Jeffrey Combs Weekend – House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Director: William Malone

Writer: Dick Beebe (Screenplay) Robb White (Story)

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Jeffrey Combs


Plot: An amusement park mogul offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Enjoyable Creepy Mysterious Horror


Story: House on Haunted Hill starts as we see the horrors that took place in the Vannacutt institute, where the inmates escaped the torture the Dr Richard Benjamin Vannacutt (Combs) was performing on them with everyone dying within the fire.

Move to present day which is 1999 where Evelyn Stockard-Price (Janssen) wants her husband Stephen Price (Rush) an amusement park mogul to host her birthday inside the abandoned institute. The guest list includes Eddie Baker (Diggs), Donald Blackburn (Gallagher), Sara Wolfe (Larter) and Melissa Marr (Wilson) but the problem is neither of the Price’s know them and they have no idea why they have been invited.

When the guests along with the caretaker Watson Pritchett (Kattan) find themselves locked in the prize Stephen is offering of $1 Million becomes a draw for them all but the house has a history of coming alive at night, can these guests survive a night with Dr Richard Benjamin Vannacutt and the other victims of the mental institute?


Thoughts on House on Haunted Hill


Characters/PerformanceStephen Price is a man who has made his money in amusement parks, he has a strained relationship with his wife becoming the suspect in who is behind the goings on within the house. Evelyn believes that this whole party is a game by her husband but is happy to play the game her own way. The guests are all what you would expect, the ambitious celebrity driven, the kind hearted, the one trying to prove themselves and the doctor. The highlight comes from the creepy doctor haunting the hallways.

Performance wise, Geoffrey Rush gets to have a lot of fun in this leading role where he shows his class whereas Famke Janssen adds the dominate leading lady with a plan. Diggs and Larter both do well filling in blanks of the story with Jeffrey Combs being the doctor we all know and love.

StoryThe story is easy to follow and does explain the reasons for everything to be happening well. We do have slightly too much focus on the marriage between the Price’s and just how much they hate each other but otherwise this is a classic haunted asylum movie where it is who will survive the horrors of the house.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is all good and if you watch too young you can see just how scary certain moments are, when you look at the mystery which does get solved but is surrounding why these people got invited to the house in the first place.

SettingsAfter the introduction to the Price’s the rest of the movie is set within the house on haunted hill and that is great for everything which unfolds.

Special EffectsThe special effects do all go well until the final act where the special effects have dated being it nearly 20 years old now.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film I do enjoy, it is short, easy to watch and has plenty of good horror moments involved.


Overall: Easy to watch fun horror film.




Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017)

Director: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg

Writer: Jeff Nathanson (Screenplay) Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert (Characters)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Orland Bloom, Keira Knightley


Plot: Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Better Than Expected


Story: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge starts as a young Henry Turner visiting and promising to break the curse on his father Will Turner (Bloom) against his father’s wishes because it means finding Jack Sparrow (Depp).

Move forward nine years and Henry (Thwaites) in part of the British Navy hunting down pirates in search of Jack Sparrow, when his ship heads into the Devil’s Triangle they find themselves attacked by the ghost Captain Salazar (Bardem), a man in search for Jack Sparrow who cursed his crew.

Finding himself locked up, Henry learns he is on the same island as Jack Sparrow and sets out on finding him as well as an astronomer Carina (Scodelario) who gets treated like a witch because of knowledge. The three team up with Jack’s crew to search for Poseidon’s Trident the one object that can break all curses in the ocean.

With Captain Salazar terrorising the ocean he joins the current ruler of the ocean Captain Barbossa (Rush) in the hunt for Jack as the pirates do battle to break the curses over the ocean.


Thoughts on Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge


Characters/PerformanceCaptain Jack is back, but this time we get a mix of what we expect from the style of the character at times being fun and over times feeling like a parody of himself. Captain Salazar is a good additional villain to this franchise because he was once a man doing the right thing but now hunts the seas for any victim. Captain Barbossa does have the best story arc in this film as we see how he has become the wealthiest pirate at sea and always stays one step ahead of everyone else. Henry is good for this film because it brings us back into the original characters origins learning about Will Turner and now his son, even if the character feels just like a copy of his father, Carina is written to be a strong independent woman in the time of the film which she is but she does also turn into the normal damsel in distress when it comes to conflict moments.

Performance Wise, Johnny Depp does feel like he is doing what you expect but does have moments of parody. Javier Bardem is good and enjoys the villainous role. Rush continues to be good without excelling, Brenton and Kaya are good addition but they do feel like they were just creating a new version of Bloom of Knightley.

StoryOne of the strongest points of any pirates movie is being able to tell us a continuing story, Black Pearl entered us into this world very nicely and the next two chapters continued the story along building on the characters legacy, when it came to Stranger Tides things went off the rails and the film came off boring. This story brings us back to the original arcs and continues to build on them like we enjoy seeing. This isn’t the overall best but it certainly isn’t the worst of the Pirates films and if you enjoyed the stories in the first couple you will enjoy this one.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is all fun, we get a couple of rip off ideas from bigger action franchises, most notable the bank heist, the sword fighting is fine but does become inconstant by the end of the film as ghosts can’t have sword fights. the adventure is the highlight here because this time you do feel like you are back where you want to be. The fantasy side of the film continues on nicely as we dive into the myths of the ocean.

SettingsEach setting looks perfect for a pirates film as we can continue to enjoy the visual experience of a pirates movie.

Special EffectsThe special effects are good, I did like how the deliberate slow flow of Salazar’s hair almost becomes a characteristic of its own too.

Final ThoughtsSure this film will get slammed but it doesn’t need to be, if you just go in look for some fun you will find yourself enjoying this one enough.


Overall: Sit back, switch your brain of and enjoy.




Shakespeare in Love (1998)

shakeDirector: John Madden

Writer: Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard (Screenplay)

Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck


Plot: A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Oscar Heavy Classic


Story: Shakespeare in Love starts as Philip Henslowe (Rush) has been struggling to pay his debts to Hugh Fennyman (Wilkinson) and with his star scripter William Shakespeare (Fiennes) working on the latest play for the theatre which can clean his debts.

Shakespeare looking for his latest muse sees just how Queen Elizabeth (Dench) sees his work where we get to meet Viola De Lesseps (Paltrow) a wealthy daughter of London who dreams of being in a Shakespeare play. When William meets Viola the motivation behind Romeo and Juliet is born and with Viola is undercover as the lead actor of the play but is also being forced into marrying Lord Wessex (Firth) by Queen’s order. With the love between William and Viola being kept a secret one of the most iconic plays in history becomes the reality in the famous Rose theatre.


Thoughts on Shakespeare in Love


StoryThe story here plays along the lines of seeing how love can inspire the best work from playwrights as we see the struggling Shakespeare re-discover his best work once he falls in love once again. The parallels to what is going on with the play and everyday situation all comes together very well as we see how the final pieces of the puzzle comes together. This does have a full stage feel to everything going on which could easily be a turn off for some people though.

Comedy/Drama/RomanceWe have good theatre based comedy without being a joke a minute throughout this film, the film really does focus on the romantic angle between William, Viola and the problems she must face with arranged marriage to Lord Wessex.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters are all loosely based on real people that also become the characters within the Romeo and Juliet story that we have all come to know. The performances are all brilliant here showing us that if we want a stage play movie we can turn to these actors for first choice.

SettingsEach setting fits the time period perfectly as we would all be willing to believe we are in the middle of 1593 watching the creation Romeo and Juliet.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that not everyone will but is easily one of the most fascinating ones around as we learn the creation of one of the greatest plays ever written.


Overall: Classic in its own right.




Minions (2015)

logoDirector: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin

Writer: Brian Lynch (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell

Plot: Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow, Unfunny Animation

Story: Minions starts with the Minions looking for a boss, they always want to work with the most evil possible person. We watch how they go through countless time periods with iconic characters through history including Dinosaurs, Dracula and Egyptians. When the Minions start searching for a new villain to worship Kevin, Stuart and Bob go in search of their next leader.

The search takes them to New York 1968 where the three Minion stumble upon the villain network where they hear about an event where they can make new friends and find a new master. When the Minions in the competition from Scarlett Overkill they become her newest Minions. Scarlett wants the Minion to steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London. When Bob pulls out the mythical sword from the stone he becomes King of England with Scarlett now coming after the Minions.

Minions is a film that is meant to be the origins of the Minions which is fine, but nothing really happens, we watch them try and find a new villain which turns out to be a generic boring one at that. The horrendously stereotyped British jokes just get boring quickly. I was never a fan of Despicable Me but did like the Minions character but in the end the characters are only supporting characters only they can’t carry a film. (4/10)

Characters Review

Stuart, Kevin and Bob: These are our three hapless Minions who go in search of a new master, their adventure takes them to England where they become King of England, but when Scarlett wants to become Queen the Minions have to fight for their freedom. The three work in a supporting roles but not as a lead role. (4/10)minions

Scarlett Overkill: Scarlett is the new super villain that is looking for new henchman when the Minions win the prize she wants them to help make her Queen of England before turning on them. Scarlett is a boring villain that we have seen before. (3/10)scarlett

Support Characters: Minions has supporting characters that are all generic and boring that don’t end up adding enough to the final film.

Director Review: Kyle Balda, Pierre CoffinDisappointed with the final product because we get lay and boring jokes throughout. (3/10)

Animation: Minions has top quality animation but that can’t cover up the poor story. (6/10)

Comedy: Minions lazy simple jokes throughout. (3/10)

Family: Minions would be one for the family to potentially enjoy but then I didn’t enjoy it but the kids could enjoy it. (4/10)

Settings: Minions creates a 1968 setting with simple icon settings to let us know where the Minions are in. (6/10)

Suggestion: Minions is one for the die hard fans of the Minions because I just didn’t enjoy this one. (Minions Fans Try)

Best Part: Gru.

Worst Part: The Rest.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Yes

Post Credits Scene: Odd bits in the credits.

Oscar Chances:

Box Office: $290 Million

Budget: $74 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

Tagline: Uh oh.

Trivia: Director Pierre Coffin voices all 899 minions in this film.

Overall: Basic, Simple and boring comedy.


The Book Thief (2013)

logoDirector: Brian Percival

Writer: Michael Petroni (Screenplay) Markus Zusak (Novel)

Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Kirsten Block, Heike Makatsch, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer


Plot: While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Powerful, Moving Drama


Story: The Book Thief starts by when Liesel’s (Nelisse) brother dies, talk about a sad start right? Liesel gets adopted by the Hubermann’s Hans (Rush) and Rosa (Watson) who had planned to take both the children to help hide them during the war. Rosa is very strict while Hans is fun trying to make her time with them fun. Local boy Rudy (Liersch) tries his best to befriend Liesel and welcome her to the school. As Liesel time with Hans continues she learns how to read and the joy of books. Liesel has to copy with the Nazi book burning parades where she has to stand by everything against her.

Liesel manages to save a book and Hans agrees to help her hide the book making it their own secret. The Hubermann’s are also keeping their own secret when stranger Max (Schnetzer) turns up on their door step, this leads to Liesel being ordered to keep a secret but her interest in the books keeps her curiosity high. When we learn that Max is in a fact a Jew in hiding, he begins a friendship with Liesel while she learns that she isn’t the only lover of books. Liesel also learns how she will need to grow up through the wartime where so many children have to suffer.

The Book Thief is a very powerful story about one girl’s struggle through the war, abandoned by her mother she has to learn to grow up in a new family, new town under a belief she doesn’t want to follow. We watch how she learns about books, learns how to read and learns that even through such a hard time she can trust people. We also see the harsh reality of the war where we will lose people. The idea the story is told by death is very clever because the narration gives away what will happen but spares us the details and almost makes it touching how he takes the souls. This is an adaptation so I don’t personally know how well it compares to the books but as a film itself it is a good story to watch unfold. (7/10)


Actor Review


Sophie Nelisse: Liesel Meminger young girl who gets sent to live with another family during the war where she learns she has a love of books during the wartime struggle. Sophie gives a great performance for an actress of her age, watch out for the name in the future. (8/10)


Geoffrey Rush: Hans Hubermann father of the adopted family who is much more laid back than his wife, but his promises could put the whole family at danger. Geoffrey gives a good performance and one we all know he is very capable off. (7/10)


Emily Watson: Rosa Hubermann mother of the adopted family who is very strict but equally has a heart of gold as she just wants to protect her family. Emily gives a good performance too and much like Rush we know we can trust her in these sort of roles. (7/10)


Ben Schnetzer: Max a Jewish man in hiding in the Hubermann house hold after his father saved Han’s life. He befriends Liesel and they both have their own way to hate Hitler and his men together. Ben gives a good performance and makes for an engaging character. (7/10)


Support Cast: The Book Thief supporting cast is filled with the other town’s people who are all trying to keep their heads down and the soldiers trying to fight a war they have no control over.


Director Review: Brian Percival – Brian does a good job directing this powerful drama. (7/10)


Drama: The Book Thief shows the relationship between people during the wartime and how they struggled to keep things safe. (9/10)

War: The Book Thief tells of the struggle through the eyes of one of the innocent children who would have been caught up in the middle of it all. (9/10)

Settings: The Book Thief creates authentic settings to put us right in the middle of World War II. (10/10)

Suggestion: The Book Thief is one to try, if you have read the book I honestly can’t tell you if it is a good adaptations but it is an enjoyable film to watch. (Try It)


Best Part: Christmas.

Worst Part: Final Moments.


Believability: Even though the story is made up, the situation the people find themselves in would have been real. (7/10)

Chances of Tears: You may have some by the end. (5/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for best music written for motion picture.

Box Office: $76 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 11 Minutes

Tagline: Courage beyond words.


Overall: Beautiful Drama

Rating 75