Monster Trucks (2016)

Director: Chris Wedge

Writer: Derek Connolly (Screenplay) Matthew Robinson, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Story)

Starring: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Holt McCallany

 

Plot: A young man working at a small town junkyard discovers and befriends a creature which feeds on oil being sought by a fracking company.


Tagline – On January 13, meet Creech

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Film

 

Story: Monster Trucks starts as we see how the oil company run by Reece Tenneson (Lowe) has an accident on one of their sites which see three creatures discovered underground, where one escapes. We meet Tripp (Till) a high school student that struggles to concentrate, who works at the local scrapyard to stay away from his step-father Sheriff Rick (Pepper).

When Tripp finds the creature in the scrapyard the two become friends as it hides in his truck, with fellow student Meredith (Levy) trying to explain the biological side to the creature, while Reece is trying to figure out how to solve a potential problem to the eco-system and his oil drilling.

 

Thoughts on Monster Trucks

 

Characters – Tripp is a high school student, living with his mother and step-father, he comes off like a slacker with dreams of leaving the small town. He works at the scrapyard working on his escape with the truck he has been building, when he befriends the unknown creature he gets to go on an adventure to save the new species. Meredith is a fellow student that works with Tripp to understand the creature but her character plays out with the idea of being a damsel in distress.  Jim works for the oil company, he learns of the intelligence the creatures have and wants to help make them free not destroying their environment. Sheriff Rick is the step-father of Tripp who must try to keep up with Tripp without letting him get in trouble, he isn’t a direct enemy of Tripp’s though. Reece Tenneson is the oil tycoon that is losing money with the creatures being alive and now he will do anything to get rid of them.

PerformancesLucas Till is good in this leading role even though himself and Jane Levy both feel too old for the high school role as we have seen both in more adult roles. Thomas Lennon makes good for the extra comic relief even though most of his jokes miss, Rob Lowe is a good businessman villain too.

StoryThe story follows an undiscovered creature being found in an oil drilling location, making it a battle to see whether the oil company can be bought down before destroying the creatures home. This works for the story, it may not be the most original idea but it brings us the character we can relate too who want to do right and the ones that don’t with their greed. We get good moments of unlikely friendships coming through different locations too.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/Sci-FiWe hit a lot of genres here, the action comes from the chase sequences that are pure fun once you switch your brain off, the adventure takes Tripp on a journey he never imagined he would be going on. The comedy is hit or miss though but the fantasy elements are part fantasy and part a potential reality because you never know about new species. This is designed well for a family film though.

SettingsThe film takes part in and around a small town in North Dakota, this idea is that you might not make it out of this town and this shows what could happen for the characters.

Special EffectsThe effects work well enough for the film without being the absolute best because with the budget the film has you would expect better.


Scene of the Movie –
The final chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Meredith could have been written stronger.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun film, don’t expect greatness but just something you could enjoy with ease.

 

Overall: Enjoyable family film.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – D – Dreamgirls (2006)

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Bill Condon (Screenplay) Tom Eyen (Book)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose

 

Plot: A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.


Tagline – One Dream Will Change Everything

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical Musical

 

Story: Dreamgirls starts as we meet the three soul singers from Detroit Deena Jones (Beyonce), Effie White (Hudson) and Lorrell Robinson (Rose), the Dreams, they are trying to make a name for themselves and catch the attention of Curtis Taylor Jr (Foxx) who arranges them to be back up singers for James ‘Thunder’ Early.

When Curtis sees the girls future alone, but with Deena taking the lead of the trio it doesn’t set well with Effie and with the act breaking barriers across the world it builds the tension between the band before eventually seeing Effie leaving the act as Deena becoming the international star and Effie must face the consequences of giving up her own chance of stardom.

 

Thoughts on Dreamgirls

 

Characters – Curtis Taylor Jr gave up his car dealership to turn the Dreams into stars, he knows how to challenge the market to get the goes famous, taking a shine to Deena he sees her being the front of the trio which causes the tension within the trio, he delivers on his promises even if things don’t come off as clean as they should. Deena is one of the trio, she gets the most attention because she is the most attractive and while taking over the leading role in the trio where her stardom divides the friendship. James ‘Thunder’ Early is the artist that the Dreams start as backup, he watches the Dreams go onto be bigger stars than he had ever been because of the lack of support. Effie White is the best singer in the trio, she is the first to oppose being just a backup singer, wanting to take her position to the next level, which only sees he removed from the band.

PerformancesJamie Foxx was at the top of his career here and it shows because he is great, the biggest surprises come from the rest of the main cast, Eddie Murphy, well this is easily his best performance in the last 30 years and shows everyone just what he is capable off. Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson are both fantastic in their roles as the completely understand how difficult the music industry can be for anyone.

StoryThe story follows the trio of soul singers who start in just a talent contest to hopefully get a big break, only to find themselves becoming international superstars, but with success comes at a price as the trio go their own ways with one becoming the biggest name in music and the other resorted to performing in clubs. We get to see the harsh reality of the music industry from the four main characters and directions they end up taking. Having a film balance the four characters stories so, well is unusual and a great watch.

MusicalThe song and numbers are all wonderful with plenty of different genre touched on as the sound of the band changes through the years too.

SettingsThe film shows the different worlds these women could be living in, the riot filled streets of Detroit or the fame and celebrity world.


Scene of the Movie –
Final performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Wondering why Eddie Murphy can’t perform this well more often.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable musical that shines a spotlight on the soul music scene during the 60’s, it has wonderful performance throughout and is a must watch for the fans of the music genre and musical fans in general.

 

Overall: Beautiful movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Best of 2018 – S – Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Director: Boots Riley

Writer: Boots Riley (Screenplay)

Starring: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermain Fowler, Omaria hardwick, Terry Crew, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer

 

Plot: In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weird and Wonderful

 

Story: Sorry to Bother You starts when Cassius Green (Stanfield) gets a brand-new job as a cold caller, his good friend Salvador (Fowler) also works there and his girlfriend Detroit (Thompson) are trying to plan some sort of future together, joined by new co-worker Squeeze (Yeun) and Langston (Glover) they start searching for the improvement in the job.

When Cassius gets a promotion his life will change forever as he now knows what it is to be away from the financial struggle he has been living through.

 

Thoughts on Sorry to Bother You

 

Characters – Cassius Green is a telemarketer living in his Uncle’s garage with his girlfriend, he wants to make more of his life while remaining loyal to his friends, when he gets the chance to make the money, but it will come at a cost, leaving him torn between both worlds needing to make the right decision. Detroit is the girlfriend of Cassius, she is an artist at heart enjoying being close to the streets with her work, she wants to stay loyal to the people that support her. Salvador is the best friend that works with Cassius, he is the one that could see his friend turning his back on him. Mr well they bleep out his name, he welcomes Cassius to upper level seeing him as the star employee. Sergio is the uncle that is tight for money but will support Cassius however difficult it happens to be. Langston shows Cassius how to make an impact in the job, while Squeeze becomes the friend at work trying to make a difference with everything for the employees. Steve Lift runs a company which in the eyes of some is slave labour, he plays it off an opportunity and is happy to see the money roll in.

PerformancesLakeith Stanfield in the leading role is the true star of the film, each scene he is in we are wanting to see more from him, he hits every emotion needed for his characters reactions. Armie Hammer continues to show us just how talented he is with his role in this film. we do get strong performance from the supporting cast with Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun and Jermaine Fowler getting the best moments.

StoryThe story shows us how one man’s life can change once he shows that he has a new skill he didn’t know he had, it plays along the lines of getting rich and need to stay loyal to his friends. This is the core of the story, but it soon goes in a different direction, one that will surprise you with what is being built up to. This is a story that is trying to send a message about employment problems a racial vision of people. It does have ideas that things could be changed in the future even if they are focusing what could only cause a bigger problem over solving them. This is going to be a story which you can see people turn away because of just how weird it gets, but it will be a unique vision too.

Comedy/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe film does have comedic elements once we get to see what is going on too, it is unique in its style, the fantasy side of the film comes from what is meant to be happening behind closed doors in the film.

SettingsThe film is set in Oakland, without doing any research this is just a normal American city that doesn’t always give opportunity to the people from the city, it works because it shows how things can get out of hand here.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are good when we see what is happening with the master plan in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The calls are filmed in a unique way which will be remembered.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The forced rap.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the most unique films you will see this year, it has one of the weirdest twists that any story will offer with great performances throughout.

 

Overall: Something you will never forget.

Rating

 

 

The Old Man & The Gun (2018)

Director: David Lowery

Writer: David Lowery (Screenplay) David Grann (Article)

Starring: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Tika Sumpter, Ari Elizabeth Johnson

 

Plot: Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public.


Tagline – This Story is Mostly True.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Crime Comedy

 

Story: The Old Man & The Gun starts as we see how Forrest Tucker (Redford) would do his bank robberies, casually walk in and politely ask for the money before calmly walking out and escaping, only on this latest job he meets Jewel (Spacek) a widow who he wants to charm.

After another robbery that happened to have cop John Hunt (Affleck) who didn’t even see it happen, John decides to investigate Forrest robberies where he learns about the lifetime of crimes and the myth behind the man who escaped multiple prisons and returned to a life of crime, can he finally be caught for good?

 

Thoughts on The Old Man & The Gun

 

Characters – Forrest Tucker is a career criminal that has been committing robberies his hole life, he never hurts anyone and is always a gentleman about how he goes around his robberies. Even in his later years he still loves the crime, he does want a relationship with Jewel and sees her in the same lonely situation she is at times. John Hunt is a detective that starts to investigate the robberies after being in the bank when one of the heists goes down, he seems to enjoy the chase over the capture, giving his life new meaning. Jewel is a widow that has seen her children grow up and is living in a remote farm, she sees Forrest as a charmer who could bring her new zest for life and lets him into her life. Teddy and Waller are the partners in the crimes called in for the bigger jobs.

PerformancesRobert Redford is wonderful in the leading role which is meant to be his last and he goes out on top showing that his skills are permanently.  Casey Affleck gives us a good performance that is shows how withdrawn his character has become with his life. Sissy Spacek is great too showing us just how lonely she has become with her life. The supporting cast are good too all fitting the story very well.

StoryThe story follows the later robberies of Forrest Tucker one of the most notorious criminals in America, he escaped prison multiply times and continued to rob banks just to keep him entertained while never resorting to violence. We follow one cop that decides to investigate other robberies connecting the dots to learn who the man behind them really is. If you liked ‘Catch me if you Can’ the story is told in the same style which helps us find comedy in moments which could have been calm. The time jumps showing the pure number of robberies happening can be blink and you miss them and if you don’t know your American states you won’t be able to connect them quickly.

Comedy/CrimeThe film is told in a way that makes everything become light-hearted which helps make the crimes seem like they weren’t as bad as they were.

SettingsThe settings are the weakest part of the film if you don’t know where or how close cities and states are because we see so many robberies that just show us the place not saying how far away they are.


Scene of the Movie –
What Forrest did next.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does feel too similar to Catch Me If you Can.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good crime comedy that gets the fun comedy moments while telling a true story about how one man was addicted to robbing banks.

 

Overall: Fun true crime story.

Rating

 

 

Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw (2004)

Director: James Wan

Writer: Leigh Whannell (Screenplay) Leigh Whannell, James Wan (Story)

Starring: Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Michael Emerson, Monica Potter

 

Plot: Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there or why, and soon discover they are pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.


Tagline – How do you solve a puzzle with pieces missing?

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Horror

 

Story: Saw starts as Adam (Whannell) and Dr Lawrence Gordon (Elwes) awaken in a bathroom, with their ankles chained and a dead body between them. They both have a tape from notorious murderer Jigsaw that wants to play a game with them.

Dr Gordon fills in who Jigsaw is to Adam and us, as we learn the Detectives David Tapp (Glover) and Steven Sing (Leung) who have been hunting Jigsaw and even suspect Dr Gordon at one stage. It becomes an obsession for Tapp who believe Dr Gordon is Jigsaw leaving him to watch his home, but as Adam and Lawrence get to know each other the twists on the true identity of Jigsaw come to light.

 

Thoughts on Saw

 

Characters – Dr Gordon is one of the latest victims of Jigsaw, a respected doctor why would he be selected is a mystery but his personal life isn’t as clean as his medical career. Dr Gordon plays the vital role of filling in the blanks to who Jigsaw could be as he has been considered a suspect. Adam is the other victim in the room, he seems clueless to everything going on but we learn his reason for being selected and his connection to Dr Gordon. Detective David Tapp has been hunting Jigsaw, it nearly cost him his life and has now become an obsession for him. Detective Sing is the partner of Tapp that has been working on the case with him.

PerformancesCary Elwes and Leigh Whannell are both great in the leading roles of the film both show the desperate position they find themselves one being calm the other panicked with their responses. Danny Glover wasn’t too old for this shit, in fact he is good throughout in the supporting role of the film.

StoryThe story is a mystery of why the two are being locked in bathroom, the film opens the door to the bigger picture to who and why Jigsaw does what he does, the selecting the victim process and the concept of keeping us guessing to just who Jigsaw is. We have a nice number of twists that keep us guessing from early on in the film which only gives us more when we look back on second viewing. This is a brilliant start to what became a Halloween tradition in cinema.

Horror/Mystery The horror is what has happened to previous victims of the Jigsaw murders, we also have the idea of what could happen to our leads in the bathroom. The mystery comes from the idea of just who is behind the crimes as we watch the investigation unfold before us.

SettingsThe settings for the film are used perfectly, we have the games which are mine fields for the victims with the bathroom being the biggest of all of them, which is what makes this the icon film we know.

Special EffectsThe effects are practical which is good to see, we are left in shock with moments even if some of the film is based more of what has happened over forcing us to watch.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act

That Moment That Annoyed Me Part of Tapp’s storyline seems tagged on.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most iconic horrors of modern time, it has everything and most importantly took the horror genre to a much needed new direction.

 

Overall: Must watch horror film.

Rating