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.

Rating

 

 

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Michael Green (Screenplay) Agatha Christie (Novel)

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kenneth Branagh, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Lucy Boynton, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi

 

Plot: A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man’s race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.


Tagline – Everyone is a suspect

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drawn Out Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Murder on the Orient Express starts as we meet the great Hercule Poirot (Branagh) as he solves another mystery but is summoned back to England for another mystery, where he catches the Orient Express from Istanbul. On the train we have a host of character, Miss Mary Debenham (Ridley), Dr Arbuthnot (Odom Jr), Bouc (Bateman), Marquez (Garcid-Rulfo), Pilar (Cruz), Hector (Gad) Ratchett (Depp), Masterman (Jacobi), Count Andrenyi (Polunin), Countess Andrenyi (Boynton), Mrs Hubbard (Pfeiffer), Princess Dragomiroff (Dench), Higegarde (Colman) and Gerhard (Dafoe).

Half way through the trip one of the passengers is murdered leading to Poirot needing to get to the bottom of this mystery, that looks unsolvable with every passenger a potential suspect, this could be his greatest case yet.

 

Thoughts on Murder on the Orient Express

 

Characters – Poirot is considered the greatest detective in the world, he solves the unsolvable but has a quirky side to him too, he needs order in his life. He uses his skills to figure out the truth about the suspects in solving the murder. To be honest I found this character annoying, and I like quirky detectives, Monk was one of my favourites but the style he presents himself just didn’t click for me. As for the passengers we have the people from different walks off life which makes them all suspects in their own way but until the end we don’t learn enough about any of them, which is guess is the point as we only learn what Poirot is learning.

PerformancesKenneth Branagh takes the roles as Poirot and for me he doesn’t deliver, he isn’t quirky enough to be quirky but is proper enough to feel proper, he just seems plainly odd. Much like with the characters it is hard to say anything bad about the cast which is an all-star cast, nobody stands out and nobody seems out of place, they are just fine.

StoryThe story is considered one of the greatest novels of all time, well it might be and I am sure when you read it, you will be left on the edge of your seat not wanting to put it down. The problem is that is doesn’t work on screen because we are trying to over play the eccentric sides of these characters in a mystery that when you stop and think about it and how it is shot doesn’t add up by the end. I am not saying the novel is bad, just how this movie tells the story.

Crime/MysteryThe mystery is who murdered someone on a train, this works I like a good mystery but the final outcome while great in its own way, doesn’t work for someone who likes to try and solve the mystery as they go along.

SettingsOnce we get to the train it is all plain sailing for the settings which work for the audience knowing the killer would have nowhere to run.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts don’t add up.

Final ThoughtsHere is a classic case of trying to make a classic novel into a movie and failing, the style the film is shot it doesn’t click, the performances are just average, while the mystery doesn’t add up once you get to the final reveal.

 

Overall: Disappointing adaptation of the classic novel.

Rating

 

 

Grimsby (2016)

casting cardDirector: Louis Leterrier

Writer: Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston, Peter Baynham (Screenplay) Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston (Story)

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Rebel Wilson, Mark Strong, Isla Fisher, Johnny Vegas, Scott Adkins, Penelope Cruz, Gabourey Sidibe

 

Plot: A new assignment forces a top spy to team up with his football hooligan brother.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Awful

 

Story: Grimsby starts as we meet council estate football hooligan Nobby (Cohen) who has a large family but has been searching for his long lost brother Sebastian (Strong) his whole life. Sebastian is a secret agent working for MI6.

When Nobby learns that Sebastian is still alive he finds him in the middle of a mission and accidently makes Sebastian the prime suspect in a terrorist attack which is really being run by Rhonda George (Cruz). Reluctantly the two have to work together to clear Sebastian’s name and keep Nobby’s family safe.

Grimsby is an action comedy story that understands that it is happy to parody plenty of films. The problem is the parody gets lost in the humiliating grossed out comedy that is going on. The secret agent stuff is passable but sadly the comedy kills any of this. So many of the scenes in this film come off awkward and the only remotely good thing about this movie is that villain plans could make sense.

 

Actor Review

 

Sacha Baron Cohen: Nobby is a football hooligan living in the council estates in Grimsby who has always kept hope that his brother will return to his life. When he finds out about his brother he finds himself having getting in his brother’s way and having to take part in the latest mission. Sacha is an actor I believe has all the talent in the world but he keeps doing all these awful roles.

Mark Strong: Sebastian is the slick spy that has been working on his latest mission when Nobby interferes making him the prime suspect. He wants to clean his name but has to work with his idiot brother leaving him having to face his hardest mission to date. Mark is an actor I have huge respect for but I found myself wondering why on Earth he took this role that fully embarrasses him.

Rebel Wilson: Dawn is the girlfriend of Nobby, she is the perfect match for him without being anything to involved. Rebel is nothing but a supporting character not getting the time needed on camera to make anything happen.

Penelope Cruz: Rhonda is the famous face planning the attack, while her plan is one of the better ones from a villain we barely even get to see her character on screen. Penelope is one of the few highlights but she just doesn’t get the time to shine.

Support Cast: Grimsby has a supporting cast all designed to add extra laughs through the different situations our character finds themselves in.

Director Review: Louis LeterrierLouis does try his best with a poor script but this film won’t leave him with a good reputation in comedy.

 

Action: Grimsby has very simple action that doesn’t add anything to the story.

Comedy: Grimsby doesn’t hit any good comedy marks in my eyes with most being crude throughout.

Settings: Grimsby throws the characters into random location which well don’t get used well enough.
Special Effects
: Grimsby has lazy effects that just don’t work and are awkward throughout.

Suggestion: Grimsby is one to avoid at all costs. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: Villain’s plan.

Worst Part: Where do I start?

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: Yes

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

Tagline: Behind every hero is an embarrassing sibling

 

Overall: Dentist treatment is more enjoyable than this film.

Ratingcard

 

 

Michael Fassbender Weekend – The Counsellor (2013)

counselorDirector: Ridley Scott

Writer: Cormac McCarthy (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Bruno Ganz, Rosie Perez, Ruben Blades, Brad Pitt, Goran Visnjic, Edgar Ramirez, Dean Norris, Sam Spruell

 

Plot: A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wow this was Boring

 

Story: The Counsellor starts with one of the most awkward scenes I have seen in film as the Counsellor (Fassbender) is in bed with Laura (Cruz) talking uncomfortable dirty. The Counsellor is working on a one of drug deal with Reiner (Bardem) and Westray (Pitt) as he learns all the tricks of the trade to make this deal happen.

The Counsellor finds himself in the middle of a much bigger picture which involved a drug lord, law authority agencies with undercover agent which will put his life and his fiancée’s wife in danger.

The Counsellor is a crime thriller that is so empty of actual story you are left wondering what you just watched. We never learn any of the character’s motive to be involved in the deal or what they are actually doing. I really can’t explain just how boring this film really was to watch with nothing happening at all.

 

Actor Review

 

Michael Fassbender: Counsellor is a lawyer who is trying to get involved in a drug, he finds himself having a connection with each side of the dealing and when the drugs go missing he finds himself the prime suspect. Michael is solid and really struggles to make an impact in this film.fassbender

Penelope Cruz: Laura is the love interest of the Counsellor she isn’t involved with the drug deal but finds herself being seduced into a darker side by Malkina and in danger thanks to the drugs going missing. Penelope is ok with the few scenes she has in the film but you will almost forget what happened to her.

Cameron Diaz: Malkina is the girlfriend of Reiner, she comes off seductive in every way be it controlling her drug lord boyfriend or teaching Laura the bad ways. Cameron does well but doesn’t do enough to make is either like or dislike her.

Javier Bardem: Reiner is the drug lord that the Counsellor wants to go and make a deal happen with, he uses his experience to show him just what he can do if he gets screwed over. Javier is good in this role where he gets to be his eccentric self.

Support Cast: The Counsellor has a supporting cast that doesn’t do enough to make us know what their character is doing.

Director Review: Ridley ScottRidley is a director we would expect greatness from but what is this?

 

Crime: The Counsellor has a crime story I just didn’t really know what it was.

Thriller: The Counsellor doesn’t pull us in to this story at all.

Settings: The Counsellor tries to use pretty settings but nothing that makes us know what is going on.
Special Effects
: The Counsellor has solid effects with the kills only.

Suggestion: The Counsellor is one to stay well away from. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: Don’t make me laugh.

Worst Part: Everything.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $17 Million

Budget: $25 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 18 Minutes

Tagline: Sin Is A Choice

 

Overall: Dreadfully boring film that goes nowhere.

Ratingcard

Gothika (2003)

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz

Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez

Starring: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr, Charles S. Dutton, John Carroll Lynch, Bernard Hill, Penelope Cruz

 

Story Dr Miranda Grey (Berry) is a well respect psychologists at a asylum, but on a detoured trip home on a stormy night she sees a woman in the middle of the road, she approaches the woman and the next thing she remembers is being in the very asylum she works only as a patient now.

 

Miranda is accused of murdering her husband and fellow Doctor Douglas Grey (Dutton). She has no memory of the night and only two people to communicate with a fellow patient Chloe (Cruz) and old work colleague Dr Pete Graham (Downey).

 

Still being haunted by a mysterious woman is she trying to communicate with Miranda; can Miranda uncover the truth before it’s too late?

 

Verdict This horror thriller mystery is a good addition to the genre without being one of the best, it follows the basic horror thriller rules very well with predictable jumps and twists. The three big names never really shine to the level we all know they can. This is well worth a watch if you like the genre.

Story Mark 7/10 Tried and tested formula works well

Horror Mark 7/10 Simple scares never really scary though

Favourite Character None of the characters are really that likable

Poor Performance I’m not going to say poor but I would say I would have liked more from Berry and Downey Jr.

Best Part The reveal flashback to the night is good

Worst Part  Clear twist you can see from a mile away

Best Quote Chloe ‘You can’t trust someone who thinks your crazy’

Similar Too – The Ring, The Grudge

My Rating  67%