Archive for May, 2022

Time is the Enemy

Top Gun: Maverick

Director: Joseph Kosinki

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Val Kilmer, Ed Harris, Monica Barbaro 

Running Time: 2 hours and 11 minutes

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Only the Brave and Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski does a sterling job directing the highly anticipated long awaited sequel to the 1986 smash hit Top Gun directed by the late British director Tony Scott. Fortunately, superstar Tom Cruise reprises his role as test pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he returns to the San Diego Airforce base to train a new set of elite air force pilots including Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw the son of the original Rooster and Maverick’s wingman in the 1986 film.

This time the younger Rooster is played superbly by prolific actor Miles Teller of Whiplash fame as he tries to prove himself as a test fighter pilot while reconciling his father’s legacy and his grudge against Maverick, the less than orthodox fighter pilot instructor.

Following a glittering and highly successful film premiere at the 2022 Festival du Cannes, in which Tom Cruise and co-stars showed off Top Gun: Maverick to the Cinema world and now on world wide release, Top Gun: Maverick as a 2022 cinematic spectacle does not disappoint as the screenwriters skillfully weave elements of the original Top Gun film into this stunning adrenalin fueled film filled with bravado, awe-inspiring aviation stunts and a group of muscular and strong test pilots all vying to be the best. Watch out for the infamous beach scene.

Pete Mitchell’s only concern in teaching his new group of recruits besides building team spirit is to make sure every member of the team comes home from their nefarious mission against an omniscient and unmentionable enemy alive and kicking. Maverick, which is his call sign, tells all of the young aspiring pilots, don’t think, just do it because time is the enemy.

Throughout the story of Top Gun: Maverick there are hints to the original film which was a 1980’s smash hit blockbuster and launched Tom Cruise as a superstar.

Complete with glossy shots of Maverick riding a motorbike into the Californian sun or assisting his love interest Penny wonderfully played by Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) steering a huge yacht off the coast of San Diego, Top Gun: Maverick works as a glossy and sleek homage to the 1980’s action film and a tribute to military aviation, which does not disappoint. In fact it glows in admiration at the courage and spectacle of fighter jets doing dog fights across icy landscapes.

As a film and a fitting sequel to the original, Top Gun: Maverick excels on every level and shines through as Tom Cruise’s passion project a film that he had to get made right and with the correct co-stars.

All the supporting cast of Top Gun: Maverick are superb including Oscar nominee Ed Harris (Pollock) as Chester Cain, Jon Hamm as Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson, actor Bill Pullman’s son Lewis Pullman as Lt Robert “Bob” Floyd and of course the other alpha male of the squadron Glen Powell as Lt Jake “Hangerman” Seresin.

Audiences should watch the original film first, however Top Gun: Maverick is equally thrilling providing a stand alone big screen spectacle of flying, action and tension seldom seen in 21st century cinema.

Saturated with golden Californian sunshine and a huge dash of nostalgia, Top Gun: Maverick is a brilliant aviation film and will certainly keep audiences engaged especially in the last section of the film as Maverick and the young Rooster land in enemy territory.

As an adrenalin fuelled fighter jet action film, Top Gun: Maverick gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing only to be appreciated on the big screen.  

Dream Walking and Witchcraft

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Director: Sam Raimi

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejifor, Benedict Wong, Xochitel Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, John Krasinki, Patrick Stewart, Hayley Atwell, Lashana Lynch, Anson Mount

Running Time: 2 hours and 6 minutes

Film Rating: 6 out of 10

Six years after the first Doctor Strange film was made in 2016, Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, The Power of the Dog) reprises his role as the neurosurgeon turned warlock Doctor Steven Strange in director Sam Raimi’s utterly bizarre sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness starring a new batch of stars while only Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong and Chiwetel Ejifor reprise their roles from the first film.

Director Sam Raimi best known for doing the original Spiderman trilogy with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst but the director is far better known for helming some classic horror flicks including Drag Me to Hell in 2009 and The Evil Dead in 1981, takes this Doctor Strange sequel and turns the superhero genre on its head and transforms it into a ghoulish mixture of the bizarre with an extremely heavy dash of CGI thrown in. The storyline is incoherent and utterly weird.

This time Doctor Strange has to save a multiverse superhero called America Chavez played by Xochitel Gomez from the clutches of the Scarlett Witch also known as Wanda Maximoff wonderfully played with a demonic edge by Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Infinity War, Wind River) as she seeks to use America’s superpowers to open the elusive book of Ashanti. Elizabeth Olsen is by far the best actress in this film as she gives the Scarlett Witch a degree of emotional depth and conflicting maternal instinct, making her character a far more unlikely villain.

Plenty of witchcraft and dream walking abound through a multitude of crazy universes including a particularly bizarre scene whereby Doctor Strange faces the Illuminati made up of Baron Mondo played by Chiwetel Ejifor (12 Years a Slave, Dirty Pretty Things, Kinky Boots), Captain Carter played by Hayley Atwell and wait for it…. an X-Men Professor and one of the characters of The Fantastic Four. Clearly this is not the multiverse of reality one expects.

Here the film completely loses the plot and director Sam Raimi goes for an utter freak show of scary scenes involving ghosts and demons instead of rounding off the narrative in a tightly controlled script.

After watching Benedict Cumberbatch deliver such a brilliant performance in The Power of the Dog, he looked continually anguished throughout this film at having to do a Doctor Strange sequel and not even a good one at that.

Essentially, my question is that if Marvel is so desperate to control the cinematic universe why did they get a horror director to take charge of what is meant to be a superhero film?

After watching the success of Spiderman: No Way Home and the excellent origin film The Batman, I was quite disappointed with the visual mess that is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness even despite some lavish special effects.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness gets a film rating of 6 out of 10 and audiences should expect a superhero film which is way more scary than expected.

An Evolving World

Downton Abbey: A New Era

Director: Simon Curtis

Cast: Maggie Smith, Hugh Dancy, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Dominic West, Tuppence Middleton, Elizabeth McGovern, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton, Allen Leech, Nathalie Baye, Laura Haddock, Joanne Froggatt, Laura Carmichael, Sophie McShera, Robert James-Collier, Samantha Bond, Phyllis Logan, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michael Fox, Harry Hadden-Paton, Kevin Doyle, Charlie Watson, Jonathan Zaccai, Douglas Reith

Running Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes

Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Capitalizing on the success of the 2019 film Downton Abbey, a star studded sequel returns in its all glittering allure and this time Lady Violet Crawley wonderfully played with her usual coy dexterity by Oscar winner Maggie Smith (California Suite, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) reveals to her large and extended family at Downton that she has a villa in the South of France that was mysteriously left to her by a long last lover.

As Lady Crawley departs the gorgeously decorated drawing room she leaves with a final comment: “I will say good night and leave you all to discuss my mysterious past.”

Oscar winning screenwriter of the acclaimed Robert Altman 2001 film Gosford Park, Julian Fellowes once again returns to fine form with a familiar cast and adds a touch of glamour as half the cast set off for the French Riviera to meet the previous owners a French mother and son, wonderfully played by Nathalie Baye (Catch Me if You Can) and Jonathan Zaccai.

As Lady Mary, beautifully played once again with a crisp diction by Michelle Dockery, holds the fort at Downton Abbey as some fast and fashionable film people arrive to use the lavish estate as a location for what they would soon learn to be one of their last silent films.

The film crew is headed up by the dashing director Jack Barber wonderfully played by Hugh Dancy (Hysteria, Late Night) accompanied with flamboyance by the film’s stars Myrna Dagleish played by Laura Haddock and the male lead Guy Dexter superbly played with nuance by Dominic West (Chicago, Colette, Tomb Raider) as he reveals that he has hidden desires..

Fellowes cleverly gives all the cast members from the servants to the landed gentry equal screen time and an intriguing backstory, condensing the entire narrative into a poignant yet lavish affair which delicately reflects England and the Mediterranean at the end of the 1920’s, an evolving world which saw cinema become talkies, in which American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald made the French Riviera fashionable in July.

From the beautiful costumes to the witty dialogue, from the elegant subplots to the age old rivalry between the British and the French, Downton Abbey: A New Era is a cinematic treat expertly crafted with an ensemble cast that achieve a formidable pitch with humour and grace.

Definitely made for the fans of the brilliant TV series and the 2019 film, Downton Abbey: A New Era is highly recommended viewing and a perfect cinematic outing, which gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

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