Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Dean Georgaris (Screenplay) Steven E de Souza, James V Hart (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerald Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger

 

Plot: Adventurer Lara Croft goes on a quest to save the mythical Pandora’s Box, before an evil scientist finds it, and recruits a former Marine turned mercenary to assist her.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Enough Sequel

 

Story: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starts when Lara Croft’s (Jolie) latest treasure hunt ends up with her team killed and her treasure stolen by Chen Lo (Yam) who is willing to sell the orb to arms dealer Jonathan Reiss (Hinds) a former MI6 agent turned evil, that wants to use the orb to locate Pandora’s Box which could bring about the next viral apocalypse on the world.

Lara working with MI6 is joined by disgraced former agent Terry Sheridan (Butler) as per her request as they race around the world to unlock the truth about Pandora’s Box before it ends up in the wrong hands.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

 

Characters – Lara Croft the treasure hunting heroine that travels the world to locate the treasure of the world before they fall into the wrong hands. She is still the kick ass resourceful heroine we know, we see how her connections around the world can help and hinder her quest. Terry Sheridan is the disgraced former MI6 agent, he is granted freedom for information and his former connection with Lara puts him in the middle of the two sides. Jonathan Reiss is the arms dealer that wants Pandora’s Box to be able to sell to the highest bidders to create chaos in the world. he knows how to get results and is happy to kill anyone that crosses his paths. Bryce and Hillary return in the same roles getting the laughs and doing the background work Lara. Kosa is one of the many connections that Lara has around the world, they are good friends after the previous work and respect between the cultures.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie continues to be great in the role of Lara Croft, she had the perfect look for the character and handled the swagger about the character perfectly well. Gerald Butler is good as the shady partner to Lara through the film, giving us rough around the edges figure. Ciaran Hinds is good in the villainous role even if the character is everything you would expect them to be. Barrie and Taylor continue to give the humour when needed. The rest of the cast are fine as they just fill the role required.

StoryThe story here follows Lara Croft on her next treasure hunt where she faces a new shady society lead by weapons dealer who wants to unlock the power of Pandora’s Box. We get to see her globe trot as she is aided by MI6 to locate the mysterious and deadly item. This does continue keep us in the peril filled situations, the idea that Lara has connections around the world to make treasure hunting possible, the shady organisation and treasure that could cause major destruction to the world. This doesn’t test us to the same levels as the first film because as it ends up just following the same formula.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is big as we have bigger stunts going on through the film including a motorbike sequence along the Great Wall China, flying through the streets of Hong Kong and giant monsters in Africa. The adventure does take us around the world once again which is what we want, but we don’t get enough in tomb locations.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world as we see different locations some iconic, some secret tombs with historic stories.

Special EffectsThe effects are weaker than last time without taking us too far out of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The Great Wall motorbike scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough Tomb location.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough sequel that the fans of the original should enjoy, but if you didn’t like the first one you won’t be enjoying as much.

 

Overall: Solid enough for a sequel.

Rating

 

 

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Martin Scorsese Weekend – Silence (2016)

silenceDirector: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese (Screenplay) Shusaku Endo (Novel)

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Ciaran Hinds, Issei Ogata

 

Plot: Two priests travel to Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor and propagate Catholicism.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tough Watch

 

Story: Silence starts in 17th century as father Ferreira (Neeson) is in Japan where he witnesses the torture the catholic believers will go through to keep their faith while Ferreira apostasy himself. Leaving only a letter two priests Rodrigues (Garfield) and Garupe (Driver) refuse to believe Ferreira would apostasy himself they travel to Japan to learn the truth being the last two priest to travel there.

As the hunt to find any Christians in Japan continues Father Rodrigues and Father Garupe continue to spread the faith around the villages as the villagers gain the strength to stand up for their own God. Rodrigues on his journey learns that Japan is dealing with the Christians in a different way to what he was lead to believe but can he finally learn the truth about what happened to Father Ferreira.

 

Thoughts on Silence

 

StoryThe story here is hard to get through even if it is easy to follow because what the Priest have to go through for what they call faith is difficult to sit through. The idea this is how people were treated is terrible and as a non-believer who is open to let people believe in whatever they want I think it is wrong. Make sure you are prepared going into this one though because it is long.

HistoryWe look at the historical side of this story as we see how Christians were treated by the Japanese in the 17th century.

Characters/PerformanceFather Rodrigues is our main character who wants to know what happened to his mentor, he is idealistic for the time and open to listen to anyone who wants to follow Christianity. Ferreira is the one being search for who has given up his faith for the people there. Father Garupe is a good supporting character that works well with Rodrigues. When you look at the performances they are all fantastic from the while cast.

SettingsEach setting is truly authentic for the time period and Japanese culture. We are left to see the struggle each character must go through on a daily basis with the Christians hiding from the Japanese looking to rid the country of them.

Final ThoughtsOne of the hardest films to get through this film because of all the religious aspects going on through the film, it is rewarding but also very long.

 

Overall: Long but rewarding historical drama.

Ratingcard

 

 

First Man (2018)

Director: Damien Chazelle

Writer: Josh Singer (Screenplay) James R Hansen (Book)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, Ciaran Hinds, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

 

Plot: A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.


Tagline – Experience the impossible journey to the Moon.

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Biopic

 

Story: First Man starts as we see how Neil Armstrong (Gosling) can solve problems in flight with one of his test mission to the limits of the atmosphere going wrong before he saved it, we meet his family wife Janet (Foy) and children Richard and Karen, we see how they suffered a tragic loss of young Karen, which drove him to apply to become an astronaut.

We follow the astronaut training program which showed Neil’s abilities to solve problems even after seeing his friends around him lose their lives to the pursuit of space. We follow up to the legendary mission he will always been known for as he was the first man to walk on the moon.

 

Thoughts on First Man

 

Characters – These characters are and were real people, Neil Armstrong is always going to be remembered as the first man to walk on the moon, we see how this shy man managed to overcome his own personal tragedies to achieve this as we see how he reacts and deals with everything that gets thrown at him until he made history. Janet is his wife, she also suffers through the tragedies, she will give Neil all the support he needs to make sure he will keep his promises to come home, we mostly watch how she must keep the life for their children normal and calm. Edward Higgins White is one of the fellow astronauts, one that becomes close friends with him through the training and the program, he is the one that will offer a shoulder if Neil ever needed it. We meet many famous names from the astronaut programs each gets there moment, we know Buzz Aldrin was onboard Apollo 11 and of the other big named astronauts we know Jim Lovell from the Apollo 13 mission.

PerformancesRyan Gosling gives us a magnificent performance as the icon of astronauts, he shows us how shy, timid and genius Neil was, never making him a cocky man, this simple performance makes you understand each emotion he is going through. Claire Foy sets away from the small screen to give us a flawless performance as the wife who must remain strong, but dealing with anxiety of the unknown through each mission. The rest of the cast are great through the film, each actor gets to pay the respect to the man they are performing as.

StoryThe story here follows Neil Armstrong’s life from 1961 to his moon landing in 1969. We do have plenty of interesting aspects to his life, be it the battle to remain strong after his daughter’s death or the feeling of proving himself worthy of being part of the astronaut program. While these are all wonderful to watch, they do feel like they are being told, like, this is what happened here, then this, then this and so on. It never feels like a smooth story and the movie does make out that Neil was an excellent astronaut, but terrible PR man, he didn’t do anything stupid or risky, he lack charisma that other astronauts had, he was just the right choice for the job. The biggest warning you must have before going in, is that this does follow his life over the space program, yes, we do have parts of the space program and they are the most entertaining parts, but we also follow his life away from this.

Biopic/History8 years in the life of the most iconic man to go into space, we see his lowest point in his life, to the crowning achievement, nobody can ever take away from him. The history side of the film shows us the key moments in the space race, if you know the basics you will know these moments.

SettingsThe film recreates the settings brilliantly, be it the world around the space race, or the cockpits the astronauts get rammed into with little space for any freedom on these deadly missions.

Special EffectsThe effects are mesmerizing, when we are in space we are left stunned by the beauty of the views these men had. The film is also used to make it feel like it is shot for the same time the events took place.


Scene of the Movie –
Apollo 11

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many close ups.

Final ThoughtsAs a space race fan this manages to shed new light on the man who made history, it gave us brilliant performance, effects and shows us there was more behind the man than just the icon.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

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

 

 

Jessica Chastain Weekend – The Debt (2010)

Director: John Madden

Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Peter Straughan (Screenplay) Assaf Bernstein, Ido Rosenblum (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds, Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas, Sam Worthington

 

Plot: In 1965, three Mossad agents cross into East Berlin to apprehend a notorious Nazi war criminal. Thirty years later, the secrets the agents share come back to haunt them.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Thriller

 

Story: The Debt starts in 1997 where Rachel Singer (Mirren), David Peretz (Hings) and Stephan Gold (Wilkinson) are about to have their life story about their time in the intelligence agency thirty years early helped take down a Nazi war criminal, but this event brings us David’s suicide.

We flashback to thirty years earlier where the younger version of the characters Rachel (Chastain), Stephan (Csokas) and David (Worthington) learn how they first meet and start to work together to take down the war criminal, but why is that effecting their lives in the modern day, well only time will tell.

 

Thoughts on The Debt

 

Characters – First we will look at the present-day versions of the characters, Rachel is now a grandmother and proud reason for her daughter’s book, Stephan is wheelchair bound that still on the job while David isn’t sure whether to trust Stephan anymore killing himself over just meeting with him.

In the past, we have junior agent Rachel that must first join her partners in the mission but learn about how the field works when it comes to taking on a war criminal. Stephan is the leader of the group, he pulls the strings in the mission as well as warning Rachel of any mistakes she makes. David is the quiet member of the group, he has taken things to a personal level and isn’t willing to let anyone into his life.

PerformanceWe have six great actors here, we have the two different generations which show us just how talented the newer generation are with Chastain, Huntington and Csokas compared to Mirren, Wilkinson and Hinds, they all give great performances throughout.

StoryThe story mixes the two times about the story, first we learn what is on the record about what happened in the 1960’s story, but then we learn the truth about the what happened. When you look at any secret mission going on we get to see how secretive it needed to be when being told about what really happened. We also see how things could be made to be true to cover up a mistake and how they will need to be fixed if things come to light.

ThrillerThis does keep us on the edge of our seat as we wait to see what happened to make this a difficult situation for the elder characters.

SettingsWe have the different times for each setting which shows us the different worlds our characters faced the same problem.

Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The love triangle does feel forced.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good thriller that does keep us on edge through the film, we are left to guess just where it will all go and what was the truth from the past.

 

Overall: Good intense thriller but lacking the final punch

Rating