ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – Z – Same Kind of Different Me (2017)

This has be selected for Z because of Renee Zellweger.

 

Director: Michael Carney

Writer: Michael Carney, Alexander Foard, Ron Hall (Screenplay) Ron Hall, Denver Moore, Lynn Vincent (Book)

Starring: Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou, Jon Voight, Olivia Holt, Austin Filson

 

Plot: International art dealer Ron Hall must befriend a dangerous homeless man in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife, a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the journey of their lives.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Touching Drama

 

Story: Same Kind of Different as Me starts when international art dealer Ron Hall (Kinnear) gets caught out cheating on his wife Debbie (Zellweger), needing to make up for his mistake, he must help Debbie with her charity work at a homeless shelter, which includes helping Denver Moore (Hounsou) better known as suicide.

Ron ends up befriending Denver learning about his story, why he is like he is, learning that her work with the homeless makes her good fortune be placed into perspective and learns to give back to the world.

 

Thoughts on Same Kind of Different as Me

 

Characters – Ron Hall is an international art dealer, he only cares about himself and his family looking down on the people below him in the class system. When he makes a mistake by cheating on his wife, he must do everything to make it up to her, which includes helping in a homeless shelter, meeting homeless people learning about their stories, with Denver becoming his closest friend. Debbie is the wife of Ron, she admits the two have become distant, she helps out at the homeless shelter which see her bring him there to open his eyes to the world more, before facing her own battle. Denver is a homeless man that is aggressive towards anyone that tries to help him, it takes time for him to trust Ron, but once he does, he tells the incredible story that he has been through in life. Earl is the strict father that doesn’t like the new friendship with Denver.

PerformancesGreg Kinnear is great in the leading role, his character is filled with regret in life from his mistakes and wants to help make things right. Renee Zellweger shines in the supporting role too, with Djimon Hounsou proving to everyone just how strong of an actor he truly is.

StoryThe story follows the Hall family whose lives are turned upside after an affair, with the regret there, they do what they can to fix things, which sees them give up time to help people less fortunate than them, helping them put their lives back together and in Ron’s case, learn that everybody has a story from their lives. This is based on the real people and you can see just how much they helped change both sides of the lives for the best. This story does only seem to focus on one homeless man when it hints heavily early on that we might meet more people to learn their stories. It shows us the audience just how people who have fallen on hard times could have has normal lives before losing everything and just need helping back up again.

BiopicThis film uses the biopic genre to show just how difficult life has been for the Denver and how Ron needed to learn more about life and the best way to live his own.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us the different life styles the people have, be it the casual rich person life or the homeless life being lived.


Scene of the Movie –
The story of Denver’s life.

That Moment That Annoyed Me One side story seems to get dropped quickly.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful drama that shows just how you need to learn to treat people equal no matter where they have come from or how they got there.

 

Overall: Wonderful drama.

Rating

 

 

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Serenity (2019)

Director: Steven Knight

Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong

 

Plot: A fishing boat captain juggles facing his mysterious past and finding himself ensnared in a reality where nothing is what it seems.


Tagline – On Plymouth Island, No One Ever Dies…Unless You Break the Rules

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Head Scratcher

 

Story: Serenity starts as we meet obsessed fisherman Baker Dill (McConaughey) who has been running low on money, which has risked losing his first mate Duke (Hounsou), the town however will work with him when he needs it. He turns to Constance (Lane) for comfort as they know what each other like.

When Baker’s ex, Karen (Hathaway) arrives in the small town, she comes to him to take her husband Frank (Clarke) out to the ocean to leave him there to save their son from his abusive nature. Not everything is as it seems though, as Baker is left to make a big decision.

 

Thoughts on Serenity

 

Characters – Baker Dill is a struggling fisherman, who takes tourists out, he can keep himself afloat, but only just. He is left in shock when his ex comes back into his life trying to talk him into killer her husband to protect his son, he is reluctant to accept left torn between what to do or not. Karen is the ex of Baker that is tired of her abusive husband that she can’t escape from, she needs Baker to do the job for her. Constance is Baker’s fling on the island, they keep each other company when they need it. Frank is the rich husband of Karen that has power to do whatever he wants and get away with it.

PerformancesMatthew McConaughey in the leading role is strong because he must give a performance of a man that is unsure of everything happening. Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane and Jason Clarke complete the main cast, they each have their key part to play which does work helping Matthew shine.

StoryThe story does start with a simple idea of a man who has been chasing a mysterious fish, which has seen him isolate himself and see his money run low, he gets a chance for a big pay day when his ex-arrives in town. Now, this is the simple side, a will he or won’t he follow her wishes, only everything gets turned on its head by a twist that makes you question nearly everything you have seen, really starting to blow your mind about what we are seeing. This puts the story in the middle of two different places because it is something we haven’t seen, something we couldn’t predict, the problems come from the idea that everything is so far outside the box many people might not like just how far things can go.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery elements of this film comes from just what is going on in this world, it gets even more complicated when the twist starts to unravel, this does turn this into a sci-fi element of the film because it does show us just what could happen.

SettingsThe film is set on a picture-perfect island called Plymouth Island which is perfect for fishing and has a close community that will know each other’s secrets.


Scene of the Movie –
The rules.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain side characters do seem to disappear in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sci-fi mystery that will leave you wondering just what the hell did I just watch and did you like it, it will be best to read on just how much you want to judge how you see the twist.

 

Overall: Mind blowing mystery.

Rating

 

 

Shazam! (2019)

Director: David F Sandberg

Writer: Henry Gayden, Darren Lemke (Screenplay) Bill Parker, C.C. Beck (Creators)

Starring: Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel

 

Plot: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM! – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam.


Tagline – If you want to save the world, say the magic word.

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tonally Messy

 

Story: Shazam! Starts when teenage runaway Billy Batson (Angel) gets sent to the latest foster home after being caught searching for his mother, Billy must share a room with Freddy (Grazer) who is a comic book enthusiast. When Billy is select as the latest candidate by a Wizard (Hounsou) he is given the power to become Shazam! (Levi) a superhero.

Billy must turn to Freddy for help to understand these new powers which he uses for fun, until Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Strong) comes looking for the power after he was a rejected candidate because he was drawn to the evil within the lair. Billy must learn his powers to stop Thaddeus from bringing chaos to the world.

 

Thoughts on Shazam!

 

Characters – Shazam is the superhero version of Billy, this plays out like any teenage who would become a teenager, be it buying alcohol, skipping school or visiting a strip club, he is immature just like you would imagine and must learn to control his powers to fight Thaddeus, he is meant to be an icon for good. Dr Thaddeus Sivana was once a candidate to be given the power of Shazam, but he was drawn to the evil, banished from the lair, he has dedicated his life to searching for the truth which he unlocks the evil of the seven deadly sins. Billy is a runaway teenager, he is in search for his mother, he doesn’t like the foster system, but this new family give him a chance, he continues in his rebellious ways until he is given the power of Shazam which lets him learn the true meaning of family. Freddy is the roommate and superhero expect that is help Billy understand his new powers, he would love to be in his position because he gets constantly bullied at school.

PerformancesZachary Levi in the Shazam might well look the part, but due to him complete difference to character to Billy it is hard to take him seriously in this role. Mark Strong is as I have always said, an easy to pick villain that never lets you down. Jack Dylan Grazer brings plenty of enthusiasm to his role, while Asher Angel does his best mood teen impression.

StoryThe story shows us how a foster child is given unlimited power by a wizard who needs somebody to take over the guardian role to protect the realms from evil, only the evil is out and the foster kid is the last resort to stop this evil. It would be fair to say this is a tonally confusing story, we have a villain that is very dark and could easily be just another figure from later Harry Potter story, he has the deadly sins which are monsters that are trying to scare children, only for some reason they don’t, we have a reluctant hero who would rather make money of his need alter ego than help people. The problems do mount up quickly here as Billy and Shazam do feel like very different characters and it feels like Shazam is just Zachary Levi doing his funny man routine, over the idea of him being a version of Billy suddenly grown up. The villain is the best part of the film, he is going to step into fights before anybody else not needing anyone to help him. The story does try to bring us some heart with the ideas of just where Billy is in his life, between searching for somebody that left him or accept a family that wants him.

Action/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action is mostly silly over the top action we know DC tends to do, we have destruction of windows, fight scenes that just have people crashing through stuff along with some flying. The fantasy side of the film shows us just how the magic world can produce good and evil depending on which side of you soul you let think for you. The sci-fi element of the film comes from the idea of a new superhero being inside a teenage boy.

SettingsThe settings in the film mostly use Philadelphia as the main setting, we haven’t really seen a comic book movie set in this location before.

Special EffectsThe effects are a real mixed bag, the creature designs look brilliant no question, but certain flying scenes look like they came from an 80’s Superman movie.


Scene of the Movie –
Unlocking the true power.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Shazam didn’t feel like an adult version of Billy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a silly superhero movie, it gets the tone wrong by having a villain that is way to dark and a hero that is just too playful.

 

Overall: Just another DC miss.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

Air (2015)

Director: Christian Cantamessa

Writer: Christian Cantamessa, Chris Pasetto (Screenplay)

Starring: Norman Reedus, Djimon Hounsou, Sandrine Holt, Michael Hogan, Steve Burgess

 

Plot: In the near future, breathable air is nonexistent and two engineers tasked with guarding the last hope for mankind struggle to preserve their own lives while administering to their vital task at hand.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Thriller

 

Story: Air starts in the future when the world has gone through a war, the remaining people live in a bunker in sleep chambers, engineers Bauer (Reedus) and Cartwright (Hounsou) both awaken on a routine cycle to check the equipment before returning to their chambers, but when a fire causes them to lose one of their chambers, they must work together with the resources they have because in 2 hours their air supply runs out.

As the clock ticks down the two must face moral decisions which involve risks to the fellow the sleepers in their bunker but finding a way for them both to get back to sleep is the most important part and any means necessary.

 

Thoughts on Air

 

Characters – Bauer seems to be the most resourceful of the two technicians in the chamber, he plays things safe and makes sure he knows the damage of any effect the men do. Cartwright seems to be the one who is about to lose his mind, he has visions of his wife who makes him make the decisions he does. While it could be argued these two men are meant to be considered the lower lives of the selected neither of them is made out to be the good guy while both find themselves making bad decisions through the film.

PerformanceBoth Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou are great actors but in this role the two just don’t give their best performances and end up not helping us care about either character.

StoryThe story should work, we have the world ending with the only survivors in sleeping pods with two technicians watching over them every so many months or years. The problems here are clear, we have two unlikable characters who while they do take a step back to solve the problem it does just turn into a mindless battle of who will get the upper hand.

Sci-Fi/ThrillerThe sci-fi side of the film comes from idea the world has ended and now the few survivors are underground, we are left wondering how the two men could survive with the only one chamber.

SettingsThe film is set within the chamber, it shows the unclear feeling of what is outside and the fear of what is happening with no safety in the chamber.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well with most being practical until we see the outside world which is as bleak as we are expecting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I just didn’t care about the two characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sci-fi film that we have seen before, we have seen better before but we have seen worse too and lacks the pace we need in the film.

 

Overall: Disappointing thriller.

Rating