Vampires (1998)

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: Don Jakoby (Screenplay) John Steakley (Novel)

Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell

 

Plot: Recovering from an ambush that killed his entire team, a vengeful vampire slayer must retrieve an ancient Catholic relic that, should it be acquired by vampires, will allow them to walk in sunlight.


Tagline – They’ve been around for 600 years…and they’re very, VERY thirsty.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable addition to the vampire genre

 

Story: Vampires starts as Jack Crow (Woods) and his gang of vampire hunters including Anthony Montoya (Baldwin) as they clean out a nest of vampires only they can’t find the master. Celebrating the success of the day the gang party but when the Master Jan Valek (Griffith) arrives looking for revenge he kills every member of the team except Jack and Anthony while turning Katrina (Lee).

Jack ordered to rebuild the team, must first regroup before he goes against his orders with a new priest Father Guiteau (Guinee) using Katrina as bait to locate Jan Valek who is in search for a legendary relic that would allow Valek to walk in the sunlight.

 

Thoughts on Vampires

 

Characters – Jack Crow is the leader of the vampire hunters, he has been hunting them his whole life, training other to aid in his quest to kill them all. He is ruthless in his action not accepting excuse from any man, woman or priest. Anthony is the only other member of the team that makes it out of the attack, he is a trusted second to Jack but keeps a secret from him during this story. Katrina is the young lady that gets bitten by Valek, Crow uses her to find him while she must battle the turning process. Jan Valek is the ancient vampire that has been terrorising for centuries, he isn’t getting killed as easily as others and now he targets immortality in the day light.

PerformancesJames Woods is great in this leading role, he takes the aggression needed to make us believe the vampire hunter is doing the right thing also showing the loyalty required in his performance. Daniel Baldwin is good but not to the level of Woods while Sheryl Lee does make for a good sexy vampire figure. Thomas Ian Griffith does make for a great vampire villain too being imposing in every single scene.

StoryThe story follows the old school vampire hunters hunting vampires but this time the enemy is stronger than they have ever faced. This film does move away from the gothic tones of previous film and takes us into a realistic setting for our characters to do battle with the vampires. This does work for the story because we now need to see a new less traditional style to vampires even if the story follows the normal it is a fun watch.

Action/HorrorThe action comes with the battles with the vampires, it is bigger than normal for the genre and we get plenty action. The horror comes from how we see the vampires disposed of along with how powerful Valek is

SettingsThe western settings make this feel like a race against time for gunslingers to stop an outlaw, which is what the idea was going for.

Special EffectsThe effects all seem practical with the fire behind the sunlight being some of the most horrific in the vampire genre.


Scene of the Movie –
Valek’s revenge is bloody.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was slightly confusing why stakes were used when they didn’t kill.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very enjoyable modern take on the vampire genre, it adds action and realism to a traditional gothic style of film which on one hand works but the other hand could get people not enjoying it.

 

Overall: Vampire fans must watch.

Rating

 

 

Against All Odds (1984)

Director: Taylor Hackford

Writer:  Eric Hughes, Daniel Mainwaring (Screenplay)

Starring: Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges, James Woods, Alex Karras, Jane Greer, Richard Widmark

 

Plot: A gangster hires an ex-football player to find his girlfriend. When he finds her, they fall in love, and the twists start to appear.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Twisty Thriller

 

Story: Against All Odds starts as veteran American football Terry Brogan (Bridges) gets cu from his team, wanting to take legal action it is his former friend and gangster Jake Wise (Woods) that hires him to track down a woman Jessie Wyler (Ward) daughter of Terry’s former employer.

Terry ends up doing the job with both sides fighting to pay him to finds Jessie, Terry uses this as a chance for a paid vacation even after locating Jessie who he gets to spend time with and fall in love with. Soon not everything is as it seems and Terry finds himself needing to fight for his own life too.

 

Thoughts on Against All Odds

 

Characters/PerformanceTerry Brogan is a veteran American footballer, his career is about to be ended on the field due to injuries and after not saving money in his life, he finds himself with nothing. Terry finds himself needing to work for both Mrs Wyler and Jake Wise from different sides to locate Jessie but soon he finds himself in bigger trouble. Jessie is the daughter of the owner of the football team and former lover of Jake Wise, she has gone into hiding for her own reasons with Terry searching for her to hopefully return to the States. Jake is the gangster that has details on Terry which could ruin his legacy but offers him money to find Jessie for him.

Performance wise, Jeff Bridges is good as he always is through any film he steps into and shows that he was always going to be a big name, Rachel Ward is good but doesn’t reach the levels of Bridges and James Woods can always splay the creepy figure which is why we love him so.

StoryA former sports star needs money and takes a risky job for a shady figure to earn the money and not have his career exposed. This all seems like a simple enough story and one we can all follow nicely. We have twists along the way which try to put u in the wrong direction but otherwise everything is all simple enough to enjoy for an 80s style of film.

Action/Adventure/Crime/RomanceWhen we break down the genres we get plenty to go through but the reality is that because we focus on too many we don’t get a strong enough side to any of them with each part being the first part of the generic of any of them.

SettingsThe two main settings are LA which is the one we can all understand as being the glitz and glamour with the crimes taking place in while the Mexico setting shows us the calm before the storm.

Final ThoughtsThe 80s were a decade of films with unlikely heroes taking over the leading roles in action like films and this was no different, it can be enjoyed throughout the film.

 

Overall: Thriller that just says 80s all over it.   

Rating

 

 

Casino (1995)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese (Screenplay) Nicholas Pileggi (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, James Woods, Don Rickles, Alan King, Kevin Pollak

 

Plot: Greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia underboss and a casino owner, for a trophy wife over a gambling empire.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Long Crime Drama

 

Story: Casino starts as we see the rise of mobsters Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (De Niro) and Nicky Santoro (Pesci) two friends that get involved in the casino industry, Ace is the calm face of the operation keeping the casino in order with the money going to the people it needs to, Nicky does the dirty work beating down the people who go against the casino.

As Ace runs the casino smoothly along with his new wife Ginger (Stone), he keeps the casino clean making more money than he would with other the books work. Nicky continues to do the dirty work as he wants to make as much money as possible from the casinos but his methods brings in the attention of the authorities, getting himself banned from every casino in Vegas.

Over the time the two clash over business as Nicky style flashes the spotlight on Ace, leading to the two friends becoming strained and broken.

 

Thoughts on Casino

 

Characters/PerformanceAce is sent to Vegas to run the books through a casino for the mob, he keeps the business going well but when his friend Nicky interrupts the business, Ace finds himself needing to defend himself through the trial. Nicky is the hot head that joins the casino industry to keep an eye on Ace’s back but soon he finds himself trying to take over Vegas by force which leads to the problems between the two.

Performance wise, De Niro and Pesci both give great performance in what is easily their strengths the crime world, the rest of the cast do great jobs through the whole film.

StoryThe story does balance both the stories of Ace and Nicky but you can’t help but feel this is very long, the film is nearly 3 hours long and is a giant flashback because we see Ace killed in the opening scene. This is a crime story you feel we have seen before and it was nice to see the balance between the violent and the calm reasons for running the businesses.

CrimeWatching how the crime world is run from the calm front and the violent front does come off interesting in places but is slightly rinse repeat.

SettingsVegas always makes for a wonderful setting for a crime story because we all know the vices within the city through the 70s and 80s.

Final ThoughtsThis is too long for the story being told, yes the performances are good but it in the end the drawn out story feels forced throughout.

 

Overall: Long crime drama.

Rating

 

 

Videodrome (1983)

Director: David Cronenberg

Writer: David Cronenberg (Screenplay)

Starring: James Woods, Sonja Smits, Debbie Harry, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson, Jack Creley

 

Plot: A sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a very unusual fashion when he acquires a new kind of programming for his station.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Game Changing Movie

 

Story: Videodrome starts as we get to see cable TV President Max Renn (Woods) as he is looking for the next show for his network which will continue to push the boundaries for his audience. When Max learns from one of his technicians Harlan (Dvorsky) about an extreme torture show known as Videodrome.

Becoming obsessed with Videodrome he shows his new flame, radio presenter Nicki Brand (Harry) who wants to become a contestant on the show but just what is the marketing for this show, is it real or is it well staged?

Diving into the truth of Videodrome we see how Max starts to question his own reality when he starts hallucinating which leads him to find the truth through Bianca O’Blivion (Smits) in what is one of the most shocking outcomes you could imagine.  

 

Thoughts on Videodrome

 

Characters/PerformanceMax Renn is the typical president of a television network, he is always looking for the next show which could give his network the spike they require. He quickly becomes obsessed with learning the truth about Videodrome only to be sucked into the world it has created. Bianca is one of the potential people behind Videodrome while Nicki is a love interest that wants to be on Videodrome.

Performance wise, James Woods was brilliant in this leading role easily become the star of the show with the rest of the cast all doing good jobs throughout.

StoryThe story is one that is well before its time, when you look back now and see how people wanted to find the next level of television shows like we do now this offers up a look at just how far things could go. This story does have plenty of mystery about where everything could end up going and does have moments that make you react as simple as what the hell is going on but they are all worth it when it comes to the final outcome.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror in this film is filled around the gore effects going on and Max questioning just what is going on. The sci-fi world created shows us an extreme level of where television shows could go.

SettingsThe settings are not the most impactful but do all work for where the story goes.

Special EffectsThis is a practical effects exhibition showing us just what you can do if you know how to use them.

Final ThoughtsThis will always be a true classic on how to push the special effects limits, we get pushed as far as we can with them that are truly amazing for the time.

 

Overall: The violent classic we all know off.

Rating

 

 

John Hurt Weekend – Contact (1997)

contactDirector: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: James v Hart, Michael Goldenberg (Screenplay) Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan (Story)

Starring: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, David Morse, William Fichtner, James Woods, Angela Bassett, John Hurt, Rob Lowe, Jena Malone

 

Plot: Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of intelligent aliens, who send plans for a mysterious machine.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: It Is All What You Think

 

Story: Contact starts by showing us Ellie Arroway (Malone as young and Foster as main) as she spends her life searching in space for answers especially after her father Ted (Morse) dies when she is young. She clashes with fellow scientists who try to make her show her own potential in David Drumlin (Skerritt).

After Ellie and her team make the discovery that will change the world forever she gets thrown into the world of politics rather than her comfort zone of science. The world has come together with this new discovery and once they uncover the message the worlds smartest minds have to build the machine while selecting the one-person pilot to finally answer the questions being sent through space and time.

Contact is a sci-fi film that gives us the idea of communication from outside our own known radio waves. I liked how this only looks at the science versus the religion, there is no silly looking at destroying like most alien films. There is a lot of science talk which is one of the few negatives in this film but it is needed. When it comes to films like this I can see people getting bored even though it I a rewarding watch by the end.

 

Actor Review

 

Jodie Foster: Eleanor Arroway has spent her life searching space for any sort of communication, many scientists in her own field question her motives as they see so much potential and wasted talent. When she finally makes contact she is forced to team up with the very people that tried to stop her but she will finally get the answers she has been looking for. Jodie does a great job in this role as we see her clash with different obstacles in her way.ellie

Matthew McConaughey: Palmer Joss is an author who has been working on a book trying to question science’s impact on the religious world. Believing in different things than Ellie the two make for a very interesting couple. He gets left with a big decision which could change his relationship with Ellie. Matthew does a good job in this supporting role without really exceling.

Tom Skerritt: David Brumlin is the head of scientific research that knows Ellie has potential even after pulling the plug on her work. When the discovery happens he tries to take the praise and ends up going up against Ellie to be part of the mission. Tom is good in this role playing a character that is always out for himself.

John Hurt: S R Hadden is the financer behind all of Ellie’s work, he is very secretive but is willing to make appearances to fill in the gaps on her works. John gives us a very good cameo like performance as the mysterious millionaire.

Support Cast: Contact has a big supporting cast that all offer different opinions on the situation at hand, we get to see how each opinion could affect what is going on.

Director Review: Robert ZemeckisRobert brings his brilliant style to this film to tell a story that could become complicated or even boring but flows lovely throughout.

 

Mystery: Contact gives us plenty to question as we wonder are we alone in the solar system.

Sci-Fi: Contact enters us into the idea that space isn’t as empty as we once thought.

Thriller: Contact does pull us in as we simply don’t know what will be found going into the machine.

Settings: Contact uses the settings well to show us in the scientific world would be dealing with if everything became a reality.
Special Effects
: Contact uses great effects to show how the machine actually works but otherwise doesn’t turn to them.

Suggestion: Contact is one I will always recommend as I like to see how people will answer the question. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Journey.

Worst Part: Slightly long

Favourite Quote: Ellie ‘I’ll tell you one thing about the universe, though. The universe is a pretty big place. It’s bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it’s just us… seems like an awful waste of space. Right?

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Interstellar

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for one Oscar for Best Sound.

Box Office: $100 Million

Budget: $90 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 30 Minutes

Tagline: A message from deep space. Who will be the first to go? A journey to the heart of the universe.

Trivia: Just like their characters in the movie, in real life Jodie Foster is an Atheist and Matthew McConaughey is a devout Christian.

 

Overall: Scientific film that truly will keep you wondering about what you want to believe

Ratingcard