The Killing Fields (1984)

killingDirector: Roland Joffe

Writer: Bruce Robinson (Screenplay)

Starring: Sam Waterston, Haing S Ngor, John Malkovich, Julian Sands, Craig T Nelson, Spalding Gray

 

Plot: A journalist is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot’s bloody “Year Zero” cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of two million “undesirable” civilians.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Important Moment in History

 

Story: The Killing Fields starts in Cambodia 1973 when New York reporter Sydney Schanberg (Waterston) arrives in the war-torn country to meet his representative and friend Dith Pran (Ngor) who shows him around the country. When the war gets to a new level of danger the American’s are leaving the country but Sydney wants to stay to cover the atrocities going on in the country but Dith refuses to leave his side even after Sydney gets his family out of the warzone.

Staying behind Sydney, Dith, Al Rockoff (Malkovich) and Jon Swain (Sands) continue to report the atrocities around Cambodia for the news around the world where they will end up having to experience things no one on Earth should ever have to get through.

 

Thoughts on The Killing Fields

 

StoryThe story mostly shows how on local had to survive to get out of the Cambodia before he becomes a victim of the war between Cambodia and Vietnam. We do also have a look at how the reporters are seeing what is going on but they get safe leading to the American’s wanting to help their friends while he survives what is going on. This is shocking story that will leave you in shock, fear and moments of tears in the final outcome.

Biography/History/WarThis film is very important because of what happened in Cambodia and how the people were treated, with this we get to see a time in history which will need to be seen to understand what they went through.

Characters/PerformanceWith each character based on the real people it is hard to look at what we think of the character’s action they take and experiences they must go through. Looking at the performances you can see just how brilliant they all were through the film with Ngor stealing the show.

SettingsEach setting shows us just how horrific the situation in Cambodia was and how if effected anyone involved in the devastation of the war.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hard film to get through because of the subject matter and I can see plenty of people not wanting to see it but this is also essential viewing for any historical film fans.

 

Overall: One of the hardest films to watch but also one of the greatest films to see.

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Franchise Weekend – Ripley’s Game (2002)

ripleyDirector: Liliana Cavani

Writer: Charles McKeown, Liliana Cavani (Screenplay) Patricia Highsmith (Novel)

Starring: John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Lena Headey, Ray Winstone, Chiara Caselli

 

Plot: Tom Ripley persuades a man to commit a murder for a large sum of money. The situation goes out of control, and that man must escape trouble.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disappointing Sequel

 

Story: Ripley’s Game starts as we see an older Tom Ripley (Malkovich) trying to make a deal that his partner on this case Reeves (Winstone) has ruined the full amount on. 3 years later Tom is back in Italy in his mansion.

Trying to live a quiet life Ripley’s old partner is back Reeves wants Ripley to help him with a problem back in Germany with Ripley looks at his neighbour Jonathan Trevanny (Scott) to do the dirty deed as a final attempt to help Jonathan financial future with his sickness.

When Jonathan does the job, he has to deal with the consequences that has Reeves continue to contact him to do other jobs for him but has he found himself in the middle of a deadly game that only Tom can save him from.

 

Thoughts on Ripley’s Game

 

StoryThis is a follow up to the 1999 film taking place years after the events in that film. Ripley is in full control of his abilities now and his ability to complete any job required. The problem I have with the story this time is that it feels like a heist film gone wrong rather than a smart slick con-artist film. I just don’t think this film clicked on the levels of the first film.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of the story does in fact feel bigger throughout this film it just doesn’t balance with the thrilling side of the story leaving the crime elements feeling average because Ripley is designed to be slick with his actions.

Characters/PerformanceMalkovich is always an interesting performer and his grabs this role and makes it his own but when it comes to both the performance of Scott and Winstone they feel out of place to the world created making it hard to be pulled into the world we are watching this time around.

SettingsThe first film captured the background if Italy perfectly this time around everything just feels slightly messy with not a single scene being iconic when it comes to seeing what we do with the character’s decisions.

Final ThoughtsThis is really a sub-par sequel that never reaches the heights of the Talented Mr Ripley.

 

Overall: Heads in the wrong direction for what the film had created.

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Deepwater Horizon (2016)

deepDirector: Peter Berg

Writer: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Sand (Screenplay) David Rohde, Stephanie Saul (Article)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Douglas M Griffin, James DuMont, Joe Chrest, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich, Dylan O’Brien

 

Plot: A dramatization of the April 2010 disaster when the offshore drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Explosively Entertaining Second Half.

 

Story: Deepwater Horizon starts with Mike Williams having to report what happened on the day in question on the Deepwater Horizon. We move back to the day of the events with Mike (Wahlberg) joining the team Jimmy Harrell (Russell), Andrea Fleytas (Rodriguez) joining a BP representative Vidrine (Malkovich) on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon.

Clashing on the rig Jimmy challenges Vidrine to invest money on maintaining the rig after the team was sent back early before they will start working. Being named the safest rig for the 7th straight year there is a go ahead to start preparation to commence drilling despite mixed results from the tests.

Finding themselves in the middle of a major blow out it becomes a race against time to prevent disaster and survive what will be one of the most devastating oil rig disasters known to man. It is up to Mike, Jimmy, Andrea and young driller Caleb (O’Brien) to stop things getting out of hand.

 

Thoughts on Deepwater Horizon

 

StoryThis is the story of what happened on the rig that caused the biggest disaster in oil drilling history. I will be honest that this starts slow with a good 40 minutes of talking in oil rig language mixed with business, you know the stuff we don’t care too much about, but once this all kicks off it becomes as chaotic as you would imagine it would be. When you look at how this story I can’t help but wonder how a man with Jimmy’s reputation would let anyone interfere with the operations on his rig which is made to look like the reason this is happened.

Action/ThrillerWhen the action starts well it never stops and you are on the edge of your seat from that moment until the final credits.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters are all based on the real men and women involved in the disaster so it is hard to question the characters involved. The performances are all fantastic be it as the last man off the rig in Wahlberg, the strong boss in Russell or the businessman that causes the problems in Malkovich.

SettingsThe setting is nearly all on the oil rig which once the incident happens we get to experience the chaos of the disaster first hand seeing just how life-threatening the situation is.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the special effects it is only wow to describe them because they all look amazing making you feel like you are on this rig.

Final ThoughtsThe slow start does almost feel like filler but is important character filler before we want to see them all survive this disaster.

 

Overall: This was surprisingly one of the most intense films of the year.

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John Malkovich Weekend – Jonah Hex (2010)

jonahDirector: Jimmy Hayward

Writer: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor (Screenplay) Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, William Farmer (Story)

Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, John Gallagher Jr, Michael Shannon, Wes Bentley

 

Plot: The U.S. military makes a scarred bounty hunter with warrants on his own head an offer he cannot refuse: in exchange for his freedom, he must stop a terrorist who is ready to unleash Hell on Earth.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Bad as I Thought

 

Story: Jonah Hex starts as we see soldier Jonah Hex (Brolin) has to pay for killing Quentin Turnbull’s (Malkovich) son during the war, branded with a QT on his face Jonah witness his family burnt alive. Going on the rampage to find Turnbull he only discovers he has died and Jonah becomes a bounty hunter that can communicate with the dead.

When Turnbull returns from the grave or never got killed the President turns to Jonah Hex to stop Turnbull and his plan to build the deadly weapon that could become the biggest threat in American.

Jonah Hex is an adaptation from a comic book series which like most I have never read so I can’t judge how accurate the version is. The story is shot like it has been ripped from the pages of a comic because we get very little background story of any characters in more than quick flashbacks. The special effects do come off looking bad in places where you can clearly see the CGI being used throughout. The settings all come off looking like the time which isn’t a problem and potentially the highlight of the film. The action side of the film is all average without a truly memorable scene being used either and the inclusion of the fantasy elements where Jonah can talk to the dead comes off looking good and is something I would have liked to have seen more.

The cast is an interesting one because Brolin as Hex works well, Malkovich as the main villain is like finding a cheap version of Cyrus the Virus from Con Air, Megan Fox clearly brings the sex appeal but doesn’t get much of the actual acting done here. It is Michael Fassbender that stands out in this role where he goes full crazy with his character being the most memorable but I am not sure if it is for the right or wrong reasons. All the other supporting cast are almost wasted in small roles that barely get more than one scene.

 

Overall: I was expecting terrible but this is an easy watch without being great.

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John Malkovich Weekend – Empire of the Sun (1987)

empireDirector: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Tom Stoppard (Screenplay) J.G. Ballard (Novel)

Starring: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano, Leslie Phillips

 

Plot: A young English boy struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant

 

Story: Empire of the Sun starts in 1941 China as we follow an English family the Graham’s Mary (Richard), John (Frazer) and boy Jim (Bale) who find themselves in the middle of the tension between China and Japan. While trying to get out of China during the first invasion Jim finds himself separated where he returns home waiting for his parents to return all while having to fend for himself.

Jim meets American Basie (Malkovich), British couple Mrs Victor (Richardson), Mr Victor (Gale) and Dr Rawlins (Havers) as he has to survive in conditions his privileged lifestyle isn’t used to as a prisoner of war.

Empire of the Sun is a war drama that follows one boy during a war outbreak. This shows his struggle and search for anyone who will help him. I do like how the story decides to stay away from showing the actual conflict of war showing the human effects of what is happening. Also seeing the story from the boy’s point of view helps us understand the struggle he is facing even if he does come off annoying in places. This is one of those films that hasn’t dated at all even though it is reaching the age of 30 this year.

 

Actor Review

 

Christian Bale: Jim is the English boy living in China during the outbreak of World War II, he has lived there for his whole life. He gets separated from his family he has to fend for himself from within a Prisoner of War camp. I will say this character comes off very annoying having been taught nothing by his parents and never knowing when to shut up but that can’t be taken away from Bale’s performance. Christian shows all the shines that he was going to go onto become the star he is now with this brilliant performance.

John Malkovich: Basie is an American wheeler and dealer that reluctantly takes care of Jim during the wartime partly because he knows how to find him a deal, he gives him motivation to carry on while always looking for his own escape. John gives us the performance that is great and shows us he is a main stay of Hollywood.

Miranda Richardson: Mrs Victor is one of the British woman that take care of Jim in the prisoner of war camp, she does get tired of his stories but knows she is trying her best to protect him. Miranda is good in this supporting role without being over used.

Nigel Havers: Dr Rawlins is also at the prisoner of war who offers Jim time within the hospital caring for the sick during the time of war. Nigel much like Miranda is a good supporting without getting enough time to be over used.

Support Cast: Empire of the Sun has a good supporting cast with what I would say the only bad thing is we never feel like anyone is a really bad guy character.

Director Review: Steven SpielbergSteven give us one of the best wartime drama of all time that doesn’t focus on the actual conflict.

 

History: Empire of the Sun shows us what the prisoner of war camps would have been like during World War II filled with sickness and dealing to make it all bearable.

War: Empire of the Sun is a great look at how the children or in this case a single child was effected by the conflict breaking out in a new country.

Settings: Empire of the Sun makes each setting come off realistic be it the cities or the camp to make us see and feel the struggle Jim has to go through.  
Special Effects
: Empire of the Sun uses the effects when need and they all come off very well.

Suggestion: Empire of the Sun is one I do think everyone should watch at least once. (Watch)

 

Best Part: While annoying Bale is brilliant in this role.

Worst Part: Slightly long.

 

Believability: While the story is fictional I do think elements could have been real.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for 6 Oscars.

Budget: $35 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 33 Minutes

Tagline: To survive in a world at war, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him.

 

Overall: One of Spielberg’s best films.

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