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

 

 

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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

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – T – Titanic (1997)

Director: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron (Screenplay)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton

 

Plot: A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.


Tagline – Collide With Destiny

Runtime: 3 Hours 14 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Masterpiece in Cinema

 

Story: Titanic starts as treasure hunter Brock Lovett (Paxton) and his team are searching the Titanic wreckage for any remaining treasure that could make them rich, on their latest voyage they find a picture of woman wearing a long-lost necklace, the heart of the ocean. With this picture becoming international news Rose (Stuart) comes aboard the ship to tell her story of her trip in the doomed ship.

Returning to 1912 we follow Rose (Winslet) from a rich family using the trip with her fiancée Cal (Zane) to return to America to start their life together. Jack (DiCaprio) on the other hand wins his ticket in a poker game to be a passenger on the ship, in the third class.

As the two get involved in a chance meeting, Rose is shown the life that is care free away from her prim and proper lifestyle that she has only ever been shown, the two fall in love in their short time together but after the ship hits the iceberg, they must battle to survive the fateful night as the panic of the tragic event occurs.

 

Thoughts on Titanic

 

Characters – Rose is shown to us in two different times, we first meet the modern day one, well 1997 where she has lived the life she had always dreamed off, now she gets to return to the Titanic wreckage to tell her story of events on the maiden voyage that will be remembered forever. The other Rose we meet is the younger one, the 19 year-old that is moving to America to start her life of luxury with her fiancée Cal, at this age she isn’t sure this is what she wants and meeting Jack shows her a new look and even a new love in life, she takes risks that she would never have even imagined taking before meeting Jack. Jack Dawson is a drifter, artist and traveller of the world, winning his ticket in a game of poker, he sees this as his chance to return to America with his new craft, he falls for Rose and his carefree lifestyle shines on her and he is shunned by anyone in the first class of the ship. Cal is the fiancée of Rose, he has used his wealth to get all the benefits in life, he looks down on anyone not from the same class as himself and takes an instant dislike to Jack, he tries to control Rose’s every decision making him the villain of the piece. We have the controlling mother, the fish out of water with money in Molly who steals nearly every scene being the only one that can relate to Jack and the portrays of the real people behind the ship tragedy.

PerformancesLeonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet became international A-Listers after this movie, their performances are fantastic and showed the world the talent they both had at this early moments of their career. Billy Zane does make a great villainous character through this film and you will find yourself hating his character. Kathy Bates is fantastic too in a role you could have watched all day long. The whole cast is fantastic in this film and their performances show us just how good they are.

StoryThe story shows us one of the most tragic moments in modern human history, this sinking of the Titanic, an accident in which no one was prepared for, seeing the supporting characters who are based on the real people is fascinating to see how they were to believed to have acted, saying this the love story does feel very forced and having one person telling the story doesn’t give us the understand how she would know what other people were doing at the times without her in the movie. Clocking up at over 3 hours, this story never seems to find a low point well telling the story of this tragedy.

RomanceThe weakest part of the film here, because this event didn’t need a fictional love story which in all fairness is a by the book routine love story of the rich meets poor.

SettingsThe creation of the Titanic for the setting is fantastic, as we follow the journey you feel like you are part of this doomed voyage which is filled with the beauty of first class and the cramped conditions of third class.

Special EffectsThe visual effects used in this movie were ground-breaking at the time, they stand this test of time and deserved any credit the team working on this got.


Scene of the Movie –
The search for survivors, is haunting, disturbing and tragic.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How would Rose know what people were doing in her story.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the greatest movies of all time, a record breaking in its own right, career making, career defining and moment in history that will forever be stuck in tragic events.

 

Overall: Brilliant, and a must watch

Rating

 

 

Near Dark (1987)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writer: Kathryn Bigelow, Eric Red (Screenplay)

Starring: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Tim Thomerson

 

Plot: A small-town farmer’s son reluctantly joins a traveling group of vampires after he is turned by a beautiful drifter.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Underrated Vampire Film

 

Story: Near Dark starts as young country man Caleb (Pasdar) meets a beautiful woman Mae (Wright) one night and after spending the night seeing different locations Mae leaves Caleb with a strong hicky.

What Caleb discovers is that Mae is in fact a vampire and she has turned him into on too, joining her group of vampires including Jesse (Henriksen), Severen (Paxton), Diamondback (Goldstein) and Homer (Miller) he finds himself drawn into a world of crime while his family worry about him.

As the group travels around America at night Caleb needs to prove his worth to the group and learn to kill but when he doesn’t he must fight to survive against the vampire while learning the cure for this new disease.

 

Thoughts on Near Dark

 

Characters/PerformanceCaleb is just an everyday small town American young man who spends his nights looking to meet women and this time he meets a woman that will change his life, one that will turn him into a vampire as he must learn to adjust to this new life. Mae is the woman that attracts Caleb who does want out of this life or at least have someone else by her side. Jesse controls the group keeping them all in order not wanting to carry any dead weight. Severen is the character you will remember most because he is over the top and enjoys the kills.

Performance wise, Adrian Pasdar is fine but you can see he isn’t going to make it as a charismatic leading actor, Jenny Wright is also fine but doesn’t pull us into the whole stunning beautiful leading lay, with Lance Henriksen doing what you all know he can, be a good villain. Bill Paxton is the star of the show as we do remember nearly everything he does through the film.

StoryThe story follows one man as he is turned into a vampire as he needs to learn to kill to survive while on the run with a villainous group of vampires. This takes a new approach the vampire genre showing the family feel to a group, a new look at the transformation and even introducing the idea of a full cure. I like this and believe it is fresh feeling to the vampire genre.

Action/Crime/HorrorThe action is very simple and what we have come to expect, with the crime side of the story being how the vampires hunt feels very criminal in style with the horror being with what happens to the vampires meet sunlight.

SettingsThe settings make this feel like a western in places as the group travel from town to town hunting.

Special EffectsThe effects are all practical and they all look great when it comes to how the vampires are being affected by the sunlight.

Final ThoughtsThis may well not be the first film that comes to mind when you think vampires but when you look at the greats this doesn’t come too far off being on their level.

 

Overall: Enjoyable, gritty and dark vampire thriller.

Rating