ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – S – Still Alice (2014)

Director: Wash Westmoreland, Richard Glatzer

Writer: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland (Screenplay) Lisa Genova (Novel)

Starring: Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth, Shane McRae, Hunter Parrish, Alec Baldwin, Seth Gilliam, Kristen Stewart

 

Plot: A linguistics professor and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Moore’s Powerhouse Performance

 

Story: Still Alice starts on linguistics professor Alice Howland (Moore) birthday, with her family, husband John (Baldwin), children Tom (Parrish) and Anna (Bosworth), the family is filled with college educations, successful careers and with distant daughter Lydia (Stewart) following her own dreams, we get our normal higher educated family.

With Alice noticing slight mistakes in her life, loss of knowing where she is, loss of words, she starts seeing a doctor who can gives her the news that she has early Alzheimer’s disease, but even worse her children could have the disease too.

 

Thoughts on Still Alice

 

Characters – Alice is a professor of linguistics, one of the most renowned in her field, she has the perfect family of grown-up children following their own careers. She notices her memory going before learning she has early onset Alzheimer’s, she must learn to live with this disease which will make everyday routine a challenge. John is Alice’s husband, he supports her through her tough times, never giving up on her. Anna, Tom and Lydia are her children that have been living their own lives, who come to support her too.

PerformancesJulianne Moore gives the performance of her career, you believe every struggler Alice goes through because of her performance. Alec Baldwin is great in the supporting role as are the rest of the cast, with this being one of the first films to help Kristen Stewart break out of the Twilight fame.

StoryThe story shows us what happens when a once successful professor Alice gets struck down with Alzheimer’s, the strain it can put on the family, her life and leave her helpless for the first time in her life. The idea that families will have to face this similar situation will come through and this shows how it can take away the delights they once had from life and shows how more will need to be done to help people. The support from the family helps, but you can’t help but wonder what it would be like for someone who is alone that is suffering from this.

SettingsThe film shows us the life that Alice and her family have, this brings us into a world of a real family that could be suffering through the same situation.


Scene of the Movie –
The Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Text talk should have been the first signal for a linguistics expert.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful performance heavy film that shows us the suffering the victim of the disease will go through. The struggle the family will be put through as they see a loved one disappear in front of them, something incredibly difficult.

 

Overall: This is one of the best performance heavy films.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – Z – Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: David Koepp, John Kamps (Screenplay) Chris Van Allsburg (Book)

Starring: Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz

 

Plot: Two young brothers are drawn into an intergalactic adventure when their house is hurled through the depths of space by the magical board game they are playing.


Tagline – A new adventure from the world of Jumanji

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Adventure

 

Story: Zathura: A Space Adventure starts as two brothers Danny (Bobo) and Walter (Hutcherson) are trying to get the attention of their father (Robbins), with his work getting in the way they must learn to occupy themselves, which leads to them finding a board game Zathura which leads to them ending up in outer space.

The two brothers must learn to put their differences behind them to survive the game which is filled with multiply different space based threats.

 

Thoughts on Zathura: A Space Adventure

 

Characters – Danny is the youngest of the three children, he wants to be accepted by his brother even though he isn’t as good at sports and has a habit to cheat when playing games. Walter is the middle child, he wants to spend time with his father and get angry when Danny is allowed time too, he hates having Danny around never wanting to spend time with him. The Astronaut is a stranger from the game that assists the brothers through the game.

PerformancesThe performances are next up and we must first consider that we have two child actors, they are good in their arguments and it is strange to see that only one made it to the adult level in Josh Hutcherson. Dax Shepard is good and never gets to the annoying we know from him now, while Stewart and Robbins are good for the supporting roles.

StoryThe story does follow many of the same ideas as Jumanji, we have two brothers this time being forced into playing the game, needing to put aside their difference to finish the game to return to normality. We have the similar peril only in space which brings a freshness into the concept, there is a weird side story going on which brings a twist which is disturbing more than clever. If you want something just fun, this will hit the marks.

Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe adventure takes our two brothers to a place they could never imagine which plays into the fantasy elements of the film, the sci-fi side of things takes the whole story into space.

SettingsThe film is set inside the house, which is works because what would happen if your house was in space suddenly.

Special EffectsThe effects are surprisingly brilliant, I say this because Jumanji had weak effects, even though this is set in space it never looks out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
The game first moments.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The twist seems weird.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun family film that can be enjoyed by everyone, it feels like it has full adventure that can be enjoyed by all.

 

Overall: One for the adventure fans out there.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – A – American Ultra (2015)

ultraDirector: Nima Nourizadeh

Writer: Max Landis (Screenplay)

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman

 

Plot: A stoner – who is in fact a government agent – is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he’s too well-trained and too high for them to handle.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Action Comedy

 

Story: American Ultra starts as Mike Howell (Eisenberg) who must explain what has happened. We move back to see how Mike and his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart) who live in a small dead-end town while enjoying getting stoned in their spare time. We also meet the government agents Adrian Yates (Grace) who is looking to close a project that Victoria Lasseter (Britton) has started.

When Adrian decides to terminate asset Mike Howell he becomes activated by Victoria and Mike learns all about a new set of skills that leaves a trail of bodies as Mike and Phoebe go on the run to learn the truth.

 

Thoughts on American Ultra

 

StoryThe story here is easy to follow and it is clear that this is designed to poke fun at the is he an agent or not sub-genre of action without being full parody. I think the story works and comes off original for the most part because you are left wonder where it could go next and we see how anything is possible too.

Action/ComedyThe action going on within this film is to make the extra comedy with how unique the kills and use of weapons that make things original throughout. While I don’t think, this is the best comedy the fact it doesn’t take itself too seriously helps make it feel light hearted throughout.

Characters/PerformancesMike is meant to be your everyday stoner who just gets by in life but what if he had been recruited by the government to be an undercover asset, well this is told through this character where he questions his own existence in the world. Phoebe does have a twist to her character with Yates being the typical over the top full of power government agent with Victoria being the elder member of the government team who wants to do the right thing. When you look at performances Eisenberg gets to have a lot of fun with his character and Stewart shows the talent she has but doesn’t always show in Twilight. Grave continues to be good at the over the top guy with the rest of the cast fitting the movie well.

SettingsThe settings are within the small town which shows just how the government can take control without needing to explain. It also gets fully explained by Mike hasn’t been able to leave under the program.

Special EffectsThe special effects are few and far between but all work for how the story is being told without having anything go wildly over the top like it could.

Final ThoughtsEnjoyable and fun is the best way to describe this because you know you are having something slightly light hearted going on throughout.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable action comedy that watched the right way can be enjoyed.

Ratingcard

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Messengers (2007)

Director: Danny Pang, Oxide Chun Pang

Writer: Mark Wheaton (Screenplay) Todd Farmer (Story)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett, William B Davis

 

Plot: An ominous darkness invades a seemingly serene sunflower farm in North Dakota, and the Solomon family is torn apart by suspicion, mayhem and murder.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easily Forgettable

 

Story: The Messengers starts as Solomon family Roy (McDermott), Denise (Miller), daughter Jess (Stewart) and baby Ben move to a farm house which has been abandoned for years after a serious of horrific events.

It doesn’t take long before Jess discovers ghostly figures attracted to Ben but they are never around when her parents are around, turning to the farm hand Burwell (Corbett) she learns more about what could cause everything but just how much danger is the family in?

 

Thoughts on The Messengers

 

Characters/PerformanceRoy has struggled for work to supporting his family for a couple of years and will do everything to make this new home work for them, Denise is the wife that is struggling to connect with their daughter the way they once did. Jess is the teenage daughter that must live with an accident she caused but finds herself distant from her parents.

Performance wise, you can see here just how far Stewart has come because she does struggle in the leading role here but now she can give us powerhouse performances like Personal Shopper, the rest of the cast are fine but nothing more.

StoryThe story is simple, a family looking for fresh start must deal with their demons to bring the divide in the family back together while dealing with a supernatural presence in the new home. This isn’t very original and does get slightly stuck between supernatural and real events never giving us a reason why the supernatural side happens in the first place.

Horror/Mystery The horror is mostly stuff running around behind the characters and lazy jump scares, the mystery is mostly about what happened before and why is it happening again.

SettingsMost of the film or at least the horror elements take place on the farm house which I guess does work for the film.

Special EffectsThe special effects are mostly weak throughout leaving us to not believe too much of what we see.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple, easy to watch horror mystery, it doesn’t test you enough on the horror or mystery side of things though.

 

Overall: Lacklustre horror mystery.

Rating

 

 

Personal Shopper (2017)

Director: Olivier Assayas

Writer: Olivier Assayas (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Andres Danielsen Lie, Ty Olwin, Benjamin Biolay

 

Plot: A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Almost Pointless Story

 

Story: Personal Shopper starts as Maureen Cartwright (Stewart) is bought into a home to communicate with the dead in France for Lara (Bouaziz) on her first night in the house she does feel the presence. Maureen also works for a high society personal shopper in Paris where she gets to handle the clothing people could only imagine affording.

We see how Maureen is tired with her role in Paris is staying solely to communicate with her dead twin brother because the two made a pledge to communicate if one died the other would communicate to prove he was a medium to the dead. Maureen finds her life turned upside when she witnesses a ghostly image within the house but it is when she receives random text messages from an unknown caller.

 

Thoughts on Personal Shopper

 

Characters/PerformanceMaureen is a personal shopper who is desperate to learn if she can still communicate with her dead twin brother. She finds herself not enjoying her career choice and being pushed around by an anonymous texter. The rest of the characters are only in a few scenes which show the life that Maureen is going through.

Performance wise, Stewart is great in the leading role needing to carry the film being in every single scene. The rest of the cast do well but are not involved too much with each scene.

StoryMy personal overall feelings for this film are pretty clear, I found most of the film almost pointless, now I say these words because we do have three odd stories going on. First we have the search for the dead brother’s spirit, this is fine, then we have the whole game about trying on the cloths, again fine, and thirdly we have the idea the Maureen is searching for her own identity, again fine but mixing them all together we never get enough focus on what was going on between each part of the story and left wondering just which part of the story we are going to be picking up next.

Mystery/ThrillerThere is a mystery and when it comes forward we are interested but it does get forgotten in places. We are not going to be kept on the edge of our sea through our experience of this film.

SettingsWe are in Paris for most of the film which should make for a great backdrop but the truth is we could have been anywhere for this film.

Final ThoughtsThere is so much potential in this film but the truth is that it doesn’t hit the marks it needs to.

 

Overall: Disappoints on many levels.

Rating