Tag Archives: Colin Firth

The Command (2018) Blu-Bay Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

The Command Review

Kursk (original title)

Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writers: Robert Rodat, Robert Moore (based on Robert Moore’s book “A Time to Die”)
Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Lea Seydoux, Colin Firth, Peter Simonischek, August Diehl, Max von Sydow, Martin Brambach, Michael Nyqvist.

Depending on your familiarity with the actual event, which was briefly all over the news in 2000, The Command could be seen as two different movies: An incendiary chronicle of recent history or a claustrophobic disaster thriller. Either way, this is an excellent film.

The Kursk (the film’s title outside the U.S.) is a nuclear submarine in Russia’s ageing naval fleet, which is a dilapidated shadow of its former self since the Cold War ended. During a training exercise, an unstable warhead explodes, sending the ship to the ocean floor. While most of the crew is killed instantly, a few dozen are still alive in one remaining compartment. The Russian navy attempts a rescue operation, but their equipment is old and unreliable. They also refuse to confirm to the sailors’ families whether or not anyone on-board is still alive.

As the incident becomes global news, other countries offer assistance, including the British navy. However, misguided pride and residual Cold War paranoia has the Russian government reluctant to accept any help, to the dismay of the families. Meanwhile, with the waters rising, the sailors below are quickly running out of air…and time.

Having just a vague memory of the actual disaster – and unaware of the eventual outcome – I have no clue to it’s historical accuracy and the scenes on-board the Kursk itself are obviously speculated. However, the story as-depicted in The Command looks and feels authentic, punctuated by tension-filled sequences, solid performances, impressive production design and convincing special effects.

But like similar true stories where the outcome is a forgone conclusion – such as The Perfect Storm and Apollo 13 – it’s the characters that drive the film. Though there’s an ensemble cast, the concurrent story threads are presented primarily through a trio of characters. Low-level officer Mikhail Averin (Matthias Schoenaerts) tries to keep what’s left of the Kursk’s crew alive and hopeful. His pregnant wife, Tanya (Lea Seydoux), represents the frustration and helplessness of the entire village over the navy’s inaction. British commander David Russell (Colin Firth) is the outsider who, like the rest of the world, doesn’t understand Russia’s refusal to accept help in order to save its own people.

Max von Sydow eventually shows up as Admiral Petrenko, the film’s de-facto antagonist since he embodies Russia’s overall apathy. Petrenko is more of a symbol than a full character, but if you aren’t absolutely hating him by the end, you haven’t been paying attention. One thing is certain…the way the Russian government is depicted, it’s doubtful The Command popular among Putin’s circle of buddies.

For everyone else, The Command is an under-the-radar gem. Exciting, suspenseful, infuriating and ultimately poignant, it’s a tightly-made thriller that deserves to find an audience. Whether seen as a scathing historical denunciation or simply a riveting disaster flick, the film is highly recommended.

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) Blu-ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Review

Director: Ol Parker
Writers: Ol Parker, Richard Curtis (story by) 
Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Andy Garcia, Dominic Cooper, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies, Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan, Omid Djalili, Cher, Meryl Streep.

Movies like Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again are sort of difficult to assess. On one hand, it’s a strong contender for one of the most unnecessary sequels of all time. On the other, it is hard to imagine big fans of the original – or ABBA’s music in general – not enjoying this one, as well. However, they might be surprised by the narrative’s somber underpinnings.

Speaking of narratives, while I enjoyed the first film, I couldn’t recall the actual plot shortly after seeing it. All that really stuck with me were the fun musical numbers, the fact Pierce Brosnan couldn’t sing and a reminder that Meryl Streep is invincible. This time, we’re getting a prequel, of sorts. Half the film takes place a few years after the first, with Donna’s daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), getting ready to re-open her mom’s hotel with the assistance of suave manager Fernando (Andy Garcia). Interspersed throughout are lengthy flashbacks of Donna (Lily James) in 1979, when she travels to Europe after graduation and meets Sam, Harry & Bill for the first time. She also falls in love with the island and ramshackle old house that she’d eventually turn into the hotel.

Along the way, there are plenty of musical numbers: a lot of tunes that only die-hard ABBA fans would be familiar with, as well as a few bonafide classics (including some featured in the first film). The numbers are sunny and fun, as is the choreography, which is a good thing since what little plot there is feels superfluous (and sort-of melancholy). Nearly all of the original cast returns, slipping comfortably back into their roles. But despite being prominently featured in the ad campaign, Meryl Streep is largely absent. She was the glue that held the original together and is sorely missed here. As for the ballyhooed addition of Cher…I guess if you’re a fan, her appearance won’t feel shoe-horned into the story, but her role is mostly a glorified cameo.

But we’re here for the music, right? As before, everyone does-right by the songs and those who can’t sing are mercifully regulated to being part of the chorus (sorry, Mr. Brosnan). Writer/director Ol Parker takes the reigns from Phyllida Lloyd and wisely stays the course, maintaining the first film’s aesthetic and pace (though one suspects he was forced to fashion a story that didn’t require heavy commitment from Streep). But bittersweet tone notwithstanding, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is an aptly-titled sequel if there ever was one and unlikely to disappoint anybody who regularly sings along with the original film.

Speaking of which, this disc is loaded with bonus material (listed below), including the prerequisite “sing-along” feature. Most of the featurettes are pretty short, but there’s a lot of them and they’re pretty entertaining.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Kingsman 2

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong

Plot:  When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organisation in the United States. These two elite secret organisations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

Running Time: 2 Hours 21 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 53%    Audience 65%
Why I Watched It: Saw the first one and it was on for 2.99 on itunes so not my fault.

Random Thoughts: Matthew Vaughn is not one of my favourite directors,I know a lot of people love him and a ton of fanboys adore him cause he makes “movies” he doesn’t tell stories but makes high energy, highly stylised over the top movies and for me he’s a tad too much, all style really no real characters and no stakes, look he killed off Colin Firth in the first film and now he’s back.

What I Liked: The style is cool not going to lie, it’s loud and does provide the over the top action you would expect and yes it’s a sequel so it’s more of everything.  I might not be a huge fan of Vaugh’s but he does deliver on what he does best, be does do what it says on the label but I fear he does come close to being the British Michael Bay. He is loud for the sake of being loud and he pushes the limits just to see how far he can go it’s not in service of the characters or the story.

The sound design is great, the stunts are cool and all the actors are game and I will say most of them are engaged.

What I Didn’t Like: To put it very simple this is a bloated and very self indulgent movie, too many name actors with very little to do and for the love of film why is this film over 2 hours and 20 minutes, there’s not that much story to tell and boy does it drag and near the end you feel those extra minutes.

The story is about as cliched as you can get think a James Bond movie from the early 80′s, the villain here is played by Julianne Moore and yes she’s over the top and is fun at points but she’s not fleshed out at all and she has a diner where she kills people with a meat grinder, yes you read that right.  This film wants to be cheesy B-Movie fun but there’s too much money on the screen and the actors are way too good, wasted but still too good for it to work.

Also this film does through some very heavy handed social commentary that just seems out of place, this fill has a scene where our hero puts a tracking device inside a women, I don’t think I want to explain further.  So trying to be political just seems silly.  At the end of the day this film is just there, you could argue we needed a sequel but we got one and I wish they put some effort into the story and actually gave these very good actors something to do and yes Elton John plays himself, kind of sums up what this movie was going for.

Final Thoughts: Mindless, big budget popcorn movie if that’s what you’re looking for then that’s what you’ll get but it’s not a good or even fun popcorn movie.

Rating: 3/10

Before I Go To Sleep (2014) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP

Director: Rowan Joffe
Writers: Rowan Joffe, S.J. Watson (based on the novel by)
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong 

Plot:  A woman wakes up every day, remembering nothing as a result of a traumatic accident in her past. One day, new terrifying truths emerge that force her to question everyone around her.

Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes

Rotten tomatoes score: Critics 36%   Audience 40%

Why I watched it: I almost didn’t, the reviews were bad and the trailer looked boring and a tad silly but I decided to give it a chance mainly because of the cast and the fact that it had a short running time.

Random thoughts: I have to admit I’m not the biggest Nicole Kidman fan,I liked her early work and now she just doesn’t interest me don’t get me wrong a good actress but her choices of roles leave me cold.  I’m a huge Mark Strong fan and I wish he could find that breakout role and also break the stereotypes he keeps playing.

What I liked: Going in I knew this was a Memento knockoff and was prepared to just shake my head but I will say this they handle the gimmick well and I will give credit where credit is due Nicole Kidman is very good here, it’s a showy part but also a tough one, every time she wakes up she’s a blank slate and this good have been silly but Kidman does give it weight and she does give a very nuanced performance.  She’s the main reason to watch this film. Now I won’t go into spoilers but it’s tricky cause this film is all about the twists and turns and on that level I liked it cause I didn’t know where it was going and some of the twists were pretty good, it got me a few times.

I pretty much knew that someone was lying and it would end up as the whole this is not what it seems bit.  I think one thing the film did well was the casting cause you have Strong who always plays the bad guys and Firth who is charming and always the good guy but since this film wants you to guess what is going on both actors get to play type and against it. The one thing that I thought was different is that Kidman finds out some hard truths about herself and yes she finds out more than she wanted to know.  The film does move pretty well after the first twenty minutes of set up and the film does build tension and does so right to the very end.

What I didn’t like: First things firsts the film is a tad silly and really over the top with some of the twists and you do have to suspend your disbelief hard on this one.  Some of the twists are cool but really make little sense.

Also there is a lot of violence against women here, well against Kidman she gets battered and it was very uncomfortable, I think they pushed a bit to far with it.  Now I also thought they made one character so evil and so deranged that you didn’t believe what came first cause no way they didn’t show their true selves before.

Final thoughts: I actually liked this film more than I thought, yes it has flaws but it sucked me in and I actually invested in the characters, to me this was an old time potboiler didn’t make a lot of sense but it was well acted and compelling.

Rating: 6/10

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

KINGSMAN

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman (screenplay), Matthew Vaughn (screenplay)
Stars: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine

With Kingsman: The Golden Circle coming out this September I thought I would go back and rewatch “The Secret Service” which is now 3 years old (where did the time go)

A quick recap sees Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin played by Taron Egerton being taken under the wing of Harry Hart played by Colin Firth who is a spy for the British Secret Service with assistance from Arthur (Michael Caine) and (Merlin) Mark Strong who up against the villainous lisping Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) who although hates the sight of blood and gore holds a vision of mass biological warfare through…….SIM CARDS??? Stay with us.

Kingsman pays homage to the James Bond films rather than parodying it in the style of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Based on the Mark Millar comic book littered with hid creative quirkiness and with Vaughn’s film-making, has left a stylised-spectacle of ultra-violence much in the same fashion as their other successful franchise “Kick-Ass”.

Fans of Bond and Kick-Ass are certain to love it, as through rollercoasters of action, comedy and espionage. Just like the colourful, gadget ridden Bond films of the 1960’s (always the best bit about spy films are the gadgets) Kingsman is very fun to watch, with ‘wham, bam, thank-you ma’am’ style of mayhem, one- liners and a stylish soundtrack all over it.

Portraying the lead character of ‘Eggsy’, Taron Egerton  who proves to be an outstanding actor as he brings the character to life with an energising vibe of a comparing ethic of a housing estate lifestyle against the english gentleman’s class. I previously reviewed Egerton’s performance in the Eddie the Eagle movie and again for such a young actor oozes confidence in the role he portrays and isn’t fazed working alongside established actors like Firth, Jackson or Caine and was exactly the same in his screen time with Hugh Jackman in Eddie the Eagle movie.

Alongside, and tackling the mentor, come father type role, is Colin Firth, who based on previous filmography alone could easily be classed as the U.K.’s most typecast actor (well probably apart from Hugh Grant). Until now, Firth was at the top of every romantic film directors list and comes along Kingsmen: The Secret Service and the mould is broken as he is lethal with most weapons, his fighting style is convincing and his sharp wit shines throughout the movie. Not to sound negative towards Firth as credit must go to the writers and the choreographers for taking the “blandness” out of the actor. But it’s down to Firth at the end of the day on how he delivers the character and he absolutely nails every scene.

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ contains some very memorable characters and the three standouts has to be Samuel L. Jackson, who is clearly having the time of his life as lisping villain Valentine and you can tell he is enjoying playing the villain once more with a very dark and nasty humour you can’t help even just for a moment you hope he wins the day (as if).

Michael Caine very much like ‘Now You See Me’ has very limited screen time and perhaps is correct for the role in the movie as Arthur who is overseeing the Secret Services missions but doesn’t have really much to do other than show his presence in some of the crucial moments as a somewhat ambiguous sort of character.

Mark Strong who comes across as a likeable guy plays Merlin who I think is attempting a Scottish Accent in the movie is basically Kingsman’s “Q” Strong who I thought did a terrific job in Kick-Ass as  Frank D’Amico and as Jim Prideaux in the 2011 remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) I felt was a little under used. Unlike Caine’s role that agreed with deserved the amount of screen time. I felt the character of Merlin could have been explored a little more and there appeared to be great chemistry in the limited screen time between Strong and Egerton. Although with the upcoming sequel “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” perhaps that is the reason Strong had limited screen time for the relationship between Harry and Gary to blossom and just maybe this film was just to set him up for a bigger role in the sequel.

Kingsman: The Secret Service marks the third film in a row that director Matthew Vaughn has adapted from a comic book background. His two previous being Kick-Ass (2010) and X-Men: First Class (2011) that were both excellent films and in the case of the later is one of my favourite X-Men films. The thing about Kingsman is that the James Bond influence present and the graphic but yet stylishly shot violence that was also present in Vaughn’s previous movie Kick-Ass, this film not only pays respect to the old spy films of yesteryear and takes the spy genre, and mixes in the superhero and hi-tech elements with some east end of London elements from his earlier productions like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and with “Kingsman” actually managed to create something even more fantastic, but also comes into it’s own to become a classic for the future in my opinion and hope there is more Vaughn ‘Kingsman’ films coming.

Ultimately “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a good film and overall I think the makers of the movie thought very carefully with how each scene connected and flowed together and the fight scenes that were very well choreographed. Even though some scenes in particular were quite predictable I thought that the combination of the film makers trying not to hard to be too humorous but still being funny and the fluidity was just right. I’m looking forward to viewing the sequel later this year to see where we go with ‘Eggsy’ and no doubt like most sequels we will see Vaughn upping the ante. Highly recommend.