Monster Trucks (2016)

Director: Chris Wedge

Writer: Derek Connolly (Screenplay) Matthew Robinson, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Story)

Starring: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Holt McCallany

 

Plot: A young man working at a small town junkyard discovers and befriends a creature which feeds on oil being sought by a fracking company.


Tagline – On January 13, meet Creech

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Film

 

Story: Monster Trucks starts as we see how the oil company run by Reece Tenneson (Lowe) has an accident on one of their sites which see three creatures discovered underground, where one escapes. We meet Tripp (Till) a high school student that struggles to concentrate, who works at the local scrapyard to stay away from his step-father Sheriff Rick (Pepper).

When Tripp finds the creature in the scrapyard the two become friends as it hides in his truck, with fellow student Meredith (Levy) trying to explain the biological side to the creature, while Reece is trying to figure out how to solve a potential problem to the eco-system and his oil drilling.

 

Thoughts on Monster Trucks

 

Characters – Tripp is a high school student, living with his mother and step-father, he comes off like a slacker with dreams of leaving the small town. He works at the scrapyard working on his escape with the truck he has been building, when he befriends the unknown creature he gets to go on an adventure to save the new species. Meredith is a fellow student that works with Tripp to understand the creature but her character plays out with the idea of being a damsel in distress.  Jim works for the oil company, he learns of the intelligence the creatures have and wants to help make them free not destroying their environment. Sheriff Rick is the step-father of Tripp who must try to keep up with Tripp without letting him get in trouble, he isn’t a direct enemy of Tripp’s though. Reece Tenneson is the oil tycoon that is losing money with the creatures being alive and now he will do anything to get rid of them.

PerformancesLucas Till is good in this leading role even though himself and Jane Levy both feel too old for the high school role as we have seen both in more adult roles. Thomas Lennon makes good for the extra comic relief even though most of his jokes miss, Rob Lowe is a good businessman villain too.

StoryThe story follows an undiscovered creature being found in an oil drilling location, making it a battle to see whether the oil company can be bought down before destroying the creatures home. This works for the story, it may not be the most original idea but it brings us the character we can relate too who want to do right and the ones that don’t with their greed. We get good moments of unlikely friendships coming through different locations too.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/Sci-FiWe hit a lot of genres here, the action comes from the chase sequences that are pure fun once you switch your brain off, the adventure takes Tripp on a journey he never imagined he would be going on. The comedy is hit or miss though but the fantasy elements are part fantasy and part a potential reality because you never know about new species. This is designed well for a family film though.

SettingsThe film takes part in and around a small town in North Dakota, this idea is that you might not make it out of this town and this shows what could happen for the characters.

Special EffectsThe effects work well enough for the film without being the absolute best because with the budget the film has you would expect better.


Scene of the Movie –
The final chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Meredith could have been written stronger.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun film, don’t expect greatness but just something you could enjoy with ease.

 

Overall: Enjoyable family film.

Rating

 

 

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St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)

Director: Joel Schumacher

Writer: Joel Schumacher, Carl Kurlander (Screenplay)

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Jud Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham

 

Plot: A group of friends, just out of college, struggle with adulthood.


Tagline – The passion burns deep.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Look at Growing Up

 

Story: St. Elmo’s Fire starts as we meet the seven college friends Kirby (Estevez), Billy (Lowe), Kevin (McCarthy), Jules (Moore), Alec (Nelson), Leslie (Sheedy) and Wendy (Winningham) who are freshly done with college now working normal jobs and needing to learn life lessons.

The problems they face including getting used to a daily job, added responsibility, personal addictions, find their place in life and pressure placed on them from parent.

 

Thoughts on St. Elmo’s Fire

 

Characters – Kirby is the qualified lawyer still working in the local bar and hangout of the group of friends, he wants to impress a girl that he once took on a date. Billy is the musician that still wishes he was back at college with the party every night, struggle to find a job and stay sober. Kevin is secretly gay and in love with Alec, Jules sees it in him and he now faces a difficult moment in life about whether to come out or not, this character is way before its time and addresses the taboo subject in the mid-80s very well, even if it shouldn’t have been. Jules is the party animal that all the guys want a night with, she is building debt even with her job where she is dating her boss, planning to use the relationship to make the most of a future. Alec is the confident one of the group planning to marry Leslie even though he is womaniser and is there to try and help Billy find a job. Leslie is the one waiting before deciding whether to agree to marry Alec, she wants to go further with her career first. Wendy is from a successful family and is being forced into marrying well off to continue the family line, nervous through most encounters.

PerformancesThe performances from this cast are wonderful, we have a collect group of young actors that rose to fame in 80s each giving us great performances and it doesn’t feel fair to comment on just one or two of them by saying the same line over and over.

StoryThe story here shows the struggles that seven friends have with life and remaining friends after the ups and downs through life, career or personal issues. We do address important issues as the time unfolds, addictions, secrets and finding yourself. There was one storyline they were taking on which was big, but they pulled this one away for a safer outcome. The story does show how hard life can be after college and how things change suddenly which is always hard to get through.

RomanceThe romance in the film shows us how love can be hard with the drama of life mixing up in the middle, it shows how love can come from anywhere when you least expect it.

SettingsThe film keeps the friends in the same town where they have their local bar, opportunities in life and memories which will stick with them forever.


Scene of the Movie –
The rooftop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not going through with the important story angle.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful film that shows how hard growing up can be when entering the real world after college, friends being tested and life catching up with you.

 

Overall: Essential 80s viewing.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming (2007)

stirDirector: Ernie Barbarash

Writer: Ernie Barbarash (Screenplay)

Starring: Rob Lowe, Marnie McPhail, Ben Lewis, Tatiana Maslany, Shawn Roberts, Vik Sahay, Colin Williams

 

Plot: A soldier returns home from the Iraq war only to be haunted by visions of the dead.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Sequel

 

Story: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming starts we follow soldier Ted Cogan (Lowe) stationed in Iraq who is involved in an incident where he loses a soldier and what looks like an innocent Iraqi family. Returning home Ted struggles to readjust to life with his family wife Molly (McPhail) and son Max (Lewis). Matter don’t become any easier when he starts seeing visions of the family turning up in corners of his life.

Failing to receive any medical help for his post-traumatic stress disorder Ted must seek help from other means which involves embracing his visions to find out why they are haunting him.

Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming follows the same path of the original with our main character getting haunted by ghosts who are trying to get a message to him. It would be fair to say not much is different apart from trying to add in racial tension from the stand point of Americans against anyone with the heritage of Middle Eastern Americans. The story does all bottle down to a ghost trying to expose the truth but it spends too much time pointing fingers in one direction when the story is actually about a different direction.

 

Actor Review

 

Rob Lowe: Ted Cogan is the war veteran whose call left an innocent family killed and himself badly injured. Returning home Ted finds himself being haunted by the family he had killed and must fight to understand what they want from him. Rob is good in this role without reaching all of his known skill levels.

Marnie McPhail: Molly Cogan is the wife of Ted who has been keeping everything together while he was away, she struggles to support Ted because of monetary issues the family is facing and starts to question everything Ted is doing. Marnie is solid in this role but doesn’t get enough screen time.

Ben Lewis: Max Cogan is the teenage son of Ted who has started rebellious stage of his life with smoking. He has struggled to deal with what happened to his father while he was away. Ben plays a character key to the final outcome but really is just a generic teenager.

Support Cast: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming has a supporting cast you kind of just see in moments without actually knowing what the point in most of them are.

Director Review: Ernie BarbarashErnie fails to capture the overall creepiness the first film has in what is a simple jump scare repeat process.

 

Horror: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming is a jump scare repeat process that never actually scares when it should.

Thriller: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming does try to keep us guessing throughout but giving us no hints early on doesn’t make the ending stratifying.

Settings: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming uses the everyday life of the former soldier for the setting which doesn’t really end up making the scenes feel anymore impactful.
Special Effects
: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming has basic effects which work well enough for the film without saving it.

Suggestion: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming is one I do think you can skip but you know what late night television viewing is acceptable. (Late Night TV)

 

Best Part: Arm burning.

Worst Part: Lazy jump scares.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hours 29 Minutes

Tagline: This time, the door cannot be locked

 

Overall: Poor sequel to an enjoyable horror.

Ratingcard

 

 

John Hurt Weekend – Contact (1997)

contactDirector: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: James v Hart, Michael Goldenberg (Screenplay) Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan (Story)

Starring: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, David Morse, William Fichtner, James Woods, Angela Bassett, John Hurt, Rob Lowe, Jena Malone

 

Plot: Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of intelligent aliens, who send plans for a mysterious machine.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: It Is All What You Think

 

Story: Contact starts by showing us Ellie Arroway (Malone as young and Foster as main) as she spends her life searching in space for answers especially after her father Ted (Morse) dies when she is young. She clashes with fellow scientists who try to make her show her own potential in David Drumlin (Skerritt).

After Ellie and her team make the discovery that will change the world forever she gets thrown into the world of politics rather than her comfort zone of science. The world has come together with this new discovery and once they uncover the message the worlds smartest minds have to build the machine while selecting the one-person pilot to finally answer the questions being sent through space and time.

Contact is a sci-fi film that gives us the idea of communication from outside our own known radio waves. I liked how this only looks at the science versus the religion, there is no silly looking at destroying like most alien films. There is a lot of science talk which is one of the few negatives in this film but it is needed. When it comes to films like this I can see people getting bored even though it I a rewarding watch by the end.

 

Actor Review

 

Jodie Foster: Eleanor Arroway has spent her life searching space for any sort of communication, many scientists in her own field question her motives as they see so much potential and wasted talent. When she finally makes contact she is forced to team up with the very people that tried to stop her but she will finally get the answers she has been looking for. Jodie does a great job in this role as we see her clash with different obstacles in her way.ellie

Matthew McConaughey: Palmer Joss is an author who has been working on a book trying to question science’s impact on the religious world. Believing in different things than Ellie the two make for a very interesting couple. He gets left with a big decision which could change his relationship with Ellie. Matthew does a good job in this supporting role without really exceling.

Tom Skerritt: David Brumlin is the head of scientific research that knows Ellie has potential even after pulling the plug on her work. When the discovery happens he tries to take the praise and ends up going up against Ellie to be part of the mission. Tom is good in this role playing a character that is always out for himself.

John Hurt: S R Hadden is the financer behind all of Ellie’s work, he is very secretive but is willing to make appearances to fill in the gaps on her works. John gives us a very good cameo like performance as the mysterious millionaire.

Support Cast: Contact has a big supporting cast that all offer different opinions on the situation at hand, we get to see how each opinion could affect what is going on.

Director Review: Robert ZemeckisRobert brings his brilliant style to this film to tell a story that could become complicated or even boring but flows lovely throughout.

 

Mystery: Contact gives us plenty to question as we wonder are we alone in the solar system.

Sci-Fi: Contact enters us into the idea that space isn’t as empty as we once thought.

Thriller: Contact does pull us in as we simply don’t know what will be found going into the machine.

Settings: Contact uses the settings well to show us in the scientific world would be dealing with if everything became a reality.
Special Effects
: Contact uses great effects to show how the machine actually works but otherwise doesn’t turn to them.

Suggestion: Contact is one I will always recommend as I like to see how people will answer the question. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Journey.

Worst Part: Slightly long

Favourite Quote: Ellie ‘I’ll tell you one thing about the universe, though. The universe is a pretty big place. It’s bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it’s just us… seems like an awful waste of space. Right?

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Interstellar

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for one Oscar for Best Sound.

Box Office: $100 Million

Budget: $90 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 30 Minutes

Tagline: A message from deep space. Who will be the first to go? A journey to the heart of the universe.

Trivia: Just like their characters in the movie, in real life Jodie Foster is an Atheist and Matthew McConaughey is a devout Christian.

 

Overall: Scientific film that truly will keep you wondering about what you want to believe

Ratingcard

I Melt With You (2011)

logoDirector: Mark Pellington

Writer: Mark Pellington, Glenn Porter (Screenplay) Glenn Porter (Story)

Starring: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino, Tom Bower, Arielle Kebbel, Zander Eckhouse

 

Plot: When four 40-something college friends meet up for their annual reunion, things start to spiral out of control, and a pact they made as young men is revisited.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bad, Silly and Terrible

 

Story: I Melt With You starts by introducing us to our four protagonists teacher Richard (Jane), Business man Ron (Piven), Doctor Jonathan (Lowe) and Tim (McKay), they are all 44 and at different stages of their lives. All four are friends that meet up once a year for a birthday bash. They get to throw out there everyday lives for one week of drink, drug and freedom.

Fifty minutes (yes that is 50) in nothing but four 44 year old men acting like teenagers before we actually have a point to the story here when we learn Tim is haunted by the death of his sister and his boyfriend. Tim then kills himself leaving the three friends are now left to deal with the consequences as he lives a suicide note that brings up something from their past.

I Melt With You story ends up focusing on an hour long worth of partying, followed by moping around feeling guilty about something these 44 year old men did as teenagers. I just don’t understand this film at all, we have four friends 2 doing well in careers one going to get punished and the other who is dealing with issues all come together to kill themselves because of a pact. Is this even worth making a full story about, isn’t this just slightly selfish? This was terrible I will give my only positive about this film is that once the pointless partying is over we could have a good drama but because you lost my interest early on you couldn’t pull me back. (2/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Thomas Jane: Richard the teacher who arranges the wild party week with his friends supplying the booze. Thomas does a solid job but really wastes his talent here. (5/10)

 

Jeremy Piven: Ron business man and family man who has gotten himself into trouble with his work, once the group look back he wants to not follow through leading him to learn the truth about what the people think about him. Jeremy gives a good performance showing how he can escape comedy. (6/10)piveb

 

Rob Lowe: Jonathan the doctor who supplies to party week with the drugs as well as being able to give any medical attention the friends might need. Rob gives a solid performance which is very much out of character for him. (6/10)

 

Christian McKay: Tim the most guilt ridden man on the trip and after it all catches up with him he takes his own life leading to the rest of the group struggling with the consequences. Christian does a good job for his screen time. (6/10)

 tim

Support Cast: I Melt With You support cast is mainly the party and a police officer who want to know what is going on but has zero intelligence. They fill up small parts of the film but really for the point of what is happening nothing they do seems to make sense.

 

Director Review: Mark Pellington – Mark struggles to pull the audience in with this film as the story wastes too much time over nothing early on. (3/10)

 

Drama: I Melt With You does have a good idea to show the drama side of the story but fails to use it well enough. (3/10)

Settings: I Melt With You creates a setting that is away from the world for the group to look at what they had promised. (8/10)

Suggestion: I Melt With You is one to miss, it offers very little to an audience to enjoy even though there is an interesting storyline that doesn’t get looked at well enough. (Skip)

 

Best Part: The setting is good.

Worst Part: Pointless first hour.

What Could Have Been Better?

  • Look at the pact in more detail early on.
  • Cut the party scene down

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

Tagline: When life hammers you, get smashed

 

Overall: I wasted 2 hours of my life

Rating 10