Robin Hood – A Movie Review

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May 172010
 

In 13th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power. And whether thief or hero, one man from humble beginnings will become an eternal symbol of freedom for his people.

“Robin Hood” chronicles the life of an expert archer, previously interested only in self-preservation, from his service in King Richard’s army against the French. Upon Richard’s death, Robin travels to Nottingham, a town suffering from the corruption of a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation, where he falls for the spirited widow Lady Marion, a woman skeptical of the identity and motivations of this crusader from the forest. Hoping to earn the hand of Maid Marion and salvage the village, Robin assembles a gang whose lethal mercenary skills are matched only by its appetite for life. Together, they begin preying on the indulgent upper class to correct injustices under the sheriff.

With their country weakened from decades of war, embattled from the ineffective rule of the new king and vulnerable to insurgencies from within and threats from afar, Robin and his men heed a call to ever greater adventure. This unlikeliest of heroes and his allies set off to protect their country from slipping into bloody civil war and return glory to England once more.

Genres: Action/Adventure and Drama; Running Time: 2 hrs. 11 min.; Release Date: May 14th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content.

Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, William Marshall, Mark Strong, Mark Addy, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Eileen Atkins, Kevin Durand, Max von Sydow

Directed By: Ridley Scott

We went to see this film at an earlier showing Friday evening to avoid some of the crowds. The film is no Gladiator, maybe one of the best films, but it is a decent movie. I got my money’s worth.

One of the problems with the film is a sense of urgency. Instead of sometimes lingering to develop the story, it often charges ahead and can seem somewhat aimless. Also, often the music overpowers the dialog. Combined with the accents, it can be hard to understand.

Crowe and Scott reunite again and Crowe gives a solid performance as a rougher and tougher Robin. Blanchett too is solid as an older Maiden, showing she is a tough woman who also willing to fight: a woman that properly would not have existed in this period. Strong shows once again that he is an excellent villain, having stared in Sherlock Holmes and Kick-Ass, a man who thinks about his own self-interest. Strong has been making a good career as villain for hire and he was the strongest actor in the film. The American in this English set film did well, William Hurt was very strong as the wronged advice in the King’s court, whilst Huston seemed to be having a blast as Richard I and obviously shows he is not as noble he seems.

This film felt like an origins story, a start to a new film series. This is Robin Hood that has not been seen on-screen like this before. I actually hope there is a sequel and the Merry Band get more film time.

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State of Play – A Movie Review

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Sep 102009
 

stateofplay_smallposterHandsome, unflappable U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins is the future of his political party: an honorable appointee who serves as the chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending. All eyes are upon the rising star to be his party’s contender for the upcoming presidential race. Until his research assistant/mistress is brutally murdered and buried secrets come tumbling out.

D.C. reporter Cal McCaffrey has the dubious fortune of both an old friendship with Collins and a ruthless editor, Cameron, who has assigned him to investigate. As he and partner Della try to uncover the killer’s identity, McCaffrey steps into a cover-up that threatens to shake the nation’s power structures. And in a town of spin-doctors and wealthy politicos, he will discover one truth: when billions are at stake, no one’s integrity, love or life is ever safe.

Genres: Drama, Thriller, Adaptation and Politics; Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.; Release Date: April 17th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, language including sexual references, and brief drug content.

Starring: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn

Directed by: Kevin MacDonald

I’d heard a few good reports about this movie and like Russell Crowe, so decided to go and see it for myself. Crowe is certainly back on form on this movie and whilst his performance is not quite as good as the one in the Insider, it’s certainly in the ballpark.

The movie follows Cal who is a wise old journalist and a bit uncomfortable about the increasingly celebrity gossip driven media. He is thrown together with a young journalist Della played by Rachel Adams. For me the (working) relationship between the two of them never really works and is the weakest part of the film. It almost feels as if the producers will not green light the film unless it’s got a pretty young female playing a rather irrelevant character. the film is based on a TV programme and it would be interesting to compare and contrast who played that role in the original.

Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is helping with the government investigation of a shady military-based company when he receives word that his mistress has committed suicide. Visually distraught, he leaves a hearing in tears and sets off a media circus. Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) was his roommate in college, and the two have remained friends. In a bid to quash the political blogging of junior reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), McAffrey sets out to find the truth about the story.

State of Play starts out as a bit of  a cookie-cutter, predictable thriller. But as the film progresses, some interesting plot twists develop. The film is heavily dialogue-driven, but there is enough suspense in the movie to keep you guessing and trying to solve the plot twists.

It’s a couple of entertaining hours and whilst it may not be anything new, it’s certainly enjoyable.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (2 votes, average: 6.50 out of 10)
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American Gangster

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Nov 062007
 

American GangsterNobody used to notice Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), the quiet driver to one of the inner city’s leading black crime bosses. But when his boss suddenly dies, Frank exploits the opening in the power structure to build his own empire and create his own version of the American Dream. He comes to rule the inner-city drug trade, flooding the streets with a purer product at a better price. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an outcast cop close enough to the streets to feel a shift of control in the drug underworld. Roberts believes someone is climbing the rungs above the known Mafia families and starts to suspect that a black power player has come from nowhere to dominate the scene.

Director:
Ridley Scott

Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast:
Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Lymari Nadal, Ted Levine, Roger Guenveur Smith, John Hawkes, RZA, Yul Vazquez, Malcolm Goodwin, Ruby Dee

Lay and I went to set “We Own the Night” Sunday night at Westshore. We arrived to find the parking lot nearly empty, so we rightly assumed that American Gangster might not be packed. So that’s what we watched.

This movie was long, but Anyone who has every seen a Ridley Scott film will know that his films are long. (Blade Runner, A Good Year, Matchstick Men, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, all ran for at least two hours or more.) Scott didn’t set out to film another scarface, he set out to tell a story not just about Frank Lucas but rather a tale of corruption and how pervasive it is. There were a number of subplots, but they all played to the overarching theme of the movie. I never felt tired or bored, and the movie moved along at a nice clip.

This was a great biopic of New York gangster Frank Lucas, who I knew nothing about. The film shows Lucas’s relationship with the Italian Mafia perfectly, giving you almost a two way view of the city’s underworld. Denzel Washington excels at the part as Lucas, and Russell Crowe as the cop out to get him is excellent. Crowe does well portraying a cop out to just do his job but can’t do it for the corruption all around him. It’s a film about Lucas’ rise to fame in New York’s Heroin business, and his fall due to both Crowe and police persistence.

With many gangster films, you are always put off by either the acting or the story. But here this is not the case with this story. You have a true story that does not mask Lucas’s violent life but rather portrays it as a life of both murder and violence. It does not glamorize his life, and the story is and characters are well-developed but understated, despite the over-the-top lifestyles that had to be sometimes depicted. Crowe and Washington play well off each other.

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3:10 to Yuma

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Sep 102007
 

3:10 to YumaA small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who’s awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.

Director:
James Mangold

Genre:
Western, Action, Drama

Cast:
Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Logan Lerman, Dallas Roberts, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Vinessa Shaw, Alan Tudyk, Luce Rains, Gretchen Mol, Lennie Loftin, Rio Alexander, Johnny Whitworth, Shawn Howell, Pat Ricotti

We went to see this one Saturday night. While I was expecting a large crowd, the theater was not that packed. In 3:10 to Yuma, a few references to The Magnificent Seven and the idea of a train arriving at a specific time when good and bad guys converge, as in High Noon, made viewing this Glenn Ford remake from 1957 a pleasant one. 3:10 to Yuma is a true Western in the American film tradition about the 19th-century American West: It has clear heroes and villains (and a mixture of those), wide prairies, dirty towns, fast guns, weak lawmen, cunning murderers, kids trying to become adults, and women tending the home fires, just for starters.

Then ratchet up to the philosophical/post modern/post Eastwood reflections on the profession of being a gunman juxtaposed with being a responsible father, and you have a classic clash where villain has a wee bit of heart and hero an equal measure of cowardice. Delightfully mix in a certifiable baddie in the Jack Palance tradition, Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) as Wade’s amoral lieutenant Charlie Prince. There was plenty of suspense and some great camera work. All-in-all, a well done film.

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