Gary Oldman Weekend – Child 44 (2015)

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Writer: Richard Price (Screenplay) Tom Rob Smith (Novel)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel, Fares Fares

 

Plot: A disgraced member of the Russian military police investigates a series of child murders during the Stalin-era Soviet Union.


Tagline – How many more must die before the truth is exposed?

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burner

 

Story: Child 44 starts as we see how Leo Demidov (Hardy) escaped an orphanage joining the military at a young age, he went on to become a war hero leading his men Alexei (Fares) and Vasili (Kinnaman), after the war he remains in the military making sure the Soviet Union isn’t compromised by anybody who could be against the country.

When one of Alexei’s children is murdered, the country covers it up as an accident, Leo reluctantly starts to investigate and after two more murders, Leo finds himself becoming an enemy of the country, exiled from the capital under General Mikhail Nesterov (Oldman), where the killings continue. Leo continues his investigation which only draws more attention to himself, as murder can’t happen in paradise.

 

Thoughts on Child 44

 

Characters – Leo Demidov was raised an orphan only to escape and become part of a military unit, he spent years within the Russian military rising up the ranks to become one of the most respected men in the military. He remains in the military where he helps keep traitors out of the capital, he soon learns about a string a child murders, which the country wants to cover up, which puts his reputation on the line as he looks to solve them exposing a killer in a country that doesn’t admit to murder. Raisa is the wife of Leo, she has started to become a target for country believing she is a traitor, she is tired of the life within the rules given and must soon start to lie to her husband to stay safe before working with him to solve the case. General Mikhail Nesterov is the man that Leo is sent to serve under, he does notice the trends in the murders and will send Leo out to solve the case. Vasili is one of the soldiers that served next to Leo, he was considered a coward during the war, but after the war he became stricter breaking the rules creating tension between the unit for his behaviour towards prisoners.

PerformancesTom Hardy in the leading role does everything asked of him, he handles each his characters actions, while giving us a solid enough Russian accent throughout. Noomi Rapace continued to grow her reputation as she shows that she can adapt to nearly every role placed on front of her. Gary Oldman brings the experience to the role, though he does fall into the supporting role for too long through the film. The rest of the supporting cast doesn’t make the impact required with their time.

StoryThe story here follows a Russian military man that starts investigating a string of child murders that grab the attention of the country who refuses to admit that murder can happen within it. While we get to see how the investigation becomes deeper with each and every turn, it is the trying to conduct an investigation in a country that simply won’t accept murder that piles on the pressure within the story, see how he must fight his country to stop a serial killer is interesting, even if it is slightly slow at times. We don’t get many suspects because we can’t completely investigate which can hold up that side of the film at times.

Crime/HistoryThe crime side of the film follows the serial killer taking the children, the other side of the crime story comes from how the country was treating people that didn’t follow their strict orders, this does show how the history of the country did hold it back at times.

SettingsThe film is set in Russia and Ukraine, showing how secretive the country was with how they didn’t want to admit anything going on wrong.


Scene of the Movie –
The first kidnapping is creepy as the film gets.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The over slow building.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow moving crime thriller that is more interested in showing the countries strict rules that focus on solving the crime.

 

Overall: Pacing just lets it down.

Rating

 

Pet Sematary (2019)

Director: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer

Writer: Matt Greenberg, Jeff Buhler (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz, Jete Laurence, Naomi Frenette, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Maria Herrera

 

Plot: Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.


Tagline – They don’t come back the Same. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fog Machine Screen Test

 

Story: Pet Sematary starts as the Creed family, Louis (Clarke), Rachel (Seimetz), Ellie (Laurence) and toddler Gage, move from Boston to a rural Maine town, to start a quieter life style. The family just so happen to have bought a property with its own pet cemetery, spelt wrong with the S and all. The neighbour Jud (Lithgow) is welcoming and after the family cat Church dies, Jud tells Louis of the powers, which sees Church return, only he isn’t the same.

When tragedy strikes the Creed family, it leaves them divided and Louis is drawn back to the power which could solve the pain, but he only unleashes the secrets of the hidden grounds.

 

Thoughts on Pet Sematary

 

Characters – Louis is a former ER-Doctor, he needed to get out of that life with his new role being a college campus doctor, this gives him more time with his kids as they grow, making his life more relax. He is the one that never believed or talked about the afterlife which is why it seems strange that he is the one that follows Jud through the secret cemetery. Rachel is the wife, she spends most of her time checking her phone, being the typical housewife, she does have a haunted past which still scares her to this day. Jud is the nice welcoming neighbour, he has lived in this house for his whole life and now, he wants to show the wisdom he has learnt from the cemetery. He is the catalyst to everything that unfolds. Ellie is the oldest child of the family, she likes to adventure which can get her in trouble, but what 9-year-old isn’t like this?

PerformancesThis discussion on the performances is going down like most in horror, the child star Jete Laurence doesn’t do anything wrong and is the star of the show. Jason Clarke as often been the go to guy for a reliable lead, doesn’t get tested, while Amy Seimetz gets no true character development, giving her little to work with. John Lithgow get a scene where we learn the cats name being after Winston Churchill, and the wink wink idea that he won awards for playing the leader.

StoryThe story follows a family that relocate to start a quieter life, they seem to have everything down perfectly until death starts coming into their lives, which only sees them needing to face ultimate decisions and figure out the power of the pet sematary in their back garden. This is obviously a remake of the Stephen King classic, so if you have seen the original or read the book, you will know the basics of this story. The story however seems to go off on wild side stories which don’t seem to have any connection to the pet semetery element of the story, it just gets confusing, there is such a large focus on Rachel’s past, which shouldn’t make sense in this film in anyway. Everything that returns from the original film works, it gets the required scare, but as I said the side stories just fill the empty space to make the film longer and get a scare from the audience.

HorrorThe horror in this film can be broken down, we have the jump scares, though they can be seen coming a mile off, we have a thinking horror side to something that happens, which over plays on the mind for no reason too.

SettingsThe film puts the family in a remote house, well one without many neighbours and a tight road that lorries steam down, this is effective for the first proper jump scare, which you would see in the original, for the rest of the settings the fog machine covers up the flaws here.

Special EffectsThe effects when practical look creepy and effective, we don’t get many, but much like the settings, the fog machine makes a big impact here covering up any true weaknesses in the special effects.


Scene of the Movie –
The lorry.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The fog machine.

Final ThoughtsThis is a poor remake of a classic Stephen King horror, we don’t seem to get anything scary like other remakes and end up relying on cheap jump scares to try and maximise the impact.

 

Overall: Simple lifeless remake.

Rating

 

 

Serenity (2019)

Director: Steven Knight

Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong

 

Plot: A fishing boat captain juggles facing his mysterious past and finding himself ensnared in a reality where nothing is what it seems.


Tagline – On Plymouth Island, No One Ever Dies…Unless You Break the Rules

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Head Scratcher

 

Story: Serenity starts as we meet obsessed fisherman Baker Dill (McConaughey) who has been running low on money, which has risked losing his first mate Duke (Hounsou), the town however will work with him when he needs it. He turns to Constance (Lane) for comfort as they know what each other like.

When Baker’s ex, Karen (Hathaway) arrives in the small town, she comes to him to take her husband Frank (Clarke) out to the ocean to leave him there to save their son from his abusive nature. Not everything is as it seems though, as Baker is left to make a big decision.

 

Thoughts on Serenity

 

Characters – Baker Dill is a struggling fisherman, who takes tourists out, he can keep himself afloat, but only just. He is left in shock when his ex comes back into his life trying to talk him into killer her husband to protect his son, he is reluctant to accept left torn between what to do or not. Karen is the ex of Baker that is tired of her abusive husband that she can’t escape from, she needs Baker to do the job for her. Constance is Baker’s fling on the island, they keep each other company when they need it. Frank is the rich husband of Karen that has power to do whatever he wants and get away with it.

PerformancesMatthew McConaughey in the leading role is strong because he must give a performance of a man that is unsure of everything happening. Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane and Jason Clarke complete the main cast, they each have their key part to play which does work helping Matthew shine.

StoryThe story does start with a simple idea of a man who has been chasing a mysterious fish, which has seen him isolate himself and see his money run low, he gets a chance for a big pay day when his ex-arrives in town. Now, this is the simple side, a will he or won’t he follow her wishes, only everything gets turned on its head by a twist that makes you question nearly everything you have seen, really starting to blow your mind about what we are seeing. This puts the story in the middle of two different places because it is something we haven’t seen, something we couldn’t predict, the problems come from the idea that everything is so far outside the box many people might not like just how far things can go.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery elements of this film comes from just what is going on in this world, it gets even more complicated when the twist starts to unravel, this does turn this into a sci-fi element of the film because it does show us just what could happen.

SettingsThe film is set on a picture-perfect island called Plymouth Island which is perfect for fishing and has a close community that will know each other’s secrets.


Scene of the Movie –
The rules.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain side characters do seem to disappear in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sci-fi mystery that will leave you wondering just what the hell did I just watch and did you like it, it will be best to read on just how much you want to judge how you see the twist.

 

Overall: Mind blowing mystery.

Rating

 

 

First Man (2018)

Director: Damien Chazelle

Writer: Josh Singer (Screenplay) James R Hansen (Book)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, Ciaran Hinds, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

 

Plot: A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.


Tagline – Experience the impossible journey to the Moon.

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Biopic

 

Story: First Man starts as we see how Neil Armstrong (Gosling) can solve problems in flight with one of his test mission to the limits of the atmosphere going wrong before he saved it, we meet his family wife Janet (Foy) and children Richard and Karen, we see how they suffered a tragic loss of young Karen, which drove him to apply to become an astronaut.

We follow the astronaut training program which showed Neil’s abilities to solve problems even after seeing his friends around him lose their lives to the pursuit of space. We follow up to the legendary mission he will always been known for as he was the first man to walk on the moon.

 

Thoughts on First Man

 

Characters – These characters are and were real people, Neil Armstrong is always going to be remembered as the first man to walk on the moon, we see how this shy man managed to overcome his own personal tragedies to achieve this as we see how he reacts and deals with everything that gets thrown at him until he made history. Janet is his wife, she also suffers through the tragedies, she will give Neil all the support he needs to make sure he will keep his promises to come home, we mostly watch how she must keep the life for their children normal and calm. Edward Higgins White is one of the fellow astronauts, one that becomes close friends with him through the training and the program, he is the one that will offer a shoulder if Neil ever needed it. We meet many famous names from the astronaut programs each gets there moment, we know Buzz Aldrin was onboard Apollo 11 and of the other big named astronauts we know Jim Lovell from the Apollo 13 mission.

PerformancesRyan Gosling gives us a magnificent performance as the icon of astronauts, he shows us how shy, timid and genius Neil was, never making him a cocky man, this simple performance makes you understand each emotion he is going through. Claire Foy sets away from the small screen to give us a flawless performance as the wife who must remain strong, but dealing with anxiety of the unknown through each mission. The rest of the cast are great through the film, each actor gets to pay the respect to the man they are performing as.

StoryThe story here follows Neil Armstrong’s life from 1961 to his moon landing in 1969. We do have plenty of interesting aspects to his life, be it the battle to remain strong after his daughter’s death or the feeling of proving himself worthy of being part of the astronaut program. While these are all wonderful to watch, they do feel like they are being told, like, this is what happened here, then this, then this and so on. It never feels like a smooth story and the movie does make out that Neil was an excellent astronaut, but terrible PR man, he didn’t do anything stupid or risky, he lack charisma that other astronauts had, he was just the right choice for the job. The biggest warning you must have before going in, is that this does follow his life over the space program, yes, we do have parts of the space program and they are the most entertaining parts, but we also follow his life away from this.

Biopic/History8 years in the life of the most iconic man to go into space, we see his lowest point in his life, to the crowning achievement, nobody can ever take away from him. The history side of the film shows us the key moments in the space race, if you know the basics you will know these moments.

SettingsThe film recreates the settings brilliantly, be it the world around the space race, or the cockpits the astronauts get rammed into with little space for any freedom on these deadly missions.

Special EffectsThe effects are mesmerizing, when we are in space we are left stunned by the beauty of the views these men had. The film is also used to make it feel like it is shot for the same time the events took place.


Scene of the Movie –
Apollo 11

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many close ups.

Final ThoughtsAs a space race fan this manages to shed new light on the man who made history, it gave us brilliant performance, effects and shows us there was more behind the man than just the icon.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

Rating

 

 

The Senator (2018)

Director: John Curran

Writer: Taylor Allen, Andrew Logan (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Clarke, Kata Mara, Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffigan, Olivia Thirlby, Clancy Brown

 

Plot: Depicting Ted Kennedy’s involvement in the fatal 1969 car accident that claims the life of a young campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne.


Tagline – The Untold True Story

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Political Thriller

 

Story: The Senator starts on July 18th 1969, man is about to land on the moon and Senator Ted Kennedy (Clarke) the last remaining Kennedy child is start his early Presidential campaign. That night Ted and friends are celebrating when he drives one of the campaign strategists Mary Jo Kopechne (Mara) home, when they are involved in an accident, killing Mary Jo.

The morning after the news breaks and Ted must use all of his team to help come up with a smart enough story that will cover him from any wrong doing, the bonus for Ted, man just landed on the moon is the biggest story in the world.

 

Thoughts on The Senator

 

Characters – When we look at the character, we must first acknowledge that these were real people. Ted Kennedy is the last of the Kennedy siblings, always in the shadows of his brothers, now embarking on his own journey to become President. He is involved in a car accident which leads to a death of a young woman and we see how he is planning to keep his career on the right path showing how difficult each decision he was making. Mary Jo Kopechne was the victim, she has been a key part of the previous Kennedy campaigns with her work and Ted was recruiting to his latest one. Joseph Gargan is the most trusted man to Ted, he knows what should have been done and gets increasingly frustrated with the attempted cover up. Joseph Kennedy is the father of the Kennedy’s he wants to see Ted follow in his brother’s footsteps always feeling let down by his last remaining son.

PerformancesJason Clarke is the leading role is wonderful, when it comes to serious roles he hasn’t always been given the leading role, here he shows us that he is ready to be taken seriously in a leading role. Kate Mara is good for her smaller part which is all we needed. Ed Helms surprises in a serious role because we are used to see him in comedic roles. Bruce Dern shines in role which shows him in a disabled role where he still shows the disappointment on his face.

StoryThe story we follow takes us into the week surrounding the death of Mary Jo Kopechne which had an impact on the political career of Ted Kennedy. The story shows us how the Kennedy camp was trying to put a spin on the accident to clear Ted of any wrong doing. This plays into how this is an incident is one that remained a talking point even though it was overshadowed by the bigger story in human history. Seeing how the politics system was run to spin any story to show innocence to the keep campaign strong even if it means stepping on the people who are affected by the act.  This is strange because we always seem to get two major news events together where one will end ups getting forgotten.  

History/ThrillerThis is a look at a moment in history that would have had a lot bigger story nearly any other day of the week, one that never really got too the truth about. This does keep us on edge as we wait to see just what will happen if the truth was to come out.

SettingsThe settings in this film show how behind closed doors the operation to clean up a political disaster works.


Scene of the Movie –
The speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It would have been interesting to see more of the girl’s impact after the death of their friend.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good political historical drama that shows us just how one story about one of the biggest iconic family’s in America history the Kennedys.

 

Overall: Interesting political thriller.

Rating