Posts Tagged ‘Nicholas Hoult’

The Ethics of Electricity

The Current War

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Tom Holland, Katherine Waterston, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Macfadyen, Damien Molony, John Schwab, Conor MacNeill

Film Rating: 8 out of 10 – Highly Recommended Viewing

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon served as second unit director to Martin Scorsese, Nora Ephron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and follows his second feature film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl with The Current War featuring a host of British and American stars including Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) as electricity inventor Thomas Edison opposite Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) as George Westinghouse.

Set in America in the 1880’s and the events leading up to the Chicago World Fair in 1893, Westinghouse develops alternative current electricity while Edison creates direct current electricity. As both Westinghouse and Edison woo the financial support of investment banker J. P. Morgan wonderfully played by Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) they develop electricity and its current at an alarming pace lighting up first the American eastern seaboard and then stretching West to the Mid-West and beyond.

Soon the ethics of producing powerful electric currents are called into question when a New York government official Rudolf Young played by John Schwab is planning the first execution via the electric chair of convicted wife killer William Kemmler played by Irish actor Conor MacNeill.

The conflict within The Current War is between Westinghouse and Edison while the eccentric and penniless immigrant Nikola Tesla wonderfully played by Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite, A Single Man) invents the capacity for electricity to be automated and used in machines. Tesla was also credited with harnessing the power of the Niagara Falls for hydroelectricity which produces limitless amounts of current.

It’s no coincidence that Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla is named after this enigmatic inventor who never received the credit due to him while alive as he got caught between the rivalry of Westinghouse, Edison and the manipulative banker J. P. Morgan who produced the capital to start one of the most famous electricity companies in the world: General Electric.

The Current War is a fast paced story of how 19th century America was electrified by Edison and Westinghouse and the rivalry which consumed them yet changed society forever.

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon smartly employs fast paced editing and some stylistic flourishes to keep The Current War engaging, light and historically fascinating. Audiences should look out for Tom Holland (Spiderman, Far from Home, The Lost City of Z) as Edison’s loyal assistant Samuel Insull and Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice, Fantastic Beasts) as Marguerite Westinghouse and Tuppence Middleton (The Imitation Game, Jupiter Ascending) as the long suffering Mary Edison.

For history buffs, catch The Current War which gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is especially relevant today considering that now the human population depend upon electricity.

Regal Revenge

The Favourite

 

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Joe Alwyn, Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gatiss, James Melville, Timothy Innes, Basil Eidenbenz

When Queen Mary II died in 1694 and her husband King William III died in 1702, the British throne passed to Mary’s sister Queen Anne in 1702 who bore 17 children through her marriage to Prince George of Denmark all of whom died in childbirth. The reign of Queen Anne was short lived, having only occupied the throne for 12 years.

Greek art house director Yorgos Lanthimos provides a bizarre parody of royal favouritism, jealousy and court rivalry in his lavish critically acclaimed period film The Favourite set during Queen Anne’s reign at the beginning of the 18th century. Audiences should note that this is not an accurate historical drama in the vein of director Shekhar Kapur’s epic films Elizabeth and Elizabeth, The Golden Age in which Cate Blanchett played the Virgin Queen. The Favourite is meant to be viewed as a parody.

The Favourite is a spiteful royal romp which has three deliciously brilliant portrayals of different women at its core.

Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardner) is absolutely superb as the manipulative and influential Lady Sarah who is usurped in her position at the court by her young cousin a feisty Abigail wonderfully portrayed by Oscar winner Emma Stone (La La Land).

Both women are trying to gain favour with the sickly and constantly bored Queen Anne beautifully played by British actress Olivia Colman who gives a career best performance as a Queen who is both commanding and fickle, a female regent constantly plagued by the death of all her children and her inability to produce a viable heir.

With gorgeous costumes by Sandy Powell and a brittle inventive script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, Yorgos Lanthimos’s inventive portrayal of British Royalty is both cheeky, outrageous and utterly thought-provoking, a vicious parody of those who hold power and the others who circle precariously around the centre of that regal orbit.

Beautifully constructed and wonderfully filmed, The Favourite is not going to be everyone’s cup of perfectly brewed tea but it will certainly challenge viewers’ perception of the pedestal that royalty places itself on.

Love it or hate it, The Favourite is a challenging and lavish film about vile characters, utter debauchery and a satirical look at how powerful women can outwit each other, while the vain and ineffectual men particularly Harley played by Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) and Masham played by Joe Alwyn (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk) are mere pawns in this whimsical game of deception and influence over a powerful Queen that was equally swayed by her closest companions.

The Favourite gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is utterly bizarre, a ravishing parody of royalty which will leave an inedible impression on the viewer.

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.

 

The Valhalla Highway

Mad Max: Fury Road

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Director: George Miller

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Riley Keough, Josh Helman

The much anticipated fourth instalment of the Mad Max series synonymous with industrial chic and post-apocalyptic desert car chase sequences arrives with a vengeance without Mel Gibson.

Thirty years from the last film, George Miller directs Mad Max: Fury Road with British actor Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) impressively taking over the role of Mad Max along with South African born Oscar Winner Charlize Theron (Monster) as the shaven head Imperator Furiosa, a determined woman who escapes the clutches of an evil desert war lord, Immortan Joe played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who ruthlessly guards the scarce resources of the planet’s water and food for his own anarchic empire, aptly titled the Citadel.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a brilliant energetic and subversive film, an allegorical road trip highlighting the scarcity of the earth’s resources including oil and water, but more significantly, the action and stunt sequences are truly phenomenal. As the diabolical Immortan Joe and his crazed band of war boys, white-faced and vicious chase Imperator across what is dubbed Valhalla’s Highway, a vast epic journey into the end of eternity.

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Shot in Namibia that beautiful desert African country, Mad Max: Fury Road does not disappoint especially with suitably savage and believable performances by Theron and Hardy, both whom have the enormous talent to make this film utterly believable, when even at times the stunts are so unbelievable.

In a clever plot twist, there are a bunch of supermodels and actresses cast in Mad Max: Fury Road including Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough along with Zoe Kravitz along with a frenetic Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) cast as Nux a renegade warboy who is desperate to break free from the tyranny, but gets consumed by the mayhem.

The sets, sound editing and stunts are truly amazing and should definitely be seen on the big screen especially the final chase sequence involving the war rig, a huge menacing oil tanker deftly driven by Imperator with the help of Mad Max as they desperately try to elude the menacing attempts at capture by Immortan Joe and his vicious gang of thugs.

The script is not particularly enlightening but then again this is Mad Max, but the construction of the film is impressive, like a desert opera in three acts, with each act more savage and gripping than the last, a crazed action chase film in a post-apocalyptic setting with no hints of redemption or salvation.

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Director George Miller does a fascinating job at re-imagining the Mad Max tropes for the 21st century audience, placing more emphasis on the value of scarce resources and on the fact that girls can also kick ass too, especially the formidable collective known as The Wives (Huntington-Whiteley, Kravitz and the gorgeous gang) subverting the traditional male orientated chase film and producing a more explicit and frenetic action film that will appeal to all audiences who enjoyed the original Mad Max trilogy.

Incidentally Valhalla in Viking mythology was where warriors go to die after fighting bravely in battle, in this case the chaotic Valhalla highway is paved with destructive intentions, cruelty, action and anarchy. See it to believe it! Highly recommended viewing for lovers of films like The Book of Eli and Max Payne.

 

 

 

 

Mutant Time Travel Fantasy

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Peter Dinklage, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Karine Vanasse, Evan Peters, Josh Helman

Which director could resist bringing such a fabulous a-list cast together in one film?

Naturally the original X-Men director Bryan Singer who takes this huge cinematic opportunity to reboot the X-Men franchise and include the original cast members in a mutant time travel fantasy which sees Wolverine, Storm, Raven and Magneto and Professor Xavier battling literally against time in a war to save the mutants from utter destruction at the hands of evil humans, represented by none other than Dr Bolivar Trask, wonderfully played by Peter Dinklage, whose star is clearly rising after the phenomenal success of the allegorical revenge fantasy series Game of Thrones.

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Set between 1973 and presumably the present day of 2013, so a forty year time span, the original X-Men including Magneto and Professor Xavier played by Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart send Wolverine aka Logan back forty years to confront a younger version of themselves and change a pivotal moment in history, the capture of the uniquely chameleon Raven played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence from being captured by the duplicitious Trask. Wolverine with all the braun and charm of the original series gamely played by Hugh Jackman confronts a younger Xavier (a wonderful turn by James McAvoy) and convinces him to set Magneto free from a metal less prison in the heart of the Pentagon in Washington D. C.

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In a spell bounding special effects sequence, Xavier, Beast and Wolverine with the able assistance of Quiksilver played with charm by Evan Peters free the unpredictable Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto and together they go in search of Raven/Mystique as she infiltrates a Vietnamese peace signing ceremony in Paris in 1973 in a bid to assassinate the formidable weapons specialist Dr Bolivar Trask who is hellbent on obliterating all mutants with new Transformeresque type machines known as the Sentinels.

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The rest of the action packed hugely spectacular X-Men Days of Future Past is a time travel mutant orgy in the same vein as Marvel’s film The Avengers was with a bunch of superheroes coming together to battle the evil Loki. The cast is just as spectacular and director Singer gives as much screen time as possible to the prolific actors as well as to the lesser cast members but its his lingering cinematic gaze on the gorgeous male cast including Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) as Beast, Michael Fassbender (Shame) as Erik, James McAvoy (Atonement) as a younger Xavier that gives this superhero mutant fantasy a distinctly homoerotic quality seldom seen in other superhero films.

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By their nature superheroes are slightly narcissistic (look at Man of Steel, Batman, Iron Man) but especially so in X-Men Days of Future Past. The female superheroes in this film pale in comparison to their attention grabbing male counterparts with director Singer even giving Wolverine a nude scene as he wakes up in a New York apartment overlooking Time Square in the swinging seventies.

Ultimately, X-Men Days of Future Past is a Hollywood vehicle to reboot the old X-Men franchise and breath fresh life into the cast of the younger selves seen in X-Men: First Class. The film is wonderfully retro in parts and adds to the glamour of recreating the 1970’s on screen with Fassbender and McAvoy looking particularly fetching as the younger Magneto and Xavier. Gone are all the dark overtones of the earlier X-Men films and in this invigorated version, all the mutants look glossy, stylized and supremely accessible. This is a Hollywood blockbuster not just for its multitude of stars but also for the riveting special effects, never mind the convoluted narrative. A must see film for all fans of the X-Men movies and those that follow such commercial gloss with vigour.

 

 

Slaying Giants

Jack the Giant Slayer

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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.

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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!

Madhatters to A Single Man…

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderlandis clever, unconventional, but essentially not darker enough – although saved by Tweedledum & Tweedledee and the Red Queen… Johnny Depp is wonderful as the Madhatter and Helena Bonham Carter is brilliant as the Red Queen. Anne Hathaway also features as the White Queen along with Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh in the titular role.

Ruling Wonderland one Queen at a time!

Ruling Wonderland one Queen at a time!

Remember Me

 

Tower of indestructible Love

Remember Me is surprisingly good although does tend to drag in the 2nd act, but wait for the finale – its a stunner… And as for Robert Pattinson – of course he is brilliant and holds his own in the film amongst such support talents as Pierce Brosnan, Academy Award winner, Chris Cooper (Adaptation) along with Oscar nominee and Swedish born actress Lena Olin (Unbearable Lightness of Being, Enemies: A Love Story). Recommended viewing.

A Single Man

Tom Ford’s luscious and sexy A Single Man is pure cinematic pleasure, every shot is like a Vogue fashion shoot and whilst the supporting cast are to die for, its really Colin Firth’s wonderful and sensitive central performance that lingers long after the lavish final shot!! See it just for the Spaniard in the Phone Booth scene!! Utterly breathtaking… especially Nicholas Hoult as the young and gorgeous Kenny skinny dipping in the Pacific at Midnight. Also starring Matthew Goode and Ginnifer Goodwin.

Lover and the Lush!

Lover and the Lush!

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