Tag Archives: Jude Law

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

Captain Marvel Review, Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Writers: Anna Boden (screenplay by), Ryan Fleck (screenplay by)
Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Lashana Lynch, Annette Benning, Gemma Chan, Lee Pace, Clark Gregg

When it comes to superhero movies, I suppose kicking franchises off with an origin story is almost unavoidable. After all, not everyone’s a comic book reader, so explaining what compels a guy throw on a cape for the public good makes narrative sense (though Tim Burton’s Batman never bothered and it turned out just fine).

Even if that has a tendency to render a lot of superhero films somewhat predictable, Marvel has done a pretty remarkable job introducing everyone populating their cinematic universe. And rather ingeniously, Captain Marvel actually gives us two origin stories.

First, of course, is the story of Vers/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), whose circumstances leading to her emergence as the titular character are more interesting than those of Doctor Strange or an umpteenth reboot of Spider-Man. After a rather mundane opening act – a flashy-but-rote clash between the Kree and Skrulls – once Vers arrives on Earth in 1995, the story really takes off. She already has her considerable powers and stands-out like a sore thumb, leading to some amusing moments and frequent clashes with the shape-shifting Skrulls. Larson’s confident performance is enjoyable, displaying just the slightest bit of superiority over us puny humans (at least until she begins to remember where she came from).

Vers also meets Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Captain Marvel’s other origin story. At this time, Fury is just another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (made plausible by some Oscar-worthy CGI that makes Jackson look 25 years younger). One long-standing criticism I’ve had of the entire MCU is that, with the possible exception of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fury has never been given anything interesting to do. Here, Fury arrives early and does a lot more than provide exposition. Jackson is great, of course, like he’s been unleashed to make Fury funnier and more charismatic than we’ve previously seen, especially once he befriends Goose the Cat. How he came to need an eye-patch provides one of the film’s biggest laughs.

Elsewhere, Captain Marvel tells an interesting story that not-only fits comfortably within the MCU, but provides a few welcome, surprising twists. Speaking of which, can we give another tip-of-the-hat to Ben Mendelsohn, once-again stealing every scene he’s in? As Talos, not only does he make a terrific initial adversary, he’s personable and often very funny, no small feat considering he’s covered in alien make-up for most of the film.

Of course, Captain Marvel has plenty of the action and visual fireworks we’ve come to expect from the MCU (as well as a few moments of wonky CGI). But like the Ant-Man films, it never threatens to collapse under the weight of its own spectacle. As origin stories go, this is one of Marvel’s better recent ones.

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Review By Philip Henry

Fantastic Beasts Review

Director: David Yates
Writers: J.K. Rowling
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp

I was quite worried when the first Fantastic Beasts film was announced. I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter books and films, and the slim volume of creatures J.K. Rowling released for charity didn’t seem like the stuff of blockbuster movies; it seemed like they were just trying to milk the franchise for every drop of magic it had. But they pulled it off! The first movie was a fantastic success, not only financially, but creatively. To set the story in 1920s New York with all new characters, but still retain the familiar elements established in the Harry Potter films was a masterstroke, and one I seriously doubt they could’ve pulled off without J.K. Rowling’s involvement. She knows this world inside out, including heritage and back-stories that never made it into the Potter novels.

The first film had a pretty basic setup – a bunch of magical animals escape in New York and they have to be recaptured. This second outing doesn’t have a plot that can be summed up in one line, or even a paragraph, and that’s its main failing.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is like a lot of little vignettes instead of one complete story. There’s no clear task set out for our heroes to accomplish and so the film does feel like it chases its own tail a lot of the time. London and France are added to the list of locations and I’m not sure if this was a good idea or not. On one hand, it does give this problem a more international feel, and so upping the stakes, but on the other it just distracts from the plot as we sightsee around these new locations establishing new rules and characters.

Johnny Depp gives us yet another character with a unique look and he seems to be relishing playing the baddie, but I think it would’ve made him a stronger villain if we’d seen him doing some more nasty stuff. There is quite a disturbing death in an apartment in France, but since he gets one of his minions to do the dirty deed it gives the impression of a general doing what has to be done rather than someone who is truly evil relishing killing.

Jude Law plays the young Dumbledore and though his portrayal bares little resemblance to the wizened old headmaster we all know and love (he hasn’t even got started on that beard yet!), I’m hoping he’ll edge towards something more like the Albus we know as the movies go on. The scenes at Hogwarts give us something familiar to hang this whole story on, but once again these scenes are so badly fragmented at one point I didn’t realise we were in a flashback. This film really does feel like a script made of a hundred post-it notes for things we need to know going forward.

Emotionally I didn’t connect with the characters this time, even the ones returning from the first movie, and I think that’s because this script was trying to run in too many directions at once and forgot that above all we need to care about the characters. There’s a scene near the end which should’ve been heart-breaking, but fell flat with me, and it was simply because we hadn’t spent enough time with these people to care about them.

J.K. Rowling has said there are to be five of these movies, so we may well look back on The Crimes of Grindelwald as the movie that planted a lot of important seeds for what is to come, but I felt they could’ve done that and still gave us an entertaining self-contained story that added to the greater story arc, instead of using two hours fifteen minutes to strategically position chess pieces for what’s to come.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh

KING ARTHUR

Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Joby Harold (screenplay), Guy Ritchie (screenplay)
Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law

Warner Bros new film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was to be the beginning of a shiny new Camelot universe before it absolutely bombed at the box office recently. I was going to take it relatively easily on this film, as I actually didn’t think it was totally terrible, though of course, it wasn’t great by any means either. That was until I discovered the budget for the thing. $175 million is an utterly bewildering budget for a film in this position to be granted, like to the point where I’m left wondering just where in the hell they spent the bloody money.

Spearheaded by Charlie Hunnam as King Arthur himself, an actor I actually admire as a fan of Sons of Anarchy, it’s essentially an origin story in what was to be a half dozen film franchise. It opens with a fantastical battle intro set in the relatively recent past with Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana), Arthur’s father, successfully leading the assault against Mordred, a powerful warlock, rampaging his way through Camelot, on an army of towering Elephants. Did Ritchie binge watch Return of the King prior to this? Visually, the elephants were just about fine, but the castle was decidedly dodgy looking. Vortigern (Jude Law), the treacherous brother of the hero then performs a sacrifice, murdering his wife Elsa to unleash a powerful dark magic and betray/overthrow Uther, casting out a young Arthur in the process and setting us on our way into the present.

When we meet him again, presumably a good twenty years has passed at least and Arthur is living a simpler life in a brothel. His roughing up of some prostitute bothering Vikings, brings with it some unwanted attention to his doorstep that eventually leads him to Excalibur and a date with destiny. There’s one particular montage scene during this part of the film where he’s describing the roughing of said Vikings, which sticks in my mind for mixed reasons. It was extremely choppy from a visual standpoint, with about twenty or so cuts to various different scenes within a short period of time. The humour was quite well implemented though. This cinematography style actually popped up again later in the film, and I have to say that although I’m not a fan of the style, it did work reasonably well. Shoutout to Mr. Roose Bolton himself (Michael McElhatton), who made a nice, little cameo.

Now, Arthur would be nothing without his loyal, dutiful knights and they duly appear not long afterwards. This not so merry band of soldiers, waifs and strays are at this stage led by Sir Bediver (Djimon Hounsou), Uther’s once right hand man and they soon want the former to help lead a rebellion against the tyrannical king. He’s in no mood for this after his narrow escape from the murderous clutches of uncle Vortigern, especially following an embarrassing blackout during the reclaiming of Excalibur. The timely intervention from the mysterious Mage (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), an associate of Merlin, and Bediver’s men lets him fight another day however and they soon manage to persuade him into joining the cause, though not before forcing him to restore the power within himself and the sword on a dangerous solo journey through the ‘Blacklands’. This inevitably leads to a showdown between Arthur and Vortigern after much plotting and counter plotting between the two factions.

In terms of performances, it was a reasonably well acted film actually despite the forgettable story. I don’t recall many utterly outstanding performances catching my eye, but Jude Law was the best of the bunch as the evil Vortigern. He played the part with enthusiasm and was a believable villain. You can’t ask for much more than that. Eric Bana popped up in bits and bobs throughout. You know what you’re getting with Bana. Djimon Hounsou was pretty decent. I think he’s a smashing actor. Bergès-Frisbey did what she could with a fairly underused and afterthought of a character. Charlie Hunnam will always hold a place of semi-reverence for me after his performance as Jax Teller, but objectively, he doesn’t yet have the gravitas to lead a film or franchise of this ilk. He did ok and nothing more. Can someone tell me why David Beckham was in this? Aidan Gillen channeled his inner Littlefinger with the portrayal of Goosefat Bill. I can’t imagine him as anything else now.

I intended to be harsh on this film with the ridiculous budget and all, but I honestly can’t bring myself to slate it. It’s not THAT bad and I honestly think it’s flopped purely because of the terrible marketing, a relatively underwhelming story, and I’m going to say it again, ridiculous budget. You just can’t spend that amount of money on an untested franchise and expect to come out with anything like a profit. It’s just really, really terrible planning and resource management from Warner Brothers. Most people will look at the flop headlines and give it a body swerve, but I say give it a blast.