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

 

 

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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

 

 

The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Director: David Yates

Writer: Adam Cozad, Craig Brewer (Screenplay) Edgar Rice Burroughs (Creator)

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou

 

Plot: Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easy to Watch but Nothing Memorable

 

Story: The Legend of Tarzan starts when Leon Rom (Waltz) goes in search of diamonds in African Congo for the king Leopold of Belgium. Making a deal with Chief Mbonga (Hounsou) which involves bringing John Clayton (Skarsgard) back to the Congo.

In England John Clayton has reclaimed his title and now is being convinced into return to Congo with American George Washington Williams (Jackson) as an open invitation for England to work on building relationships with Belgium.

John along with his wife Jane (Robbie) returns to Africa to guide George and along the way he gets to reconnect with his friends both human and animal, while remember how he came to be known as Tarzan.

When Leon’s plan comes together he kidnaps Jane using her as bait to capture Tarzan but Tarzan knowing the land better than anyone joins the tribe to hunt down Leon and his men. Along the way Tarzan learns of the bigger plan in motion and must save the animals and people who raised him.

 

Thoughts on The Legend of Tarzan

 

Characters/PerformanceJohn Clayton is known as Tarzan, raised in the jungle but now living his royal title in England. He must face his past by returning to Congo and save it from invasion. This is a different look at how you would imagine Tarzan not facing much of his animal side. Jane is the feisty wife of John or Tarzan that returns to the jungle using all her knowledge to survive once she is captured. George Washington Williams is the American trying to prove the plan of thee Belgium King and a killer shot. Leon Rom is the man leading the invasion upon the Congo, his character is slightly mixed for me, one minute he is a deadly military leader the next he comes off quirky.

Performance wise, Alexander does look the part of Tarzan but he doesn’t reach all the leaves of potential you feel Tarzan needs. Margot is good as we have come to expect from this star for many years to come, Sam Jackson does his usual, turns up in a film brings a few lines of intensity even in a supporting role. Waltz continues his trend of being a bland villain in big blockbuster movies, partly because of the character or maybe because of him, we never seem to see if he is over the top or calm.

StoryThe story looks at life after the legend of Tarzan, which I did think works because how many times can we do a Tarzan meets Jane. The story does also battle the idea of stopping slavery within a country and returning to face your past which Tarzan must do. This comes off a lot more serious that I think people would imagine by not having any light-hearted moments but then it does turn into what you would expect from it.

Action/AdventureThe action is all standard to what you would expect from a jungle based movie. The adventure does take on a travel across the country feeling which does work.

SettingsThe settings look nice when they are real but too many are green screens.

Special EffectsThe special effects are weak here because you can see green screen through most of the animal human scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at the Tarzan character but in the end we have seen most of this before.

 

Overall: Simple and Entertaining.

Rating

 

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram (Screenplay) David Dobkin, Joby Harold (Story)

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Freddie Fox

 

Plot: Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gangster Fantasy Film

 

Story: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword starts with backstory, yay, in this we get to see how King Uther (Bana) has waged war against Mages showing he is keeping him people safe at Camelot. After the latest victory, Uther finds his kingdom under attack from within racing to save his son Arthur from his corrupted brother Vortigern (Law). With Arthur safe we get a flash into how Arthur and Vortigern spend the next years before we start our main story.

Arthur (Hunnam) now a gangster like figure in Londium crosses paths with King Vortigern and learns his own destiny within the world as he is the only man to be able to remove the sword from the stone. With King Vortigern needing to hunt down and kill Arthur who begins his own resistance movement against the new evil ruler with a mix of loyal men to his father and his own friends.

 

Thoughts on King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

 

Characters/PerformanceArthur is the boy raised in the gutter that was destine to become king, we follow his journey from small time street hustler to warrior and then king, this isn’t too much in the field of original in the character design. The Mage is the guide into the fantasy world for Arthur mostly in riddles. Vortigern is the evil king looking to gain the power of magic through the sacrifices he is willing to make, he hasn’t plenty of chances to kill Arthur but wants to do it in display style. The rest of the characters all help with the characters through the film without being that memorable.

Performance wise, Charlie Hunnam does struggle in the leading role which does leave you wondering how he keeps getting potential franchise lead roles, Jude Law does give us a very mixed performance, one minute you feel like it is good then it comes off cheesy. Astrid Berges-Frisbey does seem to struggle throughout, it seems part is the language barrier because it feels like she is just reading the script with no idea how to add any impact to her lines. The rest of the stars are better and handle their supporting role well.

StoryKing Arthur is a story that has been told plenty of times and building the idea of a fantasy world should work, but you do have plenty of things going wrong here, first it uses the explaining the action scene while it is unfolding way too often, I think it was about 5 times through the film. we also have dialogue which feels like we are watching a gangster film. the story does end feeling very long and misses the chances for the best action sequences for extra talking scenes.

Action/Adventure/FantasyAction sequences are all cut chopped and edited down losing the scale we would like to have seen, the adventure side of the story is forgettable but it is difficult to make this original. The fantasy world is what is interesting but we do get large scale scenes which just feel like a film trying to be bigger than it is.

SettingsThe settings are all fine but none of them can become iconic enough.

Special EffectsThe special effects look good throughout but in the end, are used in places just to be big.

Final ThoughtsThis is an awkward mix of gangster and fantasy film that doesn’t quite click with the film missing too many chances to give us a truly memorable action sequence.

 

Overall: This is a forgettable fantasy gangster film.

Rating

 

 

The Vatican Tapes (2015)

vaticanDirector: Mark Neveldine

Writer: Christopher Borrelli, Michael C Martin (Screenplay) Chris Morgan, Christopher Borrelli (Story)

Starring: Michael Pena, Olivia Dudley, Djimon Hounsou, Dougray Scott, Alison Lohman, Kathleen Robertson, John Patrick Amedori, Michael Pare

 

Plot: A priest and two Vatican exorcists must do battle with an ancient satanic force to save the soul of a young woman.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Different Twist to the Possession Film

 

Story: The Vatican Tapes starts as we learn Vicar Imani (Hounsou) is being assigned the latest case of a potential anti-Christ coming through Angela (Dudley), and we have to rewind 2 months to meet Angela a happy young lady from America. While celebrating her 25th birthday Angela suffers a cut to her hand and over the next few days he starts to act very different to how her boyfriend Pete (Amedori) and father Roger (Scott) are used to.

When Angela is involved in an accident she ends up in a coma and Father Lozano (Pena) is bought in to look for answers that could explain the non-medical problems she is suffering from. Angela finds herself in a mental home where the demon inside of her starts to take over bringing in the Vatican to solve the situation.

The Vatican Tapes comes off like a standard exorcism possession case as we follow from early stages to medical investigation, mental home before entering into the exorcism side which I will say is good. The final twist is excellent but for the negatives I have found this sub-genre something that is difficult to find a fresh approach and this ends up down the same road. Well about my favourite part I do think you get a reward with the final outcome though.

 

Actor Review

 

Michael Pena: Father Lozano is the local Priest that is looking over Angela, a former soldier turned Priest start suspecting something unusual but nothing prepared him for his first possession case. Michael is good and well restricted from his normal comic tone we get through his performances.

Olivia Dudley: Angela is the young lady that finds herself being possessed by a demon, it all starts with a small cut before she starts having powers unlike any human acting out of character but can she fight the demon inside her? Olivia is good as the victim in this film.

Djimon Hounsou: Vicar Imani is the man that learns about the Anti-Christ coming to the Earth and must find a way to stop him taking over. Djimon is barely in this film which is a huge disappointment really.

Dougray Scott: Roger Holmes is the father of Angela who has raised her himself and is still very protective of her even after she has started to live her own life. Dougray is very much a supporting character that I don’t understand why we have such a known actor in.

Support Cast: The Vatican Tapes has a supporting cast which are all about wondering what is happening and are trying to solve the problem.

Director Review: Mark NeveldineMark gives us a good couple of twists to the story we are used to seeing.

 

Horror: The Vatican Tapes has all the horror elements need for a possession based movie.

Thriller: The Vatican Tapes does try to keep us guessing throughout which works throughout.

Settings: The Vatican Tapes tries to keep the settings looking like an everyday location to try and show how easily it can happen.
Special Effects
: The Vatican Tapes has good effects to show what is happening with the possession side of the events.

Suggestion: The Vatican Tapes is one for the horror fans to try if you are a possession based fan this is good choice for you. (Horror Fans Try)

 

Best Part: Final twist.

Worst Part: We have seen most of this before.

 

Believability: It’s you want you want to believe

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $8,405,000

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

Tagline:  For 2,000 years the Vatican has recorded evidence of evil. May God have mercy on their souls.

Trivia: The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2009 Blacklist, a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.

 

Overall: One of the stronger possession based films.

Ratingcard