This Week’s Films (06/01/14)

Grapes of Wrath

Fatal Move (2008)Triad Wars

Action film set in Hong Kong’s triad gangland. After a drug deal goes wrong and a simple kidnap escalates into murder, one of Hong Kong’s most ruthless triad gangs finds itself on the brink of self-destruction: riddled with greed and ambition and relentlessly pursued by enemies on both sides of the law. Leader Boss Lin (Sammo Hung) must now reassert his authority by destroying everyone who stands in his way.

Verdict: Light on plot but heavy on action, blood and gore. 6/10

Sword with No NameThe Sword With No Name (2009)

Experience an inspirational and breathtaking journey back to Koreas fabled Joseon Dynasty with this stunning, action-packed adaptation of the life of legendary Empress Myseongseong: the inspirational leader who stirred the courage of her nation in the face of seemingly overwhelming foreign aggression. A young woman of noble birth embarks on a dangerous cross-country journey, where she encounters an infamous bounty-hunter. Honour-bound, he becomes her protector and against all the odds they fall in love. A few years later, to fulfill a sacred promise, she must enter the royal court and ascend to the throne as Empress, leaving her love behind. However, when aggressive Japanese forces gather against her nation, the bounty hunter will once again stand by her side as a devoted bodyguard. As the conflict escalates to all-out war, her irrepressible leadership will sustain her people and give them the hope of victory. Tragically, as her reputation spreads, she will become a target for assassination, but one mans courage will make all the difference…

Verdict: Often visually stunning with a heartfelt romance at its core. 7/10

**FILM OF THE WEEK**

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)The Grapes of Wrath

This remarkable film version of Steinbeck’s novel was nominated for seven Academy Awards®, including for Best Picture, Actor (Henry Fonda), Film Editing, Sound and Writing. John Ford won the Best Director Oscar® and actress Jane Darwell won Best Actress for her portrayal of Ma Joad, the matriarch of the struggling migrant farmer family. Following a prison term he served for manslaughter, Tom Joad returns to find his family homestead overwhelmed by weather and the greed of the banking industry. With little work potential on the horizon of the Oklahoma dust bowls, the entire family packs up and heads for the promised land–California. But the arduous trip and harsh living conditions they encounter offer little hope, and family unity proves as daunting a challenge as any other they face.

Verdict: Beautifully filmed and well-acted adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel. 9/10

TroyTroy (2004)

Brad Pitt picks up a sword and brings a muscular, brooding presence to the role of Greek warrior Achilles in this spectacular retelling of The Iliad. Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger play the legendary lovers who plunge the world into war, Eric Bana portrays the prince who dares to confront Achilles, and Peter O’Toole rules Troy as King Priam. Director Wolfgang Petersen recreates a long-ago world of bireme warships, clashing armies, the massive fortress city and the towering Trojan Horse.

Verdict: Some great battle scenes are undone by often weak acting. Not sure what Homer would have made of it all. 6/10

Dreamcatcher (2003)Dreamcatcher

Four young friends perform a heroic act and are forever changed by the special powers they gain in return. Years later, the four men who now have separate lives are still haunted by their powers which are more burden than gift. On a hunting trip in the Maine woods, they are overtaken by a vicious storm in which something much more ominous moves. Challenged to stop an alien force, the friends must risk their own lives, with the fate of the world in the balance. Directed by Laurence Kasdan and based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel, Dreamcatcher is guaranteed to chill you to the bone. Starring Morgan Freeman and Jason Lee.

Verdict: Gets off to a good start then takes a sharp turn into downright bizarre and ludicrous. 3/10

The ConspiratorThe Conspirator (2010)

Based on a true story, The Conspirator tells the powerful story of a woman who would do anything to protect her family, and the man who risked everything to save her. In the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State. The lone woman charged, Mary Surratt (Wright) owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) and others met and planned the simultaneous attacks. Against the ominous back-drop of post-Civil War Washington, newly-minted lawyer, Frederick Aiken (McAvoy), a 28-year-old Union war-hero, reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal. Aiken realizes his client may be innocent and that she is being used as bait and hostage in order to capture the only conspirator to have escaped a massive manhunt, her own son, John (Johnny Simmons). As the nation turns against her, Surratt is forced to rely on Aiken to uncover the truth and save her life.

Verdict: Well-acted drama but be careful reading some synopses as, like me, the ending may be spoiled for you. 7/10

Ink (2009)Ink

As the light fades and the city goes to sleep, two forces emerge. They are invisible except for the power they exert over us in our sleep, battling for our souls through dreams. One force delivers hope and strength through good dreams; the other infuses the subconscious with desperation through nightmares. John and Emma, Father and Daughter are wrenched into this fantastical dream world battle, forced to fight for John’s soul and to save Emma from an eternal nightmare.

Separate in their journey, they encounter unusual characters that exist only in their subconscious. Or do they? Ink is a high-concept visual thriller that weaves seamlessly between the conscious and the subconscious. Ink has been hailed as the new ‘it’ movie and compared to cult classics Brazil, Donnie Darko, The Matrix, Twelve Monkeys and Pan’s Labyrinth.

Verdict: A sci-fi film with substantial depth and heart beneath the surface. 7/10

A Shock to the SystemA Shock to the System (1990) 

When advertising executive Graham Marshall (Michael Caine) is passed over in favour of a younger and more ruthless colleague, he realises that his days are numbered. After accidentally causing the death of a man on the subway, however, Graham finds out just how easy it is to kill, and begins to employ his new-found skill in the boardroom. With his career revived, Graham then decides to apply his deadly methods in other areas of his life…

Verdict: Caine is delightfully menacing in this sinister black comedy. 7/10

Rampage (2009)Rampage

Bill lives and uneventful life in a small town. He lives with his parents who are his case about pretty much everything, he works as a mechanic and has a self-righteous idiot as a best friend. He seems like a decent guy who loves his parents and tries to be courteous to his fellow man. But there seems to be something brewing inside him that doesn t feel quite right. One day, Bill pulls on the body armour he has been hoarding, picks up a ocuple of machine guns and heads into town…..

Verdict: Limited in the vein of Falling Down but with a disappointing ending. 5/10

Ripple EffectRipple Effect (2007)

Hip, new-age clothing designer, Amer Atrash is in pursuit of the America Dream. Though he has come close several times, something unexpected always seems to prevent him reaching his goals. His commitment to his work leaves his wife Sherry, feeling neglected, and as a result she decides that he should move for a while to give them both time to re-evalute their lives. Amer tries to bury himself in his work, but is haunted by the memories of an event that transpired years ago. Finally, he confesses his secret to Sherry, divulging the story of an unavoidable accident fifteen years earlier, that left Phillip Blackman a cripple and in a wheelchair. Believing that all of the pitfalls in his life are directly linked to the events on that fateful night Amer sets out to find Phillip and make amends.

Verdict: A great cast do their best but Ripple Effect is too short to deliver on much-needed substance and characterisation. 4/10

28 Days (2000)28 Days

When her alcoholic misdemeanors land her in court on a drunk-driving charge, Gwen Cummings (Sandra Bullock) is sentenced to 28 days in rehab. Arriving at the clinic, Gwen at first resists the discipline and emotional honesty required by her treatment, but she soon forms bonds with the other inmates and builds up the courage to tackle her problem. Also starring Steve Buscemi, Viggo Mortensen and Elizabeth Perkins.

Verdict: Decent drama with a great leading performance from Sandra Bullock. 7/10

Alone in the Dark 2Alone in the Dark 2 (2008)

Former witch-hunter Abner Lundberg (Lance Henriksen) is forced to come back to fight his old nemesis, a century-old dangerous witch out on the prowl again. This time, Lundberg joins forces with Edward Carnby (Rick Yune), who attempt to track down the dangerous witch Elisabeth Dexter (Allison Lange). Also Starring Zack Ward (Freddy vs Jason; Bloodrayne II), Jason Connery (Hoboken Hollow; Brotherhood of Blood) and Michael Pare (BloodRayne; The Virgin Suicides). 

Verdict: It’s hard to imagine things getting worse than Alone in the Dark but this sequel may have achieved it! 1/10

Basement Jack (2009)Basement Jack

A bloody slasher film in the tradition of the classics from the Eighties, Eleven years ago, Jack Riley went on a brutal killing spree murdering fifteen people including his own mother. Now released, he goes on another knife wielding rampage and the sole survivor of Jacks initial sadistic attack makes it her mission to hunt him down.

Verdict: Limited slasher movie with weak acting and a lack of characterisation. 2/10

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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