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Robin Hood: Prince of Accents

Posted in movie, review, Robin Hood by Tony C on September 27, 2010

Robin Hood

For someone who may not have even existed Robin Hood has remained a popular subject for Hollywood and with the success of Gladiator behind them surely Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe should nail it?  Not quite.  It’s a shame really as the premise they use is rather good but as we all know the story and the script are very different things, so whilst the story is actually not bad the script seems to have had far too many cooks resulting in a bit of cinematic mess, not helped by Mr Crowe who seems a bit confused as to what part of England Robin comes from.  Why he didn’t just stick with his Jack Aubrey or Maximus is a mystery.

Historically it’s not too far off the mark, often Richard I is shown returning to England but here he dies in France after being stuck by a crossbow bolt so in one sense it was off to a good start and the fictitious Robin is portrayed as a rather more ambiguous character than the traditional ‘rob from the rich to give to the poor’ archetype.  What’s apparent almost straight away is that they filmed a significantly longer movie which they then hoped to edit into a something the multiplexes would be happy with…however far to much was lost in the cut.  A good example is the Sherriff of Nottingham who is nothing more than a shabby cameo, however it’s obvious that originally Matthew MacFadyen had a much bigger role which thanks to some over zealous editing ended up not making a sense at all.  You can all see the joins where successive script writers, there had to be more that those credited, tried to bolt each others sections together making a part Gladiator, part Lord of the Rings, part Knights Tale chimera that hints at what a great movie it could have been had the term ‘production hell’ not been muttered.

The charisma Crowe has shown in other outings was missing too and Robin comes across as miserable so and so,  but then maybe being on the crusades for ten years would make someone slightly grouchy, in essence though I think the Antipodean was just wrong for the part; Sean Bean kept springing to mind and he’d have not struggled with the accent.

Aren’t the odd numbered ones always rubbish?

Posted in movie, Star Trek by Tony C on November 18, 2008

OK I need to confess.  I understand it’s good for the soul.  I’m a bit of a ‘fanboy’ when it comes to the original series of Star Trek.  Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the crew are all TV heroes of mine and of course NCC 1701 too.  ‘Next Generation’ got into it’s stride eventually but by and large everything has been a gentle downwards spiral since then, the last series ‘Enterprise’ was particularly poor.  The movies to have been a mixed bunch, mainly in the ‘not good’ category with ‘Khan’ probably being the pick as far the better ones are concerned.

So a remake or ‘re-imagining’ as Hollywood likes to pretentiously call them of the original series in movie form ought to be a good thing…right?  My initial Pavlovian response was “&%$£ yeah!” but my Trekkie heart sank when it turned out to be JJ Abrams is in charge.  Lost.  Who cares now?  Mission Impossible III.  Oh please.  Cloverfield.  Yawn.  And even in the new trailer I see this isn’t going to be the Star Trek movie that I hoped would banish the memory of the mediocrity that has gone before. 

In any ‘re-imagining’ you have to stay true at last in part to the source material, in particular the characterisations.  Kirk still has to ‘Kirk’, Spock still has to be ‘Spock’.  You can’t bugger about with these archetypes  as they are what makes Star Trek…Star Trek.  Miss that point and you’ve no business anywhere near a movie like this but already Chris Pine, who plays the young Kirk, said he wants to bring some Harrison Ford style humour to the part.  This artistic sodding about does not bode well.

Come to think of it whenever has a remake of a classic TV show or movie ever been a patch on the original? I can only think of one.

He’s red, from hell, smokes cigars and loves cats…

Posted in movie by Tony C on September 3, 2008

Successful second albums, second books and also second movies are always problematic.  How do you recapture the excitement and momentum after the first outing, especially in a marketplace that consumes ‘the new ‘and moves on at such a pace that you’d be forgiven for thinking all forms of media rarely last longer than it takes to change channel or click on a link?  Having a word with Guillermo del Toro might be a good place to start as Hellboy II: The Golden Army is proof positive he knows how to keep a good thing going.  Not quite ‘dark’ as the first movie, how they got a Barry Manilow song in there I’ll never know, it follows but is not dependant on the original.  I only have one minor gripe, well I wouldn’t even call it that, maybe more of an observation.  In the original  film Abe Sapien is voiced by David Hyde Pierce although he didn’t take a credit, in this Doug Jones who plays Abe has the speaking part too and as a result the character loses some that aloof detachment that made him, for me anyway, so likable.

The weather this summer might have disappointed but at least some of the summer blockbusters haven’t.

Star Wars might have been so different

Posted in movie, Star Wars by Tony C on August 31, 2008

It’s now impossible to imagine Star Wars without Ford, Hammill or Fisher in the leading roles but it might have very different.  Thanks to the Review section of the Observer this week pointing out what a huge treasure trove YouTube can be if you take to time to dig about, you can get a glimpse of what might have happened if Kurt Russell had gotten the part of Han Solo or if Sissy Spacek or Cindy Williams had been picked for Leia. 

It’s interesting hearing the scripts for the auditions too, I’m guessing they contained at least some of the early draft dialogue and it’s pure Lucas, much of which thankfully didn’t make to the final movie.

First up Kurt Russell.

Then Harrison Ford.

Then hear Ford again as he’s already part of the screen test for the others turning up to audition for Luke Skywalker.  Andrew Stevens as it happens has appeared in more movies, he’s also produced a ton of them too, than the famous trio put together and just in case you’re still not convinced things turned out well for him in the end he also has been married to both Stella Stevens and Kate Jackson.

Robby Benson?  Apparently he was a teen idol a long, long time ago. He still has great hair.

Then of course Mark Hammill.  There’s still the hammy dialogue to wade through and Ford must have done this scene a hundred times, no wonder he’s a miserable so and so when he’s interviewed.

If the names Laverne and Shirley ring any bells then you’ll know who Cindy Williams is and why she would have been a bizarre choice for Leia.

Carrie Fisher.  The metal bikini was yet to come.

The Dark Knight is no Joke(r)

Posted in Batman, movie, review by Tony C on August 19, 2008

In a recent episode of Common Sense with Dan Carlin the ebullient host asked why do American directors often seem get American comic and superhero movies so wrong whilst the foreigners more often than not seem to get them right?  He used the post Tim Burton Batman movies as an example,  not even Alicia Silverstone in tight rubber could save George Clooney’s outing as the Caped Crusader, and compared it to how well Christopher Nolan has portrayed the Dark Knight.  As usual Carlin is spot on as once again Nolan proves not only does he understand the American superhero genre but also that Batman is not a franchise you lighten in anyway.  If in doubt go dark.

And dark it is too, a full on one hundred and fifty two minutes of darkness, it rarely flags although I think one set piece could have been cut and you’d never notice.  It’s not quite the assault on the senses one or two reviewers have claimed but neither is there too much introspection on the part of any of the characters to punctuate the action.  Christian Bale I think is excellent as Bruce Wayne and with Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine along for company how could he not?  Gary Oldman makes the oft forgotten Commissioner Gordon worth watching too.

The hype surrounding this movie has obviously been centred on the performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker and his unfortunate death not long after filming, and whilst he does a great job of redefining The Joker I’m not sure it’s the Oscar winner many claim.  It’s full on psychotic madman to be sure but there’s no subtlety or any reason as to ‘why’, that is of course the point of the character but also why The Joker is one or two dimensional at best.  Don’t get me wrong he is very, very good but as Mrs C and I discussed on the way back from the cinema Ledger’s Oscar winning performance was of course Brokeback Mountain which The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences missed.

I’m guessing by now anyone who is interested in the movie has already been to see it. But if by some bizarre coincident you haven’t, maybe you’re still waiting for that promised delivery from Argos or for the summer to actually start and can’t believe it’s August, I reckon you need to see it on the big screen as even the largest of TVs won’t do it justice.

Indiana Jones and the Curates Egg

Posted in Indiana Jones, movie, review by Tony C on May 24, 2008

If you haven’t yet seen Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal skull you probably don’t want to read on as I’m going to give the whole plot away here. 

It’s been almost twenty years since Dr Henry Jones Jr showed that archeology is really about running around the world looking for strange artifacts and fighting the Nazis.  And with such a long hiatus the expectations were always going to be high…maybe too high.   The movie has all the right components, Jones, some bad guys, some ancient ruins in the South American Jungle and the all important powerful object that is key to the whole thing.  Plus of course there’s Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg…what could possibly go wrong? 

OK…I really wanted this to be another ‘Raiders’ or ‘Last Crusade’ but in reality it’s more ‘Temple of Doom’, don’t get me wrong there is some classic Indy stuff here but it can’t make up it’s mind what it wants to be.  So let’s do the good stuff first.  Now a lot has been made of Harrison Ford’s age but you needn’t worry, as Jones says in the first movie “It’s not the age it’s the mileage”.  Cate Blanchett who I didn’t recognise from the movie poster plays a great baddie as only a serious thespian can and the first part of the movie held great promise as the Russians, standing in as no Nazis were available, break into the famous warehouse seen at the end of the first movie.  But somewhere along the line Spielberg and Lucas decide the movie was going to contain aliens and here ladies and gents is the first of my issues, OK it’s the late 1950’s and Roswell related goings on are tempting to include but somebody should have had a word with them.  Particularly regards the cliche flying saucer at the end…perlease!!!  Mrs C almost walked out at that point and she is a diehard Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford fan.  Then there’s a handful of characters which had me wondering…’why?’  What was Mac for?  The great Ray Winstone reduced to clunky plot device, John Hurt got to quote a fair bit on Milton but again his part was unnecessary and the plot flagging he got to cover could have been done elsewhere.  It was good to see Karen Allen return as Marion Ravenwood but where was the women who could drink whole village under the table?  Now she’s just…well…your mum and I don’t want to see my mum in an Indiana Jones movie.  And if the idea is the pass the fedora to Mr LeBeouf it’ll be Star Wars prequels all over again.

So what do we have?  Well it is the classic Curate Egg.  It’s good in parts, not as bad as some reviews have suggested but not the movie we expected and from Steven Spielberg probably deserve.  Bloody aliens in an Indiana Jones movie…I ask you?

The Ironman cometh

Posted in Ironman, movie, review by Tony C on May 10, 2008

The latest of Marvel’s supers to get an outing Ironman does a great job of taking the original material and ‘modding’ in light of modern events.  Gone are the Chinese Communists who capture industrialist Tony Stark replaced by Afghan Terrorists, and if you know the back story to Ironman there’s plenty here, even down to the final battle with Obadiah Stane.  They even throw a bit of life imitating art, or might be the other way around, as both Tony Stark the character and Robert Downey Jr the actor have had alcohol problems.  And of course Stan Lee gets a cameo doing a respectable impersonation of Hugh Hefner.  

I heard a few people say if the best superhero movie they’ve seen, and the reviews seem to suggest that, but when I asked Mrs C what she thought she replied that whilst is was a fine example of the genre it was a bit ‘lumpy’…and I tend to agree.  In a few places it seems to slow down unnecessarily and maybe the odd nip and tuck in the editing suite could have smoothed those ‘lumps’ out.  Don’t get me wrong as superhero films go it’s a cracker, the flying sequences are wonderful, but I never really connected with Ironman in the same way I did with say Spiderman and the every so slightly superior XMen.  There I said it…XMen is the best superhero movie ever made. 

Who was the Last King of Scotland?

Posted in McAvoy, movie, review, Whitaker by Tony C on April 27, 2008

Been using my LoveFilm membership to catch up with movies missed at the cinema, the latest being The Last King of Scotland starring James McAvoy and Forest Whitaker and I wish I’d seen it on the big screen as it’s very, very good indeed. 

Based on the Giles Foden novel of the same name, published in 1998, it’s a fictional account of an idealistic young doctor who becomes the Ugandan leader’s personal physician.  Both Whitaker and McAvoy are sterling in the lead roles and Whitaker undoubtedly deserved his 2006 Oscar, he’s frightening, childlike, charismatic, amiable and brutal…sometimes seemingly all at once.  I won’t give anymore away but if you haven’t seen it rent it or buy it as it’s a cracking movie. 

Being ‘In Bruges’ is rather good

Posted in Bruges, movie by Tony C on April 26, 2008

I’m not sure what I expected, the film poster seems to promise slapstick, but here is an incredibly thoughtful, dark, funny, bloody wonderfully acted piece of cinema.  Have them speak French, add some subtitles and you’d have a classic Gallic movie.  And to cap it all they avoid the typical Hollywood happy ending. 

Reviewers have compared it to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, they always seem hell bent on comparing on movie with another, but I think that’s like comparing Heart FM with Radio 4.  Daft. 

Go see it. 

Transformers, rather good robots in disguise

Posted in Michael Bay, movie, Transformers by Tony C on February 16, 2008

 

You know when you sit down to watch a movie expecting it to be OK but it turns out to way, way, way better.  Well Transformers is precisely that.  Missed at the cinema because Mrs C wasn’t interested we decided to give it go via our free trial from LoveFilm.  Now the critics gave the movie a hard time, partly because the source material is hardly what you’d call Shakespeare and Michael Bay’s track record as a director is a how shall I put it? A bit mixed. But it’s as authentic a transition, nay transformation, from cartoon to live action as you’ll find.  The lad had to come good eventually.  I was genuinely surprised by how much fun the movie was, but not as surprised at Mrs C who has now transformed, god this is too easy, into  a huge Transformers fan, Bumblebee being the Autobot of choice.

If you park your preconceptions and break out the popcorn it’s loud, proud and really rather good. 

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