Tag: ralph fiennes

Hail, Caesar!

by on Feb.19, 2017, under Movie Reviews

hail caesarHail, Caesar! is the latest offering from the Coen Brothers who brought us classics like No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. The film is set in the 50s during the golden age of Hollywood and centers around a “fixer” (which is kind of another name for producer these days) who is trying to keep a studio together while dealing with erratic talent, a kidnapping, and a plot by some disgruntled writers.

The film itself is fun enough but doesn’t quite capture the magic of some of their other releases. In other words, for a Coen film, it’s kinda average which makes it a decent regular film by conventional standards but not a home run. The story itself is ok, with some interesting nods to the paranoia of the entertainment industry at that time as well as to the eccentric behavior that talent is often associated with. However, the dialog and action are not super compelling or exciting but rather run-of-the-mill. There are the occasional unexpected elements here and there but nothing as captivating or surreal as The Big Lebowski. And quite frankly, the ending is sudden and boring.

The actors are fun to watch, George Clooney shows some range, especially when he’s getting pushed around by Josh Brolin. A couple other pleasant surprises include Tilda Swinton playing the smarmy twin writers modeled after Dear Abby / Ann Landers and Channing Tatum showing off his song and dance skills. The film has a helluva lineup featuring Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, and Alden Ehrenreich.

If you’re a Coen fan, you should probably give this a whirl and see what you think. If you’re not familiar with their work, don’t start with this one, there are better offerings from the Coens.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Skyfall

by on Nov.16, 2012, under Movie Reviews

Skyfall is the latest in the Daniel Craig series of Bond films. Craig delivers his usual intense, more straight-forward Bond but in this edition of the franchise gets to spread his wings a bit more as this film (probably more than any other Bond) is the most in-depth in terms of an actual character study of James Bond.

So, this isn’t your typical by-the-numbers Bond flick. Through a fall-from-grace kind of event, Bond is forced to examine himself, the country he so loyally serves, and the boss that willingly sacrifices agents to make sure the mission is complete. We even get more of a glimpse into Bond’s parents and the orphanage where he grew up.

Enter Javier Bardem and his disturbing villain Silva, an ex-agent bent on exacting revenge on M for her past decisions regarding disposable agents. His character is also a bit of a study on someone who would be kind of the mirror opposite of Bond. Bardem’s portrayal of this character gives us a twisted villain we’ve not seen the likes of since the Sean Connery days. In fact, I don’t recall a villain as demented as Silva in any of the bond films…They’re all pretty bad dudes but this guy is disturbing.

The writing is well done with intelligent dialog delivered expertly by an excellent cast. The story starts off in current events but eludes to the past while it drives towards the inevitable clash that lies ahead. M is more prominently featured (which I have heard people complain about). I liked the way M was included and hey, Judy Dench plays M so you can never go wrong there.

The action is there but not overly done and thank god there isn’t so much damn shaky cam every five minutes as has plagued some of the other movies. The action is well choreographed but a bit more back to the basics in terms of gadgets. There is a nod to the Bond of yesteryear that was really an enjoyable moment.

Beside Craig, Bardem and Dench, the movie includes solid performances with Albert Finney and Ralph Fiennes. All-in-all great performances all around with Craig cementing his place as one of the classic bonds to check out.

See Skyfall in the theater if you can!

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Wrath of the Titans

by on May.11, 2012, under Movie Reviews

I happen to catch this in a second run 3-D theater and had the place entirely to myself! I love that.

Unfortunately the movie isn’t so good…

I enjoyed the remake of Clash of the Titans, I don’t compare it to the original with Harry Hamlin because it’s a different version and each has their merits. Wrath of the Titans however is just the cash cow follow up and it’s painfully apparent.

The script is OK but seems to be written just for the sake of setting up certain effects scenes. The dialog is forced and cookie cutter driving the story from one pretentious scene to the next. The basic idea here is that the gods have become weakened since people don’t pray to them anymore and the father of the gods and the underworld, Kronos, is now gaining strength and seeks to destroy the earth and everyone in it. Since the gods are weak, it’s up to their demi-god children to save the universe. Perseus (son of Zeus) steps in to free his father (who’s been captured by Hades and Ares) and stop the evil Kronos from wiping out mankind.

The directing is pretty bad here too. Some of the actors just seem confused at times as to what exactly they’re supposed to be feeling/doing. Rosamund Pike’s Queen Andromeda comes up particularly lost throughout the movie; it’s almost like the director couldn’t figure out what he wanted her to do and was just shouting things from the sidelines like: “look scared, no wait, look strong, no wait, now order your troops around, oh hang on, look scared again!”.

Most of the actors are decent but seemingly phoning this one in. Noone seems to be trying too hard and it shows; even Bill Nighy (who I’m a big fan of) is sort of cartoony in this, but not in a good way. I think he’s supposed to be a comic-relief kind of character but comes off really out of place. Liam Neeson (who seems to be in every 3rd movie out these days) and Ralph Fiennes are both average and uninspired. Sam Worthington as Perseus is usually trying too hard or not hard enough. Either way, he’s sort of bland and looks stupid in the costume / gear they designed for him. He doesn’t look like the son of god, he looks more like he was shopping at a greek war gear thrift store, his costume design appears cheap and like it was designed as an after thought.

The effects are the only reason to see this film. I was fortunate enough to catch this in 3D and on the big screen. Many of the visual elements come off in an amazing way and some of the 3D is pretty great. A good number of the shots however (such as the scenes with the cyclops) are super-cheesy and obviously created for a 3D presentation. I went back and forth between being wow-ed by certain aspects and annoyingly distracted by others. The scene with Kronos exploding out of the mountain is pretty damn cool though.

Overall, I wouldn’t waste a dime on this in the theater again or as a rental on Netflix but it would probably be worth a look on a decent HD television on cable if there isn’t much else on.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Clash of the Titans

by on Sep.02, 2011, under Movie Reviews

I was really looking forward to this movie as I was a big fan of the original. Then I heard this film getting a bad wrap from the critics and I’ve learned that no matter what the critics say, it’s always good to form your own opinion.

Let’s start with the shortcomings and get those out of the way…

I like Sam Worthington and he’s a decent Perseus, but not great. He comes off a bit too wooden at times and lacks the character that Harry Hamlin brought to the original. Worthington is doing it his way, a bit more militant. Unfortunately he’s just not as likable as you’d want for Perseus. Even when his family dies, he still seems a little stone faced, lacking passion and intensity or raw emotion. He’s better than this, he’s either trying too hard or not hard enough, it seems to change from scene to scene.

The CG is great at times (the Kraken sequences are epic) but falls short at others as with some of the Medusa segments looking distractingly CG. The palace of the gods (Zeus’ pad) looks a bit cheesy at times too, like they were running out of budget and did the interiors a bit lazily. On the upside the battle with the scorpions, the Kraken and the Pegasus segments make the movie worth seeing, very well done. Excellent detail and design.

There are some fine performances in here as well. Seeing Ralph Fiennes as Hades squaring off with Liam Neeson’s Zeus is classic and consistently enjoyable. Those two can do anything although I thought Liam Neeson held back a little when he should have amped things up more. I wanted his Zeus to be giant and grandiose as the king of the gods, but he comes off a little tame at times. In terms of character my only complaint is that there should’ve been a stronger actor to play Neptune who’s barely in here. Otherwise, the characters and how the story interacts with them works well with the subtle nips and tucks that were made to guide the plotline.

The good thing is they didn’t try to re-do the first movie, they brought their own version to the table, although they cleverly give a nod to the mechanical owl from the original. The part that’s lacking versus the other is the charm and wit that made the first feel more light and adventurous at times where this version is more serious and action-oriented.

Overall a feast for the eyes and fun to watch, thrilling at times, I wish I had seen it in the theater.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

by on Jul.22, 2011, under Movie Reviews

Well, it’s finally here and it’s kind of a bitter pill to swallow. No more Harry Potter movies to look forward to. On one hand, that’s a real drag as it’s been one of my favorite series from the very first movie to this last, brilliant installment that completes the circle.

On the other hand, part of me is happy about it, I’m kind of sick of seeing Harry suffer through life with the dark lord on his trail. And yes, this movie brings it all together, answers many questions, creates just a few in the process and makes you feel glad that you invested the time into the series. Brilliantly written, JK Rowling crafted an amazing, rich world, compelling characters and an engaging story that sets the bar up there with writers like Tolkien (for me anyway). I don’t want to say too much about it as you just have to see it and if you’re into it enough to read this review, you probably planned to see it way before you got to this website.

If you haven’t seen it, or any of them for that matter…You’re really missing out, if not for the craftsmanship alone. Besides my previous accolades, the directing is top notch with David Yates back at the helm bringing to life from the pages his usual detailed, visually stunning world of magic. The performances the actors all put on is at their peak, they “bring it” as it were. Not a weak link in the chain. Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Rickman were the stand outs for me. It was nice to see Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as mature young adults, it’s amazing how young they were when they started this. One criticism – I could’ve used more of the other side of the story just because I love watching Ralph Fiennes as you-know-who. Big fan. However, I do realize that it’s mostly about Harry and answering some major questions.

I can’t say enough good things about this series and it’s finale. I could keep going but my compliments would only continue to be, well, complimentary, so you get it. Go see it in the theater, at least once. I’m going for round 2 IMAX soon…

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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