Franchise Weekend – Jarhead (2005)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: William Broyles Jr (Screenplay) Anthony Swofford (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Scott MacDonald, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Ming Lo, Lucas Black

 

Plot: A psychological study of operations desert shield and desert storm during the gulf war; through the eyes of a U.S marine sniper who struggles to cope with the possibility his girlfriend may be cheating on him back home.


Tagline – Every man fights his own war.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Effective War Film

 

Story: Jarhead starts as we meet Anthony Swofford (Gyllenhaal) who joined the marines, it isn’t long before he gets taken by Staff Sgt Sykes (Foxx) to the US Marine Sniper division going through the training regime meeting his spotter Alan Troy (Sarsgaard).

When war breaks out the marines are set to the middle east, where they must adapt to the desert condition before going into to conflict, this will test their psychical shape and their mental health as the waiting is just part of the sniper’s game.

 

Thoughts on Jarhead

 

Characters – Anthony Swofford who wrote the book the film is based on, we see how he joined the military out of college and struggled at first through the training regime. Anthony soon discovered he was ready for this life as a sniper, but his time in the gulf sees him start to lose his mind. Alan Troy becomes the best friend of Anthony’s and his spotter, he seems to be the most level-headed marine in the unit. Staff Sgt Sykes is the one running the sniper unit, he demands respect and isn’t afraid to put the marines in their place.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is fantastic in the leading role, he shows everyone how he can play the calm soldier, the crazed soldier and the broken man through the scenes of the film which only increase what he is dealing with. Peter Sarsgaard give us a brilliant supporting performance which shows how the fear can be kept inside a calm outer layer. Jamie Foxx brings us the energy of a career military man.

StoryThe story follows the experiences of one soldier that joins the marines before being put in the sniper division when war breaks out, he must adapt to life in the desert during the waiting game before the conflict. This story does show us just how difficult adapting to war can be for the soldiers and just how the war can be fought without needing to fire a weapon. It shows us just how the mindset can change over a set amount of time which will see the soldiers make decisions they wouldn’t normally consider making. This does focus on the idea that the main soldier Anthony never truly feels like he was part of the war followed by the effects of returning back from war can have on the soldiers who have returned.

Biopic/WarThis film follows Anthony’s experience with war, it shows how war isn’t everything he was planning and how his mindset wasn’t in the right place for parts of his experience. The war side of the film shows us just how different war has become over the years, where the ground soldiers are not as required as once before.

SettingsThe film has some wonderful uses of settings with the march sequence showing us just how open the area in question will be for the soldiers.


Scene of the Movie –
Returning home.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slow start.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fascinating look at the modern war effort, how the biggest problem is now waiting for the war to begin rather than the fighting.

 

Overall: Modern war time.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Challenge – Biopics – # – 42 (2013)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland (Screenplay)

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman, Lucas Black

 

Plot: This movie is about Jackie Robinson and his journey to becoming a Brooklyn Dodger and his life during that time.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Sports Biopic

 

Story: 42 starts with the history of baseball and how after World War II there was 400 players in the MLB and they were all white, the black players had their own league until 1947 when the number dropped to 399. Branch Rickey (Ford) wants to bring the first black man to the major leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers against everything the world at the time suggests, that player is Jackie Robinson (Boseman).

Jackie must start in a feeder team and must put aside the segregation issues that is still going through America, Jackie and his wife Rachel (Beharie) must show they have the thick skin to deal with the abuse from the crowd, other players attitude and prejudices going through America to become a trailblazer for the African American Baseball players.

 

Thoughts on 42

 

Characters – Looking at the characters we are looking at real people this time and one Jackie Robinson who would stand up for what he believed in while making his name on the baseball field, he becomes the trailblazer given the chance to become the first black major league baseball player defining all the segregation problems going through America. Branch Rickey was a bible loving owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who wants to make a difference in the game giving Jackie a chance to change the game so he could be owning a victorious team. Rachel is Jackie’s wife that stands by him through the discrimination he experiences.

PerformanceChadwick Boseman is fantastic in this role showing that he was going to be a huge name in the future. Harrison Ford gives us one of his best performances of his elder career that is outside his known franchises, with Nicole Beharie doing well with the character she has to work with.

StoryThe story of Jackie Robinson is the stuff of legends on America, the trailblazer for African America baseball players fight on and off the field against the discrimination he faces to become the star of the season. We get to see how the country of America was so far behind the times with their equality that is still happening without being as serious as it once was. This is an important history lesson if you are a fan of baseball, sport and history in general.

Biography/SportsJackie Robinson is an icon of the sport of baseball, this shows how he fought off everything to become that icon.

SettingsEach setting shows us the different worlds that Jackie must walk into with different opinions on the difference in race.

Scene of the Movie – The team standing up for Robinson against ben Chapman.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I don’t understand baseball.

Final ThoughtsWhen you look at sports biopics you will always see an icon born and this shows just how Jackie Robinson became the legend the game knows and is a must watch.

 

Overall: Must watch for sports fans.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan (Screenplay)

Starring: Lucas Black, Shad Moss, Brian Tee, Sung Kang, Nathalie Kelley, Leonardo Nam, Brian Goodman, JJ Sonny Chiba

 

Plot: A teenager becomes a major competitor in the world of drift racing after moving in with his father in Tokyo to avoid a jail sentence in America.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Weak Link

 

Story: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift starts as we meet typical quiet high school student Sean Boswell (Black) who gets tricked into a street race against the jock Clay (Bryan), this leads to all involved getting arrests and injured. Punishment for Sean it movie to Tokyo, Japan to live with his father Major Boswell (Goodman). Making friends the way only Sean can he finds Twinkie (Moss) who shows him the underground street racing where they don’t just race, they drift. It also doesn’t take long for Sean to make enemies with the best drifter in town D.K. (Tee) with Han (Kang) wanting to see just how good Sean is.

Sean fails in this first race but this drives him to learn how to drift with Han showing him but D.K keeping his eyes on him as he goes to impress the Yakuza uncle of his.

 

Thoughts on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

 

Characters/PerformanceSean is randomly selected to be our new lead, he has no connection to the previous films and is a high school student always getting himself into trouble, he is from a broken home and happens to enjoy racing, he gets set to a new country and ends up having to prove to be different to his own father. DK is a hot-headed villain but is nothing but his temper gets himself into trouble and answers to his uncle. Neela is the love interest but nothing more. We get our first introduction to Han in this film but he is only the wiser supporting character.

Performance wise, Lucas Black is miss-cast because he looks so old for a teenager, it would be fair to say none of the performances are that great in this film Sung Kang is good as we get to learn about his character more but otherwise, no one famous enough is in this film.

StoryHigh schoolers street racing, well this film completely confuses me for storytelling because how do these kids especially the poor one in Sean afford street racing cars and insurance? Come on this is ridiculous. Throw into the mix the idea of the Yakuza’s I guess we get a real threat in the villain now, well I just couldn’t get into this story it doesn’t fit into the franchise and is clearly the worst.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe only positive here, the race sequences are the best so far in the franchise, using the Yakuza’s doesn’t mean you have a good crime story because the only illegal actions in this film is the street racing, you are also not left on edge like before.

SettingsTokyo is a brilliant setting because it shows the different mindset for the street racing through the packed streets.

Special EffectsThis is another moment where the special effects are all you need them to be without being special in anyway.

Final ThoughtsThe story confuses but the race sequences are all fun, I couldn’t get my mind around how these high school kids are doing all this racing.

 

Overall: The worst in the franchise from the director who gave us the best too.

Rating

 

 

Matt Damon Weekend – Promised Land (2012)

promised landDirector: Gus Van Sant

Writer: John Krasinski, Matt Damon (Screenplay) Dave Eggers (Story)

Starring: Matt Damon, Hal Holbrook, Frances McDormand, Titus Welliver, John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt, Lucas Black, Scoot McNairy

 

Plot: A salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Drama

 

Story: Promised Land starts as we meet Steve Butler (Damon) one of the best salesmen for a natural gas company where he makes the most and cheapest purchases within his company. Steve teams up with Sue (McDormand) to meet the locals of a small town where the natural gas is up for grabs.

What looks like an easy job takes a turn for worse when Frank Yates (Holbrook) challenges the idea of fracking in the town which leads to an environmental guy Dustin Noble (Krasinski) supporting the town. This leads to a battle to make his sell go through with the town turning on him supporting Dustin.

Promised Land is a drama that throws us into the world of potential fracking pros and cons. We get to see how small town America is struggling with money and can get taken advantage of by big businesses. We get to see how even the guy trying to make the deals can fall victim to what is the right to wrong choices being made. The story does flow nicely but in the end it does all come down to an audience member needing to be in the right mood for this film.

 

Actor Review

 

Matt Damon: Steve works for a natural gas company and is one of the best in the business always making the sales. He is on the verge of a promotion but this latest sale which seems so easy takes a turn for the worse when he has to go against an environmentalist while he also falls for a local girl. Matt is good in this leading role.

John Krasinski: Dustin is an environmentalist who has come to the town to warn them of the effects of fracking making Steve’ job very difficult. He is a victim of what happens to fracking and his evidence puts the deal up in the air. John makes for a good opposite to Damon through the film.

Frances McDormand: Sue is the partner of Steve’s, she keeps him in line while keeping her own relationship with her son going. She approaches her deals differently to Steve and is always someone he can throw ideas around with. Frances is good as this supporting character throughout.

Support Cast: Promised Land has a supporting cast that all feel like different members of a tight community the town is with each of their own problems.

Director Review: Gus Van SantGus does a good job directing this showing us Steve’s struggles through the situation.

 

Drama: Promised Land puts us into the morale questions of whether short term money is enough to cover long environmental effects.

Settings: Promised Land puts us in the small town where each moment in the film feels like we are following a small community.
Suggestion
: Promised Land is one to try mostly because the subject isn’t the most popular for the audience to see. (Try It)

 

Best Part: The questions being asked about whether fracking is the right decision or not.

Worst Part: Slightly to campaign heavy.

 

Believability: This is a subject going on around the world at the moment.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $15 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

Tagline: What’s your price?

 

Overall: Very informative drama about the pros and cons of fracking.

Ratingcard

 

 

Paul Bettany Weekend – Legion (2010)

legionDirector: Scott Stewart

Writer: Scott Stewart, Peter Schink (Screenplay)

Starring: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Charles S Dutton, Kevin Durand, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, Dennis Quaid

 

Plot: When a group of strangers at a dusty roadside diner come under attack by demonic forces, their only chance for survival lies with an archangel named, Michael, who informs a pregnant waitress that their unborn child is humanity’s last hope.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Fantasy Horror

 

Story: Legion starts as we see Michael (Bettany) a fallen angel find himself on Earth, losing his wings he arms up for what looks like a big assault. We learn Michael has gone against orders before escaping. We move to Paradise Falls where Jeep (Black) (yes that is the name) and a pregnant Charlie (Palicki) in a small diner in the middle of nowhere.

The diner owned by Bob (Quaid) is filled with guests including family Howard (Tenney), Audrey (Holland) and Sandra (Walsh) and Kyle (Gibson) who is trying to get to court. We also have the loyal chef Percy (Dutton) making everything set with our characters to meet Michael who is there to protect Charlie.

Michael has to prepare the people in the diner for battle against something they don’t know anything about but soon turns out to be angels sent to take Charlie’s baby, we are left to see who will survive these waves of the undead lead by Gabriel (Durand).

Legion is a film that is very much based on the another look at how the world could end when a God figure decided to end his creation. Well that is what I can take from it but while the film is unfolding we get to see how the fantasy world of angels and demons came from. It feels like it could be just a fun film that is easy to watch without being overly serious. The story isn’t the most original but works well.

 

Actor Review

 

Paul Bettany: Michael is a fallen angel going against the orders of God to protect the pregnant Charlie. He is prepared for the fight and has to bring the people in the diner together to fight his fellow angels. Paul is good in this role showing he can handle an action genre well.micharl

Adrianne Palicki: Charlie is the pregnant woman working in a diner in the middle of nowhere, the father is nowhere to be seen and she us just thankful to Bob and Jeep for support. She becomes the target of the angels as the baby is the only thing that can save mankind. Adrianne is solid in this role where most of the supporting cast are very much average.

Lucas Black: Jeep is the slightly slow young man working for his father as a mechanic. He is in love with Charlie and is always trying to find a way to supporting her. This fight will give Jeep the chance to finally step up to be the man he could become. Lucas is solid in this role.

Dennis Quaid: Bob is the owner of the diner and Jeep’s father, he has no faith as we have seen his wife leave him. He will do anything to make sure his son is safe though. Dennis is solid in this supporting role where you would have liked to have seen more from.bob

Support Cast: Legion has a very average supporting cast with mostly generic characters being used throughout.

Director Review: Scott StewartScott gives us an easy to watch action horror that is fun to watch once you suspended your disbelief.

 

Action: Legion has plenty of action throughout with fights, gun battles and car chases being used.

Fantasy: Legion enters us into the world of fantasy between angels and demons.

Horror: Legion does have the elements of horror with how the enemies are created for our heroes.

Settings: Legion keeps most of the action within the diner making it have an isolation feel while dealing with a siege.
Special Effects
: Legion does use some good special effects when it comes to dealing with all the threats coming to attack the diner.

Suggestion: Legion is one you can watch if you are looking for something easy to watch giving you nothing to worry about when it comes to being overcomplicated. (Easy Watch)

 

Best Part: Petrol Pump bullet.

Worst Part: Slightly predictable.

Funniest Moment: Having a character question that Charlie is a strange name for a girl while one of the characters is called JEEP.

Kill Of The Film: Percy

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $26 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

Tagline: When the last angel falls, the fight for mankind begins.

 

Overall: Enjoyable fantasy horror that is easy to watch.

Ratingcard