Month: October 2014

Homefront (2013)

I eagerly awaited Homefront last year, after watching a succession of trailers for it and I was kind of excited for it considering I’m not the biggest Statham fan. (Most of his films are pretty similar, you’d have to admit that). Anyway, it slipped through the cracks largely unnoticed as it’s release date came around. Come around to this week when it got added to Netflix and I thought I’d check it out.

To be honest, I was quite excited to see James Franco is a villainous role, but he mostly takes a backseat to Statham doing Statham things, considering that James Franco’s Gator is something to marvel at. His approach to his small town is strange and always speaks highly of reputation, despite his opening reputation to be that of someone beating up the younger generation because they were cooking meth.

Who beats up teenagers, man?

Who beats up teenagers, man?

As always with these types of films, Phil Broker (Jason Statham) is the newcomer to the town and his daughter (bereaved by the loss of her mother still) beats up the wrong kid. The nephew of Gator. Cassie and Jimmy Klum are furious and want Broker scared a little and call on Gator to rough up the house and scare them out of town. He goes snooping whilst Broker and his daughter go horse riding in the nice picturesque scenes of what I assume is the Louisiana area.

Gator finds the police files that Broker has kept (for some reason) and finds out he used to be a undercover DEA agent that worked with Danny T in an undercover assignment, someone whom Gator has worked with. He gets his girlfriend/arm candy Sheryl Mott (Winona Ryder) to go see one of Danny T’s associates so he can get his revenge for his murdered son, Jojo, which was shown in the opening scene.

Phil Broker, Gator and Sheryl Mott

Phil Broker, Gator and Sheryl Mott

Of course the events after this discovery are pretty self explanatory, with Statham becoming hunted by Gator’s men and him flattening them. The thing I mentioned about Gator getting all high and mighty about the meth smoking teens was interesting considering that in later scenes, he cooks and distributes his own meth, probably wanting to be the only meth distributer. A hypocrite. Broker discovers his operation to be quite substantial after breaking into his meth lab and sabotaging it. (which of course becomes influential in the finale)

(SPOILERS)

One thing I found interesting in the film was the feud between Cassie Bodine and Phil Broker, naturally she escalated things in the beginning with the situation of her son and Maddy (Brokers daughter). By the end of it, she is screaming for Gator to let Maddy go after Sheryl took her and ends up getting shot, by Gator, for trying to save Maddy. Then it all boils down to a final showdown on a bridge in which Broker miraculously gets out of a car in seconds when Gator’s back is turned.

(END OF SPOILERS)

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Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Jason Statham fan and often find his films boring with him just beating up people. That being said, I did enjoy this film, the acting was subpar considering it was mainly Statham threatening people. Gator was the surprise, I’d say, being this villainous redneck with a cool alligator tattoo, however, as I mentioned, he is featured far less than I was expecting. The change of heart from Cassie Bodine was appealing, considering she knew where the line was and Gator didn’t. At the end of it, this film is no different to what Statham is expected of doing, apart from the change of themes, the framework is all there. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable, because of course it is. I suppose the story, not being groundbreaking in anyway but compelling, kept me from switching off. Especially with the ins and outs, Broker fighting two battles, one with Danny T and the other with Gator. And considering the film runs for just over an hour and a half, it’s not too long and the story progresses smoothly over that time period.

3/5

The Maze Runner (2014)

There seems to have been an influx of teen dramas that were novels after the massive success of The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner falls into this category. Admittedly, after watching this film, I did feel compelled to watch both The Hunger Games. There is something about this area of film that is rather enjoyable.

The Maze Runner opens with a boy in a cage (Dylan O’Brien) waking up with water in his lungs and heading skyward. He remembers nothing and that is made clear to him as soon as the cage opens and reveals the Glade. The Glade being home to a number of young adult men of varying ages with Alby (Aml Ameen) being the leader of the Gladers and Runners (The two factions that thrive in the Glade).

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The boys of varying ages await the return of the runners.

Alby runs through the usual order of business that nobody harms another, everyone does their part and that nobody enters the maze. The unknown boy tries to enter the maze and is saved by Gally (Will Poulter) as the maze begins to shut for the night. Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) then explains that nobody survives a night in the maze, hence their reluctance to let him in, and also the fact that the maze changes every night and the attacks of the grievers. Newt becomes the greenie (the new guy slang) source of information and states that Minho (Ki Hong Lee) is the leader of the runners (who run and map the maze looking for a way out). He then has a fire side fight against Gally which results in him gaining his name back, which is Thomas.

As I hadn’t read the book previous to this, the film did keep me on the edge of my seat with what happened in the events following Thomas’ name retrieval. The events that happen are all pretty easy to work out and obvious, as Thomas spends a night in the maze in an attempt to save Alby, sees and kills a griever and then becomes a runner. Anything after this point would be considered a spoiler. The big surprise would be for a girl (Kaya Scodelario) named Teresa to show up with the announcement that she’s the last one ever. Although she is supposed to integral to the storyline, I didn’t care much for the character of Teresa as she mostly featured in the background whilst Alby, Thomas, Gally and Chuck are more prominent in the grand order of things.

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If I had an issue with this film, it’d have to be the fact that nothing is clear. You only discover the purpose of the group being in the maze at the end, but even that remains unclear. However, the purpose of them being attacked by the Grievers remains cloudy. Luckily, my friend had read the books and explained the unanswered questions for me, which seems as though the story is explained in the sequel.  Which is intriguing due to the fact that the guys that will appear in the sequel the trails have only just begun for them.

That being said, the film is still rather enjoyable. Standing at an hour and forty, it feels like it’s a lot longer than it should be, however, this isn’t a bad thing due to the enjoyment factor that is involved.  The film is not groundbreaking in any way for the apocalyptic teen drama that was paved by The Hunger Games and neither is the acting. The best performances coming from Thomas, Newt and Chuck (for the comedic value he possesses). However, that being said, I am looking forward to the sequel, but it might be an idea to read the books incase they leave more questions to be unanswered in The Scorching Trails. 

One thing that is worth mentioning is the character of Gally led by Will Poulter is also a decent performance, considering his previous record showcased him in comedies, whereas as he plays the opposer to Thomas’ ideas and leads the brigade to get him punished when he enters the maze.

3/5