Cherry Tree (2015)

Director: David Keating

Writer: Brendan McCarthy (Screenplay)

Starring: Anna Walton, Naomi Battrick, Sam Hazeldine, Elva Trill, Patrick Gibson

 

Plot: Faith’s world is turned upside down after she finds out that her beloved father is dying. When the mysteriously alluring Sissy Young becomes her field hockey coach, Faith finds a compassionate spirit and much-needed mother figure. Little does she know that Sissy is the head of a centuries-old witches’ coven that uses the fruit of an ancient cherry tree in a secret ritual that restores life to the dead and dying.


Tagline –  A young woman makes a fateful pact with a witches’ coven that can save her dying father’s life.

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Horror

 

Story: Cherry Tree starts as we meet Faith Maguire (Battrick) a school girl that is considered somewhat of an outsider but continues to try out for the field hockey team, where her new coach Sissy Young (Walton) gives her a chance. in Faith’s personal life her father is losing his battle with cancer which would leave her alone in the world but he Sean (Hazeldine) stays strong for her.

Sissy is no ordinary woman though, she is an ancient witch that offers Faith a chance to cure her father, but this is nothing like Faith had imagined as she finds herself being involved in a secret ritual for her coven.

 

Thoughts on Cherry Tree

 

Characters – Sissy is the new field hockey coach at the school, but deep down she is an ancient witch searching for the next victim of the ritual she performs to keep life, she constantly appears in Faith’s life to make good on the deal they make. Faith is the school girl, she is about to lose her father to cancer and while never fitting in at school she is offered a deal by the new field hockey coach but it isn’t anything like she had prepared for. Sean is Faith’s father he has been battle his sickness but it doesn’t look good until Faith makes the deal. He is a good man who wants to make sure his daughter has everything she needs when he is gone.

PerformancesAnna Walton is good in the witch role, we have seen her in these types of roles before but her look and presence is felt throughout the film. Naomi Battirck is good as the confused, hopeless feeling teenager that would give up anything to save her father. Sam Hazeldine is solid but we don’t get to see enough form his character.

StoryThe story does have elements of Rosemary’s Baby to it, but I feel there is a much more desperate desire from Faith to go through with a deal which comes from the supernatural side of the things. She must decide whether to give up her family or make a deal which any school kid would do to save a parent. This does follow the route you would expect but it also does go into folk law which is something that always entertains in horror.

HorrorThe horror comes from the idea of witches looking to unleashes the underworld with the creature of choice being the centipede.

SettingsThe settings do the best to make it feel like this could be an everyday location for a normal average school girl.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well through the film, be it that most are practical effects that add to the gore beautifully.


Scene of the Movie –
Witch released.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There are moments which feel too dark to truly see what is going on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror, it has plenty of blood and gore as well as giving us a dark twist on a folk law which is a pleasure to see.

 

Overall: Good horror all around.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)

Director: Dennis Gansel

Writer: Philip Shelby, Tony Mosher (Screenplay) Philip Shelby, Brian Pittman, Rachel Long/Lewis John Carlino (Story/Characters)

Starring: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Sam Hazeldine, John Cenatiempo

 

Plot: Arthur Bishop thought he had put his murderous past behind him, until his most formidable foe kidnaps the love of his life. Now he is forced to travel the globe to complete three impossible assassinations, and do what he does best: make them look like accidents.


Tagline – Revenge is a dangerous business.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Action Film

 

Story: Mechanic: Resurrection starts in Brazil as Arthur Bishop (Statham) believes his life in the fixing problems business was over, but when a mysterious woman wants him to do a job which lead him into going into hiding in a remote beach island where Mei (Yeoh) keeps a home safe for him.

When that peaceful life is interrupted by Gina (Alba) who is being forced into help Crain (Hazeldine) to get a job done, Arthur finds himself coming out of retirement to do the three kills for him, each seeming to be more impossible than the last.

 

Thoughts on Mechanic: Resurrection

 

Characters – Arthur Bishop is the assassin that is in retirement, but his reputation only leads people into tracking him down, forcing him to complete a new set of kills, where we continue to see his skill set in action. Gina is the new love interest who is a humanitarian that is forced into working with the villain. Crain is our main villain pulling the strings on the jobs that he wants Arthur to do for him, he has previous with Arthur too. Max Adams is one of the hits Arthur is assigned to do, the most difficult one at that.

PerformancesThis is Jason Statham’s strength, an emotionless killer that can fight, he shines in this type of role and you can see why he always gets picked for these roles. Sam Hazeldine is good generic villain while Jessica Alba is just a generic damsel in distress that any actress with sex appeal could have pulled off. Tommy Lee Jones only has a few scenes and does seem to have fun in his role.

StoryThe story is a by the book action thriller, our hero must kill a set number of people to rescue a loved one from the villain, well that is all we want in an action film. This does have a twist in the final act but in all honesty the story is thin but I am fine with that I don’t want a film that makes me think at times and that is what I get given here.

Action/CrimeThe action is big, mostly fight scenes that we know Statham can handle, it is the slow build action sequences that stand out in this film though, the crime side throws us into the world of the people Arthur needs to kill.

SettingsThe settings takes us all over the world, Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia, Sydney and more, the settings are used to show how the jobs can take him all over the world because of the scale of the job.

Special EffectsCertain shots in this film are green screen and clearly that, which is disappointing but when it comes to the explosion etc they all look fine.


Scene of the Movie –
Sydney Job.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The green screen moments look weak.

Chances of Sequel: If the money was good enough we could get one.

Budget: $40 Million

Final ThoughtsThis film does everything you want it to, it’s an action film that lets you switch your brain off and enjoy.

 

Overall: Easy to watch action film.

Rating

 

 

’71 (2014)

71Director: Yann Demange

Writer: Gregory Burke (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack O’Connell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris, Sam Hazeldine, Killian Scott

 

Plot: In 1971, a young and disorientated British soldier is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the deadly streets of Belfast.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Behind Enemy Lines – Ireland

 

Story: 71 starts as we see Gary Hook (O’Connell) going through his training with his regiment before they get deployed to Belfast to deal with the riot situation. In Ireland the regiment receive their instructions and onto the Catholic side of the war. When the riots get out of hand Gary finds himself on the wrong side of the barrier alone and unarmed in the Irish territory.

With tensions rising Gary finds himself in the middle of the battle not knowing which side to trust as both side are preparing to attack each other as Gary learns the harsh reality of what these riots are causing.

71 puts us into the middle of the Irish riots showing just one soldier’s experience behind enemy lines, this works well. My issue with the story is unless you know the history which I only know the basics you are left kind of wondering why the riots are happening in the first place. Another problem I found was telling what was going on with the supporting characters like who was on whose side which I do understand adds to the mystery but in this situation we should be able to identify them easily. As a film about survival in an urban setting this is great though.

 

Actor Review

 

Jack O’Connell: Gary Hook is the young soldier who is on his first mission on the streets on Belfast during the riots of 71, trying to receive a lost weapon he gets separated by his unit and stranded alone behind enemy lines never sure who to trust. Jack is great in this leading role in what was an outstanding year for the young actor.gary

Sam Reid: Lt. Armitage is one of the men that wants to start searching for Gary but constantly gets put down Captain Browning. Sam is solid in this role but doesn’t get enough screen time.

Sean Harris: Captain Sandy Browning is the man running the situation he knows that Gary is alive but really is playing both sides of the battle. Sean is also solid but only in a supporting role.

Killian Scott: Quinn is one of the leaders out trying to kill Gary, he takes his men and boys out on the streets on the hunt for him and will hurt anyone who gets in his way. Killian is good in what seems like one of the primary villains.

Support Cast: 71 has a large supporting cast but working out which side they are on gets confusing at times.

Director Review: Yann DemangeYann gives us wonderfully shot sequences throughout but not enough back story to the events on the film.

 

Action: 71 has intensely shot action sequences involved.

Thriller: 71 keeps us on edge as we watch Gary trying to survive the warzone.

War: 71 puts us into a warzone as we see Gary trying to avoid conflict seemingly around every single corner.

Settings: 71 puts us in the warzone of the Belfast streets which really works to pull us into the story.
Special Effects
: 71 has great effects when needed without having to just go overboard with them.

Suggestion: 71 is one for fans of the genre but otherwise people might find it slightly hard to keep up with. (War Film Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Bomb shock.

Worst Part: Not enough history of the events.

 

Believability: The riots were real but story is fictional.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Behind Enemy Lines

 

Awards: Nominated for One BAFTA.

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Trivia: Most scenes within the film were shot in Northern England, not in the film’s setting of Belfast.

 

Overall: Good history war thriller that is intense but never fully drags you into believing everything.

Ratingcard

 

The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

casting cardDirector: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Writer: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin (Screenplay) Evan Daugherty (Characters)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach, Sope Dirisu, Sam Hazeldine, Sam Claflin

 

Plot: As a war between rival queen sisters Ravenna and Freya escalates, Eric and fellow warrior Sara, members of the Huntsmen army raised to protect Freya, try to conceal their forbidden love as they combat Ravenna’s wicked intentions.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacklustre Sequel/Prequel

 

Story: The Huntsman: Winter’s War starts as we see Ravenna (Theron) first using her powers to gain the reputation we know as the evil queen along with her sister Freya (Blunt) her only weakness rise to the power in the kingdom as the Ice Queen after losing her child.

The Queen brings only one rule to her kingdom, you can never fall in love which her two best child warriors Eric and Sara do, once grown up Eric (Hemsworth) and Sara (Chastain) become lovers leading them to be punished with separate banishment from the kingdom.

To confuse matter The Huntsman has to continue to fight for Snow White so now this is a sequel to stop Freya getting her hands on the mirror and its evil powers. The Huntsman teams up with his wife Sara who both believe something different happened during their banishment from Freya’s kingdom.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War comes off confusing because we are sold on the idea that this is a prequel only for it basically have a longer opening sequence to the original and being a sequel which means Ravenna is barely even in this one. The story comes off very familiar with not much actually happening through the film that we haven’t seen. I didn’t find the story very appealing because it ends up feel like a dark version of Frozen.

 

Actor Review

 

Chris Hemsworth: The Huntsman was trained from a child by Queen Freya to be one of her best warriors but when he falls in love he get left for dead believing his love has been killed. He has defeated Ravenna once and now he gets called upon to retrieve the mirror that has started to take control of the Snow White. Chris is good in this role doing what you would expect him to do.

Charlize Theron: Ravenna is the evil queen that is the sister to Freya, she has used her powers to make Freya rise to power before we know what happened to her in the first film. Now she is trying to control the world from inside the mirror. Charlize is only in a supporting role and doesn’t reach the levels we know she can with this character.

Jessica Chastain: Sara is another one of the huntsman trained by Freya taught not to love only to fall for our leading Huntsman.  Pushed out she teams up with the Huntsman as they look to rekindle their love once more. Jessica is solid in this role but I can’t help but wonder what happens to her accent through the film.

Emily Blunt: Queen Freya gets turned into the all-powerful snow queen once she witnesses the father of her child over a burnt out cot. She takes children to raise her own warriors cheating them not to love but when she learns her best warriors have fallen in love she exiles them as she continues to conquer the south. She learns of the mirror and wants it for herself. Emily is solid in this supporting role in what is meant to be the main villain.

Support Cast: The Huntsman: Winter’s War has a supporting cast that is stolen by the dwarf performance that are clearly the highlight of the film.

Director Review: Cedric Nicolas-TroyanCedric gives us a sequel we didn’t really need that offers little new to the story only expanding the world it is set in.

 

Action: The Huntsman: Winter’s War is filled with plenty of mindless fantasy action throughout that gives us nothing really stand out on this side of the story.

Adventure: The Huntsman: Winter’s War throws our characters on a reluctant adventure much like the first one.

Fantasy: The Huntsman: Winter’s War is in a fantasy world of witches and creatures etc etc etc.

Settings: The Huntsman: Winter’s War puts us back in the world created with nothing newly created.
Special Effects
: The Huntsman: Winter’s War has basic supporting effects which just don’t really come off completely believable.

Suggestion: The Huntsman: Winter’s War is one that can only really be watch if you loved the original. (First Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Dwarfs.

Worst Part: Wasting Charlize Theron.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Frozen

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $115 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

Tagline: The story before Snow White

 

Overall: This is just a dark version of Frozen let’s all be honest here.

Ratingcard

 

 

The Machine (2013)

logoDirector: Caradog W James

Writer: Caradog W James (Screenplay)

Starring: Caity Lotz, Toby Stephens, Sam Hazeldine, Denis Lawson, lee Nicholas Harris, Pooned Hajimohammadi, Siwan Morris

 

Plot: With an impoverished world plunged into a Cold War with a new enemy, British’s Ministry of Defence is on the brink of developing a game-changing weapon. Lead scientist Vincent McCarthy provides the answer with his creation, The Machine an android with unrivalled physical and processing skills. When a programming glitch causes an early prototype to destroy his lab, McCarthy enlists artificial intelligence expert Ava to help him harness the full potential of a truly conscious fighting machine.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: What Transcendence Wanted to Be

 

Story: The Machine starts by filling us in on the new Cold War from China which has created a recession the likes the world has never seen and the new arms race is in the idea of military intelligence. We then end up meeting Doctor Vincent (Stephens) who has been working on fixing brain injuries through technology. When the experiment goes wrong we are left with Vincent injured and his team killed.

Vincent continues to work in the field of artificial intelligence but is now in charge of working out who could come up with the best intelligence devices to use in the MOD. When young scientist Ava turns up she has bought the best intelligence Vincent has seen and hires her on the spot. We start to see how some of the previous creation are working and communicating with each other behind the scientist’s back.

One Ava’s first day she meets a wounded soldier named James (Hazeldine) who has been given new arms and warns Ava about Area Six which leads to the mystery about what is really being studied in that area of the base. After Ava investigates too much the head of the facility Thomson (Lawson) has her killed but liking what she has created Vincent continues on using her research and builds a machine in her likeness that will continue to evolve her program. What follows is Vincent trying to teach the new machine good and Thomson trying to use it for evil.

The Machine is a film that tests the old adage of man versus machine, where we as human decide to see how far we can push the artificial intelligence before it goes too far. We also get the traditional good versus evil when we see how the machine gets educated. I do think the story does a good job at not over complicating the science and technology side of the story because if we ended up going to techno you would lose the audience. I honestly think this film is what Transcendence wanted to be, because of how the machine gets used to bring a brilliant mind back to life. this is a film for the fans who like a realistic look at how things could change in the future but just don’t expect all out action. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Caity Lotz: Ava is a brilliant young scientist who gets hired by Vincent but gets murdered by the head of the defence agency. She is bought back to life with the brain of her creation where she must learn the wrongs and rights of the world being instructed by both Vincent and Thomson. Caity does a great job as the scientist turned machine getting all the movements down in a learning style. (8/10)

 machine

Toby Stephens: Vincent works for the MOD who has had failed experiments but might have found the best chance for a future with his next talent Ava, but after she is murdered he continues her work while trying to save his daughters life. Toby makes for a good scientist trying to help the world even if his daughter is his first goal. (7/10)

vicnent

Denis Lawson: Thomson is the head of the MOD is trying to turn the machine into a weapon which leads to an uprising from all of the experiments. Denis makes for the good traditional businessman villain trying to use technology for his own gains. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: The Machine has a supporting cast that mainly stays in the background but ends up getting involved in the final act showing which side they are fighting for.

 

Director Review: Caradog W James – Caradog does a good job giving us a smart sci-fi film that will tell a good story about what could happen with machines. (7/10)

 

Sci-Fi: The Machine uses the idea of artificial intelligence very well without over complicating the general terms. (8/10)

Thriller: The Machine does make you wonder what is going on but ends up letting the science take over more than the thrills. (5/10)

Settings: The Machine creates a very standard military base for most of the film to take place in. (6/10)
Special Effects
: The Machine uses very good effects to create the machines showing how the artificial can take over the look created with the machine. (8/10)

Suggestion: The Machine is a film that really should be watched by all the sci-fi fans out there. (Sci-Fi Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: The Dancing scene.

Worst Part: Will come off slow to the action sci-fi fans.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Transcendence

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

Tagline: They rise. We fall.

Trivia: Costume designer Chrissie Pegg was given just two weeks to make 100 costumes with only £40 for each and had only one assistant.

 

Overall: The Machine is the Blockbuster we could have loved but ends up being the DVD we admire.

Rating 80