Michael Rooker Weekend – Cliffhanger (1993)

Director: Renny Harlin

Writer: Michael France, Sylvester Stallone (Screenplay) John Long (Premise)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner, Rex Linn, Caroline Goodall, Leon, Craig Fairbrass

 

Plot: A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.


Tagline – Hang on!

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun 90s Action Film

 

Story: Cliffhanger starts when Gabe Walker (Stallone) returns to the Rocky Mountains 8 months after a tragic event which saw his best friend Hal (Rooker) lose a girlfriend through a rescue attempt gone wrong. Gabe and Hal must put their differences aside when a distress call from a botch mid-air flight crash lands on the mountains.

Qualen (Lithgow) leads the criminals as they force Hal and Gabe to guide them to their loot, which takes them across the mountains with the only rescue team being led by Jessie (Turner) that can help them survive.

 

Thoughts on Cliffhanger

 

Characters – Gabe is known as being the best climbing around, he works on the rescues and can reach spots others wouldn’t event try to get too. After an accident he has walked away from this world, but his return is just in time as he needs to navigate the mountains to say ahead of the criminals searching for their money, picking them off one by one. Qualen is the leader of the criminals, he has a plan which would make him rich and money is the only thing that matters to him. Hal is the old friend of Gabe’s, he blames him for the accident and ends up becoming the reluctant guide for the criminals, using his knowledge to slow them down. Jessie is the final member of the search and rescue team who is working with Gabe to get ahead of the criminals, only her position makes for an extra problem for Gabe. The rest of the criminals fill in the generic roles, the British henchman, the pilot, the lover and the one with pride in a kill.

PerformancesSylvester Stallone was the prime example of one of the best action stars in the early 90s, this movie shows why because his one-liner deliver is on point and the physical side of the performance showed he was read for the role. John Lithgow as a villain is one of the easiest choice we see, he shines in this role which will make you just hate him. Michael Rooker in the good guy with a grudge role does work well too with Janine Turner filling out the main cast doing the best she can with her own character.

StoryThe story here is simple, two rescue mountain rangers are tricked into helping a group of criminals that have seen their heist go wrong and need to locate their money. This is as simple as it sounds, we never try to over complicate anything going on in this film, it is good guys versus bad guys on a mountain which adds to the peril, we have a small sub story about Gabe and Hal needing to put an accident behind them, which does work as they  must work together instead of just fighting or blaming each other. While we can work out how this will happen and we do get plenty of one-liners this all works for a 90s action film.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is strong, we focus on different fight, explosions and just difficulties of being that high up in the middle of a battle for survival, which does play into the adventure elements as this takes the characters on an unlikely journey to try and collect money.

SettingsThe film keeps the whole film on the mountain range, it shows just how difficult it would be to just escape and how knowing the lay of land the climbers have the advantage.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just how capable the villains are to do all the mountaineering.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical fun 90s action film, it will entertain the audience and gives us plenty of one-liners to laugh at.

 

Overall: 90s action through and through.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

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

 

 

John Travolta Weekend – Blow Out (1981)

blowDirector: Brian De Palma

Writer: Brian De Palma (Screenplay)

Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden, Curt May, John Aquino, John McMartin

 

Plot: A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Horror Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Blow Out starts with Jack Terry (Travolta) a sound engineer that has been working on his latest film, a low budget horror film. While working on finding the latest sound effects Jack witnesses a car accident saving Sally (Allen) from drowning. Learning that the potential future President was killed in the accident Jack is ask to forget about saving the girl for the Governors family.

Learning this was no accident Jack sets out to prove he recorded the murder only to find himself and Sally in danger from the people responsible for the murder and cover up. Jack finds himself being tracked down by hitman Burke (Lithgow) who is out to clean up any loose ends with the cover up.

Blow Out is a conspiracy thriller that was showing just how easy it could have been to cover up a crime for the time it was made. We get a scandal that can ruin a Presidential campaign which is just the beginning of the story but when he is killed we get the next chapter as one man must prove this was no accident. The film is filled with tension from early on which drives us to want to see what will happen to our characters.

Travolta is great in the leading role show he was still at the top of his game in the early 80s, while Nancy Allen does well with what is a very weak female character written to be very naïve and not used to the world. John Lithgow is fabulous as this cold-hearted killer which we do get to see much later in his career with performance in Raising Cain and Dexter. The rest of the supporting cast ends up being very generic not making too much of an impact on the final film. This is easily one of the most underrated films of the 80s and can still be watched today as if it was a fresh release.

 

Overall: One of the most underrated films I have seen, tense from start to finish.

Ratingcard

 

 

The Accountant (2016)

accDirector: Gavin O’Connor

Writer: Bill Dubuque (Screenplay)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow

 

Plot: As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Best Action Thriller of the Year

 

Story: The Accountant starts as we see Christian Wolff at a young age struggling to deal with autism but with the correct tuition Christian (Affleck) has turned his math savant skills to help small town people manage their accounts. He is distant from people but always helps those who need it.

On the other side of the story we meet head of the treasury department Ray King (Simmons) who blackmails a young agent Marybeth Medina (Addai-Robinson) into investigating this mysterious accountant that has been working with the biggest names on the terrorists list, that accountant is Christian under an alter-ego.

Christian’s latest accountancy job is sorting 15 years of accounts for Lamar Black (Lithgow) Living Robotics company that have been working on defence contracts. While Christian gets on with his latest job we see how Brax (Bernthal) goes about cleaning up other questionable actions from the bankers. While Christian must deal with the junior accountant Dana Cummings (Kendrick) being too talkative for his own liking.

As the story continues to unfold we continue to learn just how dangerous Christian really is and what his bigger plan is. As Brax cleans up what Christian discovers his desperate need for completion explodes but what he discovers could expose the fraud going on.

The Accountant is one of the most complete action thrillers of recent years. The story does borrow elements from recent ideas with myself seeing a mix of John Wick and Dexter going on throughout. Where this story stand head and shoulders above most other films is the way the whole story gets completed. Another huge plus point for this film is that every character gets a full development and we see their story arc go full circle.

Ben Affleck gives a brilliant performance in this leading role where we get to see him have the full emotionless character that is intense to level most action character could only wish for. Jon Bernthal continues to shine through supporting roles in films after his time on television. J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson work excellently together again with a perfect story arc to their character. The only negative in this film I found was the character Dana just feels added to the story while this doesn’t mean Kendrick is bad it was the character didn’t quite fit the full story.

This is easily one of the films of the year that I can fully expect everyone to enjoy and even at over two hours long you barely notice the time being used in this film.

 

Overall: Brutal action, story with heart and perfect story telling throughout.

Ratingcard

 

 

Interstellar (2014)

logoDirector: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (Screenplay)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow

 

Plot: A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

 

Warning! There will be spoilers from now on.

 

Verdict: Modern Space Masterpiece

 

Story: We start by following our hero Cooper as he struggles to keep his farm running while the Earth’s resources continue to dwindle. Cooper’s family starts to get weird messages that he puts together into a message that leads him to NASA. Cooper learns about a mission that could save the remaining people on Earth. The mission involves leaving his family for an unknown amount of time while he travels with a crew through a wormhole in search for another potential world for the human race to move to.

I have been waiting for this one all year and I wasn’t disappointed, the story aims to challenge us because we are asked plenty of questions. Even though the film is about searching for a new world the core storyline is actually about our hero wanting to keep his promise to his daughter even if it takes her lifetime. With that coming through as the main storyline the bigger picture sometimes get neglected as a few of the scientific questions remained unanswered.  This story will end up testing you and keep you guessing from start to finish, this is what will end up going down as the best sci-fi space based film since 2001 Space odyssey. (10/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Matthew McConaughey: Cooper our hero who lives and works on one of the few remaining farms along with his two children and father in law. He was always meant for something bigger but as his father in law states he was born 40 years to late or 40 years to early. When he gets a chance to fly the spacecraft to save the human race he is faced with a moral dilemma of leaving his family to save everyone. Matthew gives a great performance showing why he is on everyone’s most wanted list in Hollywood. (9/10)

 matty

Anne Hathaway: Amelia daughter of Professor Brand who has all the intelligence to be on the mission but has never faced the real situation where she has to make decisions that could define the mission. Anne gives a good performance as what turns into the weak link of the team. (8/10)

anne

Mackenzie Foy/Jessica Chastain: Murph both playing different ages of Murph who have always challenged in science while keeping hate towards Cooper for leaving them behind. They both give great performance even if they both have only limited screen time. (8/10)

 murph

Matt Damon: Dr Mann the brilliant Dr Mann as the crew know him as, he lead 12 astronauts through the wormhole with each looking to visit a different potential world. He comes off strange when our crew meets him but he ends up not being everything they thought he would be. Matt gives a good performance as the lone astronaut who just wants to survive. (8/10)

 

Support Cast: Filled with scientists, generations of Cooper’s family, two robots with one having a very dry sense of humour and fellow astronauts that all make up the support cast. Every member gives a great performance to help the storyline progress and make us care about every decision that is made.

 

Director Review: Christopher Nolan – In years to come I believe people will still be talking about this for pure quality, The Dark Knight will always be remembered for Heath Ledger’s performance and Inception for be a brain twister, this will be the one that people will look back and praise the direction as the subject has always come off short but this will be compared to the greatest for years to come. (10/10)

 

Sci-Fi: Brilliant sci-fi elements used throughout, looking at a future world we need to leave as well as the look at potential interstellar travel. (10/10)

Cinematography: Simply breathe taking. (10/10)

Music: Hans Zimmer the greatest in the business today gives another brilliant use of music. (10/10)

Settings: Each setting makes a great viewing be it the bleak look at Earth of the distance places the crew travel too. (10/10)
Special Effects
: Unbelievable special effects used throughout to make everything come off as potential real. (10/10)

Suggestion: Even though it comes off slightly long this film will be something will talk about for years and is a must watch for everyone. (Watch)

 

Best Part: The heart breaking missed messages from the 23 years lost in a matter of hours.

Worst Part: Slightly too long but it would be hard to figure out anything to be cut down.

Lessons Learned: Always think outside the box

Funniest Scene:  TARS dry comedy

Oh My God Moment: The spinning attachment.

Favourite Quote: Cooper ‘We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.’

 

Believability: The science is real and the effects that the Earth goes through. (7/10)

Chances of Tears: You could have a few. (4/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: 2001 A Space Odyssey

 

Oscar Chances: Could clean up the technical awards, Cinematography, Music.

Budget: $165 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 49 Minutes

Tagline: The end of Earth will not be the end of us

 

Overall: This Generations A Space Odyssey

Rating 95