ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – Z – Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: David Koepp, John Kamps (Screenplay) Chris Van Allsburg (Book)

Starring: Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz

 

Plot: Two young brothers are drawn into an intergalactic adventure when their house is hurled through the depths of space by the magical board game they are playing.


Tagline – A new adventure from the world of Jumanji

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Adventure

 

Story: Zathura: A Space Adventure starts as two brothers Danny (Bobo) and Walter (Hutcherson) are trying to get the attention of their father (Robbins), with his work getting in the way they must learn to occupy themselves, which leads to them finding a board game Zathura which leads to them ending up in outer space.

The two brothers must learn to put their differences behind them to survive the game which is filled with multiply different space based threats.

 

Thoughts on Zathura: A Space Adventure

 

Characters – Danny is the youngest of the three children, he wants to be accepted by his brother even though he isn’t as good at sports and has a habit to cheat when playing games. Walter is the middle child, he wants to spend time with his father and get angry when Danny is allowed time too, he hates having Danny around never wanting to spend time with him. The Astronaut is a stranger from the game that assists the brothers through the game.

PerformancesThe performances are next up and we must first consider that we have two child actors, they are good in their arguments and it is strange to see that only one made it to the adult level in Josh Hutcherson. Dax Shepard is good and never gets to the annoying we know from him now, while Stewart and Robbins are good for the supporting roles.

StoryThe story does follow many of the same ideas as Jumanji, we have two brothers this time being forced into playing the game, needing to put aside their difference to finish the game to return to normality. We have the similar peril only in space which brings a freshness into the concept, there is a weird side story going on which brings a twist which is disturbing more than clever. If you want something just fun, this will hit the marks.

Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe adventure takes our two brothers to a place they could never imagine which plays into the fantasy elements of the film, the sci-fi side of things takes the whole story into space.

SettingsThe film is set inside the house, which is works because what would happen if your house was in space suddenly.

Special EffectsThe effects are surprisingly brilliant, I say this because Jumanji had weak effects, even though this is set in space it never looks out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
The game first moments.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The twist seems weird.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun family film that can be enjoyed by everyone, it feels like it has full adventure that can be enjoyed by all.

 

Overall: One for the adventure fans out there.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – W – War of the Worlds (2005)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Josh Friedman, David Koepp (Screenplay) H.G. Wells (Novel)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Rick Gonzalez, Yul Vazquez

 

Plot: As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival.


Tagline – They’re already here

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sci-Fi Spectacular

 

Story: War of the Worlds starts when the deadbeat dad figure Ray (Cruise) is left to look after his children Rachel (Fanning) and Robbie (Chatwin) for a weekend, while he ex-wife Mary Ann (Otto) goes away with her new partner. We see early on the problems and strain in the relationship, but when an unknow storm hit New York a robotic creature comes out of the ground, killing everyone.

Ray grabs his kids and gets the hell out of the city racing across the country in hope of getting to Mary Ann where the kids want to be, the problem is the America is going into chaos and it becomes survival of the fittest against these unkillable robots.

 

Thoughts on War of the Worlds

 

Characters – Ray is the deadbeat dad that has always be a let down to his kids, he doesn’t live in the nicest house, but the neighbours all love him. He is distant from his children after the divorce and after the attack happens this everyday man must do everything he can to keep his children safe. Rachel is his youngest child, she is insecure about being away from her mother, needing to put trust in her father, reacting panicked during the attacks like a young girl would, but strangely offering mature advice with dealing with the older brother. Mary Ann is the ex-wife and mother that is the target for the journey across America. Robbie is the eldest son that does hate his father, as he sees the good in his father he wants to join the fight back against the invaders. Harlan Ogilvy is a stranger that offers help only to be the one that could put Ray’s family in the most danger.

PerformancesTom Cruise is wonderful in this leading role, he proves he can be the everyman in this role, he shows the vulnerable moments needed as his character only has one goal, save his family. Dakota Fanning continued to show she was a force in the future of Hollywood with her performance where she shines. Tim Robbins gives us a truly creepy character while the rest of the cast is great too.

StoryThe story is a modern version of one of the greatest radio recordings of all time, we bottle the story down nicely to focus on one father that is doing everything he can to keep his children safe during an alien invasion. Sure, the ending is weak, but this is much like Jurassic Park, it isn’t about the aliens, its about the people surviving the situation. The story is simple to follow to as we see the family getting caught up in different moments of the attack each one showing the panic that would surround it.

Adventure/Sci-FiThe adventure is filled with peril and shock as the family races for survival, this survival will show the horrors of what will happen if they don’t become safe. The sci-fi side of the film showed us just how the aliens came to invade, came rom beneath us and prepared against our own weapons.

SettingsThe film shows us the destruction of the aliens leave in their path, we see how the big cities are destroyed and how the quiet location are just as dangerous.

Special EffectsThe effects for the film are fantastic, from the early destruction to the special look of the wide shots of the attack going on.


Scene of the Movie –
Basement scene with Harlan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end of the story is always weak.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the great modern sci-fi films, it modernises one of the greatest stories, we have excellent special effects and a story that is simple enough to be effective.

 

Overall: Sci-Fi fans must be watching.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – W – Welcome to Me (2014)

Director: Shira Piven

Writer: Eliot Laurence (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Wes Bentley, Linda Cardellini, Joan Cusack, Loretta Devine, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins, James Marsden

 

Plot: When Alice Klieg wins the Mega-Millions lottery, she immediately quits her psychiatric meds and buys her own talk show.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Very Good Drama

 

Story: Welcome to Me starts as we meet Alice Klieg (Wiig) who idolises Oprah studying all the tapes of her shows, she lives an isolated life but that is going to change when she wins the $86 million on the lottery. Believing the money has changed herself she drops her Dr Moffet (Robbins) who has been treating her for multiply personality disorder and heads off to Vegas with her best friend Gina (Cardellini).

When Alice meets studio team Rich Ruskin (Marsden), Gabe Ruskin (Bentley), Dawn Hurley (Cusack) and Deb Moseley (Leigh) wanting to create her own talk show which Rich sees this as a chance to save their studio. As the money being spend increases the show reaches new levels of popularity but can the studio continue to extort Alice’s mental issues to make money.

 

Thoughts on Welcome to Me

 

Characters/PerformanceAlice is a very unstable woman that has struggled through all her mental health problems for years, but after winning the lottery she gets her own show on television show where she can deal with all her problems, but can she deal with this new fame. Gabe is one of the studio producers that is willing to help Alice, but is one of the only ones that does want to help rather than use her. Gina is the best friend that gets left behind as Alice becomes obsessed with her own show. We also have the rest of the studio team that see this as a big payday.

Performance wise, Kristen Wiig is fantastic in this leading role showing she is capable of the serious performance away from the full comedy she is known for. Wes Bentley continues to turn his career around with another good performance. Linda Cardellini is also good throughout the film and the other highly respected stars also good great jobs with James Marsden being hugely memorable.

StoryThe story shows how people with mental health issues will find life difficult, but if you add money they can’t explain to themselves to the mix they will get taken advantage off by greedy people, but it also shows how money shouldn’t change friendships but it will. This is a film that has a story which is very important to show how difficult living with mental health issues can be.

Comedy/DramaThe comedy works in the limited moments because the story isn’t a full laughing matter. The drama shows the issues Alice must live with along with her new money.

SettingsThe settings are important because they show the world that Alice comes from to where she finds herself with all her money.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie that tells a very important message for the people who struggle with the mental health issues.

 

Overall: Very impressive film I feel people might not have heard off.

Rating

 

 

Top Gun (1986)

top-gunDirector: Tony Scott

Writer: Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr, Warren Skaaren (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside, John Stockwell, Barry Tubb, Tim Robbins

 

Plot: As students at the United States Navy’s elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic 80s Film

 

Story: Top Gun starts as we meet rebellious hot shot fighter pilot Maverick (Cruise) and his co-pilot Goose (Edwards) who take risks but also loyal to their unit within the Navy. The pair get set to the elite training program known as Top Gun to see who is the greatest pilot the US Navy has to offer.

When the pair meet the competition the main threat is Iceman (Kilmer) and under the tutelage of Viper (Skerritt) all the pilot learn the lessons of the sky and combat but most importantly life.

Top Gun bought in this new style of action where everything was way over the top and more about the style rather than believability of what is actually happening. We get an interesting look at fighter pilots because we have a film that has the hero character in Maverick but doesn’t have a true villain because while Iceman is his rival he is right most of the time. We don’t get into any actual combat until the final act where we get to see the full training put to the test and as for the at time awkward romance angle this film ends up being everything you could see in the wildly enjoyable 80s film.

 

Overall: A film that gave birth to the wildly over the top action films.

Rating75

 

 

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

logoDirector: Adrian Lyne

Writer: Bruce Joel Rubin (Screenplay)

Starring: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Pena, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jason Alexander, Patricia Kalember, Eriq La Salle, Ving Rhames

Plot: Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam war veteran attempts to discover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusion, and perception of death.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Confusing Thriller

Story: Jacob’s Ladder starts with Jacob (Robbins) during the Vietnam war where his unit comes under attack from first an airborne toxic before coming up against the enemy. Jacob alone finds himself stabbed before waking from his nightmares in present day. In the present day Jacob is involved in a relationship with Jezzie (Pena) after his previous marriage didn’t work out where he lost a son.

Jacob finds himself having flashbacks between present time and his time in Vietnam while also becoming paranoid about a series of events that seem to be following him with ghost like images around. We follow Jacob has he has to put the pieces together as he tries to figure out what is happening in his life and what is actually real as he discovers his fellow platoon also happen to be experiencing these visions.

Jacob’s Ladder brings us into the world of a war veteran as he deals with his own personal issues, we also get to see him question his own sanity and have to solve what is happening to him. While this all comes off confusing it gets made even more confusing the final moments makes a lot of the film come off like what happened?

Actor Review

Tim Robbins: Jacob is the Vietnam war veteran who has lived through the marriage which fell apart after they lost a child and involved with a new woman. He starts seeing images all around him of ghost like figures which seems to follow him around while also jumping between time leaving him feeling paranoid about just what is real. Tim gives one of his best performances of his career with the constant look of paranoia on his face.

Elizabeth Pena: Jezzie is the new girlfriend of Jacob who doesn’t like his former marriage she tries to support him but easily snaps when Jacob starts freaking out. Elizabeth gives a good performance as the love interest dealing with the issues of Jacob.

Danny Aiello: Louis is Jacob’s trust chiropractor who knows all the issues Jacob has been having, he is one of the few people who understands what is going on without ever having been part of the war. Danny gives us a good supporting performance that works for his scenes but in the end isn’t involved enough.

Matt Craven: Michael is the man who created the experiment and has been trying to help uncover the truth the government has been hiding. Matt gives us a basic supporting role that never gets enough time to give the most detail.

Support Cast: Jacob’s Ladder has a supporting cast that all come into small moments of the life of Jacob each one ends up making him wonder about what is happening just when he thinks he knows the answers.

Director Review: Adrian LyneAdrian brings us a mind bending mystery thriller that keeps us guessing from start to finish.

Horror: Jacob’s Ladder brings us the horror of what happens to Jacob’s mind set as the story unfolds showing how certain things could be real or not.

Mystery: Jacob’s Ladder leaves us wondering about what is happening, what is real and how will we find the answers.

Settings: Jacob’s Ladder keeps the settings easy to tell which time period we are in with it either being the war, present or the first marriage.
Special Effects: Jacob’s Ladder has great effects to create the horror effects during the film.

Suggestion: Jacob’s Ladder is one to try, I will rate it highly but I would understand how it does come off confusing in places. (Try It)

Best Part: Confusing style.

Worst Part: Was it all for nothing?

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $26 Million

Budget: $25 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

Tagline: The most frightening thing about Jacob Singer’s nightmare is that he isn’t dreaming.

Overall: Mind bending mystery thriller that keeps yo guessing.

Ratingcard