ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – A – A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Director: Anton Corbijn

Writer: Andrew Bovell (Screenplay) John le Carre (Novel)

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Daniel Bruhl, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe

 

Plot: A Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught in the international war on terror.


Tagline – Inspired by true events

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burn

 

Story: A Most Wanted Man starts in the aftermath of 9/11, intelligence agency around the world are trying to stay on top of all known terrorists, with Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) following a Chechen immigrate in Hamburg with his team, leading his German team on tracking his known connections, before the US get involved with Martha Sullivan (Wright) checking on the investigation.

When attorney Annabel Richter (McAdams) uses her contacts with bank manager Tommy Brue (Dafoe) to help Karpov become a resident of Germany, Gunther continues to watch over to see if he is a threat even with the added pressure of America.

 

Thoughts on A Most Wanted Man

 

Characters – Gunther Bachmann is the German agent that is tracking known terrorists, his team has connections and keeps eyes on most of the suspects with their latest one being one wanted worldwide, he must figure out if this man is a danger or not. Martha Sullivan is part of the American team searching for the terrorist, she is trusting Gunther to do the right thing only she isn’t sure what he is going to do. Annabel Richter is an attorney that is trying to help the suspect get into Germany, she is just doing his job using her connection to help make his move go smoother. Tommy Brue is the bank manager that has been dealing with multiple nationalities through the years, he gets involved in trying to get the transfer of money done.

PerformancesPhilip Seymour Hoffman in the leading role steps into the German character with ease, showing the composure to take his character to be the standout of the film. Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe fill the supporting roles well through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the German and American intelligence agencies as they are trying to figure out if an immigrate is a potential terrorist suspect, both sides have difference of opinion on what is true and they must try to stay ahead of each other the best they can. This story does try to come off like an intense spy thriller that seems to get bogged down too easily, by making everything seem like it is just an everyday incident, this does move at a slow pace which only brings down everything because they do just seem to pick a random person, that could have reason to suspect from the early point in the film.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows how the authorities operate to try and tackle potential criminal actions, it does show that they could be above the law at times too.

SettingsWe have the German backdrop for this movie, showing how they are planning to operate to keep tracks on terrorists.


Scene of the Movie –
Pick up.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It just seems dull.

Final ThoughtsThis is a spy thriller that never seems to get going, it tries to play along with the idea that we are building, but we soon lose the attention because it is more of a political spy thriller over anything going on thriller.

 

Overall: Slow burning thriller that just doesn’t get going.

Rating

 

 

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Aquaman (2018)

Director: James Wan

Writer: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall (Screenplay) Geoff John, James Wan, Will Beall, Mort Weisinger, Paul Norris (Story/Characters)

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

 

Plot: Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.


Tagline – He’s not from around here.

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Blast

 

Story: Aquaman starts as we learn about Arthur’s (Momoa) parents, mother the Queen of Atlantis Atlanna (Kidman) and father a mortal lighthouse keeper Tom (Morrison), Atlanna had to leave Arthur on land after her failed attempt to escape the rulers of Atlantis. We see how Arthur is being pressured into going to Atlantis and claiming his throne by Mera (Heard) to stop his half-brother King Orm (Wilson) who wants a war with the land by uniting the armies underwater.

Arthur must go on the quest to unlock his own position in Atlantis to prevent a war which will have mass causalities, along the way he will learn the truth about the ways of the Atlanteans if he is going to take the throne.

 

Thoughts on Aquaman

 

Characters – Arthur is the Aquaman, not wanting to be a hero on either land or in the ocean, he has always been against Atlantis because of what they did to his mother, he does protect the water from the helpless, while not being as friendly as the other heroes in this universe. He must go on a quest to take on his half-brother and become the true king of Atlantis. He does try to give us plenty of one liners through all the film. Mera is the princess and daughter to King Nereus, she knows that Arthur is the right person for the throne, though she is arranged to marry King Orm, she does come off as the smarter of the two while on the quest. Vulko has trained both to be prepared for fights, he is the advisor to King Orm, even if he believes that Arthur is the rightful king. King Orm wants to go to war with the land, he believes and is tired of how the oceans are treated, he wants to unite the different factions even if it means by going with force. He will use both sides to his advantage to put himself in the position of power. Atlanna is the mother of both Arthur and Orm, killed for her actions, one of the few people that commanded respect from all kingdoms. We do have the kings from each kingdom being pushed into following King Orm and Manta who wants revenge for Arthur’s action, he is human and a pirate, even if he ends up looking like a Power Rangers villain.

PerformancesJason Momoa is great in the leading role, he looks like he is having fun at times, which feels important, while he can get serious when needed, he also looks the part too. Amber Heard is good in her role where she gets to fill in the gaps for the audience. Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman and Dolph Lundgren are good in the supporting roles which you could watch them play for days. Patrick Wilson deserves praise too because he is one of the best villains in the DC universe.

StoryThe story gives Aquaman his first solo adventure after his appearance in Justice League, where he must learn about Atlantis and take on his half-brother before a war between the land and the ocean starts. This is kind of an origin story, which seems to be the way DC are doing them, lets us meet them in a team up movie before moving into their own story, this is that movie. The idea that two half-brothers are fighting to power does seem to borrow from the Thor first movie, which does have a different game as Arthur is the one that doesn’t want to be king. The idea that one man must learn his place and stand up and be counted is a great hero story which is needed for Arthur.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action in this film is good with the battle in Sicily being the highlight for me, we get a unique use of camerawork too for shooting the action. The adventure does take Arthur around the world in search for answers above or below the ocean. The fantasy world plays into the idea that Atlantis has been living under the ocean to make their own technology which again plays into the sci-fi elements being used in the film.

SettingsThe film does use the settings well, with Sicily being a new fight location, though the underwater sequences look fantastic to be absorb within.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are fantastic for the ambitious scale of the world needed to be created, there are a couple of shots which do look weaker than the rest though.


Scene of the Movie –
Sicily fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story does feel safe for an origin story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a blast for an origin film, we can have a lot of fun with everything happening in the film and we now have a character in the DC universe to make us excited that we don’t only have Wonder Woman.

 

Overall: Great fun to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Nymphomaniac Vol 2 (2013)

Director: Lars von Trier

Writer: Lars von Trier (Screenplay)

Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe, Mia Goth

 

Plot: The continuation of Joe’s sexually dictated life delves into the darker aspects of her adulthood, obsessions and what led to her being in Seligman’s care.


Tagline – Forget About Love

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Darker, but Not Interesting

 

Story: Nymphomaniac Vol 2 starts where the last film finished as Joe (Gainsbourg telling the story, Martin acting the story) is feeling lifeless when it comes to sex and even after having a child with Jerome (LaBeouf) the two start to become distant in their relationship as Joe still requires her sexual times. Now we are watching the older Joe only as she gets involved with risky sexual experiences.

When her body starts to struggle with the sex in her life, she starts going through treatment for her sex addiction and what she goes through next shows just how addiction can take over the lives of people.

 

Thoughts on Nymphomaniac Vol 2

 

Characters – Joe continues her story in this one we look at her taking on more extreme sexual encounters as she does continue to take on daily encounters to satisfy her lust. We see the affects on her body as she grows to the middle aged woman. The rest of the characters we meet don’t get enough screen time, Jerome is here only to try to take Joe’ child away. Seligman does have a bigger secret about him.

PerformancesCharlotte Gainsbourg does take the centre stage this time around going through the sexual encounters, she does commit to the performance. We have new actors joining this film and they do a good enough job when given the time.

StoryThe next chapter of the stories of Nymphomaniac Joe, this does show her going into extremer formers of sexual pleasure which has cost her child, but found her a career she could never have imagined, one which lets her use her sexual desires. The thing with the story here, is that you do need to have seen the first film to have any idea what is going on, while most two part movies you can miss or get recap this offers us nothing to help.

SettingsThe settings continued to show us just where Joe finds herself through her different encounters, none become the most important to the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The new job for Joe.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It’s just unrealistic conversations.

Final ThoughtsThis is the second half of a film, that if you don’t make it through the first one, you will not enjoy the second, this might be darker, but it just isn’t enjoyable enough to sit through.

 

Overall: Still difficult to watch.

Rating

 

 

Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Randall McCormick, Jeff Nathanson (Screenplay) Jan de Bont, Randall McCormick (Story)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe, Temuera Morrison, Brian McCardie, Christine Firkins

 

Plot: A computer hacker breaks into the computer system of the Seabourn Legend cruise liner and sets it speeding on a collision course into a gigantic oil tanker.


Tagline – Rush hour hits the water.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Passable Action Film

 

Story: Speed 2: Cruise Control starts as we meet Annie (Bullock) still trying to get her driving licence back, long past dating Jack (Because Keanu was smart enough not to come back) and has moved onto what she thinks is a quiet cop role of Alex Shaw (Patric) who is actually a SWAT officer too.

To break the tension, Alex takes Annie on a cruise, which happens to have John Geiger (Dafoe) onboard that has his own plans for the cruise. As John takes over the boat, he plans to evacuate the passengers which will leave him the ship, but Alex will get to the bottom of this and try to save the day.

 

Thoughts on Speed 2: Cruise Control

 

Characters – Annie is back, she still can’t drive and now she has fallen for another risk-taking cop in Alex, this is a character that strangely feels iconic for the genre, while not being bad character or being weak, she doesn’t do much over than panic. Alex is the risk-taking cop, this sounds familiar doesn’t it? He will do anything to save the day. John Geiger is the villain of the piece, he has made his plan and wants to operate through his plan, though he didn’t plan for Alex. Strangely he never plans to kill anyone.

PerformancesSandra Bullock is fine in her role here, she works for these films. Jason Patric just lacks the charisma Keanu had in the first one which doesn’t make you care about his character. Willem Dafoe is one of the most reliable villains in Hollywood, it is strange that he is good, but the character is largely forgettable.

StoryThe story is just like the first Speed, it has a criminal that takes a vehicle with the promise to kill everyone if demands aren’t met. This is the old tried and tested formula without being overly impressive and never reaches the levels of the first film. it does everything it needs to do while being easy to watch from start to finish.

Action/Crime/RomanceThe action sequences for the most part are entertaining even if they are overly long at times, like the sequence crashing into the island, just seems to go on and on. The romance involved is just more of the same mostly tagged on too.

SettingsThe film being set on the bottle, tries to do something different, but it just lacks the tension the first one has.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are terrible and even in places laughable.


Scene of the Movie –
While long the boat crashing into the harbour is fun watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The random dog sequence.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that gets a lot of bashing, it does everything it needs to for an action film, that just isn’t on the same level as the first film.

 

Overall: Sequel that works well enough.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Spiderman (2002)

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: David Koepp (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Steve Ditko (Comic Book)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons

 

Plot: When bitten by a genetically modified spider, a nerdy, shy, and awkward high school student gains spider-like abilities that he eventually must use to fight evil as a superhero after tragedy befalls his family.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Truly Enjoyable Spiderman Movie

 

Story: Spider-Man starts as we meet high school student Peter Parker (Maguire), he only had one friend at school and that is over privileged Harry Osborn (Franco) and his high school crush Mary Jane (Dunst) attending a field trip at science laboratory where Peter gets bitten by one of the spiders.

The next day Peter finds himself stronger and more aware than ever, he has gained the spider skills, Peter uses his time to learn his abilities, but when his Uncle Ben (Robertson) becomes a victim of crime, Peter becomes Spiderman protecting New York City from the criminals.

With high school finished Peter and Harry move to New York, where they find jobs, but Peter has been fighting crime become front page news. Harry’s father Norman a CEO at Oscorp determined to make the most money unleashes the Green Goblin on the city, giving Spiderman his first opponent that will tests his abilities.

 

Thoughts on Spider-Man

 

Characters – Peter Parker is the socially awkward high school outcast, he does have the brains to become anything but when he gets bitten he becomes Spiderman where he starts to fight to protect his city after losing his Uncle. Norman Osborn is the career driven genius that will go to any lengths to be the leading developer in government technology, but when he loses his way, he goes out to stop anyone with his Green Goblin persona. Harry is Peter’s best friend and son of Norman, he watches how everything unfolds but also starts dating Mary Jane. Mary Jane is the high school crush of Peter, she does stick up for him as they share the same dreams.

PerformanceTobey Maguire is great in this leading role showing the innocence side of Peter but away from the high school age. Kirsten Dunst is a beautiful Mary Jane and while mostly the damsel in distress does give us a good performance. James Franco showed us all the potential he has started to show us in this role. Willem Dafoe enjoys the villainous role through the film and is easy one of the better conflicted villains in the universe.

StoryThis is an origin story for Spiderman that came out just when the superhero boom was starting up, it bought us a new hero to root for and one that was filled with the odd joke. We have the motivation for Peter to become Spiderman, a friendship which will become important through this franchise and a villain that is conflicted with why he is doing the things he is doing. It may well be a by the book origin story it does have enough darker moments to make us see the light in his actions.

Action/AdventureThe action fits the comic book genre perfectly with the adventure side of the film coming from just what Peter is learning of his new skills.

SettingsNew York City makes for the setting here, much like in the comics, it works because of the landscape that Spiderman will be taking on with his web slinging.

Special EffectsThe effects for this film show us that practical effects could still make an excellent film, the CGI feels very little.

Scene of the Movie – The parade.

That Moment That Annoyed Me You do feel like we needed more of the high school side of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an origin film that does hit the marks, a villain that can do enough damage but is never a true threat, learning the correct path and building a bigger picture for the whole franchise.

 

Overall: Easily one of the best origin stories.

Rating