ABC Challenge – Biopics – # – 42 (2013)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland (Screenplay)

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman, Lucas Black

 

Plot: This movie is about Jackie Robinson and his journey to becoming a Brooklyn Dodger and his life during that time.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Sports Biopic

 

Story: 42 starts with the history of baseball and how after World War II there was 400 players in the MLB and they were all white, the black players had their own league until 1947 when the number dropped to 399. Branch Rickey (Ford) wants to bring the first black man to the major leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers against everything the world at the time suggests, that player is Jackie Robinson (Boseman).

Jackie must start in a feeder team and must put aside the segregation issues that is still going through America, Jackie and his wife Rachel (Beharie) must show they have the thick skin to deal with the abuse from the crowd, other players attitude and prejudices going through America to become a trailblazer for the African American Baseball players.

 

Thoughts on 42

 

Characters – Looking at the characters we are looking at real people this time and one Jackie Robinson who would stand up for what he believed in while making his name on the baseball field, he becomes the trailblazer given the chance to become the first black major league baseball player defining all the segregation problems going through America. Branch Rickey was a bible loving owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who wants to make a difference in the game giving Jackie a chance to change the game so he could be owning a victorious team. Rachel is Jackie’s wife that stands by him through the discrimination he experiences.

PerformanceChadwick Boseman is fantastic in this role showing that he was going to be a huge name in the future. Harrison Ford gives us one of his best performances of his elder career that is outside his known franchises, with Nicole Beharie doing well with the character she has to work with.

StoryThe story of Jackie Robinson is the stuff of legends on America, the trailblazer for African America baseball players fight on and off the field against the discrimination he faces to become the star of the season. We get to see how the country of America was so far behind the times with their equality that is still happening without being as serious as it once was. This is an important history lesson if you are a fan of baseball, sport and history in general.

Biography/SportsJackie Robinson is an icon of the sport of baseball, this shows how he fought off everything to become that icon.

SettingsEach setting shows us the different worlds that Jackie must walk into with different opinions on the difference in race.

Scene of the Movie – The team standing up for Robinson against ben Chapman.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I don’t understand baseball.

Final ThoughtsWhen you look at sports biopics you will always see an icon born and this shows just how Jackie Robinson became the legend the game knows and is a must watch.

 

Overall: Must watch for sports fans.

Rating

 

 

Russell Crowe Weekend – Robin Hood (2010)

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Brian Helgeland (Screenplay) Brian Helgeland, Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris (Story)

Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston

 

Plot: In 12th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burner

 

Story: Robin Hood starts with England at war with France, King Richard the Lionheart is leading his men which does include archer Robin Longstride (Crowe), when Richard is killed in battle the kingdom of England falls into Prince John (Isaac) a stricter ruler that wants to tax the country.

Robin returning a sword finds himself needing to pretend to be Marion Loxley’s (Blanchett) husband in Nottingham, while Godfrey (Strong) continues to play both sides as the French look to take advantage of John’s weaknesses. Robin starts to act in the way we know, stealing from what is heading towards the king to return to the poor but how long can he keep this up?

 

Thoughts on Robin Hood

 

Characters/PerformanceRobin Longstribe is an archer with loyal friends, he fights next to King Richard but once he is killed he wants to avoid returning to the new king, he soon finds himself needing to become the hero for the people of the land against the new enemy. Marion is the strong lady that wants what is best for her people wanting to lead in a time where women wouldn’t lead. Prince John becomes king but he is stricter than the previous king as he wants money from people who don’t have it. Godfrey is a man that has been playing both sides to raise himself through the ranks in England or France whoever was to win.

Performance wise, Russell Crowe is fine in this role but if you want to see him at his best Gladiator is superior. Cate Blanchett was an interesting choice here but she does well with her screen time. Mark Strong is always a good choice for villain and does what is needed here. The cast in general is all fine without being great in what is a solid but slow burning film.

StoryRobin Hood is easily one of the most iconic stories in British legend, we have seen plenty of versions of his actions of stealing from the reach giving to the poor, but this time we story has sucked all the fun out of the story and turned it into a medieval story that feels just like everything we have seen in the sub-genre before.

Action/Adventure/RomanceThe action is everything we have come to expect swords, shields and arrows being used throughout. The adventure side of the film is almost non-existent and calling it a romance film well there isn’t any.

SettingsThe settings are the only highlight as each look like the correct time in question.

Special EffectsThe effects all work for the film without becoming too heavily involved.

Final ThoughtsThis is a poor re-imaging or the iconic hero that just doesn’t make the subject matter interesting.

 

Overall: Uninspiring Robin Hood Story.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – P – Payback (1999)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland, Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Donald E Westlake (Novel)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer, Bill Duke, Deborah Kara Under, John Glover, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: After a successful heist, Porter is shot by his wife and his best friend. They leave him there to die but when he recovers, he seeks revenge and wants his share of the money.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Revenge Thriller

 

Story: Payback starts as Porter (Gibson) is left for dead by his partner Val (Henry) and wife Lynn (Unger), Porter explains everything he wants to go and why it happened as he tells us all his plan. We watch how Porter dives into the criminal underworld to get his hands-on Val first to get his money, then to kill him.

Porter’s mission is filled with twists and turns along the way as he deals with his former bosses, Bronson (Kristofferson), Carter (Devane), dirty cops and his only friend is old flame Rosie (Bello), can he get what is owned to him?

 

Thoughts on Payback

 

Characters – Porter is a streetwise criminal that does the small jobs in the underworld until he is betrayed, he only wants his money but ends up going after the whole organisation in his cold calculated way. Val is the man that betrayed Porter, he has a short temper and gets himself into trouble more often than not. Rosie is the one person Porter is willing to trust but mostly used to show Porter could have a life after this revenge mission. We also have the traditional crime characters that don’t seem to have anything overly original about them.

PerformanceMel Gibson was one of the hottest properties in the 90’s before any controversy and here you can see he knew how to be the star of the show. Gregg Henry is a good villain but we have three main villains that all get the limited amount of time. Maria Bello is also good in this film as the helper showing us she can pull off the sexy smart partner in crime.

StoryThe story is a by the book revenge story of a betrayed criminal that goes after the man who turned on his just to get the money back but ends up facing off against the how organisation. This is also a film which is known for how the editing changed the tone of the film which is something you can see through the story a lot, one minute it feels like a dark thriller the next it has a moment of what feels slightly comical. This does take part of the film out but the story still ends up going the same way.

Action/CrimeThe action is shoot ups which are a good watch throughout the film, each having bigger stakes and each trying to give us something original. The crime world shows us the world all the characters are from which helps us understand all the motivation they show.

SettingsNew York, my old friend and favourite for a crime setting, nothing can be flawed and staying away from some of the bigger iconic monuments or structures helps us enjoy the gritty underworld.

Scene of the Movie – Pearl in a jam.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would agree with the people who say the edit doesn’t click for the tone.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good by the book crime thriller but the tonal problems stops it reaching the highlights of everything it could have from what I hear of the director’s cut.

 

Overall: Crime thriller fans will enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Jeff Daniels Weekend – Blood Work (2002)

bloodDirector: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Brian Helgeland (Screenplay) Michael Connelly (Novel)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston, Wanda De Jesus, Tina Lifford, Paul Rodriguez, Dylan Walsh

 

Plot: Still recovering from a heart transplant, a retired FBI profiler returns to service when his own blood analysis offers clues to the identity of a serial killer.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Crime Thriller

 

Story: Blood Work starts when a serial killer has struck once more leaving yet another note for FBI profiler Terry McCaleb (Eastwood), when Terry finds the killer in the crowd he sets of in pursuit which leads to him having a heart attack. Two years later Terry has had a heart transplant and retired from the force living on a house boat.

When Terry learns whose heart he received from the sister Graciella Rivers (Jesus) who asked him to look into her sister murder. Terry teams up with his neighbour Buddy (Daniels) to try and uncover who committed the murder that could in fact be a string of murders, but the truth could be even more shocking than Terry could have ever imagined.

Blood Work is what you would call a great crime thriller that is trying to give us plenty of twists along the way as the old timer solves a crime that the current force fails to uncover. I am a big fan of this genre, they are a gentle watch with well-developed character and add in the cat and mouse between authority and serial killer is a good watch. This does have a few flaws in the final outcome but otherwise it is a very well put together thriller.

 

Actor Review

 

Clint Eastwood: Terry McCaleb is the retired FBI profiler who has recently received a heart transplant, when he learns how the person whose heart he received died he sets out to solve her murder using all of his skills to find the killer. Clint gives us a performance you are happy to see him at his age taking here he still has presence.teerry

Jeff Daniels: Jasper ‘Buddy’ Noone is the friendly neighbour of Terry’s who goes on the investigation with Terry but his over friendliness could be hiding something more personal to Terry. Jeff gives us a great supporting performance that shows he can play any role.budddy

Anjelica Huston: Dr Bonnie Fox is the doctor trying to make Terry keep his life calm as his body adapts to the new heart, she gets angry while he is on the case but knowns he means well. Anjelica gives us a solid supporting performance without being involved too much.

Wanda De Jesus: Graciella Rivers is the sister of one of the victims that just so happens to get her heart given to Terry, she asks Terry to look into her murder as the two get closer as they learn the truth. Wanda gives us a good performance in the supporting role.grace

Support Cast: Blood Work has a good supporting cast even though they come off generic.

Director Review: Clint EastwoodClint gives us a good crime thriller that does keep you guessing for a while.

 

Action: Blood Work has basic action without having to turn to it every time.

Crime: Blood Work gives a crime to solve through the film.

Mystery: Blood Work keeps us wondering to what is going on with the story.

Thriller: Blood Work keeps us on the edge of our seat as we watch what will go on.

Settings: Blood Work doesn’t have too many iconic settings but ends with an important setting with final twist.

Suggestion: Blood Work is one for crime thriller fans to watch but the slow pace could turn people off this show. (Crime Fans)

 

Best Part: Final act.

Worst Part: Slow in places.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $50 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

Tagline: A serial killer is just a heartbeat away

 

Overall: Slow moving thriller that keeps us guessing

Ratingcard

Oscar Season Challenge – Legend (2015)

Movie Rob and I are continuing our journey through potential Oscar contenders with this one Legend.

 

legendDirector: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland (Screenplay) John Pearson (Book)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Paul Bettany, Taron Egerton, Christopher Eccleston, David Thewlis, Colin Morgan, Paul Anderson

 

Plot: The film tells the story of the identical twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of the most notorious criminals in British history, and their organised crime empire in the East End of London during the 1960s.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Gangster Biographical Picture

 

Story: Legend starts as we meet Reggie Kray (Hardy) the calm polite of the twins as he goes about his everyday routine being followed by detective Nipper Read (Eccleston). We also meet Ronald Kray (Hardy) who upon his time in jail he ends up in mental home after being declared insane showing the difference between the two.

We get to see the Kray twins start off as just men running the East end to rise up to become the most notorious gangsters in London as well as being untouchable within the City, but what rises always falls all told from the love of Reggie, Frances (Browning).

Legend gives us a look at two of the most famous gangster that ruled London in the 1960-70s that show how the rise of power became too much for the twins. Their different styles really are what makes this interesting see how one being calm and the other on edge shows that the two complement each other nicely. When it comes to the gangster side of the story I do think this will come off slightly short for the fans because we learn more about the men than what they did. We have enough different versions of this story following these characters and this is the only one I saw so I can’t judge how well this stands up against others.

 

Actor Review

 

Tom Hardy: Ronald and Reginald Kray, Ronald is the psychopathic brother that wants to be a real gangster, Reggie is the calm business like side of the twins who wants to rule London but follows the calmer approach. They can both handle themselves in fights and have very different interests in life but they both are part of the most notorious gangsters London has ever seen. Tom is brilliant in this role playing both these brothers.kray

Emily Browning: Frances Shea is the love interest of Reggie Kray she is from a normal family and is the sister of his driver. She helps keep him from becoming like his brother but will not stay with him if he keeps returning to jail. Emily is good in this role playing the narrator to the story.fracis

David Thewlis: Leslie Payne is the public relations man for the Kray’s while Reggie picks him Ronny doesn’t get along with his ways of doing things. David is good in this supporting role.

Taron Egerton: Teddy Smith is one of Ronny’s boys that also is his love interest, he is happy to get his hands dirty when it comes to doing the dirty work for Ronny. Taron is great in this supporting role showing he can play two different roles after his performance in Kingsman.

Support CastLegend has a great supporting cast that all help show the storyline of the brothers.

Director Review: Brian Helgeland Brian gives us a good look at two iconic men in British history.

 

Biographical: Legend shows us two iconic men in British gangster history very well.

Crime: Legend brings us into the criminal underworld of the Kray Twins.

Settings: Legend recreates the settings to show us London for the same time period.  

Suggestion: Legend is one for all the gangster to enjoy without being too graphic. (Gangster Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Hardy is brilliant.

Worst Part: We don’t see enough of what the two get up to in the crime world.

 

Believability:  Based on the real criminal brothers.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Not likely but could have an outside shot.

Runtime: 2 Hour 11 Minutes

Tagline: Power. Fear. Family.

Trivia: Tom Hardy actually brought his wife to the film premiere as his date. They both also brought their dog.

 

Overall: Gangster film that really ends up showing two men in a positive light rather than the true criminals they really were.

Ratingcard