ABC Film Challenge – Random – V – Vanilla Sky (2001)

Director: Cameron Crowe

Writer: Cameron Crowe (Screenplay) Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton, Michael Shannon

 

Plot: A self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate finds his privileged life upended after a vehicular accident with a resentful lover.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Trippy Fantasy Thriller

 

Story: Vanilla Sky starts as we meet David Aames (Cruise) a playboy publishing mogul that inherited this from his father. He sleeps with beautiful women including actress Julie Gianni (Diaz) but always finds time for his best friend Brian Shelby (Lee). But, his life has been shattered thanks to a car accident which has left him disfigured hiding behind a mask in jail.

While waiting for his hearing David recounts the events which led up to his charges to McCabe (Russell). We learn how David meets Sofia Serrano (Cruz) the woman of his dreams but Julie shows her jealous side causing a car crash which leaves him broken and living between reality and dreams, needing to face his new life.

 

Thoughts on Vanilla Sky

 

Characters/PerformanceDavid lived a life where he could have any women living the life of luxury until this lifestyle catches up with him, leaving him disfigured and in jail, recounting the events between the two moments. Sofia is the new love that David falls for, she has all the chemistry he requires for something different being the motivation for David to fix himself. Julie is the jealous former lover that causes the accident, she is an actress that is filled with self-confidence but all that isn’t everything we have come to know.

Performance wise, Tom Cruise is great in the leading role, not being afraid to make himself slightly disfigured for this role. Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz are both are both also great in the roles of the two women in David’s life.

StoryIn a story that leaves you questioning nearly everything going on even after you believe you have just worked everything out, well this story will keep you all over the place. I do think this does enough to keep us guessing without becoming tiring and will completely satisfied by the end.

Fantasy/Mystery/RomanceThe fantasy world created comes through in the end and it will leave you shocked with the outcome of the film, getting to this stage we are left with a big mystery into just what has been happening with the romance being how David falls in love with Sofia.

SettingsEach setting is used well, but the truly special moment in the New York being empty looks fantastic.

Special EffectsThe effects that are used to create the disfigured looking David all come off great with the other effects all doing the required effect in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis film will test your mind which is always something we like to see in films, yes, it is a remake or reimagination but still it looks fantastic.

 

Overall: This was a true mind bender of morale decision making.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Director: Andrew Adamson

Writer: Ann Peacock, Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Screenplay) C.S. Lewis (Book)

Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Williams Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent

 

Plot: Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Start to a Franchise

 

Story: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe starts as the Pevensie children Lucy (Henley), Edmund (Keynes), Peter (Moseley) and Susan (Popplewell) are evacuated to the country during World War II.

When the youngest Lucy discovers a wardrobe in the house she finds the magical world of Narnia and Mr Tumnus (McAvoy) who teaches her all about this winter ravished land with the evil White Witch controlling. With Edmund finding his way into Narnia he meets the White Witch (Swinton) who asks him to bring the rest of the children to her kingdom.

When the four children are reunited, they learn they must fight alongside Aslan the lion in a battle against the evil Witch in an adventure they could never imagine.

 

Thoughts on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

Characters/PerformanceLucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan are thee four children, they all have their difference but most of all they work together to succeed on their mission. They must look after each other through the human war and the fantasy war they find themselves fighting in. thee White Witch is a character that works on the villainous side of the story and with her deceiving white image we can get misled to her true nature. With any extra characters being the different fantasy creatures the children meet along the way we know the world we find ourselves in.

Performances now, the four children all do a good job in their roles showing each of the character’s strengths and weakness. Tilda Swinton always makes for a great villain with McAvoy giving us a good supporting performance.

StoryStory wise this plays into the idea of what children could find themselves doing when they have escaped from a war-torn country. I do understand that this is meant to be a real adventure they find themselves on but the reality is it can be looked at as an escape. The idea of a battle between good and evil is all fine and needed for this film as it is the start of a bigger set of stories to come.

Adventure/Fantasy/FamilyThe adventure is massive for these children as they find themselves in a fantasy world they could never imagine, this is one the whole family could find themselves enjoying.

SettingsThe settings all come off very well for this film as we see the bleakness of the world the children find themselves escaping from and the wonder of the fantasy world they find themselves entering.

Special EffectsMost of the special effects here are brilliant, we do have a lot of CGI which in the most part in flawless it would only be the voice acting for some of the creatures that I would question.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good starter for a franchise, it does go generic with the male children doing the fighting and the female being considered for magic and curing style but this franchise came at the wrong time getting buried by the Harry Potter one.

 

Overall: This is how you start a franchise correctly.

Rating

 

 

Okja (2017)

Director: Joon-ho Bong

Writer: Joon-ho Bong (Screenplay)

Starring: Seo-Hyun Ahn, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins

 

Plot: Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal named Okja.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Adventure

 

Story: Okja starts in the year 2007 as Lucy Mirando (Swinton) and her company have created super pigs to help halt the starvation problem the world is facing, these pigs will be raised in different countries around the world too.

10 years later Mija (Ahn) lives with her creature Okja as they live a peaceful life in the countryside. Here we see how the two help each other out through the challenges of a small farming life. The peacefully life is about to change when zoologist Johnny Wilcox (Gyllenhaal) arrives declaring Okja the winner of the super pig contest, wanting to take her back to New York.

Mija leaves home in search of Okja after learning the truth about what the super pigs are being bred for. Mija locates Okja in Seoul where activists ALF led by Jay (Dano) help release her to cause chaos in Seoul. Mija finds herself going on a world adventure with Okja becoming the face of Mirando while ALF continue to look to expose Mirando for what they really are.

 

Thoughts on Okja

 

Characters/PerformanceMija has lived with Okja for the ten years but once Okja is taken to America she sets out on a mission to find her life long friend in an adventure that takes her around the world. This is a brilliantly created vision of innocence, determination and exploitered young girl. Lucy Mirando is the owner of the company that created Okja, this is a PR stunt to help improve the image of the genetic experiments going on within the company. She is a brilliant business mind that is just waiting for her company to come good again. Johnny Wilcox is the expert and face of Mirando who has been working on the project for ten years, but slowly going insane with questionable morals and drinking problems. Jay is the leader of the latest ALF project, his team has been working to release the Super Pigs and expose the Mirando cooperation.

Performance wise, Seo-Hyun Ahn is the latest star to come out of South Korea giving us a brilliant performance in the leading role. Tilda Swinton once again show just how talented to she is even in dual roles. Paul Dano continues to know how to make his character stand out in any film too. It is Jake Gyllenhaal that steals nearly every single scene here with his completely over the top delivery that will have you in stitches everything single scene.

StoryThe story shows us how evil cooperation are willing to create animals just for consumer reasons, we see how the friendship can create an adventure that goes across the globe but this isn’t just a PG adventure this is an adult one. There are plenty of warnings in the story too, mostly around the idea of how to treat animals and not take things for granted. We do have moments of laughter and tears too so be prepared on all accounts.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action side of the film is mostly about the chases to get the freedom that Mija and Okja desire so much with the adventure being the two leaving a small farm and travelling the world. The sci-fi side of everything shows us the warning about the potential food crisis in the future.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully as we see the beauty of the home farm and the big city where Mija is lost searching for her friend.

Special EffectsThe effects are great through the film as we do have the CGI Okja and other super pigs that just seem to blend into the worlds perfectly.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the films that is part warning, part friendship and part social commentary as we learn the problems the world will face and how they are thinking of solving them.

 

Overall: One of the must watches of 2017

Rating

 

 

Trainkwreck (2015)

trainwDirector: Judd Apatow

Writer: Amy Schumer (Screenplay)

Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Evan Brinkman, John Cena, Tilda Swinton, LeBron James

 

Plot: Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Offense Comedy

 

Story: Trainwreck starts as we meet sexual adventurous Amy (Schumer) who sleeps around looking for the best sex of her life, she works for a magazine called Snap which is all about smut articles. She is going through helping her sister Kim (Larson) as they must move their father to assisted living.

Amy gets given an assignment to write an article about a doctor that could bring a new dimension to sports treatment. The doctor in question is Dr Aaron Conners (Hader) who just happens to be working with LeBron James. When the two hit things off Amy must decide if she wants to actually commit in a relationship for the first time in her life, we see how her past will test her relationship.

Trainwreck is a comedy that misses all the jokes because they all go through awkward sexual references. The romantic side of the story is almost non-existent because you don’t believe the chemistry between Schumer and Hader. I understand this is trying to give us the new look at relationships but nothing is believable in this film.

Amy Schumer shows that her stand-up routine is for the select few people because most of her jokes a pop-culture that will be out dated within a few years. She isn’t leading lady material and by taking the lead role the comedy ability of Hader is effected because he is almost wasted throughout the film. The best part of the film really is LeBron James as the friend of Hader’s character. This film is only going to be for the select few with nothing working for my own sense of humour.

 

Overall: This comedy explains what is so wrong about comedy now a days.

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Doctor Strange (2016)

drDirector: Scott Derrickson

Writer: Stand Lee, Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C, Robert Cargill (Screenplay) Stand Lee, Steve Ditko (Comics)

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg

 

Plot: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Stunning Origin Story

 

Story: Doctor Strange starts as we see Kaecilius (Mikkelsen) stealing artefacts to help him with his next plan only with The Ancient One (Swinton) tries to stop him in what is an early sign of the reality these characters will be fighting within. We move on to meet the brilliant Doctor Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) who has his own style of performing surgery which always saves the lives of the people he is saving.

When Stephen is recklessly driving his fancy car, he is involved in a horrific car accident losing all the skills he has learned in his hands forcing him into drastic measure to regain his surgical skills. Stephen’s journey takes him in search of an impossible natural cure as he finds Mordo (Ejiofor) who guides him to what he searches for the Ancient One.

This is where his training begins as Dr Strange learns about the different realities we live in and how to make them work to his advantage as he learns nothing he once knew was what he thought it was. We the training continues Dr Strange has to join in the battle against former student Kaecilius who has turned to the dark side to prove his worth to the cause.

Doctor Strange gives us a visually stunning superhero origin story because we haven’t had one of these in about two weeks. The story plays into the bigger reality battle which is a big plus to make this slightly more unique only we have this already with the inclusion of the Thor and Guardians universe. I can see why people enjoyed this but in the end this is just going to have to be another addition to a universe which is already over saturated with characters.

Cumberbatch doesn’t seem to have charisma to play what I feel is meant to be sarcastic character, Mikkelsen is just another villain that we have seen before that never makes the impact on the story but is never meant to be that much for an origin film. Swinton does a good job in her role and Ejiofor is solid as the trainer figure.

 

Overall: Visually amazing but as for origin story we have seen this all before.

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