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‘King Arthur Legend of the Sword’: Fate is a double-edged sword

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2017 by aliciamovie

kingarthur-lots

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Guy Ritchie

Studio: Warner Bros.

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

Spoilers hide among the six-packs! 

Guy Ritchie’s utterly epic take on the whole legend of Arthur (and the damn sword, but we’ll get to that) is just rife with one major thing trumpet call- destiny! Oh it was absolute destiny that all this happened to Arthur, every last bit of it, fated to bring him to the moment of redemption, the orphaned ‘true born’ to the throne of Uther Pendragon his royal self, brought back to his rightful place by pulling the sword from the stone! But first –

In the beginning, we’re treated to these amazing scenes involving mostly the whole of the Camelot knights crashing against the Mage-led army of armored oliphants and utterly savage bad guys. King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) himself comes out to lead the charge, it’s his duty after all, and bids his loyal man to hold his crown while he does. Hey, that means multiple things! And after some highly improbable moves, Uther confronts Mordred and with a shining Excalibur, takes his head. Then during peacetime there’s a bunch of discussion about Mages, some utter betrayal that involves a very naughty blood sacrifice, and next thing he knows, dear little Prince Arthur is an orphan on the streets.

From there we’re whisked off on a breathless rush of Arthur growing from a boy employed as a server in a brothel, all the way to a smart, capable young man with a giant heart, rock-hard abs and a gang of loyal friends. Yes, they’re all pickpockets and thieves, but of the Robin Hood and his merry men variety. Then suddenly that damned clarion call of destiny visits Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) in a nightmare and we’re off to the races with the current big-bads, the soldier and assassin knights of Black King Vortigern (Jude Law), known colloquially as Black Legs. Seriously though, that’s all Vortigern seems to wear, is eternal black. Which I personally dig, but it practically shrieks bad guy! to the audience.

That whole idea of the island where any man can try his luck at pulling the sword from the stone was interesting. Every man gets one try, only one and then gets branded with a mark that basically says he tried and failed. How long have the Black Legs been manning this silly operation? No-one expected anyone to ever actually do it. Damn it, destiny, you’re just being a bitch now.

By the time he’s about to be executed live in front of Vortigern’s men and grumbling subjects, Arthur is still staring like he can’t quite understand how the hell we got here. In the midst of it all is a Lady Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) with a plan, and hey Arthur’s crew have a plan to get him out too, so with all that combined plus that bloody persistent call of destiny, onward we go!

As with any reluctant hero epic, Arthur wants nothing to do with any of this nonsense. He doesn’t want to fight (so he claims, but seriously, no-one believes that for a second), he sure doesn’t want to be the true-born King, and trying to wield Excalibur in any meaningful way is very hard on him. But the drums of destiny are screaming at him now, both when he’s awake and being taken to the stronghold of the last of his fathers Knights, and when he’s asleep and confronting the killer of Uther Pendragon, what he thinks is an actual demon. Forces of good and evil are gathering together from without and within, whether Arthur likes it or not, and a final bloody confrontation will determine the fate of Camelot!

Except that it kind of doesn’t. I mean, yes, all this destiny nonsense brings Arthur full circle to kill Vortigern, but the manner in which the movie shows this epic fight is … odd? If they can have Charlie Hunnam fighting a Witcher video game escapee, they could have just as easily CGI’d the hell out of a fight betwixt him and Jude Law and made those scenes just as epic and over-the-top. Given the massive Mage fight from Uther Pendragon at the beginning of the film, sure Arthur needs his own monster to fight, but like that? Just didn’t much care for that part.

Of course, that damnable fate won’t be denied, so the film ends with a reluctant but dutiful King Arthur constructing an oddly-shaped table in the great hall and joshing with his multi-colored Knights. Which was a good way to end it, almost Guy Ritchie saying, “Whew! Okay we’re done, cool off, great run today team!” The performances were all favorable, though I had trouble with the strange accent of the Lady Mage who came in Merlin’s stead. The special effects and eternal CGI are big and masterful and epic, but also sometimes cheesy as hell in the earnestness to imply destiny once again. And the soundtrack is unexpectedly good.

Succumb to the destiny of King Arthur Legend of the Sword on DVD and Bluray now!

Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Foreign, Historical, Movies, Romance, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2012 by aliciamovie

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Warner Bros.

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Guy Ritchie

Review Rating: 7

Warning! Spoilers!

Master investigator Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson return to take on the matchwit mastermind Moriarty!

I can’t help it, I have to say it – the movie is unworthy. There are glorious chase and fight scenes, marvelous acting from everyone involved, storyline and wit to spare; and yet. The storyline is handed to the viewer on a plastic plate, it’s practically spoon-fed to the audience, and that is unworthy of Sherlock Holmes. Certainly the motivations they gave this Moriarty, the reasons behind his masterminded criminal self, are elementary-schoolish and unworthy of Moriarty, lauded in the novels as the one man who could match wits with Sherlock Holmes himself. And then there’s the hole that a great many movie sequels fall into, that I don’t particularly care for – the humanizing (or humiliations) of the main character. This time, Sherlock Holmes wears a dress and makeup, rides a pony across countrysides, and is almost always one step behind. This sort of thing, that sequels like Spiderman 2 and Fantastic Four 2 fell prey to, bothers me. We’ve already established previously that Holmes has a face that’s a scattered slovenly drunk, one that can be used to good comedic effect yes, but our hero doesn’t need his nose repeatedly rubbed in it.

Holmes is thankfully once again visited by Robert Downey Jr., who gamely runs a tired character through the wedding of his best friend, the chase after Moriarty, and the reserved charm that he’s made the movies famous for. Jude Law returns as Dr. Watson, limping and sporting a cane, still trying to keep after Holmes. This new movie brings sidekick gypsy female lead Sim, played by Noomi Rapace of the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies. Turns out it’s good to have a gypsy sidekick, they can do both underworld and big city just fine, thank you. Joining the folk chasing after Sherlock is his brother Mycroft Holmes, played by Stephen Fry of V for Vendetta notoriety. He’s more or less fine for the role, but there is an entire scene where he’s at least thought to be completely naked, and I think we could’ve all lived without that. Jared Harris of series like Mad Men and Fringe stars as Moriarty, and he does a fairly fine job of it too, I thought. It just seemed to me that the movie gods made his vast intelligence seem small from his proposed motivations; it made me sad. Rachel McAdams returns as Irene Adler, and uh, I wasn’t happy with what happened to her character either. It seems likely to me that she’ll show back up in another sequel, and like the ending of this sequel, it seems an almost cheap plot ploy to be using since you know damn well they can’t actually be dead.

The first Sherlock Holmes movie done in this fashion was a masterpiece. Even with the Saw-style clue-by-four scene at the end, I had to puzzle my way through the plot for a little while there. Game of Shadows here had the ClueX4 scene practically every 30 minutes or so of the movie, and that my dears, is unworthy. Even so, the climactic chase and battle scenes are always awesome, everyone loves the stoic interactions between beloved friends Holmes and Watson, and there is almost never a lag in the pacing of the movie. You can watch it, and even enjoy it, just don’t expect to be bowled over by the plot.

Contagion

Posted in drama, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , on September 29, 2011 by aliciamovie

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Warner Bros

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Review Rating: 7 Face Masks

The spread of a new strain of virus that rockets around the world killing millions, plus the repercussions on the populace and culture.

I had such high hopes for this movie. Such high hopes! It’s advertised as a big ole drama, slopping over with celebrity actors to give the film more oomph, and yet. Hell, the film actually started off with Gwyneth Paltrow’s autopsy, it doesn’t get much better than that! And yet. They even tried to do a Memento-style sequence of events, where the film starts off on Day 2, and we don’t get to Day 1 until the very end of the movie. And be aware, you have to pay attention to those Day whatever signs, otherwise the timing and pace of the movie will be lost on you. And yet, even with all that, I wasn’t satisfied.

So we have Matt Damon as the (I gather) 2nd husband of Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, all strength and vulnerability. Everyone loves Morph—I mean Laurence Fishburne, as the head doctor type Ellis Cheever trying desperately to find a cure and making human mistakes along the way. Jude Law is Alan Krumwiede, blogger and would-be reporter who ends up apparently the voice of the common man, while still managing to be, let’s face it, an ass about it. Even Kate Winslet gets to star as one of the medics trying to organize this mess. We have such a great cast here, and the roles they’re given are mediocre at best.

So Paltrow’s character is off on a business trip in I think it’s Hong Kong, comes back to the USsickly, and thus begins the spread of the disease. People sicken, people die, society begins to break down and chaos runs riotously rampant. And then, after a whole litany of complaints as far as how long it’s going to take for an actual cure or vaccine or whatever, the movie jumps to what is it, Day 130-something, and the factories and hospitals begin tossing out treatments. Which of course leads to more confrontations, but hey, at least we have something. And it’s a shame; all those scenes that show the riots, the mindless herd response of humanity and mans inhumanity to man, plus the corporation response to such an outbreak, all combine to make me feel as though the movie is shaking its finger at me. Admonishments I can live with, if there were suggestions on improvement – there aren’t. There is great opportunity for one-liners in the manner of Outbreak, but oh no, apparently we have to stay as serious as possible for this movie. Which doesn’t make sense to me – are they trying to scare the nerves off everyone with this movie? And that ending. The wrapup explanation of how a series of, I’m sorry, almost completely unrelated events led to this mess, is irritating. Bat and Pig and Human is Sci-Fi, not overglorified disaster drama. Contagion gets a rating of 7 Face Masks, with the satisfied knowledge that at least there won’t be a sequel – everyone’s dead.

Repo Men

Posted in Action, drama, horror, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , on September 14, 2010 by aliciamovie

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Universal Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Miguel Sapochnik

Review Rating: 7 Replacement Hearts

In a not-too-distant future where replacement organs can be bought (and repossessed) on credit, one of the finest Repo Men tries to go straight after an accident lands him in debt with a replacement heart.

Now, I know, this movie got a lot of flack because Repo! The Genetic Opera came first, and the stories are incredibly similar. I for one adored the Opera, but this movie by contrast was actually quite good too. Jude Law stars as Remy, the lead, who wants nothing more than to settle down within the framework of the company and sell the organs rather than repossess them, despite being very good at his job. Forest Whitaker stars as his partner, Jake, who appears not to have the same desires as Remy, and thinks things should stay just as they are. Somewhere towards the latter half of the movie, Jake reveals himself to be more of a bad guy than you might think, and I’m sorry to say that kind of role just doesn’t fit Whitaker very well – he’s much better at the soulful puppy-dog-eyes good guy. We have Liev Schreiber as head bad guy of the Company, Frank, and we know damn well his acting talents range everywhere, so of course he does a fine job at it.

So, Remy doesn’t care for being a Repo Man, and wants to be a Salesman, with me so far right? Pay close attention to the various services offered by the Company as far as replacement body parts towards the beginning of the movie goes, it becomes very prevalent later on. Remy goes through an “accident” while on a Repo job, and gee surprise, wakes up to find he’s gotten a replacement heart that the Company is happy to extend him credit on. But not forever, you still have to make payments, and apparently a Salesman doesn’t make nearly as much as a Repo Man. Remy falls behind on his payments, his pride won’t let him ask for help, his wife up and poofs because she can’t handle the stress, and when Remy finally turns to his partner for help of a sorts, the roof falls in. (Think I’m kidding? See the movie.) And up until that point, yes like me, you might’ve been saying, oh come on, that’s so predictable it’s just sad. Well just wait, tough it out, because seriously – you won’t see the surprise ending coming. I didn’t.

It’s a shame this movie didn’t get nearly the publicity it deserved. Take an evening for the coming Halloween and devote a night to Repo Men, it’s worth it. Repo Men gets a rating of seven replacement hearts!

Sherlock Holmes

Posted in Action, drama, Historical, Movies, Romance with tags , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by aliciamovie

 

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Village Roadshow Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Guy Ritchie

Review Rating: 8

Sherlock Holmes returns with a brand new attitude, an engaged Watson, to foil a plot to take out key members of London’s elite and eventually the world!

This is a Holmes for everyone to enjoy, and less of a far cry from Iron Man than you might think. Holmes still smokes a pipe but it sure isn’t a Meerschaum, there is NO funny hat, and never once does the “elementary” line get play. However in this movie, Holmes is a fighting badass bare knuckle boxer, and is given a large scale of cheek with which to flog Watson. Robert Downey Jr. breathes new life into a somewhat stagnant story and modernizes it in a way we can all laugh at! Jude Law brings in just the right amount of British stoicism and frustration by Watson at Holmes’ pecadillos, yet never failing to be the most loyal right hand man any investigator could ask for. In this movie, Watson is engaged to marry a lovely young lady, and of course Holmes manages to accidentally-on-purpose bungle the dinner with them in true Holmes bluntness style. Rachel McAdams stars as Irene Adler, a former flame and fellow adventurer of Holmes, who returns to get them all involved in the big mystery by means fair or foul. Mark Strong delivers a fine brooding performance as Blackwood, leader lackey of the current attempted takeover of London by means of…is it magic, or science? Maybe a little of both. And Kelly Reilly stars as Mary Morstan, fiancé to Watson, and as it turns out quite loyal and perfectly capable in assisting the lost boys in their investigations.

 Holmes purists may curse me for my blasphemy, but I think this movie is actually a lot closer to the original Holmes stories, and that is therefore no bad thing. The costumery looks so much better, and is more in keeping with the time and lack of money our boys were apparently suffering. And while we love Mr. Downey Jr. for his moxie in general, the irresistibly dry way his lines are delivered in this movie are actually better than usual. Holmes is supposed to be an investigator that can span time and age, and this movie managed that very nicely.

Returning fan of Holmes and Watson or just starting out, get ready to cheer for the best investigative team anywhere!