Tag Archives: Dominic West

300 (2006) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains graphic violence
Gerard Butler as Leonidas
David Wenham as Dilios
Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo
Giovanni Cimmino as Pleistarchus
Dominic West as Theron
Director: Zack Snyder

In 480 B.C. a state of war exists between Persia, led by King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas (Gerard Butler), king of the Greek city state of Sparta, leads his badly outnumbered warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaits the Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy.

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While Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead was really well received, the movie that really got him particularly noticed and put him on the map as a director to watch was 300. His visual style and direction was fantastic, and all around 300 is a very enjoyable movie. Although some of its aspects don’t hold up well over a decade later, there’s enough here to keep you really engaged and entertained.

300 is based off the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller (which I haven’t read myself). This movie is quite straightforward and simple: lead character Leonidas leads 300 Spartans against the Persian Army. Not to say that this movie is any lesser because of this, really it’s all done rather well. Despite the amount of scenes filled with screaming and exposed muscular men stabbing each other repeatedly, it’s not just a shallow and violent movie, it does have some emotion and drama behind it, so that you care about what’s going on, instead of just watching a bloodfest.

The acting generally is quite good. Gerard Butler was well suited for his role of King Leonidas. His performance of course does have some ham to it (I don’t even need to get into the “This is Sparta” bit) but it really works for the movie, and just makes it more entertaining. It’s undoubtedly a very memorable performance and it was perfect for what it needed to be. Lena Headey was also great in her screentime as Queen Gorgo. Apparently in the comic book, Gorgo only appeared in the beginning and in the movie they expanded her role much more. While she’s not in large battle scenes like Leonidas and the Spartans, she still gets to play a part in the story, and Headey of course plays it all really well. Rodrigo Santoro was a good villain, he’s quite larger than life but something about his performance works for his character (given that he believes he’s a god), and he’s really effective as a hateable character. Other supporting actors like David Wenham and Michael Fassbender also good, and get to shine in some particular moments.

Zack Snyder is known for his visual style and storytelling and watching 300 it’s no wonder that this is what really put him on the map as a director to pay attention to. It makes sense knowing that this is based off of a graphic novel, but there are many shots and sequences that look straight out of a comic book (which is something that Snyder does quite a lot). The cinematography by Larry Fong is beautiful and just stunning to look at. The action is so gratifying and really entertaining, definitely one of the most stand out and iconic aspects of the movie. I think Snyder does use slow-mo a little too much but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. It was the first movie to really utilise it as a very present component of the action (outside of The Matrix), before way too many movies tried to replicate that and not doing it as well. This movie is very violent and bloody, and it’s stylised and once again made to look like it was from a comic book. I will say that parts of the movie don’t hold up, that being the green and blue screen in some scenes, which occasionally can look really fake and does take you out of the movie briefly. This movie admittedly does have some messy parts to it but the other aspects (especially on the technical side) make up for it. The soundtrack by Tyler Bates only increased the epicness and scale of the whole movie.

300 is visually stunning, entertaining and quite good all round. I wouldn’t consider it one of Zack Snyder’s best but it’s still a pretty good movie. There’s not denying that it was defining for it’s time and really inspired the way that future action movies would be directed (for better and for worse). If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d personally recommend watching it for the visuals at the very least.

Tomb Raider (2018) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft
Dominic West as Lord Richard Croft
Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel
Daniel Wu as Lu Ren
Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana Miller
Director: Roar Uthaug

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer (Dominic West) who vanished years earlier. Hoping to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance, Croft embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination — a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan. The stakes couldn’t be higher as Lara must rely on her sharp mind, blind faith and stubborn spirit to venture into the unknown.

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I was cautiously optimistic about Tomb Raider. Very few video game movies I would even be able to call okay. Even though this new version of Tomb Raider was based on the great 2013 rebooted series and starred Oscar winning Alicia Vikander, I was still sceptical. Video games movies even today struggle, Assassins Creed had stars like Michael Fassbender and Marion Cottillard and had the director of Macbeth yet it ended up being okay at best. So really I wasn’t sure how Tomb Raider was going to be, turns out however that it was actually quite decent. The plot is quite familiar and the movie overall isn’t anything special, but as an action adventure it works quite well, and it’s far better than at least nearly all video game movies that have come before it.

I played the Tomb Raider games starting from the 2013 reboot, there are some similarities to the reboot, with this story being Lara starting out on her first adventure and the tone being more darker and realistic. At the same time it’s not just the original game adapted completely, so it’s free to do it’s own story and doesn’t feel confined, which is good. Tomb Raider knows what it is, that being a fun action adventure, yet it takes itself seriously enough for you to somewhat care about what’s going on, it’s balanced out well enough. The plot is straightforward enough, it’s not needlessly complicated. That’s probably why the Tomb Raider movies are among the better video game movies, there isn’t a lot of convoluted and complicated details to shove in and its easy to fit the character and world into movie-like stories. I will say that it did drag in parts in the second act but aside from that the pacing was fine enough. Tomb Raider has kind of a predictable plot, by a third of the way into the movie, you’ll probably be able to tell where the story will go and end. However that wasn’t too much of a problem for me, it is clearly just meant to be an enjoyable action movie, nothing more. Comparing a video game movie to something like to Indiana Jones is rather unfair and ludicrous honestly. Tomb Raider does quite well with what it set out to do. The end of the movie is setting up for a sequel, there are some elements in the movie which does feel a little world-buildy but it didn’t distract too much from the main story overall, except for the very last scene which is a little too blatant. By the end though, I was satisfied enough with the movie that I’m ready to see a sequel.

Just like how the 2013 reboot differed from the older games, Lara Croft here, played by Alicia Vikander, is noticeably different from the Angelina Jolie versions of the character. She’s starting out on her first adventure, she’s vulnerable and not invincible, yet very capable, she’s very similar to the rebooted Lara Croft. Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft is probably the biggest takeaway from the movie. Vikander did a great job as Croft and was quite an effective screen presence, you can really buy her in her role. The fact that Vikander is doing most of her own stunts also helped. She really does get to shine in this movie, and I’m glad they utilised her well unlike some other video game movies that have great actors who are ultimately wasted. The supporting cast also do well, even though their characters aren’t handled as well as Lara. Supporting actors like Daniel Wu and Dominic West play their parts well. Walton Goggins also acted pretty well as the villain though he is let down by his character, who isn’t given too much to work with.

There is some editing and cutting problems during some of the action and fight sequences, which does bring down the movie a little bit because of how jarring it can make these sequences feel but I’ve seen way worse cases of it in other movies, and it didn’t bother me too much. Aside from that the direction of the film by Roar Uthaug is actually quite good, like the reboot of the game series it is more realistic than the previous versions of the games/movies, while being big enough that it’s quite entertaining. The CGI was a little hit or miss, at times it looks pretty impressive, at other times it can look pretty fake. The score from Junkie XL was also pretty good.

Tomb Raider is one of the best video game movies, it’s up there with Warcraft. It actually manages to be a little more than just a passable or guilty pleasure movie, and for a video game movie, that’s saying a lot. While it’s not great and it does have it’s fair share of issues, it is decent and entertaining, and I really do recommend going out to see it. I do hope it gets a sequel, it definitely has a lot of potential and with the way it set things up for a possible follow up, I could see an Alicia Vikander led Tomb Raider film franchise working. As for this first instalment in the possible franchise, fans of the rebooted series will probably like it, and I can see general audiences enjoying it for what it is. Either way, I’d say go out and give it a chance.

Hannibal Rising (2007) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Sadistic Violence
Gaspard Ulliel as Hannibal Lecter
Gong Li as Lady Murasaki
Dominic West as Inspector Pascal Popil
Rhys Ifans as Vladis Grutas
Director: Peter Webber

After witnessing the violent deaths of his parents at the end of World War II, young Hannibal Lecter (Gaspard Ulliel) flees to his uncle’s home in Paris. He learns his uncle is dead, but the man’s mysterious Japanese widow, Lady Murasaki (Gong Li) welcomes him nonetheless. An aptitude for science helps Hannibal gain acceptance to medical school, where he hones the skills he needs to exact revenge for the atrocities he witnessed.

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Hannibal Lecter is an iconic character that has seen many film and tv appearances (his TV version being my favourite). I’ve liked all of the adaptations, even with some the flaws that some of them have (2001’s Hannibal). There is however an exception for Hannibal Rising, which is by far the worst Hannibal adaptation ever. Aside from a couple of aspects of the film (such as the direction, cinematography and Gaspard Ulliel as Young Hannibal Lector), there isn’t much to like about Hannibal Rising. Then again this movie was pretty much dead on arrival, it being based on Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Rising.

You’d think that an origin story about one of fiction’s most iconic serial killers would be at least somewhat interesting. Unfortunately, this movie somehow ends up being tremendously boring. It’s really hard to care about anything that’s going on, not even Hannibal himself (his characterisations was very lacklustre). In fact, this movie fails as an origin story for Hannibal, it doesn’t even show the gradual change into Hannibal the Cannibal, after a flashback with child Hannibal (a significant event for him), it jumps to when he’s an adult. Although throughout the film he goes through some changes (like killing, and liking cannibalism) from the first time you see adult Hannibal, he is already unhinged. You want to know the worst part about the writing? It was written by Hannibal writer Thomas Harris. He adapted his own book and it still was written horribly. Then again, Thomas Harris was forced to write that novel in the first place, so it sort of makes sense why it’s in that state.

Gaspard Ulliel is playing the young Hannibal Lecter, he well with what he has. Performance wise, I can buy him as the younger version of Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal. However he’s not given a lot of good material to work with. There isn’t any depth given to this Hannibal Lector, he seems more like a movie teen serial killer as opposed to actually Hannibal Lector. The villainous characters are all one dimensionally evil. There’s one of actor who manages to inject some form of humanity into his character but others are less so, most notably Rhys Ifans, who plays an absolute cartoon villain of a character. Some of the other supporting cast are fine but don’t leave a massive impact.

The one thing consistent throughout the Hannibal movies is that they all look great. The production design and cinematography really reflected it’s time period. The violence (as expected) is very bloody and graphic but it is better handled than in Hannibal (the 2001 movie of course), it didn’t feel as gratuitous. The score also, really good.

Hannibal Rising is hands down the worst Hannibal Lecter movie ever. The bad writing, boring story and hit or miss performances make Hannibal Rising a chore to sit through. The best parts of the movie was Gaspard Ulliel as Hannibal and the cinematography of the film. That’s really the only good things about this movie unfortunately. To be fair this movie was dead on arrival, they had to adapt Hannibal Rising, it’s difficult to imagine that book being adapted into a good movie.