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

 

 

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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

 

 

The Florida Project (2017)

Director: Sean Baker

Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch (Screenplay)

Starring: Brooklyn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera, Caleb Landry Jones

 

Plot: Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.


Tagline – Welcome to a magical kingdom

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Drama

 

Story: The Florida Project starts as we meet precocious 6-year olds Moonee (Prince), Scooty (Rivera) and Dicky (Malik) that cause problems in a motel next to the new Disney World, they go on their mixed adventures, while Halley (Vinaite) Moonee’s mother struggles to find herself a job.

Hotel manager Bobby (Dafoe) knows families like Halley’s don’t have anywhere else to go, so he allows the to stay long term, but the kids are starting to cause disruptions with the everyday business. We follow the summer vacation the kids have, needing to entertain themselves.

 

Thoughts on The Florida Project

 

Characters – Moonee is the 6-year-old girl that along with her friends is getting into mischief for the summer vacation where he mother lives in a motel. She must entertain herself and knows every guest in the motel, the good ones and the bad ones. Halley is the mother of Moonee, she struggles to get enough money to stay in the motel, but does everything she can to make sure that she can enjoy her childhood, letting her have the freedom. She is trying to find a job, but it isn’t as easy as it should be. Bobby is the manager at the hotel, he knows the kids are only keeping themselves entertained which gives them harmless with their behaviour, he supports the poor families that are staying there the best he can, while also making sure they don’t end up getting into illegal trouble.

PerformancesBrooklynn Prince is the Moonee and she gives one of the most genuine performances of the year filled with the innocence that her character is all about during this hard time. Bria Vinaite is fresh on the scene here and she is fantastic over the young mum trying her best while also not being prepared for the everyday job idea. Willem Dafoe is fantastic too being the biggest name in this movie you would expect this from the talent he and he plays this role so perfectly.

StoryThe story tells the struggles a mother and daughter are having to just keep a roof over their heads in Florida. It shows the mischievous adventures Moonee goes on while her mother does whatever it takes to make the money all over the summer vacation as the motel manager tries to do the best he can to support them. This is a story that shows us the struggles a single parent can have with money if they started with nothing, the kindness of people who try to support and the innocent adventures children can go on.

SettingsThe settings show the motel that Halley & Moonee must live in, not the best place to be raising a child, this is good, but the down side is not knowing just how much of a shadow Disney World has on this place without going into researching it ourselves.


Scene of the Movie –
Bobby deals with an unwanted guest.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing the full scale of the situation between the motel and Disney World

Final ThoughtsThis is such a sweet story that is shot lovely, with two unknowns in the leads that are fantastic and Willem Dafoe shines. This might not be the biggest flowing story, but it does sum up the difficulties of single parenthood.

 

Overall: Wonderful moving movie

Rating

 

 

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Director: Alan Parker

Writer: Chris Gerolmo (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain, Michael Rooker

 

Plot: Two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Difficult to Watch but Brilliant Thriller

 

Story: Mississippi Burning starts by taking us to 1964 Mississippi where we see a group of civil rights activates executed on the road. Agent Rupert Anderson (Hackman) and Agent Alan Ward (Dafoe) get assigned to the case where they must work with local Sheriff Ray Stuckey (Sartain).

In the middle of the racial tension the colour divide is still strong here with the Ku Klux Klan ruling the neighbourhood, Agent Ward is open to anyone for information, race isn’t an issue for him, Agent Anderson is similar but also knows how to handle the tension by being more discreet. When the agents find themselves targeted the inexperience Ward calls for more agents starting a full task force in the town as they search for the missing civil rights activists.

The case becomes difficult to investigate for the agents as they find themselves being shunned by both races but also needing to investigate the law in the town as they look for the answers to this case.

 

Thoughts on Mississippi Burning

 

Characters/PerformanceAgent Rupert Anderson is an experienced FBI agent that knows how to deal with racial tension in towns and knows how to get people to talk. He gets frustrated having to work under Ward as he feels like he knows how to work this case better. Agent Alan Ward comes into this case with no experience in the field, he is used to everyone being treated equal and takes time to learn that his by the book methods aren’t going to get the answers required. He does learn from Anderson as the case continues and the two make a brilliant team. Mrs Pell is one of the most important witnesses in the case but it is whether she can be honest about her husband’s Deputy Pell’s where about. Nearly all of the white authority characters are suspects in this film, we literally just don’t know who is the leader but they are all single minded in their cause.

Performance wise, Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe are fantastic together in this film, you can see in their performances the difference in characters but not in motives. Frances McDormand is also great through the supporting role and the cast is filled with stars that show their skills.

StoryThe story is based on a real event that happened, so you would have to be sensitive when considering this story too much. The truth is shown to us what the biggest problem in American modern history, the failure of certain states to give up the racial divide. The story is driven by the racial tension which keeps the story on edge from start to finish which makes the story fly by.

Crime/History/MysteryThe crime side of this film is full of all the tension need as we know early on just what has happened but we are left to wonder just how long until the mystery if fully solved. It also shows us the history of these cases that show us just how backwards people’s mindsets were.

SettingsThe film is set in Mississippi which gives us a look at the locations the crimes would have taken place.

Final ThoughtsThis is difficult to watch in places but is also one of the tensest thrillers you will see.

 

Overall: This is a must watch for all thriller fans.

Rating

 

 

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Michael Green (Screenplay) Agatha Christie (Novel)

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kenneth Branagh, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Lucy Boynton, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi

 

Plot: A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man’s race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.


Tagline – Everyone is a suspect

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drawn Out Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Murder on the Orient Express starts as we meet the great Hercule Poirot (Branagh) as he solves another mystery but is summoned back to England for another mystery, where he catches the Orient Express from Istanbul. On the train we have a host of character, Miss Mary Debenham (Ridley), Dr Arbuthnot (Odom Jr), Bouc (Bateman), Marquez (Garcid-Rulfo), Pilar (Cruz), Hector (Gad) Ratchett (Depp), Masterman (Jacobi), Count Andrenyi (Polunin), Countess Andrenyi (Boynton), Mrs Hubbard (Pfeiffer), Princess Dragomiroff (Dench), Higegarde (Colman) and Gerhard (Dafoe).

Half way through the trip one of the passengers is murdered leading to Poirot needing to get to the bottom of this mystery, that looks unsolvable with every passenger a potential suspect, this could be his greatest case yet.

 

Thoughts on Murder on the Orient Express

 

Characters – Poirot is considered the greatest detective in the world, he solves the unsolvable but has a quirky side to him too, he needs order in his life. He uses his skills to figure out the truth about the suspects in solving the murder. To be honest I found this character annoying, and I like quirky detectives, Monk was one of my favourites but the style he presents himself just didn’t click for me. As for the passengers we have the people from different walks off life which makes them all suspects in their own way but until the end we don’t learn enough about any of them, which is guess is the point as we only learn what Poirot is learning.

PerformancesKenneth Branagh takes the roles as Poirot and for me he doesn’t deliver, he isn’t quirky enough to be quirky but is proper enough to feel proper, he just seems plainly odd. Much like with the characters it is hard to say anything bad about the cast which is an all-star cast, nobody stands out and nobody seems out of place, they are just fine.

StoryThe story is considered one of the greatest novels of all time, well it might be and I am sure when you read it, you will be left on the edge of your seat not wanting to put it down. The problem is that is doesn’t work on screen because we are trying to over play the eccentric sides of these characters in a mystery that when you stop and think about it and how it is shot doesn’t add up by the end. I am not saying the novel is bad, just how this movie tells the story.

Crime/MysteryThe mystery is who murdered someone on a train, this works I like a good mystery but the final outcome while great in its own way, doesn’t work for someone who likes to try and solve the mystery as they go along.

SettingsOnce we get to the train it is all plain sailing for the settings which work for the audience knowing the killer would have nowhere to run.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts don’t add up.

Final ThoughtsHere is a classic case of trying to make a classic novel into a movie and failing, the style the film is shot it doesn’t click, the performances are just average, while the mystery doesn’t add up once you get to the final reveal.

 

Overall: Disappointing adaptation of the classic novel.

Rating