ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – J – Just Before I Go (2014)

Director: Courteney Cox

Writer: David Flebotte (Screenplay)

Starring: Seann William Scott, Olivia Thirlby, Garret Dillahunt, Kate Walsh, Kyle Gallner, Mackenzie Marsh


Plot: On the verge of giving up on life, a guy travels to his hometown to make amends.

Tagline – Ending it all was only the beginning.
Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Moving Story


Story: Just Before I Go starts as Ted Morgan (Scott) fills in the reasons why he returned home to kill himself, the average life he has been living and the recent break up, first he wants to return home to confront the people that pushed him back in his hometown, before he goes.

Staying with his brother Lucky (Dillahunt) and his family, he sets his plan in motion until he meets Greta (Thirlby) who wants to document this situation.


Thoughts on Just Before I Go


Characters – Ted Morgan was a dreamer in high school, but he was bullied and as soon as he was old enough he left town, he lived a normal life, in a normal employment role, but after his wife cheats on him, he decides he wants to confront his past before killing himself. Ted is the average man that never became the guy he thought he would, middle-aged and alone facing a reality he doesn’t want to be here anymore. Greta is a stranger to Ted, she wants to record document the motivation behind Ted’s choice and to try and help him find a direction. Lucky is the older brother that never put his arm around his younger brother when he was younger. This movie has wonderful characters that have affected Ted’s life in different ways.

PerformancesSeann William Scott is an actor I grew up watching his comedies, but he seemed to fade away, this performance seems to be a career highlight for him, he keeps everything calm through the film which is something that is important for this role and something new for him. Olivia Thirlby is great in the supporting role too which is the type of role we can see her doing a lot. Garret is an actor you can always find in good supporting roles and this is no different.

StoryThe story here follows one man who sees his life going nowhere and wants to face his past before killing himself, this is a simple side to everything, we end up dealing with a lot of everyday issues about treating people equally, dealing with the fine line between loneliness and emptiness, as well as showing that other people close to you will have their own problems. For me this is one of the most underrated stories I have seen and having been through elements of these issues I could relate to as well.

ComedyThe movie has moments of comedy, but doesn’t rely on the comedy which is something I was happy with, the drama was the main part of the film.

SettingsThe film takes our character back to his own home town which shows how many people might not leave and still make a life for themselves, the settings work for the going down memory lane.

Scene of the Movie –
On top of the world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The sister-in-law is difficult to talk seriously and we don’t need her weakness.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that hit home hard for me, I can understand Ted’s mentality and difficulties which makes this a film I wish more people could see.


Overall: Must watch for anyone that has had a hard time.




Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

casting card


Plot: After a family is forced to relocate for their son’s health, they begin experiencing supernatural behavior in their new home, and uncover a sinister history.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Good Horror


Story: The Haunting in Connecticut starts as we meet the Campbell family mother Sara (Madsen), Father Peter (Donavon) and the tragic story of their cancer stricken son Matt (Gallner) they have also adopted Mary (Knight) with babysitter Wendy (Crew). To make the trips to the hospital becoming difficult the family decides to move closer to Connecticut.

Moving into the new house Matt starts seeing things around the house but he also knows if he admits seeing things he will be taken off the trial. With the visions becoming more frequent Matt turns to fellow sufferer Reverend Popescu (Koteas) to understand what these spirits want from him as he starts becoming distant to his whole family.

The Haunting in Connecticut is a horror film that parallels the realism of cancer with haunting, the idea that Matt knows he is seeing things but knows the effects if he admits it, this helps the story as we are led down a path of what is real or in his head. The problem with this comes to the fact it has to all be real for it to be an actual horror. The scares are well built up but do feel separate from the story. this is an enjoyable horror and has plenty of scares too.


Actor Review


Virginia Madsen: Sara is the mother of the family that has to take her son on long distance trip to the hospital to treat his cancer. Tired of the trips she decides to move the family closer but this will test the family more as we see them starting to get haunted by the new house. She has to remain strong through the testing time. Virginia is good in this leading role where we do know she is good in most horrors.

Kyle Gallner: Matt is our cancer victim that upon moving and starting new treatment starts having visions of something horrific in the house. As this become more frequent he tries to communicate to see what these spirits want but can he handle their answer? Kyle is good in this role as we see him going through everything.

Elias Koteas: Reverend Popescu is a fellow cancer victim but does understand what Matt is going through and offers to help deal with the demons inside the house. Elias is good in this role but I feel we need to see more from his character.

Amanda Crew: Wendy is the live in babysitter and niece to Sara, we never truly understand why she has moved in with them but she helps Matt try to get to the bottom of the mystery inside the house. Amanda is solid in this role and is the only one that tries to uncover the truth.

Support Cast: The Haunting in Connecticut has a supporting cast that includes the rest of the family and spirits keeping everything feeling like a family problem rather than overall haunting.

Director Review: Peter CornwellPeter does give us a good horror that has plenty of scares and a story that keeps us engaged.


Horror: The Haunting in Connecticut has well built up horror moments which contains shock moments.

Mystery: The Haunting in Connecticut does give us a ghost investigation style mystery as we learn what happened in the house.

Thriller: The Haunting in Connecticut does keep us on the edge wondering where the next horror moment will come.

Settings: The Haunting in Connecticut keeps most of the film inside the house which helps for the horror.
Special Effects
: The Haunting in Connecticut has great effects that are used for the horror side of the film.

Suggestion: The Haunting in Connecticut is one for the horror fans to enjoy. (Horror Fans Watch)


Best Part: The research actually makes sense and is achieved in a library only.

Worst Part:  Certain horror moments seem random.


Believability: Based on a true story.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Has one.

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

Tagline: Some things cannot be explained.

Trivia: Ed Warren and Lorraine Warren, who are known for involvement in The Amityville Horror case, were investigators for this case.


Overall: Enjoyable horror that has good moments throughout.





The Finest Hours (2016)

casting card


Plot: The Coast Guard makes a daring rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod after a pair of oil tankers are destroyed during a blizzard in 1952.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Simple Fantastic Story


Story: The Finest Hours starts by taking us back to 1951 Massachusetts where we meet Bernie Webber (Pine) struggling to gather the confidence for his first meeting with Miriam (Grainger). As a coastguard we see how hesitant he is to commit to a relationship knowing how dangerous his job is. After agreeing to marry Miriam we see a storm coming towards the town and move to an oil tanker with Ray Sybert (Affleck) on-board trying to make the right decision while entering the storm.

When the ship suffers heavy damage it is up to Ray to keep the crew making the right decisions with no way of calling for rescue. The rescue is going to be going with Daniel Cluff (Bana) and his coastguards but the problem is the ship is split in two and going in different directions. Bernie must lead a crew include Richard Livesey (Foster), Andy Fitzgerald (Gallner) and Ervin Maske (Magaro) to take on what looks like an impossible mission to finally put the demons of a previous failure behind him.

The Finest Hours is the incredible story of four coastguards who have to brave the weather to save the stranded crew who also have to achieve their own remarkable achieve to survivor as long as they do against the elements. We do have a slow start to get into the rescue as we only follow the stranded ship early on while dealing with coastguard’s personal lives which while is real comes off unnecessary. This is something very interesting and is one I would suggest watching too as the courage these men showed is simple amazing.  


Actor Review


Chris Pine: Bernie Webber is a good honest sometimes social awkward coastguard, he has a haunting past after failing to save a wreck recently which does make members of the coastguard look down on him but when he is the last resort for saving the stricken oil tanker he will risk his life and three fellow coastguards to save them. Chris gives us a great performance not over playing like he can do with his normal roles keep this straight from start to finish.

Casey Affleck: Ray Sybert works in the ships engine room, when the ship gets split he is the only one that thinks of a way to keep the ship a float for as long as they do. He has to turn the hostile crew in his favour to bring them to safety. Casey is good in this role but I do think we could have seen a stronger performance from this talent.

Ben Foster: Richard Livesey is the second in command on Bernie’s boat the man he turns to for advice on each decision he makes but one of the only loyal men to stand by him. Ben is the ever reliable supporting character actor here.

Eric Bana: Daniel Cluff is the chief on the coastguards new to the area getting little respect from his coastguards. He makes the difficult decisions to send out his first choice team only to have to turn Bernie for the next rescue. Eric is good in his role playing the strict authority figure.

Support Cast: The Finest Hours has a good supporting cast filled with names you know are always good in supporting roles with not a single one giving a bad performance.

Director Review: Craig GillespieCraig gives us the incredible story of courage that really shows these men’s Finest Hours even if the film starts of slightly slow.


Action: The Finest Hours uses the action with the rescue that all comes off edge of your seat stuff.

History: The Finest Hours shows us just one of the many amazing stories that coastguard risk their lives for.

Thriller: The Finest Hours is one that once it gets started keeps us on the edge of your seat to see how this rescue mission will be achieved.

Settings: The Finest Hours recreates the settings of the time in question as well as the oil tanker, small lifeboat being battered on the seas.
Special Effects
: The Finest Hours uses great effects to make us believe we were part of this crew both on the rescuers and the rescued.

Suggestion: The Finest Hours is really one to watch because it really is a brilliant story. (Watch)


Best Part: The resuce.

Worst Part: Slightly slow starting.

Action Scene Of The Film: Breaking the bar.


Believability: Based on the real story.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: Photos from the real event.


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

Tagline: 32 survivors, room for 12.


Overall: Stunning true story shot to look as realistic as possible.



Movie Reviews 101 Halloween Midnight Horror – A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

logoDirector: Samuel Bayer

Writer: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer (Screenplay) Wesley Strick (Story) Wes Craven (Characters)

Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown, Connie Britton


Plot: The spectre of a dead child rapist haunts the children of the parents who murdered him, stalking and killing them in their dreams.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Remake Deserves Better Praise


Story: A Nightmare on Elm Street starts by taking us back to Springwood and puts us into a nightmare of Dean Russell (Lutz) where he meets Freddy Krueger (Haley) before waking up and introducing to all the characters, Nancy (Mara) working in the diner Kris (Cassidy), Quentin (Gallner) and Jesse (Dekker). Continuing the opening sequence we see Dean fall back asleep and it is here where Freddy takes his first victim.

We start to see the side effects of the death of Dean as Kris starts to try and learn about why she was in photos as a young girl with Dean and never remembers being friends with him at that age. The friends all start having the nightmares about Freddy and the friends have to try and find a way to stay alive. The truth about who Freddy is takes a different turn this time around which brings the connection to him a lot closer to home for our characters.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a re-imaging of what can only be put as a classic, people slammed this movie right left and centre. I have gone through all of the Elm Street films in a week and I can safely say this remake deserves higher praise that what it got. The film doesn’t waste too much time explaining about Freddy but instead looks into the idea that the children actually have a connection with Freddy before he is killed. I also liked the idea that the story teases the idea that Freddy could have been innocent. On the negative side of this we lose the serial killer side downgrading Freddy to child molester (which I know is still bad but he doesn’t have the same level of threat). We do end up having a couple of similar deaths which doesn’t seem to fit the idea of the re-creation, we also have re-hashed lines that don’t fit the situation. I also hated the final scene but both films use this to make us question everything we have seen. Overall the story does give us new ideas but it is the ideas of repeating older storylines ruining the idea of a re-imagination. (6/10)


Actor Review


Jackie Earle Haley: Freddy Krueger is the serial killer from our teenager’s dreams he is darker than previous outing but still possess his sinister laugh. We learn what happened to Freddy but what is much more interesting in this outing is we get teased about his potential innocence. Jackie does a good job in the role bringing a new darker style to the icon. (7/10)


Kyle Gallner: Quentin Smith is the fellow student who has a crush on Nancy and as Freddy starts taking his victims he ends up working with her to save themselves before it is too late. Kyle does a solid job in the role but doesn’t really shine to the level required. (5/10)


Rooney Mara: Nancy Holbrook is our leading lady who works with Quentin to try and save herself from Freddy, she digs into the past to learn the terrifying truth about who Freddy really is. Rooney has openly admitted she did this role for the money and you can see in her performance because we all know the potential she has. (5/10)


Katie Cassidy: Kris Fowles is the false lead in the film much like the original had who starts getting visions of Freddy but most importantly starts putting together the connection between her and her friends at a younger age. Katie gives a solid performance continuing her horror trend as a victim. (6/10)


Thomas Dekker: Jesse Braun is the teenager who is left to be responsible for the killing of Kris even though we see he had nothing to do with it. Jesse helps pass on the message about what is happen to Nancy before being killed. Thomas does a solid job but never really gets enough time on screen to make an impact. (6/10)


Support Cast: A Nightmare on Elm Street has a supporting cast that includes the parents that are covering up the secret and for the most part that is all we have as extra cast members.


Director Review: Samuel Bayer – Samuel does a solid job directing bringing a new approach to a much loved film which works in places but not in others. (6/10)


Horror: A Nightmare on Elm Street brings a creepy darker side to the story but struggles to reach any real scare levels. (7/10)

Mystery: A Nightmare on Elm Street adds in a mystery angle about the connection between the children and Freddy. (9/10)

Thriller: A Nightmare on Elm Street keeps you guessing to what the connection is because it goes in a different direction that we have seen previously. (7/10)

Settings: A Nightmare on Elm Street keeps the settings similar to what we would expect to see and have seen before adding to the horror levels. (7/10)
Special Effects
: A Nightmare on Elm Street uses good effects to create the nightmare sequences and Freddy make up. (8/10)

Suggestion: A Nightmare on Elm Street is one to try, I know people love the original and will always compare it but as a stand-alone movie this is actually a solid horror film. (Horror Fans Try)


Best Part: Teasing the idea of the innocent Freddy.

Worst Part: Showing us he wasn’t innocent.

Kill Of The Film: Dean because it is the only original one.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $115 Million

Budget: $27 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

Tagline: Never Sleep Again.

Trivia: Johnny Depp accompanied his friend Jackie Earle Haley to auditions for A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Instead of Haley being chosen for a role, it was Depp who was spotted by director Wes Craven, who asked him if he would like to read for a part. Depp got a part in that film, Haley didn’t, but Haley would go on to play Freddy in this remake 26 years later.


Overall: A brave re-imagination that brings new ideas to the franchise while still using the older ones, better than people give it credit for but no classic.

Rating 75

American Sniper (2014)

logoDirector: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Jason Hall (Screenplay) Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, James Defelice (Book)

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Kyle Gallner, Ben Reed, Elise Robertson, Try Vincent, Keir O’Donnell, Sienna Miller, Eric Ladin


Plot: Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Slow, but Respectful Biopic


Story: American Sniper starts with Sniper Chris Kyle (Cooper) on a mission in Iraq, he picks up on a child carrying a grenade and has to make the important decision. We flashback to see Chris’ childhood where he was taught to shot by his father Wayne (Reed). Chris travels around as a rodeo before joining in the US Army. We follow as Chris starts a romance with Taya (Miller) while being trained as a sniper.

We watch how Chris and Taya witness the Twin Towers fall before learn that Chris will have to go into combat, we watch as Chris has to take out the threats on the soldiers with his sniper. Following Chris as he fights to survive while Taya keeps him updated with his unborn child. After Chris returns home we see the effects of war are starting to catching up with Chris changing how he reacts in his life, but he does make it home to be with his new born child.

Chris starts to become distant but Chris has to return to the front for his Second Tour. Chris is determined to catch ‘The Butcher’ and on this second tour he gets the chance to build a team to track down the man who is keeping the Iraqi people in fear. We continue to watch between his four tours of duty and time home as his legend continues to be built up.

American Sniper is a film that I have to first say I have the utmost respect for Chris Kyle and everything he did in his life. I would never have heard enough about the sniper legend without this story. Having said all of that I did find this film incredible slow paced and very repetitive. I only found the final tour attack and aftermath enjoyed because it finally showed the effects of the tours on Chris. I felt that too much of the film was based on Iraq and we needed to see more of the returning side. Overall I found this a very slow biopic that does respect the legend but just doesn’t make his story the most entertaining. (5/10)


Actor Review


Bradley Cooper: Chris Kyle is the famous sniper who has massed up countless kills making him a legend to the American people, we watch how he goes about his tours of duty while trying to balance his own personal life including starting his own family. Bradley does give a good performance but I don’t feel it was an Oscar nominated worthy one. (8/10)


Sienna Miller: Taya is the long suffering wife of Chris who has to spend months away from him as he is on his tours of duty while raising their children. Sienna does a solid supporting performance but doesn’t get the screen time we would like from her character. (7/10)


Support Cast: American Sniper has a supporting cast that mostly includes the soldiers alongside Chris, they all help motivate him to stay as he wants to keep them safe by taking out as many enemy combatants as he could.


Director Review: Clint Eastwood – Clint is a director I usually enjoy watching his work but I did end up finding this one very slow. (5/10)


Action: American Sniper has plenty of war base action that shows just how chaotic Chris would find himself in. (7/10)

Biographical: American Sniper does pay the respect required to an American Hero. (9/10)

War: American Sniper tries to show sides of war, the action and the effects of it all. (8/10)

Settings: American Sniper keeps the war settings looking very authentic, but also keeps the home in America feeling everyday places. (8/10)

Suggestion: American Sniper is one to try, if you like a good biopic you should enjoy it but otherwise is might come off slow. (Try It)


Best Part: Final Tour.

Worst Part: First Hour is very slow.

Action Scene Of The Film: Final tour.


Believability: It is based on the real legend. (10/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: Through the credits we see the aftermath of what happened ti the real Chris Kyle.


Awards: Nominated for 2 BAFTAs Best Screenplay and Best Sound

Oscar Chances: Won 1 Oscar

Box Office: $355 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

Tagline: The most lethal sniper in U.S. history

Trivia: Chris Kyle’s father personally told Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper that he would “unleash Hell” if his son’s memory was disrespected in this film. He did also say that Eastwood and Cooper were “men he could trust”.


Overall: American Sniper is a slow moving respect filled film that does show the real effects of war.

Rating 60