Ron Perlman Weekend – The Book of Life (2014)

Director: Jorge R Gutierrez

Writer: Jorge R Gutierrez, Doug Landgale (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube

 

Plot: Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical

 

Story: The Book of Life starts with a school trip being told the story of two Gods Xibalba and La Muerta making a wager to see who gets to rule the land of the living and the land of the dead, their bet follows two young Mexican boys Manolo and Joaquin betting on who will marry Maria.

Manolo is from a bullfighting family and wants to be a musician, while Joaquin becomes General known for fighting off bandits. When everything gets out of hand in the battle between Manolo and Joaquin, Manolo ends up in the land of the dead to save Maria.

 

Thoughts on The Book of Life

 

Characters – Manolo is from a family of bullfighters, he is expected to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps even though he dreams of being a musician. He is part of the bet, he has the better heart trying to win her heart through music, he travels through three worlds to win her heart. Joaquin is the brave fighter, he has been selected by the evil to win Maria’s heart given the medal of everlasting life meaning he can’t die, this adds to his confidence he possesses. Maria is the woman the two are fighting over, she is independent as they come willing to lead her people without needing a husband by her side.

StoryThe story does seem to follow what we saw in Coco in places, this one did come first. We have the central character of Manolo that is expected to follow on path not allowing him to follow his own dream of music. We have the travel through the land of the living, the dead and the forgotten. Where we go to be different is by including Gods that can make a bet to keep them entertained. This story does feel magical from start to finish.

Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/MusicalThe adventure that Manolo goes on is wonderful to see through the different lands of Mexican culture, this does have good comedy going on through the whole film mostly from the side characters. The fantasy world of the land of the dead and forgotten look beautiful to be travelling through. The songs are delightful to listen to even if some are remixes of famous songs.

SettingsThe settings takes us to Mexico, as we follow the culture of the land, both past and present.

AnimationThe animation looks fantastic, different and what we are used to seeing too, the colours stand out and the different lands have a unique look.


Scene of the Movie –
Forgive song.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I had just watched Coco a few weeks again and knowing that movie just stole most of the ideas annoys me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a magical animation that leaves you with a happy thought about what you have just seen.

 

Overall: Magical and beautiful.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Anaconda (1997)

Director: Luis Llosa

Writer: Hans Bauer, Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr (Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde, Owen Wilson, Kari Wuhrer

 

Plot: A “National Geographic” film crew is taken hostage by an insane hunter, who takes them along on his quest to capture the world’s largest – and deadliest – snake.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Creature Feature

 

Story: Anaconda starts as the National Geography team set off down the Amazon River deeper than anyone has filmed before, we have director Terri (Lopez), cameraman Danny (Cube), Host Warren (Hyde), production manager Denise (Wuhrer), Dr Cale (Stoltz) and Gary (Wilson). Travelling down the river the crew find a standard hunter Paul Serone (Voight) offering him a ride to the next village.

This is where they first clash, Dr Cale believes he knows how to find what they are looking for while Paul believes he knows best when searching for the tribe they are looking to film. when Serone’s motives become clear, he is hunting down the world’s largest Anaconda he makes the team help him which leaves them in a battle to survive against the deadly predator.

 

Thoughts on Anaconda

 

Characters/PerformanceTerri is the ambitious director about to get her big break, she is loyal to her cameraman and crew, she will never give up on her team even against Serone. Serone is a hunter who has spent his life hunting this anaconda, he doesn’t care how many people for him to get his prize. The rest of the characters a generic 101, the street smart black guy in Danny, the stuck up English presenter in Warren and the American know it all in Dr Cale.

Performance wise, Lopez is good enough in the leading role as we know most horror need a good strong leading lady. Jon Voight isn’t the best as we know this is an Oscar winning actor who is filled with funny looks throughout the film. The rest of the cast all do a solid job without being the scene stealers they could be.

StoryStories in this genre are always easy to put together, put a group of people in an unusual location and find an oversized creature to kill them one by one. This is easy to follow and never leaves much to the imagination and can be enjoyed by all the creature feature fans out there.

Action/Adventure/HorrorThe action is mostly down to them trying to escape or kill the anaconda nothing too fancy, the adventure does come going into the unknown down the Amazon river with the horror in the creature feature side of the film watching how the giant snake is trying to kill them.

SettingsI like the setting because it shows how dangerous the Amazon river and rain forest can be for anyone who dares goes deep enough into it.

Special EffectsSadly here is another one of the weak points, the CGI looks bad, I do know this film is 20 years old now but it just doesn’t ever look like it could be that good even back then.

Final ThoughtsIf you want a fun barmy creature feature, then look no further you have something big, bad and fun here.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but bad creature feature fun.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – XXX 2 The Next Level (2005)

casting card

 

Plot: Darius Stone, a new agent in the XXX program, is sent to Washington, DC to defuse a power struggle amongst national leaders.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Poor Sequel

 

Story: XXX 2: The Next Level starts as the NSA base with Agent Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) is stationed meaning they need to find themselves a new XXX that is deadlier than the previous one. The man they turn to is Lieutenant Darius Stone (Cube) who is currently behind bars.

When all the government start searching for Darius and Gibbons they find themselves hunted down by General Deckert (Dafoe) making this a personal situation after he takes down Gibbons. Darius must use all of his training to uncover the truth with Deckeret after him and Agent Steele (Speedman) not knowing what he is walking into.

XXX 2: The Next Level is a sequel to a standard action film only it doesn’t bring back the lead actor and has to find a quick excuse to fit a new hero into the film and suddenly they are all one unit of former soldiers and everything stays within the US. This doesn’t really achieve what the first film does and ends up just being a plain action film that story comes off flat.

 

Actor Review

 

Willem Dafoe: General George Deckert is our main bad guy this time, he is the sectary of Defence that is out to us the NSA project as a cover up for his master plan which means he has to take out all of his former men including Gibbons and Stone. Willem as a villain what a surprise there where he is just solid in this role.

Samuel L Jackson: Agent Augustus Gibbons has his base attacked leading him to find a new X agent where he turns to one of his old soldiers as we learn a lot more about the back story behind this character this time. Samuel is solid in this role but it feels like it could just have been pay check for him.

Ice Cube: Darius Stone is the new agent X he is a former soldier that has been locked up but after Gibbon breaks him out he puts all of his skills to use to uncover the truth as the battle comes to home ground in America. Ice doesn’t reach the levels of Vin as you never feel he could have been a soldier.

Scott Speedman: Agent Kyle Steele is the man investigating the attack on the NSA but as he learns more about the story he works himself with Darius to protect the nation. Scott is solid but doesn’t make that big of an impact in the story.

Support Cast: XXX 2: The Next Level much like the original has your typical supporting cast but I do feel this one does a larger range on the whole sidekick side of the story.

Director Review: Lee TamahoriLee gives us a sequel that doesn’t reach the levels of the original but having to fast track a new hero into the story didn’t help.

 

Action: XXX 2: The Next Level has very basic action being used throughout without being anything fresh.

Adventure: XXX 2: The Next Level lose the adventure side of the story which doesn’t help the ideas in the film.

Thriller: XXX 2: The Next Level should keep us on the edge but just doesn’t pull us in anymore.

Settings: XXX 2: The Next Level keeps all the action in America which doesn’t help the idea in the film because of the adventure angle.
Special Effects
: XXX 2: The Next Level has a few solid special effects but also a laughable effects.

Suggestion: XXX 2: The Next Level is one to most likely miss, it doesn’t add anything to the original and almost comes off as a parody of the first. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: No

Worst Part: Car on the train tracks.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Yes

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $87 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Tagline: The greatest threat to our nation comes from within.

 

Overall: Terrible sequel really.

Ratingcard

 

 

Ride Along (2014)

posterDirector: Tim Story

Writer: Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi (Screenplay) Greg Coolidge (Story)

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter, Bryan Callen, Laurence Fishburne, Dragos Bucur

 

Plot: Security guard Ben must prove himself to his girlfriend’s brother, top cop James. He rides along James on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Odd Couple Blah Comedy

 

Story: Ride Along starts by showing James Payton (Cube) on an undercover job trying to get information on Omar (Fishburne) but the job goes wrong he only busts one of his men. Next we meet Ben (Hart) a security guard who is dating Angela (Sumpter) sister of James. James’ case against Omar is falling apart because of his wild car chase. Ben finally gets a chance to join the Police academy giving him the chance to ask for the blessing to marry Angela. James offers to take Ben on a ride along so that Ben can prove himself.

James and Ben set off on their day together with tension already between them, with James disliking Ben and Ben wanting to prove himself. James takes the idea to turn the day into a training day to try and chase ben away from his sister, but sales it on putting a good word in at the academy. The odd couple comedy starts simple but soon ends up putting the two unlikely men’s life in danger as they try to uncover the truth about Omar.

Ride Along is one of those odd couple comedies that tries to go in a slightly different direction. We have seen new partners along with father and son ideas but goes with brother and potential brother in law. It plays to the simple comedy levels and the story tries not to turn into a spoof. It might use previously used ideas and made them comical but it does keep a serious side to the story. It lacks supporting characters so when it comes to the twist you can see it coming from the start. This story struggles to grab the full attention because certain comedy scenes go on too long. (6/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Ice Cube: James Payton tough cop who always breaks the rules and always wants to protect his sister from what he thinks is slacker who is not good enough for her. He takes Ben on a ride along to try and scare him off. Ice does a good job and you simply wouldn’t mess with him. (7/10)

 ice

Kevin Hart: Ben Barber security guard who wants to become a real cop and going on the ride along gives him a chance to experience the cop world along with trying to get to know James and get his permission to marry his sister. Kevin does a good job getting to show off his comic skills. (7/10)

hart

Support Cast: Ride Along doesn’t have a big supporting cast with most becoming very generic characters for the genre.

 

Director Review: Tim Story – Tim does a solid job creating this odd couple comedy but it does lack a few original laughs. (6/10)

 

Action: Ride Along doesn’t use the action as much as it should with only a couple of scenes that are all very generic. (5/10)

Comedy: Ride Along has odd couple comedy that has a few laugh out loud moments but mostly falls into chuckles. (7/10)

Settings: Ride Along uses generic cop settings to help the story unfold. (6/10)

Suggestion: Ride Along is one to try, if you are big on comedies this could appeal to you but otherwise people might struggle to enjoy this one. (Try It)

 

Best Part: Gun range

Worst Part: Hart’s comedy gets old quick with every scene being the same.

Funniest Scene: Gun range

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has one planned

Post Credits Scene: Has one early on.

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $154 Million

Budget: $25 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: Propose to this cop’s sister? Rookie mistake.

Trivia: Originally the movie intended for Dwayne Johnson to play James and Ryan Reynolds to play Ben.

 

Overall: Standard Odd Couple Comedy

Rating 60

Ghosts of Mars (2001)

logoDirector: John Carpenter

Writer: Larry Sulkis, John Carpenter (Screenplay)

Starring: Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Clea DuVall, Pam Grier, Joanna Cassidy, Richard Cetrone, Rosemary Forsyth, Liam Waite

 

Plot: Years in the future, a Martian police unit is sent to pick up a highly dangerous criminal at a remote mining post. Upon arrival, the cops find that the post has become a charnel house.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard Sci-fi Horror

 

Story: Ghosts of Mars starts by showing a ghost train returning from a mining community Lieutenant Melanie Ballard (Henstridge) is the only survivor from mission. Melanie is going to be telling us the story now, her story starts by showing us her team who are sent to pick up a prisoner. Her team comprises of Sgt Jericho Butler (Statham), Bashira Kincaid (DuVall), Commander Braddock (Grier) and Descanso (Waite), they have been sent to pick up Desolation Williams (Cube).

The small Martian community at Shinning Canyons is abandoned splitting up they look for answers. The teams both find remains of humans and the prisoners in their cells. Williams was arrested in suspicion of killing people the very same way the communities were found in. the community keeps throwing out surprises with people turning up out of nowhere and the Commander disappears.  It does appear the unit might not be completely alone but after Williams escapes they stay focused on trying to re-catch him, but they should be more worried about the other people that keep turning up out of nowhere, the very people who have become possessed by the ghosts of Mars.

The remaining people will have will have to team up with the prisoners to take on an army of possessed who will do horrific things to them if they get caught. We do end up learning of the origin of the possession.

Ghosts of Mars is a story be told which then has short stories being told which keeps happening over and over again, it turns into a giant game of Chinese whispers. Taking that point away we do end up with a very simple survival horror in space. We have the authority character who doesn’t always play by the rules teaming up with the criminal to survive and the old you can go this time moment. This is turning into a very generic sounding story and the truth is that is all it is. (5/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Natasha Henstridge: Lieutenant Melanie Ballard who is the lone survivor on the abandoned train, who is telling the story to her superiors, she has to take control of the situation while dealing with her own problems with addiction and becomes the reluctant hero of the story. Natasha does a solid job still holding onto her sci-fi fame at the time. (6/10)

 melanie

Ice Cube: Desolation Williams a criminal who the team is transferring, but when the circumstances change he has to team up with those same people to make it out alive. Ice does a solid job but showed he isn’t the power force Jason was going to becoming. (6/10)

cube

Jason Statham: Sgt Jericho Butler new cocky member of the team who can unlock anything as well as thinking he is god’s gift to woman. Jason does a good job in this supporting role showing that he was always going to be more of the star. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: Ghosts of Mars has a supporting cast that includes fellow soldiers, prisoners and a scientist who all help uncover what has happened, also let’s not forget about all the possessed people who are after them.

monsters

Director Review: John Carpenter – John doesn’t reach the levels you would expect from one of his films, we would be used to seeing a lot higher standard. (5/10)

 

Action: Ghosts of Mars has plenty of fights, mixing up the combat as the film unfolds. (8/10)

Horror: Ghosts of Mars doesn’t reach any solid levels of horror through the film. (3/10)

Sci-Fi: Ghosts of Mars enters into the sci-fi world well taking us to Mars for the story. (8/10)

Settings: Ghosts of Mars is set on Mars which makes for a good setting it also gives us an isolated setting. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Ghosts of Mars doesn’t end up using the best special effects. (5/10)

Suggestion: Ghosts of Mars is one for the die hard Carpenter fans to watch it might also be enjoyed by the sci-fi fans. (Sci-Fi Try)

 

Best Part: The Battles are good.

Worst Part: The talking is boring.

Action Scene Of The Film: The escape.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: It is left open for one, but it is unlikely to happen.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $14 Million

Budget: $28 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

Tagline: It’s their planet… we are the aliens.

Trivia: Jason Statham was originally hired to play James “Desolation” Williams, but was replaced by Ice Cube for star power.

 

Overall: Easy to watch, harder to enjoy

Rating 55