ABC Film Challenge – Action – U – USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (2016)

Director: Mario Van Peebles

Writer: Cam Cannon, Richard Rionda Del Castro (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, Matt Lanter, James Remar, Brian Presley, Yutaka Takeuchi

 

Plot: During World War II, an American navy ship is sunk by a Japanese submarine leaving 890 crewmen stranded in shark infested waters.


Tagline – Based on a true story of survival.

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Confusing

 

Story: USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage starts when the USS Indianapolis is selected for a new mission, Captain McVay (Cage) must lead his ship solo in an attempt to deliver weapons on the secret mission, the ship can handle any ship or plane, but the weakness comes from submarines, which they usually have destroyers to help with.

After completing the mission they are returning home, when the ship gets torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, the men get scattered in the ocean with limit supplies and sharks waiting to pick them off, this turns into a battle to survive in wait for rescue.

 

Thoughts on USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage

 

Characters – Captain McVay has the respect of the crew, they know they can trust him, they know he will treat them well, he is part of the crew that is sunk, he will make sure his men are safe taking control in a fair way where everybody is given the same, he will spend his time searching for more crew. McWhorter is one of the crew that gets injured in the sinking, he fights through with McVay by his side. Lt Adrian Marks is a pilot that manages to finally find the crew while searching for lost planes. We do meet way too many crew members to keep on top of who was who in this film, which only confuses us while trying to keep on top of the cast.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is the highlight of the performances and he ends up making certain scenes feel like a comedy. Tom Sizemore does all he can, while Thomas Janes doesn’t have enough time to do anything. The overly large cast just makes everything confusing, making it hard to judge any of the performances.

StoryThe story looks at the history behind the USS Indianapolis sinking after delivery the weapons that bought about the end of the war. The story should be one that brings historical survival moment to life, instead we spend way too much time following too many characters just stranded in the water, which I understand is a big part of what happened, but seeing the political side of the story felt a lot more interesting. This is a story that does seem to end up falling into one that drags for way too long, we are left wondering just why we need to end up seeing too many characters, which makes it difficult to support any of the characters involved. This is hard to say because we know this really happened and these were real people of the horrors of war.

Action/History/WarThe action in the film is war based which is solid enough, to tell the historical moment at the end of the war.

SettingsThe film is set mostly in the ocean as the survivors need to wait in hope of rescue, surrounded by sharks with limited supplies.


Scene of the Movie –
Court Case.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis should be a much better movie when you see just how serious the story should be, sadly moments feel like comedy and it is hard to keep up with he pure number of characters involved.

 

Overall: Misses the point.

Rating

 

 

Thomas Jane Weekend – White Bird in a Blizzard (2014)

Director: Gregg Araki

Writer: Gregg Araki (Screenplay) Laura Kasischke (Novel)

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Ava Acres, Thomas Jane

Plot: In 1988, a teenage girl’s life is thrown into chaos when her mother disappears.


Tagline – I was 17 when my mother disappeared…

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Uninspiring Teenage Mystery

Story: White Bird in a Blizzard starts when 17-year-old Kat (Woodley) comes home from school to find her father Brock (Meloni) worried about where he mother Eve (Green) has gone, just vanished, taking nothing with her. Following the normal missing person reports through Detective Scieziesciez (Jane) trying to help the best he can.

As Kat examines her life, she starts to think that her mother might have run off with someone else, but the uncertainty around the truth is driving her crazy as she continues to push on her new sexual desires.

Thoughts on White Bird in a Blizzard

Characters – Kat is the 17-year-old girl that is nearing the end of school, has a boyfriend that isn’t given her enough attention for her own desires and then her mother vanishes, she is left wondering why she would just leave right when she was become a woman and needed her help. Eve is the mother of Kat, she has changed over the recent years and now has vanished, we learn about her character through Kat’s memories of her. Brock is the father that Kat thinks is a loser, he is worried about his wife and does the best to stay strong for Kat. Phil is the boyfriend of Kate, he lives across the street and is the opposite to who she was looking for in a man.

PerformancesShailene Woodley does everything fine through this film, she is the strongest of the performers, though that isn’t saying much. Eva Green, Christopher Meloni and Shiloh Fernandez all have one strong scene, while largely being forgettable in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that must deal with the sudden disappearance of her mother, not knowing the truth or who could offer the truth about what has happened. This isn’t the inspiring story because it offers up a mystery only for the story to spend too much time on wondering if Kat is going to get laid and by who, we really don’t spend anytime investigating why or what could have happened to her mother, which only disappoints us. This story does drag along to, which for a 90-minute movie is a giant disappointment.

MysteryThe mystery behind this film does leave us feeling like it forgets there is a mystery halfway through the film, it just doesn’t shine enough of a spotlight onto the mystery.

SettingsThe settings in the film show us a small town that our main character wants to get out off, which sees more people knowing things than they are willing to give away, when it comes to the truth.


Scene of the Movie – Freezer search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The mystery doesn’t seem to be the main focus.

Final Thoughts This feels like a long movie even though it has only a 90-minute runtime, it just drags and doesn’t focus on the mystery enough.

Overall: Dull.

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – V – The Veil (2016)

Director: Phil Joanou

Writer: Robert Ben Garant (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe, Thomas Jane, Aleksa Pallandino, Shannon Woodward, Reid Scott

 

Plot: Twenty-five years after members of a religious cult committed mass suicide, the lone survivor returns to the scene of the tragedy with a documentary crew in tow.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Mystery

 

Story: The Veil starts as we learn about Jim Jacobs (Jane) and his religious cult that committed mass suicide at a place known as ‘The Veil’ only one person survived, a young girl. 25-years-later a documentary film maker Maggie Price (Alba) leads a team with the grown-up survivor Sarah (Rabe) back to ‘The Veil’ to learn what happened and why Sarah was spared.

Being back gives Sarah a few answers as she leads the team around the camp discovering a secret stash of videos which show what Jim Jacobs was up to in cult and not everything is what they were expecting as they start to find themselves haunted by the spirits of the cult.

 

Thoughts on The Veil

 

Characters – Jim Jacobs is the leader of the cult, he wants to prove the spirit can be separated from the body, did he die in the mass suicide or did he achieve his goal with the other members of the cult. Maggie the lead in the documentary team, she introduces the team and arranges for Sarah to return, she does also have a connection to what happened during the mass suicide. Sarah is the lone survivor from the suicide, she returns as a grown up even if she does seem to be happy to be back to learn the truth.

PerformancesThomas Jane is the highlight of this movie, his performance is filled with all the crazy needed for role. Jessica Alba on the other side of the coin is average to poor throughout, this role could have been played by anyone to a higher level. Lily Rabe does continue to make herself feel like she should be in horror films at all times.

StoryThe story follows the documentary team looking at new evidence which could explain what was happening on the site of a mass suicide. The idea of learning what happened through a mix of tapes which sadly don’t feel like found footage which is the biggest problem. The continuing idea works but the forced horror is the stumbling block here. The story does also have flaws including why didn’t the police investigate the property to find the tapes, I mean come on there was a mass suicide surely raiding every possible location is important in an investigation.

Horror/MysteryThe horror does feel forced for the most part and once we see the final scene feels almost unnecessary, this could easily have just stuck to the mystery thriller side of things and kept us on edge wondering where things will go next.

SettingsThe whole film is set on the Veil, it shows a place that has had mass suicides would be haunting to be around as well as have secrets people might have missed.

Special EffectsThe effects for the ‘found footage’ are way too high of a quality, this is mostly down to one moment feeling like it has the grainy effect but the next we are thrown into that time. The ghost activity is fine but nothing overly impressive.


Scene of the Movie –
The final moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I want to put a couple here, first why did the police not investigate the surrounding area? Why is Jessica Alba a lead actress? The horror is mostly plain old jump scares.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book horror mystery thriller which would have hit higher levels if it had remained just a mystery thriller without the pointless jump scares that miss most times. We also have a forgettable supporting crew in the documentary team.

 

Overall: Try but don’t buy in.

Rating

 

 

Before I Wake (2016)

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writer: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay, Annabeth Gish, Topher Bousquet, Dash Mihot

 

Plot: A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps.


Tagline – Fear your dreams

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Surprising Horror

 

Story: Before I Wake starts when couple Jessie (Bosworth) and Mark (Jane) decide to adopt after losing their own son, they take in Cody (Tremblay) who seems like a pleasant young boy that there seems to be a mystery about why other families haven’t been able to care for him.

The days that follow show that Cody has an ability to bring his creation to life during his sleep, first with butterflies, then Sean but what comes from his dreams also comes from his nightmares in the form of the Canker Man.

 

Thoughts on Before I Wake

 

Characters – Jessie is the mother of the house, she is filled with guilt because of the death of their son, she doesn’t sleep much and gets addicted to the idea that Cody can give her time with her late son. Mark is the father of the house, he has grieved in his own way and is eager to become friends with Cody as quickly as possible to fill the void he has been left with. Cody is the young boy the couple adopt, he has been going through families even though he comes off pleasant, he isn’t a bad kid, he just has his dreams and nightmares come to life.

PerformancesKate Bosworth is good in this leading role being what we need for this film, it isn’t truly stand out but does everything it needs to, Thomas Jane works well too and Jacob Tremblay also goes a great job for the young actor who seems to be wonderful throughout.

StoryThe story follows a family that has lost their own child and now want to adopt to help move to the next stage of their life, the problem comes from the idea that the child’s dreams come to life when he is sleeping. We are in the horror world which does take the back burner to everything because we are dealing with personal loss and trying to move on. We do have horror moments too, the idea that a child could dream things that come to life which brings wonder and terror unlike anything the adults could imagine. We do get an investigation too which again is something we always see and works for these types of films.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy involved in this film plays into the idea that dreams and nightmare can come to life bringing new horror to the victims.

SettingsThe film keeps most of the activities in the home which makes sense because that is the main place you would sleep.

Special EffectsThe effects show us how what can be created in a child’s mind and just how it can bring joy and terror into the world, the moment he awakes if just vanishes.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth is wonderful to see unfold.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I got confused when Cody was attacked in his sleep.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror that does bring us into a word that can be filled with wonder and terror without even realizing it.

 

Overall: Wonderful horror with beauty visuals.

Rating

 

 

The Predator (2018)

Director: Shane Black

Writer: Fred Dekker, Shane Black (Screenplay) Jim Thomas, John Thomas (Characters)

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen

 

Plot: When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.


Tagline – You’ll never see him coming.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Commits to Comical Tone

 

Story: The Predator starts as we meet elite sniper Quinn McKenna (Holbrook) whose latest job sees a spacecraft crash land with a Predator butchering his team, with a few goodies he finds, he sends home, knowing what is coming. With his son Rory (Tremblay) being an Asperger’s sufferer, he accidently unlocks the code trapped within the system.

Government agent Traeger (Brown) is trying to unlock the system and when the captured Predator escapes, Quinn must team up with other soldiers branded crazy, Nebraska (Rhodes), Coyle (Key), Baxley (Jane), Lynch (Allen) and Nettles (Aguilera) who help scientist Casey (Munn) find a solution for the new Predator problem.

 

Thoughts on The Predator

 

Characters – Quinn McKenna is a sniper who finds himself in the middle of the latest Predator ship crash landing, surviving his first encounter with the creature, he uses the technology to escape, he must use his training to protect his son and save the world from the impending attack. We do know he isn’t the best family man, but this night should bring him closer to his son. Nebraska is one of the ‘crazy’ soldiers, he will help Quinn becoming the connection between the rest pushing them to do the right thing. Rory is the Asperger’s sufferer that can solve puzzles others can barely unpack, he is your typical different student and school, the outsider if you like. Casey is the scientist bought in to help understand just what is happening with the Predator’s visiting Earth and certain questions about their DNA. Traeger is the government that is trying to keep the lid on everything, he will kill anyone that cross the government to keep secrets and has a dark sense of humour. The rest of the soldiers, Coyle, Baxley, Lynch and Nettles do have their own problems from serving in the military with this battle giving them a chance to redeem themselves.

PerformancesBoyd Holbrook in the leading role is good for the film, he doesn’t reach the levels of Arnie and will fit in well with the rest of the leads. Trevante Rhodes is the guy you most want to watch, he gets the best scenes for the military unit. Jacob Tremblay is getting a reputation for playing kids with troubled sides, he seems to be excellent at this type of role, this however would be his weakest outing so far. Olivia Munn is good even though she doesn’t get the best scenes to work with. Sterling K Brown makes for a great fun human villain and the rest of the unit show good chemistry.

StoryThe story here follows another group of soldiers that come face to face with a Predator and must fight back to survive, this time we have a bigger, badder Predator. Now is a fun story to watch, however if you are a fan of the original this will not give you everything you want to see. The biggest plus in this movie is explaining why the Predators visit Earth, watching this is the right move for the franchise. The story does show insensitive when it comes to dealing with the military unit that clearly have their own mental health problems which sadly gets overlooked and turned into a running joke. For a man of Shane Black’s calibre, we would expect better written scenes, instead of just lazy insults. The key element to take away from the story is that we are watching something fun that has moved away from the original tone.

Action/Adventure/Horror/Sci-FiThe action is big, we get the fights which are big and bloody which is all we want to see, the horror does take a back burner as even when the film tries to be suspenseful it falls short, but the blood does help us out here. The sci-fi side of the film comes from trying to build a bigger world for the Predators to visit from.

SettingsThe film doesn’t make use of the settings too, we get the woodland area which plays into Predators speciality.

Special EffectsThe effects here are very weak for the budget, the opening sequence alone is poor for what we would expect, when it comes to the camouflage ability doesn’t even look better than the 87 film.


Scene of the Movie –
Hello big boy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Making a joke of the mental health problems soldiers face.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun sequel, the tone does stay the same from start to finish which other big blockbusters have failed to do, we get to see more about the history of Predators and most importantly we learn just how deadly they can be.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable.

Rating