Film Review: THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES (USA 2018)

The Christmas Chronicles Poster
Trailer

The story of sister and brother, Kate and Teddy Pierce, whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about.

Director:

Clay Kaytis

Before dismissing this new Christmas family Netflix original as boring fare, one should give the film directed by the director of the ANGRY BIRDS animated feature a chance.  THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES is actually surprisingly watchable though it rehashes many of producer Chris Columbus earlier films like HOME ALONE, GREMLINS and ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING.

Kate (Darby Camp) is a 10-year old who still believes in Santa.  Her brother, Teddy (Judah Lewis) is having doubts.  When they decide to cam-record Santa on Christmas eve, trouble begins when they sneak a ride on his sleigh resulting in lost toys and Santa arrested.  It is up to the two to save Christmas.

The story is cliché ridden.  The premise is that Christmas needs to be saved. The audience is led to believe that without the presents, good cheer will be lost resulting in unhappy angry people with lots more crime in the streets.

The script contains original ideas.  As the three search for the missing reindeer, they meet strangers – all of whom Santa knows (whether good or bad) since he had delivered presents to everyone when they were children in the past.  This idea provides ample opportunity for jokes and comedic set-ups.

For a silly movie based on a silly premise, THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES is quite endearing and funny, making it light and enjoyable entertainment for the undemanding moviegoer.  Take the scene where the two ids first meet Santa Clause (played amicably by Kurt Russell).  “Alive and In Person one night only!”  He jokes.  “Disappointed.  Yes, I am not what you expected?  I get fat after all the cookies I eat.”  hen asked to go; “Ho-Ho-Ho.”  His reply: “I don’t do that.  That is a myth.  Fake News!”  The notion is the that the filmmakers know wheat this film is, never aim that high and take it for what it is.  This little film has more laughs than the dismal recent DR. SEUSS’ THE GRINCH based on the Christmas classic that audiences expect much more from.

The main character is Kate played by a young Darby Camp.  Camp is sufficiently endearing and cute, delivering her one-liners like a pro.  When Santa loses his magic hat, he questions Kate: “How do you think I am able to leap from one rooftop to another?  “Pilates?” replies Kate who decides then to help Santa so that she can remove herself from his naughty list for life.  Her brother Teddy plays second fiddle to her.

The film also contains an animated segment featuring the elves in Santa’s workshop and a musical number performed in a jail cell.

What is a Christmas film without a Christmas message?   The corny message delivered by Kurt Russell’s Santa feels at least, sincere.  The best thing about this film is actually Santa i.e. Kurt Russell.  Whether crooning the song “Santa is Back in Town” in shades or trying to convince everyone that he is the real thing, this is Russell’s movie.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJajqsLrmaA

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1997 Movie Review: BREAKDOWN, 1997

 

BREAKDOWN MOVIE POSTERBREAKDOWN, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by: Jonathan Mostow

Cast: Kurt Russell, JT Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan, M.C. Gainey, Kim Robillard
Review by Jarred Thomas

SYNOPSIS:

After their new Jeep conks out on a desolate stretch of Arizona highway, a well-heeled Massachusetts couple accepts the help of a kindly, honest-seeming trucker, who drives the wife to a diner while the husband stays behind to “protect” the vehicle. After saying goodbye, the husband gets two surprises: the Jeep starts, and his wife never actually arrived at the diner, and the trucker doesn’t recollect having picked her up at all…

REVIEW:

An exciting and compelling thriller that star Kurt Russell as a husband desperately trying to find his wife who may or may not have been kidnapped by some desert locals. What’s great about this film in particular is the suspense which in many films try to capture it, only to come up with nothing. But here Mostow and Russell work well in conveying husband’s anguish and the looming tension.

Jeff and Amy Taylor are moving to California and must drive across the country. While driving the jeep starts to breakdown, or at least appears so. When they find themselves stranded in the middle of a desert with hardly anyone or anything around, their trip comes to a sudden halt.

When a truck driver pulls up he offers the two a ride to the nearest diner, 60 miles away. Jeff however wants to remain with the jeep, believing that the jeep might have just overheated, which is what the trucker suggested. But Amy reasons that if it’s not overheated they may be stranded for a lot longer.

So, they agree for her to take a ride with the trucker to the diner where she can call for a tow truck. She leaves. But after a long time with no tow truck, Jeff becomes worried.

The jeep starts working again, and he heads off to the diner where he finds that no one in the diner has seen or heard from his wife. When he finds the trucker who gave Amy the ride, the trucker swears he has never seen her. Now Jeff must attempt to find his wife, who has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom.

There are a few twists that pop up throughout the film which actually adds depth to certain characters. JT plays the villain but there’s more to his story than simply a one note bad guy. He has a family, and a son who admires him greatly.

Kurt Russell has always been solid actor and many of his roles, and here he’s no different. It’s nice to see him again since nowadays he’s rarely seen in films. But here he shows us why he was such valuable commodity in the business. Maybe he’ll show up some more in future movies.

BREAKDOWN1.jpg

1987 Movie Review: OVERBOARD, 1987

OVERBOARD, 1987
Movie Reviews

Directed by Garry Marshall

Starring Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Edward Herrmann, Katherine Helmond, Roddy McDowall

Review by Russell Hill

SYNOPSIS:

Rich bitch Joanna hires country carpenter Dean to build a closet on her yacht. When the two don’t see eye-to-eye, Dean is left unpaid while Joanna sets sail. The following day, Joanna is fished out of the sea, after falling overboard, suffering from amnesia. Dean sees a neat way to regain the money she owes him… he tells her she’s his wife; that way Dean gets a free housekeeper and mother for his four kids.

REVIEW:

First and foremost, I am not a huge fan of chick flicks. Heck I would even go as far to say that I despise the vast majority of these films. “Bridget Jones Diary” can stay far away from me but, over the years, I have come to like the odd film which is normally targeted at this market. I didn’t even know “Notting Hill” was one of these films, and thought “While You Were Sleeping” was a classic. “Overboard” was perhaps the first film I saw which could be seen as a chick flick that I actually enjoyed, with the reasons for this being numerous and heart felt.

Joanna Stayton (Hawn) is your typical yuppie who treats those who earn less than $1 million as muck. Stuck where to put her 2,000 or so pairs of shoes on her luxury cruise liner that she owns with husband Grant (Edward Hermann) she hires a handyman called Dean Proffitt (Russell) to build her a wardrobe. However, being the nasty person she is, Joanna takes a disliking to Dean and his uncouth manners and decides to push him off the boat and, literally, into the water.

Angry at what has just happened, Dean switches on the television at a local bar the next day to learn that during the night Joanna had been found off the coast by lifeguards with no Grant in sight and her memory gone. Dean sees an opportunity to get back the money he is owed by turning up by Joanna’s bedside and pretending to be her husband and saying that Joanna is not her real name, but is in fact Annie. The authorities fall for this as does Joanna, and is taken back to Dean’s ramshackle house in the country where she is tricked into looking after him and “their” four children who are about as clean as the house itself. Will Joanna ever leave? Or will she regain her memory and return to the life she once had?

On a personal level, this was the film which first exposed me to the music of Elvis Presley as one of the best scenes of the movie uses “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. But other than that, this movie does well on two points.

First, it makes you laugh. The genuine warmth between Hawn and Russell is touching and a relationship you can believe in. The interaction between the two is moving, and is blindingly obvious to see why they have been together in real life for so long. Hawn has always been a much underrated comic actress. Her leading role in the 1980 movie “Private Benjamin” was great, and her portrayal of spoiled Joanna was genius casting. Her naïve transformation from rags to riches is very amusing indeed, and it shows what an improvement she does with the dilapidated house she is forced to inherit along with the four children who, at first, look as though they had been taken from Dickensian London.

Russell too does very well here. His shabby appearance at first makes him seem like a cruel and unkind character, but over the course of the movie that appearance is changed permanently when he discovers what a wonderful person Joanna/Annie is when you take away the pearls and diamonds. I always find Russell’s acting career to be a bit of an oddity. Is he cast in a movie simply because the women can then drool over him? Or, is he to be taken as a serious actor? Here, in the role of Dean, he seems to act in the middle of these as he does show an Adonis body shot or two but also demonstrates what a fine actor he really is.

I admit that not many heterosexual men will appreciate this movie due to its romantic inklings, but if you take this element away you have a great movie full of humour and excellent acting by all involved.

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Film Review: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 2 (USA 2017)

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guardians2.jpgSet to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

Director: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn, Dan Abnett (based on the Marvel comics by) |
Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell

Review by Gilbert Seah 

 
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY Volume 2 follows exactly the path of sequels – louder and more of what were found in the original.

If the first film is your cup of tea, is is doubtless that you will enjoy the volume 2 – because it is nothing more than a replica of the same, only with Disney/Marvel going haywire and completely berserk. The best example is the climatic fight scene where during the battle between the hero and villain, the hero suddenly turns into a pixeled chomping Pacman. (Silly but funny!)

The films does boast an awesome soundtrack. Those who love the oldies, might go out and buy the soundtrack, maybe even skip the movie. There are are familiar songs, some seldom heard for a long time and some choice ones I have never heard before. The film is scored, as in the first film by Tyler Bates.

So, who are these Guardians of the Galaxy? The leader is an unchallenged Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who has a romantic fling with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an alien orphan fighting to redeem her past crimes. There is also Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a highly skilled warrior, Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper). There is absolutely no explanation why Baby Groot is in this film after a larger Groot died in the original film.

Subplots are thrown in with additional characters like Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora’s sister. The only other character of importance is Quill’s dad, Ego (Kurt, Russell) who turns out to be the film’s villain.
The plot of the film involves the Guardians of the Galaxy saving the Galaxy from destruction, once at the start of the film and then again. But the guardians are a comical troupe led by no less than a character of the same mould. They obviously get not trouble while saving the galaxy – all these antics supposedly providing fun and reason for millions of cinemagoers around the world to cough up money for an admission ticket or even more to see the film in imax 3-D.

The film contains lots of irrelevant and meaningless quotes that should amuse those easily amused. When Quill’s father turns bad, Quill’s adopted father Yondu (Michael Rooker) tells him: “He might be your father, but he is not your daddy!” Or goes the another saying: “I know who you are, because you are me!”

There is a lot of ego on display here. Not only is the villain named Ego but he is also omnipresent as the entire planet which is also called Ego. There is the egoistic rivalry between the two sisters and more important, the rivalry between the father and son. The father is the personification of ego. He says:’What I have planted is an extension of myself so that eventually, everything is me.”

It is evident that director Gunn has put in a lot of effort to make Volume 2 worth the price of the admission ticket. But take away the special effects and production design, dazzling and expensive though they may be, and what is left is a narrative mess of a tedious convoluted plot littered with irrelevant humour.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cv2ueYnKjg

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Film Review: THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (USA 2017)

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fast_and_furious_8.jpgDirector: F. Gary Gray
Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (based on characters created by)
Stars: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Luke Evans

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
With so many in the FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise with the false promise that the last FAST AND FURIOUS would be the last one, this 8th edition, nicknamed F8 provides much, much more of the same, louder and noisier as most sequels promise. (I had lost count and thought this was the 9th.)
This latest edition assumes that the audience is familiar with most of the characters and does not bother with any flashbacks or explanations.

With so many characters, it is probably a good idea not to do so. The film allows the audience to guess what has occurred in the past and for a film like this, it is only the action and fast cars that count – not the characters.

The plot of THE FATE AND THE FURIOUS, not that it really matters, follows the events of Furious 7. Dominic Toretto aka Dom (Vin Diesel) and his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have gone on their honeymoon, and the rest of the crew have begun to settle down to a more normal life. But when a mysterious woman, later to be revealed as Cipher, a super villain (Charlize Theron) convinces Dom to work against the people that he is closest to, the rest of the crew must face trials they have never seen before – including some former enemies – in order to bring back the man who brought them together in the first place.

In case one has forgotten. the other crew members include Like DSS agent, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Deckard Shaw, a rogue specialist (Jason Statham), mechanic Tej Parker (Chris Bridges), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), former criminal Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) among others.

As far as the film goes, this is male chauvinist pig material all the way – all the more for decent women and men to hate this kind of film. The beginning race for example is started by a scantily dressed female in extreme shorts waving down a flag. Vin Diesel exploits his male macho body to no end. Apparently Diesel is an a**hole in real life as mentioned to be by a fellow critic who had interviewed him. His co-star Johnson also called him horse s***. Johnson is a pleasure to watch on screen but I can hardly say the same for Diesel.

It is odd to see that the script by Chris Morgan which clearly lacks any hint of character development whatsoever take on the issue of the importance of family. Helen Mirren has a cameo as he mother of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) stressing the importance of family values and the inclusion of his brother (Luke Evans) into his activities. Deckard spends a chunk of screen time saving Dom’s baby. Dom says his baby is the most important person in his life.

Oscar Winner Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN) shows that even a dame of the British Empire is willing to take an easy pay check for a cameo role in big budget Hollywood rubbish like this one. The term is called slumming and many famous stars have slummed before.

THE FATE AND THE FURIOUS (budget of $250 million) is slotted to make more than $100 million this weekend. The film is nothing more than silly special effects that though looks stunning in iMAX (the film contains a record number of cars trashed) does nothing for the movie industry or the human race.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwMKRevYa_M

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