Double Feature: Kidnap (2017) & Killer Legends (2014)

Next up, we’re heading into our K double feature! I’m going to say that this one was a touch one to pair up since selections were limited.  Let’s check it out!

Kidnap (2017)

Kidnap

Director: Luis Prieto

Cast: Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn, Lew Temple, Jason George

A mother stops at nothing to recover her kidnapped son. – IMDB

Feeling a lot like The Call (review) in terms of its thriller style, Halle Berry stars in this thriller about a recently divorced mother who is truly quite the lady as she doesn’t give a second thought and chases after the kidnappers who have taken her son. There’s a lot of really unbelievable bits in this one. Just like how her rather rundown minivan is in a car chase with an 80s Mustang GT or something along those lines (although I’m not car expert so what do I know?). While her actions might feel more instinctive and acting on the moment so some of it makes you feel like its passable in the believable element but then you have these kidnappers who are a little odd as they reveal themselves at some point and it just doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do in the whole scheme of things especially seeing as the plot takes a turn to lay out who these two are albeit a rather shallow back story. Its main focus is on a mother retrieving her kidnapped son against all odds.

I’m honestly not hating on Kidnap. Sure, some plot points are hard to get behind. There are some stupid decisions and it did get a little boring to watching Halle Berry on a constant car chase that takes up a good part of the film, mostly in panic and fear. It feels a little shallow in terms of content. However, it knows what it wants to be and there is some growth in Halle Berry’s character throughout the whole ordeal (as it should with something so traumatic as chasing down kidnappers and doing things most normal mothers wouldn’t be doing). It has a few thrills and redeeming moments but also seems like the plot is too straightforward and doesn’t go deep enough to be a fun thriller as the reveal itself fell a little flat as well.

Killer Legends (2014)

killer legends

Director (and writer): Joshua Zeman

Delving into our collective nightmares, this horror-documentary investigates the origins of our most terrifying urban legends and the true stories that may have inspired them. – IMDB

I don’t watch a lot of documentaries and honestly, when I do, sometimes I’m not sure that I’ve reviewed a whole lot of it. Killer Legends is something of an educational research documentary. It takes four urban legends that have been rather popularized through horror movies and takes a dive into cases where those types of serial killers had occurred in real life. Most of them dive back to decades ago well before movies were made from them but Joshua Zeman and researcher Rachel Mills heads to the different cities where these cases happened and revisits the locations of the murders based on case files as well as talks to the residents to see their thoughts on those long ago cases and how many people actually still remember it and who they thought were the suspects on these (mostly) unsolved mysteries, as some of them have caught a killer but also speculations that there were uncertainties.

Seeing as I’m not one to go deep diving on the Internet for information on this topic and looking up cases from decades ago and such, this documentary was pretty good. Each of the four urban legends are ones that I’ve heard of and have seen movies related to it in one form or another. There were real life case file pictures added into the research and makes things more real and the whole set up of how the research and killer profile was pretty interesting (seeing as I was a big fan of Criminal Minds). The one that probably is the most intriguing is The Babysitter and The Man Upstairs section while the most surprising might go to the urban legends behind the Candyman with the real life case connection. The other two stories is the Hookman which definitely feels more familiar (with recent viewings of Zodiac and I Know What You Did Last Summer) which was a fairly creepy look as its the one case that haunts the town of Texarkana and remains unsolved which is always chilling to hear about, and finally wrapping up the Killer Clown urban legend which wraps up the cautionary tale behind this whole documentary and with this, giving it the purpose.

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the two running this whole documentary as the conversation feels not as smooth as it should be but the people they choose to interview and the information that they gather and put together does add a little substance to these urban legends and what they mean to the people who lived through the times and in the cities that they occurred. Its not about solving these mysteries but rather taking a second look at the info available and piecing it together and they do a decent job on achieving that through the course of the documentary and the four urban legends which makes it well worth a watch.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

 

Double Feature: Perfect Stranger (2007) & Red Riding Hood (2011)

Welcome to the next double feature. Still braving through some Netflix titles as we head into the P and R selection, well, the first R selection, it would seem. The alphabet thing is more of a guideline at this point. This time, we’re heading into two thriller-esque movies. The first being Halle Berry and Bruce Willis’ Perfect Stranger which I remember I had wanted to see when it first came out but never did until now. The R selection is also a movie that I had wanted to see even though it looked like it was not going to be good which is Red Riding Hood. The result of both of these films were fairly similar, to be honest.

Let’s check it out!

Perfect Stranger (2007)

perfect stranger

Director: James Foley

Cast: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Portnow

A journalist goes undercover to ferret out businessman Harrison Hill as her childhood friend’s killer. Posing as one of his temps, she enters into a game of online cat-and-mouse. – IMDB

With a pretty great lineup of cast playing a tight knit group of characters, Perfect Stranger definitely feels like it could be a winner. While I can’t truly fault the acting or the roles here, its the final moments that somewhat break the film a little. Plus, some of the roles are a tad over the top. The story does make the effort as a thriller to keep you guessing while giving you a few suspects to consider but as experienced viewers now know to question whoever is the most obvious in movies, it creates those smokes and screens fairly well.

Perfect Stranger is one of those films that I really want to like. Bruce Willis is pretty good in his roles. There some issues with Halle Berry’s character and then, the best role here that really delivers has to be Giovanni Ribisi who brings up a lot of question marks. Deal is, the story feels really choppy and the ending is one of those trying too hard to give you a surprise endings and it thinks its more clever than it actually is.

Red Riding Hood (2011)

Red Riding Hood

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie

Set in a medieval village that is haunted by a werewolf, a young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family’s displeasure. – IMDB

Red Riding Hood has a decent idea behind it. Its a bit been there done that. Which is also why, it hasn’t been too long since I saw it and I already don’t remember too many of the details. So, let’s get the good things out of the way. This one was alright in the acting department, not so much in the dialogue department though and its one of those things that feel very much one way that it could all go. Plus, its one of those easy to figure out twists because its not exactly far-fetched and it doesn’t help that its a re-imagining of Red Riding Hood which doesn’t seem like the Red Riding Hood elements make a huge difference to the outcome. The ending is pretty meh and honestly, the film wasn’t so bad at the beginning but falls apart as it goes along.

Overall, Red Riding Hood was kind of a lot of weird bits added together. Nothing felt really necessary but it felt like it needed to add those elements of love to give that spicy edge, the vengeance to give the revenge and hatred edge and then the reveal being the surprise element except nothing seems like it works long enough to make it have a truly lasting effect. Its not exactly a bad film but then its not exactly anything special either. I mean, to make things better, I went ahead and watched Hoodwinked which is a much better twist on the Red Riding Hood story.

That’s it for this double feature!
I’m indifferent regarding these two films so its a bit harder to write about.
Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

The Call (2013)

Welcome 2017 of movie reviews! We are back!

This Saturday marks the first day of starting to work on those unwatched movies in our quite extensive movie collection. It kind of haunts us as we sit there and play video games or turn on Netflix and choose something there and especially when we switch on Pitch Perfect or Easy A for the nth time. While I would love to go in my favorite sequence, alphabetical order, there are movies that I’ve wanted to watch and push away. Plus, last year Netflix A-Z (which I still have to wrap up very quickly but am taking a little break), took a lot of funky turns into movies I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch. This year, I’m taking a “follow my heart” path and the first movie as I scanned starting from the “A” and landed on the first movie in “C” for The Call. I like Halle Berry enough and I love Abigail Breslin and its been one that I’ve wanted to watch for quite some time.

Let’s check it out!

The Call (2013)

The Call

Director: Brad Anderson

Cast: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, Roma Maffia

When a veteran 911 operator takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl who has just been abducted, she realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl’s life.-IMDB

Thrillers have a hard time of striking a good balance of building intrigue, making us care for the characters and feeling immersed. Many movies beg us to question ourselves whether the end justifies its means. Sometimes the journey os so great that we can ignore a lackluster ending. The Call is not one of these situations. It starts and climaxes to incredibly tense and immersive moments. However, the third act turns into such typical Hollywood territory with a finale that makes it feel even worse.

The Call

One of the best parts of The Call is its intelligent characters. Most specifically, Halle Berry’s character called Jordan, who is a 911 operator who goes through a situation that breaks her and turns into an operator trainer instead until by coincidence, she walks past a call that the current less experienced operator can’t handle and she takes over. Jordan is a good character with her struggles and pains. We never dive very deep into her inner scars and if this movie was longer, perhaps they would have but that make make it too dramatic for its own good. Jordan is smart and collected and she guides a call of a teenage girl using a disposable phone kidnapped in the car trunk. She may have a ton of tricks up her sleeve but her true quality is constantly reassuring and encouraging the girl to not give up even after a few traumatic events. Jordan is a fighter and in many ways, this call might be the closure she needs to get back onto the floor of The Hive (aka the 911 operator center). If her character makes us believe in the stress and hectic environment 911 operators go through. In dire situations, this job is not a joke because the flexibility and fast thinking and adaptation skills could be what saves or kills someone. That is the beauty of Jordan’s character but that is until she makes an unexpected but also rather unrealistic choice to me with gets us into the third act. From there, the character somewhat crumbles as well.

The Call

While Jordan is the character that standout, her role can’t be accentuated without where the actual kidnapping is going on. Abigail Breslin plays the kidnapped teenage girl. She struggles to find her strength but eventually does and lasts much longer than we would expect. We don’t know much about her but we do want her to survive as much as Jordan does. However, her angle doesn’t only show her conversation with Jordan and what she does to try to escape or be rescued but we also get a glimpse of our kidnapper. More than a glimpse perhaps because things do get quite out of hand. In fact, our seeing kidnapper is the sneak peek that our characters don’t know. The right amount of suspense is built to make sure that we also will be at the edge of our seats wondering what is the deal with our kidnapper and who he actually is. In fact, Michael Eklund takes on the role of the mysterious kidnapper quite well. He is odd and peculiar in his ways. There’s something rather off-putting about his character, which unfortunately, doesn’t amount to much but at least we get a good idea of why he is doing what he is doing.

The Call

Overall, The Call does a lot right. The setting in The Hive or the trunk or en route. The character’s are engaging and intriguing even if they don’t really get the emphasis or care that perhaps a longer story may have benefited from, but then it might not be all that necessary. The plot and pace is intriguing and tense for the most part. What it suffers from and dooms it is the final act which heads into the typical Hollywood arc which dives out of reality and becomes a little nonsensical with our main character seeming to make bad judgement calls over and over again. It is a shame because if they had pulled together a better ending, The Call had the potential to be so much more. Except all we have left is this disappointing finale that somewhat makes us forget how great the first two acts were that led to it.

Have you seen The Call? What are your thoughts? 

New Year’s Eve (2011)

Its New Year’s Eve and I couldn’t let it go without watching this movie (since I bought it a few weeks ago at Plattsburgh for this)!

new years eve

NEW YEAR’S EVE

DIRECTED: Garry Marshall (Valentine’s Day, Pretty Woman)

CAST: Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Hillary Swank, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Katherine Heigl, Russell Peters, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel

This movie has so many stories that interlink that I don’t even know how to start.  So lets start it off as they did it and sending a GIGANTIC thanks to IMDB.  We start with Claire Morgan (Hillary Swank) who is responsible for the ball drop in Times Square and making sure that things go smoothly up until the ball starts to descend. That is the Times Square story. Next up, we go to Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is somewhat of an introvert and scared woman who needs to find her courage to complete her resolutions with the help of Paul (Zac Efron). This story is referred to as Resolutions Tour.  Afterwards, we have the snapshot of two couples waiting for their babies and trying to get the first baby born in new year’s reward of $25,000 with Tess (Jessica Biel) and Griff (Seth Meyers) competing with Grace (Sarah Paulson) and James (Til Schweiger). This story is Maternity Ward.  Following up, we get introduced to Randy (Ashton Kutcher) a hater of New Year’s because of his past bad experiences, who gets stuck in an elevator with Elise (Lea Michele) who is in a

rush to get to Times Square. Also called Elevator Story.  Then, we go to Sam (Josh Duhamel) who is the witness of his friends’ wedding and needs to get back to the Ahern Party, also the name of this story.  After that, we run over to the Ahern Party where we meet Laura (Katherine Heigl) who is the chef for this party where Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) is performing for this party. This one is Laura and Jensen’s story. After that, we get to Mr. Harris (Robert De Niro) who is dying in the hospital and has a Nurse (Halle Berry) keeping watch over him. I think I missed a story back there with Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her daughter, Hailey (Abigail Breslin) where its a mother who doesn’ t want to let her daughter go with her friends to see the ball drop because she’s protective over her. Thats the general idea of the movie and their short stories.

Did you get all of that? I just watched this yesterday and I needed to recap with playing this movie in the background and IMDB. Its a crash landing of a movie with lots of different actors and actresses into a whole bunch of diferent stories. There are some stars that are my faves like Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Abigail Breslin, Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl.  I’ve had enjoyment watching Lea Michele as well as Zac Efron before.  But if asked what would I call this movie? A mess! A big mess! My highlight when I wasn’t rolling my eyes was when I saw Russell Peters talking in his Indian accent.  Now if you have about half the amount of love that I have for Russell Peters as a comedian, then there are parts you will enjoy.  I’m not saying it was all bad.  I can tell you that I HATED Michelle Pfeiffer in this movie and she was paired with Zac Efron in a role acting like he was wanna-be cool or something and it was a bit annoying.  Thats okay though. The story that grew on me was the elevator story because it was fun and cute.  The Times Square story and the Hospital one was quite heartwarming also.  There was even some Bon Jovi singing to bring it up so I’m alright with that.  I’ve never seen him act before and I did like him pretty much.  I also do enjoy Katherine Heigl so I felt it was an interesting match.  This movie was far from great.  Nothing like Love Actually, of course. There are some parts here and there that I was alright with and seeing as its New Year’s Eve, its okay.  I don’t want to be too harsh.

I’m off to party it up till midnight with a potluck and countdown at my friend’s NYE party.  I just had to post this up before I left, or else it wouldn’t be appropriate.  I’ll be back tomorrow to update some more of my post in the morning.