Posts Tagged ‘Sharlto Copley’

A Nigerian in Mexico

Gringo

Director: Nash Edgerton

Cast: Joel Edgerton, Charlize Theron, David Oyelowo, Thandie Newton, Amanda Seyfried, Harry Treadaway, Sharlto Copley, Alan Ruck

Joel Edgerton’s brother Nash Edgerton directs this colourful and crazy action comedy Gringo about drug running, kidnapping and evil American corporates. Set in Chicago and Mexico, Gringo plays on all the usual preconceptions about America versus Mexico.

Edgerton plays the obnoxious and self-obsessed American boss Richard Rusk who along with the fiesty blonde man eater Elaine Markinson played by South African Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster) who together with fellow employee and fall guy Harold Soyinka, an American Nigerian wonderfully played by David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, The Paperboy) travel to Mexico to conclude a rather shady drug deal only for Soyinka to be left across the border.

Harold Soyinka ingenuously fakes his own kidnapping only to be really kidnapped not once but twice by a nefarious Mexican drug cartel and Rusk’s brother Mitch, a gung ho mercenary played by another South African star Sharlto Copley (Maleficent, District Nine).

What follows is a dangerous action adventure with enough plot twists to entertain audiences punctuated by some truly witty dialogue, all held together by an hilarious performance by David Oyelowo.

His character Harold Soyinka also crosses paths with a naïve Californian couple Miles and Sunny played by Harry Treadaway and Amanda Seyfried. The best scenes in Gringo are between Seyfried and Oyelowo as they both try and figure out what mess they have got themselves into.

Westworld star Thandie Newton (Jefferson in Paris) has a brief part as Bonnie Soyinka who is not only cheating on her husband but ruining him financially.

Gringo is by no means an excellent film but if audiences don’t take the story too seriously then they should enjoy it. Director Nash Edgerton blends equal part action with comedy creating a serious crime caper with a unique twist. Although he doesn’t necessarily paint Mexico in a flattering light. Think kidnapping, tequila and drug running.

For all its faults, Gringo is a fun film to watch and gets a rating of 7 out 10. The plot is convoluted and at times confusing but the action is sudden and unexpected.

 

 

 

Never Clip a Fairy…

Maleficent

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Director: Robert Stromberg

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Kenneth Cranham, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Leslie Manville

The classic Disney tale of Sleeping Beauty is gorgeously reinvented entirely from the perspective of the jilted fairy Malificent who after a brief romance with a young teenage boy, Stefan soon discovers humanity’s tendency for greed and ambition.

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Oscar winner Angelina Jolie’s magnetic screen presence reverberates throughout this spectacular fantasy as she transforms from an innocent though powerful fairy to an evil, caustic fairy who avenges the older Stefan, played by District 9’s Sharlto Copley, who in his ambition to become King of the Human Realms, clips Malificent’s powerful wings while she is sleeping.

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Malificent in turn seeks revenge on the nearby kingdom with a spectacular entrance at the christening of Stefan’s only baby daughter, the cute and adorable Aurora, casting a spell on the child that by the time she turns 16 she will have pricked her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a treacherous sleep, only to be broken by the kiss of her true love. Naturally Stefan bundles the child off to a safe haven in the countryside with the help of three hapless fairy guardians, played by Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Leslie Manville away from Malificent and any lethal needles from nearby spinning wheels, most of which have been tossed into a dungeon and burned.

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Meanwhile the war between the fairies and humans intensifies as Stefan sends his burly soldiers to destroy Malificent’s magical realm only to be met by an impenetrable wall of thorns. Curiosity gets the better of the teenage Aurora, a luminous performance by the new Hollywood It girl Elle Fanning (Somewhere, Super 8, Ginger and Rosa) who ventures into Malificent’s domain and naturally meets the menacing if not curious evil fairy who soon harbours an unnatural affection for the cursed youth.

Malificent is ably assisted by Diaval, a changeling creature, played by Sam Riley which enables her to keep an eye on Stefan’s Kingdom.
The stage is set for a showdown between Malificent and King Stefan with the wandering Aurora a luscious pawn in their bitter fight representative of eternal unrequited love.

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What makes this cinematic retelling of Sleeping Beauty truly astounding is the spell bounding special effects and an astounding powerful performance by the dazzling Angelina Jolie, whose star power clearly is the main reason Disney Studios choose to reinvent a darker more accessible version of the original animated Sleeping Beauty classic.

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Malificent is dazzling, intriguing and while retaining its childhood charm, balances a subtle attraction for older audiences, who prefer their fairies darker and vengeanceful. Angelina Jolie is central to this fine balancing act and the scenes between her and Fanning as Aurora are especially infused with delicacy and dimension, making Malificent one of the more complex and sympathetic hero/villain characters ever created in the pantheon of modern day fairy and folklore tales.

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Malificent is highly recommended viewing not just for Angelina Jolie’s powerful and superb performance but also for the brilliant special effects orchestrated by first time director Robert Stromberg who served as a Visual Effects Supervisor on such films as 2012, The Hunger Games and Shutter Island. Watch out for newcomer Australian actor Brenton Thwaites as the naive Prince Phillip aka Prince Charming.

 

Paradise Regained

Elysium

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Director: Neill Blomkamp

Cast: Matt Damon, Sharlto Copley, Diego Luna, Jodie Foster, Brandon Auret, Alice Braga, William Fichner, Wagner Moura

South African born director Neill Blomkamp’s new sci-fi drama Elysium is visually astounding, thought provoking and violent. It’s the year 2154 and the wealthy citizens of earth have abandoned the overpopulated planet to go and live in a state of luxury and physical wellness on a wheel shaped space ship orbiting the earth’s atmosphere known as Elysium. Back on earth, the poverty-stricken and physically ill inhabit teeming run down cities filled with violence, decay and disease, of which Los Angeles is the metaphoric urban centre. Those men who are fit enough to work, spend their days in menial industrial labour, manufacturing robots which will police the poor citizens of the once prosperous planet whilst the rich international citizens of Elysium live in an illusory paradise, with clean air, mansions and advanced medical science.

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Matt Damon (Invictus, The Bourne Trilogy) plays Max a poor workman who as a boy dreams of travelling to Elysium and whilst growing up in an immigrant Mexican neighbourhood, befriends Frey played by the gorgeous Brazilian actress Alice Braga (City of God). Oscar winner Jodie Foster (Flightplan, Silence of the Lambs) plays Delacourt the malicious and ruthless defence secretary of Elysium who enforces the rules of exclusion, keeping illegal space immigrants from entering the super rich enclave. Whilst Elysium and the rubble strewn devastated Los Angeles, is metaphorically a story about the widening gap between rich and poor in a skewed yet almost relevant 21st century version of contemporary society, it is Blomkamp’s visually arresting and riveting style which keep audiences glued to a plot rife with Third World ironies and First World warnings.

The action and violence is top notch and District 9’s breakout actor Sharlto Copley stars as the malevolent South African mercenary Kruger who is hired by Foster to chase Max both on Earth and on Elysium. Watch out for the fantastic facial reconstruction sequence which makes Total Recall look like child’s play.

To reveal more about the plot would only give the twists away and in Elysium there are many, but what is so impressive about Blomkamp’s second Hollywood film is his increasingly inventive story is told with verve and candour whilst the theme of the world’s super rich receiving preferential medical treatment is both relevant and frighteningly apt. Paradise is regained as Max, equipped with a scary Mad Max neuro outfit battles with Kruger in a seemingly savage wasteland amidst a bid for a rather vicious and technological coup of the coveted Elysium.

Diego Luna (Milk, Contraband) stars as Julio who assists Max is achieving his quest of reaching Elysium, which takes on Biblical proportions along with William Fichtner (The Lone Ranger) as the evil industrialist Carlyle.

Heavily influenced by such classics as Blade Runner, Mad Max and even Slumdog Millionaire, Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium is both impressive in scale, with exhilarating action and special effects sequences aided by the best sound editing heard on film recently.

Whilst all the plot twists might not add up and in parts characterization is too sparse, the overall vision of a dystopian society which has no remorse at leaving a massive poverty stricken, malnourished and scarred population to fester on planet Earth while the wealthy live in a high tech gated lavish community such as Elysium, is enough to view this as more than just another sci-fi action thriller, but one with an overt and brutal socio-political message: the wealthy cannot prosper at the expense of the neglected poor whether it’s through medical science or technological and economic advancement.

Elysium is brilliant, captivating, horrifying and visionary, a sort of Moonraker on acid. Recommended for serious Sci-Fi fans and lovers of District 9.

Why District 9 beat GI Joe at the US Box office…

Don’t get me wrong,  both films were worthy of some merit, but what is interesting is why a New Zealand produced, South African set Sci-Fiction Film, District 9 beat GI Joe at the US Box Office – one word – ORIGINALITY!!!

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District 9 directed by Neill Blomkamp was so original in its concept and form and turned the blockbuster Independence Day on its head and reversed all the usual ingredients of a sci-fi Aliens landing film. Brilliantly shot in a dusty, mine-dumped surroundings of the one of the largest African metropolises, Johannesburg, one almost feels that the city is as much a character in the film as the wonderfully funny South African cast who take on the slippery alien Prawns as they are left stranded on earth! Not going to give away too much more, suffice is to say, go and see an original and cleverly shot film! Worth watching for its genre-defying satire.

*****

Rise of Cobra or the Return of the Spies who loved each other...

Rise of Cobra or the Return of the Spies who loved each other…

GI Joe, Rise of Cobra directed by Stephen Sommers follows the classic James Bond narrative of hero’s battling villains with a seemingly dangerous damsel who oscillates between the enemy and the GOOD  side and with an ending out of The Spy Who Loves Me, swopping the Mediterranean for the Polar Ice Caps, it was glossy, slick but nothing exceptionally different. Saving grace of the film was the great chemistry between Channing Tatum’s Duke and Sienna Miller’s sexy Baronness. Great viewing for a Sunday afternoon, but don’t expect anything unusual in terms of plot and storyline, just the establishment of another CGI-filled, location jumping and action-orientated film trilogy based on toys politely following in the Transformers tradition. GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra also stars Dennis Quaid, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as The Doctor and Christopher Eccleston as Destro.

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