Archive for Rebecca Hall

The BFG

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on July 15, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Roald Dahl’s spooky children’s book is transformed into a family-friendly fantasy centering on young orphan Sophie, who meets a colossus called the Big Friendly Giant — who’s exiled from his peers for refusing to eat boys and girls.

What people are saying:

“…this splendid Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation makes it possible for audiences of all ages to wrap their heads around one of the unlikeliest friendships in cinema history, resulting in the sort of instant family classic “human beans” once relied upon Disney to deliver.” 4 stars

“An undeniable master at telling deeply affecting matinee-style tales, [Spielberg’s] 29th feature retains enough magical elements from the source novel to delight kids and captivate adults.” 4 1/2 stars

“This is one of the few Roald Dahl books I’ve never read, so I can’t speak for the accuracy regarding the book, but I thought this movie was brilliant of its own accord. The graphics are beautiful, the story is touching and the acting is perfect. I honestly only planned to see it because I’m willing to see just about anything Disney releases, but I was very impressed and will definitely be seeing this again.” 4 stars

“The animated ’89 version of The BFG was a staple of my youth, so naturally I was excited for a Steven Spielberg redo. Unfortunately, I don’t think the tale lends itself well to the live action format. That, or the hands making this piece were unable to concentrate the narrative to where it went. In either case, the end product is a film with many tiny endearing moments of nostalgia that at no point come together to create a laudable whole.” 2 stars

“Well acquainted with the quirky Roald Dahl books from when I was a kid, I enjoyed this and it’s pleasing to see that Disney didn’t water it down. The screenplay was penned by the late Mellissa Matheson (ET The Extra Terrestrial) and the CGI was visually superb and believable. Infact, the warm-hearted giant was rendered very lifelike (looking as he did, like Liam Neeson!) and terrifically voiced.” 3 1/2 stars

Iron Man 3

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Tony Stark recalls a New Years Eve party in 1999 with scientist Maya Hansen, inventor of Extremis – an experimental regenerative treatment intended to allow recovery from crippling injuries. Disabled scientist Aldrich Killian offers them a place in his company Advanced Idea Mechanics, but is turned down.

Years later, Stark’s experiences during the alien invasion of New York are giving him panic attacks. Restless, he has built several Iron Man suits, creating friction with his girlfriend Pepper Potts. A string of bombings by terrorist the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies bewildered by lack of forensic evidence. When Stark Industries security chief Happy Hogan is badly injured in one such attack, Stark overcomes his stupor and issues a televised threat to the Mandarin, who responds by destroying Stark’s home with helicopter gunships. Potts and Hansen, who had come to warn them, survive the attack. Stark then finds himself in rural Tennessee after his artificial intelligence JARVIS followed a flight plan from Stark’s investigation into the Mandarin. Stark’s experimental armor lacks sufficient power to return to California, and the world believes him dead.

Teaming with Harley, a precocious 10-year-old boy, Stark investigates the remains of a local explosion bearing the hallmarks of a Mandarin attack. He discovers the “bombings” were triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis, which at this stage of development can cause certain subjects to explosively reject it. After veterans started exploding, their deaths were used to cover up Extremis’ flaws by manufacturing a terrorist plot. Stark witnesses Extremis firsthand when Mandarin agents Ellen Brandt and Eric Savin attack him.

With Harley’s help, Stark traces the Mandarin to Miami and infiltrates his headquarters using improvised weapons. Inside he discovers the Mandarin is actually a British actor, Trevor Slattery, who says that he is oblivious to the actions carried out in his name. The Mandarin is a creation of Killian, who appropriated Hansen’s Extremis research as a cure for his own disability and expanded the program to include injured war veterans. After capturing Stark, Killian reveals he is the true Mandarin; he has kidnapped Potts and subjected her to Extremis, intending to infuse her with superhuman abilities and turn her against Stark as leverage to gain Stark’s aid in fixing Extremis’ flaws. Killian kills Maya when she has a change of heart about the plan.

Killian has also manipulated American intelligence agencies regarding the Mandarin’s location, luring James Rhodes — the former War Machine, now re-branded as the Iron Patriot — into a trap to steal the armor. Stark escapes and reunites with Rhodes, discovering that Killian intends to attack President Ellis aboard Air Force One. Remotely controlling his Iron Man armor, Stark saves some surviving passengers and crew but cannot stop Killian from abducting Ellis. They trace Killian to an impounded oil-drilling platform where Killian intends to kill Ellis on live television. The vice president will become a puppet leader, following Killian’s orders in exchange for Extremis to cure a little girl’s disability.

On the platform, Stark goes to save Potts, and Rhodes saves the president. Stark summons each of his Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, to provide air support. Rhodes secures the president and leads him to safety, while Stark discovers Potts has survived the Extremis procedure. However, before he can save her, a rig collapses around them and she falls to her apparent death. Stark confronts Killian and traps him in an Iron Man suit that self-destructs, but fails to kill him. Potts, whose Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall, intervenes and kills Killian.

After the battle, Stark orders JARVIS to destroy each Iron Man suit as a sign of his intention to devote more time to Potts. The vice president and Slattery are arrested. With Stark’s help, Potts’ Extremis effects are stablized, and Stark undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel embedded near his heart. He pitches his obsolete chest arc reactor into the sea, musing he will always be Iron Man, even without his armor.

In a present day post-credits scene, Stark wakes up Dr. Bruce Banner, who fell asleep listening at the beginning of Stark’s story.

REVIEW:

Last summer, The Avengers was the film everyone was looking forward to and talking about. This year, we are starting what Marvel Studios is calling Phase II leading up the second Avengers film with Iron Man 3. As you can imagine, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on this film, not only to not drop the ball, but also because this is the first big blockbuster of the year.

What is this about?

Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

What did I like?

Tony, Tony, Tony. The last film was so focused on the Iron Man suit that we forgot there was a man inside, Tony Stark. Here we get back to basics with him, as he is without his suits and JARVIS for a good portion of the film. Yes, that is not necessarily a good thing for a summer blockbuster, but it just makes the final payoff that much better. Not to mention, Stark is a genius! Seeing his brilliant mind come up with innovative ways to escape and do things is something we haven’t seen since the first Iron Man. Say what you will, but Iron Man is ultimately nothing without the man behind him.

Stand alone. We all loved The Avengers and that is great, but what I really appreciated is how this stayed an Iron Man film. Yes, there were references to the events that happened in New York, and Stark has a bit of trauma from it, but that isn’t a major plot point. Admittedly, I was sort of afraid it would. Looking at the trailer for the new Thor movie, it doesn’t seem to be a problem in that one either. So, Marvel is doing things right. I don’t think we would have minded seeing Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and the others, I just felt that Stark needed some time to himself.

Comedy. Contrary to what some out there may want him to be, Iron Man has never been the dark, brooding type like Batman. The only dark thing about Stark is his alcoholism, which will never be covered on-screen as long as Downey is portraying him…for issues that would hit too close to home. So, getting moments of levity thrown in here and there are an absolute delight for me. It is what I know Iron Man to be and the cast seems to be having fun with these jokes, so how can you complain?

Kid. I’m not a fan of this kid they brought in, but for the purpose he serves, I suppose he works. It seems like they just wanted him to be a foil for Tony Stark and to remind the audience that while Stark is all about saving the world, he is still a total selfish douchebag, lest we forget.

What didn’t I like?

Final battle. In Transformers, one of the complaints was that you couldn’t tell who was who with all those gears and stuff clashing. In a way, that is how I felt watching this final scene. You’ve seen the trailer where all the Iron Man suits show up, right? Well, they all join in the fight, but it is very hard to tell who is who and what is going on. Part of that may be related to watching this in 3D and wearing those rented sunglasses, but it would have been nice to have a better sense of what was happening.

Yes, you have abs. Normally, I’m the last one to complain about seeing a woman in her sports bra, but when Gwyneth Paltrow is kidnapped, they strip her down to a sports bra. To me, it seemed like this was done for no other reason than for her to show her abs, especially since not long before that, we see another woman, but she was in her miliary gear.

Color scheme. This is a personal complaint, but who the hell told these people Iron Man is yellow and red instead of red and yellow?!? That just doesn’t look right! For me, it was distracting, I couldn’t wait for him to get out of that crappy paint job he calls a suit!

Imma call him War Machine. I would say this was done just for the movie, but there actually is an Iron Patriot. The armor is best associated with Norman Osborn, you know Green Goblin from Spider-Man. As far as I can tell, they changed it here for marketing reasons. Parents are so squeamish these days. Last thing they would want to do is buy a kid a toy called War Machine, but Iron Patriot? Not a problem. Isn’t that just sickening?

Botanist. This is a very small thing…hardly worth mentioning. You may remember Batman & Robin where a botanist was responsible for much of the evil that was happening. Well, this botanist doesn’t turn into a mad supervillain, but the idea did put me in mind of that film. I couldn’t help but think back to it, but that might just me overanalyzing things.

Mandarin. Let me tell you about the first Iron Man comic I read…It was the end of some storyline,  Stark came hom, poured a drink, took his armor off and got shot in the back. This would leave him paralyzed for quite some time. I keep hope that they’ll actually use this storyline in a future film. While he didn’t commit that heinous act, the Mandarin was the villain Iron Man had defeated before heading home. A sinister being of unspeakable power, thanks to his 10 rings. At first, the Mandarin here seems to be just as menacing a figure, then the proverbial curtain is pulled back. I’m not going to spoil anything about how they handled this interpretation, but I will say it pissed me off to no end to know that this is what they did to a great villain such as the Mandarin. Making matters even worse, they got Sir Ben Kingsley, who I felt would have been great as a true Mandarin, to do this. WTF?!? For a franchise that even through the changes it has made to the source material has had a pretty good track record of pleasing the fans, this was like a big F— you! All I can do is hope that he gets a true Mandarin-izing (yes, I just coined that phrase) before the next film. Prison has ways of changing a man, after all, and dammit does it need to do it quickly!

Iron Man 3 is sure to make a ton of $$$, but did you honestly think it wouldn’t? The new elements added to the already familiar story are hit and miss, but they work well enough when all is said and done. This new director, Shane Black, gave the film a darker tone which I am not sure I liked, but to each their own. I question what his obsession with Christmas time is, though. Ultimately, though, I had a good time with this film. It has some issues here and there, but still a really solid flick that you need to rush out and see ASAP. Yes, people, the summer movie season has officially arrived!

4 1/4 out of 5 stars

The Awakening

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , on April 6, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

1921: England. Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is a published author on supernatural hoaxes who works with the police to expose charlatans and debunk supernatural phenomena, having begun her foray into her profession upon the death of her lover in World War I. Upon a visit from Robert Malory (Dominic West), a teacher from a boarding school with the request to investigate the recent death of a student and how it is related to sightings of a ghost of a child, she travels to the school hoping to explain the sightings and the death. The ghostly sightings are at first thought to be a prank played by one of the boys at the school. While Florence and Robert start developing a mutual attraction, the school is closed for holidays with the only occupants being Robert, Florence, Maud (Imelda Staunton) the housekeeper and Tom, a lonely child, who tells Florence his parents live in India which takes too long for him to travel to. As unexplained supernatural events start to manifest, it is revealed towards the end that Tom is a ghost and is Florence’s half brother and Maud’s son. Florence and Tom grew up in the house that is now a boarding school. While Florence and Tom were young, their father became mad and killed Florence’s mother, Tom and himself while also trying to kill Florence. Florence had blocked these memories of her childhood. Maud, who also sees Tom, explains that Tom is lonely and that he needs his family; Maud poisons herself and Florence, intending for their ghosts to join Tom. Florence, however, tells Tom that she will not be happy if she dies now and that she will always be with Tom. Tom then helps Florence by bringing her medicine to throw up the poison.

There is ambiguity about whether she survives: in the closing scene, the headmaster speaks of her as if she is not there, and only a lonely child (of the kind who could see Tom) acknowledges her. On the other hand, she talks about the chauffer waiting for her and writing a new book. She promises Malory to visit him ‘Saturday week’ before setting off. Maud and Tom are gone, and she says though she can’t see them, they are not forgotten, raising the possibility they are now at peace.

REVIEW:

Someone recommended The Awakening to me after they heard me rave about the TV series Red Dwarf. What the connection is, your guess is as good as mine, because I never saw it, other than the face they are both from the BBC.

What is this about?

In post-World War I England, a boarding school haunted by a boy’s ghost calls on Florence Cathcart, who disproves hoaxes for a living. But Cathcart senses something truly strange about the school, leading her to question her belief in the rational.

What did I like?

Crescendo. The most effective horror/thriller films are those that gradually build toward the finale, rather than laying all the cards on the table early on. While I would have liked for this film to move a bit faster, I appreciated the way it developed, complete with twists, turns, and red herrings that are sure to throw viewers into a frenzy of confusion. Isn’t that what we really want from a film like this, though?

Ending. Not to spoil anything about the ending, but there is a big revelation that leads to certain actions which call into question the true fate of the characters. Watching the ending you can’t really tell what they’re ultimate fate was, but the fun is in trying to figure it out.

Atmosphere. For some reason, the time around WWI has always creeped me out and I can’t really tell you why. I believe it has something to do with the way it is portrayed as a time when medicine was still fairly primitive, coupled with the sadistic way doctors were known to torture and experiment on their patients and it is no wonder I am not really a fan of this era. The setting provides the perfect backdrop for this film.

What didn’t I like?

Cathcart. I wasn’t feeling any kind of emotional connection to the film’s lead, played by Rebecca Hall. She just wasn’t sympathetic. I believe this was  due to poor writing and/or character development because by all accounts, there should be some feeling for her after all she has been through, culminating in the loss of her husband in the war.

Boys will be boys. The strange thing about this film is that it doesn’t allow for the boys to be fleshed out as mischievous boys the way that they probably should have. Can you honestly sit there and tell me that these boys would not have gotten into trouble while in this school? I think not! I wish that would have been expanded upon, and perhaps tied to the investigation.

Ghostface. In pictures, we see the ghost. Ms. Cathcart happens to see him quite often, but the audience never really gets a decent look at him. It is apparent that something happened to his face, probably in life, but we never know what it is because the filmmakers chose not to allow us a good view. I wish they would’ve reconsidered that notion.

The Awakening is one of those films that I took a chance on, hoping to find a diamond in the rough, but it was just not to be. I didn’t hate this film. As a matter of fact, I find it to have been extremely well-made, but I found it hard to get into and connect with. Do I recommend this? Yes, if you are a fan of supernatural horror/thrillers, then you may enjoy this.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars