Tag Archives: Bryce Dallas Howard

Rocketman (2019) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

Rocketman Review

Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Lee Hall
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Stephen Graham, Gemma Jones, Jason Pennycooke, Steven Mackintosh, Sharon D. Clarke, Tate Donovan, Kit Connor.

Since we all really liked Bohemian Rhapsody, I took my entire family to see Rocketman when it was released in theatres. I’ve always enjoyed music bios, and particularly interesting are those about artists I clearly remember at the height of their popularity. Like Queen, Elton John’s music was a big part of my childhood.

I tend to pay little attention to press or reviews of movies I’m already intent on seeing, so other than its subject, its star (Taron Egerton) and obviously the music, I knew relatively little about Rocketman going in. Considering his wild life and countless classic songs, any movie with Elton John as its subject would be inherently interesting.

But as the film opened, something unexpectedly wonderful happened. Decked-out in one of his trademark stage costumes, a worn and weary Elton John sits down with a support group and counts-off his numerous addictions. When the counsellor asks about his childhood, John begins to quietly sing. Though it sounds like a melancholy ballad, I recognised the lyrics to “The Bitch is Back.” The scene morphs into a huge production number taking place on the street of his childhood home, with dancers, back-up singers and a young Reggie Dwight (Elton’s real name) belting-out the sassy chorus.

My wife gasped in surprise. My musical-loving oldest daughter quickly clapped with joy. The unexpected rush I felt was the same as when I first saw that massive Imperial Star Destroyer enter the top of the frame in the opening scene from Star Wars. Rocketman wasn’t just a music bio…it was a full-blown musical.

With 20/20 hindsight, of course it is. How could any movie about rock & roll’s most fearlessly flamboyant frontman not be?

I suppose comparisons to Bohemian Rhapsody are inevitable, though not entirely fair. Both take dramatic liberties with the facts and timeline, but Rocketman is more than an episodic love letter to its subject. Elton’s life and songs are basically re-imagined, not only for dramatic purposes, but to turn his story into an epic musical fantasy with the glamour and audacity befitting of its subject. The film is filled with brilliantly-conceived musical numbers featuring his best-known songs. But they aren’t isolated pieces of gratuitous window dressing. The numbers are sequenced in a manner that they become part of the narrative and the songs themselves feel almost autobiographical, despite the varied lyrical subject matter.

Though only superficially resembling Elton John, Taron Egerton’s performance is every bit as remarkable as Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury, plus he does his own singing (as does the rest of the cast). As depicted in the film, John is a complicated character who is – by turns – insecure, lonely, egotistical, self-loathing, resentful, sensitive, petty and narcissistic. Egerton convincingly demonstrates all those traits, yet still keeps his character likeable. Otherwise, sequences featuring “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” “Crocodile Rock” and “Rocket Man” wouldn’t be nearly as engaging, nor would we care whether or not he wins the battle against his demons.

Regarding Elton John’s sexuality, Rocketman is certainly braver than Bohemian Rhapsody, but that’s not ultimately what makes it a better film. The narrative is more cohesive, the main character more complex and his story more vividly presented, enhanced by knock-out musical numbers. It’s as fun as Elton’s songs and – so far – the most purely entertaining movie of the year.

Advertisements

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Movie Review By John Gray

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Director: J.A. Bayona
Writers: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall

Jurassic Park is the movie that got me into movies. It’s my favourite film, by my favourite director, scored by my favourite film composer. The sequels have been hit and miss, even the Spielberg directed Lost World was lacklustre, and JP3 was little better than a TV movie in my opinion.

Jurassic World, however, brought us something I always wanted to see; a fully functioning park. It wasn’t a patch on the first film, but was fun, exciting, and full of good ideas. Its sequel, Fallen Kingdom, does something else I always wanted the series to do, by delving into the darker implications of genetic technology.

The director, J.A. Bayona, stated in interviews that he wanted a good reason for going back to the park, and he succeeds in giving us one. Isla Nublar is about to be destroyed by a newly active volcano, and the race is on to stop dinosaurs becoming extinct all over again. Enter Claire, Owen, and John Hammond’s old business partner, played by James Cromwell. Of course others have far less altruistic plans for the animals, namely selling them off to all sorts of questionable corporations and private collectors, and here is where the conflict comes in.

To say much else would spoil some of the movie’s surprises, and I’m happy to report there are actually a few. The movie could so easily have been predictable, but Bayona delivers a switch in the second half, effortlessly changing to a darker, more suspenseful tone. It’s the first time a Jurassic Park movie has been scary in a while.

The opening set- piece in particular is fantastic. In fact, Bayona shows a deft hand at creating thrilling set- pieces throughout, bar one mis-judged gag involving Owen and some lava. You’ll know it when you see it. Other nitpicks would be an over- intrusive musical score and an uneven script with some pretty cringe-worthy dialogue and jokes that don’t quite pan out.

When the script fails it’s largely saved by the sheer likability of the two leads. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are as solid as ever in their roles. Howard’s Claire gets more to do here, and is less of a buttoned-up cliche than she was in the last movie. She brings warmth and passion to the character, who has some hard truths to face about her role in all that’s happened with the park.

Pratt is charismatic and effective as a leading man, even if his character evolves a little less than Howard’s. He’s more stoic this time around, less of a man-child, but still not very interesting. His connection to the velociraptor, Blue, is well played though, and should have been the heart of the movie. Unfortunately the script downplays this connection during scenes where it would have made more dramatic sense to bring it to the fore.

Fallen Kingdom is a thrilling, fun, tense movie that takes the story in new directions. The ending leaves the Jurassic Park franchise in a fascinating place. What works so well about the main plot of this film and its ending is that both feel like they were always inevitable. From the moment John Hammond cloned that first dinosaur we were always headed in this direction. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Jurassic World (2015) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

JURASSIC WORLD.png

Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writers: Rick Jaffa (screenplay by), Amanda Silver (screenplay by)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins

Plot: A new theme park, built on the original site of Jurassic Park, creates a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur, which escapes containment and goes on a killing spree.

Running Time: 124 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 71%   Audience 78%

Why I Watched it: I dragged my feet on this one, I’ve seen the other films in this franchise so I finally sat down to give it a watch.

Random Thoughts: To be honest I’m not a fan of this franchise, I’ve liked some of the acting but the series as always left me cold, the whole set up is they built something just so it could fail and we could have a movie.  I was a big fan of the first book, very good read and really different from the first film, much more tech based and more should we be playing God.  I would also like to say this film Jurassic World is almost a copy of Deep Blue Sea, same plot and really the same film, just saying, I love Deep Blue Sea.

What I Liked: Can’t argue the film is really nice to look at, it’s CGI eye candy, they did a nice job of giving us a different looking Jurassic Park.  Everything seems bigger, the scope of it just screams Hollywood Blockbuster.  The sound, the editing, the cinematography is great as well. I thought Chris Pratt would bother me more than he did, but he’s fine here.  I do fear he’s just going to play these types till we get sick of them, his relationship with Bryce Dallas Howard’s character feels like something from an 80′s movie to be honest.

What I didn’t Like: Let’s get this out of the way, it’s a big loud, dumb movie, entertaining at times but good lord is it cliched. I mean really cliched, so cliched I don’t even know where to start. Bryce Dallas Howard, no I’m not blaming her, well maybe a little she should have fought for her character to actually have some character.  Come on this was cliched 30 years ago, the driven ice queen, who has no time for family, she doesn’t know how old her nephews are one minute but then is willing to give up her life for them.  Please lets give her some depth, lets get to know something else about her.  Pratt is also just a type an action adventure type, he’s charming and that’s it.  Now the bad guy role here of course is played by Vincent D’Onofrio who looks honey baked here, he’s tanned and stuffed and of course he’s government/military you know the type he sees a rubber duck and wants to turn it into a weapon, and that’s all he says and does for the entire run time of the film.

Here’s my biggest beef with the film it’s the two brothers, one’s a teenager and the other is younger and they have no character at all, they are cheap heat, they are dumbly put in danger, that is their sole purpose in this movie.  really did you need this sub-plot, there’s enough going on we didn’t need these two just to be there so we could figure out Howard’s character loves her family and shouldn’t be so one track minded. The ending is overblown of course and it goes on forever.  Some of it is shot well and done well but it does drag and add the fact that the film is over 2 hours make’s it tough sledding by the end.  We know where this is going and really this feels like a remake of the first film the only difference is the tech and actors.

Final Thoughts: You know what this is one of those blockbusters that I didn’t hate but I wish they gave a crap about the script and kind of developing characters, but it’s a big loud CGI fest, a decent watch but empty calories.

Rating: 5/10

50/50 (2011) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

50 50

Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Will Reiser
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt,  Seth Rogen,  Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Matt Frewer, Philip Baker Hall

I recently revisited the movie 50 / 50 starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam a  27-year-old guy who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease. Now for anyone who hasn’t watched this yet, this may sound like a depressing drama full of patronising clichés. In fact, “50/50” is a comedy of sorts and handles the subject with the right balance of enlightenment, inspiration, hope and care.

It’s always going to be difficult for any writer to angle for a comedic side to a story based on a cancer diagnosis, but Will Reiser who wrote “50/50” handles the topic with care and believe me the funny parts are funny and along the way there are some beautiful and surprisingly tender scenes between the characters.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has this knack of being a very likeable guy no matter what role he plays. Adam is a good guy who writes for a living for a local radio program and lives with his girlfriend Rachael (Dallas Howard). We find through conversation that the relationship is faltering and it’s really only when Adam is diagnosed that the couple become a bit closer to each other although it is short lived when Adam’s friend Kyle (Rogen) discovers Rachael is being unfaithful to Adam and captures this on his Cellphone. Bryce Dallas Howard although has limited time in the movie adapts very well as the girlfriend who bails on her Boyfriend when the tough gets going.

Gordon-Levitt portrays the role of Adam as a very subdued and content guy but as the story unfolds his temperament begins to unravel slightly when he begins to learn of his illness and dealing with the breakdown in his relationship. Gordon-Levitt is very subtle in his anxieties of his struggles and you only get to realise this more so in his therapy sessions that he has been attending with Katherine (Kendrick) these scenes at first are portrayed awkwardly and both actors really play off each other well in the situation.

Anna Kendrick as Katherine is a great choice of casting and plays the role perfectly as an inexperienced therapist (Adam is only her third patient) But by the time the movie concludes, she really comes into her own and all those little quirks she has early on are away as she begins to develop a closeness with Adam and understands him more.

Angelica Huston plays Adams mother Diane. We are introduced to Dianne when Adam decides to let his mother know of his condition and although she comes off as a little controlling and dominant to a degree we learn that her husband and Adams father Richard (Serge Houde) is suffering from Alzheimer’s and Diane is really just trying to hold things together. Huston although is in very limited scenes is very powerful in them and no more so in the scene when she reveals she has been seeking counselling herself to deal with her Son’s illness. It’s a very touching scene and this is where the writers find the balance and trust the audience will accept the seriousness of the situation in a “comedy”. I always believe there is a fine line between comedy and tragedy and it is really evident in “50/50”

Although Serge Houde as Adam’s father doesn’t have much to do it really is handled well between the relationship with Diane and his son Adam. Even more so when Adam is about to go into theatre as a last ditch chance to save his life. I’m telling you, get the hankies ready as Houde portrays a man who might not see his son again and looks lost and sad not knowing what is going on. I’m not really selling this movie as a comedy am I?

Seth Rogen for me is hit or miss. I always felt this with certain comedic actors that sometimes too much is…… too much. Hey I felt that way about John Candy sometimes so don’t judge me! Rogen in “50/50” does what he does best. He portrays the bumbling drunken friend that although comes across as trying to consume Adam’s life and giving him bad advice is at heart a good guy. Probably for about 85% of screen time Kyle is a pain in the ass and downright irritating but Rogen manages to even make that screen time funny and the payoff to his character is in the last third of the movie as we discover his insecurities, anxieties and a caring side to him and Adam’s conditions really has effected him.

Writer Reiser should be commended for these really fleshed out characters and Levine (Director) keeping the flow of the movie interesting and the pacing consistent. This is  evident in most scenes where the dialogue is consuming the screen and Adam’s hospital visits introduce us to two cancer patients in Mitch and Alan portrayed by the brilliant pairing of Matt Frewer and Philip Baker Hall. The chemistry between the three actors is balanced and adds light to the difficult storyline.

“50/50″ is a well written and directed film that has a strong cast and a great chemistry between them. Although released over 6 years ago the story and the characters is what makes the film rewatchable and enjoyable to revisit every few years. I recommend this movie to anyone who hasn’t watched it as I feel the right blend of comedy and drama will keep you interested. Highly Recommended.

Jurassic World (2015) Movie Review by John Walsh

JURASSIC WORLD

Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writers: Rick Jaffa (screenplay), Amanda Silver (screenplay)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins

I may have mentioned this before, but I have a terrible habit of missing blockbuster films and not seeing them until years after their release. That’s exactly what happened with Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, which features a pacy, exciting, action packed story with some stunning visuals and just enough little nods to the originals to make it a satisfying experience. It also wets the appetite for the final instalment in Disney’s sequel Star Wars trilogy, to be directed by the same man. He’s certainly proved he can handle a massive franchise with this one.

The story pretty much follows the same premise of Jurassic Park, the 1992 classic from a certain Mr. Spielberg, with the only difference being they’ve built the enclosure walls a little higher this time and played god terribly by breeding a Frankenstein’s monster of a dinosaur instead of our good old friend, the faithful T-Rex. That’s pretty much where this one starts. It introduces the two brothers, Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) as they’re sent off on a short vacation to the theme park by their soon to be divorced parents. The latter you presume hoping the experience will have the joint effect of providing some light respite from that reality and also a chance to spend time with their estranged aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who runs the park.

Of course, things don’t go quite to plan, as you’d expect in a Jurassic Park film. First of all, Claire is far too busy trying to appease investors and the wacky, almost hippy like, park owner Masrani (Irrfan Khan) to spend time with her nephews and secondly, there’s the small issue of the aforementioned hybrid dinosaur, the ‘Indominus Rex’, escaping from its secluded enclosure, high up in the ominously titled ‘Restricted zone’. This bid for freedom comes after Owen (Chris Pratt), a dinosaur whisperer of sorts, is sent up for a quick introduction to the parks newest attraction (he gets a tad closer than he’d like to I’m sure) and also to investigate the standard of the creatures home.

The creature of course, goes on a tear up, murdering poor herbivores left, right and centre, heading further and further south towards the thousands of park visitors. The two brothers, who by this point have ditched their English nanny/guide (how original) don’t wait quite so long to get in about the action. Barely making it inside the gyrospheres before the ride is shutdown, they take the incredibly dumb decision to go for a stroll about the restricted area, a decision made by the slightly perverted Zach (he was giving me those vibes with the weird stares), and run right into our monstrous Dino friend. Aside from this primary focus on the Indominus Rex, there’s also a second plot thread running, concurrently, with the fat, annoying Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), a man obsessed with using trained Velociraptors as a futuristic (prehistoric?) weapon.

I can’t discuss this film without praising Mr. Pratt. I’m running out of superlatives to explain my admiration for this man. He’s his usual, funny self in this film and proves once again that he’s more than capable of leading a blockbuster franchise with an excellent performance as Owen. He gave me Indiana Jones vibes (maybe that was down to the similar outfit) and I would’ve loved to have seen him play Han Solo, but Ehrenreich got that gig and I’ll have to respect Disney’s so far impeccable casting choices. I loved Bryce Dallas Howard too, she played off Pratt nicely, the pair had good chemistry together and should definitely be the two to lead any future films in the franchise forward. Credit to the two young actors Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins also, Zach’s oddly perverted stares aside, they were very decent.

The film has many cool action sequences throughout and these seem to build into a glorious crescendo as the finale nears closer. You’ve got Owens motorcycle ride beside the rapid moving Velociraptors; the fun scene with the Pterodactyl’s swooping down on the crowd, causing chaos (and also ending Misrani in the helicopter, which was telegraphed); that sequence of events with the English nanny getting ragdolled around in the air before meeting her watery grave and finally the incredible finale with Owen, Claire and the boys, which features an epic showdown between the T-Rex and Indominus Rex (or should that be Raptor by now?). There’s the downfall of Hoskins in there too, which was immensely satisfying to watch.

Major props Giacchino in this film, who does a fantastic job of blending John Williams classic theme and score with newer music, proving that he can do it successfully if he’s given enough time. I imagine this is what got him the gig with Rogue One after Alexandre Desplat was forced to pull out. I know that particular score received some heavy flak, but I actually enjoyed that too. He does do a far superior job here however.

I’d normally discuss whether I’d recommend this film or not, but it’s been two years since this thing released, I’m well in truly late to the party and I would imagine the overwhelming majority of people have already seen it. Still, if you haven’t and you were a fan of the originals then do yourself a favour and watch it. I actually still prefer Jurassic Park myself, I have fond memories of seeing that as young boy in the cinema, but this is an excellent action flick too and a nice return to the franchise.

Gold (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh

GOLD

Director: Stephen Gaghan
Writers: Patrick Massett, John Zinman
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramírez, Bryce Dallas Howard

Supposedly based on real life events, Gold follows the rags to riches tale of Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey), a down on his luck prospector that risks everything with fellow eager geologist, Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez), in an attempt to make millions from mining gold in the uncharted jungles of Indonesia.

It all begins with a younger Kenny, working under his father, who owns and runs a highly successful mining company. We see him explaining the nature of his job to a beautiful, young woman and attempting to woo her by giving her a piece of jewellery. Not long after, he chats with his father, the latter staring out at a rather scenic cityscape and Wells, who’s narrating at this point, mentions that this was the last time he saw his father alive. The film then takes a significant jump into the future and we see the now heavily receded, more portly figure of Kenny, struggling to come to terms with leading his fathers business. He’s clearly turning to drink and after failing to convince financial backers to invest in his business venture, he hits rock bottom.

It becomes apparent early on that Kenny is going to be the equivalent of a human rollercoaster though and nothing much keeps him down for long. He’s well aware of his limitations too, and so going on a hunch, he jets out to meet Michael Acosta, a morally ambiguous geologist, who after some gentle persuasion agrees to enter into a partnership with him. This following a promise of financial support from Well’s provided Michael could find an appropriate mining location nearby the local river. The pair then set out together, heading up river and passing a promising sign in locals that are looking for gold on the banks themselves, before finishing with a back breaking trek into the jungle to the chosen site.

After recruiting several indigenous locals, setting up camp and digging for core samples, things quickly take a turn for the worse. Overworked in dreadful conditions, the locals strike and leave the site. Worse still, Well’s develops a fairly severe bout of malaria during this period, leaving him unable to do much other than rest. Appearing delirious in the midst of this, he gives a crestfallen Michael, who’s ready to quit, the last of his credit cards and money to convince the workers to return and get things back on track. Michael manages this, by ingeniously providing them with a clean water supply. With the workers now back, Michael is finally able to dig up enough samples and the results are extremely promising, all of which is music to a y-front wearing, reawakening Kenny’s ears.

Returning to the US significantly richer than when he left, a euphoric Kenny meets his girlfriend, Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard), at a plush hotel. Their relationship which can only be described as tumultuous takes a further nosedive when Kay, worried for his wellbeing and seeing the piranhas circling, tries to warn him about being manipulated and used. Of course, Kenny, who’s been heavily drinking as per, is in no mood to be lectured and believes with his new found prestige that he’s invincible. What follows are several highs and rock bottom lows. From the floating of his company, Washou Mining, onto the Wall Street stock market and picking up prestigious mining awards to being screwed over by associates Mark Hancock/Import Holdings, removed from the mining site by the military and having to face a full grown Tiger, just to impress the powerful Soharto’s son and wrestle control of the operation back.

There can be no denying that McConaughey is the main man here and he carries the film for long stretches. This may be down to the personal connection he felt with Well’s story, which apparently shares a lot of similarities with his father’s life and the piping business that he successfully ran. However, I did get the sense that he was deliberately chasing an Oscar with another transformative role, that involved unnecessary weight gain and a shaved head, but perhaps I’m being overly cynical? There is other fairly strong performances too. Edgar Ramírez was excellent as Michael Acosta; Corey Stoll was good as the sleekit, snake, Brian Woolf and Bryce Dallas Howard was decent too, although not blessed with a massive amount screen time. She also had the distinction of being about the only person in the film not motivated purely by money. Toby Kebbell had a short role as FBI agent Paul Jennings and I’ll give a shout out to him too, purely because he’s a fantastic actor and starred in one of my all-time favourite films in Dead Man Shoes.

There’s a few twists at the end of the film, maybe one too many in actual fact. The first involves the revelation of there being little to no gold on the site. The second is Michael ‘peppering’ the core samples with water based gold leading to a vastly overinflated value of the land and company, before buggering off with millions of dollars. His somewhat sheepishly, sharp exit at the aforementioned awards ceremony was a subtle hint of the double cross that was to transpire. This of course left Kenny in something of a pickle. Having not sold any stocks off himself whilst the going was good, he found himself penniless again and under intense scrutiny of the FBI, with his involvement in the fraudulent activities inconclusive. The reason behind the narration Well’s provides throughout is then revealed, with special agent Paul Jennings of the FBI intensely questioning him on his role in the whole affair. I wasn’t overly enamoured with the final twist and would’ve preferred the film to end on an entirely sour note. It wasn’t to be though.

Ultimately, it was fairly slow to start and the thematic message about greed and the American dream has already been done much better recently in films like the Wolf on Wall Street. Better is definitely expected given it’s a Stephen Gaghan film and his previous for excellence. Gold was neither outstanding or truly terrible. It was just ok.