The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

Director: Mark Waters

Writer: Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum, John Sayles (Screenplay) Tony DiTerlizzi, Holly Black (Book)

Starring: Freddie Highmore, Mary-Louise Parker, Nick Nolte, Sarah Bolger, Andrew McCarthy, Joan Plowright, David Strathairn


Plot: Upon moving into the run-down Spiderwick Estate with their mother, twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of faeries and other creatures.

Tagline – Experience Their World In IMAX

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Fun Fantasy Adventure


Story: The Spiderwick Chronicles starts when a family mother Helen (Parker) and children, Mallory (Bolger), twins Jared & Simon (Both played by Highmore) move to a remote Spiderwick estate. Not long after arriving in the home Jared to rebellious of the twins starts investigating the home only to discovery a mysterious book from the former owner.

Once Jared reads the book, he unleashes a goblin army that has been after the book for years and Mulgarath (Nolte) will do anything to get his hands on the book.


Thoughts on The Spiderwick Chronicles


Characters – Jared is the out going of the twins, he is the one that reads the book and must convince the rest to fight back against goblins, his nature means people are less likely to believe him through any of his decisions though. Simon is the quieter and smarter brother that must look for the solution to the problems being caused. Helen is the mother that is dealing with raising the three children after her marriage has fallen apart and she needs to start a new life, one she isn’t prepared for. Mallory is the older sister that must be the warrior for the twins. Mulgarath is the goblin king that wants the book to kill any species in the surrounding area.

PerformancesFreddie Highmore takes twin roles here and handles them both very well showing how he can be the smarter kid and the adventurous one too. Mary Louise Parker in the parental role works well as we need her to bring the serious side to the story now. Sarah Bolger is strong too needing to be the strongest member of the children.

StoryThe story takes three siblings into a battle with goblins with fantasy creatures being used to guide the way in this battle. This will bring the broken family back together, well back to the level they are going to need to get used too. The scale of the book doesn’t give the story enough credit because it feels like this book has created a massive world only for us to get a snippet into everything. this story doesn’t re-invent the wheel because we can see the formula unfold without needing to guess to much on just how thing go on. We do deal with a big family change which should be the focal point through the film too.

Adventure/FantasyThe adventure side of the film takes the family into battle against the creatures of the forest which are invisible to most of the world, this plays into the fantasy side too because of the creatures we see at war.

SettingsThe film takes the family to a new house that is in the middle of the forest, which shows us the finical change the family must take, as well as the adventures waiting in the forest for people to experience.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are strong for the most part because we get to see the different creation looking like they would fit in the normal world.

Scene of the Movie –
Come with me.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not getting a full grasp of the scale of the fantasy world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun fantasy adventure that brings the characters into a world which will unite them as they deal with the biggest change of the children’s life.


Overall: Simple and enjoyable.




Franchise Weekend – Another 48 Hrs (1990)

Director: Walter Hill

Writer: John Fasano, Jeb Stuart, Larry Gross (Screenplay) Roger Spottiswoode, Walter Hill, Larry Gross, Steven E de Souza (Characters)

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Brion James, Kevin Tighe, Ed O’Ross, David Anthony Marshall, Andrew Divoff, Bernie Caser


Plot: Jack Cates once again enlists the aid of ex-con Reggie Hammond–this time, to take down The Iceman, a ruthless drug lord operating in the San Francisco bay area.

Tagline – Here they go again. Only faster. And tougher.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Lacks the Humour


Story: Another 48 Hrs starts as Jack (Nolte) is desperately trying to track down the Iceman, a drug dealer roaming San Francisco, but his latest bust goes wrong leaving him up for man-slaughter charges, with only one clue, a picture of Reggie (Murphy) who is about to be released from jail who now has a bounty on his head, placed by the Iceman.

When the Iceman’s hitmen including Ganz’s brother Cherry (Divoff) come after the pair, they must reunite to bring down the deadliest drug lord in San Francisco area.


Thoughts on Another 48 Hrs


Characters – Jake Cates has continued his grizzled ways, now he has focused on capturing a drug lord known as the Iceman, but finds the Internal Affairs on his back for his reckless behaviour turning to the only person he can trust Reggie. Reggie is fresh out of jail after being framed into a longer stint, but now he is free, he finds himself being targeted by the drug lord forcing him to work with Jack once again. Cherry is the brother of Ganz who is know being paid to kill Reggie for the Iceman, he turns this into a personal vendetta against Jack too. Blake Wilson is the Internal Affairs agent that is searching for a way to put Jack in jail for his reckless behaviour.

PerformancesNick Nolte is solid in this role, he makes us feel like we are watching a man on edge too. Eddie Murphy tries to bring more energy to this performance which only leaves him not reaching the marks we know he could. Divoff makes for a good villain on the same sort of level of Remar as the next level of psychotic. The actors playing the cops are what you expect through the film.

StoryThe story does continue to build from the last film, it shows the consequences from the previous action to build a bigger world, while also falling into more of the same because we are expecting to see something bigger, but it is just odd couple team up to take down criminals. We do have the story about how the two could swap places with Jack facing criminal charges and Reggie becoming free. The final outcome of the film does see strange when you take into account of the original film too.

Action/Crime/ComedyThe action does feel bigger, we get a lot more shoot-ups and moments of chases too, the crime does feel bigger too with criminals coming from different corners of the world. The comedy is the biggest disappointment here, we have fleeting moments of humour, but nothing comes off with any true effect.

SettingsWe stay in San Francisco for the film which makes for a good choice for a crime story to take place in.

Scene of the Movie –

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lacks any strong moments of humour.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weak sequel to an enjoyable first outing, it does feel rushed and loses the humour the first one had. The crime side of the film does try to world build which is good, but we lose out with a strange ending.


Overall: Disappointing sequel that doesn’t hit the marks.




Franchise Weekend – 48 Hrs (1982)

Director: Walter Hill

Writer: Roger Spottiswoode, Walter Hill, Larry Gross, Steven E de Souza (Screenplay)

Starring: Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Annette O’Toole, Frank McRae, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly


Plot: A hard-nosed cop reluctantly teams up with a wise-cracking criminal temporarily paroled to him, in order to track down a killer.

Tagline – When a tough cop has a cool convict as a partner and 48 hrs to catch a killer, a lot of funny things can happen in . . . 48 HRS.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Enjoyable


Story: 48 Hrs starts as Ganz (Remar) gets broken out of jail while on work detail by Billy Bear (Landham), he heads off to clean up old debts leaving cops bodies in his path of destruction. It doesn’t take long for Ganz to clash with detective Jack Cates (Nolte), where Ganz forces Jack into a difficult situation.

Jack must go to prisoner Reggie Hammond (Murphy) a wise cracking con man to help track down Ganz using his street knowledge. In what is an unlikely partnership turns into something special as the two find a way to get to the bottom of the crime.


Thoughts on 48 Hrs


Characters – Jack Cates is a grizzled cop, he gets the job done with his experience keeping him in high regard. He must stop the killer using criminal Reggie Hammond as the best chance to catch this killer. Reggie Hammond is a criminal near the end of his stint in jail, he is wise-cracking fast-talking meaning he can bullshit his way out of any situation he finds himself in. He uses this chance of time out of jail to settle a few scores. Elaine is the girlfriend of Jack who is tired of not making things serious between the two. Ganz is the killer on the loose, after his break from prison, he has a short-temper which causes his itchy trigger finger to fire on any enemy he comes across.

PerformancesNick Nolte is a great choice for a seemingly warn down cop, he takes the non-sense style needed for the role and goes with it. Eddie Murphy was one of the most popular stand-up comedians at the time, this was his film debut and he handed it very well, bringing his own energy to the role which could have been something we have seen before. James Remar is good as a villain because it is a character we have seen before, but he really convinces in this role. There is a negative here, that is Annette O’Toole, which to be fair isn’t her fault because the character is written so poorly

StoryThe story follows a cop and a criminal work together to stop another criminal, yes this is a buddy cop movie. We have unlikely partnership which must work together to get the common goal. This is a story we have seen plenty of times since and it seems to be a hit or miss through the years, but this does keep things simple enough to enjoy not looking to throw us any surprises along the way.

Action/Crime/ComedyThe action is by the book for cops and criminals, nothing is over the top and mostly comes off like you would expect. The crime world is the cop needing to work with the criminal that is the best chance to catch a cop killer. The comedy comes from the odd pairing that must work together.

SettingsThe film is set in San Francisco which always seems to be a great location for any crime comedy world to unfold.

Scene of the Movie –
Settle this with fists.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ganz seems a lot easier to catch.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good buddy comedy that bought us Eddie Murphy to the big screen. We get the action and comedy without being buried with one too often and most importantly we are entertained.


Overall: Great fun action comedy.




Return to Sender (2015)

returnDirector: Fouad Mikati

Writer: Patricia Beauchamp, Joe Gossett (Screenplay)

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Shiloh Fernandez, Nick Nolte, Camryn Manheim, Alexi Wasser, Rumer Willis, Illeana Douglas, Stephen Louis Grush


Plot: A nurse living in small town goes on a blind date with a man who is not the person he says he is.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Poor Final Film


Story: Return to Sender starts as we follow nurse Miranda (Pike) who has a germ phobia, she is about to get her dream job, new home while still looking for Mr right. Waiting for a blind date she finds herself being raped by William (Fernandez) after letting him in the house believing him to be the blind date.

Miranda goes through the devastating side effects of the rape which affect her mental state where she loses the steady handling skills she has always possessed, as well as her personal state with her house losing its sale value.

Miranda turns to William to help build her life up again as the two strike up an unlikely friendship which puts her life in danger once he gets released.

Return to Sender gives us a story we do need to take seriously because a rape victim is always someone to take seriously. In the end this film never establishes a tone because one minute it is about the victim struggling, the next it is them becoming friends and the final act goes in a very different direction but ending with just as many questions. We should gain sympathy for Miranda but by the end you just don’t like her. This is really just doesn’t give us the final product we need.


Actor Review


Rosamund Pike: Miranda is an up and coming nurse about to get everything she wants in a new job, new home and new life. This all comes crashing down when she answers the door to what she thinks is a blind date that rapes her. Emotional traumatised she struggles to put her life back together until she confronts and starts a friendship with her rapist. Rosamund gives us a solid job without shining in the roles in the same year.miranda

Shiloh Fernandez: William is the man who raped Miranda, he almost struck as opportunity and ends up in prison. While in prison Miranda starts visiting him giving him a reason to carry on going. Shiloh is solid but doesn’t make enough of an impact in his role.william

Nick Nolte: Mitchell is Miranda’s father, he is stubborn but supportive to whatever decisions she makes, his best friend is his dog and his age is catching up with him. Nick is a very basic supporting role.

Camryn Manheim: Nancy is one of Miranda’s best friends at work, she always tries to put a smile on her face through all the situations. Camryn is good but doesn’t get time to do anything major in the story.

Support Cast: Return to Sender has a very small supporting that are only friends of Miranda.

Director Review: Fouad MikatiFouad doesn’t give us the best film where he ends up leaving us feeling lost with what we are meant to be cheering for.


Thriller: Return to Sender doesn’t pull you in enough for a thriller where you just don’t seem to worry about what will happen.

Settings: Return to Sender doesn’t create any iconic location for the settings to take place in.

Suggestion: Return to Sender is one to miss really it doesn’t have enough going to make us care. (Avoid)


Best Part: Ummmm.

Worst Part: Story


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

Tagline: He picked the wrong address


Overall: Dull thriller that has so much potential


Lorenzo’s Oil (1992)

logoDirector: George Miller

Writer: George Miller, Nick Enright (Screenplay)

Starring: Nick Nolte, Susan Sarandon, Peter Ustinov, Kathleen Wilhoite, Gerry Bamman, Margo Martindale, James Rebhorn, Ann Hearn, Maduka Steady


Plot: A boy develops a disease so rare that nobody is working on a cure, so his father decides to learn all about it and tackle the problem himself.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Powerful Drama


Story: Lorenzo’s Oil starts in July 1983 Comoros Islands where young boy Lorenzo is living. Move forward three months Lorenzo is back home in America but things have started to change in Lorenzo, he has started to react to everything where he causes problems. Lorenzo’s parents Augusto (Nolte) and Michaela (Sarandon) start to be concerned with his behaviour but when doctors say there is nothing wrong. Each doctor tells them the same thing and figure out it is not his brain but he continues to get worse showing more symptoms.

Specialist Doctor Judalon (Bamman) puts Lorenzo through the most tests over a string of days to finally figure out what is wrong, ALD is the disease that Lorenzo has and he is given just two years to live because no one has every lasted longer than that. ALD has no treatment and has never been studied which leaves the parents with the realization that they will lose their son, but not wanting to accept that they start learning about the disease. Professor Nikolais (Ustinov) has been working on a potential theory for trying to slow down the process.

As time goes by we watch how different doctors try and learn from Lorenzo and other victims but we have to see how the difficult it is for the parents and doctors alike who have to learn not only how to treat but also how to deal with the disease. Deciding not enough is being done, Augusto and Michaela take it upon themselves to try and learn about the disease to understand what they will be dealing with and look for their own potential cure.

Lorenzo’s Oil is a film based on the true story that this one family suffered through. It shows how learning about new diseases isn’t just something you can rush into even if it can be difficult to believe. It also shows how far medical science can help save lives if people are willing to look for a cure instead of trying to make money. On the personal battle is shows how much effort our couple put into saving their son against almost impossible odds, not just dealing with the reality of what will happen but what could have happened. This will go down as one of the powerful dramas we saw at the time but in the end we have seen many like this now. (8/10)


Actor Review


Nick Nolte: Augusto Odone the father of Lorenzo who spends his time studying to find a cure by himself to prove all the doctors wrong. Nick shows why he is always good enough to lead a film with a flawless performance here. (9/10)


Susan Sarandon: Michaela Odone mother of Lorenzo who spends the whole time fighting for the right to have her son treated while spending as much time as possible caring for him as he gets worse. Susan gives a great performance and deserved her Oscar nomination. (10/10)


Peter Ustinov: Professor Nikolais who is leading ideas on how to cure the disease but is in a very difficult situation of having to follow the procedure of testing before just jumping to conclusions. Peter gives a good performance in what would considered a difficult role. (7/10)


Support Cast: Lorenzo’s Oil has a supporting cast that includes family members as well as other families who are suffering with the disease, each are dealing with it in a different way. We also have doctors who are trying to find a cure but only in the scientific way.


Director Review: George Miller – George steps away from what we are used to from him and he delivers a very powerful drama. (9/10)


Drama: Lorenzo’s Oil shows how hard dealing with a disease like that is, it shows how hard it will be on the family and how hard it will make them fight for him. (10/10)

Settings: Lorenzo’s Oil uses the home as the most part setting showing how crippling the disease is on the family. (9/10)

Suggestion: Lorenzo’s Oil is one very good film and I do think it could be watched by all but I do think the subject matter might not appeal to everyone. (Try It)


Best Part: Fighting for the right to try something.

Worst Part: Medical protocol.


Believability: It is based on the real story. (10/10)

Chances of Tears: Good chance of some through the film. (8/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: During credits we see children who have survived because of the oil.

Similar Too: Extraordinary Measures.


Oscar Chances: Was nominated for Best Actress and Best Screenplay.

Box Office: $7.3 Million

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 9 Minutes

Tagline: Some people make their own miracles.


Overall: This is a very powerful drama that will stick with you because the work these two did helped many other suffers of the disease.

Rating 85