Movie

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. review

An American spy, a Russian spy, lots of action, a bit of comedy, a few twists and tons of charisma and style added by Guy Ritchie’s directing.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E is a very good movie, it starts off with a common premise, categorizing it in the spy genre, which has been very popular in the past few months, with films like Kingsman and Mission Impossible, however it manages to be authentic and unique by distinguishing itself with its peculiar tone, character dynamics, great music score and 60s backdrop.

Henry Cavill steals the show in his role as Napoleon Solo, he gives a remarkable performance showing impeccable drawing power and pulling off the charming agent persona as well as anyone. Armie Hammer is also good as the Russian spy but it’s Alicia Vikander who has another great appearance and seems to be on the up with a couple of very good performances on the bounce.

The plot is definitely the weak part of the film.  It doesn’t have anything particular to offer in terms of dramatic development or mind-blowing twists, which keep you awake for days.  It is rather simplistic and remains more light-hearted instead of exploring darker themes. Even though we’ve come to expect more from Guy Ritchie’s scripts, he chooses to leave more room to work his magic in the director’s chair in this one.  He imposes his style as always, and it’s a joy to watch, as he captures the essence of the 1960s and allows his “agents” to show their on-screen magnetism.

A decent, kind of throwback to the 1960s spy movies with the Guy Ritchie stamp and a wee bit weak story.

7.5/10

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While We’re Young Review

A movie that explores a middle-aged couple’s careers and marriage after meeting a younger more active couple, as they search to find their lost energy and involvement in the ever changing world around them.

I rather enjoyed Ben Stiller’s performance, in the movie he was the main man and although he did act a bit goofy in some moments, he still carried out the role with more seriousness, that you wouldn’t usually associate him with.  Another one that I was reminded is a great actress, was Naomi Watts.  There isn’t much room in the film for massive performances yet there are subtle and small details in both of the aforementioned actors’ performances that made it all a bit more believable and relatable.

While We’re Young is a very good movie, with smart writing and directing, depicting and allowing us to follow interesting themes, and letting us in, at a few people’s lives without choosing sides between comedy and drama. Not everything needs to be black or white in order to be good or for us to understand.

The film is categorized as a comedy but it never feels like one, nor is it a drama, it maintains a social tone throughout and it is an exploration of human behavior, mostly of how we perceive what surrounds us.  What we think about us, others, how we think people will act and react, everything that affects us.

7.5/10

Actors that star in original and remake/reboot movie

Sometimes, something odd happens.  An actor reprises their role or a different one for one of the countless remakes that come out each year (Cameos don’t count).

Here is the first part if you haven’t read it.

Peter Dinklage in Death at a Funeral (2010)2010_death_at_a_funeral_wallpaper_011

Family chaos at a funeral.  That was quick.  Pretty much the same movie released at different times. In 2007 came out the original British Production and Hollywood was quick to act with a 2010 remake (an unsuccessful one) and Dinklage portrayed the same character in both; the dwarf.

Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again (1983)19_20_jet-pack-thunderball-1965-sean-connery

James Bond.  This is a weird one.  One could call this more of a re-adaptation of the book, but it still counts as a remake, since a movie with the same story preceded it, Thunderball in 1965, and they mostly used the same screenplay alas with a few changes.  I guess one James Bond movie wasn’t enough that year and maybe Sean Connery wanted to take the spotlight away from Roger Moore who was the current 007 at the time, and reprise his role after 12 years.

Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard (2005)13-the-mean-machine-longest-yard-1975-fictional-sports-teams

Prison inmates form a football team, led by a former pro, to challenge the prison guards.  Reynolds plays the pro quarterback leading the prisoners in the original in 1974 and then that of Coach Nate Scarborough in the remake with Adam Sandler.

Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek (2009 and Into Darkness 2012)LO_Nimoy11091

Well Star Trek the new generation, a reboot of the franchise which can be sought as a sequel, especially with the late Leonard Nimoy reprising his Vulcan persona and the quite common references to events in previous movies.  A peculiar inclusion to the movie, Nimoy has been doing some time travelling in this one, as he spectates from afar for the most part, Zachary Quinto as Spock.

Hugh Keays-Byrne in Mad Max Fury Road (2015)

Finally the reason behind this actor reprising matter, Byrne. mad_max_fury_road_immortan_joe_by_maltian-d89hlf8 The latest actor to star in a reboot.  George Miller called it a revisit, but for the sake of argument let’s not overcomplicate things and call it a reboot.  In the original Mad Max 1979 Byrne portrayed the villain known as “Toecutter” leader of a motorcycle gang.  Back for Fury Road he again took the role of the villain “Immortan Joe” and helped make the film a thrilling ride.

Jurassic World Review

We have waited so long for a sequel to our beloved franchise. It has been in the making for so many years I’ve lost count. There have been so many scripts and so much playing around with what might and what will be, that if I am being honest I went into this movie excited yet grounded, as I didn’t expect more than a half decent film, and that would have been enough.

Half way through the movie I found myself bored out of my mind, thinking to myself this is so bad. There was nothing interesting nor engaging just a regular day in a theme park, and after a long wait of what we all knew was coming, we did get a gripping final arc lasting almost 30 minutes. Is that enough? No.
Let’s get into it:

Firstly the good. Bryce Dallas Howard is amazing, although her character starts off a bit emotionless, she grows as the story unfolds. She gives a scintillating, diverse performance and she does the best job imaginable to carry all the pieces of the movie. Chris Pratt is really good as well, he oozes coolness and personality and he pulls the role off better than most could. However starting off in the shadow of Dr. Alan Grant (main character portrayed by Sam Neil in the original) his character doesn’t have what it takes to overcome it, he is missing the gravitas that made his counterpart so awesome.

The dinosaurs, which is after all what the movie is about, are just spectacular. Nonetheless they are not involved in the way they ode to be, roaming the park on their own, as they should if we are going to see some jaw dropping scenes. They are shackled, both by the script and literally in the movie.
The narrative is weak, the way it develops becomes clear early on. There are no surprises and the film doesn’t pretend to be something that is not. It tries to stay true to the formula of kids in danger but there doesn’t seem to be any need or place for them. It is just unnecessary and probably could do better without them.

Now to the more technical stuff. The score was the one thing I was most excited about in this movie, John Williams’ soundtrack is one my all-time favorites, embodying everything the Jurassic Park world resembles and it’s still the best part of the film and no disrespect to Michael Giacchinio who is a great composer but the new soundtrack is below par. I do have sympathy for him though, as it is the definition of a tough act to follow. Furthermore there are some great practical effects used in the movie and some amazing CGI. Nevertheless with over-reliance on the CGI, there are times where it doesn’t look too realistic, both from VFX perspective and the actors looking a bit out of place near them.

To conclude, one cannot skip this movie no matter how mediocre it is. With a feeling of nostalgia kicking in when the music theme begins to play, fans of the franchise should probably take the trip to the Island as there seem to be more sequels coming soon. Do not expect the same magic we experienced in the first movie, dinosaurs are still fascinating but ideas are running a bit dry.

6.5/10

Actors that star in original and remake/reboot movie.

Sometimes in the ocean of remakes in Hollywood, they decide to recast actors that starred in the original. (Cameos don’t count because they occur more often than not).

Michael Caine in Sleuthsleuth_movie_image_michael_caine_and_jude_law

Sleuth is a movie about a meeting between Andrew, an older married man and a young handsome man called Milo. Andrew thinks the latter has “stolen” the heart of his wife.  They then proceed in engaging in a battle of wits to see who will come out on top.  Michael Caine portrayed the younger man in the original in 1972 with Laurence Olivier as the married man, and then in the remake in 2007 took the role of Andrew with Jude Law in the role of Milo.

Judi Dench in James Bonddaniel-craig-judi-dench-skyfall

James Bond needs no introduction and for those that have watched the recent movies neither does Judi Dench in the role of ‘M’ (M is the head of MI6).  She was firstly cast in the James Bond movies starring Pierce Brosnan, starting with Goldeneye in 1995  and then she was recast in the Jame Bond reboot with Daniel Craig, with the first movie being Casino Royale in 2006 .

James Garner in Maverickmaverick show

Maverick is originally an American western TV series which run from 1957-1962, and James Garner portrayed Bret Maverick,  who is a poker-playing rounder, who travels around looking for high stakes games.  He later regained his role as Bret Maverick in a series sequel in a show that run from 1981-1982.  After that he was cast as Marshal Zane Cooper in the movie Maverick in 1994 with Mel Gibson starring as the homonymous character.

Contemporary Sherlock Holmes part 2

If you haven’t read part 1, go ahead and do that, before you got through this one.

This time, we look at the theme of each of the three interpretations and how each of them was executed.

Firstly in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, the English director leaves his mark on both movies, making it look modern as far as tone and texture are concerned, despite of it set a long time ago.  The idea of Sherlock predicting the fight scenes and telling to us what will happen and then acting upon that, is one of the most unique features of the film, and it’s the one of the most entertaining for the viewer, differentiating it from what we are used to.  The fact that they changed it up in the second movie, enhances its effect, especially in the final fight sequence in “A Game of Shadows”.  Moreover the score is composed by the stupendous Hans Zimmer, who again encapsulates the essence of the story with his music.

In BBC’s Sherlock, the story is set in present London, instead of the late 18th century that it originally takes place in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books.   However that doesn’t stop the creators, to base a lot of the episodes on books by altering them in order to suit the modern backdrop.  On the other hand some episodes are completely made up and still carry the same weight and quality.  Moreover one of the best aspects of the show is looking through the eyes and mind of Sherlock as he deducts through crime scenes or even when showing off.  We follow him closely whilst he reads people, situations and even in his mind palace, getting as close as we’ve ever been to the brilliant consulting detective.

Finally in Elementary, they take a more common route to put Holmes in the mix, it’s set in New York where Sherlock is a recovering drug addict and currently consulting for the NYPD.  Watson is a female character and the show assume that the audience will take a leap of faith and accept that she has the talent to become a detective overnight with Sherlock’s guidance.  The procedural cop theme and the 24 episodes a season, of which most are filler episodes with simple murder cases, don’t help.  Nevertheless some great story arcs, a very emotional and unstable Sherlock Holmes make it worthwhile.  Changing up what we’ve come to know about the characters that surround Sherlock is brave and a very common occurrence in the show, with a plethora of examples like: Watson, Lestrade, Mycroft and especially Irene Adler and Moriarty; something that manages to distinguish the show from its counterparts.

All and all, these are three great interpretations of the famous Sherlock Holmes and all more than rewarding for the fans, but Elementary has to settle for third place, as the other two fight for the throne.

Contemporary Sherlock Holmes part 1

With another Sherlock Holmes movie coming out in the summer, we take a look at other interpretations of the genius consulting detective and how well they have done in recent years.

Movies/TV Shows considered:

contemporary sherlock holmes

First part of the discussion will be the one thing that all three executions have in common and that is great actors in both major roles of Sherlock and Watson.

In Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey Jr. plays the homonymous character accompanied by Jude Law in the role of John Watson.  One of the most widely recognized actors of his generation RDJ adds his unique touch to the character, elegant and explosive, he delivers everything superbly with a minor yet satisfying old English accent as the only non-English actor of the three in question, from puns to monologues of deduction, he is just fascinating to watch on screen. 8.5/10

On BBC’s Sherlock we have one of the rising stars of our time, Benedict Cumberbatch with Martin Freeman playing the doctor.  Cumberbatch is incredible as Sherlock, he has a way with the character that transfers his eccentric energy and sociopath status to the viewer like no other.  Walking on the fine line of being so irritating that sometimes audiences find it too much, he gets the most out of the narcissistic and uncanny side of Sherlock. Along with Freeman they achieve both great moments of drama but also comedy, something that adds another dimension to the show. 9/10

In Elementary, it’s Jonny Lee Miller who shows his acting chops, out of all 3 interpretations he has the most dramatic tension in scenes and he gives scintillating performances time and again in the 3 years the show has been running.  He consistently manages to capture the feelings of Sherlock to perfection and it is when he has to show emotion that he shines. On this occasion Watson is portrayed by Lucy Liu and she might not be of the same caliber as Law or Freeman but she does a good job to keep up and support Miller. 8/10

To be fair, there isn’t much between the actors portraying the main man.  However as far as Watson is concerned, although Lucy Liu is a decent actress, she simply doesn’t have the star status and charm that Law and Freeman bring to the game.

Part 2: The production and theme.