ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – M – Munich (2005)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Tony Kushner, Eric Roth (Screenplay) George Jones (Book)

Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciaran Hinds, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zurer, Geoffrey Rush, Mathieu Kassovitz

 

Plot: Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day.


Tagline – The world was watching in 1972 as 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Munich Olympics. This is the story of what happened next.

Runtime: 2 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense True Story

 

Story: Munich starts in the aftermath of the tragic events of the Munich Olympics where 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Arabic terrorists. The Israeli prime minister isn’t taken what happened to her men lightly, she assigns a team led by Avner (Bana), with Steve (Craig), Carl (Hinds), Robert (Kassovitz) and Hans (Zischler) to eliminate everybody involved in the terrorist action.

The mission will take the team around Europe as they track down each and everyone of the people responsible, we see the obstacles they found along the way, but ultimately to complete their mission.

 

Thoughts on Munich

 

Characters – Avner is the special agent in the Israeli government, he is assigned to lead the retaliation against the people responsible for Black Sunday. He must leave his pregnant wife behind to go on this mission, a mission which would be his first, as he hasn’t been in the field before. He is left making the difficult decisions on the mission, to keep the men in order. Steve is the member of the team that has the most experience in the field, he does question Avner’s choice as leader, though he will follow the orders for his country. Carl is another member of the team, he does seem like the mot educated of the team. Robert is assigned to be the explosives expert, his bombs often fail, because of his own training which is about disarming them rather than making them. We see the characters that are the connections, the people that authorise the vengeance, each character is based on a real person involved in this.

PerformancesEric Bana is the star of the show here, he is put through the widest range of emotions when it comes to everything his character goes through. Daniel Craig leads up the supporting cast we, showing he was always going to be more than just James Bond. Ciaran Hinds is the ever-reliable supporting cast member that never once looks out of place. the whole cast is wonderful through this film, bringing the complex number of characters to life.

StoryThe story follows the aftermath of events of the Black Sunday tragedy, which sees a group of Israeli soldiers look to get vengeance on the men behind the terrorist attack. We get to see how the operation was handled, the hunting of the terrorists, with the different hiding places around Europe. This does show how a country was left in mourning after the tragic events, how they went about changing this, fixing this, so they weren’t considered the weaker nation in the war within the country. We mostly focus on one man who was seen to have been put into a world he wasn’t prepared for, one where he would have to do things he wasn’t trained for, to protect his home land.

HistoryThis is a moment in history that shocked everybody, we see how the people in the government went out for their own revenge.

SettingsThe film does take us around Europe as we see where the terrorist were hiding out after their actions.


Scene of the Movie –
The bomb sequences are brutal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slightly too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant look at one of the most secret missions of revenge after one of the darkest days in Olympic history.

 

Overall: History revenge.

Rating

 

 

The Color Purple (1985)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Menno Meyjes (Screenplay) Alice Walker (Novel)

Starring: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey, Willard E Pugh, Akosua Busia, Desreat Jackson

Plot: A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.


Tagline – It’s about life. It’s about love. It’s about us.

Runtime: 2 Hours 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Stunning

Story: The Color Purple starts when teenage Celie Johnson (Jackson) who gets sold by her abusive father who has given up their child before giving her to Albert (Glover) who was interested in her younger sister Nettie, stuck having to help raise his three children in 1909.

With Celie (Goldberg) now grown up, she is still living with the abuse, she sees the eldest child Harpo get married to Sofia (Winfrey) who won’t take any sort of abuse, this shows Celie that she can fight back against Mister’s behaviour. We continue to see the years of household abuse that Celie lived through due to her husband and seeing the different people that comes into her family life.

Thoughts on The Color Purple

Characters – Celie Johnson was abused by her father, who fathered a child with her, one they gave up, she is sent to marry Albert and help raise his children, she is constantly abused by him who doesn’t want to let her have her own life, she sees people come and go from her life including Sofia and Shug, both offer her a new way of looking at life too, we follow four decades of her abuse which keeps her in maid like conditions in the home. Albert is the man that takes Celie to be his wife after his first wife died, he wants someone to raise his kids and do the housework for him, not letting her communicate with her sister and even meeting other women on the side. Shug Avery is one of the ladies that Albert starts sleeping with, he even lets her stay at their home, she is a singer and entertainer that isn’t going to let any man walk over her, she helps Celie breakout of the shell, even tempting her to leave. Sofia becomes the wife to one of the children, she won’t let any man or woman of any race walk over her and gets tired of how Harpo treats her, she does have a better chance of life than Celie and tries to prove to her she can have more, but at a cost.

PerformancesWhoopi Goldberg gives us a truly fantastic performance that is up there with the very best by anybody in acting history. Danny Glover gives us a truly evil father figure that makes you hate him through each action he puts Celie through. Oprah Winfrey is stunning too, showing us how somebody can recover from being broken and Margaret Avery is wonderful through the film too.

StoryThe story follows the life of young teenage girl Celie over four decades of her life, from her forced marriage and years of abuse that she suffered at the hands of the men in her life during the early 1900s. This movie shows us just how a woman was held back from her life by her controlling husband, Celie doesn’t seem to ever get mistreated by any white Americans, which is only seen against Sofia, showing that the world may have changed, but it hadn’t moved on with the acceptance of women in the family household, we do see how some of the other women do get their freedom, but due to the abuse Celie struggled to get that freedom. We don’t seem to focus on any of the real-life events which could have been going on at the same time, which might only continues to show how little Celie was allowed to see more of the world. The struggles that she goes through are very real and one that nobody should have ever seen put through.

SettingsThe film does use the settings wonderfully to show how even after the end of slavery, not everything was equal when it comes to living conditions the character find themselves in. the farmhouse and open countryside, show the opposite of the peace Celie was living.


Scene of the Movie – The letters.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could have seen a couple of real-time events to help identify the year.

Final Thoughts This is truly a wonderful film that must be watch by all, it brings us a truly brilliant story, stunning performances and a reflection of life.

Overall: Easily in Spielberg’s top five films.

Hook (1991)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: James V Hart, Nick Castle, Malia Scotch Marmo (Screenplay) J.M. Barrie (Books)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith, Caroline Goodall, Charlie Korsmo, Amber Scott

 

Plot: When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.


Tagline – What if Peter Pan grew up?

Runtime: 2 Hours 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun-Filled Fantasy

 

Story: Hook starts as we meet businessman Peter Banning (Williams) who has started over working leading to his children become distant, his wife Moira (Goodall) forces him to visit his Granny Wendy (Smith) in London for Christmas, where she sees how much Peter has changed since his childhood of never wanting to grow up.

Captain Hook (Hoffman) takes Peter’s children, which sees Peter needing to be pushed into returning to Neverland, a place he has long forgotten about, with Tinkerbell (Roberts) taking him there only for Hook to be left disappointed by the man Peter has become, Tinkerbell has three days to restore Peter’s faith in Neverland to save his children.

 

Thoughts on Hook

 

Characters – Peter Banning is a lawyer that has been neglecting his family, his Grandmother sees him losing his young heart that made her take him in, in the first place, Peter must confront his past to save his children from his old nemesis Captain Hook in Neverland, a place he has long since forgotten about. Peter has become everything he once hated as a child and shows how at times parents can get buried in their work. Captain Hook has been waiting for the day Peter Pan returns, he is left disappointed when he does return a shell of the boy that left, giving him three days to prepare for a battle, while having his own plan to get revenge on Peter. Tinkerbell comes to Peter to bring him back to Neverland, she helps transform him back to his original self, while showing him what he is still fighting for.

PerformancesRobin Williams was a great choice for this role, he gets to manages the serious adult side of everything as well as the playful side of Peter Pan with ease being able to swap between the two whenever he needs to. Dustin Hoffman as the villainous Hook has great enjoyment in this role where he does get to play along with his character. Julia Roberts does all she needs to do without being as involved as the lead too.

StoryThe story follows an older Peter Pan that must return to Neverland to save his own children after his old nemesis Captain Hook takes them there. This spin on the Peter Pan story is a wonderful on because see Peter grown up becoming everything he promised he wouldn’t shows us just how difficult being an adult can be, you will turn your back on parts of your childhood become what you once feared. This was always the meaning behind Peter Pan in the first place, finding an escape from the busy lives, now an adult must use this to save his own relationship with his children and family, which is what is important in life.

Adventure/Comedy/FantasyThe adventure side of the film takes Peter to Neverland to relive moments of his childhood in a fantasy battle against pirates with fairies on their side. We do get elements of comedy, but even Robin Williams is held back from going into his full routine like we saw in Aladdin.

SettingsThe film uses the same settings that we know from Peter Pan, the London setting might well be a more modern one, but Neverland hasn’t aged a day since Peter has left.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Pop culture references.

Final ThoughtsThis is a magical version of Peter Pan’s adventures showing how life can change for adults who never thought they would be when they were children.

 

Overall: Magical adventure.

Rating

 

 

Tom Hiddleston Weekend – War Horse (2011)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Lee Hall, Richard Curtis (Screenplay) Michael Morpurgo (Novel)

Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, Niels Arestrup, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch

 

Plot: Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.


Tagline – Separated by war. Tested by battle. Bound by friendship.

Runtime: 2 Hours 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Incredible Story

 

Story: War Horse starts as the poor farming family Narracotts, former war veteran Ted (Mullan), wife Rose (Watson) and son Albert (Irvine) end up with a horse that shouldn’t be able to work on a farm that Albert manages to teach how to plough, being the only one Joey will listen to.

When the latest crop fails, Ted is forced to sale Joey to the military once the first World War breaks outs, Captain Nicholls (Hiddleston) takes him promising to bring him back safely, however much it breaks Albert’s heart. When Captain Nicholls is killed in action, we see Joey’s next chapter in the war, as Albert enlists in an attempt to become reunited with Joey on the front lines.

 

Thoughts on War Horse

 

Characters – Albert is the farmers boy that proves he will never give up and shows us when it comes to training the horse, which will achieving things it should never get through, he has bonded with Joey who is taken away from him, determined to be reunited with Joey, he enlists in the British army heading off to World War I to fight and find his horse. Ted is the war veteran father, who drinks to get over his problems with what happened in his own battle, reckless in his behaviour, he must make the difficult decision to sell the horse. Rose is the ever-supporting wife and mother that sees the good in both her husband and son, knowing while they might clash they will forever be doing the right thing. Lyons is the landlord that is making the life of the Narracotts difficult forcing him into the decisions that could take the family out of their home. Captain Nicholls is the man that buys Joey, taking him to the war promising to keep him safe and return him after the war with Major Jamie Stewart being the one that naively going into battle underprepared.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are impacted by the number of characters involved in the film, with the likes of Hiddleston and Cumberbatch left with only supporting roles where they make an impact with their limited time. The two main stars of the film would be Jeremy Irvine and the horses themselves that go through the biggest struggles through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the incredible journey through the first World War that a horse endured being forced to work for both the British and the Germans, somehow surviving through the difficulties both sides were facing. We see how one young farmer’s boy risks his life to head to war in hopes o finding his horse in a battle which would take millions of lives. The story itself is incredible, the pacing of the story however does feel inconsistent because we spend ten to fifteen minutes with each chapter, which never gives us enough time for the impact of those scenes.

History/WarThe history involved in the First World War is a moment that changed everyone involved, this is clear from the characters we see, each war scene does feel realistic even if it is more focused on the less graphic moments involved.

SettingsThe film uses the settings wonderfully to make us feel like we are involved in the scenes with the war scenes showing us how difficult the moments were for the men and horses.


Scene of the Movie –
Running free in no man’s land.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not getting enough time with each of the characters we meet.

Final ThoughtsThis is an incredible story showing the journey of one horse through the first World War, this creates the shocking truth of war, while it does lack the time spent on each character.

 

Overall: Incredible story of one horses journey through war.

Rating

 

 

The Sugarland Express (1974)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Har Barwood, Matthew Robbins (Screenplay) Steven Spielberg, Hal Banwood, Matthew Robbins (Story)

Starring: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, Williams Atherton, Gregory Walcott, Steve Kanaly, Louise Latham

 

Plot: A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don’t go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road.


Tagline – Every cop in the state was after her. Everybody else was behind her.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smartly Drive Crime Thriller

 

Story: The Sugarland Express starts when Lou Jean (Hawn) breaks her husband Clovis (Atherton) out of early release prison, they want to travel to Sugarland to get their son back after losing custody. The plan seems simple until a police officer Slide (Sacks) pulls over their car leading to the couple taking him hostage.

It isn’t long before this turns into a state wide pursuit led by Captain Tanner (Johnson) that seems to have ever police car in the state leading to a chain of cars heading to Sugarland.

 

Thoughts on The Sugarland Express

 

Characters – Lou Jean has lost custody of her child, now she will break her husband out of prison to get him back, she is the desperate mother who even though she doesn’t have the complete resources for parenting she will give the child all the love in the world. Clovis is the husband that goes on the journey believing this will be the last resort, he will support her even if she doesn’t give him the complete story. Slide is the police officer that is taken hostage, he is helpless to follow instructions putting his fate in the hands of his Captain and captors. Captain Tanner is the man that must figure out how to bring an end to the events, he doesn’t want a shootout, he must control all the officers in search of a peaceful ending.

PerformancesGoldie Hawn in the leading role as the desperate mother doing anything she can to get her child back, we see how she plays the naïve nature of her behaviour for the characters age involved which helps us support her decision. William Atherton as the boyfriend is good in his role showing moments of confusion like his character would be going through. Michael Sacks as the hostage cop he keeps calm through all the scenes which is needed for his character. Ben Johnson as the captain is a good watch because we almost see him planning each move in his head.

StoryThe story here is based on a real event about a couple that take a highway patrol officer hostage as they plan to get their child back. We follow this story closes and how the police didn’t want to get involved in anything crazy as the couple are going about the situation in a peaceful manner. What we see in the story is just how far people would go to get their child back after and just how the story would take the country by storm, with the supporters coming from each town they travel through and for some reason the endless numbers of cops that will follow them. When we start looking at how this plays out, we would have a different outcome now, first it would have been a lot harder to break the husband out of prison and secondly you feel the police would be a lot more aggressive when we go across state borders. If you want a story that could easily be one that captures a nations attention this will be one.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows us how the two petty criminals will go to extraordinary lengths to get their child back even if it means breaking the law in ways that will only get them in trouble for longer.

SettingsThe film takes us across the country in pursuit of a car which has taken a highway patrol officer hostage in an attempt to get their child, this is a questionable use of setting because we never really learn the scale of the distance travelled.


Scene of the Movie –
Going through the town with gifts.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing how far they travel.

Final ThoughtsThis is an early look at just how talented Steven Spielberg was going to be, it is a crime film that keeps you on edge and one that make you have sympathy for the criminals.

 

Overall: Early masterclass from Spielberg.

Rating