Mean Dreams (2016)

Director: Nathan Morlando

Writer: Kevin Coughlin, Ryan Grassby (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Wiggins, Sophie Nelisse, Joe Cobden, Bill Paxton, Vickie Papavs, Colm Feore, Ryan Blakely

 

Plot: Follows Casey and Jonas, two teenagers desperate to escape their broken and abusive homes and examines the desperation of life on the run and the beauty of first love.


Tagline – The law won’t protect you

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bleak, but Hopeful

 

Story: Mean Dreams starts when teenager Casey (Nelisse) moves into a farming home with her sheriff father Wayne (Paxton), their neighbours are the Ford’s with teenager son Jonas (Wiggins) becoming friends with Casey, starting a romance, even with his father Elbert (Cobden) not wanting his son easily districted.

When Jonas tries to stand up for Casey against her abusive father, he gets put in his place, trying to get help he finds only barriers, until he takes a stand to save her as the two look to go on the run.

 

Thoughts on Mean Dreams

 

Characters – Jonas was raised to follow in his father’s footsteps on the farm, he only does this work and doesn’t get to meet anybody from town, until he meets his new neighbour. He sees her in danger, risking his own life to save her, going on the run, learning to live at last, while trying to escape the law that is after him. Casey is the abused daughter of one of the sheriffs who moved into town, he is a dirty cop living with his own regret. She sees a ray of sunshine in Jonas who could help her escape the hell she is living through. Elbert is the father of Jonas, he is known as a soft touch in town and wants his son to follow in his footsteps. Wayne is the abusive father of Casey’s, he is a dirty cop and his action led to his wife’s death.

PerformancesJosh Wiggins and Sophie Nelisse are both wonderful as the teenagers from broken homes who will do everything for each other in an attempt to escape a futureless life, the two show each emotion and moment of determination to escape. Bill Paxton as the abusive father is just as disturbing as you would imagine his character to be.

StoryThe story follows two teenagers who fall in love and want to escape their broken homes in search of a future together, they go on the run with stolen money which sees them need to learn how to survive of the grid. This does show us how children could be victims of abuse in Casey’s side of everything and still look normal on the outside, while Jonas is being kept away from the world to do a job he doesn’t have any interest in being apart of. We get to see how desperate the two have become to make it out of the life which doesn’t have much left for them already. This does show the bleak future, while leaving them feeling hopeful because everybody is against them even the law, which they didn’t break in the first place.

ThrillerThe film does keep you on edge as you wait to see just how everything will unfold, this does give us a sense of unease at times during the film too.

SettingsThe film takes us to a poorer area in America, this shows how the families have become used to the life rather than seeking something more from it.


Scene of the Movie –
Standing up for yourself.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It could have been bleaker in the end.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that shows us just how difficult the life would be for the teenagers, it shows how they enjoy the escape because it will give them the freedom they couldn’t see coming.

 

Overall: Bleak, beautiful and hopeful.

Rating

 

Antono Banderas Weekend – Haywire (2011)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Lem Dobbs (Screenplay)

Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas

 

Plot: A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.


Tagline – They left her no choice.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disappointing Action

 

Story: Haywire starts as Mallory Kane (Carano) a black ops soldier for the CIA is currently on the run after her partners Aaron (Tatum), Kenneth (McGregor), Rodrigo (Banderas) an Alex (Douglas) have set up to eliminate her. Mallory looks back on her career with the mission which things went wrong, one where she must get to know a MI6 agent Paul (Fassbender).

Mallory needs to bring down the men who have been setting her up, while finding the only person she can trust John (Paxton) her father, here she knows she can trust him to help her expose the corruption that is framing her.

 

Thoughts on Haywire

 

Characters – Mallory is the black ops soldier, now on the run after being set up by her own people, she uses her skills to remain ahead of them, using her combat skills to disarm the situations and tries to figure out who she can trust. This is basically a female version of Jason Bourne. Kenneth is the one the liaised on the last mission and the one that is currently after Mallory, he answers to people above his head, while control the ones below. Paul is the agent that Mallory is meant to meet, the one that she ended up coming to blows with leading to her to being chased. We have the people above Mallory that just want to see a mess cleaned up, while others are just facing orders.

PerformancesGina Carano is the star of the showing in the leading role, she handles all the action with ease and makes us believe she could be a threat for anybody who messes with her. The supporting male cast handle the heavy dialogue scenes, which takes away the one weakness Gina could have.

StoryThe story follows a black ops soldier that must clear her name, while being hunted down by the employees after a mission goes wrong. This is a style of story we have seen before, it is one that is a tried and tested formula, this way of telling the story, however, is weak, mainly because we are doing a large part of it in flashback style, which takes away any peril in the film for Mallory. We also try to get over-complicated with the motivation behind trying to frame her and by the end we don’t feel like we have experienced a tense enough action film. the music doesn’t help this movie either because it makes it feel like we are just watching slick heist movie.

ActionGina Carano does her best to save this film with her action star abilities with combat, they are the only enjoyed scenes in the film.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world for the action scenes, showing this to be a worldwide operation.


Scene of the Movie –
The hotel escape sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end fight feels like just a training montage.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action film that had potential, only for it to become to average with the story, with the one highlight being Gina Carano.

 

Overall: Basic action flick.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – T – Tombstone (1993)

Director: George P Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre

Writer: Kevin Jarre (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston

 

Plot: A successful lawman’s plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.


Tagline – Justice Is Coming

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Good as Wyatt Earp

 

Story: Tombstone starts when the successful lawman Wyatt Earp (Russell) has hung up his gun moved with his brothers Virgil (Elliott) and Morgan (Paxton) to Tombstone to follow in the silver boom. Wyatt does get his hands in plenty of pots, helping the town turn to their successful ways.

When the Marshall is killed by the cowboys the mayor turns to the Earp’s with Virgil and Morgan try to bring order to the town Wyatt reluctantly agrees to join them, which will see them come face to face with the deadly cowboy gang who want control of the town.

 

Thoughts on Tombstone

 

Characters – Wyatt Earp’s reputation precedes him as he cleaned up the town of Boulder, now he wants to put his gun away and head to Tombstone to start a business life with his brothers, he knows how the get a deal done, which will see him need to get rid of the cowboy gang running through the town causing chaos. Doc Holliday is the gambler that will and has stood by Wyatt’s side in combat, he will drink a lot even if he does face health problem that will slowly make his life harder. Virgil and Morgan are the brothers that take the roles in the law enforcement which will see them put their own lives at risk.

PerformancesKurt Russell does do a solid job in the leading role, the action scenes are where he shines the best. Val Kilmer does well making his character feel like he is standing out more in the film at times. We do get plenty of actors in this film, most do what is needed without being on the top of their games.

StoryThe story follows Wyatt Earp in his time in Tombstone only which does show how he was trying to live a non-conflict life only to be drawn back into the old ways which saw him become the legendary lawman. The story is difficult to watch after recently seeing the ‘Wyatt Earp’ film, which does cover a larger amount of his life, including the Tombstone time, we just don’t seem to get enough focus on the life outside of the battle in the town, which fails to give the wives required screen time in the story or show us what led to Wyatt becoming the famous lawman. This will give us the simple look at the battle with the cowboys which is good to see, but we would always want to learn more about the character involved.

Action/BiopicThe action in the film does see bullets fly around like we are used to, for a western, the biopic side of the film only shows us the Tombstone stage of Wyatt’s life which does focus more, only it doesn’t explain why he is such a famous figure.

SettingsThe film does create the authentic setting for the western genre, which is does make us feel like we are watching the story unfold with the characters.


Scene of the Movie –
Stand off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning enough about Wyatt’s life before Tombstone.

Final ThoughtsThis is the weaker of the two Wyatt Earp biopics that hit the cinema in the same year, it might have more entertaining action, but it just misses too much of his life out.

 

Overall: Disappointing biopic.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – G – The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

Director: Bill Paxton

Writer: Mark Frost (Screenplay) Mark Frost (Book)

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Stephen Dillane, Elias Koteas, Peter Firth, Stephen Marcus, Josh Flitter

 

Plot: In the 1913 US Open, 20-year-old Francis Ouimet played against his idol, 1900 US Open champion, Englishman Harry Vardon.


Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Champion Golf Drama

 

Story: The Greatest Game Ever Played starts as we learn how young Harry Vardon comes from a small Jersey (England) island being looked down on about the idea of playing golf, grown-up Harry Vardon (Dillane) is a world champion welcomed to America where he is idolised by Francis Ouimet a young caddy.

When Francis Ouimet (LaBeouf) studies the game becoming a high school age champion before entering an amateur tournament against the wishes of the gentlemen who also look down on him, failing to make an impact Francis gives up his dreams of playing golf.

When Harry Vardon leads Britain’s campaign to retain the US title meaning they could hold all the professional titles in sport, the club enters an amateur into the tournament with Francis being that player following his dream for one final time in a game that will change the face of golf.

 

Thoughts on The Greatest Game Ever Played

 

Characters – Francis Ouimet grew up opposite a golf course he was never welcomed as a player growing up, he could be a caddy though. He tries his luck as an amateur but fails to make an impact leading to his early retirement to focus on making a living. He is given one more chance to enter the US Open which brings a strain on his relationship with his father who believes he should make a living and giving up a dream. Harry Vardon came from Jersey, a small island off the coast on England, he had never heard of golf until the rich built a golf course on his family’s home. He learnt the game became a champion but never forgot where he came from, now he looks to reclaim his title from the American players but he still feels the judgement of the rich watching him. We have the family that tries to support Francis, we also have the rich men who believe golf is only for them.

PerformancesShia LaBeouf shows us here that he is a truly capable actor before getting involved with the stranger roles. Stephan Dillane is great as the professional that has respect for the working-class player trying to make their way in the sport.

StoryThe story does show the difference in class of people who were playing golf in 1900’s we have two men at different stages of their career who have come from nothing to show their gifts for the game as they must go against the gentlemen who believe the sport it only for the rich. This game shows why we sports fan enjoy watching and playing, showing us that anyone can have their moment that can launch a career however many people want to get in their way.

History/SportWhen we look at sports records we know there are plenty of upset and shocks through the years, we also have many moments which give people hope who want to learn the game, this story and moment in history is one of the greatest to witness in sporting history.

SettingsWe have the settings that show where both Francis and Harry have come from as they enter the high society side of the sporting world where they are both never truly welcomed until they are champions.


Scene of the Movie –
No bad-mouthing Jersey.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The frustration of seeing the difference in class between the players at the club, giving the attitude between them.

Final ThoughtsThis film is inspirational to sporting fans and players everywhere, it gives us the entertainment needed to keep us on edge through a film to show us that anyone could win a tournament against the odds if given the chance.

 

Overall: Wonderful sports drama.

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