ABC Film Challenge – Biopics – U – A United Kingdom (2016)

Director: Amma Asante

Writer: Guy Hibbert (Screenplay) Susan Williams (Book)

Starring: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Tom Felton, Jack Davenport, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto

 

Plot: The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana and how his loving but controversial marriage to a British white woman, Ruth Williams, put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.


Tagline – The true story of a love that shook an empire.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice History Lesson

 

Story: A Untied Kingdom starts in 1947 England where Prince Seretse Khama (Oyelowo) of Bechuanaland (known today as Botswana) is in England studying law, he meets file clerk Ruth Williams (Pike) and the two fall in love.

With tension between Bechuanaland and South Africa high the idea of the soon to be King marrying a white woman would be unheard off. The British government doesn’t want him to become king and Seretse own family don’t want him to become king if he stays with Ruth. With the racial divide still going strong, Seretse pushed for equality over anything else, so he can unite his kingdom when he becomes king.

 

Thoughts on A United Kingdom

 

Characters – Seretse Khama is the prince of Bechuanaland he has been studying law in England to prepare for his time as king, he falls in love a white woman in Ruth Williams which throws tensions from his family, government in the air and to prove his love is more important than his traditions and bring the equality between the races together. Ruth Williams is an English clerk whose family has been working to teach Christianity to Africans, she meets and falls in love with Seretse and goes against everyone else’s desires and marries him. Rufus Lancaster is the British liaison in Bechuanaland who leads the opposition from the land, which only shows us just how the English were over controlling.

PerformancesDavid Oyelowo is wonderful in the leading role, showing us once again that he can lead any movie he wants too. Rosamund Pike shines to showing everyone that she can handle to calm roles after the psycho ones in Gone Girl. The rest of the cast are wonderful even if the British characters are as stuck up as you would imagine them to be.

StoryThe story follows the lives of King Seretse who marries an English white woman which puts the balance between the racial tension in his home land and British rule. We learn a lot from this movie, because we see how the country was being controlled from outside forces that only saw them as a piece of land. There is a lot to take in and the history lesson about this union that created a chance in the land.

Biopic/RomanceWhat King Seretse and his wife Ruth achieved for Botswana was incredible and this shows us how their love drove them to achieve this change.

SettingsThe settings show us the high society British look at an African country that was following its own traditions to become the independent from this style of rule.


Scene of the Movie –
Speech to the ‘tribe’ as the British called them.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Knowing the English were this shallow.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at how the world was once ruled by people who believe they are in the right to control countries affairs and how their union would change everything.

 

Overall: History is always worth learning.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – N – Nina (2016)

Director: Cynthia Mort

Writer: Cynthia Mort (Screenplay)

Starring: Zoe Saldana, David Oyelowo, Kevin Mambo, Ronald Guttman, Chuma Gault, Allison Sarofilm, Mike Epps, Keith David

 

Plot: The story of the late jazz musician and classical pianist Nina Simone including her rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson.


Tagline – Singer. Activist. Survivor. Legend.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Biopic 101

 

Story: Nina starts as we see Nina Simone (Saldana) performing one of Nina’s iconic songs as we see how the rise and fall of the iconic star happened through the different eras of music, now in the early 90s, she finds herself in a rehab centre needing to clean herself up after learning she doesn’t have al the money she has earnt in her career.

Becoming friends with Clifton Henderson (Oyelowo) who she makes her manager to help keep her appointments in order and keeping her on the right medication, the two fast become friends as Clifton learns about what drove Nina down the spiral she went down.

 

Thoughts on Nina

 

Characters – Nina is the iconic jazz and classical musician that broke boundaries, we follow her in the mid-90s where she is considered an icon but has fallen out of the limelight after struggling with her personal addictions to drinks. She hires a new manager to help her try and turn her life around, though her paranoia towards people in her life doesn’t help her and her sickness needs help from Clifton. Clifton is an orderly at the rehab centre Nina stays at, she trusts him, making him the only one she does, he gets recruited into being her manager as he helps to try and turn her career around and bring her back to the spotlight, where she deserves to be. The rest of the characters we meet are family, lawyers, promotors and celebrities that Nina would have met in her life.

PerformancesZoe Saldana did face backlash for her choice in the role because her background isn’t the same as Nina’s, away rom this conversation this is a performance that show Saldana isn’t all action with this being her strongest acting performance of her career. David Oyelowo is great too as he seems capable of stepping into any role he wants challenging Chadwick Boseman for biopic-man title. The supporting cast are great too where they help with the important scenes in the film.

StoryThe story focuses on the real people of Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson as they try to help bring Nina’s career back on track. This is where the story becomes disappointing to see, sure it is great to see how she was aiming to make her comeback, but we don’t learn enough on the first rise, the struggles she faced and what led her down the addiction problems, which are always the more interesting part of any celebrity’s lives.

Biopic/MusicThe music shown here are the iconic songs of Nina Simone’s career and if you didn’t know she sang them you will by the end of the film. the biopic side of the film does show us a crucial part of Nina’s life though it would have been nice to learn more about getting to this stage.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show where Nina heads to recover to get in the mood for her music and creative energy, they do end up looking like locations you could imagine the celebrity would be around.


Scene of the Movie –
The return gig.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning enough about her original rise to fame.

Final ThoughtsThis is the standard biopic, we get to see the once famous star try to turn their career around, though we don’t learn enough about their career in the first place.

 

Overall: Standard biopic.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – Q – Queen of Katwe (2016)

Director: Mira Nair

Writer: William Wheeler (Screenplay) Tim Crothers (Article)

Starring: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Kabanza, Taryn Kyaze, Ivan Jacobo

 

Plot: A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Sports Drama

 

Story: Queen of Katwe starts as we meet Phiona (Nalwanga) a Ugandan girl from a family that struggles to put food on the table each day as she comes from a big family. On the other side of the town Robert Katende (Oyelowo) has been working on introducing sports to the kids and with his latest choice chess, he finds himself getting Phiona joining his class.

When Robert sees the potential in his students he must overcome discrimination in class to give them a chance against the students who can afford an education in a tournament for the school district, as well as overcoming problems that come from living in the slums.

 

Thoughts on Queen of Katwe

 

Characters – Phiona is from the slums of Uganda where she sells corn just to help support her family but when she learns she is chess prodigy she must learn how to balance the slum life and the success she might achieve from chess. Robert Katende is placed in the position of helping sports minister help the children of the slums learn a sport to give them a positive moment in life. He fights for the children to have a chance at competition. Nakku is the mother of Phiona that has struggled through keeping a roof over the head of the children and food on their table but it upsets her seeing how her children that could have a future they can’t afford.

PerformanceMadina Nalwanga comes from nowhere to give a powerful performance of the young woman that must learn to overcome her problems to achieve greatness, David Oyelowo is fast becoming one actor you know can always give us fantastic performances and this is no different, Lupita Nyong’o is once again great in her performance showing how she is one of the must underused actresses in Hollywood.

StoryThe story of one girl from a place no one would consider being one of the biggest prospects in chess is a success story we all like to hear about. We get to experience the ups and downs Phiona must face to become respected in field and the people that support her along her way. This might well be a film about chess

Biography/SportsThis might only be looking at a small part of Phiona’s life but it is the most important part, the part where we get to follow her learning curve of the sport that she loves.

SettingsSeeing the different backgrounds the children involved comes from is great to see, it shows that sport can bring people together regardless of their backgrounds.

Scene of the Movie – The first tournament.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There wasn’t anything.

Final ThoughtsSport that brings people together that is the point of this film which is what is great to enjoy, coming from a country you wouldn’t see as a chess champion also helps us enjoy the ride.

 

Overall: Hugely entertaining sports drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – C – Captive (2015)

Director: Jerry Jameson

Writer: Brian Bird (Screenplay) Ashley Smith, Stacy Mattingly (Book)

Starring: Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, Elle Graham, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jessica Oyelowo, Mimi Rogers, Leonor Varela

 

Plot: A single mother struggling with drug addiction is taken hostage in her own apartment by a man on the run who has broken out of jail and murdered the judge assigned to his case.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Thriller

 

Story: Captive starts as we meet Ashely Smith (Mara) a drug addict who has lost her child due to her addiction and is desperately struggling to get clean. On the other side of the story we find Brian Nichols (Oyelowo) a criminal who breaks out of his trial hearing leaving bodies on the way.

Lt John Chestnut (Williams) and Sgt. Sandoval (Varela) lead the manhunt for Brian as we learn how this minor criminal has escalated to murder to get freedom. Brian breaks into Ashley apartment holding her hostage inside her own home. Ashley must spend the night trying to stay alive when this clearly mentally unstable man Brian pushes her to the limits.

 

Thoughts on Captive

 

Characters/PerformanceAshley is a recovering drug addict who is about to become clean and get her daughter back, she must stay one step ahead of Brian to make this happen. Brian is a criminal about to be judge on a rape case he believes he is innocent off. He escapes and kills the judge going on the run before taking Ashely hostage. He constantly believes he is innocent of all the crimes he is being accused off. The cops on the other hand are all the generic ones you would imagine they would be.

Performance Wise, Kate Mara is good in the leading role showing given the right material she can be a leading lady, David Oyelowo is as always great in yet another film he clearly is the best part off.

StoryThis is a story that is based on real events, this is just another hostage story though, we have the bonding between the criminal and victim which is nothing fresh, as well as watching the manhunt for him. This all works but doesn’t come off as original, because this is based on a real event it would have been more interesting to see more about the real case that Brian believes he is innocent off.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of this film happens early on as most of the film is hunting down the criminal who has gone to extreme lengths to get his freedom. The thriller ide doesn’t keep us on edge for long enough.

SettingsThe apartment shows how Ashely has become trapped with Brian but we also deal with the idea that we are watching a manhunt too.

Final ThoughtsThis was a slow-moving thriller that doesn’t reach the levels it needs to, mostly because this is based on a real event too.

 

Overall: Slow and disappointing thriller.

Rating

 

 

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Director: Julius Onah

Writer: Oren Uziel (Screenplay) Oren Uziel, Doug Jung (Story)

Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki

 

Plot: Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Addition to Cloverfield Universe

 

Story: The Cloverfield Paradox starts as we come to the Earth as the people are facing an energy crisis, one of the last hopes is an experiment in space to product an almost infinite amount, the crew includes Schmidt (Bruhl), Hamilton (Mbatha-Raw), Kiel (Oyelowo), Monk (Ortiz), Mundy (O’Dowd), Volkov (Hennie) ad Tam (Zhang).

While performing their experiment something goes wrong and the crew finds their ship in the middle of nowhere in space, the Earth gone, what happened, the team must work together to keep the ship active before even considering looking for home and things only get more confusing when Jensen (Debicki) appears on the ship claiming to be part of the team.

 

Thoughts on The Cloverfield Paradox

 

Characters – Hamilton seems to be one of our main characters, because we follow her on Earth as she debates whether to be part of the mission, so she can save her family from the crisis on Earth, on board the ship we see how her first and most important thing to follow is communicating with her family. Kiel is the Commander on this mission, he knows how each member of the team can be used to get through the problems. Schmidt is the man behind the science, it has been his ideas which are being put into practice in the experiment. Monk is the medical officer on the ship, he faces the scientific decisions. Mundy is the engineer on board, he can fix any problem as fast becomes the funniest member of the crew. Volkov is the member of the team which easily gets hot headed through the situations the crew themselves in. Tam is a crucial part of the team when it comes to knowing the operations behind the experiment. Jensen appears on the ship after the experiment goes wrong, she seems to be part of the team, but no one else knows who she is. She knows the operations the crew want to follow too.

PerformancesThis has a star studded multi-cultured set of actors, this helps show us how the world is united with this plan. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is good in this leading role, her character is the only one that does seem to show any life outside of the mission though. Daniel Bruhl and David Oyelowo are two top performers and they both give us the good performances we expect. Chris O’Dowd nearly steals the movie, his characters wit mixed with his delivery helps the movie have moments of light-hearted humour. Elizabeth Debicki is good too but I do feel like we don’t get enough from the talents of Aksel Hennie and Ziyi Zhang.

StoryThe story follows an experiment to try and solve the problems the Earth is facing with energy supplies, the idea takes us into a scientific discussion about what would happen if scientists accidently ended up in an alternative dimension. We have characters that are smart in space, which follows the same lines as ‘Life’ and ‘Sunshine’ as they do come together to try to solve the problem over just panicking. This does tie into the previous films nicely too, which is just what we wanted to see.

Horror/Mystery/Sci-fiThis film doesn’t reach the horror element level it could have, but the mystery side of the film covers this weakness, the sci-fi side of things do offer big questions about where things could be going.

SettingsThe film uses two major settings, the first and best is the space station which is highlight of the film because every time we jump to Earth, it seems to slow up the pace of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are flawless through the film, the space moments are wonderful and an incident with an arm is great.


Scene of the Movie –
Found the worms

That Moment That Annoyed Me Returning to Earth gets frustrating.

Final ThoughtsThis is a smart sci-fi film that throws up the questions about what could go wrong with an experiment that could help save the Earth. This does fit into the universe created with the Cloverfield movies too.

 

Overall: Hugely entertaining sci-fi thriller.

Rating