ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – D – Destroyer (2018)

Director: Karyn Kusama

Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, Toby Huss


Plot: A police detective reconnects with people from an undercover assignment in her distant past in order to make peace.

Tagline – You can’t run from yourself.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Kidman Powerhouse Performance


Story: Destroyer starts when one of Erin Bell’s (Kidman) former cases comes back into the spotlight, one which saw her go undercover with fellow officer Chris (Stan) within a gang run by Silas (Kebbell). This case took nearly everything out of Erin’s life including straining the relationship Erin has with her daughter Shelby (Pettyjohn).

As Erin starts to go through the gang, she gets to learn what the members have done with their lives in the time after the incident, Erin knows that Silas is coming for revenge and this investigation gives her a chance to face all her demons and make peace for her errors.


Thoughts on Destroyer


Characters – Erin Bell is a police officer that went so deep undercover that she lost her family, 17-years-later the leader of that gang has returned, this will give the Erin a chance to make peace with this case, trying to put her addiction problems a side, Erin won’t take any abuse from anybody, she will step over the line of the law to make sure she puts an end to this case. Silas is the leader of the gang, he makes his followers do anything to prove themselves to him and will lead them in breaking the law, he has gone into hiding, with his return making him a target for Erin. Petra is one of the main followers in the gang, she is one that is still active with Silas, showing that her addiction is still controlling her life. Chris is the partner that worked with Erin in the undercover job, we see how they got to learn to work together to make themselves seem like a couple.

PerformancesNicole Kidman gives one of her career best performances ever single scene we see her committed to this role where she demands your attention unlike any performance, we have ever seen from her before. Toby Kebbell does make us believe his character is on edge and a threat through each and every scene he appears in. Tatiana Maslany and Sebastian Stan complete the main supporting cast which shows us they can step up to look strong against Kidman through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a former undercover police officers that wants to make amends for her case which ended in tragedy and has made her lose out part of her life when it comes to family, turning her to her own addictions. The first thing to know about this that we have two times being viewed, it is easy to tell the two apart because of the length of Erin’s hair. As Erin is trying to locate Silas, we get the flashbacks to her interactions with the gang members as she gets to relocate them as she is searching for Silas. Away from the investigation side of the story, Erin is also trying to rebuild her relationship with her daughter one that she shattered with her problems in the past. The mix of the two stories shows us just how dysfunctional this life can become for anyone that gets too deep within the undercover job.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film follows the events of the robbery, how it went down and how the escape was planned. We do enter the crime world, which sees how Erin went undercover and operated within the gang, followed by how she bent the laws to track Silas back down.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which as always is a wonderful backdrop for the criminal underworld, it shows us just how crime can get done around the city without people seeing it come.

Scene of the Movie –
The robbery.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The final encounter.

Final ThoughtsThis is brilliant crime thriller that shows that Nicole Kidman is one of the greatest actresses of her generation, we have a story that keeps you guessing with an anti-hero in Erin that needs to fix her life.


Overall: Gripping Tense Thriller




Stronger (2017)

Director: David Gordon Green

Writer: John Pollono (Screenplay) Jeff Bauman, Bret Witter (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Richard Lane Jr, Nate Richman, Lenny Clarke, Patty O’Neil, Clancy Brown


Plot: Stronger is the inspiring real life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become a symbol of hope after surviving the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Tagline – Strength Defines Us

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliant Inspiring Drama


Story: Stronger starts as we meet Jeff Bauman (Gyllenhaal) a likeable supermarket worker that is a regular in his local Boston bar, while trying to rebuild his relationship with Erin (Maslany) who is running the Boston marathon. Jeff plans to be on the finish line to supporting Erin, this is where his life changed forever, when he is one of the victim in the bombings.

With his parents Patty (Richardson) and Big Jeff (Brown) by his side, we learn that Jeff has had both his legs amputated from above the knees. With the full support of his family, Erin, his employers and the city of Boston, Jeff starts his recovery, rehibition and learning that his life is never going to be the same again.  


Thoughts on Stronger


Characters – The characters in this movie are real people, you can’t make up their stories, their feelings and emotions about what has happened to them. Jeff Bauman is the average young man, working a normal job, living a normal life. His life is changed forever when he becomes one of the victims of the Boston marathon, losing both his legs. He must learn to accept his new reality of life, while dealing with the pressure of becoming the face for strength in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings. Erin Hurley is the on again off again girlfriend of Jeff’s it is for her that he attends the marathon, she gives everything to stick by him during his recovery, gives up her job to care for him, but she struggles to cope with extra demand on hr life. Patty is Jeff’s mother who brings the family together to support him, she does also struggle to see her son the way he is now.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is fantastic in this movie, he once again shows everybody that he is the real deal, he can accept any change needed to make himself the character while showing the emotional distress his character goes through. Tatiana Maslany is brilliant in her role too, she shows the difficulty that her character must go through with each action and speech she goes through. Miranda Richardson is great as the devastated mother who must remain strong after what has happened.

StoryThe story continues on the events of the Boston Marathon after last years Patriots Day. This time we just follow one man’s recovery and how it effects the people in his life. This story plays on the emotional level that which you feel as Jeff’s road to recovery unfolds. It shows how one moment in life can change everything in life and the people you are sharing that life with.

BiopicJeff Bauman was an average person, his friends loved and respected, his life changed making him a celebrity for the city, which is where the pressure is shown for him.

SettingsThe film is set in and around Boston which is where the event happened and it shows the life the people had before it happened.

Scene of the Movie –
Carlos meets Jeff.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was difficult to find one.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama showing the strength the city showed in support for Jeff through the tragic event that changed his life, we see how he did overcome the event to become stronger.


Overall: This is a power drama that shows how to find strength in the darkest moments.




Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror Franchise – Diary of the Dead (2007)

diaryDirector: George A Romero

Writer: George A Romero (Screenplay)

Starring: Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde, Joe Dinicol, Scott Wentworth, Philip Riccio, Chris Violette, Tatiana Maslany


Plot: A group of young film students run into real-life zombies while filming a horror movie of their own.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Found Footage Yay, Character Decisions No


Story: Diary of the Dead starts by taking us away from the original universe to the very start of the outbreak in the modern era of technology as we watch Jason Creed (Close) who makes a film about what happened with the original outbreak.

Jason has an idea to film the events of the outbreak with his fellow film makers, his girlfriend Debra (Morgan), Tony (Roberts) Tracy (Lalonde), Mary (Maslany) to mention a few. We watch their travel across country to find out how safe their families are.

Diary of the Dead takes out of the world we have come to know but it does take us to a world where the madness of the human curiosity into death has taken over the world as people want to see the outbreak happening on the internet. This continues to show Romero has the ability to evolve into the modern horror trends bring his own stamp to the found footage style film and once again bringing the new kills to the zombies with some of the most original of the time. On the negative we have to look at the poor character decisions in a world where they are actually making a horror movie the characters do seem to have no idea how to make rational decisions in a horror situation.


Overall: Wonderfully shot but poor character decisions loses a lot of the tension which should be created in the film.




Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming (2007)

stirDirector: Ernie Barbarash

Writer: Ernie Barbarash (Screenplay)

Starring: Rob Lowe, Marnie McPhail, Ben Lewis, Tatiana Maslany, Shawn Roberts, Vik Sahay, Colin Williams


Plot: A soldier returns home from the Iraq war only to be haunted by visions of the dead.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Basic Sequel


Story: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming starts we follow soldier Ted Cogan (Lowe) stationed in Iraq who is involved in an incident where he loses a soldier and what looks like an innocent Iraqi family. Returning home Ted struggles to readjust to life with his family wife Molly (McPhail) and son Max (Lewis). Matter don’t become any easier when he starts seeing visions of the family turning up in corners of his life.

Failing to receive any medical help for his post-traumatic stress disorder Ted must seek help from other means which involves embracing his visions to find out why they are haunting him.

Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming follows the same path of the original with our main character getting haunted by ghosts who are trying to get a message to him. It would be fair to say not much is different apart from trying to add in racial tension from the stand point of Americans against anyone with the heritage of Middle Eastern Americans. The story does all bottle down to a ghost trying to expose the truth but it spends too much time pointing fingers in one direction when the story is actually about a different direction.


Actor Review


Rob Lowe: Ted Cogan is the war veteran whose call left an innocent family killed and himself badly injured. Returning home Ted finds himself being haunted by the family he had killed and must fight to understand what they want from him. Rob is good in this role without reaching all of his known skill levels.

Marnie McPhail: Molly Cogan is the wife of Ted who has been keeping everything together while he was away, she struggles to support Ted because of monetary issues the family is facing and starts to question everything Ted is doing. Marnie is solid in this role but doesn’t get enough screen time.

Ben Lewis: Max Cogan is the teenage son of Ted who has started rebellious stage of his life with smoking. He has struggled to deal with what happened to his father while he was away. Ben plays a character key to the final outcome but really is just a generic teenager.

Support Cast: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming has a supporting cast you kind of just see in moments without actually knowing what the point in most of them are.

Director Review: Ernie BarbarashErnie fails to capture the overall creepiness the first film has in what is a simple jump scare repeat process.


Horror: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming is a jump scare repeat process that never actually scares when it should.

Thriller: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming does try to keep us guessing throughout but giving us no hints early on doesn’t make the ending stratifying.

Settings: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming uses the everyday life of the former soldier for the setting which doesn’t really end up making the scenes feel anymore impactful.
Special Effects
: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming has basic effects which work well enough for the film without saving it.

Suggestion: Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming is one I do think you can skip but you know what late night television viewing is acceptable. (Late Night TV)


Best Part: Arm burning.

Worst Part: Lazy jump scares.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hours 29 Minutes

Tagline: This time, the door cannot be locked


Overall: Poor sequel to an enjoyable horror.




Woman in Gold (2015)

ogoDirector: Simon Curtis

Writer: Alexi Kaye Campbell (Screenplay) E Randol Schoenberg, Maria Altmann (Life Story)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons, Charles Dance

Plot: Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Incredible True Story

Story: Woman In Gold starts Los Angeles 1998 where Maria (Mirren) is burying her sister, at the funeral she asks her friend for a favour. Maria is looking a lawyer and Randy Schoenberg (Reynolds) is the person she turns to. Randy has a big historic background but is trying to make it on his own after a failure to make his own practise work. Maria is trying to get her family artwork back after it was stolen during World War II by the Nazis.

Maria starts by just telling the story before pushing Randy into taking the case and after reluctantly taking his new boss Sherman (Dance) into taking the case and letting him go to Austria to investigate the case. The odd couple Maria and Randy travel to Austria and teaming up with Austrian Hubertus Czernin (Bruhl) to learn how the new legal system is starting and how difficult it will be to get her treasures back.

We do get flashbacks from Maria as she remembers pre-war and during the war what was happening to her family. When Maria loses her appeal it leaves the pair facing the losing battle when the only option is to go to court which they simply can’t afford. They bring the battle back to the States where they finally get the upper hand but will they finally win the case.

Woman In Gold when it comes to true story films we ask the questions how much is true because the horror genre has ruined the concept. I am always interested in a true story that explains something from history, we know the horrific crimes committed in the war by the Nazi’s. I think this is a great story that shows how hard people will fight for what is right, I do think some people will find this slow but fully enjoyable. (8/10)

Actor Review

Helen Mirren: Maria Altmann is a holocaust survivor who wants to bring her family’s art back after it was stolen by the Nazi’s during World War II. She teams up with young lawyer who has connections to her past to take on the Austrian government. Helen gives a great performance in the leading role. (9/10)maria

Ryan Reynolds: Randy Schoenberg is young lawyer who has a rich history in his name, he has failed in his business ventures to be a lawyer, he gets a chance to work with Maria putting all his future job opportunities on the line as well as his personal life. Ryan gives us a great performance showing he can do serious. (8/10)randy

Daniel Bruhl: Hubertus Czernin is the Austrian connection that helps Maria and Randy learn about the Austrian law when it comes to reclaiming painting stolen during the war. Daniel gives a good supporting character performance. (7/10)

Support Cast: Woman In Gold has supporting cast that all help or hinder along the way of the case.

Director Review: Simon Curtis Simon gives us a good film telling us an amazing true story. (9/10)

Drama: Woman In Gold shows just how far two people will go to for the truth. (9/10)

Settings: Woman In Gold uses the real settings to make everything feel real but also re-creates the locations in the flashback scenes that works great. (9/10)

Suggestion: Woman In Gold is one I think people should give a go, I do think everyone would enjoy this. (Watch)

Best Part: Chemistry between Mirren and Reynolds.

Worst Part: People might find the subject too serious.

Believability: Yes is based on the real story. (10/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: A few details about the true story at the start.

Oscar Chances:

Box Office: $33 Million

Budget: $11 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

Tagline: The fight for justice never ends

Overall: Woman in Black is a very underrated film that is brilliant story.

Rating 85