ABC Film Challenge – Action – R – RocknRolla (2008)

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie (Screenplay)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Karel Roden, Toby Kebbell

 

Plot: Lenny Cole, a London mob boss, puts the bite on all local real estate transactions. For substantial fees, he’s helping Uri Omovich, a Russian developer. As a sign of good faith, Omovich loans Cole a valuable painting, promptly stolen off Cole’s wall. While Cole’s men, led by the dependable Archie, look for the canvas, three local petty criminals, the Wild Bunch, steal money from the Russian using inside information from his accountant, the lovely Stella. Meanwhile, a local drug-addled rocker, Johnny Quid, is reported drowned, and his connection to Cole is the key to unraveling the deceits and double crosses of life in the underworld.


Tagline – A story of sex, thugs and rock ‘n roll.

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over Saturated Film

 

Story: RocknRolla starts when One Two (Butler) and Mumbles (Elba) learn the hard way how London mobster Lenny Cole (Wilkinson) operates, needing to collect a large amount of money. Lenny is in the middle of a big deal with a Russian Uri Omovich (Roden) that would be the biggest of his career.

When a piece of art gets stolen Lenny is put under pressure to return the art work to Uri, he turns to his right-hand man Archy (Strong) to get it back, turning to One Two for help as we see how the underworld coming together to get one up on each other.

 

Thoughts on RocknRolla

 

Characters – One Two is the leader of the Wild Bunch, he gets left owing a lot of money within the month and it soon becomes his connections that help with the mystery about where a painting is hiding as he plans to solve his own problems. Mumbles is the best friend in the Wild Bunch, he is the one that One Two turns to for advice through the problems. Lenny Cole is the mobster that runs London, he has everyone in his pocket to get what he wants, with his greed taking over when he can have a deal with a billionaire Russian, though his past could cause the trouble in this deal. Stella is the accountant that has each party doing her dealings, she knows how to have each side in the palm of her hands. Archy is the one telling the story, he has the right-hand man for Lenny and the go between all the different sides of the underworld. In this film we do get too many characters with so many different arcs going on through the film.

PerformancesThe acting in this film is good from the whole cast, we have a large cast which does hinder them from getting a true star turn in this film. Butler, Wilkinson, Newton, Strong, Elba, Hardy all show how they can become good at making moments of impact in shorter scenes.

StoryThe story here follows three levels of mobsters as they deal with a deal gone bad as they are trying to stay ahead of each other, in typical Ritchie storytelling we get thrown all over the place with the story telling and miss the most interesting action aspects of the film. when it comes to the criminal underworld side of the story, we don’t get anything new with generic characters who just go through the emotions that don’t always make us enjoy the characters we are enjoy watching.

Action/CrimeThe action is disappointing because we have scenes which should be good, only Ritchie’s style of shooting chops too much hiding the best parts. The crime world created is good because we see just how many different levels of the crime world we are entering.

SettingsThe film is set in London which is good for the film because if these type of deals are happening it would need to be in a busy city location like London.


Scene of the Movie –
Sporting goods fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The action editing.

Final ThoughtsThis is your typical British gangster film, it has its own flair which can help and hinder the film at times, we have too many characters to stay on top of which only disappoints with the storytelling process.

 

Overall: Typical mobster movie.

Rating

 

 

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Shazam! (2019)

Director: David F Sandberg

Writer: Henry Gayden, Darren Lemke (Screenplay) Bill Parker, C.C. Beck (Creators)

Starring: Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel

 

Plot: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM! – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam.


Tagline – If you want to save the world, say the magic word.

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tonally Messy

 

Story: Shazam! Starts when teenage runaway Billy Batson (Angel) gets sent to the latest foster home after being caught searching for his mother, Billy must share a room with Freddy (Grazer) who is a comic book enthusiast. When Billy is select as the latest candidate by a Wizard (Hounsou) he is given the power to become Shazam! (Levi) a superhero.

Billy must turn to Freddy for help to understand these new powers which he uses for fun, until Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Strong) comes looking for the power after he was a rejected candidate because he was drawn to the evil within the lair. Billy must learn his powers to stop Thaddeus from bringing chaos to the world.

 

Thoughts on Shazam!

 

Characters – Shazam is the superhero version of Billy, this plays out like any teenage who would become a teenager, be it buying alcohol, skipping school or visiting a strip club, he is immature just like you would imagine and must learn to control his powers to fight Thaddeus, he is meant to be an icon for good. Dr Thaddeus Sivana was once a candidate to be given the power of Shazam, but he was drawn to the evil, banished from the lair, he has dedicated his life to searching for the truth which he unlocks the evil of the seven deadly sins. Billy is a runaway teenager, he is in search for his mother, he doesn’t like the foster system, but this new family give him a chance, he continues in his rebellious ways until he is given the power of Shazam which lets him learn the true meaning of family. Freddy is the roommate and superhero expect that is help Billy understand his new powers, he would love to be in his position because he gets constantly bullied at school.

PerformancesZachary Levi in the Shazam might well look the part, but due to him complete difference to character to Billy it is hard to take him seriously in this role. Mark Strong is as I have always said, an easy to pick villain that never lets you down. Jack Dylan Grazer brings plenty of enthusiasm to his role, while Asher Angel does his best mood teen impression.

StoryThe story shows us how a foster child is given unlimited power by a wizard who needs somebody to take over the guardian role to protect the realms from evil, only the evil is out and the foster kid is the last resort to stop this evil. It would be fair to say this is a tonally confusing story, we have a villain that is very dark and could easily be just another figure from later Harry Potter story, he has the deadly sins which are monsters that are trying to scare children, only for some reason they don’t, we have a reluctant hero who would rather make money of his need alter ego than help people. The problems do mount up quickly here as Billy and Shazam do feel like very different characters and it feels like Shazam is just Zachary Levi doing his funny man routine, over the idea of him being a version of Billy suddenly grown up. The villain is the best part of the film, he is going to step into fights before anybody else not needing anyone to help him. The story does try to bring us some heart with the ideas of just where Billy is in his life, between searching for somebody that left him or accept a family that wants him.

Action/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action is mostly silly over the top action we know DC tends to do, we have destruction of windows, fight scenes that just have people crashing through stuff along with some flying. The fantasy side of the film shows us just how the magic world can produce good and evil depending on which side of you soul you let think for you. The sci-fi element of the film comes from the idea of a new superhero being inside a teenage boy.

SettingsThe settings in the film mostly use Philadelphia as the main setting, we haven’t really seen a comic book movie set in this location before.

Special EffectsThe effects are a real mixed bag, the creature designs look brilliant no question, but certain flying scenes look like they came from an 80’s Superman movie.


Scene of the Movie –
Unlocking the true power.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Shazam didn’t feel like an adult version of Billy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a silly superhero movie, it gets the tone wrong by having a villain that is way to dark and a hero that is just too playful.

 

Overall: Just another DC miss.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – C – Closer to the Moon (2014)

Director: Nae Caranfil

Writer: Nae Caranfil (Screenplay)

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Mark Strong, Harry Lloyd, Anton Lesser, Andrew Buckley, Joe Armstrong

 

Plot: A Romanian police officer teams up with a small crew of old friends from the World War II Jewish Resistance to pull off a heist by convincing everyone at the scene of the crime that they are only filming a movie.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Quirky Comedy

 

Story: Closer to the Moon starts as young man Virgil (Lloyd) sees a bank robbery being filmed, only it was a real robbery, stumbling into the world of film Lloyd becomes a natural behind the camera and is hired to work with the robbers to tell the story of these once heroes of the Jewish Resistance in World War II and why they turned to a life of crime.

The crew are led by Max (Strong) works to produce the film about the robbery, which is used to try and explain just what the motivation behind his crime, poor Virgil ends up in the middle of the authorities wanting the truth and the criminals looking for an escape.

 

Thoughts on Closer to the Moon

 

Characters – Max is the leader of the Jewish Resistance group from the war, he is now high up in the police only to turn his back on the law for a robbery. He is sentenced to death but before he is executed he must help create a propaganda film about what will happen if you commit crime. Alice is the only lady on the crew, she has a history which shouldn’t put her near this world Alice fills in most of the gaps in the story for Virgil. Virgil is the young man inspired to became involved in film after witnessing the robbery, he ends up being the cameraman on the film about the robbery finding himself caught in the middle of everything.

PerformancesMark Strong and Vera Farmiga are great actors and this film shows them at their best without being the most memorable, they enjoy the comedy side of the story while playing the powerful side needed. Harry Lloyd is the new coming to the film and he is good through the film too.

StoryThe story looks at how different countries with communist beliefs behind how things are run and how the people were wanting to be against the controlling system would go about changing things. While this does look at how a heist could get out of control and covered up to be what the government want to see happen with the story. in the end we do try to have too much balanced here, so we lose focus at times to where the film wants to story to be told though.

ComedyThis is mostly quirky comedy, it hits more often than it misses but doesn’t do enough to make everything memorable.

SettingsThe film is set in Romania which is meant to show how the different sides came together to make this event happen with post world war II rules.


Scene of the Movie –
The heist is fun to watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We jump between the characters too often to understand who the lead is meant to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting comedy drama, it tells an interesting story as it focuses on wanting to be remembered more than anything else.

 

Overall: One for the comedy fans to try.

Rating

 

 

Russell Crowe Weekend – Robin Hood (2010)

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Brian Helgeland (Screenplay) Brian Helgeland, Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris (Story)

Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston

 

Plot: In 12th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burner

 

Story: Robin Hood starts with England at war with France, King Richard the Lionheart is leading his men which does include archer Robin Longstride (Crowe), when Richard is killed in battle the kingdom of England falls into Prince John (Isaac) a stricter ruler that wants to tax the country.

Robin returning a sword finds himself needing to pretend to be Marion Loxley’s (Blanchett) husband in Nottingham, while Godfrey (Strong) continues to play both sides as the French look to take advantage of John’s weaknesses. Robin starts to act in the way we know, stealing from what is heading towards the king to return to the poor but how long can he keep this up?

 

Thoughts on Robin Hood

 

Characters/PerformanceRobin Longstribe is an archer with loyal friends, he fights next to King Richard but once he is killed he wants to avoid returning to the new king, he soon finds himself needing to become the hero for the people of the land against the new enemy. Marion is the strong lady that wants what is best for her people wanting to lead in a time where women wouldn’t lead. Prince John becomes king but he is stricter than the previous king as he wants money from people who don’t have it. Godfrey is a man that has been playing both sides to raise himself through the ranks in England or France whoever was to win.

Performance wise, Russell Crowe is fine in this role but if you want to see him at his best Gladiator is superior. Cate Blanchett was an interesting choice here but she does well with her screen time. Mark Strong is always a good choice for villain and does what is needed here. The cast in general is all fine without being great in what is a solid but slow burning film.

StoryRobin Hood is easily one of the most iconic stories in British legend, we have seen plenty of versions of his actions of stealing from the reach giving to the poor, but this time we story has sucked all the fun out of the story and turned it into a medieval story that feels just like everything we have seen in the sub-genre before.

Action/Adventure/RomanceThe action is everything we have come to expect swords, shields and arrows being used throughout. The adventure side of the film is almost non-existent and calling it a romance film well there isn’t any.

SettingsThe settings are the only highlight as each look like the correct time in question.

Special EffectsThe effects all work for the film without becoming too heavily involved.

Final ThoughtsThis is a poor re-imaging or the iconic hero that just doesn’t make the subject matter interesting.

 

Overall: Uninspiring Robin Hood Story.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – Z – Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writer: Mark Boal (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong

 

Plot: A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.


Tagline – For ten years one woman never stopped searching for the most wanted man in history

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intense Thriller

 

Story: Zero Dark Thirty starts as we see how Maya (Chastain) joins an interrogation unit ran by Dan (Clarke) who is looking for answers to the location of Osama Bin Laden, the man behind the 9/11 attacks.

As the information gathers, so does her desperation to catch and kill Osama, this shows on how she goes against any orders to follow leads, as well as risking her life to get to the moment in history where Osama Bin Laden was killed by a Navy SEAL team.

 

Thoughts on Zero Dark Thirty

 

Characters – Maya is the lady we are following through this whole film, she is determined to use the intelligence gathered to kill Osama Bin Laden, she stands up to authority and never backs down from a lead. We get to meet a whole host of other people that either taught, worked with or tried to stop Maya along the way.

PerformancesJessica Chastain is brilliant in the leading role, she once again shows us all the talent she has when it comes to being in a leading role. We have a host of actors that went onto become leading men here too including Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt showing that once again Bigelow knows how to select the next big things.

StoryThe story follows the manhunt for Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks, we follow the 10-year pursuit for the terrorist as we follow one lady who would never give up on finding the man, using the information gathered to bring this man down. This showed us just how many people took a part in the biggest manhunt known to man. The story unfolds in order as we see each lead set the people in the right direction they need to take to bring down the terrorist.

ThrillerThis does keep you on the edge of your seat as you see the mission unfold, even if we do know the end of this story.

SettingsThe settings take us to the events of the terrorist attacks, and the locations the mission would have taken place in.


Scene of the Movie –
Night mission.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too long in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is an excellent look at how Bin Laden was taken down, the people who gave up time in their own lives to bring down the terrorist.

 

Overall: A must watch for the thriller fans out there.

Rating