Tag Archives: Billy Magnussen

No Time to Die (2021) Review

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No Time to Die

Time: 163 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin
Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Lashana Lynch as Nomi
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory/M
Billy Magnussen as Logan Ash
Ana de Armas as Paloma
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), shows up and asks for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond on the trail of a mysterious villain (Rami Malek) who’s armed with a dangerous new technology.

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After years of delays, No Time to Die has finally arrived. It’s not only the latest James Bond movie (25th of the official movies in fact), but it’s also Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie. I have been really anticipating this movie, I really liked this version of Bond, and I was interested to see how it would conclude everything. It was a great experience, especially in the cinema, and overall I’m prepared to say that I’m satisfied with it.

NO TIME TO DIE

No Time to Die is really a movie that’s worth going into not knowing too much beforehand. The trailers and advertising avoided giving too many plot details for good reason. What’s immediately noticeable is that there’s an interesting blend of tones in this movie. It is bombastic and over the top while also being emotional. First of all, it leans into more the classic Bond aspects than the previous Craig films. The plot has massive global stakes caused by a ludicrous villain, there are gadgets throughout, there are plenty of one liners, and overall everything is more over the top. This is also the funniest Bond movie of Craig’s run, with a good amount of well-executed humour which I enjoyed. At the same time there is an emotional core to the film, and it wraps up all the storylines and character journeys for this version of James Bond. If you haven’t seen the previous Craig James Bond movies and are thinking about jumping in here, I would highly recommend watching them (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre) before No Time to Die because it references events from those films. It is very much a follow on from Spectre (the movie), from Madeleine Swann, to Blofeld and Spectre (the organisation). While I’m aware not everyone will be on board with this given that plenty of people weren’t fans of the last movie, I actually thought it worked quite well. In some ways it retroactively made me like some of those aspects from Spectre a lot more. Tonally it sounds like a mess, however it somehow all comes together in the end. Without getting into spoilers, I thought the finale was ultimately emotionally satisfying, and a great sendoff to this version of James Bond. While it does embrace some of the more classic elements of Bond, it’s also a unique entry for a Bond movie. I can’t speak to any issues immediately because there was a lot to take in with this movie. There’s a lot that happens, with plenty of characters, storylines, and parts to wrap up. Speaking of which, the runtime is at around 2 hours 45 minutes long, making this by far the longest movie in the franchise. At times I could feel the length, but I was always invested in what was happening, so that was never a problem for me.

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This movie really felt like a real ensemble piece more so than the previous Bond movies. First and foremost is Daniel Craig, who delivers his best performance as James Bond. He gets to have a lot of fun moments, from the one liners and humour, to the action. Craig’s Bond is the most human and given the most emotions compared to the past versions of the character, and it goes all in with that in this movie. While there are world ending stakes throughout the film, there is no mistake that Bond’s story is the main focus, and Craig delivers all of this so greatly. He plays the character in a way we haven’t seen from him before, and the movie really gives him the opportunity to give a finale for Bond. Lea Seydoux is one of the only Bond girls to actually return from a previous Bond movie, here she’s reprising her role of Madeleine Swann. I liked Seydoux in Spectre but there was something missing with that character in the movie, and I didn’t quite buy the Swann/Bond romance at the end. No Time to Die however makes this relationship really work, and I thought that Seydoux was great here, getting to do a lot more. We also get returning supporting Bond players with Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M, and even Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, all of them reliable as always. Christoph Waltz also returns as Ernst Stravo Blofeld from Spectre, and while he’s not in the movie much, I actually liked him more in this movie, he’s great in his scenes and really leaves an impression. There are some new additions who are great in their parts too. There’s Lashana Lynch who is great as the new 007 (after James Bond had retired at the end of Spectre), and there’s also Billy Magnussen who is good in his role. Ana de Armas is a scene stealer, delivering a really fun and entertaining performance but unfortunately doesn’t get a massive amount of screentime. Nonetheless, she makes a strong impression. There’s also the new Bond villain as played by Rami Malek. He doesn’t quite reach the heights of Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale or Javier Bardem in Skyfall, but I think he’s a solid enough villain for this movie, especially as he’s the biggest adversary to Craig’s Bond yet. Malek’s character is definitely over the top, as you would expect for someone named Lyutisfier Safin. He is a strong and creepy screen presence, and absolutely nails the scenes that he’s in. There’s nothing really wrong with him writing or acting-wise, however he’s not in the movie as much as I would’ve liked.

NO TIME TO DIE

The newest director to helm a Bond film is Cary Fukunaga, and while I haven’t seen all of his other work, I can say that his work on Sin Nombre and Maniac is great. As expected, his direction for No Time to Die is fantastic and feels fresh and distinct in the franchise. There is this constant energy felt throughout, making even the more slower paced sections felt energised. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is great, really giving this movie a very vibrant look, and it helps that the film takes advantage of the memorable locations it takes place at. The action is truly stellar, starting with an early action set piece with Bond in a motorcycle and then in a car, and only continuing to be great from there. The action is often filmed with long takes, with particularly one of the standout action scenes involving a stairway later in the movie. All the action is great and rivals the best action sequences from Craig’s past 4 Bond films. Hans Zimmer composes the score and while it doesn’t rank amongst the best work from him or one of the best Bond soundtracks, it is solid and works well for the movie. I also think that Billie Eilish’s main song for the movie was great.

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No Time to Die ranks alongside Skyfall and Casino Royale as my favourite James Bond movies. It is very long and there’s a lot to take in, but I loved what I saw from my first viewing of it. Cary Fukunaga delivered a visually stunning and enthralling movie, with great action, an ensemble cast of reliable and solid performances, and a script that’s bombastic and witty yet also appropriately emotional and given enough depth. However, above all else, it served as a great finale for Daniel Craig’s James Bond, and it definitely achieved what it set out to do. I’m not really sure what they will do for the next version of James Bond, from the actor to the interpretation of the character. Nonetheless, Craig remains my all-time favourite version of the character’s nearly 50 year run, and I’m happy with the sendoff they gave him with No Time to Die.

Aladdin (2019) Review

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Will Smith as Genie
Mena Massoud as Aladdin
Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine
Marwan Kenzari as Jafar
Navid Negahban as The Sultan
Nasim Pedrad as Dalia
Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders
Director: Guy Ritchie

Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a lovable street urchin who meets Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), the beautiful daughter of the sultan of Agrabah (Navid Negahban). While visiting her exotic palace, Aladdin stumbles upon a magic oil lamp that unleashes a powerful, wisecracking, larger-than-life genie (Will Smith). As Aladdin and the genie start to become friends, they must soon embark on a dangerous mission to stop the evil sorcerer Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) from overthrowing young Jasmine’s kingdom.

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I missed 2019’s version of Aladdin in cinemas, and I’ve only recently caught up on. I really didn’t know how I would feel about it leading up to its release. I like Naomi Scott and Will Smith, and I’ve liked most of director Guy Ritchie’s movies I’ve seen. However certain parts of the trailers I weren’t really feeling, not to mention I’m not that hyped for live action Disney remakes in general, even if a couple are decent. It looked like it could be a real mess, but nonetheless I gave it a shot, and hoped that I would somewhat like. I was actually surprised at Aladdin 2019, it’s not anything great but it was quite entertaining.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve watched the original Aladdin, so I can’t remember exactly how similar in plot the new movie is to the animated version. From what I can tell, largely plotwise it’s the same, however certain plot points and moments were handled differently. Having forgotten how the original movie did certain things, I don’t think I have a problem with how they handled the plot in this version of the story (except for maybe Jafar, which I’ll get to in a bit). It is a little long at 2 hours and 10 minutes. Not that it dragged or anything, just feels like it is a little stretched out. I think it’s like 50 minutes into the movie when Aladdin encounters the Genie for the first time. Maybe 5-10 minutes could’ve been shaved off the first act but it’s not a big deal. While it does some different things with the plot, it’s basically just the same plot, so there aren’t any surprises. So as the movie is progressing you’re just waiting for certain plot beats to occur. I’m not quite sure I’d call the movie ‘soulless’ (like most of the other Disney remakes have been called), but that let’s just say I was mostly just watching the movie go through the motions and wasn’t actually invested in the story.

Mena Massoud plays Aladdin and he did a pretty good job in his role. Same goes for Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, her singing was particularly good (they even give her a new original song for her to sing, that wasn’t in the original movie). Following Robin Williams’s work in the original Aladdin as The Genie is not easy by any means, he’s solidified that as one of the best animated voice performances. Will Smith however managed to have his own take on the iconic character, which was really the only thing that he could’ve done. He’s by far the standout in the whole movie and he improves every scene that he’s in. Even though I like other aspects of the movie as well, I really don’t think I would’ve liked this movie as much without Smith’s Genie. Probably the weakest link of the main cast however is Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. I don’t think it’s necessarily his acting ability that’s the problem. He’s much less over the top in this version, and instead they try to have a much more serious take, which is fair enough, they actually went all in instead of having a half measure of both the original and the new take. With that said it didn’t really work out, he’s not threatening, he’s not interesting, he’s not memorable, he doesn’t even convey any kind of presence at all. Whenever he came on screen, he just seemed like some random guy who I guess was the villain, rather than the powerful and dangerous Jafar. Supposedly there’s going to be an Aladdin sequel based on the sequel to the original animated movie titled Jafar’s Return. If that’s the case, then they are going to need to change a lot with this version of Jafar in order for him to make it work, because after seeing him in this movie, it doesn’t sound appealing at all.

I generally like Guy Ritchie and most of his work here is pretty good, definitely not one of his best movies though. The visuals are bright and overblown, which could be too much for some people, but I’m at least glad that they went all out instead of just replicating exactly what the animated movie did. The CGI mostly worked, but occasionally it had some really fake looking moments. Whenever it came to the Genie however, the CGI actually worked really well, and complemented Smith’s performance nicely. The editing could be a little off at certain points, especially near the beginning. There’s a chase scene that also had some singing and it was really rough. Thankfully the direction of the singing scenes improved later on. The singing itself was mostly fine, though most of it really sounded like it was autotuned and that really took me out of it.

Aladdin 2019 was pretty decent, although it’s got its issues, it’s entertaining, and Smith, Massoud and Scott worked well in their roles. I’m still not on board with these Disney Animated remakes, and just the very idea of them still feels like soulless cash grabs to me. I will say though, at least with Aladdin, they attempted at changing some aspects to have an ‘updated’ take on the story, even if it doesn’t completely work. If you’re the least bit curious, check it out, but if you’ve hated all of Disney’s live action remakes, then Aladdin isn’t going to change your mind.

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Cast:
Jake Gyllenhaal as Morf Vandewalt
Rene Russo as Rhodora Haze
Toni Collette as Gretchen
Zawe Ashton as Josephina
Tom Sturridge as Jon Dondon
Natalia Dyer as Coco
Daveed Diggs as Damrish
Billy Magnussen as Bryson
John Malkovich as Piers
Director: Dan Gilroy

After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art.

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Velvet Buzzsaw was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. Nightcrawler was one of the best films of 2014, and writer/director Dan Gilroy and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo are returning from that for Gilroy’s third film, which would be a horror movie in the art world. I was wondering how this movie was going to be. It has a great setup and premise and a good cast involved, however I heard that Gilroy’s second film (Roman J. Israel) wasn’t all that great, so I didn’t know what to expect. Velvet Buzzsaw wasn’t quite the homerun that Nightcrawler was, yet I still liked it, more than other people at least.

I should start by saying not to watch the trailer to Velvet Buzzsaw if you haven’t already. First of all, it shows too much, particularly some key scenes including some deaths. Second of all, it’s being marketed as a full on horror movie, and that’s not really what it is. The movie really is a mix between a satire on the world of art and a campy horror b-movie. Its strongest parts is whenever are satirises the world of art. The first half is pretty much the whole satire bit, even the dialogue that sounds off and flatly written seems oddly deliberate and is genuinely hilarious at points. However, even with some interesting ideas and potential, it barely scratches the surface of what it could’ve been, it doesn’t go much further than the setup. There are also some subplots and some characters that seem to lengthen the runtime and don’t fit into the movie entirely and don’t even get fully resolved. Like I don’t even remember why John Malkovich was in the movie. Despite being an hour and 50 minutes long, it can drag and feel dull at some points. I think a rewrite or two might’ve smoothed out parts of the script. Over time it leans more into the horror aspects and it’s really not effective at the horror parts. I don’t mean that as it didn’t scare me because most horror movies don’t scare me. I’m meaning that I never felt tense throughout the whole movie. By the end it felt like something was missing from the story, like there was a payoff that was supposed to happen but it doesn’t actually come.

There is a great cast involved in this movie, while all of them are good, only some of them stand out. Jake Gyllenhaal is basically the lead of the movie, playing the role of an art critic so pretentious that his name is literally Morf Vandelwalt. It’s not one of his all time best performances but it’s still a great performance very unlike any performance he’s given before and ranks among his strangest roles alongside his parts in Okja and Nightcrawler. Other standouts are Rene Russo, Toni Collette and Zawe Ashton, who are also great in their roles. The rest of the cast including Natalie Dyer, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen and John Malkovich are good in their roles and play their parts, however are very much supporting roles and don’t get to shine like Gyllenhaal or Collette.

While I’m not sure yet whether Nightcrawler was just a fluke when it comes to writing for Dan Gilroy, Velvet Buzzsaw shows that he is a good director at the very least. With the movie being about the art world it’s got such a great look throughout and unsurprisingly the cinematography was done by Robert Elswitt, who shot Nightcrawler (which Dan Gilroy also directed). It is such a stunning looking movie, and really all the technical elements were handled greatly. It has some Final Destination like death scenes (some of which were unfortunately shown in the trailer). While they aren’t scary in the slightest, they are visually creative at the very least.

Velvet Buzzsaw isn’t going to work for everyone. It doesn’t really achieve what it sets out to do, it’s a little clunky and it falls flat at some of the aspects, especially the horror elements. However, I still think there are some good things here. The acting is good, it’s well directed, and some parts of the story worked and I really like the premise. If you’re the least bit interested in it and you have a Netflix account, I’d say give it a chance.

Game Night (2018) Review

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, sexual references & offensive language
Cast
Jason Bateman as Max
Rachel McAdams as Annie
Kyle Chandler as Brooks
Billy Magnussen as Ryan
Sharon Horgan as Sarah
Lamorne Morris as Kevin
Kylie Bunbury as Michelle
Jesse Plemons as Gary Kingsbury
Michael C. Hall as The Bulgarian
Director: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie’s (Rachel McAdams) weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) arranges a murder mystery party — complete with fake thugs and federal agents. So when Brooks gets kidnapped, it’s all supposed to be part of the game. As the competitors set out to solve the case, they start to learn that neither the game nor Brooks are what they seem to be. The friends soon find themselves in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn over the course of one chaotic night.

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I wasn’t expecting much from Game Night to be honest. From the trailer is looked like it could be a fun but overall passable comedy. Also, although the directors were involved with writing Spider-Man Homecoming, they also did 2015’s Vacation, which from what was a real misfire of a comedy. However, Game Night was actually a lot better than I thought it would be. It was entertaining and funny throughout, and the performances by the cast and the work by the directors only made it better.

From start to finish, Game Night is really entertaining and not once misses a beat, it never feels slow or uninteresting. This movie takes so many twists and turns that you aren’t really expecting. Granted at times there are so many twists that I have a feeling I might need to rewatch the movie to make sure that they actually makes sense to a degree and if they’re not just throwing in twists for the sake of twists. Also, it is a comedy, so even though the movie gives you things to care about with the characters and the plot, it doesn’t forget what it is, and at times even pokes fun at itself. It doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is, which is a dark comedy. And on the comedy, Game Night is really funny, and its humour is really effective and works very well. On another note, there is another scene after the credits to stick around for, I’m just bringing this up because I missed it myself.

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are the leads and they are really good here, they share great chemistry and are quite believable as a couple. Jason Bateman does his usual comedic thing here and he is good at it and he’s good here but it’s Rachel McAdams who was actualy one of the stand outs of the movie, she was particularly good. The supporting actors was also really good, with a cast that includes Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury. Jesse Plemons is especially a scene stealer as a bit of an awkward neighbour of Bateman and McAdams’s, Plemons at times produced some of the biggest laughs of the movie.

The direction of this movie by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein is particularly great and actually one of the most stand out parts of the movie. It’s very stylised and edited well together. The action sequences, when they happen are actually quite well directed. Apparently Francis Daley and Goldstein are going to direct The Flash movie and given their work here, I’m now totally on board for it. Cliff Martinez always makes very memorable and stand out scores and Game Night was no exception, it really added to the movie a great deal.

Game Night is actually a much better movie than I thought it would be, I had a lot of fun with it and don’t have too many problems with it. The cast was great, the direction by Francis Dalyey and Goldstein was surprisingly stylish and entertaining, the movie is pretty fun overall. Even if you might feel that the trailer doesn’t look all that good I still highly recommend giving Game Night a chance, I am sure that it’ll surprise you in how good it actually is.