Archive for Rufus Sewell

Gods of Egypt

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In an alternate version of Egypt, the world is flat and gods live among humans. The Egyptian gods are distinguished from humans by their greater height, golden blood, and ability to transform into their animal-headed deity forms.

Bek (Brenton Thwaites), a thief with little faith in gods and their goodwill towards humans, with his love Zaya (Courtney Eaton) are attending the coronation of Horus: God of the Air (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Horus is shown getting ready for his coronation as his love Hathor (Élodie Yung) surprises him. Horus hints at marriage and they discuss Hathor’s protection bracelet made of the stars which Horus gave to her to protect and save her from her previous role as a guide to dead souls in the underworld. During the ceremony, Osiris (Bryan Brown) is killed by his extremely jealous brother Set: God of the Desert (Gerard Butler) who seizes the throne and declares a new regime where the dead will have to pay with riches to pass into the afterlife. Horus is stripped of his eyes which are the source of his power and almost killed. Hathor pleads with Set in surrender to spare him and he is instead exiled. Hathor becomes an enslaved mistress to Set.

A year later, Bek has been working as a slave building monuments while Zaya is now under the ownership of the chief architect Urshu (Rufus Sewell). Believing that Horus is the only one who can defeat Set, she gives Bek the floorplans to Set’s treasure vault. Bek is able to steal back one of Horus’ eyes. However, Urshu finds out about their theft and kills Zaya as the couple flee. Bek takes her body to the blind Horus and makes a bargain: Horus agrees to bringing Zaya back from the dead for his eye and Bek’s knowledge about Set’s pyramid.

Later, they are traveling to Ra’s divine vessel above the Earth. Horus is unable to convince Ra (Geoffrey Rush) to regrant him his power in full or to intervene and defeat Set himself as Ra is both neutral about their conflict and daily at war with an enormous shadow beast Apophis, that threatens to devour the world. Nevertheless, Horus obtains divine waters from Ra’s vessel which can be used at Set’s pyramid to extinguish the desert thirst and weaken him gravely. Ra tells Horus that his weakness is the result of him not fulfilling his destiny, which Horus believes means avenging his parents’ deaths.

Set asks Hathor to take him to the underworld which he next desires to conquer, but she refuses and manages to escape. Eventually, Hathor finds Bek and Horus. Horus at first doesn’t trust her as she is a mistress of Set, who had blinded him, while she tries to convince him that Set is her enemy as well. When they tell her of their plan regarding Set’s pyramid, she warns them of a guardian sphinx who will kill anyone not wise enough to solve a riddle. The group then heads to the library of Thoth: God of Wisdom (Chadwick Boseman), recruiting him to solve the riddle.

Arriving at Set’s shrine, they overcome its traps, including the sphinx (Kenneth Ransom), to reach the source of Set’s power. But before they can pour the divine water in, Set traps them and reveals Horus’s deception to Bek: that he is unable to bring Zaya back from the dead. Set destroys their flask of divine water and kills Thoth by taking his brain. Horus is able to save Hathor and Bek.

Horus admits before the enraged Bek to caring more about his revenge than the mortals. Hathor feels guilt for not exposing the deception and as the Goddess of Love helps the doomed lovers. She sacrifices her own safety for Zaya’s payment into the afterlife by giving Bek the protective bracelet which stops the underworld souls from overwhelming her and calling Anubis (Goran D. Kleut) to take him to Zaya. Therefore, she lets herself be dragged to the underworld while Horus realizes that he still loves her.

Having obtained Thoth’s brain, Osiris’s heart, one of Horus’s eyes, and wings from Nephthys (Emma Booth), Set has them combined with himself. Set travels to Ra, appealing to his father for approval and asking why Osiris was favored, while he was denied leadership and children. Ra claims that all of Set’s prior mistreatments were tests preparing Set for his true role: the honor and burden of taking Ra’s place as the defender of the world aboard his solar barge, fighting against the demon Apophis. Set is dismayed to hear his destiny is to be alone above the planet until he dies and refuses. He wants to destroy the afterlife so that he can be immortal. Ra tries to fight him, but cannot as Set has taken the powers of other gods. He then stabs Ra, taking his fiery spear of power, and casts him off the boat freeing Apophis to consume both the mortal and underword realms.

Bek finds Zaya, who refuses Hathor’s gift as she doesn’t want an afterlife without Bek, but then Apophis attacks and the gate to the afterlife is closed. Bek returns to the mortal world, where Horus is amazed that Bek still wants to help take down Set. Bek tells him it was Zaya who told him to, as she still has faith in Horus.

Horus climbs up the outer wall of an obelisk Set is standing on and attempts to battle him, but is heavily outmatched. Bek ascends on the inside and joins the battle, removing Horus’s stolen eye from Set’s armor, being wounded in the process. As Bek slides toward the edge of the obelisk, he throws the eye toward Horus, who must choose to catch it or save Bek instead. Horus reaches for Bek and apologizes for all he has put him through. As they plummet toward the ground, Horus finds that he now has the power to transform into his divine form and he catches Bek and flies him to safety. Horus realizes that it wasn’t the recovery of his eye nor revenge that was his destiny, it was the protection of his people that he needed to fight for. Now, Horus has the strength for battling Set, and he gains the obelisk and kills him. After the battle and Set’s death, he then finds Ra wounded and floating in space, and returns his spear to him, allowing Ra to once again repel Apophis.

As Horus returns to Bek, a child holds out his other eye which she has found, while people cheer him. But Horus’s joy turns to sadness as he arrives to find Bek dying. Horus carries him to Osiris’s tomb and lays him beside Zaya. Ra, his grandfather, arrives and offers to bestow any power on him to repay Horus for his life and Egypt’s survival. All Horus wants is bringing Bek and Zaya back to life. The other gods are also revived and have their attributes restored. Horus is crowned king by Thoth and declares the afterlife will be for those who do good in the world. Bek is made chief advisor, and he gives Horus back Hathor’s bracelet letting Horus leave to rescue her from the underworld.

REVIEW:

There are plenty of movies and TV shows dealing with the Greek/Roman gods, as well as the legends of Norse mythology, but we don’t get much from ancient Egypt. This is where Gods of Egypt comes in. A film that will hopefully not be an insult to the proud and storied culture of the Egyptians.

What is this about?

In this epic tale inspired by Egyptian mythology, Horus, the god of the sun, vows to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Set, the god of darkness. As Horus joins forces with the goddess of love and a mortal thief, a mighty battle takes shape.

What did I like?

Take a look. Regardless of what I may or may ultimately think of this film, I must say that it is a feast for the eyes. I will never be a fan of CG, but the way it is used, especially in the fight scenes and Ra’s boat, one would almost start singing the praises of the medium. The shiny metal armor may not be everyone’s thing, but given that this isn’t our ancient Egypt, but rather an alternate one, I can accept it.

Creative direction. Speaking of that armor, that was just one of the ways this film strays from what we know as the source material. I am not well versed in Egyptian mythology, but I do know the basics and, for the most part, the characterizations were kept close. However, liberties were taken with characters such as Thoth. We didn’t see a giant bird, but instead, we get a rather flamboyant and egotistical Chadwick Boseman (thank goodness he’s using a better accent for Black Panther)

Buddy. There is something to be said about a good buddy movie. This isn’t one of them. With that said, I did appreciate the attempt at camaraderie between Horus and Bek. The attempts at humor weren’t the greatest, but at least it broke up the monotony of a film that needed something to keep the audience invested. Watching their relationship grow was worth it.

What didn’t I like?

Color me something. What is with casting directors and making movies about Africa or that region over there. Is there just an ingrained stupidity that makes them think everyone was white? Oh, but the slaves, extras, servants, etc were the first ones to be cast as people of color. Excluding Chadwick Boseman’s character, who could be seen as a bit of an offense, as well, there are no people of color in lead/speaking roles for a film based on ancient Egypt. Why is that? Not too long ago, we got Exodus: Gods and Kings, which had a similar casting problem. Was nothing learned?!? Back in the day, it was custom for white actors and actresses to play other races, but look at the times and racial atmosphere back then. Even with the racial strife and tension we have today, it isn’t that bad and we should  get more accurate casting when it comes to things like this. I guess there is one bastion to go along with my slight tirade. The forthcoming Black Panther movie, coincidentally starring Boseman, is set in a fictional country in Africa and has yet to cast anyone not of color. So, maybe they’re starting to learn.

Blood brother. Let me stay on color for a bit longer. The opening narration mentions that the gods have this golden blood, yet we don’t see it until the very end when Gerard Butler is crawling away. As I was looking at it, I couldn’t help but think, it that was some kind of real golden blood, it wouldn’t look like the coloring was just put into it. Come on people, you need to put more work into the little things!

Riddle me this. When I was growing up, there was a Saturday morning cartoon called Kidd Video. Some of you may recall it. If not, type it into youtube and watch how trippy the 80s were for animation. Anyway, one of the episodes I remember best was when the Sphinx appeared and the group had to answer a riddle. What does this have to do with anything? Well, even on another world, the Sphinx still had its trademark look. Not so much the case here. As I mentioned before, liberties were taken with design and whatnot, but some things should just be left alone, like the Sphinx!

Final verdict on Gods of Egypt? This is a film that is not going to win any fans. It doesn’t have the star power (sorry Gerard Butler) to put people in the seats, the story isn’t that strong, and everything else about it is just average, at best. That being said, I still had fun watching and couldn’t turn away. This isn’t a bad film, but it isn’t a good film either. I’m having a hard time deciding whether to recommend it or not. I guess if you want to see what a live action SilverHawks flick would look like, then yes, I recommend it.

3 out of 5 stars

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The Holiday

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Stuck in a vicious cycle of dead-end relationships with two-timing men, Los Angeles resident Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Londoner Iris (Kate Winslet) decide to swap homes. In the process, their trade paves the way for romances they never imagined possible.

What people are saying:

“Loved this film. Typical romantic comedy but got to see all the old guys- which is always special. Eli Wallach and Shelley Berman! What more could you ask for?” 5 stars

“There’s nothing authentic or personal about The Holiday — it’s as chilling as heart-warmers get.” 2 stars

“Watching Kate’s character hopelessly follow an obviously broken relationship was heartbreaking… But seeing her find love in an unexpected, yet genuine man gave me hope.” 4 stars

“Not too bad but a bit long. Sorry but Jack Black just doesn’t cut it as a serious actor in this one. Combination of poor dialogue and bad facial expressions by his character didn’t help. ” 3 stars

“I adore this movie and have watched it many times. The four leads, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and Jude Law all play their parts perfectly. Yes, it is somewhat of a fantasy, but after all it is a romantic comedy. It has plenty of laughs but enough tears to hold the viewer’s attention. It is definitely a “chick flick,” so husbands and boyfriends hold your breath and endure. You will have the everlasting gratitude of your significant other.” 5 stars

Hercules (2014)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is the leader of a band of mercenaries formed by the prophet Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), the thief Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), the warrior Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), the archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and the storyteller Iolaus (Reece Ritchie). Hercules is said to be the demigod son of Zeus, who completed the legendary Twelve Labors, only to be betrayed by Hera, who drove him insane and caused him to murder his wife Megara (Irina Shayk) and their children during a visit to King Eurystheus (Joseph Fiennes). Hercules has since rejected Zeus and chosen to live as mortal, and is tormented by visions of Cerberus.

One day, Hercules and his men are approached by Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson), on behalf of her father, Lord Cotys (John Hurt), who wants Hercules to train the armies of Thrace to defend the kingdom from bloodthirsty warlord Rheseus (Tobias Santelmann). Hercules accepts after each of his men is offered their weight in gold, and the band is welcomed to Thrace by King Cotys and General Sitacles (Peter Mullan), leader of the Thracian army. After training the army, Hercules and his men lead them into battle against local barbarians as a test of their strength. After the barbarians are defeated, Hercules and Sitacles confront Rheseus and his soldiers, believed to be Centaurs, but soon proven to be men on horseback. Rheseus is defeated and taken back to Thrace as a prisoner, where he is tortured and humiliated. Noticing that Ergenia has taken pity to him, Hercules confronts her and finds out Rheseus was merely retaliating against Lord Cotys’ aggressive attempts to expand his kingdom, and, although Ergenia doesn’t agree with his methods, she abides to them for the sake of her son, Arius, Lord Cotys’ successor to the throne.

After receiving their reward, the mercenaries are ready to leave, but Hercules decides to stay behind to stop Cotys, and all but Autolycus choose to follow him. However, they are overpowered and captured by Sitacles and his men. While chained, Hercules is confronted by King Eurhysteus, who is in league with Lord Cotys, and reveals that he poisoned Hercules the night his family died, viewing him as a threat to his power. Hercules’ family was in fact killed by three vicious wolves sent by Eurhysteus, resulting in Hercules’ constant hallucinations of Cerberus. When Lord Cotys orders Ergenia to be executed for her betrayal, Hercules is encouraged by Amphiaraus to embrace his destiny and breaks free of his chains, saving Ergenia and slaying the wolves. Hercules releases the prisoners, including Rheseus, and then confronts King Eurhysteus, impaling him with a dagger. He is attacked by Sitacles, who is then stabbed by Iolaus.

Outside, Hercules and his forces battle Lord Cotys and his army. Arius is taken hostage, but then rescued by Autolycus, who has decided to return to help his friends. In the ensuing battle, Tydeus is mortally wounding and dies in Hercules’ arms after slaughtering numerous Thracian soldiers. Hercules then rips a statue of hero from its foundations and uses it to crush the remaining soldiers and throw Lord Cotys off of a cliff, to his death. The few surviving soldiers bow to Hercules, and Arius takes the throne, with Ergenia at his side, while Hercules and his men depart in search of other adventures.

REVIEW:

So, after the abomination that was The Legend of Hercules, are we ready for Hercules, yet another film that brings us the life and times of one of the most beloved demigods. This one should not be compared to other films of its ilk. Is Dwayne Johnson’s star big enough, like the rest of him!

What is this about?

When world-weary Hercules, now a mercenary, is asked to defeat a savage warlord, he must redeem his honor and his reputation as a mighty demigod. With his companions, Hercules renews his faith in justice in this adaptation of the graphic novel.

What did I like?

Look the part. I have to give it to Dwayne Johnson, he is the first to actually look like Hercules since those Italian movies of the 60s that starred the likes of Mickey Hargitay and other bodybuilders. Johnson was already a big guy, but as we’ve seen in his recent movies, the guy has been getting huge. All that growth isn’t for his return to the WWE ring, but for this role. Looks like it paid off!

Action. As can be expected, this is a flick that is full of action. Unlike that other Hercules film that came out earlier this year, which was nothing but talking, Johnson’s Hercules actually kicks ass and takes names. Isn’t that what we want from Hercules? I can’t speak for you, but that’s what I want. Hercules and his Avengers-like team of warriors are not to be messed with.

Twist. I won’t spoil it, but there is a twist to the tale of Hercules that you may or may not like. For me, I could care less for it, but I appreciate the risk they took. Much in the way they changed up things in Maleficent, the filmmakers took liberties with the source material and created a new story, while teasing the one we all know.

What didn’t I like?

12 Labors. I think I mentioned it in one of the other Hercules flicks I reviewed this year, but how hard is it to get a Hercules movie that deals with the 12 labors? All the drama and other stuff that happens afterwards is fine, but not what we really want to see. Personally, I think a Hercules movie that deals with those 12 labors would be awesome, but apparently Hollywood is doing all they can to not make that film and I have no idea why. We do get a hint of the labors at the beginning of the film and during the credits, which was nothing more than a cruel tease, really. If you’re going to give it to us, give it to us!!!

Merc with a mouth. So, this film portrays Hercules as a leader of mercenaries. Not my cup of tea, honestly. I prefer Hercules to be a solo act wandering the countryside helping people, but that could be because of my affinity for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Still, since he is leading a band of mercenaries, supposedly this should work, but I just can’t get behind that idea.

Gods. As we all know, Hercules is the demigod son of Zeus, and yet, there is nothing more than a few mentions of the king of the gods. It appears that they were going more for the realistic tone with this one (and yet included the Hydra, Cerebus, etc.), but it just seem to me that we could have had at least an appearance somewhere, or maybe even Ian McShane’s character turns out to be Zeus? I guess that would have been too creative, though.

When all the dust clears, Hercules isn’t a bad flick. It definitely fits that summer popcorn flick mold, and for that it gets very high marks. However, the film feels like it wants to be something more. For instance, there are moments when you know you want to see blood from what happens, but because this is PG-13, we don’t get any, much like we saw in Pompeii. So, what is my recommendation on this? Well, it is worth seeing, perhaps even in the theater, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it. If you get the chance, check it out, if not, wait for the DVD/Blu-ray.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1818, Abraham Lincoln lives in Indiana with his parents, Nancy (Robin McLeavy) and Thomas (Joseph Mawle), who works at a plantation owned by Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). There, Lincoln befriends a young African American boy, William Johnson, and intervenes when he sees Johnson being beaten by a slaver. Because of Lincoln’s actions, Thomas is fired by Barts, who demands that Thomas pay his debts to him. When Thomas refuses, Barts warns him that there are more than one way to collect a debt. That night, Lincoln sees Barts breaking into his house and attacking Nancy. Thomas finds her ill the following day, and she dies shortly afterwards. He blames Barts, and tells Lincoln that he poisoned Nancy.

Nine years later, after Thomas’ death, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) decides to get revenge against Barts. He attacks Barts at the docks, but Barts overpowers him, revealing himself to be a vampire. However, before Barts can kill him, Lincoln is rescued by a man called Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), who takes Lincoln to his mansion. There, Sturgess reveals that vampires exist, and offers to teach Lincoln how to become a vampire hunter. Lincoln accepts, and, after 10 years of training, travels to Springfield, Illinois, in 1837, where he begins to slay vampires. During his training, Lincoln is told by Sturgess that the vampires that live in America descend from Adam (Rufus Sewell), a powerful vampire who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson). Lincoln also learns that vampires often feed off of the slaves. He informs Lincoln of the vampires’ weakness to silver, and presents Lincoln with a silver pocket watch.

In Springfield, Lincoln befriends shopkeeper Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson), and falls in love with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is also being courted by the politicial Stephen A. Douglas (Alan Tudyk). Barts is one of the vampires living in Springfield, and, upon learning of Lincoln’s presence, he begins to target Mary.

One day, Lincoln receives a visit from Johnson (Anthony Mackie), who now helps freed slaves to escape through the Underground Railroad. Johnson asks for Lincoln’s help to evade bounty hunters who were hired to eliminate him. Lincoln and Johnson defeat the bounty hunters, and Lincoln later tells Mary what happened. She encourages him to fight for his ideals, and Lincoln begins to speak against slavery. Sturgess visits him, and says that he needs to focus on his mission. Sturgess then provides Lincoln with Barts’ location.

Lincoln confronts Barts at a farm, where Barts is mortally wounded. Before dying, Barts reveals that Sturgess is a vampire as well. Lincoln confronts Sturgess, who reveals that, several years before, him and his lover were attacked by Adam, who bit them both. Because Sturgess’ soul wasn’t pure, he became a vampire, and that prevented him from harming his “creator” or any other vampire since as Adam stated, “Only the living can kill the dead”. Since then, Sturgess has been training vampire hunters in an effort to destroy Adam.

Lincoln, disappointed, decides to abandon his mission. However, Adam learns of his activities and captures Johnson in order to lure Lincoln into a trap at his plantation in New Orleans. Lincoln tells Speed the truth and they travel to Adam’s estate, where Lincoln is captured. However, Speed storms into the mansion and rescues Lincoln and Johnson, and the three escape back to Ohio. Lincoln’s watch, however, is left behind and found by Adam.

In Springfield, Lincoln marries Mary and hires Speed as his assistant and Johnson as his valet, allowing Johnson to continue his duties with the Underground Railroad undercover. Sturgess warns Lincoln that slaves are what keeps vampires under control, and if Lincoln interferes with that, there’ll be an uprising, but Lincoln ignores his warnings.

Lincoln defeats Douglas and is elected President of the United States of America. He signs the Emancipation Proclamation and moves to the White House with Mary, where they have a son, William Wallace Lincoln (Cameron M. Brown). Years later, in 1861, Willie is bitten by Vadoma, who leaves the watch behind to mock Lincoln. Sturgess offers to turn Willie into a vampire in order to save him, and although Mary wants him to, Lincoln stops him. Following their son’s death, Lincoln is blamed by his wife.

With the slaves freed, the vampires begin to attack all humans. Lincoln deploys his troops to confront the vampires, but the monsters gain the upper hand because of their supernatural powers. Sturgess tries to convince Lincoln to offer Adam a truce, but Lincoln refuses, and is informed that Adam’s army has repelled Lincoln’s forces in the Battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln then decides to confiscate all the silverware of the area and have it melted in order to produce silver bullets for the soldiers to use in the battlefield. Speed, believing that Lincoln will lead them to death, betrays him and informs Adam that Lincoln will transport the silver to Gettysburg in a train.

Adam and Vadoma watch as Lincoln reconciles with Mary, who leaves with the other slaves, and follow him to the train. Lincoln, Sturgess and Johnson fight Adam, Vadoma and other vampires, who have set a fire a few miles ahead while Speed, his betrayal a ruse, damages the train’s controls, hoping that it will crash against the fire and destroy the vampires. Adam kills Speed and fights Lincoln before being attacked by Sturgess. During the fight, Adam learns that there is no silver in the train, only rocks. Lincoln reveals that he lured Adam into a trap and stabs Adam with the weaponized watch. Lincoln, Johnson and Sturgess then jump out of the train before it explodes.

Adam dies, but Vadoma escapes, locates Mary, who had transported the silver to Gettysburg through the Underground Railroad, and tries to kill Mary there, but Mary kills the vampire first, using a rifle to shoot the silver toy sword of her deceased son, into Vadoma’s forehead.

With their leaders dead, the vampires become uncoordinated, and Lincoln leads the soldiers in a massive ambush. With their silver ammunition, the soldiers destroy the vampires and finally free America of them.

A few months later, on April 14, 1865, Sturgess congratulates Lincoln, revealing that the few remaining vampires have fled to other countries, and tries to convince Lincoln to allow him to turn Lincoln into a vampire, so Lincoln will become immortal and continue to help Sturgess to accomplish great things in the future. Lincoln refuses, and leaves for the theater with Mary, leaving Sturgess behind. That night, although not shown, Lincoln is killed by John Wilkes Booth.

Over a century later, in modern times, Sturgess locates a young man at a bar in Washington, D.C. and approaches him in the same way he once approached Lincoln, revealing that he’s still alive and training vampire hunters.

REVIEW:

With a title like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, people are sure to think one of two things. The first idea is that this is either some kind of farcical nonsense meant to capitalize on this seemingly never-ending vampire craze (at the expense of President Lincoln). The other would be that this is something along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, just using Abraham Lincoln. Well, if you were wondering which is the truth, the answer is closer to the latter.

When news broke about this film being made, I was skeptical, especially since I had never read the graphic novel. As a matter of fact, I still haven’t. I’ll get around to it before this comes out on DVD, though…maybe.

As I was saying, it seems the title is very off-putting to many people, and may be one of this film’s biggest downfalls if it isn’t successful, which is really a shame. Why is it people can’t get over something so minor as a title? Seems to me there would be other things to concern yourself with about a film rather than the title.

So, what did I like?

Vampires. Remember the days, not so long ago, when vampires were cutthroat, evil beings as opposed to these sparkly, moody things that they apparently are today? Well, if there is one thing that can be said about this flick, is that it brings us some real vampires! It is totally awesome to see cold-hearted, bloodsucking, undead creatures again!

Abe. The vampire hunter stuff aside, most of what you know about Abraham Lincoln is here. They even throw in his honesty, freeing a slave boy, and touch a bit on his political views. I was totally expecting there to be some massive deviation from the history we all know. I can just imagine, though, that some history teachers are hoping and praying this doesn’t become a huge hit. It is hard enough teaching history as it is, can you imagine on a test some question about Lincoln and a kid answers that he was a vampire hunter?

Action. There is plenty of action to go around in this picture. If you’ve seen the trailer for this, then you know that the action is one of, if not the biggest selling point of this flick. There two sequences that really highlight the action, well three, now that I think about it. The first is when Abe is going after his mother’s killer (once he has finally learned how to be a vampire hunter). Jumping around a stampede of horses without losing a beat, or his axe. That was impressive! The second and third scenes involve the villain, Adam, played by Rufus Sewell. At his plantation, Abe gets to show off some slick and impressive moves, and then of course, there is that train  that we’ve been seeing since the very first trailer came out. All of these will have your jaw dropping when you see them!

Acting. The entire cast turn in strong performances, but I was most impressed with newcomer Benjamin Walker (who happens to resemble Liam Neeson) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I can’t forget Rufus Sewell, either. The man was just made to play these debonaire, villanous roles that he can really, pardon the pun, sink his teeth into.

Take a look. Walker definitely looks the part of Lincoln, especially when he gets the beard. I’m sure no one reading this blog was around during Lincoln’s time to say whether or not he does a good impersonation of him, but from what I know he seems to have a good hold on the man. This is especially obvious when he is giving speeches, particularly the Gettysburg Address.

What didn’t work?

Silver. This is the second vampire flick I’ve seen, this week, as a matter of fact, where vampires are vulnerable to silver.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I could have sworn that silver only affected werewolves. I liked how they hearkened this back to Judas and his silver pieces, but I just think they could have gone with something else. Then again, I guess it wouldn’t have worked having a garlic axe, huh?

Pacing. The first half of the film is like a roller coaster. It starts, takes off, and has its ups and downs. The second half, though, is more inconsistent. It doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere until it finally gets there. I wish it was better planned out, but at the same time, it isn’t so horrible that you can’t get over it.

Why? There has to always be that one character who seems to be the guy that is jealous of everything. Usually, though, there is some development to these characters which allows the audience to make sense of why they do what they do. That isn’t the case here, though, as Joshua Speed randomly betrays Lincoln because he “knows it is right.” What kind of sniveling coward saying is that?!? If you’re gonna betray your old friend, then have the balls to do it!

Time waits for no one. I’ve just about had it with this bullet time stuff. It was cool when we first saw it 15 or so years ago, but now filmmakers are just using it because they can. Think back to this year’s The Three Musketeers. They really used it quite liberally, and not necessarily in a good way. Here it happens in every action scene. I don’t think there is a time where Abe is swinging his axe, except for the first few swings at the tree, that isn’t slowed down. If filmmakers are going to continue to use this technique, then they really need to learn some restraint. It almost ruined this film for me, and I’m sure that there are others who weren’t exactly a fan, either.

Tone. Maybe it was just me, but I think this one could have had a not so serious tone. I’m not saying it needed to be a comedy, as some people seem to believe it is, but maybe a joke here and there to lighten the mood. It felt as if they took this too seriously, when they could have just had more fun with the source material. There is a serious Lincoln picture coming out in the near future that is sure to be as serious as a heart attack.

Release date. Who in the world is running the studio that decided it would be a good idea to release the same weekend as a Pixar flick? Say what you want, Brave is almost assuredly going to trounce this film at the box office this weekend. I’m not going to say this shouldn’t have been released during the summer, but I wonder if it might have done better being held off a couple of months? Maybe coming out around Halloween? President’s day?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a film that delivers on some fun, summer action. Personally, I think it was a bit too serious, but I’m sure there are those out there that think it wasn’t dark and violent enough. Keep in mind, these are probably the same people who think the game Lollipop Chainsaw should be much darker and violent. Doesn’t that make you wonder about our society? Anyway, do I recommend this? Yes. It is a very good film that is unfairly getting judged because people don’t like the title, yet if it was changed, we all know folks would bitch and moan about that, too. You just can’t win for nothing in this world. This is one film that I will be rushing to get on DVD when it comes out in the fall. It is one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen this year. Go check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Tourist

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on September 25, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie opens with Elise (Angelina Jolie) being followed by French police, working with Scotland Yard under the direction of Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany). Acheson has spent years attempting to catch Elise’s old lover, Alexander Pearce, who owes £744 million in back taxes. While at a cafe, Elise receives instructions from Pearce: board a train to Venice, pick out a man on the way who resembles Pearce, and trick the police into believing that this decoy is the man himself. Elise follows the instructions, picking Frank (Johnny Depp), an American tourist. She spends much time with him, seeming to start a romance. The police recognize the ruse, but it does fool Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff), a gangster from whom Pearce stole $2.3 billion.

Pearce leaves further instructions for Elise to attend a ball. Elise abandons Frank, who is then chased by Shaw’s men. Through a mishap Frank is arrested by the police, only to have a corrupt inspector attempt to turn him over to Shaw’s men in exchange for the bounty on Pearce’s head. During the transaction Elise rescues Frank, leading Shaw’s men on an extended chase and eventually escaping. Afterward she leaves Frank at the airport with his passport and a satchel full of money, asking him to go home for his own safety.

Elise is revealed to be an undercover agent sent to catch Pearce, who may have instead become his ally. Because of her fears for Frank, she comes back to her role as Scotland Yard agent, and sets up a sting against Pearce. Frank, apparently newly in love with Elise, has not left, and worms his way in, upsetting the plan. When Frank is pulled out by the police, Elise goes after Pearce to a new rendezvous point. The other agents follow with Frank aboard, but Shaw is following even more closely. When Elise arrives at the destination, Shaw moves in, takes her prisoner, and threatens her with disfigurement or death unless she finds and opens a safe containing his stolen money. Despite Elise’s peril, Inspector Acheson repeatedly turns down police requests to intervene, convinced that Pearce will show. Frank escapes police custody and confronts Shaw, posing as Pearce and using information previously shared by Elise to convince Shaw that he is truly Alexander Pearce. Ultimately, Chief Inspector Jones (Timothy Dalton) arrives and orders police snipers to fire, killing Shaw and his men. Jones lifts Elise’s suspension, but then terminates her employment.

After the confrontation, the police run out to chase a possible sighting of Pearce. Frank then opens the safe, with only Elise present, demonstrating that he knew the safe combination, and was, in fact, Alexander Pearce the entire time, and had been in control all along. He and Elise take the money and run away, leaving behind a check for the balance of his taxes owed. Acheson wants to pursue him, but Jones determines that with the taxes paid, Pearce’s only crime is that he stole money from a now dead gangster. Jones orders the case to be closed. Frank and Elise then sail away.

REVIEW:

When this film was in production, much was made about how Angelina Jolie was going to take Johnny Depp from his wife and children and leave Brad Pitt. You know how tabloids like to fabricate stories and such.

With those stories, though, The Tourist had a mediocre box office showing and received mostly negative reviews. So, the question is…how will I rate this film, eh?

I’m no fan of Jolie, at least not since her Tomb Raider days when she actually had some meat on her bones. Having said that, she looked the better here than she has in years. It might be the whole British thing she had going. It really worked for her, plus, I think directors have told her she’s too skinny and she’s finally starting to listen.

Johnny Depp takes a break from being Captain Jack Sparrow, though he does go into his British accent a couple of times in the film, to play this role as an American tourist/ math teacher who has recently lost his wife. I’ll admit it was a bit strange seeing him out of “character” for the first time in forever, but it was nice to get a bit of a change. Sometimes we forget that Depp is a competent actor.

Jolie and Depp start out as two strangers meeting on a train, and their chemistry throughout feels like they are just two strangers uncomfortably making small talk. I expected more. This may go back to that whole think about Jolie trying to steal Depp, but who knows.

Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton are supporting characters here, but to be honest, neither really brings anything to the table. I fond it odd that Bettany was cast in a role that cold very well have been played by some cheaper actor, who may or may not have done better with it. To me, it seems as if Bettany’s role would have been fleshed out a bit more.

Rufus Sewell makes this random appearance in the film. I’m not sure if he was meant to be a cameo or if perhaps he just wanted a quick paycheck and was asked to do these two scenes, bt it actually made no sense for him to have been there, when they cold have gotten some extra to do his role, seriously!

The action in the film isn’t bad, but for a spy film, which is what this actually is under all the murkiness of the convoluted plot. I think they cold have done a bit more in the climax, but that’s a personal preference.

I mentioned that Jolie and Depp have no chemistry, and that is very apparent in the ballroom scene, which was already supposed to look uncomfortable. Ironically, that might very well have been their best scene together.

The score to this film left me scratching my head. It seemed to be light-hearted and fun, much in the same way as the first two Harry Potter films. My issue with that is it doesn’t fit with the tone of the film, at least not for most of it, anyway.

I put my hatred of Jolie and my man-crush of Depp aside when I was watching this flick. I don’t think it helped any, though. Fact of the matter is, while this isn’t anywhere near as bad as the critics wold have you believe, The Tourist just doesn’t live up to what it could be. I can recommend this, but be warned that it is nothing more than an average flick with overpriced stars.

3 out of 5 stars

 

Dark City (Director’s Cut)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

John Murdoch (Sewell) awakens in a hotel bathtub, suffering from what seems to be amnesia. He receives a telephone call from Dr. Daniel Schreber (Sutherland), who urges him to flee the hotel from a group of men who are after him. During the telephone conversation, John discovers the corpse of a brutalized, ritualistically murdered woman, along with a bloody knife. Murdoch flees the scene, just as the group of men (known as the Strangers) arrive at the room. Eventually he learns his real name, and finds his wife Emma (Connelly). He is also sought by police inspector Frank Bumstead (Hurt) for a series of murders allegedly committed by Murdoch, who cannot remember killing anybody. While being pursued by the Strangers, Murdoch discovers that he has psychokinetic powers like them, and he uses these powers to escape from them. Murdoch moves about the city, which experiences perpetual night; the sun never shines (hence the movie title). He sees people become temporarily comatose at midnight, when the Strangers stop time and alter the cityscape, as well as people’s identities and memories. Murdoch questions the dark urban environment, and discovers—through clues and interviews with his family—that he was originally from a coastal town called Shell Beach. Attempts at finding a way out of the city to Shell Beach are hindered by lack of reliable information from everyone he meets. Meanwhile, the Strangers, disturbed by the presence of this human who also possesses psychokinetic powers, inject one of their men, Mr. Hand (O’Brien) with Murdoch’s memories, in an attempt to find him.

Murdoch eventually finds Bumstead, who recognizes Murdoch’s innocence and has his own questions about the nature of the dark city. They find and confront Dr. Schreber, who explains that the Strangers are endangered extraterrestrial parasites who use corpses as their hosts. Having a collective consciousness, the Strangers have been experimenting with humans to analyze the human soul in the hopes that some insight might be revealed that would help their race survive—the Strangers are in danger of going extinct. Schreber reveals Murdoch as an anomaly who inadvertently awoke during one midnight process, when Schreber was in the middle of fashioning his identity as a murderer. The three men embark to find Shell Beach, which ultimately exists only as a billboard at the edge of the city. Frustrated, Murdoch tears through the wall, revealing a hole into outer space. The men are confronted by the Strangers, including Mr. Hand, who holds Emma hostage. In the ensuing fight, Bumstead, along with one of the Strangers, falls through the hole into space, revealing the city as an enormous space habitat surrounded by a force field.

The Strangers bring Murdoch to their home beneath the city and force Dr. Schreber to imprint Murdoch with their collective memory, believing Murdoch to be the final answer to their experiments. Schreber betrays them by inserting false memories in Murdoch which artificially reestablish his childhood as years spent training and honing his psychokinetic abilities and learning about the Strangers and their machines. Murdoch awakens, fully realizing his abilities, frees himself and battles with the Strangers, defeating their leader Mr. Book (Richardson) in a battle high above the city. After learning from Dr. Schreber that Emma’s personality is gone and cannot be restored within her body, Murdoch utilizes his newfound powers through the Strangers’ machine to create an actual Shell Beach by flooding the area within the force field with water and forming mountains and beaches. On his way to Shell Beach, Murdoch encounters Mr. Hand and informs him that the Strangers have been searching in the wrong place—the head—to understand humanity. Murdoch opens the door leading out of the city, and steps out to view a sunrise that he created. Beyond him is a dock, where he finds the woman he knew as Emma, now with new memories and a new identity as Anna. Murdoch reintroduces himself as they walk to Shell Beach, beginning their relationship anew

REVIEW:

 Whenever possible, I try to watch the director’s cut of films. These are usually filled with scenes and whatnot that are infinitely superior to what was released. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the version of Superman II that was released in theaters, then take a look at Superman II (The Richard Donner Cut). The difference is literally like night and day.

While I haven’t seen the original Dark City, I can only imagine how much better this director’s cut version is from the original.

This is one of those odd sci-fi films that not many people know about, yet it sort of introduced th world, at least America, to Rufus Sewell.

The plot is a bit on the confusing side if you don’t keep up. Someone mentioned that this was like a Dr. Who episode on crack. Having not seen the show, I can’t comment on that, but I think I see where they were going.

So, the rundown is that these aliens have more or less taken over the world in hopes of finding out how our souls have allowed us to survive, since they are nearly extinct.

In their research, they didn’t count on any anomalies, thus when they encounter Rufus Sewell’s character, they are taken aback and at a loss for what to do. So, naturally, they seek to destroy that which is different.

As with any sci-fi flick, the effects and make up are what make this film. Granted, I’m used to both sides of the spectrum when it comes to this stuff, both good and bad, but these aliens and effects didn’t really impress me.

I wasn’t looking to be blown away. That isn’t the vibe I was getting from this picture, but I was looking for…something else.

The few action scenes here are pretty good, bt I don’t believe they were meant to be the focal point of this film, and it shows. The strength of this picture lies in the psychological thriller aspect.

Rufus Sewell is not exactly known for starring in these types of films, so to see him out of his element was interesting. I think he did a nice job, but could have done more. Then again, when you’re playing someone who has no memories, there isn’t much you can do…or is there?

Jennifer Connelly has always been beautiful, but I love watching earlier films of hers when she still had curves. Having said that, she still isn’t that great an actress. More than a few have said she’s as wooden and talentless as current faux actresses Megan Fox and Kristen Stewart. I won’t go that far, but I can see reasoning behind the comparison.

Kiefer Sutherland and his weird German accent did not sit right with me here. I’m not sure why. Maybe because he seemed more like a bad villain, rather than a brilliant psychologist.

Dark City is nothing memorable, but it is a decent viewing. After you’ve finished, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your time. I won’t lose any respect for you if you decide to watch this film.

3 out of 5 stars

A Knight’s Tale

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Set in late Medieval Europe in the 1370s, the story begins with the protagonists and squires, William (Heath Ledger), Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk), discovering their master, Sir Ector (Nick Brimble), dead of his wounds in the middle of a jousting tournament. He was ahead “three lances to none” and merely had to finish the final round to win the tournament. William Thatcher takes the armour, importantly the helm, of Sir Ector, and poses as the noble to finish the match. William’s inexperience is evident, as he receives a lance blow to the face mask, but regardless wins the tournament due to Ector’s previous lead. This gives William the idea that, with proper training, he, and his companions, could make a living in jousting.

Along the way to his first tournament in Rouen, William and his friends come upon Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany), ‘trudging’ down a road with no clothes or money. William persuades the writer to forge his patents of nobility, as it is illegal for peasants to joust, and joins the jousting circuit, under the pseudonym of Sir Ulrich von Liechtensteinfrom Gelderland. Chaucer is then discovered to have a terrible gambling problem, which William saves him from, by paying his debtors with his tournament winnings, and therefore gains Geoffrey’s true loyalty. Along with his two fellow squires, Wat and Roland, he begins to win match after match. When his armour, still the same suit taken from Sir Ector, becomes loose and damaged, he gains an addition to his fellowship, Kate the Farrier (Laura Fraser), who makes him revolutionary armour and travels with them. He soon meets and falls in love with a noble lady Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon), who has already been noticed by the evil yet powerful Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell). A rivalry begins between the two of them for the affection of Jocelyn and the accolades of the tournaments, but Adhemar defeats William in his first tournament.

In the following tournament, Adhemar withdraws after refusing to joust against Prince Edward, who is under the secret guise of Sir Thomas Coalville (James Purefoy). However, William’s competitiveness overcomes his need to withdraw and jousts with Edward, to his surprise and pleasure, and wins the tournament, along with Edward’s respect. Will’s companions, Wat, Roland, Kate and Geoff, then gamble all of their share of the money, that William will win the French tournament in Paris. Coincidentally, and simultaneously, Jocelyn tells William that he must lose the tournament to prove his love to her. After openly accepting defeat after defeat, she changes her mind, that is, he must now win to prove his love. He does win the tournament, which is followed by their having sex.

The group travels to London for the World Championship, and an important ‘flashback’ of William’s childhood is shown. His father, wanting the best for his son, reluctantly gives him over for squire services to Sir Ector, so that someday, he can realize his dream of becoming a knight and ‘change his stars’ to live a better life than his father. Returning to the present, William, assumes that his father had long passed away, visits his childhood neighborhood, and inquires with a young girl with whether or not she remembers his father. She informs him that he is in fact still alive and well, albeit blind. William visits his father, concealing himself at first using his alias Ulrich, until he tells his father that his son William had ‘changed his stars’ after all. His father, overcome with joyous emotion, realizes it is actually his son, and they embrace.

Although everything appears well, as Adhemar was previously absent, fighting in the Battle of Poitiers, he returns, and discovers William’s humble origins. He alerts the authorities to his secret and William is arrested and sent to prison. Adhemar visits him in prison and gloats that he will marry Jocelyn, whilst beating a defenseless William. When in the stocks, William’s companions all rise to defend him, though accidentally cause the crowd to raise up against them, and about to attack. However, Prince Edward emerges from the mob, and tells the crowd that his historians have discovered that William is descendant from an “ancient royal line.” He then dubs him ‘Sir William,’ and he goes on to resume his place in the tournament and compete against Adhemar.

Adhemar proceeds to wield himself with an illegal lance, having a sharp point on the tip, which stabs into William’s shoulder during the first round. William, unable to grip his lance, or breath properly due to his injury, has his armour removed, lance strapped to his hand and competes in the final round wearing his mere cloth clothing. The two adversaries charge for the final bout, with William’s life in the balance, he shouts his finally accepted true name “WILLIAM”, and knocks Adhemar from his horse, winning the tournament. Chaucer states that he should write this whole story down, in reference to The Knight’s Tale of the Canterbury Tales. Jocelyn runs out ecstatically to meet William and they embrace in a long kiss.

REVIEW:

The first time I heard about this film, I thought it was going to be the first film based on The Canterbury Tales. I was mistaken, though, as the on;y thing this film has to with said tales is the name and Chaucer is a character in the film.

This is one of my favorite Heath Ledger films, second only to 10 Things I Hate About You. Throughout the film, you begin to see Ledger’s acting chops really shine, especially near the end. On top of that, he goes toe to toe with Rufus Sewell.

Rufus Sewell makes an excellent villain. His character isn’t psychotic, but rather refined and cruel, which makes him that much more despicable. This is not mention his jealousy, of course.

Shannyn Sossamon is not a household name, but she is a true beauty. To me, she looks like a mix between Angelina Jolie and Rosario Dawson. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have their acting chops, but she does try.

One of the best things about this film is that it makes the jousting tournament seem like modern sporting events. Especially when the crowd starts clapping “We Will Rock You.” The first time I saw this, I thought it was going to be like THe Flintstones,set in a different time, but with modern advances. That was not the case, but it would have been interesting to see.

The idea of including the character of Geoffrey Chaucer in this film and making him a pompous herald was a sheer stroke of genius. It really added to the experience, not to mention, the film’s title was no doubt inspired by Chaucer’s works.

Let me take a moment to say that this is one of Heath Ledger’s best performances. It truly is a shame we lost such a great talent this past year. Regardless what you think of the film, Ledger’s performance, as in The Dark Knight, is enough to justify seeing this film.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars