Nicole Kidman Weekend – The Railway Man (2013)

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky

Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Andy Paterson (Screenplay) Eric Lomax (Book)

Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeremy Irvine

 

Plot: A former British Army officer, who was tortured as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during World War II, discovers that the man responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him.


Tagline – Revenge is never a straight line.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful True Story

 

Story: The Railway Man starts in 1980 where Eric (Firth) a train enthusiast meets a stranger on the train, Patti (Kidman), the two fall in love getting married. It isn’t long before Eric starts having terrifying flashbacks to his time in World War II, where he is held prisoner by the Japanese, here he is tortured by Takeshi Nagase.

With Eric’s behaviour only getting worse, Patti turns to Finlay (Skarsgard) one of the fellow prisoner of wars, that is still a close friend of his, he fills in the experiences the men went through under the hands of Takeshi, which will leads the older version of Eric to want to confront Takeshi or his time in the P.O.W Camp.

 

Thoughts on The Railway Man

 

Characters – We meet Eric at two stages of his life, we have the one that was tortured during the war and tried to do something to give the fellow soldiers hop in their prisoner of war camp, we also meet an older version that has been left traumatised with his experiences of the war, it has closed him off from the world, including his wife, he gets a chance to confront the soldier that tortured him, in a hope it could bring him closure. Patti is the wife of Eric, they meet on a random train journey and it is her love for Eric that first starts to seek help for him. Finlay is the closest friend to Eric, he has remained in his life after the years they have suffered through together, he fills in the blanks for Patti, after Eric closes up to her. Takeshi Nagase was the solider that tortured Eric during the war, he has since gone onto be the tour guide for the railway that was forced to be built by the English, he is surprised to get the visit from him former captive.

PerformancesColin Firth is brilliant here because he shows us just how closed off a man can be when they are dealing with the consequences of war. Nicole Kidman fits her role with ease, she plays the sympathetic figure that will help open Eric up again, showing us just how hard to is working to make happen. Jeremy Irvine as the younger version of Eric shows us the horrors of war with the pain his character must go through. Stellan Skarsgard does fill in the story telling side of the story, he will join in helping make the most of the traumatised man returning from war. Hiroyuki Sanada completes the main cast and he gives us a character that is filled with the regret of his actions in his life.

StoryThe story here follows a former prisoner of war that is still haunted by what he went through during the war and after he learns that the man who tortured him is still alive, sets out to confront him. This is an incredible true story that shows how prisoners can still be getting nightmares about what happened during the war, it shows they could close themselves off from the world. this does show us how the two men met years after the events, both are filled with memories they would rather forget and this has taken its toll on their lives for decades. It does pose the question about what you would do if you could meet the person that tortured you and what you would do, especially if it had come from during the war. Knowing this is a true story does help make it more amazing to think what Eric went through and how he would react if he could find the person that did it to him.

Romance/WarThe romance side of this film shows how Eric’s wife was able to try and pushing him to talk about what happened to him, showing her love would be what finally gets him to open up about the horrors of his war experience, the war side focuses on what it was like to be a prisoner of war, how they were forced into labour and tortured if they didn’t comply.

SettingsThe film has a couple of main settings, first we get the English home of Eric which shows him in his comfort area, we do see the prisoner or war camps which does show us just how horrific the locations were for the soldiers of war.


Scene of the Movie –
The embrace.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The do gloss over the older versions trauma too much.

Final Thoughts – This is an incredible true story that does show us just how difficult Eric’s life became after his time at war, it shows just how he had become effected and a meeting with the man that did this to him could change everything.

 

Overall: Brilliant true story.

Rating

 

 

Tom Hiddleston Weekend – War Horse (2011)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Lee Hall, Richard Curtis (Screenplay) Michael Morpurgo (Novel)

Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, Niels Arestrup, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch

 

Plot: Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.


Tagline – Separated by war. Tested by battle. Bound by friendship.

Runtime: 2 Hours 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Incredible Story

 

Story: War Horse starts as the poor farming family Narracotts, former war veteran Ted (Mullan), wife Rose (Watson) and son Albert (Irvine) end up with a horse that shouldn’t be able to work on a farm that Albert manages to teach how to plough, being the only one Joey will listen to.

When the latest crop fails, Ted is forced to sale Joey to the military once the first World War breaks outs, Captain Nicholls (Hiddleston) takes him promising to bring him back safely, however much it breaks Albert’s heart. When Captain Nicholls is killed in action, we see Joey’s next chapter in the war, as Albert enlists in an attempt to become reunited with Joey on the front lines.

 

Thoughts on War Horse

 

Characters – Albert is the farmers boy that proves he will never give up and shows us when it comes to training the horse, which will achieving things it should never get through, he has bonded with Joey who is taken away from him, determined to be reunited with Joey, he enlists in the British army heading off to World War I to fight and find his horse. Ted is the war veteran father, who drinks to get over his problems with what happened in his own battle, reckless in his behaviour, he must make the difficult decision to sell the horse. Rose is the ever-supporting wife and mother that sees the good in both her husband and son, knowing while they might clash they will forever be doing the right thing. Lyons is the landlord that is making the life of the Narracotts difficult forcing him into the decisions that could take the family out of their home. Captain Nicholls is the man that buys Joey, taking him to the war promising to keep him safe and return him after the war with Major Jamie Stewart being the one that naively going into battle underprepared.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are impacted by the number of characters involved in the film, with the likes of Hiddleston and Cumberbatch left with only supporting roles where they make an impact with their limited time. The two main stars of the film would be Jeremy Irvine and the horses themselves that go through the biggest struggles through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the incredible journey through the first World War that a horse endured being forced to work for both the British and the Germans, somehow surviving through the difficulties both sides were facing. We see how one young farmer’s boy risks his life to head to war in hopes o finding his horse in a battle which would take millions of lives. The story itself is incredible, the pacing of the story however does feel inconsistent because we spend ten to fifteen minutes with each chapter, which never gives us enough time for the impact of those scenes.

History/WarThe history involved in the First World War is a moment that changed everyone involved, this is clear from the characters we see, each war scene does feel realistic even if it is more focused on the less graphic moments involved.

SettingsThe film uses the settings wonderfully to make us feel like we are involved in the scenes with the war scenes showing us how difficult the moments were for the men and horses.


Scene of the Movie –
Running free in no man’s land.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not getting enough time with each of the characters we meet.

Final ThoughtsThis is an incredible story showing the journey of one horse through the first World War, this creates the shocking truth of war, while it does lack the time spent on each character.

 

Overall: Incredible story of one horses journey through war.

Rating

 

 

Great Expectations (2012)

Director: Mike Newell

Writer: David Nicholls (Screenplay) Charles Dickens (Novel)

Starring: Toby Irvine, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Sally Hawkins, William Ellis, David Walliams, Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter

 

Plot: A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic story

 

Story: Great Expectation starts as we meet the orphaned boy Pip, living with his sister and brother in law Joe (Flemyng) a blacksmith raising Pip to be his assistant. After Pip learns of a better life he dreams of becoming a gentleman in London after spending time with Miss Havisham (Carter) and her own orphan Estella.

Now a young man Pip (Irvine) gets to move back to the city after an unknow inheritance, so leaving his family and friends behind, Pip gets to start on the road to becoming a gentleman. Pip finds himself needing to learning the hierarchy of the wealthy as he also wants to know who gave him the chance to become one of the gentlemen of the city and even after his childhood sweetheart Estella (Grainger) returns to his life, love takes over his life.

 

Thoughts on Great Expectation

 

Characters/PerformancePip is a young man who dreamt of being a gentleman in London, but achieve this he must learn a new way, forget his past and even find himself wondering about who put him in a position of power while dealing with love. Magwitch is a prisoner that Pip helped at a young age and a man that comes back into the life to learn the truth about the past. Miss Havisham is a lonely woman left heartbroken after being conned and left at the alter, she has been teaching Estella about the ways of the man, teaching her to never love. Estella is the young woman that Pip falls in love with when they are children and no as adults doesn’t believe she has a heart even though Pip wants to love her.

Performance wise, we have a very impressive cast that all give us wonderful performances fitting into the period piece that this film is.  

StoryThis is one of Charles Dickens classics tales and one I was unfamiliar with, so I thought I would give it a go. This story shows the social hierarchy during the early 19 century, this is one that has forbidden love, revenge and a position of what would be the right thing in life. I do feel this is one story people should be enjoy even if this might not be the best version.

RomanceThe romance side of this comes from Pip falling for Estella and is left wondering if he could fall in love during a time when status would put people together.

SettingsEach setting makes us believe we are in the time the film is set whether it be the small marsh like area of the city of London.

Final ThoughtsClassic story and one that goes in a direction you could only find yourself wanting to know more about.

 

Overall: A must watch for classic literature fans.

Rating

 

 

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2014)

woman in black 2Director: Tom Harper

Writer: Jon Croker (Screenplay) Susan Hill (Story)

Starring: Phoebe Fox, Jeremy Irvine, Helen McCrory, Oaklee Pendergast

 

Plot: 40 years after the first haunting at Eel Marsh House, a group of children evacuated from WWII London arrive, awakening the house’s darkest inhabitant.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Painfully Boring

 

Story: The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death starts in London 1941 with an air raid going on and Eve Parkins (Fox) in the tube looking after the scared. Along with Jean Hogg (McCrory) they are taking the children to the country for safety from the raids. On the train the young teacher meets charming Harry Burnstow (Irvine) who just so happens to be going to the same location as the children.

The children are staying at Eel Marsh House the very same location from the first film, isolated and away from the world it makes a perfect location for the children to stay during the war even if the conditions are not ideal to start with.

The first night in the house Eve suffers a nightmare and for some reason goes to explore the creepy house in near pitch black *two thumbs up*. She continues to follow a noise shouting ‘hello’ because all ghosts say ‘hi’ you know. One of the children Edward (Pendergast)  lost his parents during the last air raid and hasn’t said a word since, Eve tries to push the over children into including him while Mrs Hogg is trying to force him into coming out of his condition on his own. When a game with the other children goes wrong Edward finds himself locked in a room where he meets someone but not someone we see. When one of the children wonders off at night they find him dead in the morning leave Eve questioning whether they really are alone in the house.

Eve determined to get to the bottom of things going on starts investigating the house along with Harry, Eve knows she has seen something or somebody around the house and its grounds but could never make out what it is. It takes 50 minutes yes 50 to inform us about the woman in black inside the house, which I understand there being a time difference but surely they don’t need to waste as much time as they do explaining this. Eve knows what is going on now and has to find a way to save the children before it is too late.

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death takes what was a solid horror film and manages to spend well over half the film explaining what we already know. We have next to nothing in the idea of horror and everything we do get is clichéd and easy to predict. I feel this could or at least should be the end of the film series because the idea was stall already. I will give this a few positive points and that is the idea of bringing in fresh batch of children for the woman in black to take works for the idea of the story and using the real idea of what would have happened with the children during the war works. The reality is this film doesn’t live up to the original, it uses easy jump scares that don’t work and it really doesn’t make the film enjoyable. (4/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Helen McCrory: Jean Hogg head mistress of the children who believes in strict discipline and no supernatural nonsense. Helen does a basic job but her supporting character doesn’t seem to do much through the film. (4/10)

 

Jeremy Irvine: Harry Burnstow charming pilot who befriends Eve and always seems to turn up in time to protect her when she is in need of help. Jeremy doesn’t push his character to the next level which would have made him perform better. (4/10)

 

Phoebe Fox: Eve Parkins young teacher who spends most of her time investigating and trying to get Edward to talk, she does every mistake known to man in the horror book 101 mistakes. It is hard to bash her because of a poor script but you don’t ever believer her terror through the film. (5/10)

 

Oaklee Pendergast: Edward recently orphaned boy who hasn’t said a word but the woman in black takes a shine to him wanting to protect him from his problems. Oaklee does solid job and keeps his character in grief state through the film. (6/10)

 

Support Cast: The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death has a support cast that is mainly the rest of the children but they only become the victims for the woman in black.

 

Director Review: Tom Harper – Tom fails to push the horror boundaries and fails to give any real scares through the film. (3/10)

 

Horror: The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death doesn’t really have any good scares but tries to follow the ABC of jump scares. (3/10)

Thriller: The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death doesn’t pull you in and you simply don’t care what happens. (3/10)

Settings: The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death has a location that creates isolation but doesn’t seem to use it as well as it could. (4/10)

Suggestion: The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is one to avoid especially if you didn’t like the first one. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: Hard to find one.

Worst Part: Lazy scares.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Hopefully not.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $26 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

Tagline: She never forgives. She never forgets. She never left.

 

Overall: This really is a lazy sequel that you will spend most of the film saying ‘are you stupid’ to the main character.

Rating 30