ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – L – Ladder 49 (2004)

Director: Jay Russell

Writer: Lewis Colick (Screenplay)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Jacinda Barrett, Robert Patrick, Morris Chestnut, Billy Burke

 

Plot: A firefighter, injured and trapped in a burning building, has flashbacks of his life as he drifts in and out of consciousness. Meanwhile, fellow firefighters led by the Chief attempt to rescue him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thought Provoking Action Thriller

 

Story: Ladder 49 starts as Jack Morrison (Phoenix) is performing a daring tower block fire rescue only for disaster to strike and Jack finds himself trapped inside the burning inferno. This causes Jack to have flack backs to his early firefighting days as a rookie in the 39th under Mike Kennedy (Travolta).

As Jack continues to fade between consciousness we learn about his personal life and how he met and married Linda (Barrett) as well as seeing just how his team became the unit through the good and bad events of being a firefighter, this will give him a chance to believe who could save him.

 

Thoughts on Ladder 49

 

Characters/PerformanceJack Morrison is the firefighter that gets trapped in the fire, we get to see his rise from rookie firefighter to one of the most respected in his team, get married and have children but through the events of the film we are left to wonder like himself whether he was right to stay in the force. Captain Mike Kennedy keeps his team united through the good times and the bad, he knows how to motivate them and how to let them celebrate, but he won’t leave a man behind. Linda is the wife of Jack that he meets on one of his first few days on the job, she is concerned after the first death in the squad. The rest of the unit are what you expect, the best friend, the wise one, the confrontational one you know the picture.

Performance wise, Joaquin Phoenix is great in the leading role showing he was ready to make the jump from supporting actor to leading man. Travolta shows that he can turn out good performances around the weaker ones people can slam him for. Jacinda Barrett is good but doesn’t get the full levels you would like to see from the supporting character. The cast all give us good performances throughout the film too.

StoryThe story is told as one man is looking back on his life wondering if he made the right decisions in his life when he becomes trapped during the latest fire he is fighting. This does show the stress firefighters would go through from either a good rescue or seeing a friend hurt or killed, dealing with personal life and the peril of going into a blaze with no true idea of what is waiting for them. I like how this is told because it shows how Jack got to where he is in his ranking within the unit.

Action/ThrillerThe action sequences are all different types of fires the crew must battle and they are all shot wonderfully to suck us into the story as we don’t know what will happen in each fire. This does help keep us on the edge of our seats at times but we know we don’t need to worry about Jack during the flack backs.

SettingsThe settings show us just how dangerous battling fires can be, how the men risk their lives and how they can be different on each occasion.

Special EffectsAll the effects are used to make the fires look as dangerous as they should be which is good to see throughout the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that will make you respect the firefighters of the world even more because you get to see how much they are willing to risk to save people’s lives. It is shot very well with the only negative being knowing there is only one fire Jack is in any peril through.

 

Overall: One for all the action thriller fans out there.

Rating

 

 

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John Travolta Weekend – The Forger (2014)

forgerDirector: Philip Martin

Writer: Richard D’Ovidio (Screenplay)

Starring: John Travolta, Christopher Plummer, Tye Sheridan, Abigail Spencer, Anson Mount, Marcus Thomas, Jennifer Ehle

 

Plot: A thief works with his father and son to forge a painting by Monet and steal the original. Together, they plan the heist of their lives.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easy to Watch

 

Story: The Forger starts as Raymond Cutter (Travolta) puts together a deal to get out of prison early, returning to his father’s Joseph’s (Plummer) home who has been looking after his son Will (Sheridan). Raymond makes a deal with Keegan (Mount) to help him get out early but the deal is that Raymond must use his skills to forge a painting or he will put Raymond back in jail.

Raymond is also having to deal with the tragic story of his son’s cancer treatment explaining why he would risk everything to get out of jail early. Raymond must keep everything together as he works on the highly risky job but also trying to help his son fulfill his dying wishes.

 

Thoughts on The Forger

 

StoryThe story going on through this story is very interesting, I have only heard bad things about this film and I found the story between Raymond and Will touching as we see how Raymond knows what is coming to his own son and posing a question to us all, how much would we give up for the final weeks/months of our son’s life. The crime story while is key to his release is just in the way of what could be a very impressive story, but the two do end up working well in parallel to each other.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime thriller side of this film all feels very generic and if you look past that to the personal side of the story you will find this interesting but the crime story is just there really.

Characters/PerformanceThe three generations of Cutter family all make for good characters with each member giving a good performance but the crime characters all end up feeling like we have seen them all before with the plucky cop background only making it hard to judge the performance.

SettingsThe settings are all what you would call generic for the style of film without being anything special or iconic for any of the scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that I only ever heard bad things so going in I wasn’t expecting too much, but in the end I found myself enjoying the personal element of the film between the family but struggled to enjoy the crime side of the film.

 

Overall: Solid but forgettable movie about family.

Ratingcard

 

 

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

 

 

Halloween Kingathon – Carrie (1976)

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Director
: Brian DePalma

Writer: Lawrence D Cohen (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley

Plot: A young, abused and timid 17-year-old girl discovers she has telekinesis, and gets pushed to the limit on the night of her school’s prom by a humiliating prank.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: The Beginning of the Masters Work

Story: Carrie starts with an all girls gym class and we meet our social outcast Carrie White (Spacek) who ends up not understanding about her first period, leading to all the other girls taking a chance to bully her, but in this scene we get a first glimpse of what Carrie is capable of as she blows out the lights in the locker room.

Carrie is controlled by her high religious mother Margaret (Laurie) who believes that Carrie is constantly sinning and when she does she punishes her. Carrie is learning about her telekinesis while the other girls including the old friend Sue (Irving) and Chris (Allen) suffer through detention for what they had done to Carrie.

When Sue tries to make up for the prank she gets her boyfriend Tommy (Katt) to ask Carrie to the prom, but Chris ends up seeing this as a chance to work with her boyfriend Billy (Travolta) that ends up causing Carrie to finally break.

Carrie will always go down as one of the most shocking horrors of the time of releases, it starts slowly with very little horror elements but ends with one of the most dramatic horror final acts in horror film history. It shows how high school students can be cruel but also shows how a religious mother can control life too often. This could be considered part revenge film with the final act and will always be a stand out horror film. (8/10)

Actor Review

Sissy Spacek: Carrie is the social outcast of the school suffers her own misfortune at school, but when she suffers this she starts to learn about the telekinetic powers that she possess. All this with her over baring religious mother punishing her for anything that she doesn’t see in the bible. Carrie ends up getting invited to the prom where her true power will get unleashed in an act of revenge. Sissy gives a brilliant performance that gave her an Oscar nomination. (10/10)carrie

Piper Laurie: Margaret White is Carrie’s religious mother that punishs her when she doesn’t follow the bible and wants to control her ever moment. Piper gives a great performance but then I did feel we needed too see more about religious story. (8/10)margaret

Amy Irving: Sue Snell is an old friend who decides to try and do the right thing and asks her boyfriend to take Carrie to the prom, he action are true even if the others are not. Amy does a good job in a supporting role. (7/10)

William Katt: Tommy Ross is Sue’s boyfriend who has to ask Carrie to the prom, he does it and acts like a perfect gentleman while at the prom. William does a good job in the supporting role. (7/10)

Support Cast: Carrie has a supporting cast that includes the bullies who plan the final prank but ultimately pay the price for their actions.

Director Review: Brian DePalmaBrian gives us one of best films of his career that manages to give us a true horror classic. (9/10)

Horror: Carrie shows that you don’t need to have constant jump scares and builds the horror until the final act. (9/10)

Settings: Carrie puts all of the horror inside of a small town where a lot takes place in the high school. (8/10)

Suggestion: Carrie is one that all the horror fans should have watched at least once. (Watch)

Best Part: Final act.

Worst Part: There really isn’t one.

Oh My God Moment: Prom scene.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has one.

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: Nominated for two Oscars for Best Actress in Leading and Supporting Roles.

Budget: $1.8 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

Tagline: If The Exorcist made you shudder, Carrie will make you scream.

Overall: Classic horror film that put Stephen King one the map.

Rating 90

Trailer Alert – The Forger

Plot – A thief (John Travolta) works with his father (Christopher Plummer) and son to forge a painting by Monet and steal the original. Together, they plan the heist of their lives.

Release Date:  No date set for UK

Stars:

  • John Travolta (Pulp Fiction)
  • Christopher Plummer (Sound of Music)

Director: Philip Martin

Highlight of the Trailer: A glimpse of a bad ass Travolta.

What Looks Good? Heist films are always fun.

What Looks Bad? Stealing art again.

Summary: We meet another heist film here and we know these can go either way, great fun or dull, I think this can just about work, but I hope we learn more about the villains.

Questions:

Will I Be Watching? Yes

Will You Be Watching?

My Anticipation Rating – 60%

My Guess Rating – 60%

Will It Be Number One In UK? – No