Posts Tagged ‘ian mckellen’


An elderly widow named Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) is looking for companionship and uses video dating to find Roy Courtney (Ian McKellan)  The two start dating, and they hit it off.  Roy has a side business in London, but is very attentive to Betty throughout their time together.  Betty’s grandson Stephen (Russell Tovey) becomes concerned when Roy moves on with Betty.  Betty just seems happy to find a man to spend her golden years with.  They plan a trip to Germany, Spain, and France, all the while Roy is pushing  for the relationship to become more serious, and for Betty to join Roy in his financial investments.  Is Roy an innocent old man looking for company, or is he a grifter?

The problem with A Good Liar is the story is far too predictable, and the story is told in too conventional a manner.  The writers telegraph their punches in such a way that a plot twist is not only necessary, it’s inevitable.  There is not only one plot twist but several, and it seems to take an interminably long time to get to the inevitable twist, and that is also part of the problem.  When the major twist is revealed, it’s underwhelming, and not worth waiting for.  The ending is silly, as two of the best actors of our time stage a physical altercation to conclude the proceedings.  Both actors deserved better than this juvenile script.

The acting is good, it is the only thing that holds the movie together.  Ian McKellan does a  good job as Roy, but he’s so limited by the one-dimensional character that he can’t make Roy the complex person that he deserves to be.  Similarly, Helen Mirren plays a one-dimensional character and by the time the reveal comes , it’s too late to care about her character.

The direction by Bill Condon is lackluster.  He tries to inject some visual stimulus into the film by shooting from different angles, but that doesn’t really add or take away anything from the film itself.  The pacing is really slow, and that hurts the film, it takes forever to reach the climax of the film, and the viewer already knows where the story is leading so there is no real surprise element.   Condon does not get credit for Mirren and McKellan’s performances either, these are two veteran actors, masters of their craft, who need no cues from the director.

The Good Liar:  The grift that needs to be returned.


Movie Review: Mr. Holmes (2015)

Posted: November 25, 2015 in Drama


An older Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) has become a recluse.  He’s resigned himself to a self-imposed exile, as punishment for an unsatisfactory ending to his last case 30 years ago.  Holmes now lives with a maid, Mrs. Monro, (Laura Linney) and her young son Roger. (Milo Parker) Beset by age, and a flagging memory, Holmes tries to piece together the case of a husband, Thomas Kelmot (Patrick Kennedy) who asks Holmes to tail his wife, Ann, who’s been acting erratically ever since the death of their two children. Can Holmes piece together the details of his last case, and soothe his uneasy conscience?

I wasn’t very pleased with the tone of this movie, the Sherlock Holmes characterized in this film is dealing with aging, writing names on his sleeve to remember people names, and then this depressing movie takes a turn for the morose.  The subplots didn’t seem to fit the main story, and the ending suddenly changes tone completely and seems tacked on.  This is a shamelessly manipulative script. The writers try to have a little fun with the legend of Holmes, but that’s about all the fun there is to be had in this movie.  Anyone expecting the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock will be sorely disappointed.

The acting is OK.  Ian McKellen, a world-class actor is saddled with a maudlin script, and does the best he can to rescue it.  But the writers sabotaged this film from the start and McKellen is the victim of that sabotage.  Laura Linney is given even less to work with, and she does very little with what she’s given.  Milo Parker is the only ray of sunshine in this otherwise moribund film, which is what makes the last 15 minutes of the film so utterly unnecessary.

The pacing is painfully slow, there are some nice shots of the English countryside, but not enough visually for the viewer to forget that the story is going nowhere, the director gets no good performances here, except from little Milo, and I’m loathe to give this director credit for anything, because he could have left large chunks of this movie on the editing room floor.

Mr. Holmes. Perfunctory, my dear Watson.


Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) is terrorizing the town of Laketown, raining fire on its inhabitants as they struggle to vanquish him.  Even if Smaug is vanquished, Laketown and Lonely Mountain are beset by problems, because of the gold in Lonely Mountain, and its strategic position, both dwarves and elves claim the mountain as their own. Thorin, (Richard Armitage) King of the Dwarves is struck with dragon sickness, and is willing to fight to the death to keep the gold with the dwarves.  Thranduil (Lee Pace) desires a necklace of white jewels from Lonely Mountain.  Bilbo (Martin Freeman) has the Arkenstone and is willing to give it back to Thorin, to avoid war between the Dwarves and the Elves.  What neither the Elves nor the Dwarves know is there are two Orc armies massing to battle the Elves and the Dwarves and take over Lonely Mountain.  Will the Elves and the Dwarves unite to fight the Orcs, and defeat them?

This was the only film of the trilogy that I was waiting for, the one I watched two dull movies to watch. But, the final installment of the Hobbit trilogy is oddly flat.  I had no emotional attachment to any of these characters, the battle with the Orcs was inevitable and anti-climactic.  The love story between Killi and Tauriel, kind of a middle earth Romeo and Juliet , held no romantic resonance.  Compared to the Lord of the Rings, which had an outstanding buildup and conclusion, this trilogy lacked any complexity or ferocity.

The acting is ok.  Martin Freeman, who got top billing, really ended up being a supporting actor.  Orlando Bloom had a very small part and did nothing significant until the very end.  Richard Armitage is no Viggo Mortensen, and Ian McKellen is absolutely wasted.  Aidan Turner and Evangeline Lilly don’t really have any chemistry together and so you have a good cast with a tepid adaptation of a good book.  I haven’t read the book, but the movies felt long and drawn out.

Ultimately, Peter Jackson has to take responsibility for this lackluster trilogy.  What should have been the pinnacle of the trilogy feel more like an afterthought.  He co-wrote this  trilogy, and dragged the audience through two slowly paced movies.  He was probably pressured to make a trilogy by the studio, but honestly he should have made two great movies and left it at that.  He can’t have the excuse that there were too many characters, because there were just as many characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and that trilogy was very exciting.  I’m at a loss for why this trilogy was so dull, but it was.

The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies.  Smaug and Mirrors.