Posts Tagged ‘Rachel McAdams’

dr-strange

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a famous if somewhat arrogant surgeon.  While speeding to a medical conference, Dr. Strange is involved in a horrific car accident, and loses the function in his hands.  Strange hears about a man who  has been completely healed from two broken bones in his spinal column.  He goes to see Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt) who tells Strange to go to Kamar-taj in Tibet.  Strange spends his last dollar to go to Kamar-taj and finds the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and her students, and the keepers of the ancient texts Wong (Benedict Wong) and Mordo. (Chiwetal Ejiofor)  The Ancient One, Mordo, and Wong protect the world from metaphysical threats with buildings called Sanctums, located in New York, London and Hong Kong surrounded and protected by ancient spells.

The Ancient One is a sorceress and introduces Strange to a world of magic and spells.  Dr. Strange is initially skeptical, but after the Ancient One shows Strange his astral body, and the mirror dimension where Dr. Strange can practice his spells, Strange diligently learns the spells even learning spells involving manipulating time.  Both Wong and Mordo feel like Strange is breaking rules and learning spells that will ruin the world.  But Dr. Strange learns every spell possible and uses them to fight a former student named Kaecilious (Mads Mikkelson) who leads a group of zealots.  Kaecillious has stolen pages from the ancient texts and is trying to summon Dormammu of the Dark dimension.  Kaecillious believes that Dormammu will give him and his zealots eternal life.  While reading the ancient texts, Doctor Strange also learns some disturbing information about The Ancient One, and the key to her long life.  What does he learn about the Ancient One?  Can Dr. Strange defeat Kacillious and Dormammu?

Dr. Strange is a very complex, sometimes needlessly complex movie.  The story involves Dr. Strange discovering his astral body, a mirror dimension where nothing on earth is affected, the Dark Dimension, where Dormammu lives, and infinite time loops.  That is a lot to digest.  The writers apparently tried to jam in every detail from the comic books and that hurt the story, it was difficult at one point to determine if Dr. Strange was fighting Kaecillious in the mirror dimension or New York, and sometimes the action jumps too quickly between New York and Tibet, if the story was simplified, it would be easier to tell.  The ending is also-anti-climactic.

What raises this movie above standard issue sci-fi is the acting.  Much like Robert Downey Jr. made Tony Stark, a non-likeable character, into a loveable jerk, Cumberbatch takes a self-centered, rich, arrogant doctor into someone who sublimates his ego and learns about self-sacrifice.  The transformation is slow and painful, and Benedict Cumberbatch conveys the painstaking nature of the transformation well.  Chiwetal Ejiofor is also very good as the student of the Ancient One’s students, he feels somewhat betrayed and hurt by Strange’s flouting of the rules, and maybe jealous of Strange’s abilities, Ejiofor illustrates these emotions well, and his character was a good counterpoint to Cumberbatch’s doctor.  Tilda Swinton did a fantastic job as The Ancient One, she was mentor and contemporary of Dr. Strange, Swinton did a great job of being a low-key presence in a sometimes frenetic movie.  I think the character should have been played by an Indian or Chinese woman, just because I know there are Indian and Chinese actresses who could have played this role well, but there is no denying that Tilda Swinton is a great actress.  Rachel McAdams is not a great actress, and she turns in another amateurish performance in this movie.  She brings an unlikeable girlish damsel in distress quality to all of her roles, she’s a doctor in this movie, yet she doesn’t seem mature enough to be a doctor.

The direction is not good.  The special effects are reminiscent of Inception, and therefore redundant.  And the special effects interfered with the story too often, whenever the story started to be cohesive, the special effects would come blaringly into view.  The pacing was too fast, the backstory was rushed, there was no explanation of the comic book jargon, and a rush to get to Dormammu. Director Scott Derickson has usually directed horror films and seems ill-suited to tell a sci-fi story.

Doctor Strange:  A Cumber-batch of great actors save this film.

 

Advertisements

southpaw

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is on top of the world, he is light heavyweight champion of the world, he has a beautiful wife, named Maureen, (Rachel McAdams) and a little girl, Leila. (Oona Lawrence) After his wife dies in a bizarre accident, Billy’s perfect life starts to slip away.  In his sorrow, Jimmy starts to drink and take drugs.  A judge takes Leila away from Billy, and she is now under the Care of Child Protective Services Officer, Angela Rivera.  (Naomie Harris) Leila no longer wants to speak to Billy.

With nowhere else to go, Billy goes to work in former fighter Tick Willis’ (Forrest Whitaker) gym. Billy works hard, fixing lights and cleaning up the gym.  He convinces the judge to loosen his visitation rights with Leila, and gets Tick to train him. Billy’s former manager, Jordan Mains (50 Cent) arranges a match between Billy and the new champ, Miguel Escobar. (Miguel Gomez) Has Billy received enough training from Tick to win this match, or have the struggles of losing his wife and daughter taken too much out of Billy?

Southpaw is such a contrived, clichéd boxing film that I’m surprised Jake Gyllenhaal would sign on to do it.  Take the boxer’s name for example, Billy Hope, and he’s a white boxer.  So he’s the Great White Hope, right?  A boxer has everything, loses everything and fights for redemption, sound familiar?  Right, it’s every boxing film ever made.  Even the final decision in the fight is contrived, a spilt decision.  Do I really have to tell you how this movie turns out?  This movie makes me admire Rocky 1 even more, Stallone made a really great movie about a down and out fighter that gets one shot to do something great.  Rocky is a fantastic movie.  Southpaw is a pale imitation of Rocky.

Jake Gyllenhaal does his best to gain street cred in this film, he gets in great shape, speaks in a phony blackcent, and slurs his words like any drunk or addict would do, but it’s just not convincing enough.  Even with a face full of fake cuts, I never lost myself in this character.  Rachel McAdams plays yet another empty headed, hopelessly devoted character, I felt nothing when she died.  Forrest Whitaker plays an ersatz Mickey from the Rocky films, teaching Billy to be a better fighter, but he’s not the loveable curmudgeon that Burgess Meredith was, it’s another copy of a great performance.  And poor Naomie Harris, she had a bright future after Skyfall and Mandela, reduced to playing a boring government social worker.  She does do a good American accent though.  Finally, what the hell is 50 Cent doing in this movie?  It isn’t acting, I don’t know what it is, besides a rapper playing himself in a movie.

The director, Antoine Fuqua, started out directing music videos for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton and Usher.  I liked Training Day, which he directed, but since then, he’s directed movies like Olympus has Fallen,  this movie and a remake of a classic The Magnificent Seven.  The boxing scenes in Southpaw looks very choreographed, one boxer moves in and lands a few punches, and then the other boxer moves in and lands a few punches, that’s not how real boxing is. The movie is long, the pacing is slow.  There’s nothing to recommend about Fuqua’s directing in this film.

Southpaw:  Left me unimpressed.

 

spotlight

In 2001,the newly hired editor of the Boston Globe, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) tasks his Spotlight Team a group of four investigative reporters to investigate reports that priests in the Boston area are molesting children. The Spotlight editor, Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) and reporters Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian D’arcy James) start interviewing lawyers who have filed cases against the suspected clergymen, like Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) and Eric McLeish (Billy Crudup) which lead to interviews with victims, and then Garabedian drops a bombshell, that Cardinal Law (Len Carriou) knew about the abusive priests and did nothing.  Now the Spotlight team must find the exact number of priests in the Boston area who were abusers, and whether Cardinal Law knew and did nothing. The Spotlight team have until the end of 2001 to corroborate all the information, can they meet Baron’s deadline?

This movie is first and foremost, difficult to watch, because it includes many lurid details of the priest sex scandal. It tries to incorporate other elements from other movies, it tries to capture the mood of All The President’s Men, a newspaper chasing a cover-up at the highest levels of the Catholic church instead of the government.  But the difference is All The President’s Men was released in 1976, right after Watergate, so it seemed contemporaneous.  Spotlight seems dated, it was released 13 years after these stories broke, everything that needed to be said about the priest sex scandal has already been said.  And if the viewer hasn’t heard about this scandal before this movie, he needs to stop watching the Kardashians and pick up a newspaper.  The Al-Qaeda attack on New York on 9-11 2001, arguably the biggest story of the decade gets treated as a footnote in this movie, and then the reporters of The Globe are back on the sex scandal, and that doesn’t seem realistic.  The more interesting angle on the sex scandal story is how this scandal could be covered up for 26 years before people spoke up?  The movie tries to include a post-mortem on the blame, but it seems like an afterthought, where it should have been the main focus of the film. Did it deserve an Oscar for Best Film?  No. The only reason this film got any attention at all was the subject matter, as a film it wasn’t that great. The Big Short was a much better film, about an equally important scandal, but Spotlight was a chance for Hollywood to thumb its nose at the hypocrisy of those in positions of moral authority, and Hollywood never misses a chance to do that.

The acting by the lead actors is not that good.  Michael Keaton tries too hard to sound like he’s from South Boston.  Mark Ruffalo has all the emotional intensity of a wet sponge, there is one scene where he is supposed to get really angry at Keaton’s character, and as hard as he tried to show emotion I just didn’t feel it. Rachel McAdams brought nothing to her role as Sacha Pfeiffer.  This is not to say that there were not good performances in this film.  I thought Liev Schreiber brought a quiet strength to his role as Marty Baron, he was also very good at playing the outsider in a very clique-ish place like Boston,  In the same way Stanley Tucci concentrates on the character, on being ridiculed as a crank for pursuing the truth.  It’s a powerful yet understated performance.  Kudos also belong to Michael Cyril Creighton and Jimmy Leblanc who bring real heartfelt emotion to their roles as two of the victims of the abuse.  Their scenes stand out in this movie.

The direction doesn’t stand out very much in this movie.  The pacing is very slow, and every time the viewer thinks the movie is coming to a close, there’s another revelation and another lead to chase down. The problem is one of the writers is also the director, and writer Tom McCarthy writes scenes that are too long, and director Tom McCarthy doesn’t know how to cut the scenes together.  There are some location shots, including the obligatory Fenway Park shots to prove they are in Boston, but little else visual to draw interest.  McCarthy gets mixed performances from the cast, at best, and there are far too many characters coming in and out of the film.

Spotlight:  A dark film.

about time

At age 21, Tim (Domhall Gleeson) is told by his father, James, (Bill Nighy) that all male members of his family can travel through time.  Tim uses this knowledge to try to fix his love life.  The first target de amore for Tim is his sister Kit Kat’s (Lydia Wilson) boyfriend’s sister, Charlotte, (Margot Robbie) who’s going to stay with Tim for two months.  Despite many trips  back in time, Charlotte doesn’t seem interested in Tim.  Tim moves on, and meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and falls madly in love with her.  With many trips back and forth in time, Tim and Mary’s relationship seems perfect.  Then just as suddenly as she left, Charlotte comes back.  Who will Tim choose, his first love or his newest love?

I did not like About Time.  It is full of insipid dialogue, mostly for Mary.  Mary loves model Kate Moss for some unexplained reason, and Tim goes back in time to get his response about Kate Moss right.  When Mary wants to make love, she says something like “I’ll be in my pajamas, you can come and take a look if you want.”  The story turns on a dime, and becomes predictably weepy and manipulative, because the story has nowhere else to turn.  Finally, at 2 hours and ten minutes, the script is much too long to maintain anyone’s interest, I stopped caring about any of these characters long before the movie ended. The best of the time travel movies, Back To The Future set a seminal rule for time travel movies, if a character changes things in the past, his future will change, this movie kind of make the time travel rules as they go, and that doesn’t work.

The acting is pretty bad.  Things were going along well enough with Gleeson and Margot Robbie, and along comes Rachel McAdams, wearing some kind of ugly hairpiece or haircut , to make herself look more mousy and unattractive and speaking with a distinctively American accent.  There is no explanation of what this particular American is doing in England, no backstory for her character.  So there is no other conclusion but that McAdams is such a limited actress that she can’t even fake an English accent.  I think she tried in the Sherlock Holmes movies, and the accent wasn’t that great.  She did a time travel movie already which was actually just as bad as this one, but at least she wasn’t pretending to be insecure.

The problem with Domhalll Gleeson is that he looks like he’s about 12 years old, and Rachel McAdams looks much older than that with her mousy wig and frumpy clothes.  Chemistry in a film starts with a physical attraction, and there didn’t seem to be one here.  The couple that would have worked here is Gleeson and Margot Robbie, they’re close enough in age, and there seemed to be a spark in the scenes they did together, but the producers probably wanted a big name and so they signed McAdams as a box office draw.  The only good news is that Bill Nighy was solid once again in another character role, and Robbie was good in too small a supporting role.

The pacing was slow, slow, slow, adding to an overlong running time.  I was wondering if it was ever going to end.  Thankfully it did.

About Time: About Time McAdams stopped making cheesy rom coms.

Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel Mcadams) are deliriously happily married, until they get rear ended by a truck while making out.  Leo is not badly hurt, but Paige goes through the windshield, and suffers a brain trauma.  She can’t remember anything of her life with Leo, she was an sculptor, on the cusp of commercial success.  But Paige can’t remember any of the last five years.  What she does remember is living with her parents, Bill (Sam Neill) and Rita (Jessica Lange) and her sister Gwen (Jessica McNamee).  Paige doesn’t remember dropping out of law school and breaking up with her former fiancé, Jeremy (Scott Speedman) so as hard as he tries, Leo can’t make Paige remember the life they shared together.  So she goes back to the life she had before Leo, law school, old fiancé, her parents house, planning her sister’s wedding, but Paige still feels out of sorts.  Her life seems happy now, but questions still nag at her, why did Paige leave her parents, her fiancé, quit law school to marry Leo, a guy who she seemingly has nothing in common with?
This is yet another drippy romantic drama.  It was so drippy that I thought that it was another useless Nicholas Sparks romantic novel, but I was wrong, this is actually based on a true story, written by the couple to whom the accident happened.  That doesn’t make the story any more palatable, or believable to me.  Leo can do no wrong, the parents are the standard issue wealthy villains who think their wealth can buy anything, including their daughter’s happiness.  If it is a true story, it’s a story that has been told many times before.  Rachel McAdams seems insistent on being typecast in these nauseating romantic stories, she’s been in The Notebook, The Time Traveller’s Wife, and now this.  She should do different roles.  She was quite good in the thriller Red Eye.  As I’ve said before Channing Tatum should consider another line of work, longshoreman, long distance mover, something that doesn’t require him to speak.
The Vow.  Promise yourself that you’ll miss this movie.