ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – S – The Stanford Prison Experiment (2016)

Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez

Writer: Tim Talbott (Screenplay) Philip Zimbardo (Book)

Starring: Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano, Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Keir Gilchrist

 

Plot: Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Drama

 

Story: The Stanford Prison Experiment starts with Dr Philip Zimbardo (Crudup) is given a chance to prefer an experiment with 24 male students in Stanford psychology building. The idea is half the volunteer students will become prisoners the other half with be the guards.

With the contract stating no harm can be given to anyone involved, it is only the first day when things start to get out of hand as the guards start taking the role too seriously and this experiment heads down a path that even Dr Zimbardo could imagine it to go.

 

Thoughts on The Stanford Prison Experiment

 

Characters – Dr Philip Zimbardo is performing this experiment because he could make his career proving the mentality of the prison system, he doesn’t want to let thing get out of hand but is willing to the rules broken. The students playing both the prisoners and guards both become different types of what you would expect from a prison environment, they don’t get overly as much attention you would think but they are all important to what happens in the story.

PerformanceBilly Crudup is great in the doctor role but the highlight of the film comes from the actors playing the subjects, be it the prisoners or the guards both sides are fantastic with playing their roles.

StoryThe story is loosely based on the real Stanford Experiments which shows us just how twenty-four students get placed into roles of either prisoners or guards over a week long experiment that just gets to the levels of just how far will things go. Seeing how the men act puts us to the limits of wondering just how far things could go as we see things get intense in moments. Having seen the Experiment movie I was expecting certain things to happen but this time none of these appear in the movie, this does disappoint because the film never hits the truly shocking moments it could.

Biography/HistoryThis is a known experiment with different variables involved, it shows us the basic idea and it is still known as one of the most famous experiments in world history.

SettingsThe film is set entirely within the created Stanford Prison, it is either inside or watching from just outside seeing how it unfolds.

Scene of the Movie – The first moment the guards show what they will do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel this could have an explosive ending.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good tense thrilling character study that shows us just how far people could go.

 

Overall: Tense thriller that pulls you in.

Rating

 

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Director: David Yates

Writer: J.K. Rowling (Screenplay)

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller

 

Plot: The second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series featuring the adventures of Magizoologist Newt Scamander.


Tagline – The fate of one will change the future of all

Runtime: 2 Hours 14 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple World Building

 

Story: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald starts with Grindelwald (Depp) escaping prison pulling his forces together as he is going in search for Credence Barebone (Miller) who is now on the run, the Ministry want Credence bought to safety, which gives them a chance to offer Newt (Redmayne) a way to travel internationally.

Tina (Waterston) has been selected to go in search of Credence, which ends up giving all parties interested in search for Credence, the one person who has the power to killed Dumbledore (Law).

 

Thoughts on Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

Characters – Newt still considered an outside in the magical world, he is offered a chance to redeem himself to stop Grindelwald from gaining too much power, he still has the connection with the fantastic beasts, is trying to redeem his relationship with Tina and prove himself to the Ministry. Grindelwald has escaped his prison and is now looking to raise an army for a war against the non-magics, he knows how to take down the biggest threat ad is working to get Credence on his side. Tina has moved away from Newt after reading something incorrectly, which sees her leading the investigation into Credence’s location. Dumbledore has a connection the Grindelwald, one that means he can’t track him down and he selects Newt to help him search for his old friend. Credence is the young man that everyone is searching for, he has power that others simply can’t control, he doesn’t know who to trust in any way, leaving him on the run as he wants answers to who his parents are. Leta Lestrange is the former classmate of Newt, she has been put in a position where she can make up for her own mistakes in the past, while dealing with her own secret.

PerformancesEddie Redmayne is solid enough returning to his role, there are moments where he is annoying though. Johnny Depp was solid too even with all the issues around him being cast in this film. most of the cast are just basically solid, nobody does anything to stand out in this movie.

StoryThe story continues the adventures of Newt as he must learn why Grindelwald is searching for Credence. We do see both sides bring drawn out in a war between the two sides, with the different wizards needing to learn pick a side. Where we do have a lot characters we do seem to lose focuses on just what is happening within the bigger picture, as this is only an early chapter in series, it des feel like a building story rather than one that has a beginning or end, which also disappoints. We do however know that the Harry Potter franchise was similar with this, giving us moments which will be used for latter moments in the franchise.

Adventure/FantasyThe adventure side of the film does take Newt to new locations with more of his fantastic beasts which is fine, though it just feels like more of the same with the magic being more about who wants power over clever little tricks.

SettingsThe film does use a couple more settings with Paris and London being involved, most of the locations are used to show the secret places where magic can take place.

Special EffectsThe effects are not as strong as previous films though, we have seen a lot of different moments through the film, with this being more of a let-down over anything else even with some of the beasts looks amazing.


Scene of the Movie –
Cats chasing down Newt.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters to follow.

Final ThoughtsThis is an average chapter in a franchise which has gone on for a while now, it has good moments and tries to save itself with a twist, which is here for shock value over any meaning.

 

Overall: Simple chapter building.

Rating

 

 

Justice League (2017)

Director: Zack Snyder

Writer: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon (Screenplay) Bob Kane, Bill Finger, William Moulton Marston, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel (Characters)

Starring: Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Connie Nielsen, Henry Cavill, Amber Heard, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Ray Fisher

 

Plot: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.


Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Action Blast

 

Story: Justice League starts as a new unknown threat is attacking the world, with criminals committing acts of terror in the aftermath of Superman’s death. Bruce Wayne (Affleck) teams up with Diana Prince (Gadot) to stop this new threat Steppenwolf, who wants to destroy the world, yeah the usual villain stuff.

The team they recruit includes Barry Allen (Miller), Arthur Curry (Momoa) and Victor Stone (Fisher) as these three new recruits get a better introduction than we saw in the Batman v Superman movie. Using their skills they are left with an ultimate decision which could swing the battle in their favour or risk seeing the world destroyed by this ancient evil.

 

Thoughts on Justice League

 

Characters – Bruce Wayne, knows his weakness, uses his money to recruit the team, his technology to spy on the team and his human touch to connect to the characters. Diana Prince lives a quiet life after the event of Wonder Woman over 100 years ago, she still believes in the good in human and beings from different backgrounds. Barry Allen is a young man living off the grid trying to find a way to get his father out of prison, he gets excited to be able to work with a team and gets most of the laughs. Arthur Curry is a man of mystery, one with the ocean, he has left his past behind him which leads him down the Logan road. Victor Stone is a science experiment gone wrong, part human, part robot needing to learn to control his newly found abilities. Lois Lane is here, she doesn’t do much to be honest. Clark Kent is the heart of the characters drives to fight, he selfless actions last time out give hope to them all.

As for the alter-egos Batman looks so out of place in this film, we have Gods, experiments gone wrong and this random rich guy who is past his best, trying to pull the team together, he is ineffective in the combat scenes too. Wonder Woman gets the best moments in the fights, jumping on the beliefs of just how inspirational the character is. The Flash gets moments that will make you laugh, but you would rather be watching Quicksilver moments. Aquaman gets the awkward underwater scenes, which must be hard to shoot, he enjoys a good fight though. Cyborg is the brains of the team, solving the problems before they happen.

As for the villain, Steppenwolf he is a threat there is no doubt about that, he is ruthless too, but his desire for destruction does feel like it got ripped out of a Transformers movie.

PerformancesBen Affleck is a good Bruce Wayne but not a good Batman, you can believe his arrogance when trying to build the team. Gal Gadot is the star of the hero’s side of the story showing in the world of DC she is their trump card. Erza Miller does add the much-needed comedy to the serious film and hits more than he misses. Jason Momoa is good throughout too, his character feels like what Wonder Woman was in Batman v Superman, we just what more. Ray Fisher is strong too, he gives the character the darkness needed to make us want more from his backstory. The none Justice League performances are fine, but no one gets much time to do anything. Having a CGI villain means we only get the voice work which works for the film.

StoryThe origin of the Justice League, well Marvel did it with the Avengers so, why not. To be fair we got the first seeds of this in Batman v Superman and this continued the ideas to show how they could come together to fight an evil presence. My problems with the story come from the trailers, which show the team working together, much like Stephen King’s IT we follow the individual stories for a large amount of time trying to play the will they won’t they game about joining the team, but the trailer gave this away. If you want to see the story continue you strongly I will say DC’s storytelling for the bigger picture is going in the right direction and this is easy to follow and enjoy is this is your style of film.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is big, like you would expect for the superhero movie, sadly Batman doesn’t fit in the action sequences in my opinion. The ci-fi comes from Gods, aliens and experiments working together in battle be it with each other or against.

SettingsThe settings are all over the place, not in a bad way, we get the references to previous films and teases of locations for our new addition.

Special EffectsThe effects are complete mixed bag, we get certain moments which look great but then we get the weak moments that disappoint.


Scene of the Movie –
Rebirth

That Moment That Annoyed Me Batman feels very out of place in this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun addition to the superhero collection, in a year of impressive films this doesn’t crack my top 3 in the genre but doesn’t take the spot of the worst, I could happily enjoy watching this again and I hope you do too.

 

Overall: Fun enjoyable superhero movie for everyone to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

fantsticDirector: David Yates

Writer: J.K. Rowling (Screenplay)

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Carmen Ejogo, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman

 

Plot: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Best Family Film of the Year

 

Story: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them starts as Grindelwald had started to terrorise the wizard community around the 1920s as we move to meet Newt (Redmayne) as he travels to New York. We learn that something has be terrorising the streets of New York which has grab the attention of Graves (Farrell).

Getting to learn his away around New York Newt finds himself using her magic which effects the life Kowalski (Fogler) and fellow wizard detective Tina (Waterston). After a mixing up cases Kowalski ends up with the case full of fantastic beasts which Newt and Tina must track down before they cause any more problems in New York.

We continue to learn of the kind heart Newt has as he helps rescue these beasts from the edge of extinction but a darkness as all creatures have will look to take control of the beasts with a potential battle between no magics and the wizards just waiting to be unleashed on the world.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a visually stunning addition to the Harry Potter magical universe, while this is a prequel it works on all the levels it needs to because it is actually so distant from the original series. We have the 1920s New York settings that looks authentic throughout and the beasts all look truly fantastic.  Being set with adult characters help because we don’t have to deal with the learning process which often held back the early Potter films.

Eddie Redmayne gives us a brilliant performance that fully fits the character Newt but it is here where the brilliance finishes with the rest of the characters all looking greatly cast without being as memorable as Newt, Farrell takes the lead villain role but doesn’t really get the full chance to be as evil as he could well have been but this is designed for purpose to make the next villains more menacing. If you ever want to see what could well be the best family film this year I whole heartedly suggest this film that comes off original to the rest of the current market without being to heavy on the wizard ways.

 

Overall: Visually brilliant and purely fun film that can be enjoyed by all.

Ratingcard

 

 

Suicide Squad (2016)

squadDirector: David Ayer

Writer: David Ayer (Screenplay)

Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Common, Ezra Miller, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Scott Eastwood

 

Plot: A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Complicated

 

Story: Suicide Squad starts as we see Amanda Waller (Davis) putting together her elite squad of criminals with Deadshot (Smith) The Joker (Leto)’ girlfriend Harley Quinn (Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Courtney), Diablo (Hernandez), Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Enchantress (Delevingne). After being green lighted the squad is ready to get to work.

With this team put together it is the Joker himself that starts to search down his love while the team sets out to try and clean the streets for Amanda Waller and stop a brand new evil from taking over the world.

Suicide Squad ends up being a film which just adds the comic book characters to the world of dysfunctional bad guys needing to do the good job. This adds comic book characters that only the diehard fans would know because even after playing the first Arkham game we only meet Killer Croc that is involved in this film. The evil is basic and levels with RIPD and the almost non-existence of the Joker sucks most of the excitement out of this film because Deadshot is such a generic anti-hero character. Harley Quinn is quirky but not as bonkers as we need her to be and most of all this just ends ups feeling like a piss poor attempt at The Raid with comic book names.

 

Overall: This film lacks the violence required it lacks the humour required and now I find myself wondering what is next for the DC Universe because this is yet another bland addition to the universe.

Rating45