ABC Film Challenge – Random – M – Mojave (2015)

Director: William Monahan

Writer: William Monahan (Screenplay)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, Louise Bourgin, Mark Wahlberg, Walter Goggins


Plot: A suicidal artist goes into the desert, where he finds his doppelgänger, a homicidal drifter.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Thriller with Potential


Story: Mojave starts as Tom (Hedlund) a suicidal artist who works in film goes off the radar into the Mojave Desert, but when he meets drifter Jack (Isaac) and the two clash leading to Jack tracking down Tom once he goes back to his life in the film world.

With Tom adjusting back to his normal life he must deal with everything he didn’t want to in the first place. Jack however shows his true colours as a ruthless serial killer that tracks down Tom to get the revenge for the fire camp incident in the desert.


Thoughts on Mojave


Characters/PerformanceTom is an artist working in Hollywood, we never seem to learn just what his job is but we do know he isn’t enjoying life right now. Jack is a drifter that hunts in the desert but after clashing with Tom he sees a chance for a new hunting ground, LA who calls everyone ‘Brother’

Performance wise, Oscar Isaac is good in this role keeping up his ability to play someone slightly strange, Garrett Hedlund does ok but you don’t seem to buy into his broken rich man character.

StoryThe story has moments that you could see borrow from Insomnia and The Hitcher, I say this because we have an innocent man that accidently kills someone and must work with the true criminal to move on but ultimately this is a cat and mouse chase between the two.

ThrillerThis is a thriller that does pull us in even though it does take its time getting going, there are some wonderfully crafted scene that are filled with tension though.

SettingsThe desert does make for a good starting setting which shows how they can clash there, with LA making for a good setting for later in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that surprised but does take time getting going and is mixed with really good scenes and bland scenes.


Overall: Slow burning thriller.





ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – L – The Lovely Bones (2009)

Director: Peter Jackson

Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson (Screenplay) Alice Sebold (Novel)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan


Plot: Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family – and her killer – from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Strong Fantasy Elements Throughout


Story: The Lovely Bones starts as Susie (Ronan) introduces us to her family, father Jack (Wahlberg), mother Abigail (Weisz), sister Lindsey, brother Buckley and Grandma Lynn (Sarandon), Susie tells us about her memories, dreams and that she was murdered by George Harvey (Tucci).

Susie trapped in purgatory wants to show her family who the murderer was as she watches over her family, her family are dealing with her loss in different ways, Jack is trying to solve who would have done it, while Abigail is grieving silently.

As Susie watches her family she does see the healing happening but when Lindsey catches the eye of George, she makes it her mission to protect her sister from the same fate she suffered.


Thoughts on The Lovely Bones


Characters – Susie is our victim, she is also our narrator telling us her feels towards her family before and after she is murdered. She is the light in the darkest places, a teenager that never experienced those life moments she dreamt off. Jack is Susie’s father that never gives up on finder the person responsible but this only makes him crazy pushing Abigail away from him as she is parent that needs to get away from everything to recover. George Harvey is the man that killed Susie, he lives in the street waiting for his moment to take advantage of any of his victims. Grandma Lynn tries to help bring peace to the family and mostly the children.

PerformanceSaoirse Ronan showed us here once again that she was one of the best actresses of her generation, being able to tell the story for the eyes. Wahlberg gives us a solid performance through the film while Weisz does all she can with what she gets, she does have a couple of powerful moments though. Susan Sarandon enjoys the grandmother role but it Stanley Tucci that gives us the most haunting performance of his career to date.

StoryThe story brings a fresh spin on the idea of a murder in suburban neighbourhood, we have had the ones where it could be someone in the area, we have had the parent searching for the killer, we have had the ghost haunting but to have the spirit watching over the people they loved and the one that killed them brings a unique way of looking at the whole murder and solving it. For a story this may well be from a novel of the same name and it is good watch throughout.

Fantasy/ThrillerThe idea of the fantasy side of the film comes from the purgatory that Susie finds herself in, it is a visual treat at times in this world.

SettingsThe settings bring us to a small suburban neighbourhood where everyone believes they know everyone, where the sudden disappearance of Susie brings the family to start pointing fingers shows how a neighbourhood can come together to put this behind them.

Special EffectsThe effects for the purgatory looks fantastic throughout the film showing us the imagination of Susie at work.

Scene of the Movie – Bottle smashing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does come off longer than it needs to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a visual treat and good spin on the murder movie, it is well worth watching to see how the lives of the people effected by the disappearance.


Overall: Good fantasy crime movie.




Elizabeth Banks Weekend – Invincible (2006)

Director: Ericson Core

Writer: Brad Gann (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Conway, Michael Rispoli


Plot: Based on the story of Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who overcame long odds to play for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in 1976.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Solid Sports Movie


Story: Invincible starts as substitute teach Vince Papale (Wahlberg) is struggling to make ends meet in Philadelphia in 1976, the American football team is considered the worst in the league. When Vince losses his teaching job he only has the bar work to fall back on, but when coach Dick Vermeil (Kinnear) has an open day Vince takes a chance even at the edge of 30.

Vince gets called into the final pool of potential new signings but he struggles to make a name for himself and starts to even question if it is worth it, but coach Vermeil doesn’t want to give up on him yet and this soon becomes a success story for the Eagles.


Thoughts on Invincible


Characters/PerformanceVince Papale is the struggling man in Philadelphia, he struggles to make ends meet and enjoys a drink with his friends watching the football team, he gets a chance to play for his team becoming a media sensation. Coach Dick Vermeil has been struggling to keep his team together after another terrible season, he takes a chance on Vince one that goes against his whole coaching staffs. Janet is a new bartender that works with Vince that does become a love interest after certain things in their lives work out.

Performance wise, Mark Wahlberg is solid in the leading role, he doesn’t turn to his trademarks we know he is can turn to. Greg Kinnear is good in his role while Elizabeth Banks proves to be a good love interest through the film.

StoryThe story here does down as one of the great success stories in sport, it shows us that if you were to dream you could get a chance even at a later age but it is all about the effort you put into achieving your dreams. This is a slow moving story and unless you care about American Football you might not enjoy this on the levels you would if it was a sport you understand.

Biography/SportsSeeing how the people involved in this season shows us just how sport can inspire people, create legends and most importantly bring hope to the people struggling through life, the football scenes are shot nicely but as I don’t watch I am not sure how accurate they are.

SettingsThe film looks like it is set in the 70’s and the settings help us feel like we are part of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow sports drama that doesn’t click if you don’t follow American Football.


Overall: Simple sports drama.




Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Director: Michael Bay

Writer: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan (Screenplay) Akiva Goldsman, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan (Story)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Santiago Cabrera, Isabela Moner, Stanley Tucci


Plot: Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Fun Mad Action Film


Story: Transformers: The Last Knight starts as we learn about the ancient battles the English had where the Transformers helped Merlin (Tucci) win the battle. The world has now banned from most places on the Earth but in Cuba they are still welcomed. Optimus Prime is gone and the Transformers continue to arrival. Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) continues to protect the Transformers with Colonel William Lennox (Duhamel) refuses let the good Autobots from being captured but the impending return of Megatron brings the threats to Earth.

Meanwhile in England Sir Edmund Burton (Hopkins) is preparing for the final battle, Vivian Wembley (Haddock) doesn’t believe in the legends of King Arthur and her tours prove what it could be. On Cybertron Optimus Prime wants to rebuild his home planet which means returning to Earth to find an ancient Staff giving to Merlin.

Cade finds himself teaming up with Vivian in the middle of the battle between the Decepticons, Autobots and the Government as Cybertron heads towards Earth which would cause the end of the world.


Thoughts on Transformers: The Last Knight


Characters/PerformanceCade Yeager is now an outlaw hiding the Autobots in a junkyard, here he lives a quiet life but when a new threat heads toward Earth he finds himself being selected as the Last Knight that can fight to save the Earth. Sir Edmund Burton is the guardian of the secrets of the Transformers, he fills in all the gaps as to what is happening as well as bringing together the team. Vivian Wembley is an anti-believer in the history of King Arthur but when she learns she is the last descendant of Merlin she must work with Cade to save the Earth. Vivian is added for a new love interest for Cade and the high educated between the two.

We have the military characters which includes the returning Colonel Lennox, who just do military stuff and mostly get in the way. The King Arthur and Merlin figure who just re-tell the story we know. We have the comic relief with Izabella, Jimmy and many of the Transformers but we never get too close to any of the characters.

The performances are what you have come to expect, Wahlberg is good in the leading role even if he can look lost at times he has the charisma to lead the films, Laura Haddock adds class with her performance by not only being the stunning woman but a smart one, and Anthony Hopkins enjoys the chance to have fun in a mega blockbuster.

StoryThe Transformers storylines are never the most in detail stories, we know this by now on film number 5. We mix into the Transformers story King Arthur legend, well it is new and does continue to world build and it is as nonsense as you expect for a Transformers film because if we are being honest the story isn’t the most important part of the film.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is massive once more with Transformer battles in a giant scale and the city-wide battles and even ocean size battles being a massive experience. The adventure takes across the world again to save the world from not only Megatron but Cybertron this time. The sci-fi side does bring us into a world of giant robots that can be vehicles in a giant space battle.

SettingsWe have a couple of settings, we see how Chicago still devastated by the effects of the previous films, the hidden locations of Cade at the Autobots, we also have London being used for the chase sequences and while this isn’t anything new it is a fun watch, but in the end, we just use locations of iconic landmarks.

Special EffectsThe effects for the battles are great throughout the film bring us into the story to enjoy the massive over the top battles.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that always gets criticized because it doesn’t have the most intense storyline but the reality is this is one franchise that is all about the massive action sequences that take away of beliefs needed for the world of Transformers.


Overall: Bonkers, Enjoyable, nonsense action film




Boogie Nights (1997)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, John C Reilly, William H Macy, Heather Graham


Plot: The story of a young man’s adventures in the Californian pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliant Drama About Success


Story: Boogie Nights starts as we meet high school dropout Eddie Adams (Wahlberg) working in a club for Maurice TT Rodriguez (Guzman) in his disco club. The club brings in porn director Jack Horner (Reynolds) with his number one star Amber Waves (Moore). When Jack sees, and hears the rumours about the size of Eddie’s penis he wants him to be the new star of his movies.

Leaving his home Eddie move in with Jack and it isn’t long before he becomes the hottest property in the porn industry as Dirk Diggler, as he learns that along with the fellow pornstars Rollergirl (Graham), Reed Rothchild (Reilly) and Becky Barnett (Parker) the production company dominates the industry through the late 70’s and early 80’s, but with the success come the darker side of the industry the drinks, drugs and knowing age could be an expire date in the industry.


Thoughts on Boogie Nights


Characters/PerformanceEddie Adams is the typical high school dropout that lands on his feet entering into the porn industry. The characters sum up how a young star can rise too quickly and become blinded in the overly famous. Jack Horner is the director of the films but also the man preparing the latest talent even if not everything is strictly legal. Amber Weeks is the experienced star guiding Eddie as well moving onto new thing. We do get a couple of well-developed characters in the supporting roles too who we can all learn about as we are invested in their supporting roles.

Performance wise, Mark Wahlberg burst onto the main stream with this impressive performance, Burt Reynolds in the star of the show here dominating the screen whenever he appears. Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle, William H Macy, Nicole Ari Parker all are great in the supporting roles in this film.

StoryThe story shows the rise and fall inside of the porn industry, we see how some people get out and start a life outside the industry, others get consumed by the lifestyle, others never move forward with the times and others can struggle in the post industry life. I do think this brings us brilliant character development even if the story is slightly long at times but the afterlife outside the industry becomes fantastic viewing.

SettingsThe settings show us the time the film is set, the struggles the people are going through, I think each setting comes off perfect as we get to see the world we are entering.

Final ThoughtsThis is a long film but it is also a rewarding film too, it does a brilliant look into how lives can be ruined by a career choices.


Overall: Brilliant, haunting look at the porn industry.