ABC Film Challenge – Action – I – In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Director: Ti West

Writer: Ti West (Screenplay)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, Karen Gillan, Toby Huss

 

Plot: A mysterious stranger and a random act of violence drag a town of misfits and nitwits into the bloody crosshairs of revenge.


Tagline – Keep Your Finger on the Trigger

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: John Wick the Western

 

Story: In a Valley of Violence starts when lone drifter Paul (Hawke) rides into a remote town with his trusty dog Abby, trying to keep to himself he gets the town drunk Gilly (Ransone) gets involved in a fight, which Paul wins with one punch. This grabs the attention of the Marshal (Travolta) and father of Gilly, who gives him a chance to walk away no questions asked, no more trouble.

When Gilly and his men comes for Paul in the dead of night, they leave him with nothing and now he swears to break his promise of no more killing, one last time.

 

Thoughts on In a Valley of Violence

 

Characters – Paul is the former soldier, he has lost everything while in battle and is heading to Mexico with his horse and dog. When this is taken from him, this former soldier will go on to show his skills by tracking down the men in an act of revenge. Marshal is trying to keep the peace in the town even after his son’s actions, he gets caught in the middle of follow the law and protecting his son. Mary-Anne is one of two sisters in this town, she is one of the few people in town that is vocal of her dislike to Gilly and offers Paul a reminder of his own daughter.

PerformancesEthan Hawke is wonderful in this leading role, he gives us a performance we can believe as the lone drifter with skills that can leave any town running red. John Travolta is strong in his scenes which are seem rare but are a major part of the film. Taissa Farmiga is good even if her character doesn’t get enough to do out of the typical girl in the west.

StoryThe story does bottle down to a simple revenge movie, think John Wick the western and you have the story set up. We have the lone trained killer that takes out the people that have don him wrong. This is a simple and enjoyable style of storytelling, the pace makes the film fly by and will leave you wanting more.

Action/Crime/WesternThe gun slinging action is all good and fits the western style the film is taking on, we get a simple crime story which works for the film.

SettingsThe film takes place in just one singular location in this remote town in the wild west which keeps things contained for the story.

Special EffectsThe effects are used with the kills and are done nicely without being over the top.


Scene of the Movie –
The main street shoot out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The women characters are written bland.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good, blood filled action western film that is well worth watching, this is a good watch and has a strong performance from Hawke.

 

Overall: Good addition to the western genre.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016)

Director: Sam Liu

Writer: Bryan Q Miller, Alan Burnett (Screenplay) Bryan Q Miller (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Rosario Dawson, Christopher Gorham, Shemar Moore, Jerry O’Connell, Jason O’Mara, Stuart Allan, Jake T Austin, Taissa Farmiga, Sean Maher

 

Plot: Robin is sent to work with the Teen Titans after his volatile behavior botches up a Justice League mission. The Titans must then step up to face Trigon after he possesses the League and threatens to conquer the world.


Tagline – Two teams. One epic battle.

Runtime: 1 Hour 18 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Justice League Movie

 

Story: Justice League vs. Teen Titans starts as Robin’s behaviour on the latest mission sees him disappointing his father Batman and letting down the Justice League, being forced by Nightwing, to work with the Teen Titans, Raven, Blue Beetles, Beast Boy and Starfire.

With Robin needing to bond with people his own age, the evil spirit Trigon finds a new host in Superman, one deadlier than the Justice League is ready to handle, leading to the Teen Titans needing to assist in the defence of the planet.

 

Thoughts on Justice League vs. Teen Titans

 

Characters – Robin is the son of Batman, he has been getting tired of going on the mission and not getting involved in the action, he ends up being sent to the Teen Titan headquarters to learn about teamwork, here he discovers that his abilities will make him a great leader. Starfire runs the Teen Titans, she is from another universe which has seen her become like a guardian to the teens. Raven is another inter-dimension being that has called Earth home, she has a connection to Trigon showing she is the only one that knows how to stop him. Beast Boy, Blue Beetle and Nightwing complete teen titans. The Justice League do take a step back for Robin to learn, with Batman being the disappointed father, Superman being the one that gets taken over first, with Trigon as the demon villain wanting to destroy the Earth.

StoryThe story here shows that Robin needs to learn his place in the world of superheroes as he isn’t ready to be a part of the Justice League and will need to be ready to lead another team of young heroes, the Teen Titans. This does show how the Justice League can’t always be turned to, to fight evil and how the past of the young teens will show they will be best to fight against the enemies that will come to Earth. This does build on everything we have meant in the genre bringing the adventures the popular characters into the animated world which can make things bigger too.

Action/ComedyThe action is big fight sequences which show what each hero is capable off, the comedy in the film comes from how the teens react to the superhero world they aren’t fully prepared for.

SettingsThe film uses the basic big city settings, while going to other worlds to learn the bigger pictures.

AnimationThe animation is this film is good without reaching the levels of Pixar levels of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The trip to hell.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too short really.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun animation that brings the Justice League into new light which is refreshing to see.

 

Overall: Justice League animation to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – J – Just One Day (2013)

Director: Adam Rodgers

Writer: Glenn German, Adam Rodgers (Screenplay)

Starring: Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga, Taissa Farmiga, Spencer Rocco Lofranco, Nicholas Braun, Tom Skerritt

 

Plot: Two parents fall in love over the course of a single day while playing hooky from their children’s college tour.


Tagline – You never know what you’ll discover on your first day at college.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming Drama

 

Story: Just One Day starts as we meet father George (Garcia) who is taking his son Conrad (Lofranco) to Middleton and mother Edith (Vera Farmiga) who is taking her daughter Audrey (Taissa Farmiga) on the tour too. Starting off clashing over little things, soon George and Edith spend the day touring the campus together as they both must deal with the parenting issues they are facing with their children’s choice in college.

As the day goes by George and Edith get to show their personal frustrations as they see what they could have had, while their children start learning about what they will be stepping into when going to college.

 

Thoughts on Just One Day

 

Characters – George Hartman is a surgeon that is taking his ambitious son on a college tour, he tries to come off tidy and organised, but it is Edith that helps him open up and express himself. Edith is taking her daughter on the tour, she comes off strong minded, but after spending time with George, we start to see how she really feels about her life. Audrey is the daughter of Edith, she only wants to go to Middleton even though she is attached to her phone most of the time, even though she is piling on the pressure at a way too early age. We also have Conrad who is George’s son that wants to make his own decision on where to attend college, he does try to help Audrey with her decisions on this day.

PerformancesAndy Garcia isn’t an actor you would know for romantic comedies, but here he nails it perfectly, giving us a likeable character with his own troubles. Vera Farmiga is great to in her leading role and between the two they have great chemistry. Taissa Farmiga is good too showing us just how obsessed parents can become when heading to college.

StoryThe story follows just one day in the life of to adults who are about to send their children to college, we see how important this day is for the children and how the parents can see a moment of freedom away from responsibility, but also see where things could have gone to make them happy.  This story is sweet when it needs to be, serious when it needs to be, but never sticking to just one, showing us just how to reflect life on the viewer who can connect with any of the four main characters.

Romantic/ComedyThe romantic and comedy genres do mix together nicely, we have two maybe romantic storylines, one between two married people and one between two potential students, the comedy comes into the film as we see how things go through the day, it isn’t laugh out loud funny, but funny that will leave a smile on your face.

SettingsThe whole film is set on the college campus, this helps the one day feel to the story and shows how big of a step college is for any teenager about to make it to the world.


Scene of the Movie –
Acting class, we get a real moment for both the characters who are also teaching the class with this moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ruining everything with a drug storyline.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that came out of nowhere for me, I couldn’t help but love how sweet it felt, even if I couldn’t connect with the college tour idea, it shows how certain moments show you something in life that will change how you see it.

 

Overall: Charming and sweet from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

The Nun (2018)

Director: Corin Hardy

Writer: Gary Dauberman (Screenplay) James Wan, Gary Dauberman (Story)

Starring: Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu, Charlotte Hope, Sandra Teles

 

Plot: A priest with a haunted past and a novice on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.


Tagline – Witness the Darkest Chapter in The Conjuring Universe

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Jump Scares 101

 

Story: The Nun starts after the mysterious death of a nun in an abbey in Romania, Father Burke (Bichir) and Sister Irene (Farmiga) are set to figure out if there was an unholy reason behind the death. joined by mostly outcast local and delivery man Frenchie (Bloquet) the three head off to the remote isolated abbey.

Once there it doesn’t take long before the three start suffering horrific visions of a ghost nun (Aarons) and moments from their own pasts, now they must work together to turn the once holy place, holy once again and rid the area of the demonic nun.

 

Thoughts on The Nun

 

Characters – Father Burke is the experience priest who has been the man to prove miracles or cure unexplainable events for the Vatican, he takes this job just like any other goes to investigate without needing to run from the horrors placed on front of him. Well he should be experienced enough not to make sloppy mistakes, not understanding certain abbey procedures, while he does talk a good game, he shouldn’t be as scared through what he is seeing. Sister Irene is preparing to become a nun, she is selected for this mission and the reason will become clear as the story unfolds. She is innocent with the world travelling, understand what is expected of her and tries to uncover the truth in the most sensible way possible, learning her true calling along the way. Frenchie is the delivery boy and womanizer of the local village, he reluctantly helps the two arrive at their destination only to help try to solve the goings on once her learns the evil has started to reach the town. The Nun figure is one we met first in the Conjuring 2, she stalks the hallways preying on people’s fears and now she has the latest victims. The demonic presence which will only add to the horrors the group will encounter.

PerformancesDemian Bichir as Father Burke is good for the most part, we believe his reactions when facing fear and he brings a calming nature to the story. Taissa Farmiga follows her sister into this franchise where she does a good job again with the fear side of the film, we get to see her show the innocence her character starts with too. Jonas Bloquet brings us a couple of laughs, while they are not needed they can lighten the mood at times. Bonnie Aarons as the nun is great, because we know how creepy this figure is and just what she will bring to the scares.

StoryThe story here brings us another back story to one of the stories of the Warren’s, this time we focus on the Nun and just where this demonic entity came from, first off we know this demon has a name from the previous encounters, so any studying up is not needed. We do go to the remote abbey to where the nun came from following the Vatican team set to try and solve the mystery and over a two-day period we watch how this mystery unravels. Now if we are to look at the story everything is simple, we arrive, its creepy, jump scares happen and the battle is on. The simplistic side of the story is also the weakness, Father Burke acts like he has battle this type of evil before, though he doesn’t seem to know anything to do with religion. The foreshadowing is too obvious through everything, we seem to lose a lot of the time, it is light, then dark and certain times it does feel like we are still watching the same events happening through the time change. If you are going just for the jump scares you will get what you want, because the story is sacrifice for the jump scares.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is following the new model of horror, hush the sounds, slow everything down before either crashing our ear drums with noise or throwing something at the camera, sure it works for a reaction stand point, but elsewhere it misses. The mystery should be a lot more interesting, the problems comes from focusing on jump scares over investigations.

SettingsThe setting, arguably the best part of the film, we have a beautiful remote gothic looking abbey that first puts our characters into the isolated location and secondly gives us all the chances we want to use the environment to add to the horror, with the chapel scene being a true highlight of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are great too, we get a mix of practical make up mostly which looks creepy, we do get CGI which is only used when needed without being anything overly fancy.


Scene of the Movie –
The final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Time Scale felt confusing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good addition to the Conjuring Universe, it does use the jump scares a lot, and while I wasn’t a fan of the weak story, I also don’t need to learn too much about the back story to need to worry about not enjoying jumping.

 

Overall: Jump scares a plenty, story lacks words.

Rating

 

 

Mark Strong Weekend – Mindscape (2013)

mindscapeDirector: Jorge Dorado

Writer:  Guy Holmes (Screenplay) Guy Holmes, Martha Holmes (Story)

Starring: Mark Strong, Taissa Farmiga, Brian Cox, Indira Varma, Noah Taylor

 

Plot: A man with the ability to enter peoples’ memories takes on the case of a brilliant, troubled sixteen-year-old girl to determine whether she is a sociopath or a victim of trauma.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mind Bending Thriller

 

Story: Mindscape starts by taking us to a world of memory Detectives who work for Mindscape run by Sebastian (Cox). The best detective is John Washington (Strong) who suffered a stroke on his last mission and suffering from the loss of his wife he wants to get back on the horse John takes the case of a troubled teenager Anna Greene (Farmiga).

John has to use the technology to go into the memories of Anna to try and unlock what is causing the decision to stop eating and acting the way she is. John has to work his way through Anna’s memories trying to figure out if she is a sociopath or a victim herself making this easy job one of the hardest of his career.

Mindscape is a film that does something we all like to see in a film, make us think as we have to watch the story unfold. We are led down different paths which does keep us guessing to just what is real or not with a final outcome that will leave you surprised. This is really a thinking film fans film which is well worth watching but not as a casual viewing.

 

Actor Review

 

Mark Strong: John Washington is a memory detective who has been struggling to keep his work separate from his personal memories and tragedies. He takes what looks like an easy job where he discovers the truth about Anna a troubled teenager. Mark is good in this leading role playing the good guy against his normal villainous role.

Taissa Farmiga: Anna Greene is the troubled teenager that is filled with stories, John is assigned to treat her but we are left to wonder which of her stories are real or just placed there to make John support her. Taissa is good in this role where we get to see her in a much more serious role that normal.

Brian Cox: Sebastian is the head of Mindscape who gives John this job knowing it should be an easier one for him to deal with. He has worked with John before knowing he is the best in the business he has also treated Anna in the past. Brian is solid in this supporting role but only in a couple of scenes.

Richard Dillane: Robert is the step-father of Anna who she believes is trying to get to the family money by putting her in a home, he is suspicious throughout but we are left to wonder what his try motives are. Richard is a solid supporting performance in this role.

Support Cast: Mindscape has a supporting cast that mostly leave us wondering what is going on with us wondering who is involved in what and fully keeping us guessing to the truth.

Director Review: Jorge DoradoJorge gives us a real mind twisting film that truly keeps you guessing.

 

Mystery: Mindscape is a film that throws us into a mystery leaving us to try and put the pieces together to find the truth.

Thriller: Mindscape sends us down different roads as we look for the truth behind the stories.

Settings: Mindscape keeps the settings simple with most being from inside the memories and where they take our characters.
Special Effects
: Mindscape has good effects when needed but tries to make more of the story about what might be going in the heads of the characters.

Suggestion: Mindscape is one that I would suggest the fans of the mystery genre to rally give a go. (Mystery Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Final act.

Worst Part: It can come off slightly too twist filled.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: Once you enter her mind, there’s no escape.

 

Overall: Twist filled thriller that just keeps you guessing.

Ratingcard