ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – S – Solaris (2002)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Steven Soderbergh (Screenplay) Stanislaw Lem (Novel)

Starring: George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies, Ulrich Tukur, John Cho, Morgan Rusler

 

Plot: A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet.


Tagline – There are no answers. Only Choices.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over-Complicated Sci-Fi

 

Story: Solaris starts when psychologist Chris Kelvin (Clooney) is sent to an isolated research station orbiting a planet after a distress call was sent asking for him. On board the station, Chris meets Gordon (Davis) and Snow (Davies) who have been suffering their own visions, it isn’t long before Chris has his own vision, his wife Rheya (McElhone).

Chris starts to relive the relationship he had with his wife, who shouldn’t be there, he turns to the other researchers that could help explain what is going on, where he is left with the decision on whether to try and bring her back.

 

Thoughts on Solaris

 

Characters – Chris Kelvin is a psychologist with his own personal problems, he is assigned to help on a research station in space to figure out what has happened to the crew. Chris experiences his own vision, which makes him face the reality of what happened with his own marriage, making him question every decision what happened between him and his wife. Rheya is the wife of Chris, she has appeared on the station giving Chris his chance to be with her again. We see her in the memories of Chris, while on the station she isn’t everything Chris remembers. Gordon is one of the researchers that has been dealing with the unexplained visions, she has figured out how to beat them, only she must now convince Chris what is real or not. Snow completes the research team with his cryptic messages to helps Chris understand everything involved.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is the standout of the cast here, he must deal with his character’s grief, while trying to use the scientific explanation for everything that is going on, he brings both sides of his emotional factor. Natascha McElhone does have the chemistry with Clooney for the character, she must also deal with two roles for her character. Viola Davis and Jeremy Davies both complete the supporting roles well without being tested to their full abilities.

StoryThe story here follows a psychologist that must travel to a remote space station to help the researchers, only for himself to become trapped with the similar visions they have suffered, with his being off his late wife. This does get to show how one man must deal with he grief of a lost love, facing his reality in a new way other than just talking it out, we see him come face to face with what is hurting him to learn just how to move on. We do get into a big scientific discussion about what could happen if you could get a second chance with somebody, to make up for a mistake. This does tend to get over complicated and fails to give us the support characters own visions as a major part of the story, which could show other experiences being suffered through. This does try to be interesting and does work very well, only it does try to become more than it offers.

Mystery/Romance/Sci-FiThe mystery involved in the film comes from how this planet is connecting to the station creating these visions, this plays into the sci-fi side of the film, as we can’t explain everything going on. The romance side of the film shows us just how one man can face his own romantic past in one moment.

SettingsThe film is mostly set on the station, this shows how Chris is looking back at his romance from a remote location, we do get to see where his life was once set.


Scene of the Movie –
The liquid oxygen moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t use the supporting character visions.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sci-fi romance mystery that does get over complicated when it doesn’t need to, it has strong performances, but fails to use the supporting characters well enough.

 

Overall: Sci-fi that makes you scratch your head.

Rating

 

 

Evan Rachel Wood Weekend – The Ides of March (2011)

Director: George Clooney

Writer: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon (Screenplay) Beau Willimon (Play)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright

 

Plot: An idealistic staffer for a new presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.


Tagline – Ambition seduces. Power corrupts.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: All-Star Political Thriller

 

Story: The Ides of March starts as we follow Stephen Meters (Gosling) leading the campaign for presidential candidate Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) under Paul Zara (Hoffman), they are going against Tom Duffy (Giamatti) who is running the campaign for Senator Pullman (Mantell). We are heading into the final week of the campaign as things start to heat up.

When Stephen learns the dirty side to politics, he is caught up in the middle of doing the right thing and getting the win for his candidate, learning that this game is just as dangerous when it gets turned against him.

 

Thoughts on The Ides of March

 

Characters – Stephen Meyers is the ambitious campaign manager who is wildly considered one of the best in the business with his ability to handle the media and remain calm through any situation. His life is turned upside when he becomes a pawn in the dirty tactics involved in an election race and he will need to roll his sleeves up to fight back. Governor Mike Morris is the man Stephen is working for, he is the underdog in the race and seems like the perfect candidate, only he has secrets which could ruin his campaign. Paul is Stephen’s boss, the man who took a chance on Stephen, he values loyalty over anything else and doesn’t always trust the people around him. Tom Duffy is the campaign manager on the opposite side, he does like the ideas Stephen is playing and wants him on his team, he is the first one to play him into his own game. Molly is the intern on the staff that could bring down the whole campaign with her secret. Ida is a journalist that will do anything for a story which will get her on the front page.

PerformancesIn the performances we have a list of all-star actors that show us just how an ensembled cast can make a movie so enjoyable. We have Ryan Gosling taking centre stage, George Clooney playing a role her is perfect for and Hoffman and Giamatti that are just acting masters with these roles showing just how talented they are.

StoryThe story here follows a younger political man o the verge of his biggest campaign victory, when he gets shown the darker side of politics. Now this is an interesting story as we see how the innocent man must get dirty to survive the game and how the seasoned veterans of the game know every trick that will come their way. The mix of this keeps us on the edge of our seat through the film, the weakness in the film comes from the non-Americans struggle to keep up with who is one which Republican or Democratic side of the discussion and what level this is for the presidential candidate races. Unless you know the American political system you might fall short knowing everything going on here.

ThrillerThis film does keep us on edge through the events of the campaign, this is what we want and the twists in the darker side of the political system become clear by the end.

SettingsThe film throws us into every potential political arena you can think of, we get plenty of discussions some in secret others in an open forum to just what goes on behind the scenes of a campaign race.

 

Scene of the Movie – This will be my campaign.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not understand the American political system.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good political thriller that will keep you guessing from start to finish, it has a brilliant cast that all shine too.

 

Overall: Keeps you guessing from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) Robert Kurtzman (Story)

Starring: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo

 

Plot: Two criminals and their hostages unknowingly seek temporary refuge in a truck stop populated by vampires, with chaotic results.


Tagline – How far can Too Far go?

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blood Splattered Blast

 

Story: From Dusk till Dawn starts after Seth Gecko (Clooney) is broken out of prison by his brother Richard (Tarantino) before they commit a daring daylight robbery as they race towards the Mexican border. They have a hostage which Richard soon kills, meaning they must find another one. The brothers pick a family the Fuller family, whose loss of faith priest father Jacob (Keitel) and his children Kate (Lewis) and Scott (Liu) are just travelling.

Once across the border the five head to a bar known as the Titty Twister for bikers and truckers alike, but soon they must put their differences aside when it turns out to be a vampire hideout, where they must fight to daylight.

 

Thoughts on From Dusk till Dawn

 

Characters – Seth Gecko has just been sprung from prison by his brother, he wants to get across the border to complete a deal which would see them both have freedom, he is the one that remains in control wanting to keep everything calm, which would mean not leaving a pile of bodies behind them. He does deliver the threats which would see them as a danger, though he does just want things to be simple. Richard or Ritchie is must more of a loose cannon, he is paranoid and this makes him more dangerous, as he will kill people putting their safety at risk. He is protected by his brother, as he doesn’t seem like he is capable of putting a plan together himself. Jacob was a priest that has lost his faith after his wife’s death, he I taking his family on a vacation and gets forced into helping the brothers, he wants to keep them safe, willing to risk his own life to make this happen. Kate and Scott are his children, they are dealing with their own loss the best way they know how to and being supportive to their father. Santanico is the beautiful dancer that will stop a bar with her dance, she is one of the leaders of the vampires who has been waiting for the food in human form.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is great to see in this role, after this we only usually see him in smooth talking roles, rather than a rough criminal, showing he could become any role offered to him. Tarantino in this film is creepy and putting himself in the supporting role does hide any restrictions he might have as an actor. Harvey Keitel is great showing a character that is meant to be hating his life choice, but remaining strong for his children. Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu are both solid enough in the supporting roles without getting too much more to work with, while Salma Hayek turns heads with her performance.

StoryThe story here follows two criminals trying to get to Mexico, the family they force to help them across the border and the bar they find, filled with vampires that they must fight to survive the night. Where this story stands up on its own, is by making it a criminal tory to start with, having no hints of horror or vampires involved, as we just watch the two loose cannons trying to get to safety, by pulling the rug out from under us to thrown us into the horror idea is genius switch of pace for the story. we do have themes going on especially with the Jacob character needing to find his lost faith which finding it will become the big part in fight the vampires. The story also exists in a world where vampire stories do exist, which gives them ideas on how to fight back, which was the main attraction to the 90’s horror stories.

Action/HorrorThe action in the film involves the fighting with the vampires, we get to take everything to a new level for this side of the genre, with the blood splatter in the action, which the horror gives us because we vampires which are a staple of horror, but we do focus on the action over the scares.

SettingsThe film uses the getting to the location setting of the camper van which does show us the road trip feel to the film, but it is the bar that will be one that is always going to be hard to forget, being a run down biker and trucker bar.

Special EffectsThe special effects are some of the best you will see in the vampire genre, it shows that you can get plenty done with practical effects, with the only weakness come from the human to vampire transformations, which look CGI and have dated.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The transformations have dated badly.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most fun vampire movies you will ever see, it has plenty of blood flying around the screen and will keep you entertained from start to finish.

 

Overall: Purely entertaining vampire movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – O – O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Screenplay) Homer (Poem)

Starring: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter, Chris Thomas King, Charles Durning

 

Plot: In the deep south during the 1930s, three escaped convicts search for hidden treasure while a relentless lawman pursues them.


Tagline – Sometimes, you have to lose your way to get back home

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wacky Comedy

 

Story: O Brother, Where Art Thou? Starts when three prisoners Everett (Clooney), Pete (Turturro) and Delmar (Nelson) escape from prison, going on a race across country in search of a treasure before it goes for good.

Along the way the three must figure out how to stay ahead of the law which puts them in a series of comical events along the way until they run into a salesman Big Dan Teague (Goodman) who is puts them against their match.

 

Thoughts on O Brother, Where Art Thou?

 

Characters – Everett is the brains of the three, he isn’t the strongest with this either, he tries to keep the guys together as they need to stay away from the law, he pushes them to take risks along the way too. Pete is the other fellow escapee that wants to be in charge, he will follow Everett as long as he can follow his dreams to get to the money. Delmar is the dumbest member of the group he makes all the mistakes along the way putting the friends in a bigger problem in search for the money. Big Dan is one of the many characters they meet along the way, one that makes a big impact on the adventure.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is good in the leading role, going against the typecast of a pretty guy which he has been making a reputation for himself, John Turturro showed us once again that he can make any role work well, with Tim Blake Nelson getting the best lines which shows he can hang with the biggest names in Hollywood. The rest of the cast do bring us plenty of the laughs with the extremes of the characters.

StoryThe story follows three criminals in search of treasure and their hapless journey across country to locate it. They meet a string of colourfully people along the way, some who help and others than hinder.  This does follow the trends of comedy films which leaves our character into a mixed of events to make a simple journey never going the way they are planning them to. We do get a few twists along the way which change our opinions on the characters too.

Adventure/Crime/ComedyThe adventure takes our three convicts across country meeting the colourful characters along the way, this shows us the criminal world they are from and dealing with the people from, we also get the comedy involved in the film from just what happens along the way.

SettingsThe settings take us across a string of different Southern America towns which plays into he backward way of thinking the people in the area would have.


Scene of the Movie –
The KKK rescue.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t see enough of the lawman after them.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wacky crime comedy that will see people in the audience laugh at times, it will however turn people in the audience off too.

 

Overall: Crime comedy with enough laughs along the way.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – P – Perfect Storm (2000)

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Writer: William D Wittliff (Screenplay) Sebastian Junger (Book)

Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C Reilly, Diane Lane, William Fichtner, John Hawkes, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Allen Payne

 

Plot: An unusually intense storm pattern catches some commercial fishermen unaware and puts them in mortal danger.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sea Worthy Disaster Adventure

 

Story: The Perfect Storm starts as Captain Billy Tyne (Clooney) has been hitting a dry patch when it comes to his boats fishing quota. Determined to turn this around Billy takes his crew Bobby (Wahlberg), Murph (Reilly), Sully (Fichtner), Bugsy (Hawkes) and Alfred (Payne) out again further than normal but also to a location which should have larger number of fish.

As the crew hit the ocean get go further than before, but they catch more than they could imagine, the problem they now face is getting home, which includes going through a hurricane the size no one has seen before.

 

Thoughts on The Perfect Storm

 

Characters/PerformanceCaptain Billy Tyne is a once successful fisherman but his luck has dried up, determined to turn it around he takes his crew out further than normal risking their lives. Bobby is the younger member of the crew who loves the adventure at sea but his girlfriend wants him to start a less risky job, this could be his last mission to sea. Murph is the divorced father that is dealing with the idea is son isn’t going to be seeing him as often as he would like to. Sully is the newest crew member, he seems difficult to work with but also loyal to the end and one of the best fishermen in own. We do also have the remaining crew who are loyal, other boats that get trapped in the storm, Linda Greenlaw a fellow fisherwoman that knows how capable Billy is and finally Christina, Bobby’s girl that waits for him back home.

Performance wise, Clooney shows here that he was ready to start being taken seriously by Hollywood here, we also get a good performance from Wahlberg here too, we also have a supporting cast we can always rely on to give us brilliant performance and they know their importance to the film.

StoryThe story is based on the true events of the 1991 hurricanes that hit off the coast of America, we follow the fishing boat primary but we do also have the coastguards being followed as they look to rescue other boats which at times does take away from the characters we get to have a good time meeting in the opening sequence of the film. away from that we get to see how the main boat must decide whether to stay safe or risk it all be going through the storm.

Action/AdventureThe action sequences through the storm are brilliant, they put us in complete location with the crew dealing with every single up and down they must face. The adventure shows us what the men must overcome to return home.

SettingsThe film is set all at sea which is fine because it is about the fishing boat that needs to battle the storm to make it home, but this makes us feel like we are in the middle of this adventure through the whole film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to make each and every scene look realistic and still do till this day.

Final ThoughtsOne of the films that shows us just how people will fight through storms to make money and how mother nature will not always be one your side.

 

Overall: Edge of your seat action thriller.

Rating