ABC Film Challenge – Crime – V – Veronica Mars (2014)

Director: Rob Thomas

Writer: Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs III

 

Plot: Years after walking away from her past as a young private eye, Veronica Mars gets pulled back to her hometown, just in time for her high school reunion, in order to help her old flame Logan Echolls, who’s embroiled in a murder mystery.


Tagline – She thought she was out

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Many Blanks From the Show

 

Story: Veronica Mars starts as Veronica Mars (Bell) fills the fans of the show in with the last few years of her life after the television show finished and gave us first time viewers a chance to get a basic grip of who the main characters are going to be.

Veronica is now about to take her bar exam, but when her ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Dohring) is accused of killing his celebrity girlfriend, Veronica returns home to get to the bottom of the crime, re-living her private eye ways and catching up with old friends.

 

Thoughts on Veronica Mars

 

Characters – Veronica Mars is the former private eye that has moved on to study law only to learn a former friend has been accused of murder. The character gets to return to see old friends to see where they are in life now and how things have changed, in the biggest case of her life. Logan Echolls is the ex-boyfriend of Veronica that has been accused of murder, he needs her help to prove his innocence.

PerformancesKristen Bell made this role her own on television and now you can see her own enjoyment of returning to this role. Jason Bohring is solid enough in the role of the suspect. It would be fair to say the whole returning cast enjoyed coming back and it worked for the film.

StoryThe story plays into the hands of the fans of the show wonderfully, the problem comes if you never saw the show, you will never understand the moments between characters in this movie. This isn’t a film for people that never saw the show, but it does bring our character back to her old role to see where friends are which is always a nice touch for popular shows.

Crime/MysteryThe crime mystery tone is everything the TV show kept up with the light-hearted comic tone of the movie, with plenty of mystery moments to keep us guessing.

SettingsThe settings do help the fans of the original show that have returned to their favourite show, seeing all the places we saw their favourite characters.


Scene of the Movie –
Reunion.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing enough from the TV show.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful treat for the fans of the show, catching up with our favourite characters is something we all like to do and this is no different.

 

Overall: Good TV show to movie.

Rating

 

 

Like Father (2018)

Director: Lauren Miller

Writer: Lauren Rogen (Screenplay) Anders Bard, Lauren Rogen (Story)

Starring: Kristen Bell, Seth Rogen, Kelsey Grammer, Zach Appelman, Paul W Downs, Brittany Ross, Jen Zaborowski

 

Plot: A workaholic woman who is left at the altar takes her honeymoon trip anyway with her overachieving father who left her mother because he believed his family was holding back his career.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sweet Comedy

 

Story: Like Father starts when workaholic Rachel (Bell) still attached to her phone is getting married, her problem is she won’t put her phone down, which leads to her fiancée leaving her at the altar. When her estranged workaholic father Harry (Grammer) turns up at the wedding and offers her a shoulder to cry on.

After a drinking bender together, Rachel and Harry end up going on the Honeymoon cruise together in a hope to help Rachel relax and forget about work for a couple of weeks and learn the lesson about needing to put work on the back burner.

 

Thoughts on Like Father

 

Characters – Rachel is a complete workaholic that has never been able to put her phone down including her wedding day which leads to her fiancée leaving her at the altar. Trying to return to work through the pain it quickly turns into a drinking bender with her father, the man she hates the most because he left her when she was young. She ends up going on her honeymoon with her father, but spends most of the time on the phone too, over the trip she must learn to put her phone away and see the bigger picture of life. Harry is Rachel’s father, he left her when she was a child, but has always watched over her, he sees she is making the same mistakes he did and wants to guide her in the right direction before it is too late for her. Jeff is a divorcee that is on the cruise with his sister to help him get over his divorce, she meets Rachel and the two spend time together as they both have suffered a surprise down in their lives. The rest of the characters we meet include the fellow couples, the twice married couple, the anniversary for the elder couple and the gay couple that complete the 4 couples together.

PerformancesKristen Bell takes the leading role in this movie, she a great to watch as she handles the comedy and the serious moments in the film very well as well has having the good timing chemistry with Grammer. Kelsey Grammer is known for the legendary television run and it has always been hard to see him as any other character, here he does a good job and keeps the calmness you can only imagine from his experience in the genre of comedy. Seth Rogen in the supporting role is good, he doesn’t bring his usual style of comedy letting the two leads take the full spotlight.

StoryThe story show us how a workaholic woman is left at the altar for her overcommitments with work only for estranged father to return to her life to try and build bridges and teach her about the mistakes she is making. The story focuses on needing to learn about taking time away from work to enjoy the little things in life, not making living in regrets that one has been living with since leaving his daughter. The story could go down as one that is generic for the themes circling around needing to put work on the back burner at times and a rebuilding of parental child relationship, it all comes off sweet and enjoyable balancing the comedy and serious moments through the film.

ComedyThe comedy is a mix of situational moments as Rachel and Harry find themselves in the positions in life they would never have achieved without meeting back up again, the support cast get good laughs too.

SettingsMost of the film is set on the cruise with the days off in the beauty spots along the way, it shows how spending time with family however distant can bring people together again.


Scene of the Movie –
Karaoke.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not dealing with the mother discussion.

Final ThoughtsThis is a charmingly sweet comedy, it does have an important message about work and family with a couple of great performances from Bell and Grammer.

 

Overall: Enjoyable comedy.

Rating

 

 

Malin Akerman Weekend – Couples Retreat (2009)

Director: Peter Billingsley

Writer: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin David, Kali Hawk, Tasha Smith, Jean Reno

 

Plot: A comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. While one of the couples is there to work on the marriage, the others fail to realize that participation in the resort’s therapy sessions is not optional.


Tagline –  A comedy about a vacation in paradise they’ll never forget

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Well Casted Comedy

 

Story: Couples Retreat starts as we meet the four couples at the different stages of their relationships, Dave (Vaughn) & Ronnie (Akerman) who have infant kids, Joey (Favreau) & Lucy (Davis) who are about to see their kid go off to college, leaving them to go their desperate ways, Shane (Love) who has just separated from his wife and dating 20-year-old Trudy (Hawk) and Jason (Bateman) & Cynthia (Bell) who are struggling to conceive and want the support of their friends by going on the tropical retreat.

Once the couples arrive on the island they learn they all must take part in the exercises, which isn’t what they signed up for and we are left to see which couples will make it through under the guidance of Marcel (Reno) and his theories.

 

Thoughts on Couples Retreat

 

Characters – We have a lot of characters here, we are going to go through the couples first, Dave is a video game designer who has a young family, married to Ronnie, he is the most reluctant to go because of the age of their kids. Ronnie is similar to Dave, the kids are taking their time, taking away from their free time. Jason & Cynthia are the couple that request the help on the holiday, they want children and are two people that are almost identical with their planning. Joey & Lucy have accepted they are going to separate once their daughter goes to college, they are both looking for options on the island because they have been together since high school. Shane has separated from his wife already, he has fallen into a relationship with a 20-year-old in Trudy as part of his mid-life crisis. Trudy is a youngster of the group always unhappy that Shane can’t keep up with her.

PerformancesWe do have a very good cast here, Vince Vaughn gives us his normal comic idea, which is something I enjoy watching, it goes well opposite Jason Bateman’s slightly uptight style. Jon Favreau is good in his role and the most unknown f the four men is Faizon Love that keeps up with the rest well. The women get to focus on the different stages of life too, the thing is they could all be interchangeable in their roles if we are being honest. Kali Hawk is the stand out of the women performers.

StoryThe story follows four couples at different stages of their relationships, this is important because friends will need to learn from their friend’s positions and see where things could go. While this doesn’t always give each relationship, the time required to show where things are going for the couples, but this unleashes more comical moments in the film. While not overly loved by everyone, I feel this does work for the people that will enjoy a simple comedy movie.

ComedyThis comedy does work in most places, we have couples moments and solo moments which work to keep things flowing.

SettingsMost of the film is on the tropical island which gives us the beautiful backdrop for the events.


Scene of the Movie –
Clashing with employees.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We have the man problems, but we don’t see enough of what the women problems are.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable comedy that hints more often than it misses and has good cast working towards their strengths.

 

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

The Boss (2016)

Director: Ben Falcone

Writer: Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Steve Mallory (Screenplay)

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Ella Anderson, Tyler Labine, Kathy Bates

 

Plot: A titan of industry is sent to prison after she’s caught insider trading. When she emerges ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, not everyone she screwed over is so quick to forgive and forget.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mixed up Comedy

 

Story: The Boss starts as we see how Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) who has become one of the most powerful businesswoman who is self-centred and builds by stepping over the people including her business rival Renault (Dinklage). Michelle’s power is shattered when she is arrested for insider trading and spending 5 months in a luxury jail.

Once released from prison Michelle learns all her assets have been seized and the only person from her old life that will give her any time is her former assistant Claire (Bell). Michelle comes up with the idea of using Claire’s cooking ability to build her own cookie company working with Claire and her daughter Rachel (Anderson).

 

Thoughts on The Boss

 

Characters/PerformanceMichelle is a powerful businesswoman that loses her power after being be convicted of insider trader. She wants to rebuild her empire but must deal with her former business associates have turned against her. This character does become annoying very quickly and doesn’t fit between the ruthless businesswoman or the joke turning lady, we only needed one of these characteristics. Claire is the hard working assistant of Michelle that is the only one that would take Michelle in but her responsibilities to her daughter means she isn’t taken the risks Michelle can afford. Renault is the business rival and former lover of Michelle’s, he wants to see her crash and burn on every business venture.

Performance wise, Melissa McCarthy continues to play characters that just don’t seem to fit the film needed, we don’t need her to go this over the top for a story with meaning. Kristen Bell is good in her role knowing how to play this type of character well. Dinklage gets to have a lot of fun playing his role which can be over the top because of the rivalry created.

StoryThe story itself is about a ruthless businesswoman that steps on everyone who must go on a redemption story, this is all fine, it is the wildly over the top, jokes that make no sense to the context of the story that makes this all fall flat on its face.

ComedyThe comedy is weak, very weak throughout most of it just comes off awkward at times too.

SettingsThe settings are simple and show the different business world for Michelle to go through.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that doesn’t manage to send over the correct message and just turns a failed attempt to make McCarthy funny.

 

Overall: Lazy comedy.

Rating

 

 

Pulse (2006)

logoDirector: Jim Sonzero

Writer: Wes Craven, Ray Wright (Screenplay) Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Bell, Ian Somerhalder, Christina Milian, Rick Gonzalez, Jonathan Tucker, Samm Levine, Octavia Spencer, Ron Rifkin

 

Plot: When their computer hacker friend accidentally channels a mysterious wireless signal, a group of co-eds rally to stop a terrifying evil from taking over the world.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Get Anti-Virus Software

 

Story: Pulse starts by introducing us to a college student named Josh (Tucker) who have the feeling he is being followed and he is searching for Zieglar (O’Neill) before being attacked by a ghost like creature. Next we meet the four other friends including Josh’s girlfriend Mattie (Bell), Isabelle (Milian), Stone (Gonzalez) and Tim (Levine) as they continue to enjoy the college life. All along we get the feeling cell phones, laptops and computers are being over used and clearly being pushed down our throats that it will have an issue you with what finally happens.

When Mattie finds Josh hanging in his apartment the group finds themselves being haunted by a ghost like figure who seems to suck their sole out of their bodies before they finally have to kill themselves. With the more victims dying the more aggressive the ghosts becomes making being near any sort of technology dangerous for everybody as a computer virus seems to be the source of all the problems.

Pulse is a horror film about a computer virus which brings the dead back into the world. This is clearly designed to be a horror film to scare us away from the entire internet and growing technology usage in everyday life, it didn’t work. The film tries to make you guess what will happen next in the story and it really doesn’t offer enough to keep you guessing. Now time for the cliché round, ‘we are safe’ hit by car, attacked by creatures. The ‘my boyfriend just committed suicide but you’re a bad boy I may start a relationship because of our race to survive’. It would be fair to say this is very generic horror that the popcorn horror fan will enjoy but a true horror fans will always complain that the original is better. (5/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Kristen Bell: Mattie is our leading lady who is suffering after the suicide of her boyfriend Josh, she is convinced that something is going on but no one wants to believe her as they think she is just grieving. She must fight against an unseen villain and survive the attacks. Kristen does a solid job in the scream queen role but never shines as this isn’t her strongest genre. (6/10)

 

Ian Somerhalder: Dexter is the bad boy engineer who buys the computer of Josh’s after his death and investigates what Josh may have found on the computer he hacked. Ian does a solid job but doesn’t shine through the role enough. (5/10)

 

Christina Milian: Isabelle is the best friend of Mattie who tries to support her but really doesn’t get involved enough and just becomes another victim. Christina tries her hands at acting, but really shouldn’t have. (3/10)

 

Rick Gonzalez: Stone is a hacker friend of the group who tries to investigate what happened to Josh only to become infected and show a very graphic and brutal ending. Rick does a standard job for a supporting character but really isn’t involved long enough to really make the most of his character. (4/10)

 

Jonathan Tucker: Josh gets attacked in the opening sequences before killing himself for his girlfriend to find. He continues to appear in dreams and it might well be his actions that started the whole virus outbreak. Jonathan does a solid job in a supporting role. (6/10)

 

Support Cast: Pulse has a supporting cast that really all just become disposable for when the ghosts come through.

 

Director Review: Jim Sonzero – Jim does give us a basic horror with a couple of good scares but not enough to make you feel constantly threatened. (5/10)

 

Horror: Pulse enters into the world of horror by introducing the dead coming back to life through computers. We do get a couple of good scares with the laundry room being the top scare. (6/10)

Sci-Fi: Pulse enters us into a future world with the warnings about getting sucked into technology world. (8/10)

Settings: Pulse uses very basic settings in and around a college but never uses anything that stands out. (5/10)
Special Effects
: Pulse uses good special effects for the scares showing how the ghosts are virus like making it have a scarier feel to them all. (8/10)

Suggestion: Pulse is one for the horror fans to try, don’t expect too much but the good scares do come off very nicely. (Horror Fans Try)

 

Best Part: The warning about technology.

Worst Part: Easy scares for the most part.

Kill Of The Film: Stone

Scariest Scene: Laundry room.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has two sequels

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $30 Million

Budget: $20 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

Tagline: There are some frequencies we were never meant to find

Trivia: Wes Craven was once set to direct, but bailed out, which led the film to be officially canned at one point

 

Overall: Pulse is a very average horror film with a warning that we never listened too, but most importantly it tries to teach us social interaction is more important that computer conversation.

Rating 50