Skinwalkers (2006)

Director: James Isaac

Writer: James DeMonaco, Todd Harthan, James Roday (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Natassia Malthe, Kim Coates, Sarah Carter, Tom Jackson

 

Plot: A 12 year old boy and his mother become the targets of two warring werewolf packs, each with different intentions and motives.


Tagline – For them to live, we must die.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Werewolf 101

 

Story: Skinwalkers starts as Varek (Behr) leads the hunt for a young boy for his werewolf pack, joined by Sonja (Malthe) he learns the location of Timothy (Knight) which takes him to small town to collect him.

Varek didn’t count on Timothy being under the watch of another prepared werewolf pack led by Jonas (Koteas) and his daughter-in-law Rachel (Mitra) who wasn’t ready to learn the truth that on Tim’s 13th birthday everything changes in the battle.

 

Thoughts on Skinwalkers

 

Characters – Varek is the leader of the werewolf pack that wants Timothy dead to stop the event he will cause, he hunts calmly through the film knowing how to get ahead of his enemies, though he is unaware of his connection to the child. Jonas has been protecting his nephew for years now, knowing what he means to the species, he has built the team his truss around him to make sure he is safe. Rachel is the mother of Timothy, she thinks he is just a normal kid and that she lives in a normal town, he must learn fast how to cope in this world filled with werewolves and protect her son. Sonja is the deadliest fighter on Varek side of the war, she enjoys hurting people and we see her take pleasure in this.

PerformancesJason Behr as the conflicted werewolf is good to watch, he shines on the bad boy side of this story, though when he must show the other side of the emotions we see him struggle at times. Elias Koteas is strong for his role which is one that we often see him in. Rhona Mitra does well in the reluctant heroes being the strong need to learn to battle mother figure in the film. everyone else in the film is fine without needing to be anything special, they fit their roles well to help the story flow.

StoryThe story here follows two warring werewolf packs that know the importance of a child for both their existences, so basically something we have seen before only with a modern style to it. The fact the story does feel like an introduction to a much big world building idea is promising and while it isn’t the film’s fault we didn’t see the next chapter, it does show us how story telling can think ahead of time. If we are being honest this is a by the book storyline, it doesn’t bring us anything new to the werewolf mythology it just tries to keep it in the modern world.

Action/Fantasy/HorrorThe action sequences are mixed bag because we have shoot-out which are routine and lack the peril for certain characters, while the fights show the effects that two werewolves fighting would have on each other. The fantasy world of werewolves living among humans is nicely done, showing two sides to them, though the horror does seem weak because we never feel terrified by what we are seeing.

SettingsThe film uses the settings in a mix of quality and generic, the small town gets the big surprise with everyone being part of the protection, then we hit the road and its nothing we haven’t seen before.

Special EffectsThe effects for the werewolves and wounds look nice, its just most are hidden from the full effect of the shock.


Scene of the Movie –
Town stand off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There are a few blink and you miss it moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book werewolf film, it has good moments, it has forgettable moments and ends up feeling like the pilot for a television show.

 

Overall: The werewolf genre done safely.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – G – The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

Director: Bill Paxton

Writer: Mark Frost (Screenplay) Mark Frost (Book)

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Stephen Dillane, Elias Koteas, Peter Firth, Stephen Marcus, Josh Flitter

 

Plot: In the 1913 US Open, 20-year-old Francis Ouimet played against his idol, 1900 US Open champion, Englishman Harry Vardon.


Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Champion Golf Drama

 

Story: The Greatest Game Ever Played starts as we learn how young Harry Vardon comes from a small Jersey (England) island being looked down on about the idea of playing golf, grown-up Harry Vardon (Dillane) is a world champion welcomed to America where he is idolised by Francis Ouimet a young caddy.

When Francis Ouimet (LaBeouf) studies the game becoming a high school age champion before entering an amateur tournament against the wishes of the gentlemen who also look down on him, failing to make an impact Francis gives up his dreams of playing golf.

When Harry Vardon leads Britain’s campaign to retain the US title meaning they could hold all the professional titles in sport, the club enters an amateur into the tournament with Francis being that player following his dream for one final time in a game that will change the face of golf.

 

Thoughts on The Greatest Game Ever Played

 

Characters – Francis Ouimet grew up opposite a golf course he was never welcomed as a player growing up, he could be a caddy though. He tries his luck as an amateur but fails to make an impact leading to his early retirement to focus on making a living. He is given one more chance to enter the US Open which brings a strain on his relationship with his father who believes he should make a living and giving up a dream. Harry Vardon came from Jersey, a small island off the coast on England, he had never heard of golf until the rich built a golf course on his family’s home. He learnt the game became a champion but never forgot where he came from, now he looks to reclaim his title from the American players but he still feels the judgement of the rich watching him. We have the family that tries to support Francis, we also have the rich men who believe golf is only for them.

PerformancesShia LaBeouf shows us here that he is a truly capable actor before getting involved with the stranger roles. Stephan Dillane is great as the professional that has respect for the working-class player trying to make their way in the sport.

StoryThe story does show the difference in class of people who were playing golf in 1900’s we have two men at different stages of their career who have come from nothing to show their gifts for the game as they must go against the gentlemen who believe the sport it only for the rich. This game shows why we sports fan enjoy watching and playing, showing us that anyone can have their moment that can launch a career however many people want to get in their way.

History/SportWhen we look at sports records we know there are plenty of upset and shocks through the years, we also have many moments which give people hope who want to learn the game, this story and moment in history is one of the greatest to witness in sporting history.

SettingsWe have the settings that show where both Francis and Harry have come from as they enter the high society side of the sporting world where they are both never truly welcomed until they are champions.


Scene of the Movie –
No bad-mouthing Jersey.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The frustration of seeing the difference in class between the players at the club, giving the attitude between them.

Final ThoughtsThis film is inspirational to sporting fans and players everywhere, it gives us the entertainment needed to keep us on edge through a film to show us that anyone could win a tournament against the odds if given the chance.

 

Overall: Wonderful sports drama.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Prophecy (1995)

Director: Gregory Widen

Writer: Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen, Amanda Plummer

 

Plot: The angel Gabriel comes to Earth to collect a soul which will end the stalemated war in Heaven, and only a former priest and a little girl can stop him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Religious Battle Film

 

Story: The Prophecy starts as we learn of an ancient war between angels in heaven where Simon (Stoltz) is in search for the only people that can stop the angel Gabriel (Walken) destroying any chance of humans getting to heaven. Former priest turned detective Thomas Dagget (Koteas) leads the investigation into strange amounts of crime striking the city.

Thomas must face his lost faith and the visions that made him leave the priesthood in the first place, as he searches for the one person a little girl Mary (Snyder) that can stop Gabriel’s path of destruction.

 

Thoughts on The Prophecy

 

Characters/PerformanceGabriel is the angel sent from to stop humans rising to heaven, he is cold, calculated and determined to win the war within heaven. Thomas is a former priest turned detective who must now question his lost faith to stop a war he was destined to fight. Katherine is the teacher that must work with Thomas to save Mary and stop Gabriel.

Performance wise, Christopher Walken is an inspired choice for an evil angel because he has the perfect emotionless face for evil. Koteas is good but doesn’t reach the full level of its potential in his performance. Madsen is good in this supporting role in this film.

StoryThe story of waring angels in heaven is always interesting one because we see how the people involved in the battle must question their faith. This one follows Gabriel on his search for the strongest as he goes out to fight his greatest battle and we follow the humans that can stop this happening, simple enough.

Action/CrimeThe action is all very basic because we go through all the things that can’t kill an angel first. The crime side turns into fantasy investigation case.

SettingsThe settings are not made to be anything important apart from the few churches, otherwise it is just random building or deserts.

Special EffectsThe effects are all fine but have dated in places which is sad to see.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting action crime film that enters us into the fantasy world of angels not being the good we think they are.

 

Overall: Easy to watch fantasy action film.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – Let Me In (2010)

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Matt Reeves (Screenplay) John Ajvide Lindqvist (Novel)

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Cara Buono, Elias Koteas, Sasha Barrese

 

Plot: A bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Remake

 

Story: Let Me In Starts with a man being rushed to hospital with a police escort, before we learn that his daughter was asking about him, before he commits suicide. We move back two weeks to meet the lonely Owen (Smit-McPhee) who has become the latest victim of the school bully, but with no one to turn to he looks to find his own way to defend himself.

Moving in next door to Owen is the mysterious family with Abby (Moretz) being the same age as Owen, but it is her father (Jenkins) which comes off very strange. It isn’t long before Owen and Abby become friends being drawn to each other by their loneliness, but can this friendship last with the two from very different worlds.

After Abby’s father dies, she turns to the only friend she knows of, Owen to help her with her feeding, living situation while she helps Owen out with his own problems with the bullies at school.

 

Thoughts on Let Me In

 

Characters/PerformanceOwen is portrayed as the loner bully victim who doesn’t have any friends, no support from his mother or teachers. He is looking for a way to fight back, be it through his PE coach or with his own choice of weapon, his knife. Abby is the estranged neighbour that offers him friendship but also has her own dark secret which will make friendship all the more difficult. I do feel these characters don’t quite reach the levels that the original manages to achieve.

Performance wise I also think both Kodi and Chloe do a great job but I also feel the original has a more realistic feel to the performances. I don’t feel the rest of the cast get enough time to make the impact as this story is about the two children.

StoryThe story does follow the same path as the original only going for the impact moment to start the film, the story also pays a lot more references to Romeo and Juliet because you can see the same ideas for the story of two young lovers coming from different worlds.

Horror/MysteryThe horror side of the story comes from the graphic attacks but they do feel at times forced for extra impact. The mystery side of the story comes in as we wonder just where things will go if you have never seen the original.

SettingsIn this version we are in small town America which again shows it being a good location for a vampire to hide out and for a young boy to feel lonely in.

Special EffectsWe have limited special effects with them being used well when needed.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good remake that does enough to keep the story similar but bringing enough of an America twist to the story.

 

Overall: This is a remake that works showing if it is done correctly.

Rating

 

 

Milla Jovovich Weekend – The Fourth Kind (2009)

fourthDirector: Olatunde Osunsanmi

Writer: Olatunde Osunsanmi (Screenplay) Olatunde Osunsanmi, Terry Robbins (Story)

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Will Patton, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Corey Johnson, Enzo Cilenti, Elias Koteas

 

Plot: A thriller involving an ongoing unsolved mystery in Alaska, where one town has seen an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances during the past 40 years and there are accusations of a federal cover up.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Sci-Fi Mystery Thriller

 

Story: The Fourth Kind starts as Milla Jovovich as herself introducing this movie explaining she will be playing Dr Abigail Tyler a therapist who worked in Alaska on the date of October 1st 2000, she continues to explain this will be a mix of achieve footage and recreation. So we know the film is looking back at real footage of real events, nothing at all is made up right? No.

We go into the main story as we follow Abigail as she sees her own colleague Dr Campos (Koteas) to help with the problems she is having. We see how Abigail’s husband Will has recently died and that Nome her home is only accessible by plane.

Dr Tyler’s patients all start having similar nightmares about an owl watching over them even with her own nightmares having the same memories as the night her husband died. What we go onto discover is a terrifying truth about what had been happening in this small isolated town.

The Fourth Kind is a mystery sci-fi thriller that tried to play into the shock value of make it fully sold on real events, it was not off real events let’s make that clear but the complete sell of this movie on it being recreation of what really happened works for the horror side to this story. With this being said the scare factor comes off very well to a level of unsettling at times when we see how the visits were meant to get played out like.

The acting is strange because we are not used to seeing Milla Jovovich looking so vulnerable in leading roles but she is solid without shining while Elias Koteas is good in the supporting role along with Will Patton. The slightly disrespectful side of story comes from the fact the actors playing the original tapes don’t get enough credit for their performances.

 

Overall: Sold brilliantly, executed well with scares that work for the unknown time we live in.

Ratingcard