Now this is a rarity, a review of a superhero film. Previously I’ve seen a few superhero films, I could give a list – mainly X-Men, as I grew up with the cartoon as a child. Only a few months ago I caught Deadpool (2016), yes I’m a bit slower when it comes to the costumed characters. When I heard this film in the same breath of the Western I was more interested in seeing Logan (2017) billed as being Hugh Jackman‘s final outing as the angry clawed loner. Also to be the first and possibly worthy film for the character – which I can’t really comment on.
I can however draw on my understanding of the Western in relation to Logan, which will take up the majority of my time here. So let’s get under, saddle up and ride on out. Or in Logan/James Hewlett (Jackman) is a limo driver in the year 2029, living in Mexico. He is clearly tired and ravaged by time, the years haven’t been good to him. The once virile mutant filled with rage really doesn’t want to get into fight, he’s become reluctant to draw out the adamantium that have become more of a curse than before. The feeling of immortality has long faded, age and time is catching up with him. Much like in The Gunfighter (1950) – Johnny Ringo (Gregory Peck) who wants to lay down his gun, tired of killing and running, wanting a normal life. His celebrity has long-lost it’s appeal, now a target for young wannabe’s hungry for that trophy and title “I shot Johnny Ringo”. Wolverine/Logan is our gunfighter who has gone into hiding, nursing Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) whose suffering with dementia, needing medication to keep him lucid. Any drop in dosage can unleashed his now uncontrolled mental abilities can be felt on an almost planetary scale – it’s just not worth thinking about.
So if Logan is the gunfighter, Xavier is the elderly parent who once took him under his wing, brought him up to be the man he hoped to be like. It would be wrong to compare Xavier to a Walter Brennan character who acted as the older sidekick whose life experience’s are shared with our hero. We also have a mutant tracker, an albino Caliban (Stephen Merchant) is the unwitting sidekick who keeps both in check. We have the first of our principal characters in place now.
The film begins as it means go on, setting the tone, its hard language and bloody violence, not through Logan wanting to deliver it. Coming from a place of self-defense of self-preservation, showing that there is a place for violence in the comic book universe beyond imaginary buildings and cities being blown up in a computer. The violence leaves little to the imagination, even quick editing we are still left feel slightly queasy at the body parts being cut into and off into multiple victims throughout the film. It’s also the first time that I’ve heard Stewart swearing and as coarsely. I’m reminded of Unforgiven (1992) that sees violence rise from the embers of once prolific gunfighter William Munny (Clint Eastwood,) who picks his gun up hopefully for the last time, a big pay off that will support his family. Turning back to an old undisturbed part of his life, thought to be tamed by his dead wife. What we see is a resurgence in those aggressive emotions, the death of his friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) a line has been crossed, up to this point he’s been rusty with his rifle, not able to mount a horse without assistance, a shadow of his former self. Logan is Munny just with a adamantium skeleton – no need for the rifle here.
The films director (James Mangold) has been pretty blatant in his sources of inspiration – namely Shane (1953), the titular gunfighter played by Alan Ladd who enters into civilisation if only briefly to free a town from the strangle hold of Ryker (Emile Meyer) threatening the homesteaders who were trying to make a life for themselves. Then there’s the annoying kid Joey Starrett (Brandon De Wilde) who looked up and adored the man with a gun, who could handle it with such finesse and skill it put his own father Joe Starrett (Van Heflin) to shame, he was not the man who he wanted to look up to. That was something he had to learn and accept. The acts of violence that Shane commits are held back to the end of the film, allowing us to see this strong stoic figure who only shoots when he really needs to. This skill is more than just that, it’s a form of defense that stops him functioning in society. He ultimately has to ride on away from the homesteaders who have chosen a peaceful life. The link’s seen in a few scenes Logan, we see it literally on TV, supposed to be nearly 100 years old (76 years, but whose counting). Showing that it still hows the power to hold the attention of an audience. The scenes carefully chosen to include Shane.
Our Shane is clearly Logan whose followed by his own kid (spoiler!!) a young Mexican girl – Laura (Dafne Keen) herself on the run from an army of men and mutant who want to capture her. Her own existence is very similar to Logan’s, through no fault of her own plagued by this mutation that has been engineered, thanks to mad scientist – Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant), a connection to the X-Men cannon. One of a new generation who are on the run, the gunfighter of the Marvel universe start even younger. No need for guns, they were born with their own gifts (if you can call them that.
Away from the Western connections and themes we have that of family, having only Xavier and Caliban as Logan’s family, its dysfunctional, a father figure who has become the receiver of care. Family isn’t something that comes naturally to him, the violence in him does not allow it to really happen. All he’s ever had has either left him or been killed. With the unwanted arrival of Laura his world starts to change, his perspective on life, he softens up towards the end if only reluctantly. She also acts as a way of the character carrying on in future films and the wider Marvel comic universe which I know little about. Here she’s just a child, but one with more than her share of issues to conquer in order to function. The baton’s passed here as characters die, passing them onto new ones.
I’ll end where I began, I’ll probably never again review another comic book film, this however spoke to me, my passions, the ideas in the western are very strong. You could say the comic book super hero is just another gunfighter, their adventures chronicled in the pulp that made them. The dime novels of the 1800’s did the same for Buffalo Bill and Jesse James and numerous others, the legends were being printed, the truth being blurred with each publication, which is referenced also in the film with a subtle self-awareness that doesn’t take you out of the film. You could say it’s a Western, just with an angry guy you don’t want to cross.
I just remembered an interview for the promotion for Now You See Me (2013) where Morgan Freeman had fallen asleep. Now was that because of his age getting the better of him or had he lost faith in the film he was contracted to promote. Sat along with Michael Caine who just laughed it off. I decided at the time to pass on the film, feeling it was style over substance. I think just recently I had a soft moment and gave into to the terrestrial premiere of the film. I guess part of me was curious as to what I would be seeing behind the smoke and mirrors of this magicians meets bank robbers film.
Now that I have less time to write my reviews I have to feel more driven to actually take the time out to do this for one reason or another. I felt that this was one of those films that I had to…rant about. There is little I can really praise about this film. The mark of a good film is if at least you are entertained by the story, swept away to a place of wonder, not thinking about your own life. I felt my feet were firmly on the ground. Well my back-side to the chair if I’m honest. There was a moment at the start where these four separate magicians are all lone artists of their trade, as we learn what their style and signature is. None of them are likeable at all. From the sarcastic J.Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) who is about to get his leg over when we discover he’s all about the next gig. The one dimensional psychic hypnotist con-artist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) who proving to one couple how he can ruin their lives..or not. Actually they are all one-dimensionally really, Played by actors who mostly are worth more than this style over substance smoke and mirrors.
Yes I know films are based on the ideas of smoke and mirrors, we are left wondering how the makers pulled it all off. I for one turned away when I saw a post that revealed how the bear in The Revenant (2015) was achieved. Somethings are better off left alone. Now there are films where you invest in the characters, get to know them and want to know how they pulled off the heist. Those sort are called Oceans Eleven (2001), which comes down to some clever writing and direction. The editing of the flashbacks and cutaways works, so intricate and precise, stylish and sophisticated. I felt that Now You See Me was playing off that style, trying to pay homage but failing. The fun of magic is that you are left wondering how they hell they pulled it off. Yes there are shows that reveal it all, killing it really.
Returning to the older characters Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) and Arthur Tressler (Caine) who we follow. Tressler for a while looks like the guy who is funding the heists, before he is made a fool of in-front of a live audience whose fortunes are improved at Tressler’s expense. Whilst throughout the film Bradley seems to be switching sides, being a failed magician he knows a thing or to about the tricks that are leading the FBI around in circles. There’s a time when Bradley and Tressler team up but that only goes so far before we loose track of it completely. It just fizzles out and not mentioned.
Going back to the FBI we have one decent casting or typecasting in Agent Fuller (Michael Kelly) who is just playing himself in another character role of the hard-nosed agent. The other two that we follow lead investigator Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and interpol officer Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) who just don’t agree on anything even which way the investigation should go in. They say opposites attract, but should they here? That moment comes too late on in the film to really feel natural, tacked on for a reason that is beyond me.
As they finally home in on the Four Horsemen (not of the apocalypse) begin their final show, which has seen them steal money and give to the poor, the down trodden. A more perfectly timed film if it was released just after the recession this would be more relevant. It feels too greedy and at the same time completely pointless. Its a lot of show that really does nothing with characters you can’t invest in because they are always messing around. I know its supposed to be light and fun but your can’t enjoy it when your heads in a constant spin. The big reveal just makes no sense like the rest of the film so I felt I had wasted my time overall. I’m just scratching my head now as to why there is a second one being released in the summer…oh yeah the money.
I never thought I would be even talking about this 90’s blockbuster that sees America save the day. Well I say save the day Deep Impact (1998) comes quite close to not saving the day. It pre-dates the first black president by a whole decade in the form of Morgan Freeman who actually comes close to Barack Obama’s in many ways. What really draws me to want to talk about this film is not the scale of the film or the life or death situation its how it takes the average blockbuster disaster movie, aiming for realism.
It takes two astronomers to discover the comet that is hurtling to Earth, well I say that it takes just over a year to get to us, well America the centre of Hollywood’s hopeful Earth. This is what makes is stand a-part from Armageddon (1998) is that there is not so much focus on the big personalities. Sure there are plenty up there on the screen both young and old. Its how they react to the news of the impending doom. Taken from the point of view of a up and coming journalist Jenny Lerner (Téa Leoni) who believes she’s onto the latest scandal at the white house, almost routine for any office of government. What is eventually revealed to the world id something far bigger than any scandal that affects all people on the planet.
You could say that Deep Impact is Armageddon meets Contact (1997) the clever mans blockbuster that really looks at what happens in the event of our impending demise. We learn that a plan is already well underway. Including a team of astronauts, made up of nobodies and for some reason Robert Duvall to raise the acting stakes, bringing some class to the space shuttle. You can’t help but see that they should have someone far younger in charge of landing the ship in the comet, but hey this is Hollywood. He does win you over, like the first fictional black President, that experience and presence. Whilst at the same time its laughable to have an old man up there with so much at stake. Not to say he’s not as capable, the film does suggest anything is possible in film. This isn’t too far from Space Cowboys (2000) which is actually played for the laughs than for the scope of a blockbuster beast that Deep Impact is.
We look at all sides of the story, from the family, to the unloved daughter and everyone conceivable in the middle. Of course its has all the usual schmaltz. It doesn’t all make sense like the young couple getting married and the nonsensical dialogue before they leave for the underground fortress for the chosen million. Leading me to the chosen million to include artist as well as far more important people like doctors, scientists etc. With similar underground structures in other countries, It would be an honor to be included among other vital professions in the rebuilding of humanity. Along with all the animals (that don’t kill each other) in the Noah’s Ark that’s designed to ensure Earth has a future in some form.
We are looking at one of those “events” before they happen, and it very nearly does. Not many films actually lets each attempt to fail and fail before at the very last moment the great sacrifice’s made. The world’s brought to tears and destruction in some parts. Both sides of the Atlantic suffer to some extent which allows another part of the world besides America to suffer and be part of the film without going to all the iconic landmark unlike Armageddon that flashes back and forth to show that this event will affect each and everyone one us. That connection beyond America and the big foreign market that ensures a hit. Maybe I’m being cynical here and I’m pulling apart the genre that has dominated for years. Or maybe I am starting to really understand the appeal with something that does goes that little bit deeper than the big money shots and special effects that are more restrained. Maybe this is best blockbuster of that period that doesn’t try to, instead going more for the acting or the cast that tries to raise the script that does try at times to raise the bar to be something better than being just average.
I was so close to catching Lucy (2014) at the cinema, now a part of me is not so bothered after all that wait I feel let down slightly. I shouldn’t really after I read a few reviews I knew what I was letting myself in for. I even though that Scarlett Johansson was on a roll after Under the Skin (2013) and Her (2013) maybe she’s just having fun, which this pretty much is. Others I have spoken to would say otherwise.
What I see is a loose bit of Sci-fi and little more really, based on the notion we the human race only use 10% of our brain capacity, even less than Dolphins as Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) at a lecture on humans and time. It does however get you thinking about the possibilities if we could access more of our potential. I’d say we are a little more than 10% for sure. Of course thats one for the scientists to explain further. All of this set against some clever cutting in of natural history footage to illustrate what is going on which pulls you into the plot a litre more. I wonder how an edit would play without that footage (potential piece?) how it look, no visual cues as to how all life starts out, thinking of only two things, either reproduction or immortality, which I understand, the need to survive and the need to carry information in some form.
Which is the one of the points of the film explored via drug smuggling victim Lucy (Johansson) who gets herself mixed up with the wrong crowd, when she does her boyfriend a favour, carrying a brief case for a gangster upstairs in a hotel. Both unaware of it’s content which reshape her destiny when she’s recruited by Mr Jang (Min-sik Choi) whose men insert a packet of drugs in her stomach. Should be a nerve-racking situation at least for anyone whose entrapped into the under world of drugs. Johansson is playing the confident young woman, obviously scared by whats going on, she’s not a soft touch by any means which is a plus for the film.
It’s only when she’s on her way her life and body change beyond all recognition when the bad of CPH4 leaks into her blood-stream, courtesy of flash special effects which without this film really wouldn’t work beyond the flimsy science that is the premise of the film. Beginning at 10% we count up and see her abilities only increase. No longer is she afraid of what the gang-men could do to her, feeling no pain, she guns her fair share, becoming super-human over the course of the film. Needing very little assistance throughout, except to get the rest of the synthetic drug back to ensure her stability, now a ticking time bomb that would lead to demise by the end of the film.
It’s a race against time to reach Professor Norman to share what she’s experiencing, To have a record of all she has learned in her final 24 hours. It’s quite impressive what she does sometimes, taking our dreams and superhuman strength we only dream about…literally at times. Some of the dialogue is however just stupid, her conversation with her mum just shows how stretched they are to suggest that she can remember everything from her childhood. I guess this is film that is half-baked really, with an interesting idea that is played out for fun which is a positive really, a good bit of fun is better than nothing. I wasn’t left cold by any of the film, there were moments when you think what the hell is going on here, you can’t ask for more really.
- Lucy (2014) (lifethroughamathematicianseyes.wordpress.com)
I’ve been waiting to catch the Japanese remake of Unforgiven (1992), wondering how it would compare, which I can’t help but do. On the face of it these two films are the same in terms of the basic plot, the three men who ride into avenge a prostitute has been attacked. There is however more added depth to Unforgiven/Yurusarezaru mono (2013) with the added strand of their countries civil war between the now samurai and Shoshon in the 1860’s, which mirrors the American civil, I don’t remember that in Eastwoods western at all. (However I haven’t seen it in 4 years) which gives the characters more of a back-story, not just gunfighters who left a trail of death and destruction in their wake. Much the same goes for the two elder men Jubei Kamata (Ken Watanabe) and Kingo Baba (Akira Emoto) who start out on one last job in hopes of collecting the reward money. Something that Jubei has long since given up since his days of killing to survive. To raise a family and work a small farm. You could say on the surface that he is a changed man who is simply struggling to keep his family alive in the 1880’s. Whilst Kingo is willing to go on one more job.
With Jebei’s wife long dead he soon gives into his friends persuasive words, riding out a while later. Its still very much the same film, switching 19th century America for Japan, its’s that simple. Of course the dialogue is different, at times I can’t read the subtitles as some bright spark decided to make them white in a font that becomes invisible in the snow. Moving on we soon meet up with a younger man who wants to join up with the veteran swords men, ready for another killing. Even his back story is fleshed out more, finding out he is a Anui a race that the then Emperor was trying to reduce, much like the taming of the Native American over the other side of the Pacific.
Add into the mix the small town where all the action takes places we have the sherif who exerts more power than necessary. Using violence to quell violence. Much younger than Gene Hackman‘s Little Bill Daggett who mirrored by the far younger sherif who doesn’t care who he hurts, using the law to shield himself. Whilst the group of prostitutes are struggling to be listened to. You could say it’s a feminist film, but I’m not too sure, as much as there women are willing to defend themselves, they still pay for men to do the dirty work. They are hiding behind the strength of a man and his gun/sword.
I think to really compare both films I need to re-watch the original Eastwood classic to truly understand what is going on. I think there was a conscious effort to make this version stand alone, whilst the main story elements are the same, it would;t be the same without the final showdown which was shaken up and completely different. I didn’t feel the terror at the transformed man, maybe it was the snow that soften it, not as dramatic as the rain on the soaked ground. Again I have to see for myself. It was however interesting to see once more the relationship between American and Japanese cinema. Before it was Kurosawa‘s Yojimbo (1961) and Seven Samurai (1954), who influenced Sergio Leone and John Sturges The compliment is being returned from Clint Eastwood by Sang-il Lee.
Moving onto or backwards to the original as directed by Clint Eastwood I found myself understanding both in greater detail and his own observations of the western as a genre, how it formed. The violence of the west and the gunfighter which has recently seen his latest film American Sniper (2014) becoming the most successful war film of all time (probably to be beaten later his year). Focusing always on the man behind the violence, not the act itself, what drives man/person to act in such a brutal and dangerous way toward others. Scaring those around you, in order to have power, dominance, material wealth, and self-confidence.
When a man gives up that violence as we find with both Jubei and William Munny they are tamed by wires who have died by the time we meet them. Now a shadow of their former self’s, trying to do good by their family. Before we have seen the lone gunfighter’s come into town, not looking for a fight, always walking into it by the films end. Which happens here in great style. And in great tradition of the aged gunfighter Eastwood carries that on, in his last western role, becoming then too old to really so it justice. I can see strokes of El Dorado (1966), The Gunfighter (1950) and The Shootist (1976) they are no longer the young men they once were, struggling to get on a horse or even walk without some ailment holding them back. Time is their only true enemy. Munny is no longer able to shoot straight without changing weapon at least once.
The legend of the gunfighter and the west itself it question the form of travelling writer/biographer W.W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek) who arrives with English Bob (Richard Harris) one of the last great gunfighter’s who legend is bigger than himself. A status constructed by the writer and a lot of creative license to mythologize the untamed west, glorifying a man to become more than his actions. Creating a history that sells to the masses, attracting tourism and money. The very foundations of the genre, which can sometimes be based more on fact if in the right hands. Beauchamp spends most of his time discussing the events of English Bob’s gunfights with Daggett who puts the writers book to shame, the truth behind the legend which. The facts are sometimes harder to swallow than fictions. We discover that the man now in jail had only survived so long was down to pure luck Drawing your gun first was never a sure way to win a gunfight, it takes skill and thinking to win at a draw. Draw your gun first as your aim is not always right, giving the other a chance. Add to that the alcoholic element for Bob who is painted in a far darker insidious light, is more malicious in his killings. Not the brave man who saved the day, more of a lucky drunk who could’t stop shooting. The skill of the gunfighter in the pages of dime novels or the screen is a romanticised vision of an age of survival; kill or be killed.
This is also a macho trait which we find in the youngest of the two men in ride with Munny to avenge the prostitute. The ‘Schofield Kid’ (Jaimz Woolvett) creates his own legend, first recruiting Munny to join him on what could be an adventure, a quick job that itself had been blown out of proportion. Stating that he has killed 5 men before they start even begin, knowing his youth is holding him back to match Munny’s record which is never really totted up. A very masculine trait to “big” yourself up to look and feel better, reputation is a very important part of masculinity. This doesn’t wash with Munny who eventually joins up with on friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) who then all join up. I can see even at the start, the subtle changes that were made between this and the Japanese remake to have its own identity, to not just be a scene for scene copy unlike I Died a Thousand Times (1955) which allows it to be the same in terms of structure whilst having its own identity, its own culture.
Both have these built-in myths of past fighters, with swords or guns who have had great battles which have been constructed around the events which were probably bloody and full of horror, alcohol, and fear. If you deconstruct both films down to their main points we have a male figure who has lead a violent life, which has a built in legend and reputation that others have built up and admired. Without the facts to hand we have no idea what really happened, the trauma, the horror, more importantly the shame they now carry with them. I remember from my first review a few years back of the Eastwood original I focused on how the violence in a man can be tamed or even suppressed, able to reform. Until it’s triggered we don’t know how dangerous we can still. Eastwood’s gunfighter will always be more terrifying cinematically, probably because I am a great western fan than of samurai which is almost equal in its horror of the slaughter of the men. The changing of the end is what I was most critical of, going for the sherif first was a wrong footing, the main villain is always killed last.
Whatever these two films are, they do carry on that great tradition of that American/Japanese cinematic relationship of informing each others story telling. Showing the western is not dead and both countries have very different but similar histories which at the heart of human. All cultures create legends out of historical figures from moments they would sooner forget.
- Unforgiven (2013) (disasteryear20xx.blogspot.co.uk)
- Unforgiven (2013, Japanese) (yacowar.blogspot.co.uk)
- Unforgiven (1992) (rogersworst.blogspot.co.uk)
- Sound in Unforgiven (1992) (tdf165.wordpress.com)
- 4. Unforgiven (1992) (maltinsworstratings.blogspot.co.uk)
- Unforgiven (1992) (haksreviews.blogspot.co.uk)
- Unforgiven (1992) (coffeebeancinema.blogspot.co.uk)
- Unforgiven (1992) (unitedstatesofcinema.blogspot.co.uk)
There was once a time when I had all but one pack to complete the Indiana Jones-esque Egyptian series of Lego, the large temple to go with the sphinx that opens to reveal a skeleton. I was so close. Then came the Rock-Raiders which I had only one part of, then the game too, that was just when Lego was starting to commercialize, not that I really noticed it. Today we have everything from Lego The Simpsons to The Avengers, It feels to me that the idea of children and now adults using their imagination to construct their own worlds is being restricted by the ever-growing series of cash-in sets. Then came along The Lego Movie (2014) which seems like the biggest cash-in/sell-out of it all, with another one in the works, a Batman spin-off too. What happened to the good old fashioned Danish toy company that has been making Lego for over 50 years.
Putting my thoughts to onside about the current state of Lego which for me was so more about building house-boats and caravans as a kid (not the most imaginative for an artist I must admit, they were the best ever though) that came out of a yellow bucket with a square four block lid on top. That was were the real fun lay for me, pouring out the bricks onto the carpet and seeing what I could build. And that is the essence of this film. It pulls away all the cash-in series to go back to the roots of the company, the play-well, the imagine and create, once you’ve followed the instruction book which can be read by anyone in any country you can dissemble to create whatever came into your head.
The Lego Movie is a celebration of all that I’ve just said really, and most of the world who has seen this film will agree, anyone who has played with the toy and got a real buzz from it, playing for hours on end. As we follow what could the most generic of the City series figures, a builder Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt) who has for years followed the rules, well the instructions as long as he has been assembled. Lets talk in Lego terms for this review, it just makes sense to. Not thinking beyond the page, unlike others around him who like either sausages or fries, they all have a particular passion, not one passion for everything. He’s a sheep follow the herd blindly not seeing past the end of the booklet to see what else is possible for himself. Well except for a double-decker sofa so friends can come over and watch a film with you. You’d need a super massive TV for that to work or even a projector maybe.
Emmet the bland builder accidentally gets himself involved in what could be the end of life for him and Lego-kind as we know it on meeting Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who is on the hunt for the special one as prophesied by the great Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) as laid out in the prologue to the film. When Emmet discovers he is the chosen special one a lot of pressure is put on him to perform, to do good on his new title in front of the master builders (an array of figures from the heaps of series of Lego from Batman to Milhouse Van-Houten to the 80’s spaceman. Everyone and everyone is there, all having a moment in the lime-light. Which is part of the wider commercial universe they have created. All these can build using their imaginations, something that Emmet is seriously lacking after years of following the instructions, conforming to the society he is a part of.
I could go on about the plot, which for me spends time in the Old West for a time before darting all over the place, animated perfectly, if there was ever going to be a Lego film it would have to have this level of detail, the lightness of touch. Nothing is left to chance, even the water is made up of Lego single circles (again Lego lingo). From the same studio that gave us Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009). It’s heaps of fun with the sensibility of Lego central to the film. With the threat of the world being frozen with super-glue close at hand, to live the live of a theme-park, which would stop creativity dead in it’s tracks. We must remember the power of imagination, how it allows us to get carried away, to create and build whole worlds, even with a few bricks.
When we pull away to the real-world, which was a brave yet natural progression, to see the toy as it actually is the argument between father and son is played out, to play with the bricks, or to glue them frozen which defeats the object of toys. The danger of reaching adult-hood where we can lose that creativity, to move away from ‘childish’ things. Something I have seen before when action figures are collected in hope they stay in the packaging in the hopes that it will increase in value, we forget what toys are for, to play with.
I started off talking about how I view the current state of Lego which I feel has lost it heart with sets for every film franchise under the sun which restricts to a point imagination of the player. Yet on the other side of the argument with those figures in your hands the story continues so it’s not all bad, The Lego Movie is living proof they are thriving, even in the hands of a major film company. I just can’t see where a sequel can go, except as the ending suggests an invasion from Duplo, the film is perfect as a stand-alone for me.
- LEGO Double Feature: The LEGO Movie (2014) and Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary (2014) (megwood.wordpress.com)
- Movie Review: The Lego Movie (2014) (artsandyouthlove.wordpress.com)
I wanted to watch this to see Audrey Hepburn‘s final screen role that was made for her but took her whole career to finally be cast in, that of an angel, a stroke of genius really by Steven Spielberg when making Always (1989). Starting career in the 1940’s as a fictional princess in Roman Holiday that saw her win her only Oscar. I am not really a fan of her work my perception of her is a woman with her head in the clouds, away with the fairies, a dreamer. And that is the attraction to her, which I never will be drawn to, yet in this almost cameo role as a guiding angel to dead pilot Pete Sandich (Richard Dreyfuss) after dying from rescuing his friend and fellow fire-fighter pilot Al Yackey (John Goodman). When Pete leaves in a fireball that consumes his plane he leaves behind his frustrated lover Dorinda Durston (Holly Hunter).
It does draw some very pale similarities with Ghost (1990) released a year later to more successful result, with Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze, that’s another film altogether. What we have here is another Spielberg film that really pulls out all the stops to make you cry, full of schmaltz which is synonymous with his work. At times I was trying not to laugh at how cliché the film was, all before the heartbreak of the death of Pete’s death which takes the film to another level and solidly into the plot of the film, that sees the dead Pete becoming an inspiration to another still living, by the angel Hap (Hepburn) dressed head to toe in pure white (now dated) yet her presence takes this film to the level of what she has always personified in film, an angelic and innocent quality of beauty that has given her the wisdom that what feels like centuries of time. She’s not trying to be a godly figure with the casualness of Morgan Freeman‘s God in Bruce Almighty (2003). Her lack of physical presence’s spread through the film’s duration in the mission she gives to newly dead Pete.
Sent down to inspire a young pilot we met before Ted Baker (Brad Johnson) who joins the pilot school lead by Al (Goodman) who is training pilots to work with fire-fighters, the lighter side of the film, which also grounds the film, in the form of John Goodman who brings Dorinda out to join him. It’s almost predictable what is about to happen, it doesn’t matter though. Focusing on Pete who has to suffer with overwhelming pain seeing his lover fall for another. Not able to let her go, whilst he has to encourage a pilot who is more than rough around edges and with a possible John Wayne impression.
It’s incredible how the difficulty that the relationship between Dorindai and Pete torn apart by death, can relate to others that are ended by the death. To imagine that our loved ones who have passed on, have come down as ghost to inspire others, and eventually say goodbye and move on themselves. Who knows if this is really true regarding the afterlife. It’s the journey that the dead and living have to go through to finally move on that makes this work, filled with all the usual magic touches including a cheeky one at the very end that is a brave move to share with the audience.
Even though it’s full of the classic Spielberg of the 1980’s I am glad I took the time out to view Always a film that’s main attraction was a few scenes with an actress I don’t really care about. A moment in cinema that personifies an image that could easily have been missed. Whilst telling a tale that comforts an audiences spiritual side mixed with heaps of romance to make it more worthwhile.
By far the better of the filmic takes on the British legend, whether it’s origins be in Nottingham or Kent is neither here nor there to me. Ridley Scott‘s take on Robin Hood, has rebooted and energized the legend. I feel that Scott being British has allowed him more of a creative licence and time to research the legend before making Robin Hood (2010).
A pleasing re-teaming of Russel Crowe and the epic director of the action genre. Crowe seems more at home on a battlefield than most of his work, which can be seen in Gladiator (2000) the single man, taking on the might of power in a great struggle. With the rewriting, or the beginning of the legend we are shown how he became the outlaw that we celebrate today. Which at first threw me, and probably many other, since The Sheriff of Nottingham has always been the main villain in the legend, he plays a far smaller if not insignificant role until the legend takes its roots at the end.
It was mentioned early on that Robin Hood/Longstride has spent time in Arabia, which was touched upon in Robin Hood: Prince of Theives (1991) where we saw Morgan Freeman introduced into the modern retelling of the legend which was more for audience numbers, as no-one can ignore his presence, but seemed out-of-place in that earlier telling. Scott merely touches on Robin’s time there as one of King Richards archers who was part of his army that went on his ten-year journey.
Already this is a much richer and historically informed version of events, It may seem that it strays from the known man who stole from the rich to give to the poor which seems now be a more contemporary take, in the light of us paying taxes, having a historical release. He may indeed have done all of this, Scott doesn’t deny he didn’t, by the film’s end, he is made an outlaw, which may have forced him to commit crimes.
Turning to Maid Marion/Loxley (Cate Blanchett) brings a level of masculinity that had not been found in the role before, previously more of a standing up to Robin’s advances. She is on the same level as Robin in the film. And much like Crowe she does a convincing English accent for the area, unlike Crowe, that I can’t quite place, still it’s no big deal. Compared to Kevin Costner‘s complete lack of, but made up by the pathos and honor that he brought to the role in his take on the role.
Not half the bloodbath that Gladiator was a decade earlier it is made up for in the ground it covers, going across England, creating a whole new legend for us to digest, and hopefully add to the legend. We see hints of Spielberg’s take on violence when the French Armada arrive on the British beaches (not sure where), in the Normandy landing in Saving Private Ryan (1999). We can hardly see the use of special effects to create the castles that are visited, and the invasion at the end. There is more an emphasis on the landscape in its rural untouched form of the period, which is a credit to the cinematography and locations chosen for the film.
Lastly it inject a real sense of pride into the legends and the viewer, that Britain is great, seeing off yet another French attack, coming together in an hour of need, even when the strength of the Monarchy is in doubt. I enjoyed seeing us giving the French another good thrashing in battle. With a largely British cast, mostly in supporting roles, the international cast did at least use acceptable accents. It also celebrated the wealth of homegrown acting talent we have on offer on this small island. I finish by saying that I still more than ever want to see one of the earlier takes of the legend by the great Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), which will help me see modern evolution of the Medieval man. It also reflects even though different in content the legend of Wyatt Earp that is celebrated by America, how it evolves over time, when new evidence is found, how they inform what we know, and how cinema interprets that.
- Pinning the legend of Robin Hood to a real place (telegraph.co.uk)
- Robin Hood ‘from Kent’ not Sherwood Forest, historian claims (telegraph.co.uk)
- NOTTINGHAM : Seeking Robin Hood (versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com)
- Another Year, Another ROBIN HOOD!! Sorta… (web1.aintitcool.com)
- DreamWorks Planning Robin Hood Reimagining MERRY MEN; Scott Waugh to Direct (collider.com)
- Robin Hood ‘may have come from Kent’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Robin Hood was ‘guerrilla warrior’ against French (irishexaminer.com)
- Robin Hood ‘didn’t rob the rich to give to the poor in Nottingham – he fought the French in Kent’ (thesun.co.uk)
- Movie Review: Robin Hood (juralmind.wordpress.com)
- Robin Hood ‘was a freedom fighter stopping the French in Kent, not a hero feeding the poor in Sherwood Forest’ (thisismoney.co.uk)