The Front Runner (2018)

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer: Matt Bai, Jay Carson, Jason Reitman (Screenplay) Matt Bai (Book)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, Mark O’Brien, Molly Ephraim, Chris Coy, Alex Karpovsky,

 

Plot: In 1987, U.S. Senator Gary Hart‘s presidential campaign is derailed when he’s caught in a scandalous love affair.


Tagline – Gary Hart was going to be President. Instead he changed American Politics forever.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over-Populated Political Thriller

 

Story: The Front Runner starts after Gary Hart (Jackman) has missed out on the Vice-President position, four-years later in 1987, Gary is running for the Presidency, he is the clear favourite too, his team which includes Bill Dixon (Simmons) knows it is only a matter of time before he wins, while the opposition team is looking for weakness in his reputation.

Gary’s lead starts taking a hit when an early report of a potential affair emerges and before long every single newspaper in the country is trying to cover the story on different levels, some using it as a gossip column while others just want to question his own integrity. This will see Gary’s hope of becoming President come crashing down around him.

 

Thoughts on The Front Runner

 

Characters – These characters are based on real people, which will show certain ones in good and bad lights. Senator Gary Hart is running for Presidency, is has the whole campaign under complete control, which has all but guaranteed he would become the next President of the United States. Gary has the ability to spin any story that is placed on front of him, to show that he could bring America a brighter future. Gary however does have a secret with an affair which the press turn into a big story which sees him needing to try and recover from the spiralling situation he has created with his own wrong doing. Lee Hart is the wife of Gary, she has been part of a previous separation which made her suffer enough, she has however always stood by her man with strict rules for the future. Bill Dixon is the campaign manager for Gary, that wants to keep everything simple only this becomes difficult when the truth starts to come out. The Front Runner struggles with one big problem, we have such a large cast of characters it does make it hard to keep up with the almost nameless characters, we have three or four papers and their staff, the campaign team, the people involved in the potential affair, it just becomes completely keeping up with who is who.

PerformancesHugh Jackman is great to watch in the leading role, if he was given that one scene to try and make his character truly memorable it would have put him into a stronger respected performance for the year. Vera Farmiga does everything asked of her character which she doesn’t do anything wrong with. J.K. Simmons almost feels wasted in his role which should have been larger for what is going on. Most of the performances do seem to struggle for this reason.

StoryThe story here follows a presidential candidate whose life becomes filed with speculation after an alleged affair that both sides denied saw him going from a guarantee winner to needing to withdraw, changing the way politics are portrayed in the papers forever. This story does put the spotlight on the moment that saw a change in how politics and journalist operated, the film even points out in the fact that previous Presidents asked for heads to be turned about affairs, but this alleged one saw the country turn on any person that was willing to cheat. The story does show how the three weeks changed the whole race, only it does try to put way too many characters into the film which does make it hard to keep up with who each person is and what side of the story they really are on.

Biopic/HistoryWe follow a 3 week period in Gary Hart’s life, the three weeks that took him from being the next President to the moment he withdrew wanting to keep the false accusations about him out of the papers, this shows how quickly the public can turn on people and the media can make it happen, this plays into the history side of electing a President because we see how minds suddenly changed after how previous ones had acted.

SettingsThe film does use the authentic settings, show how the press would hide for a story, while Gary would use the public to put an end to the stories being made up.


Scene of the Movie –
Twisting the medias words.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story which does feel like it should be told to more people, only this version of the story is completely over-saturated be characters making it hard to keep up with.

 

Overall: Political Thriller that just doesn’t pack the punch.

Rating

 

 

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Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

Director: Gary Dauberman

Writer: Gary Dauberman (Screenplay) James Wan (Story)

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Michael Cimino, Samara Lee

 

Plot: While babysitting the daughter of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a teenager and her friend unknowingly awaken an evil spirit trapped in a doll.


Tagline – The Next Chapter In The Conjuring Universe

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Relentless Scares

 

Story: Annabelle Comes Home starts one year after the Warren’s Ed (Wilson) and Lorraine (Farmiga) bring the Annabelle doll home, knowing its power to control the other items inside their blessed room. With Ed and Lorraine going on a business trip, it leaves their daughter Judy (Grace) with girl next door babysitter Mary Ellen (Iseman), who has planned a little birthday surprise.

When Mary Ellen’s best friend Daniela (Sarife) decides to visit, with questions about the house, getting a moment alone, she sneaks into the blessed room, only to unleash a host of evil upon the three for a night of terror, all thanks to the dreaded Annabelle doll.

 

Thoughts on Annabelle Comes Home

 

Characters – Judy Warren is the daughter of the famous paranormal investigators, she is treated differently at school because of this, with some students being scared, while others just bully her, she does see spirits too and is a shy little girl, she just wants to make friends like any young girl and is struggling with the fact nobody will be her friend except her babysitter Mary Ellen. She does know how to handle herself when hauntings start happening around her house though. Mary Ellen is the girl next door babysitter, she might well be worried about who will take her to homecoming, but she is a friend that Judy needs. Daniela Rios is the best friend of Mary Ellen, she invites herself over to look around, in hopes that she could find a way to connect with her deceased father, whose death was an accident, but she believes was her fault, she unleashes all the evil items on the household, which would make her truly horrible, until you add in the reason why she is trying to find forgiveness. Ed and Lorraine are the familiar faces, only they are basically extended cameos in the film. Bob is the love interest of Mary Ellen and he does through the generic awkward moments of trying to ask her out, he is good for a laugh too.

PerformancesMcKenna Grace takes over the role of the daughter, she does make us believe that her character has become distant from the world around her, makes us believe she is feeling lonely and isolated too. Madison Iseman makes for an easy pick for the babysitter, she comes off friendly and gives the scream level required to show the fear. Katie Sarife is strong as friend who unleashes everything, somehow making a character we could hate feel sympathy towards. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson do seem to be here as a draw, only they are barely even in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a babysitter’s friend visiting the Warren’s house who unleashes all the evil from the safety, only for the three girls needing to put a halt to this before they can become the latest victims of the curses they have. This story does have a few positives and negatives, the first positive being see how the daughter of the Warren’s is struggling with making connections in life because of their work, we could have easily dived deeper with this, but it was nice to see a change in why somebody is isolated. The pure number of different evil figures we meet through the film is brilliant to see because this opens the doors to seemingly endless amounts of spin off movies now, which could be seen as a negative because, while this is an Annabelle movie, it does tend to focus on the other evil, instead of the main one attached to Annabelle. We could get into character decisions, which aren’t the smartest especially when it comes to knowing who the character of Judy is meant to be.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film, is an endless amounts of jump scares, this does work because each does have its own way of being effective, even if a lot if music goes silent and either a boom or something charging the screen. The mystery comes from each new evil that we get to see, we get glimpses into a few leading us to only want to know more.

SettingsThe film is set in one singular location, the Warren house, this has all the evil set up within it, which means once it comes out and traps them, they don’t know what will come next.

Special EffectsThe effect in the film are strong throughout, with each creation look different, with a couple of tricks for the Ferryman coming off nicely.


Scene of the Movie –
The circular shot, I am a fan of this shot even if it was the same as the Nun.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I can’t help but think one of the rules for babysitting at the Warren’s, would be, anything slightly strange happens, get out until we come home.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice jump scare filled horror, it has plenty of references to the previous films and does leave us wanting more from this universe.

 

Overall: Jump scares for everyone.

Rating

 

 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Director: Michael Dougherty

Writer: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields (Screenplay) Michael Dougherty, Max Borenstein, Zach Shields (Story)

Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance

 

Plot: The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.


Tagline – Long Live The King

Runtime: 2 Hours 11 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Beautiful

 

Story: Godzilla: King of the Monsters starts in the aftermath of the events in San Francisco in 2014, The Russell family is torn apart with the Godzilla attack, with parents Mark (Chandler) and Emma (Farmiga) losing a child, with only Madison (Brown) left in their family, in the years past they have gone their separate ways and the Monarch agency has continue to face consequences for the Godzilla attack.

Emma does work in one of the secret Monarch facilities where they are trying to hatch and contain the titans of the Earth, when the facility comes under attack by eco-terrorist Jonah Alan (Dance) who wants to take a device which could communicate with the Titans of the world.

With this attack Godzilla reappears from his years of hiding and Mark gets called in by Monarch to help the locate his ex-wife and daughter, Monarch needs to plan as the idea is to release all the Titans into the world, with King Ghidorah challenging Godzilla for the title of King of the Monsters.

 

Thoughts on Godzilla: King of the Monsters

 

Characters – Godzilla is the king of the monsters, he will only attack when he is attacked, which sees Monarch watching over him, when his position is put at risk he heads of to eliminate the threat in King Ghidorah, we know Godzilla will fight to the death and here we learn more about the mystic of Godzilla and what gives him all his strength. King Ghidorah is the latest discovery in the world of Titans, he is a three—headed dragon in the historic likeness of the Hydra with the head having the ability to regrow. He wants control over the world using his power to control the Titans to bring the destruction. Mark is a crypto-zoologist that has been hiding from the world after the Godzilla incident, he has become distant from his daughter because of this, which has seen him filming wolves understanding predatory nature. After Madison and Emma are taken, he gets recruited by Monarch to help relocate them using his knowledge of dealing with predators, even though his stance is to kill all Titans. Emma has remained working for Monarch, she has created a device which could communicate with the Titans, one she uses to control Mothra. She gets kidnapped with her creation being the weapon which could control and release all the Titans to the world. Madison is the daughter of the two scientists, she lives with her mother, not having any communication with her father, she gets to witness the great spectacle in person and learn what caused the drift between her parents. Dr Serizawa is one of the few returning characters that still believes that Godzilla is here for good, he will protect him from any attack, he works with the Monarch team to end the terror that has come to the Earth. Barnes is the lead soldier, he seems like he is mostly a replacement for the soldier in the last film, which doesn’t need too much other than military behaviour. Dr Graham is back working with Dr Serizawa to protect Godzilla from the world that wants destruction. Jonah Alan is the eco-terrorist that has been trying to end the Titan control for years, this attest attack is the one that will unleashing them on the world.

PerformancesKyle Chandler steps into the leading role in this outing, he brings us a character with a much more interesting backstory to why he is here and we want to support him making up for his errors. Vera Farmiga is wonderful to watch, we believe her decisions through the film which will give her time to shine. Millie Bobby Brown does everything asked of for a teenage character, we see how she must learn to grow up through the events in the film. Ken Watanabe is always an actor you can sit and watch talk science, he brings the strongest human performance in the film. O’Shea Jackson Jr, Sally Hawkins and Charles Dance complete the main cast all bringing everything to the role to make the film feel believable.

StoryThe story here sees how Monarch comes under attack with the hidden Titans of the world being released into the world, Godzilla must step up to regain control after King Ghidorah tries to take his throne, we see how the human side of the Titan outbreak starts to figure out a way to stop the destruction. When it comes to the story we need to break this down, first the human side of the story which does have a focus on grief of losing somebody in a disaster will go in different direction to search for help. The scientific side of the film shows just how the people in the film work together to figure out how to get through the events of the film. when it comes to the monster side of the film we are seeing the battle for control between Godzilla and King Ghidorah along with the fellow Titans choosing a side when it comes to the battle for control. We only really want to see the monster destruction which is huge, but it is interesting to look into the history of Godzilla and just where he has come from.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action in the film is truly brilliant, we have mega destruction scenes which show the strengths of each of the Titans and what they could do to the world if they come here looking for their own control. The fight sequences are just beautiful to watch too which goes on to show just how much was put into showing the monsters (which was one of the complained sides of the last Godzilla). The adventure takes our characters across the world to each different facility which will show us how the Titans will suit the location they are coming from. The fantasy does show us just how big the monsters could be, they start to play into the history of the world, teasing they could have been real. The sci-fi side of the film plays into the idea of the giant monsters that are here, fighting for power, we do have interesting military devices which seem like they are from the future too.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us the different locations the Titans are around the world, be it China, Mexico or Antarctica, each Titans comes from the environment which would suit them.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are truly breath-taking, the Titans look flawless, the battles outstanding and the wide shots of the Titans being the best scenes of the year.


Scene of the Movie –
Mothra hatching, it is just beautiful.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Last minute saves.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most beautiful monster movies you will ever see, it has some of the most beautiful shots ever put to film and giving everything you want from a giant monster movie, where they just fight to the death.

 

Overall: Beautiful Monster movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – C – Closer to the Moon (2014)

Director: Nae Caranfil

Writer: Nae Caranfil (Screenplay)

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Mark Strong, Harry Lloyd, Anton Lesser, Andrew Buckley, Joe Armstrong

 

Plot: A Romanian police officer teams up with a small crew of old friends from the World War II Jewish Resistance to pull off a heist by convincing everyone at the scene of the crime that they are only filming a movie.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Quirky Comedy

 

Story: Closer to the Moon starts as young man Virgil (Lloyd) sees a bank robbery being filmed, only it was a real robbery, stumbling into the world of film Lloyd becomes a natural behind the camera and is hired to work with the robbers to tell the story of these once heroes of the Jewish Resistance in World War II and why they turned to a life of crime.

The crew are led by Max (Strong) works to produce the film about the robbery, which is used to try and explain just what the motivation behind his crime, poor Virgil ends up in the middle of the authorities wanting the truth and the criminals looking for an escape.

 

Thoughts on Closer to the Moon

 

Characters – Max is the leader of the Jewish Resistance group from the war, he is now high up in the police only to turn his back on the law for a robbery. He is sentenced to death but before he is executed he must help create a propaganda film about what will happen if you commit crime. Alice is the only lady on the crew, she has a history which shouldn’t put her near this world Alice fills in most of the gaps in the story for Virgil. Virgil is the young man inspired to became involved in film after witnessing the robbery, he ends up being the cameraman on the film about the robbery finding himself caught in the middle of everything.

PerformancesMark Strong and Vera Farmiga are great actors and this film shows them at their best without being the most memorable, they enjoy the comedy side of the story while playing the powerful side needed. Harry Lloyd is the new coming to the film and he is good through the film too.

StoryThe story looks at how different countries with communist beliefs behind how things are run and how the people were wanting to be against the controlling system would go about changing things. While this does look at how a heist could get out of control and covered up to be what the government want to see happen with the story. in the end we do try to have too much balanced here, so we lose focus at times to where the film wants to story to be told though.

ComedyThis is mostly quirky comedy, it hits more often than it misses but doesn’t do enough to make everything memorable.

SettingsThe film is set in Romania which is meant to show how the different sides came together to make this event happen with post world war II rules.


Scene of the Movie –
The heist is fun to watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We jump between the characters too often to understand who the lead is meant to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting comedy drama, it tells an interesting story as it focuses on wanting to be remembered more than anything else.

 

Overall: One for the comedy fans to try.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – J – Just One Day (2013)

Director: Adam Rodgers

Writer: Glenn German, Adam Rodgers (Screenplay)

Starring: Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga, Taissa Farmiga, Spencer Rocco Lofranco, Nicholas Braun, Tom Skerritt

 

Plot: Two parents fall in love over the course of a single day while playing hooky from their children’s college tour.


Tagline – You never know what you’ll discover on your first day at college.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming Drama

 

Story: Just One Day starts as we meet father George (Garcia) who is taking his son Conrad (Lofranco) to Middleton and mother Edith (Vera Farmiga) who is taking her daughter Audrey (Taissa Farmiga) on the tour too. Starting off clashing over little things, soon George and Edith spend the day touring the campus together as they both must deal with the parenting issues they are facing with their children’s choice in college.

As the day goes by George and Edith get to show their personal frustrations as they see what they could have had, while their children start learning about what they will be stepping into when going to college.

 

Thoughts on Just One Day

 

Characters – George Hartman is a surgeon that is taking his ambitious son on a college tour, he tries to come off tidy and organised, but it is Edith that helps him open up and express himself. Edith is taking her daughter on the tour, she comes off strong minded, but after spending time with George, we start to see how she really feels about her life. Audrey is the daughter of Edith, she only wants to go to Middleton even though she is attached to her phone most of the time, even though she is piling on the pressure at a way too early age. We also have Conrad who is George’s son that wants to make his own decision on where to attend college, he does try to help Audrey with her decisions on this day.

PerformancesAndy Garcia isn’t an actor you would know for romantic comedies, but here he nails it perfectly, giving us a likeable character with his own troubles. Vera Farmiga is great to in her leading role and between the two they have great chemistry. Taissa Farmiga is good too showing us just how obsessed parents can become when heading to college.

StoryThe story follows just one day in the life of to adults who are about to send their children to college, we see how important this day is for the children and how the parents can see a moment of freedom away from responsibility, but also see where things could have gone to make them happy.  This story is sweet when it needs to be, serious when it needs to be, but never sticking to just one, showing us just how to reflect life on the viewer who can connect with any of the four main characters.

Romantic/ComedyThe romantic and comedy genres do mix together nicely, we have two maybe romantic storylines, one between two married people and one between two potential students, the comedy comes into the film as we see how things go through the day, it isn’t laugh out loud funny, but funny that will leave a smile on your face.

SettingsThe whole film is set on the college campus, this helps the one day feel to the story and shows how big of a step college is for any teenager about to make it to the world.


Scene of the Movie –
Acting class, we get a real moment for both the characters who are also teaching the class with this moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ruining everything with a drug storyline.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that came out of nowhere for me, I couldn’t help but love how sweet it felt, even if I couldn’t connect with the college tour idea, it shows how certain moments show you something in life that will change how you see it.

 

Overall: Charming and sweet from start to finish.

Rating