Posts Tagged ‘Gal Gadot’

An Egyptian Honeymoon

Death on the Nile

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Letitia Wright, Russell Brand, Sophie Okonedo, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Ali Fazal

Running time: 2 hours and 7 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

The much anticipated remake of Death on the Nile is finally in cinemas and it is worth seeing. Agatha Christie’s who dunnit set on a riverboat steamer on the Nile in Egypt is one of her most famous murder mystery novels first published in November 1937.

The original film was made in 1978 and featured a fantastic cast including Peter Ustinov, Mia Farrow, Jane Birkin, Bette Davis and Angela Lansbury.

The 2022 remake features an equally fabulous and diverse cast including multiple Oscar nominee Annette Bening (American Beauty, The Grifters, Being Julia), Tom Bateman, Letitia Wright (Black Panther), Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) and unrecognizable Russell Brand.

With lavish costumes and an equally exotic setting in Egypt, the 21st century version of Death on the Nile is entertaining but not awe inspiring.

Fortunately writer and director Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as the infamous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and this time he gives the character some backstory fighting in World War 1 in Belgium and the origins of that unbelievably outlandish moustache which was the talking point of his first remake Murder on the Orient Express back in 2017.

In Death on the Nile a wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway beautifully played by Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) is found murdered on her honeymoon cruise up the Nile. All the suspects are on board and danger lurks in every cabin. The action takes place between London and Egypt in 1937. The costumes and the music perfectly match the ambience of the setting.

Fussy Belgian Hercule Poirot is on board to make the necessary deductions as the bodies start piling up, soon to be entombed like Egyptian mummies similar to the Pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings.

Glossy, lavish and extremely beautiful to watch, Death on the Nile is an exciting murder mystery set on one of the world’s most exotic countries: Egypt. Director Kenneth Branagh makes full use of all the ancient symbolism of the Pyramids and the exterior shots of the Nile River are gorgeous.

Without revealing any more details beyond the odd green scarf and crimson pigment disappearing mysteriously, everybody is a suspect and they are all armed and ready to defend themselves.

Death on the Nile gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is really entertaining and it is comforting to collectively watch a murder mystery in a cinema that was full again.

Now all director Kenneth Branagh has to do is tackle Evil Under the Sun…

Wish Upon a Star

Wonder Woman 1984

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Pedro Pascal, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Lily Aspell, Gabriella Wilde

Director Patty Jenkins had a hit with Wonder Woman back in 2017. Little did she realize what a challenge the sequel would be to get released on the big screen in 2020 amidst the ongoing crisis of the coronavirus pandemic?

Parent company Warner Brothers decided to come to a strange compromise which has divided the battling film industry in 2020 and release the sequel Wonder Woman 1984 in cinemas where possible and also simultaneously on the streaming service HBO Max.

Fortunately I was lucky enough to watch Wonder Woman 1984 in a cinema and apart from the impressive opening sequence featuring a young Wonder woman wonderfully played by Lily Aspell fighting in an Amazonian competition overseen by Antiope played by Robin Wright and Hippolyte played by Connie Nielsen, the first part of this sequel seemed slightly directionless and admittedly took a while to find its feet.

While setting the film in Washington DC in 1984 and using lots of gimmicky film references to the 1980’s especially the clothes, audiences will find Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman working at the Smithsonian in Washington DC where she meets the nerdy Barbara Minerva and the seemingly harmless oil entrepreneur Max Lord wonderfully played with a zany insecurity by Chilean actor Pedro Pascal (Kingsman: The Golden Circle, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Great Wall).

The plot line stumbles here at the beginning of the film and only really gets invigorated once Max Lord wishes upon an archaeological stone and gets bizarre superpowers to grant wishes to every human in the world, good or bad. One of Lord’s first recipient is Barbara Minerva who gets super human speed and agility enough to turn her into Cheetah, another superhero who Wonder Woman will definitely confront.

Everything goes south from there as Maxwell Lord flies off to Egypt to gain all the countries oil supplies and Wonder Woman with the help of her first love Steve Trevor, a wonderful reprisal by Chris Pine chase after Lord on a stunning action packed sequence on an Egyptian desert highway.

What is remarkable about Wonder Woman 1984 is how little screen time, the male characters really get especially Steve Trevor and Max Lord, although as a villain Pedro Pascal gives his egomaniac character some personal dimension, especially some heart rendering flashbacks to his tortured childhood as an outcast.

Naturally the stars of Wonder Woman 1984 are Diana Prince and Barbara Minerva and it’s their showdown as two alpha females as Wonder Woman and Cheetah on a stormy island at the film’s end is what makes the second half of this sequel so worthwhile.

Wonder Woman 1984 is certainly not as brilliant as the original film, but given the challenging year of its release, it’s about the best form of escapism that 2020 has to offer and is worth watching. Wonder Woman 1984 gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

Viewers can catch the film on HBO Max or at your nearest cinema depending on which country you are in.

Steppenwolf’s Revenge

Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J. K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, David Thewlis, Billy Crudup, Ciaran Hinds

Uniformity of vision is key to director Zack Snyder’s films from his earlier films including 300, Suckerpunch and Watchmen to his onscreen tackling of the DC Comics universe starting with Man of Steel (2013) Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice (2016) and now with the latest Superhero extravaganza Justice League.

Batman aka Bruce Wayne played with a deadpan sense of humour by Ben Affleck has to assemble a team to fight the inexplicable and mythical power of Steppenwolf voiced by Ciaran Hinds as the evil underworld monster plans on destroying the Earth with enough energy to wipe out Wonder Woman’s secret Island and Aquaman’s Atlantic underwater liar.

Speaking of which Israeli actress Gal Gadot reprises her role of Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince following the hugely successful standalone film earlier in 2017 by Monster director Patty Jenkins.

New to the cast is Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa who plays Aquaman aka Arthur Curry who besides being able to control the oceans has some serious authority issues along with Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as The Flash aka Barry Alan and Ray Fisher as Cyborg aka Victor Stone.

The best scenes in Justice League are when the superheroes come together especially Batman and Aquaman who naturally have a healthy distrust for each other. The dialogue is peppered with some great lines like “Cool, like a bat, I dig it!” or when The Flash asks Batman what his superpowers are, he simply replies “I am rich”.

The good news is that Warner Brothers is set to release stand-alone films of Batman, Aquaman and Cyborg within the next three years, so fans can have a favourite superhero to themselves. Let’s hope these films do as well as director Patty Jenkins remarkable all female superhero film Wonder Woman which smashed all box office records.

Director Zack Snyder’s Justice League is slick, fast, action-packed and filled with quirky interactions between all the world’s favourite superheroes without being puerile or garish. With suitably Gothic production design by Patrick Tatopoulos, Justice League cleverly hints at the upcoming Aquaman and The Batman films. Audiences should look out for Oscar winner J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon.

With a funny screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, Justice League is sure to entertain audiences that loved the previous Zack Snyder superhero films and will possibly get a glimpse of the Man of Steel.

Justice League gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and is thoroughly entertaining, visually rewarding and definitely worth seeing. As the tagline goes: You Can’t Save the World alone. Even Batman.

 

Princess of the Amazons

Wonder Woman

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Elena Anaya

Monster director Patty Jenkins delivers a feminine superhero film with DC’s Wonder Woman featuring the beautiful Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Princess of the Amazons.

Gal Gadot first appeared as Wonder Woman in the male-orientated film Batman v Superman and she certainly was no femme fatale, proving a viable counterpoint to Ben Affleck’s Batman.

The first fifteen minutes of Woman Woman, there is no man in sight as the tribe of Amazonian female warriors live blissfully unaware of external strife on an island Themyscira.

As a headstrong young woman, Diana (Wonder Woman) is heavily watched by her protective mother Hippolyta played by Danish beauty Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) while being influenced to train as a Amazonian warrior by her aunt Antiope played by Robin Wright soon to be seen in Blade Runner 2049.

The idyllic exclusion of Themyscira is shattered when the young Diana sees a plane crash into the distant sea and jumps into the ocean saving the bewildered WWI pilot Steve Trevor wonderfully played with bashful humour by Chris Pine (Hell or High Water, Into the Woods).

In an ironic female gaze, director Jenkins turns the camera on a naked Steve as he emerges refreshed from a luxurious infinity pool under the lustful eye of Diana who asks pointedly “Do all men look like that?”

The action moves swiftly to the gritty battle lines of World War 1 as Britain and the allies are about to sign a shaky armistice with Germany. There Diana sees the brutality of man first hand and director Jenkins does not shy away from a valid point that men are the cause of all the wars and the subsequent destruction in the world.

At this point, the audience assumes that the villain of Wonder Woman is the evil German officer Ludendorff played by Danny Huston (Hitchcock, Wrath of the Titans) who is developing chemical weapons with the help of poison specialist Dr Maru played by Elena Anaya.

Diana and Steve form a band of mercenaries set on destroying Ludendorff made up of smooth talking Sameer played by French Moroccan star Said Taghmaoui, Scotsman Charlie played by Trainspotting’s Ewen Bremner and Red Indian chief played by Eugene Brave Rock.

Serving as an origins story and since Wonder Woman is immortal, this is a snapshot of bravery at time when the World was fighting the War to end all wars, circa 1918. What Jenkins manages to do so brilliantly is defy the conventional roles woman play in superhero and adventure films by making the heroine the woman that boldly saves the day, instead of just portraying her as a helpless damsel in distress, leaving the men bewildered, confused and looking like idiots.

As a superhero film, Wonder Woman delivers on all fronts, including lots of humour, copious amounts of action, sufficient visual effects and a surprising plot denouement to keep audiences engaged.

The strikingly gorgeous Gal Gadot holds her own in a big budget franchise film opposite a brilliant blue-eyed Chris Pine, while the period costumes by Lindy Hemming add to the effect of a superheroine stuck in the middle of an antiquated man-made war, which only leaves death and devastation in its wake.

Wonder Woman gets a rating of 8 out of 10. Soon audiences will see more of Wonder Woman as Diana, Princess of the Amazons will next be seen in the highly anticipated Justice League opposite Batman and newcomer Aquaman.

 

Clash of the Icons

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Diane Lane, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy, Laurence Fishburne, Callan Mulvey, Kevin Costner, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa

Hollywood studio Warner Brothers had a lot riding on the highly anticipated sequel to the 2013 hit Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but fortunately they followed the golden rule of sequels, always bring in the same cast and director mixed in with a bunch of surprises.

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Fortunately in the hands of Zack Snyder whose visual range is vast, Batman vs Superman comes across as an epic battle between the two infamous superheroes, a monumental gamble on reintroducing Batman back into the mix so soon after the brilliant success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Then why not bring the writer of that trilogy on board, David S. Goyer and use Christopher Nolan’s expertise as executive producer. Then there is the casting which really pays off.

The Social Network’s Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg as the smart and brilliant villain Lex Luthor, Oscar winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as Batman’s trusted manservant Alfred and the biggest coup was casting Ben Affleck (Gone Girl, Argo) as Batman which gives this comic book clash of the icons a more edgier hue.

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After all, realistically Batman, aka Bruce Wayne cannot really defeat Superman, an alien man from Krypton with superpowers. All Batman has is cool gadgets, a Batmobile and all that pent-up rage from his childhood trauma of witnessing his parents being murdered on the streets of Gotham.

Amy Adams returns as the adventurous Lois Lane, along with Henry Cavill as Clark Kent, aka Superman along with Diane Lane as his earth mother Martha Kent. If there is one way to make a superhero angry, it’s to mess with his mother!

Whilst Batman v Superman at two and a half hours long could have been edited especially the last hour of the film, visually the film is so impressive as director Zack Snyder artistically pays homage to his filmography which made him famous: 300, Watchman and Suckerpunch, the last one being especially evident in the surprise appearance of Wonder Woman, played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot.

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The chemistry between Batman and Wonder Woman is sexually charged, and on screen the duo look impressive. Affleck’s Batman is a brooding, aging wealthy playboy who is hellbent on seeking revenge for the destruction of a Wayne Enterprises skyscraper by alien invaders from Krypton. Blame Superman!

Whilst Chris Terrio (Argo) and David S. Goyer’s script is not particularly dazzling, the visual effects in Batman v Superman are brilliant, as well as the tone of the film, which Snyder keeps alternating between light bright colours for Superman and dark, cavernous greys for Batman. It also helps that Affleck himself has greying sideburns which realistically makes Batman look older than Cavill’s boyish Superman.

Women in Batman v Superman also have a major role, although clearly the film itself is marketed for a primarily male audience. Lois Lane is feisty and believable, Wonder Woman looks absolutely gorgeous in evening wear and even appears as a suitable femme fatale for Bruce Wayne during a glamourous Lex Luther cocktail event. Even Diane Lane as Clark Kent’s mother Martha gets caught up in the raucous and very loud action sequence.

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It’s really Jesse Eisenberg’s superb and surprising turn as the deranged megalomaniac Lex Luther, a psychotic billionaire tech guru who thinks nothing of killing innocent people during a public gathering or messing with extra-terrestrial DNA from General Zod.

Fans of Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Trilogy will certainly appreciate the iconic face-off between Batman v Superman, but be warned the tone of this film is far darker than your average bright and garish superhero caper.

Recommended viewing for all Zach Snyder fans and those that wish to be regular attendees at Comic-Con. This is serious comic book warfare.

 

 

 

 

Cars and Girls

Fast and Furious 6

FastandFurious 6

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, John Ortiz, Jordana Brewster, Gina Carano, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Shea Whigham, Luke Evans, Gal Gadot

Director Justin Lin’s flashy sixth installment of the now popular and hugely appealing Fast and Furious franchise moves the action away from the Americas and Asia to Europe and the United Kingdom, specifically London and Spain. Reuniting the entire cast of all the previous Fast and Furious movies with the exception of Lucas Black from Tokyo Drift, Fast and Furious 6 settles on the successful male orientated formulaic narrative appeal of fast cars, tough girls and furious heroes who drive the host city into a frenzy.

In this case the post-industrial aspect of London’s 21st century image is exploited complete with panoramic views of the British Capital’s unique skyline including The Shard skyscraper and  rounded off with a scene at the Battersea Power Station, between Dominic Toretto coolly played by Vin Diesel and the recently resurrected bad girl Letty played by Michelle Rodriguez.

The villain in this ensemble is international terrorist Owen Shore, ably played by Welsh actor Luke Evans and the cast features Tyrese Gibson as the comic fast talking playboy Roman first introduced in the Miami based 2 Fast 2 Furious along with rapper Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Paul Walker reprises his role as former LA cop turned outlaw Brian O’Conner, Jordana Brewster as his wife Mia (her star rising out of the new Dallas series) and Gina Carano as Riley who was last seen as the kick-ass man eliminating assassin in Steven Soderbergh spy thriller Haywire.

Cars + Girls = Winning Formula

The main star of these Fast and Furious films, besides the sexy girls and speeding cars are the incredibly brilliant action sequences which most of the films have delivered and underpins their continued success. Targeted Male Audience = Cars + Girls = Winning Formula.

Naturally the storyline is secondary in the incredible stunt sequences which in this film are thrilling to say the least especially the chase sequence on a Spanish highway involving a formidable tank. Unlikely yes! But hey this is the movies! Equally influenced by both the success of the latest James Bond film Skyfall and the Expendibles series, Fast and Furious 6 uses the London locations wisely complete with a gritty underground girl on girl fight sequence and a terrific chase sequence through the West End.

Inevitably all these characters are essentially American so they do look incredibly out of place in ever shifting cosmopolitan London and  this film would not have been thrilling without making the City of Westminster look like a NASCAR raceway.

The ridiculously over the top and thrilling climax sequence involving a heavy artillery military aircraft is straight out of an Arnold Schwarzeneggar film, with Dwayne Johnson fulfilling the 21st century version of Arnie’s action hero. Fast and Furious 6 is a no brainer when it comes to dazzling stunts and action sequences, but don’t expect any intricate plot twists or epic characterization. The fact that the film ends with a warning telling viewers not to try and emulate these stunt drivers, points to the essentially massive audience following this franchise has generated internationally from when the first Fast and the Furious was release in 2001, not to mention the inherent testosterone fueled need for speed, by at least three quarters of the younger male population worldwide. See Fast and the Furious 6 for fantastic stunts, cool cars, high action and as a substitute for any pent up fraternal frustrations.

 

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