Question of the week: Actors whose famous role you can’t shake

RDJ_TonyStark

I just reviewed The Judge this weekend and I mentioned how RDJ is playing yet another variety of Tony Stark. He’s always the smartest guy in the room, and always have an arsenal of snarky remarks he can just throw at you at the best opportunity. I’m not just talking about the recent roles he does after Iron Man, but even when I saw Zodiac I still can’t get past his Stark persona. There’s always a hint of that self-assured swagger that’s borderline cocky but somehow still lovable, which is something an actor either has or doesn’t, it’s not something they can teach even at Juilliard or RADA. You know what though, I’m tired of his schtick. As Sati said in her astute comment, his cockiness seems to translate off-screen now that it’s getting on my nerves. No matter how lovable a character, an actor’s job is to be able to pull off a variety of roles convincingly, to make a conscious effort to *disappear* into whatever role they do. I think the bigger/more famous the character is, the more responsibility said actor has to shake that off.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source: Eccentric Billionaire Tumblr

Now obviously RDJ isn’t the only actor with this kind of predicament, where somehow they can’t escape their most famous role. I think Johnny Depp can’t seem to shake off his Jack Sparrow image either. I’m not saying RDJ or Depp aren’t capable actors because they are, but perhaps their schtick just sticks in the mind longer than others. On the contrary, someone like like say, Christian Bale doesn’t always remind me of Bruce Wayne when he’s playing other roles post-Batman and I don’t get hang up on Maximus in Gladiator whenever I see Russell Crowe on screen.

I guess I’m just curious if anybody else feel the same, whether it’s RDJ or another actor.


So which actor(s) whose famous role you can’t shake? Or perhaps the question should be, actors who can’t shake their most famous role :)

About these ads

FlixChatter Review: The Judge (2014)

TheJudgeBanner

It’s a film featuring Robert vs Robert. One is a hugely popular actor hitting a stratospheric rise in his Phase 2 (pardon the Marvel pun) of his career if you will, and the other a veteran actor known for his dramatic intensity. As with the case of Robert Downey Jr, I feel that ever since I saw him playTony Stark, I notice that essentially he plays a similar personality as that character in a lot of his other films. In this one, he plays a top notch defense attorney who’s got a reputation for representing guilty people with money. Hank Palmer is smart, wealthy, snarky, irreverent and a bit of a womanizer. Sounds familiar? 

The story pretty much starts after his mother dies suddenly and he has to return home to a small Midwestern town for her funeral. It’s apparent Hank hasn’t been home in a while and thus made him sort of an outsider with his own family, especially his dad, Judge Joseph Palmer, played by Robert Duvall. It doesn’t take long before the two butt heads, both stubbornly harboring old grudges and neither can reign their ego to concede. I feel that the film takes too slow to get to the heart of the story, which is when the town’s judge became a murder suspect of a man he sent to prison who was later paroled. You could see where the story’s going from a mile away, so there’s hardly any surprises when they all materialized. Even the fact that Joseph is terminally ill, which he vehemently tried to hide from everyone including his own family, is hardly surprising.

TheJudgeStill1

The Judge is part courtroom/dysfunctional-family drama has its moments, but often times it’s way too clichéd and too over sentimental for me to truly enjoy. I’m a big cryer, I mean I cry watching even animated movies like Toy Story & How To Train Your Dragon, but I barely shed a tear in this one. Now I know that alone isn’t a measure of a movie’s quality, but I felt that the lack of emotional involvement makes this one pretty forgettable. The father-son storyline feels very familiar, you’ve seen it done many times over in both films and TV. Regardless of its A-list cast, this courtroom drama type story seems more suitable for a TV movie. 

Now speaking of that cast, I think Downey has dramatic chops, that’s been proven before, but here he doesn’t quite hit a new note. He’s Downey being Downey, and he seems to be playing another Tony Stark-type persona. Duvall is good but again, I think his acting cred is what makes his role interesting, not necessarily how he’s written. Even the scenes between two acting juggernaut RDJ and Duvall didn’t quite ignite the screen as you expect it to. Some of the shots of the courthouse seems to [attempt to] evoke To Kill A Mockingbird, which was Duvall’s big-screen debut. Alas, I must say that his small, non-speaking role there makes a bigger impression to me than he was in this entire film. The two supporting cast that did make an impression to me are Billy Bob Thornton and Vera Farmiga, as Joseph’s prosecutor and Hank’s high school sweetheart respectively. However, despite my admiration for Farmiga’s talent, the tertiary storyline between her and RDJ’s character gets more screen time than it needs to be. Dax Shepard lends some comic relief but his performance seems too goofy that it feels out of place. 

TheJudgeStills2

It turns out that this was directed by David Dobkin, the director of R-rated comedies The Wedding Crashers & The Change-Up, which could explain the uneven tone of drama/comedy here. I think this film would’ve been a bit more digestible if it weren’t so repetitive and overlong. At 2 hour, 22 min, it’s 3 minute shorter than Gone Girl but not nearly half as intriguing. Now overall I think it’s a decent film but given the quibbles I’ve listed above, I’d probably save this one as a rental.

threereels


Has anyone seen The Judge? Well, what did you think?

10 Reasons Iron Man 3 Exceeds My Expectations

IronMan3Banner

Truth be told, this is one superhero film this year I wasn’t really  looking forward to. I mean I LOVE the first film, and I didn’t even hate the second one even with its set of flaws. But I guess I’m just a bit worn out with the character of Tony Stark himself, his snarky cool edge that was so fun to watch before is just getting stale. But thanks to writer/director Shane Black, somehow he manages to win me over with his direction style. Here are just some things he did right:

1. Black and co-screenwriter Drew Pearce came up with a thrilling story that doesn’t dwell too much on the rich-billionaire syndrome. I mean we’ve seen all that, so no need to keep rehashing that fact. We see the frivolous party-animal part of Tony Stark in a flashback at the beginning, but shortly after that, he’s plucked out of his elements. It’s a fish-out-of-water story of sort, as Tony ends up being stranded in a snowy small town in Tennesse.

IronMan3_ShaneBlackRDJ

Shane Black on the set with RDJ

2. The burning question for this particular superhero, perhaps more so than any other Marvel superhero is this: Does the suit make the man or the man made the suit? In the Film School Rejects interview Shane Black and exec. producer Kevin Feige, the interviewer said, “…you seem as interested in having Tony out of the Iron Man armor as in it”. Here’s Black’s answer:

I want the Iron Man stuff to have impact. And if he’s always in the suit doing stuff, it doesn’t have any impact. If every once in a while he gets just a piece of the suit and POW! he launches a bolt and somebody goes flying 20 feet through the air, but it burns him to do it, that has impact.

I think that’s a wise move right from the get go, having such a strong vision for the character and make him the primary focus once again. I think Black succeeds in creating that delicate balance of seeing both persona of Tony Stark, making the most of Robert Downey Jr.‘s undeniable screen charisma that seems to only get better with age.

IronMan3_SittingwithSuit

Now, THAT’s the money shot

3. Going back to basicsbut somehow makes the old feels new again. The reason I like the first film was because we see Tony as a real genius who’s seemingly thrive under even the most desperate circumstances with his ability to build something out of nothing. We see that MacGyver side of Tony here, how he somehow can still rise to the occasion outside of his state-of-the-art lab and without his loyal robotic butler Jarvis. Tony Stark actually has to shop at a Home Depot type of store like the rest of us, ahah. The ‘relationship’ between the hero and his Iron suit gets an even more amusing play here, which seems even more hilarious than ever before.

4. Shane Black is no stranger to buddy action-comedies. After all, he was the writer behind the Mel Gibson/Danny Glover action franchise Lethal Weapon. He’s also worked with RDJ in the wacky thriller-comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, where RDJ and Val Kilmer made a droll and quirky pair.

IronMan3_RDJ_Cheadle

Here RDJ still has a great rapport with General Rhodes (Don Cheadle), that whole bit about War Machine having a more nationalistic name Iron Patriot delivers some laughs. But when Rhodes is not always around to swap snarky banters with, Black cast a precocious whiz boy (Ty Simpkins) as his sparring partner. The 11-year-old Simpkins is able to hold his own against the veteran actor, and their banter is fun to watch. I love how Tony is still being Tony regardless who he’s dealing with, not allowing anyone—no matter how old—to wallow in self-pity, including himself. It was an unlikely duo that works in the story.

IronMan3_TheMandarin5. Surprising twist on the villain that I didn’t see coming. Having a more realistic ‘real world’ adversary with the terrorism angle works well here instead of simply having another suited-armor nemesis. But there’s more than meets the eye here about the eccentric psychopath The Mandarin that still hit me out of left field. I think comic readers might not necessarily appreciate the alteration but I consider it to be a pleasant surprise that’s sooo entertainingly zany.

Perfect casting of Sir Ben Kingsley in that role, stealing scenes whenever he appears on-screen. The scene of him, Stark and Rhodes is definitely one of the major highlights, but the less I say about the character the better for the sake of your viewing enjoyment.

6. Guy Pearce looking cool and hunky for a change, instead of looking like 200 years old (Prometheus) or some follicly challenged gangster (Lawless). He’s not the kind of villain that takes himself too seriously, Aldrich Killian is a pretty cool name and Pearce plays him as a charming baddie that could easily match Downey’s quick wits. There’s a scene towards the finale that somehow reminds me of his breakthrough role in Memento, I don’t think it’s an homage or anything, it’s just something I picked up on. Pearce seems to have had a good time filming this and it shows!

IronMan3_GuyPearceGwyneth

7. Fun action set pieces but yet they’re not just some over-the-top and vapid bombastic shoot-em-ups (*cough* Die Hard 5 * cough*). The most memorable one, that you’ve likely seen in the trailer, is the relentless attack on Tony’s Malibu mansion. I remember marveling at that sprawling beach-front property in the first movie, and seeing it being destroyed to bits was wow, I’ve got to admit my heart sank a bit as I watched it.

The eye-popping special effects are to be expected. I still enjoy watching our armored hero shooting off to the sky, but this time, the flying sequence isn’t so much about Iron Man looking hip and cool on the air, but more about what he can do with that gift. Ultimately, it’s Tony’s sharp thinking that does the saving, not simply the power of that suit itself.

8. Robert Downey Jr.’s consistent dedication to the role is one of the main factors the franchise hasn’t lost its juice. Everything we’ve come to know and love about the character is all there, Tony’s flair for the theatrics, his nerdy obsession with his robotic toys, and his snarky prowess is still firing on all cylinders. Yet somehow under Black’s direction, it feels fresh, sprightly, and endearingly self-deprecating. I think the key here is showing the character’s vulnerability and contrast that with his larger-than-life billionaire antics.

IronMan3_RDJ

There are countless hysterical scenes where things don’t go according to plan for Tony. Even in the moment he needs it most, his invention can still let him down, and that sense that our hero isn’t always so invincible makes him more human, and in some ways more relatable.

9. But also not ‘too relatable’ as we go to see a superhero movies for escapist entertainment. Iron Man 3 is by no means a dark and gloomy affair (I don’t know why some reviewers equate this with The Dark Knight) as I don’t think it would fit the essence of Tony Stark if they go that route. There are dark moments to be sure, but the mirthful tone is intact and plenty of geeky gadgetry to keep the superhero geek massively entertained. Black & co. never forgets that at its heart, Marvel superhero movies are popcorn entertainment and on that front, it certainly delivers!

IronMan3_RebeccaHall10. The returning characters are given a bit more to do here. Retiring from directing duties (but still serves as exec. producer), Jon Favreau is quite amusing as the head of security of Stark Industries. I wish Rebecca Hall has more screen time but still, it’s nice to see her here alongside Gwyneth Paltrow (who’s not even the most beautiful woman in this movie, let alone the world, heh). That said, I kind of like that Stark’s love interest is not just a damsel in distress in this one which makes Pepper Potts a bit more interesting than in the previous installments.


Perhaps having a tepid expectations helps me enjoy this more than I otherwise would, as the movie is definitely not without flaws. Just to name a few, the motivation of the super-villain’s descent to madness is too much of a stretch and the loud clanging and bombastic mayhem of the third act can be quite dizzying. But overall, those who haven’t become too cynical or jaded by superhero movies would be hard pressed not to enjoy this one.

Though the iron suit sometimes run out of juice in this movie, thankfully the Iron Man franchise still has plenty of that in its third installment. I wouldn’t rate this as high as other stellar “threequels” like the Bourne Ultimatum, Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, or Toy Story 3, but it’s certainly a solid addition to the lucrative Marvel canon.


4 out of 5 reels

What did you think folks? Does this one meet YOUR expectations?

Weekend Roundup: Wreck-It-Ralph & catching up on Downton Abbey

Happy Monday all! Well, it’s not quite Spring yet at least not weather wise, even though we’ve sprung forward one hour. That also means we lost one hour this weekend :(

Downright addicted to Downton Abbey

I’ve only managed to see one movie this weekend, as I’ve been catching up on Downton Abbey. I’ve even dedicated a post on it this weekend, there are just so much to love on that show. I could make an entire post just on Dame Maggie Smith alone (come to think of it, I just might). The acid-tongue Violet Grantham and her unabashed upper-class snobbery is just so amusing. Julian Fellowes really picked the right thespian to deliver those lines! Not only are the quotes memorable, her cantankerous expressions are to-die-for!

MaggieSmithDowntonAbbey

The many faces of the Countess of Grantham

Here’s a clip of the Crawleys at the dinner table and the Grantham’s family’s reaction when Matthew told them he has job as a lawyer. Violet’s ‘Wh.. what is a week-end?’ sums it all, and her delivery is practically iconic!

Well, I would’ve given you a review of Oz The Great and Powerful but I had to miss the press screening last Monday because of the darn snow! Apparently it was a huge hit for Disney, making $80 million bucks at the box office this weekend. Check out my friends Adina’s review who saw it in Indonesia and Terrence’s in New Mexico to see how they like the movie. Seems that both have differing opinions about James Franco’s casting. I’d think Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp who were both offered the role of Oz would’ve been so much better! I do love the three female cast though.

Well, I ended up seeing a movie by Disney as well, Wreck-It-Ralph. Here’s my mini review, I pretty much echo what Cecilia said in her guest review last Fall.

Wreck-It-Ralph

WreckItRalphPoster

Doesn’t this poster remind you of Monsters Inc.?

I’ve been hearing a ton of great things about this one and sure enough, it was massively entertaining. The story reminded me a bit of Toy Story at first, but overall it’s got its own unique spin and like a lot of Pixar movies, it offer more than just fun and games, but a heartwarming story as well.

The big burly Ralph is a video game villain of Wreck-It-Ralph. Every day he longs to be loved and accepted like the game’s hero Fix-It-Felix who could fix anything that Ralph has destroyed. He thinks that by getting a big shiny medal like Felix, people would finally accept him.

Now, I’m not a gamer, I can count with one hand how many times I’ve been to an arcade, but I don’t think that lessen my enjoyment watching this movie. Surely people who played the games a lot would get an extra kick out of it, no doubt about that. Visually this movie is just brilliant and spectacular to look at. The concept itself it so imaginative that it was a wholly entertaining ride from start to finish.

The world of Sugar Rush could practically get you on a sugar high just from watching every colorful sweet stuff imaginable. Everything is just sooo darn cute in this universe. Here is where Ralph meets Vanellope von Schweetz who’s a loner and outcast just like him, something about her being a glitch that the King of Sugar Rush forbids her from participating in a go-kart race. Of course it’s no surprise that the two ended up forming an unlikely friendship (isn’t that the best kind?) and their journey together is fun to watch, with a few really moving moments along the way. The last third of the movie is full of action as Ralph & co. tries to stop the escaped Cybug that threatens the livelihood of the whole video game universe. Some of the scenes are pretty intense and kind of gross, I’d imagines the very young kids might be petrified by them.

WreckItRalph_VanellopeThat said, the story has a universal themes love, sacrifice and friendship that every kid and adult can identify with, and who hasn’t felt like an outcast at one point or another? Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is definitely a lovable big guy you can’t help rooting for, and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) is just too cute for words! The relationship between the smitten Felix (Jack McBrayer) and the bad-ass Hero’s Duty heroine Jean (perfectly cast Jane Lynch) is a hoot as well! The music by Henry Jackman is a highlight with all the retro soundtrack that enhances the video game experience.

Wreck-It-Ralph certainly rates as one of the most fun animated features I’ve seen. A far cry from the mediocre and forgettable Hotel Transylvania that started out promising but riddled with too much clichés. I don’t know if it will be as iconic as Toy Story but no doubt it’s a wonderful addition in the massive Disney cannon. It also has a great replay-ability value, a joyful ride the whole family can enjoy over and over again.


4 out of 5 reels


So how’s your weekend viewing looks like? Seen anything good?

10 Reasons why I think The Avengers rocks

How big of a smash hit is The Avengers? Certainly a hulking big one with over $200 mil domestic opening weekend. That number already broke the record of the final Harry Potter film ($169 mil) released last year, and combined with the international earnings, it brought the total worldwide haul to $641.8 million in barely a week and a half, more than its Marvel superhero forerunners Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and “Captain America took in during their entire runs! [per Yahoo! news]

Whoa! The Disney folks must be having a big party right now as this movie will likely make up at least a quarter of their $4 billion investment to buy Marvel Entertainment back in 2009. Ka-ching, ka-ching!

We finally got to see it last Friday after seemingly everybody on the blogosphere have seen it. We saw it on IMAX 3D and I must say it’s worth every penny!

Instead of a straight-on review, I’m going to list some of the reasons I think The Avengers rocks:

1. Josh Whedon’s marvelous direction. Let’s face it, it takes a capable hand to combine sooo many comic characters and not only make it work but thrive in their collaborations with each other. It’s quite a massive undertaking and even with Whedon’s experience handling a large ensemble cast, it’s still going to be tricky. But after seeing the movie, it’s clear that Marvel did choose the right man for the job!

So you want me to turn green… like right now??

2. How funny this movie is! Ok, from the trailer, I was expecting witty banters and occasional humorous moments, but it’s a pleasant surprise that this film is downright hilarious! Whedon’s screenplay made the most of each of the characters’ antics perfectly and the one liners are even funnier than what you may have seen in the trailers. The theater literally burst out into riotous laughter a number of times, I tell you, this movie is funnier than a lot of movies actually claim to be a comedy.

The scuffle between Iron Man, Thor and Captain America is riotously fun, I was in stitches when Iron Man teased Thor about his cape:

Shakespeare in the Park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”

Ha! That’s probably my favorite line from the movie! Another major highlights is when the Hulk meets Loki and throws him around like a rag doll. When it comes to a superhero movie of this proportion, laughter is definitely a potent weapon and it hits the target squarely in the face!

3. The spectacular cast. I already like the individual casting of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Loki but the additional cast make for a great mix. Robert Downey Jr. is at his top notch wisecracking self, all his scenes with various Avengers team mates are a hoot, especially when he first met Dr. Bruce Banner. Glad to see Clark Gregg a.k.a. Agent Coulson getting some great scenes, including a particularly poignant and memorable one. Though I initially wasn’t too crazy about Scarlet Johansson and Jeremy Renner as Black Widow and Hawkeye respectively, I think both did a fine job. Scarlet holds her own against all the boys and she brought much more depth to her character than what I’ve seen in Iron Man 2.

Was it good for you too?

4. Hulk Smash! I have to create a separate bullet point for the big green giant here. My hubby said that if he had to pick only ONE favorite character from the movie it’d be The Hulk. It’s not necessarily Mark Ruffalo’s performance, I mean he’s good as Bruce Banner, but it’s the CGI-ed character that has the most memorable sequences and whenever he appears on-screen, he practically brings the house down!

5. The impressive set pieces. Just because a movie’s got over $200 mil budget doesn’t always mean it looks good, but The Avengers actually look like it cost a lot to make. For one, the helicarrier which is basically S.H.I.E.L.D’s flying headquarter than can fly AND float on water is just so cool and so are the details regarding each of the character’s attire and um, accessories :D

I gotta get myself one of those!

Oh and that Stark Tower is ever so sleek! The part when Iron Man landed on it and the whole coming-out-of-the-suit thing is just pure geek-gasm stuff! And here I thought that briefcase suit in Iron Man 2 doesn’t get any cooler, Whedon invents yet another sensational way of Tony putting the suit on the way down from his tower!

State-of-the-art bachelor pad fit for a tech king

6. The solid script. Thought it’s not exactly a deep movie, and those expecting one obviously misses the point, there’s actually enough substance in the story. There is a sensible continuation from the previous films, especially regarding Thor’s brother Loki’s motivation to wreck havoc on earth. The history between some of the characters is explored to a degree, and what this initiative means to each one of them.

7. A worthy villain. Thanks to Kenneth Branagh for casting the RADA graduate Tom Hiddleston who brings so much menace to his role as Loki. He’s a fun villain to watch as he’s quite a tragic character who’s more of a ‘lost creature’ than a deranged maniac, and Hiddleston’s dramatic training is put to good use here. There’s a great scene where he’s channeling Superman‘s Zod in a sort of ‘Kneel before Zod’ moment, and he admitted in an interview that the Christopher Reeve’s Superman films are part of his childhood.

Oooh loki here…

8. The pure adrenaline rush. From the get go when Loki had his grand entrance to earth, the action never lets up. It’s visually thrilling and appropriately bombastic. The sense of humor never left even the final battle scene between the Avengers and Loki’s army, which makes the already electrifying sequences even more entertaining.

9. The dynamic score from Alan Silvestri. Part of what makes a great action movie is undoubtedly the music and this one captures the bravery and heroism theme of the story. It reminds me a bit of the awesome soundtrack of X-Men: First Class somehow, especially in the scene when Magneto lifts the submarine.


10. The celebration of humanity. For a movie about superhero that aren’t all earth-bound creatures, this movie speaks about the courage to stand up against evil and not take a bully lying down. It also has a great message about being a part of something greater than yourself and working together as a team to achieve it. The ‘Avengers Assemble’ phrase has a special significance as despite their initial clashes, they do set aside their differences and end up working well together as a team.

Look up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane… oops wrong movie.

Final Thoughts: It’s always nice when a movie lives up to the hype. It’s hard to suppress your expectation when the reviews are this good (90+% on Rotten Tomatoes with over 200 reviews) but The Avengers definitely merits all that. Now, it’s not flawless however, there are some stuff that are not explained very well, especially regarding the Hulk and how he went from being an uncontrollable monster to someone who could take orders from Captain America in a particularly comical scene, but I’m just so engrossed in all that’s happening that I’m willing to let that go.

In the end, this movie gives you everything you expect in a superhero film and not the ‘guilty pleasure’ variety. As Hiddleston eloquently said in this Guardian article, “…superhero films have much to teach us about faith and humanity – as well as being terrific visual spectacle.” He may be playing the villain, but I think Tom has a firm grasp of what a superhero movie should be about.

Oh and if you haven’t seen this yet, whatever you do, DON’T LEAVE before the final credit scene. Trust me, it’s worth staying for!

4.5 out of 5 reels



So what did you think, did The Avengers live up to your expectations?  What’s YOUR favorite moment from the movie?

Guest Review – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Hello all, today’s review comes courtesy of Andy from the blog Ramblings of A Minnesota Movie Geek. Isn’t that an awesome name or what? Andy is a self-confessed geek in every sense of the word. Need proof? Well, he signs off his email with ‘May the Force Be With You’ :D He’s currently consumed by his TV watching, but when he did have time for some movies, he’s kind enough to send me a review to share with all you fine FlixChatter readers, so here you go:

Sherlock squaring off against Moriarty. Now that premise alone sold my ticket. This is Moriarty, ladies and gentlemen, Sherlock’s dark reflection, the one man who is just as clever as him, if not more, always one or more steps ahead of the ‘game’, merciless, brilliant. Any tale that has these two locked in intellectual (and eventual physical) battle should be something extraordinary. Ultimately, A Game of Shadows doesn’t quite reach that. In fact, the movie doesn’t seem entirely concerned with the story at all, which is good news for fans of the Sherlock/Watson banter which is given the classic sequel ‘more more more’ treatment, but is detrimental to the overall quality of the film. I wanted Sherlock vs. Moriarty, a battle of the minds as they constantly try to outsmart the other, and I wanted a real sense of jeopardy to every action – hell, every scene, because that’s what a Moriarty story deserves.

A Game of Shadows has plenty of moments of fun, loads of them. The much loved Sherlock and Watson relationship that was so central, no doubt, in making the first film hugely successful, is greatly expounded upon with delicious results. No exaggeration: Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law’s chemistry and complete bromance rules this movie every second they’re together. And rightfully so. In summary with those two, Sherlock and Watson are handled perfectly here. The filmmakers having their friendship down, but they’re not the ones who make Game of Shadows a movie that I was really, really, really looking forward to. No, that was – in case you couldn’t tell – the sinister mastermind Moriarty, and he arrives in the Hollywood ‘reimagined’ world with mixed results.

Jared Harris as Moriarty was good, he was solid, but he wasn’t great. That’s not to fault Harris, I feel, but instead the script. Harris portrays Moriarty with that cool, calm, restrained demeanor, very much in control of his emotions, his words, all his faculties. Plus Harris just looks like a man who has this wide web of a plot in his noggin’. But the script doesn’t allow Moriarty to come across as anything uber-spectacular (except the final Sherlock/Moriarty confrontation, which is nothing short of extraordinary and one of my favorite scenes of 2011), or rather, a force to be reckoned with. At one point, Moriarty breaches cliché, as he tortures one of our protagonists while singing along with classical opera. It’s not creepy or unnerving as the filmmakers may have intended, unfortunately. With the right script, Jared Harris could make the Moriarty of our generation. But for now, I’ll settle with a really, really good one.

To continue the ‘more, more, more’ vibe of Hollywood sequels, director Guy Ritchie is sadly not immune to that trend. Slow motion is used far too frequently, and not always necessarily. That said, one instance of Ritchie using slow mo to great extent is the Sherlock vs. Moriarty face off before the climax, as the two adversaries size up what action they’re about to take. In the same way Ritchie gives us ‘Sherlock Vision’, where he anticipates his opponents moves and how he’ll respond accordingly, we have Moriarty utilize the same skills against Sherlock, making that final scene a tense one, as they both seem even matched. Ritchie’s style is now a trademark of the franchise, and overall, it works. It’s much of the same as the first one, so all I’ll say is that when the inevitable third one enters production, he tries to change it up a bit, give us something new.

Ultimately, where this movie falters is the screenplay. It’s the source of Moriarty’s lack of badassery, and also the source of making this movie not all that engaging and, dare I say, confusing. By the last two bits, I mean this: Sherlock Holmes stories are first and foremost mysteries. It’s the unraveling of these mysteries that drive Sherlock stories, that make them so damn fun to watch. The BBC series Sherlock understands this, and masterfully delivers equal weight of interesting mysteries and highly enjoyable Holmes/Watson scenes. As for A Game of Shadows, I spent more time wondering what the hell was going on and why the characters were doing what they were doing. The plot, and how Point A connects to Point B and that connects to Point C, it just all seemed lazily pieced together, almost like an afterthought. In the end, the strength of the Sherlock/Watson relationship made the lacking script sufferable. A second viewing of the movie some time ago helped clear a few of the plot-points up, but there was still that feeling of disinterest. Furthermore, the side of me that wanted a battle between Sherlock and Moriarty on a grand scale – well, what the writers came up with, didn’t so much deliver on that expectation.

You might have noticed neither the lovely ladies Noomi Rapace or Rachel McAdams have been mentioned thus far. Thing is, they’re hardly in the movie. One more than the other, but even then, she doesn’t make that much of an impact, sadly enough. This leads in to me saying Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is pretty damn decent entertainment. If what you’re looking for is to have a blast watching Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law banter back and forth and have some spectacular action-y adventures, this film absolutely delivers. If you, like me, wanted a battle royale of the minds between Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, then it doesn’t fully deliver the goods. But what we have here is a movie very much in the same spirit as Sherlock Holmes (2009), with high points and low points, and if you even seminally liked that flick, you’re going to enjoy the hell out of this one. See y’all for the third one!

3 out of 5 reels

So have you seen this movie? Please do let us know what you think.

THIS JUST IN: ‘The Avengers’ Full Trailer #2

HAPPY LEAP DAY everybody!! Somehow I knew the studios are going to take advantage of this day to release something BIG. Well, it doesn’t get any bigger this Summer than The Avengers!

So take a look at all the Marvel superheroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow leaping all over themselves to counter against the evil Asgaard villain Loki and save humanity:


I must say Marvel’s producing yet another pure geekgasm-worthy trailer that REALLY gets me more pumped up to see this in less than 3 months! Yes it does get a bit Transformer-y towards the end, especially that giant snake-like metal thing-y coming out of the skyscraper. What the frak is THAT thing??! Does anyone know if that’s part of Loki’s army? ‘Cause it looks a bit like the Destroyer that Loki sent to earth to kill Thor and his earthly co-horts.

What the-?

Can’t wait to see more banters between the ‘volatile, self obsessed and don’t play well with others’ Tony Stark and everyone else on the team, especially Loki. Oh and I’m also excited to see Clark Gregg getting a bigger part in this flick as Agent Coulson


Oh and have you seen this one? Someone actually made a silent film spoof of The Avengers trailer… and it actually is pretty darn good. I really enjoyed watching all those fun title cards like “Egads. It’s Loki. God of Mischief.” It’s interesting too the fact that Robert Downey Jr. once played the most celebrated silent film star Charlie Chaplin.


Anyway, The Avengers is slated to hit US theaters on May 4. All right, BRING. IT. ON. Joss Whedon!!

Well, what say you folks? Are you ready for this?

The Avengers extended Superbowl XLVI spot is geekgasm worthy

Fan-made poster courtesy of Superherohype forum

To be frank with you, I’m kind of on and off about this movie. I mean this whole idea of jam-packing a friggin’ boatload of superheroes into one movie is worrisome. Just how in the heck are they gonna pull this off?? But after reading more about this project, especially seeing that Josh Whedon seems to have a good grip on the storytelling (Per Castor’s post, The Avengers will be told from Captain America’s point of view), I’m willing to give this movie the benefit of the doubt.

Well now this new trailer actually gets me all excited about this one. Check it out and let me know what you think:

Loki: “I have an army.”

Stark : “We have a Hulk.”

Say what you will but that facetious last part out of the whole trailer is my favorite part! I LOVE Tom Hiddleston’s Loki for one, plus Robert Downey Jr.’s  snarky-ness is always a joy to watch. Tony Stark’s surely gonna have tons of fun one-liners in this movie! I just think that if Whedon just not take this whole thing too seriously, more in the spirit of the first Iron Man, it should be a massively enjoyable action flick.

Btw, on January 31st, Marvel Studios sponsored a Global Tweet Chat where fans can chat with Whedon and cast members Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg and Tom Hiddleston via Twitter. That’s awesome, I wish I had known about it but most likely I gotta work at that hour :( Screenrant has some of the Q&A from the event here if you’re interested. As I’m a big fan of Loki, I’m pretty excited to see him answer this question:

For TH: Might we see a more mischievous (rather than mostly just evil) Loki in the The Avengers?

TH: ENTIRELY. More mischievous. More evil. More hubristic. More delusional. More damaged. More badass.

All right, bring it on team! May 4th can’t come soon enough!


What say you folks? Are you excited for this movie?

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Starter for Ten & A Scanner Darkly

There’s nothing interesting at the cinema this weekend, but it’s always nice to catch up on older movies I’ve been meaning to see.

This past Friday was our first Girls Movie Nite since its summer hiatus and my girlfriends and I had initially settled on Water for Elephants. The trailer looks pretty good and the combination of Christoph Waltz and Robert Pattinson in a circus setting seemed intriguing. Unfortunately it’s not available on Netflix yet (another reason I’m canceling my subscription) so we ended up seeing Starter for 10 since one of my friends owns the DVD. The other one I saw was A Scanner Darkly, a sci-fi done in interpolated rotoscoping animation style in which animators trace over live-action film movement, frame by frame.

Starter For 10

 

Set in 1985, working-class student Brian Jackson navigates his first year at Bristol University.

Seems like James McAvoy hasn’t made a bad film. At least out of the eight films where he had a prominent role, none of them has disappointed me. Ok so I didn’t love Becoming Jane (despite my love for period dramas) but it’s more because of Anne Hathaway performance than James’.

McAvoy truly carried this film with his earnest performance as the brainy kid Brian who finds out that life education is definitely as important as being book smart. Despite being in his mid 20s when he did this film, he was quite believable as a college freshman. His transformation from the naive geek with bad hair to a slightly older & wiser university student is fun to watch. Scottish director Tom Vaughan peppered the film with witty dialog and whimsical college scenes without relying on silly or inappropriate gags like college films like say, Old School. Even the more sexually-charged scenes are a hoot, especially the one involving Brian and the parents of the girl of his dreams on a Christmas holiday, are funny but not cringe-worthy.

The romance is sweet and engaging. It’s almost unanimous that everyone in my group sympathize with Rebecca Hall’s character. I feel that it’s not only because her character (also named Rebecca) is written that way but also because Hall seems to always come across very affable on screen. The film truly belongs to the über talented McAvoy but Benedict Cumberbatch managed to steal some scenes with his hilarious performance as the ambitious group ‘leader’ competing for the University Challenge quiz show. His character may be one-dimensional but still he made it entertaining. The ending is quite predictable but I don’t really mind it in a movie like this where a lack of ‘plot twist’ is not a detriment.

Starter For 10 is quite a poignant yet funny coming-of-age comedy drama starring the hottest young British talents working today. Many of the cast have now become quite famous: McAvoy himself, Rebecca Hall (The Prestige, The Town, Everything Must Go), Benedict Cumberbatch (Amazing Grace, BBC’s Sherlock, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Dominic Cooper (The Duchess, An Education, The Devil’s Double). Alice Eve is perhaps the least known but she’s starring in The Raven next year.

The music is quite memorable as well with songs mostly by The Cure and other British bands such as Tears for Fears, The Smiths and Wham!.

4 out of 5 reels

A Scanner Darkly

 

An undercover cop in a not-too-distant future becomes involved with a dangerous new drug called Substance-D and begins to lose his own identity as a result.

I’ve been curious about this film for some time, mostly because of the rotoscoping animation style I’ve mentioned about, as well as the fact that it’s a Philip K. Dick adaptation. He’s perhaps one of the greatest sci-fi authors whose work have been a popular subject for films such as Total Recall, Blade Runner, Minority Report and most recently The Adjustment Bureau.

The cast for this film, especially Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr., is also a big selling point. Combine that with an intriguing subject matter and a distinct visual style, this one surely can’t be a misfire, right? Well, I wouldn’t call it a misfire, but I can’t exactly call this one enjoyable. People have said that this movie is not for everyone, but really, one can say that for just about every title, right? Even the most beloved movie would have its detractor. The thing is, I was prepared to really like this one, but I actually found this one to be tedious in parts that I actually dozed off about three-quarters the way through. I did wake up about 10 minutes before the end and found that the story is quite profound, but yet I’m just not interested enough to rewind which parts I had missed.

I think the main strength of the film is the story itself, which made me think that I might appreciate the novel more. The acting is also good overall — both Keanu and Robert are perfectly cast, and Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson are quite memorable in their supporting roles. But the pacing is a bit too slow as the novelty of the animation style wears off. I really think the visual technique is really imaginative and I appreciate that the filmmaker went with this route. Yet I’m not really sure how much that style improve the story-telling. Yes I do believe director Richard Linklater is able to capture the paranoia and perceptual contortion caused by Substance-D, but because of the animation style, I feel that the subtle expressions that we would otherwise be able to perceive from each actor is somewhat lost. I almost feel guilty that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I learn in the Special Features about the dedication of the filmmaker and how personal this project is to him.

Perhaps if I give this film another chance I might enjoy it more, though I highly doubt I’d see this again. The thing about this whole film is how unsettling it is. I hate insects so the opening scene alone of a guy suffering from intense hallucination is disturbing and down right repugnant. But with that said, I’d still recommend this for a rental for people who enjoy sci-fi movies and Philip K. Dick’s stories. Though I didn’t end up loving it, I definitely don’t regret finally seeing this.

3 out of 5 reels

Well, what did you see this weekend? If you’ve seen either one of these films, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Flix Poster of the Week: DUE DATE

HAPPY FRIDAY all! I realize I haven’t had a poster post for a while, and when I came across this horizontal quad style poster, I knew I had to blog about it. I thought these are hilarious and eye-cathy. Can’t say the same about the trailer though, which is somewhat devoid of laughter IMO.

Poster courtesy of http://www.impawards.com

The plot: High-strung father-to-be Peter Highman is forced to hitch a ride with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay on a road trip in order to make it to his child’s birth on time.

I don’t quite get the appeal of Zach Galifianakis and even Robert Downey Jr. can’t help entice me to see the movie, yes even in spite of his searing hotness (as my friend Sam astutely noted in her weekend musing). Man, RDJ is like fine wine isn’t he? I first saw him in Less Than Zero (or was it The Pick Up Artist?) back in the 80s, but he hasn’t changed that much 20+ years later!! The guy is 45, yet still hotter than ever and is it just me or does he seem to have fuller hair?? I mean, that guy should be in shampoo commercials!

In any case, I’m finally going to see The Town tonight, looking forward to it after hearing all the positive reviews! With all this rain, it’s perfect moviegoing weather. How about you, what movies are you going to see this weekend?