ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – I – Invictus (2009)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Anthony Peckham (Screenplay) John Carlin (Book)

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Patrick Mofokeng, Matt Stern, Julian Lewis Jones

 

Plot: Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.


Tagline – He was a prisoner who became a president. To unite his country, he asked one man to do the impossible.

Runtime: 2 Hours 14 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Important Biopic

 

Story: Invictus starts when Nelson Mandela (Freeman) becomes the President of South Africa, this causes a divide in the country with the white people rejecting his election, with the black people seeing him a hero. Nelson wants to try and put the past behind them and unite the country, with him first introducing mixed raced bodyguards, even if his own Jason (Kgoroge) and Linga (Mofokeng) disapprove.

When Nelson sees the divide in a simple rugby match, he sees a opportunity to unite his country, as the black community will cheer whoever the Springbok are playing, inviting the captain Francois Pienaar (Damon) to tea, he explains his plans to unite with the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

 

Thoughts on Invictus

 

Characters – Nelson Mandela is one of the biggest icons in history, we follow his life from the time he becomes President of South Africa, he has been in prison for 27 years beforehand and has decided he wants to unite the race war within the country. He must put aside what he was raised to believe to change the mindsets, starting with his own staff, Nelson sees the Rugby World Cup as a chance to bring the country together to celebrate if they can defy the odds and win it. Francois Pienaar is the captain of the Springbok, he comes from a wealthy family and becomes the connection to the President as they look to change the country together. Jason Tshabalala is the head of Nelson’ security, he must put aside he own feelings towards the white community to help Nelson achieve the union he desires.

PerformancesMorgan Freeman is fantastic in this leading role, he delivers the speeches to make us believe we are watching the incredible man himself. Matt Damon did seem like a strange pick for the South African rugby player, though he does make us believe he will help bring the team together. The supporting cast might not be as well known, but they all give performances that help us understand the struggles being experienced.

StoryThe story follows the time that Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa and his first year in charge with the build up to the Rugby World Cup where he uses the tournament as a way to bring the nation together to try to stop the racial divide. This shows how any sport can see differences put aside to see the better future, one without them needing to hate people just because that is what they once were told. If you want to see how a truly inspirational leader operates, he sees the peoples love and finds a way to make them work together to support a common goal. We could look at the story a say, this only happened because of the Rugby World Cup falling at the right time, but that is over thinking.

Biopic/SportLearning what Nelson Mandela achieved in this year is incredible, we might not learn his whole story, but this is the chapter that helped change a nation. When it comes to the sports side of the film, we get to see Rugby in all its glory, seeing the hard hitting nature of the sport, showing that sport can bring people together.

SettingsThe film is set in South Africa, with it setting showing us the divide between the people and how the biggest occasion in the countries sporting history being the most important one.


Scene of the Movie –
The prison visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Casting Scott Eastwood, he is a good young actor, but his role is too important for family casting roles.

Final ThoughtsThis is an incredible look at what Nelson Mandela achieved in a year as President in the country, the spirit of sport bringing a nation together and a moment in sporting history.

 

Overall: Incredible sporting drama.

Rating

 

 

Downsizing (2017)

Director: Alexander Payne

Writer: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig, Rolf Lassgard, Ingjerd Edeberg

 

Plot: A social satire in which a man realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself to five inches tall, allowing him to live in wealth and splendor.

 


Tagline – We are meant for something bigger.

Runtime: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Quirky Comedy

 

Story: Downsizing starts as we enter a world where scientists have perfected the idea of shrinking people to help decrease the overpopulation problem the world will be facing, the experiment was a success and is now an option for people around the world.

10 years later the world has accepted downsizing with communities appear all over America, here we meet Paul (Damon) and his wife Audrey (Wiig) who have been struggling in the economic changes and after advice decide to go through with the procedure. Things don’t go as planned as Audrey backs out leaving Paul alone in this new environment Leisure Land.

After spending the first year alone in Leisure Land, Paul meets his carefree party animal upstairs neighbour Dusan (Waltz) who shows him a different side to life and how to enjoy his life once more which happens sooner than he thinks when he meets Nogc Lan Tran (Chau).

 

Thoughts on Downsizing

 

Characters – Paul is an average man with an average job, but a real problem with money in the real world, he turns to downsizing program where he can live a better life. There he finds himself alone until he learns about a bigger problem, which he sets out to try and help with. Dusan is the neighbour living in Leisure Land, he is carefree and shows Paul how to enjoy his time in this new environment. Ngoc Lan Tran is a refugee that gets handicapped in her escape becoming a cleaner in Leisure Land showing that not everyone in this land is rich, she helps Paul see a new meaning from life.

PerformancesMatt Damon is great in the leading role, he gives performance that is filled with confliction, confusion and in need of finding a purpose in life, it shows in each emotion that he shows us. Christoph Waltz is a lot of fun in his role where he sees him enjoying playing the carefree character. Hong Chau in wonderful in her role, she brings everything we need to see as Paul makes his decisions.

StoryThe story has plenty of social commentary going on, as we see how the real-world problems trying to be addressed in an alternative solution, in this case shrinking the population. We do see the classes being addressed in the same way regardless of size and how one big decision you can never go back from can leave you right where you were supposed to be. This story doesn’t go in the direction you would imagine but does play out well becoming a subject you don’t mind seeing the people watching.

Comedy/Sci-FiThe comedy hits the quirky level with ease and puts us into a world where this procedure is a possibility which checks of the sci-fi side of the story too.

SettingsThe settings show us just where the characters live have been, will go and how not everything is as it first appears.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well to make sure everything is scaled to the right size for the difference in the people involved.


Scene of the Movie –
Norway.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It goes on too long and the direction you wouldn’t expect.

Final ThoughtsThis is a quirky comedy that plans into the social commentary that will be looked at as we do tackle bigger issues in the world including over population.

 

Overall: Quirky and enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

 

The Great Wall (2016)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writer: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy (Screenplay) Max Brooks, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz (Story)

Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal, Hanyu Zhang

 

Plot: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Big Bad, Forgettable

 

Story: The Great Wall starts with a Great Wall history lesson as we learn the wall was constructed to keep enemies out some known others are legend, this is one of the legends. We meet the European mercenaries William (Damon), Tovar (Pascal) and their men on the run. Finding themselves under attack William and Tovar find an enemy unlike anything they have seen before but that is the least of their worries as they are still being hunted down but find themselves at the mercy of the Chinese.

Captured by the Chinese, Commander Lin Mae (Jing), General Shao (Zhang) and Strategist Wang (Lau) must decide what to do with the men and if their story is true. William and Tovar find themselves trapped in the middle of a battle between the Chinese and their defensive wall and blood thirsty creatures, a war their never asked for but a battle they were always ready to fight in.

 

Thoughts on The Great Wall

 

Characters/PerformanceWilliam is one of the Europeans who finds himself using all his combat skills to help the Chinese fight the creatures that terrorise their people and if they can get through the world. This battle gives William a chance at redemption for the wrongs he has committed in life. Tovar is his partner who wants to continue the darker path but his loyalty to William keeps him stuck between the lines.  Commander Lin is the strong leading women, she is willing to sacrifice herself to protect her people and he combat skills excel. Ballard is the once captured man who has become part of the battle but against his own will. The rest of the characters are all what you would expect in the wildly over the top action fantasy adventure films.

Performance wise, Matt Damon does struggle in this role, his accent skills are terrible as he bounces between most European from scene to scene even though he holds his own in the action sequences. Pedro Pascal is fun getting most of the comic relief throughout the film. Willem Defoe is the usual odd ball supporting role with Tian Jing being the star of the show.

StoryThe story does work in places, the mystery about the Great Wall will always make for an appealing story, while most of the history is known it is always interesting to see a twist on what could be a story about the history behind it all. The fantasy elements of the story is what drives this but in the end it is nothing more humans versus monsters with people needing to work together to make them win.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is big, but at times hard to follow with the adventure coming from how the humans battle to survive. The fantasy side does work but also feels like something we have seen way too often.

SettingsHaving the film set mostly on the Great Wall works in my opinion because it plays into the fantasy idea of the wall being built to fight an ancient enemy.

Special EffectsThis is a film that is very heavy on the CGI and you can tell because a lot of them miss and look bad for the overall quality of the film.

Final ThoughtsI found this to be over the top, unoriginal but easy to watch, I don’t think this will be up for any awards just become forgettable.

 

Overall: This is an easy film to watch but nowhere near a classic

Rating

 

 

George Clooney Franchise Weekend – Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)

oceanDirector: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Brian Koppelman, David Levien (Screenplay) George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell (Characters)

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Elliott Gould, Eddie Jemison, Don Cheadle, Shaobo Qin, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Ellen Barkin, Andy Garcia

 

Plot: Danny Ocean rounds up the boys for a third heist, after casino owner Willy Bank double-crosses one of the original eleven, Reuben Tishkoff.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: My Favourite of the Series

 

Story: Ocean’s Thirteen starts as Danny (Clooney), Rusty (Pitt) and Linus (Damon) returning to Vegas after Reuben (Gould) gets screwed out of everything he had by ruthless casino owner Willy Bank (Pacino). Bringing the team Livingston (Jemison), Basher (Cheadle), Yen (Qin), Virgil (Affleck), Turk (Caan), Frank (Mac) and Saul (Reiner) back to Vegas to give Bank a chance to return the money to Reuben which he refuses.

6 Months later the team are back together looking to pull off a revenge job on the Grand Opening of the casino. With the team in place we get to see how this latest heist unfolds right back where it started, but just how do they pull it off?

 team

Thoughts on Ocean’s Thirteen

 

StoryWhen you see how where the characters have been and how they all came together in the first two films this story feels like the final completion on their jobs. With this story, we have the most personal revenge job as one of their own has been struck by the villainous casino owner, unlike Benedict who has been fair with his ruthlessness Bank takes things past the bounds of fairness. We do get to see role reversal with our characters which adds to the twits along the way. I personally find this the most enjoyable watch of all three of the films.

Crime/ThrillerThe heist side of this film is just as slick as the first film which is just what you want from this film. you are kept guessing to where the heist will go too.

Characters/PerformanceWe know the characters by know and they are all great once again, the inclusion of Willy Bank is good because he is ruthless compared to Benedict but in the negative the loss of Tess is questionable. The performances are all great as each star knows how to make the most of every single scene they are in.

SettingsI am delighted they moved this film back to Vegas because when these characters are looking to rob a casino you love seeing how everything unfolds.

Recommending ScaleI would be giving this the seal of approval and you can Bank on that.

Final ThoughtsThis is by far the most fun the series has and you can find yourself gripped to every scene enjoying the heist unfolding.

 

Overall: This is easily the most enjoyable of the series.

Rating

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George Clooney Franchise Weekend – Ocean’s Twelve (2004)

ocaenDirector: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: George Nolfi (Screenplay) George Clayton Johnson, Jack Glden Russell (Characters)

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Catherine Zeta-Jones

 

Plot: Daniel Ocean recruits one more team member so he can pull off three major European heists in this sequel to Ocean’s 11.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks the Style

 

Story: Ocean’s Twelve starts 3 years after the final scene of Ocean’ Eleven and Terry Benedict (Garcia) has tracked down the whole team Danny (Clooney), Tess (Roberts), Virgil (Affleck), Turk (Caan), Yen (Qin), Frank (Mac), Basher (Cheadle), Linus (Damon) Saul (Reiner), Livingston (Jemison) Reuben (Gould) and Rusty (Pitt). Benedict wants his money back with interest.

The team heads to Europe for their latest in a string of heists to repay Benedict and get their lives back but things get complicated when Rusty’s ex-girlfriend Isabel Lahiri (Zeta-Jones) leading the hunt for thieves and now she is targeting Rusty and the rest of Danny’s team, but they find themselves one step behind an infamous thieve the Night Fox.

 

Thoughts on Ocean’s Twelve

 

StoryThe reason why the first Ocean’s film worked was just how small the idea was, one heist one town one vault. This story becomes a competition which isn’t how these characters would act even if they are being chased down by a vengeful Benedict. I did like the idea that Benedict wanted his money back but otherwise I found this story overcomplicated for no reason and just not a slick as the first.

Crime/ThrillerThe heists are what make the crime side of the story but this time we just don’t get sucked into the crime elements of the story.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters are all like the first time with just Rusty being a lot more like Danny with his old flame being the problem in the heist. The addition of Isabel does add another dimension but really isn’t the most interesting character within the film. the performances are all solid but not to the levels we are used to from the cast.

SettingsWe have far too many settings going on through the film to make us focus on the main story which was one of the highlights of the original film.

Final ThoughtsThis really is a sub-par sequel to an enjoyable first trip with these characters.

 

Overall: Disappointingly sloppy sequel.

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