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

 

 

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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

 

 

1941 (1979)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale (Screenplay) Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, John Milius (Story)

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, John Belushi, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson

 

Plot: Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.


Tagline – As They Roared Into Battle, Only One Thing Was Missing…The Enemy!

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simply Not Good Enough

 

Story: 1941 starts in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, The Japanese are searching for Hollywood for their latest attack, while the army are planning to create a defence on the Californian coastline, Sgt Frank Tree (Aykroyd) leads his men in preparations while pilot Captain Wild Bill Kelso (Belushi) travels the country to support his troops.

The preparations bring us comical happenings which lead to what is going on between the Americans and the impending Japanese.

 

Thoughts on 1941

 

Characters – We have so many characters in this film it is hard to pick out the main ones, we will though, Sgt Frank Tree tries to keep peace between his soldiers and not letting them fight with the locals. Ward Douglas is the man that sees it has an honour to host the army for prime location for defence. Captain Wild Bill Kelso is a pilot that enjoys a drink, he heads across country to join the battle. Where we have too many characters it is hard to see which one we are meant to be follow the most.

PerformancesThe performances are affected by the mass cast because no one gets to show their best skills, we have the comical actors that want to joke, only for them to miss, then the serious actors not hitting their moments either.

StoryThe story follows the Americans as they plan for a potential next attack on America from the Japanese in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbour attack. The problem I see with this story, it showing us how we make light of a devastating moment in history with the Pearl Harbour attack and shows how America did panic but didn’t seem to take the events serious, well that is what the film gives us.

Action/Comedy/WarThe action plays into the comedy which gets basic laughs but most of the laughs seem to have dated badly and even just give us toilet humour, all with the backdrop of World War II.

SettingsThe film puts us in LA for the events of the film which shows how Hollywoodland would react to the impending war.


Scene of the Movie –
Plane sex.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the biggest misses of Spielberg’s career, it has too many characters and doesn’t manage to balance out the comedy and action well enough.

 

Overall: Disappointing throughout.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Jaws (1975)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb (Screenplay) Peter Benchley (Novel)

Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton

 

Plot: A local sheriff, a marine biologist and an old seafarer team up to hunt down a great white shark wrecking havoc in a beach resort.


Tagline – See it before you go swimming.

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Suspenseful Classic

 

Story: Jaws starts as when a college student goes missing, Chief Brody (Scheider) believes it to be a shark attack and wants to close the beaches, but the Mayor (Hamilton) refuses to allow it, when the shark takes another victim, the town becomes a panic after a reward is put forward.

Quint (Shaw) offers to rid the town of the shark, but for a price, but random hunters from around America turn up to try and capture the shark. Marr Hooper (Dreyfuss) arrives in town to help with the higher level of knowledge even understand the species of shark behind it.

With July 4th around the corner Chief Brody must battle the mayor on whether to keep the beaches open until the latest appearance leaves Brody, Quint and Matt needing to hunt down the great white.

 

Thoughts on Jaws

 

Characters – Chief Brody is the police on the island, he is afraid of the water, he does want to do the right thing and close the beaches, but doesn’t get the support from the mayor, he must work on his fears to hunt down the shark. Quint is an expert hunter, he offers to kill the shark for a higher target, an outsider in society, a drunk, blunt with anyone he doesn’t like, which is most people. Matt Hooper is the expert that comes down to identify which shark species could be feeding off the shores, he knows his sharks and the danger, habits they possess.

PerformancesRoy Scheider is great in the leading role because he needs to be the fear between the three men, while also being the authority. Robert Shaw as the outsider works well, he makes us believe he is an outsider with each action. Richard Dreyfuss is great too which does complete the chemistry the three lead men need for the second half of the film.

StoryThe story follows a tourist island which finds itself being targeted by a shark, wanting to treat it as the new feeding ground. We follow the three different characters, from different fields that must work together to rid the waters of the shark before the tourist industry is ruined for the residents. This is a simple story to follow which is good because that is what it needs to be, it bottles down to needing to deal with a problem the quickest way possible.

AdventureThe adventure side of the film shows the three needing to work together to take on the shark, roaming the waters.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings simple, we have the land island surrounded by water which because the hunting ground of the shark, this could be any water related resort.

Special EffectsThis is where Spielberg became an icon, he knows how to handle the need for the use of effects, which is used only when required.


Scene of the Movie –
Bigger boat.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Mayor power.

Final ThoughtsThis is always going to go own as one of thee greatest movies of all time, still feeling timeless which is what we like in our movies, the simple story works and the use of music adds to the tension throughout the film.

 

Overall: Wonderful thriller.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – W – War of the Worlds (2005)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Josh Friedman, David Koepp (Screenplay) H.G. Wells (Novel)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Rick Gonzalez, Yul Vazquez

 

Plot: As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival.


Tagline – They’re already here

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sci-Fi Spectacular

 

Story: War of the Worlds starts when the deadbeat dad figure Ray (Cruise) is left to look after his children Rachel (Fanning) and Robbie (Chatwin) for a weekend, while he ex-wife Mary Ann (Otto) goes away with her new partner. We see early on the problems and strain in the relationship, but when an unknow storm hit New York a robotic creature comes out of the ground, killing everyone.

Ray grabs his kids and gets the hell out of the city racing across the country in hope of getting to Mary Ann where the kids want to be, the problem is the America is going into chaos and it becomes survival of the fittest against these unkillable robots.

 

Thoughts on War of the Worlds

 

Characters – Ray is the deadbeat dad that has always be a let down to his kids, he doesn’t live in the nicest house, but the neighbours all love him. He is distant from his children after the divorce and after the attack happens this everyday man must do everything he can to keep his children safe. Rachel is his youngest child, she is insecure about being away from her mother, needing to put trust in her father, reacting panicked during the attacks like a young girl would, but strangely offering mature advice with dealing with the older brother. Mary Ann is the ex-wife and mother that is the target for the journey across America. Robbie is the eldest son that does hate his father, as he sees the good in his father he wants to join the fight back against the invaders. Harlan Ogilvy is a stranger that offers help only to be the one that could put Ray’s family in the most danger.

PerformancesTom Cruise is wonderful in this leading role, he proves he can be the everyman in this role, he shows the vulnerable moments needed as his character only has one goal, save his family. Dakota Fanning continued to show she was a force in the future of Hollywood with her performance where she shines. Tim Robbins gives us a truly creepy character while the rest of the cast is great too.

StoryThe story is a modern version of one of the greatest radio recordings of all time, we bottle the story down nicely to focus on one father that is doing everything he can to keep his children safe during an alien invasion. Sure, the ending is weak, but this is much like Jurassic Park, it isn’t about the aliens, its about the people surviving the situation. The story is simple to follow to as we see the family getting caught up in different moments of the attack each one showing the panic that would surround it.

Adventure/Sci-FiThe adventure is filled with peril and shock as the family races for survival, this survival will show the horrors of what will happen if they don’t become safe. The sci-fi side of the film showed us just how the aliens came to invade, came rom beneath us and prepared against our own weapons.

SettingsThe film shows us the destruction of the aliens leave in their path, we see how the big cities are destroyed and how the quiet location are just as dangerous.

Special EffectsThe effects for the film are fantastic, from the early destruction to the special look of the wide shots of the attack going on.


Scene of the Movie –
Basement scene with Harlan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end of the story is always weak.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the great modern sci-fi films, it modernises one of the greatest stories, we have excellent special effects and a story that is simple enough to be effective.

 

Overall: Sci-Fi fans must be watching.

Rating