Franchise Weekend – Jarhead (2005)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: William Broyles Jr (Screenplay) Anthony Swofford (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Scott MacDonald, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Ming Lo, Lucas Black

 

Plot: A psychological study of operations desert shield and desert storm during the gulf war; through the eyes of a U.S marine sniper who struggles to cope with the possibility his girlfriend may be cheating on him back home.


Tagline – Every man fights his own war.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Effective War Film

 

Story: Jarhead starts as we meet Anthony Swofford (Gyllenhaal) who joined the marines, it isn’t long before he gets taken by Staff Sgt Sykes (Foxx) to the US Marine Sniper division going through the training regime meeting his spotter Alan Troy (Sarsgaard).

When war breaks out the marines are set to the middle east, where they must adapt to the desert condition before going into to conflict, this will test their psychical shape and their mental health as the waiting is just part of the sniper’s game.

 

Thoughts on Jarhead

 

Characters – Anthony Swofford who wrote the book the film is based on, we see how he joined the military out of college and struggled at first through the training regime. Anthony soon discovered he was ready for this life as a sniper, but his time in the gulf sees him start to lose his mind. Alan Troy becomes the best friend of Anthony’s and his spotter, he seems to be the most level-headed marine in the unit. Staff Sgt Sykes is the one running the sniper unit, he demands respect and isn’t afraid to put the marines in their place.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is fantastic in the leading role, he shows everyone how he can play the calm soldier, the crazed soldier and the broken man through the scenes of the film which only increase what he is dealing with. Peter Sarsgaard give us a brilliant supporting performance which shows how the fear can be kept inside a calm outer layer. Jamie Foxx brings us the energy of a career military man.

StoryThe story follows the experiences of one soldier that joins the marines before being put in the sniper division when war breaks out, he must adapt to life in the desert during the waiting game before the conflict. This story does show us just how difficult adapting to war can be for the soldiers and just how the war can be fought without needing to fire a weapon. It shows us just how the mindset can change over a set amount of time which will see the soldiers make decisions they wouldn’t normally consider making. This does focus on the idea that the main soldier Anthony never truly feels like he was part of the war followed by the effects of returning back from war can have on the soldiers who have returned.

Biopic/WarThis film follows Anthony’s experience with war, it shows how war isn’t everything he was planning and how his mindset wasn’t in the right place for parts of his experience. The war side of the film shows us just how different war has become over the years, where the ground soldiers are not as required as once before.

SettingsThe film has some wonderful uses of settings with the march sequence showing us just how open the area in question will be for the soldiers.


Scene of the Movie –
Returning home.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slow start.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fascinating look at the modern war effort, how the biggest problem is now waiting for the war to begin rather than the fighting.

 

Overall: Modern war time.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – A – Ali (2001)

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Eric Roth, Michael Mann (Screenplay) Gregory Allen Howard (Story)

Starring: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Mario Van Peebles, Ron Silver, Jeffrey Wright, Mykelti Williamson

 

Plot: A biography of sports legend Muhammad Ali, focusing on his triumphs and controversies between 1964 and 1974.


Tagline – Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Boxing Biopic a Must Watch

 

Story: Ali starts on the brink of Cassius Clay (Smith) first title match in 1964, a match he wins to become heavyweight champion of the world, with his place on top of the world ready, Cassius joins forces with Malcolm X (Peebles) becoming a Muslim in the process, changing his name to Muhammad Ali.

With the Vietnam war drafting men from America, Muhammad is drafted, but he refuses to go and fight which leads him to be stripped of the title and banned from fighting in certain states, Ali uses his to create one of the biggest fights in history, The Rumble in the Jungle.

 

Thoughts on Ali

 

Characters – Muhammad Ali is one if not the most famous boxers in the world, in the history of the sport, he help shape the sport to be what we know now, with his charisma and loud behaviour against his opponents, we follow just ten years of his life, from his first title win, through his religious change, the battle against the government about fighting in the Vietnam war, to being part of one of the biggest fights in boxing history. When we focus on the rest of the real-life people we get to see the loyal people in his life, reporter Howard Cosell that seemed to have a wonderful relationship which included banter between the two and the promoters that make the fight possible.

PerformancesWill Smith in the role of Ali is brilliant, this is easily his best performance of his career showing the world that he can have his wise cracking side mixed with the serious side. We have an unrecognizable Jon Voight who is shows us all that how easily he can morph into any role. The rest of the supporting cast are good without being fantastic or taking away anything from Smith in the leading role.

StoryThe story here takes us into Muhammed Ali’s life for ten years, we get to see from the night he first won the title till the famous Rumble in the Jungle match. We do see the obstacles he must overcome to remain the man he was which in itself is an incredible story during late 60s America. My issues with the story come from not seeing everything that Ali went through in this career, mostly the rise to the top, which could have been an even more interesting story. for the story to only cover 10- years is interesting because we could have seen so much more of the legal battle against the government, the religious battles he faced because of his stance on war and action with the women. The truth is, Ali lived an amazing life and there are so many story we could learn about him from his career any film just can’t cover them all.

Biopic/SportsTen years of one of the great boxers in the history of the sport, one of the men that changed the sport almost doesn’t give it enough justice. The sports side of the film comes from the boxing scenes which are incredibly real through the film we do get a couple and they do go on a long time.

SettingsThe film here takes us to the important locations in Ali’s life, the ring of course is the most important one while we get scenes away from the ring to as we look at his church and his personal life.


Scene of the Movie –
Rumble in the Jungle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have like to see more of his life and career

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those biopics which is great to watch and has wonderful scenes, only for it to be missing that big it factor about it. The fights do feel real which is key and the performances are flawless, we could only have learnt more.

 

Overall: Biopic to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – D – Dreamgirls (2006)

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Bill Condon (Screenplay) Tom Eyen (Book)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose

 

Plot: A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.


Tagline – One Dream Will Change Everything

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical Musical

 

Story: Dreamgirls starts as we meet the three soul singers from Detroit Deena Jones (Beyonce), Effie White (Hudson) and Lorrell Robinson (Rose), the Dreams, they are trying to make a name for themselves and catch the attention of Curtis Taylor Jr (Foxx) who arranges them to be back up singers for James ‘Thunder’ Early.

When Curtis sees the girls future alone, but with Deena taking the lead of the trio it doesn’t set well with Effie and with the act breaking barriers across the world it builds the tension between the band before eventually seeing Effie leaving the act as Deena becoming the international star and Effie must face the consequences of giving up her own chance of stardom.

 

Thoughts on Dreamgirls

 

Characters – Curtis Taylor Jr gave up his car dealership to turn the Dreams into stars, he knows how to challenge the market to get the goes famous, taking a shine to Deena he sees her being the front of the trio which causes the tension within the trio, he delivers on his promises even if things don’t come off as clean as they should. Deena is one of the trio, she gets the most attention because she is the most attractive and while taking over the leading role in the trio where her stardom divides the friendship. James ‘Thunder’ Early is the artist that the Dreams start as backup, he watches the Dreams go onto be bigger stars than he had ever been because of the lack of support. Effie White is the best singer in the trio, she is the first to oppose being just a backup singer, wanting to take her position to the next level, which only sees he removed from the band.

PerformancesJamie Foxx was at the top of his career here and it shows because he is great, the biggest surprises come from the rest of the main cast, Eddie Murphy, well this is easily his best performance in the last 30 years and shows everyone just what he is capable off. Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson are both fantastic in their roles as the completely understand how difficult the music industry can be for anyone.

StoryThe story follows the trio of soul singers who start in just a talent contest to hopefully get a big break, only to find themselves becoming international superstars, but with success comes at a price as the trio go their own ways with one becoming the biggest name in music and the other resorted to performing in clubs. We get to see the harsh reality of the music industry from the four main characters and directions they end up taking. Having a film balance the four characters stories so, well is unusual and a great watch.

MusicalThe song and numbers are all wonderful with plenty of different genre touched on as the sound of the band changes through the years too.

SettingsThe film shows the different worlds these women could be living in, the riot filled streets of Detroit or the fame and celebrity world.


Scene of the Movie –
Final performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Wondering why Eddie Murphy can’t perform this well more often.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable musical that shines a spotlight on the soul music scene during the 60’s, it has wonderful performance throughout and is a must watch for the fans of the music genre and musical fans in general.

 

Overall: Beautiful movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – S – Stealth (2005)

Director: Rob Cohen

Writer: W.D. Richter (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard, Richard Roxburgh, Joe Morton, Ian Bliss

 

Plot: Deeply ensconced in a top-secret military program, three pilots struggle to bring an artificial intelligence program under control before it initiates the next world war.


Tagline – Fear The Sky

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Long Sci-Fi Actioner

 

Story: Stealth starts as we meet the three elite pilot squad leader Lt Ben Gannon (Lucas), risk assessment calm team member LT Kare Wade (Biel) and hotshot Lt Henry Purcell (Foxx) who under Captain George Cummings (Shepard) control have become the leading choice in aerial combat.

When the three person team get assigned a fourth member, an artificial intelligence unit things don’t go to plan, when the AI is studying plans it gets the idea to go on its own mission which could bring on World War III, now the human pilots must stop this from happening before it is too late.

 

Thoughts on Stealth

 

Characters – The three pilots do have their own personalities, Ben Gannon is the leader that struggles to follow orders, but will die for his crew, Kara Wade is the one that assess the danger the crew might find themselves getting into. Henry Purcell is the hotshot that will show off for any excuse just to do so. Captain Cummings runs the operations trying to do the right thing for his country. We don’t really learn too much more about these characters other than they are considered the elite of the elite of pilots, they should have made Kara a much stronger character than what we get with her.

PerformancesJosh Lucas trying his luck in a leading role, well this didn’t work, be is such an average and forgettable leading man, saying this I do feel if you had swapped him and Jamie Foxx around the performances would have been better because Josh is better at cocky support over leading man. Jamie Foxx can pull off all three of the male roles in this film and is the only one that seems like he is doing a good job. Jessica Biel is written to be strong, but she must show her damsel in distress for the second half of the film, which isn’t her fault though.

StoryThe story follows Americans best pilots needing to fight against an AI unit which was meant to be supporting them but has turned to their programming for answers. This is another be careful what you ask for when it comes to technology film which will soon become one story that doesn’t hold much weight and is all about the explosions, aerial duals and quick cuts.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is shot in such a bad way it is nearly impossible to keep up with, because the planes are going at such velocity it is like watching blurs on the screen at times, this is a side effect of having the ultrafast planes involved in dogfights. The adventure side of the film shows what Ben must go through to win, the sci-fi side of the film shows us how the technology in the planes could bring the next level of aerial combat, the way they would look to stay ahead of the radar and enemy weapons.

SettingsThe most part of the film takes place in the skies with an American crew above their enemy nations, Russia, North Korea which shows how deadly the combat it going to be.

Special EffectsThe effects beings used in the film are for the most part weak, this is because the action sequences have terrible camerawork and feel like we are just watching them in a greenscreen.


Scene of the Movie –
Well this is awkward, to pick anything I did enjoy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The action scenes.

Final ThoughtsThe is all action, badly shot and no substance behind everything going on, it is too long to get away with this mad action to keep us interest and turns into a bog standard AI turning on humans.

 

Overall: Bog standard.

Rating

 

 

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Director: Oliver Stone

Writer: John Logan, Oliver Stone (Screenplay) Daniel Pyne, John Logan (Story)

Starring: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Jams Woods, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine

 

Plot: A behind-the-scenes look at the life-and-death struggles of modern-day gladiators and those who lead them.


Tagline – that women would eat her own children

Runtime: 2 Hours 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Football Movie

 

Story: Any Given Sunday starts as we follow a Miami franchise American Football team going through a losing streak, coach Tony D’Amato (Pacino) is now considered old school and after losing his star quarterback Jack ‘Cap’ Rooney (Quaid) to injury he is facing the pressure coming from the owner Christina Pagniacci (Diaz).

Turning to his third-choice quarterback Willie Beamen (Foxx) who struggles at first but soon becomes an overnight sensation as he changes his mind set when it comes to the fame. With the team’s form turned around, Tony is left with the difficult decision as the play-offs approach on whether to have his leader Rooney or the loose cannon Willie, along with the rest of the difficult decisions that goes around being a coach.

 

Thoughts on Any Given Sunday

 

Characters – Tony D’Amato is the coach of the Miami Sharks, he has been for years and has won plenty of trophies, now he is being tested and questioned about his ability as the game continues to evolve. He is given difficult decisions like any coach to make it through the season, the one which could be his last. Christina Pagniacci is the owner of the club, she has gained power after her father’s death and is determined to make her team great again, she is ruthless in business and challenges Tony unlike her father did. Jack Rooney is the legendary quarterback of the team, he does get injured which leaves him questioning his own decision to stay in the game. Dr Mandrake has been keeping injuries quiet from Tony putting the players heath and even lives at risk. Willie becomes the overnight sensation as the replacement quarterback, he starts as the hard working nervous player but thrown into the limelight he thinks he is the real deal turning his back on his loved ones not being able to handle the fame. Julian is a known mercenary player, he will work for the money but not harder than he needs to. We have such a big cast, we can’t go into all of them though, the characters all fit into the American Football world.

PerformancesAl Pacino was already an Oscar winner here so we know he is one of the best in the business, here he shows us why as he is brilliant in the desperate aging coach role. Cameron Diaz shows us all that she is a talent actress in this role where she gives us a dominate performance as the owner. Dennis Quaid is good in his role as the aging star. James Woods plays the role you could imagine him playing in this film style. Foxx makes for a great egotistical player that struggles to handle the fame. The whole cast looks like the person they are aiming to play in the film.

StoryThe story follows a fictional American Football team as they are aiming for the play-offs to regain the status as one of the elite teams in the league. We have the small details about what has been going on in the club, the coach questioning where he stands in the game, the new owner desperate to become a powerhouse in the game, the cocky player the aging veteran and even the medical question marks about what has been putting players lives in danger. This is a unique way of telling the story, it is one man changing the team, but instead we see how the team must come together to become legends in their own right.

SportsThe American Football sequences are the heart and soul of the action in the film, they are as brutal as the game is led to believe to be.

SettingsThe film takes us around the high life of the American Football scene, seeing how they go from quiet moments and the wild parties.


Scene of the Movie –
Pre-Game Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many cuts.

Final ThoughtsIf you want to see how American Football world operates, this could easily be one of the most important version of the world.

 

Overall: A Must watch American Football Movie.

Rating