Franchise Weekend – Fast & Furious (2009)

Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang

 

Plot: Brian O’Conner, back working for the FBI in Los Angeles, teams up with Dominic Toretto to bring down a heroin importer by infiltrating his operation.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Back on Track

 

Story: Fast & Furious starts as Dominic (Diesel) is back with Letty (Rodriguez) and Han (Kang) living in the Dominic Republic stealing petrol for a living with the team. When the latest job goes wrong the team scatter with Letty being killed back in LA, while Dom is in Panama.

Brian (Walker) is now in the FBI and once again needs to find a way into a street racing circuit to take down a Mexican crime boss. Dom returns home also on the warpath eventually teaming up with Brian going undercover within the street racing circuit once again.

The job is working for Campos (Ortiz) who answers to Braga who is running drugs across the border but can they really work together?

 

Thoughts on Fast & Furious

 

Characters/PerformanceBrian is now a Fed, which I guess makes sense after what happened in 2 Fast 2 Furious, he still has the desire to be a street racer and gets this chance working with Dom. Dom is now on the run but risks everything to come back to help get revenge on the people responsible for killing Letty. Campos and Fenix are all solid villains but never dominating like needed to make them different from what we have seen before.

Performance wise, Walker and Diesel work great together even if the film is slightly more focused on Dom’s character, the two get to poke a bit of fun about things that happened in the first film. The other performances are all good without being truly stand out.

StoryBringing the original popular characters back helps this story, we have both men coming back to take down the crime boss because we needed the respectful enemies to become friends, taking a character’s life does drive the story too because it shows we could lose someone in this franchise now too. The core story is all what we have seen before, let’s do a crime, take down crime boss and drive away.

Action/Crime/Thriller The car chases are once again bigger and better than last time out which helps the films new direction, the crime story is now our heroes taking down criminals by breaking the law but it works.

SettingsBringing the story back to LA is good because now we see the effects of the previous films on our characters, the secret tunnel across the border also adds to the action.

Special EffectsThe special effects are what we have come to expect from the franchise and they all work well this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is where the franchises got back on tracks because we get to see Dom and Brian back together working on the case to take down the crime boss, I see this as the beginning of what we know as the best chapters of the franchise.

 

Overall: Fun, mad and over the top, just the way we like it.

Rating

 

 

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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Writer: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly (Screenplay) John Gatins (Story)

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson, John C Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell

 

Plot: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mindless Monster Mayhem

 

Story: Kong: Skull Island starts as we see an instant introduction to Kong during World War II, move forward to 1973 Bill Randa (Goodman) want to lead an expedition to the mysterious island in the Pacific Ocean, one that has only just been discovered by satellite images. Joined by his assistant Brooks (Hawkins) and a mapping team Randa puts together a unit to cover him if the stories are true.

The team includes tracker James Conrad (Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Larson), San (Jing) and army unit led by Preston Packard (Jackson). Upon arrive on the island Kong destroys all the helicopter killing half the unit, with the scientists looking for a way off the island and Packard out for revenge the two battle within as they face enemies they had never imagined including the monstrous Kong.

 

Thoughts on Kong: Skull Island

 

Characters/PerformanceConrad is a British tracker who we rarely see track, Weaver is a photographer who clashes with Packard a lot on the morale side of her job post-Vietnam, she isn’t just the damsel in distress though. Packard is a war-hero who I believe wasn’t a hero in war, he wants one more chance to go into a battle before returning home, as the film unfolds he does feel very similar to Pete Postlethwaite character in Jurassic Park 2. Bill knows more than he lets on but could be considered a businessman villain. Hank steals most of the scenes here, he is the former WWII pilot who has been stuck on the island for 28 years. Kong is a character all to his own, destroying anything that gets in his way while also showing the most emotion of any character in the film. we also have scientists who are forgettable, and soldiers who are giving basic banter to work with.

Performance wise, Hiddleston does struggling to make much of the poorly written character, Larson starts well but again her character is written weakly, Jackson does what Jackson does well without being his best, Goodman also doesn’t reach his potential while Reilly knows how to steal a movie with limited scenes. Most of the stars all struggle with the same problem, their characters are written very weakly.

StoryThe story here is fine, I liked that is wasn’t the same as the 30’s era trying to bring Kong back to New York, this is just a surveillance job turned race against time to survive. So, this is The Lost World with King Kong in the end. There isn’t too much to say good about the story because I found myself confused a lot, we had ONE ship with about SIX helicopters on it and sudden when they reach Skull Island there is about TWENTY helicopters, the same goes for the number of soldiers, one minute we have the FOUR we know and then when we need people to die there suddenly seems to be another group of disposable ones. These inconsistent annoyed me most.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is very big and sure you can switch off and enjoy it all, the adventure is in the new world unseen and comes off fine throughout, the fantasy comes from battle what should be the impossible.

SettingsI did like that we kept all the action upon Skull Island, I feel this is important to creating the bigger universe they want to.

Special EffectsI also think the special effects are brilliant through the whole film and could barely tell the different between what is real or not.

Final ThoughtsThis is big bad and fun but I feel the character development comes off pointless in places because all we get is a sudden death to a character that doesn’t make sense or it is an unknown character killed to save ones we have got to know.

 

Overall: This will go down in the fun but not great action set piece.

Rating

 

 

The Finest Hours (2016)

casting card

 

Plot: The Coast Guard makes a daring rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod after a pair of oil tankers are destroyed during a blizzard in 1952.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Fantastic Story

 

Story: The Finest Hours starts by taking us back to 1951 Massachusetts where we meet Bernie Webber (Pine) struggling to gather the confidence for his first meeting with Miriam (Grainger). As a coastguard we see how hesitant he is to commit to a relationship knowing how dangerous his job is. After agreeing to marry Miriam we see a storm coming towards the town and move to an oil tanker with Ray Sybert (Affleck) on-board trying to make the right decision while entering the storm.

When the ship suffers heavy damage it is up to Ray to keep the crew making the right decisions with no way of calling for rescue. The rescue is going to be going with Daniel Cluff (Bana) and his coastguards but the problem is the ship is split in two and going in different directions. Bernie must lead a crew include Richard Livesey (Foster), Andy Fitzgerald (Gallner) and Ervin Maske (Magaro) to take on what looks like an impossible mission to finally put the demons of a previous failure behind him.

The Finest Hours is the incredible story of four coastguards who have to brave the weather to save the stranded crew who also have to achieve their own remarkable achieve to survivor as long as they do against the elements. We do have a slow start to get into the rescue as we only follow the stranded ship early on while dealing with coastguard’s personal lives which while is real comes off unnecessary. This is something very interesting and is one I would suggest watching too as the courage these men showed is simple amazing.  

 

Actor Review

 

Chris Pine: Bernie Webber is a good honest sometimes social awkward coastguard, he has a haunting past after failing to save a wreck recently which does make members of the coastguard look down on him but when he is the last resort for saving the stricken oil tanker he will risk his life and three fellow coastguards to save them. Chris gives us a great performance not over playing like he can do with his normal roles keep this straight from start to finish.

Casey Affleck: Ray Sybert works in the ships engine room, when the ship gets split he is the only one that thinks of a way to keep the ship a float for as long as they do. He has to turn the hostile crew in his favour to bring them to safety. Casey is good in this role but I do think we could have seen a stronger performance from this talent.

Ben Foster: Richard Livesey is the second in command on Bernie’s boat the man he turns to for advice on each decision he makes but one of the only loyal men to stand by him. Ben is the ever reliable supporting character actor here.

Eric Bana: Daniel Cluff is the chief on the coastguards new to the area getting little respect from his coastguards. He makes the difficult decisions to send out his first choice team only to have to turn Bernie for the next rescue. Eric is good in his role playing the strict authority figure.

Support Cast: The Finest Hours has a good supporting cast filled with names you know are always good in supporting roles with not a single one giving a bad performance.

Director Review: Craig GillespieCraig gives us the incredible story of courage that really shows these men’s Finest Hours even if the film starts of slightly slow.

 

Action: The Finest Hours uses the action with the rescue that all comes off edge of your seat stuff.

History: The Finest Hours shows us just one of the many amazing stories that coastguard risk their lives for.

Thriller: The Finest Hours is one that once it gets started keeps us on the edge of your seat to see how this rescue mission will be achieved.

Settings: The Finest Hours recreates the settings of the time in question as well as the oil tanker, small lifeboat being battered on the seas.
Special Effects
: The Finest Hours uses great effects to make us believe we were part of this crew both on the rescuers and the rescued.

Suggestion: The Finest Hours is really one to watch because it really is a brilliant story. (Watch)

 

Best Part: The resuce.

Worst Part: Slightly slow starting.

Action Scene Of The Film: Breaking the bar.

 

Believability: Based on the real story.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: Photos from the real event.

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

Tagline: 32 survivors, room for 12.

 

Overall: Stunning true story shot to look as realistic as possible.

Ratingcard

 

Steve Jobs (2015)

jobsDirector: Danny Boyle

Writer: Aaron Sorkin (Screenplay) Walter Isaacson (Book)

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Sarah Snook, John Ortiz

 

Plot: Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicentre. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Drama

 

Story: Steve Jobs starts as Jobs (Fassbender) is about to release the Mac in 1984 and we follow as along with his assistant Joanna (Winslet) are struggling to make the computer just say ‘Hello’ we also follow how Jobs deal with his ex Chrisann (Waterston) who is trying to get Jobs to accept his responsibility to his daughter Lisa.

We move to 1988 for the release of the ‘Black Cube’ under the company name ‘Next’ as all the former friends and co-workers have come to witness this new release. We get to see how his relationship with Wozniak (Rogen) and John Sculley (Daniels) change between the releases.

The final act is set in 1998 where the IMac is being released and how Jobs can finally give the world his perfect design.

Steve Jobs is a very interesting look at one of the most important men in technology history. We get to see how his attitude was what made him difficult to work with. We see how even after he failed he came back stronger even though he made enemies. My big issue with this is that if you don’t know anything about Steve Jobs and the people involved this feels very distant for the audience to relate to. If you didn’t know anything about Jobs you won’t learn that much about him because this is just his reaction towards his releases with the people who would be the closest to him.

 

Actor Review

 

Michael Fassbender: Steve Jobs is the brain behind the Apple, we follow his life in three different times with three different releases that show his personal battles with people within the company and in his personal life with his estranged wife and daughter. Michael gives us a brilliant performance in this role through three different time periods.steve

Kate Winslet: Joanna Hoffman is the assistant to Jobs, she has been with him through all of the releases trying to keep him prepared for both success or failure but struggles to witness his behaviour towards his daughter. Kate gives us a great performance in this role working brilliantly with Fassbender.joanne

Seth Rogen: Steve Wozniak is the former partner of Jobs who started in a garage building the first computer, they have their differences through the years but Jobs does stay loyal to his old friend. Seth gives us a great supporting performance showing he can do the serious roles too.waz

Jeff Daniels: John Sculley is the marketing man who came into Apple from Pepsi who clashes with Jobs through the years, they both clash over how the world should work with Jobs wanting people to think and Sculley wanting to make money. Jeff gives us a great supporting role which is something you would always expect from him.daniels

Support Cast: Steve Jobs has a great supporting cast that all give us great performance with their interaction with Jobs.

Director Review: Danny BoyleDanny gives us a great film because of the subjects it was covering but unless you know the story it will fall short to the unknown person.

 

Biographical: Steve Jobs shows three big moments in the life of this brilliant minded man as we see how he real nature is portrayed.

Settings: Steve Jobs uses the settings which is mostly back stage areas before a big release.
Suggestion
: Steve Jobs is one to try, I do think it will be hard for some people to understand. (Try It)

 

Best Part: Fassbender is brilliant.

Worst Part: If you don’t know the Jobs story you will find yourself wondering what is happening.

 

Believability: Based on the real man and events leading up to the big releases.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Awards: Nominated for 4 Golden Globes Including Best Actor, Actress, Screenplay and Original Score.

Oscar Chances: Will get a few nominations.

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

Tagline: Can a great man be a good man?

Overall: Great performances, great story but not understanding leaves us feeling empty.

Ratingcard

The Drop (2014)

logoDirector: Michael R. Roskam

Writer: Dennis Lehane (Screenplay) Dennis Lehane (Short Story)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aronov, Morgan Spector, Michael Esper

 

Plot: Bob Saginowski finds himself at the centre of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighbourhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living – no matter the cost.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Atmospheric Thriller

 

Story: The Drop starts with Bob (Hardy) explaining how things work in Brooklyn where the dirty money can be put into a bar without any notice. Bob just works in one of those bars, he has his regulars and is still mourning the loss of a close friend ten years before. We learn that Bob is a good natured guy who goes to church and will give people a break along with saving an innocent dog from the trash. This leads Bob to meet Nadia (Rapace) who help look after the injured puppy.

When two robberies decide to hold up the bar owned by Cousin Marv (Gandolfini) leaving with money owed to the gangs that use the bar as a drop point. Chovka (Aronov) wants his money back and threatens Marv and Bob until they find the money. We soon learn that not everything is as it seems with the robbery and all the people involved have a personal agenda. Bob’s new puppy seems to getting the attention of the wrong people including Eddie Deeds (Schoenaerts) who could be the man who killed Bob’s old friend.

The Drop is a slow moving but very atmospheric thriller that really does keep you wondering what will happen next. The story manages to balance a couple of different stories together that also intertwine together works very nicely. I feel this holds back too much on the Bob character and through the film we are made to believe he is a simple man while he has a lot more to his character. The film manages to keep nearly every character looking shady without meeting the main villains as we only see they are part of a bigger event going on. I do think you will need to be a fan of the genre to enjoy this one though. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Tom Hardy: Bob kind bar tender that ends up caught in the middle of the gang robbery along with his new puppy, he always tries to do right by people while trying to let the situation solve itself. Tom gives a good performance but you would expect that from him now days. (7/10)

 bob

Noomi Rapace: Nadia is the lady that Bob meets when he finds the stranded puppy, overtime the two become friends and joint guardians of the puppy. Nadia does give a good supporting performance but we don’t see enough of the romantic angle. (7/10)

nadia

James Gandolfini: Cousin Marv the man who runs the bar who has secretly been planning to rob his own bar when the gang’s money gets dropped off. James does a good job in his last film playing his traditional gangster role well. (7/10)

 marv

Matthias Schoenaerts: Eric Deeds the estranged ex of Nadia’s who starts turning up too often in Bob’s life, he claims to have been involved in the murder of one of Bob’s friends many years earlier. Matthias would be the smallest name of the main four characters and he matches them on screen too. (7/10)

 eric

Support Cast: The Drop has supporting cast that includes the people who want the money, the people who took the money and the cops looking for answers. They all keep you guessing to who is involved with what.

 

Director Review: Michael R. Roskam – Michael does a good job directing making us get pulled in from start to finish. (8/10)

 

Crime: The Drop enters us into a real crime world where nearly everyone is up to something they shouldn’t be. (9/10)

Thriller: The Drop really does keep you wondering about what will happen next. (9/10)

Settings: The Drop is set in Brooklyn giving it a rough around the edges feel all the way through. (9/10)

Suggestion: The Drop is one to watch it you enjoy the genre otherwise you may not enjoy it as much as you would. (Crime Thriller Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Rocco and Bob.

Worst Part: The fact Bob isn’t as strong as we think.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Most Crime gangster thrillers.

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $18.5 Million

Budget: $12.6 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

Overall: The Drop is one of the best atmospheric thrillers that really keeps your attention from start to finish.

Rating 74