Category Archives: liam neeson
Battleship ~ There been a lot of bad press and even worse word of mouth on this flick, and let’s be honest here, this is a movie based on a board game. And not a game that lends itself well to a plot, mind you, this is not Clue we’re talking about here. All that said, and bear in mind, this is by no means a brilliant movie (it’s no Doctor Zhivago) but it is pretty good flick for one made based on a board game.
The acting is pretty bad by most here, I would say below soap opera level, no offense meant to soap opera actors, but it doesn’t bode well for folks like Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard. The special effects of the completely indecipherable alien ships are the draw here, as it should be for a summer blockbuster. They are kinda like rejects from the Transformers movies, only not, but they are impressive. Also impressive is how they actually tie aspects of the film to the specifics of the game “Battleship,” that, I thought was clever. Spoilers, if there are such a thing here, but it was really sweet that the old guys who fought in World War II and their antique battleship are the guys who save the world, especially nice in lieu of Memorial Day this past weekend.
As far as the rest of the cast goes, Rihanna steals the movie, she is a delight. Taylor Kitsch, who I have loved as both Gambit and John Carter, is almost a cipher here. He’s terrible in this role, paper not even cardboard. Liam Neeson… well, if you have seen the preview, you have seen almost all of his scenes. Talk about calling it in, taking the cash and running. I did however also like John Tui and Tadanobu Asano, the latter of which is being called the Johnny Depp of Japan – they were both quite good.
The rest of the movie? It gets not only monotonous and predictable but it actually manages to make those big impressive alien ships get boring after a while. And the jumping from ship to ship to ship when they get sunk got a bit ridiculous after a while. We all knew we would beat the aliens, but it got so I wanted to yell “Get on with it already!” more than a few times.
All in all, it was an enjoyable two hours of mindless popcorn movie fluff. It wasn’t bad enough to want my money back, but as I said, this wasn’t a great film either. I don’t think it deserves the bad word of mouth it has been getting either. Come on folks, it’s not like this was Moulin Rouge! or The Dark Knight.
Harper ~ Although it looks and feels as dated as it is, this quirky Paul Newman detective thriller is still entertaining because of Newman’s charm, and the source material. It’s based on John MacDonald’s 1949 novel The Moving Target featuring Lew Archer. The story was updated to 1966 standards and Newman changed the name of his character because he thought his films that started with an H (Hud, The Hustler, Hombre) did better in the theatres. Wonderful detective flick, great William Goldman script, and an all-star cast of the time. Recommended.
Table for Three ~ The more I see Brandon Routh in movies, the more I think he’s better suited for comedy than he ever was as Superman. Yeah, Superman was definitely a mistake. This flick however, a screwball comedy about a lonely guy with commitment issues who becomes involved with his two married roommates who may or may not be psychotic, is beautifully suited to Routh. Good for a laugh.
The Guard ~ We walked into this film blind after missing a showing of Columbiana by just a few minutes. I still haven’t seen Columbiana, and I think we made a good choice. This comedy thriller from writer/director John Michael McDonagh was a pleasant surprise. The odd combination of small town Irish police officer Brendan Gleeson and FBI agent Don Cheadle in this offbeat buddy cop flick is highly entertaining in the spirit of the Irish comic cinema. Fun flick, recommended.
Unknown ~ This Liam Nielson starring thriller portrays a man with memory loss who may or may not be who he thinks he is. It’s slow and predictable with a much too underrated score for a supposed action flick. And January Jones offers another wooden performance that cements her title as the worst actress working in movies and television today. Wait for free TV for this one.
Almighty Thor ~ This is the official copycat rip-off of Thor by The Asylum. You know The Asylum, they make movies that seem like real blockbusters but are simply designed to cash in on the original movie’s name. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes they’re not half-bad, and most Saturday nights they run on the SyFy Channel. This one’s not really that bad. Thor and Loki tussle on Earth and in Asgard, and the god of thunder wins in the end. Decent but cheesy story and special effects, but an enjoyable watch.
Clash of the Titans ~ Okay, I was all ready. I had watched (and reviewed) the original Clash of the Titans earlier this week, dinner plans were made and tickets purchased ahead of time – I was psyched to be knocked out by state of the art 3-D effects and mythic storytelling. Man, did I have the wrong number. At least dinner was good.
The concepts of remake and source material seemed to have been thrown out right away as this new version bore only a vague resemblance to either the 1981 film and even less so to actual mythology. I always thought that the tale of Perseus and Andromeda was one of the great romances of Greek mythology, but apparently somebody forgot.
That said, it was quite a spectacle, had the filmmakers actually allowed us to see any of it. There is a lot of fast motion camerawork and superfast quick cutting so little of the special effects are actually seen. They did however make sure that every time Sam Worthington as Perseus struck a fighting pose or jumping in the air, we saw it in slow motion. For a special effects movie, they sure didn’t want us to see those effects.
The Kraken, which it should be noted is not a creature of Greek mythology at all, was one of the big reasons I wanted to see this film. Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows I’m a sucker for giant monsters, and the Kraken as shown in the previews had great potential. However, the cold hard fact is that that monster really only appears in the film for a few minutes. Quite honestly, if you’ve seen the preview, you’ve seen pretty much all the Kraken you’re going to see. Shame, it could’ve made the difference in a bad film and a bad film with great special effects.
Sam Worthington is adequate as the reluctant (here at least) Perseus. Liam Neeson makes a better Zeus than Sir Laurence Olivier, but not much better. I do like the blinding shining armor though, even its gleam fades as the film goes on. Whether this is on purpose or not, it’s disappointing. This new version gives us a new villain in Ralph Fiennes’ Hades. I almost didn’t recognize him after so many turns as Voldermort, this different make-up again made him into another person almost. Shame his special effects (these we got to see) overshadowed his acting.
Polly Walker, notoriously Atia of the Julii in HBO’s “Rome,” is wasted in what should be the rich role of Cassiopia. She gets barely a few moments screen time, and she could have not only been brilliant but saved the film. Similarly cast aside is Alexa Davalos as Andromeda. But someone behind the scenes decided to ignore one of mythology’s greatest stories and do something else. Instead we get Io as the romantic pairing to Perseus, whose background is rewritten drastically for the film. She is played by the beautiful and charismatic Gemma Arterton, one of the highlights of the film.
The cast was filled out by character actors playing the traditional sidekick template roles, seemingly from the old Sinbad films. There was the fat guy, the comic relief and the mysterious stranger – likable all, but again, like the special effects, we never got to see enough of them.
All in all, I thought it was much better than the original, but that’s not saying much considering how much I was disappointed by the 1981 film. It felt there was conscious effort throughout to be different from the original, just for the sake of being different – Pegasus is black not white, pretty Medusa not ugly, etc. And there’s also a fun cameo by Bubo the mechanical owl that did make me smile more than anything the blasted thing did in the original film.
The musical score by Ramon Djawadi is powerful and another highlight of the movie, so good I’m thinking of buying the soundtrack. I did wonder why this film was in 3-D however as there wasn’t much that needed 3-D, except to hike the already elevated ticket price. Worth seeing, but wait for DVD or OnDemand.
Ponyo ~ The first thing that strikes me about Ponyo (also known as Gake no ue no Ponyo) is how terrific it is now that in America, not only are Hiyao Miyazaki’s films distributed mainstream by Disney, but that Hiyao Miyazaki films are now an event. This is just how it should be. He’s a genius, and it’s about time he’s treated this way.
I think a lot of that may be due to TCM. A year or so back they did an entire week of Miyazaki films that brought his work into the mainstream consciousness. I knew about him but then again I have a comics and anime background. I know this was when my wife’s eyes were opened to his brilliance, a probably many others as well.
Ponyo is a simple yet bizarre tale of a goldfish who falls in love with a little boy and then wants to become human. From there it gets complicated. And the complications are what I love about Miyazaki. He always follows the game plan of the Hero’s Journey, yet he takes the roundabout way, the twisted mountain road, so that he is never predictable – and that’s refreshing. When was the last time you could not guess the ending or even the next scene of a film?
This is an enjoyable flick for both adults and children, and highly recommended. I really enjoyed it. And if you like what you see, check out the rest of Miyazaki’s films. You’ll be glad you did.
Tragically, award-winning actress Natasha Richardson has passed away earlier today. The forty-five year old wife of actor Liam Neeson fell while skiing with no apparent injuries yesterday but later fell ill and eventually passed away.
I first saw her in Ken Russell’s surreal Gothic as the young Mary Shelley and was later impressed with her in the title role of Patty Hearst. She became of one the best working actresses around especially with A Handmaid’s Tale and Nell, the latter in which she starred with her husband and Jodie Foster.
We have certainly lost one of our most talented actresses. She will be missed.