Posts Tagged ‘hugo weaving’

Movie Review: Mortal Engines (2018)

Posted: September 13, 2019 in Action, Drama

mortal engines

After what’s called the 60 minutes war, in a post-apocalyptic future, cities are now mobile and the city of London is rumbling through Europe picking of what’s left of smaller European cities, and building on its strength.  Among the citizens of the absorbed city is Hester Shaw, (Hera Hillmar) Hester attempts to assassinate Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), head of the Historical Guild, but escapes down a chute before he can do anything to retaliate.  Valentine also pushes Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) down the same chute.

Hester and Tom look for a trading post, but Hester ends up at an auction, where the auction is won by Anna Fang (Jihae Kim) leader of Shan Guo, another city state and rival of London.  Meanwhile, Valentine says he is working on a new energy source, but his daughter, Katherine (Leila George) doesn’t believe him and investigates.  Valentine also sends out cyborg bounty hunter Shrike (Steven Lang) to kill Hester.  Why does Hester want to kill Valentine?  Why does Valentine want to kill Hester?  Why does Anna want to save Hester?

As the mobile version of London plods through Europe,  Mortal Engines plot  plods through two hours of time.  As this trite, pretentious story moves slowly toward its conclusion, the question occurs why was it made?  There are many better versions of this story, Star Wars, Mad Max, to name two. In fact this movie is Star Wars with Mad Max’s production design.  There is very little character development, or plot development, and whatever plot exists is just an excuse for gratuitous violence.  Mortal Engines is an exercise in pointless, ponderous filmmaking.  This is more like a recent Wachowski siblings movie more than a Peter Jackson film, and that’s not a compliment

Hugo Weaving can be an excellent actor, as he’s shown in The Matrix films and V for Vendetta, but every actor needs a good script, and this is not a good script.  Weaving is asked to play a dubious character, something he does well, but this character is too much of a one note character, who even Weaving cannot make interesting.  Hera Hillmar and Robert Sheehan have no chemistry going on with each other in roles that demand chemistry.  Jihae Kim was probably added to boost Asian film sales, it didn’t work.

Peter Jackson is one of the best directors in  the world, but he is slipping after  the Lord of The Rings Trilogy, The Lovely Bones was bad, the Hobbit Trilogy was one movie stretched into three, and Mortal Engines is probably the worst of the lot.  The pacing was awful, and to try to offset that, Jackson dipped into the director’s bag of clichés, explosions, violence, and special effects, none of which worked to liven up a film which is dead on arrival.

Mortal Engines:  Stalls from the start.




patrick melrose

Episode 1:  Bad News

Patrick Melrose (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a British addict who learns of his father David’s (Hugo Weaving) death.  Patrick tries to give up heroin, in honor of his dad’s passing, does he succeed?  He also tries to date his girlfriend’s friend Maryanne. (Allison Williams)  How does that go?

What to say of this character and show?  I didn’t sympathize with Patrick, I didn’t pity him, I didn’t laugh at his many travails, because they were of his own making. Patrick is a trust fund baby, who spends his money like water to feed his vices, and he thinks he’s fine.  Then there’s the excuse lurking around. The action that will excuse Patrick’s neediness and behavior,  I know exactly how this is going to end, and I don’t think it’s worth going through five hours just to find out  what happens to a thoroughly despicable character.  Benedict Cumberbatch is fine, it is fun to see him play a creep, but it’s as if he’s doing a one man show and not getting much help from the rest of the cast. The episode is a slog, to see such self-destructive behavior over and over again, is difficult to say the least.

The visual direction is good, as in there are interesting shots from many different angles, but the pacing is very slow, an hour takes forever in this show

Episode 2:  Never Mind

Patrick recalls a trip to Lacoste France in 1967, where something horrific happened to him.

So, now the audience sees what drove Patrick Melrose to his self-destructive excesses.  Many people go through horribly painful  events in their lives, not all of them turn into addicts and fewer still want to kill themselves with an overdose.  These books and this show is glorying drug use by making  it all seem like one big party, other than the withdrawal symptoms, and they become redundant too. Other than good performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugo Weaving, this wouldn’t even be worth watching the story of addiction has been told many times, so what can be added, I don’t know.

Episode 3:  Some Hope

In 1990 Patrick attends a party thrown by Bridget (Holliday Granger)  a woman he first met at the family home in France Bridget is now a countess, and has invited everyone to the party, from Patrick’s friend and fellow addict Johnny Hall (Prasanna Puwanarajah) to Princess Margaret. (Harriet Walter) Patrick makes an important admission to Johnny at the party.

There is a major tonal shift in this episode, there are still flashbacks to remind the viewer of Patrick’s trauma, but it’s also a blistering satire of the idle rich, until the viewer realizes that Patrick is one of the idle rich, that makes the satire a little less effective.  Still the tonal shift is a welcome change. The only issue I have with this episode is that Bridget looks the same 23 years after Patrick first met her.  The makeup people should have aged her a little.  The camera continues to shoot this film from interesting angles.


Episode 4:  Mother’s Milk:

Patrick goes to the South of France to visit his mother in 2003.  He is married now with two young boys, but he still has vices, but does he indulge them?

Patrick is married and has two kids, he could concentrate on them, he could make then the center of his world, he could forget about his past, and concentrate on his future.  In other words, he could be an adult, but does he do that, or does he continue to live a Peter Pan life where he doesn’t want to grow up and face his responsibilities if being a husband and father?  Parts of this episode is funny, but it’s also frustrating to watch.

Episode 5: At Last

In 2005, Patrick must come to terms with his mother’s death, while continuing to self-medicate with alcohol.

At last, this show is over.  The viewer finally sees some consequences of Patrick’s behavior, but even the consequences are clichés , and he never quite seems to understand how his behavior affects other people.  The visual direction continues to be stellar.  But the story is never quite realistic enough to be gripping.  Finally, the flashbacks on this episode are confusing, it is never clear when it’s 2005, and when it’s before 2005.

Impressions of Patrick Melrose

The acting by Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugo Weaving is excellent, and that’s why I kept watching.  But in the end, the story glorifies drug and alcohol abuse.  In the age of rampant opioid addiction, that is a dangerous viewpoint to present.  Patrick has a built in excuse for his excesses, and the consequences of his actions are only briefly mentioned and off he goes again, living his carefree, consequence free lifestyle. When Patrick actually hits rock bottom, it’s so short in duration, that it doesn’t have an impact.

Cumberbatch is good, despite playing a not very likable character, either as needy addict or devil-may care alcoholic, he is kind of a cad.  His character seems to think life owes him something instead of making the most of a very advantageous position. The problem with playing an amoral person is that the audience will never root for Patrick to succeed, because his goals are out of whack.  So it may be a fine performance by Cumberbatch, but the character is pretty despicable.

Hugo Weaving is used to being a bad guy, he played Agent Smith in three Matrix movies.  Here he is relentlessly, one dimensionally evil , playing Patrick’s father David.  He does the best he can, despite being boxed in by the writers.  Jennifer Jason Leigh is not given much to do after the first couple of episodes.

The direction is very visually stimulating throughout, the camera is used in many different angles to give the viewer a lot of different perspectives of what is happening in each episode.  The downside of the direction is the pacing is very slaw, and when the subject matter is difficult, which is often,this show becomes difficult to watch.

Patrick Melrose:  No one comes out smelling like a rose in this show.


hacksaw ridge

When Desmond Doss (Darcy Bryce, Andrew Garfield) was young he got into a fight with his brother , Hal (Roman Guerrero, Nathaniel Buzcolic) and hit him in the head with a rock.  Desmond prays for Hal’s recovery and he eventually recovered.  Desmond’s father, Tom, (Hugo Weaving) is a World War I veteran, but he is also an alcoholic, who beats Desmond’s mother,  and threatens her with a gun.  One of these altercations almost ends with Desmond shooting Tom, and so Desmond becomes a pacifist and vows never to touch a gun again. At the same time that Desmond is realizing his pacifism, World War II is raging in the Pacific, and Desmond wants to join the fight as a medic.  There is no law against contentious objectors joining the military, but Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Captain Glover  (Sam Worthington) conspire to get Desmond discharged on a section 8, but Desmond is not crazy.  Later, the military ties to court-martial him for insubordination, for refusing to carry a firearm.  Does Desmond beat the court-martial?

Hacksaw Ridge is a story well worth telling, about a pacifist who still wants to serve his country by healing soldiers and not killing people.  But instead of making Desmond a hero, the writers make Desmond a superhero, he is perfect, faultless, and blameless in every way, and that makes Desmond too good to be true, and the rest of the characters are stereotypes of solders that are overdone in films.  The Sergeant is loud, and overbearing, the Captain just wants Desmond out of his hair.  All of Desmond’s fellow privates deride Desmond and haze him for his religious beliefs, and the Japanese are nothing more than screaming dehumanized hoards.

Andrew Garfield does as well as he can with this role.  He is boxed in by the writing, Garfield is only allowed to show anger at his fellow soldiers once in the whole film.  And he overcompensates with his Southern accent to hide his British accent.  Vince Vaughn plays Sergeant Howell like Sergeant Carter of Gomer Pyle fame, barking out orders and heaping abuse on helpless privates.  Vaughn should really stick to comedies, at least he has shown he can be funny.  Sam Worthington struggles the most with his British accent, and that neutralizes the effectiveness of his character.  Hugo Weaving is given the most complex character to play, and he does it well, he stands out in a relatively small role.

Mel Gibson directed this movie and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work.  I’m not sure he deserved a nomination.  The pacing was slow, and he didn’t edit enough.  His overuse of a certain special effect became an annoyance. Gibson was visually trying to prove that war was a dirty, bloody, hell on earth.  But the violence was staggering and the level of violence was repellant.  If Gibson had stuck with the story of Desmond Doss the pacifist during World War II, and cut down on the eye popping violence, Hacksaw Ridge would have been a better film.

Hacksaw Ridge:  Mel Gibson does a hack job as a director.


In 1849 Adam Ewing (Jim Stugess) goes on a journey on a slave ship.  His father-in-law, Haskell Moore, (Hugo Weaving) makes a lot of money from the slave trade.  When Adam feels empathy for  a slave on the ship, Autua  (David Gyasi), Dr Henry Goose (Tom Hanks) tries to kill him.  Does he succeed?

In 1936, Robert Frobisher (Ben Wishaw) is a gay music composer in love with Rufus Sixsmith (James D”Arcy) Frobisher wants to work with Vyvan Ayers, (Jim Broadbent) on his musical master opus, “Cloud Atlas Sextet” and make himself famous in the process.  Robert sleeps with Ayers’ wife, Jocasta (Halle Berry), but is distraught that he can’t spend his life with Sixsmith.  He writes to Sixsmith that he is going to kill himself, does he do it?

In 1973, a young reporter, Luisa Ray (Halle Berry) is covering a story about the dangers of nuclear power.  She gets stuck on an elevator with a much older Rufus Sixsmith, who’ a physicist now.  Ray also meets Isaac Sachs (Hanks) who takes her on a tour of the plant.  They feel a connection to each other and plan to meet later.  Sixsmith ties to get a damning report about the plant.  Plant manager, Lloyd Hooks (Hugh Grant) wants Ray and Sachs out of the way and hires Bill Smoke (Hugo Weaving to kill Luisa Ray.  Does he succeed?

In 2012, Timothy Cavendish (Broadbent) is a book publisher, trying to sell the latest book of author Dermot Hoggins (Hanks) Hoggins is a brutish type who threatens a reviewer who wrote a bad review of his book.  The book becomes a best-seller, but Hoggins wants more money from Cavendish.  Cavendish needs to escape because Cavendish doesn’t have money.  Timothy turns to his brother Denhome, but Denhome traps Timothy in a nursing home, run by a sadistic nurse, named Nokes (Weaving)

In the year 2144, in Neo Seoul, a fabricant, a clone bred for servitude named Sonmi. (Doona Bae) Soonmi is tired of conforming to a consumer based society.  Sonmi finds Hae Joo Chang (Sturgess) a human born in a womb, they fall in love but can they escape this authoritarian society?

In 2346, humans living on a planet that is not earth, live in a very primitive fashion.  Zachary (Hanks) is trying to protect his family from an intra-tribal war.  The other chief is called the Kona Chief, (Grant)  and he is a bloodthirsty cannibal.  Suddenly a stranger named Meronym (Berry)  appears from a different part of the planet.  She is technologically advanced, and tells Zachary to follow her, but there is a voice in Zachary’s head (Weaving) that tells Zachary to kill Meronym, does he listen to that voice?

I did not like Cloud Atlas.  The basic themes were alright, freedom from an autocratic society, and non-conformity in the face of intense pressure to conform.  But then it strays into past lives, and new age doctrine, and I’m sorry, but that turns me off.  The stories are all supposed to be interconnected , but the connections are tenuous at best.

The vignettes borrow heavily from other movies First off the interconnectedness of the storylines reminded me of Babel, the  journey on the slave ship is reminiscent of Amistad, the Halle Berry investigating a nuclear accident was like Coffey meets China Syndrome, the nursing home story feels like  One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, the futuristic Korean story is Blade Runner meets 2046 meets Soylent Green, and the thing is all the original movies that this movie borrows from are better than this movie. The fourth and fifth stories are my favorites, because the fourth one is good comedy relief and the fifth one is good science fiction, but 2/6th of a good movie is a pretty bad movie.

The movie is written by the Wachowski siblings, and has all the strengths and weaknesses of their Matrix movies, some good science fiction and a lot of mushy sentimentality that boils down to the phrase “Why can’t we all get along?”  Cloud Atlas was a book, so I will blame some of the shortcomings of the movie on the book, but since I never read the book, I don’t know where the book goes off the rails. And three hours is too damn long for any movie.

The acting is good, but not by the big stars, Hanks and Berry just embarrass themselves trying different accents and hiding behind prosthetic make-up.  Broadbent, Ben Wishaw, and James D’Arcy are very good. Doona Bae is a revelation, until she tries to play a Mexican woman in the 70’s, then she embarrasses herself.  Similarly, Wishaw and Darcy embarrass themselves playing Koreans, it is cringewothy. Hugo Weaving is great, but he is always great.

There is nudity and violence, so keep the kids away, and maybe Cloud Atlas will put the adults to sleep.

Cloud Atlas:  A roadmap to nowhere.


In the near future, Britain is the last remaining superpower, America has been saddled with an ongoing civil war and is no longer the dominant power in the world.  Unfortunately, England has turned into a dictatorship, enforced by Fingermen, armed, roving, extensions of the surveillance state.  Evey (Natalie Portman) is walking down the street when she is accosted by three Fingermen, but she is saved by V, (Hugo Weaving) a man in a Guy Fawkes mask, who kills the Fingermen, and saves Evey.  It is November 4, and V invites Evie to watch him blow up the Old Bailey as a sign of defiance against the dictatorship of Adam Sutler. (John Hurt)  After the Old Bailey is blown up, the police want to track down Evey as a witness to the destruction. V promises to blow up Parliament in a year, as Guy Fawkes tried to, the race is on to stop him, but V has a plan to bring down the corrupt government.

V’s next target is Lewis Prothero (Roger Allam) a tv show host, who was also in charge at the Larkhill resettlement camp, a camp for anyone the current regime deems unacceptable.  Prothero ends up dead, as does Father Lilliman, (John Standing) a pedophile priest, who was also at Larkhill.  When V kills Delia Slurridge (Sinead Cusack), a scientist at the resettlement camp, Chief Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) is intent on arresting Evey, thinking that she will lead him to V.  Evey is detained at Larkhill, will she give up V?  What happened at Larkhill that set V on his murderous course against corrupt dictator Sutler?  Does V keep his promise to blow up the Parliament building?

I love this movie.  The reason why is that it asks a very intriguing question, is it justifiable to use violence to bring down a violent autocratic dictatorship?  The answer is no, in my humble opinion, history is replete with examples of situations where non-violence brought down corrupt leaders or systems.  Gandhi ended British colonialism in India, Martin Luther King ended segregation in the American South, the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were relatively non-violent and even the sectarian strife in Ireland ended as a result of peace accords.  Nonetheless, the question is an interesting one, as are the stories of the people deemed unacceptable at Larkhill, there are effective echoes of concentration camps in Nazi Germany.  Where the story goes a bit off the rails is when it engages in a conspiracy theory involving the dictator Sutler.  Conspiracy theories always make me wince, this is no exception.  What makes me think this is a classic is the excellent acting of Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman, both who make the viewer believe there is no alternative to bring down this corrupt government.   Weaving delivers his lines with an almost Shakespearian cadence, and his voice is almost lyrical.  Portman sometimes lays the British accent on a bit too thick, but she gives a very emotional and wide ranging performance.  There are a lot of very good supporting performances by Stephen Rea, as Finch, and Roger Allam as a loud-mouthed tv host.

The violence, and there is a lot of it is a product of the Wachowski brothers, who became famous for their over-the-top violence in the Matrix trilogy.  If you have a problem with violence, and lots of people do, please do not watch.  I believe that there are enough redeeming elements in the other parts of the story to make a certain amount of violence acceptable.

V for Vendetta.  V for Very good.