Posts Tagged ‘Amber Heard’

Steppenwolf’s Revenge

Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J. K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, David Thewlis, Billy Crudup, Ciaran Hinds

Uniformity of vision is key to director Zack Snyder’s films from his earlier films including 300, Suckerpunch and Watchmen to his onscreen tackling of the DC Comics universe starting with Man of Steel (2013) Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice (2016) and now with the latest Superhero extravaganza Justice League.

Batman aka Bruce Wayne played with a deadpan sense of humour by Ben Affleck has to assemble a team to fight the inexplicable and mythical power of Steppenwolf voiced by Ciaran Hinds as the evil underworld monster plans on destroying the Earth with enough energy to wipe out Wonder Woman’s secret Island and Aquaman’s Atlantic underwater liar.

Speaking of which Israeli actress Gal Gadot reprises her role of Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince following the hugely successful standalone film earlier in 2017 by Monster director Patty Jenkins.

New to the cast is Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa who plays Aquaman aka Arthur Curry who besides being able to control the oceans has some serious authority issues along with Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as The Flash aka Barry Alan and Ray Fisher as Cyborg aka Victor Stone.

The best scenes in Justice League are when the superheroes come together especially Batman and Aquaman who naturally have a healthy distrust for each other. The dialogue is peppered with some great lines like “Cool, like a bat, I dig it!” or when The Flash asks Batman what his superpowers are, he simply replies “I am rich”.

The good news is that Warner Brothers is set to release stand-alone films of Batman, Aquaman and Cyborg within the next three years, so fans can have a favourite superhero to themselves. Let’s hope these films do as well as director Patty Jenkins remarkable all female superhero film Wonder Woman which smashed all box office records.

Director Zack Snyder’s Justice League is slick, fast, action-packed and filled with quirky interactions between all the world’s favourite superheroes without being puerile or garish. With suitably Gothic production design by Patrick Tatopoulos, Justice League cleverly hints at the upcoming Aquaman and The Batman films. Audiences should look out for Oscar winner J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon.

With a funny screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, Justice League is sure to entertain audiences that loved the previous Zack Snyder superhero films and will possibly get a glimpse of the Man of Steel.

Justice League gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is thoroughly entertaining, visually rewarding and definitely worth seeing. As the tagline goes: You Can’t Save the World alone. Even Batman.

 

The Portrait of Lili

The Danish Girl

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Director: Tom Hooper

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch, Sophie Kennedy Clark

After the phenomenal success of The Kings Speech and Les Miserables, director Tom Hooper returns to the art film, in the transgender drama The Danish Girl set in Copenhagen in 1926 starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Alicia Vikander (Testament of Youth, Anna Karenina).

Based upon the novel by David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl focuses on the extraordinary story of the artistic couple Gerda and Einor Wegener, a husband and wife team who rise to fame when the husband Einor decides to take on the personality of a woman Lili Elbe, who initially was an artistic experiment so that Gerda could paint her husband dressed as a woman. What Gerda soon realizes is that Einor’s penchant for silk stockings and furs goes far beyond the being the subject for a portrait.

In a series of radical costume changes, always looking absolutely gorgeous Einor slowly shed his masculine persona and becomes the dainty and gorgeous Lily Elbe, even stepping out in public at an artist’s ball, where she, Lily attracts the attention of Henrik played by Ben Whishaw (Brideshead Revisited, Spectre). What is lacking in The Danish Girl is a coherent exploration of sexuality as the evolution of Lili Elbe is devoid of sexual desire despite the advances of Henrik and the natural dissolution of conjugal activities within Einor and Gerda’s own marriage.

Eddie Redmayne transformation into Lili is truly remarkable but it is really Alicia Vikander who holds the emotional weight of the film together as she grapples to deal with the significant issue that her husband might be transsexual and soon realizes that the best way to deal with this transformation is to ultimately support this radical decision.

As a film dealing with transgender and transsexual issues, The Danish Girl is aesthetically beautiful to watch, the costumes are exquisite and the production design quite sublime, but the gender politics of the film is not fully explored to the extent that such daring shows as HBO’s Transparent are, featuring a breakout Emmy winning performance by Jeffrey Tambor or even more contemporary set films as TransAmerica or Jared Leto’s turn as the tragic Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club.

Instead, Tom Hooper offers viewers an historical insight into the extraordinary model known as Lili Elbe who sat for several fabulous portraits painted by Gerda Wegener. Redmayne’s performance should be applauded although after his career breaking role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, he should be weary of becoming typecast as playing characters that go through immense physical and emotional suffering.

The real gem of The Danish Girl belongs to Alicia Vikander’s emotional and brave performance as Gerda Wegener. Vikander is brilliant as she really holds the emotional crux of the film together. The rest of the mostly European cast have minor roles including Belgian actor Mathias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone, Far From the Madding Crowd) as a smooth and elegant Parisian art dealer, Hans Axgil, Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) as a ballerina Ulla and Sebastian Koch as a sympathetic German doctor Warnekros.

Upon a second viewing, The Danish Girl could prove to become an LGBTI classic, as a beautiful film, its rather provocative tale could certainly become a subject of future gender studies courses. The Danish Girl is very similar to Girl with a Pearl Earring, except the portrait model is the fashionable Lili Elbe, which is played with exceptional femininity by a man.

 

 

Swamp Country Debauchery

Magic Mike XXL

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Director: Gregory Jacobs

Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Amber Heard, Adam Rodriguez, Andie MacDowell, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, Elizabeth Banks

The much anticipated sequel to the sleeper hit Magic Mike about male entertainers in Tampa, Florida does not disappoint.

Magic Mike XXL assembles the same cast as the original minus Matthew McConnaughey and Alex Pettyfer but cleverly casts some new stars including Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sex, Lies and Videotape) as the original Southern Belle, Nancy and more significantly a vibrant Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral) as Rome, the notorious and zany new MC.

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Audiences should not expect much storyline in XXL but who cares the dancing is phenomenal and Channing Tatum really takes the main role of Magic Mike to extremes with superb dance moves and a wit to match. Tatum has really grown as an actor after being cast opposite Mark Ruffalo in the underrated yet bizarre male wrestling saga Foxcatcher and with the help of director Steven Soderbergh has matured as an onscreen performer after roles in Haywire, Magic Mike and Side Effects.

The crazy male entertainer troupe make their way from Tampa in Southern Florida all the way up through Savannah, Georgia to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in a journey described by one drag performer resembling Divine as Swamp Country Debauchery.

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In Magic Mike, the emphasis was more on the drug lifestyle associated with male stripping, but in Magic Mike XXL, Oceans Twelve and Oceans Thirteen director Gregory Jacobs cleverly lightens the tone and shifts focus to the actual art and performance of Male entertainment as the team including a gorgeous Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart) and Joe Manganiello compete at the illustrious Stripper Convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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The end sequence is brilliant with some superb dance moves along with sufficient eye candy to keep all the females happy, both on and off screen.

Magic Mike XXL is more in the tradition of Step Up, with strippers and should not be viewed to seriously but enjoyed like a fine sojourn below the Mason-Dixon line. Recommended viewing for those that enjoy a brash, sexy and diverse film with lots of magical moments.

Watch out for an unrecognizable Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) as Zoe who befriends Magic Mike at a beach party in Jacksonville, Florida.

 

Parisian Reunion

3 Days to Kill

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Director: McG

Cast: Kevin Costner, Connie Nielsen, Hailee Steinfeld, Amber Heard, Tomas Lemarquis, Richard Sammel

French screenwriter and director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) teams up with This Means War, Charlies Angels and action TV series director McG in an uneven tale of a professional CIA hitman, Ethan Renner, expertly played by an aged Kevin Costner who after a botched operation in Belgrade returns to Paris to reunite with his estranged wife and daughter, Christine and Zooey Renner, played by Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) and a brilliant Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit). Renner learns that he has a rare form of brain cancer which prompts his sudden and awkward reunion with his Parisian family while discovering that he has really been an absent father to the now teenage and rebellious daughter Zooey.

In the scenes between Costner and Steinfeld, the narrative works beautifully but in between all this familial reunion is a spy plot involving a femme fatale CIA agent Vivi Delay seductively played by Amber Heard (The Rum Diaries) who coerces Renner back into operations as a professional assassin in a bid to discover the whereabouts of The Wolf played by German actor Richard Sammel (Casino Royale, Inglourious Basterds) who is viciously protected by a henchman The Albino, played by crystal clear blue-eyed rogue Icelandic actor Tomas Lemarquis.

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In between the vicious action sequences and Renner’s constant attempts to reconnect with his teenage daughter is an elliptical narrative which will often confuse and confound audiences, but nevertheless entertain them. Overall impression of 3 Days to Kill was that is was a typically European action film in the vein of Taken or Unknown, directed by the wrong director. If Luc Besson himself had directed 3 Days to Kill, the uniformity of vision in the films narrative would help bolster the general credibility of the story, that of an aged assassin who wants to reconnect with his family before his dying days commence. As screenwriter Besson as displayed in the Taken franchise definitely has a penchant for setting his stories about tough old fathers reconnecting with their vulnerable daughters.

3 Days to Kill is slick, flashy and generally entertaining especially with such stars as Costner and Steinfeld playing father and daughter in a rather tender scene on the steps of Le Sacre Coquer, but generally the Parisian locations do little to bolster the overall vision of this Nikitaesque type film. Naturally Amber Heard makes the best of her roles as the lethal CIA operative Vivi, complete with dazzling outfits and sleek sportscars. 3 Days to Kill is not a terrible film, but it could have been so much tighter, better plotted and conceptually driven if Besson (The Lady, Leon, The Professional) had taken the reigns as director.

American action director McG (also known as Joseph McGinty Nichol) should stick to the type of comic action films like This Means War and The Charlie Angels franchise and avoid delving into a far more European aesthetic. It simply does not suit his episodic style which he naturally got as TV director for the popular action series Chuck and Nikita. 3 Days to Kill is a fun, but not a provocative or gripping thriller.

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