ABC Film Challenge – Action – W – Welcome to the Jungle (2003)

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: R.J. Stewart, James Vanderbilt (Screenplay)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries

 

Plot: A tough aspiring chef is hired to bring home a mobster’s son from the Amazon but becomes involved in the fight against an oppressive town operator and the search for a legendary treasure.


Tagline – Bulls, guns, whips, gold and one sacred cat

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Blast!

 

Story: Welcome to the Jungle starts as we meet debt collecting enforcer Beck (Johnson) that is working to get buy his own restaurant. Getting pushed to his limits he gets offered one last job, he must travel to the Amazon to bring back his bosses son Travis (Scott) and his dream of chasing El Dorado.

In Brazil Beck finds Travis and believes this job is going to be easy until the owner of the land Hatcher (Walken) that wants the information Travis has in his head, which leads Travis and Beck needing to put their differences a side to make it out alive.

 

Thoughts on Welcome to the Jungle

 

Characters – Beck is a debt collector, he can find anyone and handles himself in a fight, being able to take on multiple enemies, he does want out of this world and dreams of having his own restaurant, he must do one final job which will put his outside his comfort zone and taking on an army forcing him to resort to guns, the weapon he doesn’t want to be using. Travis is the son of the boss that employees Beck, he has been treasure hunting in Brazil in the middle of a battle between ruler Hatcher and the rebels looking for freedom, he is wise cracking which has lead to him finding himself in trouble more often than not. Beck and Travis work well as they are different on many levels with their bickering offering the laughs, but they are both dreamers in their own way too. Mariana is the bar tender in the town, she keeps both sides in peace while watching as her town gets pushed around. Hatcher is the owner of the town, well he claims to be, he is working the residents into slavery searching for gold that he can make money, he will do anything to make his fortune.

PerformancesDwayne Johnson was still making his first few steps in movies with this role and you can see all the potential he had in the action genre, he shines like always in the fight sequences and while moments of his performance were still in need of work, you can see what he was working towards. Seann William Scott was fresh off the American Pie franchise and one of the hottest comical actors, this showed us that he knew the moments to go that little bit crazy and the moments to hold back, he does have great chemistry with Johnson too. Rosario Dawson is good in her role, but it does end up not being as strong of a character as it should have been while Christopher Walken enjoys his role as the villain, where he gets to break loose and have some fun.

StoryThe story here plays out like one we have seen before, an enforcer for a criminal wants to do one last job before leaving the business behind, only this time it will be the most dangerous one of his career. This is a by the book story it works and plays into the comedy needed between the lead two characters while also offering us the fish out of water routine for the organised professional. We have elements of a treasure hunt which are fun to watch too. It would be fair to say this story is an easy to follow film that gets the kicks it needs without being anything too complicated.

Action/Adventure/ComedyThe action plays into the hands of Dwayne Johnson’s talents, plenty of combat sequences and the use of weapons to increase the peril level, the adventure takes Beck out of his comfort zone to deal with the battle he is about to face. The comedy for the film comes from the bickering between Travis and Beck.

SettingsThe film takes place in Brazil for the most part, the Amazon to be more exact, this proves to be uncomfortable for Beck that is used to being in the cities, this adds comedy and unexpected moments to the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well, not needed often but the team creates good moments when needed.


Scene of the Movie –
Final showdown

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts are not subtitled, which is annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good fun action blast that puts Dwayne Johnson in the position of action hero, a position he will carry for years to come, it had good laughs throughout and action sequences that are fun to watch.

 

Overall: Action movie fans will enjoy this one.

Rating

 

 

Crime Thriller Weekend – Zodiac (2007)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: James Vanderbilt (Screenplay) Robert Graysmith (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch

 

Plot: In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.


Tagline – There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great But Too Long of a Thriller

 

Story: Zodiac starts as the infamous Zodiac killer strikes in San Francisco before demanding his code be printed in the newspaper, the Chronicle, where Paul Avery (Downey Jr) is getting the letters and works with cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) who has a knack for cracking codes. As the body count continues to grow Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo) and Inspector William Armstrong (Edwards) investigate the crimes as the people of San Francisco start to panic throughout the spree.

With time passing by Avery uses the press the play with the Zodiac, making David’s job difficult as it draws out all the people who want to be known as the Zodiac, while Robert becomes obsessed with cracking the codes being left in letters and solving the case.

 

Thoughts on Zodiac

 

Characters – When looking at the characters you must remember these are based on real people, Robert Graysmith is a cartoonist working for the Chronicle newspaper that becomes obsessed with cracking the Zodiac codes while working with writer Paul Avery. Paul Avery is the writer at the Chronicle that is receiving the letters from the Zodiac killer, he is willing to take a risk to get the story and potentially making himself famous. Inspector David Toschi is the lead investigator working on the Zodiac case, he must overcome derestriction nightmares while tracking any clues, suspects or letters that come his way.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is brilliant in this leading role showing how a man out of his field can become a conspiracy driven man. Mark Ruffalo shows here that he will always be a shining light in an ensembled cast. Robert Downey Jr was always skilled enough to be a great character actor and this one started to show he could return to the top of the industry. The supporting cast through the film are also great with their roles.

StoryThe mystery of the Zodiac killer is one of the most famous unsolved serial killings in history. Most of the film follows Robert’s spiral into conspiracy theorist that is searching for the Zodiac killer, which does work and become the most interesting part of the film. the problem I am facing looking at this movie is that the first half seems to mix who the main character is trying to solve the case while the enjoyable part is all Robert and of course we don’t know the complete truth on these murders either.

Crime/Mystery/ThrillerThe crime is one of the most famous in modern history, one that is unsolved which does play into the mystery side to everything we are watching too.

SettingsThe timelines we follow give us authentic settings for everything as the film does span over two decades.


Scene of the Movie –
Robert’s face to face with a potential suspect.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film itself is too long.

Budget: $65 Million

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting look at one of the most interesting unsolved murder mysteries, it gives us a detailed look at three main men involved in investigating the crime all with different motives from different backgrounds.

 

Overall: Detailed but overly long look at the Zodiac case.

Rating

 

 

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

independenceDirector: Roland Emmerich

Writer: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Nicolas Wright, James A Woods, James Vanderbilt (Screenplay) Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Nicolas Wright, James A Woods (Story)

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T Usher, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Patrick St Espirt, Vivica A Fox

 

Plot: Two decades after the first Independence Day invasion, Earth is faced with a new extra-Solar threat. But will mankind’s new space defenses be enough?

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Horrendous

 

Story: Independence Day: Resurgence starts by taking us to a world 20 years after the first one where we have embraced and uses the alien technology. We then have to meet the returning faces and this will take a while because we have so many characters. David (Goldblum) who has spent the 20 years learning the technology preparing for a return, Dylan Hiller (Usher) yes this is a grown up version of Steve Hiller who is dead being an elite pilot who is best friends with Patricia Whitmore (Monroe) who works for President Lanford (Ward) while caring for her father the former President Whitmore (Pull) who is slightly paranoid now. Continuing the character introduction because there are this many we have bad boy Jake Morrison (Hemsworth) who is stuck on the moon, we also have a string of other characters who are easily forgettable.

When we move into the actual story the humans are now in a position in which they believe they can defend the Earth from any alien invasion but when a strange orb turns up, an attack on that brings the aliens back to finish the harvest of the planet and the humans must face off against the aliens once more but this time the old tricks no longer work on the aliens who have wised up.

Independence Day: Resurgence is the sequel to the hugely popular 90s movie and tries to follow in the reboot sequel trend we have been getting later. The problems for this story start very early, we have way to many character to either catch up on as well as a host of new ones to introduce us too. We get the aliens returning more prepared and the usual battle to save Earth. We have pointless sacrifice of characters whose death are non-actual sacrifices. The story comes off very boring as we jump between too many characters that we don’t actually care about now.

 

Actor Review

 

Liam Hemsworth: Jake Morrison is the bad boy soldier that is stuck on the moon, he has caused an accident with Dylan which has left him on the moon while his fiancée Patricia is back on Earth. He is the closest to a Will Smith we get. Liam is no 90s Will Smith, hell I was more entertained by his brother in the Ghostbusters Trailer.

Jeff Goldblum: David Levinson is back studying alien technology which he has worked on to help defend Earth. He finally gets a chance to get into an African Warlords base who have never let any outside world enter their base. Much like the first one we get to see David to try and be the voice of reason in any decision. Jeff should have just stayed away from this one because the character just ends up being a boring scientist losing what made him fun.

Jessie T Usher: Dylan Hiller is the stepson of Steven Hiller the Will Smith character who has followed in his step-father’s footsteps becoming a fighter pilot. He leads the attack back against the aliens putting aside his differences with Jim. Jessie is no 90s Will Smith and feels like just a background characters considering he is meant to be a leading man.

Bill Pullman: President Whitmore is struggling with his nightmares from his connection he had with the aliens. He knows something bad is coming but no one wants to believe him but can he finally get through to the people. Bill has the most interesting character in the film but doesn’t get enough screen time.

Support Cast: Independence Day: Resurgence has a huge supporting cast who are a mix of returning characters and new who all don’t get enough screen time because there are just so many to remember what is going on.

Director Review: Roland EmmerichRoland seems to have lost the fun aspect the first film had which turns this into an overcomplicated mess.

 

Action: Independence Day: Resurgence has plenty of mindless action going on throughout making it almost impossible to know what is going on.

Adventure: Independence Day: Resurgence, no it is not an adventure film.

Sci-Fi: Independence Day: Resurgence has the alien invasion and alien technology going on to which we have no embraced.

Settings: Independence Day: Resurgence moves onto the moon for parts of the film but I found myself confused that the world rebuilt the same landmarks over homes first.
Special Effects
: Independence Day: Resurgence has the special effects that are nearly all CGI which doesn’t help because the first has a few practical effects we could relate to.

Suggestion: Independence Day: Resurgence is one to just miss it really is a mess. (Skip Avoid Run)

 

Best Part: UMMMMMMMMM

Worst Part: Too many characters.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Left open for one.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: NO WAY

Budget: $165 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours

Tagline: They want only one thing . . . DESTRUCTION!

 

Overall: Terrible mess really.

Ratingcard

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Halloween Midnight Horror – Darkness Falls (2003)

logoDirector: Jonathan Liebesman

Writer: John Fasano, James Vanderbilt, Joe Harris (Screenplay) Joe Harris (Story)

Starring: Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie, Grant Piro, Sullivan Stapleton, Steve Mouzakis, Peter Curtin, Kestie Morassi, Jenny Lovell, Joshua Anderson, Emily Browning

 

Plot: A vengeful spirit has taken the form of the Tooth Fairy to exact vengeance on the town that lynched her 150 years earlier. Her only opposition is the only child, now grown up, who has survived her before.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Short but Sweet

 

Story: Darkness Falls starts by explaining the legend of Matilda Dixon who was a loved member of the town who used to give coins to the children of the town after they lose their teeth gaining her the nickname ‘The Tooth Fairy’. After a fire she became disfigured but the town burns her when two children don’t come home, she puts curses on the town and after the children are found safe the town of Darkness Falls buries the secret. Matilda curse reads ‘What I took before in kindness, I will take forever in revenge’.

We see young Kyle (Anderson) lose his final baby tooth he does what every kid does and puts it under his pillow but when he gets suddenly awaken by the noise of the Tooth Fairy he catches a glimpse at her. Kyle’s life is going to change forever when the Tooth Fairy kills his mother but can’t get to him because of the light.

12 years later we get to meet a grown up version of Kyle’s school sweetheart Caitlin (Caulfield) whose own little brother Michael (Cormie) is struggling with the same problem hiding in the light. Caitlin reaches out to Kyle (Kley) who she hasn’t seen since the night out his mother’s death trying to find answers. Kyle decides to return to Darkness Falls to help even if he hasn’t got over the problem. When a local gets killed by the Tooth Fairy the town turns on Kyle framing him for the murder. Caitlin must team up with Kyle to save her brother and end the curse once and for all.

Darkness Falls is a horror film that builds on legend that children are led to believe and turns it dark, we all know the idea of the tooth fairy coming to take teeth in exchange for money and we all know it is all fake, but add in an urban legend you do actually get a frightening idea. I can’t help but want to compare this to ‘The Boogeyman’ having very similar storyline and yes I know this came out first. I feel this has good moments but I don’t quite understand how the Tooth Fairy suddenly went on a murderous rampage because she starts out slowly stalking the prey but suddenly just bursts into room to kill as many people as possible. I also feel the film is too short but then again because it is short it never seems to want to let you take a breath. This is one the horror fans will enjoy but don’t expect too much from it. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Chaney Kley: Kyle Walsh is the traumatised young man who has been frightened of the dark for most of his life after seeing the Tooth Fairy at a young age. He returns to the town to help his childhood sweethearts little brother and to face his demon ending the curse once and for all. Chaney does a solid job but I can’t help but think he is a cheaper Ryan Reynolds. (6/10)

 kyle

Emma Caulfield: Caitlin Greene is the former sweetheart of Kyle whose younger brother is now being haunted by the Tooth Fairy, she reconnects with Kyle hoping to get the answers. Emma does a solid job but never really gets enough time to do much in the film. (5/10)

 

Lee Cormie: Michael Greene is the one boy being haunted by the Tooth Fairy that Kyle has returned to town to help. Lee does gives us a terrified child performance which works very well in the film. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: Darkness Falls has a supporting cast that really is all disposable characters that don’t really do much for the film.

 

Director Review: Jonathan Liebesman – Jonathan does give us a very standard horror that doesn’t give too much new to the genre. (6/10)

 

Horror: Darkness Falls has plenty of easy jump scares but doesn’t build the tension is needed. (5/10)

Thriller: Darkness Falls doesn’t let you go from the first return and keeps things going at a steady pace throughout. (7/10)

Settings: Darkness Falls uses the small isolated town for the story which works to make the urban legend become more realistic. (7/10)
Special Effects
: Darkness Falls has good effects for the tooth fairy creation. (8/10)

Suggestion: Darkness Falls is one for the horror fans to enjoy but just enjoy don’t expect too much. (Horror Fans Try)

 

Best Part: Urban legend turned dark is nice touch.

Worst Part: Too short.

Scariest Scene: Opening sequence.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: The Boogeyman

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $47.5 Million

Budget: $11 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

Tagline: Stay In The Light!

Trivia: The closing credits run for 11 minutes. This is because without the extra time, the movie would have been considered too short to release theatrically.

 

Overall: Darkness Falls is a solid horror that has good jump scares that will keep the popcorn fans happy but won’t satisfy the true horror fans.

Rating 60

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

logoDirector: Marc Webb

Writer: Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, Jeff Pinkner, James Vanderbilt (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (Marvel Comic Book)

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Embeth Davidtz, Campbell Scott

 

Plot: We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important conflict has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that his greatest battle is about to begin. It’s great to be Spider-Man. For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen. But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro, Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn, returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.

 

Verdict: Spider-Man Growing Up

 

Story: This follows up from the first one so we have to remember unlike the Avengers and Dark Knight we are dealing with a teenage superhero. He has different problems like whether he wants a girlfriend or whether to go to college, you know the serious stuff. We have him putting out all the cheesy lines against the person he fights not taking anything seriously. While Peter is trying to figure out what his life holds next, the people against him start their own stories. We have the generic loner scientist who ends up having an accident, gaining powers and using them for evil, been there seen that in every Spider-man film. We also have the Harry Osborn who wants Spider-Man’s blood to cure his sickness and when he can’t have it he goes on a rampage against Spider-Man. It would be fair this is a slow moving film and it really is building up for the next chapter. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Andrew Garfield: Spider-Man/Peter Parker while trying to figure out what to do with his life he carries on fighting crime, he has to decide whether to keep with his girlfriend when her father’s dying wish was to leave her so she couldn’t get caught up in trouble. He does ends up having to face the biggest battle of his life after his battles with Electro and Green Goblin. Good performance in a character that develops as the film unfolds. (8/10)

 spide

Emma Stone: Gwen Stacy ambitious girlfriend of Peter, who wants to excel in her studies and gets that chance to but with Peter in her life she will always be in danger. Good supporting performance, but I always find relationships for superheroes only get in the way and annoy. (7/10)

emma

Jamie Foxx: Electro lonely scientist who has helped the city design a better power source. He feels like everyone is against him but when Spider-Man saves him he gets a boost of confidence. Just when things look good for Max he ends up having an accident at work and turning into Electro, who starts off just wanting help but when he feels betrayed by Spider-Man he wants to take out the web-slinger and the city. Good performance playing a very difficult character that really looks the part. (8/10)

 eletrco

Dane DeHaan: Green Goblin/Harry Osborn an old friend of Peter who wants him to find Spider-Man so he can use his blood to cure his terminal illness. After both Peter and Spider-Man refuse for safety reason he finds out his company secretly has some stored away and he uses it and becomes the Green Goblin out to stop Spider-Man. Good performance from the always solid Dane. (8/10)

harry

Director Review: Marc Webb – Great direction creating a story that really is building to something bigger, creating some very memorable fight scenes and a villain in Electro like nothing we have seen before. (8/10)

 

Action: When the action happens it is all very good, with some great camera spinning shots of Spider-Man in battle. (8/10)

Superhero: A solid entry in the superhero genre. (8/10)

Settings: New York makes a great setting because without all the building Spider-Man couldn’t swing as much. (9/10)
Special Effects
: Great special effects used throughout the film. (10/10)

Suggestion: This must be watch by all the superhero fans out there, it is creating a big picture without having to use separate films to add to one of franchise. (Superhero Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Spider-Man battles Electro round two.

Worst Part: It does start slow, nearly an hour before we meet Electro.

Action Scene Of The Film: The final battles

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has one planned

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $708 Million

Budget: $200 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 22 Minutes

Tagline: His greatest battle begins

 

Overall: Solid Addition to Spider-Man Franchise

Rating 76