Tag Archives: Rachel McAdams

Game Night (2018) Movie Review By John Walsh

Game Night.png

Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Writer: Mark Perez
Stars: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler

I’ve got level with you, I didn’t know this film even existed before it popped up in theatres and once I did become aware of its existence, the premise and title had me doubting its quality. I’m all for fun and having a laugh, but a game night wouldn’t be top of my list of potential film adaptations. It had a decent enough cast to entice me though with the insanely busy Jesse Plemons popping up again and it actually ended up surprising me in a good way.

The film follows the antics of Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel Adams), they’re both competitive gamers and marry early on. There’s a time jump and then they’re seen having counselling. Max appears to have an inferiority complex with his brother Brooke (Kyle Chandler) being the primary cause. This issue is further compelled when the latter turns up at a cloak and daggers game night in Max’s dream car and then proceeds to embarrass him. He arranges a game night of his own, at his flash pad and this brings out the competitive streak in Annie, with the dysfunctional couple plotting the downfall of their estranged, obnoxious family member.

Now I mention a cloak and daggers game night and the reason behind that is their lonely, creepy, carrot headed neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemons). He’s not taking his divorce from ex-wife Debbie well and yearns for Max and Annie’s company and acceptance. There’s a painfully awkward conversation between the three early doors and their interactions don’t get any easier to watch as the film progresses.

The first twenty minutes to half hour had me concerned. It plodded along introducing the different people involved which is standard fair in most films, but there was a moment when I genuinely thought it was going to be about painful attempts at charades and arguing over monopoly until the bitter end. Thankfully though, things went up a few notches upon the guests arriving at Brooke’s house. He has a different idea for his brand of game night. He opts for a murder mystery affair with the winner picking up the keys to his Corvette. Brooke has been a naughty boy though, mixing in the wrong circles and when a pair of armed men storm his house and kidnap him, his guests think its all part of the game.

And that’s pretty much the plot for Game Night. Well, admittedly it’s a little bit more complicated than that but that’s the general gist of things. Max and Annie rush off trying to find Brooke, tracking his mobile and believing it’s all a game. There’s others involved too, who I won’t name because they don’t really have a massive impact on the proceedings, but the story is surprisingly enjoyable. Things go absolutely crazy after this and the film turns into a full blown action flick at times. They all eventually discover the game is very much real in their own time and that they’re dealing with ‘The Bulgarian’ (Michael C. Hall), a ruthless gangster.

There’s dramatic car chases, shootouts, an illuminati fight club scene, moments with bloodstained cats in pristine white rooms and even a dramatic chase with a plane trying to escape on a runway. There’s a couple of decent twists in there too, including a fake one. It’s got some  decent humour, likeable characters and as I mentioned before a quick paced and enjoyable, little story.

I really enjoyed Jason Bateman and Rachel Adams in this. They were a mad, dysfunctional couple and the latter gave me strong Monica from Friends vibes with her competitiveness. The overwhelming majority of the film followed them and if they weren’t right or didn’t turn up then it wouldn’t have worked. But they did. Bateman brought plenty of laughs and the two had good chemistry. The standout by a mile however was Jesse Plemons. Jesus, this guy is the definition of versatile. He’s got such a good range and pops up in a myriad of films as distinctly different characters. He’s like a human chameleon. Gary is a freak show of a man. He’s clearly battling loneliness, but is so caricature like in his creepiness and social awkwardness that you don’t know whether to laugh or pity him.

Like I said at the beginning, I didn’t even know this film existed until we discussed it on our ‘Box Office Chat’ segment of the Movie Burner Podcast. It flew right under the radar for me. The title nearly made me give it a pass entirely, but I’m actually glad that I watched it. Game Night is one of the rare films that I had little expectation for heading in, but it actually left me pleasantly surprised. It had a nice blend of comedy and action, a decent story with a few twists in there and it was reasonably well acted to boot.

I’d recommend giving it a watch if you’re bored and have a couple of hours to burn.

Rating: 3.5/5

Southpaw (2015) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

SOUTPAW

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Kurt Sutter
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence

Plot:  A champion boxer fights to get his daughter back from child protective services as well as revive his professional career, after a fatal incident sends him on a rampant path of destruction.

Running Time: 124 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 60%   Audience 75%

Why I watched it: Gyllenhaal, for my money right now he’s the best actor working.

Thoughts: Maybe Romantic Comedies are more formulaic but sport movies are close, call them cliches or troupes but sport movies have a rhythm all their own and when they work they’re like a warm blanket.

I also want to talk about Jake Gyllenhaal, when I say he’s the best actor working today I don’t say that lightly, for me he becomes the role and he doesn’t have a stock role where you say “oh he’s just playing the same guy again.”  He changes in every movie, which all actors should do.

What I liked: Goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway it’s Gyllenhaal, he’s the best thing in this movie, it’s a very good performance.  He has a huge arc and he also has to change to keep his family and livelihood.  He also has to do something very tricky for actors, well two things, he plays a guy who doesn’t talk a lot and isn’t school smart, I don’t want to say dumb cause he isn’t, but he is use to someone else making the big decisions for him.  Most actors would go broad or over the top but Gyllenhaal grounds his performance, he’s never a cartoon or a cliche. I also what to give props to Forest Whitaker, this role is as old as movies, the trainer/coach.

He also goes about it different, he’s not loud, he’s not preachy, he seems tired, world weary, also a guy who doesn’t talk about his feelings but shows by his actions, this was also a nice performance and the two actors fed off each other well.  Rachel McAdams was good and I wished she was in it more, I would have liked to see this marriage and partnership more. The boxing scenes were fine, not terrible but solid enough, everyone looked like they were in shape and you believed them to be athletes.

What I didn’t like: This was very cookie cutter as far as the formula goes, and also the speed his life goes from great to terrible happens very quick.  To go through courts to have your stuff taken your daughter taken that takes time, this happens as quick as I’ve ever seen from penthouse to outhouse.  Also the handling of the daughter, when he goes to see her, man that doesn’t feel real, I’ve gone through a separation and had to see my kids kind of liked that and by they Hollywooded up big time.

Those moments are two big and really is a discount to the rest of the film, the daughter seems like a plot point more than anything else, here she’s mean, and of course she screams she wished he was dead, really over all these years we still go back to that, and no a child wouldn’t be able to pitch that big of a fit, she would have been brought a side to calm down.  I wished they would have played the father+Daughter scenes better, more real emotions and less melodrama.

The also wasted Naomie Harris, I have no idea why she was in this movie. I also would like to point out that the main plot is someone gets killed, now amazingly, we never deal with that legally, sure their quick to take his home away but shouldn’t there have been an investigation, by just sweeping that whole thing under the rug they made it seem like a plot point and something that made the movie happen.

Final thoughts: For the most part I liked the film, the performances for me is why I would recommend it.  I wish director Antoine Fuqua matched his performance behind the camera to that of Gyllenhaal did in front of it.

Rating: 6/10

Doctor Strange (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

DOCTOR STRANGE

Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Benjamin Bratt

Marvel’s Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an interesting and intriguing take on the world of illusion within film. We are introduced to Stephen Strange who is a world class neurosurgeon who also is cocky and has a huge ego. He berates his colleagues and goes out to embarrass them just to make himself look better. Whilst driving to a Medical Dinner to make a speech he loses control of his sports car and skids off the road narrowly escaping death. Strange wakes up from surgery with metal pins all over his hands and realises that his days as a top surgeon are numbered unless he can find a way or method to operate on his hands to put them back to the way they were. Sounds easy right?

Without giving away too much, Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness) just nails the character from the very beginning. He rocks as Strange and pulls it off with ease. The impressions his portrayal gives us is that he was born to play the role of the ex-neurosurgeon turned Doctor Strange the Sorcerer. Such is the talent of the lead cast, that it represents just how good the movie was overall. Whenever Strange gets a bit cocky, you can see hints  of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock character sliding in there and Cumberbatch’s sense of humour is suited to the character as the egocentric yet sharp witty guy.

Desperately searching for a way to fix what had happened to him, he is told about a paralysed man who goes by the name of Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt) walking perfectly again. Strange at first doesn’t believe this to be possible but after seeing the man in person on a basketball court. Doctor Strange seeks the truth into how this can be happening. Pangborn lets Strange know of an ancient treatment in Nepal only to be drawn into a world of mystic arts.

We are introduced to Mordo played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) who like Morpheus in the Matrix once said “you have to unlearn, what you have learnt”. (Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) turned in his usual solid work as Mordo, someone who starts out on the right side but turns out to be just too rigid for his own good.) This is true in Strange’s case as his medical background always had him belief that the life’s of so many where in his hands and as the ‘Ancient One’ says in Doctor Strange, “You have been looking through a keyhole to life” and it is true about Strange’s blinkered egotistical view on his life and all the others on his life.

Strange, Mordo and The Ancient One’s first meeting is awkward for the characters as they don’t believe that Strange is capable at first to open his mind, but his persistence to learn the ways of The Ancient One pays off and although his selfish attempts to fix himself to get back to his old life, he discovers a greater evil occurring in the way of fallen student Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who strives for immortality and believes the ‘Ancient One’ (played by Tilda Swindon  (The Grand Budapest Hotel) really commanded her role as Ancient One) is holding back powers and even makes Strange question his teacher’s explanation on how she has lived so long. But there is a greater case of concern as behind Kaecilius and lurking within the backdrop of the story is Dormammu who only comes into play at the last 15 minutes of the film in a time loop with Strange that I found rather funny as Strange’s persistent annoyance really tests the patience of Dormammu.

Mads Mikkelson (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) portrays the villain Kaecilius character as well as he can. Although not my favorite villain in MCU, I think Mikkelsen does a fine is a brilliant performer, although he’s a bit of a shallow villain in this and is given very limited time in the movie as is much the same for Rachel McAdams (Southpaw) who was great (and underused) in her role rightly upgraded from, I think Night Nurse (as Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple is another version of Night Nurse in the same MCU)
to a doctor and she commanded the screen quite equally with Cumberbatch in their scenes together. I hope McAdams is back in further sequels and not dropped as quickly by the MCU in the same way Jane Foster was.

Director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Day the Earth Stood Still ) should be commended for the film’s visual appeal. The speculator effects shown in Doctor Strange showing us dimensions never seen before and I have to mention the Director of Photography Ben Davis who previously worked on Kick-Ass, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron manages to visualise in a way that the audience isn’t lost with what it is witnessing along with Tilda Swinton’s explanation of the world of sorcery.

The visuals were rapid and and eye catching that helped  engage the storyline and the introduction of one of the most interesting Marvel heroes making ‘Doctor Strange’ a must watch for comic book fans and movie goers alike. I do hope Marvel make some more standalone Doctor Strange movies as I feel he would be wasted as just a team member in future productions.