ABC Film Challenge – Romance – C – Larry Crowne (2011)

Director: Tom Hanks

Writer: Tom Hanks, Nia Vardalos (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Pam Grier, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Holmes Osbourne, Taraji P Henson, Rob Riggle

 

Plot: After losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.


Tagline – Never too late in life to start living.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Clichéd Rom Com

 

Story: Larry Crowne starts as we meet Larry (Hanks) a hard-working sales man for a supermarket like company that is let go due to him not having a college education, in desperate search for a new purpose, he heads back to college with one of his lecturers being Mercedes Tainot (Roberts) who feels she is under achieving.

After meeting fellow student Talia (Mbatha-Raw), he learns to fit in with the students and helps him find a new purpose as he reinvents himself.

 

Thoughts on Larry Crowne

 

Characters – Larry Crowne spent years in the Navy as a chef, he has worked his way up the ranks at a superstore, only to find himself laid off because he doesn’t have a college education. Not finding a new job, he heads back to college where he makes new friends and clashes with the teachers, while finding himself. He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body and just wants to help people. Mercedes Tainot is a teacher that doesn’t feel she is achieving everything she could, she enjoys a drink to cover her failings in life with her marriage going down the toilet, she pushes her students while not always caring. Talia is a student that takes Larry under her wing, helps him join their gang and becomes the friend he needs through his college experience. She is the spark in the movie that keeps everything feeling fresh.

PerformancesTom Hanks takes many roles in this film, director, writer and leading man, he is good in this role, where he can play into the comedy he was once known for, but it is far from the best we know he can do. Julia Roberts is good too, she enjoys playing a less complicated character to the ones we know her for too. For me the star of the movie must be Gugu Mbatha-Raw who steals every scene we see her in with her pure positivity. The rest of the supporting cast are good throughout the film with some names that have gone onto bigger things too.

StoryWhen I look at this story it does show us how one man who loses his job, wife and is left facing no future because of his lack of education, it does play out like an important look at the real world, this side of the story is good, the problems I found with the story include how he goes to college, but we never learn what this is to achieve because on of the courses seems like a made up one too. We get a romantic angle which just doesn’t work and while it does show us about taking change in your life in your stride we do see to lose plot points quickly through the film.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film does work, it is mostly light hearted which works well. The romance in the film for me is mostly a miss because we do try to play into what could happen between the two, which shouldn’t be around in this story for Larry.

SettingsThe settings in the film take our main character back to college and to locations he wouldn’t have imagined he would have gone, even with they are cliched as they come.


Scene of the Movie –
Larry’s speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The subplots just seem to vanish through the story.

Final ThoughtsThis movie does want to give us an important message, but by the end it just falls into the clichés we know too often in rom coms.

 

Overall: By the book.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – B – Belle (2013)

Director: Amma Asante

Writer: Misan Sagay (Screenplay)

Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton, Miranda Richardson, Sam Reid, Penelope Wilton

 

Plot: The mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th century England.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Impressive Look a Historical Change

 

Story: Belle starts in 1769 when Captain Sir John Lindsay (Goode) father’s a child with a slave girl who has died. He begs his Uncle Lord Mansfield (Wilkinson) and Lady Mansfield (Watson) to care for Dido Elizabeth Belle. Facing the difficult decision Lord Mansfield accepts Belle into the household as a new friend for their other niece Elizabeth, but for the social order they must wait and see.

Belle (Mbatha-Raw) and Elizabeth (Gadon) grown up to their 20’s as Belle learns of her father’s death and potential suitors for Elizabeth with Dido staying away from visitors because of her skin colour. When Lord Mansfield agrees to take vicar’s son John Davinier (Reid) under his wing to defend the rights of the slaves after a tragic event led to the death of them on board a transport ship by the captain.

With the case running in the background Belle uses this to work with Davinier to bring down the slavery industry running through Britain while dealing with the society marriages she has found herself involved with.

 

Thoughts on Belle

 

Characters/PerformanceBelle is the black woman in higher society England, only she isn’t accepted in all the ways the white high society people are. She lives in the rich homes but not welcome to the dinners but doesn’t understand the difference until she comes of age, she is a strong minded woman whose short memories of her father motivate her into wanting to make a change to rid England of slavery. Lord Mansfield is drawn into how society is meant to be but also wants the best for his adopted daughter. John Davinier is the idealistic young man who is in search for the change in slavery who sees how Belle also wants to change.

Performance wise I do feel Mbatha-Raw gives her best performance of her career to date here with Tom Wilkinson always showing us his acting class. Sam Reid is also great throughout with the rest of the cast all performing their roles just how you need them to be.

StoryThe story is showing an important part of history as we see how England had it’s first case that could bring down slavery in the country. The story unfolds showing how difficult it was for Belle in this time because of her blood line, skin colour and social standing. I think this is an unknow and important part of history that should be known.

Biography/RomanceLooking into this woman’s history was fascinating because we get to see how her choice in love help change a nation look at slavery.

SettingsEach setting looks perfect for time the film is set showing how the upper class looked at the life they had.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film I wasn’t sure about but found myself enjoying from start to finish.

 

Overall: This is a good film for all history buffs to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Irreplaceable You (2018)

Director: Stephanie Laing

Writer: Bess Wohl (Screenplay)

Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Christopher Walken, Kate McKinnon, Claire Holt, Jacki Weaver, Steve Coogan

 

Plot: A couple who have known each other since 8 are destined to be together until death do them apart.


Tagline – Don’t focus on what if. Focus on what is.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tissues Ready

 

Story: Irreplaceable You starts as we meet the perfect couple Abbie (Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Huisman), who met as young kids and now getting prepared to marry and starting a family, but when tragedy hits Abbie as she learns she has cancer.

Facing her own mortality Abbie starts to prepare for the worst and how she is going to see Sam continue his life without her around. She has the support of fellow cancer sufferer Myron (Walken) who teaches her how to deal with the situation she is facing, being one of the only people that truly knows what she is going through.

 

Thoughts on Irreplaceable You

 

Characters – Abbie is one half of the couple, narrating the story to us after her death (this is the opening sequence, no spoiler here), she is diagnosed with cancer and now must face the reality that the love of her life will live most of his life without her and tries to help guide him before she goes. Sam is the fiancée of Abbie that wants to support her through any ideas she must help her come to terms with her situation, this character is a good look at the person that will be left behind in an adult relationship. Myron is a fellow sufferer that supports Abbie through the treatment, trying to help her understand the importance of time.

PerformancesGugu Mbatha-Raw has been making waves for years now, this is the highlight of her career to date, one of the best performances of the year, real, honest and one you fully understand her characters feelings. Michiel Huisman is great too, he shows us just how difficult his characters position would be. Christopher Walken gives us the wonderful supporting performance too.

StoryThe story here follows the lives of a couple in the final months of Abbie’s life, showing us how she is dealing with the news and how she plans to make her one true love life without her. The story does deal with cancer and the effects it will have on the loved ones and takes it on to the same level as 50/50, which doesn’t play too heavy on the downs, while trying to show us how moments of normality including humour can help the victim. We know the end of the film from the opening sequence, so this is preparing us to for the end.

Comedy/RomanceThe romance in this movie shows us just how cancer can ruin love, but it also shows just how people will be there to support you, even if they know the next chapter. We have sprinkles of comedy, which mostly comes from Abbie as she is dealing with everything.

SettingsThe film is set in New York, the city with many stories, we get to see certain locations which are important to the characters involved.


Scene of the Movie –
The party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Final narration, pick one person to read not both.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that will play with your emotions testing you on every level while telling an important story about how people will be facing the reality of cancer.

 

Overall: Wonderful movie that tells such an emotional story.

Rating

 

 

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Director: Julius Onah

Writer: Oren Uziel (Screenplay) Oren Uziel, Doug Jung (Story)

Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki

 

Plot: Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Addition to Cloverfield Universe

 

Story: The Cloverfield Paradox starts as we come to the Earth as the people are facing an energy crisis, one of the last hopes is an experiment in space to product an almost infinite amount, the crew includes Schmidt (Bruhl), Hamilton (Mbatha-Raw), Kiel (Oyelowo), Monk (Ortiz), Mundy (O’Dowd), Volkov (Hennie) ad Tam (Zhang).

While performing their experiment something goes wrong and the crew finds their ship in the middle of nowhere in space, the Earth gone, what happened, the team must work together to keep the ship active before even considering looking for home and things only get more confusing when Jensen (Debicki) appears on the ship claiming to be part of the team.

 

Thoughts on The Cloverfield Paradox

 

Characters – Hamilton seems to be one of our main characters, because we follow her on Earth as she debates whether to be part of the mission, so she can save her family from the crisis on Earth, on board the ship we see how her first and most important thing to follow is communicating with her family. Kiel is the Commander on this mission, he knows how each member of the team can be used to get through the problems. Schmidt is the man behind the science, it has been his ideas which are being put into practice in the experiment. Monk is the medical officer on the ship, he faces the scientific decisions. Mundy is the engineer on board, he can fix any problem as fast becomes the funniest member of the crew. Volkov is the member of the team which easily gets hot headed through the situations the crew themselves in. Tam is a crucial part of the team when it comes to knowing the operations behind the experiment. Jensen appears on the ship after the experiment goes wrong, she seems to be part of the team, but no one else knows who she is. She knows the operations the crew want to follow too.

PerformancesThis has a star studded multi-cultured set of actors, this helps show us how the world is united with this plan. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is good in this leading role, her character is the only one that does seem to show any life outside of the mission though. Daniel Bruhl and David Oyelowo are two top performers and they both give us the good performances we expect. Chris O’Dowd nearly steals the movie, his characters wit mixed with his delivery helps the movie have moments of light-hearted humour. Elizabeth Debicki is good too but I do feel like we don’t get enough from the talents of Aksel Hennie and Ziyi Zhang.

StoryThe story follows an experiment to try and solve the problems the Earth is facing with energy supplies, the idea takes us into a scientific discussion about what would happen if scientists accidently ended up in an alternative dimension. We have characters that are smart in space, which follows the same lines as ‘Life’ and ‘Sunshine’ as they do come together to try to solve the problem over just panicking. This does tie into the previous films nicely too, which is just what we wanted to see.

Horror/Mystery/Sci-fiThis film doesn’t reach the horror element level it could have, but the mystery side of the film covers this weakness, the sci-fi side of things do offer big questions about where things could be going.

SettingsThe film uses two major settings, the first and best is the space station which is highlight of the film because every time we jump to Earth, it seems to slow up the pace of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are flawless through the film, the space moments are wonderful and an incident with an arm is great.


Scene of the Movie –
Found the worms

That Moment That Annoyed Me Returning to Earth gets frustrating.

Final ThoughtsThis is a smart sci-fi film that throws up the questions about what could go wrong with an experiment that could help save the Earth. This does fit into the universe created with the Cloverfield movies too.

 

Overall: Hugely entertaining sci-fi thriller.

Rating

 

 

Black Mirror – Season 3 Episode 4 – San Junipero

san-junDirector: Owen Harris

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mackenzie Davis, Denise Burse, Raymond McAnally, Gavin Stenhouse

 

Plot: In a seaside town in 1987, a shy young woman and an outgoing party girl strike up a powerful bond that seems to defy the laws of space and time.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burning Brilliance

 

Story: San Junipero starts as we follow quiet girl Yorkie (Davis) who is having a night out at the arcade where everyone hangs out in 1987. When party girl Kelly (Mbatha-Raw) stumbles into her they start a conversation as they are from worlds apart.

One week later the two meet again and it becomes apparent that Kelly is different to the rest of the woman in the town of San Junipero. We see how the two get involved in a wild night as Yorkie returns searching for Kelly week after week, year after year without any success. The story takes a dramatic twist when we learn that this San Junipero is a place where sick and elderly can re-live their youths for a limited time.

San Junipero is one that I struggled to enjoy the first part of the film as I really didn’t know where the story was going but once you look back at everything in the story this is right up there with the best in the series. The final outcome of this story is both amazing and heart-breaking because of the story of endless love and potential but we never know where people really have come from before we meet them.


Overall: While I found it very slow I loved how the final outcome really came around.

Rating90