Posts Tagged ‘Ian McShane’

Symphony of Death

John Wick 3 – Parabellum

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Said Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Robin Lord Taylor, Jason Mantzoukas

Director Chad Stahelski assembles an all-star cast for the action packed third installment of the John Wick franchise including Oscar winner Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) as fellow assassin Sofia along with the fabulous Oscar winner Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honour) as the Director. Naturally the superfit Keaun Reeves (Dangerous Liaisons, My Own Private Idaho, The Matrix) reprises his role as the uber cool assassin John Wick who is on the run after committing a sacrificial act by killing a member of the Assassin’s Guild on the grounds of the lavish Continental Hotel in New York City.

In John Wick 3, Parabellum a bounty is placed on Wick’s head and even the shady Russian mafia cannot assist him as the adjudicator comes for his head, featuring a supremely wicked performance by the androgynous actress Asia Kate Dillon who is so brilliant as the mathematical investment banker in the series Billions.

As the rain-soaked atmospheric and hyper-realistic action moves from New York City to Casablanca and then back again, John Wick and his ally Sofia manage to annihilate every assassin which comes for them. There are Ninjas on motorbikes, there is John Wick riding a horse down a Manhattan street. There are vicious dogs which attack a fellow Moroccan based assassin Berrada played by Game of Thrones star Jerome Flynn.

The coolest cast members by far are Ian McShane as the sophisticated unflappable manager of the Continental Winston and Laurence Fishburne who reprises his role as the Bowery King.

Audiences can expect triple the amount of action, unbelievable production design, outlandish stunts and non-stop hyper-realistic entertainment which just continually builds on what the previous two films started. Expect an unbelievably high body count.

John Wick 3 – Parabellum is not for everyone but will certainly satisfy the bloody palate of  insatiable action fans. Keanu Reeves delivers as the muscular non-stop assassin who doesn’t even shed his trademark black suit and tie in the middle of the Sahara as he continually battles the bizarre code of the High Council and the strange Assassin’s Guild where everyone is out for each other’s blood.

The sets are amazing, the action frenetic and audiences will either love or hate the hyper-realism but stylistically director Chad Stahelski out does himself to ensure that the third instalment of John Wick is a symphony of death and destruction which satisfies a broad range of international fans. Audiences should look out for a great cameo by French Moroccan star Said Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman, The Infiltrator) as The Elder.

John Wick 3 – Parabellum gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is strictly for hard core action fans otherwise anyone else watching might find the film laughable. 

The Man, the Myth, the Mayhem

John Wick Chapter Two

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Laurence Fishburne, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick

The image of the lone survivor battling against a gritty and unrepentant underworld pervades director Chad Stahelski’s operatic sequel to John Wick, simply titled John Wick Chapter Two set in New York and Rome.

Starring action front man Keanu Reeves as John Wick, the second film obviously has a bigger budget and definitely has revitalized Reeves’s career after his millennial peak in The Matrix Trilogy.

Keanu Reeves has a fascinating filmography first spotted as Glenn Close’s young lover in Stephen Frears’s sumptuous film Dangerous Liaisons and then as a King Henry VI type character in Gus van Sant’s landmark film My Own Private Idaho. Reeves then gained studio attention with the success of the action film Speed opposite Sandra Bullock. Keanu Reeves strengthened his position as bankable star in the Wachowski’s global post-apocalyptic phenomenon The Matrix Trilogy.

John Wick Chapter Two follows John Wick’s attempts to retire after he extricates his 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 from a creepy Russian mob boss, a brief appearance by Peter Stormare. The film’s opening sequence features a violent car chase sequence in New York which forcefully grabs audience’s attention immediately and never let’s go.

The plot point of the film comes when John Wick is visited by an Italian mob boss Santino D’Antonio played with psychopathic relish by Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt) who requests Wick, a professional assassin to kill his rival, Santino’s sister Gianna played by Claudia Gerini who has inadvertently inherited the title of becoming the head of an influential Italian crime family much to her brother’s horror. Gianna is protected by another loyal hitman Cassian lethally played by Common as she hosts a decadent party in Rome celebrating her new title.

As John Wick arrives in Rome, the film takes on a hyper-realized style and the consequent shootout in the catacombs below the Italian capital are brilliant in their execution and expedient its violent body count. The action in the Roman sequence is frenzied leaving audiences bloodthirsty like spectators at the Coliseum breathlessly wanting more spectacle.

The third act of the film swiftly moves back to New York where John Wick has to not only battle Santino but also seeks counsel from Winston, an enigmatic performance by Ian McShane, who is head of a covert league of assassins who are all governed by an intricate set of rules which is meant to keep killing down to a sort of stylized etiquette. No one is to be killed inside the Continental, an elegant establishment where assassins can check in and rest in between their lethal assignments. Perhaps even grab a cocktail together at the hotel bar.

With a welcome appearance by Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King who has a network of homeless people protecting him and assisting John Wick, the third act gets propelled into a vicious cycle of retribution.

John Wick Chapter Two delivers on all fronts, from complex fight sequences, to exotic and memorable locations including the elaborate final shootout at the Lincoln Centre amidst an exhibition entitled Reflections of the Soul, which director Stahelski is surely paying homage to the Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

Certainly the mayhem is overkill, yet the man and myth of John Wick Chapter Two lives up to expectations definitely pointing to another bloodthirsty sequel. This film gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Thracian Turmoil

Hercules

hercules_ver2

Director: Brett Ratner

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, John Hurt, Reece Ritchie, Joseph Fiennes, Tobias Santelmann, Ingrid Borso Berdal, Rebecca Ferguson, Aksel Hennie

After Hercules completes the 12 labours, the demi-god gets involved with a civil war in Thrace http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrace. Based upon the graphic novel, Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore, director Brett Ratner (After the Sunset, Tower Heist, The Rush Hour Trilogy) brings to glossy cinematic life this ancient loincloth adventure which shows Hercules played by Dwayne Johnson (GI Joe, Rise of the Cobra) along with a band of mercenaries including Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), Amazon archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and his nephew storyteller Iolaus played by Reece Ritchie in various Thracian turmoils.

Hercules and his bloodthirsty and feral band of misfits are approached by Ergenia played by upcoming Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson on behalf of her father, the duplicitous Lord Cortys played by veteran British actor John Hurt to quell a civil war brewing in Thrace, supposedly led by the gruesome insurrectionist warlord Rheseus played by Norwegian actor Tobias Santelmann.

As the battle ensues it soon emerges that Lord Cortys has a secret alliance with the evil King Eurystheus who is wonderfully played by Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) who tormented Hercules with the notion that he was responsible for the murder of his own wife and children, which resulted in his subsequent exile.

Painted by Pieter Paul Rubens

Painted by Pieter Paul Rubens

With superb cinematography by Dante Spinotti, director Brett Ratner brings a lavish eye to these mythological battles and while Johnson might not be as believable as Hercules, he is in terms of acting, he is so in terms of strength and brute force, quite opposite to the scantily clad Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules.

Viewers shouldn’t expect Game of Thrones or 300 style gore or bloodshed in the battle scenes, as Ratner has deliberately chosen to make Hercules palatable to a teenage audience and has spared scenes of gratuitous nudity and gruesome violence.

Unlike the earlier film The Legend of Hercules, this version of Hercules portrays the man as more mature and hardened warrior famed for completing the 12 labours of Hercules and now embroiled in what is seemingly a Grecian civil strife.

Reece Ritchie 10 000 BC and The Lovely Bones fame does a superb job as the loquacious storyteller Iolaus, nephew of Hercules and the acting stakes are held up by British actor Rufus Sewell (Carrington, Tristan and Isolde) along with Scottish actor Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), who seamlessly blend humour and bravado as they embark on their less than gruesome Thracian battles.

Hercules is a well narrated fun filled mythological adventure film with some stunning action sequences especially the closing battle and the toppling of the massive statue of Hera. Lovers of mythological films such as Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans, will definitely enjoy Hercules, even if Dwayne Johnson’s acting leaves much to be desired.

This version of Hercules is recommended viewing and suitably classical complete with Grecian costumes and fantastic scenery where myth and legend blend to become a more plausible historical reality.

Slaying Giants

Jack the Giant Slayer

jack_the_giant_killer_ver10

Fantasy tales make a fabulous bedtime story. That quiet half an hour when a parent reads to their anxious child the bedtime story involving a beautiful princess, some fairies and the occasional Giant is hugely significant in the passing down of a culture’s myths and legends. A recent Hollywood trend starting with the visually arresting Snow White and the Huntsman has seen many fairytales and fantasy films like Oz the Great and Powerful being re-imagined. The tale of Jack and the Bean stalk is vividly recreated by X-Men director Bryan Singer in the Feudal Fantasy Jack the Giant Slayer, featuring Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) as the hapless commoner Jack who goes to town to sell his stallion and soon receives some magical beans in payment for the horse from a shady monk.

jack_the_giant_killer_ver13

Whilst the exchange occurs Jack meets the gorgeous Princess Isabelle played by Eleanor Tomlinson who is eager to escape the confines of her father’s kingdom. At King Brahmwell’s insistence Isabelle is destined to marry the scheming Roderick played with evil panache by Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) and assisted by his sidekick Wicke played by Trainspotting star Ewen Bremner. The Kingdom’s protector  brave Elmont played by Ewan McGregor (The Impossible, Moulin Rouge) has a task on his hand trying to keep track of the illusive princess.

One stormy night upon her escape she comes across Jack in his humble abode and unbeknownst to them one of his magical beans has gotten wet and soon a gigantic beanstalk grows taking the princess up into the heavens and soon to become the mercy of a band of giants which inhabits the heavens and are merciless and forever hungry. Soon the adventure of Jack the Giant Slayer begins as Jack, Elmost and a band of the King’s men climb the treacherous bean stalk in a quest to save the proverbial princess. Bryan Singer brings all the visual dexterity that made the original X-Men trilogy and Valkyrie so dazzling to this cinematic recreation of Jack and the Beanstalk and firmly entrenches Jack the Giant Slayer in the long forgotten realm of British feudal patriarchal society whereby monarchy was supreme and power and royal continuity was enforced through myth and legend. Especially when the Kingdom of Cloisters is being threatened by a band of evil man-eating Giants.

“Be Quiet, I am talking to Giants”

Stanley Tucci is wonderful as slimy Roderick, the facilitator of evil and Giant dealer with his best line being “Be Quiet, I am talking to Giants”. Ewan McGregor is a great supporting actor to the little known Nicholas Hoult as the hero Jack who not only has to slay Giants but also prove his worth to the vain King Brahmwell in order to marry his illusive daughter, the ever resourceful princess. All narrative is tied up in fairytales of some sort and this plot is no different and while the script could have been expanded, Jack the Giant Slayer relies heavily on action and visual effects, which are spellbinding to say the least especially the final medieval battle between knights and Giants at the Cloisters Castle.

Like all battles fought, and all legends lived, many are entwined into narrative and myth to make a wonderful bedtime stories that can be passed down the generations, making it just as valuable as the gorgeous crown jewels which survive in the Tower of London. Jack the Giant Slayer, though thin on character development, relies heavily on the fabulous narrative of a simple farmer Jack slaying Giants to gain the hand of the princess and not much characterization is needed when such dazzling special effects are used to recreate another cinematic fairy tale. Recommended  for definitive and entertaining family viewing!

The Evil Queen Stakes

Snow White and the Huntsman

Vicious Vanity takes no prisoners

Director Rupert Sanders visually stunning Gothic Snow White and the Huntsman channels Gullermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and the hit HBO Feudal Fantasy series Game of Thrones and ain’t no fairytale although all the elements of fantasy are evident from Trolls to Dwarves, to Knights and Fairies. The real winner of Snow White and the Huntsman is the Evil Queen Ravena played beautifully with a seriously unhinged quality by Oscar winner Benoni superstar Charlize Theron, referencing her earlier role in Monster. In Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize steals the show and is the backbone to this dark fantasy epic featuring Kirsten Stewart as the meek and anaemic Snow White and Thor’s hairy and gruff Chris Hemsworth as the sword wielding Huntsman sent to rescue the damsel trapped in the dark forest…

Mirror Mirror

This Queen ain’t no Bad Apple

Where the frivolous and occasionally funny Mirror Mirror spectacularly fails is the casting of goodie-two-shoes actress Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen in director of The Immortals Tarsem Singh’s frothy and glossy retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in Mirror Mirror, which as a comedy is fun in parts namely due to the casting of genuine dwarves, along with Nathan Lane and Lily Collins, daughter of singer Phil Collins as the sweet and innocent Snow White, but the casting of Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen?Really?

Joan Rivers, Rupaul  or Kim Catrall could do a better job especially in this semi-Bollywood fantasy featuring  the buff Armie Hammer as the hapless but entirely vacant Prince. Wait for the end of Mirror Mirror to see the Dance number and the redeeming aspect is the fabulous costumes at the Queens Ball with Snow White as a Swan…

Unlike Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman is pure feudal old world action with a dash of macabre incest, vanity and vicious magic realism. Charlize Theron steals the show as the completely off kilter pyschopathic Evil Queen who bathes in milk and whose gold mirror comes to life. Twilight star Kirsten Stewart only really comes into her role as the grubby Snow White in the second part of the film, but alas there is no chemistry between her and the Huntsman, played with less enthusiasm by Chris Hemsworth who really made an impact with Kenneth Branagh’s Thor.

Mirror Mirror is suitable for pretty little girls and Snow White and the Huntsman is more closer to malignant  witchcraft appealing to a more jaded generation complete with a sinister Evil Queen hell bent in her quest for the heart of a virgin at the expense of the seven dwarfs, the occasional fairy and a hapless Troll. Charlize Theron is just that much more menacing in the evil Queen stakes and film’s final show down is visually stimulating.

 

 

Elusive as a Mermaids Tear

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise seems to be weighted down in the middle by a plot which falters considerably in managing the antics of Captain Jack Sparrow competing against Blackbeard in their quest for the fountain of youth without the support of his original team. Johnny Depp reprises his role as the outrageous pirate which garnered him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in the first film in 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. While On Stranger Tides is in the hands of Chicago and Nine director Rob Marshall and not Gore Verbinski who directed the first three Pirates films, is lighter in tone, the action less dramatic and a meandering storyline which is as elusive as a mermaids tear.

Captain Jack is Back

Gone are Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom who did not sign up for the fourth film leaving Captain Jack Sparrow adrift in a new version fighting Blackbeard and wooing the mercurial Angelica, played by Penelope Cruz, who looks equally surprised at being cast in a Walt Disney film. Cruz is far better suited to art house films like Vicky Christina Barcelona and Volver, than in a Hollywood Blockbuster, although her rendition of Angelica as a fiery counterpoint to Sparrow’s wild antics  is certainly worth the praise.

Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Captain Barbarossa and Ian McShane plays Blackbeard with an elegant malice, emanating villainy and evil in all his immoral endeavours. Johnny Depp does not manage to top his original performance in the first Pirates film, as by now his Keith Richards style take on Jack Sparrow as over the top has been all too familiarized. From such a versatile actor like Depp, he requires exciting characters to stretch his formidable talents, which director Tim Burton understands beautifully casting him in most of his films from Edward Scissorhands, to Sweeney Todd and more recently Alice in Wonderland.

Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides should have been called the Fountain of Youth, while the entire characters quest for the illustrious fountain whose powers can only be harnessed with a mermaids tear has a plotline dangerously close to Raiders of the Lost Ark. After a brilliant start in the grimy streets of Georgian London and a daring and explosive action sequence, On Stranger Tides becomes adrift both figuratively and literally as the search for the fountain of youth is misguided by a floundering subplot of a Christian missionary being seduced by a coy mermaid, one can’t help feel that Sparrow was the only one carrying the voyages further without support from his winning team. The success of the first three films hinged on the brilliant combination of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly as the trio who bravely battle pirates on the high seas from Captain Barbarossa to Davy Jones to monsters and sea goddesses like Calypso.

In this fourth installment, although Cruz and Depp are tantalizing in the main roles there is not enough screen time for both these highly competent actors to truly develop a brilliant repartee. Much of the witty and comic  dialogue is smothered by the action sequences which had the timing been perfect, On Stranger Tides would have shared the success of the preceding Pirates films, which is more to do with director Rob Marshall whose talents are more adept at directing musicals and historical epics than a Hollywood special effects laden blockbuster. Director Rob Marshall vision of Pirates is more lavish, sexier and less action packed.

Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides will surely draw the crowds but is in no way a superior film when viewed as part of a Franchise, and while it begins brilliantly, the middle seems bogged down with subplot and the ending lacks any spectacular finale demonstrated in At World’s End. Disney seems to be taking all the viewers for a long and illustrious journey on a voyage which is in danger of losing its lustre and originality. Bring back Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann to help Jack Sparrow reinvigorate the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
June 2019
M T W T F S S
« May    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
  • ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Team on Making Washington D.C. ‘Gilead on Steroids’
    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Household,” the sixth episode of the third season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” For two and a half seasons, life in the dystopian regime of “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” Gilead appeared to be the worst possible future for a woman like June (Elisabeth Moss). But then she […]
    Danielle Turchiano
  • Paramount Network Orders Michael Chiklis Drama ‘Coyote’ to Series
    Paramount Network has greenlit the Michael Chiklis-led drama series “Coyote.” The Viacom-owned cabler has ordered a 10-episode first season of the one-hour series, the development of which was first announced in May. Chiklis stars as Ben Clemens who, after 32 years as a border patrol agent, is forced to work for the very people he […]
    Joseph Otterson
  • How Machine Learning Turned Major Lazer’s ‘Make It Hot’ Into Vertical Video (EXCLUSIVE)
    Major Lazer & Anitta’s new track “Make It Hot” has all the makings of a summer hit — including a version that plays well on the go: Alongside the official video, artist manager services company Mtheory released a version on Wednesday that was cut for vertical viewing on Instagram and TikTok. “With the way fans […]
    Janko Rottgers
  • Watch Cardi B’s Wildly NSFW Video for New Single ‘Press’
    Arriving with uncanny timing, a day after Cardi B pleaded not guilty to assault in an ongoing case around an incident at a New York nightclub last August, the rapper has dropped an eye-popping new video for her latest single “Press” that features violence, nudity, multiple murders and, wow, lots more. Clocking in at just […]
    Jem Aswad
  • Condé Nast Entertainment Taps Ex-RYOT Studio Head Kathryn Friedrich for New Role
    Condé Nast Entertainment hired Kathryn Friedrich, a YouTube and Google alum who most recently headed Verizon’s RYOT Studio, to the newly created role of EVP, operations and general manager. Friedrich started in the new gig this week, reporting to Condé Nast Entertainment president Oren Katzeff, who joined the company last year from Tastemade. Based in […]
    Todd Spangler
  • Read More
    Different providers offer different cell phones, so take a look at the options from each provider to choose the right one for you. You may also want to look into any promotions that the providers have to offer, such as free cell phones in exchange for signing a contract. Tags: 2gmhass90