Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001) Revisited

This is a revisited review, I first did this as one of my very first reviews in 2012.

 

Director: Simon West

Writer: Patrick Massett, John Zinman (Screenplay) Sara B Cooper, Mike Werb, Michael Colleary (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig, Chris Barrie, Leslie Phillips

 

Plot: Video game adventurer Lara Croft comes to life in a movie where she races against time and villains to recover powerful ancient artefacts.


Tagline – Who Is Lara Croft?

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pure Fun

 

Story: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starts on the anniversary of Lara Croft’s (Jolie) father death, with a once in a lifetime planetary alinement happening, Lara just so happens to discover the all seeing eye in her mansion and now she is involved in an adventure she is interested in. Lara’s connection lead her to Manfred Powell (Glen) a man assigned to locate the eye for secret society that want to use its powers for their own desires.

Once Manfred takes the artefact, Lara must go on adventure showing her tomb raiding skills hoping to stop them powerful device causing havoc on the world.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

 

Characters – Lara Croft lifted straight from the video game, the Lady of Croft Manor, she has found treasures all over the world becoming slightly bored of the popular location, getting a hidden message from her later father Lara’s interest spikes and soon she will be battle a secret society that are using her latest discovery to hopefully control time. We know she is the kick ass action heroine from the video games, calm through each situation, competitive rivalry with Alex West and the best in her field. Lord Richard Croft had died before the story starts, he appears in dreams guiding Lara as he was the one that trained her, he started learning about this event long before it started. Manfred Powell is hired by an underground society that want control of time, he will do anything to get what he wants to prove his value to the society and doesn’t lift a finger when it comes to searching for treasure. Alex West is the American rival to Lara, he works for money over desire to find treasure even if the two do just have an honest rivalry. Bryce and Hillary are the two most trusted people in Lara’s life, one works on her tech while the other looks after the manor.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie was the perfect choice in the year 2001 for this role, she was the best action heroine for the time, had the look of Lara Croft down to perfection as well as the swagger filled attitude. Jon Voight while only in a couple of scenes is good as the father figure needed for Lara. Iain Glen is good as the calculated villain who can kill just as quickly as Lara, he shows the calmness through the film to stay a threat in the film. Daniel Craig as the rival tomb raider is fine, his accent is his weakness though. Noah Taylor and Chris Barrie get most of the laughs which keeps the story on a lighter note.

StoryThe story gives us one of Lara Croft adventures as a Tomb Raider against the Illuminati. The story shows us an established Lara, accepting her place in the high society with connections in the antique world, we see she is trained in combat and this helps us get right into the story. the story shows us how Lara is almost bored of the generic treasure hunts and this knew one sparks her interest once again. When it comes to the story it unfolds as you would imagine, going from one location to the next location for the next chapter of the adventure as we get the different parts to complete the quest.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is set pieces set up on the different adventures Lara is on, be it in the tombs or in the manor which get bigger as the film goes on.

SettingsThe settings take us from the manor, to the tombs in the jungle and Siberia as well as Venice. Each place would be where you could imagine Lara going on her adventures.

Special EffectsThe effects are a mix of good and bad, for the time however they would have been excellent to watch, with the stone figures in the tomb sequence.


Scene of the Movie –
First Tomb sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain effects have dated.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action adventure bring to life one of the most iconic video game characters in Lara Croft.

 

Overall: Action adventure worth watching.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Mechanic (2011)

Director: Simon West

Writer: Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino (Screenplay) Lewis John Carlino (Story)

Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Tony Goldwyn, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Chase, Mini Anden, James Logan

 

Plot: Follows an elite hit man as he teaches his trade to an apprentice who has a connection to one of his previous victims.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easy to Watch Action Film

 

Story: The Mechanic starts as we learn how skilled Arthur Bishop (Statham) a mechanic better known as an assassin, he gets the job done and is one of the best, learning from his mentor Harry McKenna (Sutherland).

When the latest assignment gives Arthur the task of killing his mentor he starts by questioning things but goes along with the job anyway as the boss Dean (Goldwyn) has the proof of the dirty deeds Harry has been involved in.

Feeling guilty for his involvement in Harry’s death, Arthur takes his son Steve (Foster) under his wing teaching him the ways of the trade.

 

Thoughts on The Mechanic

 

Characters/PerformanceArthur Bishop is a mechanic, a fixer, an assassin and he is the very best, he can make kills look like accidents or even frame someone else. After his latest job he takes the son of the victim under his wing breaking but teaching the skills he has learnt. Steve is the song of Arthur’s mentor, he has been a loose cannon through his life and now he gets focus as he learns under Arthur. Dean runs this secret group, setting up the jobs for the mechanics, he doesn’t click as well with Arthur.

Performance wise, Jason Statham is one of the easiest go to guys for this type of film and here you can see why, not many lines and action-packed performance. Ben Foster once again shows us he can become any character. Tony Goldwyn is fine, but it would be fair to say we don’t see much from his character.

StoryWe are thrown into a world of hitmen, boss and victims which is good for the film, we can always enjoy this type of film because all the characters are usually shady even if they live by codes. We get what we expect without it being too much but in the world now we have an elite version of this style of film in John Wick.

Action/Crime The action is all big like you would expect, we have plenty of shoot outs and a brilliant escape off the side of a building. The crime side is the world we have be placed into, we know these are criminal assassins which makes us understand how they could be in everyday life.

SettingsEach setting is uses as almost a level for the character to overcome, we know just where they are going and the next fight will become more difficult.

Special EffectsAll the effects make this a fine enjoyable watch throughout with nothing not suiting the world we are in.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable action film that most action film fans will enjoy, it isn’t difficult to follow but does lack a villain you feel is menacing enough to challenge our lead.

 

Overall: This is late night action.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Director: Simon West

Writer: Jake Wade Wall (Screenplay) Steve Feke, Fred Walton (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Katie Cassidy, Tessa Thmpson, Brian Geraghty, Cark Gregg

 

Plot: During a babysitting gig, a high-school student is harassed by an increasingly threatening prank caller.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Remake Failure

 

Story: When a Stranger Calls starts when High School student Jill (Belle) is being punished for going over her minutes on her phone bill must take a babysitting job in a house in the middle of nowhere. Jill is currently going through a break up with her boyfriend Bobby (Geraghty) and questioning her own friends Tiffany (Cassidy) and Scarlett (Thompson) on their part in it.

After a strange phone call, noises around the home and the alarm going off Jill starts to believe something is going on in the house, is she alone with the kids anymore?

 

Thoughts on When a Stranger Calls

 

Characters/PerformanceJill is the naughty high school student that has gone over her cell phone calls limit and must pay for it by babysitting, while also dealing with her boyfriend and best friend cheating on her. She doesn’t know how to make a good decision when a stranger starts calling her during the night of babysitting. The Stranger calling is interesting because we know he is capable of murder from the opening sequences, but now we learn to how calculated he is when picking his prey. Most of his damage is only explained and shown through facial expressions of the police investigating his crimes. Tiffany and Scarlett are just plain friends on the generic scale that we are used too.

Performance wise, Camille Belle has to do most of the work in this film and she does struggle in a role that has created countless amazing female leads, the rest of the cast are fine but don’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThis is a remake so we know the basics of how this film goes because it follows a babysitter needing to figure out who a mystery call is only to learn the truth and need to fight to survive. We have a couple of addition to the idea here because we need to explain the cell phone situation through the film but otherwise the film is filled with too many false scares that don’t lead to much.

HorrorThe horror is just false jump scare after false jump scare which never comes to much, we have one sequence but otherwise it is mostly about how things could happen.

SettingsThe house is isolated which is the highlight of the film because we know how this character isn’t going to be able to have much help and the stranger can take his time stalking his victim.

Special EffectsThe effects are limited and are mostly used for use of lighting and a few stunts, which I think does work because we don’t need anything flashy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a remake that doesn’t use the potential and has already become outdated because of the technology that is used as the stumbling blocks.

 

Overall: Not all remakes work.

Rating

 

 

John Malkovich Weekend – Con Air (1997)

con airDirector: Simon West

Writer: Scott Rosenberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, John Cusack, Ving Rhames, Dave Chappelle, Steve Buscemi, Monica Potter, Danny Trejo

 

Plot: Newly paroled ex-con and former U.S. Ranger Cameron Poe finds himself trapped in a prisoner transport plane when the passengers seize control.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Purely Enjoyable Action Film

 

Story: Con Air starts as war veteran Cameron Poe (Cage) returns to his wife Tricia (Potter) but due to the local drinks attacking him 3-1 style one ends up dead and Cameron finds himself facing jail, somehow. We get a montage to show how Cameron spends his time in jail never wanting to meet his daughter but communicating with her through letters.

Cameron is about to be released on a transport that includes his friend Baby-O (Williamson) but also a large number of deadly prisoners including Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom (Malkovich), Diamond Dog (Rhames), Johnny-23 (Trejo), Swamp Thing (Gainey), Pinball (Chappelle) and Garland Greene (Buscemi) as well as other characters. Vince Larkin (Cusack) is overseeing the transfer with Duncan Malloy (Meaney) who are trying to interrogate one of the prisoners on route.

Once in the air Cyrus has arranged a prison escape and as he quotes ‘welcome to con air’. Cameron decides to stay on the plane and protect his friend and female guard, making him the only line of defence between the prisoners and freedom.

Con Air gave us one of the most entertaining action thrillers of the 90s, the story is very thin which is what we need to let the action unfold. Our leading man is the main development as we instantly feel sympathy for him after his imprisonment for defending himself. One man doing the right thing against criminals all works for what we need but let’s face it we only want to see the action unfold and this gives us everything.

 

Actor Review

 

Nicolas Cage: Cameron Poe is the war veteran who gets sent to jail after defending himself in a bar brawl, he has served his time and his coming home on the prisoner transport. Once the prisoners take over the plane he stays to stop them escaping and saving his friend. Nicolas gives us one of the most entertaining action leading performances of the 90’s.poe

John Malkovich: Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom is the leader of the prisoner escape, he has spent most of his life in jail becoming a genius in the process. He is calculated with every move he makes when it comes to this escape making him a villain not to be messed with. John makes for a great villain that stays calm until the very end.cyrus

John Cusack: Vince Larkin is overseeing the prison transfer and is battling with the loud mouth Malloy. He using longer words to annoy Malloy but is the only one to believe that Cameron is the hero on the plane. John works in this role but sometimes feels out of place with the action stars.

Steve Buscemi: Garland ‘The Marietta Mangler’ Greene is a late addition to the transport, he is one of the most notorious serial killers on the planet. He is completing out of his mind but not involved in the main part of the escape. Steve gives us one of the most memorable supporting character that never really seems to be involved with the main story.

Support Cast: Con Air has a big supporting cast that all help show the hero side of Cameron.

Director Review: Simon WestSimon gives us an action film we can all enjoy still 20 years after its release.

 

Action: Con Air has plenty of action from the moment the plane gets taken over to the final scenes.

Crime: Con Air gives us a prison escape on a plane which helps the crime side of the story.

Thriller: Con Air keeps us on edge from start to finish as we watch waiting to see if Cameron will save the day.

Settings: Con Air keeps the settings mostly on the plane with the criminals having rising tension while the scenes outside always feel desperate against the time.
Special Effects
: Con Air uses great effects throughout for all the action sequences.

Suggestion: Con Air is one to switch on and just relax and enjoy. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Bunny.

Worst Part: Malloy is terrible character for the role he is meant to be in the DEA.

Action Scene Of The Film: Final sequence.

Favourite Quote: Garland Greene ‘Define irony. Bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.’

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: The Rock

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars

Budget: $75 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

Tagline: One wrong flight can ruin your whole day

Trivia: The song “How Do I Live” was nominated for both an Oscar as Best Original Song and a Razzie as Worst Original Song. It did not win either award.

 

Overall: Action film that will always be one that is easy to watch.

Ratingcard

Wild Card (2015)

logoDirector: Simon West

Writer: William Goldman (Screenplay) William Goldman (Novel)

Starring: Jason Statham, Michael Angarano, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Hope Davis, Mile Ventimiglia, Max Casella, Stanley Tucci, Jason Alexander, Sofia Vergara, Anne Heche

 

Plot: When a Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal skills and a gambling problem gets in trouble with the mob, he has one last play…and it’s all or nothing.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Statham Action Thriller Stamp

 

Story: Wild Card starts with a last December timeline where Nick Wild (Statham) is drinking in a bar where he gets mixed up with Osgood (Casella) and his girl DD (Vergara). We see a girl beaten up and dumped outside a hospital and her only word is Nick after being asked who did it. Nick is a security consultant for attorney Pinky (Alexander). A young man Cyrus Kinnick (Angarano) wants to hire Nick to bodyguard him during a night in the casino. We see that the opening fight was just a play to make Osgood look good for the girl.

Holly (Garcia-Lorido) was the girl from the hospital and while released she turns out to be friends with Nick and calling out was for his help. She recounts that story of what happened with three guys raping and beating her up, Holly wants Nick to find the guys responsible so she can sue them. Nick has connection all over town apart from the hotel where the incident happened but he does find out who it was Danny DeMarco (Ventimiglia) but he is warned away.

Nick takes Cyrus on the night around Las Vegas while being conflicted about what happened to Holly, leaving Cyrus in his low stakes gambling Nick goes to Holly and ends up getting involved with helping her get her revenge. Nick pays Danny a visit leaving all three of them laying giving Holly her chance at revenge. Roll credits, wait we have only had 45 minutes so far.

Nick heads to the casino to try and kill some time with his croupier friend Cassandra (Davis) as Nick knows this will be his last night in Vegas. Nick hits an unbelievable streak on the table making the money he wants so he can leave the city once and for all. Nick’s gambling problems come back to hit him when he decides to risk it all to make enough so he will never have to return to Vegas, but blows it all. Cyrus final reveals why he has made contact with Nick and wants to learn how to lose his fear of the world but Nick has to deal with the DeMarco’s.

Wild Card gives us what we are used to from a Jason Statham film, we know he will end up in a fight against multiply opponents while trying to do the right thing. Taking that away we do get elements of the film which take on a more serious note, like his gambling addiction. Unlike certain films touching on the same subject matter we get to see people come and go from the story early than we would expect. When it comes to the base story it works out nicely for an enjoyable action thriller but don’t expect anything ground breaking. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Jason Statham: Nick Wild specialist who knows the right people at all the levels of Vegas who ends up helping a friend get revenge on a guy who beat them up. After he does this he ends up having to fight his own demons with addiction while showing a young man around the city. Jason does what he does best, acting moody and kicking ass. (7/10)

 nick

Michael Angarano: Cyrus Kinnick young man who hires Nick to show him around town but it turns out he might have a different motive. Michael does a solid job but his character seems to get buried in all the action. (5/10)

 

Milo Ventimiglia: Danny DeMarco gangster who abuses a woman leading to Nick helping get revenge against him. Milo does a good job with him continuing to take the weasel like villainous role. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: Wild Card has plenty of supporting characters who mostly only appear in cameo like performance from the better known stars, Stanley Tucci, Sofa Vergara to mention a couple.

 

Director Review: Simon West – Simon does a solid job directing this to make an action thriller than works with Statham in the lead. (7/10)

 

Action: Wild Card has a couple of fight scenes that all come off very good in the end. (7/10)

Thriller: Wild Card doesn’t manage to pull you in as much as it could because each chapter of the story seems to get put together very well that is closes it before making us wonder what will happen next. (4/10)

Settings: Wild Card uses Vegas as the setting which is always a good setting for the subject matters involved. (9/10)

Suggestion: Wild Card is one for the action fans to enjoy, it won’t test you too much but can be enjoyed by the fans of the genre. (Action Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Final fight.

Worst Part: It feels like it could end after the revenge scene.

Action Scene Of The Film: Final Fight.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Unlikely

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

Tagline: Never bet against a man with a killer hand

Trivia: Remake of The Heat (1986)

 

Overall: This really is just another action film that can be enjoyed but won’t add too much to the genre in the long term.

Rating 67