ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – W – Why Him? (2016)

Director: John Hamburg

Writer: John Hamburg, Ian Helfer (Screenplay) Jonah Hill, John Hamburg, Ian Helfer (Story)

Starring: Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Zoey Deutch, Cedric the Entertainer, Megan Mullally, Zack Pearlman

 

Plot: A holiday gathering threatens to go off the rails when Ned Fleming realizes that his daughter’s Silicon Valley millionaire boyfriend is about to pop the question.


Tagline – Of all the guys his daughter could have chosen…

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wasted Talent

 

Story: Why Him? Starts when Stephanie (Deutch) arranges to let her Silicon Valley millionaire boyfriend Laird (Franco) to her family, with her hard-working businessman father Ned (Cranston), accepting mother Bard (Mullally) and teenage brother Scotty (Gluck).

When they meet, Ned takes an instant dislike towards Laird as he must spend the Christmas holiday trying to spin him around while the hate towards him only grows.

 

Thoughts on Why Him?

 

Characters – Ned has worked his whole career to in the printing business, raised two children with his wife and hasn’t been able to fully embrace the modern technology world. He has always wanted to protect his daughter and now he takes an instant dislike to her new boyfriend, who is from a new technology heavy world. Laird is the Silicon Valley millionaire that has made his fortune on technology living in a mansion, he is loud and constantly swearing and never coming off as a likeable person. Stephanie is the daughter that has been dating Laird and now she must finally let her family meet him, she wants the best for her future dealing with a future that is wide open and following her father’s guidance. Sadly, the characters in this film focus solely on how Ned and Laird relationship goes, making the daughter/girlfriend and wife just the ones dealing with he men having their own battles.

PerformancesBryan Cranston is completely wasted in this film, we know he can nail old man comedy with his Malcolm in the Middle father character which was brilliant, this just puts him in a terrible position to react over anything he needs to. James Franco can play the weird character with ease, there is no doubt about this, this felt like an old routine which does get old quickly though. The female stars are basically wasted with their own acting being reacting to the guys behaviour.

StoryThe story follows the old favourite of a father not liking his daughter’s boyfriend, this is one of the easiest forms of comedy and the story has always worked, for the heart of the story things are solid enough, the idea that we have old school verses technology works too, the weaknesses come from just going too far with the joke which mostly become lazy extended scenes which take away from the heart. If the story had stayed on focus with the heart that could have been important because of character development for the Laird character.

ComedyMost of the jokes in the film are lazy sex driven ones that would never come up in a conversation, this does have couple of clever moments of humour which do work though.

SettingsThe film is set in the Silicon Valley which does show us clash of cultures the two generations come from.


Scene of the Movie –
Evasive Parkour

That Moment That Annoyed Me 10 Minutes of Bryan Cranston on a toilet trying to figure out how to wipe his arse.

Final ThoughtsThis is a grossed-out comedy that misses most of the jokes and wasted the talent by missing the heart of the story which should have been more front and centre.

 

Overall: Lazy comedy that doesn’t reach it’s potential.

Rating

 

 

The Vault (2017)

Director: Dan Bush

Writer: Dan Bush, Conal Byrne (Screenplay)

Starring: James Franco, Scott Haze, Taryn Manning, Francesca Eastwood, Q’Oiranka Kilcher, Jeff Gum, Clifton Collins Jr

 

Plot: Two estranged sisters are forced to rob a bank in order to save their brother. But this is no ordinary bank.


Tagline – No one is safe.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strangely Disappointing

 

Story: The Vault starts as three siblings Michael (Haze), Vee (Manning) and Leah (Eastwood) put together their team to get what seems like a perfect bank robbery done, to solve Michael’s personal problem. With the hostages locked up and the alarms dealt with things look like they are going smoothly, then they open the vault to discovery next to no money.

Assistant manager Ed Maas (Franco) offer to help get into the old vault, but this is where the terror begins because this bank has a history one, none of the robbers were prepared for.

 

Thoughts on The Vault

 

Characters – Vee is the fiery short tempered of the siblings, she will get the rest of the robbers in more trouble, this is a front to her own insecurity. Leah is the leader of the robbers, the calmer of the group that doesn’t go over the limits, until she does and we lose any support for this character, the one we are meant to be following. Michael is the brother who has gotten himself into trouble and needs the money to fix the problem, he wants to no one hurt mentality and seems to be the only good one of the group. Ed Maas is a man that was one of the hostages that offers to get the money for the robbers.

PerformancesThe cast here is confusing, because James Franco is fine, but completely looks out of place in this movie. When we see the sister performers which does work well together as you feel the strained relationship between them.

StoryThe story is a bank robbery gone wrong, when are they not right? This time it goes wrong when it turns out the location the bank is haunted and now the spirits have returned. This could work for the most part but in the end it doesn’t deliver on the level it could do, mostly because we don’t seem to support anyone because they don’t dive into what Michael has done to need money, the two sisters both come off twisted and evil and the horror side is almost unwatchable.

HorrorThis movie uses the horror to put a twist on the heist idea in the story, the horror side of the film is difficult to watch though as everything comes off just too dark.

SettingsThe film is set inside the bank which keeps the story contained for where the events could go.

Special EffectsThe effects are fine, we only get to see them used sparely which is nice to see when it comes to the horrors.


Scene of the Movie –
Final twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many difficult moments that don’t add up.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappointing horror that doesn’t scare us in anyway and has a complete by the book heist movie.

 

Overall: Lacklustre movie.

Rating

 

 

Tommy Lee Jones Weekend – In the Valley of Elah (2007)

Director: Paul Haggis

Writer: Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Mark Boal, Paul Haggis (Story)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon, James Franco, Barry Corbin, Josh Brolin

 

Plot: A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son’s disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.


Tagline – Sometimes The Truth Is Best Left Buried

Runtime: 2 Hour 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Slowly Driven Thriller

 

Story: In the Valley of Elah starts when retired military investigator Hank Deerfield (Jones) receives a phone call informing him his son Mike (Tucker) has gone AWOL which leads him to head to the base to investigate the motives and hopefully find his son before it turns into a criminal case. Hank turns to the local police and detective Emily Sanders (Theron) for help, but derestriction causes the problems.

When Mike’s body is discovered the military want to keep things quiet, but Hank isn’t accepting the answers given to him, working with Emily the two investigate what really happened to Mike and the truth will leave us shocked.

 

Thoughts on In the Valley of Elah

 

Characters – Hank is a retired military investigator, he has lost one son in war and no his second has gone missing, he goes to solve the case using his years of experience to get to the bottom of the case. He is from an older school of military with a determination unlike what people are prepared for. Detective Emily Sanders is used to getting dead end cases, but she does care about the people who are in need of help, she listens to Hank’s ideas and takes lead on the case having to face the truths of not being able to help everybody. Joan is the wife of Hank and mother of Mike, she stays home while Hank tries to solve the case where we learn about the struggles she has faced with dealing with the boys she let go into war.

PerformancesTommy Lee Jones shines in this role, he carries the film with a performance that is up there with his very best. Charlize Theron is also strong in the supporting role showing she can step away from glamourous roles with ease. Susan Sarandon is good as the supporting role which we are used to seeing from her. The whole cast is great throughout the film never giving too much away.

StoryThe story starts off as if it was a simple missing persons case, but it soon turns into a murder with conspiracies about what could have happened on that night of his death. we are never driven down one path and the crime takes time to unfold which makes this a fascinating watch as we see things unfold like Hank. The other side of the story remains how parents must deal with losing children who are in the military.

Crime/MysteryThe crime starts as a missing person and soon turns into a murder that needs to be solved with the conspiracies about who could have committed the murder.

SettingsThe settings show us the town next to a military base and how it operates, it keeps everything simple which is what the story calls for.


Scene of the Movie –
Final piece of the puzzle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I didn’t get annoyed by a single moment of this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an amazing crime mystery thriller, it keeps the pace perfect to not give too much away and tackles the idea of the modern horrors of war.

 

Overall: Must watch for crime mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Spiderman 3 (2007)

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Alvin Sargent (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (Comic Book)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Toper Grace, Bryce Dallas Holland

 

Plot: A strange black entity from another world bonds with Peter Parker and causes inner turmoil as he contends with new villains, temptations, and revenge.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Ending to Trilogy

 

Story: Spider-Man 3 starts as Peter Parker (Maguire) now living with Mary Jane (Dunst) with the whole city loving the Spider-Man which leaves Peter on top of the world, but Mary Jane is struggling to fit in after a string of poor reviews on her performing. Meanwhile Flint Marko (Church) the man that killed Uncle Ben has escaped prison as he looks to make amends for his errors finds himself in the middle of an experiment that turns him into the sandman.

Peter has plenty of life questions to find answers in for through the film because he wants to ask Mary Jane to marry him, faces competition from Eddie Brock (Grace) trying to take his job at the newspaper and Harry (Franco) trying to get his revenge loses his memory leading to the friendship to become fresh.

What Peter doesn’t know is there is a creature from space known as Venom starts attaching itself to Peter, giving Spiderman a darker side the Peter must learn how to fight off to remain the hero the city knows and loves, once this is done Eddie becomes Venom figure.

 

Thoughts on Spider-Man 3

 

Characters – Peter is in the happiest part of his life, he is with Mary Jane, Spiderman is loved by the city and Harry has forgotten the vengeance he holds towards Peter. When Peter starts seeing his life come tumbling down around him once he gets infected by Venom he will face is toughest battle yet. Mary Jane has finally made it to the big stage but is being critically panned and without Peter’s support goes back to Harry, this is starting to become a one-dimensional character. Harry has been waiting for his chance to take out Peter but after it fails forgets his hate towards him until his memories return. Eddie Brock is a new rival photographer that wants to put Peter out of business but soon we learn the truth about him. Flint Marko is the man that really killed Uncle Ben and once he escapes from prison looks to make amends for his failures to his daughter but with new powers that make Peter need to fight him off. Gwen Stacy is a new love interest that could bring an end to Mary Jane and Peter.

PerformancesTobey Maguire doesn’t give as strong of a performance after the first two films but when you look at the reactions to everything Peter goes through you can see it in how he is acting. Kirsten Dunst does continue to slide in quality too but that is because the character continues to be written weakly.  James Franco does get to show a bigger range but also doesn’t get enough time for his character development to show his full talent. Thomas Haden Church does a good job here showing the pain his character feels through the film. Topher Grace does feel out of place at times in this film, he starts strong but slowly fades by the end.

StoryThe Peter Parker story arc is once again the most interesting part of the film as we see how he must face his own flaws to stop the problems in his life, he must learn the ups and downs of his actions.  The new enemies tests Spiderman to the next level as Sandman gives him a moral compass he needs to face while Venom shows who he could have become if he takes the wrong path but the battles are standard for the genre.

Action/AdventureThe action set pieces are bigger but are also fewer in number which makes them feel rewarding when we see the showdown.

SettingsWe do thankfully stay in New York for the setting which helps us show how the city has gotten used to the idea of Spiderman being there now.

Special EffectsThe effects were the most ambitious of the franchise, the Sandman was always going to be CGI and it does look weak now. When things are practical they work otherwise the weakness are clear.

Scene of the Movie – Sandman creation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I wasn’t a fan of the CGI

Final ThoughtsThis is the most panned of the Spiderman films but I feel it is a fitting ending to the trilogy, yes, it is weaker but the truth is, that it is being ambitious with the villains Peter must take on and reflects the problems he would face if someone he loved knew the truth.

 

Overall: Good ending to the trilogy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Spiderman 2 (2004)

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Michael Chabon, Alvin Sargent (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (Comic Book)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons

 

Plot: Peter Parker is beset with troubles in his failing personal life as he battles a brilliant scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun

 

Story: Spider-Man 2 starts with the beautiful opening credits that recap what happened in the first film, before we follow Peter Parker (Maguire) in his new roles as a pizza delivery boy. Peter is still struggling to be on time for the important moments of his life including college, times for being there for Mary Jane (Dunst) and Harry (Franco) who is still holding the grudge against Spiderman.

Harry now running Oscorp where he has Dr Otto Octavius (Molina) working on fusion energy technology but when an accident happens Otto becomes Doc Ock, who has 4 extra arms that control him as they take over the city.

 

Thoughts on Spider-Man 2

 

Characters – Peter Parker still finds himself running late to his important matters but he still finds time to fight crime even though Spiderman has become hated by his best friend. He must deal with his life crashing down around him now, his best friend hates his loyalty to Spiderman, Mary Jane has moved on and his powers are draining. He must overcome the difficult moments in life to defeat his latest enemy. Mary Jane has moved on from Peter and Harry but deep down she does still love Peter. Dr Otto Octavius does believe he can help change the world for the better but when he loses his love and becomes controlled by Doc Ock he wreaks havoc on the city.

PerformanceTobey Maguire once again brings us a performance worthy of leading any movie showing us in the early 2000’s he was one of the best in the industry. Kirsten Dunst is good enough but once again falls into the damsel in distress role taking away the talent we know she has. Alfred Molina is great as the villain here, he is filled with the emotionless actions but also feeling like he is smarter than everyone else in the film. James Franco is good but we are continuing to build his character up.

StoryThe story has two main parts, the first is looking at Peter Parker trying to balance his normal life or education, love and friendship with being Spiderman, giving himself the decision on whether to give up the Spiderman side of his life to be a better man or not. We also have a villain on the loose that wants to continue his experiments which could destroy the whole city. The conflict is strong through the story as having a superhero question his part in the battle which gives s edge of your seat viewing.

Action/AdventureThee action is toned down in places when you look at the number of sequences but the reality is they are much bigger sequences throughout the film that have increased peril for Spiderman to fight.

SettingsWe stay in New York which was always key to making this film the enjoyable experience we know it was going to be.

Special EffectsSeemingly remaining with practical effects with editing around them, this film does seem to feel like we are in a real-world city with real superheroes battling.

Scene of the Movie – Train sequence

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel we need to start making Mary Jane stronger.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great continuation of the Spiderman evolution that was needed to keep things feeling fresh in the genre.

 

Overall: Enjoyable continuing Spiderman films

Rating