ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – S – The Stanford Prison Experiment (2016)

Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez

Writer: Tim Talbott (Screenplay) Philip Zimbardo (Book)

Starring: Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano, Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Keir Gilchrist


Plot: Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Tense Drama


Story: The Stanford Prison Experiment starts with Dr Philip Zimbardo (Crudup) is given a chance to prefer an experiment with 24 male students in Stanford psychology building. The idea is half the volunteer students will become prisoners the other half with be the guards.

With the contract stating no harm can be given to anyone involved, it is only the first day when things start to get out of hand as the guards start taking the role too seriously and this experiment heads down a path that even Dr Zimbardo could imagine it to go.


Thoughts on The Stanford Prison Experiment


Characters – Dr Philip Zimbardo is performing this experiment because he could make his career proving the mentality of the prison system, he doesn’t want to let thing get out of hand but is willing to the rules broken. The students playing both the prisoners and guards both become different types of what you would expect from a prison environment, they don’t get overly as much attention you would think but they are all important to what happens in the story.

PerformanceBilly Crudup is great in the doctor role but the highlight of the film comes from the actors playing the subjects, be it the prisoners or the guards both sides are fantastic with playing their roles.

StoryThe story is loosely based on the real Stanford Experiments which shows us just how twenty-four students get placed into roles of either prisoners or guards over a week long experiment that just gets to the levels of just how far will things go. Seeing how the men act puts us to the limits of wondering just how far things could go as we see things get intense in moments. Having seen the Experiment movie I was expecting certain things to happen but this time none of these appear in the movie, this does disappoint because the film never hits the truly shocking moments it could.

Biography/HistoryThis is a known experiment with different variables involved, it shows us the basic idea and it is still known as one of the most famous experiments in world history.

SettingsThe film is set entirely within the created Stanford Prison, it is either inside or watching from just outside seeing how it unfolds.

Scene of the Movie – The first moment the guards show what they will do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel this could have an explosive ending.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good tense thrilling character study that shows us just how far people could go.


Overall: Tense thriller that pulls you in.




ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – F – The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)


Director: Rob Minkoff

Writer: John Fusco (Screenplay)

Starring: Jet Li, Michael Angarano, Jackie Chan, Juana Collignon, Morgan Benoit, Jack Posobiec, Yifei Liu, Bingbing Li


Plot: A discovery made by a kung fu obsessed American teen sends him on an adventure to China, where he joins up with a band of martial arts warriors in order to free the imprisoned Monkey King.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Fun Martial Arts Film


Story: The Forbidden Kingdom starts as we meet outsider teenager Jason (Angarano) who has a love for kung fu movies, his life is tipped upside down when he ends up in Ancient China with an important weapon, but no one speaks his language. Once in China Jason meets Lu Yan (Chan) a drunken master that helps him return the weapon a staff to the Monkey King (Li) the only man that could stop the Jade Warlord (Chou) reign of terror.

Jason becomes Lu Yan’s student as he joins him on a quest to save the Monkey King, where they are joined by the Golden Sparrow (Liu) on their journey, where the enemies come thick and fast, Jason will need to learn who to trust though.



Thoughts on The Forbidden Kingdom


Characters – Jason is an American teenager who loves kung fu, he is a loner but soon finds himself transported back to Ancient China in the middle of a battle against the Jade Emperor’s reign of terror. Here he must learn the skills he loves on an adventure he could never have dreamed off. Lu Yan is one of the eight immortals living, his elixir is wine, he takes Jason under his wing to head to release the Monkey King. The Silent Monk also joins the journey as another great warrior in need of fighting his way to the give himself the freedom. Golden Sparrow also joins the party as she is fighting for revenge against the Jade Emperor for slaughtering her family. Ni Chang is the general set to retrieve the staff from Jason for the Jade Warlord, she is beautiful and deadly showing why she was the first choice by the warlord.

PerformancesMichael Angarano is the teenager, he performs well with the highly trained talent within the film. Jackie Chan and Jet Li are the big draws for this film, they bring the skills and get to have some fun in their roles. the female leads are strong too, with Yifei Liu and Bingbing Li both showing their skills in combat with the elite in the industry.

StoryThe story follows the loner that gets transported to the time he loves, in this case Ancient China where he finds himself in the middle of an ancient battle for power. This is a routine story that brings two of the biggest icons of martial arts together for the world audience. We have the elements of our teenager learning and the characters that fit the film wonderfully throughout to tell the story of redemption needed to complete their destinies.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is big like you would expect in any martial arts film, with have plenty of fights for both Chan and Li to show off their skills. The adventure takes out unlikely hero from the streets of Boston to Ancient China in what is a fantasy world of immortals, witches and warlords.

SettingsThe American settings show just how far our teenager will go on his adventure, while the ancient Chinese setting shows us the old traditions that Jason must learn to stay alive.

Special EffectsThe effects are the weakest part of the film, we have certain moments that look genuine, but they are soon followed by moments you can almost see the stunt being performed.

Scene of the Movie –
Final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slightly too by the book.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice fun enjoyable action adventure film, it doesn’t take things too seriously and can be enjoyed by all martial arts fans.


Overall: Enjoyable and fun throughout.




Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Red State (2011)

logoDirector: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Angarano, Nicolas Braun, Kyle Gallner, Ronnie Connell, Kaylee DeFer, Melissa Leo, Michael Parks, Stephen Root, John Goodman


Plot: The teenager Jarod invites his best friends Travis and Billy-Ray to have a foursome with a thirty-eight year-old woman. While driving to meet the woman, Travis hit a car parked on the road. When they meet the woman, she gives spiked beer to them and they pass out. When the three friends wake up, they find that they are trapped in the fundamentalist Five Points Trinity Church of the infamous Pastor Abin Cooper and that they will be killed. Meanwhile the church is under siege by ATF agents led by Agent Joseph Keenan that have been ordered to destroy the terrorist cell. Will the teenagers be saved by the agents of the law enforcement agency?


Verdict: What Happened?


Story: Let’s look at this, right we start off with three school friends going to get a foursome with an older lady, drugged and tricked they get taken to a compound to be eliminated from the world by a cult like family. Sounds like the horror side is working nicely here. We then have them try and escape bringing in a new side to the story with the law trying to stop the family. This is where things got confusing because I thought I was watching a horror film. The film suddenly turns into a near half film long shootout between the house and the law. That is basically all that happened from what I could tell.

Now this takes a lot away from the story, we lose the horror side completely and the action side seems to start from absolutely nowhere. Sometimes this works for a film, but in this case it really didn’t work, the only positive I found from the story is that we just didn’t know who would get killed off next with nearly all the deaths being shocks. I feel a couple of extra chapters would help this film to have had a completer feel but the genre bouncing really doesn’t help it out. (5/10)


Actor Review


Kyle Gallner: Jarod guy with the plan who sets up the road trip, also the one who has to be put through the most but in the end he has to team up with the younger generation of the family to escape with his life. Spends most of his time tied up and when free he is just an annoying kid who thinks swearing will get his point over. (5/10)


Michael Angarano: Travis driver on their little road trip who ends up being captured like this friends and has to do everything to make sure he survives. When you look at teenage performance you have the standard here, against his family, learning and disrespectful. (6/10)


Nicolas Braun: Billy-Ray it would be say he is the butt of most of the jokes, he is the first to get free but in the end he panics and shows his real loyalty to his friends. Disposable supporting character who offers nothing to the film. (4/10)


Michael Parks: Pastor Abin Cooper leader of the family who constantly goes against gays believe their beliefs will give them a chance to get into a heaven of their dreams. He has brain washed everyone into believing his way is right and will not let any sinners get in his way. I think he was the highlight of the film with his excellent performance as the leader of the group, he always stays calm whichever situation is occurring and gives an incredible speech which draws you into what he is preaching. (8/10)


John Goodman: Agent Joseph Keenan tasked with trying to stop the group but when things go wrong he is assigned to take everyone out, no questions. Good performance from Goodman who always shines when on screen. (7/10)


Director Review: Kevin Smith – We all know Kevin Smith has the ability to push the boundaries and this tries to cross subgenres, the only thing is it doesn’t quite come off. You can see little bits that shows a Smith trademark but in all honesty the films feels almost unfinished. (4/10)


Action: Plenty of action during the shootout that last for a long time. (7/10)

Horror: Starts promising with the capture leading to the idea of torture and killing of the school kids but ends up disappearing in the second half. (3/10)

Settings: Most of the film is set at the church compound which works because we know the people involved are too far way to get any extra help. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Some good effects with certain well placed gun shots. (4/10)

Suggestion: I feel because of the genre cross this will be hard for either fans to really get into and I fail to find any type of fan to suggest this too. (Action or Horror Fans Try)


Best Part: Michael Parks is great

Worst Part: Genre change.

Believability: The cults like this are real but would it end like this, I think not. (2/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $1 Million

Budget: $4 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Tagline: An unlikely film from that Kevin Smith


Overall: Messy Action Horror

Rating 45

Empire State (2013)

logoDirector: Dito Montiel

Writer: Adam Mazer (Screenplay)

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Michael Angarano, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Ben-Victor, Jerry Ferrara, Greg Vrotsos, Emma Roberts, Nikki Reed


Plot: Two childhood friends plan to rob an armoured car depository. An NYPD officer stands in their way.


Verdict: Not Good Enough


Story: We start with Detective Ransome questioning Eddie about the location of Chris, before going back to three months earlier where we meet out two friends in the 1980s New York. After getting rejected by NYPD our hero enters into the world of security pickups hoping to continue working towards a better future. After a robbery goes wrong Chris’ mentor gets killed and he gets harassed by the lead detective, relegated to night shifts where he learns how the company is screwing over its employees. With far too much time on his hands he starts to devise a plan to steal from this company firstly to look after the family of his deceased partner but soon his best friend is talking him into something bigger. He plans to rob the place with his friend but soon things get out of hand and he is left over his head.

This is loosely based on the real case so that takes us straight to the realms of interesting, but this ends up boring. The characters are all very bland and offer you no incentive to actually care about what happens. The whole case turns out to be a very messy outcome where everyone tries to outsmart the rest without getting very far. It all comes off very poorly and you can see why it ended up going straight to DVD. (3/10)


Actor Review


Liam Hemsworth: Chris family man in 1980s New York who wants to become a cop, after he gets rejected he ends up going into the security work. When he gets puts on night shifts he starts to consider the idea of robbing the place but he soon finds himself in way over his head. Liam ends up give a solid performance but things just aren’t clicking for him like they are for his brother. (5/10)


Dwayne Johnson: Detective James Ransome looking into the attempted robbery, he is straight talking and wants to make sure he gets to the bottom of the robberies that keep happening on Chris’ watch. Dwayne should be giving better performance than this, this really does disappoint from him after liking nearly all his other films. (4/10)


Michael Angarano: Eddie Chris’ fast talking friend whose relationship with Chris leads him to lose out of his chance at becoming a cop, he is the friend that the family dislikes due to his style which could end up leading Chris down the wrong road. Michael gives a solid performance and seems to be the only one to give any extra performance in his role. (6/10)


Support Cast: Filled with cops, gangsters and family members the support cast all help the characters try and move to the next stage but most are easily forgettable.


Director Review: Dito Montiel – He ends up with a messy film that doesn’t pull you in like it should even though we are looking at a real story. (3/10)


Action: Little action with one shoot out being the only highlight. (3/10)

Crime: Looking at the case but ends up losing its way. (6/10)

Thriller: You don’t get pulled in to the leaves you are meant to. (2/10)

Settings: New York always makes a good setting but in this it ends up not being used well enough. (5/10)

Suggestion: This is one to miss it really doesn’t pull you in like it should. (Miss)


Best Part: The shootout.

Worst Part: The rest.

What Could Have Been Better? – Give the story more intensity. Improve character development.

Lessons Learned: Liam Hemsworth is having no luck as a leading man.


Believability: Based on a real case. (7/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Opening Credits Rating: Reporting about what has happened with the robbery before classics 1980s music as our hero and friend cruise around their neighbourhood. (9/10)

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $11 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes


Overall: Avoidable, Forgettable Plain

Rating 30

Wild Card (2015)

logoDirector: Simon West

Writer: William Goldman (Screenplay) William Goldman (Novel)

Starring: Jason Statham, Michael Angarano, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Hope Davis, Mile Ventimiglia, Max Casella, Stanley Tucci, Jason Alexander, Sofia Vergara, Anne Heche


Plot: When a Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal skills and a gambling problem gets in trouble with the mob, he has one last play…and it’s all or nothing.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Statham Action Thriller Stamp


Story: Wild Card starts with a last December timeline where Nick Wild (Statham) is drinking in a bar where he gets mixed up with Osgood (Casella) and his girl DD (Vergara). We see a girl beaten up and dumped outside a hospital and her only word is Nick after being asked who did it. Nick is a security consultant for attorney Pinky (Alexander). A young man Cyrus Kinnick (Angarano) wants to hire Nick to bodyguard him during a night in the casino. We see that the opening fight was just a play to make Osgood look good for the girl.

Holly (Garcia-Lorido) was the girl from the hospital and while released she turns out to be friends with Nick and calling out was for his help. She recounts that story of what happened with three guys raping and beating her up, Holly wants Nick to find the guys responsible so she can sue them. Nick has connection all over town apart from the hotel where the incident happened but he does find out who it was Danny DeMarco (Ventimiglia) but he is warned away.

Nick takes Cyrus on the night around Las Vegas while being conflicted about what happened to Holly, leaving Cyrus in his low stakes gambling Nick goes to Holly and ends up getting involved with helping her get her revenge. Nick pays Danny a visit leaving all three of them laying giving Holly her chance at revenge. Roll credits, wait we have only had 45 minutes so far.

Nick heads to the casino to try and kill some time with his croupier friend Cassandra (Davis) as Nick knows this will be his last night in Vegas. Nick hits an unbelievable streak on the table making the money he wants so he can leave the city once and for all. Nick’s gambling problems come back to hit him when he decides to risk it all to make enough so he will never have to return to Vegas, but blows it all. Cyrus final reveals why he has made contact with Nick and wants to learn how to lose his fear of the world but Nick has to deal with the DeMarco’s.

Wild Card gives us what we are used to from a Jason Statham film, we know he will end up in a fight against multiply opponents while trying to do the right thing. Taking that away we do get elements of the film which take on a more serious note, like his gambling addiction. Unlike certain films touching on the same subject matter we get to see people come and go from the story early than we would expect. When it comes to the base story it works out nicely for an enjoyable action thriller but don’t expect anything ground breaking. (7/10)


Actor Review


Jason Statham: Nick Wild specialist who knows the right people at all the levels of Vegas who ends up helping a friend get revenge on a guy who beat them up. After he does this he ends up having to fight his own demons with addiction while showing a young man around the city. Jason does what he does best, acting moody and kicking ass. (7/10)


Michael Angarano: Cyrus Kinnick young man who hires Nick to show him around town but it turns out he might have a different motive. Michael does a solid job but his character seems to get buried in all the action. (5/10)


Milo Ventimiglia: Danny DeMarco gangster who abuses a woman leading to Nick helping get revenge against him. Milo does a good job with him continuing to take the weasel like villainous role. (7/10)


Support Cast: Wild Card has plenty of supporting characters who mostly only appear in cameo like performance from the better known stars, Stanley Tucci, Sofa Vergara to mention a couple.


Director Review: Simon West – Simon does a solid job directing this to make an action thriller than works with Statham in the lead. (7/10)


Action: Wild Card has a couple of fight scenes that all come off very good in the end. (7/10)

Thriller: Wild Card doesn’t manage to pull you in as much as it could because each chapter of the story seems to get put together very well that is closes it before making us wonder what will happen next. (4/10)

Settings: Wild Card uses Vegas as the setting which is always a good setting for the subject matters involved. (9/10)

Suggestion: Wild Card is one for the action fans to enjoy, it won’t test you too much but can be enjoyed by the fans of the genre. (Action Fans Watch)


Best Part: Final fight.

Worst Part: It feels like it could end after the revenge scene.

Action Scene Of The Film: Final Fight.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Unlikely

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

Tagline: Never bet against a man with a killer hand

Trivia: Remake of The Heat (1986)


Overall: This really is just another action film that can be enjoyed but won’t add too much to the genre in the long term.

Rating 67