Darkest Hour (2017)

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Anthony McCarten (Screenplay)

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Nicholas Jones

 

Plot: During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.


Tagline – Never give up. Never give in.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Historical Drama

 

Story: Darkest Hour starts as we come to London in 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Pickup) is forced into resignation to help unit the divided parties as they faced in impending Nazi invasion. Who to turn to next is the question, they turned to Winston Churchill (Oldman) a formerly disgraced government member who is known for never backing down.

Churchill takes the reigns in Britain’s darkest hour as they faced certain defeat or peace talks with Hitler, but Churchill isn’t taking into lying down as he comes up with a plan to rescue the stranded troops on the beaches in Dunkirk, even with fellow members of his office trying to push him into peace talks.

 

Thoughts on Darkest Hour

 

Characters – These are all based on real people, in a rea time of crisis, which would have changed Britain as we know it today. Winston Churchill is considered one of the greatest world leaders the Earth has ever seen, he we only follow around two weeks of his career, as people are using his past mistakes against him even after picking him to be the leader, he has always been honest, he doesn’t care if you didn’t like him and he will listen to the people when searching for answers in one of the most difficult times Britain ever faced. Cemmie is Winston’s wife and one of the few people that could control him and bring out his nice side, she proves an important part of his life during this tough time because she knows how long and hard he has worked to be Prime Minister. King George VI admits to Churchill he is scared of him, he didn’t want him, but will support him decisions if they are best for the country, he gives us the most important scene in the movie. Elizabeth Layton is the new typist for Churchill, she represents the everyday person that is concerned about what might be coming and her fear helps Churchill make the decisions he does.

PerformancesIt would be fair to say that Gary Oldman has the Oscar in the bag this year, any actor that can make you not realize it is him after 2 hours of watching him deserves all the praise in the world. Jumping into the supporting cast we have wonderful performances throughout, Kristin Scott Thomas, ben Mendelsohn and Lily James take their characters and make them shine.

StoryThe story focuses on two weeks of Winston Churchill’s life, starting the day Neville Chamberlain resigned to the moment Britain refused to surrender to the Nazi invasion heading our way. This is a huge moment in history and seeing the political divide between the people in office shows the terror, fear and panic the minds would have been going through during this horrendous time. The story does shine a spotlight on the idea that the public were not completely sure what was going on and had to trust the government to make the right decision too.

Biopic/History/WarChurchill was an inspiring leader, we have seen three versions of him in the last 12 months too, to show of him in this time is important too and a moment in history that will never be forgotten during our time of need World War II.

SettingsThe settings are well constructed, but at times the military view points seem added because no one knew how to describe the situations or didn’t trust the audience to understand the terms.


Scene of the Movie –
A Royal visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The look up moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant look at how Churchill help guide Britain to victory during World War II, he stood up when no one else would to be the leader Britain needed to win.

 

Overall: Brilliant, Masterclass performance from Oldman.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: Po and his friends fight to stop a peacock villain from conquering China with a deadly new weapon, but first the Dragon Warrior must come to terms with his past.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weaker Sequel

 

Story: Kung Fu Panda 2 starts as we learn of an evil peacock named Shen who has mastered the art of fireworks and has gone into hiding to make the perfect weapon. Meanwhile Po is continuing his training working as a unit in the now Furious Six and when not fighting he is training with Shifu.

With the Furious Six going into battle against Shen, Po must face the truth about where he came from as he finally confronts the realization he was adopted and what happened to his parents.

 

Thoughts on Kung Fu Panda 2

 

Characters Po is still clumsy but a warrior never the less but this time he must face his past while seeing his heroes disappoint him. Shifu lets his team do the work this time not being overly involved in the story. Shen is the peacock looking to conquer China with his powerful unstoppable weapon. The Furious Six all play their part again too with Tigress seemingly getting the biggest part. The characters do all work for the film and do make this feel like a sequel adventure for the characters taking on a new villain.

StoryThe story does feel slightly flatter this time around, now Po is trained it is just the group taking on a new villain as we try to learn about where Po came from and why he is the only Panda around. It feels like a sequel but lacks the punch the first one had by trying to go overly emotional.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThe action is all what we expect, big and martial arts that only works for animated, the comedy seems to have dried up more just not clicking enough. This is fine for a family film though that will keep the kids happier than the adults.

SettingsOnce again the settings do look great for battling kingdoms which are surrounded with smaller town.

AnimationWe know the animation is fantastic and once again it doesn’t let us down.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weaker sequel that just seems to lack the heart the first film had, leaving it all feel like it could have been a straight to DVD sequel.

 

Overall: Weak sequel you just can’t enjoy as much.

Rating

 

 

The Contender (2000)

Director: Rod Lurie

Writer: Rod Lurie (Screenplay)

Starring: Gary Oldman, Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Christian Slater, Sam Elliott, William Petersen, Saul Rubinek, Philip Baker Hall

 

Plot: Senator Laine Hanson is a contender for US Vice President, but information and disinformation about her past surfaces that threatens to de-rail her confirmation.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Political Thriller

 

Story: The Contender starts as President Jackson Evans (Bridges) is in search for a new Vice-President after the death of the previous one. When senator Jack Hathaway (Petersen) witnesses a car crash but is unsuccessful in rescuing the victim, this eliminates him from the race for the Vice-President role because it will show failure in his character.

President Jackson selects who he wants in Senator Laine Hanson (Allen). It isn’t long before Shelly Runyon (Oldman) the judge of the committee of the confirmation procedure and young upstart Reginald Webster (Slater) to try and expose the secrets of Laine so they can select Hathaway as Vice-President.

As the confirmation committee continue their questioning Laine’s personal life is opened for all to see, leaving her to find herself folding on her own morals or fight back against the people exposing her life’s decisions.

 

Thoughts on The Contender

 

Characters/PerformanceLaine is a senator who gets thrust into the public spotlight as the lead contender to be Vice-President, she has led a life that does have secrets but nothing illegal, she wants to stand by her morals if she is given the role even though she is going to get her past exposed. Shelly is the man trying to plan his own decision on who will be the next Vice-President, he has been planning to get one over the President’s choice.  President Jackson is a strong man, a leader who keeps his cards close to his chest but also knows how to keep the people he is scouting near him to learn their motives. The rest of the characters are all great throughout to work within their roles in how the events will unfold.

Performance wise, Joan Allen is fantastic in the lead role of this movie showing all the integrity needed for a Vice-Presidential candidate. Gary Oldman as always is fantastic in his role that you barely even know it is him. Jeff Bridges even in a supporting role is gripping to see as we do just want to see where his performance will take us. Each and every supporting performance is great through this film and completely worth watching as one of their best.

StoryA story that focuses on the ideas of what would make a good Vice-President, we see how events in their lives are not important to where they are now, we also see how their beliefs shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to making the right decisions for the country. We see how the contenders can go out of their way to make something happen but most importantly we see how they can be honest when it comes to making the right choices.

ThrillerThe film does keep us on edge throughout the story unfolding as we are looking to see what the next secret could be and if it could damage the campaign.

SettingsThe settings all come off how you would expect with the story unfolding, we have the White House, the courtroom and her own personal home where each detail is learnt about.

Final ThoughtsWhen it comes to political thrillers this is easily one of the best you will see, it is a must watch for the fans of the genre and the heavyweight performances show us this.

 

Overall: Political masterclass of a film.

Rating

 

 

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

Director: Patrick Hughes

Writer: Tom O’Connor (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman, Selma Hayek

 

Plot: The world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Watchable Fun

 

Story: The Hitman’s Bodyguard starts as we see how our triple A bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) lose his reputation after losing a client, we learn that Vladislav Dukhovich (Oldman) the former President of Belarus is being charged with war crimes but his witnesses keep going missing but now Darius Kincad (Jackson) a hitman comes forward to seal his fate with Sonia (Hayek) a deal to get his wife released from prison.

When the transport goes wrong Michael gets bought in to become the bodyguard for Darius but the history between the two brings us the comedy as the enemies must work together to get from Manchester to the Hauge to being Dukhovich down once and for all, as we learn the skills both men have.

 

Thoughts on The Hitman’s Bodyguard

 

Characters – Michael Bryce might as well just be Van Wilder grown up as he likes the perfect plan but feels free like it comes together naturally, his by the book style clashes with Darius which adds to the comedy as he believes he can manage this job alone if Darius can follow instructions. Darius Kincaid is the hitman that has racked up a lot of kills, he has crossed paths with Michael before and now he wants to help set his wife free from jail, his is deadly with a gun and reluctantly works with Michael to make everything work even if his style is carefree. Dukhovich is the tyrant dictator bring charged with the crimes, he does seem to believe he has ultimate power but spends most of the film just in the court room being evil looking. Sonia suffers the same fate, she is in prison most of the film just ranting about Darius and wanting to be free.

PerformanceRyan Reynolds gives us the fast taking character we know he can here with Samuel L Jackson also give his more aggressive fast talking style. Oldman is always a great villain but here he almost feels wasted as is Salma Hayek.

StoryThe story is a by the books two men from different worlds must come together for the greater good but things don’t go as planned along the way, we have generic characters that offer little to the bigger picture and in the end the story does feel flat at times, but we do get arcs to the Michael and Darius characters similar to what we saw with Hobbs and Shaw in Fast & Furious 8 but outside this we have nothing new.

Action/ComedyThe action does come off great, we have designed chases that have bullets flying all over the place but then lose the comedy in these moments, the comedy is fine but does feel like it is just the two shouting at each other most of the time, and if it was more action based it could have been a lot more enjoyable.

SettingsThe settings bring the film to Europe, well England and Holland which is fine, the chases feel more compact which the highlight being in Amsterdam.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well at times, most are used for comedy moments or flashbacks.

Scene of the Movie – Amsterdam chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It felt like it wanted to be a comedy when it seems to play out better as just an action film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action comedy that is fine but doesn’t take any awards for best action or comedy this year.

 

Overall: Fine but nothing overly special.

Rating

 

 

The Space Between Us (2017)

Director: Peter Chelsom

Writer: Allan Loeb (Screenplay) Stewart Schill, Richard Barton Lewis, Allan Loeb (Story)

Starring: Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Carla Gugino, BD Wong

 

Plot: The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Romance Film

 

Story: The Space Between Us starts with the first maned crew living on Mars, the Genesis operation lead by Nathaniel Shepherd (Oldman) is sending the 6 astronauts to Mars to live with mission commander Sarah Elliot (Montgomery) leading the mission. The mission goes wrong early on when Sarah turns out to be pregnant and dying in child birth on Mars. Back home Nathaniel must figure out a way to keep the story covered up raising the child on Mars even though his desire is to head to Mars himself to help raise the child Gardner.

16 years later Gardner (Butterfield) has grown up still a secret to the outside world on Mars, with the colony growing with Kendra Wyndham (Gugino) being the latest mother like figure in his life. Gardner has been sneaking around making friends with Tulsa (Robertson) back on Earth, but keeping his secret safe.

When the plan is to bring Gardner back to Earth his secret friendship is the desire he most wants to see but the business side of mission wants to us him as a PR device. Once back Gardner gets tired of the quarantine and escapes to learn about the world, find Tulsa and his father, but the longer Gardner spends on Earth the greater danger he is putting himself in.

 

Thoughts on The Space Between Us

 

Characters/PerformanceGardner is a Martian the lack of a better word, he was born and raised on Mars gaining all the intelligence from the astronauts he meets, but what he desires most is a human connection which is what he can get by going to Earth. He gets to see Earth in a new light for the first time which isn’t something original but always interesting to see unfold. Tulsa is a high school girl who is surrounded by students but completely alone because of being in the foster system. She speaks to Gardner being the only connection she has with the world, once they meet she shows her street smarts to help Gardner. Nathaniel is the lead scientist running the program, he wants to do the right thing but gets pushed out and left to regret his decision, but it is his choice to do everything to make Gardner safe on his return to Earth. Kendra also plays a similar role to Nathaniel only she is the closest person to a friend Gardner has on Mars.

Performance Wise, Asa shows again that he is a very capable young actor who I think we could see many more great performances from in the future, Robertson is continuing to play characters she is a lot older than but she does have the look for them. Oldman brings the heavyweight name to the film doing good throughout with Gugino also doing a good job through the film.

Adventure/Romance/Sci-FiThe adventure comes from Gardner seeing Earth for the first time with the sci-fi comes from the idea of life on Mars. The romance side of the film works because it is the driving force between Gardner and Tulsa.

StoryThe story shows us what it would be like is there was a baby born on a Mars colony, it also shows how two people worlds apart can become the closest of friends. The story is young adult material but at least this seems to be a one-off idea for the story, I think it fits the genre nicely and will have the whole audience enjoying how the story unfolds.

SettingsStarting on Mars we get to see what life up there could be, moving to Earth it is a standard road trip across America idea for settings not offering too many new ideas on where to go.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all good when they are needed without being jaw-dropping.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good young adult movie that can be enjoyable by the romantic fans.

 

Overall: This is good for the market intended.

Rating