ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – S – Salt and Fire (2016)

Director: Werner Herzog

Writer: Werner Herzog (Screenplay) Tom Bissell (Short Story)

Starring: Veronica Ferres, Michael Shannon, Gael Garcia Bernal, Volker Michalowski, Lawrence Krauss, Anita Briem

 

Plot: A scientist blames the head of a large company for an ecological disaster in South America. But when a volcano begins to show signs of erupting, they must unite to avoid a disaster.


Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Dull

 

Story: Salt and Fire starts as three scientists representing the United Nations Laura (Ferres), Dr Cavani (Bernal) and Dr Meier (Michalowski) are on their latest mission but find themselves taken hostage by Matt Riley (Shannon) in South America, but not everything is what it seems as Matt explains the actions of his team to Laura and the goals they are trying to reach.

Laura’s team is bought together for a reason, to study an ever-increasing Salt plain which could bring around a volcanic explosion that could end the world as we know it.

 

Thoughts on Salt and Fire

 

Characters – Laura Sommerfeld is the lead UN doctor on the latest mission, but she gets taken hostage by a radical group that want to take down a cooperation that has accidently started the end of the world, she must learn about the salt plain that could end the world. Matt Riley is the man behind the hostage taking as he knows about the potential threat to the world. Doctor Cavani is the loud mouth of the team that is also cowardly, he works with Laura but is sick for most of the film. we don’t get very much from any of the supporting characters in this film.

PerformancesVeronica Ferres is the main actress, she is in every scene as we see how she learns about the story unfold, she is solid in the leading role but never enough to hold our attention. Michael Shannon is good in his role but we just don’t get enough from him character, this can be said for most of the cast we just needed more from their characters.

StoryThe story follows one doctor that must learn of an impending disaster which needs solving even though it is considered unsolvable.  This story is dull and slow, but it does have meaning when you look at the message trying to be sent, other than that it is too preachy for its own good. It tries to make us feel guilty for a new threat to the world that is manmade but is slowly becoming too much.

ThrillerThis film tries to keep us on edge but in the end, you just don’t hit the edge of your seat by a long way.

SettingsThe film is set in an unknown location in South America, it is designed to make us feel like it could be anywhere in the world that this could happen.


Scene of the Movie –
Photo time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Overly preachy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that doesn’t hit the marks it should, it could be breath-taking but in the end just sends you to sleep.

 

Overall: This movie was just painfully boring to watch from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – F – Frank & Lola (2016)

Director: Matthew Ross

Writer: Matthew Ross (Screenplay)

Starring: Imogen Poots, Michael Shannon, Justin Long, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Nyqvist, Emmanuelle Devos

 

Plot: A psychosexual noir love story, set in Las Vegas and Paris, about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and, ultimately, the search for redemption.


Tagline – Love Obsession Betrayal Revenge

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blank & Boring

 

Story:  Frank & Lola starts as we meet chef Frank (Shannon) who has started dating college graduate Lola (Poots) as they get involved in a strange relationship in Las Vegas, which sees her mother Patricia (Arquette) as questionable.

When Patricia brings her former partner to town, Lola wants Frank to help get revenge for something that happened between the two, as he has become more of a no nonsense type of person who gets offered a job by her new boss Keith (Long) which could solve his problems because of his brilliance in the kitchen.

 

Thoughts on Frank & Lola

 

Characters – Frank is a brilliant chef that has started dating the younger Lola, he gets jealous easily which makes him want to know who every man in Lola’s life is as he starts to look to solve her problems. Lola is a college graduate in fashion that is in Vegas, she is dating Frank and starts working for the charismatic Keith, she knows what will make Frank jealous as she starts to use him to get what she wants. Keith knows people in Vegas, he offers jobs to talent, which will see him follow a strict code of not trying to date them, he will always offer people job if he believes they deserve the change. Patricia is Lola’s mother that hasn’t always been as close with her daughter.

PerformancesWe have such a great cast here, Michael Shannon gives one of his most average performances of his career, Imogen Poots struggles to make an impact, Justin Long gets his moments, but not enough. Most of this comes from such dull characters they must try to bring to life.

StoryThe story is the hardest part to describe because it seems to follow a chef that is trying to do anything to clean up his girlfriends past, only to get caught up in the middle of just what might be true or not. The problem with the story comes from the poor dialogue which makes it hard to connect the story together, it seems to create scenes which put Frank’s mind in one direction only for the next one to change it, this happens too often and becomes annoying because we can’t get invested in his story. we did get some heavy themes which do just get glanced over which only confuses in the end.

Crime/RomanceThe crime side of the film comes from what Frank will do for Lola, he is driven by his love for her which shows him where to go with his actions.

SettingsThe film has two main settings, Las Vegas and Paris, both are used to show the busy side of the lives of the people we are follow.


Scene of the Movie –
Job offer.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story is too heavy on changing direction too often.

Final ThoughtsThis is a dull romantic thriller that just drags along at a snails pace, never using the talent to its strengths.

 

Overall: Bitterly disappointing.

Rating

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – W – World Trade Center (2006)

Director: Oliver Stone

Writer: Andrew Berloff (Screenplay) John McLoughlin, Donna LcLoughlin, William Jimeno, Allison Jimeno (True Story)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maria Bello, Jay Hernandez, Jon Bernthal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

 

Plot: Two Port Authority police officers become trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Center.


Tagline – A True Story Of Courage And Survival

Runtime: 2 Hour 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Drama

 

Story: World Trade Center starts like every other day for police officers John McLoughlin (Cage) who sets the assignments for his department which include Will Jimeno (Pena) and Dominick Pezzulo (Hernandez). Today is going to change their lives, today is September 11th the day the World Trade Centers Twin Twos get hit by the planes, while being part of the rescue team the crew find themselves trapped.

When the dust settles Will and John are the only ones still alive with their loved ones Donna McLoughlin (Bello) and Allison Jimeno (Gyllenhaal) waiting to hear if they were in the towers when they went down. The two must support each other in hope that they would get rescued as New York and America comes together to rescue their own.

 

Thoughts on World Trade Center

 

Characters – All the characters in this film are based on real people, we have real victims from 9/11 being portrayed. John McLoughlin is the experience police officer that leads his men into the Twin Towers in a rescue attempt, he is a father of four which is one of his greatest motivations to survive once he becomes trapped in the rubble. Will Jimeno is the fellow officer that becomes trapped with John, he is a parent too with a second on the way, he is injured but uses the company of John to stay awake. We do have the wives and loved ones and fellow officers that helped in the rescues to being portrayed here showing the heroes involved on those days.

PerformancesNicolas Cage shows in this role that he still was a brilliant performer along with Michael Pena stepped to a leading role. We have fantastic performances from the whole cast if we are being honest.

StoryThe events of this day shocked the world like no other events, the stories of the survivors being found was a race for hope for anyone who might have had someone in the towers. We do focus on just two officers that became trapped as they fought to survive while waiting for rescue. Watching how the rescuers worked to save people trapped, the family waiting helplessly for news on their families, add this together and you get a powerful drama that showed the heroics during that tragic event.

History/ThrillerThe events of this movie are one of the most if not the most famous terrorist attack in modern history, seeing how the two officers just had to rely on hope to survive shows us just how the country was bought together to find a people which does make this edge of your seat waiting to see if they make it or not.

SettingsJohn and Will are trapped for the most part of this movie, it shows how hopeless the situation looked for the men, outside we see the aftermath of the attack.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the movie are fantastic to show the horror of the moment the towers came crashing down on the people inside to the surviving in the rumble and re-creation of the devastation.


Scene of the Movie –
For the visual the collapse is shocking to watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is still hard to watch because of the shock of the event.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama that shows how the city came together during the time of need.

 

Overall: This is a must watch but it is hard to re-live those moments.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – # – 8 Mile (2002)

Director: Curtis Hanson

Writer: Scott Silver (Screenplay)

Starring: Eminem, Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, Evan Jones, Omar Benson Miller, Michael Shannon

 

Plot: A young rapper, struggling with every aspect of his life, wants to make it big but his friends and foes make this odyssey of rap harder than it may seem.


Tagline –  If the streets had a voice, this would be the story they’d tell.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Rap Based Drama

 

Story: 8 Mile starts as we head to Detroit to follow Jimmy B-Rabbit Smith (Eminem) as along with his friends David ‘Future’ Porter (Phifer) Cheddar Bob (Jones), Sol George (Miller) are trying to make an impact in the raping world, this world is dominated by the black community though he does have the skills.

The world is filled with gangs that are out for control, Jimmy must deal with his mother Stephanie (Basinger) and her problems as well as meeting a new love in Alex (Murphy), we follow as he is desperate to get out of the town which has held back man before.

 

Thoughts on 8 Mile

 

Characters – Jimmy B-Rabbit Smith is a young man who aspires to be a rapper, he is from the wrong side of town in Detroit, where he is given a chance to prove himself in the underground rap battle world, where any wrong move could be his last move with the gangs around him. He has the close friends that will watch his back, while working a dead-end job for any money he can get. Stephanie Smith is the mother of Rabbit, she is dating an aggressive man around he sons age and struggling to pay the rent to keep the roof over her daughter’s head. She does try to do the best things but has her own personal demons holding her back. David is the closest friend to Jimmy, he offers him the chance he wants to reach the next level but also needs to be the one to stop him making the mistakes in his life. Alex is the new romance in Jimmy’s life, she dreams of leaving too, to become a model which helps the to connect on a level unlike what Jimmy is used to.

PerformancesEminem is strong in this leading role, there are a few moments where he does look lost, one second too long for fight sequences, but the emotional levels he shows good. Kim Basinger is good in her role which shows that we have the most experience from her. Mekhi Phifer continued his rise in the early 2000s with this performance where he shows his ability to blend into any film. the whole cast performers well through the film with talent that went onto bigger things.  

StoryThe story shows the struggles of a young man trying to break into the world of rapping in the mean streets of Detroit, he is from the wrong side of the town and the gangs are always dangerous. Seeing the struggles for everyday life is very interesting to see unfold, however I was expecting something different with more rap battles. If you are a fan of the underground rap scene this will be a story that you want to watch.

MusicThe music in the film starts with a battle rap and I was expecting more as the song Lose yourself did win Best Oscar Song.

SettingsThe film shows us just how difficult growing up in Detroit can be, we feel the tension and feeling of abandonment the city is feeling.


Scene of the Movie –
Battle rap.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough rapping.

Final ThoughtsThis is a look at the mean streets of Detroit in the battle rap world where every corner could be dangerous.

 

Overall: The rap world unfolded.

Rating

 

 

99 Homes (2014)

Director: Ramin Bahrani

Writer: Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi (Screenplay) Ramin Bahrani, Bahareh Azimi (Story)

Starring: Michael Shannon, Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern

 

Plot: A recently unemployed single father struggles to get back his foreclosed home by working for the real estate broker who is the source of his frustration.


Tagline – Greed is the only game in town.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Very Powerful & Intense.

 

Story: 99 Homes starts with hard working young man Dennis Nash (Garfield) trying to keep his family home from being reclaimed by the bank, but he is unsuccessful as real estate broker Rick Carver (Shannon) evicts him from his home with his mother Lynn (Dern) and son Connor.

Desperate for money Dennis turns to Rick who offers him a job involving his construction skills, with this job Dennis starts to learn the trade rising the ranks to become the very person he despised in Rick when he was losing his home.

 

Thoughts on 99 Homes

 

Characters – Dennis Nash is the hard-working construction worker, he works to keep the roof over his family home but when he loses his home he goes to all ends to get a job to regain his home. This means Dennis works for the man who evicts him where he learns the trade to make sure he can his home back become the man he once hated. Rick Carver is a real estate broker, he has been evicting for the bank for years now, he doesn’t believe he is doing anything wrong, but he is following the law. He has made a lot of money in this world and takes Dennis under his wing to follow in his footsteps.

PerformancesAndrew Garfield is fantastic in this leading role, this guy is constantly giving us performances that we are left seeing just how talented this guy it. Michael Shannon is the always brilliant star of most movies, he is calm through every single scene which could have himself getting pushed to the limits. Laura Dern is good too in the supporting role as Dennis mother that questions his work.

StoryThe story here shows one man’s struggle to keep his family home but needing to turn to the enemy to make the money. We see how far he must go just to make a difference, but can he cope with becoming the man he hates. The story gives us hard to watch scenes as we see people losing their homes showing us a darker side to real estate in America. This is one story that is a good watch, he can be hard at times, but the story is rewarding.

SettingsThe settings show us the housing market and how people can be a community when supporting someone’s miss fortune.


Scene of the Movie –
Seeing Dennis question his decision.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We get a lot of law discussion, but a lot can go over your head.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama that shows how difficult life could be for the people who lose their homes to the people looking just to make the money by taking them.

 

Overall: Strong, powerful drama.

Rating