Fighting with My Family (2019)

Director: Stephen Merchant

Writer: Stephen Merchant (Screenplay)

Starring: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Dwayne Johnson, Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost, Stephen Merchant, Jack Lowden

 

Plot: A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.


Tagline – A Comedy About a Family That Fights a Little Differently

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny & Inspiring

 

Story: Fighting with My Family starts as we meet the Knight family, father Ricky (Frost), mother Julia (Headey), children Zak (Lowden) and Saraya (Pugh) who are wrestling family, they have their own gym where they put on the shows, train the children from the local area of Norwich. Zak and Saraya both have a dream, that dream is to become WWE superstars and champions.

When the WWE offer them both a tryout with coach Hutch (Vaughn) only Saraya gets offered a place in the developmental brand NXT. Saraya will need to move to Florida at the age of 18 to follow her dream, where she must learn the difficulties of the training and adapting to life in another country, while Zak starts to spiral out of control after seeing his own dream shattered. Can both put their lives back on track to be a supporting and successful family?

 

Thoughts on Fighting with My Family

 

Characters – This is based on the real Knight family, while certain performers and coaches tend to have their names changed. Saraya is the youngest member of a wrestling family, she has been in the ring for years and at 18 she gets her chance to try out for the WWE, getting the job, moving across the world, isolated and alone, she is different to the rest of the other women selected, she has a wrestling background, while they have an athletic or modelling background. We see how she must learn to grasp her chance to follow her dream, which would see her lead a revolution in women’s wrestling. Zak is her brother, he has been working in the ring longer, dreaming that he could make it, he has a child on the way and is the main teacher at the wrestling school, he is left shattered by the idea he can’t follow his dream, closing off from the world, ready to follow in his step-brothers violent reaction to not making the cut. He needs to learn to enjoy his sister’s success and live his own life where he is achieving amazing things nobody else is. Ricky and Julia are the parents that fell in love over wrestling, they turned their own lives around to make something of themselves and push their children to succeed in the ring. Hutch is the coach that selects the potential talents, he is strict with the candidates and knows his decisions will make or break dreams. Dwayne Johnson is playing himself in this film, he gives the speeches where needed and shows that he is the good guy we all know.

PerformancesFlorence Pugh has made a big impact in her short career and this showed her puling off another role that required a lot of physical training to go with the emotional side of the story. Jack Lowden impresses here too, his character deals with the lose of the dream and he shows us this in every scene as the look of disappoint grows as time goes by. Lena Headey and Nick Frost show wonderful chemistry through the comedy of the film, while Vince Vaughn is strong in the coach role, which must be the calming pushing presence. Dwayne Johnson is mainly playing himself and isn’t in too many scenes that you haven’t seen in the trailer.

StoryThe story follows the career of WWE superstar Paige, from her wrestling family in Norwich through the life changing opportunity to be part of the WWE developmental brand NXT, while her brother much deal with the fact he didn’t get selected and must focus on living a life where his dream doesn’t come true. This is based on the real family, the real journey, the real moment bought a tear to my eye watching it live. This does bottle down to the idea of t chasing the dream, taking the chance given to your movie, which is the Saraya side of the film. I did however think the Zak side of the story is handled well because seeing him dealing with losing his own dream and seeing his life feel like he is worthless, his hard work was for nothing shows just how hard the news can be. This does feel like a feel-good story of inspiration dreaming.

Biopic/ComedyThe biopic side of this film shows how hard the family has worked to be successful in the wrestling business, it shows the life changing decision being made. The comedy will have you laughing at every joke, with many being British humour.

SettingsThe film does show the different worlds, the small-town Norwich wrestling which could see people falling into the wrong side of the law, to the big glossy heights of the WWE, it shows how you can start at the bottom to reach the top.


Scene of the Movie –
Training.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Skipping the success Paige has in NXT.

Final ThoughtsThis is a feel-good inspirational story that will give you a smile, even if you do know how the story ends, both in the film and the years after.

 

Overall: Delightfully funny biopic.

Rating

 

 

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Skyscraper (2018)

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber (Screenplay)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Taylor, Kevin Rankin, McKenna Roberts, Byron Mann, Tzi Ma, Chin Han

 

Plot: FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Sawyer now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in Hong Kong he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who are trapped inside the building…above the fire line.


Tagline – The sky is the limit

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Spectacularly Entertaining

 

Story: Skyscraper starts as we learn how Will Sawyer (Johnson) first met his wife Sarah (Campbell) in an FBI Hostage Rescue Team mission gone wrong, which left him without a leg, 10-years later he works in security, figuring out and assessing building for potential hazards. His latest job is his big break, on the biggest building in the world ‘The Pearl’ built by architect Zhao Long Ji (Han).

When everything looks like it is about to pass the tests, Kores Botha (Moller) finds a flaw in the system, setting the building on fire in an attempt to get Zhao, the problem is Will’s family is in the building and will stop at nothing to save his family.

 

Thoughts on Skyscraper

 

Characters – Will Sawyer is a former FBI Hostage Rescue team leader, wounded in action, turned to security, he has a small business which will giving him the recommendation to work on the biggest building in the world. the now family man nervous at the thought of this opportunity must prove how safe this building is. He does, but when criminals have other thoughts, he must return to his rescue ways to save his family from the situation. THIS IS NOT A JOHN MCCLANE MARK II, his only goal is to save his family, not to stop the criminals. Sarah is Will’s wife, one of the surgeons that helped save his life, she does what she can to keep the children safe, remaining calm and showing herself a hand at self-defence. Zhao Long Ji is the architect who has designed this brilliant world changing building, he has everything down to make it look stunning, operate smoothly and help the world by creating jobs and running eco-friendly, he is the target of the criminals who want something he has. Kores Botha is the leader of the attack, he has been an old nemesis of Zhao through construction, this is a slightly more generic villain, but his cold-hearted delivery is just as striking as you need him to be. We do get a host of side characters including, the two kids, they are good for the film, the cops on the outside trying to put the pieces together, other members of the criminal gang with Xia being the standout of them and the old friend which got him the job.

PerformancesDwayne Johnson is an actor you all know I will watch everything he does, the genre he shines best in, is action, in this film he gives one of his best action performances to date, he gives his character the feeling he might no succeed even though he looks like he could knock you out with one punch. Neve Campbell is good in the support role showing its about time we saw her back on the bring screen, Roland Moller as the villain is very strong too because we do get moments when you are scared of what he will do. The rest of the cast are good throughout even if we would have liked to have seen more.

StoryThe story is a perfect playlist of how to keep action simple without needing to make anything complicated. One giant building, one fire in said building, one stranded family, one group of criminals and the reluctant hero going against the odds to try and save his family. Those are the core elements of the story and as I said, we don’t need more, this is simple enough to give us everything we wanted. We could look at the minor negative in the story and that would be the amount of characters we do meet outside of the building situation, while I know it is part of the bigger picture, they don’t have the same intensity as the building moments. The biggest weirdly enjoyable part of the story was watching how the crowd just stood around watching on the big screen cheer, gasping like the audience watching.

Action The action set pieces in the film are brilliant, breath taking and truly edge of your seat, seeing Dwayne Johnson pull this off and make you feel like something could go wrong is what it is all about, praise must be giving to a fight sequence too, where Will must fight on one leg.

SettingsThe setting of being in the Pearl was fantastic, we know the escape is next to impossible and watching how this unfolds is edge of your seat, when we step away however it does lose the levels of anticipation we would have liked.

Special EffectsThe building being on fire look amazing, well realistically I don’t actually want to see buildings on fire, but other elements of the special effects go towards making Will’s leg injury seem like the norm for Johnson.


Scene of the Movie –
The crane.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Two big lines from the trailer are not in the movie, they both felt important for the situations we were in.

Final ThoughtsThis isn’t just a Die Hard modernised, this is a stand alone action thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and show you all that Dwayne Johnson is the king of the action genre at the moment.

 

Overall: Must watch action thrill ride.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – W – Welcome to the Jungle (2003)

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: R.J. Stewart, James Vanderbilt (Screenplay)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries

 

Plot: A tough aspiring chef is hired to bring home a mobster’s son from the Amazon but becomes involved in the fight against an oppressive town operator and the search for a legendary treasure.


Tagline – Bulls, guns, whips, gold and one sacred cat

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Blast!

 

Story: Welcome to the Jungle starts as we meet debt collecting enforcer Beck (Johnson) that is working to get buy his own restaurant. Getting pushed to his limits he gets offered one last job, he must travel to the Amazon to bring back his bosses son Travis (Scott) and his dream of chasing El Dorado.

In Brazil Beck finds Travis and believes this job is going to be easy until the owner of the land Hatcher (Walken) that wants the information Travis has in his head, which leads Travis and Beck needing to put their differences a side to make it out alive.

 

Thoughts on Welcome to the Jungle

 

Characters – Beck is a debt collector, he can find anyone and handles himself in a fight, being able to take on multiple enemies, he does want out of this world and dreams of having his own restaurant, he must do one final job which will put his outside his comfort zone and taking on an army forcing him to resort to guns, the weapon he doesn’t want to be using. Travis is the son of the boss that employees Beck, he has been treasure hunting in Brazil in the middle of a battle between ruler Hatcher and the rebels looking for freedom, he is wise cracking which has lead to him finding himself in trouble more often than not. Beck and Travis work well as they are different on many levels with their bickering offering the laughs, but they are both dreamers in their own way too. Mariana is the bar tender in the town, she keeps both sides in peace while watching as her town gets pushed around. Hatcher is the owner of the town, well he claims to be, he is working the residents into slavery searching for gold that he can make money, he will do anything to make his fortune.

PerformancesDwayne Johnson was still making his first few steps in movies with this role and you can see all the potential he had in the action genre, he shines like always in the fight sequences and while moments of his performance were still in need of work, you can see what he was working towards. Seann William Scott was fresh off the American Pie franchise and one of the hottest comical actors, this showed us that he knew the moments to go that little bit crazy and the moments to hold back, he does have great chemistry with Johnson too. Rosario Dawson is good in her role, but it does end up not being as strong of a character as it should have been while Christopher Walken enjoys his role as the villain, where he gets to break loose and have some fun.

StoryThe story here plays out like one we have seen before, an enforcer for a criminal wants to do one last job before leaving the business behind, only this time it will be the most dangerous one of his career. This is a by the book story it works and plays into the comedy needed between the lead two characters while also offering us the fish out of water routine for the organised professional. We have elements of a treasure hunt which are fun to watch too. It would be fair to say this story is an easy to follow film that gets the kicks it needs without being anything too complicated.

Action/Adventure/ComedyThe action plays into the hands of Dwayne Johnson’s talents, plenty of combat sequences and the use of weapons to increase the peril level, the adventure takes Beck out of his comfort zone to deal with the battle he is about to face. The comedy for the film comes from the bickering between Travis and Beck.

SettingsThe film takes place in Brazil for the most part, the Amazon to be more exact, this proves to be uncomfortable for Beck that is used to being in the cities, this adds comedy and unexpected moments to the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well, not needed often but the team creates good moments when needed.


Scene of the Movie –
Final showdown

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts are not subtitled, which is annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good fun action blast that puts Dwayne Johnson in the position of action hero, a position he will carry for years to come, it had good laughs throughout and action sequences that are fun to watch.

 

Overall: Action movie fans will enjoy this one.

Rating

 

 

Rampage (2018)

Director: Brad Peyton

Writer: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J Condal, Adam Sztykiel (Screenplay)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Naomie Harris, Will Yun Malin Akerman, Joe Manganiello

 

Plot: Davis Okoye and his bestfriend white gorilla fight monsters in a big city.


Tagline – Big Meets Bigger

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over the Top Blast

 

Story: Rampage starts as the secret illegal scientific experiment in space goes horrible wrong causing everyone to die and the research samples to come crashing to Earth, Claire Wyden (Akerman) and her brother Brett (Lacy) are rushing to cover up their work.

One of the areas that gets hit by the research is the San Diego zoo where George the albino gorilla gets infected, his handler and best friend Davis Okoye (Johnson) must rush to save him, joined by Dr Kate Caldwell (Harris) a former employee or the Wyden’s. America is struck by panic when George continues to grow, but he is the only animal as the research has infected a wolf and a crocodile or alligator (sorry can never tell them apart and we never get told which it is either), the race is now on to save the world before they destroy everything in their path.

 

Thoughts on Rampage

 

Characters – Davis Okoye is a former marine turn primatologist who works with the gorilla in San Diego Zoo, most notably George one he rescued when he was a baby from poachers. He does like people and isn’t afraid to admit this, he cares for the animals and will never give up on George. Dr Kate Caldwell is first a for most a good character that we could have been given more about, she is a disgraced scientist that once worked for the Wyden’s, she wants nothing more than to bring them down and happily teams up with Davis to bring them down. Claire Wyden along with her brother Brett run the business that the genetic materials come from, she is always one step ahead of the everyone in her attempts to keep her name out of the papers and jail, slightly cartoonish, but it works for this film. Agent Russell is a by the book man, he does the right thing through the film which makes him the important connection for Davis in the government.

PerformancesDwayne Johnson in the leading role gives us everything we want from him, he handles the big action sequences and even manages to hold back on moments of charisma. Naomie Harris as the doctor with a desperate need to see thing stop works well and Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems to have just become Negan forever. Malin Akerman as the main villain is good too because I believe her character is designed to feel like an evil genius and she pulls it off.

StoryThe story, well the question here is, how do you make a story about a video game which follows you just destroying buildings? This story does work something out here, where as other video games have been heavily story based and struggle to make an impact on screen, this film takes the simple idea that giant animals are destroying stuff and makes it an action movie with a race against time. We have the important moments which are dealing with the backgrounds of the characters, most notable Davis and George’s relationship and why Kate did what she did. For the whole film this  movie knows completely what it had and kept it simple, easy to watch and only needed to give us a sprinkle of humour.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action in the film is massive, its everything you want in a big blockbuster popcorn film, giant animals fighting stuff blowing up and no Michael Bay to be seen. The adventure side of the film comes form the race against time to stop total destruction and the sci-fi side shows us just what could happen if you mess with the wrong genetic in any species.

SettingsThe film uses a couple of iconic settings starting with the zoo in San Diego, we get generic land between before the final showdown in Chicago, this work and shows the panic which could hit America.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are good, we have massive battles that have full destruction going on, leaving you to believe everything, the creatures also look wonderful.


Scene of the Movie –
The final 30 minutes is fantastic popcorn fun.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain characters seem to just disappear.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action movie, this could easily be up there with the very best video game movies ever made, it is one film you can honestly switch you mind off and enjoy.

 

Overall: Sit back relax and enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Director: Jake Kasdan

Writer: Chris McKenna, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Erik Sommers (Screenplay) Chris Van Allsburg (Book)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas

 

Plot: Four teenagers discover an old video game console and are literally drawn into the game’s jungle setting becoming the adult avatars they chose.


Tagline – The game has evolved.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Action Blast

 

Story: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starts as we follow four teenage high school students the geek Spencer (Wolff), the social media diva Bethany (Iseman), the start American football player Fridge (Blain) and the hard-working studier Martha (Turner) who are all sentenced to detention for different reasons. While in detention they find an old video game, an evolved version of Jumanji, to which they all get sucked into.

In the game the students become the characters they selected, Spencer becomes Dr Smolder Bravestone (Johnson), Fridge becomes Moose Finbar (Hart), Bethany becomes Professor Shelly Oberon (Black) and Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse (Gillan). Each character they are playing as is completely different to their human characters and now they must use their newly found strength to save Jumanji and return home.

 

Thoughts on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

 

Characters – The students first Spencer is a geek, loner who has lost his once friendship with Fridge because of how they went different direction, he does try to help Fridge with his studies and is a video game expert. Fridge is the star American football player of the school, we don’t learn too much about him other than he is struggling with his studies. Bethany is the diva of the school, she is glued to her phone, not caring about anybody else in the world. Martha is a student that is desperate to succeed in her studies, adding unneeded pressure on herself to achieve as much as she can.

The players, Dr Smolder Bravestone is a born adventurer, strong, fast and full of smouldering intensity, this gives Spencer the physical strength he never had against Fridge. Ruby Roundhouse helps turns Martha into a bad ass fighter, this gives Martha a chance to break out of her shell. Professor Shelly Oberon becomes a nightmare for Bethany, an overweight middle-aged man, a true teenage nightmare. Shelly is the only one that can guide them through Jumanji, this gives Bethany a chance to realize there are people outside of her phone. Moose Finbar is a zoologist, that shows Fridge what life is like from the point of view of someone without muscles, this is one of the only weak points in the movie, that is because we haven’t learnt enough about Fridge before hand and now he isn’t on the same learning level the other three are.

PerformancesThe performances of the four in the game are great, Dwayne Johnson continues to show us why we love him as an actor, he can step into any fun role and make it his own. Karen Gillan had to spend time defending her characters wardrobe, but for the character shows that she is one of the action-packed actresses to watch out for. Kevin Hart is entertaining, but he is too different from his human character. Jack Black is the true star of the show here, he gets the best lines and is the best performance of a teenage girl you will see this year.

StoryThe story does play out much like the original only we enter the game because it has evolved into a video game. We have a Breakfast Club feel to why the characters are in detention and needing to learn that however different they may seem on the outside, inside they are similar in many ways. The story does get plenty of escapes too by being a video game, we have built in characters who only have certain responses because of programming over the idea of poorly written characters, we have lots of fun with how it all unfolds with each stage becoming more difficult as they go on.

Action/Adventure/ComedyThe action does feel like a video game which is fine because it entertains throughout, this plans into the adventure through the jungle for our characters. The film is set with a comic tone which likes to poke fun at body-swapping, which does become a fine balance through the film.

SettingsThe high school settings is what we have seen before, but the jungle becomes a character of its own with the beauty of the landscapes out characters will find themselves in.

Special EffectsThe effects are good for the most part, though we do see the green screen moments and CGI animals too often.


Scene of the Movie –
Introduction to Shelly Oberon and the reaction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I do feel that Moose is written for Kevin Hart rather than to be an opposite to Fridge.

Final ThoughtsThis movie is a lot of fun from start to finish, you can forget this is a remake sequel because of the nods to the original, you will find yourself enjoying nearly everything in this fun movie.

 

Overall: Truly fun adventure movie.

Rating