Category Archives: Movies

Man on Fire

Man on Fire is a 2004 American crime thriller film and the second adaptation of A. J. Quinnell’s 1980 fictional novel of the same name; the first film based on the novel was released in 1987. The 2004 film adaptation was directed by Tony Scott, from a screenplay written by Brian Helgeland.

Man on Fire stars Denzel Washington as John Creasy, a despondent, alcoholic former CIA operative/U.S. Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance officer turned mercenary and bodyguard, who goes on a revenge rampage after his charge, nine-year-old Lupita (“Pita”) Ramos (Dakota Fanning), is abducted in Mexico City. The supporting cast includes Christopher Walken, Radha Mitchell, Giancarlo Giannini, Marc Anthony, Rachel Ticotin and Mickey Rourke.

This is a very stylish and violent film by the brother of Ridley Scott.
It takes about a third of the film just to establish the characters and motivations. When the abduction takes place it soon becomes clear that Cressy is going to go further than a ‘hero protagonist’ on a normal hollywood movie. And it soon becomes clear what the ending will be. Other books and movies have similar themes, where the ‘hero’ becomes vigilante and everything ends in a big mess that few get out of. Despite the annoying fast and distracting cutting during the action scenes, this is one of the better films of this type (4/5)

The film earned a total of $130.3 million worldwide, with a budget of $70 million

A. J. Quinnell had a favorable reception to this adaptation, mainly because the film used many of the book’s lines. Quinnell said that usually screenwriters “like to leave their mark on the product.” Quinnell added that even though he usually dislikes film adaptations of books, the writers “did a good job with Man On Fire and I loved the chemistry between Creasy and the girl” and “When I first heard Denzel was playing the part of Creasy I missed a couple of heartbeats but he played the part brilliantly. The film is violent and if the anger is not portrayed properly, the result can be awful.” Kevin Freese of the Foreign Military Studies Office stated that “it appears that the allusion” of the fictional Sánchez brothers with the real Arizmendi brothers “escaped the comprehension of much of the audience.

Robots

Robots (2005 film)

Robots is a 2005 American computer-animated science fiction dystopian comedy film produced by Blue Sky Studios for 20th Century Fox, and was released theatrically on March 11, 2005. The story was created by Chris Wedge and William Joyce, a children’s book author/illustrator. Originally developing a film version of Joyce’s book Santa Calls, Joyce and Wedge then decided to develop an original story about a world of robots. Joyce served as producer and production designer for the film. It features the voices of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear, Mel Brooks, Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey and Robin Williams. The film earned $260.7 million on a $75 million budget.

It’s Robin William that provides the spark to this film. If you think about the underlying mechanics and engineering of the world and robots, none of it makes sense. But really it’s a film about planned obsolescence in products. It’s fun, fast paced and good family entertainment (4/5)
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Captain America

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is a 2016 American superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Captain America, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the thirteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

The film is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, with a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and features an ensemble cast that includes Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt and Daniel Bruhl.

In Captain America: Civil War, set one year after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, disagreement over international oversight of the Avengers fractures them into opposing factions, one led by Steve Rogers / Captain America and another by Tony Stark / Iron Man.

Well, it’s a big explosion, running, hitting and falling then getting up and doing it all again type of film. The main problem is that there are too many plot threads that divert the main plot between Capt America and Iron Man. Despite it’s length (2.5 hours) there is never enough time to develop any sympathy for a character and their plight.
There is plenty of eye candy and effects to keep things interesting and mainly for the action I’m giving it a 3/5.

Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a 2014 comedy film written and directed by Wes Anderson, from a story by Anderson and Hugo Guinness, inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. It stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who teams up with one of his employees (Tony Revolori) to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder. The narrative takes the form of a story within a story within a story within a story.

The film is an American-German-British co-production that was financed by German financial companies and film-funding organizations. It was filmed in Germany. The Grand Budapest Hotel was released to widespread acclaim from film critics, and many included it in their year-end top 10 lists. The film led the BAFTA nominations, with 11 nominations, more than any other film, including Best Film and Best Director for Anderson, and Best Actor for Fiennes. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and garnered three more Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Director for Anderson. It also garnered nine Academy Award nominations, the joint most (with Birdman) for the ceremony, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won the Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design and Best Original Score.

 

A very strange and stylish historical comedy. Not as funny as promised , but a good ripping yarn in the British style. Ralph Fiennes is great as the main character and there a surprising number of well-known actors in minor roles, including:

F. Murray Abraham
Adrien Brody
Willem Dafoe
Jeff Goldblum
Harvey Keitel
Jude Law
Bill Murray
Edward Norton
Jason Schwartzman
Tilda Swinton
Tom Wilkinson
Owen Wilson

(3/5)

 

Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham is a 2010 British film directed by Nigel Cole. The film stars Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James, Rosamund Pike, Andrea Riseborough, Jaime Winstone, Daniel Mays and Richard Schiff. It dramatises the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 that aimed for equal pay for women. The film’s theme song, with lyrics by Billy Bragg, is performed by Sandie Shaw, herself a native of the area and a former Ford Dagenham clerk.
A stage musical version of the film opened at London’s Adelphi theatre in 2014.

A straight forward telling of the story of the strike. Not much in the way of the unexpected, and it comes to a predictable conclusion.
(3/5)

 

Changing Mary Poppins

Saving Mr. Banks is a 2013 period drama film directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Centered on the development of the 1964 film Mary Poppins, the film stars Emma Thompson as author P. L. Travers and Tom Hanks as filmmaker Walt Disney, with supporting performances by Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, and Colin Farrell.
Named after the father in Travers’ story, Saving Mr. Banks depicts the author’s fortnight-long meetings during 1961 in Los Angeles, during which Disney attempts to obtain the screen rights to her novels.

The film merges two narratives. One showing Travers’ childhood in Australia and her relationship with her alcoholic father. The other covers the negotiations  and development of the songs and story for Mary Poppins.

Emma Thompson is great and Tom Hanks captures the essence of Walt Disney. After seeing the stage production by the Court Theatre last year, the film changes the focus of the story, showing that Mr Banks is the central character of the story, not Mary Poppins.

 

Zootopia

Zootopia is a 3D computer-animated crime comedy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 55th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. The film is directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, co-directed by Jared Bush, and features the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, and Shakira.

The film details the unlikely partnership between a rabbit police officer and a red fox con artist as they uncover a conspiracy that involves the disappearance of predator civilians within a mammalian utopia.

Five minutes in and I’m grinning and laughing at the jokes and visual humour. About halfway through there is a great action sequence. Then the movie takes a turn for the dark and dramatic.
The characters have to dig themselves out of their problems and solve the mystery. The tone rises to the end and the upbeat conclusion.
Great movie that is an allegory for racism, intolerance and prejudice.

(Rating 5/5)

Best line:
He’s not reliable, he’s …. unreliable

The King Returns

The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King
It’s a really a BIG sad film that will have you in tears.

I cried for the big spider, she was reduced to eating orcs.
Then when a nice fat hobbit comes along she can’t even eat him.

I sobbed uncontrollably for the cool dude in the black suit.
First this blonde nymphomaniac cuts off the head of his pet flying dragon. Then a bloody hobbit stabs him in the back, it’s just not sporting.

I was sad for the dead army, who obviously hadn’t got a film role since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

But most of all, I cried for Smeagol. I can understand anyone killing because the friend hooked a bigger fish than him. But he was happy with his ring for 500 years until that nasty hobbit stole it from him. Then, in the moment of triumph when it came back to him he slipped and fell to his death. It was just too much for me.

I felt sad for Elrond, who gave his daughter Arwen everything; nice house, servants, even immortality. Then she wants to throw it all away by running off with a long-haired git who thinks he is king. She might as well be dating a musician.

And the little people, like those that spent all their lives at the top of a mountain just for that one moment when they were called on to light the beacons between Minas Tirith and Edoras.

Or the builders of Edoras, with not a forest in sight it must have been a back-breaking job lugging all that timber to the top of a hill just because the King wants an un-fortified house with a view.

I feared for the crippled of Minas Tirith. With all those steps in the hillside city and no wheelchair access.

And what about Treebeard, doomed to spend the rest of eternity baby sitting Sauramon at Isengard.

And what about Rose. She bears Sam three fine children and he still wants to go on “adventures” with his mates.

Sad, Very, Very Sad……

On the Letterman Show last night he had a Top 10 list of
“Dumb Guy Questions about in The Return of the King”
It was a rather pathetic list, here now is my (better) Top 10 list……

Top Ten Plot Surprises in “The Return of the King”

10. Sauron found at the bottom of a spider hole.
9. Merrin and Pippin return to the Shire, voted top comedy act of middle earth
8. The ring, it’s only gold PLATED.
7. Frodo marries Sam, they live happily ever after
6. Eowyn kills Arwen in a jealous rage.
5. Rivendell gets a queer guy make-over.
4. Gimli makes boots for all the Hobbits
3. Legolas gets a haircut and dies his hair black
2. Gandalf replaces his staff with a light-sabre

and finally, Number One……..

1. Gollum gets the ring and return in triumph to Mordor.
He is attacked and killed but Orcs, who fight over the ring for 100 years.

(written 2003)

 

 

Get Smart

Get Smart is a 2008 American adventure and action comedy film which was directed by Peter Segal, written by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember and produced by Leonard B. Stern, who is also the original series’ producer. The film is based on Mel Brooks and Buck Henry’s 1960s spy parody television series of the same name.

The film stars Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson and Alan Arkin, and co-stars Terence Stamp, Terry Crews, David Koechner and James Caan. Bernie Kopell, who played Siegfried in the original series, also appeared in the film. The film centers on an analyst named Maxwell “Max” Smart (Carell) who dreams of becoming a real field agent and a better spy. The film was theatrically released on June 20, 2008 by Warner Bros. Pictures.

For a ‘comedy’ it’s not that funny. Carell’s playing it as a straight man just doesn’t work. The best part-laughs are the pratfalls and visual humour. Towards the end there is some decent action and stunts. Very Average (3/5).

Goat Staring

The Men Who Stare at Goats (film)

A 2009 British-American war parody comedy film directed by Grant Heslov. It is a fictionalized version of Jon Ronson’s 2004 book of an investigation into attempts by the U.S. military to employ psychic powers as a weapon. The film stars George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey, and was produced by Clooney’s and Heslov’s production company Smokehouse Pictures.

Based on the book by Jon Ronson.

Very strange film about a duo (Clooney & McGregor) who go on an Iraq war road trip. During the trip McGregor narrates, telling the story of the US army’s attempts to use psychic powers in warfare since the 1960’s. Very strange and a commentary on the weird things done in the military.
(3/5)