Posts Tagged ‘eddie redmayne’

fantastic-beast-crimes-of-grindelwald-002

In 1927, dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes from a maximum security prison while in transport from New York City.  Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is appealing his travel ban to the Ministry of Magic.  The Ministry of Magic states that Newt can get his travel pass back if he agrees to work with his brother, Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner) but Newt refuses.  Theseus is marrying Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) and Newt still has feelings for Leta. Newt accepts a mission from Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to find Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) in Paris.

Newt finds out from Queenie Goldstein (Allison Sudol) that her sister Tina (Katherine Waterston) is also in Paris.  Newt also has feelings for Tina, but Tina thinks Newt is marrying Leta, so she’s run away to Paris.  Tina is also looking for Credence in Paris.  Grindelwald also has a reason to find Credence.  Credence is in Paris, with his girlfriend Nagini. (Claudia Kim) Credence is looking to find his real mother.  Does he find her?  Who finds Credence first?  Tina, Newt or Grindelwald?  What does Grindelwald plan for Credence if he finds him first?

The Crimes of Grindelwald does not have many beasts in it, so if a viewer was enthralled by that aspect of the first movie, that element is sorely missing.  What the story does have is a multi-track storyline, there is a romantic storyline, involving, for the most part, Newt and his love interests, past and possibly future.  For those not interested in the romantic side, there is the mystery of Credence, who he is and his powers as a wizard.  There’s also the Grindelwald storyline, is he a threat to the existing order or a prophet to deliver the wizards to their rightful place in humanity?  I like all of the storylines, if there is a complaint, it is that the female characters are underdeveloped, only Queenie seems to have a multifaceted character.   It was also nice to see younger versions of beloved Harry Potter characters, although there was some controversy in one of the younger incarnations of a character.

The story goes along fine until the ending , which is a real head-scorcher for even die hard Potter fans, which I am not, I have not read the books, but I have seen all the movies, and JK Rowling basically reached for something that did not exist in the past books or movies to create a twist ending.  She hinted at one thing, and sprang this ending out of the blue.  It didn’t ruin the film, but it did call into question her writing skills.

The acting is far stronger than I expected.  Eddie Redmyne still has that sly look on his face, and he still has fun with the role, but he seems like a sidekick in the sequel, and that’s too bad.  Johnny Depp thankfully plays Grindelwald with some restraint, and turns in a nice understated performance.  Jude Law displays enough gravitas to play Albus Dumbledore as he should be played.  I’m sure Law will add more layers to his performance in the next film.  Allison Sudol, does a good job of playing Queenie, she is given more serious material in this film, and she handles it well.  Katherine Waterston is ok, but her character is still not well-developed, even after two films.  Zoe Kravitz was pleasantly surprising, I was expecting a flat performance from her, but it was filled with emotion.

The direction was good.  Director David Yates did a good job of letting the disparate elements of the story unfurl, and he got good performances from his lead actors.  This is familiar territory for Yates, he directed Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows Pat 2.  Where I think Yates went awry was with the special effects.  He lets the special effects take over at some points, and the special effects obstruct the narrative and get in the way, rather than enhancing the story.

Fantastic Beasts:   The Crimes of Grindelwald:  I’m a slave to the Grind.

 

early-man-movie3

In the Pleistocene Era, Stone Age Man learned to play soccer when a comet falls from the sky.  By the Bronze Age, Stone Age men have forgotten their soccer skills and spend their time hunting rabbits.  A small band of Stone Age people are invaded by the Bronze Age men, and their valley is taken away from them and the Stone Age people are imprisoned.  One member of the Stone Age village is captured by the Bronze Age people, and so he sees what the Bronze Age Society looks like.  Dug, (Eddie Redmayne) the Stone Age captive, learns that the Bronze Age people are very good at soccer.  The Bronze Age Ruler, Lord Nooth  (Tom Hiddleston) is a greedy despot, only interested in collecting bronze coins from the overflow crowds at the soccer game.  Dug challenges Nooth’s team to a soccer game, but the Stone Agers have forgotten everything that they ever knew about  soccer, can Dug, and a female Bronze Age  named Goona  (Masie Williams) help the Stone Age team, beat the Bronze Age team?

Early Man is a tongue in cheek look at the history of soccer, going back to prehistoric man.  The story seems a little padded, there is not only one montage where the Stone Age team learns to play soccer but two .  The use of French accents for the Bronze age players is smart and funny, underscoring the Anglo French rivalry in Europe.  The reason why Dug goes back to the Bronze Age stadium is dumb, but the introduction of Goona is a welcome change from the mostly male cast.  There are lots of jokes, soccer jokes and non-soccer jokes, enough to sustain the film.  The climax is exciting and expected.  Early Man is slightly less enjoyable than Wallace and Grommit and Chicken Run, but I enjoy Claymation animation so I enjoyed this movie.

Tom Hiddleston is a very funny guy, and anyone who’s seen his film probably wouldn’t know that, but in this movie he exploits his comedic timing and voice.  He is a large reason why I like this movie.  Hiddleston should make more comedies.  Eddie Redmayne is ok, as Dug, he’s really a straight man, allowing Hiddleston to go over the top with his character.  Masie Williams is good as the soccer enthusiast who wants to be part of a team, but can’t make the Bronze Age team.  She pairs well with Redmayne.

The direction is ok.  It is difficult to animate clay, so bonus points for that, the pacing is slow and disjointed to begin with, but it gathers steam and builds to a nice climax.  The climactic soccer game is filmed well.

Early Man:  Make it a gooooooal to see it.

 

 

fantastic-beasts

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) comes to New York in 1926.  He has a suitcase full of creatures that he is sure won’t hurt anyone.   He runs into Non-Maj Jacob Kowalski, (Dan Fogler) who works in a cannery, but dreams of being a baker. Jacob has a suitcase full of baked goods.  They accidentally switch suitcases, which gets Newt in trouble demoted wizard investigator, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) who accuses Newt of being an unregistered wizard, and takes the case to the Magical Congress of the USA, who dismisses the case, despite widespread accounts of property damage.  But then, without warning, a Senator, Langdon Shaw (Ronan Raftery) dies, and Newt’s animals are still on the loose.  Are Newt’s animals responsible for the Senator’s death or is something else at work?  Will the Senator’s death result in a war between humans and wizards in America?

Fantastic Beasts is a good movie, but it takes a long time to bring its disparate storylines together.  It tries to be a comedy with Jacob Kowalski being the comedy relief, it tries to be a romance, and to be a social commentary with dialogue about the anti-wizarding laws present in America at the time, which could draw parallels from anything to the Salem Witch Trials to McCarthyism, to the Holocaust, to anti-gay or religiously restrictive laws that may come in the US.  The oblique references to darker issues were not the problem. The real problem is that ithe script spends too much time on the beasts, which at times are treated as rescue animals or worse, characters from Pokemon Go. The story picks up with the death of the Senator, and maintains the interest throughout.  JK Rowling wants to make the story an epic, with plenty of characters and therefore has to do a lot of exposition, but  she would have been better served making the story more focused and cutting the superfluous story elements.  Fantastic Beasts is not as good as Harry Potter, but is different enough to be interesting and can stand on its own.

The acting is superb.  Eddie Redmayne gives Newt a playful nature, in keeping with the lightness of the script.  Redmayne implies with each sly smile that he is a wizard, but that shy charm may be his most powerful spell.  Katherine Waterston gives a serious, subtle, grounded performance.  Tina does not seem to be overwhelmed by the circumstances surrounding her.  The relationship between Tina and Newt, if there is one is very subtle. Dan Fogler was welcome comic relief, it was nice to see Rowling’s adult characters have some fun for a change.  Allison Sudol adds an ethereal touch to Queenie, Tina’s sister, and Jacob’s love interest, as if she might be too good to be true.  Adding some shades of gray to his performance, Colin Farrell commands attention as Graves, the senior wizard investigator.  Despite his short time on the screen, he finds ways to make his character interesting in different ways. He deserved a bigger role.

The direction isn’t bad,  the pacing drags at times, but that could be from the sheer number of characters and plotlines that need to be introduced  The special effects were well integrated into the story, and therefore didn’t seem to take over.  The performances were very good, but is that the director’s doing or the actors playing them?  I don’t know.  Colin Farrell is a very good actor, and Eddie Redmayne, even at a young age, has proven himself a huge talent.  David Yates, the director has directed four Potter movies, so he knows what this kind of story entails.

Fantastic Beasts:  Beast not afraid, there’s four more movies to come.

the theory of everything

Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is a physicist at Cambridge with an incredibly facile mind.  He meets the love of his life, Jane Wyatt (Felicity Jones) while doing his doctoral thesis at Cambridge.  The two fall in love, but then Hawking is diagnosed with ALS.   The doctors give him two years to live, he tries to push Jane away, but she loves him completely and refuses to leave him.  The two get married, have three kids, but the strain of Hawking’s disability is putting a strain on their marriage.  Jane finds solace by going to choir practice on her church.  The choir practice is led by a handsome young widowed priest, Johnathan (Charlie Cox) Jane and Johnathan get closer, as Stephen’s health continues to deteriorate.  Does Jane’s friendship and Stephen’s deteriorating health put a stain on their marriage?

Stephen Hawking’s story is an incredible one.  He is a man who thinks about things that most people couldn’t even begin to think about.  When he’s on the verge of personal and professional triumph, he is struck with an incurable degenerative nerve disease.  The movie is based on Jane Hawking’s book, so it concentrates more on the romance, than the physics, and that’s ok, because the romance is incredible. There are moments that are hard to watch, and the story gets a bit too salacious when showing the relationship between Jane and Jonathan, and what should have been an uplifting story had a quite depressing ending, which actually detracted from the film.  The film seemed to play up the fact that Stephen was an atheist and Jane was a devout Christian,  I didn’t think that was necessary

Eddie Redmayne is quite amazing in this role, the way he physically contorts his face and body makes it easy to visualize the ravages of the disabling disease.  The pain and suffering of his disability is etched on his face.  Felicity Jones is also very good as Jane who stays devoted to Stephen through the most difficult of times.  Charlie Cox is good in a difficult role.  Maxine Peake is very good as Elaine, Hawking’s caregiver.  Of all the nominees I’ve seen, Redmayne should win best actor, he probably won’t but he should.  It was a very difficult role, phisally and emotionally.

The direction was nothing spectacular, but the pacing was good.

The Theory of Everything:  Watch this like a hawk.

Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is the daughter of Russian immigrants who settles in Chicago with her mother aunt and uncle after the fatal shooting of her father, Max. (James D’Arcy)  Jupiter and her mom work as maids, waking up early to clean the houses of wealthy people.  Jupiter is so poor that her cousin Vladie (Kick Gurry) wants her to sell her ovum for money.  Jupiter reluctantly agrees.  During the operation, she senses that alien spies are trying to kill her.  She is saved by a bounty hunter named Caine Wise.  (Channing Tatum) Caine is a splice, a cross between a wolf and an albino, he has been sent to kill Jupiter by Balem, (Eddie Redmayne) the ruler of the distant planet whose citizens have been visiting Earth for eons.  Why does Balem want to kill a maid?  Why does Caine save her?

It’s sad that I have to pan the first 2015 movie I see but I will, because this movie is first and foremost derivative of the Matrix with its clunky romance and duel realities.  Unfortunately, Jupiter Ascending also borrows liberally from Cloud Atlas, in its prodigious use of pseudo-scientific gobbledygook.  It also takes from Star Wars, the archetype of all sci-fi adventure films, and Soylent Green.  Worst of all, the film tries to superimpose a Shakespearian  drama onto a creaky sci-fi base, and the results are disastrous I say Shakespearean, but this is like Shakespeare for Dummies, Shakespeare for those with a short attention span.  There’s some drama between brothers, some incestuous dialogue, that’s about it . There are also musings about the bureaucracy on the distant planet, and asides on crop circles and mixing human DNA with alien DNA, I could watch Ancient Aliens on the History channel  for discussions on those topics and it probably would be more interesting than this movie. The gender roles haven’t changed at all, the hero is the male, the damsel in distress is the female.  The ending is predictable, and leaves openings for a sequel, I doubt one will be made. Unlike the Matrix the central premise of this movie is not intriguing.  It sounds more like a fairy tale.

The acting by the leads is sub-par.  Channing Tatum sticks to his monotone, monosyllabic delivery, he tries to don an accent of some kind in the beginning, knowing that was a bad idea, he dropped the accent completely.  Tatum must have been hanging around with Eddie Redmayne on the days the accented scenes were shot. Worst of all was Tatum’s appearance. Channing Tatum looked like Mugatu  from Zoolander. That’s all I could think about after seeing him in this movie.  I never thought I’d compliment Keanu Reeves’ acting, but Channing Tatum, you’re no Keanu Reeves.  Mila Kunis mostly screams for help in this movie, so not much acting involved there.  She gets blackmailed twice, so her character can be easily duped, and no attempt at an accent, and she’s Ukrainian, so a tiny Russian accent shouldn’t be so hard.  The better performances are by actors in smaller roles, Eddie Redmayne does a serviceable job as Blaem, although he does overplay it a bit.  Sean Bean is good as Tatum’s old commander.  Gugu Mbatha Raw is good as the not so nice Famulus, but their contributions are wasted.

The cinematography and the special effects are superb.  The visuals are what kept my attention in this movie, having said that, the action sequences are badly conceived and badly directed.  Every time there was a glimmer of plot development or character development, a fight would break out, and that led to an extremely weak plot and next to no character development.  The movie is too long and the pacing is slow.

Jupiter Ascending.  Descending fast.