Posts Tagged ‘Ron Perlman’

Extinction Event Deluxe

Don’t Look Up

Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Melanie Lynskey, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel

Film Rating 5.5 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 18 minutes

This film is only available to watch on the Netflix streaming service.

Similar to the absolutely disastrous 2019 film Cats in which The Danish Girl director Tom Hooper assembled an A list cast with high expectations, only for the film version of the musical Cats to absolutely flop at the box office and be completely ridiculed, director Adam McKay’s 2021 film Don’t Look Up is as big a disaster as the comet which threatens to obliterate earth and kill everyone including the vacuous media personalities, the egotistical politicians and the general American population encapsulated by a stoner performance by Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) as Jude.

Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Kramer vs Kramer and Sophie’s Choice) unfortunately fail to lift this disastrous black comedy. Don’t Look Up just proves the theory that Netflix can attract A List stars to act in dreadful films. Next time all their agents should be shot at dawn.

Thankfully I never watched this film in a cinema.

With the exception of director Jane Campion’s excellent The Power of the Dog, Netflix films do not have that much to offer. Let’s face it the streaming service is facing a content crisis, now that everyone is back in cinemas watching Spiderman, Dune and No Time to Die.

Back to Don’t Look Up, while aspects of the script were rather funny, it really just shows how vacuous and gullible the American public are, believing everything they see in the media and on Television. That’s according to Adam McKay’s script and not my personal opinion.

Unlike Adam McKay’s brilliant take on the 2008 financial crisis in the critically acclaimed The Big Short and his even better take on politics in 2018’s Vice, Don’t Look Up falls way short of these two superior films. Even the satire and black comedy is not written with intelligence or an ounce of wit.

Don’t Look Up appears to be a spiralling pastiche of an impending extinction event in which everyone from the crazy politicians embodied by Meryl Streep’s American President Orlean and her ambitious son and chief of staff Jason wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Jonah Hill (Moneyball, The Wolf of Wall Street) to the incredibly vacuous cougar and TV presenter Brie Evantree in the Daily Rip brilliantly played by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, all of whom seem blissfully unaware of a large meteor heading towards earth and wiping out humanity.

While Leonardo DiCaprio seems to just replicate his anxiety ridden performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to a much lesser degree in Don’t Look Up and Jennifer Lawrence looks slightly confused at being in the presence of such big name stars in a film which is essentially going to be watched on an Iphone, unfortunately this deluxe extinct level event fizzles out despite the ensemble cast. Don’t Look Up is everything that genuine cinema shouldn’t be.

Don’t Look Up gets a film rating of 5.5 out of 10 and thankfully one doesn’t need to purchase a cinema ticket to watch this disaster. You can just pause the film and look away.

The Jaeger Effect…

Pacific Rim

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Director: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Charlie Day, Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Clifton Collins Jnr, Diego Klattenhoff, Max Martini, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman, Burn Gorman

Acclaimed Mexican director Guillermo del Toro’s much anticipated 3D sci-fi film Pacific Rim is imaginative, rich and definitely needs to seen in a 3D cinema with digital surround sound to fully savour the cinematic spectacle.

Moving away from the American-centric location of many recent blockbusters most notably Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel, del Toro firmly aims Pacific Rim at a broader international audience as he centers most of the mind bending action in Hong Kong. Avoiding choosing a purely American cast, del Toro selects a relatively unknown ensemble to head up Pacific Rim, from the buff and gorgeous British actor Charlie Hunnam (looking ever more spectacular in 3D and last seen in Children of Men and Nicholas Nickleby) as the brooding Jaeger fighter pilot Raleigh Beckett and Rinko Kikuchi from Babel fame as Mako, the Japanese love interest who has to come to terms with aliens attacking Tokyo and join humanity to fight the horrific creatures along with Ron Perlman (Hellboy) as Hannibal Chou as a shady Kaiju bones scavenger and British actor Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost the Jaeger central commander. Look out for a humorous performance by Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) as the geeky scientist Dr Newton Geiszler who has to discover what the Kaijus really want with planet Earth along with Max Martini as Herc Hansen.

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Warning to most audiences, that if you don’t like Monsters and Robots, don’t see Pacific Rim. However if you have followed del Toro’s cinematic rise to fame from the imaginatively rich Hellboy franchise to the critically acclaimed Spanish language fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth then fans will not be disappointed.

Pacific Rim is set in a 21st century shattered world where giant descendants of dinosaurs known as Kaijus emerge out of the earth’s core and start attacking all the major cities of the Pacific Rim from Cabo in Mexico to Sydney to Hong Kong. To combat these giant sea beasts hugely inspired by Japanese monster movies and anime, humanity has built these huge robotic war machines known as Jaegers which honestly make Transformers look like Lego pieces. The script and backstory does not deliver too much on motive or plot, but del Toro gets straight to the point – Monsters attacking the World and Humans are fighting back using massive Robots. The result is some fascinating visual effects and superb set designs paying homage to Blade Runner and Total Recall, making Pacific Rim in 3D resemble a mixture of Hellboy and Battleship on acid!

The intricacies of operating the Jaegers involves two fighter pilots mentally connecting in a visual process known as drifting overseen by a frenetic controller, the Elvis inspired central ops Tendo Choi played by Clifton Collins Jnr (Capote) so that they can both symbiotically operate these giant robots (Jaegers) and combat the blue blooded snarling monsters known as Kaiju’s.

Pacific Rim has been hugely popular in the Asian markets and when watching the spectacular Hong Kong harbour battle sequence it’s not difficult to see why. Unfortunately the enormity of both Jaegers and Kaiju’s battling each other using tankers and skyscrapers inevitably dwarfs any real human interactions displaying that del Toro deliberately went for cinematic style over substance in what is imaginatively a hugely impressive cinematic experience but don’t expect the character depth or emotion displayed in Pan’s Labyrinth. This is del Toro on a massive budget appealing to a much larger audience and in this regard, Pacific Rim succeeds on every monstrous level and surely will be in line for a Visual Effects Oscar.

See it to believe it and Pacific Rim is not only big in Japan!

Scorpion and the Frog

Drive

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Nicholas Winding Refn’s noir cinematic version of the James Sallis novel Drive is an intoxicatingly brutal thrill ride, with superb stunts, minimal dialogue and hectic violence. Machismo has always been linked with knifes, guns and naturally cars symbolizing the American culture of survival, greed and the right to bear arms.

Drive is set in urban Los Angeles and follows the bizarre story of Driver played with a cool lethal charm by Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March, Blue Valentine) who befriends a next door neighbour sultry diner waitress Irina played by Carey Mulligan (An Education). Driver becomes the protector of Irina and her young son Benicio while the father is away in prison. Upon the father’s return, Standard played by Oscar Isaac (W/E) persuades Driver to help him out with one last heist of a pawn shop in the San Fernando Valley in a bid to pay off some protection money. The heist goes horribly wrong and much blood is shed and in a series of horrifically violent scenes, Driver goes to any lengths to protect the girl from the vicious mob boss Mr Rose played with an elegant urbanity by Albert Brooks.

Nicholas Winding Refn scooped the Best Director prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and upon a second viewing of Drive it is easy to see why. Each shot is gorgeously framed, from the car chases to the aerials shots of Los Angeles at night. As the first half of the film moves from a romance and some character building the second half of Drive is thrilling to watch with some unbelievable sequences especially the nefarious nightclub sequence whereby man’s capacity for violence is framed against beautiful shots of voluptuous strippers and Nino’s restaurant sequence whereby Driver donning the mask from his former stunt car driving days eerily takes a glimpse inside the pizzeria before preparing for the kill.

In the final sequence of the film, Driver in his blood spattered scorpion jacket, framed by a city skyline tells Mr Rose of the parable of the Scorpion and the Frog. Drive is pure 21st century film noir with just the skilful balance of violence, suspense and drama, making it one of the most engaging films about man’s obsession with cars and his primal need for violence and survival. Riveting and memorable, Drive also stars Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Bryan Cranston as Driver’s boss Shannon.

Never Lets the Imagination Perish

Fantasy of a unique kind

Fantasy of a unique kind

Pan’s Labyrinth cemented Guillermo del Toro’s reputation as a magical and visionary filmmaker, the Oscar winning Spanish fantasy film about a girl who discovers a secret world beyond anyone’s imagination in the lush forest while escaping the brutality of the Spanish civil war. The Mexican born film-director Del Toro first attracted attention with his visionary look in Hellboy, released in 2004 starring a relatively unknown cast including Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and the brilliant John Hurt. Hellboy featured a storyline about a Devil-shaped child born during World War II at the height of Nazi power in Europe.

As an adult, Hellboy is confined like most supernatural beings to the Centre for paranormal research in New Jersey, USA and is eventually called upon to combat the forces of darkness as unleashed by a Nazified leader who is part mutant part machine. Hellboy was a secret sensation at the box office and Del Toro would have liked to do a sequel but according to Hollywood legend the studios were initially reluctant to invest so much in a novice director’s wild imagination.

The Spanish language film, Pan’s Labyrinth, changed all that receiving a critical reception on the international film festival circuit from Cannes to Berlin and went on to win several Golden Globes and Oscar awards most notably for make-up and art direction. Now with studio financial backing, Del Toro was able to lavish his attention on Hellboy’s sequel the far superior and hugely fantastical follow-up, which is extremely rare even by Hollywood standards, for most sequels seldom eclipse the original film.

Meet the Golden Army... del Torro's imagination unleashed

Meet the Golden Army… del Torro’s imagination unleashed

Hellboy II: The Golden Army, for any fantasy fan, is a visual feast and a rare glimpse into one man’s extraordinary imagination so skilled and detailed as well as amplified and bold, as to make him a worthy rival of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hellboy, played with absolute relish by Ron Perlman is reunited with fire girl Liz Sherman played by a sexy Selma Blair and Doug Jones makes the most of a much larger role as Abe Sapien, the half-fish, half-man creature who unsuspectingly falls in love with the elf Princess Nuala as they all set out to defeat the Princesses evil twin brother Prince Nuada played by former pop star Luke Goss, who is wildly intent on unleashing the dormant potential of The Golden Army, creatures created by some seriously twisted trolls. The storyline which features a multitude of amazing creatures, most notably in the Troll market sequence and some equally lavish sets at the courts of the Elves, also is a pastiche of scenes from War of the Worlds, Indiana Jones and the Star Wars trilogy, displaying not only Del Toro’s talent as a director but his vast visual and filmic repertoire.

So with all this fantasy, do the characters suffer at the indulgence of breathtaking special effects? Absolutely not. After an initial battle between Hellboy and some ungodly creations from evil tooth fairies to a ferocious fauna-hued monster, there are some solid character building scenes with loads of wit, smart references to the Romantic poetry of Tennyson to music by Vivaldi, while Del Toro allows some ironic allusions to contemporary visual society from the media to Youtube, from the ordinary unbeliever to those that hoard antiquities.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army is confidently rooted in the realms of fantasy and lavish fairytales and would most definitely appeal to anyone who cherishes the imaginative view of society as opposed to a strictly empirical and conventional world. More significantly, this film as I am sure the director believes, reaffirms the vital importance of our own imagination in a world which seems determine to vanquish any real originality.  Visionary, brilliant and thoroughly entertaining, I was equally fortunate to witness such an amazing and technically superior creation on the big screen, as like all great film’s its impact will surely diminish when scene on DVD. Never let your imagination perish and indulge in some spectacular fantasy…

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