ABC Film Challenge – Horror – S – The Skeleton Key (2005)

Director: Iain Softley

Writer: Ehren Kruger (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant, Maxine Barnett

 

Plot: A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house’s dark past.


Tagline – Fearing Is Believing

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Ghost Investigation

 

Story: The Skeleton Key starts as we meet carer Caroline Ellis (Hudson) who has been working in a home, but wants a change. This leads her to a New Orleans plantation to helps the Devereaux family, Violet (Rowlands) and the paralysed Ben (Hurt) with the lawyer Luke Marshall (Sarsgaard) trying to strike a deal.

When Ben doesn’t seem as disabled as Violet appears to let on, Caroline finds herself investigating the house more, where she finds a secret room in the attic, she turns to her best friend Jill (Bryant) to help who teaches her about Hoodoo which is what could be haunting the home.

 

Thoughts on The Skeleton Key

 

Characters – Caroline is a carer, looking to study nursing, she takes this new role which offers her the freedom needed to do the studying. She starts questioning the strange goings on within the house, which leads her to go into full investigation mode. Violet is the lady of the home, she wants to keep everything the way it was inside the house knowing and believing the curse that roams the house. She doesn’t like people coming to the home disturbing the peace she has created with the ghosts. Ben is the disabled husband that has suffered a stroke, he is the reason why Caroline is hired but not everything is right for him as he tries to communicate without being able to use his words. Luke Marshall is the lawyer putting the affairs in orders for the Devereaux’s, he hires Caroline to help care for Ben while using his charm will get him through any situation. Jill is Caroline’s best friend, she fills the filling in the information at times roles and gives us the character that helps question whether she is making the right decisions.

PerformancesKate Hudson is good in this leading role, she is strong minded character which shows in her performance. Gena Rowlands enjoys her role in the film where she gets to play the twisted character. John Hurt gets to show of his acting skills in the supporting role, he doesn’t get any dialogue in the film just gets to show the desperation he is feeling. Peter Sarsgaard is strong too, in a decade where he was always one of the go to guys in a supporting role.

StoryThe story dives into elements of horror I enjoy the most, we have a new member of the household, in this case a carer, that finds out something is right and must figure out what is happening before it is too late. The film offers plenty off potential options to where the film could go, which is what we like even if it does suggest heavily in one direction, you will need to keep thinking as to where the film will end up going.

Horror/MysteryThe horror isn’t in your face jump scares, it is well created tension filled moments that help us get to the final outcome, the mystery does take centre stage for the genres as we watch this get solved by Caroline.

SettingsThe New Orleans settings helps us understand the Hoodoo idea that is surrounded by the characters involved in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects aren’t used very often and to be honest the ones used don’t seem to come off very well.


Scene of the Movie –
The Final night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I had an issue with just having one random friend who was only used to fill in the blanks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good little horror, it is nothing ground breaking, but it has good performances and a solid story that will keep you guessing.

 

Overall: Good horror mystery from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Animation – V – Valiant (2005)

Director: Gary Chapman

Writer: Jordan Katz, George Webster, George Melrod (Screenplay) George Webster (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, John Hurt

 

Plot: Set in 1944, Valiant is a woodland pigeon who wants to become a great hero someday. When he hears they are hiring recruits for the Royal Homing Pigeon Service, he immediately sets out for London. On the way, he meets a smelly but friendly pigeon named Bugsy, who joins him, mainly to get away from clients he cheated in a game of find-the pebble, and helps him sign up for the war.


Tagline –  Some pigeons eat crumbs, others make history.

Runtime: 1 Hour 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Film

 

Story: Valiant starts as small young pigeon Valiant wants to help out during World War II by joining the Royal Homing Pigeon Service, taking his chance a heading to London he meets hustler pigeon Bugsy as the pair con their way into the recruitment process.

Going through the recruitment process the pigeons are sent on their first mission with the danger of the falcons with the evil Von Talon waiting for any pigeons that try to cross the ocean.

 

Thoughts on Valiant

 

Characters – Valiant is a plucky young pigeon that wants to be a hero of war by becoming a carrier pigeon for the royal homing pigeon service, he has the guts even if he doesn’t have the build for it, he will risk his life to save his country. Bugsy is a cowardly con artist pigeon that uses joining the service to escape magpies, only to try to get out of it on a constant basis. Von Talon is the evil falcon that has been hunting the pigeons trying to return home, he is the typical foreign villain for this film.

StoryThe story follows an unlikely group of homing pigeons that must deliver secrets back to the soldiers in England during World War II. This gives you everything you want to enjoy in an animated story, the idea of a character overcoming his weaknesses to become the strongest part of a team, even if this does make light of the war itself, even when it is trying to tell the importance of the animals in the war.

Adventure/Comedy/FamilyThe adventure out pigeons go on is life or death and a real one pigeons would have gone on during the war, the comedy does hit well for the British audience which is nice to see with a string of British comedies offering the laughs. This will be one the whole family could enjoy too, having moments that all ages will understand.

SettingsThe settings play into the idea that the animals will be involved in the war and just how they will be seeing the biggest moments too, while also decreasing the scale of everything.

AnimationThe animation looks great in the foreground, while the backgrounds have been scaled down, which is fine, but doesn’t show the busyness around the big cities.


Scene of the Movie –
The crossing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I personally didn’t like how small London seemed to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun animation that can be enjoyed by everyone, though it does have a very British core, certain jokes might miss for a more international audience.

 

Overall: Enjoyable and fun.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – W – Watership Down (1978)

Director: Martin Rosen

Writer: Martin Rosen (Screenplay) Richard Adams (Novel)

Starring: (Voice Talents) John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox, John Bennett, Ralph Richardson, Simon Cadell

 

Plot: A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.


Tagline – All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and when they catch you, they will kill you… but first they must catch you.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disturbing Animation

 

Story: Watership Down starts when young rabbits Hazel and Fiver start to believe something is wrong with their warren a danger coming that will kill them all. Wanting to warm the warren, they see the chief rabbit, who dismisses their claims, forcing the rabbits to abandon the warren going against the traditions.

Hazel leads a group of rabbits across the English countryside in search for a new warren, where they must face enemies in nearly every turn in their journey.

 

Thoughts on Watership Down

 

Characters – Hazel is our brave leader rabbit, he knows how to handle the different rabbits in the warren and will always look after his little brother and follow his belief danger is coming to the warren. He is our reluctant hero of the story. Fiver is the rut of the litter, he sees danger coming to the warren wanting to leave and guide his fellow rabbits to safety. He is a nervous member of the group, with his belief guiding the rabbits to safety. Bigwig is the only authority in the rabbit council that will listen to Hazel, risking his own life to help them escape.

StoryThe story here has a couple of meanings, we can tackle the simple idea of a group of rabbits needing to find a new home because they are in fear of their current one, the journey side of everything it what you would expect and works wonderfully. The second side of this story looks and plays as a warning to humans that are taking wildlife’s homes away from them forcing them into the hostel nature towards each other.

Adventure/Family/ThrillerThe adventure does take our rabbits across the countryside, needing to take on and avoid new enemies waiting to make a meal out of them. The biggest weakness is seeing this as a family film, it is way to violent for the younger kids. It does however leave you on edge of your seats through the peril moments.

SettingsThe settings look at the English countryside which looks beautiful, we do go into the warrens too which shows the lives the rabbits live underground.

AnimationThe animation through the film adds to everything, it looks brilliant for the late 70s and while certain moment are slightly trippy, it is an achievement in film making.


Scene of the Movie –
Bright Eyes

That Moment That Annoyed Me The television version is edited way too much.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that gave me nightmares as a child, it does have an important message to mankind while also having an adventure story that is filled with perils around nearly every corner.

 

Overall: Dark animated movie.

Rating

 

 

Natalie Portman Weekend – Jackie (2016)

jackieDirector: Pablo Larrain

Writer: Noah Oppenheim (Screenplay)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Richard E Grant

 

Plot: Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Look Into Jackie Kennedy’s Life

 

Story: Jackie starts one week after the assassination of President John F Kennedy and Jackie (Portman) wants her husband remembered the way she wants, calling on journalist (Crudup) to write an article on what she will do next.

Jackie recounts the intimate accounts of the aftermath of the assassination as Jackie herself must come to terms with her husband’s murder while the country comes to terms with the death of their President. Jackie wants to make sure her husband gets a funeral a leader of state should receive.

 

Thoughts on Jackie

 

StoryWhen you look at American history there is two shocking assassination we have seen of Presidents and JFK was the first world saw, we have seen how people have speculated, remade the event for years to come but we have never looked at Jackie’s part during the event. This is where the story shines because unlike the nation she is experience the death of her husband who was going to make America a country that was moving onto greatness. Looking at the intimate details of what it was like for Jackie after the event was refreshing and enjoyable to see from start to finish because you fully understand every decision she made.

BiographyLooking into this tragic time for Jackie Kennedy was something we have barely seen before as most of the focus is on JFK’s death. looking at how Jackie has to deal with the tragic events is something this film gets so right we can enjoy she just how powerful she was too.

Characters/PerformanceWe have real people being portrayed once again in this film so it is hard to look past the people’s decision making process through the events. Portman is leaps and bounds above the rest of the cast shining through every single scene she is part of, it is when you look past Portman’s performance you get good performances from the rest of the cast that all do great without being considered to be on Portman’s level.

SettingsEach setting used in the film makes us feel like we are part of the chapter of the life of Jackie Kennedy after her husband assassination. We fully believe this is unfolding on front of us as the story continues.

Final ThoughtsThis is an important look at one of the most shocking moments in American history.

 

Overall: I think this will be a film many people will miss but they will miss out on something very important.

Ratingcard

 

 

Mia Wasikowska Weekend – Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

onlyDirector: Jim Jarmusch

Writer: Jim Jarmusch (Screenplay) Marion Bessay (Novel)

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Anton Yelchin, Mia Wasikowska, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, John Hurt

 

Plot: A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow

 

Story: Only Lovers Left Alive starts as we meet the reclusive musician Adam (Hiddleston) whose one connection to the outside world seems to be Ian (Yelchin) who supplies him musical and other needs. We also meet Eve (Swinton) who has been searching for her latest fix from Christopher Marlowe (Hurt).

We learn that Adam, Eve and Christopher are all in fact vampires whose live have crossed paths over the centuries they have all lived through. Adam tired of his life and how he sees the humans wants to reconnect with Eve to help him through his problems and help is acceptance of the human race.

As the two rekindle their love their lives are thrown into danger when Ava (Wasikowska) turns up searching for the both of them. Ava puts a test between Eve and Adam’s relationship with her still reckless ways which would put the vampire existence at risk.

Only Lovers Left Alive give us a look at the relationship between two ancient vampires who have seen the worlds ups and downs through the centuries they have been living. This is very slow moving and I feel never reaches the levels of similar styled film Interview with the Vampire. We get to see the frustration Adam feels towards humans but in the end it just feels like a catch up moment in their lives.

 

Actor Review

 

Tilda Swinton: Eve is one of the ancient vampires and lover of Adam over the centuries they have been alive. She comes to Adam when he finds himself suffering with his existence and the two look back on their relationship through the years. Tilda is always one person you can turn to for good performances and she doesn’t let us down here.

Tom Hiddleston: Adam has been playing music for his vampire life keeping up with the trends while making himself a true recluse from the world. He is tired of the humans which he refers to as zombies but reconnecting with Eve could help him find his way again. Tom is good in this role showing how he can jump between blockbusters and smaller projects and show off his skills.

Anton Yelchin: Ian is Adam’s connection to the outside world where he locates all the rarest musical items to help Adam build his collection. Anton does well in this supporting role without being overly involved in the story.

Mia Wasikowska: Ava is the sister of Eve’s but not by blood, she is also a vampire and comes off as the irresponsible youngest member of the vampire world who has always caused trouble for Adam and Eve. Mia is good in what is only a small supporting role but completely against her sweet typecast.

Support Cast: Only Lovers Left Alive has a small supporting cast that does include heavyweights Jeffrey Wright and John Hurt who do well with what they do but the film does focus more on Adam and Eve.

Director Review: Jim JarmuschJim give us a look at everlasting love between vampires but also does end up having slow moving story.

 

Horror: Only Lovers Left Alive doesn’t really create any horror involved with a vampire story.

Romance: Only Lovers Left Alive does show us the everlasting love between the century old vampires even if they spend years apart.

Settings: Only Lovers Left Alive keeps our settings dark and out of the everyday world because that is where you would expect to see vampires hide out.
Special Effects
: Only Lovers Left Alive only has the special effects when needed but never goes over with the few needed.

Suggestion: Only Lovers Left Alive is one to try and it is very slow moving for a vampire movie. (Try It)

 

Best Part: Music.

Worst Part: Very slow moving.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $7 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 3 Minutes

 

Overall: Slow moving vampire love story.

Ratingcard