ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – Q – Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Anthony McCarten (Screenplay) Anthony McCarten, Peter Morgan (Story)

Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilyn Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Mike Myers

 

Plot: A chronicle of the years leading up to Queen‘s legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert.


Tagline – The only thing more extraordinary than their music is his story

Runtime: 2 Hour 14 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Incredible Career, Poorly Told

 

Story: Bohemian Rhapsody starts as we see Freddie (Malek) working at the airport following an indie band around which has Brian May (Lee) and Roger Taylor (Hardy) in, who have just lost their lead singer, giving Freddie a chance to audition to take over and bring the band to a new level.

We follow the rise of Queen as the three joined by John Deacon (Mazzello) to rise through the ranks becoming one of biggest bands in the world, defining a generation of music makers. We mostly follow Freddie as he does deal with his own sexuality and mortality with his fame and musical genesis being tested.

 

Thoughts on Bohemian Rhapsody

 

Characters – Freddie Mercury is one of the biggest names in music history, we know his story, well how it ends anyway, we know the bands music. In this film we learn how he broke from his family traditions to become a Rockstar and bought a brand new meaning to entertaining the audience, we see his vices and how was only part of bands music history. Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon are the rest of the band and have their moments which show us just how the songs came about, they work well together questioning ideas. Mary Austin is the muse for Freddie, the first love even though she knows he is gay, she is one of the few people that never gives up on Freddie.

PerformancesRami Malek is great in the leading role as you believe he has become Freddie ready to perform to the audience, easily his best performance of his career. Diving into the rest of cast, they are all good and perform in the scenes they need to an impact.

StoryThe story follows the career of Freddie Mercury, from the day he joined the band, to the Live Aid performance which changed the concert. The film shows us the important moments, the times they made the big steps in the career, how certain songs came about and the personal demons Freddie was dealing with. Now the story is told poorly because we only focus on the good in the career, there aren’t any truly bad moments shown here even though we know how difficult and isolated Freddie was feeling. The career Queen had was amazing which should be respected and told in a smarter way.

Biopic/MusicThe biopic checklist is filled out nicely because we get to see the good from the career, the problem is, we don’t see enough of the weakness in the career. The music shows us just how entertaining Queen were and how legendary the songs are.

SettingsThe film shows us the settings that the band went through to become the icons that we know.


Scene of the Movie –
Live Aid.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We only see the good.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic that plays everything too safe, Malek is amazing and the songs are too with the performances we all know people enjoy.

 

Overall: Queen fans will love, even though the film has weaknesses.

Rating

 

 

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Apostle (2018)

Director: Gareth Evans

Writer: Gareth Evans (Screenplay)

Starring: Dan Stevens, Kristine Froseth, Lucy Boynton, Michael Sheen, Bill Milner, Mark Lewis Jones, Elen Rhys

 

Plot: A man attempts to rescue his sister who’s been kidnapped by a religious cult.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slower Than it Needs to Be

 

Story: Apostle starts as Thomas (Stevens) must travel to a remote island run by Prophet Malcolm (Sheen) who has created a religious cult community where everyone is equal to locate his sister who has had a bounty placed on her head by the cult for her safe release from the island.

Once Thomas becomes part of the community he must keep his head down with Malcolm trying to figure out who the person from the mainland that is meant to bringing him a ransom, the race is on to save his sister before becoming captured himself.

 

Thoughts on Apostle

 

Characters – Thomas Richardson has experienced the world, long though to be dead, he is pushed by his father to go in search of his sister whom has joined a religious cult. Thomas must use his skills to blend into the cult to learn the truth about his sister, which he can do with ease, his problems come from needing to sneak around a secretive community that don’t keep secrets from each other. Prophet Malcolm is the leader of the cult, he has the people believing the island will keep them safe from any harm from the mainland wars, he does make strict rules and must return to his life of crime to keep the community together. Andrea is the daughter of Malcolm one that does want to keep everyone calm through any problems, she does help Thomas once she learns he knows what the problems are around.

PerformancesDan Stevens in the leading role does give us a great performance, we know he needs to feel withdrawn with his character and keeps us believing this throughout the film. Michael Sheen shines as the leader of the cult because if any actor could be seen as a cult leader, he would be that guy with his smooth delivery of his words. Lucy Boynton is good in her role which is meant to be a woman figure before her time.

StoryThe story follows that must locate his sister who has become mixed up within a cult on a remote island during the early 1900’s. we are left to see just how he must become part of the cult just to learn the truth, where evil could be around nearly every corner because of the mindset of the cult. Where the story comes off most interesting is openly telling us that the cult leader is willing to turn to crime to get money because his religious beliefs are not working. The pace of the film does feel slow because we do spend more time that we need to on one of the side stories over the mystery about why the daughter was taken or her location. Once everything sets off we will be left entertained by just how weird things do get in this film.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film comes from the way the cult and just what they are planning, we learn as Thomas does too. The mystery in the film circles around why Thomas’ sister is being put through the conditions she is and what the cults true ideas are.

SettingsThe film is set on a remote island, the idea is that we see a community away from the mainland trying to make it themselves not following the laws of the world.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film show the us the practical ones being used to product wounds which look as painful as they seem


Scene of the Movie –
Purification is the scene that will stick with you.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Everything feels overly drawn out when it doesn’t need to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that starts slow, but once it finds the top gear it doesn’t stop, to let you breath.

 

Overall: One of the better Netflix horrors

Rating

 

 

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Michael Green (Screenplay) Agatha Christie (Novel)

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kenneth Branagh, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Lucy Boynton, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi

 

Plot: A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man’s race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.


Tagline – Everyone is a suspect

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drawn Out Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Murder on the Orient Express starts as we meet the great Hercule Poirot (Branagh) as he solves another mystery but is summoned back to England for another mystery, where he catches the Orient Express from Istanbul. On the train we have a host of character, Miss Mary Debenham (Ridley), Dr Arbuthnot (Odom Jr), Bouc (Bateman), Marquez (Garcid-Rulfo), Pilar (Cruz), Hector (Gad) Ratchett (Depp), Masterman (Jacobi), Count Andrenyi (Polunin), Countess Andrenyi (Boynton), Mrs Hubbard (Pfeiffer), Princess Dragomiroff (Dench), Higegarde (Colman) and Gerhard (Dafoe).

Half way through the trip one of the passengers is murdered leading to Poirot needing to get to the bottom of this mystery, that looks unsolvable with every passenger a potential suspect, this could be his greatest case yet.

 

Thoughts on Murder on the Orient Express

 

Characters – Poirot is considered the greatest detective in the world, he solves the unsolvable but has a quirky side to him too, he needs order in his life. He uses his skills to figure out the truth about the suspects in solving the murder. To be honest I found this character annoying, and I like quirky detectives, Monk was one of my favourites but the style he presents himself just didn’t click for me. As for the passengers we have the people from different walks off life which makes them all suspects in their own way but until the end we don’t learn enough about any of them, which is guess is the point as we only learn what Poirot is learning.

PerformancesKenneth Branagh takes the roles as Poirot and for me he doesn’t deliver, he isn’t quirky enough to be quirky but is proper enough to feel proper, he just seems plainly odd. Much like with the characters it is hard to say anything bad about the cast which is an all-star cast, nobody stands out and nobody seems out of place, they are just fine.

StoryThe story is considered one of the greatest novels of all time, well it might be and I am sure when you read it, you will be left on the edge of your seat not wanting to put it down. The problem is that is doesn’t work on screen because we are trying to over play the eccentric sides of these characters in a mystery that when you stop and think about it and how it is shot doesn’t add up by the end. I am not saying the novel is bad, just how this movie tells the story.

Crime/MysteryThe mystery is who murdered someone on a train, this works I like a good mystery but the final outcome while great in its own way, doesn’t work for someone who likes to try and solve the mystery as they go along.

SettingsOnce we get to the train it is all plain sailing for the settings which work for the audience knowing the killer would have nowhere to run.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts don’t add up.

Final ThoughtsHere is a classic case of trying to make a classic novel into a movie and failing, the style the film is shot it doesn’t click, the performances are just average, while the mystery doesn’t add up once you get to the final reveal.

 

Overall: Disappointing adaptation of the classic novel.

Rating

 

 

Don’t Knock Twice (2017)

Director: Caradog W James

Writer: Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler (Screenplay)

Starring: Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton, Richard Mylan, Nick Moran, Pascale Wilson

 

Plot: A mother desperate to reconnect with her troubled daughter becomes embroiled in the urban legend of a demonic witch.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Horror

 

Story: Don’t Knock Twice starts as Jess (Sackhoff) is desperate to reconnect with her daughter Chloe (Boynton) who she left at a children’s school/home years before. Chloe not wanting to return home finds herself involved in an urban legend game with a friend about knocking on a mysterious door.

Soon after Chloe’s friend vanishes (we do see what happens to him but she doesn’t) leaving Chloe only have one place to turn to as a ghost figure starts to haunt her, Chloe must go home to her mother. With the mother and daughter trying to rebuild their relationship, Jess must face the demons off her past which led to her giving up Chloe but together they must face the unknown enemy haunting them both.

 

Thoughts on Don’t Knock Twice

 

Characters – Jess is the damaged mother that has made mistakes in her past which has caused her to give up her child, cleaned up and back on the right path she offers a home to her daughter again but finds herself needing to battle an evil spirit out for vengeance against her daughter. Chloe is the daughter of Jess, raised in a home very insecure with commitment issues, she finds herself targeted by a spirit which has a connection to her past. Boardman is the cop who led the investigation to what happened with the ghost figure.

PerformanceKatee Sackhoff is somewhat of a favourite in the geek community for her work in sci-fi but over the recent years she has stepped into horror effortlessly and stands out as a great lead and this is no different. Lucy Boynton, we saw make a splash last year with Sing Street enters into horror here and she is good through the film even if the character feels slightly flat. Nick Moran as the detective is a character we would have liked more from but he does well with what he had to do.

StoryThe story side is split into too, the first is showing the difficult side of parenting, the sacrifice the mother must make to overcome her personal demons to make sure she is safe but we follow the rebuilding process which is an important stage of this film. the horror side of the story is one of my favourite, it follows a ghost haunting that leads to our character needing to solve a case to be free of the hauntings, while not everything is explained as smoothly as it could have been it does work watching it all unfold. The mix of the two stories does work to show how the relationship between mother and daughter though strained needs to remain strong.

HorrorThe horror used throughout is mostly jump scares but not false jump scares, this is a good thing because too many would ruin the film. a lot of the film is also well built up moments of horror.

SettingsThe everyday settings for the film show us just what could happen to non-believers suddenly when they stumble into urban legend.

Special EffectsThe effects being used through the film are all good, we get a mix of practical and what feels like CGI to create the ghost figure haunting the family.

Scene of the Movie – The first kill on the laptop, mostly because it is a surprise.

That Moment that annoyed me – One twist too many.

Final ThoughtsThis was a good horror, it does create a good ghost investigation film but tries too hard to shock us with twists.

 

Overall: Good late night horror experience.

Rating

 

 

Sing Street (2016)

singDirector: John Carney

Writer: John Carney (Screenplay)

Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Kelly Thornton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Ian Kenny, Ben Carolan, Percy Chamburuka, Mark McKenna, Don Wycherley, Lucy Boynton

 

Plot: A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Film of the Year Contender

 

Story: Sing Street starts as we meet the Lawlor family with the youngest member being Conor (Walsh-Peelo) who in 1985 Dublin has to move school due to lack of money in his family. Dealing with all the bullying through school he sees a girl Raphina (Boynton) who he promises that he is can make a star in a music video and now he needs to make a band with Darren (Carolan), Ngig (Chaburuka), Larry (Hamilton), Garry (Rice) and Eamon (McKenna).

With the band together Sing Street is born, but now they have to learn to write their own songs and play their own music. Conor gets all of his advice from his music loving brother Brendan (Reynor) before Conor wants to take his band to next level to finally win Raphina’s heart.

Sing Street is a film I have only ever heard good things about before going into. The story is amazing showing how people should always look to follow their dreams however hard they seem to be. We see how difficult life was in the 80s Ireland with the dream of a better life away from their home land. Both the two leads shine and I would like to point out just how good Jack Reynor does in this supporting role continuing to show just how good of an actor he is after the Transformers Age of Extinction role.

 

Overall: The true feel good film of the year.

Rating90