Posts Tagged ‘ben kingsley’

The Jungle Book 2016

Mowgli (Neel  Sethi) has been raised by a panther named Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) for most of his life.  Bagheera leaves Mowgli with a pair of wolves named Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha, (Lupita N’yongo) but he knows the arrangement is only temporary.  Bagheera wants the man cub Mowgli to go to the man village and be raised by men, Mowgli wants to be raised by the wolves.  During the dry season during a water truce, Sher Khan, (Idris Elba) gets his first look at Mowgli, and promises to eliminate the man cub when the water truce is over.  During the rainy season, Bagheeera starts to take Mowgli to the man village, but is attacked by Shere Khan, Mowgli escapes with the help of some water buffalo.

He survives a mudslide, but is trapped by a seductive python named Kaa, (Scarlett Johansson) who plans to make a meal out of Mowgli, but he’s saved by a friendly bear named Baloo, (Bill Murray) who is in desperate need of some honey.  Mowgli uses his man cub tricks to rig up a contraption to get the honey for Baloo, but by this time, Bagheera has tracked Mowgli down, and wants to take him to the man village.  Just as Mowgli is ready to leave, he is kidnapped by some monkeys loyal to King Louie.  (Christopher Walken) Louie wants to know how to control fire, or as the animals call it “the red flower.”  When Mowgli refuses to share the secret of fire with Louie, Louie tells Mowgli a secret that both Baloo and Bagheera didn’t tell Mowgli. What is the secret, and what does Mowgli do once he finds out about it?

This version of The Jungle Book is definitely not the kid-friendly version that Disney first animated years ago.     It is a much more serious and intense telling of the Rudyard Kipling story, young kids might be scared by some of the animal fights, and would not understand subtle casting decisions like casting Scarlett Johansson as a seductress.  This is more a pre-teen adult movie, than a young child story, and parents of young children might be sorry that they took little kids to see it.  But for older kids and adults this is an interesting story, with a backstory in an interesting place, and appropriate use of CGI.  The ending was expected and appropriate, but again, maybe too intense for young kids.

The acting is excellent.  Ben Kingsley makes Bagheera sound regal and noble, he is Mowgli’s protector, and makes sure everyone is aware of that.  Lupita N’yongo really plays up the maternal instinct in this movie, and it’s amazing that an actress who’s so young, can play a mother figure so convincingly.  Idris Elba plays Sher Khan as a fiercely sinister creature who rules by intimidation, the viewer can feel the seething rage in Sher Khan.  The viewer understands his rage as the story unfolds.  It is not by any means a one note performance. Scarlett Johansson is also very good in an integral scene. Bill Murray hams it up relentlessly as Baloo, but the comedy relief is a welcome break from the serious tone throughout .  Christopher Walken plays Louie as a darkly comic villain, and does so effectively. Neel Sethi is a kid, and sounds like one, so nothing really good or bad about his acting, he handles the serious and comic bits well for a kid.

Director Jon Favreau really knows how to tell a fantasy, story, he knows how to pace the story and when to insert plot points to keep the story interesting, he made the talking animals look natural, and doesn’t  use  CGI excessively ,or should I say it doesn’t look excessive.   Favreau directed one of my favorite movies, Elf, and he does a great job keeping the story coherent, while working with all CGI animals. The key was, the animals looked natural, and didn’t look like they stepped out of a video game. He also gets very expressive voice acting from all of his stars. Favreau also wrote, directed, and starred in the excellent movie Chef, he is obviously a talented guy.

Because of its success, Disney is already planning a sequel, they will probably suck the life out  of Kipling’s books, I hope not.

The Jungle Book:  Khan you see it? Shere you Khan!

the-boxtrolls

The boxtrolls, who are supposedly monsters who live in the sewers of Cheesebridge have taken Baby Trubshaw (Max Mitchell) to their underground layer. Lord Portley Rind (Jared Harris) contracts boxtroll hunter Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) to kill every boxtroll in town.  In return, Snatcher will get a white hat and an esteemed place in society.  The boxtrolls in fact are industrious, mechanically minded creatures, fearful of humans,  who raise the baby as one of their own and call him Eggs. (Isaac Hempstead Wright) after the boxtrolls start disappearing, Eggs decides to travel to the surface and see who is taking his friends.  Eggs meet and befriend Winnie Portley Rind (Elle Fanning) a rebellious girl who is sick of the aristocracy that has developed in Cheesebridge.  Can the two youngsters stop the hunting of the boxtrolls?

I did not like The Boxtrolls.  I thought the allegory was too simplistic, the jokes weren’t that funny, and the characters were all black-or-white.  I would have much preferred an evolution of Snatcher, much like Gru in Despicable Me or the Grinch in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, but Snatcher stayed stubbornly evil to the end.  The ending was far too predictable, even for a kid movie, and the characters weren’t all that likable, Winnie is a spoiled little rich girl who whines until she gets her way, and Eggs thinks he’s a boxtroll, even though he looks nothing like one.

The acting was little more than average.  Ben Kingsley goes way over the top to play the villainous Snatcher, and never allows for the least bit of subtlety in his performance.  Elle Fanning does a pretty convincing British accent for an American, the rest of the cast is not worth mentioning.

The one element of the movie that almost saves it is the animation.  The cobblestones on the streets of Cheesebrige look real, the town looks bright and inviting and almost every scene pops with color.  It’s too bad that the animation didn’t have a stronger script to support the dazzling visuals.

The boxtrolls. Boxing was never so dull.

Iron man-3

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) reminisces about his early days as an inventor in 1999.  Tony wrote half a chemical formula on a napkin in 1999, and fellow inventor Aldridge Killian (Guy Pearce) wants Tony to join his fledgling company AIM, but Tony never does, he leaves Killian and one-night stand Maya Hanson (Rebecca Hall) behind to make oodles of money in the weapons business.  Tony has more pressing problems, he is having anxiety attacks from surviving an attack on New York (featured in the Avengers movie) and a terrorist named the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is wreaking havoc on America and the world with a series of random bombings.  Tony challenges Mandarin to bomb his house, Mandarin obliges, reducing Tony’s house to rubble. Another of the bombings seriously injures friend and former bodyguard Happy Hogan. (Jon Favreau)  While Rhodey Rhodes (Don Cheadle) tries to find Mandarin in Pakistan,  Tony is analyzing heat signatures from the bombings.

The analysis leads him to Tennessee, to an apparent suicide of a soldier. A little kid named Harley (Ty Sympkins ) escorts Tony through the small town in Tennessee.  Harley helps Tony with his anxiety, Tony helps Harley through some bullying issues, the more Tony investigates the heat signatures from the bomb that killed that soldier in Tennessee, the less he thinks it’s a suicide.  When he comes back home from Tennessee, who dos he see but Maya, who’s now a successful biologist.  Why is Maya back in her life?  The Mandarin is now threatening the President of the United States, President Ellis. (William Sadler)  Much to his surprise, Iran Man tracks Mandarin to Miami.  Can he stop The Mandarin before he harms the President?

I liked Iron Man 3 a lot, the reason is simple, this movie had a story, and several subplots, unlike the Avengers, which had no story or subplots, and as overrun by a juvenile overreliance on special effects.  This had interesting characters.  There is a twist to the Mandarin character, which I’m still deciding if I like or don’t, but at least it showed some complexity, as did the Killian character. Sure the relationship between the kid and Stark was manipulative and shamelessly tearjerking, but it showed that the character was just some guy in a metal suit.  Towards the end of the movie, the special effects do take over the movie and that bothered me. At times, Jarvis seemed to have more to do than Tony Stark. This is not a flawless movie.  Despite that, this is a much better movie than Iron Man Two.  It approaches the first Iron Man movie, but falls short.  It is still a very entertaining film.

The performance of Robert Downey Jr. makes this movie more enjoyable than it should be.  He gives a performance that is both comic and dramatic at once.  He is Tony Stark, he’s lived that life and the ease with which he plays the character shows.  Guy Pearce also gives a standout performance, burning with intensity.  Pearce is a very good actor.  Ben Kingsley is one of my favorite actors and he doesn’t disappoint.  It is disappointing to see Don Cheadle reduced to window dressing as Rhoadey Rhodes, but I’ve always said Terrence Howard was better as Rhodes, and this movie doesn’t change my mind.  Gwyneth Paltrow continues to annoy me in her role as Pepper Potts, despite being given more to do.

The writing is above average for an action adventure.  The direction is not spectacular, but keeps things moving along.  The 3D effects are worth the extra price of a 3D ticket.  This is one of the few movies I’ve felt that way about.   One continuing pet peeve, is the product placement.  Does the director have to make it so damn obvious? Can’t the producers raise enough money without turning the movie into a huge commercial?  It really ruins some shots, and nobody cares.  That annoys me.

Iron Man 3.  Still no signs of rust.

Image

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a young orphan growing up in Paris.  He scavenges parts, springs, washers, screws, nuts and bolts to rebuild an automaton that his dad built from scratch.  Hugo’s stealing makes him a target of a local merchant, Georges Melies (Ben Kingsley)  and a local police inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) with a penchant for nabbing young street urchins.  Luckily, Hugo befriends Georges’ god-daughter Isabelle.(Chloe Grace Moretz) and after much hesitation, Hugo reveals  that he lives in a clock above Paris, which he winds and keeps running daily.  Hugo finally assembles the automaton, with the help of Isabelle and a heart shaped key she wears around her neck.  The Automaton starts to draw something and then stops, Hugo feels like a failure, but then the automaton starts to draw again, and finishes a picture, what is it a picture of and why does Isabelle have the key to  start the automaton?

This movie is obviously Scorcese’s love letter to the movies.  Scorcese illustrates his love for movies through the voices of Hugo, who tells Isabella more than once how much his father loves the movies.  Scorcese’s  love is further illustrated when Hugo hangs from a clock, like silent movie star Harold Lloyd.  Hugo is a visually arresting movie, especially in 3D, Scorcese never forgets that film is a visual medium.  Even with all the things that go right with this movie, there are things that are wrong with this movie.  The film is too long and the pacing is somewhat slow, Scorcese even manages to put in a plug for his favorite pet project, film preservation.  Here’s a pet peeve of mine, all the characters speak with British accents, why?  The acting is superb.  Ben Kingsley is very good as a ‘broken’ man, who thinks life has passed him by.  Asa Butterworth is very good as a sensitive young orphan who believes he’s found his purpose.  Chloe Moretz is very good as Hugo’s ever supportive friend, and Sacha Baron Cohen injects some much needed levity to  a movie that tends to be a bit stodgy.

Hugo.  You go, and see it.

Movie Review: Elegy (2008)

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Drama
Tags: ,

elegy

David Kepish (Ben Kingsley) is a hedonistic college professor, who makes his name arguing that the Puritans killed another group of settlers, because they were atheists and believed in free love. David himself believes in love without entanglements, until he meets a beautiful student of his named Consuelo Castilla. (Penelope Cruz) David sets out to woo and bed Consuelo, and does so successfully, but then becomes consumed by her and possessive of her.  He follows her when she says she is going dancing with her brother.  David’s best friend George O’ Hearn (Dennis Hopper) suggests that David break it off with Consuelo, but instead of breaking it off, he continues to date her.  At the same time David is dating Consuelo, he is enjoying a no-strings attached sexual relationship with Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson)  David even goes as far as to lie to Carolyn about his relationship with Consuelo.   Meanwhile Consuelo is  getting frustrated by David’s lack of commitment to their relationship, he won’t even meet her parents at a party that Consuelo invites David to.  Tired of pursuing a serious relationship with David, Consuelo breaks it off.  Two years later, out of the blue, Consuelo calls David and asks him to meet her.  What does she want?  Does he meet her?

This movie starts promisingly enough, David is a witty, pompous , college professor who doesn’t believe in commitment will get his comeuppance when getting seriously involved with a younger woman, or that’s what I thought this movie would be but then it gets dragged down into the malaise of being a serious relationship movie.  The more time elapses, the more dour and melancholy it becomes.  I was glad when Consuelo called it quits, the relationship was getting downright painful to watch.  The big reveal is unnecessary and overly melodramatic, it plays more like a soap than a movie.  Consuelo’s request after the reveal is gratuitous and demeans the serious intent of the movie.  Kingsley is at his best when he’s the wise-cracking professor, but suffers as the lovelorn character.  Cruz shines as Consuelo in a very understated, grounded, serious performance, even though she is given some silly dialogue at times.  The movie suffers immensely when she’s not on screen.  I’d say the second half of the movie is much slower than the first hour.

Elegy:  Takes poetic license with love.