Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Weaving’

West Meets East

Mortal Engines

This Film gets a Rating of 6.5 out of 10 

Director: Christian Rivers

Cast: Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Ronan Raftery, StephenLang, Patrick Malahide, Colin Salmon

In Mortal Engines, large traction cities such as London (left) hunt down and devour smaller traction towns (right) to strip them of their labor and resources. The film is directed by Christian Rivers, and written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson based on the novel by Philip Reeve.

Mortal Engines is a PeterJackson produced steampunk epic fantasy featuring a large cast of mostly lesserknown actors which sparkles in originality although at times director Christian Rivers directs too simplistically using lots of flashback sequences.

Jihae as outlaw Anna Fang in Mortal Engines. The film is directed by Christian Rivers, and written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson based on the novel by Philip Reeve.

The production design is mesmerizing in Mortal Engines,a story about a dystopian future in which whole cities devour lesser cities ina bid for supremacy and survival on a ravaged planet earth set in the 31stcentury. The main city is a steampunk version of Victorian London complete withSt Paul’s Cathedral and a London Museum with a twisted Gothic design, even showcasing the Screen Age: personal computers and smartphones from a bygone era.

The traction city of London in Mortal Engines. The film is directed by Christian Rivers, and written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson based on the novel by Philip Reeve.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert star Hugo Weaving plays Thaddeaus Valentine an evil London city administrator who feels nothing at eliminating anyone who gets in his way. Robert Sheehan (Geostorm) plays Tom Natsworthy, a reluctant city boy who gets caught up in an adventure when hemeets Hester Shaw played by Hera Hilmar (Anna Karenina, The Fifth Estate) who boards the moving city of London to avenge her mother Pandora’s untimely death.

Lovers of original fantasy will admire Mortal Engines, although director Christian Rivers could have edited the film in parts to keep it below two hours. 

(from left) Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) and Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) aboard the airship Jenny Haniver in Mortal Engines. The film is directed by Christian Rivers, and written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson based on the novel by Philip Reeve.

The action sequences are fantastic and despite the flashback scenes, Mortal Engines does keep the viewer engaged and will definitely be perfect for a holiday movie outing although its overall effect is not as overwhelming as one would expect.

(from left) Hugo Weaving as Thaddeus Valentine, Robert Sheehan as Tom Natsworthy and Leila George as Katherine Valentine in Mortal Engines. The film is directed by Christian Rivers, and written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson based on the novel by Philip Reeve.

What didn’t work in the film was having so many lesser known actors starring in a film which desperately needed some balancing star power to give the film some gravitas especially as a counterpoint to Hugo Weaving’s megalomaniac character Valentine who is intent on annihilating a static Oriental city in the East.

Mortal Engines gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and while is modestly enjoyable, it’s not a brilliant film despite its original dystopian theme.

Conscientious Saviour

Hacksaw Ridge

Director: Mel Gibson

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington, Rachel Griffiths, Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn, Milo Gibson, Ben O’Toole

Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ director Mel Gibson has assembled a mostly Australian cast in the World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge about the Virginia conscientious objector Desmond Doss who refused to bear arms during the war against the Japanese. Doss is played by Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) in one of his best acting roles yet.

Hacksaw Ridge opens in The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in the early 1930’s where young Doss and his brother are constantly engaged in fraternal rivalry while their drunken father Tom played by Hugo Weaving (The Dressmaker) mourns the loss of his friends in the Great War and beats their mother Bertha played by Rachel Griffiths (Muriel’s Wedding).

As a practicing Seventh Day Adventist, Desmond from a young age takes a vow against violence yet is compelled to join the army soon after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour. His romantic life is heightened when he meets Nurse Dorothy Schutte, a wonderful supporting role played by the gorgeous Teresa Palmer (Point Break, I am Number Four) which he soon proposes to.

While the first act of Hacksaw Ridge is taken up with establishing a credible back story of Desmond Doss, his religious beliefs, family and brief courtship, it’s really the second act of the film that captures audience’s attention as Doss undergoes basic military training under the supervision of Sgt Howell played by Vince Vaughn (Into The Wild, The Internship) and Captain Glover played by British actor Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans).

When it comes to target practice, the rest of the soldiers including a handsome Smitty Ryker played by Luke Bracey (The November Man) and Lucky Ford played by Gibson’s son Milo Gibson are all eager to take up arms to defend their country, while Doss completely refuses to hold a rifle on the grounds that he is a conscientious objector.

After a military inquiry into whether Doss can still serve in the armed forces without bearing arms, the action swiftly moves into the third act, the dreaded battle sequence at Hacksaw Ridge, on the island of Okinawa, a battle so gruesome that many of his fellow soldiers are killed instantly as the ruthless Japanese attack the Americans without restraint.

Director Gibson excels in the battle sequences of Hacksaw Ridge as a combination of frenetic sound editing, utter brutality and emotional tension is vividly captured as the soldier bravely battle a more sophisticated and disciplined opponent. As the battle for Hacksaw Ridge continues, many American soldiers are left wounded, easy prey for the bayonets of the Japanese soldiers.

Doss in this terrifying battleground questions his own convictions and has a crisis of faith amidst bullets whizzing past him and bodies rotting in shallow graves.

Hacksaw Ridge was indeed a vicious battle of attrition, but Doss realizes that if he can save as many wounded American soldiers as possible then perhaps the American military might recognize his true valour and bravery.

In terms of recreating one of the most gruesome battles of the Pacific Theatre of World War II, Hacksaw Ridge is an excellent film comparable to similar war classics like Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning Saving Private Ryan and Oliver Stone’s Platoon.

Historically accurate, Hacksaw Ridge superbly retells the unbelievable story of Desmond Doss, the first Conscientious Objector who was in a battle and received the Medal of Honour without firing a single shot. This is highly recommended viewing and judging by its critical claim, Hacksaw Ridge will have a cult following for lovers of genuine war films.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Doss

 

Outback Red is Back in Fashion

The Dressmaker

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Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Cast: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Caroline Goodall, Sarah Snook, Kerry Fox, James Mackay

Australian director Jocelyn Moorhouse (How to Make an American Quilt) returns to form in this hilarious and bitter-sweet black comedy The Dressmaker combining the talents of Oscar winner Kate Winslet (The Reader) and Oscar nominee Judy Davis (A Passage to India, Husbands and Wives) in a story about Tilly Dunnage who returns to the Australian outback to avenge the townsfolk who sent her packing when she was 10 years old, blaming her for the death of a young boy.

The Dressmaker is The Scarlett Letter with style, as Winslet delivers a fabulous performance as the tenacious dressmaker Tilly Dunnage who returns to Dungatar, Australia in the earlier 1950’s after a sojourn in Europe’s fashion capitals to look after her mother, Mad Molly Dunnage, wonderfully played by Judy Davis. The onscreen chemistry between Winslett and Davis makes this tale of sweet revenge crackle with delight and is a testament to a brilliant stroke of casting.

The male leads are played by Australian actors Liam Hemsworth (Paranoia, Empire State, The Hunger Games trilogy) and Hugo Weaving recapturing some of that cross dressing glamour which he become so famous for in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as the closeted cop Horatio Farrat.

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Based upon the novel by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker is a brilliant and biting black comedy about the drawbacks of small town life: ignorance and the dangers of gossip as a weapon of exclusion.

Tilly Dunnage, always looking absolutely gorgeous despite being in the dusty Australian outback, slowly wins the hearts of the female population of the small town as she becomes a prized dressmaker transforming the plain grocer’s daughter Gertrude Pratt into a gorgeous visionary now known as Trudy.

As Tilly manages to re-establish a bond with her mad mother Molly, she also befriends the local hunk Teddy McSwiney played by Hemsworth and in one hilarious scene she even has to take his measurements for a new suit while he stands shirtless in front of Tilly and her mad mother.

With artistic references to Sunset Boulevard and South Pacific, The Dressmaker is an absolute gem of a film, a wicked black comedy which truly shows Winslet in her most glamorous role to date, taking on the town and correcting the wrongs of the past. Judy Davis is brilliant as the mad mother Molly who confronts her own demons in a town which has long since cursed her.

The rest of the cast include Sarah Snook as the fickle Gertrude Pratt, Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave) as the evil Beulah Harridiene, Caroline Goodall as the pushy mother Elsbeth and the dashing James Mackay as the eligible William Beaumont.

The Dressmaker is highly recommended viewing, a superb and fashionable way to spend two hours and indulge in all the antics of a small town drama filled with mystery, panache and revenge.

 

Outback Vanishing

Strangerland

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Director: Kim Farrant

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Maddison Brown, Nicholas Hamilton, Sean Keenan

Spoiler Alert valid until date of Commercial Release

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) gives another provocative performance in her home country of Australia in the sexually charged mystery thriller, Strangerland as she plays Catherine Parker mother of two children, who one night mysteriously vanish into the Outback. Directed by Kim Farrant and co-starring Joseph Fiennes (Hercules, Elizabeth) as her husband, the straight laced, brutal tempered pharmacist Matthew Parker and Hugo Weaving (The Matrix; Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as the small town Detective David Rae who eventually gets to the heart of the mystery.

With beautiful cinematography by P. J. Dillon who captures the isolation and vastness of the Australian outback on the edge of the small town of Nathgari where the Parkers reside. As the days of the Parker’s children’s disappearance increase, town rumours run riot along with all sorts of sexual innuendo involving sexual abuse and psychological meltdown. The children Tommy and the precocious Lily are played by Nicholas Hamilton and Maddison Brown respectively.

Coupled with the blistering heat, the Parkers relationship as husband and wife, each with their own secrets is carefully dissected in a fascinating if at times slightly drawn out character study of the disintegration of a marriage.

Naturally Nicole Kidman is superb as the young and sexually frustrated mother who eventually blames herself for her children’s inexplicable disappearance yet while trying to remain actively involved in the investigation, which includes a vast manhunt in the blistering Australian manhunt.

Joseph Fiennes is equally good as the pent-up husband although he is not given as much scope as his co-star but still makes the most of his role. Fiennes is the younger brother of Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes and although he has not had as a prolific film career as Ralph, it’s wonderful to see Joseph Fiennes take on more gritty film roles after his initial success in Shakespeare in Love.

Although Strangerland could have been edited, it’s still a gripping family drama about parents dealing with loss and a sense of their own failure and is worth watching for lovers of suspense filled Australian drama in a similar vein to the brilliant Animal Kingdom.

After its debut at the Sundance Film Festival Sundance, Strangerland had its South African premiere at the 36th Durban International Film Festival DIFF. This film is another opportunity to see the immensely talented Nicole Kidman continue in her daring streak of taking on more sexually explicit film roles such as those in The Paperboy and Stoker.

The Middle Earth Saga

The Hobbit:

The Battle of the Five Armies

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Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellan, Hugo Weaving, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, Dean O’Gorman

hobbit_an_unexpected_journey

After the massive success of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, New Zealand director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures) creates another trilogy out of J. R. R. Tolkien’s first novel The Hobbit with An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and the final film, The Battle of the Five Armies, each film being internationally released sequentially from 2012 to 2014 in time for the Christmas Holidays.

Bilbo Baggins and his gang of dwarves go on a quest to defeat the dreadful dragon Smaug and reclaim the gold hidden in the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. The Battle of The Five Armies is naturally pure fantasy and really has to be seen in conjunction with the first two Hobbit films. With hideous orcs and elves fighting each other along with dwarves and humans, lead by Bard the Dragon Slayer (Luke Evans), this is wonderful CGI action and moments of humour thrown in. Whilst the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was a tad darker in tone, the Hobbit is lighter and aiming for a younger audience, but just as enjoyable.

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Ably assisted by a great supporting cast including Sir Ian McKellan as Gandolf the Grey, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Luke Evans as Bard, Orlando Bloom as the Elf fighter Legolas, Martin Freeman’s portrayal of the beloved Bilbo Baggins caught up in a war far greater than what his pretty shire existence is used to, is perfect. Freeman’s status as an actor has risen considerably after this franchise and his wonderful portrayal as Lester Nygaard in the hit TV series Fargo.

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The Hobbit Trilogy is a precursor to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy yet naturally all six films should ideally be seen on the big screen in 3D and digital sound. I watched the first two Hobbit films on DVD, and saw The Battle of the Five Armies in a Cinema and the visual effects were spell bounding especially the scenes with the Dragon Smaug obliterating the human’s village and also the fantastic war sequence which takes up pretty much most of the second half of this film.

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There has been criticism that Peter Jackson was milking the Hobbit Story into a multi-million dollar film franchise as the Tolkien’s book is so short, however its quite clear that with the success of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the studios gave him free reign, so yes that is precisely what he did, knowing full well that The Hobbit brand marketability would be huge.

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Fans of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy will certainly not be complaining. Many battles and legends alluded to in the Hobbit novel are superbly expanded upon and given their full cinematic exploration. Middle Earth never looked this glamorous, spectacular and daunting.

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) assists Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens with screenwriting on the Hobbit movies, so director Peter Jackson can do what he does best – recreating the world of Middle Earth and exploring fantasy in its supreme entirety.

For continuity purposes it also helps having the wonderful Sir Ian McKellan, Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and even veteran screen actor Christopher Lee return to the Hobbit films in supporting roles, making this trilogy just as fun and exciting as the brilliant Lord of the Rings franchise which dazzled audiences in the first decade of the 21st century. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the evil dragon Smaug which guards a horde of gold belonging to the Dwarf King.

Now the question remains will Peter Jackson tackle the other J. R. R. Tolkien novel The Silmarillion ?

 

Military Retro Americana Reigns

Captain America: The First Avenger

From Scrawny to Super Muscular

Joe Johnston’s retro superhero film, Captain America, The First Avenger is a wonderfully evocative 1940s style Americana glamorizing the American involvement in World War II and what better way to achieve this macho propaganda than through the story of Captain America, reluctantly but brilliantly played by Chris Evans who starts the film as an underweight and scrawny all American boy Steve Rogers desperate to enrol in the US Army and contribute to the European theatre of War. A German immigrant scientist, Dr Abraham Erskine played with relish by Stanley Tucci recognizes Rogers ingenuity and enlists him in a top secret research project aimed at fighting the mysterious Nazi supernatural research unit Hydra, headed by the demonic Captain Johann Schmidt, played with sinister pleasure by Hugo Weaving.

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Evans character Rogers through a specially injected serum is transformed into the brawny and muscular Captain America, a super soldier who initially is used as a ridiculous propaganda figure by the US military driving up conscription and bolstering the armies psyche in their fight against the Nazi’s in a glorious cinematic pastiche of Americana complete with showgirls and wartime publicity.

As this is a comic book caper and very far from the actual reality of war, Captain America with the aid of a motley crew of trusted soldiers, an elegant British attache Peggy Carter played by Hayley Atwell of Brideshead Revisited fame and empowered with an arsenal of weapons, military transportation and the like by Howard Stark, Ironman’s father, played by the dashing Dominic Cooper from Mamma Mia, Captain America takes on the crazed Captain Schmidt whose powers derive from some Nordic mythological cube, capable of utter destruction.

Only the Brave and the Strong

Captain America is thrilling, glamorous and a great adventure film with tribute being payed to the Indiana Jones franchise whilst keeping in line with similar styled 1940s themed films from Casablanca to Bugsy. Watch out for a fantastic chase sequence in Brooklyn, a twist at the end and definitely a promise of a sequel. The supporting cast are terrific from Tommy Lee Jones as the no nonsense Colonel Phillips to Hugo Weaving bolstering up Chris Evan’s performance as the ultimate American superhero.

 

 

Gothic Horror at its Bloodiest….

The Wolfman

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Beware The Wolfman, Director Joe Johnstone’s retelling of this classic horror transformation is not for the faint-hearted.

Featuring an all star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro, The Wolfman is a 21st century Gothic Horror at its gripping edge of your seat best. Set in the exquisite ancestral location of Blackmoor in Victorian England, this Gothic tale of murder, intrigue and horrifying destiny is more horror than action and del Toro is perfectly cast as Lawrence Talbot aka The Wolfman with Hopkins playing his ruthless father Sir John Talbot.

Watch out for the particularly scary transformation scene at Lambeth Asylum with a guest appearance by Anthony Sher… dark, hairy and sinister! Not recommended for any viewer that does not like extreme violence or horror films. 

 

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