Tag: Ewan McGregor

The Impossible

by on Jan.29, 2017, under Movie Reviews

the impossibleThe Impossible is based on the true story of an unfortunate/extremely fortunate family that was on vacation in Thailand when it was hit by a tsunami in 2004. I say unfortunate/extremely fortunate because they had to go through such a terrible experience but that they all survived it. There were numerous families that didn’t survive or that lost members from this tragic event…

The film is told in a very compelling way with the opening of the film revealing the family on vacation at a beach front resort for Christmas. There’s some minor backstory revealed here and there to establish character but the main event is when the wave hits. You hear stories of such things and you see the footage afterward but the way the film delivers what it might have been like is truly extraordinary. And to see how everyone hit by the wave was just carried away and pounded with debris like glass, cars (not kidding, cars), street signs, etc. was terrifying.

Naomi Watts plays Maria, the mother of the family and she apparently had the worst injuries, especially to her legs. Don’t forget the circumstances here, not only were her injuries grave but everyone and everything was effected by this devastating wave, which means hospitals, ambulances, medical staff and so on. The family was separated multiple times throughout this chaotic experience in a country where english isn’t the primary language. That alone can be intimidating but then work in 3 young boys into the equation too.

Suffice it to say, you should see the film and let it stand on its own. The whole thing is crafted with expertise, care and passion. From the engaging script to the powerful delivery of the actors to the outstanding design and effects, the film is top-notch all the way. It’s hard to watch at times due to the realistic nature of it and the trials that the survivors had to go through to make it out alive. I found myself glad the film was over but relieved for the ones that made it.

The cast just nails this one and includes Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland (the new Spiderman!), Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast. Directed by J.A. Bayona.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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August: Osage County

by on Apr.12, 2015, under Movie Reviews

august osage countyWell, this one’s a bit of a downer, it’s very well done, but damn, it’s a downer… Based on the play by Tracy Letts (who also wrote the screenplay), August: Osage County features the story of a family broken, very broken, mostly by their own devices and attitudes. Plagued by dreary, depressing attitudes, drug abuse, cancer, suicide, incest and a lot of denial, the whole story feels doomed and at times is hard to watch as there’s very little joy found anywhere in here. Even during the few moments of positivity in the film they become quickly overshadowed by the dour outlooks of the main characters…

This is the kind of film I’ll only watch once and only out of curiosity and wanting to watch the actors do their thing. Rightly so too as the actors are great. The screenplay is well-written for what it is, the dialog seems true to the characters and is compelling (which is hard to pull off in a drama sometimes). The problem is that the attitudes of the main characters are so hopeless and depressing that even when some light is offered from the less-depressing characters, it just doesn’t cut through the dark of the leads with the exception of an outburst from Chris Cooper’s character towards his wife in the film. Meryl Streep’s character has just lost her husband to a suspected suicide, she’s battling cancer herself and her 3 daughters are a complete mess too. Julia Roberts is the oldest daughter, going through a divorce and dealing with a teenage daughter that doesn’t like her. Juliette Lewis is the youngest of the 3 and is engaged to a materialistic man who is definitely going to cheat on her if he isn’t already (he even hits on her 14 year old niece) and the middle daughter just found out that she’s involved in a incestuous relationship with a brother most of the family thought was a cousin. Wow.

While the story sounds dramatic and interesting (and it is), the delivery is hard to get through and if you’re looking for relief at the end of film, you’ll be sorely disappointed as noone seems to find redemption. I’m not sure why people write stories like this or what compels people to even watch a film that’s so entrenched in darkness and depression. That’s what I found this film to be, simply a character exercise exploring depression and hopelessness. John Wells directed and does a great job capturing the dire sentimentality that runs through the spine of the script.

The only quality that kept me wanting to finish watching the film was the actors. Streep is her usual tour-de-force and sets the bar high for everyone else to match. Luckily the cast is strong enough to match her intensity and authenticity. Julia Roberts is especially good and stands out on her own as one the more engaging, intense actors to watch which is impressive considering the lineup of talent here. The lineup includes Sam Shepard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Julianne Nicholson, Chris Cooper, Margo Martingale, Dermot Mulroney, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, and Misty Upham.

Bottom line: if you appreciate films just for the acting or you’re ok with films that offer no redemption or happy ending, you may like this one.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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by on Aug.11, 2013, under Movie Reviews

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Haywire is the story of a former black ops soldier (Gina Carano as Mallory Kane) who is now working in the private sector as a work-for-hire mercenary. Double-crossed, Kane is set up to be eliminated by her employers as part of a more elaborate scheme being built in the background.

It’s a revenge story, one we’ve seen many times over. So, Haywire doesn’t do well on the originality scale but it is still fun to watch. One reason why it’s fun is due to Soderbergh’s slick style in terms of storytelling. His use of music, pacing, editing and color tones is very distinct and helps accentuate this film as it does others including the Oceans series or when you something like Traffic. The film shifts well between dramatic exchanges and what almost feels like a mini-music video to break tension and give you some time to breathe until the pacing escalates again.

The actors are quite good, reaching sufficient emotional peaks and valleys while keeping the story interesting and the action both tense and exciting. The lineup of actors is also impressive and includes: Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, and Michael Fassbender.

Even though the writing is formulaic and predictable, it’s still well-written. The dialog is intelligent and the way the story plays out tie in well with some left turns here and there and the whole enchilada coming together to neaten things up at the end. So again, not overly challenging in terms of where the story is going, but still a fun ride to get there.

I’m a fan of most of Soderbergh’s work, this film is his version of an action / revenge film and is definitely worth a viewing.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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