ABC Film Challenge – Horror – I – The Invitation (2015)

Director: Karyn Kusama

Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi (Screenplay)

Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Aiden Lovekamp, Michelle Krusiec, Mike Doyle, Jordi Vilasuso, Jay Larson, Tammy Blanchard


Plot: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Slow Build, Nail Biting Conclusion


Story: The Invitation starts as Will (Marshall-Green) and his new girlfriend Kira (Corinealdi) get invited to Will’s ex-wife Eden’s (Blanchard) house for a mysterious gathering where Eden introduces her new partner David (Huisman), which soon turns into an invitation to join a cult for the guests.

As the night continues on Will becomes paranoid that there is an alternate meaning for the invitation but every time he believes he is about to prove the paranoia of the night, it all gets shut down and Will must start to face that he is grieving the loss of his son, or is he?


Thoughts on The Invitation


Characters – Will is the grieving former husband of Eden that attends a party hosted by his ex-wife which brings back the memories of his son, but he starts becoming paranoid about the reason for the party, he is the only one that thinks something strange is happening. Kira is Will’s new girlfriend that gets to meet his old friends at this party, she tries to be social even when his paranoia doesn’t help her get the welcome she desires. Eden is the host of the part, the ex-wife of Will’s that seems to have turned over a new leaf by joining the cult that she starts to recruit for with her new partner David.

PerformanceLogan Marshall-Green does a good job here because one moment in the film he is calm, then paranoid, then emotional and back to normal, this performance shows us a full range he must go through. Emayatzy is also good as the unknown element at the party. With Tammy Blanchard being the unhinged but at times calm host of the party.

StoryThe story circles around a party being held for old friends as the host has reinvented herself after the loss of her son, everything seems strange through the night until we learn about the cult she has become part of and wants the friends to become part of it but one man gets paranoid about what is happening during the night. It is easy to follow and you do spend most of the film waiting to see where it all ends up going which is rewarding by the end.

Horror/MysteryThe horror of this film comes from the idea that the characters are being recruited for a cult, while the mystery side of everything leaves us to figure out just what has been happening.

SettingsThe film takes place in one house that shows how a dinner party can turn sour as everything it not quite right.

Scene of the Movie – Not the drinks.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is a slow build up that does seem to give too many supporting characters screen time they don’t need.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror film, it does take time to build to the final act which is built through the tension that goes through the whole film.


Overall: Good horror that you get rewarded with by the end.




ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – D – Destroyer (2018)

Director: Karyn Kusama

Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, Toby Huss


Plot: A police detective reconnects with people from an undercover assignment in her distant past in order to make peace.

Tagline – You can’t run from yourself.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Kidman Powerhouse Performance


Story: Destroyer starts when one of Erin Bell’s (Kidman) former cases comes back into the spotlight, one which saw her go undercover with fellow officer Chris (Stan) within a gang run by Silas (Kebbell). This case took nearly everything out of Erin’s life including straining the relationship Erin has with her daughter Shelby (Pettyjohn).

As Erin starts to go through the gang, she gets to learn what the members have done with their lives in the time after the incident, Erin knows that Silas is coming for revenge and this investigation gives her a chance to face all her demons and make peace for her errors.


Thoughts on Destroyer


Characters – Erin Bell is a police officer that went so deep undercover that she lost her family, 17-years-later the leader of that gang has returned, this will give the Erin a chance to make peace with this case, trying to put her addiction problems a side, Erin won’t take any abuse from anybody, she will step over the line of the law to make sure she puts an end to this case. Silas is the leader of the gang, he makes his followers do anything to prove themselves to him and will lead them in breaking the law, he has gone into hiding, with his return making him a target for Erin. Petra is one of the main followers in the gang, she is one that is still active with Silas, showing that her addiction is still controlling her life. Chris is the partner that worked with Erin in the undercover job, we see how they got to learn to work together to make themselves seem like a couple.

PerformancesNicole Kidman gives one of her career best performances ever single scene we see her committed to this role where she demands your attention unlike any performance, we have ever seen from her before. Toby Kebbell does make us believe his character is on edge and a threat through each and every scene he appears in. Tatiana Maslany and Sebastian Stan complete the main supporting cast which shows us they can step up to look strong against Kidman through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a former undercover police officers that wants to make amends for her case which ended in tragedy and has made her lose out part of her life when it comes to family, turning her to her own addictions. The first thing to know about this that we have two times being viewed, it is easy to tell the two apart because of the length of Erin’s hair. As Erin is trying to locate Silas, we get the flashbacks to her interactions with the gang members as she gets to relocate them as she is searching for Silas. Away from the investigation side of the story, Erin is also trying to rebuild her relationship with her daughter one that she shattered with her problems in the past. The mix of the two stories shows us just how dysfunctional this life can become for anyone that gets too deep within the undercover job.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film follows the events of the robbery, how it went down and how the escape was planned. We do enter the crime world, which sees how Erin went undercover and operated within the gang, followed by how she bent the laws to track Silas back down.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which as always is a wonderful backdrop for the criminal underworld, it shows us just how crime can get done around the city without people seeing it come.

Scene of the Movie –
The robbery.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The final encounter.

Final ThoughtsThis is brilliant crime thriller that shows that Nicole Kidman is one of the greatest actresses of her generation, we have a story that keeps you guessing with an anti-hero in Erin that needs to fix her life.


Overall: Gripping Tense Thriller




Ice Cube Weekend – Ride Along 2 (2016)

Director: Tim Story

Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Mandredi (Screenplay) Greg Coolidge (Characters)

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, Benjamin Bratt, Olivia Munn, Ken Jeong, Bruce McGill, Michael Rose


Plot: As his wedding day approaches, Ben heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.

Tagline – The brothers-in-law are back.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Simple Enjoyable Comedy Sequel


Story: Ride Along 2 starts when newly appointed rookie Ben Barber (Hart) ruins his soon-to-be-brother-in-law detective James Payton’s (Cube) latest bust. James must go to Miami to continue the case and reluctantly takes Ben to take him out of his sister’s Angela (Sumpter) hair while she plans the wedding.

In Miami the pair need to remain undercover, which soon seems them going into the world of drug land which sees them working with local detective Maya (Munn) to uncover the truth.


Thoughts on Ride Along 2


Characters – Detective James Payton is tough talking cop that is dealing with his brother-in-law that is a rookie on the force, he is getting tired of him not following instructions and uses the trip to Miami to hopefully expose his weaknesses to the Captain. He is a good cop that only wants to stop criminals. Ben Barber is the rookie on the force now, he is marrying James’ sister, he talks too much which often sees him getting into trouble. Angela is the sister of James, fiancée to Ben, she is planning the wedding that wants her to see Ben head off for a couple of days. Antonio Pope is the local drug lord who looks like one of the popular businessmen around, he has been making his move to become a bigger dealer in the business, but his action has seen attention drawn on him.

PerformancesIce Cube is always going to do the strong job in the tough guy cop figure, this is no different. Kevin Hart brings his fast talking routine which tends to be a hit or miss with his jokes, but he never relents on them. Tika Sumpter doesn’t get that much screen time which is disappointing really. Benjamin Bratt can give us the routine villainous businessman.

StoryThe story follows the unlikely partnership between a tough talking detective and his soon-to-be-brother-law and fast-talking rookie that investigate a drug dealer in Miami. This does continue to use the idea that the unlikely partnership stumble through case trying to solve the case in a way that shouldn’t be achieved. We know this genre, we know how easily it works the story doesn’t need to be made anything more, but it is hard to still see them fighting between each other.

Action/ComedyThe action in the film follows chases, which are mostly a way of adding the comedy due to the reactions of what is going on. The comedy mostly relies on the fast-talking Kevin Hart, which is hit or miss.

SettingsThe film takes the action away from Atlanta to Miami which brings more sun and sea to the location.

Scene of the Movie –
The video game chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Hart’s joke can become too much.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple and fun sequel that will get laughs, but doesn’t hit the levels of the first because it is often just more of the same.


Overall: Simple and fun.




Ride Along (2014)

posterDirector: Tim Story

Writer: Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi (Screenplay) Greg Coolidge (Story)

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter, Bryan Callen, Laurence Fishburne, Dragos Bucur


Plot: Security guard Ben must prove himself to his girlfriend’s brother, top cop James. He rides along James on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Odd Couple Blah Comedy


Story: Ride Along starts by showing James Payton (Cube) on an undercover job trying to get information on Omar (Fishburne) but the job goes wrong he only busts one of his men. Next we meet Ben (Hart) a security guard who is dating Angela (Sumpter) sister of James. James’ case against Omar is falling apart because of his wild car chase. Ben finally gets a chance to join the Police academy giving him the chance to ask for the blessing to marry Angela. James offers to take Ben on a ride along so that Ben can prove himself.

James and Ben set off on their day together with tension already between them, with James disliking Ben and Ben wanting to prove himself. James takes the idea to turn the day into a training day to try and chase ben away from his sister, but sales it on putting a good word in at the academy. The odd couple comedy starts simple but soon ends up putting the two unlikely men’s life in danger as they try to uncover the truth about Omar.

Ride Along is one of those odd couple comedies that tries to go in a slightly different direction. We have seen new partners along with father and son ideas but goes with brother and potential brother in law. It plays to the simple comedy levels and the story tries not to turn into a spoof. It might use previously used ideas and made them comical but it does keep a serious side to the story. It lacks supporting characters so when it comes to the twist you can see it coming from the start. This story struggles to grab the full attention because certain comedy scenes go on too long. (6/10)


Actor Review


Ice Cube: James Payton tough cop who always breaks the rules and always wants to protect his sister from what he thinks is slacker who is not good enough for her. He takes Ben on a ride along to try and scare him off. Ice does a good job and you simply wouldn’t mess with him. (7/10)


Kevin Hart: Ben Barber security guard who wants to become a real cop and going on the ride along gives him a chance to experience the cop world along with trying to get to know James and get his permission to marry his sister. Kevin does a good job getting to show off his comic skills. (7/10)


Support Cast: Ride Along doesn’t have a big supporting cast with most becoming very generic characters for the genre.


Director Review: Tim Story – Tim does a solid job creating this odd couple comedy but it does lack a few original laughs. (6/10)


Action: Ride Along doesn’t use the action as much as it should with only a couple of scenes that are all very generic. (5/10)

Comedy: Ride Along has odd couple comedy that has a few laugh out loud moments but mostly falls into chuckles. (7/10)

Settings: Ride Along uses generic cop settings to help the story unfold. (6/10)

Suggestion: Ride Along is one to try, if you are big on comedies this could appeal to you but otherwise people might struggle to enjoy this one. (Try It)


Best Part: Gun range

Worst Part: Hart’s comedy gets old quick with every scene being the same.

Funniest Scene: Gun range


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has one planned

Post Credits Scene: Has one early on.


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $154 Million

Budget: $25 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: Propose to this cop’s sister? Rookie mistake.

Trivia: Originally the movie intended for Dwayne Johnson to play James and Ryan Reynolds to play Ben.


Overall: Standard Odd Couple Comedy

Rating 60

Aeon Flux (2005)

logoDirector: Karyn Kusama

Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi (Screenplay) Peter Chung (Characters)

Starring: Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Sophie Okonedo, Frances McDormand, Peter Postlethwaite, Amelia Warner, Caroline Chikezie


Plot: 400 years in the future, set in the year 2415, Aeon Flux is a mysterious assassin. Four centuries after a virus nearly annihilated the human race, leaving only five million survivors in a utopian city called Bregna. Aeon is struggling to destroy the Goodchild regime led by its namesake, Trevor Goodchild, the ruler of Bregna and a descendant of the man who found a cure for the deadly virus. As instructed by the Handler, Aeon is assigned to assassinate Goodchild, but there are deeper secrets to be discovered, and conspiracies to be foiled.


Verdict: Graphic Novel Simple Thriller


Story: We get a future world where humans have been nearly wiped out by a virus, good start. We have information about a dictator who has taken over because he had the cure of the virus and making sure his family stays in charge, Aeon is hired to kill him so a change can happen, but the first of many twists stops this. We have two people that both sides in a potential war want dead but these two hold the secret that could save mankind forever. We have seen it all before and in the future world we struggle to see a truly original idea, the twists save this from being plain boring but with very little use of supporting characters we don’t get much here. (6/10)


Actor Review


Charlize Theron: Aeon Flux deadly assassin who is assigned to kill Trevor Goodchild, but when she has a past connection with him she helps him uncover a truth that can change the future forever. Solid performance trying to make something out of a little known source material. (7/10)


Marton Csokas: Trevor Goodchild leader of the people who has cured the remaining people of a deadly virus but he is still working to uncover a truth that could save the peoples real future. Good performance in the supporting scientist role. (7/10)


Johnny Lee Miller: Oren Goodchild brother of Trevor who has always supported him but when the future could change he plans to take over and keep things running as before. Good villainous role wanting to make sure he can live forever. (7/10)


Director Review: Karyn Kusama – Creates a basic entertaining film that never really challenges the audience. (5/10)


Action: Plenty of action but most is the same each time. (7/10)

Sci-Fi: Interesting look at the future after a virus that looks at many different parts of it including improving surviving. (7/10)

Settings: We are in one city for the whole film but it really doesn’t get used as well as it should have been. (6/10)
Special Effects
: Basic special effects used in Aeon Flux with most of it being upgraded technology. (7/10)

Suggestion: I think this could be tried, it isn’t as good as it could be but can be entertaining at times. (Try It)


Best Part: Aeon entering a poisonous garden.

Worst Part: Been here seen that.

Action Scene Of The Film: Final battle

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $52 Million

Budget: $62 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

Tagline: The future is flux.


Overall: Fun but not original action

Rating 60