Tag Archives: Anthony LaPaglia

All-Star Superman (2011) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

All-Star Superman

Director: Sam Liu
Writers: Jerry Siegel (character created by: Superman), Joe Shuster (character created by: Superman) Dwayne McDuffie (written by), Grant Morrison (graphic novel) &
Frank Quitely (graphic novel)
Stars: James Denton, Christina Hendricks, Anthony LaPaglia

All-Star Superman is regarded as one of the most popular and humanisation of the character the Man of Steel. A dying Superman decided to fulfil his lifelong dreams after being poisoned by the sun’s radiation due to Lex Luthor overdosing him with solar radiation and having his own agenda whilst Superman’s quest is to leave the world in a better place than the one he came to as an infant.

What I enjoyed from the kick off is that part of the story is dealt with very quickly and sets us up for the rest of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, at times the pacing of the film is a little jolty and there are some unnecessary scenes involving Atlas and Samson which I felt were unneeded and pointless. One thing I did like was the fact that Superman knew he was dying and also knew that Lex Luthor was responsible for this. I think this is the first time since Superman: Doomsday we see the Man of Steel vulnerable and questioning his own mortality. 

The Animation in All-Star Superman is okay I guess. It didn’t have the high speed action sequences of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse or Batman: Under the Red Hood but most of the shots reminded me that this film was base off a specific comic book and I believe the animators have stuck to keeping it’s look in the film. Very much like Superman: Doomsday, Justice League: The New Frontier and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, so I can appreciate that look and feel to this movie.

Sadly this would be a swansong for writer Dwayne McDuffie who sadly passed away 1 day before the movies release. His adaptation for All-Star Superman from the Graphic Novel by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely works mostly throughout although at times it comes across as a episodic experience. McDuffie’s experience in his field was phenomenal in video games like Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage from 1994 and Justice League Heroes in 2006 to television series like Justice League, Teen Titans, Ben 10 and Young Justice. His writing presence is evident in the DC Animated film I have already reviewed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010) and a film I have watched but will review soon in Justice League: Doom from 2012. At the age of just 49 Dwayne McDuffie will be sadly missed.

James Denton as Superman at times was a little flat and emotionless. He reminded me a lot of Billy Crudup’s performance in Watchmen (2009) as Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman. Very cold and distant. In this case I suppose the predicament Superman was in kinda justifies this performance. Denton wasn’t bad in the role and actually portrayed a very good and convincing Clark Kent. Supported with Christina Hendricks as Lois Lane / Superwoman (Which was a nice surprise), Anthony LaPaglia as Lex Luthor (Who I have been a fan of since he appeared in So, I Married An Axe Murderer (1993) and Edward Asner as Perry White was great. I felt Hendricks portrayed the character well and for once had a prominent role and presence in these DC Animated Films. Lois Lane as Superwoman could have been naff but actually served the story well and as previously mentioned was probably over utilised in the pointless scenes involving Atlas and Samson. Believe me there was no need to this part of the film.

Overall and I have to be honest here, the film doesn’t flow well in parts  and effects the whole experience, not to the point of ruining the film but having that episodic feel doesn’t work in this film. I think Superman fans will enjoy this film and seeing their favourite character used in a different and vulnerable way. I’m unsure on how hardcore fans reacted to this film, whether it adapted well or not. My own experience is that although not my favourite DC animated film, it is still worth a watch and I would recommend giving it a go. One thing though, don’t pick it as your introduction to this world. Recommended.

Advertisements

Annabelle: Creation (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

ANNABELLE CREATION

Director: David F. Sandberg
Writers: Gary Dauberman, Gary Dauberman (based on characters created by)
Stars: Anthony LaPaglia, Samara Lee, Miranda Otto

Plot:  12 years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, where they soon become the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.
Running Time: 1 hour 49 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 69%     Audience  68%

Why I watched it: Mostly because of the good reviews, and the trailer looked decent.

Thoughts: I usually hate prequel, for the most part they’re a lazy cash grab and coming off the first Annabelle, which was so badly done I couldn’t get through it.  I do think that this film is a textbook case of if you put some effort and some thought into a horror movie even if it’s a prequel you can make a decent film.

What I liked: First off this is a well made horror film, effort has been put into this, it’s shot well the sound is great and it looks good, it doesn’t look cheap.  Horror shouldn’t mean cliched and cheap looking.  This is a very well thought out origin story. I would think we’ll here some big things from director David F Sandberg and I hope he stays in genre film making cause he understands the genre. This film is a lot better than it deserves to be, the cast is very good for this kind of film no one phones it in and the performances aren’t campy or over the top this is a tightly acted and filmed horror film.  I really liked the fact that they put some thought into the story that they just didn’t throw a bunch of cliches at us, I was surprised at the plot, it’s well thought out and very sad, Lapaglia and Otto don’t have a lot to do but they class up the film a lot and they flesh out stock characters.

I saw Angel Of Death 2, which as a very similar plot with orphans in a spooky house, now where that was boring and dull this film made me jump and has real stakes.  Director Sandberg shot the crap out of that huge house and yes he even made it a “character” I also think they really saved the whole Annabelle thing, cause the first movie was so bad it was laughable but they give it dread and they give it this evil air about it that the doll is scary again.

What I didn’t like: Here’s my old complaint, at close to 2 hours it’s a bit long, it does drag a bit and they loose some momentum.  Of course the use of jump scares is tiresome but I will say a couple work. They have 6 orphan girls all various ages and they really only give two anything to do, the other ones weren’t even characters, they were just there.  I do wish they gave the adult leads more time as I liked them, I almost wished they were the leads.

Final Thoughts: Not a great movie but a solid horror film, this shows horror can be well done even though it doesn’t have a huge budget or names, just sound film making.

Rating: ‪7/10‬

So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

So I Married an Axe Murderer

Director: Thomas Schlamme
Writer: Robbie Fox
Stars: Mike Myers,  Nancy Travis,  Anthony LaPaglia

So I Married an Axe Murderer came out the year I turned 17. I had only just been introduced to the world of Mike Myers the year before when the hit comedy film Wayne’s World was released. In the UK we didn’t have access to Saturday Night Live, There was no Internet and Satellite TV was restricted in the area I lived in (we didn’t get Satellite TV until 1996) So how did I stumble across a “lesser” known Mike Myers film? the answer is through my brother Kevan and  fellow Movie Burner who saw this movie on it’s initial release with our Grandfather (who loved it by all accounts)

So I Married an Axe Murderer plot is centred around Myers character Charlie MacKenzie who appears to have commitment issues with previous girlfriends (he was convinced one was a kleptomaniac who had stolen his Cat??? The other he described as of smelling of Soup….Beef Vegetable Soup to be precise) his friend in the movie and a police officer is Tony (played by Anthony LaPaglia) who highlights this at the very opening scene to give the audience an idea on the issues Charlie has.

Before visiting his parents (who are Scottish) Charlie pops into the local butcher shop to purchase some Haggis for his folks as a present and it is here he meets Harriet (Nancy Travis) both of them hit it off really well and begin to like each other. The introduction to Charlie’s character already gives the audience an idea that it will only be a matter of time before Charlie begins to look for flaws and an escape route in this relationship he has with Harriet, even in these early stages.

Brenda Fricker plays Charlie’s mum and adopts a very convincing Scottish Accent fans the flames of the Charlie’s commitment issues when she shows him a rather far fetched article in the “World Weekly News” in what appears to be a women traveling across America marrying men who end up murdered shortly after they Marry this woman. As Charlie begins to pick up little pieces of information about Harriet’s past, there are little coincidences that seem to have the same pattern between Harriet’s life and the Woman in the article sending Charlie into a paranoid downward spiral.

That is basically the list of So I Married an Axe Murderer. The talking points of this movie isn’t it’s storyline which is a little silly if I’m being honest. It’s not the acting either as within the cast they do a good job, nothing more and nothing less and there are some great cameos in the movie too that I will get to. The talking point of  this movie is it’s humour. You have to remember that this was Myers second movie and essentially the one that came soon after his big hit that was from a sketch on SNL.

Well So I Married an Axe Murderer is kinda a series of sketches with some SNL cameos in there for good measure. The highlight for me is Charlie’s father Stuart (also played by Mike Myers) Being Scottish myself I can relate and most Scottish people can to having a relation who is similar to Stuart who has some far out opinions and very grumpy and straight to the point. You can also see where Myers drew inspiration from this character in future films where he uses the accent again and again.

The Character of Charlie is a little undeveloped if I was to have any issues with the film. Yes we know his fears and paranoia. It’s never explained exactly what Charlie actually does for a living (not that that is important) but he appears to perform at open mic nights performing poems, driving around in a convertible and spending most of his time hanging around Harriet’s butcher shop or visits to Alcatraz with his good friend Tony. Charlie is a likeable character though and just appears to have a lot of bad luck in previous relationships.

Mike Myers is almost the opposite of Wayne Campbell in this movie and isn’t relying on in your face humour and wit. Instead the character of Charlie is underplayed at times and Myers allows his supporting cast to build the humour around his central character.

I had only seen Nancy Travis once previously to watching this movie back in 1993 and that was when she appeared in Three Men in a Baby. Travis does well as Harriet and like Charlie isn’t there for comic relief, but more for the storyline. Both Myers and Travis have good chemistry between each other in almost every scene and probably the funniest scene both of them are in is unintentionally funny to most people is when Charlie receives the phone call from Tony that Harriet is in fact Mrs X from the newspaper article. Travis and Myers play this scene out perfectly and his desperation to escape her and her desperation to hold on to him is really funny, even if I think it wasn’t on purpose by the storyteller.

As I previously mentioned it would be remiss of me not to mention the cameos throughout the movie. Phil Hartman’s Ranger John ‘Vicky’ Johnson is probably the most talked about one and owns the scene in Alcatraz. It’s hard to believe even to this day that Hartman is no longer around and just seeing this scene saddens me to think of other roles he would have taken and how his career would have panned out.

Steven Wright as the Pilot is another one that I found funny at the time as basically this films version of Ottoman the bus driver from The Simpsons. He is a total stoner and the kind of person you wouldn’t want to fly a plane you were traveling in…..at night……in thunder storms.

Probably the second most favourite cameo after Hartman is from Charles Grodin as the driver of the car that is commandeered by Tony desperately trying to reach Charie as quickly as possible in a life of death situation. Grodin nails the character as a grumpy almost psychotic man who appears to be just containing his rage and no more with sarcastic line after line. For some reason I found this hilarious at the time.

Seinfeld’s Michael Richards is also in there as a Newspaper reporter that although is in a little funny scene as “Mr Insensitive” looks a little shoehorned in and isn’t essentially a required scene to the storyline.

There isn’t much music in So I Married an Axe Murderer apart from repeated listenings of The Las “There She Goes” also performed by the Boo Radleys. I loved this song when it came out and it is still one of my favourites to this day. Two Princes by The Spin Doctors, remember that? I also loved that when it came out and there is a great speed boat to alcatraz sequence with this song playing that is also memorable.

Mike Myers is more commercially successful in movies such as Wayne’s World, Austin Powers and Shrek, but for the reason I have mentioned I will always love So, I Married an Axe Murderer for what it is. The humour is just right and keeps the movie from being pigeon holed as a Rom-Com. With it’s dark elements throughout the movie and it’s rather offbeat characters and jokes it is still an enjoyable film 24 years later. If you haven’t seen this film before I highly recommend it as one of Mike Myers’s under the radar comedies.