Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Writer: Sheldon Turner (Screenplay) Sheldon Turner, David J Schow (Story)

Starring: Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, R Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lee Tergesen

 

Plot: Before being sent to serve in Vietnam, two brothers and their girlfriends take one last road trip, but when they get into an accident, a terrifying experience will take them to a secluded house of horrors, with a chainsaw-wielding killer.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gore Over Substances

 

Story: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning starts as we learn more about the origin of Leatherface (Bryniarski), how he was a misunderstand young man with mental problems that loses his job at the slaughter house once it goes out of business. We learn how this becomes the turning point for his family. On the other side of the story we have Eric (Bomer) returning to the Vietnam war along with his brother Dean (Handley) who is reluctant to return. We also have their girlfriends Chrissie (Brewster) and Bailey (Baird) on a journey across America.

After an altercation with a robber, the friends find themselves targets of the Hewitt family as Uncle Charlie now pretending to be a Sheriff and Leatherface look to make sure they have enough food to survive, human flesh.

 

Thoughts on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

 

Characters/PerformanceChrissie is take her boyfriend across country to reenlist in the army. She ends up on her own most of this film as she searches for a way to save her friends, before we know she will be involved in the final chase. Dean is the younger brother of the two who doesn’t want to go to war but hasn’t told his brother until this trip. Eric is looking to return to war with his brother this time and is the one most likely to stand up against the evil.  Bailey is the other girlfriend, that is about as much of her character we get. Leatherface is still simple minded here with Uncle Hewitt being the major part of the bringing the victims to the home, we also learn his origin story as it is a twist in the last version.

Performance wise, Let’s all be honest here, the characters are written horrendously so most of the actors didn’t stand a chance of giving a good performance in this film.

StoryAn origin of Leatherface, did we need one, well we got one, so deal with it. The story is basically the same as the original just without interesting characters, any scares or tension. We have group of friends get captured must fight to survive against leatherface and his family. So here it is nothing new, nothing original.

Horror This is all about the gore, we get little to no shocks in this film and the iconic killer is reduced to subplot to a bigger picture of a family.

SettingsWe get the iconic house, sure but otherwise nothing of any note here in the settings.

Special EffectsThe gore and effects do work well for shock value but otherwise it just becomes about making them look good.

Final ThoughtsThis is one from the franchise that falls flat on its face, you get little tension through any scene and are left wondering why this got made.

 

Overall: Disappointing addition to a much loved franchise.

Rating

 

 

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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

 

 

American Heist (2015)

logoDirector: Sarik Andreasyan

Writer: Raul Inglis (Screenplay)

Starring: Jordana Brewster, Hayden Christensen, Adrien Brody, Laura Cayouette, Aaron V Williamson, Tory Kittles, Divine Prince Ty Emmecca, Akon

 

Plot: James owes his life to his older brother, Frankie after taking the rap for a crime they committed together. While Frankie served time, James worked to turn his life around, got a steady job and began courting his former girlfriend Emily. Now, Frankie is released and back on the streets with no money and no place to go.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Emotional Heist Film

 

Story: American Heist starts with James (Christensen) waiting before starting to look for someone then an explosion surprises him bring us back a day in time where we follow James going about his everyday life. James has a brother Frankie (Brody) fresh out of prison being picked up by his criminal connection Sugar (Akon) who keeps him happy with drinks, drugs and girls on his first night out before meeting the boss Ray (Kittles).

James has turned his life around where he now works on the straight life working as a mechanic, he sees an old flame Emily (Brewster) back in town where James sees his life moving in the right direction. Frankie turns up to see his brother’s life after ten years locked away. Frankie arranges to meet for drinks with James which leads to him discussion a new job opportunity which leads us back to the opening scene where James gets tricked into a job as Frankie is trying to repay his debts.

Ray has assembled a team to pull off an elaborate bank robbery which will finally see Frankie pay back the debts he owes because James has the skills to get part of the plan done.

American Heist is a story that does seem to follow the traditional idea of a recently released from prison criminal goes straight back into the criminal world even if it isn’t fully his desire. We also see how the man thinking he has escaped from the criminal world gets dragged back in for one more job. This side of the story has been done before but is does really push the two brothers on an emotional level. When it comes to the actual heist it does become the secondary story behind the brothers relationship with the preparation being a quick flash scene and like most heist films go completely wrong. The story will have to go down as a solid entry into the genre but won’t be a film climbing into anyone’s best. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Hayden Christensen: James is the former criminal who has turned his life around with a clean cut job where he is trying to get his own business, his life may not be perfect but he is happy that everything is all legal now. When his brothers released from prison he ends up caught up trying to pay off Frankie’s debts forced into working for criminal Ray. Hayden continues to try and recover from the criticism he got for Star Wars with another anti pretty boy film where he tries to play tough but doesn’t quite pull it off. (6/10)

james

Adrien Brody: Frankie is James’ brother who fresh out of prisoner does straight back into his criminal underworld where criminal boss Ray wants both Frankie and James to work for him. Frankie went through a lot in prison and always stood up for his brothers, as well as helping him become the man he is now. Adrien gives a performance you would expect from an Oscar winner, he does show his skills but sometimes feels like he is overacting to the situations. (7/10)

 frankie

Jordana Brewster: Emily is the old flame who comes back into James’ life. Emily just so happens to be a dispatch caller for the police which could make the bank job all that much harder as Emily and James start rekindling their romance. Jordana does a good job but really doesn’t get enough screen time for the romantic angle in the story. (6/10)

 

Akon: Sugar is the second in command to Ray who gets the dirty jobs done when other people won’t get involved. Akon does make a good supporting actor never trying to over act like many musicians do when they enter the acting world. (7/10)

 

Tory Kittles: Ray is the criminal who helped Frankie in prison leaving him being owed a favour from Frankie when he finally gets out. Ray makes Frankie bring James back into the criminal world to take part in an elaborate heist. Tory makes for a good emotionless tough criminal who believes in every word he is saying. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: American Heist doesn’t really have many more characters involved in the story, we have the generic characters trying to chase down the criminals and the members of the group trying to pull off the heist.

 

Director Review: Sarik Andreasyan – Sarik gives us a solid heist film that really does focus on the relationship between the two brothers who have gone down different paths but must work together one last time. (7/10)

 

Action: American Heist keeps the action in a realistic level apart from one moment, making each feel like it could be a real heist and aftermath. (7/10)

Drama: American Heist creates a dysfunctional relationship between the two brothers which helps show just how far they would go for each other. (7/10)

Settings: American Heist keeps the settings in location where you would imagine the characters would want to turn to crime to end all the suffering they are going through. (8/10)

Suggestion: American Heist is one to try, I do think if you are a fan of the genre you will enjoy but there is only so much you can do with a heist film without fully copying anything else. (Try It)

 

Best Part: I really liked how the film ended, but can’t give it away.

Worst Part: How James gets pulled into the criminal world again.

Action Scene Of The Film: Ray’s escape attempt.

 

Believability: The heist feels like it could be how a real one would end, but the relationship side mixed with the heist not so. (4/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Kill Point (TV Show)

 

Oscar Chances: None

Budget: $10 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

Overall: American Heist will go down as an emotionally gritty heist film about two brothers.

Rating 70

Fast & Furious 7 (2015)

logoDirector: James Wan

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

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, Lucas Black, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou, Ronda Rousey

 

Plot: Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for the death of his brother.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Action Packed Rollercoaster

 

Story: Furious 7 starts by firstly filling in between the end of Fast & Furious 6 and that telephone call between Dominic (Diesel) and Deckard Shaw (Statham). The opening scene shows Deckard in a hospital standing over his still alive brother Owen (Evans) before showing how many people he has taken out to see his brother. We get to see how Dom is still trying to help Letty (Rodriguez) find her memories. We also see Deckard pay Hobbs (Johnson) a visit finding out who nearly killed his brother leading to Hobbs ending up in hospital and the Toretto’s house being blown up.

Having everything in place we can say goodbye to Han with the whole family Brian (Walker) Mia (Brewster), Roman (Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) back together for the funeral. This leads to the first face to face meeting between Dominic and Deckard before the mysterious Mr Nobody (Russell) to get involved. Mr Nobody wants to retrieve a device created by hacker Ramsey (Emmanuel) but she has been kidnapped by a terrorist unit run by Jakande (Hounsou) with his second in command Kiet (Jaa). Ramsey has created a device called the God’s Eye which can locate anyone, anywhere in the world by hacking into camera.

Dominic’s crew is assigned to retrieve the device which Mr Nobody willing to allow him to use to find Deckard. The crew set out on their mission which includes plenty of action and travelling all over the world and each time everything looks under control Deckard turns up with things escalating once Deckard joins up with Jakande. This leads to an all-out assault with Dom and his crew having to outsmart the terrorists and retrieve the God’s Eye.

Furious 7 is a film I want to talk about in different sections, first I will look at the overall story and I will follow it up with how the franchise deals with Paul Walker’s exit. The story itself is what you would expect from the franchise, we get a bigger villain but one that is still connected to what happened much like what ‘Die Hard 3’ did the Gruber’s brother. Where this film gets extra points is by not making it a two way battle which we could have had with Deckard versus Dominic, we get two extra parties involved one on the good and one of the bad. These teams do actual have their own motives and when all four clash we get the chaos. Remember you will need to suspend your disbelief to a whole new level while watching this. One aspect I did enjoy was the Deckard is willing to go to war alone, no army of soldiers he wants to get everything done alone.

Paul Walker’s departure is always going to be one of the big talking points about this film. The whole film hints at the idea that Dominic wants Brian to stop risking his life and start raising his family. We get told this will be his last ride and after they finish we get a simple goodbye, we and Dom get to say goodbye with the haunting line from Brian ‘You think you could leave without saying goodbye?’ (8/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Vin Diesel: Dominic Toretto is our alpha who takes responsibility for his action after Deckard decides to come for revenge on everyone who took out his brother. Dominic makes deals with suits to make sure he can get to Deckard where he ends up having a showdown fans have wanted to see for years. Vin does a great job in this role showing that he isn’t just a fancy driver he is also bad ass when it comes to hand to hand combat. (8/10)

 dom

Paul Walker: Brian O’Connor is the family man struggling to adjust to his new life all while driving a minivan. Brian misses the action but ends up getting drawn back into it when his family gets put in danger by Deckard. This being Paul’s final role it is hard to say anything bad, we get what we expect from the character and we all get to say goodbye. (8/10)

brian

Jason Statham: Deckard Shaw is the brother of Owen, he wants to clean up the mess his brother has created and is unlike anybody the crew has come up against before. Deckard is a one man wrecking ball and doesn’t need men to get the job done, ex black ops we know that he has all the skills to kill anyone whenever he wants. Jason does a great job as the villain of the piece but he is really only fighting for his brother. (8/10)

 deckard

Michelle Rodriguez: Letty is still struggling with memory loss but with Dominic’s help she is trying to remember just who she once was. Letty goes on the mission getting some of the best driving scenes and fight scene against UFC Ronda Rousey. Michelle does a good job giving us what we expect from the character. (8/10)

 letty

Tyrese Gibson: Roman is clearly the comedy side of this story where he gets to have so many funny lines and scenes; he takes away all the serious side of the story. Tyrese does what you need him to do becoming comic relief. (7/10)

 roman

Ludacris: Tej is almost the double act with Roman but he does have skills the team needs, Tej is the hacker of the team who can make anything work to help the missions. Ludacris does a good job and works well with Gibson. (7/10)

 tej

Dwayne Johnson: Hobbs is the agent who gets first fight with Deckard before ending up in a hospital, he brings Dominic in to finish Deckard off and only turns back up in the film with the final act. Dwayne does a good job with the scenes he is in but it is disappoint just how little he really was used. (7/10)

hobbs

Kurt Russell: Mr Nobody is a mysterious government man who recruits Dominic to retrieve the God’s Eye with the promise of taking down Deckard; this is a very shady role that we don’t know how it will go through the film. Kurt does a good job and gets a glimpse of what he can do in an action film with his Snake memories. (8/10)

 nobody

Nathalie Emmanuel: Ramsey is the hacker and creator of God’s Eye, she is the one who needs to be rescued before working with Dominic and his crew as they use the God’s Eye to get Deckard. Nathalie does a good job joining the franchise which is always going to be hard but she fits in nicely. (7/10)

 ramswey

Tony Jaa: Kiet is the second in command to Jakande who leads the henchmen on the ground, he is also an expert in hand to hand combat leading to fights with Brian. I was disappointed with how little Tony was used because his fighting style is something very special to watch. (7/10)

 

Djimon Hounsou: Jakande is the leader of the terrorists who have Ramsey, but he ends up going up against Dominic and his crew to get the device even if it means teaming up with Deckard. Djimon does a good job in this role playing the role you would expect to see. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: Furious 7 still has plenty more characters we could talk about, we have cameos from the cast Tokyo Drift which would have been nice to have a longer part. We also have many soldiers who offer good fights and many more familiar faces only in the odd scene here and there.

 

Director Review: James Wan – James steps out from the horror genre very well, we get to see how he uses his horror ideas on the action genre to give us one of the easiest films to watch in many years. (8/10)

 

Action: Furious 7 is filled with action, be it the skydiving planes, the tower to tower flying or the helicopter, cars and drone back on home turf. There are so many different types of over the top action going on here. (9/10)

Thriller: Furious 7 really keeps you guessing to what will happen to the characters next be it the good or bad. (8/10)

Settings: Furious 7 uses all the settings to make everything look like it has finally gone global but going to Tokyo, Adu Dhabi, London, Afghanistan or back in LA. (9/10)
Special Effects
: Furious 7 uses great effects to make every single mad looking scene look realistic. (9/10)

Suggestion: Furious 7 is one for all the action fans to watch, it will be one the franchise fans will have to watch too. (Action Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Mountain action scene.

Worst Part: The lack of the Tokyo casts involvement.

Action Scene Of The Film: Skydiving cars.

Funniest Scene: Most of Roman’s scenes.

Oh My God Moment: Ambulance versus the drone.

Favourite Quote:  Deckard ‘Dominic Toretto. You don’t know me, but you’re about to.’

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: Only with the goodbyes with Brian. (4/10)

Chances of Sequel: It could easily have another one.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes

Tagline: Vengeance hits home

 

Overall: Furious 7 is adrenaline fuelled action with a touching final tribute

Rating 82

 

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

faast 6Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan (Screenplay)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gabot, Ludacris, Luke Evans, Elsa Patasky, Gina Carano

 

Story: When Hobbs (Johnson) is struggling to stop a ruthless criminal mastermind led by Shaw (Evans), he turns to Dom (Diesel) with a chance to get a full pardon on all crimes committed. His piece of bait is Letty (Rodriguez) still being alive. Dom brings the team back for an adventure all over Europe.

 

Verdict

 

Action: A full-blown action film once an action scene starts it draws you in and will leave you in amazement. (10/10)

 

Thriller: edge of your seat chase keeps you completely entertained through out. (10/10)

 

Sound: Great sound effects all the way through, lots of fancy engine sounds. (10/10)

 

Settings: London was a great location choice with its tight streets adding to the suspense of the chases. (9/10)

 

Suggestion: Car junkies will simply have to see this and all action fan will be able to consider this one of the best out this year. (9/10)

 

Best Part: The tank chase

 

Worst Part: The story doesn’t require much thinking.

 

Star Performance: Luke Evans

Favourite Character: Roman Funny all the way through

 

Favourite Quote: Shaw ‘I can reach out and break you whenever I want’

 

Trivia: David Tennant was considered for the role of Shaw

 

Similar Too: Fast Five

 

Overall: A thrill ride that will leave you wanting more and more, the best in the franchise which just seems to get better and better. Very much Ocean’s Eleven on wheels this is a major contender for action film of the year and shows that Dwayne and Vin can hold their own in action films. An end credits scene which opens the door to an even bigger film next time out. Sit back and enjoy.

 

Rating 97%