (Pitt) to clean up the mess, he enjoys killing his victims, softly, with his Driver (Jenkins) filling in the information about the hit he will need to take out, while the  man Jackie wanted to help with the job, Mickey (Gandolfini) isn’t the man he used to know.

 

Thoughts on Killing Them Softly

 

Characters – Jackie is a hitman assigned to clean up a mod owned robbery, he has his own ways to get the job done which will see him slowly calculated kill his targets, but he will get the job done smoothly. Frankie is one of the thieves that commits the robbery, he has bought in his own friend to help with the latest job, he must try to stay low while he waits for the bounty to go away. Russell is the loose cannon that is bought in by Frankie, he isn’t liked by the boss, but is given the chance to help with the job. Mickey is the former hitman that just isn’t the man he once was, he can’t be seen in public which doesn’t help with his job. Driver fills in the information for Jackie, he shows him where the job could be done too. Markie is the host of the poker game who sees the money stolen, knowing what it will mean for him.

PerformancesBrad Pitt is the highlight of this film, which isn’t saying too much, he does keep the cool persona we know him for through the film, but isn’t as incredible as we could have seen from him. The supporting cast all struggle in this film without getting any moments that will make us want to support their characters.

StoryThe story follows a hitman hired to clean up a gangster robbery but unsuspecting thieves, only for him to see the people are not the same as they once were. This story goes at a slow pace which just doesn’t ever get going before ending without seemingly finishing. We have too many characters being introduced to enjoy this film which just seems to be a lot of talking and never hitting the criminal world style that you would be expecting from the gangster underworld.

CrimeThe criminal side of this film just seems to follow different people in the criminal world, they are at different levels and are force to be against each other.

SettingsThe film is set in a city which is filled with the chances to be a criminal without making any location feel iconic.


Scene of the Movie –
Frankie drive.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too much pointless talking.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow non-moving crime thriller that just drags along even with Brad Pitt trying his best to make something of nothing.

 

Overall: Slow and dull.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – V – Vertical Limit (2000)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Robert King, Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Robert King (Story)

Starring: Chris O’Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Temuera Morrison, Ben Mendelsohn, Alexander Siddig, Izabella Scorupco

 

Plot: A climber must rescue his sister on top of K2, one of the world’s biggest mountains.


Tagline – Hold Your Breath

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Edge of your Seat Thriller

 

Story: Vertical Limit starts with the personal climb tragedy that Peter (O’Donnell) and Annie (Tunney) go through, the siblings go their separate ways, three years later work brings them back together on K2, as Annie is part of billionaire Elliot Vaughn’s (Paxton) team planning to climb to the top for an advertising opportunity.

When the weather turns, the crew on the mountain gets thrown into a cave in the middle of the mountain with no escape, Peter will now lead a team to rescue his sister in a race against time and the weather.

 

Thoughts on Vertical Limit

 

Characters – Peter is the brother of Annie, he had to make a difficult decision which led to his father’s death becoming distant from his sister in the process, now a wildlife photographer in extreme conditions which reunites them on K2, when she becomes trapped, Peter puts together a team to rescue her before it is too late. Annie is the sister and just as experienced climber ass Peter, she works on K2 for the billionaire that arranges tours, she has records on climbing the mountain too. She is on the team which gets trapped on the mountain, needing to remain in control while the rest look to survive. Montgomery Wick is the expert climber that has spent years searching for his lost wife on the mountain, he doesn’t work with others unless it is a rescue mission, he will get Peter to his location at the quickest pace. Elliot Vaughn is the billionaire that climbs for money, this expedition is planned as a marketing campaign for his new airline, he doesn’t care about lives as much as the other people on the mountain.

PerformancesChris O’Donnell in the leading role is good, he shows the knowledge while the innocent panic one would have while trying to save a loved one, Robin Tunney shows the strength needed for her part spending most of the film opposite Paxton who once again showed why he could become any role in a film. Scott Glenn gets the strongest scenes because of his outside persona created by his character, which does need a moment of emotional strength.

StoryThe story here follows sibling mountain climbers that have become distant after a tragedy, now one must rescue the other one on one of the most dangerous mountains in the world K2. This is a survivor story which shows how dangerous in the first-place mountain climbing is and just how much more dangerous rescue mission can be. Each character in the film has their own reason for being on the mountain which gives us a reason to follow and support each character through the mission, though this does end up feeling strange when we see what happens to most of the rescue team. For the most part this is a simple to follow story that does the directions most survival movies go without needing to make anything complicated, showing us the good and bad in people.

Action/AdventureThe action sequences in this film are fantastic, clearly the highlight of the film, we see the climbers hanging on for dear life, avalanches and explosion which the teams must survive, which plays into the adventure of climbing one of the most dangerous mountains in the world.

SettingsThe settings in the film only make this more breath-taking, the views from the mountain, mixed with the locations the people are trapped or climbing show us just how dangerous this is.

Special EffectsThe effects are weak though, we have one moment with a helicopter where you can almost make out that it is shaking like a rodeo machine.


Scene of the Movie –
Learning about the explosives in the sun.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The forced foreshadowing from the opening sequence.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable survival movie which will grab to the edge of your seat from the moment things go wrong until the gripping conclusion.

 

Overall: Survival Film at its best.

Rating

 

 

Captain Marvel (2019)

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Writer: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Screenplay) Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman, Meg LaFauve (Story)

Starring: Brie Larson, Gemma Chan, Ben Mendelsohn, Samuel L Jackson, Lee Pace, Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, Annette Bening

 

Plot: Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.


Tagline – Discover what makes a (her)o

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Superhero Movie 101

 

Story: Captain Marvel starts as Vers (Larson) a Kree soldier is still figuring out how to control her powers, with her trainer Yon-Rogg (Law), her first mission sees her captured by the enemy alien race the Skrulls who help her learn about her past, on Earth as a pilot.

Vers must learns who her true self is once on Earth with Nick Fury (Jackson) helping down memory lane, before deciding which side of the war she should be fighting on.

 

Thoughts on Captain Marvel

 

Characters – Vers is how we meet her first, she has been trained to be a Kree warrior soldier, ready to get into the war against the Skrull. Vers does have powers she hasn’t fully learnt how to control yet and returning to Earth on the mission, will help fill in the blanks in her memory to show her a life she had before her training, as a fighter pilot named Carol Danvers. This is a character that is easier to write for, because it is the trademark design of a hero needing to learn about their powers for their first battle. Nick Fury is a younger agent in SHIELD, he witnesses first hand what Vers is fighting for and decides to help her even if it means going against the rulebook, he gets the bigger picture and in this film loves cats. Talos is the leader of the Skrull, he needs information from Vers to help his side in the war, he has become desperate and can shapeshift into any species he sees. Yon-Rogg is the leader of the Kree unit, he has been training Vers for combat and with his team, can be a threat for any opponent. Mar-Vell is a scientist that Carol worked with on Earth, her research is key to the war, she also appears as the Supreme Intelligence for Vers communication, which is meant to be somebody important in your life. Maria is the old pilot friend of Carol’s she believed her friend died and has spent her time raising her daughter away from the busy world.

PerformancesBrie Larson does a strong enough job in the leading role, she doesn’t quite have the comic timing for her jokes to come off, like many other actors in this universe, but does shine in the more serious moments. Samuel L Jackson gets to enjoy playing a younger version of himself, he gets to poke fun at the ideas people might have about him as a person too. Ben Mendelsohn is strong too, his accent can jump around in places, but for being under the makeup, we understand his characters emotions. Jude Law does well in his role too, he takes the mentor role, which is better than his outing in Fantastic Beasts. Annette Bening becomes the one you most want to see more from, in dual roles, she can make us want to see more of her characters.

StoryThe story follows Vers a Kree soldier that must learn about her past to understand her own powers, to make a decision on which side of a war she should be fighting for. This is an origin story for Captain Marvel, so we know the stakes are going to be less, because we don’t need true end of the world stuff going on here. The strangest way to describe most of this story would be like a Star Trek story, a person meets both sides of a war and must decide which side to fight on and once we get to the decision it plays out like how Kirk or Piccard would deal with the situation. This doesn’t mean it isn’t good or entertaining. The rediscovering the past is interesting to see and gets to play a lot of 90’s nostalgic moments too. One of the biggest negatives in the story does come from having the inclusion of characters we have seen die latest in the universe, because this does take peril away from them, both good and villainous figures. This does tick al the boxes for an origin story, it makes us care about this new character and ties in nicely to what will be happening next in this universe.

Action/Sci-FiThe action involved in the film is a mix of hand to hand combat, weaponry combat and flying combat, be it space or on Earth, everything is enjoyable enough to get what is required from this side of the film. the sci-fi side of this film uses the idea of an inter galactical war that Carol has become a part of, showing that the human heroes and enemies might not be the only threats to Earth.

SettingsThe film uses the settings well, we have the space location each has it own unique look to show us on different planets, while on Earth we go through the military bases and quiet of the radar places without needing to just blow everything up.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are strong throughout, we know and expect this by now in the Marvel machine.


Scene of the Movie –
It’s just a cat.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Captain Marvel seems too powerful.

Final ThoughtsThis is another entertaining fun addition to the MCU, it gives us a by the book origin story that we can understand the difficulties that Carol must be going through.

 

Overall: Fun, entertaining origin story.

Rating

 

 

Ready Player One (2018)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline (Screenplay) Ernest Cline (Novel)

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller

 

Plot: When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.


Tagline – A better reality awaits.

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Pop-Culture Festival Fun

 

Story: Ready Player One starts in the near future in Columbus of all places, Wade (Sheridan) lives in the stacks, the poor part of town, he along with the rest of the world lives inside the virtual reality world known as the OASIS, created by Halliday (Rylance). The OASIS gives people a chance to live anything they imagine and after Halliday’s death he left an Easter Egg for the players to search for.

6 years have past since this way revealed and nobody has found even the first of three keys, Wade works with Aech (Waithe) Sho and Daito in his attempts to be the one to find it and is joined by Samantha (Cooke) to fight against Sorrento (Mendelsohn) who wants the prize so his company can take over the OASIS selling the space o the players. The battle for the freedom of the game, the world is on and Wade is leading the charge.

 

Thoughts on Ready Player One

 

Characters – Wade is the down on his luck scraping a living in the virtual reality world type of guy, in the real world he doesn’t have any friends and his only enemy seems to be his Step-Uncles. In the OASIS he has a close group of friends while never being in a CLAN, he has been searching for the answers to the clues for 6 years like everyone else, only this time he learns something new and ends up leading the players in the battle to save the OASIS from the corporate hands. Samantha is one of the most famous players in the OASIS, much like Wade she is a solo player, joining forces with Wade reveals she is part of a rebellion against the corporate company trying to take over the game which leads her to risk everything to save the OASIS too. Sorrento is your businessman enemy, he sees money in being the owner of the OASIS, he doesn’t understand the pop culture and for sure he will do anything to get what he wants. Halliday is the Willy Wonka of this creation, it was his dream, his ideas and it is his clues people are searching for to take over after his death, guided at heart, determined but anti-social this man’s genius has bought together the world.

PerformancesThe performances through the film on the overall point of view are good, nobody puts any feet wrong, Tye Sheridan steps up to the lead role with ease after his work on indie films, Olivia Cooke continues to show she is a great choice in the lead supporting female role and Ben Mendelsohn is always going to make a wonderful villain in any movie.

StoryThe story breaks down into a glorified virtual reality world treasure hunt, it is the unlikely guy being the one that can unlock the secrets which the business mind people want for themselves. It is by the books, the clues seem too easy to work out, like if someone had taken their time earlier things would have been solved earlier. The idea people rely on this world is never played on enough for my liking, we also don’t focus enough on the punishments that the company forces people to be in the game for their own side, this disappoints greatly because certain parts of the film we see everyday life being normal, but early on we are shown this is the only way to live. If you are watching for pop-culture references it will be hard to keep up with things for the most part too, you will miss some even if they don’t matter to the story.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is massive, in the game is easily the more memorable moments and outside the game it is routine as they come. The adventure sends us on the quest to find the clues, this is what we want to see, so no problems on this end for that. The sci-fi side of the story shows us just what the world could become like if we continue to use technology, it should be a bleaker future but for the sake of this movie it isn’t.

SettingsThe real world looks bleaker at times but other times looks like something we normal see. The virtual world creates the wonderful settings for our characters to play in.

Special EffectsThis movie will get all the praise in the world for the special effects, they are flawless, making this one of the easiest movies to watch, the team deserves the most praise for this film.


Scene of the Movie –
The Shining

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not sure if this game is the only option for people or not, we get told but what we see later it isn’t.

Final ThoughtsThis will go down as the most visually creative movie of the year, we have plenty of pop-culture references, crazy action sequences and overall it is fun, only the story itself hold sit back.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

Darkest Hour (2017)

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Anthony McCarten (Screenplay)

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Nicholas Jones

 

Plot: During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.


Tagline – Never give up. Never give in.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Historical Drama

 

Story: Darkest Hour starts as we come to London in 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Pickup) is forced into resignation to help unit the divided parties as they faced in impending Nazi invasion. Who to turn to next is the question, they turned to Winston Churchill (Oldman) a formerly disgraced government member who is known for never backing down.

Churchill takes the reigns in Britain’s darkest hour as they faced certain defeat or peace talks with Hitler, but Churchill isn’t taking into lying down as he comes up with a plan to rescue the stranded troops on the beaches in Dunkirk, even with fellow members of his office trying to push him into peace talks.

 

Thoughts on Darkest Hour

 

Characters – These are all based on real people, in a rea time of crisis, which would have changed Britain as we know it today. Winston Churchill is considered one of the greatest world leaders the Earth has ever seen, he we only follow around two weeks of his career, as people are using his past mistakes against him even after picking him to be the leader, he has always been honest, he doesn’t care if you didn’t like him and he will listen to the people when searching for answers in one of the most difficult times Britain ever faced. Cemmie is Winston’s wife and one of the few people that could control him and bring out his nice side, she proves an important part of his life during this tough time because she knows how long and hard he has worked to be Prime Minister. King George VI admits to Churchill he is scared of him, he didn’t want him, but will support him decisions if they are best for the country, he gives us the most important scene in the movie. Elizabeth Layton is the new typist for Churchill, she represents the everyday person that is concerned about what might be coming and her fear helps Churchill make the decisions he does.

PerformancesIt would be fair to say that Gary Oldman has the Oscar in the bag this year, any actor that can make you not realize it is him after 2 hours of watching him deserves all the praise in the world. Jumping into the supporting cast we have wonderful performances throughout, Kristin Scott Thomas, ben Mendelsohn and Lily James take their characters and make them shine.

StoryThe story focuses on two weeks of Winston Churchill’s life, starting the day Neville Chamberlain resigned to the moment Britain refused to surrender to the Nazi invasion heading our way. This is a huge moment in history and seeing the political divide between the people in office shows the terror, fear and panic the minds would have been going through during this horrendous time. The story does shine a spotlight on the idea that the public were not completely sure what was going on and had to trust the government to make the right decision too.

Biopic/History/WarChurchill was an inspiring leader, we have seen three versions of him in the last 12 months too, to show of him in this time is important too and a moment in history that will never be forgotten during our time of need World War II.

SettingsThe settings are well constructed, but at times the military view points seem added because no one knew how to describe the situations or didn’t trust the audience to understand the terms.


Scene of the Movie –
A Royal visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The look up moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant look at how Churchill help guide Britain to victory during World War II, he stood up when no one else would to be the leader Britain needed to win.

 

Overall: Brilliant, Masterclass performance from Oldman.

Rating