Posts Tagged ‘Ben Hardy’

The Ultimate Performer

Bohemian Rhapsody

Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Aiden Gillen, Mike Myers, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Aaron McCusker

What The Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer’s semi biopic about Freddie Mercury Bohemian Rhapsody lacks in shock value, rising star Egyptian American actor Rami Malek makes up for in sheer acting talent. Malek’s superb performance of Freddie Mercury holds the entire fantastical film about one of the 20th century’s greatest rock bands Queen together.

Bohemian Rhapsody taken from Queen’s six minute rock opera which catapulted them to international superstardom is a fascinating portrayal of the rise and decline of the most outrageous and notorious lead singers in music history – a sort of 1980’s version of Jim Morrison of The Doors fame.

Malek’s tour de force of a performance as the mercurial and super talented Freddie Mercury as he swiftly shrugs off his immigrant persona to embrace the counter culture which swept through British rock music in the 1970’s and 1980’s which originated in the lead singer antics of Sid Vicious of the Punk band The Sex Pistols.

As fame and fortune engulf Queen, the fellow band members are eclipsed by the flamboyant and androgynous performance of Freddie Mercury who is afraid to admit to the world publicly of his real sexuality yet is quite willing to risk all sorts of deviant pleasures under the decadent influence of Irish homosexual companion Paul Prenter wonderfully played  against type by Allen Leech last seen as the Chauffeur in Julian Fellowes hit TV series Downton Abbey.

What director Bryan Singer cleverly avoids is alienating the mainstream audience that will no doubt rush to watch Bohemian Rhapsody by making this rock biopic too risqué but he rather hints at Mercury’s off stage antics especially in London, Rio de Janeiro and Munich. Nothing is going to shock the audience beyond a couple of kissing scenes.

Fortunately, Malek’s performance is not the sort of disturbing viewing generated by the Emmy winning performance of Darren Criss as the gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan in the Ryan Murphy TV series The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

Instead, Rami Malek dazzles as Freddie Mercury in every frame of the film, convincing the audience that Mercury was the ultimate performer. Bohemian Rhapsody’s success belongs to Malek’s electrifying performance.

As Queen becomes phenomenally successful in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s to their tremendous difficulty in not only staying together as a band but also resolving differences with music executives and more significantly keeping the outrageous and utterly flamboyant Freddie Mercury in check.

Bohemian Rhapsody charts the course of a music sensation which broke all conventions and become the innovative chart topping British band. As the film’s narrative heads towards Queen’s sensational performance at the 1985 Live Aid Concert in Wembley Stadium, which broke all audience records, Singer points to the testament of Queen’s continuing popularity even after Mercury’s tragic diagnosis in the midst of the 1980’s AIDS epidemic.

Audiences should prepare for tears and enthusiasm for Queen’s music but most of all, come prepared to be blown away by the sensationally transformative performance of Rami Malek as Freddy Mercury.

Bohemian Rhapsody gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and will definitely score Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots

Only the Brave

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Cast: Miles Teller, Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly, Andie MacDowell, Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale, Jeff Bridges, Ben Hardy, Josh Hopkins

Based on the GQ article No Exit written by Sean Flynn with the assistance of fellow screenwriters Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, Only the Brave is an extraordinary tale of bravery, courage and heroism, illustrating the eternal battle of Man Versus Nature.

Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski using the cinematic motif of a grizzly bear running through the forest engulfed in flames, Only the Brave is a remarkable film held together by solid acting especially by Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (Milk) and Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind).

Set in the North American summer of 2013 and focusing on the small town of Prescott, Arizona near Phoenix, Only the Brave follows the story of a group of municipal firefighters that are deployed to help fight runaway forest fires in the canyons and mountainous regions in Arizona.

At times, sublime and dangerous, all the men realize that their jobs are extremely risky fighting unpredictable fires which can engulf entire forests in a matter of minutes depending on the wind speed and air temperature.

Brolin plays Eric Marsh, supervisor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who has to look after a team of 18 men and train them into fighting one of nature’s most unpredictable beasts: wildfires. Marsh takes a chance on Brendan McDonough, a recovering addict superbly played by rising star Miles Teller (War Dogs, Whiplash) while also dealing with his own relationship issues with his headstrong wife Amanda, a standout performance by Jennifer Connelly.

To add gravitas to the cast, Oscar winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) plays Marsh’s mentor Duane Steinbrink. James Badge Dale (The Departed, The Walk) plays Marsh’s deputy Jesse Steed while Taylor Kitsch (Savages, Lone Survivor) plays McDonough’s friend and fellow firefighter Christopher MacKenzie.

What is most impressive about Only the Brave is the haunting cinematography by Oscar winning Chilean cinematographer Claudio Miranda who won for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

Cinematically this film is excellent from vast aerial shots of the dramatic Arizona topography to the inner anguish of the team’s social dynamics as they navigate their own fears and dreams in light of a grueling occupation which seldom takes survivors when the fires rage out of control.

Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski really does his best work with Only the Brave assembling a muscular cast to tell a robust narrative filled with searing bravado.

Only the Brave gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is highly recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Lone Survivor, Dunkirk and the 1991 Kurt Russell film Backdraft.

Pyramids of Destruction

X-Men: Apocalypse

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Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Rose Byrne, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Olivia Munn, Josh Helman, Ben Hardy, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Lucas Till, Evan Peters

Director Bryan Singer’s latest film forms the conclusion of a prequel trilogy. X-Men Apocalypse is a pastiche of 80’s paranoia even though the main villain Apocalypse originates from Ancient Egypt and is set upon decimating the world of man and mutants circa 1983, having risen out of a gold pyramid in modern day Egypt and decides annihilation is in order.

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Reassembling much of the cast of X-Men: First Class, X-Men Apocalypse stars Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games Trilogy) as Raven/Mystique, James McAvoy (Victor Frankenstein) as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender (Macbeth) as Magneto, Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast and Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner as a young Jean Grey and Rose Byrne returns as Moira Mactaggert who first confronts the devastating power of Apocalypse in Cairo and alerts Charles Xavier and his band of mutants to the imminent danger.

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Despite some of the mutants not wanting to be drawn into another conflict, they soon all bandy together when they realize how dangerous Apocalypse is, in his unrelenting quest to destroy human civilization circa 1983 and along with that eighties world, the parallel community of the mutants.

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X-Men: Apocalypse is more mutants versus a more formidable mutant, than man vs mutant, although like always Magneto has several changes of conscience especially after seeing his young wife and daughter accidentally killed in a Polish forest. Soon Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto unleashes all his anger and becomes the perfect ally for Apocalypse’s annihilating antics.

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Much of the action alternates between America, Poland and Egypt and whilst X-Men: Apocalypse does not have that some groovy retro feel as the seventies set X-Men: First Class, there are some distinct 1980’s signifiers including a collage of Reagan material, nuclear armament as well as stock images pointing to the last decade of the cold war, where mistrust defined global politics.

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Bryan Singer knows how to direct such a large ensemble cast even though audiences at times might get a sense of Mutant overload, but then again this is X-Men: Apocalypse and the more superhumans the better. X-Men: Apocalypse is definitely a case of the Unusual Suspects.

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Clearly the cast of this film had great fun making it and the visual effects are truly inspiring especially the Egyptian sequence when the Mutants take on Apocalypse with his band of malevolent mutants including Psylocke played by Olivia Munn and birdman Angel played by Ben Hardy.

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Audiences should also watch out for Tye Sheridan as a young Cyclops and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the turquoise teleporter Nightcrawler, who Mystique discovers in a cage fight in East Berlin.

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X-Men: Apocalypse is recommended viewing for those that enjoyed X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, all three films now make up the prequel trilogy. Marvel is certainly milking a lucrative franchise for all its worth and audiences are lapping up the ever expanding mutant universe.

 

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