Posts Tagged ‘Amr Waked’

The Dutchboy Scenario

Geostorm

Director: Dean Devlin

Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Amr Waked, Richard Schiff, Mare Winningham

Scottish actor Gerard Butler (300, Olympus has Fallen) does his I will save the world routine in director Dean Devlin’s fantastic disaster epic Geostorm as Jake Lawson alongside Jim Sturgess (21, Cloud Atlas) as his younger conniving brother Max Lawson and the steely secret service agent Sarah Wilson played by Australian actress Abbie Cornish (Bright Star, Limitless, Robocop).

Romanian/ German actress Alexander Maria Lara (Rush) plays the German astronaut Ute Fassbinder while Cuban actor Andy Gracia (The Untouchables, Night Falls on Manhattan) plays the US president Andrew Palma who is trying to prevent earth from being entirely obliterated by a series of freak weather patterns mainly controlled in space by a massive orbital satellite affectionately known as Dutchboy, named after the fabled hero who stopped the Netherlands from imminent flooding.

Think Firestorms in Hong Kong, Tsunami’s in Dubai, Freezing temperatures on the Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro and Lightning strikes at the Democratic Convention in Orlando, Florida. How ironic considering that the Donald Trump led Republican administration recently pulled America out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Veteran actor Ed Harris (The Abyss, A Beautiful Mind, Pollock) recently seen in the brilliant HBO series Westworld, a remake based on the iconic 1970’s film, plays Leonard Dekkam.

While Geostorm can be seen as a veiled attempt at illustrating Global warming, it is a reminder that no matter how invincible human beings feel, nature is more powerful. Especially considering the recent geological disasters: Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida, the recent devastation in Puerto Rico and the deadly earthquake in Mexico City.

Geostorm is a fun-filled, visually impressive popcorn film with some genuine fraternal conflict between the two brothers Max and Jake, the former being a smooth talking government lobbyist (Jim Sturgess) and the latter a gung-ho action man with anger management issues (Gerard Butler).

Like Moonraker meets Gravity with overtones of An Inconvenient Truth, except Geostorm is no documentary but an epic disaster film neatly packaged for American consumerism.

My only criticism is that in Geostorm, America remains relatively unscathed while Mumbai, India, Hong Kong and Dubai are subjected to severe weather patterns which makes for stunning visuals but questionable cinematic ideology.

Audiences that enjoyed The Day After Tomorrow and Armageddon, will love Geostorm. That being said, it is a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon, without seriously contemplating the 21st century phenomenon of climate change coupled with rapidly developing digital technology.

The entertaining Geostorm gets a Film Rating of 7 out of 10. Recommended for audiences that like their global warming glossy and romanticized.

This film was kindly sponsored by Ster Kinekor https://movies.sterkinekor.co.za/browsing/ Musgrave Cinemas, Durban, South Africa.

 

Lucy loses the Plot

Lucy

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Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Amr Waked

It’s a pity that Luc Besson return to the directorial chair seems to have backfired distinctively even with the able assistance of the ever luminous Scarlett Johansson (Don Jon, Matchpoint, Girl with a Pearl Earring) in the title role of his latest Sci-Fi action thriller Lucy. Lucy’s name comes from the first female Homo Sapien.

The bizarre plot revolves around a particularly sadistic Taiwanese drug ring headed by the sinister Mr Chang played by Min-sik Choi which have roped Lucy and three other unsuspecting drug mules into transporting a super potent mind expanding bright blue drug CPH4 from Taipei into all the major European capitals from Berlin to Paris. Think Neil Burger’s film Limitless on speed.

Whilst Limitless was vaguely plausible, Luc Besson’s Lucy takes the utterly strange sci-fi route which explores the full improbabilities of the premise, that what if humans could use 100% of their brain capacity. If this maximum cerebral capacity occurred, it would deliver contemporary society into a matrix of space and time so devoid of human capability that the effects of such a boost would enable humans to become time travelling virtual computers.

Unfortunately not even Oscar Winner Morgan Freeman as a distinguished neuroscientist Professor Norman could save Lucy both the film and the character from degenerating into a thick mass of black mess. After such superb films as The Fifth Element and Nikita, Luc Besson has clearly lost his touch as a director and should perhaps stick to writing the Taken franchise, as his screenwriting skills have clearly matured whilst his directorial skills have languished considerably.

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Lucy is a short, violent sci-fi heavily stylized action film based on a premise which however visually fascinating soon becomes plainly silly and Besson does not allow much time in the film for any significant character development, that of Lucy’s, Professor Norman or any of the supporting cast. Director Neil Burger’s more honed film Limitless did just that which made it more believable culminating in an elegant thriller launching Bradley Cooper as a much superstar.

The concept of Lucy as an international drug thriller had so much potential, but unlike its title character it does not use its full narrative properly. Besides what were Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman thinking? Clearly the chance to work with French director Luc Besson enticed them into a ridiculous plot which did not use their full potential as brilliant actors. Whilst the Taipei sequence is dazzling, Lucy clearly loses the plot in Paris.

Even the supporting cast including Julian Rhind-Tutt (Rush) as the Limey and Egyptian actor Amr Waked (Syriana, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) as a confused French policeman Pierre Del Rio are both under utilized. Lucy has dazzling special effects and a superb musical score by Eric Serra, but that’s about as much as this thriller has going for it. Lucy can be back up viewing for a lazy Saturday afternoon. Not Recommended.

 

Fear as a Virus

Contagion

Contagion

Steven Soderbergh’s gripping medical thriller Contagion follows a similar non-linear structure to his previous Oscar winning film Traffic about the US-Mexican drug trade and features a brilliant cast including Oscar Winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Oscar Nominees Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne.

With a fantastic musical score by Cliff Martinez, Contagion is a horrifying look out how a highly contagious immunodefiency-virus spreads like wild fire around the world from Macau to Atlanta, from Hong Kong to London through any form of human contact especially in the ease of frequent international travel.

The deadly effects of the virus and how the world population reacts to the onset of a disease so deadly that it threatens the survival of the human race is at the core of Contagion. While the ensemble cast are superb, it is Jennifer Ehle as Dr Ally Hextall in an unusually prolific role, previously seen in Wilde, Pride and Glory and Possession who shines as a scientist who races to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of the rapidly complex and mutating virus.

The always suave Laurence Fishburne plays Dr Ellis Cheever, Head of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and Jude Law features as a conspiracy theorist Alan Krumweide who while in San Francisco tracks the virus online and also how the pharmaceutical industry makes a fortune once a vaccine is developed.

Contagion is a scary and provocative film and raises serious questions about the survival of the fittest and the ethics of managing disease control in light of a deep preservation for continued existence of the human race. Viewers will definitely be washing their hands several times after seeing this absorbing thriller especially the pivotal and brilliant final scene. Whether it be drugs or a virus, both Traffic and Contagion deal with issues of control and the distribution of power in society and the effects of a debilitating affliction that knows no boundaries. Recommended viewing.

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