Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ Category

Fury” (2014) — movie review
Today’s review is for the World War II action / drama “Fury” starring Brad Pitt as Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier, Shia LaBeouf as Boyd “Bible” Swan, Logan Lerman as Norman “Machine” Swan, Michael Peña as Trini “Gordo” Garcia and Jon Bernthal as Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis.  The movie gives the impression that it is all happening in a single day, but that seems improbable (if not impossible), but whatever.  It is late in the war, the Germans are on the verge of defeat, and four of the five main characters have been together for three years fighting and surviving.  The exception is Lerman’s character Norman / “Machine” who is a raw recruit brought up as a last minute replacement.  He was supposed to be a clerk / typist and knows nothing about fighting a war or manning a tank.
“Fury” refers to the nick-name the crew has painted on the barrel of the the tank’s main gun.
The movie follows the tank through a day of “war-is-hell”.  There are several battles, multiple random deaths, lots of gore, violence, and cursing and two implied sexual relations.  And then we have the main battle, where the tank doesn’t actually fight against another tank.  The tank is disabled at a critical road intersection and the men have an option to abandon the vehicle or stay and risk their lives in defeat in an upcoming battle against a several companies of SS-troops.  Pitt’s character chooses to stay and fight, but he gives his permission to the others to leave.  They also choose to stay / fight / die.
So, a movie which starts out as a morality play about the horrors of war and its debasing of the human spirit then reverts into a heroic / mythic journey with the “hero” leader (Pitt) staying behind to struggle against impossible odds to make a difference in the war (and to defend his emotional home).
Is this movie any good?  Is it an accurate depiction of combat?  Is it at least entertaining?  I found this movie to be very good as an action / war movie.  Yes, it is gory and some of the violence is random, but both of these things are by design / intent.  Real war IS hell and it can be heart-breakingly random.  If you thought the opening beach scene was “good” movie making, then you’ll almost certainly enjoy most (if not all) of this movie, because that’s pretty much what you get for almost two hours.
Final recommendation:  Strong to highly recommended movie.  If you can get past the gore and the profanity – it’s “R” rated and obviously not for folks with a weak stomach – I think you’ll find a lot of pretty good to very good acting.  And, by that I mean ALL five of the main actors do a great job in these roles.  There are telling glances, flinches and all out emotional confrontations. Heroes don’t always have a happy ending to their story, but that doesn’t detract from their effort to do their duty.  I would add one qualification:  the movie stands on its own, but to “really” understand it you will need to watch the deleted scenes.  They provide a lot of character background info which I hope will someday in the future be integrated into a “Director’s Cut”.
.
On This Day In:
2019 The Ones Worth Remembering, Anyway
Boot Edge Edge (My New T)
2018 To Reach The Next Threshold
2017 Streaking Tales
2016 Singular Reality
2015 He Says It’s Hard To Get There From Here
2014 Question From A Founding Father
2013 Make Heroes
2012 See And Hold
2011 Am Not, Are So

Read Full Post »

Today’s review is for the 2019 Rom-Com / Rock-Musical “Yesterday” starring Himesh Patel and Lily James.  Patel plays Jack Malik – a small-time songwriter / performer and James plays his part-time manager Ellie Appleton.  Jack “works” in real-life as a clerk at a warehouse style retail store.  Ellie’s real-life job is as a Maths teacher in middle-school.
After a string of failed performances, Jack decides to quit music and go back to being a teacher, himself.  He leaves Ellie to ride his bike home and along the way, the world shuts down for 12 seconds.  During that time, Jack is struck by a bus at a darkened intersection.  He wakes up in the hospital getting visited by Ellie.
At a hospital release party, Ellie presents Jack with a guitar to replace the one destroyed in the bus collision.  Jack plays the Beatles song, “Yesterday” and his friends surprise him by not recognizing the song and believing Jack wrote the song.
Jack’s life dream is to just once get cheered by a crowd at one of his performances.  Jack realizes he can “create” the Beatles songs and thus become rich and famous.  So, he does.
Blah, blah, blah, (actually great music and a few funny scenes) Jack realizes it is true love (and Ellie) that he really wants and not fame and wealth.  He also doesn’t want credit for songs he never wrote.
Because the “Beatles” never became famous, John Lennon lives into old age and Jack meets him to discuss life and philosophy.  The message is (IMHO) very much John Lennon: “Tell the one you love that you love them and tell the truth as often as you can.”
So, is this movie any good?  Yes, well, it’s entertaining and works for me!  The music?  It’s the Beatles – Duh!!  The acting?  The acting is pretty good to very good.  The story?  I didn’t really feel a “connection” between Patel and James, but it was close enough to be almost believable.  The key is the story…  No.  It is not at all believable, but it still works in a quirky rom-com way.  It has moments and lines which I found quite amusing.  Not “ha-ha” laughing funny, but amusing funny.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  Being an “older” person, the Beatles music has had a big impact on my life.  They were never my favorite group back in the 60’s, but their music and influence were always present.  As such, I admit to total bias in this review.  The movie portrays two additional people as remembering the Beatles and when they meet Jack they tell him they have no grudge against his taking credit for the Beatles music because they are just happy to have it (the music) back in their lives.  If this movie brings the Beatles to a new generation of music lovers, I can live with a bit of lack of credibility in a story line.  Don’t think about the plot’s paradoxes too much.  Just enjoy the movie for what it is – a Rom-Com with great music.
One quote from the movie that particularly tickled me:
Jack wants to fly from Los Angeles to Liverpool for inspiration and is asked: “What does Liverpool have that LA doesn’t?
Jack’s answer: “Mo Salah, Cilla Black, mushy peas, rain…
.
On This Day In:
2019 An Epitaph For #45 (#LyingDonald)
2018 Before And After
2017 Verbs
2016 Not Too Tidy
2015 Little Understanding
2014 Open Early
2013 Movies And A Lifetime Of Lyrics
This Truth
2012 Cheaper To Hold
2011 Resistance Is Futile
One Great, One Enjoyable, One Terrible…
Unfortunately, No Approval Is Required

Read Full Post »

Today’s movie(s) review is for each / both the “Midway” movies – the first from 1976 and the second from last year (2019).  Both movies are “epic” war movies with ensemble casts.  Both try to give a “feel” for each combatant (Japanese and American).  And, both are – at best – mediocre in terms of popular and professional reviews.  Anyway, here goes…
Midway (1976) — movie review
This film is almost entirely a male cast.  The only significant female role is Christina Kokubo playing the fiance of a (fictional) naval pilot.  The movie hosts a number of (for that time) big name movie stars on both sides of the battle lines, including: American side: Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Ed Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson, and Robert Wagner; and, Japanese side: Toshiro Mifune, James Shigeta, Pat Morita, John Fujioka, and Robert Ito.  With the possible exception of Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi in the “Karate Kid” movie series, most of these actors will (probably) be unknown to anyone under 30 years of age as most have been dead or retired for over 20 years.
This movie has two basic story lines.  The main one, of course, is the naval battle.  The second, which I guess is meant to create character sympathy, is a fictional story about a father and son who are naval pilots and their “family issues”.  Other than the overly-strict father (Heston) trope common to military movie / stories, there is also the introduction of an inter-racial love story between a Japanese-American young lady (Kokubo) who is about to be incarcerated (internment for the war) with her family, who is also not allowed to marry the son / naval pilot (played by Edward Albert).
The movie incorporates a lot of stock footage from World War II, most of which is not from the actual battle.  Anyway, the “Battle of Midway” is widely considered the turning point of the naval battles in the Pacific theater.  It marked a decisive victory for the Allied forces from which the Japanese forces never recovered.
As a small point here…  In my humble opinion, the Battle of the Coral Sea (which is mentioned in both movies) was actually the turning point, but it was not a “decisive” U.S. victory, so history almost unanimously ranks Midway as the more significant battle.
So, is this movie any good?  Is it entertaining (even if not entirely accurate)?  Why is it considered “blah” by viewers and reviewers?  I have distinct memories of first seeing this movie at a theater, so I viewed it while I was in the Army (1974-1978).  I mention this to answer the third question first.  In the 1970’s, the U.S. was just getting out of Vietnam and there was a significant amount of backlash against our participation there and a corresponding backlash against the glorification of past wars.  Both of these trends would culminate in the “Rambo” genre movies which began emerging in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
So, is this movie any good?  Yes.  Is it accurate?  Well, it had the correct combatants, the correct time line and the correct result.  Most everything else I put down to artistic license and limited special effects.  Entertaining?  Yes, but I like action movies and war epics, so I’m a biased audience.
Final recommendation: moderate to good.  Come for the “old Hollywood” and stay for the so-so history lesson.  One caution to younger viewers: many of you will come away thinking either these guys can’t act or they are mailing it in.  My vote is the latter, but mostly because I like(ed) most of the geezers in this version when they were in other (mostly younger) roles.
Midway (2019) — movie review
This second review is for last year’s remake.  As mentioned above, another ensemble cast: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano, and Woody Harrelson.  I’m not sure why, but while watching this version my initial reaction was: “they picked a lot younger cast.”
As with the earlier version, this movie chose to run parallel story lines to create character interest (drama).  This movie chose three lines, though, instead of two.  Again, a pilot love story, blah, blah, blah, “those who sit and wait”.  The second is about an Intel Officer who figures out what’s going to happen (Edwin Layton – who was “kind of” the basis for the composite fictional character played by Heston in the earlier version).  And, then of course, the battle / result.  This movie also provides a view of leadership on both sides of the conflict as we lead up to and then throughout the battle.
Is this movie any good?  Yes!  Is it accurate?  Again, so-so.  Like the first, it gets most of the main stuff correct.  Is it entertaining?  Yes!  Much more so than the 1976 version.  To begin with, the special effects are FAR superior.  Gosh, what a surprise…  Seriously, though, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the battle scenes almost appeared to me to be in 3D.  Of course, I’m watching this movie on a 48-inch screen from 2.5 feet away and not at a big screen theater, but still…  I thought most of the photography was excellent and I don’t remember ever thinking: “CGI this.  Or, CGI that.”  It looked like I was watching the action through a window.  So, how was the acting?  Again, FAR superior to the earlier version.  Some of the acting may not have been very good, but I didn’t think it was because they were mailing in the performance.  I would add – in particular – I have never been a fan of Woody Harrelson, but he played a much better Admiral Nimitz in this version than Henry Fonda did in the original.  (Just my opinion…)
Final recommendation: Good to strong.  The camera / photography was very good.  The acting was pretty good.  I find “epic” war movies very difficult to get right (as a viewer / fan of the genre).  The action scenes (independent of the effects) were good.  And, I think they got most of the main history points correct, too.  I don’t usually prefer remakes, but this is the much better of the two versions.
Final thought:  I’ve owned the DVD of the 1976 version for over a decade and watch it every three or four years.  I bought it when I went through a Henry Fonda kick after re-watching “On Golden Pond“.  I will pick up a copy of the 2019 version when the price point drops to my range ($5 – $6).  Heck, I may even pick up a streaming version of the original if it ever makes it’s way to my preferred supplier.  Then I can binge them both like I did this time!
.
On This Day In:
2019 Speaking Of #45
2018 A Higher Loyalty
RIP – Our Silver Lady
2017 Slowly Cutting Their Own Throats
2016 Man’s Advantage Over God
2015 Deeply
2014 Hi-Yo Silver, Away!
2013 Warning:
2012 Thinking About Beauty
2011 A Founding Father’s Argument Against Public Funding Of Religious Education
Weekend Update
So Far, So Good

Read Full Post »

That’s the Way of the World”  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1975 movie “That’s the Way of the World” starring Harvey Keitel as record producer Coleman Buckmaster (the man with “the Golden Ear”) and featuring “the Group” aka R&B / soul group Earth, Wind & Fire.  The movie also has some “F” list actors: Cynthia Bostick (the “sexy” female role), Jimmy Boyd (the drug addict “brother” role), Bert Parks (the pervert “father” role) — the three are a “family” singing group calling themselves “The Pages”, and, Ed Nelson (as a mob-influenced record label executive).
I don’t think the movie was intended to be what it turned into:  a vehicle for introducing the music of EW&F to a broader audience.  In real life, the band saw an early cut of the movie and felt it would be a box-office bomb and so rushed to get the soundtrack out before the movie hit the theaters.  They did get the album out early and it did become a much bigger success than the movie.  Basically, the movie is about a good band (with talent) struggling while a bad group (with little talent) gets a push from the mob and the heroic producer has to save the day.
I saw this movie on its original release back in ’75 while I was in the military and I enjoyed both Keitel’s portrayal and the (spoiler alert) twist at the end of the movie.  The movie is very symptomatic of the mid-1970’s with references to drugs and sex with a fair amount (a full scene) of discussion about the latter (child molestation / abuse) and some pretty open use of the former (booze, weed, cocaine and heroin).  I guess as a reflection of my naivety, I have no recollection of any of this and the topics surprised me in this viewing.  My only recollections were EW&F, the acting of Keitel and the twist ending (which I only vaguely remembered).
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  The movie is about 100 minutes, so it’s not like you’re giving up a tremendous amount of time to see a snap-shot of the 1970’s with all of the stereotypical tropes / clichés from that era:  roller-rinks, cars (a Pinto sighting), billboards, bell-bottom pants and “Super-fly” shirt collars.  I stumbled upon the movie on Tuby TV as a “free” movie with limited commercial interruptions.  I don’t know if any sex scene was deleted from the movie, but the actors mouth swear words which are simply deleted with noticeable silences.  It has a “PG” rating.
Just a few more comments:
1) Harvey Keitel – this movie marked Keitel for me as a star to look out for before I really started looking out for stars.  I don’t know if this role was Keitel’s first big movie lead, but it’s the first I remember.  (The only other actor I’ve had the same reaction to was Robert Duvall a few years later in “The Great Santini“.)  I haven’t seen very many of Keitel’s roles, but, with one notable exception, his appearance in a movie meant it was going to be worth the price of admittance.  The exception was the DVD / movie “Star Knight” which I picked up on the strength of Keitel’s name on the cover of the DVD.  It is the ONLY movie I have ever thrown away immediately after viewing so I would never again be tempted to waste time re-watching it.  (Full disclosure: I pulled it out of my waste bin and put it on the very back of my film shelf and have never re-watched it.  I did this to serve as a reminder that even good / great actors can take bad parts in bad – really bad – movies.)  And,
2) Watching the movie today, I was reminded that seeing a live act is (normally) nowhere near as good as hearing a great album.  I used to go to concerts periodically when I was younger, but it wasn’t until fairly recently (the last 15 years or so) that I realized the concert was the experience you enjoyed or you didn’t.  It wasn’t the music.  Even when a concert has great music, it is almost never as good as the music on an album.  As a cost-benefit analyst type, I’d much rather spend $15 on an album or CD to listen to it 100 times than $50 on a concert for the one time memory.  But that’s just me…
.
On This Day In:
2019 Carrying Humanity
2018 Not Necessarily In This Order
Stock Market Sets More Records Under #DumbDonald
2017 An Accumulation Of Acts
2016 Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid
2015 How To Be Omnipotent
2014 The Promise Of Future Love
2013 Christian, n.
2012 Praise
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
2011 A Few More Lyrics From The Past
5 For The Price Of 1

Read Full Post »

Today’s reviews are for the book: “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©), written by Stephen King and the movie: “The Dark Tower” (2017), which is based on the book.
The Dark Tower” (2017) — movie review
This movie is based on the book by the same name.  Okay, it’s not exactly the same name.  The book is the first of a series (8 books in total) nominally called: “The Dark Tower Series“, all written by horror writer Stephen King.  The movie, like the books, is a blending of science fiction / magic, American western lore / Arthurian legend, and dystopian future, with a bit of existential / quasi-religious philosophy thrown in for seasoning.
The movie stars Idris Elba as the titular “Gunslinger” (hero) named Roland Deschain, Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick (aka “the Man In Black”) (bad guy) and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers (the boy who must be saved by the Gunslinger).
Basically, we have a multi-universe tied together by a “Dark Tower” which separates all of the universes from the dark evils which would destroy / enslave them all if the tower should fall (ever be destroyed).  Somehow children have the ability to destroy the tower and the Man in Black sends his minions to kidnap them to be used to to this.  The “Gunslingers” are the defenders of the Tower.  At the start of the movie, they lose a major battle with the forces of darkness and Elba / Deschain is the sole survivor.  Disheartened, he seeks only to kill the Man in Black to avenge the death of his father (not to protect the Tower).
Blah, blah, blah, magic, gunfights and chase scenes ensue until we get to the main / concluding battle.  Three guesses who wins…  Three guesses who gets to be the sidekick and next “Gunslinger”…
So, is the movie any good?  How’s the acting and the special effects?  How closely does the movie match the book?  Well,…  The movie is okay.  It’s entertaining for a minor action / SciFi movie.   It’s definitely NOT great cinema.  The acting is fair to okay.  The special effects are a little better than “just” okay, but nothing ground-breaking and nothing we haven’t seen a dozen times (at least).  Not having read the entire series, I can’t say how closely the movie is to the series.  To the first book – not very closely at all.  Well, both have the two main characters, so there is that.  The boy is completely different in the movie.
Final recommendation: moderate. To be honest, I’m not a big fan or either Elba or McConaughey. I haven’t seen Elba in a lot of roles, so maybe I’m just not “there” yet. I’ve seen McConaughey in lots of different roles and I’m hard pressed to name one role where I got up saying, “That role makes him a star.”  He’s okay.  Even good, sometimes…  But I feel like he’s getting older and I’ve not seen a DiCaprio / “Inception” role / performance.  Again, maybe I’ve just missed it (the performance).
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©) — book review
As mentioned above, “TDT:TG” was written by Stephen King.  The book is actually a compilation of short stories which have been turned into a book.  I guess, more accurately, a series of books.  I haven’t read any of the other books, so I don’t know if they are also compilations or if they are actual true-form novels.
As mentioned above, the book is a western / feudal / dystopian story about a group of “knights” called “gunslingers” who are supposed to defend a Tower.  This first book, jumps around introducing the main character Roland Deschain who grows up as a knight-in-training and then sets about trying to find and kill a mysterious “Man-In-Black”.  The Man-In-Black has multiple names.  I just remembered him as “Walter” (which is used in this book).  Roland does a lot of wandering around (in a desert, mountains, a tunnel and a forest) and meets a boy named Jake, who he brings along on his “adventure”.
The “Tower” series of books is supposed to be the linch-pin for King’s writing career, tying together all of his other novels / stories.  I have only ever read “Salem’s Lot” and “Carrie”, and both of those were back in my Army days (1970’s) and I don’t remember any references to the “Tower” or the “Gunslingers”.
This book came to me from my son who says it is his favorite book series of all and that he has read the complete series multiple times…  Okay…
Final recommendation: give it a pass to moderate.  I don’t know if this is a book I would have read if it hadn’t come so highly recommended.  It reminded me a lot of the movie “Cloud Atlas” with the way it jumped around in time and location.  I didn’t enjoy that movie and I didn’t enjoy this book.  Or, at least most of it.
Again, if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, I would not have finished it.  The writing style is overly flowery / imagery.  I felt like the author was adding words to fill out the book length, not to actually make a point in the story.  I was repeatedly bored; waiting for something – anything – to happen.  Then, when things finally did happen, they still just weren’t interesting.
Having said all of this, in the last 20-30 pages, Roland finally confronts the Man-In-Black and they get into a lengthy philosophical conversation which I did (finally) find very interesting.  Almost interesting enough that I could imagine reading another one of the books.  The discussion is VERY briefly held in the movie, too.  But, it is almost an after-thought there.
Full disclosure: I got the book from my son after hearing there was a movie coming out.  He loaned me the book, but I never got around to reading it.  I saw the movie last year, but didn’t like (understand) it, so I was still not motivated to read the book.  Over the summer, my son asked about the book / movie and egged me on about reading the book (“give it a chance”).  Since I didn’t really remember the movie, I decided to read the book and then revisit the movie.  I did both, in that order.  I’m glad I did or the movie would still have made no sense.  This is definitely one of those cases where you need to read the book first, then see the movie.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Land Of My Birth – Executive Order Notwithstanding
Keeping It Real…
2017 Use A Bigger Can
2016 Vote Tomorrow – 8 November 2016
2015 Old Bond
2014 Preferences
2013 Prudence
2012 Reason Against Reasons
2011 The 1% Rule Of Large Groups
2010 Going, Going, On…
Expect Mike
Wasted Again?
You Did?
Reflecting Plenty
Old Math
Mental Images
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
Learn
Nothing Feared Today
I Had Other Plans
Ratings…
Really?
Encourage Greatness

Read Full Post »

Legion” (2010) — movie review
Well, I’ve had this bundle for ages now and I’ve finally finished viewing the “Fallen Angel 3-Movie Collection” which I bought on Vudu.  The first movie I watched was “Priest“.  I had already seen it at the theater and offered my thoughts (review here) several years ago (2011).  I bought the “collection” (on discount) quite awhile back, and re-watched “Priest“, but just never got around to the other two.
So, I finally watched “Gabriel” (review here) this week and posted my comments (“so-so”), and now I’ve (again) finally watched the last film: “Legion“.
Legion” stars Paul Bettany as the “fallen” Archangel Michael, Kevin Durand as the “obedient” Archangel Gabriel, Lucas Black as Jeep Hanson (the “protector”), Tyrese Gibson as Kyle Williams (a random guy who helps), Adrianne Palicki as Charlie (the mother of the “savior” baby), Kate Walsh as Sandra Anderson (a “bad” mother), Willa Holland as Audrey Anderson (the “bad” daughter with the heart of gold), and Dennis Quaid as Bob Hanson (Jeep’s dad and the owner of a diner / gas station in the middle of nowhere).
Charlie is 8-months pregnant and God is unhappy with humanity and wants to wipe everyone out and start again.  (There’s no reason why.  Just go with it…)  God commands Michael to kill the unborn baby and Michael refuses and goes to Earth to protect the mother / baby.  God sends angels in the form of possessed / zombified humans to kill all of humanity.  Blah, blah, blah.  Motley crew gathers at the diner (“Paradise Flats”) and fights off the zombies with machine guns, anti-tank weapons and hand-to-hand combat.  It’s not “really” a martial arts movie as much as a horror / drama.  Blah, blah, blah.  Baby is born, Michael and Gabriel have the big final showdown and happy ending: “Keep the faith!”
So, is this movie any good?  How about he action / horror?  What about the religious aspects?  Was it at least entertaining?  Yes, so-so, laughable, but strangely, yes, it was entertaining.  Did I mention strangely?  (I think so…  Yes, I did.)  I’m not sure why, but the movie felt better explained overall than “Gabriel“, nothing specific.  Maybe, just maybe, I liked it because I think I enjoy watching Bettany.  I can’t figure out if he’s a good actor or if he’s just John Wayne, playing John Wayne again.  Of course I mean Bettany playing Bettany again.
Final recommendation: moderate but not quite strong.  I enjoyed this movie, but it wasn’t a “good” movie.  It’s a much better movie than “Gabriel”, but not as good as “Priest”.  I will say Gibson and Quaid were very good in their supporting roles.  I was surprised to see two more “big-name” actors in this kind of movie.
So, not a strong horror movie.  An okay action movie with some above average (for this genre) supporting actors / roles.  Not advisable for children or impressionable youth.  Language, too violent and bloody gore.  It’s rated: “R”.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Nothing To Build On
2017 This One Is…
2016 Happy Is…
2015 Dare Yourself To
2014 Damned If You Do…
2013 On A Rainy Sunday
2012 Not Sure Anymore
2011 But What Does It Cost?
2009 Another Day, Another Diet…

Read Full Post »

Gabriel” (2007)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for a “religious” based action / martial arts / horror film along the lines of the TV shows “Lucifer” or “Supernatural” or the movie “The Crow“.  This review is probably a lot longer than the movie deserves, so unless you really enjoy my writing, feel free to come back later…  You’ve been warned.
Gabriel” is Australian movie and therefore has (mostly) folks I’ve never heard of in the starring roles: Andy Whitfield as Archangel Gabriel (hero / good-guy), Dwaine Stevenson as fallen Archangel Sammael / Michael (evil villain / bad guy) and Samantha Noble as Jade / Archangel Amietiel (former good-girl / now “love” interest).  I understand Whitfield went on to play the lead in the series: “Spartacus”, but he developed a fatal illness and died before the second year of the series.
Basically, there is a place between heaven and hell where human souls go to await their final judgement.  It wasn’t clear why this was (waiting or judgement) or when it (judgement) was supposed to happen – the end of the “real” world or just some arbitrary time for each person.  Strangely, the “dead” who are there can still “die” and then they are “really” dead and (I guess) don’t go anywhere.  [Exposition to create drama…]  This is the fate of any of the Archangels who happen to die while in this place.  The place is called: “Purgatory”, but it doesn’t seem to be the same place / purgatory I was raised (I am a Roman Catholic) knowing about.  It’s kind of a permanently dark, gloomy and raining Los Angeles.
Anyway, the film is supposed to be a battle between the “good” Archangels and the “bad” Archangels (called: “The Fallen”).  While the battles involve a lot of martial arts, they also have a fair amount of gun and knife action.  It’s not clear how any of this is relevant, you just kind of have to go with it…  Like I said: anyway, the good angels have to kill the bad angels to restore “light” to Purgatory and then they (the good angels) can go back to heaven (the light).
And therein lies the basis of the the film’s problems: none of it (Purgatory) makes any sense and none of the exposition helps make it (the film) make any sense.  The exposition mostly is just an early warning that the plot is going somewhere.
So, is this movie any good?  What about the martial arts scenes?  The religious aspects?  Was it entertaining?  So-so, so-so, more confusing than the plot and only marginally (entertaining).  I think the film was meant to be some type of morality play.  It just didn’t work for me.
Final recommendation: poor to moderate.  The fight choreography was okay.  The acting was kind of okay (sometimes), but almost too over the top, to the point of being a send-up.  The plot (as explained) made no sense.  The ending, also made no sense.  I understand the original movie was well over three hours long and the release version was cut down to just under two hours.  If you like your movies dark (screen black, sound, but you can’t see anything) and foreboding (when you can see something) with a couple of fights thrown in to keep you awake, you should be entertained.  Otherwise, you probably need to give this one a miss.
And one last thought: I should have known better…  I got this movie as part of an “angel” three-pack with “Priest” (a vampire movie) and “Legion” (not yet viewed) for a tenner.  I saw “Priest” in the theater and thought it was ok (even though I don’t usually like – or watch – vampire films).  It starred Paul Bettany, as did “Legion“, so I thought I could “risk” the third movie being a dud.  This movie (“Gabriel“) isn’t really terrible – it’s just not to my taste and the martial arts scenes don’t really save it for me.  And, yeah…  I should have known better.
.
On This Day In:
2018 A Gift
2017 Unless You Genuinely Are Small
2016 B1
2015 Five Things
2014 Have Faith
2013 Found In A Mine
2012 Two-Sided Coin
2011 Passionately Scorned Rules

Read Full Post »

Upgrade” (2018) — movie review
Today’s review is for the SciFi / near future / revenge / action / drama which stars Logan Marshall-Green as Grey Trace (the husband / “good guy” / hero), Melanie Vallejo as Asha Trace (the wife who dies), Harrison Gilbertson as Eron Keen (the “main” bad guy and creator of STEM), Simon Maiden as the “voice” of STEM, Benedict Hardie as Fisk Brantner (the secondary “main” bad guy), Betty Gabriel as Det. Cortez (the police detective trying to solve the murder case) and Linda Cropper as Pamela Trace (Grey’s mother).
Basically, a couple are in a staged accident and the wife is killed while the husband is paralyzed.  The husband is offered a chance to regain the use of his limbs and he seeks to use this as the means to get revenge against the men who killed his wife. Blah, blah, blah, lots of bloody action set pieces.  Blah, blah, blah, the detective suspects the star / “hero”.  Blah, blah, blah, big fight with the action bad guy.  Blah, blah, blah, movie twist at the end and no resolution.
Is this a “good” SciFi movie?  How about a good action movie?  How about a good movie?  No.  Yes.  So-so.  I was looking forward to seeing this movie at the theater, but then never got around to it.  I picked it up for Vudu at a sale price which was less than the movie price, but over my normal $5 rate because I “really” did want to see it.
The movie is set in the “near” future and “biological enhancements” are a “common” thing.  The visual effects of the future are pretty good in wide-screen shots.  Actually, the over-all special effects are pretty good to very good.  The near-future setting allows the production to save money on most of the movie’s other (close-up) sets.  The “science” in the SciFi is mostly fiction and / or just unexplained. Really, for a SciFi movie, most of the plot does NOT bear consideration — or afterthought — for that matter.
Final recommendation: moderate.  If I was rating this as “just” an action movie, I would say it was a strong recommendation, but I am not.  The martial arts choreography is good to great, but the overall movie story isn’t smooth enough to prevent the viewer (me, anyway) from stopping to ask “why did that happen?”  When that is happening or happens too frequently, the viewer gets removed from the fantasy and you just have to try to enjoy the movie and hope it ends making sense.  Unfortunately, this movie really doesn’t (make sense).  That’s not to say the ending’s twist isn’t good or surprising…  It just doesn’t redeem the rest of the film.
The movie is not appropriate for young children (far too bloody / violent), but (for adults) it’s entertaining enough for its action scenes.  And, yes, Logan Marshall-Green is a dead-ringer for Tom Hardy (LoL).
.
On This Day In:
2018 Come November 6th
2017 Hearts And Memories
2016 Tremendous Energy
Beyond Trying
2015 Tell Me…
2014 Live Forever (To Remember Me)
Orange October (VI) – Giants Win Game 4
2013 More Than Just Words
2012 Egotist, n.
2011 Good And Bad

Read Full Post »

The Age Of Adaline” (2015)  —  movie review
This movie is a SciFi-Fantasy / Drama / Romance movie starring: Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman; Michiel Huisman as Ellis Jones; Harrison Ford as William Jones (Ellis’ father and 1960’s lover of Adaline); Kathy Baker as Kathy Jones (Ellis’ mother); and, Ellen Burstyn as Flemming Bowman (Adaline’s daughter).
Adaline is born on New Year’s Day in 1908.  She grows up, marries, becomes widowed and is then in a car crash / lightening strike which she survives (altered) with the gift of immortality.  She is stuck at 29 years old for another 80 (odd) years.  In order to avoid discovery, she moves every few years, changes her name and avoids close relationships.  Meanwhile, her daughter – Flemming – grows up and eventually ages into an old woman.
Shoot to the present (2015) and Adaline (now called Jenny) attends a New Year’s Party and meets Ellis Jones.  Over the next few days they fall madly in love and blah, blah, blah – lots of Hallmark moments.
Ellis invites Jenny to meet his parents and “it’s a small world, after all”, Ellis’ father (William Jones) is a former flame of Jenny’s (Adaline’s) from 50 years ago.  More blah, blah, blah.  Adaline’s “true” identity is discovered by William.  Jenny / Adaline flees the house, is in a car accident, blah, blah, blah… Jenny / Adaline is saved and reverted to a “normal” (i.e. aging) person, … and happily ever after.
So, is this movie any good?  Does it work as a SciFi-Fantasy?  Does it work as a Drama / Romance?  To paraphrase “Gladiator“: was I not entertained?  Yes.  Well, okay.  Yes.  And, yes.  SciFi-Fantasy doesn’t really have to make sense.  It just has to offer a reason to get from “A” to “B”.  It does.  And, then it gets you from “B” back to “A” at the end of the movie.  It doesn’t matter how realistic it (the science) is.  Only that they tried to give an explanation.
Drama / Romance?  Yes.  It’s a simple Hallmark – meet, fall in love, test of love, love wins out, happily ever after movie, and, I’m good with that.  I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but as these movies go, it wasn’t bad.  In fact, yes, I was entertained.  Yes, both Lively and Huisman are very attractive and good in their roles, but I particularly liked Ford, Baker and Burnstyn in their roles.  They sold, if not carried, the movie for me.
Final recommendation: Strong recommendation.  Two young, beautiful people fall madly in love and live happily ever after.  What’s not to like?  A final note: there is a satellite shot that pans from outer space into California, then the Bay Area, then San Francisco which I’ve dreamed of for decades.  It was nice to FINALLY see it in a movie!  I’d have given the movie a good review for that shot alone.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Seeking To Make A Difference
2017 Happy BD, Bec!
2016 BD Quotes
2015 Princess
2014 Optional
2013 Happy Birthday, Rebecca
2012 Be Not Old
2012 National League Western Division Champions!!!
2011 What Kind Of Work Do You Do?
2010 Another Loser… And Come November

Read Full Post »

Today’s review(s) are for the extended / sub-titled version of “The Millenium Series“. “Millenium” is a six-part television series made in Sweden based on the novels written by Stieg Larsson.  The six parts were combined into three “movies”, each movie consisting of two parts from the series with each part running about 90 minutes for a total of about nine(9) hours.  The English version was released under the name: “Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition”.  I watched the sub-titled version, not the one with the dubbed English.
The three “movies” have the corresponding names to the first three novels in the book series.  I understand the book series was originally intended to run to ten books, but the author (Larsson) died unexpectedly.  The “movie” titles are: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“; “The Girl Who Played with Fire“; and, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest“.
The two main characters in all three of the movies are Lisbeth Salander – played by Noomi Rapace, and Mikael Blomkvist – played by Michael Nyqvist. Salander is a twenty-something Goth hacker who works as a “researcher” for a Swedish security firm.  Basically, she’s a private-eye with computer skills.  Blomkvist is “famous” journalist and part owner of a do-gooder “investigative” magazine called “Millennium”.
The first movie (“Dragon Tatto“) has Blomkvist setup to take the fall for a false libel charge.  In between his conviction and his lockup he is hired by a wealthy Swedish capitalist who wants Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his niece several decades ago.  He is getting old and just wants to know what happened to her before he dies.
Anyway, Blomkvist enlists Salander’s help and they solve the mystery and Salander saves Blomkvist’s life in the process.  Closing the quality circle, they also prove the libel charge was a setup and the rich guy commits suicide to avoid going to prison himself.
The second movie (“Played with Fire“), has Millennium investigating sex trade in Sweden for the publication of an expose implicating some government (and police) officials.  The reporter and his girl friend are murdered, as is Lisbeth’s “guardian” and Lisbeth is implicated in the deaths of all three.
This time, Blomkvist comes to Lisbeth’s rescue gathering evidence she is innocent.  Basically, some of the men involved in the sex trade are also involved with (and being protected by) the government officials.  The main “bad-guy” turns out to be a Russian spy who flipped to get Swedish government protection.  In turn, the government looked-the-other-way for over three decades of criminal behavior (drugs, sex trafficking, and gun running).  The bad-guy also turns out to be Lisbeth’s father.  In the end, both Lisbeth and her dad are captured by the police.
The third movie (“Hornets’ Nest“), has Lisbeth on trial for the attempted murder of her father and the possible murder of the other three (the journalist, girl friend, and guardian) from the second movie.  The “government” agents seek to kill Lisbeth and her father to silence them both.  They succeed in killing the dad, but not Lisbeth.
Ultimately, Blomkvist convinces some of the police and another secret group in the Swedish “Constitutional Protection Division” of Lisbeth’s innocence and together they gather the evidence to arrest all the baddies.  There is also another issue which gets wrapped up at the end of the movie.
Final recommendation: High to Very highly recommended with the qualification that all three are rated “R” and there are extremely violent and sexual (nudity) scenes in the first and second movie.  This is not a movie series for prudes or for anyone squeamish about nudity, rape, abuse of authority or violence (depicted) against women.  The “redeeming” factor, if you need that kind of thing, is that all of the bad guys get theirs in the end.  Although some are only shown arrested and disgraced, most have “untimely” deaths.
One cultural note: this is my first exposure to a Swedish production (TV or movie) and, other than the fact that I do not care for sub-titles, I found it a very entertaining production which reminded me of the first Jason Bourne movie in how the movie “looked” – not quite TV, not quite movie; just a funky realism look.  The “only” other “Swedish” thing I remember seeing has been the “Wallander” police series.  That series was shot in Sweden, but was actually a BBC production and started Kenneth Branagh in the title role – so I don’t think that counts as “Swedish”.
I have had this version for several weeks and just never got around to watching it.  I then got an offer from Vudu to buy the “English Dubbed” version for $10.  I didn’t even know the version I had wasn’t already dubbed.  I watched the first movie (parts 1 and 2 of the 6-part series) and decided to pick up the dubbed version as well.  I don’t speak Swedish, but I noticed what appeared to be discrepancies between what the actors were saying and what I was reading – at least some of the words sounded a LOT like other English words to me.  Since I’ve invested the extra money, I’ll watch the dubbed versions, but I’ve no idea when (or if) I’ll get around to reviewing them.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Four Loves
Favorite Westerns
2017 Faith In Science
2016 What The World Calls
2015 Say What?
2014 Start Today
2013 Fly!!
2012 Greater Love
2011 Before

Read Full Post »

Caution: this is a relatively long post reviewing two movies…  You’ve been warned.
Today’s reviews are re-watches from my childhood:  “Tribes” (1970) and “The D.I.” (1957).  Both are movies about being in Marine Corps Boot Camp.  “The D.I.” was released when I was two years old, so I obviously never saw it on original release, but I remember seeing it in my early teens.  “Tribes” I saw on its original TV broadcast.  I recently discovered / watched both movies on YouTube.
The D.I.” — movie review
If you’ve ever wondered what “Dragnet” would look like if it were turned into Marine Corps Boot Camp, this is the movie for you.  The movie stars Jack Webb (who also produced and directed the film) as Sergeant Jim Moore who is a Drill Instructor (“D.I.”) at Paris Island.  His job is to turn civilians into Marines and he has a problem in the person of Private Owens (played by Don Dubbins).  Whenever Owens feels he’s under pressure, he quits / gives up.  The company Captain (Lin McCarthy) feels Moore is getting soft and orders Moore to bring Owens around or get rid of him.
There are (of course) side issues:  one – Moore is falling for a shop clerk (Jackie Loughery) named “Annie”, which is wrecking his “tough-guy” Marine self-image;  and, two – Owens’ mother (Monica Lewis) appeals to Moore that she coddled Owens and she lost her husband (in WWII) and her two older sons (in Korea).  She wants Moore to make her son into a Marine or he won’t be able to live with himself.
This movie is shot in black and white and it is fairly dark.  I guess as a nod to realism, the movie has a scene with Moore and Annie which (shockingly) edges very close to date rape.  It doesn’t happen, but I was surprised it was even implied in a movie from that period.  Incidentally, in real life, Loughery married Webb the following year (1958).  Despite this being a “Webb” movie (“Just the facts, Ma’am…”), from the 50’s, it is also a happily ever after ending movie – for the Private / mom and the Sergeant / clerk.  Who woulda guessed?
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  Viewed as a “Webb” production, this is a classic.  As a period piece, I would say it’s still pretty much a classic.  This movie was my first introduction to the concept of “Basic Training / Boot Camp”, and I remember it had a fairly strong effect on my impressionable mind.  Don’t get me wrong, this movie is not a cinematic “classic” and it’s really only a fair movie, but, in watching it, it reminded me of the simpler times of my childhood when things did seem more “black-and-white”.
Tribes” — movie review
Tribes” is not strictly speaking a “real” movie.  Back in the 1970’s, one of the main TV networks (ABC) used to run what it called the: “ABC Movie of the Week“.  Some of the ninety minute movies were pretty good and some even became TV series in their own right.
Tribes” is a movie about a free-spirited (that’s “hippie”) individual who joins the Marine Corps and who has to go to (and survive) Boot Camp.  It stars Jan-Michael Vincent as the free-spirited Private Adrian, Darren McGavin as Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Drake, and Earl Holliman as Chief Drill Instructor (and Drake’s boss) Master Sergeant Frank DePayster.
The movie always seemed to me to be a message about the changing times of the 1960’s / 1970’s in America.  You’ve got two straight-arrow Marine lifers, but one has a streak of decency and the other does not.  Ultimately, the leadership abilities of the young recruit pushes not only his platoon to excel, but also to win over the D.I. nominally there to break his individuality and “turn him into” a Marine who will follow orders.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  I was very surprised how much of this movie I could recall after nearly 50 years from my first (and only) viewing.  LoL – this movie also introduced me to meditation / alternative states of consciousness and boxers vs briefs.
I am very biased towards this movie as it had a personal effect on me when I was in Basic Training for the Army four years later.  When I was learning to fire the M16, I asked my Drill Sergeant why we used “human” silhouettes instead of “bulls-eye” targets, he replied, “because we want you to learn to shoot at people.”  He went on to explain Fort Ord (where I had my Basic Training) had the highest casualty and injury statistics of any of the training facilities which sent soldiers to Vietnam.  It was determined this was because “West Coast” city boys didn’t shoot at other humans instinctively.  Using silhouettes, trained them to shoot as a reaction instead of pausing to take aim.  Fortunately, I never had to put this to the test…
.
On This Day In:
2018 Being President Doesn’t Make You Presidential
Day 27: 4 Weeks / 55lbs
2017 I’m Seeing It, Too
2016 Personal Decisions
2015 Verbal Fluency
2014 Familiar
2013 Unbending
2012 Simple Sayings
2011 Wupped Again?
2010 3 and 1…
Musical Notes…
Doubt Tries…
Northwest Passages – Evening Two
The Beierly’s Web Site

Read Full Post »

Goodbye, Mr. Chips”  (1939)  —  movie review
Haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
  —  Virgil
From the “Aeneid
(Translated:  “Someday, perhaps, it will be delightful to remember even this.”)
Today’s review is for the black and white classic from 1939: “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” starring Robert Donat in his Best Actor Oscar winning performance as Mr. Arthur Chipping a classics (“Latin and Greek”) subject master (instructor) at a British boarding school.  The movie was up for six other Oscars but was mightily steamrolled by “Gone With The Wind” (GWTW).  Greer Garson plays his wife Katherine Chipping and Garson was nominated for best Actress.  (She lost to Vivien Leigh in GWTW, steamroll remember.)
Anyway, at the start of the film, an elderly Chipping falls asleep in front of a fireplace and dreams of his life (68 years teaching at an all-boys “public” school).  The memories trace his rough start at the school; his early years of struggle in the profession; his falling in love and brief marriage which results in his personal and professional blossoming; and, then the long years where he becomes a virtual institution at the school.  His longevity provides him the opportunity to teach multiple generations of young boys / men from the same families.  From our perspective, we see him age (and grow) as a teacher and as a man.
Although this movie only garnered one Oscar, it is a “CLASSIC” in every sense of the word.  It addresses friendship, loyalty, romance, shyness, love, loss, education standards, and last, but not least, the inherent value of morals, of commitment and of perseverance.
Final recommendation: very highest!  This is a movie everybody should see (and almost all will enjoy).  It is definitely among the top ten of my all-time favorite movies.
The quote from Virgil (above) is from the movie.  It is the line Chips relates in his retirement ceremony before the assembled school.
As a side note: This story (along with “Pride & Prejudice“) is one of my favorites in all of cinema.  There are several other versions / adaptations of the original book (1934 — reviewed here), which include a musical version (1969 — reviewed here) starring Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark, a BBC version (2002) starring Martin Clunes as Chips, and an earlier BBC version (1984) starring Roy Marsden as Chips.  The book review, linked above, is the same link for the BBC versions.  All four (book and three adaptations) were reviewed in posts by me back in February, earlier this year.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Still Blogging
2017 Reliable Vision
2016 Still Walking
2015 Steps
2014 To Be Greatly Good
2013 Limited Capacity
2012 Two Ear Ticklers
Justification
2011 To Avail The Nation

Read Full Post »

The Meg” (2018) — movie review
The Meg” is basically a “Jaws” remake / update starring Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor.  It’s a science-fiction / action movie.  There are, of course, a bunch of other actors in the film, but the movie is really about Statham killing a big fish.  Unlike “Jaws“, where the other two main actors contributed to the story line, these folks are just chum or wanna-be chum.
A supposedly extinct “shark” (technically a “Megalodon”) gets free from its entrapped environment and kills some scientists.  Taylor escapes the attack and wallows in survivor guilt.  Shark / Meg starts attacking other people.  Taylor gets a call for help.  “No, no, no.  Okay, I’ll help.”  (Not the actual dialogue, but close enough…)
Shark / Meg continues to attack ships, people, whales, beaches, small dogs, more people.  Blah, blah, blah.  Taylor kills shark / Meg.  And they all lived happily ever after.
Is the movie any good as a “Jaws” remake?  Is it any good on its own?  No and yes.  Statham is okay in the lead role.  It’s not great acting, but it is serviceable.  The action scenes / special effects are ok to very good, but like most of these “larger-than-life” monster movies, the director / producers don’t quite settle on the size of the monster.   This is acceptable because it is so common.  Heck, even the original “Jaws” suffered from this problem.  For me, even though the updated effects were good, the movie lacked tension and really felt like it was just going through the motions for those who were too young to have seen the original.
Final recommendation: moderate to almost strong.  The action is ok.  The acting is ok.  The effects are ok to good.  The movie is what it is: “OK”.  The movie just flat out lacked the pizzazz / suspense of the original.  If you are going to watch this movie, view the original first.  It won’t detract from this version and you’ll get a grounding in understanding that better technology doesn’t always make a better movie (remake).  The movie is rated about a 4.5 on RottenTomatoes.com, which I think is probably a bit low.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Hoping For A Blue Wave In November
2017 Garden Dreaming
2016 Well, Maybe Not “No” Talent
2015 An Appetite For Life
A Trip To The Library
Great Expectations
2014 Pass The Soul
2013 Zapping Music And Art
2012 Not Quite Fantastic
That Kid Is Back
2011 Wolves At The Door
2010 I’m Feeling Patriotic… (Well, more than usual, anyway.)
Beating the Heat…

Read Full Post »

Z For Zachariah (2015)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the post-apocalyptic survival movie “Z For Zachariah” starring Margot Robbie as Ann Burden (the farm girl), Chiwetel Ejiofor as John Loomis (the scientist), and Chris Pine as Caleb (the country boy).
The basic setup is “something” happens to the world and it becomes a radioactive waste.  It’s implied this is due to an exchange of nuclear weapons, but I don’t remember it being precisely stated.  Anyway, the movie starts with the farm girl being all alone.  It appears she has been alone for at least a full year, as she relates surviving a winter.  A scientist enters the frame.  He has managed to survive because he has a suit, drugs and a small, portable shelter.  However, he falls ill from exposure to radioactive water. The girl nurses him back to health.
Despite her encouragement, he resists becoming intimate with her.  He appears to have memories of happier times with an African-American female, but her status is unknown.  Eventually, loneliness overcomes hesitancy and the two become intimate.
After some period of time, another man (Pine / the country boy) appears on the scene.  There is no real explanation for his survival because he lacks the suit, drugs or shelter of the scientist, but whatever…
Slowly, the three begin trusting each other and working together.  Ejiofor / the scientist continues to have bad feelings about intimacy with a white female and “gives” permission to the country boy to become intimate with Robbie / the farm girl.  One night, the scientist gets drunk and passes out.  The farm girl and the country boy engage in sex.
The following day, the “social” dynamic has changed and conflict seems inevitable.  The two men continue working together.  One day, the country boy places himself in a hazardous situation.  The scientist saves the country boy, but at the very instant of safety, the two men lock eyes.
The scene shifts back to the farmhouse and the scientist is again alone with the farm girl.  He tells her the country boy has decided to move on.  The movie ends with no resolution of whether or not the country boy was killed and / or if two remaining survivors reestablish their relationship.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  I like all three actors in most of the other roles I’ve seen them in – Pine less than Robbie or Ejiofor, and this film is no exception.  The movie is interesting as a character study of the three “types”, but it didn’t really seem to have a direction which engaged me or made me want to root for any of the actors.  As such, despite it being beautifully filmed and reasonably well acted, I was left with feeling piqued but not fully entertained.  Hence, my recommendation is more “moderate” than “strong”.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Sounds Like #45’s White House
2017 Have We Started Winning Yet?
2016 Still Springy
2015 Well Concealed
2014 The History Of Warriors
2013 A Cult Of Ignorance
2012 Counting Valor
Understanding Faith
2011 I Can Hear You Now
2010 Inception

Read Full Post »

Continuing in my pursuit of viewing all things “Pride & Prejudice“, I offer two more tangential movie reviews: “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” and “Austenland” and a third made for TV series: “Lost in Austen“.  The reviews are in the order I watched them, not in preference or year of release.  Because this post covers three “films”, it will be considerably longer than normal.  Feel free to skip it and come back another time if you’re not “into” P&P.
Lost in Austen” (2008) – TV Series 4 part on YouTube
This is a four part TV mini-series for a privately owned (not-BBC) channel in England called ITV.  The movie is a rom-com adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” book, but is really kind of a “Back to the Future” (back to reality?) feel.  Basically, the lead (Amanda Price, played by Jemima Rooper) is so in love with the book, she stumbles into it through a portal in her bathroom.  She retains all of her knowledge of the book and Elizabeth Bennet (played by Gemma Arterton) “replaces” her in our time.  Basically, what happens in a romance story if you know all the story but as soon as you join the story, the story is irrevocably altered.  Mostly, comedy (and romance) ensues.
The rest of the main characters are: Elliot Cowan as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Tom Mison as Mr Bingley, Morven Christie as Jane Bennet, Tom Riley as George Wickham, Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Claude Bennet, and Alex Kingston as Mrs. Bennet.
Once you know the premise, the TV-series is 70-80% predictable.  Given that, I still enjoyed it.  Rooper is not brilliant, but she carries the load and does it more than adequately.  Cowan is not “my” idea of Mr. Darcy, but he’s not bad.  Strike that.  He is better than most.  He is stern and formal without being Hollywood handsome.  And then he comes out of the pond…  LoL!  Adequate is true with the rest of the cast with the exception of Bonneville.  For whatever reason (mostly “Downton Abbey“, I think), I really like him as an actor and I thought he is very good as Mr. Bennet adding depth which is not always in some of the other portrayals in other versions of P&P.
The series uses the characters from P&P and kind-of follows the novel’s plot, but has (and ends with) significant variance.  Final recommendation: strong.  If you are a “P&P” fan, I think you’ll enjoy this series as an addition / alternate universe to Austen’s P&P.  If not, it is at least tolerable as rom-coms go.  I found it better than “tolerable”, but that may just be my taste.  If you are not a “P&P” or rom-com fan, why are you even bothering to read this review? (Just kidding…)
I watched this on YouTube for free and I would definitely consider buying it if it ever came out in my price range ($5).  Each episode is about 40-45 minutes, so you are looking at almost three hours of viewing commitment.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” (2016)
I know that “everything” goes better with Zombies these days, but I really didn’t know what to expect before viewing this version of P&P.  I need to preface this review with a comment: I am not a horror or slasher film watcher.  Mostly, I find them repetitive, boring, or offensive. I stopped watching them about 1977 or so.  I very occasionally will touch base with one if it becomes a “societal” touchstone, but even then, it’s rare.  I have never seen a Jason, 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser, Saw or any of those series.  I have seen and do like some of the classics: “Wolfman“, “Psycho“, “Jaws“, etc and I also enjoy “monster / SciFi” films: “Predator“, “Alien“, “The Birds“.  I’m not sure why I like some and not others. I guess it’s just me.
Anyway, this is actually a rom-slash / martial arts / action film.  It is a “take-off” on P&P, so I thought I’d give it a chance.
Lily James plays Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley plays Mr. Darcy, Lena Headey plays Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Matt Smith plays Mr. Collins, Jack Huston plays Mr. Wickham and Charles Dance plays Mr. Bennet.  I like Lily James and love Lena Heady.  James makes a surprisingly good martial artist actor.  I don’t know how much is actually James doing the fighting, but “her” portions looked great.  Headey plays her typically serious role, even when it’s in a ridiculous role, like this one.  (I love the eye-patch.)  Dr. Who, I mean Matt Smith is outstanding as the incompetent and obsequious Collins.  Riley is handsome and gallant enough as Darcy, but seems (to me) a bit too young (and movie handsome, not really ruggedly handsome).  He looks like he should be in a boy band instead of on a parapet killing zombies.  And, finally, I liked Dance as Mr. Bennet.  I haven’t cared for him as much in other roles (GOT and “The Imitation Game“), but I thought he fit in this role.
Between the two threads, P&P and the zombies, this movie is 90% predictable.  The 10% which was unpredictable was whether James, Headly and the other ladies could pull off the martial arts scenes.  They do and quite well, too!
As a P&P fan, my final recommendation is moderate to strong.  I liked the sets, the costumes and the martial art set pieces.  I enjoyed this movie as a different “parody / take” on P&P even though I didn’t care for any of the zombie portions of the film.  They were merely action figures inserted to give the main characters moving targets to slice and dice.  I watched this on my “On Demand” TV service.  I’m not sure if I enjoyed it enough to actually buy a copy if ever comes in to my price point (yeah, still $5).  Despite James and Headey, I’m not sure I’d pay for this P&P theme movie.  And the movie ends as a setup to a sequel (which I will probably miss).
Austenland (2013)
This movie is supposed to be a “rom-com” about a late-20’s young lady who visits a theme park dedicated to re-enacting Jane Austen period life, social settings and romance.  The problem is while there is romance, there is almost no comedy.
So, who’s in this movie? It stars Keri Russell as Jane Hayes (the Austen fanatic), J.J. Feild as Henry Nobley (kind of a Mr. Darcy who looks vaguely like Tom Hiddleston), Bret McKenzie as Martin (the love interest for Russell’s character in the park), Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Elizabeth Charming (I thinks she was meant to be the comedic character, but she is an offensive “rich, unread, ugly American” instead – but with a kind heart), Georgia King as Lady Amelia Heartwright (another offensive rich guest – also American), and Jane Seymour as Mrs. Wattlesbrook (the proprietor of the resort).  There are also a number of other characters who aren’t really worth bothering to mention.
Russell is a “girl-next-door” version of Michelle Pfeiffer.  To be honest, I thought Russell might be Pfeiffer’s daughter or much younger sister.  She is the second best thing in this movie.  Feild is the first.  He makes both an interesting Nobly (Mr. Darcy) and a likeable history teacher.  The only other “interesting” actor was Seymour playing a manipulative park director.  The camera (or director or makeup crew) was not kind to her in this film.  She looks old in her closeups – much more than the early 60’s she would have been when this was filmed / released.  And not, evil / craggy / old – just old.  Like I said, “interesting”.
Final recommendation: moderate (at best). I did like Russell and Feild and thought there was pretty good chemistry between them.  So, “rom” is the limit of this rom-com.  As a P&P fan, at least I can say I gave it a shot and watched it.
Thanks to any of you who made it all the way through this post / these reviews…
.
On This Day In:
2018 Dead Red
You Ain’t Done Yet
2017 Just Because
2016 As Close As They Can Get
2015 And So I Blog
2014 Take Flight
2013 Contributing Joy
2012 More Than A Race
2011 Institutionalized Leadership

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: