Robert De Niro Weekend – Hide and Seek (2005)

Director: John Polson

Writer: Ari Schlossberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Irving, Dylan Baker, Melissa Leo

 

Plot: As a widower tries to piece together his life in the wake of his wife’s suicide, his daughter finds solace, at first, in her imaginary friend.


Tagline – If you want to know the secret, you have to play the game.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Confusing Horror

 

Story: Hide and Seek starts when psychologist David (De Niro) loses his wife to a sudden suicide, to help his daughter Emily (Fanning) through the trauma he decides to move to a more remote location upstate of New York.

David is trying to settle in with Emily, who soon starts to have her own imagine friend named Charlie, David does turn to colleague Katherine (Janssen) for advice, while trying to move on with both their lives, only Charlie starts to show an evil side.

 

Thoughts on Hide and Seek

 

Characters – David is a psychologist in the big city of New York, he has a wife and daughter, only all his skills can’t help him see the depression his own wife is suffering through, needing to put his life back together with his daughter, he needs to  make sure Emily doesn’t fall into needing more help, while navigating learning to live in a new town. Emily is the daughter that became traumatised after the death of her mother, she uses her imaginary friend to get away with doing evil things around the house. Emily is a character that you can understand the acting against the normal because dealing with loss can be difficult for a child. Katherine is the colleague that specialises in helping children, she is the one that David turns to for added advice for helping his daughter. Elizabeth is a local divorced woman with a child the same age as Emily, David tries to build a friendship for both himself and Emily with her, Elizabeth shows that people can be patient when searching for new friendship.

PerformancesRobert De Niro stepping into the horror genre is something refreshing, he does show how difficult it could be for a father to keep everything together after losing a wife. Dakota Fanning as the traumatised daughter brings the fear required, while also being creepy through the film. Famke Janssen and Elisabeth Shue are both solid enough supporting the film, without needing to make that big of an impact in what is going on.

StoryThe story follows a recently widowed father taking his daughter to start a new life in a quieter neighbourhood, only for her to get a new imaginary friend that doesn’t like the people in her life. Now this story could and does start by showing the effects of a trauma on a young girl, after she witnesses her mother’s suicide, this could explain the actions she ends up causing through the film, the problem with the story comes from the fact the film sets this up, only to go in a direction which makes zero sense for anything we have seen in the first act. It also doesn’t help the fact we have five yes FIVE different endings too. This is a story that completely derails because of a simple choice and ends up just being difficult to watch.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film is confusing too, mostly because it is weak dream sequences before anything being remotely scary happening until the final third of the film which, does have strong moments, just doesn’t make sense to what we knew before. The mystery in the film comes from trying to figure out who Charlie is, because we get suggestions it could be a person with the number of people that get introduced around the new home, add in that it could be supernatural, we are left to figure out who they are.

SettingsThe film is set in upstate New York where the father and daughter are trying to start a new life away from the busy life that could have caused added stress in life. It does give the family an isolation factor which adds to the potential suspense in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Not interested in new friends.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The third act twist just confuses everything.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that was going in a smooth direction to be interesting only to take a twist which makes it frustrating by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Weak ending horror.

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

 

 

Ocean’s Eight (2018)

Director: Gary Ross

Writer: Gary Ross, Olivia Milch (Screenplay) George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell (Characters)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Richard Armitage, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Dakota Fanning, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson

 

Plot: Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.


Tagline – The plan is priceless.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Heist Movie

 

Story: Ocean’s Eight starts when Debbie Ocean (Bullock) is released from prison, sister of Danny with the same habits, she heads to New York to connect with her oldest friend Lou (Blanchett) to put together a team to pull of a heist in the Met Gala. Debbie’s team includes celebrity Daphne Kluger (Hathaway), fashion designer Rose Weil (Carter), jeweller Amita (Kaling), computer hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), street hustler Constance (Awkwafina) and retired thief turned tradeswoman Tammy (Paulson).

With the team together we need to learn the plan as Debbie teaches us about the motivation for the heist, can Debbie follow in her brother’s footsteps and prove she can put a team together.

 

Thoughts on Ocean’s Eight

 

Characters – Debbie Ocean is the one that get released from prison, sister of Danny, the heist work runs in her blood too. She puts the team together showing the leadership needed, while also risking the job for her own personal reasons to be involved. There doesn’t seem to be much more about her character though. Lou is the best friend and most reliable person in Debbie’s life, she has been working on her own money making ventures, with this being her chance to make a big payday by bank rolling the plan. She does have the most connection to help the job happen. Daphne Kluger is the famous actress the women use to help transport the necklace, the only way to get it out, she gets to poke fun at the celebrity culture we know, even though she is never in the plan. Rose Weil is the clothing designer in a need of a financial boost, she joins the heist by becoming the designer for Daphne. Amita is the jeweller that gets bought into the team to help make sure the necklace can be replicated, she has good banter with Constance. Constance is the pick pocket that street hustler that can’t sit still and must be on the move. Nine Ball is the tech wizard that likes her code name and helps show the ladies about the new modern way of tracking criminals. Tammy is the retired member of the team, she doesn’t get involved anymore, which gives her a reason to get back out there because family life just isn’t keeping her entertained enough. The problem here is the man the heist is against just doesn’t get anytime on screen to make us hate him.

PerformancesThe performances from the eight ladies are good throughout, each gets there moment in the sun, with Bullock showing good leadership, Hathaway enjoying playing into the celebrity idea, Blanchett doing her best Brad Pitt impression and the rest of the supporting team only increase the eyes on their abilities.

StoryThe story here follows Danny Ocean’s sister Debbie who just like her brother can put a team together for a heist even with her own motivations. Now for an Ocean’s movie, this follows the basic heist idea, with the plan coming together and having to overcome problems. The story does lack a main villain, while we do have one, they are just bad guy, the previous films in the franchise have always made us hate them and they always had a feeling something was going on. It would be fair to say this is one of the more forgettable stories in the franchise with this falling into the third best in the franchise ahead of 12. The brief cameos from former members are fine, though it might have been nice to keep some of the bigger names around the franchise.

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe slick action that we are used to in the franchise felt calmer and never gets us believing anything is going to go wrong. The comedy misses for the most part we get to see pokes at the previous films that never works. The crime world helps improve the film as we follow the check list for heist movies.

SettingsThe film is set in and around New York which shows us the big city will always be the big setting for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The full heist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of villain, the Ocean film have always made us hate the mark, this one doesn’t.

Final ThoughtsThis is another attempted cash in on the Ocean’s franchise, it is mostly an average heist movie, the lack of villainous figure just holds everything back.

 

Overall: Just an Average heist movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – W – War of the Worlds (2005)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Josh Friedman, David Koepp (Screenplay) H.G. Wells (Novel)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Rick Gonzalez, Yul Vazquez

 

Plot: As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival.


Tagline – They’re already here

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sci-Fi Spectacular

 

Story: War of the Worlds starts when the deadbeat dad figure Ray (Cruise) is left to look after his children Rachel (Fanning) and Robbie (Chatwin) for a weekend, while he ex-wife Mary Ann (Otto) goes away with her new partner. We see early on the problems and strain in the relationship, but when an unknow storm hit New York a robotic creature comes out of the ground, killing everyone.

Ray grabs his kids and gets the hell out of the city racing across the country in hope of getting to Mary Ann where the kids want to be, the problem is the America is going into chaos and it becomes survival of the fittest against these unkillable robots.

 

Thoughts on War of the Worlds

 

Characters – Ray is the deadbeat dad that has always be a let down to his kids, he doesn’t live in the nicest house, but the neighbours all love him. He is distant from his children after the divorce and after the attack happens this everyday man must do everything he can to keep his children safe. Rachel is his youngest child, she is insecure about being away from her mother, needing to put trust in her father, reacting panicked during the attacks like a young girl would, but strangely offering mature advice with dealing with the older brother. Mary Ann is the ex-wife and mother that is the target for the journey across America. Robbie is the eldest son that does hate his father, as he sees the good in his father he wants to join the fight back against the invaders. Harlan Ogilvy is a stranger that offers help only to be the one that could put Ray’s family in the most danger.

PerformancesTom Cruise is wonderful in this leading role, he proves he can be the everyman in this role, he shows the vulnerable moments needed as his character only has one goal, save his family. Dakota Fanning continued to show she was a force in the future of Hollywood with her performance where she shines. Tim Robbins gives us a truly creepy character while the rest of the cast is great too.

StoryThe story is a modern version of one of the greatest radio recordings of all time, we bottle the story down nicely to focus on one father that is doing everything he can to keep his children safe during an alien invasion. Sure, the ending is weak, but this is much like Jurassic Park, it isn’t about the aliens, its about the people surviving the situation. The story is simple to follow to as we see the family getting caught up in different moments of the attack each one showing the panic that would surround it.

Adventure/Sci-FiThe adventure is filled with peril and shock as the family races for survival, this survival will show the horrors of what will happen if they don’t become safe. The sci-fi side of the film showed us just how the aliens came to invade, came rom beneath us and prepared against our own weapons.

SettingsThe film shows us the destruction of the aliens leave in their path, we see how the big cities are destroyed and how the quiet location are just as dangerous.

Special EffectsThe effects for the film are fantastic, from the early destruction to the special look of the wide shots of the attack going on.


Scene of the Movie –
Basement scene with Harlan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end of the story is always weak.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the great modern sci-fi films, it modernises one of the greatest stories, we have excellent special effects and a story that is simple enough to be effective.

 

Overall: Sci-Fi fans must be watching.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – N – Night Moves (2013)

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Writer: Jonathan Raymond (Screenplay)

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, Alia Shawkat, Logan Miller, Kai Lennox, Katherine Waterston

 

Plot: Three radical environmentalists look to execute the protest of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Very Slow

 

Story: Night Moves starts as we follow Josh (Eisenberg) and Dena (Fanning) who are environmentalists looking to find a way to change the world before it gets destroyed. Tired of the peaceful protests the couple head off to meet radical Harmon (Sarsgaard) who has a plan for a true statement the world will take notice off.

We watch how the three bring together the equipment to send their message and we are left to wonder if they will go through with it and what impact it could have on the environment.

 

Thoughts on Night Moves

 

Characters/PerformanceJosh and Dena are young idealistic environmentalists that are out on a mission to work with the radical Harmon they sum up the frustrated generation of how the world get mistreated and want to change it in their own way. Harmon is full left field, he wants to enjoy seeing the world change because of what they do.

Performance wise, we know how capable all three actors are, but sadly through this film we don’t get to see just how talented they are. I feel it is the script which holds most of this back really.

StoryThe story shows how environmentalists can push things to the extremes but must deal with the consequences of those action. The story is incredibly slow paced never pulling you into care about these characters or their actions and by the end everything all feels very flat indeed.

ThrillerYou simply don’t get sucked into this story or what is happening because of the poor pacing within the movie.

SettingsThe settings show the nature that these characters want to see live on, we also get to see just what has been happening with the human impact, so this does help us understand the situation the characters find themselves in, in a weird way.

Final ThoughtsThis was a very slow movie, it has a story that doesn’t drag you in and most disappointingly the film really doesn’t go anywhere.

 

Overall: Disappointing and slow film.

Rating