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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Detective Pikachu (2019)

Director: Rob Letterman

Writer: Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman, Derek Connolly (Screenplay) Satoshi Tajiri, Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Nicole Perlman, Ken Sugimori, Junuchi Masuda, Atsuko Nishida, Tomokazu Ohara, Haruka Utsui (Original Content)

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Suki Waterhouse, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, Karan Soni, Rob Delaney, Kathryn Newton

 

Plot: In a world where people collect Pokémon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cuteness Can Only Get You So Far

 

Story: Detective Pikachu starts when Tim Goodman (Smith) a young man living in a small town where he is content with his job not wanting to leave like most of his friends, until he gets news of his father’s death in the big city. Once in the big city Tim meets a talking Pikachu that was his father’s partner and the two go in search for answers to what happened to his father and why Pikachu can’t remember a thing.

 

Thoughts on Detective Pikachu

 

Characters – Tim Goodman is the young man that once dreamed of being a Pokémon trainer, he has settled with the idea of insurance for his job, his mother died when he was young and his father has become distant. When his father is killed in an accident, Tim travels to the big city in search for answers and closure only to find himself involved in the big mystery with a new Pikachu partner. Tim feels like a character that is trying to connect to the audience of the people that once loved Pokémon that got hit by life as they grew up. Pikachu is the partner of Tim’s father, only for an unknown reason he can talk to Tim, he is snappy his lines which sees him trying to remain confident as he wants to learn what he happened to his partner and his memory. Lucy is an intern that dreams of being a reporter, she gets the heads up on the story and starts diving into trying to solve the story with Tim. Howard Clifford has built the city where Pokémon and humans can work together and is involved in a power struggle with his son for his company.

PerformancesJustice Smith is the stronger performer in this film, he does show the held in grief his character is feeling, while showing his character is on the verge of coming out of his shell. Ryan Reynolds lends his voice to Pikachu which does work for the most part, he gets the jokes, while handling the serious moments too. Kathryn Newton is strong, though it would have been nice to see more from her character. Bill Nighy is one that brings the calming presence to everything being the typical brains for change into the world.

StoryThe story here follows a young man that teams up with a talking Pikachu, to figure out what happened to his father only to learn about a bigger conspiracy that is going on in the world. The story does easily take a back burner for large amounts of time because we want to focus on the cuteness of the Pokémon. We do get a standard investigation story, which is meant to have twists and turns along the way like all mystery films. We do cut over smaller stories around the supporting characters which disappoints in Lucy’s mostly. We do get a few moments that just don’t make sense though because they go against other rules created in the film.

Action/Comedy/Mystery/Sci-FiThe action sequences are fun to watch which are mostly Pokémon battles which look brilliant, the comedy is fun enough, though we did get most of the best moments in the trailer. The mystery is everything you would expect without being anything new or need to be. The sci-fi world created shows us just how the human and Pokémon can live together in one world.

SettingsThe film creates a wonderful location for the big city which looks nature throughout the scenes there, outside the big city we get to see how the Pokémon would live in our own world.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are truly amazing, to create the world which sees Pokémon living next to humans, everything looks nature when they appear on screen.


Scene of the Movie –
The Pokémon in life.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story is pretty basic.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun easy to watch film about Pokémon, it gets everything it needs to right without trying to test the audience with the lengths of the story.

 

Overall: Fun and Over Cute.

Rating

 

 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Director: J.A. Bayona

Writer: Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly (Screenplay) Michael Crichton (Characters)

Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Jeff Goldblum, Ted Levine, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, DB Wong, Rafe Spall

 

Plot: When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.


Tagline – Life finds a way.

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gigantic Disappointment

 

Story: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom starts when the island the dinosaurs lived in Jurassic World is going to be wiped out by the volcano on it, the government are figuring out the morale side of whether to help the dinosaurs or let nature wipe them out once again with the help of Ian Malcolm (Goldblum).

Benjamin Lockwood (Cromwell) a former partner to Richard Hammond wants to rescue the dinosaurs and leave them on a safe island, he brings in Claire (Howard) and Owen (Pratt) to achieve these, with his associate Eli Miles (Spall) running the operation. Things don’t go to plan and it becomes clear that human desires have become the project and creating a new killer dinosaur is what is the most important part of the mission and now Owen and Claire must save the day.

 

Thoughts on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

 

Characters – Claire is now working as a campaigner to save the dinosaurs from there next extinction, she has a small team and the connections to get her voice heard, she must connect with Owen again to complete the mission and do the right thing to make up for her mistakes from the previous film. we see her make difficult decisions, but otherwise she doesn’t have anything standing out about her character. Owen is back, mainly because he is the one that can track down Blue (the raptor), he knows how the survive dinosaurs, using their strengths to help him in difficult decisions, he is your standard hero there to save the day figure though. Ken Wheatley is the hunter sent to bring back the dinosaurs, he doesn’t seem very smart or like he has ever hunted before, he also collects the teeth, sadly this character is rubbish compared to the hunter in Jurassic Park The Lost World, who at least knew this would be a test of his skills. Ian Malcolm, gives a speech, don’t sell us on a movie if that is all her does. Benjamin Lockwood is the man trying to save the dinosaurs, he once worked with Hammond and wants the same for the remaining dinosaurs. Eli Miles runs operations for Lockwood, he has set up the mission to be what he wants it to be. The rest of the characters include the comic relief in Zia and Franklin, mostly misses, the Maisie the annoying kid and Dr Wu returning even though we knew in the last film what his game now is.

PerformancesWell the performances, this should be interesting, Pratt once again shows he needs good material to shine, he doesn’t give us a memorable moment in the film, Howard also struggles to make her character as strong as it should be follow the events of the first film. My score for Goldblum is low because he is only in one scene. Ted Levine looks the part of the clumsy hunter, Rafe Spall does a good enough job in his role, while the big name actors will be getting paid well to move onto their Oscar related movies.

StoryThe story will clearly have the similarities to The Lost World, we know the park has been destroyed the dinosaurs still live and what to do with them next is the question. The reluctant party return to do the right thing only to be betrayed, check and the second half of the film takes place on the main land, check. While I will stand up for the ideas in the story, because we know much like in ‘Alien’ that humans will want to weaponize and profit from anything that can be seen as more dangerous than what they have, it is tried, tested and works.

The idea that nature is destroying the island feels like it could have been a movie on its own, it is the best part of the story and ends with one of the best scenes in the Jurassic franchise. The problems start when you see the thrown in backstory characters, the paths going down man’s obsession with hunting and third act twists that make little impact in the movie.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action should be breath taking, we have an island being destroyed, which we saw in the trailer, the dinosaur moments should be amazing, they are forgettable, sadly the action just fails to feel the tension required. The adventure seems to have been sucked out of the film too, everything on the island felt like it was played out in fast forward skipping the true amazement of what was achieved. The sci-fi side of the story shows the use of dinosaurs and as we have ran out of ideas again, making a newer deadlier one.

SettingsThe have two main settings, the island for the first half of the film which I personally feel could have been the whole film, the second half is centred around the mansion which sucks all the life out of the ideas created.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are flawless with the dinosaurs coming to life in the magical way we know.


Scene of the Movie –
The final moment on the island, bought a tear to my eye, such a poetic and beautiful shot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The bloody kid.

Final ThoughtsThis was a giant disappointment for me, the two stories feel like they could have been separate films, the characters feel dull and lifeless and by the end you will be asking if you actually want to see more.

 

Overall: Just a let down for me.

Rating

 

 

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Writer: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly (Screenplay) John Gatins (Story)

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson, John C Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell

 

Plot: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mindless Monster Mayhem

 

Story: Kong: Skull Island starts as we see an instant introduction to Kong during World War II, move forward to 1973 Bill Randa (Goodman) want to lead an expedition to the mysterious island in the Pacific Ocean, one that has only just been discovered by satellite images. Joined by his assistant Brooks (Hawkins) and a mapping team Randa puts together a unit to cover him if the stories are true.

The team includes tracker James Conrad (Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Larson), San (Jing) and army unit led by Preston Packard (Jackson). Upon arrive on the island Kong destroys all the helicopter killing half the unit, with the scientists looking for a way off the island and Packard out for revenge the two battle within as they face enemies they had never imagined including the monstrous Kong.

 

Thoughts on Kong: Skull Island

 

Characters/PerformanceConrad is a British tracker who we rarely see track, Weaver is a photographer who clashes with Packard a lot on the morale side of her job post-Vietnam, she isn’t just the damsel in distress though. Packard is a war-hero who I believe wasn’t a hero in war, he wants one more chance to go into a battle before returning home, as the film unfolds he does feel very similar to Pete Postlethwaite character in Jurassic Park 2. Bill knows more than he lets on but could be considered a businessman villain. Hank steals most of the scenes here, he is the former WWII pilot who has been stuck on the island for 28 years. Kong is a character all to his own, destroying anything that gets in his way while also showing the most emotion of any character in the film. we also have scientists who are forgettable, and soldiers who are giving basic banter to work with.

Performance wise, Hiddleston does struggling to make much of the poorly written character, Larson starts well but again her character is written weakly, Jackson does what Jackson does well without being his best, Goodman also doesn’t reach his potential while Reilly knows how to steal a movie with limited scenes. Most of the stars all struggle with the same problem, their characters are written very weakly.

StoryThe story here is fine, I liked that is wasn’t the same as the 30’s era trying to bring Kong back to New York, this is just a surveillance job turned race against time to survive. So, this is The Lost World with King Kong in the end. There isn’t too much to say good about the story because I found myself confused a lot, we had ONE ship with about SIX helicopters on it and sudden when they reach Skull Island there is about TWENTY helicopters, the same goes for the number of soldiers, one minute we have the FOUR we know and then when we need people to die there suddenly seems to be another group of disposable ones. These inconsistent annoyed me most.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is very big and sure you can switch off and enjoy it all, the adventure is in the new world unseen and comes off fine throughout, the fantasy comes from battle what should be the impossible.

SettingsI did like that we kept all the action upon Skull Island, I feel this is important to creating the bigger universe they want to.

Special EffectsI also think the special effects are brilliant through the whole film and could barely tell the different between what is real or not.

Final ThoughtsThis is big bad and fun but I feel the character development comes off pointless in places because all we get is a sudden death to a character that doesn’t make sense or it is an unknown character killed to save ones we have got to know.

 

Overall: This will go down in the fun but not great action set piece.

Rating

 

 

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

logDirector: Colin Trevorrow

Writer: Derek Connolly (Screenplay)

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jeff Garin, Mark Duplass

Plot: Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Guaranteed to Please

Story: Safety Not Guaranteed starts with Darius (Plaza) a young woman who has always struggled to fit into her social situations. Darius is working as an intern at a New York magazine run by Bridget (Rajskub). Jeff (Johnson) decides for his next assignment to investigate an advert in the paper asking for someone to go time travelling with them. Jeff takes Darius and Arnau (Soni) on the assignment across country.advert

The three discover the man who has placed the advert Kenneth (Duplass) who works in the local grocery store and small house. Jeff’s attempt to get to know him backfires as he really has just returned to the town to try and hook up with an old fling. Darius has much better luck when Kenneth starts doing a background check on her before inviting her into his idea as he has a constant fear of being followed.

As Kenneth and Darius get to know each other we learn that both would like to go back and change things from their past. First the two have to get the final parts to make the mission possible. We continue to see Kenneth and Darius bond as the time to go time travelling gets closer but how real is his story anyway.

Safety Not Guaranteed does what you want to see in all indie films, it takes the charm of a romantic comedy and mixes in an element you would never imagine working, time travel. Granted this film isn’t anything to do with actual time travel it focus on the characters who believe things haven’t gone their way in life and not sitting back any longer. I really enjoy these types of films they show you don’t need to rely on easy comedy, they show that you can have a sci-fi element without going with a mad budget. This films shows how to bring together five very different characters to help each other come out of their shells and show their true colours and isn’t that what we all want to see in life? This film will be one story I will recommend to anyone because of the simple character development used through out. (8/10)

Actor Review

Aubrey Plaza: Darius is a young intern who has never really fitted in anywhere in here life but when she gets taken along for one of the stories she ends up having to be the one to get to know the man who believes he can travel through time. We see how Darius grows as a person the more she learns about Kenneth. Aubrey gives a great charming performance where you can feel that she is an outsider. (8/10)daris

Jake Johnson: Jeff is the lead reporter on the story who has used this trip to try and hook up with and old high school girlfriend. He pushes Darius into continuing the story after he makes an unprofessional approach to learning about the story. Jake gives us a performance where he starts off as the unlikeable character but soon he is just as vulnerable as the rest. (7/10)jeff

Mark Duplass: Kenneth is the man who claims to be able to travel back in time, he placed the advert to find someone he can trust to go back in time with and until he meets Darius and we learn about his motives. Mark gives us a committed performance as you believe every word his character speaks or at least that he believes he believes speaking the truth. (8/10)kenneth

Karan Soni: Arnau is the fellow intern that gets bought along on the investigation to find out the truth about the advert. Karan is the supporting character who easily shows how isolated Darius could be. (7/10)

Support Cast: Safety Not Guaranteed has a limited supporting cast that mainly are here to show what is true in the stories being told and how the characters believe things are currently going in their lives.

Director Review: Colin TrevorrowColin does a great job directing this indie gem I can only wonder what he will give us for Jurassic World (Which I should have seen by the time this is posted). (8/10)

Comedy: Safety Not Guaranteed manages to give us funny moments, granted no moments that will make you laugh out loud but we get good moments that will give us a chuckle or too which is all the film really needs. (8/10)

Romance: Safety Not Guaranteed plays the romantic angle without throwing in our face, we learn early on that all the characters are single and haven’t had much luck in love, as the film continues we see how they all get a chance for love but can secrets ruin everything? (8/10)

Settings: Safety Not Guaranteed keeps the most part of the setting in the small town which really gives us a feeling of normality to the strange character being introduced to us. (8/10)

Suggestion: Safety Not Guaranteed is one for all the indie fans out there to enjoy, it is one that I would most people to have heard of but maybe not all given a chance too. (Watch)

Best Part: Guessing what is real.

Worst Part: Not knowing where the adventure goes.

Funniest Scene: Stealing the lasers, it is an easy laugh but so effective.

Favourite Quote: Kenneth The mission has been updated. I’m going back for you now. All right. Do you trust me?

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: It could, but it hope it never does.

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $4 Million

Budget: $750,000

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

Tagline: What would you change if you could go back?

Overall: A real treat that will leave you with a smile what more could you ask for in a film?

Rating 80