The Little Stranger (2018)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Writer: Lucinda Coxon (Screenplay) Sarah Waters (Novel)

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Ruth Wilson, Liv Hill, Charlotte Rampling, Oliver Zetterstrom, Kathryn O’Reilly

 

Plot: After a doctor is called to visit a crumbling manor, strange things begin to occur.


Tagline – These Delusions Are Contagious

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More Like a Little Dull

 

Story: The Little Stranger starts when small village Doctor Faraday (Gleeson) treats a maid at a mansion that is often seen as the outsiders of the village, the Ayres, with the mother of the house (Rampling) and her children Caroline (Wilson) and the injured war hero Roderick (Poulter) filling the mansion.

Faraday decides to help Roderick with his injuries, while becoming closer to Caroline, Faraday starts getting memories of his time in the mansion as a child, before strange events start happening around the mansion, ones that a medical person couldn’t answer with ease.

 

Thoughts on The Little Stranger

 

Characters – Dr Faraday is a young doctor who takes a fondness of an outcasted family, he wants to help the injured brother, wants to save Caroline, while being left in the middle being able to help them or a potential supernatural presence in the house. Roderick is the injured war hero, he was left with a limp and burns to his face, which make him feel outcasted from the rest of the village and useless to his family, he is struggling with the mental side of everything too, leaving him to make rash decisions. Caroline is the daughter of the household, she is the one that they family has hope of seeing escape their impending poverty and becomes the ones that Faraday takes an interest in. she comes off unsure of what to make of her own future. Mrs Ayres is the mother of the house, she wants the best for her children and is still haunted by the one that she lost.

PerformancesI don’t think any of the performances in this film are bad, Domhnall Gleeson does everything he can in the leading role, as does Will Poulter in his supporting role, Ruth Wilson and Charlotte Rampling don’t disappoint with what they try to bring to the film, the problem with most of this film, comes from the characters be so bland and the story not going anywhere.

StoryThe story here follows a doctor getting close to a family that are seen as outcasts only to start to fall in love with one member of the family just as the strange events start to happen within the mansion. This is where the story just doesn’t get going, we are promised a horror element to this film which just never comes to life, which makes the story feel like more of a class position story. if that sounds confusing, well that doesn’t change from the story in full, because we have very little happening here and end up just shrugging our shoulders at the end, wondering if anything was actually meant to happen.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film does seem to be non-existent, where anything supernatural does seem to only be part of the mystery over anything else going on in the film.

SettingsThe film is set mostly in the mansion in a village in the English countryside, it shows how the family can be seen as outcasts and how people can look out at these types of buildings hoping to be part of this society.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are down the practical additions to Will Poulter, they look great, everything else just seems basic.


Scene of the Movie –
The dog attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The aftermath of the dog attack.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that seems to hint at something big, only to end up feeling dull and uninspiring.

 

Overall: Just fails to deliver.

Rating

 

 

Angel Heart (1987)

Director: Alan Parker

Writer: Alan Parker (Screenplay) William Hjortsberg (Novel)

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling, Stocker Fontelieu

 

Plot: Harry Angel is a private investigator. He is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer called Johnny Favorite. But the investigation takes an unexpected and somber turn.


Tagline –  It will scare you to your very soul.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dark Mystery Horror

 

Story: Angel Heart starts as private investigator Harry Angel (Rourke) is hired by Louis Cyphre (De Niro) to locate a man Johnny, we follow Harry as he looks to track down this man using his skills along the way.

As the investigation continues Harry finds himself meeting Epiphany (Bonet) a lady that has a connection to the missing man and also deals in voodoo, taking Harry in a direction he never imagined he would go in, but can he solve the mystery before it is too late as everyone he seems to question ends up dead.

 

Thoughts on Angel Heart

 

Characters – Harry Angel is a private investigator, he gets the job done but is a shady in his methods, he gets hired to find a missing person but soon finds himself as the prime suspect in a string of murders with the people that have a connection to the missing man. Louis Cyphre is a mysterious man that hires Harry to search for the missing man but has an air of mystery about him. Epiphany is a young lady that has clues to the whereabouts of the missing man, but gets involved in a race hating state relationship with Harry while also practising voodoo.

PerformancesMickey Rourke does a great job as the private investigator showing the down and out figure needed for the desperate mindset his character ends up in. De Niro shines in the supporting role here giving a chilling performance where we only see him a few times but we are left haunted by his screen time. Lisa Bonet is great too as the young lady that knows some of the answers.

StoryThe story here does start with a standard looking investigation but it soon takes a twist involving different religious beliefs where one man must question his own sanity about what is happening. The investigation side of the film is what you would expect but the change it takes in the final act is the reward you get because things get built up nicely. This is a good mystery thriller that keeps us engaged from the start to the finish.

Horror/MysteryThe horror comes from the truth that comes out in the final act but the mystery we are watching unfold is what drives this film.

SettingsThe settings take us around America at times as we search with Harry about the truth.

Special EffectsThe effects come in the form of practical as we see just how the kills look once the killer has finished with the bodies.


Scene of the Movie –
Final act.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I wanted more De Niro.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great mystery horror that does keep us guessing and taking us into a direction you wouldn’t see coming.

 

Overall: Enjoyable Mystery horror.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – # – 45 Years (2015)

Director: Andrew Haigh

Writer: Andrew Haigh (Screenplay) David Constantine (Short Story)

Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Dolly Wells, David Sibley, Sam Alexander

 

Plot: A married couple preparing to celebrate their wedding anniversary receives shattering news that promises to forever change the course of their lives.


Tagline – Do we really know our loved ones?

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Drama

 

Story: 45 Years starts as we meet the Mercer’s, Kate (Rampling) Geoff (Courtenay) a married couple preparing for their 45th wedding anniversary, Kate does most of the planning and does extra caring for Geoff because of his memory starting to go. They are respected through the whole town with most of the people looking forward to the party.

When Geoff starts remembering the story of a woman he met before Kate, it puts Kate’s feelings in a frenzy and she wants to learn where she really stands in his life after all these years.

 

Thoughts on 45 Years

 

Characters – Kate is the former teacher (I think) who has been married for 45 years in what she believed was a perfect marriage, until she learns about a woman before they met, she goes through the questions of just where she stands in his life, even after all these years. Geoff is her husband, his memory isn’t what it used to be and it is his memory of his former love that puts the story on the rocks. Everyone else we meet are people from the town, friends who have known them for years.

PerformancesCharlotte Rampling got an Oscar nomination for this role, you can see why she is fantastic as we see how she must try to hold in her emotions through the struggle. Tom Courtenay is also fantastic as the elderly man that can’t keep everything together like he once did. The rest of the cast doesn’t get too much screen time which is fine because it is our couple story.

StoryThe story follows a couple of soon to be 45 years preparing for their anniversary, only for a moment to throw the years or marriage out the window through the eyes of one of the couple. We only follow the week leading up to the event which is great because we know how happy their marriage was before the events. It shows how one moment could change how everything seems which is reality many people would have in life and it also shows how important love can be for a couple even if at times things could be questioned.

RomanceThe romance in this film shows just what the two would have been through with the years of marriage, how they must learn to stay loyal to each other no matter what.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the singular town setting, it gives the film an authentic feeling of just where the couple have been for years and never look out of place here.


Scene of the Movie –
The party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is never fully explained is Geoff is just getting old or ill with his memory issues.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those dramas you can see why it got the Oscars attention, but it won’t be something for the casual film fans to be going to watch and it does show how a real long-term relationship goes.

 

Overall: True to how love is.

Rating

 

 

Red Sparrow (2018)

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writer: Justin Haythe (Screenplay) Jason Matthews (Novel)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Ciaran Hinds, Joely Richardson, Bill Camp, Jeremy Irons

 

Plot: Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School,’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.


Tagline –  I Know Your Secrets.

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Espionage Movie

 

Story: Red Sparrow starts when CIA agent Nate Nash (Edgerton) blows his cover in Russia just as brilliant ballerina Dominika (Lawrence) breaks her leg during a performance, 3 months later her Uncle Vanya (Schoenaerts) offers to help with the new financial crisis her family would be facing, by bringing her into the Sparrow school.

The Sparrow program teaches the subjects to use their bodies to seduce the enemies of the Russia as Nate is forced back into the field as he is the only contact to a source within Russia. Dominika’s first assignment is to track down and seduce Nate bring stopping him from getting the security information he is after in Hungry, the cat-n-mouse chase is now on.

 

Thoughts on Red Sparrow

 

Characters – Dominika was once a brilliant ballerina, destine to be one of the top stars of the dancing world, after an accident her priorities change as she is desperately trying to keep the roof over her sick mother’s head. She is recruited to become a Sparrow, an agent that seduces the enemy in hopes of getting secrets, she isn’t like the other sparrows though, she has a way about getting the job done. Nate Nash is a CIA agent undercover in Russia, he does blow his cover landing him back home, but when his source will only talk to him he enters the field again, he uses his skills to get the information and stay ahead of Dominika. Vanya is the Uncle of Dominika, he recruits her with his government position believing that her family connection will help get results.

PerformancesJennifer Lawrence is good even if her accent comes in and out way too often for a consistent level required in the film. Joel Edgerton is good throughout, we can always count on his to give us strong performances throughout any film though. Matthias Schoenaerts is the best performer in the film in the supporting role and to say how many big names we have in the supporting roles we get to see some of the best actors in the industry here.

StoryThe story takes us into the espionage style movie where we follow a reluctant young Russian woman being forced into working for the Russian government and an American CIA agent looking to finish a case he should have been removed from. This does fall into the cat-n-mouse style story which will try to keep you guessing along the way and shows how both sides of the intelligence war are operating, leaving you to figure out who is the mole for the Americans. It should have higher levels of suspense for the subject matter, but just doesn’t suck you into the film on the levels you are expecting.

Mystery/ThrillerThe film uses the mystery side of the story to keep us guessing to who the contact in Russia is, what are the secrets that are being released and which side will get the upper hand, the Russians or the Americans. The film doesn’t feel like the highest tension level that it should though.

SettingsThe film does have some beautiful shots as we learn where the film is being set, we do move around Europe for the film though, which takes away moments of suspense we could receive.


Scene of the Movie –
The weapon of choice for the assassin.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It has slow pacing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced spy thriller, it does try to keep us guessing throughout only to end up failing to give us any suspense or use any of the sexual skills we are forced to watch the training side of things.

 

Overall: Thriller that just doesn’t hit the suspense levels required.

Rating

 

 

Assassin’s Creed (2016)

assaDirector: Justin Kurzel

Writer: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Denis Menochet, Essie Davis

 

Plot: When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Poor Video Game Adaptation

 

Story: Assassin’s Creed starts by looking at the secret assassin that Aguilar (Fassbender) was part of in the 16th century before we meet a young Cal who witnesses his mother murdered by what can only be described as a mysterious assassin that his father Joseph (Gleeson) has become.

Cal (Fassbender) grown up finds himself on death row now ready to get the lethal injection for capital murder charge. Awaking from his death Cal finds Dr Sofia (Cotillard) waiting for him in an advanced scientific laboratory.

Cal gets forced into the program where he will learn the memories of one of his ancestors Aguilar the assassin in Spain. The reason Cal is left alive is to go back into the memories of Aguilar to discover where he put an artefact that Sofia and her father Rikkin (Irons) are after, but along the way Cal learns the fighting skills of the assassins becoming a danger in today’s world too.

 

Thoughts on Assassin’s Creed

 

StoryThis is the latest in the video game turned movie and the story on paper this has all the potential to be the one that brings the video game films to the mainstream success. Sadly this story doesn’t come off to the effect you would like because too much of the film is in the modern world when the part of this game that made you go wow was the recreation of the ancient world. I feel we did deserve more than just a glorified treasure hunt with a sprinkling of family issues.

Action/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action in this film is all fine but nothing special while the idea of going into the mind of a previous life just doesn’t hit the levels it could.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters Cal and Aguilar are basic while Sofia and Rikkin also come off as average character within a film. The performance from Fassbender are solid but nothing special with Cotillard and Irons not even nail the same accent despite being father and daughter just doesn’t make sense at all. When you look at the supporting cast well you won’t remember them either.

SettingsThe lab setting is fine but just doesn’t stand out that futuristic while the past life setting doesn’t hit the special wow factor the game gave us first time.

Special EffectsWhen you look at the special effects, you are expecting something truly special but in the end this just doesn’t deliver.

Final ThoughtsFails on nearly every level to reach video games potential and will just continue the trend of poor video game to film adaptations.

 

Overall: Not the game to film we were looking for.

Ratingcard