Tag Archives: Courtney B. Vance

Isle of Dogs (2018) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and Coarse Language
Cast:
Bryan Cranston as Chief
Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi
Edward Norton as Rex
Bob Balaban as King
Bill Murray as Boss
Jeff Goldblum as Duke
Kunichi Nomura as Mayor Kobayashi
Akira Takayama as Major Domo
Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker
Frances McDormand as Interpreter Nelson
Akira Ito as Professor Watanabe
Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg
Harvey Keitel as Gondo
F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter
Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono
Tilda Swinton as Oracle
Ken Watanabe as Head Surgeon
Mari Natsuki as Auntie
Fisher Stevens as Scrap
Nijiro Murakami as Editor Hiroshi
Liev Schreiber as Spots
Courtney B. Vance as the narrator
Yojiro Noda as News Anchor
Frank Wood as Simul-Translate Machine
Director: Wes Anderson

When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

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I was looking forward to Isle of Dogs, it was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. For whatever reason, I’ve been having to wait for this film to release here when it was already released a couple months prior everywhere else, however it’s finally here. I’ve seen a few films from Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom) and I liked what I’ve seen from him. With this being the second time he stop motion animated a movie (with the first being Fantastic Mr Fox), I was confident that this would be a solid movie, and that it was. It was pretty much what I expected and maybe a little bit more.

Isle of Dogs is an hour and 40 minutes long and from start to finish I was entertained. You can tell that it is definitely a Wes Anderson story. It has a very unique and original story with quirky characters, deadpan humour which is really funny and unique and is just entertaining overall. I didn’t really have too many faults with it, though there might’ve been a slight overuse of flashbacks, which does halt the story at times. Also some places and characters that the film at times cuts to (AKA characters that aren’t the main characters) really weren’t as interesting as the main storyline/characters. Isle of Dogs is kind of a kids movie, though it does go a little unexpectedly dark at times, so if you have some kids thinking that they’re going in expecting a cute film about a bunch of talking dogs, let’s just say that it won’t be what they are expecting. Aside from some minor faults, Isle of Dogs has a pretty solid story.

There is a lot of voice actors involved (Wes Anderson always seems to have a large and talented cast in his films). Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber and much more consist of the voice cast, and they all did good jobs as their characters, with Cranston being a particular standout.

As I said, this is the second time that Wes Anderson has directed a stop motion animated movie and once again he did a great job. Fantastic Mr Fox was good, but his handling of stop motion animation was even better here with Isle of Dogs, it is a great looking film. Also on top of the movie feeling like a Wes Anderson written movie, it also feels like a Wes Anderson directed movie. Everything from the framing, camera position, editing, everything here really feels like his film. Now if you’re not familiar with Wes Anderson’s style in his films, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s really difficult to describe because you can’t compare his movies to anyone else’s. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I do recommend giving this a go. If you can’t get into Wes Anderson’s other movies because of his style, chances are Isle of Dogs won’t win you over. There was an interesting decision made, all the dialogue from the dogs are in English, however most of the dialogue by the humans are in Japanese, and a significant amount of it isn’t translated into English. It works most of the time to show the language barrier, but I only say that it works most of the time because often times someone else has to translate what they are saying in English because some of the dialogue contains plot details that we the audience need to know. The film tries to have a mix of untranslated dialogue that we don’t hear (and yet convey the message visually so we still understand what’s going on) while having English exposition explaining everything to us and it didn’t quite work as well as I think it was intended to. I think it would’ve been better sticking with one way, whether that be all human dialogue in Japanese, Japanese dialogue with subtitles or all the dialogue in English, because it felt jarring when they kept changing their method of human dialogue. It’s not a major flaw with the movie, just something that stands out that is worth addressing.

On the whole, Isle of Dogs really worked well. It was entertaining, I could get invested in the story and I just enjoyed watching it from start to finish. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, I think you’ll definitely dig this. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I’d say that Isle of Dogs is a good place to start with his movies. His films may not appeal to everyone but I recommend giving it a go at the very least.

The Mummy (2017) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains supernatural themes & violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Nick Morton
Annabelle Wallis as Jennifer Halsey
Sofia Boutella as Princess Ahmanet/The Mummy
Jake Johnson as Sergeant Chris Vail
Courtney B. Vance as Colonel Greenway
Marwan Kenzari as Malik
Javier Botet as Set
Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll
Director: Alex Kurtzman

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artefacts and sells them to the highest bidder. When Nick and his partner (Jake Johnson) come under attack in the Middle East, the ensuing battle accidentally unearths Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a betrayed Egyptian princess who was entombed under the desert for thousands of years. With her powers constantly evolving, Morton must now stop the resurrected monster as she embarks on a furious rampage through the streets of London.

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I had no idea what to expect from The Mummy. It looked entertaining and I was curious about this ‘Dark Universe’ that they are creating, where all of Universal’s monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde, etc) exist in the same universe. However the movie didn’t look spectacular. Even though a lot of people really didn’t like The Mummy, I saw it out of morbid curiosity, something I’ve been doing a lot recently and once again I was pleasantly surprised. This is by no means a great movie, the writing isn’t the strongest, you’ve seen this type of movie before. But the film is entertaining, and not in a guilty pleasure way, I found the movie very enjoyable and it’s starting to get me on board with this unique universe that they are creating.

This movie is at a good runningtime, 1 hours and 50 minutes. It’s difficult to be bored, it is paced well, it doesn’t linger too long on scenes unnecesarily. This movie does 2 things, the story with The Mummy and also the development of the Dark Universe with this group called Prodigium, led by Russell Crowe’s Dr Henry Jeykll (yes, as in Jeykll and Hyde). I thought both were done well and worked together well. The Mummy storyline did enough to keep me interested, while the Dark Universe universe building got me on board with… whatever Universal are trying to do. Some of the writing does feel rather familiar, and a little cliché but I could get past it. Also, the third act does take a different direction which I really liked, it was a decision that I didn’t expect them to do and I’m even more intrigued to see where this will play in part with the Dark Universe. Tonally this movie isn’t always consistent. I’m not referring to the action and horror aspects, that was surprisingly balanced well. I’m talking about the comedic moments, during a big action scene or an intense horror scene, a joke might suddenly pop up and it often feels out of place. Then again it didn’t help that a lot of the humour wasn’t that good in the first place. Now as for the changes that the movie has made from the original Mummy (the horror movie, not the Brendan Frasier movies), I have no idea what it’s like as I haven’t seen it. It’s probably not very true to the original though, this movie is going on its own direction, and I was actually fine with that.

Tom Cruise is pretty good in this movie. However I do feel like he might’ve been slightly miscast, maybe that’s the writing though. I have the feeling that the character was meant to be a bit darker but either Cruise couldn’t express that (which he could, he’s shown in other films he can) or the writing wasn’t great enough. Russell Crowe is in this movie as Dr Henry Jekyl, he’s a big tie to the other movies in this Dark Universe. While I would’ve like to have seen more of him he was great. And yes, Dr Jeykll does have a Mr Hyde side, and that was so great to see. The supporting actors are fine, Jake Johnson is okay but his character really didn’t need to be in the movie. Annabelle Wallis is good in the movie, however the chemistry between her and Cruise didn’t always work as well as I think the filmmakers wanted it to. Sofia Boutella was great as the Mummy/Ahmanet. Most of the acting is physical and doesn’t have her deliver a lot of lines but she pulls it off excellently. She also does have great chemistry with Cruise.

I’ve not seen anything from director Alex Kurtzman until now, he did a pretty good job with this movie. The CGI isn’t spectacular, you’ve seen it before but it’s solid enough. The action sequences are very entertaining. There wasn’t really anything directionwise that I found particularly wrong with the movie. It’s just that it’s nothing that you haven’t seen before.

The Mummy was a lot better than I expected it to be. I was consistently entertained throughout with the solid direction, Cruise, Boutella and Crowe. The idea of the Dark Universe is still odd to me, it’s still not clear how the movies will tie in together and how much of a role the characters in this movie will play a part in the other movies. Still, The Mummy does enough to get me interested in these future movies, while being pretty decent itself as a movie.

Terminator Genisys (2015) Review

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

Terminator Genisys
Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Guardian/Terminator
Jason Clarke as John Connor
Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor
Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese
J.K. Simmons Detective O’Brien
Dayo Okeniyi as Danny Dyson
Matt Smith as Alex
Courtney B. Vance as Miles Dyson
Lee Byung-hun as T-1000
Director: Alan Taylor

When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline. Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future.

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I love the first two Terminator films, they are classics in their own right and have made a big impact on cinema, so naturally I was hyped for the fifth instalment to the franchise. I was initially worried when I heard that a lot of people really didn’t like this film, it currently holds a 27% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite the hate, I still decided to watch it and I surprisingly enjoyed it. It’s not without its faults (mostly with the plot) but I still managed to enjoy it nonetheless. It’s nowhere near the level of the first two terminators but it’s still better than 3 and 4.

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Before I talk about the film, I should mention first not to watch the trailers. The trailers show way too much and might actually affect your viewing. I will say though that the plot twist in the trailer I actually liked, even though there are some things that didn’t really make sense. The fault in the film is mostly due to its story and script. The problem with time travel movies is that it can get very convoluted and confusing. Genysis is trying to do an X-Men Days of Future Past but here there are some things that don’t get addressed. The film does have some continuity issues and plot holes, for example the T-1000 from Terminator 2 isn’t addressed. I didn’t notice a lot of problems on my viewing but I know that there’s a lot there that I haven’t noticed yet.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger slips effortlessly back into the role of the Terminator after many years, he was for me the best part of the movie. He wasn’t acting as just Schwarzenegger in another action film, he was the Terminator. Most people really didn’t like the rest of the cast but I found most of them to be fine. I bought Emilia Clarke as a younger Sarah Connor and the connection between her and the Terminator I thought really worked. I also thought that Jason Clarke was decent as John Connor. One casting however that I didn’t really like was Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. He really didn’t seem like Michael Biehn in the original Terminator and didn’t honestly convey enough emotions. I think Jai Courtney is good in certain roles but Kyle Reese wasn’t the best choice for him. I really liked Matt Smith’s role but I would’ve liked it if the film had more of him in it.

Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

The action were pretty good though not as memorable as the scenes in the first two films. The CGI for the most part was pretty good but like Jurassic World, it hasn’t gotten that much better than the original. Occasionally there was an explosion or two which really did look CGI and a little fake. The soundtrack I thought was also decent and did add more to the action scenes.

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Terminator Genisys is at times a little messy with its plot but I still managed to be entertained by what I saw. I can’t say that you will definitely enjoy this film but I think it’s a good idea to check it out and see for yourself. James Cameron gets the rights for the franchise back in 3 years and even though I liked this film, I do think that he should direct another Terminator film in between his many planned Avatar sequels.