Posts Tagged ‘Richard Schiff’

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.

 

Celebrity Style Bromance

Entourage

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Director: Doug Ellin

Cast: Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrera, Adrian Grenier, Mark Wahlberg, Billy Bob Thornton, Debi Mazar, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Armie Hammer, Ronda Rousey, Haley Joel Osment

It’s not always easy to translate a 30 minute HBO series into a full length feature film but the producers of the hit HBO series Entourage do that with a certain degree of success. For those oblivious to the carousing of the gang in the original series, Entourage focused on four friends in Hollywood, Eric, Vince, Johnny Drama and Turtle as they navigate their way through scoring girls, attending wild parties and the intricacies of the entertainment industry. Naturally it’s Hollywood on steroids.

entourage

Produced by Mark Wahlberg and Doug Ellin, the latter of whom directs the film version, Entourage the film is like a watered down version of Robert Altman’s scathing diatribe on Hollywood, The Player and also uses a similar self-reflexive technique of blending actors playing onscreen characters with real film stars which include Liam Neeson, Armie Hammer and Mark Wahlberg.

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Most of the action of this celebrity style Bromance takes place in Los Angeles with a brief opening sequence on a yacht in Ibiza, which looks like an offcut from Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

As the brat pack make their way to stardom through a series of parties, optimal seductions and behind the scenes Hollywood dealings, Entourage has some extremely funny moments, mostly littered with foul language, less glamour and lots of stuff guys obsess about: sex, money and girls.

entourage_ver7Jeremy Piven as the angry and hilarious film producer Ari Gold, lifts Entourage out of a banal narrative which does not really go anywhere and his brilliant performance is counterpointed by that of Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade) as a Texan film investor, Larsen McCreadle along with his buffoon of a son, Travis wonderfully played by Sixth Sense star Haley Joel Osment.

entourage_ver4Entourage is in fact saved by Piven whose unbelievably energetic performance as Gold makes the film worth watching while the rest of the cast drift through the film in a sort of narcissistic American machismo unique to Hollywood, where the only thing that matters besides their egos is their sex lives.

entourage_ver5Audiences should watch out for some fabulous cameo appearances including singer Pharrell Williams, Armie Hammer, Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba, Piers Morgan and Billionaire Warren Buffett playing themselves. Kevin Dillon, younger brother of Matt Dillon and Jerry Ferrara provide the laughs as Johnny Drama and Turtle while Piven’s character of Ari Gold makes the film thoroughly enjoyable.

entourage_ver6Entourage is a B grade film about Hollywood with appearances by some A grade actors as themselves, with a cast that does not have to do much but just be the annoying yet lovable guys they were in the original series, cruising around Sunset Boulevard living the dream. Recommended for viewers who followed the HBO series and natural fans of the immensely talented Jeremy Piven.

However, this film version of Entourage is a far cry from the more subtle Hollywood parody expertly done by Robert Altman in The Player back in 1992, but worth watch purely for the entertainment value.

 

The Genesis Chamber

Man of Steel

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Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Christopher Meloni, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Richard Schiff, Ayelet Zurer

Director Zack Snyder’s ambitious retelling of the origins of Superman in Man of Steel is visually dazzling and grittier than the cheesier Superman movies of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. With Christopher Nolan as the producer and co-writer of Man of Steel, Snyder’s vision of Superman is darker, edgier and more realistic with the occasional humorous nod, but ultimately its firmly rooted in Sci-Fi with Krypton taking a centre stage in the spectacular production design of the opening sequences which shows influences of Snyder’s previous darkly toned blockbusters, 300 and Watchmen.

With newcomer Henry Cavill in the titular role fresh from his role on the TV series The Tudors and relatively unknown outside of the UK, he does a fairly good job of becoming one of America’s iconic figures. In Man of Steel, the comic and sci-fi iconography is rife, with Snyder paying homage to a range of influential Sci-Fi films from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to War of the Worlds, while firmly rooting the narrative in the celestial journey that Kal-El takes from Krypton to Kansas to Superman saving America. There is even a scene of the conflicted Superman in a Kansas church, complete with religious imagery mulling over whether to save his adopted planet Earth from destruction or side with his extraterrestrial origins that of his Kryptonian heritage represented by the ruthless General Zod, expertly played by Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Premium Rush) who after a period of isolation tracks Superman to Earth and soon brings a wake of devastation from Smallville to Metropolis.

The trick which makes Man of Steel so compelling is that along with the dazzling visual effects, the casting was spot on surrounding newcomer young British actor Henry Cavill with a galaxy of veteran Hollywood stars from Russell Crowe as his birth father Jor-El to Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as his adopted parents Jonathan and Martha Kent. Then there is the brilliant Amy Adams (Doubt, Julie and Julia) cast as the adventure seeking tough investigative journalist Lois Lane, who plays the part in stark contrast to the goofy, slightly dizzy take on the role by Margot Kidder in the original Superman movies.

From Krypton to Kansas…

The narrative is deeply rooted in origins mythology and told through a series of expertly crafted flashbacks about how Kal-El was naturally conceived on Krypton by his birth parents without the help of the sinister looking Genesis Chamber on the doomed planet Krypton and shunted off to earth as the last surviving hope for his celestial race. Kal-El, better known in Kansas as Clark Kent soon discovers his extraordinary powers as a growing boy and transforms into the mature, measured and slightly emotionally stunted Man of Steel, complete with X-Ray vision and high-speed atmospheric flight capabilities. The narrative arc closes when Lois Lane discovers Superman’s origins and naturally as most Superheroes do, he must don the fetching red cape and suitable attire, complete with underpants in the right place saving Earth from the Warrior General Zod, whilst balancing his newfound status as an alien with that of being a saviour of mankind.

Man of Steel is a superb cinematic retelling of the original comic book hero, worth watching for the fantastic opening and closing sequences, with Snyder desperate to cram all aspects of the Superman mythology into this slightly long and explosive action-heavy blockbuster. The only criticism is that the penultimate sequence of the film could have been effectively edited for effect, as the action outweighs the narrative and character development and often resembles a CGI-laden video game.

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Snyder’s Superman version in Man of Steel is destined to become a cinematic blockbuster and firmly establish him as a skilled action film director. Whilst not as thrilling or tightly written as Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, Nolan’s influences are apparent in Snyder’s darker more stylized vision of Superman as another conflicted superhero having to choose between his own dying civilization and becoming the new found saviour of Earth. Recommended viewing for Sci-Fi and Comic book fans, Man of Steel is sure not to disappoint Zack Snyder followers who have eagerly traced his quirky directorial growth from 300 to Watchmen to Suckerpunch and beyond…

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