Taps (1981)

Director: Harold Becker

Writer: Darryl Ponicsan, Robert Mark Kamen (Screenplay) Devery Freeman (Novel)

Starring: George C Scott, Timothy Hutton, Ronny Cox, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise

 

Plot: Military cadets take extreme measures to insure the future of their academy when its existence is threatened by local condo developers.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Little 80’s Movie

 

Story: Taps starts as we meet our Military Cadets with Cadet Major Brian Moreland (Hutton) getting the promotion to this rank for his final year at the academy from General Harlan Bache (Scott). Bache informs the students this will be their final year before the academy is going to be knocked down for development.

When there is an altercation outside the grounds Bache accidently kills a young civilian. The consequences of this are that the base is going to close early but Moreland brings together the cadets with his Captains Alex Dwyer (Penn) and David Shawn (Cruise) to hold the base so they can have their final year and prove the academy is important for the community.

 

Thoughts on Taps

 

Characters – General Harlan Bache runs the military academy, he has done for years and enjoys developing the next generation of soldiers, when he is accidently involved in a shooting of a civilian he is removed from the base ending up in hospital. Cadet Major Brian Moreland leads the cadets, he was handpicked by the General and once the General is off the base, he leads the defence of the base from the incoming developers. Cadet Captain Dwyer is the closest friend Moreland has on the base and does clash with Shawn at time over clash of styles. Cadet Captain David Shawn is the fellow captain that is determined to prove the cadets can handle themselves, he acts quicker than Dwyer which leads to their tension at times.

PerformanceThe performances are great throughout, George Scott is your big name draw for the time and is good in his role, with Timothy Hutton here right after his Oscar win that is great throughout. Tom Cruise and Sean Penn both show their skills in the supporting role where they easily becoming big stars.

StoryThe story does follow the cadets who look to defend their school after an accident that is about to be getting closed. It shows how they were trained to handle themselves and stand up for what they believe in a bigger cause than themselves. It does have moments where you think it is a kids movie but the reality war is never just this tone and you also couldn’t see both sides fighting for what is mostly property.

SettingsMost of the film is set at the academy which shows how the young men worked together to stand up for what could build on a generation of future soldiers.

Scene of the Movie – Escape the locals.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This does seem like fighting for almost nothing, even if it is mostly tactical building up to a potential battle.

Final ThoughtsThis film shows us three young talented actors who all went onto bigger project in a film which shows the meaning behind being a solider from a young age, working together and understanding when to stand up for something you believe in.

 

Overall: Good drama showing us plenty of military tactics.

Rating

 

 

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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

 

 

Cocktail (1988)

Director: Roger Donaldson

Writer: Heywood Gould (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown, Elisabeth Shue, Lisa Banes, Laurence Luckinbill, Kelly Lynch, Gina Gershon

 

Plot: A talented New York City bartender takes a job at a bar in Jamaica and falls in love.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Barely Dated a Day

 

Story: Cocktail starts a Brian Flanagan (Cruise) returns from the services and heads to New York looking to walk into a successful job on wall street, he gets rejected everywhere due to his lack of qualifications. Finding a job in a bar as a bartender where he learns the art of the cocktail from Doug Coughlin (Brown). While studying he finds, himself failing once again but his cocktail reputation grows.

When Brian and Doug decide, they want to go into business together and open their own cocktail bar, but their friendship is broken and Brian goes out on his own to Jamaica to make the money to have his own cocktail bar. Falling in love with Jordan (Shue) he decides to let her go to following in Doug’s footsteps and marry a rich woman, but love will have control over him.

 

Thoughts on Cocktail

 

Characters/PerformanceBrian is an ex-service man that finds it hard to get a job without qualification, wow if this isn’t a relatable character or what? Brian finds to make money as a cocktail bartender but his friendship and romantic personality changes his path. Doug is the teacher to Brian, he teaches the tricks of the trade and how to get away with everything. Jordan is the woman that Brian falls for but only finds a way to make a mess of it.

Performance wise, Tom Cruise is good in this leading role showing that he was always going to be a big star for years to come. Bryan Brown is good in his role with Elisabeth Shue doing a good job through the parts of the film she is in.

StoryThe story here isn’t the most important thing going on here as it isn’t the most interesting part of the film. The part of the story that does stick out is the fact we see how hard it is to find a job without qualifications. There is a romantic angle which is fine without being anything stand out in the film and the success the guy faces also works well.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy is light in places but nothing fancy, the romantic side is something we have seen before but is mostly about a guy that screws up and gets a second chance somehow.

SettingsThe settings all work for the film showing the New York setting, the Jamaica setting as well as the high life and lower life the characters find themselves in.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun and enjoyable movie that has poor scores everywhere but it is hard to find anyone that doesn’t like it.

 

Overall: Enjoyable film.

Rating

 

 

The Outsiders (1983)

outsidersDirector: Francis Ford Coppola

Writer: Kathleen Rowell (Screenplay) S.E. Hinton (Novel)

Starring: C Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lower, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise

 

Plot: The rivalry between two gangs, the poor greasers and the rich Socs, only heats up when one gang member kills a member of the other.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Coming of Age Film

 

Story: The Outsiders starts as we meet the Greasers Ponyboy (Howell), his brothers Darrel (Swayze) and Sodapop (Lowe), as well as Dallas (Dillon) recently out of jail, the loose cannon of the gang, Johnny (Macchio), Two-bit (Estevez), Steve (Cruise) and Tim (Withrow) this teenage gang get chased around town.

The Greasers are the poor gang in town and have a rivalry against the Socs the rich gang, when Ponyboy and Johnny find themselves getting into trouble which leads them to turn to Dallas for the way to make this disappear. This leads to Ponyboy and Johnny going into hiding while the police, Greasers and Socs search for the boys responsible for murder.

 

Thoughts on The Outsiders

 

Characters/PerformancePonyboy is the youngest of three brothers within this gang, his future looks set to be within the gang not getting a chance to have a future away from this dead-end life his elder brothers have had to give up to raise him after their parents death. Johnny is the best friend within the gang of ponyboy, he has the similar problems in life but his is about not being loved by his parent’s. Dallas is the wild one of the film with the Curtis brothers Darrel and Sodapop both working very well to be the guardians of Ponyboy.

The performances here are all great with Howell, Dillon and Macchio getting the most screen time all giving showing they were big child actors but if you look deeper Swayze, Lowe, Estevez, Cruise and Lane all show they were going to be big name stars in the future.stars

StoryThe story follows one group of poor teenagers struggling in small town America, getting themselves in trouble and with no clear out of the cycle they have become a unit against the rest of the world. The story of their unity shines through the story and you could follow everything the youngster members of the gang can go through. This could easily be looked at as one of the more underrated coming of age movies from the 80s.

CrimeThe crime side of this story comes from the accidental murder of one side of the gangs and how what starts off with a bit of hate escalates into a full-blown battle between them.

SettingsSmall town America makes for great setting for this film as it shows just how these guys could easily be in any town when it comes to the difference they both have.genre

Final ThoughtsComing of age, young adult whichever you want to call them are all popular, but this one of the most underrated ones I have seen.

 

Overall: A must watch for all the coming of age fans out there.

Ratingrating

 

 

The Mummy (2017)

Director: Alex Kurtzman

Writer: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman (Screenplay) Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet (Screen Story)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B Vance, Marwan Kenzari

 

Plot: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: American Mummy in London

 

Story: The Mummy starts as we get the traditional history lesson about what Princess Ahmanet (Boutella) did to become the cursed woman from Ancient Egypt. Roll forward to present day Iraq where treasure hunting soldier Nick Morton (Cruise) and his partner in crime Chris Vail (Johnson) move in on an insurgent controlled town. In this town they make a discovery which bring archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Wallis) to work with the army to bring the discovery back.

When the discovery of Princess Ahmanet selects Nick as her latest choice to raise Set the God of Death to life to reign terror on Earth, Jenny brings Nick to Dr Henry Jekyll (Crowe) to find a way to stop this ancient terror from rising once more.

 

Thoughts on The Mummy

 

Characters/PerformanceNick is a solider that enjoys treasure hunting for his own profit, he is a selfish man but once he works with Jenny we see a different side to him as he also gets to cheat death. Dr Jekyll is a character we know from history but this time he seems to be a leader of an organisation that fights evil. Jenny is the archaeologist that has searched for Princess Ahmanet for her whole life and now she gets to fight something she never thought. Princess Ahmanet is our ancient Egyptian that has been raised from the dead to bring her terror back to Earth, this character is the highlight of the film but you still want more from her. Chris Vail is basically the friend from American Werewolf in Paris.

Performance wise, Cruise disappoints here, he is miss-casted because he doesn’t pull of the confused out of his depth to the level we are used too in these films. Russell Crower, well as a supporting character he does struggle to make an impact. Annabelle Wallis is fine but you just don’t believe must of her characters decisions. Sofia Boutella once again shows she is very capable of these roles which need unique body movement. Jake Johnson tries the comic relief but it doesn’t click every time.

StoryYou know the Brendan Fraser Mummy, well this is incredible similar story just in modern times, we have one very well-designed moment and that is showing how the extremists are destroying monuments which can cover Nick’s tracks. Otherwise this is one of the most painful origin attempted stories of recent years, we have a villain which should be one of the most interesting of the year but almost becomes second fiddle to the bigger universe that the film wants to create. Nothing here is overly memorable, original or worth seeing again.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action sequences are a mixed bag, we have the plane crash which we all saw in the trailer but otherwise it is Tom Cruise 101 with running, sand storms and losing fist fights. The adventure side get sucked out of the film once we hit London and the fantasy side of things just doesn’t come off believable.

SettingsThe Iraq setting was fine for me, but we don’t focus on that area long enough which most of the film taking place in England and mostly London and seriously how many times can we destroy London on film?

Special EffectsThis is yet another mixed bag for me, certain moments look great but other moments come off painfully CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a failed attempt of a Universe builder, it is miss-cast with Cruise, this should have gone to a younger name that could work in the universe for years to come and a character in Nick that is remotely interesting. I will accept that this was needed to bring the modern era for this bigger picture which does clash the ancient world with the technology world but we don’t focus on that enough.

 

Overall: Disappointing action film that focuses on Easter Eggs over producing us a story.

Rating