Looking Glass (2019)

Director: Tim Hunter

Writer: Jerry Rapp (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Robin Tunney, Marc Blucas, Ernie Lively, Jacque Gray, Kassia Conway

 

Plot: A couple buy a desert motel where they find that strange, mysterious events occur.


Tagline – Seeing is deceiving.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Anti-Climatic

 

Story: Looking Glass starts when Ray (Cage) and Maggie (Tunney) take over a small motel to help then get over their own loss. With Ray working on the renovations of the motel, they have a soft opening, which sees them attract their first guests.

When Ray discovers secret corridors with windows into each room, which he becomes interested in watching through, then the mysterious events start happening, starting with a pig dumped in the swimming pool.

 

Thoughts on Looking Glass

 

Characters – Ray has just purchased the motel to try and start over with his wife, he is a handy man by trade, using his time to fix up the motel. He learns about secret windows watching through them, he sees strange events happening and wants to get to the bottom of the events going on around his motel. Maggie is the wife of Ray, she is happy to move away from their past, but struggles to trust Ray after his own past. Howard is the local sheriff that keeps visiting searching for the former owner, he is overly friendly too often for the couple. Tommy is a regular that uses the motel for his liaisons while on the road.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is having one of his weaker performances here, he just doesn’t make his character feel like it is one of the own Cage like ones. Robin Tunney does a solid job in the supporting role, as does Marc Blucas and Ernie Lively.

StoryThe story follows a couple that take over a motel only to start dealing with strange events surrounding something that happened before they got there. The story starts off feeling like a mystery about what once happened here which is interesting enough right, well it soon takes a turn down a path where seemingly nothing actually happens here, a woman goes missing, Ray becomes a peeping Tom and a nosey cop gets too involved with the motel, this story seems like a bad soap opera episode because it seems like we get a starting thread of a story only for it to go no where. We seem to just end the story without any real twists or investigations going on, it just felt like a bunch of random stuff happening.

MysteryThe mystery is presented, only we don’t spend any time watching what happens which only ends up leading us rather flat about what we have just watched.

SettingsThe film is mostly set at the motel which shows how you will never know what could happen in a motel.


Scene of the Movie –
The meeting in the desert.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Did you do it, did I do what? This scene lasts an awkward two minutes, it felt like a lifetime.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that ended up going in no particular direction and ends up feeling like just a bunch of stuff happens, instead of a storyline.

 

Overall: Messy, directionless and empty.

Rating

 

 

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Mandy (2018)

Director: Panos Cosmatos

Writer: Panos Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouere, Richard Brake, Bill Duke

 

Plot: Mandy is set in the primal wilderness of 1983 where Red Miller, a broken and haunted man hunts an unhinged religious sect who slaughtered the love of his life.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Craziest Film of the Year

 

Story: Mandy starts as we meet Red Miller (Cage) a lumberjack who lives with the love of his life Mandy (Riseborough) living in the woods away from the world. religious cult led by Jeremiah Sand (Roache) sees Mandy and wants to make her the connection to his higher power, taking her and forcing Red through a traumatic night.

With Mandy murdered on front of Red, the cult leaves, but when Red gets free, he sets out on a revenge mission which will show that he is a deadly hunter with weapons that will give the most damage to anyone who was involved in Mandy’s murder.

 

Thoughts on Mandy

 

Characters – Red Miller is a lumberjack who lives a quiet life with the love of his life, this is shattered when she is murdered, causing him to go on a bloody revenge mission, he will not stop until he has killed everyone involved in his loves death. Mandy is the love of Red’s life, she is a dreamer and perfect for how Red sees life. Jeremiah Sand is the leader of the religious cult, he goes to the extremes for his belief searching for the higher power he believes he has made contact with, he followers will give their life for his. The rest of the characters we meet fill up the quota for the religious cult showing their devotion to their leader.

PerformancesNicolas Cage has been known for taking stranger roles in recent years, this is by far the craziest one yet and it is one that he shines in, you just can’t keep you eyes of his characters behaviour in this film. Andrea Riseborough does add the mystery to her character early one, which would make us understand her draw. Linus Roache gives us one of the more disturbing performances as the religious cult leader, one that is as unsettling as it should be.

StoryThe story her can be bottled down to a revenge thriller as we follow one man whose love of his life is murdered and he goes after the religious cult behind the murder. This is the simple side of the story, what we get sends us down roads we never imagine seeing as we focus on just how obsessive the cult truly is and how the one man will use anything and everything he can get his hands on to get his revenge. There are a few questions about how religious cults can be misleading to anyone that falls into one, while this does balance the line between what could be and what is very finely before we see the explosive bloody end.

Action/HorrorThe action in this film takes place once the revenge angle starts, we see Red go into battle with any weapons he can, with fight sequences that are as bloody as the are entertaining. The horror comes from seeing just what the cult will do, what the cult are doing and what the cult believe in.

SettingsThe film takes place in the 80’s in the woods which takes us away from people, making us understand just isolated both sides of the battle want to be.

Special EffectsThe effects are a perfect blend of practical bloody effects and well used CGI moments that don’t take away from the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Nicolas Cage’s crazy being used to perfection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slightly too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the craziest films you will ever see, it does something many directors haven’t been able to do, use Nicolas Cage crazy performance correctly. You will see some of the strangest images that you brain will not be able to take everything in.

 

Overall: Just bonkers fun.

Rating

 

 

The Humanity Bureau (2018)

Director: Rob W King

Writer: Dave Schultz (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sarah Lind, Jakob Davies, Hugh Dillon, Vicellous Shannon, Kurt Max Runte, Destee Klynee

 

Plot: A dystopian thriller set in the year 2030 that sees the world in a permanent state of economic recession and facing serious environmental problems as a result of global warming.


Tagline – Escape from New America.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Enjoyable Sci-Fi Film

 

Story: The Humanity Bureau starts as we enter an America where productivity is measured to help keep the country together after famine and a civil war. An agency known as the Humanity Bureau decides if people are helping society enough, with Noah Kross (Cage) being the agent we follow, we see he can handle himself if situation go wrong too.

On his latest case investigates single mother Rachel (Lind) and son Lucas (Davies) who have been selected to move to the New Eden location as they can’t support themselves enough. When Noah starts to learn the truth about the New Eden he goes against the bureau to save Rachel and Lucas with his old partner Adam (Dillon) leading the chase for him.

 

Thoughts on The Humanity Bureau

 

Characters – Noah Kross is a Humanity Bureau agent with his assignments being to figure out who should be sent to New Eden, when he starts to be shown the truth about New Eden he gives up his role to save a mother and son, using his memories of his childhood to guide them to freedom. Rachel is the single mother that is doing everything she can to keep her son safe. Lucas is the son, he is like any growing boy that just wants to enjoy his life, he has a terrible attention span though. Adam Westinghouse is the old partner of Noah’s he is forced to track him down knowing the truth, he doesn’t care as much as Noah to what happens.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is an actor I could watch in anything, however good or bad he or the film is, in this one he is good without going into the full Cage mode we know he is capable off. Sarah Lind is solid too even if most of her work needs to come from the conversations over the action. Jakob Davies is fine as for kids in films, he does get annoying at times, but that is the character not the performance. Hugh Dillon as our main villain is mostly forgettable being filled with the generic traits we know too well.

StoryThe story here takes us to a future where the world could have ended as we know it, famine and war swept across America and now one agency controls the country offering hope. We follow one agent that learns the truth about the hope and the Eden and goes out to save a mother and son. This is something we have seen before and it always works, there are shocking twists along the way which will surprise and will entertaining for the time it flows by.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in the film does feel like it is one of the first takes, everything felt like it was one step behind with the shoot outs coming off weak and the chases over before they start. The sci-fi world we enter is interesting, I would have liked to see more but where we go works well.

SettingsThe film takes us through the empty landscapes that have been hit by the effects of the change in the Earth.

Special EffectsThe effects are weak for the film too, as mentions the action looks weak, but the computer elements seem like a near future idea.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown

That Moment That Annoyed Me This felt like the opening sequence for a television show.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to watch sci-fi thriller which could have been strong but isn’t terrible.

 

Overall: Watchable Sci-fi Film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – J – Joe (2013)

Director: David Gordon Green

Writer: Gary Hawkins (Screenplay) Larry Brown (Novel)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Adriene Mishler

 

Plot: An ex-con, who is the unlikeliest of role models, meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Drama

 

Story: Joe starts as we meet ex-con Joe (Cage) who hires down on their luck people of a small town to help him kill trees for his employer, he expects them to work and they will get paid, he treats them all with respect through this questionable job. When he gets approached by 15-year-old Gary (Sheridan) a homeless boy from a family of drifters who wants work. Joe gives him a chance and he doesn’t disappoint.

When Joe sees the abuse, Gary receives from his alcoholic father Wade (Poulter) he gets put in a difficult situation, where he must decide whether defend Gary and become the person he had hoped to escape or do nothing, either option will define his future.

 

Thoughts on Joe

 

Characters/PerformanceJoe is a former criminal that has put his life together to offer other down on their luck men a job killing trees. He is good natured to the people who work for him and takes a look at what is happening to Gary and decides to help him find his way. Gary is a boy that is never been given a chance in life, so he makes his own chances by getting a job working for Joe, he learns from Joe which are important lessons for life. The rest of the cast show us what is going on in both the lives and what could change the ones they are living.

Performance wise, Nicolas Cage is good in this role and you can see why people believe it could have been one that turned his career around. Tye Sheridan does a great job and shows why he had an ever-growing potential in his career with these types of roles. the rest of the cast all do a great job throughout the film.

StoryThe story is a trademark of the indie style of films, it shows one man needing to question what he is doing with his life for the sake of a teenager who is struggling. This isn’t the most original but does everything you need for an indie film, telling the story and offering redemption for our leading man.

SettingsWe have a small-town setting in what looks like economy depressed town with struggles, this helps us understand what it would be like for all the characters in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis film shows us just what Cage is capable of great performances with the right material and can keep us watching until the end of the film. Everything comes together nicely but is unlikely to be a re-watchable film.

 

Overall: Well-acted, good strong drama but slow in places.

Rating

 

 

Mum and Dad (2018)

Director: Brian Taylor

Writer: Brian Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Lance Henriksen, Joseph D Reitman, Rachel Melvin, Olivia Crocicchia

 

Plot: A teenage girl and her little brother must survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to turn violently on their own kids.


Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun

 

Story: Mum and Dad starts as we meet the Ryan family father Brent (Cage), mother Kendall (Blair) and bratty children, teenager Carly (Winters) and young Josh (Arthur) who seem like a normal dysfunctional family as the parents must deal with their kids ignorance and poor behaviour.

Today is different as the parents for the whole town have become infected by a virus which causes them to go into a rage as they look to kill their own children, Carly must take her first steps of responsibility and protect Josh from their own parents who are hell bent on murdering them.

 

Thoughts on Mum and Dad

 

Characters – Brent is the father of the family, on the verge of a mid-life crisis, sports car and man cave in the works to go alongside the job he now hates but must continue you. Kendall is the mother of the family, becoming distant from her daughter, facing the reality she can’t go back to the job she once loved, waiting to just become old now. Carly is the teenage daughter of the family, she is rebellious stealing from her mother, getting high and sneaking out, not really someone you can support through the film. Josh is the youngest member of the family, he is always causing trouble, never seemingly going to school either. This is one of the problems of the film, the kids are pains in the arses and you find yourself rooting for the parents over their kids.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is fantastic to watch in this movie, he needs to be way over the top and he gets to go into full cage mode here. Selma Blair is good in her role, she gets the most conflicted during everything going on and you can see in her performance how she is reacting to each moment. Anne Winters is good, but never becomes the character we need to care enough about.

StoryThe story uses a mix of what The Crazies and The Purge has, while the crime isn’t legal, it follows the idea that this is a virus that only seems to last for a day causing people, parents to turn into murders after their own children. This does bring a nice spin onto plenty of genres and gives us an action romp without explaining everything going on, just watching how the kids must find a way to survive, nothing too difficult to watch.

Horror/ThrillerThe horror comes from the idea that parents are trying to murder their children, which works because if it being horrific to think about happening.

SettingsMost of the film takes place inside the home as the parents are trying to get to their kids to kill, it shows how home can become the dangerous place when parents snap.

Special Effects –  The effects work well for the film, used as and when with most of the kills or attacks happening off camera.

Scene of the Movie – Full Cage moments.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Brent attacking David doesn’t make sense to what is going on in the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable horror comedy that pushes the limits of what we can show on film, but it works when you want to watch something so, over the top and mad.

 

Overall: Fun, Crazy and Completely bonkers.

Rating