Archive for Mads Mikkelsen

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT( spoiler alert!!!):

Research scientist Galen Erso is in hiding on the planet Lah’mu when Imperial weapons developer Orson Krennic arrives to take him to complete the unfinished Death Star, a space station-based superweapon capable of destroying an entire planet. Erso’s wife Lyra is killed in the confrontation, but their daughter Jyn escapes and is taken to safety by Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera.

Fifteen years later, pilot Bodhi Rook defects from the Empire, smuggling a holographic message from Galen to Gerrera on the desert moon of Jedha. After learning about Rook’s defection, Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor frees Jyn from Imperial captivity and brings her to the Rebels, who plan to use her to extract Galen and learn more about the Death Star. Unbeknownst to Jyn, however, Cassian is covertly ordered to kill Galen rather than extract him.

Jyn, Cassian, and reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO travel to Jedha, where the Empire is mining kyber crystals to power the Death Star while Gerrera and his partisans are engaged in an armed insurgency against them. With the aid of blind spiritual warrior Chirrut Îmwe and his mercenary friend Baze Malbus, Jyn makes contact with Gerrera, who has been holding Rook captive. Gerrera shows her the message, in which Galen reveals he has secretly built a vulnerability into the Death Star and directs them to retrieve the schematics from a high-security Imperial data bank on the planet Scarif.

On the Death Star, Krennic orders a low-powered shot from the superlaser to destroy Jedha’s capital, causing Jyn and her group to take Rook and flee the planet, but Gerrera and his group are killed. Grand Moff Tarkin congratulates Krennic before using Rook’s defection and security leak as a pretext to take control of the project.

Rook leads the group to Galen’s Imperial research facility on the planet Eadu, where Cassian chooses not to kill Galen. When Krennic directs that Galen’s main team be killed for causing the security leak, Galen confesses that he is responsible. Jyn makes her presence known moments before Rebel bombers attack the facility, resulting in Galen being wounded. Jyn reunites with her father, only to have him die in her arms, before she escapes with her group onboard a stolen Imperial cargo shuttle. Krennic visits Darth Vader, seeking support with granting an audience with the Emperor, but Vader dismisses his appeal for recognition.

Jyn proposes a plan to steal the Death Star schematics using the Rebel fleet but fails to get approval from the Alliance Council. Frustrated at their inaction, Jyn’s group is supported by a small squad of Rebels intent on raiding the data bank themselves. Arriving at Scarif via the stolen Imperial ship, which Rook dubs “Rogue One”, a disguised Jyn and Cassian enter the base with K-2SO while volunteers attack the resident Imperial garrison as a distraction. The Rebel fleet learns about the raid from intercepted Imperial communications and deploy in support. Rook is killed by a grenade just after informing the Rebel fleet that it must deactivate the shield surrounding the planet to allow Jyn and Cassian to transmit them the schematics. K-2SO sacrifices himself so Jyn and Cassian can retrieve the data. Despite this, Jyn and Cassian are ambushed by Krennic, who has traveled to Scarif, and seemingly kills Cassian.

Îmwe is killed after activating the master switch to allow communication with the Rebel fleet, while Malbus is killed shortly after. Krennic corners Jyn, declaring the Empire’s victory, but Cassian, who has survived, shoots Krennic. Jyn transmits the schematics to the Rebel command ship. The Death Star enters Scarif’s orbit, where Tarkin uses the weapon to destroy the Empire’s base. Krennic dies instantly, while Jyn and Cassian embrace on a beach before dying in the ensuing shock wave.

The Rebel fleet prepares to jump to hyperspace only to be attacked by Vader’s flagship. Vader boards the command ship and kills several soldiers in his pursuit of the schematics, but a small starship escapes with them onboard. Aboard the fleeing ship, Princess Leia declares that the schematics will provide hope for the Rebellion.

REVIEW:

One of the critics I listen to on a regular basis is always mentioning how the Star Wars universe doesn’t feel like a universe, but rather a small corner of the neighborhood. With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the hope is that we start to learn more about this universe and expand beyond the same borders.

What is this about?

All looks lost for the Rebellion against the Empire as they learn of the existence of a new super weapon, the Death Star. Once a possible weakness in its construction is uncovered, the Rebel Alliance must set out on a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The future of the entire galaxy now rests upon its success.

What did I like?

Loose ends. For those select few that may not be aware, this is a prequel to the original Star Wars. For this reason, this film had the very unenviable task of having to fill in some gaps in the timeline, come up with an original story, and make sure it all connects. With the exception of a rushed last few minutes, it does just that. We learn how the Death Star plans were stolen and how they got in the hands of Princess Leia…and all that other stuff that happened in this 2 hr flick.

Sky battle. As an Air Force brat, I saw my fair share of planes. I feel that growing up around all of that has greatly influenced me towards airplanes, jets, and various space fighters. Perhaps that is why I found the shootout in the sky so appealing, even though we get this in very film in this franchise. This time around, though, when those fighters came in and shot down the AT-ATs, I knew something big was going to happen. That feeling is something that hasn’t been felt with these films in some time and I’m glad it is back!

Big, bad, Vader. The holy trilogy gave a progression with Darth Vader, as he went from enigmatic badass to the Emperor’s lackey to the soft shell of who he was. The prequels ruined him even further by making him a whiny little bitch. Well, Vader is back. He’s not in this film very long, but the 2 scenes he is in will remind you why he is one of the greatest villains of all time and why the galaxy fears him. James Earl Jones came back to lend his voice, but it is a certain scene that will give you chills and true Star Wars fans will be pissing on themselves watching him in action.

What didn’t I like?

Crawl space. I know that the filmmakers wanted to keep this film separate from the main series, but i really missed the crawl at the very beginning. You know, the bit of reading that happens whilst we enjoy the wonderful theme music and before the film starts. There has to be another way to distinguish these films without taking away the crawl, right? Is there to be no crawl in the forthcoming Han Solo film, either?

Diversity. Can you believe there was actually some talk of boycotting this film because it had a diverse cast? WTF?!? I’m glad they showed different races (and in the process pissed off Trump Nazis). I do have two issues with the diversity, though. First, and this goes back to the holy trilogy, is that most everyone seems to be British. Second, where were the alien species. That is to say, the non-humans? Other than the commander of the Rebel fleet and a cameo from the 2 guys who will be seen in Mos Eisley, i don’t recall seeing many alien species. This is a vast galaxy, surely there had to be more out there, right?

Know your history. CGI and myself are no friends, but i will give credit where credit is due. The use of CGI in this film was able to bring back to life Grand Moff Tarkin (the actor, whose name escapes me at the moment, died in 1994), commander of the Death Star. Not only did they bring him back to life, but he had some lines, as well. Nothing wrong with that, but also given the gift of life or youth were some of the pilots and Princess Leia (which was a gut punch after her recent death). I kind of feel like this was a bit of overkill with the CGI. Tarkin could have been played by another actor. Leia, I can live with, though.

Final verdict of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Fans of the franchise will definitely be pleased. The casual viewer may scratch their heads at a few things, but they’ll be entertained. Felicity Jones is a decent antihero for the franchise and did what she had to do for this film. Much like Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, she isn’t given much, but works with what they gave her.  We get action, call backs to previous films, drama, intrigue, and a little comedy with this flick. Do i recommend it? Yes, very highly! Go! Run! Check it out now!!!

5 out of 5 stars

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Doctor Strange (2016)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Kathmandu, Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius and his zealots enter the secret compound Kamar-Taj and murder its librarian, keeper of ancient and mystical texts. They steal a ritual from a book belonging to the Ancient One, a sorcerer who has lived for an unknown time and taught all at Kamar-Taj, including Kaecilius, in the ways of the mystic arts. The Ancient One pursues the traitors, but Kaecilius escapes with the pages and some of his followers.

Stephen Strange, an acclaimed neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Fellow surgeon and former lover Christine Palmer tries to help him move on, but Strange, believing he can regain use of his hands, instead uses all his resources pursuing experimental surgeries in vain. After learning of Jonathon Pangborn, a paraplegic who mysteriously was able to walk again, Strange seeks him out, and is directed to Kamar-Taj. There, Strange is taken in by another sorcerer under the Ancient One, Mordo. The Ancient One shows Strange her power, revealing the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension. Strange begs her to teach him, and she eventually agrees despite his arrogance, which reminds her of Kaecilius.

Strange begins his tutelage under the Ancient One and Mordo, and learns from the ancient books in the library, now presided over by the master Wong. Strange learns that Earth is protected from other dimensions by a spell formed from three buildings called Sanctums, found in New York City, London, and Hong Kong. The task of the sorcerers is to protect the Sanctums, though Pangborn chose to forgo this responsibility in favor of channeling mystical energy into walking again. Strange advances quickly over several months, even secretly reading from the text Kaecilius stole from and learning to bend time with the mystical Eye of Agamotto. Mordo and Wong warn Strange against breaking the laws of nature, comparing his arrogant yearning for power to that of Kaecilius, who believes, after the deaths of his loved ones, that everyone should have eternal life.

Kaecilius and his followers use the stolen pages to begin summoning the powerful Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, where time does not exist and all can live forever. This destroys the London Sanctum, and sends Strange from Kamar-Taj to the New York Sanctum. The zealots then attack there, where Strange holds them off with the mystical Cloak of Levitation until Mordo and the Ancient One arrive. Strange and Mordo become disillusioned with the Ancient One after Kaecilius reveals that her long life has come from her own use of Dormammu’s power. Kaecilius mortally wounds the Ancient One, and escapes to Hong Kong. The Ancient One tells Strange that he, too, will have to break the rules, to balance Mordo’s steadfast nature. She then dies, despite the best efforts of Strange and a bewildered Palmer. Strange and Mordo arrive in Hong Kong to find Wong dead and the Sanctum destroyed, with the Dark Dimension already engulfing Earth. Strange uses the Eye to turn back time and save Wong, before creating an infinite time loop inside the Dark Dimension that traps himself and Dormammu in the same moment forever. Strange agrees to break the loop if Dormammu leaves Earth, and the latter takes Kaecilius and the zealots with him.

Disgusted by Strange and the Ancient One’s disregard for the consequences of defying nature, Mordo departs. Strange returns the Eye, which Wong calls an Infinity Stone, to Kamar-Taj, and then takes up residence in the New York Sanctum to continue his studies. In a mid-credits scene, Strange agrees to help Thor, who has brought his brother Loki to Earth to search for their father Odin. In a post-credits scene, Mordo visits Pangborn and steals the energy he uses to walk, stating that Earth has “too many sorcerers”.

REVIEW:

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has reached the point now to where they can explore some of the lesser known, but still major characters. This is why we are getting films such as Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and this one, Doctor Strange. It is a risky move with this guy, especially with the use of mysticism, but if anyone cane make it work, it is Marvel. Let’s see how they did, shall we?

What is this about?

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilising a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What did I like?

Visuals. You’ve seen the trailers and advertisements for this film, I’m sure, so I don’t really need to tell you that this film is something that can best be described as Inception on acid. Doctor Strange, much like Thor was, is not an easy character to bring to life, especially when you  start trying to portray his powers. Throw in others who have powers that may or may nor be on another level from his and your mind is blown! This is just something that has to be seen!

Strange things. When casting Dr. Strange, the first person I thought of was Robert Downey, Jr., but the problem with that choice is he’s already playing Iron Man (strangely enough there are man similarities between Tony Stark and Stephen Strange, starting with their choice of facial hair). Upon hearing Benedict Cumberbatch was cast, I was skeptical as to how he would pull it off. Not because he’s a bad actor, but because this seemed to be a bit beneath him. As it turns out, this is as perfect a role for him as Sherlock. Cumberbatch brings the cockiness needed, while also being he defeated student who is learning everything he can. I look forward to seeing much more from him in this role.

So, that’s the connection! For a Marvel film, there is about as much mention of the other Marvel properties as there are in the Netflix shows, which I actually appreciated. There is one mention of the Avengers that I remember and that was it. We don’t need to be beaten over the head with constant reminders. A few Easter eggs are nice here and there, but everything has its limit. By holding off on the MCU stuff, the scene at the beginning of the credits is much more effective as it ties him into the universe and sets up one of the next Marvel films (I won’t spoil which one).

What didn’t I like?

Is this love? It seems as if one can’t enjoy a superhero movie without the token love story, whether it fits or not. In this case, it does not. In the film’s defense, this isn’t truly a love story, as much as it is an attempt to put two people who have history and similar interests together just because. Rachel McAdams is a gorgeous woman, but I don’t think the audience would be missing much had her scenes been reduced.

Villain. If there is one weakness in these Marvel films, it seems to be the villains. Other than Loki, none of them have been memorable, let alone a threat. I know what you’re going to say….Zemo was a threat in Captain America: Civil War and Thanos is lurking out there. With Zemo, sure he was effective, but who remembers anything about the guy? Thanos’ time is coming soon…VERY soon. You can add Dormmamu and his minion Kaecilius to the list of ineffective villains. We are never really made clear of their intentions, other than Dormmamu wants to escape the Dark Dimensiom and send the Earth back there, but why?!? I need some motivation for why you are trying to destroy existence!

Whitewashing. Much has been said about the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. For me, not being Asian, it isn’t a big deal, but I can imagine how difficult it is to accept the change. I’m not going to go into some long diatribe about this, but I do feel as if the audience deserved at least a snippet of the Ancient One as an old Asian guy. The film makes a point about how his form is fluid, so who’s to say he needs to look like a creepy, bald white woman?

Final verdict on Doctor Strange? A solid introduction to a lesser-known character. The film really shines when it comes to the visuals. Cumberbatch, sporting an American accent that he doesn’t quite seem comfortable with, seems to be having fun with the character which really sells it to the audience. There are a few minor issues here and there, but they aren’t anything that cannot be overcome. Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! Go check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Three Musketeers

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Venice, the Three Musketeers Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans), with the help of Athos’ lover, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), steal airship blueprints made by Leonardo Da Vinci. However, they are betrayed by Milady, who gives the blueprints to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). Upon returning to France, the Musketeers are forced to disband by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) for their failure.

One year later, the young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) leaves Gascony for Paris in hopes of becoming a Musketeer, like his father once was, only to learn that they no longer exist. D’Artagnan ends up challenging Captain Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), the leader of Richelieu’s guard, to a duel after being offended by him, but Rochefort merely shoots him while he’s distracted. In an attempt to get revenge, D’Artagnan offends Athos, Porthos and Aramis for petty reasons, and schedules duels with each of them, at the same day and at the same place, but in different times, not knowing who they are.

Before they can duel, however, D’Artagnan and the Musketeers are attacked by the guards for breaking the law by having a public duel. They fight the soldiers off, at which point D’Artagnan discovers their true identities, but end up being captured and brought before the young King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) and his wife, Queen Anne (Juno Temple). Richelieu attempts to convince them to execute the four prisoners, but they are too impressed, and congratulate them instead, much to Richelieu’s anger.

Later, Richelieu meets with Milady, who is actually working for him. He orders her to plant false love letters among Queen Anne’s possessions and steal Queen Anne’s diamond necklace and hide it in the Tower of London with the objective of framing Queen Anne of having an affair with the Duk of Buckingham, who is in France on behalf of the King of England, and who has built a fully armed airship using the designs stolen from the Musketeers. The affair would force King Louis to execute Queen Anne and declare war on England. At this point, the people would demand a more experienced leader for the country: Richelieu himself. Before leaving, Milady demands that Richelieu gives her an authorization declaring that she was working on behalf of France’s best interests.

However, Queen Anne’s lady-in-waiting Constance Bonacieux (Gabriella Wilde) discovers his plan and pleads with the Musketeers to stop Richelieu. They follow Milady and Buckingham to London, while Constance is kidnapped by Rochefort for helping the Musketeers to escape from him. Meanwhile, King Louis finds the false letters and is advised by Richelieu to set up a ball in which Queen Anne would be forced to wear the necklace. If she doesn’t, then her affair is real, and there will be war.

In London, Milady warns Buckingham of the Musketeers arrival, claiming that they want revenge for being outsmarted by Buckingham one year prior. Buckingham captures D’Artagnan and prepares to interrogate him when D’Artagnan reveals that he was acting as a decoy to allow the Musketeers to steal Buckingham’s airship. They rescue D’Artagnan and capture Milady, who gives them the authorization in an attempt to have her life spared. Upon realizing she failed, she jumps out of the airship into the English Channel.

The Musketeers recover the necklace and return to London, only to be attacked by Rochefort, piloting an airship secretly built by Richelieu, who was given copies of Da Vinci’s blueprints by Milady. Rochefort feigns an attempt to exchange Constance for the necklace in order to capture D’Artagnan, but the Musketeers come to his rescue and the two ships crash in the Notre Dame Cathedral, where D’Artagnan fights and defeats Rochefort, rescuing Constance, who returns the necklace to Queen Anne.

The Musketeers arrive at the ball and, for the sake of King Louis’ and his people, lie by saying that Rochefort was trying to sabotage an airship that Richelieu built for them, for the purpose of identifying a traitor. To convince King Louis, Athos presents Milady’s authorization, which King Louis accepts. Richelieu, satisfied, offers the Musketeers a place in his army, but they refuse, which infuriates Richelieu, who swears revenge.

Meanwhile, in London, Milady is rescued by Buckingham, who reveals that he intents to avenge her and destroy the Musketeers. It is revealed that Buckingham is advancing towards France with a massive fleet of airships and sea-faring ships

REVIEW:

One review I heard about this film said that it was “yet another in a long line of unnecessary (modern) interpretations on the classics [sic]”.

I have to agree and disagree with that statement. On one hand there have been countless takes on The Three Musketeers, most of which are forgetful. On the flipside of things, this version is a new take on the Dumas classic.

It has been some time since I’ve read the actual novel, so details are a bit sketchy, at best, in my head, but with a few exceptions, I think this kep pretty close to the source material, which is a huge plus. It is a well-known fact that I don’t particularly care for massive deviations from the source material.

Now, this film was another of those wonderful 3D flicks (not the sarcasm, there). No, I didn’t shell out the extra $$$ for it. I did think about it, though. For some reason, I was thinking the Milla Jovovich scene would be great in 3D. Strangely enough, the few scenes that looked like they might be worth seeing in 3D were all contained in the first 10 minutes of the film.

One would thing with all the swordplay that should be  encompassed in a film like this that some thrusts and parrys towards the audience would be great use of the 3D. Not to mention those death-defying traps Milla had to twist and turn through in bullet time. I guess that would just make too much sense, though. At least, to my knowledge, it was converted at the last minute.

The action scenes in the film are great. Of course, it is kind of hard to screw up swashbuckling sword fights and an occasional pistol thrown in there for good measure.

The airship scenes are amazing. Whether you like this film or not, that climactic battle is a must-see.

If there is a drawback to the action part of this flick, it has to be the overuse of bullet time. This is something that has been plaguing films ever since the release of The Matrix. For some reason, filmmakers have felt that since it worked so well there, they need to keep it going ad nauseum. While in some instances, it is a good technique, there is sch a thing as too much.

The plot, as I mention, is very close to the actual novel, so I can’t fault them for that, but I think that they didn’t spend enough time developing the musketeers. I say this because it seemed like every other scene was either the Cardinal or Milady (who just happens to be married to the director).

I have a bit of an issue with the cast. The film is set in France, and yet almost every member of the cast has a British accent! WTF?!? That isn’t right!

On top of that, the way Louis and Anne were portrayed irked me. I know he is supposed to be something of a petulant child and whatnot, but his obsession with fashion and his mannerisms led me to believe that he was homosexual.

With Queen Anne, I couldn’t help but think of the child-like princess from The Neverending Story or the empress in Dungeons & Dragons. This is not to say that is a bad thing, especially given that she was youthful, I just think she looked a little too young.

The musketeers, on the other hand,m were perfectly cast, though I couldn’t help but think of Aramis, played by Luke Evans, as some kind of mixture of Antonio Banderas and Orlando Bloom.

Logan Lerman, who you may know better as Percy Jackson, really shocked me with his acting chops in this film. I honestly wasn’t expecting him to be as good as he was. Tell me again, why they didn’t want him to be Spider-Man in that unnecessary reboot?

As D’Artagnan, he has that youthful exuberance and cockiness we have come to expect from the character, and he seems to have some really good chemistry with the musketeers which is what was really necessary to make this believable

One review I read called Orlando Bloom’s performance as the villainous Buckingham “cartoonish”. Well, you know what, for the tone of this film it really works! On top of that, how often do we get to see him as a villain? If he wants to go all Snidely Whiplash with his villanous exploits, then by all means, don’t criticize the man. I think he did a good job.

Christoph Waltz was great, but there were times when it seemed as if he was making an attempt to channel John Malkovich with his speech patterns. It was kind of odd.

Milla Jovovich, for all her beauty and hotness, just did not belong in the world. There are some actresses that just seem like they were made for period roles, Milla is not one of them. On the other hand, though, she did a decent job portraying the duality of Milady and her deceptions, as well as pulling off those stunts, but let’s be truthful here…if not for her husband directing, she would not have been in this role.

One more note about Milla…she apparently has been criticizing Summit Entertainment for marketing this as a “family film” and accusing them of only promoting the Twilight films, while all the rest of their films have to fend for themselves.

I see where she’s coming from with the second half of that accusation. There wasn’t much promotion on this side of the pond. I think the only interview I saw for it was Orlando Bloom on Chelsea Lately, which isn’t exactly the most influential audience (even if it does include me). Yet, when that new Twilight flick comes out they’re sure to shove it down our throats.

As far as the family film aspect goes, I don’t recall them ever saying this was a family film. If they did, it was only because it was one of those previews before something more family friendly and was just a break from the animated trailers. I  don’t know how well this is doing at the box office this weekend, but my guess si that it isn’t doing as well as she thinks it could be, given the scathing reviews its been getting.

Despite those reviews, I checked it out myself and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is what you might call a popcorn film. Lots of action, a little romance, a little comedy, and some explosions. What else do you need, seriously? By all means, yes, you should rush out and see this, just don’t pay for the 3D, it won’t be worth it.

Now I want a 3 Musketeers candy bar!

4 out of 5 stars