ABC Film Challenge – Random – V – Vanilla Sky (2001)

Director: Cameron Crowe

Writer: Cameron Crowe (Screenplay) Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton, Michael Shannon


Plot: A self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate finds his privileged life upended after a vehicular accident with a resentful lover.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Trippy Fantasy Thriller


Story: Vanilla Sky starts as we meet David Aames (Cruise) a playboy publishing mogul that inherited this from his father. He sleeps with beautiful women including actress Julie Gianni (Diaz) but always finds time for his best friend Brian Shelby (Lee). But, his life has been shattered thanks to a car accident which has left him disfigured hiding behind a mask in jail.

While waiting for his hearing David recounts the events which led up to his charges to McCabe (Russell). We learn how David meets Sofia Serrano (Cruz) the woman of his dreams but Julie shows her jealous side causing a car crash which leaves him broken and living between reality and dreams, needing to face his new life.


Thoughts on Vanilla Sky


Characters/PerformanceDavid lived a life where he could have any women living the life of luxury until this lifestyle catches up with him, leaving him disfigured and in jail, recounting the events between the two moments. Sofia is the new love that David falls for, she has all the chemistry he requires for something different being the motivation for David to fix himself. Julie is the jealous former lover that causes the accident, she is an actress that is filled with self-confidence but all that isn’t everything we have come to know.

Performance wise, Tom Cruise is great in the leading role, not being afraid to make himself slightly disfigured for this role. Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz are both are both also great in the roles of the two women in David’s life.

StoryIn a story that leaves you questioning nearly everything going on even after you believe you have just worked everything out, well this story will keep you all over the place. I do think this does enough to keep us guessing without becoming tiring and will completely satisfied by the end.

Fantasy/Mystery/RomanceThe fantasy world created comes through in the end and it will leave you shocked with the outcome of the film, getting to this stage we are left with a big mystery into just what has been happening with the romance being how David falls in love with Sofia.

SettingsEach setting is used well, but the truly special moment in the New York being empty looks fantastic.

Special EffectsThe effects that are used to create the disfigured looking David all come off great with the other effects all doing the required effect in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis film will test your mind which is always something we like to see in films, yes, it is a remake or reimagination but still it looks fantastic.


Overall: This was a true mind bender of morale decision making.





Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – The Windmill Massacre (2016)

Director: Nick Jongerius

Writer: Nick Jongerius, Chris W Mitchell, Suzy Quid (Screenplay)

Starring: Patrick Baladi, Ben Batt, Charlotte Beaumont, Fiona Hampton, Tanroh Ishida


Plot: Jennifer is an Australian girl on the run from her past who washes up in Amsterdam. In a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, she joins a coach-load of tourists embarking on a tour of Holland’s world famous windmills. When the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, she and the other tourists are forced to seek shelter in a disused shed beside a sinister windmill where, legend has it, a Devil-worshiping miller once ground the bones of locals instead of grain. As members of the group start to disappear, Jennifer learns that they all have something in common – a shared secret that seems to mark them all for doom.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Lacklustre Horror


Story: The Windmill Massacre starts as we meet our string of characters, Australian runaway Jennifer (Beaumont), the father son Douglas (Baladi) and Curt (Wright), ambitious photographer Ruby (Hampton), British soldier Jackson (Batt), Japanese tourist Takashi (Ishida) and artist Nicholas Cooper (Taylor) as they take a bus trip around Holland with Abe (Klever).

When the bus breaks down by a mysterious unmarked windmill the group find themselves being hunted down by a killer that seems to be making them pay for their sins. With tensions running high who will make it out alive?


Thoughts on The Windmill Massacre


Characters/PerformanceJennifer is an Australian on the run from her past through Holland, she suffers nightmares about her father which make her come off crazy, she must face her own demons to survive this night. Douglas West is an overworking businessman who has taken his son on holiday, he will do anything to protect his son, but finds himself easily distracted by work. Dr Nicolas Cooper has been studying the arts of Holland looking to create his own memorable piece of art, the rest of the cast all come off like out would expect for any horror too.

Performance wise, Noah Taylor is the big name in this film and easily becomes the one you want to learn most about and this is good even though he is only a supporting character. Charlotte Beaumont is fine in the leading role but you feel we could have had more from her, the rest of the cast are all fine but nothing that memorable.

StoryThe story behind this horror is similar to many horrors out there, characters needing to face their sins for their past, while facing the sins they learn about human emotion and we have blood and gore thrown in here now. This does create way too many attempts of having sinners responsible for people’s death in one journey for my liking. We also don’t get enough focus on the emotional effect of what these people did apart from Jennifer’s character.

HorrorWe have plenty of blood and gore going on here but this could have suspense, it doesn’t it just looks to go for the blood and gore kills we didn’t need to see for the idea in the movie.

SettingsWe are set in the middle of nowhere, this works for the horror and using the well-known Dutch windmills does help explain the main location.

Special EffectsThe effects for the kills do all look good, but it is the CGI effects which do look cheap through the film.

Final ThoughtsThis film had promise but does miss on the levels it could have reach and on the levels other films with similar ideas reach.


Overall: Solid Late Night Horror.




Mark Strong Weekend – Mindscape (2013)

mindscapeDirector: Jorge Dorado

Writer:  Guy Holmes (Screenplay) Guy Holmes, Martha Holmes (Story)

Starring: Mark Strong, Taissa Farmiga, Brian Cox, Indira Varma, Noah Taylor


Plot: A man with the ability to enter peoples’ memories takes on the case of a brilliant, troubled sixteen-year-old girl to determine whether she is a sociopath or a victim of trauma.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Mind Bending Thriller


Story: Mindscape starts by taking us to a world of memory Detectives who work for Mindscape run by Sebastian (Cox). The best detective is John Washington (Strong) who suffered a stroke on his last mission and suffering from the loss of his wife he wants to get back on the horse John takes the case of a troubled teenager Anna Greene (Farmiga).

John has to use the technology to go into the memories of Anna to try and unlock what is causing the decision to stop eating and acting the way she is. John has to work his way through Anna’s memories trying to figure out if she is a sociopath or a victim herself making this easy job one of the hardest of his career.

Mindscape is a film that does something we all like to see in a film, make us think as we have to watch the story unfold. We are led down different paths which does keep us guessing to just what is real or not with a final outcome that will leave you surprised. This is really a thinking film fans film which is well worth watching but not as a casual viewing.


Actor Review


Mark Strong: John Washington is a memory detective who has been struggling to keep his work separate from his personal memories and tragedies. He takes what looks like an easy job where he discovers the truth about Anna a troubled teenager. Mark is good in this leading role playing the good guy against his normal villainous role.

Taissa Farmiga: Anna Greene is the troubled teenager that is filled with stories, John is assigned to treat her but we are left to wonder which of her stories are real or just placed there to make John support her. Taissa is good in this role where we get to see her in a much more serious role that normal.

Brian Cox: Sebastian is the head of Mindscape who gives John this job knowing it should be an easier one for him to deal with. He has worked with John before knowing he is the best in the business he has also treated Anna in the past. Brian is solid in this supporting role but only in a couple of scenes.

Richard Dillane: Robert is the step-father of Anna who she believes is trying to get to the family money by putting her in a home, he is suspicious throughout but we are left to wonder what his try motives are. Richard is a solid supporting performance in this role.

Support Cast: Mindscape has a supporting cast that mostly leave us wondering what is going on with us wondering who is involved in what and fully keeping us guessing to the truth.

Director Review: Jorge DoradoJorge gives us a real mind twisting film that truly keeps you guessing.


Mystery: Mindscape is a film that throws us into a mystery leaving us to try and put the pieces together to find the truth.

Thriller: Mindscape sends us down different roads as we look for the truth behind the stories.

Settings: Mindscape keeps the settings simple with most being from inside the memories and where they take our characters.
Special Effects
: Mindscape has good effects when needed but tries to make more of the story about what might be going in the heads of the characters.

Suggestion: Mindscape is one that I would suggest the fans of the mystery genre to rally give a go. (Mystery Fans Watch)


Best Part: Final act.

Worst Part: It can come off slightly too twist filled.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: Once you enter her mind, there’s no escape.


Overall: Twist filled thriller that just keeps you guessing.




Predestination (2014)

logoDirector: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Writer: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig (Screenplay) Robert A Heinslein (Story)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor, Elise Jansen, Cate Wolfe, Freye Stafford, Alicia Pavlis, Christopher Kirby


Plot: The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: The Circle of Life


Story: Predestination starts by introducing us to our protagonist (Hawke) who works as a form of time cop, while on his final case trying to stop a serial criminal known as the ‘Fizzle Bomber’ who keeps going back and changing the dates of his attacks. His latest meeting with the criminal leads him to get horribly burnt. One of his covers is as a bartender in 1970 where he tries to investigate the bomber, he meets a mysterious stranger (Snook) who is a writer for a magazine. One thing leads to another thing and the two end up placing a bet for a great story while discussing the Fizzle Bomber work.

We start by hearing the mysterious stranger’s Jane childhood how she knew she was different from a young age, stuck in an orphanage where she excelled in class and learned how to fight. Graduation gave her a chance to work with Mr Robertson (Taylor) on a space program. She excels through the training program scoring the highest possible scores, before getting kicked out of the program. Jane ends up pregnant before learning the truth that she has both male and female organs, this leads to her losing her female ones and having to become a man, to make matters worse her baby is taken from the hospital. After spending fifty minutes with this story we actually get to the point of bartender character who actually works with Robertson and offers to let Jane/John kill the man who put him in the position he is in now. All while our bartender figures out who the fizzle bomber is.

Predestination is one of those time travel films that really gets you thinking, even though it seems to give away the ending quite early on. It has plenty of twists and turns a few you don’t see coming and few that are clear. I know the bar story does go on too long but in the end it helps discover the points we have learnt from the conclusion. The thing that really confuses is that it is sold on the idea of hunting down a bomber and I know we learn the true identity by the end but we don’t get enough of the searching done early on. This will come off slow which is a big drawback but I think most of it gets wrapped up by the end. (7/10)


Actor Review


Ethan Hawke: The Bartender the time traveller who helps Jane learn about what could be possible all while trying to locate his last opposition who keeps escaping him. Ethan does a solid job but doesn’t get enough time with his main side of the story. (6/10)


Sarah Snook: The Unmarried Mother Jane who is an orphan girl before finding out the truth that she is capable of being either, she gets turned into a man and gets a chance to go back in time to change how she was mistreated by a man. Sarah does a good job here. (7/10)


Support Cast: Predestination really doesn’t have much of a supporting cast at, we have the lead two stars taking up all the screen time.


Director Review: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig – The pair do a good job creating a film that keeps you guessing but sometimes makes you think too much. (6/10)


Action: Predestination really doesn’t have much action in at all we have one scene replayed from different perspective but other than that it’s all talk. (4/10)

Sci-Fi: Predestination makes time travel interesting without throwing the science in our face, it just keeps things simple. (8/10)

Thriller: Predestination does keep you wanting to know what happens but doesn’t create any real edge of your seat moments. (5/10)

Settings: Predestination keeps its settings very average but keeps them authentic for the time periods. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Predestination has few special effects but the ones it does have work very well. (8/10)

Suggestion: Predestination is one to try it may come off very much complicated but ends up coming together nicely at the end. (Try It)


Best Part: Keeps you guessing.

Worst Part: The opening story is too long.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Triangle


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

Tagline: To save the future he must reshape the past.


Overall: What came first the Chicken or the Egg?

Rating 66

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

posterDirector: Tim Burton

Writer: John August (Screenplay) Roald Dahl (Book)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, Deep Roy, Christopher Lee, AnnaSophia Robb


Plot: A young boy wins a tour through the most magnificent chocolate factory in the world, led by the world’s most unusual candy maker.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Colourful Remake


Story: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starts by showing us the golden tickets being placed into the chocolate bars which later get distributed around the world. Time to introduce Charlie Bucket (Highmore) a regular boy whose family struggles to make ends meet, who live in an odd shaped house. Back story time and we learn about Willy Wonka (Depp) who started with a small corner shop before entering into his factory, telling us he has a knack for the strange. We learn how Wonka became a recluse because of how his secrets got stolen, but for one time only he offers a chance for 5 children a chance to see his factory.

We start by meeting the kids who win the tickets Augustus Gloop (Wiegratz), Veruca Salt (Winter), Violet Beauregarde (Robb) and Mike Teavee (Fry) all these kids have signs of showing who they really are and what type of people they will become. Charlie’s life is about to change when he finds money lying on the street and buys a Wonka bar that just so happens to have the last golden ticket. Charlie along with Grandpa Joe (Kelly) go to the factory for the tour along with the rest of the winners. Wonka shows off his factory and its work force the Oompa Loompas (Roy) for an adventure of a life time for all the children.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the first books I read, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of the first films I loved even though I know they changed the book slightly. This visually is everything I imagined from what I once read. I also think the story is captured perfectly, but one to the negatives. I didn’t really like the whole Willy Wonka backstory I felt it looked very forced and took away from the adventure in the factory. The story itself will always be a classic and to be fair to the story is base idea is captured well. (7/10)


Actor Review


Johnny Depp: Willy Wonka the recluse chocolate factory owner who invites five children to tour his factory. He lacks social skills and clearly has father issue, he is also very strange. Johnny does a great job to create and change the previously created character to be his own. (8/10)


Freddie Highmore: Charlie Bucket the poor average nothing special boy who gets the chance of a lifetime to go to Willy Wonka’s factory where he will have the adventure of a lifetime. Freddie does a good job in this early role that showed he was going to be a bigger name. (8/10)


Support Cast: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has a mix of supporting characters the other contestants all works well and show the problems children can end up having. We have the Bucket family who all give Charlie hope and the Oompa Loompas all played by the same actor. Every single actor does a great job in the role they play.


Director Review: Tim Burton – Tim does a great job putting his stamp onto this film showing how colourful if could be. (8/10)


Adventure: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory gives the five children a chance of adventure which would be amazing for someone in Charlie’s position. (8/10)

Comedy: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory doesn’t have the most comedy it has a few chuckles but nothing full blown funny. (5/10)

Family: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is always going to be a family classic and this will offer discuss about which is the favourite. (7/10)

Music: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has good songs used but nothing as catchy as the originals. (5/10)

Settings: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has beautifully created settings that make you feel like you are on the adventure along with the heroes. (10/10)
Special Effects
: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has great effects with what happens to the ‘naughty’ kids during the trip in the factory. (8/10)

Suggestion: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one for the family to sit down and enjoy together. (Family Watch)


Best Part: The first moment you see the candy room.

Worst Part: Dentist father is not needed.

Favourite Quote: Willy Wonka ‘Everything in this room is eatable, even *I’m* eatable! But that is called “cannibalism,” my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies.’


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for Best Achievement is Costume.

Box Office: $475 Million

Budget: $150 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

Tagline: Willy Wonka Is semi-sweet and nuts

Trivia: To his surprise, Deep Roy played every Oompa-Loompa himself, repeating the same movements several hundred times. While these were then put together digitally, each Oompa-Loompa represents a separate performance by Roy. In recognition of this, Roy’s salary was raised to $1,000,000.


Overall: Let the discussion about which is better begin

Rating 72