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Flash Movie Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

FIRST thing we would do is look for a thick stick or broken tree branch. If none could be found then we would head down the alley to see if there was anything lying around that had been discarded by the neighbors. Once something was found the next step was to look for a place to impale the object; a mound of dirt, a pile of leaves, or a large snowdrift would do. As soon as the stick or piece of wood was stuck into the ground it became our sword, a special one. If it was during winter we would break up into 2 teams and battle each other with snowballs as each of us tried to get to the sword and pull it out as the rightful owner who would be king. All of us were familiar with the story about King Arthur and his knights of the round table. Also I think each of us at some point had seen the movie, “The Sword in the Stone.” I saw it 3 times; hoping a bit of Merlin’s magic would rub off on me.     AFTER all these years there are certain story lines that remain embedded in my brain. I may not remember every detail but certainly have a good idea of what took place. I find it fascinating that fairy tales read or seen as a kid remain more vivid in my memory than where I parked my car in the parking lot on a recent trip to the grocery store. There is something about these childhood fantasies that always stay strong in us. I wonder if part of the reason is due to the morals of the story, especially in the animated versions. A kiss that wakes up one’s true love or the physical ramifications of lying to someone; until this very moment I never consciously realized these stories were teaching me a lesson. Maybe because of these memories I have about King Arthur caused me to now be confused by what I was seeing in this dramatic, action adventure film.     UNTIL King Vortigern, played by Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes franchise, The Talented Mr. Ripley), forced every male to make an attempt to pull the recently discovered sword from out of its stone; Arthur, played by Charlie Hunnam (The Lost City of Z, Crimson Peak), had no idea about his heritage when he became the only successful male to remove the special sword. Written and directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), this movie also starred Astrid Berges-Frisbey (The Sea Wall, I Origins) as the Mage, Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Gladiator) as Bedivere and Eric Bana (Troy, The Time Traveler’s Wife) as Uther. The story hardly represented the one I had known as a child. Normally that would be okay; however, the script was so loose and disconnected that I sat through most of this picture puzzled by what I was watching. There were some scenes that worked for me, where I enjoyed the CGI effects like the eagle and massive elephants. But then other scenes literally looked like video game clips which were lost on me because I did not care for the quick cut and paste editing. I also dislike modern language in a period piece. For the amount of money the studio spent, all I can say is Jude plays a good evil person and Charlie has a definite presence that lights up the movie screen. They should have kept the sword locked in the stone and forget this story; what a mess.

 

1 2/3 stars  

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: The Finest Hours

There was an old television game show that would have an “ordinary looking” contestant come out and the panel of celebrities had to guess what was the person’s job or hobby, I believe. This is a show I would have watched because I am attracted (not in a good way) to this type of scenario where people judge other people based solely on their looks. I never understood that line of thought because I never understood what a person’s looks had to do with anything except for sanitary or health reasons. This is why I enjoy watching a current reality singing show where the judges do not see the singer; they only get to hear them sing and base their decisions on the vocalists’ voices. This is one of the few reality type shows I would watch because it has eliminated that old cliche: don’t judge a book by its cover. As I just wrote that I am reminded about a friend who had a career that always surprised anyone when they found out what this person did for a living; they were a scientist at a large pharmaceutical company. Of course most people were shocked because the stereotypical image of a scientist was not part of my friend’s image. I used to get a chuckle out of this when I would see a perplexed look come over someone’s face as they tried to mesh their image of what a scientist “should” look like compared to my friend. The reason I am talking about all of this is because I enjoyed how the characters were perceived in this dramatic action film.    BASED on a true story Bernie Webber, played by Chris Pine (Star Trek franchise, Z for Zachariah), believed in following rules; so when his commanding chief Daniel Cluff, played by Eric Bana (Munich, Closed Circuit), ordered him to take a crew out into a nor’easter storm to aid a ship in distress, Bernie followed his orders. Most of his fellow coast guard members did not think he would ever make it. What made this film stand out was the visual effects. Those of you with a fear of water may not be able to sit through this picture. Besides the special effects I have to say the story really grabbed me; it is an amazing true story. Out of the cast I thought Casey Affleck (Interstellar, Out of the Furnace) as Ray Sybert and Holliday Grainger (Cinderella, Jane Eyre) as Miriam stood out. Unfortunately the script was dull and I thought the direction was not strong enough for such a story. There were a couple of scenes that did not even ring true to me; they actually distracted from the story line as if they were just thrown in for dramatic effect. Too bad because what these members did in the coast guard was extraordinary; which goes to show you, you cannot judge a movie by its trailers.

 

2 1/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Deliver Us from Evil

They are talking though they are standing alone. Without evidence of an earpiece or some other type of cellular device, you search for any visual clue that can help you evaluate the person’s mental state. The hair is disheveled as if a gust of wind tried to steal several strands and the clothes appear to be well-worn, nothing out of the ordinary. Just their slight swaying side to side as if they were pouring their body weight from one leg to the other makes you pause a second before walking past them. I cannot tell you how many times this very thing has happened to me. It is quite ironic that I am one of the more skeptical ones in my circle of friends and yet, I am the one that attracts people who appear to be living in a reality that was somewhat askew. Walking down the street with several friends around me, I will be the one that gets signaled out by a person asking off the wall questions, expecting me to answer in kind. A majority of these encounters tend to happen to me on public transportation. In the past I have dismissed these individuals as addicts or chemically imbalanced; but after seeing this horror movie, I have to wonder now if there was something else going on for those strangers.    INSPIRED by a true story, this film festival nominee would not be something I would classify 100% as a horror picture. It was more of a crime, thriller, horror film. Based on the book by New York police officer Sarchie, played by Eric Bana (Star Trek, Munich), this story followed Sarchie and his partner Butler, played by Joel McHale (Ted, Blended), as they were investigating a series of unexplainable acts taking place around the city. I really liked the acting from Eric and especially Joel, who was more familiar to me playing comedic roles. Edgar Ramirez (Wrath of the Titans, Vantage Point) was just as good with his character Mendoza. There were several scenes that worked well with tension and fear. Unfortunately it was not sustained throughout the movie, some parts were just flat. The main reason this film did not work as well as it could was due to the story, there was absolutely nothing new compared to any of the previous movies that involved individuals appearing to be possessed. It was a missed opportunity because there were inklings of this movie becoming a good scary flick. On the other hand I now have something else to think about when a stranger approaches me and that scares me more. There were several scenes that had blood and violence in them.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Lone Survivor

Before the majority of the world became wired, broadcast news provided us with a recap of noteworthy events. We would see the aftermath to a variety of events that spanned from a car accident to an earthquake. Unless there was a personal connection to the story, most of us would not feel an emotional attachment to what was being shown. When broadcasters report about traffic jams on the highways I travel to get to work, it causes a reaction in me, albeit a negative one. I guess I should consider myself lucky that I have not had a personal connection to any traumatic news stories. The only thing I can recall is when I was at friend’s house back in the 70’s; everyone became quiet when there was news about Vietnam. My friend’s older brother was sent over there during the war and the family always listened for a familiar town or place they had heard about from him. When one has a personal reference to the news it has more of an impact. With movies based on true stories, having information being told from one of the real life characters creates an accessible emotional bond to the story. Based on his best selling book, I was acquainted with this story due to seeing news clips of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell discussing his 2005 failed operation in Afghanistan. Mark Wahlberg (Pain & Gain, Boogie Nights) portrayed Marcus in this biographical film. The rest of the team sent out with Marcus to capture or eliminate a vicious Taliban leader was Michael Murphy, played by Taylor Kitsch (Savages, Friday Night Lights-TV); Danny Dietz, played by Emile Hirsch (Killer Joe, The Girl Next Door) and Matt “Axe” Axelson, played by Ben Foster (The Messenger, Contraband). This action drama was essentially split into 2 stories. The first half of the movie showed the Navy SEALs while stationed on base. The second half was all about the mission and this is where the intensity exploded open. I have seen war films before but the fight scenes in this intense section were bloody real looking and I do mean bloody. Some of them were handled a bit heavy by slowing down the motion. I cannot call this entertaining per se; however, for an action scene it seemed to be one long continuous fight. The acting was good, though I still have an issue with Mark Wahlberg’s acting. I never forget it is Mark playing a character. This story was amazing simply because there was an individual who lived to tell it. Many scenes had violence and blood in them.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Hanna

Something I have been saying for years is if you need a license to drive a car, then you need to get a license to have and take care of a child. I have not fathered any children, nor have anything against parenthood; I only base my statement on things I have seen throughout the years. When a baby is born they have a pure, blank slate. They do not know anything about racism, sexism, hatred or have preconceived opinions that are not based on reason or actual experiences. I have always been curious about this idea because it begs the question, “How do people get theses traits?” I do not mean to offend anyone nor be judgmental, but I have always felt it was the parent’s responsibility to teach their child to be an independent thinker. Maybe I should just say show them the difference between right and wrong. In regards to this action thriller, when I said a parent needs a license to raise a child I did not mean a license to kill. Saoirse Ronan (The Host,The Lovely Bones) played Hanna, who was raised in a remote area of Finland by her single dad Erik Heller, played by Eric Bana (Munich, Closed Circuit). Erik had spent years raising his daughter to be the perfect assassin before sending her out into the world. Once Hanna ventured out of their safe haven she soon discovered her father did not teach her everything a young girl should know. Not only did I think Saoirse did an excellent job of acting, but I was surprised with her fight scenes. They were well choreographed with clean straight forward action. To me Eric’s character was not a major role compared to Cate Blanchett’s (Blue Jasmine, Babel) role as Agent Marissa Wiegler. I really enjoyed Cate’s character. The story was a good idea; I liked the contrast of having a young innocent character being a lethal killer. What did not work was the screenplay; there were scenes that I found ridiculous, where I could not find any logical reason for them. In the case of this adventure film I think it could have used a license to make sense. There were a few scenes with violence and blood in them.

 

2 1/2 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Closed Circuit

It seems more so now than ever, higher profile crime stories are being reported in two versions. The first one covers the obvious details such as location, subject description and approximate time. After the crime scene has been secured and evidence collected, the public gets a second report that shares some of the classified details on how the crime was solved. With the advances in technology it appears to me the stories are getting more high tech. Now I am sure some details never get released to the public which may be part of the reason people are more skeptical, when it comes to news stories. Either way I find the high tech reports to be fascinating. If you feel the same way and like a good crime story then this movie is something you would enjoy. When a bomb exploded in a crowded marketplace, injuring and killing civilians; London authorities assembled an investigative legal team to uncover the motives, in preparation for a criminal trial. Part of the team included former lovers Martin Rose and Claudia Simmons-Howe, played by Eric Bana (Munich, The Time-Traveler’s Wife) and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3, The Town). Due to their past history together, they could possibly jeopardize the investigation as the trail of clues took them to unexpected places. I enjoyed this crime mystery film because it provided a stimulating rush to the mind instead of the ears and eyes. Without the use of special effects, the movie relied on dialog to tell the story, providing a stylish look in my opinion. The way the clues were uncovered meant I had to keep up and pay attention, staying engaged throughout the film. I thought the entire cast did an excellent job though I did feel the chemistry was lacking between Eric and Rebecca. Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Cloud Atlas) was interesting as the Attorney General as Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Four Lions) was, playing Nazaul Shama. As the movie progressed it started to confuse me. I do not know if it seemed more improbable, but I found it harder to follow. On the other hand as I was driving home from the theater I did wonder how much truth was there to some of the scenes I had just witnessed. A brief scene that showed blood.

 

2 1/2 stars

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