ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – M – Man Down (2015)

Director: Dito Montiel

Writer: Adam G Simon, Dito Montiel (Screenplay) Adam G Simon (Story)

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney, Gary Oldman, Kate Mara, Tory Kittles, Clifton Collins Jr

 

Plot: In a post-apocalyptic America, former U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer searches desperately for the whereabouts of his son, accompanied by his best friend and a survivor.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Confusing at Times

 

Story: Man Down starts in a post-apocalyptic America as we follow Gabriel Drummer (LaBeouf) and his best friend Devin Roberts (Courtney) searching for Gabriel’s son, we flash back to his marine training through his conversations with Counsellor Peyton (Oldman).

Through the film we learn how Gabriel handled himself in war when he lives his wife Natalie (Mara) and child Johnathan back in America, how he is prepared for this post-apocalyptic world that America is now and how far he would go to get his son back.

 

Thoughts on Man Down

 

Characters – Gabriel is a marine that believed he was fighting for the right thing but when the war came to America when he was away, he must search the destruction in hope of finding his son. Devin is the best friend and marine to Gabriel, he supports him through his missions and search for his son. Counsellor Peyton is the man learning about the mission that went wrong, as we learn that his mindset might not be as clean as we are led to believe.

PerformancesShia LaBeouf is good in this leading role showing a range we have questioned before. Jai Courtney is good in the supporting role showing us there is talent with the right material. Gary Oldman is great and that is how we like him calm and collective.

StoryThe story is told in four parts, as we follow Gabriel in his home life, war time, meetings with a counsellor and in the post-apocalyptic time, these timelines only confuse the story telling process as by the end of it we will find ourselves wondering just what actually happened to these men, what is real and what is not. By the end you will understand what happened but it does make certain parts feeling random, but the true message is important.

ThrillerThe thrilling side of the film does feel slow in places, it shows us certain moments only to make a complete switch in the final act.

SettingsThe settings do help keep us in the different location for each moment of the story, we can identify with each part of the story we are watching too.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act, and how it is shot is beautiful.

That Moment That Annoyed Me A lot of what we see is not as important.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard movie for the most part, it starts being confusing for the first hour but when it unfolds you will be taken back where this movie goes.


Overall: Slow and confusing nearly saved by a wonderful final act.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005)

Director: Mary Lambert

Writer: Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Mara, Robert Vito, Tina Lifford, Ed Marinaro, Michael Coe, Lillith Fields

 

Plot: On a prom-night dare, a trio of high school friends chant an incantation, unleashing an evil spirit from the past with deadly consequences.


Tagline – Mary’s Evil is Beyond Legend

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Better Than I Remembered

 

Story: Urban Legends: Bloody Mary starts as we follow three high school students including Samantha Owens (Mara) who are playing with the ideas of urban legends and the Bloody Mary myth, which sees them disappear for a couple of days.

When they return Samantha’s brother David (Vito) believes it had something to do with the football team that she exposed, but soon the Mary ghost starts putting the students through their own nightmares.

 

Thoughts on Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

 

Characters – Samantha Owens is on of the high school reporters, her latest story exposes the football team which leads to her being exiled from the school dance, victim of a prank she is put through the same ordeal that three student years before went through, which unleashes a vengeful spirit. She must figure out what is going on before too many people start dying. David is the brother of Samantha, he always watches over his sister and will stand by her to stop anything happening to her. Grace Taylor was one of the survivors that was involved in the first kidnapping that took place, she doesn’t remember who was involved and has spent her life avoiding the truth. Bill is the step father of Sam and David, thy have never been fond of him and we learn early on that he was around during the first incident.

PerformancesKata Mara is the lead in this film, this is one of her first leading roles and you can see she does have the little bit extra about her that will make her standout in the future. The rest of the cast is solid enough, certain smaller supporting roles do have weak performances, but once they are killed off it isn’t a problem.

StoryThe story here follows high school students that unleashes an urban Legend on the world only for them to get picked off, they need to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of the murdered teenager to bring about the end of the curse. This does use connection to the first two films, mostly by pointing out who the killer in the second one was, showing that people will use Urban Legends to kill. By using the students names we learn who the killer is too early which is a shame because it could have been a good twist, when it comes to the kills the idea they are based on Urban Legends once again ends up mixed because some are just crimes which take advantage of the situation over being a legend. This will also fail by the fact that it decided to go supernatural on us for no reason what so ever.

Horror/MysteryThe kills continue to use the Urban Legends which is fine, we have learnt about these in previous films, but the supernatural side of everything only lets things down, the mystery behind the film is easier to solve once we look at the people in the opening sequence.

SettingsHaving a high school setting does make this feel too big, it also leaves us to wide spread for the kills mostly taking place in homes.

Special EffectsThe effects the biggest weakness of the film, anything practical works fine, but those CGI moments mostly the spider scene look terrible.


Scene of the Movie –
The fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Those spiders.

Final ThoughtsFor the third in a franchise this is fine, it works and will make for a good late night movie we can enjoy as horror fans.

 

Overall: Late night viewing.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – C – Captive (2015)

Director: Jerry Jameson

Writer: Brian Bird (Screenplay) Ashley Smith, Stacy Mattingly (Book)

Starring: Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, Elle Graham, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jessica Oyelowo, Mimi Rogers, Leonor Varela

 

Plot: A single mother struggling with drug addiction is taken hostage in her own apartment by a man on the run who has broken out of jail and murdered the judge assigned to his case.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Thriller

 

Story: Captive starts as we meet Ashely Smith (Mara) a drug addict who has lost her child due to her addiction and is desperately struggling to get clean. On the other side of the story we find Brian Nichols (Oyelowo) a criminal who breaks out of his trial hearing leaving bodies on the way.

Lt John Chestnut (Williams) and Sgt. Sandoval (Varela) lead the manhunt for Brian as we learn how this minor criminal has escalated to murder to get freedom. Brian breaks into Ashley apartment holding her hostage inside her own home. Ashley must spend the night trying to stay alive when this clearly mentally unstable man Brian pushes her to the limits.

 

Thoughts on Captive

 

Characters/PerformanceAshley is a recovering drug addict who is about to become clean and get her daughter back, she must stay one step ahead of Brian to make this happen. Brian is a criminal about to be judge on a rape case he believes he is innocent off. He escapes and kills the judge going on the run before taking Ashely hostage. He constantly believes he is innocent of all the crimes he is being accused off. The cops on the other hand are all the generic ones you would imagine they would be.

Performance Wise, Kate Mara is good in the leading role showing given the right material she can be a leading lady, David Oyelowo is as always great in yet another film he clearly is the best part off.

StoryThis is a story that is based on real events, this is just another hostage story though, we have the bonding between the criminal and victim which is nothing fresh, as well as watching the manhunt for him. This all works but doesn’t come off as original, because this is based on a real event it would have been more interesting to see more about the real case that Brian believes he is innocent off.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of this film happens early on as most of the film is hunting down the criminal who has gone to extreme lengths to get his freedom. The thriller ide doesn’t keep us on edge for long enough.

SettingsThe apartment shows how Ashely has become trapped with Brian but we also deal with the idea that we are watching a manhunt too.

Final ThoughtsThis was a slow-moving thriller that doesn’t reach the levels it needs to, mostly because this is based on a real event too.

 

Overall: Slow and disappointing thriller.

Rating

 

 

Morgan (2016)

morganDirector: Luke Scott

Writer: Seth W Owen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rose Leslie, Michael Yare, Toby Jones, Chris Sullivan, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Brian Cox, Paul Giamatti, Jennifer Jason Leigh

 

Plot: A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Start, Bad Finish

 

Story: Morgan starts as a secret project has a murderous side leading to Lee Weather (Mara) being set to investigate what happened on the project known as Morgan (Taylor-Joy), her investigation isn’t just into the subject but the staff involved to see if everything is still going on their plans.

The humanoid known as Morgan has been with the doctors her whole life with the doctors including Amy Menser (Leslie), Simon Ziegler (Jones), Darren Finch (Sullivan), Brenda Finch (Robinson) Lui Cheng (Yeoh) and Kathy Grieff (Leigh) each member of the team has worked on different parts of Morgan to make her understand each environment needed for training.

When Dr Alan Shapiro (Giamatti) arrives on the base the two must start their investigation and assessment into whether Morgan should be destroyed or to keep the project alive.

Morgan is a sci-fi horror thriller that builds on similar style films of creating life that could be smarter than the current humans, so think Splice but with higher intelligence. Well I say that because the first half of the film is very interesting because we start at the moment where the incident happens and the decision needs to be made, all this is fine and comes off fine. Where this film starts to fall apart is in final act of the film where it just becomes some form of lazy hack and slash story of an experiment gone wrong. This movie would have been a lot more interesting if it had stayed focusing on morale questions involved if the experiment had gone wrong.

Morgan has a very impressive cast with highly respected names including Giamatti, Yeoh, Cox, Leigh and Jones with years of great work under their belts and you can expect the performance from them on any film. We add in Mara trying to get to the levels of her sister Rooney giving one of her best performances as the cold hearted consultant and rising stars Boyd Holbrook, Rose Leslie both give good supporting performances. Anya Taylor-Joy has had a great year with her performance in The Witch and this shows her ability in the roles in question.

 

Overall: Such an interesting start before becoming a generic messy ending.

Ratingcard

 

 

The Martian (2015)

martianDirector: Ridley Scott

Writer: Drew Goddard (Screenplay) Andy Weir (Book)

Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Donald Glover, Mackenzie, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Naomi Scott

 

Plot: During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meagre supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: One of the Best in 2015

 

Story: The Martian starts with the first astronaut team on Mars Commander Melissa Lewis (Chastain), Mark Watney (Damon) Martinez (Pena), Johanssen (Mara), Beck (Stan) and Vogel (Hennie) as their exploration mission gets hit by devastating storm leading them to lead for an immediate evacuation. During the storm Watney gets hit and lost in the storm with the rest leaving the planet.

Director of NASA Teddy Sanders (Daniels) announces to the world what has happen and that Watney died on Mars. Meanwhile on Mars we follow Watney as he awakens from his injuries and returns to the command centre to record what he thinks will be his final days on Mars because he knows how long it would take for a rescue team to save him.

Watney refusing to give up so easily decides to fight to survive by using his expertise as a botanist to grow enough food to last the time period he has to wait for any sort of rescue mission.

When Mission Control discover that Watney is alive they have to figure out what to do, Vincent Kapoor (Ejiofor), Annie Montrose (Wiig) and Sanders need to make contact with Watney to make a rescue mission a reality while hiding the truth from his original crew. We have to witness Watney survive, NASA make the big decision and the crew deal with the consequences of leaving him behind, but will he make it home?

The Martian was a film I along with many others thought the trailer could have given away too much, but how we were wrong. Watching the rescue plans being built up is great along with watching how Mark plans his survival. We get to enjoy the non-serious attitude from Mark keeping the story feeling light hearted even though it is a serious situation. Looking back on the film it was hard to find a bad thing as we see the world unite to bring Mark home during the testing time.

 

Actor Review

 

Matt Damon: Mark Watney is the expert botanist who gets left on Mars during the first mission there, he has to figure out a way to survive on this planet where he knows he will not get any support for a long period of time. First he starts by growing food then finds a way to call home and against all the odds he must never give up in his quest for survival. Matt gives a brilliant performance in this leading role which could have been dull but his charm keeps your attention throughout.mark

Jessica Chastain: Melissa Lewis is the commander of the mission on Mars, she has to make the big decision to leave Mark once it becomes clear he gets lost during the storm. When she and her team learn about his survival they have to make their own decision. Jessica does a good job in the role where she handles everything going on.

Kristen Wiig: Annie Montrose is the public relations officer at NASA who has to help spin any decisions being made by the NASA team to make sure they look good through this situation. Kristen does a good job in this supporting role.

Jeff Daniels: Teddy Sanders is the director of NASA, he has to make all the final decisions when it comes to the rescue of Mark, he has moments where he is portrayed as the bad guy but he is making the correct logical decisions when it comes to each idea with the rescue. Jeff does a great job in this role showing that he isn’t just the authority in the situation but part of the world population wanting to bring Mark home.

Chiwetel Ejiofor: Venkat Kapoor is trying to answer the questions when it comes to rescuing Mark, he controls the satellites with his team. He does question enough of the ideas even though he wants full control of the satellites for his own work. Chiwetel does a good job in this role even though it feels very familiar to his 2012 role.vincen

Support CastThe Martian has a massive supporting cast including Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Benedict Won, Mackenzie Davis and Donald Glover who all gives great performances with the role they are involved in.

Director Review: Ridley Scott Ridley brings us one of the best sci-fi films in recent years.

 

Action: The Martian has good use of action when required but doesn’t go over the top with the ideas.

Adventure: The Martian feels like an adventure from Mark’s side of the story as he must find a way to survive.

Sci-Fi: The Martian is on Mars and looking at NASA trying to rescue a stranded astronaut, could we get anymore sci-fi?

Settings: The Martian creates a brilliant setting location on Mars that all works make us feel like we are on Mars with Mark.
Special Effects
: The Martian has great effects to make everything seems logical throughout.

Suggestion: The Martian is one that really should be watched this year. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Damon shines in this role.

Worst Part: Slightly long.

Action Scene Of The Film: Rescue.

Funniest Scene: I blew myself up

Favourite Quote: Mark ‘I don’t want to come off as arrogant here, but I’m the greatest botanist on this planet.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: You get to see the what happens next for the characters.

 

Oscar Chances: This could easily get a few Oscar nods.

Runtime: 2 Hour 10 Minutes

Tagline:  Bring Him Home

 

Overall: One of the best films of 2015 with excellent sense of survival

Ratingcard