Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw VI (2009)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Mark Rolston, Betsy Russell, Shawnee Smith, Peter Outerbridge

 

Plot: Agent Strahm is dead, and FBI agent Erickson draws nearer to Hoffman. Meanwhile, a pair of insurance executives find themselves in another game set by Jigsaw.


Tagline – 6 Chances, 6 Lessons. 6 Choices.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weak Effort

 

Story: Saw VI starts as we finish the aftermath of Hoffman (Mandylor) cleans up the Strahm body. We move to Umbrella Insurance where William (Outerbridge) who has been handling claims along with his team that decide who does and doesn’t qualify for cover. Agent Erickson (Rolston) has taken over the investigation believing Strahm has gone missing and the new prime suspect in the Jigsaw murders.

Hoffman gets the deal done with Erickson to work together on the case with a surprise return from a previous film. in a twist of events Hoffman is now working with Jill (Russell) John’s (Bell) ex-wife who is following the final request, to take place William in the latest game in revenge for the insurance he refused to give him to cure his cancer.

 

Thoughts on Saw VI

 

Characters – John is still involved in these films, now we watch him continue to build the bigger picture as he teaches Hoffman about this theories, we also see how he did have other helpers including his ex-wife but this time the game is personal as he uses the insurance company that refused to help his cancer treatment. Hoffman finds himself in the clear of any suspicious after framing Strahm now, he builds one more game with Jill as he works with the FBI to solve where Strahm is now. Erickson takes over the lead of the investigation of the FBI, he brings Hoffman into the investigation to locate Strahm but just how much will he give away. Jill is revealed to be involved in the games after films where she denied being involved, she can work with Hoffman but seems to have been set her own game. William is the latest man to be tested, he must choice who lives and who dies from his team of ruthless insurance team.

PerformancesTobin Bell once again is the star of the show, being calm through each scene as we see how John would be calculating each decision through the movie. Costas has become the backbone of this franchise not getting the praise he deserves. Mark Rolston is good but doesn’t get enough time on screen. Betsy Russell finally gets a chance to shine in the one of the movies in her role. Peter Outerbridge is good too as the man going through the test.

StoryThe story once again is split into two, the game is frustrating to watch as it goes against the idea of Jigsaw, even though it is his game, it is personal and doesn’t leave the players any chance to survive, with a twist that doesn’t click. The over arcing story does work though, as we continue to watch Hoffman design the games where he is still must escape suspicious from the FBI. We do continue to build the bigger picture but for the most part we focus on the game too much

Horror/MysteryThe horror does continue with the high levels of gore which will work for the fans of the series, but the mystery side of the film does seem to have taken a step back here.

SettingsThe settings all work for the film showing us the underground trap design as the high life insurance people would never go down to that level to hear a story.

Special EffectsThe effects are as always great from start to finish of the film, sing mostly practical to create the gore.


Scene of the Movie –
Escape the Bear Trap.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The game goes against the ideas.

Final ThoughtsThis is the weakest of the franchise to date, it goes for shocks over the storytelling process which disappoints after the last two improvements.

 

Overall: Weakest of the franchise.

Rating

 

 

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Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw V (2008)

Director: David Hackl

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Julie Benz, Meagan Good, Mark Rolston

 

Plot: Following Jigsaw’s grisly demise, Mark Hoffman is commended as a hero, but Agent Strahm is suspicious, and delves into Hoffman’s past. Meanwhile, another group of people are put through a series of gruesome tests.


Tagline – In the end all the pieces will fit together

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Arc, Pointless Game

 

Story: Saw V starts where we finished the last film, Hoffman (Mandylor) locking Agent Strahm (Patterson) in the death room of John, Strahm must go on his own test to make it out of the warehouse where he ends up in a trap using his intelligence to survive the impossible to escape trap.

Hoffman considered a hero now gets a promotion and gets known as the man who stop Jigsaw, Jill Tuck (Russell) gets a message from John (Bell) following his death with a box that will have clues on what to do next. Hoffman is presenting his own game with five victims needing to escape the tasks they are placed in with Brit (Benz), Luba (Good), Charles, Mallick and Ashley being involved. Strahm taken off active duty starts looking into Hoffman himself, while Hoffman tries to lead Strahm replacement into believing it is him.

 

Thoughts on Saw V

 

Characters – John is long dead now, but in this film we learn how he recruit Hoffman to be part of his team, we see how he passes on the ideas believing Hoffman has better control than Amanda. Hoffman is now in control of the games, he is running his own while also trying to shift the suspicious surrounding him, placing it on Strahm. Agent Strahm survives one of the games to the surprise of Hoffman, now he is placed on leave but doesn’t want to rest until he can get his proof Hoffman is the man behind the traps. The people in the game include Jill as they all have a connection to what is the bigger picture.

PerformancesTobin Bell is the presence we all have come to know in the franchise and while only in a smaller role he is good, Costas Mandylor steps up to the starring role as we see the clogs turning through each scene he is in. Scott Patterson is also good in the desperate detective figure. It the rest of the cast which are fine with their roles but not to the level we believe they should be at.

StoryThe story is split into the bigger picture as we learn how Hoffman is involved with the Jigsaw murders and how he must keep on top of his true identity to stay in the game. The otherwise seems like a random game which doesn’t seem to have any connection to what is going on in the bigger picture which takes us away from the film. this is why I both enjoy and hate this franchise, I love the bigger picture side of the film but hate the pointless games we watch.

Horror/MysteryThe gore used is heavy for the film but it is strange that the horror side of the film only seems to come from the games which don’t involve the biggest and best part of the film, the mystery side to where things will go next.

SettingsThe settings continue to show us the warehouse feeling where the games need to make them feel like the characters are hitting rock bottom.

Special EffectsThe effects do looks great still with most coming off practical throughout the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Final game.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The five person game did feel almost pointless to the bigger story.

Final ThoughtsThis does continue to have a great bigger picture storyline but it does fill in the gaps with mindless gore.

 

Overall: Solid continuation of the Hoffman story.

Rating

 

 

Director: David Hackl

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Julie Benz, Meagan Good, Mark Rolston

 

Plot: Following Jigsaw’s grisly demise, Mark Hoffman is commended as a hero, but Agent Strahm is suspicious, and delves into Hoffman’s past. Meanwhile, another group of people are put through a series of gruesome tests.


Tagline – In the end all the pieces will fit together

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Arc, Pointless Game

 

Story: Saw V starts where we finished the last film, Hoffman (Mandylor) locking Agent Strahm (Patterson) in the death room of John, Strahm must go on his own test to make it out of the warehouse where he ends up in a trap using his intelligence to survive the impossible to escape trap.

Hoffman considered a hero now gets a promotion and gets known as the man who stop Jigsaw, Jill Tuck (Russell) gets a message from John (Bell) following his death with a box that will have clues on what to do next. Hoffman is presenting his own game with five victims needing to escape the tasks they are placed in with Brit (Benz), Luba (Good), Charles, Mallick and Ashley being involved. Strahm taken off active duty starts looking into Hoffman himself, while Hoffman tries to lead Strahm replacement into believing it is him.

 

Thoughts on Saw V

 

Characters – John is long dead now, but in this film we learn how he recruit Hoffman to be part of his team, we see how he passes on the ideas believing Hoffman has better control than Amanda. Hoffman is now in control of the games, he is running his own while also trying to shift the suspicious surrounding him, placing it on Strahm. Agent Strahm survives one of the games to the surprise of Hoffman, now he is placed on leave but doesn’t want to rest until he can get his proof Hoffman is the man behind the traps. The people in the game include Jill as they all have a connection to what is the bigger picture.

PerformancesTobin Bell is the presence we all have come to know in the franchise and while only in a smaller role he is good, Costas Mandylor steps up to the starring role as we see the clogs turning through each scene he is in. Scott Patterson is also good in the desperate detective figure. It the rest of the cast which are fine with their roles but not to the level we believe they should be at.

StoryThe story is split into the bigger picture as we learn how Hoffman is involved with the Jigsaw murders and how he must keep on top of his true identity to stay in the game. The otherwise seems like a random game which doesn’t seem to have any connection to what is going on in the bigger picture which takes us away from the film. this is why I both enjoy and hate this franchise, I love the bigger picture side of the film but hate the pointless games we watch.

Horror/MysteryThe gore used is heavy for the film but it is strange that the horror side of the film only seems to come from the games which don’t involve the biggest and best part of the film, the mystery side to where things will go next.

SettingsThe settings continue to show us the warehouse feeling where the games need to make them feel like the characters are hitting rock bottom.

Special EffectsThe effects do looks great still with most coming off practical throughout the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Final game.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The five person game did feel almost pointless to the bigger story.

Final ThoughtsThis does continue to have a great bigger picture storyline but it does fill in the gaps with mindless gore.

 

Overall: Solid continuation of the Hoffman story.

Rating

 

 

Glass Jaw (2018)

Director: Jeff Celentano

Writer: Brandon Espy, Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Michael Testa (Screenplay)

Starring: Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Jon Gries, Jaime Camil, Reynaldo Gallegos, Mark Rolston, Vernon Wels, Steven Williams, Boosie Badazz, Brandon Sklenar

 

Plot: Glass Jaw is the redemption story of Travis Austin, a one time champion boxer who goes to prison and loses everything. After his release, he experiences the trials and tribulations of redeeming his reputation, his belt, and his true love.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Boxing Redemption 101

 

Story: Glass Jaw starts as we learn about Travis’ rough childhood, where his parents got into financial trouble and abandoned him to be raised through the foster system. This never stop Travis (Kholafai) who went on to be Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion, though tragedy happens at the celebration party as his trainer Eddy’s (Gallegos) daughter dies under his care.

Travis filled with guilt takes the blame and serves time in jail, he loses his house, but his girl Dana (Rico) never leaves his side. Once out Travis must put his life back together, search for a job and reclaim his reputation and title.

 

Thoughts on Glass Jaw

 

Characters – Travis Austin has always fought to be a top boxer, from his difficult childhood to the moment he became Light Heavyweight Champion. His life takes an instant turn for the worst when a family friend dies at his party, he takes the blame, loses his title, goes to prison, loses everything, once released he wants to redeem himself and regain everything he has lost. Dana is Travis’s girl, she stays loyal when he is in prison, but her own mistake causes the biggest problem between the two. Sam is the father that left Travis, he has reconnected with him now he is on top, Travis’s doesn’t want him back, but learns he is one of the people he can turn too.

PerformancesLee Kholafai in the leading role gives us a good performance when it comes to any of the boxing and fitness side of the film, when it comes to the serious side of things, he does struggle to reach the levels required to get complete performance. This is a weakness throughout the cast, everyone is good, but never at the very top that is required to make things a true stand out moments.

StoryThe story follows a champion boxer that takes the fall for a crime, who must rebuild his life and reputation once he is released from prison. When it comes to boxing redemption stories, we have seen many different ones over the years, the most recent notable one would be ‘Southpaw’. This story follows the same sort of lines as that one, without any major crime being committed, or any crime being committed by the boxer who must redeem himself. This is the biggest confusion about this movie because it’s not or could never be proven it was his fault for the death. we do get to see how the celebrity status can cause just as many problems in a personal life.

ThrillerThe thrilling side of the film happens when we are in the ring, we get to see just how intense the boxing can get.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the main settings in the locations you would imagine a boxing film to take place in.


Scene of the Movie –
The final match.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I don’t understand why Travis would need to take any blame for the events of the death.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good film for boxing fans to watch, it has the standard redemption story we know and is one that does everything it needs to.

 

Overall: Boxing Fans to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Gangster Land (2017)

Director: Timothy Woodward Jr

Writer: Ian Patrick Williams (Screenplay)

Starring: Sean Faris, Milo Gibson, Jason Patric, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Peter Facinelli, Mark Rolston, Michael Pare, Sean Kanan

 

Plot: The story of America’s most famous mobsters and their rise to power, GANGSTER LAND examines Al Capone’s ascension through the eyes of his second in command, “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn. Once an amateur boxer, McGurn is lured into the Italian mafia after the murder of his step-father. Upon joining, he rises swiftly through the ranks along with friend and eventual Boss, Capone. As the Italian mob becomes the most lucrative criminal organization in the country, tensions build with “Bugs” Moran and the Irish mob which ignites a brutal gang war culminating with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.


Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Gangster Lesson

 

Story: Gangster Land starts in prohibition era America, Chicago, where amateur box Jack McGurn (Faris) is trying to find a way to make extra money, Al Capone (Gibson) see potential in making him part of the Italian Mafia in the on-going war with the Irish.

When the peace is well and truly shattered the bosses are targeted leaving Al Capone to rise to power in the Mafia where he recruits Jack McGurn to be his second in power, the problem is the bloodshed is increasing on a seemingly daily basis and George ‘Bugs’ Moran (Facinelli) isn’t losing his Irish Mafia without a fight.

 

Thoughts on Gangster Land

 

Characters – Jack McGurn is an amateur boxer that after his father is gunned down by the Irish mob joins the Italian Mafia as Al Capone’s righthand man gaining the reputation and nickname of ‘Machine Gun’ as it becomes his weapon of choice while gunning down the Irish. Al Capone is a name we have all heard before, an icon in the Mafia history, here we follow how he got placed in the position of head of the Chicago branch waging war against the Irish. Detective Reed is one of the few honest cops shown in the film, he knows the problems but not how to solve them. Lulu is the dancer Jack falls for, she becomes the beacon of light for Jack even after she isn’t interested just because of the suit Jack was wearing. George ‘Bugs’ Moran rises to power in the Irish Mob, he has a short temper which leads to him going after Jack and Al.

PerformancesSean Faris takes the leading role in this film and he is great as he keeps our attention with every decision his character makes. Milo Gibson gets to step into the iconic gangster role where he must compete with many actors to have played the role, he is good in this role never looking out of place. The rest of the cast give good performances through the film.

StoryThe story follows how the events of the St Valentine’s Day Massacre came about with the rise of Machine Fun Jack McGurn and Al Capone in the Mafia. We have nearly all heard of the story of Al Capone or at least heard the name, so watching how he had early days in the mafia with his righthand man McGurn rise to power is interesting and the story doesn’t fall into the mindless over the top gangster traits. As I do struggle through gangster films as time, I did find myself enjoying how this one unfolded, the storytelling process makes each scene feel like you want to see more.

CrimeThe crime side of the film comes from the world we are entering, showing us just how the gangs were acting towards each other.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago in the 1920s, I feel the whole film does feel authentic for the time we are watching unfold.


Scene of the Movie –
Machine Gun’s Plan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked more facts about what happened.

Final ThoughtsThis is a gangster film that shows you can make the calm ones that show historical events, it has the beginning of Al Capone and his righthand man as well as showing how the St Valentine’s Day Massacre unfolded, this is something both interesting and compelling to see.

 

Overall: Stylish gangster movie.

Rating

 

 

Tim Robbins Weekend – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

logoDirector: Frank Darabont

Writer: Frank Darabont (Screenplay) Stephen King (Short Story)

Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston, James Whitmore, Jeffrey DeMunn

Plot: Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Masterpiece

Story: The Shawshank Redemption starts with Andy Dufresne (Robbins) telling his story about what happened when his ex-wife and new lover have been murdered, a crime he is found guilty of and sentenced to 2 life sentences. Next we meet Red (Freeman) who is up for parole after twenty years of his life sentence which gets rejected.

We see how Red guides Andy around the prison teaching him the ropes, as Andy tries to survive the vicious prison scene with Captain Hadley (Brown) throwing of beatings for fun. As his time continues Andy becomes popular with the guards from not just this prison but others as he helps them all with their finances. All this is his plan for his escape but he has to be patient.

The Shawshank Redemption is a film that really doesn’t need me too explain too much, we know how good this film is and anything I say about the story has already been said. The story includes the corruption within prison and the push for hope even when everything is against you. This is a story that you simply have to have seen once in your life. (10/10)

Actor Review

Tim Robbins: Andy Dufresne is the man wrongly convicted of murder, which leads to him being locked up for back to back life sentences. He has to navigate prison life before becoming popular with the inmates and guards alike. He decides to plan his own escape without letting anyone else know. Tim gives a great performance that is easily one of the basic performance that the character is always thinking. (10/10)andy

Morgan Freeman: Red is the go to guy within the prison that helps Andy get what he wants, he also becomes best friends with Andy over the years helping each other through the problems of prison life. Morgan gives one of his best performances and in this role we learn just how amazing his voice is in a narration tone. (10/10)red

Bob Gunton: Warden Norton takes advantage of all the hard work Andy does to help generate more money for himself rather than helping the inmates out. Bob gives a great performance as the warden who is out to make himself rich. (8/10)

Support Cast: The Shawshank Redemption has a large supporting cast that all help either Andy or the Warden we get clear sides of the fight to get through the prison life.

Director Review: Frank DarabontFrank gives us a masterpiece that will live long in the memory and will always get talked about. (10/10)

Drama: The Shawshank Redemption manages to show all of the human factors of surviving in the prison system and how careful planning could change a few things. (10/10)

Settings: The Shawshank Redemption has the most part the prison as its setting which makes full sense as we see how untie the inmates can become. (10/10)

Suggestion: The Shawshank Redemption is a film that everyone should see once, it has to be watched to see not only how great the story is but how amazing Stephen King can write none horror. (WATCH)

Best Part: Red’s final parole hearing.

Worst Part: Let’s be picky here, what if Andy wasn’t in the end cell?

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: Nominated for 7 Oscars, won none.

Box Office: $2.3 Million

Budget: $25 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 22 Minutes

Tagline: Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.

Trivia: Rob Reiner loved Frank Darabont‘s script so much that he offered $2.5 million for the rights to the script so he could direct it. Darabont seriously considered Reiner’s offer but ultimately decided that it was his “chance to do something really great” by directing the movie himself. Reiner wanted Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise to play Red and Andy respectively.

Overall: A masterpiece that will live long in the memory of all film fans out there.

Rating98