Before I get too caught up with writing about the BAFTAs tonight I tought I’d do a quick post about a debate I ended up having today so that you can all join in.
As I’ve mentioned, the new Sherlock Holmes franchise already has sequels in the pipeline and rumours are flying in all directions about who is going to play Holmes’ arch-nemesis Moriarty. Definitely the most prominent suggestion so far is Brad Pitt, who allegedly provided the voice for the anonymous character we have seen so far.
My question to you is this: who would you cast?
After much arguing today, and rattling through actors ranging from Jeremy Irons to Johnny Depp, we eventually came to a split decision. Either Christian Bale or Stuart Townsend.
I could live with Brad Pitt doing it. I am pretty confident he eventually will since the producers are denying it so strenuously. He’s always a better actor than I expect, and I’m sure he’ll find himself both a believable British accent and some Victorian charm, but I think in a perfect world Moriarty should go to a Brit. We came up with Christian Bale without realising that we had inadvertently pitted Batman against Iron Man. I was initially against Bale but the idea of DC and Marvel’s most similar characters coming up against each other in a completely unrelated movie made me smile.
As for Stuart Townsend, that was my suggestion, based mainly on his work in LXG. He just seems to suit that kind of self-assured aristocratic yet pretty handy with a sword if he had to be role.
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Catching the final showdown of a soon to be named action movie on TV a little while ago got me thinking about the best fight choreography to hit the big screen. The following debate with my sister made me realise that a blog post was in order, so here are my favourite movie punch ups.
Just so you know, I’m not counting full on battles here, more one on ones (or one on manys). Coming up with a top 5 was really tricky, and there are lots of great films that aren’t on the list (Die Hard, Fight Club, Spiderman, Star Wars…) so try not to get too angry if you’re favourite isn’t there. And please, remind me of the awesome punch ups I’m bound to have forgotten.
Maybe a controversial one here, since I seem to be pretty alone in liking this film, but I reckon that the first meeting between Matt and Elektra in the playground is a great movie moment. It’s a tie between that playground fight, and the showdown in the bar with some cocky criminals for best fight in the movie. What makes the latter so great is the point of view stuff, showing what Daredevil “sees” and making the fight a lot more interesting.
4. Bridget Jones’ Diary
It’s the ultimate anti-fight. Two posh public school boys try to knock the stuffing out of each other without getting their expensive suits dirty. Outcome? Definitely one of the best on screen fights ever. I think what makes it so good is the fact that it seems perfectly likely that if Hugh Grant and Colin Firth ever do get into a fight, this is exactly what it would look like. The best part is when they sing happy birthday.
3. X2: Wolverine’s Revenge
When I’ve watched Origins again, this may well get replaced by one of the Wolverine/Sabre fights, but when I first saw X2 and the set up starts for the battle between Wolverine and his female counterpart Lady Deathstrike I knew it was gonna be good. It’s a dual of the immortals and the fact that the pair are so evenly matched is what makes the fight so awesome. And the way he wins, you’ve gotta admit, is pretty inventive.
Gun Kata. All hail the guy who came up with that one. It’s not quite Martial Arts, it’s not exactly a shoot out, it sure is awesome to watch! The whole film is filled with wicked fight moments, but I think for obvious reasons the ultimate fight sequence of the movie has got to be Preston’s final show down with “Father”. Damn that was good.
1. And the winner is….The Marix Trilogy
The film I was watching when this idea came to me was Matrix Revolutions, and despite the flaws in that film, I still think the so called “super-burly brawl” at the end is the best bit of fight choreography yet to be committed to celluloid. I mean, their punches stop the rain for god’s sake! The effort that went into the visuals of that scene is just staggering, the row upon row of Agent Smiths that appear even in the windows of the skyscrapers for example must have taken hours of post production. Of course, the focus on visuals rather than plot is probably what killed the two sequels, but you’ve got to hand it to the Wachowski brothers, they know how to stage a punch up. In Reloaded we have the (not quite as super) burly brawl where Neo and a metal pole take on the legions in yet another stunning combination of wire work, kung fu and bullet time. If you’re not into the sequels, the sequence which follows: “What do you need?” “Guns. Lots of guns,” in the original is just epic. And since it’s pretty clear that fights liked this spawned our number two spot, it gets extra credit.
I could go on about Matrix fight scenes for a long time. The thing about The Matrix is, the films changed our expectations of movie fights; with the invention of bullet time one of the major landmarks in visual effects history. Thanks to them, fight choreography isn’t just about one guy swinging at another, it’s an art form in itself. Which keeps action junkies like me very happy.
“Come back and I’ll bite your legs off!” The Black Knight always triumphs.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 27 so far )
I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while and, despite reading a bad reivew, was determined to see it on the day it came out. As it turns out, I caught a preview 2 days early.
Public Enemies is effectively a typical ’30s gangster movie, but with the added bonus of it being a true story (and Johnny Depp). Depp does brilliantly as the lovebale bad guy while Christian Bale is stiff, but I think intentionally so. The more time he spends in Hollywood, the less he seems to act, but as the intense and single minded Melvin Purvis, the Keanu Reeves approach to acting works.
The review I read criticised Michael Mann’s use of handheld cameras, and on this at least he had a point. The extreme close ups and shaky photography during most of the shoot outs can be hard to watch, simply because your eyes can’t keep up, but I can see what Mann was going for. The Peep Show style of first person photography is a good idea, but the action is just too fast, especially in the opening scene when you’re still trying to work out who’s who. I reckon on the DVD release it’ll actually come across better because the screen wont be as big. Luckily, the handhelds don’t make up the majority of the film, so you get a chance to focus, but a lot of it does seem to be shot either from Depp’s shoulder or on a camera mounted to his face!
Other than that I have no criticisms for the film. It’s not going straight into The List, but I would definitely watch it again and recommend it to all of you. The plot moves at a good pace, and while none of the characters bar Dillinger are particularly developed, they don’t feel empty. Dillinger himself is brilliantly characterised, with a lot of help from Depp, so that you find yourself really rooting for the bad guy, no matter how many FBI agents he shoots. The one moment where the front drops and the reality of his crumbling prospects dawns on him is backed by a magnificent score (Elliot Goldenthal) and features (I think) the first time we see Depp cry on screen. Goldenthal’s score, sparingly used, is always effective, emphasising the two most poignant scenes with sweeping orchestra while upbeat Jazz and guitar riffs accompany the bank heists.
The script may not be groundbreaking, but a couple of lines raised a chuckle and they manage to steer clear of steriotypical wiseguy dialogue. Marion Cottilard also plays well as Dillinger’s muse Billie, a part I fear was written in for Hollywood but which actually gives a crucial motivation to some of the more daring of Dillinger’s exploits. There are also some brilliant moments to look out for, in particular: the cinema, the cloakroom and the FBI office.
A trip to the hallowed pages of Wiki filled me in on the real man. The film seems to have captured the essence of Dillinger, particularly his reputation as the modern Robin Hood. The details aren’t too bad either, which is impressive. They even allow the conspiricists to argue about whether Dillinger actually died (I’d like to believe not, but logic tells me he did.)
So, Mann has managed to make a film based on historical events which pretty much tells the truth while at the same time having enough action and adventure to fill the box office. It’s not exactly a high octance thriller, but Depp’s Dillinger is so engaging, and 30s America is just one of those time periods that will never fail to draw a crowd.
If you want to escape the heat for a bit and relax in an air conditioned cinema, I can’t think of a better way to spend the time than with Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, some very snappy suits and a few machine guns.
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I haven’t done a straight review in a while and caught this on late night TV so thought I’d blog it.
Reign of Fire is one of those films that confuses me, because it isn’t good, but it isn’t exactly bad either. It was made purely because we’d reached a point where really cool CGI dragons were possible, and it shows. The plot is incredibly thin, basically dragons-bad-man-scared, and there are a number of plot holes which bugged me throughout. For example, if the dragons feed on ash, why do they always wait until people are outside to start crispy frying them? Especially when they’ve planted all those tasty ready-to-cook crops outside. There were a number of times when the dragons seemed to be holding back simply to make the story work. I reckon Christian Bale had managed to avoid several toastings from a somehow benevolent dragon which chose to wait for him to attack first, and I never understood why the big bad daddy dragon only decided to attack about 20 years after he was first released.
This is starting to sound more scathing than I intended, but there are some good points. The performances by Bale and Gerard Butler are good, although Matthew McConaughey in a psycho-marine role is a bit more scary than I think he intended. The special effects really are good, and the overall design of the film captures a kind of futuristic middle ages, but for a film that is essentially a CGI showcase I’m not sure the visuals are quite good enough to justify it. Of course, I’m seeing it 7 years after its original release and the speed at which VFX move means what was state of the art then is now dated, but I’m still not sure I’m impressed.
Reign of Fire was one of those films I remember hearing about when it came out and I was intrigued, so I’m sad that it didn’t quite live up to even my low expectations. As I said, it’s not a bad film, there was nothing in it that had me shouting at the screen or looking away in anguish (except Bale’s hideous haircut) but there’s just not much to it. At only 101 minutes it’s quite short and no one has too much time to develop as a character, but I think the film would benefit from taking itself less seriously. Rather than trying to convince its audience that dragons living underground lead to a post-nuclear apocalypse and focussing on how terrible everything is, director Rob Bowman could’ve eased off on the angst and allowed a little more fun into the movie. This would probably lift the intensity of the performances, which at times felt too serious for a movie about dragons, especially in McConaughey’s case.
In the end, I’m going to have to reluctantly consign Reign of Fire to the Movies to Miss pile. It’s not a major warning against it, I did sort of enjoy it, but there are just too many plot holes and mismatched emotions for the film to work.
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(This post is brought to you by extreme revision boredom)
Before Star Trek last night came a trailer for Public Enemies, the latest gangster thriller based on the true stories of John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson who reigned during the Great Depression in America. The fact that it stars Johnny Depp and Christian Bale isn’t the only reason I’m interested. Honest.
Also stars La Vie En Rose’s Marion Cottilard. Comes out July 3rd.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Tonight I found myself with some free time on my hands, which is becoming increasingly unusual for me, so I decided to re-visit the most hyped film of last year: The Dark Knight.
Raving about the brilliance of the film is old news, but I realised as I was watching it that there was no way it was ever going to live up to the expectations people had for it. Don’t get me wrong, I think its a great movie, and Heath Ledger is in a league of his own when it comes to performance, but I too fell victim to the hype and found myself rating this movie higher than perhaps it deserved when I first saw it in the cinema.
The cast is something to be envied, including star turns by Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, and the special effects are pretty awesome. Christian Bale also plays well, although I find his “bat-voice” increasingly difficult to take seriously. The main problem with the film is its length; clocking in at 2 hours 25 mins which I think must be something of a record for comic book films, and there are sections that feel slow, mainly because you’re just waiting for Ledger to reappear on screen.
*update: I thought it was long, then I saw Watchmen!*
It falls foul of the same problem that Spiderman 3 had: one two many villains. Even though the signposting for the transformation of Dent into Twoface is a delight to comic book geeks, it feels like the final half hour is actually another short film tacked on at the end, which could legitimatley have been saved for a sequel, especially since the actual ending is so clearly gearing up for one. In general the plot is good, but there are sections which are confusing. I’m still not that sure what’s going on in the car park at the beginning with all the copycat batmen….
Basically it boils down to this: The Dark Knight is an average film catapulted to mega-success simply because of Heath Ledger. I would like to believe that if the tragedy which brought the film into the media spotlight had not happened, the film would still have enjoyed the same hype on the basis of what really is an astounding performance. The scenes in the jail are creepily reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs and everything about the characterisation is completely unique. I guess we’ll never know, but it just goes to show that when tragedy is involved even critics draw in their claws and choose to overlook faults in favour of seeing the good.
Case in point: I’m a Marvel girl, I’ve never liked DC or Batman, mainly on the basis that he has one of the lamest costumes in superhero history! But I desperately wanted to see Dark Knight. Now, I have always been a Heath Ledger fan, and that was a big part of it, but I can’t help wondering if I’d have heard so much about his performance if he hadn’t died. I still maintain that it was for Brokeback Mountain that he deserved the Oscar.
I love Dark Knight, and I think everyone should see it, but without Heath Ledger, I don’t think I’ll be fighting to see the next one.
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