Brain on Fire (2016)

Director: Gerard Barrett

Writer: Gerard Barrett (Screenplay) Susannah Cahalan (Memoir)

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Thomas Mann, Richard Armitage, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jenny Slate, Tyler Perry


Plot: A young, capable professional cannot explain her newly erratic behavior.


Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Standard Drama


Story: Brain on Fire starts as we meet 21-year-old Susannah Cahalan (Moretz) she has her dream job working for the New York Times and has a steady relationship with musician Stephen (Mann), but her life starts to turn upside when her mind starts getting out of control, filled with blanks spells and erratic behaviour.

When Susannah starts suffering seizures the doctors don’t seem to be able to find anything wrong with her and as the decline increases so does her behaviour. Her parents Tom (Armitage) and Rhona (Moss) do their best to get her the best help and the doctors can clearly see there is something wrong, but the answers remain even more difficult to find.


Thoughts on Brain on Fire


Characters – Susannah Cahalan is a 21-year-old with her whole life ahead of her with her dream career at such a young age. Her life however takes a dramatic turn when she starts suffering from paranoia episodes which puts the strain on her personal and professional life with the doctors running out of options, this is her true story. Stephen is her boyfriend that uses his music to try and help ease her pain. Tom and Rhona fill the parental roles that both have different ways of handling their helplessness through the illness, as well as the friends that support her.

PerformancesChloe Grace Moretz is a great and talent young actress, but for this role you can see she is too young to truly understand the subject in question, remember this was film when she was 18/19 and the story is being told from perspective of someone in their early 20s, so you did need someone who would understand that age. The rest of the cast are fine without getting anything overly different to deal with.

StoryThe story is an important message about understand an illness which can be difficult to diagnose, and one people have been suffering with, this is her story about how she survived. One of the big problems is that we have scenes without her, so this can’t be from her memory, but second-hand account. For the subject involved we kind of understand how these stories will go and this doesn’t offer too much new to the genre. If this is something you enjoy watching you won’t be complaining, but it won’t make any of the top lists.

BiopicThis is Susannah’s story, you really can’t say a bad thing about her story, it just doesn’t truly feel film worthy.

SettingsThe film is set in New York and in hospitals, it shows the everyday life Susannah would have been living in at the time.

Scene of the Movie –
Margo visits Susannah.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It felt like an episode of House.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough biopic that doesn’t offer too much new, it is watchable but not one that will be talked about for years to come.


Overall: Standard biopic without the impact.




Movie Reviews 101 Halloween Midnight Horror – Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

logoDirector: Tommy Wirkola

Writer: Tommy Wirkola (Screenplay)

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Derek Mears, Robin Atkin Downes, Ingrid Bolos Berdal, Joanna Kulid, Thomas Mann, Peter Stormare


Plot: Hansel & Gretel are bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Action Heavy Story Short


Story: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters starts with a twist on the known Hansel & Gretel story where as children they were left in the forest by their parents. Hansel & Gretel come upon a candy covered home in search for help but what they find inside is witch but the two handle themselves, deal with the problem and never go back to their parents.

Grown up Hansel (Renner) & Gretel (Arterton) are known as the witch hunters going from town to town to defeat whatever witch is haunting the villagers. Sheriff Berringer (Stormare) is hunting a witch in his town and Hansel & Gretel are bought in by the Mayor to find the witch leading to the instant tension between the two parties. The Sheriff decides to hire his own team to find the witch but she does one better, Muriel (Janssen) finds them and makes quick work of them.

Hansel& Gretel capture one of the witches and discover the plan where Muriel leader of the witches is planning to take 12 children and after they take the 12th Hansel & Gretel become separated. Hansel gets help from a local girl Mina (Viitala) while Gretel receives help from an unlikely source a troll. Hansel & Gretel must face their deadliest enemy to date.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters takes an old story we all have heard before and makes it a all grown up version. I like the idea of see what happened when the pair grew up but sadly that is the only real positive I could find in this film. The fact that the action scenes are nearly all identical with running through the woods or the town followed by Hansel or Gretel getting pretty much battered before pulling of something as a pair to defeat the enemy makes me wonder how they have lasted this long. The witch’s motives seem like a very similar take on what ‘The Brothers Grimm’ film had going on and the attempted twists are easier to read that a Dr Seuss book. I felt very disappointed with the lack of originality in this story because I feel the idea has a lot of potential. (4/10)


Actor Review


Jeremy Renner: Hansel the brother of the pair who is very much the jump in head first kind of guy, he does spend a lot of time running through the woods but is loyal to Gretel until the end. Jeremy does a solid job and takes his beatings well, but never gets to show any of his acting abilities through this film. (5/10)


Gemma Arterton: Gretel the brains of the act who uncovers what is really going on, she is much more patient than Hansel but can handle herself in a fight. Gemma has the look of a sexy witch hunter but really that is all. (4/10)


Famke Janssen: Muriel the evil witch who is out to become the most powerful indestructible witch of all time. She is already more powerful than anything the two have faced before. Famke does a solid job in the villainous role but really doesn’t get a chance to be as evil as her character requires. (5/10)


Support Cast: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has a supporting cast that includes the fellow witches out to complete the ritual, it also has the towns people who are scared of what is happening.


Director Review: Tommy Wirkola – I have to say I like Tommy’s work on the Dead Snow films but this seems like it tries too hard to make something extra happen and forgets to make the simple happen. (4/10)


Action: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has plenty of running, getting beaten up, shooting and missing that it takes over the whole story with all easy action. (6/10)

Fantasy: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters takes us into a fantasy world of witches but tries to keep things real, which doesn’t always work. (6/10)

Horror: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters doesn’t really end up being that much of a horror we have some very good effect used on the kills but nothing truly horror. (4/10)

Settings: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters uses the settings well to put us in the time period the film is set in. (7/10)
Special Effects
: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters uses some good special effects but you did know when it is CGI. (6/10)

Suggestion: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is one to watch late night television when nothing is on and you feel like trying it. (Late Night TV)


Best Part: Certain kills are good.

Worst Part: Lack of story.

Action Scene Of The Film: Attacking the witches.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Open for one.

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $226 Million

Budget: $50 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Tagline: Classic Tale New Twist


Overall: This is a lacklustre addition to the action horror genre that really doesn’t know which genre it wants to be and falls flat on its face.

Rating 45

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

logoDirector: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Writer: Jesse Andrews (Screenplay) Jesse Andrews (Novel)

Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Katherine C Hughes, Matt Bennett, Masam Holden

Plot: High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Delightful but Tragic Drama

Story: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl starts with Greg (Mann) struggling to tell his story. Greg goes about his high school journey where he knows how to get away without ever being out of place with any social groups along with his best friend who Greg refers to as his co-worker Earl (Cyler). When Greg learns the news that one of his class mate Rachel (Cooke) has been diagnosed with leukaemia his parents force him to reach out to her.

While the Greg and Rachel start their friendship in an unconventional style as they believe they are both very different. We discovers that Greg and Earl enjoy making short films. Greg and Rachel do end up becoming actual friends and along with Earl we follow as the three continue a normal life while everyone else treats Rachel like she is suffering which includes Greg and Earl making a movie for

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl comes off feeling very fresh without becoming a full blown tear jerker, this could have easily gone down as just another film about a dying girl well dying but this film approaches the story from another angle, it shows what it would be like for a friend during the dying character time of suffering. This story never wants to let it get too down on what is happening and constantly trying to push the characters to look into the future. I especially like how Rachel is pushing Greg into making up his mind reflecting where the two stand, Greg having all the time in the world not wanting to use it while she knows she doesn’t pushing him to make sure he doesn’t waste it. This film is a delightful story that should be watched by all even if you need a tissue or two by the end. (8/10)

Actor Review

Thomas Mann: Greg is the social awkward high school student and along with his best friend which he refers to as co-worker befriend Rachel as he tries to treat her like a normal girl while everyone else everyone else is to sympathetic to her situation. We follow his last year at high school as he also has to make his big decision about his future and the two help each other. Thomas does a great job in this role and could easily be a future star. (9/10)greg

RJ Cyler: Earl is the co-worker to Greg who is actually his best friend who makes movies with Greg because they share the love for classic cinema. RJ gives a great debut role in a supporting role. (8/10)

Olivia Cooke: Rachel is the dying girl who once she gets diagnosed finds everyone treating her differently until Greg comes along to offer a new friendship where he gives her a normal friendship without sympathy and she teaches him to grow up. Olivia gives a great performance which will give us a leading star for the future. (9/10)rachel

Support Cast: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has a brilliant supporting cast that all give brilliant performances.

Director Review: Alfonso Gomez-RejonAlfonso gives us a brilliant film that goes against traditional tragic stories. (9/10)

Comedy: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has light comedy throughout which works well for the subject. (7/10)

Drama: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl gives us a near perfect drama about just growing up when one of the best friends won’t make it. (9/10)

Settings: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl uses the settings to show how normal the lives of the characters are because it will be what everyday people will have to deal with through the situation. (9/10)

Suggestion: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one to be watched by all, it is one of the best stories of the year and will teach you the lesson in life. (Watch)

Best Part: Performances by Mann and Cooke.

Worst Part: Not one.

Believability: The suffering the characters would go through are real, the idea of friendship is real. (8/10)

Chances of Tears: You will have a few by the end. (5/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: The Fault in Our Stars

Oscar Chances: Could be an outside bet.

Budget: $8 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Tagline: A little friendship never killed anyone

Overall: Brilliant Drama about growing up and not being afraid of the world

Rating 90

Trailer Alert – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Plot – A teenage filmmaker befriends a classmate with cancer.

Release Date: 11th September

Stars: Olivia Cooke, Thomas Mann, Jon Bernthal, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon

What Looks Good? Charming story.

What Looks Bad? There will be tears.

Summary: I ask the question do you need to have another film about teenage love tragedy, well if yes this will be the winner of that award this year. Can this finally be the breakout performance for Olivia Cooke?


Will I Be Watching? Yes

Will You Be Watching?

My Anticipation Rating – 80%

My Guess Rating – 75%

Will It Be Number One In UK? – No