Posts Tagged ‘hugh jackman’

Eddie the Eagle

Eddie Edwards (Tom Costello, Jack Costello, Taron Edgerton) is born with knee problems that forced him to wear a knee brace until he was 15 years old.  He has one dream as a child, and that is to become an Olympian. Eddie soon realized that he could not make the Summer Olympics, so he wants to try out for the Winter Olympics in 1988.  He takes up skiing and then ski jumping.  Eddie learns that the best ski jumpers train in Germany , so he leaves England, and goes to Germany, much to the chagrin of his father, Terry, (Keith Allen) who wants to teach Eddie the fine art of plastering ceilings.

In Germany, Eddie meets Matti Nykanen (Edwin Endre) the Finnish ski jumping Olympic champion, and he also meets a washed-up alcoholic American who’s plowing the ski runs.  What Eddie soon understands that the washed-up American is Bronson Peary, (Hugh Jackman) who was on the U.S. ski jumping team, and blew his chance at a medal because of his big ego.  When Eddie ends up in the hospital after a jump, Bronson realizes that Eddie is serious about ski jumping.  Bronson simply teaches Eddie how to land. Eddie learns that because the British ski jumping team is non-existent, all he has to do is make a jump in a qualifying tournament and he is on the British Olympic ski jumping team, he makes the jump, and lands, but then British Olympic officials change the rules and now Eddie has to jump 61 meters, twice the length he jumped to qualify for the team.  What does Eddie do next?  Are his Olympic dreams dashed?

I loved this movie!  It certainly helps that I remember the story from the 1988 Olympics, but I didn’t know Eddie’s backstory, and that is what makes this movie fun to watch.  It’s easy to make a movie about a legendary sports star, like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig, but it’s sometime more interesting and emotionally fulfilling to watch a movie about a person who doesn’t care about receiving any accolades, who just want to participate, and by doing so, fulfills a lifelong dream.  That’s another reason this movie succeeds, Eddie is an everyman, doing what few men could, and by watching this movie, the viewer may think that he or she could achieve a goal that seemed impossible.  This movie does have flaws, the story and characters especially Peary seem clichéd.  I’m sure Eddie’s story was changed and the events condensed to make the story more audience friendly.  But it is a heartwarming, funny and charming film, and it made me feel good, and sometimes that’s all a movie needs to do.

Much of the charm and humor of this film are exuded by the film’s two stars.  Taron Edgerton plays Eddie as a shy, awkward, slightly overweight, mama’s boy, who never gives up on his dream, despite injury and embarrassment, Eddie persists.  Edgerton shows the grit, as well as the joy in Eddie, it was a great performance.  Edgerton was also very good in Kingsman, playing a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, who yearns to become a secret agent. Hugh Jackman can bring charm and humor to any character he plays he is supremely talented.  He takes a character that’s been played a million times, and makes the story about Bronson Peary’s redemption as well as Eddie’s dream. Christopher Walken has a small role as Jackman’s coach, and doesn’t do much with it.

Director Dexter Fletcher is mostly known for acting, his visual direction is off and on, the scenery looks spectacular at times, but at other times the ski jumps look absolutely like a greenscreen nightmare. The pacing is good and he gets good performances from Edgerton and Jackman, and the lesser known actors as well, so all in all he does a good job.

Eddie The Eagle: Soars high, lands gracefully.

X-Men-Days-Of-Future-Past

The future is bleak for mutants and the humans who help them.  Robots, named sentinels are hunting down mutants to the point of extinction.  Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) are holed up in a bunker with the last few surviving mutants.  They decide to send Logan (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973, with the help of Kitty Pride (Ellen Page) who has the ability to teleport people’s consciousness back in time.  Logan is chosen because his mind is the only mind strong enough to withstand the process.

Logan must go back to 1973 to convince Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) not to shoot the inventor of the sentinels, Dr. Bolivar Trask. (Peter Dinklage)   He must also find and reunite the younger Xavier (James McAvoy) and Eric (Michael Fassbender) and convince them to work together to bring Raven back from the precipice of being an assassin. With the help of Peter/Quicksilver, (Even Peters) Logan breaks Eric out of a prison in the Pentagon.  Xavier meanwhile has become somewhat of a recluse, living in his school for mutants, which is now in disrepair, with Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) Hank has cured Xavier’s paralysis, but the serum he uses, robs Xavier of his mental acuity. Morever, Xavier doesn’t want anything to do with his powers anymore, he blames his powers, and Eric for losing Raven, and causing his paralysis.  Can Logan convince these former friends, now rivals to bury the hatchet, find Raven, and convince her not to kill Dr. Trask?  Or do Xavier and Eric’s doubts about themselves and human beings overwhelm them?

I love this movie.  There are simply not enough superlatives to tell you how good this movie is.  It integrates the best of the first series of X-Men movies with the best of the reboot.  The sentinels do remind me a bit of the robots from the Terminator movies, and there is the usual time travel caveat about changing the future, but this time they want to change the future. There’s also a good bit of historical fiction about the Vietnam War, the Kennedy assassination and the Nixon administration, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Nixon is a villain in this movie, and that will either enrage you or delight you depending on your political views.  This kind of historical fiction was tried in the movie The Watchmen, but I found that history muddled and incomprehensible, the flashbacks to the 70’s was a loving, nostalgic look at an era I look back on with fondness. Days of Future Past is also disarmingly funny, the script had me laughing out loud at times.  Other than Nolan’s Dark Knight movies, this is the best superhero film I’ve seen in a very long time.

What can I say about the acting?  It is first rate.  Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan bring the same heft and gravitas to these characters that made me love them in the first place.  James McAvoy  and Michael Fassbender are put in a tough position, being in the same movie paying the same characters as these iconic actors, but they not only hold their own, but make the characters their own.  Michel Fassbender is becoming a great actor in his own right, it’s getting to the point where I could watch him in any movie he makes.  Hugh Jackman has played Logan/Wolverine in at least seven movies now, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing him, he is Wolverine.  Nicholas Hoult is good as Beast, Xavier’s right hand man, Ellen Page brings some Inception style earnestness to her role. Evan Peters is very funny as Quicksilver, and Peter Dinklage gives a standout performance as the evil Dr. Trask. The only fly in the ointment was Jenner Lawrence, she actually made me realize how good Rebecca Romiijn was as Raven, she was much more edgy and mature.  Jennifer Lawrence seems like she’s trying really hard to be edgy, but doesn’t quite make it.  I think she is too young for this role, not to mention her role in American Hustle.

The direction is good, fast paced and action packed, the 2 hours and 10 minutes flew by.  The 3D effects, didn’t really add much I’m sorry to say.  There is violence and nudity, so don’t bring the young kids, they won’t like seeing Hugh Jackman’s bare posterior as much as their mothers might.

X-men Days of Future Past.  Happy Days, indeed.

Movie Review: Prisoners (2013)

Posted: May 24, 2014 in Drama
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Anna Dover (Erin Gerasomovich) and Joy Birch (Kyla Drew-Simmons) are little girls kidnapped by someone driving a recreational vehicle.  Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal  finds the RV in short order, and inside the vehicle is a mentally challenged young man named Alex Jones. (Paul Dano)  Loki arrests Alex, but cannot hold him for lack of evidence.   In stunned disbelief, Anna’s father, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) begs Loki to detain Alex, but he can’t.  After hearing something suspicious from Alex at a press conference, Keller takes matters into his own hands.  He kidnaps Alex and tortures him for a confession.  Alex doesn’t seem to comprehend what is happening to him.

While Keller is trying to get a confession in his own way, Loki is following different clues, which results in the arrest of Bob Taylor (David Dastmalchian) who makes a habit of buying children’s clothes, and mannequins.  So who has taken these girls, and who is vindicated in his investigation of this crime, Loki or Keller?

I did not like Prisoners.  It tries to be much more than it is.  There are all kinds of religious symbolism, the first lines in the movie are the Lord’s Prayer, there are crucifixes in the RV, a suspicious priest. I don’t know if the religious overtones are meant to illustrate a Job like parable of a man of faith being tested, an indictment of Christianity, or a crass marketing ploy to draw religious people into the movie. This movie explores torture too, there are scenes reminiscent of the torture or Iraqi prisoners during the Iraq war, that couldn’t have been accidental.  Again, is this to draw buzz to the movie and get people opposed to the torture in Iraq to come see it?  I found that part of the movie manipulative.  I also found the torture scenes to be excessive and gratuitously violent.  For such a serious movie, Prisoners has some major lapses in logic.  Loki seems to be the only cop in town, he has to find the kidnapper, interview a second suspect, keep an eye on Keller, and find the first suspect, who’s suddenly disappeared.  And the last 30 minutes, there is a plot twist that is so mind-bendingly stupid, I was left to scratch my head and think, what the hell just happened?

It is the acting that kept me watching, even as the script grew more ludicrous, particularly strong were the performances by Jackman and Gyllenhaal.  Jackman gives a mostly low-key performance, and he is a somewhat sympathetic character, even given the horrific things he has to do.  Gyllenhaal plays a character trying to investigate this crime by the book, and running into dead ends wherever he turns.  I was shocked at how blandly Terrence Howard played his character.  He was hard to watch.  Melissa Leo is wasted, in heavy makeup, as Alex’s mother.

The story is much too long, 2 ½ hours, and there were lots of slow spots. This is not a movie for kids there is a lot of graphic violence and torture, definitely not family fare.

The Prisoners.  Torturously long.

LesMiserables

Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman)  has served 19 years of slave labor, under the watchful, vengeful, eye of police inspector Javert.  (Russell  Crowe) Valjean breaks parole, and escapes to the house of a kindly Bishop, (Colm Wilkenson) who forgives Valjean for stealing some silver.  Valjean makes the most of this second chance and becomes mayor of Montreuil  Sur Mer, and opens a factory.  One of Valjean’s factory workers, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is a poverty stricken single mother who will do anything for feed her child, Cosette,  (Isabelle Allen, Amanda Seyfried) including selling her hair, and her teeth, and becoming a prostitute, now Fantine is dying, and she wants Valjean to take care of the young Cossette.  Always wary of the omnipresent Javert, Valjean pays off the owners of the inn where Fantine has left Cosette, Thenardier  (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Madame Thenardier  (Helena Bonham Carter) and takes care of Cosette while still on the run from Javert.

Years later, Cosette meets Marius (Eddie Redmayne) who after an argument with his grandfather takes up the Revolutionary cause.  Marius and Cosette fall in love immediately, but Eponine (Samantha Barks) also loves Marius, and is jealous of Cosette.  Further complicating matters, Javert is still pursuing Valjean.  Does Valjean ever escape Javert? How does the love triangle between Marius, Cosette and Eponine resolve itself?  How does the French Revolution affect these people’s lives?

When I first sat down to watch Les Miserables, I didn’t think I’d like it much less deem it a classic.  It’s a musical and I’m not too keen on musicals from Broadway.  In addition, the movie is set in French Revolutionary times, I thought I was in for a snoozefest.  I was entirely mistaken, this is an enthralling, engrossing, captivating film, that draws viewers in from the first minute and keeps them engaged throughout.  The songs, which I thought would be a weakness, turned out to be the strongest part of the movie and even aided in the exposition of the story.  It dealt with the poor, hungry masses of France in a compassionate tender way, and blended their fates with the fate of the French Revolution in a beautiful, seamless way.  Les Miserables doesn’t try to force tears, it just tells a story and lets the emotion come naturally.  This is the role Hugh Jackman was born to play, and all this time, I thought it was Wolverine.  Jackman’s acting was as good as his singing. Russell Crowe was also very good acting and singing his lines.  Anne Hathaway was wonderful in a small role as Fantine, and yes she can really sing.  Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter add some much needed comedy relief,  and Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Banks are actors who I’ve barely heard of.  I saw Redmayne in My Week With Marilyn, a very good film, but had no idea he could sing.   I didn’t know Barks at all, and she had a heartbreaking, scene stealing performance.

The writing is superb, I’m sure it’s difficult to take a 2000 page book by Victor Hugo and turn it into something that translates to the screen, but the story was told simply and effectively.  The direction was splendid, there is nothing that catches my eye about the direction, in many movies, but this movie was different, there were all kind of crazy angles and shots, and France looked like a picture postcard, although I suspect some of that was CGI.  I hope it was not most.  Watch this movie, with someone who means a lot to you, you will both enjoy it.

Les Miserables.  Not Miserable.  Enjoyable.

Movie Review: The Wolverine (2013)

Posted: July 27, 2013 in Drama
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the-wolverine

It is August 9th 1945,  Logan (Hugh Jackman) is in Nagasaki, Japan, as the U.S. drops the bomb on Nagasaki, as most of the soldiers commit hara kiri, Logan saves one soldier, named Yashida (Ken Yamamoura) and Yashida is eternally grateful.

Years later, a girl named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) invites Logan to Japan to visit Yashida.  Yukio is a mutant as well, with the power to see the future.  Logan accepts the visit, and visits Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) who by now is an aging tech giant, worth billions, but also dying from the radiation he was exposed to during the war.  Yashida is being treated by a shady doctor,(Svetlana Khodchenkova)  who he calls his oncologist, but is mixing up chemicals much more complex to keep Yashida alive.  Yashida makes a promise to Logan, he will give Logan what he desires most a mortal life, if Logan promises to protect his granddaughter, Mariko, (Tao Okamoto) from the Yakuza, the Japanese mob.  Does Logan agree to protect Mariko?  Who is Yashida’s mysterious doctor?  Does Logan get his mortality back from Yashida’s mysterious doctor?

I have very mixed feelings about The Woverine.  I wanted to like it a lot, because I really love the X-Men trilogy and even the first Wolverine movie.  But it is precisely because of the X-Men movies that I feel like the Wolverine falls short.  The X-Men movies were about large issues, the discovery of mutants, their impact on the world, and the human reaction to the mutants.  This story feels smaller in scope and impact.  And the substitute for story is gratuitous violence, and I’m not talking about comic book violence, people get shot and stabbed and right and that is disturbing.  The story feels almost provincial, being shot mostly in Japan, and the cynical side of me says that was done to draw on the large Asian audience both in the U.S. and worldwide. There is a romance between Logan and Mariko, that seems forced, maybe because Jackman s 44, and Tao Okamoto is 28.  A lot of the script is not worth the paper it’s written on.

There are strong points to the story though.  Jackman does a wonderful job reprising Logan, as a haunted soul, disturbed by nightmares and yearning for a “normal” life. Famke Janssen  is superb reprising her role as Jean Grey, she is a siren, a specter, calling to Logan to join her in eternal rest. Rilla Fukushima, brings some fun and action to the movie as Logan’s “bodyguard.” The rest of the cast pretty much falls flat. The character played by Svetlana Khodchenkova  could have been an interesting one, with a little more development, but they didn’t do that.

There is one action scene that deserves mention, it is when Logan is fighting one of the Yakuza on top of a speeding bullet train, the rest of the action scenes are pretty violent, and largely unnecessary. The Wolverine clocks in at 126 minutes and could have used a lot of editing, but there is a tease for the third Wolverine movie, after the credits, and that looks worth watching, so stay until after the credits.

The Wolverine:  A cat with no claws.