Nicholas Hoult Weekend – Dark Places (2015)

Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner

Writer: Gilles Paquet-Brenner (Screenplay) Gillian Flynn (Novel)

Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Andrea Roth, Chloe Grace Moretz

 

Plot: Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.


Tagline – In 1985, her entire family was murdered. 30 years later, the truth emerges.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Dark Places starts as we meet Libby Day (Theron) one of the daughters that became somewhat of a celebrity after her family’s murder when she was 8, with the support funds running low, she accepts an offer from Lyle Wirth (Hoult) a member of a private investigation group that look at crimes and whether they are solved correctly, who want to prove her brother Ben (Stoll) didn’t commit the murders.

As Libby starts to investigate the case, she must face her past and learn about Ben’s past as a teenager as well as her mother Patty (Hendricks) struggle to keep the family together. This will help her confront her past and learn the truth of the events of murder.

 

Thoughts on Dark Places

 

Characters – Libby Day has spent her life trying to escape the fame that followed her after the murder of her family, her light is dwindling as she gets older and now she is forced into learning the truth about what happened in her past, plagued by nightmares we see just how she looks to remember the nightmare events the 8-year-old self-experienced. Lyle Wirth is the leader of a group that are investigating the night of the murder privately, however he comes of nervous about trying to figure out the truth even with his own theory. Patty Day is the mother and victim of the murder, we see her in the flashbacks are she tried everything she could to keep a roof over the children’s heads. We meet characters from the past and present version of the stories, as we flashback and forth learning more about the events from these characters.

PerformancesCharlize Theron is the star of this film, we get to see the withdrawn from the world character that wants to hide from her past and how she has accepted the outcome of the case, we see the range in how she deals with the problems she is facing in everyday life. Nicholas Hoult like most of the supporting performers are fine without being anything standout.

StoryThe story here follows one of the survivors of a family murder facing her past to learn the shocking truth about the events of the deadly night to which her brother was convicted of. The story adopts a mixture of flashbacks and forwards to show us just how different parts of the story played out, each clue brings the next tale in the story. The story does try to keep us guessing about who was responsible for the murders, it gives us plenty of suspects along the way and shows us just how a young girl would struggle to have grown into a mid-30s woman still lost in the world. this is from the same author as Gone Girl, and if you were to compare the two, this is easily the weaker of the stories.

Action/MysteryThe film has moments of action, but doesn’t turn to it that often as we wait to see how the murder really unfolded. The mystery is the highlight of the film because of how it keeps us wondering to just what really happened.

SettingsThe settings show us the struggles that the family would have had during the events leading up to the murder, when we are in the modern time we see the faceless city of Kansas which could have been any city really.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well when needed, with most happening off screen we see the aftermath of the events.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We do seem to spend too much time watching seemingly pointless moments of the back story and one aspect with Ben doesn’t seem to get answered enough.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that does keep you guessing, but never draws you in enough, it has a strong cast of talented names and by the end you will b shocked even if the narrative does spiral down some dead ends at times.

 

Overall: Off-track thriller

Rating

 

 

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

Director: Simon Kinberg

Writer: John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum (Screenplay) Jack Kirby, Stan Lee (Comic Book)

Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee

 

Plot: Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.


Tagline – The Phoenix will rise.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mostly Forgettable

 

Story: X-Men: Dark Phoenix starts in the world where Charles Xavier’s (McAvoy) group of X-Men, Mystique (Lawrence), Beast (Hoult), Jean Grey (Turner), Scott (Sheridan), Storm (Shipp), Quicksilver (Peters) and Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee) are celebrated around the world for their efforts to rescue people where normal humans can’t reach, with their latest mission taking them to space, where Jean Grey gets infected by an unknown lifeforce.

Back on Earth Jean struggles to control this new power which will lead to tragic consequences with her needing to turn to Erik (Fassbender) for advice before being visited by the mysterious Vuk (Chastain) that wants the power within her.

 

Thoughts on X-Men: Dark Phoenix

 

Characters – Jean Grey is our central character in this film, we see how she has a troubled childhood, before being welcomed to the school, she has learnt to control her powers which become enhanced with the incident, to a level she can’t control anymore. Jean is left wondering who she can trust, Charles, Erik or Vuk, just to find her place in the world. Charles Xavier has seen his school become the place the President turns to, this has made him reckless with the behaviour, willing to risk them when he doesn’t need to, he must face the reality that his school will always be looked at differently and that he hasn’t always done thing correctly. Erik has once again returned to a quiet life, this time helping mutants have a place away from the world, he will do the best to stop any conflict until he learns what has happened.  Mystique continues to have the ability to question what Charles is doing, she wants to keep everybody safe, even if it means going against everything Charles is thinking. Beast is still believing in Charles, until the tragedy hits home, forcing him to question what is best for the students in the school and mutants alike. Scott does play the only character that Jean loves, he can help at times when she starts to lose control, while being one of the few people she wants to protect from the danger she is becoming. Storm, Quicksilver and Nightcrawler complete the X-Men team which sees him just being extra members of the fight for the most part. Vuk is the mysterious being that is searching for the power that has taken over Jean, she is the leader of a group that want this power for their own destructive motivations.

PerformancesThis film has a mix of performances, Sophie Turner does continue to struggle in the leading role, she just never manages to convince with the unsure factor of how she is feeling through the film. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are usually the standouts in these films, but they both don’t get to make the impact they have in the past. Nicolas Hoult does have good moments, but we would have liked more from him. Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp and Kodi Smit-McPhee do everything asked in their roles, while Jessica Chastain seems to be wasted in the villainous role.

StoryThe story shows us a world where mutants are a welcome and used to help sav people around the world, when one of these missions goes wrong the mutants show the danger they can bring to the world, when one gets infected with an unknown power which makes them the most powerful person in the world, while a new group wants that power. It is nice to see the story continue to show how the world has changed from the events in the previous films, even if it does throw a lot of the timeline out the window. We do follow certain lines that we did follow in The Last Stand too, which didn’t feel fresh, the script does have some awful lines which doesn’t help either. Now on the positive side of the story, we do get to flip Charles’s characters showing that he isn’t the all positive figure, it does make him the focus of the story at times though, we do get to see some of the other X-Men unleash their powers is nice to see too. This could easily be one of the weakest stories in the X-Men universe and you can see just how difficult it was.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in the film does have a couple of entertaining moments that do get to see just how powerful each mutant can be when unleashed to their full powers. We do hit new levels for the sci-fi elements as we see the new enemy and power.

SettingsThe film doesn’t give us the best looking settings, most action sequences actually feel like they are just on sets, never inside an environment.

Special EffectsThe effect in the film give us a weird look to the design of the power that is coming over Jean, which does work in places, though it doesn’t look overly interesting in when it comes to the wounds.


Scene of the Movie –
The train sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We should be called X-Women.

Final ThoughtsThis is a forgettable addition to the X-Men franchise, with simple acting and mostly safe actions.

 

Overall: Basic-Men

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – S – The Stanford Prison Experiment (2016)

Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez

Writer: Tim Talbott (Screenplay) Philip Zimbardo (Book)

Starring: Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano, Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Keir Gilchrist

 

Plot: Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Drama

 

Story: The Stanford Prison Experiment starts with Dr Philip Zimbardo (Crudup) is given a chance to prefer an experiment with 24 male students in Stanford psychology building. The idea is half the volunteer students will become prisoners the other half with be the guards.

With the contract stating no harm can be given to anyone involved, it is only the first day when things start to get out of hand as the guards start taking the role too seriously and this experiment heads down a path that even Dr Zimbardo could imagine it to go.

 

Thoughts on The Stanford Prison Experiment

 

Characters – Dr Philip Zimbardo is performing this experiment because he could make his career proving the mentality of the prison system, he doesn’t want to let thing get out of hand but is willing to the rules broken. The students playing both the prisoners and guards both become different types of what you would expect from a prison environment, they don’t get overly as much attention you would think but they are all important to what happens in the story.

PerformanceBilly Crudup is great in the doctor role but the highlight of the film comes from the actors playing the subjects, be it the prisoners or the guards both sides are fantastic with playing their roles.

StoryThe story is loosely based on the real Stanford Experiments which shows us just how twenty-four students get placed into roles of either prisoners or guards over a week long experiment that just gets to the levels of just how far will things go. Seeing how the men act puts us to the limits of wondering just how far things could go as we see things get intense in moments. Having seen the Experiment movie I was expecting certain things to happen but this time none of these appear in the movie, this does disappoint because the film never hits the truly shocking moments it could.

Biography/HistoryThis is a known experiment with different variables involved, it shows us the basic idea and it is still known as one of the most famous experiments in world history.

SettingsThe film is set entirely within the created Stanford Prison, it is either inside or watching from just outside seeing how it unfolds.

Scene of the Movie – The first moment the guards show what they will do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel this could have an explosive ending.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good tense thrilling character study that shows us just how far people could go.

 

Overall: Tense thriller that pulls you in.

Rating

 

 

Ready Player One (2018)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline (Screenplay) Ernest Cline (Novel)

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller

 

Plot: When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.


Tagline – A better reality awaits.

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Pop-Culture Festival Fun

 

Story: Ready Player One starts in the near future in Columbus of all places, Wade (Sheridan) lives in the stacks, the poor part of town, he along with the rest of the world lives inside the virtual reality world known as the OASIS, created by Halliday (Rylance). The OASIS gives people a chance to live anything they imagine and after Halliday’s death he left an Easter Egg for the players to search for.

6 years have past since this way revealed and nobody has found even the first of three keys, Wade works with Aech (Waithe) Sho and Daito in his attempts to be the one to find it and is joined by Samantha (Cooke) to fight against Sorrento (Mendelsohn) who wants the prize so his company can take over the OASIS selling the space o the players. The battle for the freedom of the game, the world is on and Wade is leading the charge.

 

Thoughts on Ready Player One

 

Characters – Wade is the down on his luck scraping a living in the virtual reality world type of guy, in the real world he doesn’t have any friends and his only enemy seems to be his Step-Uncles. In the OASIS he has a close group of friends while never being in a CLAN, he has been searching for the answers to the clues for 6 years like everyone else, only this time he learns something new and ends up leading the players in the battle to save the OASIS from the corporate hands. Samantha is one of the most famous players in the OASIS, much like Wade she is a solo player, joining forces with Wade reveals she is part of a rebellion against the corporate company trying to take over the game which leads her to risk everything to save the OASIS too. Sorrento is your businessman enemy, he sees money in being the owner of the OASIS, he doesn’t understand the pop culture and for sure he will do anything to get what he wants. Halliday is the Willy Wonka of this creation, it was his dream, his ideas and it is his clues people are searching for to take over after his death, guided at heart, determined but anti-social this man’s genius has bought together the world.

PerformancesThe performances through the film on the overall point of view are good, nobody puts any feet wrong, Tye Sheridan steps up to the lead role with ease after his work on indie films, Olivia Cooke continues to show she is a great choice in the lead supporting female role and Ben Mendelsohn is always going to make a wonderful villain in any movie.

StoryThe story breaks down into a glorified virtual reality world treasure hunt, it is the unlikely guy being the one that can unlock the secrets which the business mind people want for themselves. It is by the books, the clues seem too easy to work out, like if someone had taken their time earlier things would have been solved earlier. The idea people rely on this world is never played on enough for my liking, we also don’t focus enough on the punishments that the company forces people to be in the game for their own side, this disappoints greatly because certain parts of the film we see everyday life being normal, but early on we are shown this is the only way to live. If you are watching for pop-culture references it will be hard to keep up with things for the most part too, you will miss some even if they don’t matter to the story.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is massive, in the game is easily the more memorable moments and outside the game it is routine as they come. The adventure sends us on the quest to find the clues, this is what we want to see, so no problems on this end for that. The sci-fi side of the story shows us just what the world could become like if we continue to use technology, it should be a bleaker future but for the sake of this movie it isn’t.

SettingsThe real world looks bleaker at times but other times looks like something we normal see. The virtual world creates the wonderful settings for our characters to play in.

Special EffectsThis movie will get all the praise in the world for the special effects, they are flawless, making this one of the easiest movies to watch, the team deserves the most praise for this film.


Scene of the Movie –
The Shining

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not sure if this game is the only option for people or not, we get told but what we see later it isn’t.

Final ThoughtsThis will go down as the most visually creative movie of the year, we have plenty of pop-culture references, crazy action sequences and overall it is fun, only the story itself hold sit back.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – J – Joe (2013)

Director: David Gordon Green

Writer: Gary Hawkins (Screenplay) Larry Brown (Novel)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Adriene Mishler

 

Plot: An ex-con, who is the unlikeliest of role models, meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Drama

 

Story: Joe starts as we meet ex-con Joe (Cage) who hires down on their luck people of a small town to help him kill trees for his employer, he expects them to work and they will get paid, he treats them all with respect through this questionable job. When he gets approached by 15-year-old Gary (Sheridan) a homeless boy from a family of drifters who wants work. Joe gives him a chance and he doesn’t disappoint.

When Joe sees the abuse, Gary receives from his alcoholic father Wade (Poulter) he gets put in a difficult situation, where he must decide whether defend Gary and become the person he had hoped to escape or do nothing, either option will define his future.

 

Thoughts on Joe

 

Characters/PerformanceJoe is a former criminal that has put his life together to offer other down on their luck men a job killing trees. He is good natured to the people who work for him and takes a look at what is happening to Gary and decides to help him find his way. Gary is a boy that is never been given a chance in life, so he makes his own chances by getting a job working for Joe, he learns from Joe which are important lessons for life. The rest of the cast show us what is going on in both the lives and what could change the ones they are living.

Performance wise, Nicolas Cage is good in this role and you can see why people believe it could have been one that turned his career around. Tye Sheridan does a great job and shows why he had an ever-growing potential in his career with these types of roles. the rest of the cast all do a great job throughout the film.

StoryThe story is a trademark of the indie style of films, it shows one man needing to question what he is doing with his life for the sake of a teenager who is struggling. This isn’t the most original but does everything you need for an indie film, telling the story and offering redemption for our leading man.

SettingsWe have a small-town setting in what looks like economy depressed town with struggles, this helps us understand what it would be like for all the characters in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis film shows us just what Cage is capable of great performances with the right material and can keep us watching until the end of the film. Everything comes together nicely but is unlikely to be a re-watchable film.

 

Overall: Well-acted, good strong drama but slow in places.

Rating