Forsaken (2015)

Director: Jon Cassar

Writer: Brad Mirman, Tari (Screenplay)

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Michael Wincott, Brian Cox, Chris Ippolito

 

Plot: In 1872, an embittered gunslinger named John Henry Clayton attempts to make amends with his estranged father Reverend Samuel Clayton while their community is besieged by ruthless land-grabbers.


Tagline – Haunted by his past, searching for peace.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Westerner

 

Story: Forsaken starts when John Henry (Kiefer Sutherland) returns to his family town where his father Reverend Samuel (Donald Sutherland) has a strained relationship due to him not returning to help his mother on her deathbed.

With the Clayton’s discussion their own beliefs in God, James McCurdy (Cox) has taken over the town and starting to expand his empire with Dave Turner (Wincott) doing his dirty work, John refuses to go down without a fight and decides to challenge the rule of the town.

 

Thoughts on Forsaken

 

Characters – John Henry Clayton left his town for war, he never returned until his mother died, he has become distant from his father not believing in God, the town does fear his actions in the past, which has made him the threat to the gang controlling the town and when things become personal, he becomes the man people need to fear. Reverend Samuel Clayton is respected in the town which he has made a place believing in God, he doesn’t like his son returning, but learns that he hasn’t for a good reason. James McCurdy is the man running the town, he lets his men kill to get the property he wants. Dave Turner is one of the men that works for James, one that does play by honour over many of the shot first men in the gang.

PerformancesKiefer Sutherland in the leading role is fine, though his mumbling doesn’t help us care enough his character, opposite his father Donald who isn’t the most entertaining either. Michael Wincott was the most interesting character because he seems to get some development and want to see more from him. Brian Cox feels completely wasted in his role that gives him nothing.

StoryThe story follows a man returning home with a reputation while he needs to learn how to make a stand to protect his town which has become a problem overrun by a gang of outlaws. This does follow the generic idea of a returning man helping clean up his town without offer anything new, it keeps us seeing how the action are building up to the problems that will be facing before the final showdown. The pacing does become slow which does make things unfold at a snail’s pace which just doesn’t keep our attention for long enough.

Action/WesternThe action does feel flat, we just don’t get enough of it to make us believe it is action heavy movie, though the mood makes us feel like the western we are entering.

SettingsThe film does make us feel like we are the small town which has a community feeling about it.


Scene of the Movie –
Dave doesn’t like his men not following orders.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The mumbling from Kiefer.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced action western movie that just never gets going and ends up feeling the pace taking age to get through.

 

Overall: Slow and bland.

Rating

 

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Director: Fran Rubel Kuzui

Writer: Joss Whedon (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Rutger Hauer, Luke Perry, Michele Abrams, Hilary Swank

 

Plot: A flighty teenage girl learns that she is her generation’s destined battler of vampires.


Tagline – Sometimes it takes more than just good looks to kill.

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun, But Not as Good as the TV Show

 

Story: Buffy the Vampire Slayer starts as we meet high school cheerleader Buffy (Swanson), one of the popular girls in school preparing for the latest dance. Buffy’s life is going to take a turn when the mysterious Merrick (Sutherland) enters her life, with the tales of vampires and her being the chosen one to fight them and protect her town.

Buffy now goes through the training process, so she can defeat her first deadlier enemy, Lothos (Hauer) a vampire that is haunting her dreams with the history of the previous slayers and make it to the dance on time.

 

Thoughts on Buffy the Vampire Slayer

 

Characters – Buffy is the high school cheerleader who is more worried the latest school dance to notice her own destiny. She learns she is the slayer that is meant to fight vampires and her town is now in danger. Merrick is the watcher, the man that must teach Buffy how to defeat the vampires and becoming the slayer warrior she is destiny to be. Lothos is the big bad vampire that is waiting to take control of the town that Buffy is part of, we see how he has been planning this attack for a while with his vampires in the shadows.

PerformancesKristy Swanson is good in this leading role, we might not the role of Buffy as Sarah Michelle Gellar, but Kristy was here first and built the unlikely hero very well. Sutherland is good pick for the watcher because it is the answers for wise old man. Going into the supporting cast, none of these performers make an impact on the way they could which only disappoints when we know how these characters are going to be known in the TV series.

StoryThe story is difficult to talk about, because I grew up watching the show and for me, I was used to a different Buffy, an outsider, seeing the popular girl become the slayer just seems strange, but for a teenage action fantasy comedy works as we see one girl find her place in the world. This is an enjoyable watch and plays out just how you would imagine without being as interesting as it should be, because we want the world to be so much bigger.

Action/Fantasy/HorrorWe have action sequences which see Buffy face increasing numbers or difficulties in her battles, in a world that is filled with vampires which plays for the fantasy and the horror side of the film.

SettingsThe film takes place in the small town with a high school, this works for the movie because it shows us what Buffy will need to protect.

Special EffectsThe effects were good for the time of release, while moments have dated, we don’t get the need for the effects for the most part.


Scene of the Movie –
The Dance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Its not the Buffy I am used to seeing.

Final ThoughtsThis does feel like the 90’s movie it is, it gave us the film that went onto become a wonderful TV series, which is something that people will forever be grateful for.

 

Overall: Simple action fantasy.

Rating

 

 

Kurt Russell Weekend – Backdraft (1991)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glen, Rebecca De Mornay

 

Plot: Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don’t get along must work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Slow

 

Story: Backdraft starts when a young Brian McCaffrey witness his firefighter father killed putting out the fire. 20 years later Brian (Baldwin) is desperate to follow in his father’s footsteps much like his brother Stephen (Russell). Passing his tests Brian joins Stephen’s unit, the strictest in town.

As the number of fires increase, the number of firefighters are being cut and with each fire brings the investigator Donald Rimgale (De Niro) who uses slow methods but gets results. When Brian becomes worried about the safety of his brother’s actions he agrees to work with Donald to track down an arsonist operating within the city.

 

Thoughts on Backdraft

 

Characters/PerformanceStephen is the tough firefighter who enjoys the job knowing he and his team can save as many lives as possible. Brian is the brother of Stephen, son of a firefighter who became the photo of a generation after witnessing his father’s death at a young age. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps but finds himself having to turn on his brother to investigate arson rather than fight the fires. Donald is a grizzled veteran who has seen the worst in fighting fire, he now leads the investigations into the fires, he works with Brian to locate the arsonist and reckless behaviour being portrayed by the firefighters. The rest of the characters fill the loyal unit, the ex-wife and potential lover without being a major part in the film.

Performance wise, Russell is solid but never reaches the levels we know he can. Baldwin just doesn’t capture the level of performance you would see from other members of the family while De Niro is good in the supporting role.

StoryThe story shows the life of firefighters struggling with the demands placed upon them by dwindling resources, the lives get put at risk. We get to see the investigation into an arsonist but sadly this isn’t the focus of the story. the focus is on the broken relationship between the two brothers who have gone in different paths when it comes to following in their father’s footsteps. The story is fine but too long in my opinion.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe firefighting scenes are brilliant action set pieces without a doubt but the crime side which should be a major side just doesn’t get the focus required. The mystery also suffers because of this too.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully to show the intensity of the fires for the firefighters while outside the fires it just feels like a normal city which could be any.

Special EffectsThe special effects are stunning for the creating of the fires, using mostly practical effects which still look amazing today.

Final ThoughtsThe special effects in this movie do save it from being awful but in the end the story is just too flat for my liking.

 

Overall: Flat story, too long but amazing effects.

Rating

 

 

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Director: Robert Aldrich

Writer: Nunnally Johnson, Lukas Heller (Screenplay) E M Nathanson (Novel)

Starring: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel, Donald Sutherland

 

Plot: During World War II, a rebellious U.S. Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic We All Know

 

Story: The Dirty Dozen starts as Major Reisman (Marvin) is assigned to train 12 convicted criminals lined up for execution to go on a secret mission in German during World War II. The criminals include Joseph Wladislaw (Brosnan), Robert Jefferson (Brown) and Victor Franko (Cassavetes) who along with the rest of the crew must go under training to be combat ready.

The men start coming into shape and start working in a unit but when other generals want to bring down and end the unit, Reisman must fight to get his men on the battle field to prove to General Worden (Borgnine) he can turn get these men into battle.

 

Thoughts on The Dirty Dozen

 

Characters/PerformanceMajor Reisman is the man assigned the criminal unit, he knows how to get men into line when it comes to battle and will risk his own career to prove he can make these men a powerful unit. General Worden assigns Reisman the unit believe he couldn’t get it done but also has to make the decisions on who to put into the field. Joseph Wladislaw is one of the criminals who happily takes up the role required and his German speaking background helps on the mission. Jefferson takes up one of the reluctant leaders of the unit. Franko is the one that rebels the most but soon learns his place even when he is standing up for the right thing.

Performance wise, Lee Marvin is great in the leading role dominating the screen whenever he appears, we also have a fantastic supporting cast that all know how to pull off their roles.

StoryThe story follows a group of misfits being pulled together to go on a deadly mission, this is always an entertaining type of story to watch as we like unlikely heroes but the problem with a lot of this story is we must support murderers who are just escaping death row rather than guys who have just fallen of the rails. The story is also slightly long but it does give each supporting character enough time.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/WarWe have the standard war time action sequences that have never come off overly original. We have nice moments of comedy mostly through the training sequences and the adventure coming from how hard the men must work.

SettingsEach setting works as it shows the different stages from the training to the mission itself.

EffectsThe effects all work for where the film is planning on going which does help and they are only used sparingly.

Final ThoughtsThis will always go down as one of the classic in war films and even after 50 years it doesn’t feel like it has been dated yet.

 

Overall: Still one of the classics of cinema.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Mechanic (2011)

Director: Simon West

Writer: Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino (Screenplay) Lewis John Carlino (Story)

Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Tony Goldwyn, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Chase, Mini Anden, James Logan

 

Plot: Follows an elite hit man as he teaches his trade to an apprentice who has a connection to one of his previous victims.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easy to Watch Action Film

 

Story: The Mechanic starts as we learn how skilled Arthur Bishop (Statham) a mechanic better known as an assassin, he gets the job done and is one of the best, learning from his mentor Harry McKenna (Sutherland).

When the latest assignment gives Arthur the task of killing his mentor he starts by questioning things but goes along with the job anyway as the boss Dean (Goldwyn) has the proof of the dirty deeds Harry has been involved in.

Feeling guilty for his involvement in Harry’s death, Arthur takes his son Steve (Foster) under his wing teaching him the ways of the trade.

 

Thoughts on The Mechanic

 

Characters/PerformanceArthur Bishop is a mechanic, a fixer, an assassin and he is the very best, he can make kills look like accidents or even frame someone else. After his latest job he takes the son of the victim under his wing breaking but teaching the skills he has learnt. Steve is the song of Arthur’s mentor, he has been a loose cannon through his life and now he gets focus as he learns under Arthur. Dean runs this secret group, setting up the jobs for the mechanics, he doesn’t click as well with Arthur.

Performance wise, Jason Statham is one of the easiest go to guys for this type of film and here you can see why, not many lines and action-packed performance. Ben Foster once again shows us he can become any character. Tony Goldwyn is fine, but it would be fair to say we don’t see much from his character.

StoryWe are thrown into a world of hitmen, boss and victims which is good for the film, we can always enjoy this type of film because all the characters are usually shady even if they live by codes. We get what we expect without it being too much but in the world now we have an elite version of this style of film in John Wick.

Action/Crime The action is all big like you would expect, we have plenty of shoot outs and a brilliant escape off the side of a building. The crime side is the world we have be placed into, we know these are criminal assassins which makes us understand how they could be in everyday life.

SettingsEach setting is uses as almost a level for the character to overcome, we know just where they are going and the next fight will become more difficult.

Special EffectsAll the effects make this a fine enjoyable watch throughout with nothing not suiting the world we are in.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable action film that most action film fans will enjoy, it isn’t difficult to follow but does lack a villain you feel is menacing enough to challenge our lead.

 

Overall: This is late night action.

Rating