ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – U – Underdog (2007)

Director: Frederik Du Chau

Writer: Adam Rifkin, Joe Piscatella, Craig A Williams (Screenplay) W Watts Biggers (Television Series)

Starring: (Voice Talent) Jason Lee, Peter Dinklage, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warbuton, Alex Neuberger

 

Plot: A Beagle must use his newly-bestowed superpowers to defend Capitol City from mad scientist Simon Barsinister.


Tagline – One Nation, Under Dog.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Little Movie

 

Story: Underdog starts as we meet the beagle on the police force that fails his training, only to be left homeless a stray in the city. Taken by Dr Simon Barsinister (Dinklage) who wants to perform an experiment on the strays of the city.

When the experiment goes wrong the beagle becomes Underdog a crime fighting super dog, but Simon isn’t finished with Underdog yet.

 

Thoughts on Underdog

 

Characters – Underdog is a simple beagle kicked off the police force and forced into becoming part of an experiment which gives him super powers, now he must make a choice between a family that is willing to welcome him in or saving the city from evil. Dr Simon Barsinister is the genius scientist that have been coming up with a formula to create genetically enhanced animals to fight crime, but when things go wrong he uses his creation for evil. Dan Unger is the former cop that adopts Underdog for his son to keep him company.

PerformancesJason Lee as the voice of Underdog works well because he knows how to handle the comedy required. Peter Dinklage is a great villain and has wonderful chemistry with Patrick Warburton as his assistant. Jim Belushi is good but mostly under used in his role.

StoryThe story is nice and simple a dog becomes superpowered after being involved in an experiment to take on an evil scientist that wants to destroy the city. We do have a deeper story about being accepted into a family for a dog. Overall this is a by the book family film too.

Adventure/Family/Sci-FiThe adventure side of the film is where the dog goes to fight crime, this does have a message for family and welcoming a dog into the family. The sci-fi side of the film looks at how the experiment could create superpowered dogs.

SettingsThe settings keep us in New York which plays into the idea of parodying the superhero genre.

Special EffectsThe effects are hit or miss throughout because of the flying moments do seem strange.


Scene of the Movie –
The final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is pretty short.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple fun enjoyable family movie that never pushed the limits.

 

Overall: Simple enough.

Rating

 

 

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Director: Martin McDonagh

Writer: Martin McDonagh (Screenplay)

Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Lucas hedges, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones

 

Plot: A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.


Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Darkly Humorous

 

Story: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri starts as Mildred Hayes (McDormand) puts up three billboards in a quiet road questioning how Willoughby (Harrelson) hasn’t solved the case of her daughter’s rape and murder. Fellow officer Dixon (Rockwell) who has a chequered past is enraged by the signs, while officer Willoughby tries to clean up the situation and prove there isn’t enough to solve the case, but with his dying he does want to solve the case before he goes.

As the billboards stay up longer, the town starts to become divided on the support in catching the killer and Mildred does to extremes in her battle with Dixon to get the case solved.

 

Thoughts on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 

Characters – Mildred Hayes is a mother that has run out of patience when it comes to the police finding the killer off her daughter, she did have the full support of the town, but this stunt pushes the people away even if it could get her the killer to identify themselves. Willoughby is the lead investigator in the case, he has done everything he could to solve the case, but he is now facing his own battle with cancer, while keeping the peace in the town. Dixon is the hot-headed police officer that clashes with Mildred and anyone who supports her in finding out the truth.

PerformancesFrances McDormand shows us that she can reach the Fargo levels whenever the material is given to her, as she shines through as the best part of this movie. Woody Harrelson is great again this year, showing us he can step into any role and be great. Sam Rockwell is wonderful too as we see that this cast is filled with talent character performers.

StoryThe story shows the extremes of losing a child, the stress of noting being able to solve one of the worst cases in the town. This does turn into a character studio on the people involved and how their lives need to move on without a chance of every being able to. It is hard to describe this story in much more depth because it is interesting, it does have a lot going on that keeps us wanting to see where the film will go.

Comedy/CrimeThis does use dark humour throughout as we are seeing the effects of the crime on people’s lives, don’t expect to see an investigation though, we are focusing on the relationship between the mother of the victim and the police.

SettingsThe film takes place in this small town where everyone seems to know everyone, so they have all felt the effects of the crime, this helps when things start to get exposed.


Scene of the Movie –
Window smashing, it is a well shot single looking take.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The answer is frustrating.

Final ThoughtsThis is a dark humour that can be enjoyed by the fans of that genre, it does have a good subject matter but doesn’t get to a level in the story that I enjoyed watching.

 

Overall: Dark comedy through a serious subject matter.

Rating

 

 

Rememory (2017)

Director: Mark Palansky

Writer: Mark Palansky, Mike Vukadinovich (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Dinklage, Matt Ellis, Jordana Largy, Martin Donovan, Evelyne Brochu, Henry Ian Cusick, Anton Yelchin, Julia Ormond

 

Plot: The widow of a wise professor stumbles upon one of his inventions that’s able to record and play a person’s memory.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Sci-Fi Mystery

 

Story: Rememory starts as we meet Sam Bloom (Dinklage) a model maker that is haunted by his memories after the accident that took his brother. Years later Sam has been studying Gordon Dunn (Donovan) the mastermind behind the Rememory device, which is designed to keep memories.

When Gordon dies or is killed we are unsure, Sam steals the Rememory machine to visit the test subjects as he uses the devices to see if he can remember his brother’s dying words to him. Soon Sam finds himself investigating the death of Gordon with a large list of subjects including co-workers, test subjects or even family.

 

Thoughts on Rememory

 

Characters – Sam Bloom is a man with a haunted past, he suffers nightmares about what happened to his brother, but once Gordon Dunn dies he uses the Rememory machine to figure out who the killer is and to find peace in his own nightmare. Gordon Dunn is the mastermind that created the Rememory machine to grieve his own daughter’s death but his choices in subjects cause a list of suspects that could want him dead. Carolyn Dunn is the wife of Gordon that closed after her daughter died and became distant from Gordon, she does help Sam uncover the truth.

PerformanceThe performance put out by Peter Dinklage is fantastic and shows just how talented he truly is, the supporting cast is also great with Martin Donovan, Julia Ormond and the late Anton Yelchin giving us the character we need from their performances.

StoryThe story gives us an insight into dealing with memories, the good, the bad and the ones you want to forget. We follow one man who wants to solve a mysterious death and we do have a nice list of suspects giving us a mystery we can get invested in. the idea our main character Sam is also dealing with a moment of regret helps too, we are taken on a rollercoaster of emotions as we learn the truth.

Mystery/Sci-FiA mystery needs a list of suspects and this does give us this as we look to see the mystery get solved through the film, the sci-fi side of the film looks at the idea that we can record our memories to relive them at times.

SettingsThe film doesn’t make too much of the settings with most just showing the different worlds our characters come from.

Special EffectsThe effects are everything you need them to be, we have simple uses to show the memories that have small fracture feelings through them but just show us which are real and which are memories.

Scene of the Movie – Sam’s recorded memory.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel the one moment of the film does seem clear early on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a mystery sci-fi that does keep you guessing and you get rewarded with the powerful conclusion and brilliant performance from Dinklage.

 

Overall: Sci-fi mystery that plays on the emotions.

Rating

 

 

The Boss (2016)

Director: Ben Falcone

Writer: Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Steve Mallory (Screenplay)

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Ella Anderson, Tyler Labine, Kathy Bates

 

Plot: A titan of industry is sent to prison after she’s caught insider trading. When she emerges ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, not everyone she screwed over is so quick to forgive and forget.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mixed up Comedy

 

Story: The Boss starts as we see how Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) who has become one of the most powerful businesswoman who is self-centred and builds by stepping over the people including her business rival Renault (Dinklage). Michelle’s power is shattered when she is arrested for insider trading and spending 5 months in a luxury jail.

Once released from prison Michelle learns all her assets have been seized and the only person from her old life that will give her any time is her former assistant Claire (Bell). Michelle comes up with the idea of using Claire’s cooking ability to build her own cookie company working with Claire and her daughter Rachel (Anderson).

 

Thoughts on The Boss

 

Characters/PerformanceMichelle is a powerful businesswoman that loses her power after being be convicted of insider trader. She wants to rebuild her empire but must deal with her former business associates have turned against her. This character does become annoying very quickly and doesn’t fit between the ruthless businesswoman or the joke turning lady, we only needed one of these characteristics. Claire is the hard working assistant of Michelle that is the only one that would take Michelle in but her responsibilities to her daughter means she isn’t taken the risks Michelle can afford. Renault is the business rival and former lover of Michelle’s, he wants to see her crash and burn on every business venture.

Performance wise, Melissa McCarthy continues to play characters that just don’t seem to fit the film needed, we don’t need her to go this over the top for a story with meaning. Kristen Bell is good in her role knowing how to play this type of character well. Dinklage gets to have a lot of fun playing his role which can be over the top because of the rivalry created.

StoryThe story itself is about a ruthless businesswoman that steps on everyone who must go on a redemption story, this is all fine, it is the wildly over the top, jokes that make no sense to the context of the story that makes this all fall flat on its face.

ComedyThe comedy is weak, very weak throughout most of it just comes off awkward at times too.

SettingsThe settings are simple and show the different business world for Michelle to go through.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that doesn’t manage to send over the correct message and just turns a failed attempt to make McCarthy funny.

 

Overall: Lazy comedy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

Director: Andrew Adamson

Writer: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Screenplay) C.S. Lewis (Novel)

Starring: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Williams Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Sergio Castellitto, Peter Dinklage

 

Plot: The Pevensie siblings return to Narnia, where they are enlisted to once again help ward off an evil king and restore the rightful heir to the land’s throne, Prince Caspian.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magic Lost

 

Story: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian starts in Narnia where Prince Caspian (Barnes) is taken away from the kingdom for his own safety when his Uncle Miraz (Castellitto) has a son. We move to London, post-war now as we meet the Pevensie children, Lucy (Henley), Edmund (Keynes), Peter (Moseley) and Susan (Popplewell) who find themselves magically transported back to Narnia, a different Narnia to the one they left though.

With Narnia on the verge of another war the children must lead the resistance against Miraz as they all wait in hope of Aslan’s return, but with a battle from within as Prince Caspian clashes with Peter as the children must answer questions to why they abandoned Narnia all those years ago.

 

Thoughts on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

 

Characters/PerformanceThe children are now all back in London, they get called back to be the leaders Narnia thought they were going to be. The children all seem to have smaller parts in this film and just doing less of the more we saw first time around. Prince Caspian is a solid character but nothing too important in this battle with the villain just being human makes the threat not are scary as the first time around.

Performance wise, it would be fair to say we have nothing but average at best performances here, the kids are all fine coming off slightly too posh with the rest all feeling like no bigger name actors wanted to get involved in the film.

StoryI feel the story just doesn’t seem to have the magic we had first time around, first the idea the kids just go back after the war seems out of place because the first story seems to be about escaping the war. The battle within Narnia is just a power struggle again but the animals don’t talk as much and it is mostly a human battle losing all the fantasy elements which made the first fun.

Adventure/Family/FantasyThe adventure side of the film does feel lost here, as does the family and fantasy side which showed how Harry Potter was the dominate force at the time.

SettingsThe settings also don’t seem to be as well created as first time, nothing comes off memorable through this one.

Special EffectsWith this seeming to be a human battle the special effects are no as needed in what should be a big fantasy battle film.

Final ThoughtsThis was a huge step back, with a huge budget I just don’t get how it came off as dull as it did.

 

Overall: Poor sequel that should have continued what was created.

Rating