ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – F – Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, Gustav Hasford (Screenplay) Gustav Hasford (Novel)

Starring: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Kevyn Major Howard

 

Plot: A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.


Tagline – An Epic Story of the Vietnam War

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Epic We Know

 

Story: Full Metal Jacket starts as we follow the Marine training under the brutally strict Gny. Sgt, Hartman (Ermey) who puts the recruits through intense training, Pvt Joker (Modine) is one of these marines, it is Pvt Leonard ‘Gomer Pyle’ Lawrence (D’Onofrio) that takes the highest level of abuse from Hartman. Upon graduation Gomer has reached his limits and is ready to snap, showing just how far the training can drive someone.

Joker goes to Vietnam to be part of the journalist side reporting on the war as a soldier, his unit are meant to be writing stories to inspire the soldiers to continue the fight. Joker takes Rafterman (Howard) to write a story where they end up with Animal Mother (Baldwin) and his unit showing the horrors of war.

 

Thoughts on Full Metal Jacket

 

Characters – Private Joker is the one telling us the story, from training to the front in Vietnam as a journalist soldier, he barely sees combat until his latest story where he final gets to experience the war first hand. Animal Mother is one of the marines that Joker meets along the way, he doesn’t like the happy-go-lucky personality that Joker shows because he knows the true horror of war. Private Leonard ‘Gomer Pyle’ Lawrence is the biggest victim of the abuse from the drill instructor, he gets alienated from the rest of the trainees reaching his limit before snapping, showing us that the training methods can destroy a soldier before he even steps foot in war. Gny Sgt Hartman is the drill instructor for the marines, he is brutal in his techniques which causes Leonard to go too far. He does possess some of the greatest insults in any military movies.

PerformancesMatthew Modine is great in this role, he shows the light-hearted attitude towards war as well as the horror when he ends up in the middle of it. Adam Baldwin does a good job as thee soldier ha wants the highest body count. Vincent D’Onofrio is truly brilliant in his role, you feel like you are understanding his emotional evolution during the film. R Lee Ermey stuns dominating the screen with every single scene he is in, making a big impact on the genre.

StoryThe story shows the intense training before heading into Vietnam, it goes onto show how the soldiers would need to learn to think on their feet, while remaining united against the enemies ahead during the horrors of war. The training side of the film is the highlight of everything because it is a non-stop intense display of how the training happens. Once in Vietnam it does feel just like most war dramas, following the unit through the different war scenarios they must deal with. The story will remain up there with the very best without a doubt.

War The genre is always a difficult watch, we know the war was real, we know millions lost their lives in conflict which ever war we talk about, this was Vietnam and was just like the rest shocking and disturbing to the people in the middle of it as well as fighting in it.

SettingsThe settings put us in the middle of the war and the training, you can’t fault the settings which come off perfectly.


Scene of the Movie –
Leonard pushed too far.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Is there one? No.

Final ThoughtsThis is considered one of the greatest movies of all time and you can see why, it is flawless in how every scene unfolds, has the most brutal training regime you will ever see and shows the horrors of war.

 

Overall: Powerful Masterpiece from the master.

Rating

 

 

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Director: Alan Parker

Writer: Chris Gerolmo (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain, Michael Rooker

 

Plot: Two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Difficult to Watch but Brilliant Thriller

 

Story: Mississippi Burning starts by taking us to 1964 Mississippi where we see a group of civil rights activates executed on the road. Agent Rupert Anderson (Hackman) and Agent Alan Ward (Dafoe) get assigned to the case where they must work with local Sheriff Ray Stuckey (Sartain).

In the middle of the racial tension the colour divide is still strong here with the Ku Klux Klan ruling the neighbourhood, Agent Ward is open to anyone for information, race isn’t an issue for him, Agent Anderson is similar but also knows how to handle the tension by being more discreet. When the agents find themselves targeted the inexperience Ward calls for more agents starting a full task force in the town as they search for the missing civil rights activists.

The case becomes difficult to investigate for the agents as they find themselves being shunned by both races but also needing to investigate the law in the town as they look for the answers to this case.

 

Thoughts on Mississippi Burning

 

Characters/PerformanceAgent Rupert Anderson is an experienced FBI agent that knows how to deal with racial tension in towns and knows how to get people to talk. He gets frustrated having to work under Ward as he feels like he knows how to work this case better. Agent Alan Ward comes into this case with no experience in the field, he is used to everyone being treated equal and takes time to learn that his by the book methods aren’t going to get the answers required. He does learn from Anderson as the case continues and the two make a brilliant team. Mrs Pell is one of the most important witnesses in the case but it is whether she can be honest about her husband’s Deputy Pell’s where about. Nearly all of the white authority characters are suspects in this film, we literally just don’t know who is the leader but they are all single minded in their cause.

Performance wise, Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe are fantastic together in this film, you can see in their performances the difference in characters but not in motives. Frances McDormand is also great through the supporting role and the cast is filled with stars that show their skills.

StoryThe story is based on a real event that happened, so you would have to be sensitive when considering this story too much. The truth is shown to us what the biggest problem in American modern history, the failure of certain states to give up the racial divide. The story is driven by the racial tension which keeps the story on edge from start to finish which makes the story fly by.

Crime/History/MysteryThe crime side of this film is full of all the tension need as we know early on just what has happened but we are left to wonder just how long until the mystery if fully solved. It also shows us the history of these cases that show us just how backwards people’s mindsets were.

SettingsThe film is set in Mississippi which gives us a look at the locations the crimes would have taken place.

Final ThoughtsThis is difficult to watch in places but is also one of the tensest thrillers you will see.

 

Overall: This is a must watch for all thriller fans.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Writer: Sheldon Turner (Screenplay) Sheldon Turner, David J Schow (Story)

Starring: Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, R Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lee Tergesen

 

Plot: Before being sent to serve in Vietnam, two brothers and their girlfriends take one last road trip, but when they get into an accident, a terrifying experience will take them to a secluded house of horrors, with a chainsaw-wielding killer.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gore Over Substances

 

Story: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning starts as we learn more about the origin of Leatherface (Bryniarski), how he was a misunderstand young man with mental problems that loses his job at the slaughter house once it goes out of business. We learn how this becomes the turning point for his family. On the other side of the story we have Eric (Bomer) returning to the Vietnam war along with his brother Dean (Handley) who is reluctant to return. We also have their girlfriends Chrissie (Brewster) and Bailey (Baird) on a journey across America.

After an altercation with a robber, the friends find themselves targets of the Hewitt family as Uncle Charlie now pretending to be a Sheriff and Leatherface look to make sure they have enough food to survive, human flesh.

 

Thoughts on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

 

Characters/PerformanceChrissie is take her boyfriend across country to reenlist in the army. She ends up on her own most of this film as she searches for a way to save her friends, before we know she will be involved in the final chase. Dean is the younger brother of the two who doesn’t want to go to war but hasn’t told his brother until this trip. Eric is looking to return to war with his brother this time and is the one most likely to stand up against the evil.  Bailey is the other girlfriend, that is about as much of her character we get. Leatherface is still simple minded here with Uncle Hewitt being the major part of the bringing the victims to the home, we also learn his origin story as it is a twist in the last version.

Performance wise, Let’s all be honest here, the characters are written horrendously so most of the actors didn’t stand a chance of giving a good performance in this film.

StoryAn origin of Leatherface, did we need one, well we got one, so deal with it. The story is basically the same as the original just without interesting characters, any scares or tension. We have group of friends get captured must fight to survive against leatherface and his family. So here it is nothing new, nothing original.

Horror This is all about the gore, we get little to no shocks in this film and the iconic killer is reduced to subplot to a bigger picture of a family.

SettingsWe get the iconic house, sure but otherwise nothing of any note here in the settings.

Special EffectsThe gore and effects do work well for shock value but otherwise it just becomes about making them look good.

Final ThoughtsThis is one from the franchise that falls flat on its face, you get little tension through any scene and are left wondering why this got made.

 

Overall: Disappointing addition to a much loved franchise.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Solstice (2008)

solsticeDirector: Daniel Myrick

Writer: Daniel Myrick, Martin Musatov, Ethan Erwin (Screenplay)

Starring: Elisabeth Harnois, Shawn Ashmore, Hilarie Burton, Amanda Seyfried, Tyler Hoelchlin, Matt O’Leary, R. Lee Ermey

 

Plot: While on a summer trip with her friends, Megan begins to feel the presence of Sophie, her twin sister who recently committed suicide.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Ghost Investigation 101

 

Story: Solstice starts as we meet Megan (Harnois) having lost her twin sister Sophie to a suicide, not wanting to let this hold her down Megan goes on a senior summer vacation with Christian (Ashmore), Zoe (Seyfried), Alicia (Burton) and Mark (O’Leary) for the summer solstice.

As the time in the cabin continues Megan starts believing that she is seeing things around woods as well as strange occurrences happening. When Megan continues getting haunted she seems to be the only one effected by the evens but as the summer solstice gets close the encounter become more realistic but just what is the message coming from beyond the grave?

Solstice is one of my favourite type of horror movies where we have a ghost communicating with the living to figure out what caused their death. The idea is very basic which is all it needs to be without being a real test for the audience. The build-up is easy to work out and the fact only Megan gets haunted really is disappointing. I would say this is an easy watch even if it never tests because theh scares all come off easy.

 

Actor Review

 

Elisabeth Harnois: Megan/Sophie, Megan is trying to carry on with her life after her twin sister Sophie kills herself, she goes away with her friends but on this trip she starts experiencing supernatural activity from who she thinks is Sophie trying to communicate with her from beyond the grave. Elisabeth is good but not strong enough for the leading role.

Shawn Ashmore: Christian is the love interest of both Sophie first and then Megan, the two are not a couple as sorts but he is supporting her through her recent loss. We clearly see something isn’t right about Christian but just what is it. Shawn is good but almost not bigger enough role for her characters need

Tyler Hoechlin: Nick is a local young man that grabs the attention of Megan and the rest of the girls, he has lived in the area his whole life but about to get out. He believes in the summer solstice and questions why the rest are there. Nick help try and communicate with the person haunting her against the wishes of Christian. Tyler is good in this role but not involved enough until too late in the film.

Amanda Seyfried: Zoe is the best friend of Megan who is trying to supporting her through all of the aftermath of her sister’s suicide. We really don’t learn much else about her through the film. Amanda is a basic supporting character that doesn’t get enough screen time.

Support Cast: Solstice has a small supporting cast which mostly just includes the rest of the friend all offering very little to the story.

Director Review: Daniel MyrickDaniel gives us a basic ghost investigation story which is something I enjoy watching.

 

Horror: Solstice has a couple of scares but nothing really feels scary.

Mystery: Solstice leaves us with a mystery to solve as we need to figure out what is going on.

Settings: Solstice uses just one location and its surrounding which all works well.
Special Effects
: Solstice has good effects when needed.

Suggestion: Solstice is one to try, I don’t think we will get too much to make it a must watch.  (Try It)

 

Best Part: Ghost looks good.

Worst Part: Not enough scares.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

Tagline: You can’t bury the truth.

 

Overall: Simple and enjoyable ghost investigation movie.

Ratingcard