ABC Film Challenge – Action – J – Jane Got a Gun (2015)

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Writer: Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis, Joel Edgerton (Screenplay) Brian Duffield (Story)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Noah Emmerich, Boyd Holbrook, Rodrigo Santoro

 

Plot: A woman asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him.


Tagline –  Strength, justice, power, vengeance

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Boring

 

Story: Jane Got a Gun starts when Jane’s (Portman) husband returns home shot up on deaths door, she nurses him back to health while preparing or the Bishop boys led by John (McGregor) to come and finish off the job, she turns to her ex-lover and soldier Dan Frost (Edgerton) to assist her in the battle.

We watch how the two look back on a life they once had and prepare the ranch for attack with traps as they know they will be facing large numbers when they finally arrive.

 

Thoughts on Jane Got a Gun

 

Characters – Jane is the wife that needs to look into her past to keep her husband and child safe from outlaws that are not afraid to kill anyone that gets in their way. Even though the film is titled after Jane, we don’t learn too much else about her. Dan Frost however is her ex-lover and former soldier, one with stories behind his time in the war, he drinks too much while reluctantly helping Jane defend herself against the outlaws. John Bishop is the leader of the gang, he is conducting the business of taking women one of which was Jane, now he wants to clean up his loose ends which includes Jane and her husband Bill, he is ruthless and demanding of his men and wants to be treated like a true authority over them. Bill Hammond is the husband of Jane’s that returns home shot, he was part of the gang, but left once things got too far.

PerformancesNatalie Portman is fine, though it just doesn’t reach the levels we know from her through the years. Joel Edgerton is solid enough and seemingly just about the best performer in the film. Ewan McGregor did need more screen time for his character which was meant to be psychotic business man in the wild west. The rest of the performers are fine, but no one stands out.

StoryThe story follows a reluctant wife that will do anything to protect her house, husband and future from a gang of outlaws who want him dead, we see the set up, the build up and the flashbacks to how everything ended up where we are now before finally getting to see the showdown. Most of this involves a lot of talking about where the former lovers could have gone after crossing paths. The pace of the story telling is very slow and focusing on the talking for such a large period of time, doesn’t give us the character development needed for any of the three main characters. this is one that could easily be missed because it doesn’t offer anything new to the western genre either.

Action/WesternThe action is left for one final showdown with bullets flying, though placing it in complete darkness makes it hard to see everything going on. The film does have a western feel with the use of setting, weapons and storytelling, though it just doesn’t stand close to the levels of the good ones, let alone the great ones.

SettingsMost of the film is set on he isolated farmhouse Jane lives on, the setting up for the defence of the home, this however slows the film down and when we leave it just becomes worse too because they are generic locations.

Special EffectsThe effects are solid enough with the bullets flying around with the impacts showing the blood splatter.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing is so slow.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced western that just doesn’t deliver the way it should, it had potential only it doesn’t make Jane a strong enough character with her being the title one.

 

Overall: Slow, pace less and boring.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Romance – V – Very Good Girls (2013)

Director: Naomi Foner

Writer: Naomi Foner (Screenplay)

Starring: Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Boyd Holbrook, Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, Peter Sarsgaard

 

Plot: Two New York City girls make a pact to lose their virginity during their first summer out of high school. When they both fall for the same street artist, the friends find their connection tested for the first time.


Tagline – When we lose our innocence, we have to find ourselves.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Romance Between Friends

 

Story: Very Good Girls starts as we met two teenagers Lilly (Fanning) and Gerri (Olsen) who are spending the final summer together before they move onto college. With life problems they are facing they do have each other to keep themselves together and make a pact to lose their virginity before they head off to college.

The two friends both fall for the same street artist David (Holbrook) ad between them they both get a different life change experience through the summer.

 

Thoughts on Very Good Girls

 

Characters – Lilly is the quieter of the two friends, we follow her life with her parents fighting, her job before college and what it was like for her to meet her first love before college, she is trying to hold her family together while not telling Gerri al the details of her life. Gerri is the best friend of Lilly, she tends to do all the talking for the two, she wants David but this summer she must deal with her own personal tragedy. David is the street artist that both the girls fall for, he fits the mysterious figure that can draw the attention of the girls. We do have the parents through the situations the girls are going through too.

PerformancesDakota Fanning is solid enough for this role, she doesn’t do anything wrong, but compared to Olsen for age, there are little elements that show her lack of life experience for this film. Olsen is good she is showing us just capable of filling almost any role in a film here. Boyd Holbrook is good even if he does feel slightly too old for this role which sums up the weakness to a lot of the performances, the age of the leading three is too wide with them meant to be around the same age.

StoryThe story here gives us a coming of age tale between the two friends in their final summer before going of to college. The story does touch on real life situations which could need a best friend to be by your side. We get to see how love can push the boundaries of friendships and how hard life can be when you start to realize that college is the next chapter of life that will big the biggest step you will take and nothing will truly prepare you for it.

RomanceThe romance in the film shows us how two friends can have their friendship pushed to the limits when they both fall for the same boy.

SettingsNew York is a setting that I will always praise for the quality for any setting in the story of growing up, finding yourself.


Scene of the Movie –
The photo.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The two girls don’t seem to have any other friends.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple coming of age movie, it fits the check list well, has good acting but by the ending you will feel we needed that one more spark.

 

Overall: Simple Coming of Age

Rating

 

 

The Predator (2018)

Director: Shane Black

Writer: Fred Dekker, Shane Black (Screenplay) Jim Thomas, John Thomas (Characters)

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen

 

Plot: When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.


Tagline – You’ll never see him coming.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Commits to Comical Tone

 

Story: The Predator starts as we meet elite sniper Quinn McKenna (Holbrook) whose latest job sees a spacecraft crash land with a Predator butchering his team, with a few goodies he finds, he sends home, knowing what is coming. With his son Rory (Tremblay) being an Asperger’s sufferer, he accidently unlocks the code trapped within the system.

Government agent Traeger (Brown) is trying to unlock the system and when the captured Predator escapes, Quinn must team up with other soldiers branded crazy, Nebraska (Rhodes), Coyle (Key), Baxley (Jane), Lynch (Allen) and Nettles (Aguilera) who help scientist Casey (Munn) find a solution for the new Predator problem.

 

Thoughts on The Predator

 

Characters – Quinn McKenna is a sniper who finds himself in the middle of the latest Predator ship crash landing, surviving his first encounter with the creature, he uses the technology to escape, he must use his training to protect his son and save the world from the impending attack. We do know he isn’t the best family man, but this night should bring him closer to his son. Nebraska is one of the ‘crazy’ soldiers, he will help Quinn becoming the connection between the rest pushing them to do the right thing. Rory is the Asperger’s sufferer that can solve puzzles others can barely unpack, he is your typical different student and school, the outsider if you like. Casey is the scientist bought in to help understand just what is happening with the Predator’s visiting Earth and certain questions about their DNA. Traeger is the government that is trying to keep the lid on everything, he will kill anyone that cross the government to keep secrets and has a dark sense of humour. The rest of the soldiers, Coyle, Baxley, Lynch and Nettles do have their own problems from serving in the military with this battle giving them a chance to redeem themselves.

PerformancesBoyd Holbrook in the leading role is good for the film, he doesn’t reach the levels of Arnie and will fit in well with the rest of the leads. Trevante Rhodes is the guy you most want to watch, he gets the best scenes for the military unit. Jacob Tremblay is getting a reputation for playing kids with troubled sides, he seems to be excellent at this type of role, this however would be his weakest outing so far. Olivia Munn is good even though she doesn’t get the best scenes to work with. Sterling K Brown makes for a great fun human villain and the rest of the unit show good chemistry.

StoryThe story here follows another group of soldiers that come face to face with a Predator and must fight back to survive, this time we have a bigger, badder Predator. Now is a fun story to watch, however if you are a fan of the original this will not give you everything you want to see. The biggest plus in this movie is explaining why the Predators visit Earth, watching this is the right move for the franchise. The story does show insensitive when it comes to dealing with the military unit that clearly have their own mental health problems which sadly gets overlooked and turned into a running joke. For a man of Shane Black’s calibre, we would expect better written scenes, instead of just lazy insults. The key element to take away from the story is that we are watching something fun that has moved away from the original tone.

Action/Adventure/Horror/Sci-FiThe action is big, we get the fights which are big and bloody which is all we want to see, the horror does take a back burner as even when the film tries to be suspenseful it falls short, but the blood does help us out here. The sci-fi side of the film comes from trying to build a bigger world for the Predators to visit from.

SettingsThe film doesn’t make use of the settings too, we get the woodland area which plays into Predators speciality.

Special EffectsThe effects here are very weak for the budget, the opening sequence alone is poor for what we would expect, when it comes to the camouflage ability doesn’t even look better than the 87 film.


Scene of the Movie –
Hello big boy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Making a joke of the mental health problems soldiers face.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun sequel, the tone does stay the same from start to finish which other big blockbusters have failed to do, we get to see more about the history of Predators and most importantly we learn just how deadly they can be.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

Morgan (2016)

morganDirector: Luke Scott

Writer: Seth W Owen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rose Leslie, Michael Yare, Toby Jones, Chris Sullivan, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Brian Cox, Paul Giamatti, Jennifer Jason Leigh

 

Plot: A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Start, Bad Finish

 

Story: Morgan starts as a secret project has a murderous side leading to Lee Weather (Mara) being set to investigate what happened on the project known as Morgan (Taylor-Joy), her investigation isn’t just into the subject but the staff involved to see if everything is still going on their plans.

The humanoid known as Morgan has been with the doctors her whole life with the doctors including Amy Menser (Leslie), Simon Ziegler (Jones), Darren Finch (Sullivan), Brenda Finch (Robinson) Lui Cheng (Yeoh) and Kathy Grieff (Leigh) each member of the team has worked on different parts of Morgan to make her understand each environment needed for training.

When Dr Alan Shapiro (Giamatti) arrives on the base the two must start their investigation and assessment into whether Morgan should be destroyed or to keep the project alive.

Morgan is a sci-fi horror thriller that builds on similar style films of creating life that could be smarter than the current humans, so think Splice but with higher intelligence. Well I say that because the first half of the film is very interesting because we start at the moment where the incident happens and the decision needs to be made, all this is fine and comes off fine. Where this film starts to fall apart is in final act of the film where it just becomes some form of lazy hack and slash story of an experiment gone wrong. This movie would have been a lot more interesting if it had stayed focusing on morale questions involved if the experiment had gone wrong.

Morgan has a very impressive cast with highly respected names including Giamatti, Yeoh, Cox, Leigh and Jones with years of great work under their belts and you can expect the performance from them on any film. We add in Mara trying to get to the levels of her sister Rooney giving one of her best performances as the cold hearted consultant and rising stars Boyd Holbrook, Rose Leslie both give good supporting performances. Anya Taylor-Joy has had a great year with her performance in The Witch and this shows her ability in the roles in question.

 

Overall: Such an interesting start before becoming a generic messy ending.

Ratingcard

 

 

Logan (2017)

Director: James Mangold

Writer: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green (Screenplay) John Romita Sr, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Herb Trimpe, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost (Characters)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E Grant

 

Plot: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Rawest, Grittiest Superhero Movie Ever

 

Story: Logan starts in the near future, 2029 to be exact where mutants are nearly all but extinct. Logan, Wolverine or this time James Howlett (Jackman) is an aging man drive a limo for hire, he is saving enough money to get a sunseeker so himself and an also age weary Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart) can sail off into the sunset.

With Charles suffering from strokes which cause his power to become out of control, Logan knows the time is short but for the moment the money is shorter. When Logan is forced into defending himself we can see the effects or any battle on his body, no longer instantly healing, but this attack draws the attention of Pierce (Holbrook) and his soldiers but also nurse Gabriela (Rodriguez) who needs Logan’s help. When Logan finds, himself helping he learns of a new experiment on mutants and with his genetics creating Laura (Keen). Laura along with other children have all been enhanced but when the experiment is closed they must fend for themselves.

Logan finds himself in the middle of a battle he will struggle to fight this time as himself and Charles travel cross country to a new location that could be the new safe haven for mutants.

 

Thoughts on Logan

 

Characters/PerformanceLogan is a character we have known and loved for nearly 17, we have seen him through origins, beginning and cameos but now we get to see him near the end of his life. This version of Logan is battered, beaten and not long for this world, making him a version of a comic book character that we have never yet seen. Profession Charles Xavier is also very old in fact sick in this outing, he can’t control his powers like he once used to, making him a risk for everybody he meets. He still dreams of finding and protecting more mutants which is what draws him to saving Laura, but he is also filled with a guilt he just doesn’t understand. Laura is a great look at the new breed of mutants who is deadly in a fight without understanding how the world works, I would like to see the next chapter of this characters development. Pierce who is the primary villain of the piece is interesting to start with but through the film does slowly turn into a generic mercenary character. Dr Rice is filling the William Striker role well, being the one that wants control over the mutants with Caliban at times I feel we could have learnt more about this character.

When you look at the performances Hugh Jackman gives one of his, if not his best performance as Logan here, with Patrick Stewart easily being able to be considered an outside bet for an Oscar nomination. Dafne Keen is great for what is the first role I have ever seen her in. even though I feel the character does fall into the background of the final story I did also think Boyd Holbrook does an excellent job too.

StoryWhen you look at superhero movies we often find ourselves stuck in the middle of too many characters, too many subplots and too many over the top storyline action sequences, but much like Deadpool last year we get a simplified story here. The idea that two aging mutants in a world without any known mutants must travel cross country to save this young mutant’s life while being chased down by ruthless henchman works for this movie. The story is easy to follow, you don’t have to know the previous films and you will get the emotional impact of each moment of this film.

Action/Drama/Sci-FiThe action sequences are all raw based fights which are saved for few and far between but this helps the impact of these moments. Going into the future once more gets to see how the final chapters of these character’s lives could unfold but still leaving the door open for the time between.

SettingsThe settings all feel like they could be a western and you can tell this movie borrows heavily from the classic western ‘Shane’. I liked how this wasn’t about a big destruction sequence followed by another like many other films in this genre.

Special EffectsThe special effects are brilliant to show the brutality of the fight sequences with how the Wolverine movie could be bloody throughout.

Final ThoughtsI think this could easily be one of the best superhero movies of all time, but the one moment I didn’t enjoy was the fact the film did get the keys of the kingdom and felt like they did just swear for the reason to be able too.

 

Overall: This is a must watch for the superhero movie fans out there.

Rating