Tag Archives: Jared Harris

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) Review

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Time: 166 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains offensive language & sexual references
Cast:
Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button (adult)
Cate Blanchett as Daisy Fuller (adult)
Taraji P. Henson as Queenie
Julia Ormond as Caroline Fuller (adult)
Jason Flemyng as Thomas Button
Elias Koteas as Monsieur Gateau
Tilda Swinton as Elizabeth Abbott
Mahershala Ali as Tizzy Weathers
Jared Harris as Captain Mike Clark
Director: David Fincher

Born under unusual circumstances, Benjamin Button springs into being as an elderly man in a New Orleans nursing home and ages in reverse. Twelve years after his birth, he meets Daisy, a child who flickers in and out of his life as she grows up to be a dancer. Though he has all sorts of unusual adventures over the course of his life, it is his relationship, and the hope that they will come together at the right time, that drives Benjamin forward.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was the last of David Fincher’s films I had yet to see. People usually don’t talk so positively about it when it compares to the rest of his filmography, it’s known as one of his ‘weaker’ movies, and it did seem like the only one of his movies that seemed just a little awards baity. I put off my viewing of this partially because I heard some mixed things from other people about it. I was actually surprised by how much I liked the movie, I actually think it’s rather great.

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Most of David Fincher’s films are regarded as being rather ‘cold’ (and I can kind of see why), but The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is definitely his most emotional film. It’s pretty much just following this man in his extraordinary (and fictional) life. Some have called it an awards bait movie, and some moments felt like that at certain points. However with the memorably and lively characters, warmth and genuine emotion, I got quite invested in the movie. It’s a long movie at around 2 hours and 45 minutes long. While I did still like the movie throughout, it probably didn’t need to be that long. It does start off a little rocky, quite slow. But as it progresses, it really picks up, and by the time the first act was finished I was into it.

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The cast all work together. The titular character of Benjamin Button is played by Brad Pitt, and he’s great here, he believably portrays him in every stage of his life and his development is played very well. He’s the centre of the movie through and through, and Pitt plays him wonderfully. Cate Blanchett is also great as the adult version of Benjamin’s childhood friend, the two of them share some believable on-screen chemistry. The supporting cast with the likes of Tarji P. Henson, Tilda Swinton, and others are also great in their respective roles, and do their parts to stand out quite a bit.

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David Fincher’s direction is fantastic as usual. Once again it’s a movie that you don’t expect him to really take on, but he goes all in on with this movie, and on a technical level it’s great. It’s a great looking movie, the cinematography from Claudio Miranda is really good. Fincher usually applies CGI to enhance the look of scenes, mainly in the background (and done in such a way that you don’t even notice it). While that’s probably the case here, here he also uses it for the aging effects on Brad Pitt’s Benjamin Button, and over a decade later it still generally holds up. The score by Alexandre Desplat is also quite beautiful and fit the tone of the movie.

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David Fincher has made better movies for sure, but The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not to be overlooked, I’d actually consider it to be great. The cast are top notch, Fincher’s direction is outstanding as to be expected from him, and the story itself is quite emotional and beautiful. It may be one of his ‘weaker’ movies (it’s definitely not among his best), but it’s still worth watching for sure, and nowadays I don’t think people give it enough credit.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) Review

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror scenes, and offensive language
Cast:
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine
Oded Fehr as Carlos Oliveira
Thomas Kretschmann as Major Timothy Cain
Sophie Vavasseur as Angela “Angie” Ashford
Jared Harris as Dr. Charles Ashford
Mike Epps as Lloyd Jefferson “L.J.” Wade
Director: Alexander Witt

A deadly virus from a secret Umbrella Corporation laboratory underneath Raccoon City is exposed to the world. Umbrella seals off the city to contain the virus, creating a ghost town where everyone trapped inside turns into a mutant zombie. Alice (Milla Jovovich), a survivor from Umbrella’s secret lab, meets former Umbrella security officer Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and mercenary Carlos Oliviera (Oded Fehr). Together, they search for a scientist (Jared Harris) who might be able to help.

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The first Resident Evil movie didn’t receive the greatest critical response but it was a success upon its release, especially with it being loosely based on the video games of the same name. The Resident Evil movie started out smaller, but by the time the movie series ended in the 2010s it was a full on action series. The second movie Apocalypse was the escalation from horror action to full on action with some horror elements, to such a ridiculous level. If the first movie wasn’t already a major departure from the games, Apocalypse certainly was that. It’s really not good at all but if you know what you’re going in for, you can have some fun at certain parts.

I will be commenting on how they adapted the Resident Evil games to the big screen, but keep in mind that I’ve only played the remake of Resident Evil 2, so I don’t know a ton about the series and lore. Apocalypse actually starts off pretty well, right after the events of the first movie. The movie on the whole is a pretty simple action movie with a straightforward plot. Even though it wasn’t attempting to have scenes like those The Matrix just yet, despite the scale being seemingly small they still manage to make it feel overblown, especially with the action scenes. While it is definitely horror based with the movie involving zombies, any sort of true horror that the first movie had is missing here. There’s very little that’s surprising, I guess there is a twist in the third act but on the whole the movie is mildly predictable. Again, I’ve only played the remake of Resident Evil 2, but it seemed like they took aspects from the game but did them in a more action sense. They do throw in a bunch of characters and aspects from the games, but not all of it is handled the best. One character that is brought from the video games is, Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 who is an unstoppable force. He’s like a tyrant (a giant bioweapon super soldier created by the Umbrella Corporation), only he has weapons and he is very dangerous. They did a good job at making him powerful in this movie. However without giving anything away, they do make him very weak towards the third act, and around this time they do something with main character Alice which completely breaks away from the Resident Evil lore, which just does not work at all. While the first movie didn’t to have exactly what the video games had, it did try to replicate the structure and it kept within its own lore. With Apocalypse, it tries to have it both ways, and by the end it doesn’t really work.

Milla Jovovich is really the only returning member of the first movie as Alice. The character doesn’t have a lot to her, but Jovovich comes across probably the best in this movie (as she generally does for all the movies in the series it seems). The rest of the cast weren’t anything special and weren’t given nearly the amount of attention that Alice got. The one character name I recognised was that of Jill Valentine played by Sienna Guillory, as I heard that the character is in the games. She was pretty good and I heard she’s like a perfect representation of the character in live action, however like all the other characters suffer from being overshadowed by Alice. Thomas Kretschmann is a pretty generic villain, nothing really special about him at all. Mike Epps also is in this movie, and while I get that he was going to provide the comedic relief over everyone else, he just didn’t fit in at all. I guess in a way this actually made him unintentionally funny at points, especially one of his early scenes when he hits a zombie with a car with a good ol’ “GTA motherfucker! 10 points!”. It really was at that point where I stopped taking the movie seriously at all. There’s nothing to say about the rest of the cast.

The first movie had Paul W.S. Anderson directing, but he wouldn’t return for the series until Afterlife. This time it’s Alexander Witt directing, and while the movie certainly is bigger than the first, it’s not necessarily better. Parts of the action are entertaining, but the colours and lighting aren’t that great and the editing isn’t the best, leaving some of the scenes a bit of a mess. It can be pretty hard at times to see what’s going on. If you have a look at the colour pallet on the posters, that dark blue colour is pretty much what you’ll be seeing for most of the movie. The visual effects also haven’t aged very well, although they are definitely better than the previous movie. Some of the more practical effects are good though, like the aforementioned Nemesis or the zombies. At points, Apocalypse does well to create good atmosphere, however there isn’t nearly enough of it and they don’t last very long.

I don’t hate the movie like some do, but Resident Evil: Apocalypse is so far the weakest in the Resident Evil movie series, though that’s not really saying a lot. If you’re looking for an accurate depiction of the games in live action films, outside of some characters and aspects that you might recognise, it’s not this. If you don’t mind a dumb action movie and you liked the first movie, then you might enjoy this one. However if you weren’t a fan of the first Resident Evil movie, you probably won’t like this movie either.

 

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) Review

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo
Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin
Alicia Vikander as Gabriella “Gaby” Teller
Elizabeth Debicki as Victoria Vinciguerra
Jared Harris as Saunders
Hugh Grant as Alexander Waverly
Director: Guy Ritchie

In the 1960s with the Cold War in play, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) successfully helps Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) defect to West Germany despite the intimidating opposition of KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). Later, all three unexpectedly find themselves working together in a joint mission to stop a private criminal organization from using Gaby’s father’s scientific expertise to construct their own nuclear bomb. Through clenched teeth and stylish poise, all three must find a way to cooperate for the sake of world peace, even as they each pursue their own agendas.

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Along with the cast, the main reason I was interested in this movie was Guy Ritchie. Guy Ritchie can create very stylish and entertaining movies and seeing him take on the 60s spy genre is something that I was curious about. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is not a great movie but it is entertaining. The style benefited the movie, the acting was good and I was generally enjoying watching it. However the story wasn’t very strong and you don’t really care much about what’s going on. I still think that it’s enjoyable to watch but don’t expect something particularly great going into it.

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This film definitely has more style over substance, if you know Guy Ritchie, you sort of know what sort of style you’re getting. Even when I enjoyed the style, when it comes to the plot in U.N.C.L.E., it’s nothing special. The plot worked for the film but you don’t really remember much of it and it’s a quite a familiar premise. I didn’t really care much about what was going on, or cared much for the characters. I was enjoying the way it was done but didn’t really care much for the story. I could tell that it was trying to spoof the 1960s spy movies and I thought that it worked quite well in doing that. The humour worked quite well however when the film actually tries to have serious moments, it really didn’t hit the right notes. I think that Ritchie probably should have stayed with the over the top tone, have a much simpler plot and go all out silly with the movie and just have even more fun with it.

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Henry Cavill was great, despite being British he was actually convincing at being an American. Armie Hammer worked for the film even though I felt that his Russian accent was a little over the top at times (odd casting by the way, a Brit playing an American and an American playing a Russian). The two have great chemistry and it lead to some humorous moments between the two. Alicia Vikander was also pretty good in a supporting role. I would’ve liked to have seen Hugh Grant more, he is great when he was on screen but it happens so little that I can’t help but feel like he was wasted in this movie.

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As I said earlier, this movie was more style over substance, but the style is enjoyable and added something to this movie. Sometimes it did feel that Ritchie’s fast style was used a little too much and distracted a little but most of the time I thought it worked well in the movie. The action scenes are also really good and very entertaining.

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The Man from UNCLE doesn’t require viewing but it is entertaining. The acting was decent and the action scenes are pretty good but the plot is a little forgettable and you don’t really care about what’s going on. Still it’s a decent watch and it is enjoyable, however it’s not a movie that you need to see and it’s not really one of Guy Ritchie’s best.