Tag Archives: Joely Richardson

Color Out of Space (2020) Review

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Color Out of Space

Time: 111 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & horror
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner
Joely Richardson as Theresa Gardner
Madeleine Arthur as Lavinia Gardner
Brendan Meyer as Benny Gardner
Julian Hilliard as Jack Gardner
Elliot Knight as Ward Phillips
Q’orianka Kilcher as Mayor Tooma
Tommy Chong as Ezra
Director: Richard Stanley

After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farm, Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) and his family find themselves battling a mutant extra-terrestrial organism that infects their minds and bodies, transforming their quiet rural life into a technicolour nightmare.

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Color Out of Space was a movie I was aware of for a little while. All I knew about it was that it’s a science fiction horror starring Nicolas Cage, that was an adaptation of a short story written by H.P. Lovecraft. I’m not familiar with Lovecraft’s work, but I’m aware of his influence on art, entertainment, and so much more, so I was curious to see how this movie would turn out. Color Out of Space is a trippy, weird, and visually stunning ride that I was glad to be on, even with all its issues.

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I never read Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space, but from what I’ve heard from some, it seemed to have been adapted well to the big screen (or at least as best as possible). The script is not very strong (especially when it comes to the dialogue), but it works okay enough for this story. It’s generally played seriously, but there’s a bit of a B-movie feel to it at the same time. The movie starts off a little slow but that was the right pacing for this movie instead of just jumping straight in with the weirdness. You begin to see little changes over time that the characters and the general location experience. The second half is where it goes nuts and is definitely the highlight section of the movie. I won’t go into too much depth about what happens in the story, it’s definitely one that’s better experienced for yourself.

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The cast for the most part aren’t great but they play their roles as best as they could. Let’s start with the obvious with Nicolas Cage, who seemed to be a perfect fit for the role. He starts off as some geeky and soft spoken and amateur alpaca farmer, and over time just becomes unhinged and crazier. Of course he shines in some very entertaining moments, in some of the loudest and angriest scenes his delivery of his lines is like a mix of his character from Vampire’s Kiss and Donald Trump. It’s fun to watch, and for those looking for crazy Nic Cage, there’s plenty of moments that you’ll definitely love. The rest of the main cast making up the main family with Joely Richardson, Madeline Arthur and Brendan Meyer are fine, but are held back by some lacklustre writing. One thing that the movie does is that it can get away with dumb decisions made by the characters in the context of the movie, given that the meteor seems to make people do illogical and random things.

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I’ve not seen any movies from director Richard Stanley, but he generally handled this movie well. The editing early on was a little messy, but it got better as it progressed. One thing that was a little weird was that the titular colour in the actual movie (and book) was described as a colour that couldn’t be described. Now in a book you can get away with that, but given that film is a visual medium, they had to show that, and they settled on pink. Now for me that worked fine enough but it’s worth pointing out. While CGI very well could’ve ruined a lot of the movie, it actually sort of works here. The movie can be visually stunning and a feast for the eyes, especially for the second half when things get very weird. The practical effects are even more impressive when they are present. The score by Colin Stetson is also pretty effective.

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Color Out of Space won’t work for everyone, it’s a little messy and the script could’ve been a little stronger. However I liked it on the whole, it’s directed well, visually stunning, features a completely insane second half, as well as another gloriously crazy Nicolas Cage performance. If the movie looks like something you may be interested in, check it out for sure.

Event Horizon (1997) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence.
Cast:
Laurence Fishburne as Captain Miller
Sam Neill as Dr. William ‘Billy’ Weir
Kathleen Quinlan as Peters
Joely Richardson as Lieutenant Starck
Richard T. Jones as Cooper
Jason Isaacs as D.J.
Sean Pertwee as Smith ‘Smitty’
Jack Noseworthy as Ensign Justin
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

When the Event Horizon, a spacecraft that vanished years earlier, suddenly reappears, a team is dispatched to investigate the ship. Accompanied by the Event Horizon’s creator, William Weir (Sam Neill), the crew of the Lewis and Clark, led by Capt. Miller (Laurence Fishburne), begins to explore the seemingly abandoned vessel. However, it soon becomes evident that something sinister resides in its corridors, and that the horrors that befell the Event Horizon’s previous journey are still present.

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Event Horizon was a movie that I had been hearing about for a while, particularly for how it inspired the Dead Space video game series. It’s been referred to as Hellraiser in space and it’s also known as director Paul W.S. Anderson’s best movie. Also a lot of the idea of a haunted house in space with like a portal to hell sounds like something interesting, so I was somewhat looking forward to getting around to watch it. While it doesn’t live up to its potential, I think it does work decently enough as a horror flick, and does have some genuinely good stuff to it as well. However, production problems and heavy cuts by the studio really held back the movie from being as good as it could’ve been.

There is a ton of production story explaining what happened with Event Horizon but I’ll try to limit it to the relevant things I’m talking about. Event Horizon has a lot of interesting ideas, the idea of hell being involved is chief among the best, and it wasn’t originally in the script. Phillip Eisner’s original script had alien beings as the cause of the hauntings of the ship but Anderson felt it was too much like Alien, so had a revision of the script done (by Andrew Kevin Walker uncredited) so that it was like a classic haunting movie (like The Haunting and The Shining, there’s even one scene that’s paying homage to the latter), more like a classic haunting movie instead of a monster movie, while also incorporating elements of hell in the movie. I’m thankful that this happened because it’s one of the most stand out parts of the movie. As I said, some of the ideas are pretty good, other aspects can take a little too much from other movies. There’s also some occasionally goofy dialogue and writing that doesn’t ruin the movie but definitely takes you out of it. Now I don’t know if this is the cause of it, but when Paul W.S. Anderson signed on to direct, development had to move quickly cos there was already a release date scheduled (meaning that pre production was likely rushed), so a lot of the script and other elements wasn’t worked on or revised as much as they should’ve been before filming. One thing that really needs to be mentioned is the length, Event Horizon is an hour and 30 minutes long, really quite short. It’s ironic considering that apparently the cut was way too long (even Anderson said that it was too long) and yet it ended up being the shortest length that a typical movie would be. As it is, the movie is fine enough with its length but all the cuts really meant that the story and characters wasn’t really fully realised. Maybe cutting some of the extreme gore (which I’ll get into later) might’ve been understandable and wouldn’t have affected the plot much, but a lot of the plotlines and character development was also cut. 30 minutes were cut from the movie, and I don’t believe that almost all of that was full of extreme gore. There are also attempts at building tension, but the film is cut a lot to speed up the pacing and featuring cheap jumpscares or gore and that can deflate a lot of the tension, no doubt a victim of the tight filming schedule. The ending seems to have 2 endings, and it’s like they couldn’t figure out which one to use so they just used both of them and so it’s just confusing.

The cast is limited but talented, with Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones. Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee and Jack Noseworthy as the crew. They all do rather well, with Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne being the standouts. However, a lot of the aforementioned cuts to the movie really affected their characters and performances because a lot of their scenes (including scenes featuring their development and depth) were cut. Something that the Event Horizon (the haunted ship) does is that preys on the crew members’ fears, but we only get to see that with a few of the characters and it just feels like a wasted opportunity. Seeing all of the characters’ fears and having them up against them really would’ve been something great. Even the Event Horizon fear stuff aside, we don’t get to learn about these characters well enough, sometimes making some characters feel out of place and not memorable at all. The biggest example is Richard T. Jones whose character’s development and a lot of his depth was no doubt cut from the movie, and so he just comes across as really goofy and super comedic, like he should be in Jason X (aka Jason Vorhees goes to space) or something. His comedic relief does work fine enough but that’s all there is to his character. Even the characters that work better have been likely affected by the cuts, Sam Neill’s character really isn’t consistent, and even knowing the full plot its difficult to really pin down his whole deal.

This is definitely Paul W.S. Anderson’s best movie and while some of the directional aspects doesn’t quite work, most of it works well. So much of the CGI is dated, particularly when it came to objects floating around in space like in the opening scene, I’m sure that the CGI back in 1997 was more impressive than what was on display here. With that, when it comes to the practical effects and sets, the movie is much better in those areas. So much of the design is very Alien and H.R. Giger inspired, maybe a little too much. Still, the practical sets are great and you really feel like you are in this haunted ship. This movie can also be extremely brutal and graphic but its mostly in brief moments, notably two. Both of these scenes actually went on for a very long time originally and were way more graphic and violent. If you look up what happened, when the movie was shown at test screenings, audiences didn’t take too kindly to the massive amount of gore (to put it mildly) so there were numerous cuts to earn an R rating so it could actually be shown in cinemas and avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating. The makeup and animatronics are also very impressive, Anderson got a lot right with Event Horizon. There are times where you can definitely tell that some things were rushed, particularly the editing. Anderson apparently was only able to do one draft edit for the movie and you can kind of tell that this is the case. For example, Event Horizon at times uses some really stock sound effects, which at times actually deflates a lot of the tension that they were going for. By that I mean that an example is a fight near the end had some goofy 80s action punching sound effects, making it feel really cheesy instead of intense.

Much of Event Horizon’s faults isn’t actually because of Paul W.S. Anderson or his crew but really mostly because of Paramount Pictures, it suffers by some occasionally messy writing and most of all from the numerous edits and cuts made by the studio. It does however have some really good elements, the production design and practical effects are great, the acting is solid, and this haunted ship from hell idea is really something I dig. It was a really good decision on Paul W.S. Anderson’s part to skip directing Mortal Kombat Annihilation for this. I feel like this would be one of those few movies that would be nice to see a remake of, if not at least another movie with a similar idea explored, because we haven’t seen many other sci-fi horror movies go to that place. As for Event Horizon itself, if you like horror movies and you can stomach some occasionally extreme gore, give it a watch, it’s only 90 minutes long anyway. Even if you don’t end up watching it, I highly recommend looking into the production of this movie because it’s rather interesting.

Red Sparrow (2018) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence, rape, cruelty and offensive language
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika Egorova
Joel Edgerton as Nate Nash
Matthias Schoenaerts as Ivan Vladimirovich Egorov
Charlotte Rampling as “Matron”
Mary-Louise Parker as Stephanie Boucher
Jeremy Irons as General Vladimir Andreievich Korchnoi
Ciarán Hinds as Colonel Zakharov
Joely Richardson as Nina Egorova
Bill Camp as Marty Gable
Director: Francis Lawrence

Prima ballerina Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) faces a bleak and uncertain future after she suffers an injury that ends her career. She soon turns to Sparrow School, a secret intelligence service that trains exceptional young people to use their minds and bodies as weapons. Egorova emerges as the most dangerous Sparrow after completing the sadistic training process. As she comes to terms with her new abilities, Dominika meets a CIA agent (Joel Edgerton) who tries to convince her that he is the only person she can trust.

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Red Sparrow is a movie I was aware of. It went through a lot of development, from Darren Aronofsky in talks to direct it, then David Fincher was in talks to direct with Rooney Mara to star in the lead role, before finally ending with Francis Lawrence set to direct and Jennifer Lawrence set to star in the lead role. Not going to lie, hearing the prospect of David Fincher directing a spy movie, only for Francis Lawrence to get the job let me down a little (no disrespect to Lawrence, he’s made some good movies). I still had interest in the film but I really didn’t know what to expect. Red Sparrow was actually better than I thought it would be. It had a riveting plot, was well directed and had some good performances, especially from Jennifer Lawrence.

Red Sparrow is based on the book of the same name by a retired CIA operative named Jason Matthews. However I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on any potential differences from the book. Red Sparrow is 2 hours and 20 minutes long and while it did really feel it’s length, the story really did have my interest. You have to know that this is a slower paced spy thriller, not a straight up action spy movie. There are plenty of twists and turns from start to finish and involved with every character. Whether or not said twists will hold up on a rewatch remains to be seen. The second half of Red Sparrow oddly seemed slower paced than the first half. Part of why this movie was so divisive is the hard R content, with the violence and sexual violence. While I can see why this turned a lot of people off, I felt that it was handled well, it was brutal enough and didn’t shy away from it, yet it wasn’t too over reliant or self indulgent on it. I think Francis Lawrence has shown himself to be at his best when he’s allowed to go into R rated territory, films like The Hunger Games, I am Legend and maybe even Constantine might be even better had he been allowed to go into those levels. The film ends with a possible set up for a sequel, I do hope that this ends up happening.

The cast all do well here. Jennifer Lawrence is the lead of Red Sparrow and this is one of her best performances yet. She really throws herself into this character who goes through a lot over the course of the movie and she gives it her all. Her Russian accent at time doesn’t always work and can slip out from time to time but it’s passable enough, and her performance aside from that is fantastic. Joel Edgerton was also really good in his role as a CIA operative who comes across Jennifer Lawrence’s character. Although Lawrence and Edgerton are great in Red Sparrow, I really didn’t buy their relationship, I could buy them working together but I never bought them actually falling in love with each other, and I know that’s what the movie was trying to show. It may well be that the writing for them wasn’t strong enough. Supporting actors like Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeremy Irons all play their roles well.

I was really impressed with Francis Lawrence’s direction here, on top of this movie being his best film, it’s the best direction of a movie I’ve seen from him. Red Sparrow looks visually great and is well put together. Also as I said earlier, the more intense scenes are handled quite well, with the right amount of brutality that’s needed. The score by James Newton Howard is also really good and adds to the movie.

Red Sparrow deserved more praise than it received. It’s really not for everyone, it is brutal and it is a long watch. But for me, the film is well directed, had my attention and had some really good performances, particularly from Jennifer Lawrence who is great here. I do hope we get a sequel and eventually a trilogy, adapting the 2 other books in the series. I’m not sure how different the first movie is from the first book but I’m sure that there’s a way to continue the series. Francis Lawrence, Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the cast and crew did a great job here and I’d love to see them return again to this series and these characters.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Acts of cruelty & rape, sexual violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomvist
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger
Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger
Steven Berkoff as Dirch Frode
Robin Wright as Erika Berger
Yorick van Wageningen as Nils Bjurman
Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger
Director: David Fincher

After being successfully sued for libel by a wealthy industrialist, investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) leaves his magazine Millennium and accepts an offer from Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to write the Vanger family history. What Henrik is most interested in learning however is what happened to his niece, Harriet Vanger, who he is certain was murdered by a member of his family in the summer of 1966. Mikael takes on the task and moves into a small cottage on the Vanger estate. Blomkvist eventually believes that her disappearance might have something to do with some serial killings that took place 20 years before she disappeared. He begins to decipher some of the clues Harriet has left behind and decides to get an assistant, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), the woman who did the very thorough background check on him for Vanger. Together, they learn of some of the Vangers deep, violent secrets.

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I haven’t read the novels by Stieg Larsson or watched the original movies, but just from watching this movie, I should get around to looking at them sometime because of how much I loved this movie. David Fincher was the perfect director for this film, creating a chilling atmosphere and overall, a film that is always captivating and interesting with never a dull moment.

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Starting with a sleek, stylistic and dark opening animation which is accompanied with Trent Reznor and Karen O’s cover of Immigrant Song (Originally by Led Zeppelin) the film never lets up in being completely interesting. When you go into this movie, expect a dialogue driven movie, like Zodiac (another Fincher movie) but yet it is much more captivating. It is also worth knowing that this is a mystery movie that has a lot of details to take in. The film also mostly jumps between the perspectives of Lisbeth and Mikael before they meet about halfway into the movie. Despite the film being a bit long at 2 hours and 40 minutes I still was interested throughout the entire runtime. The film also concludes with a fitting ending that has me itching for the sequels.

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Rooney Mara was absolutely fantastic in this movie. From her performance alone, I can see that her character is extremely hard to portray but somehow, she pulls it off. Mara managed to really transform herself to become Lisbeth and on screen, she lives and breathes her. She has successfully managed personifies one of the most complex and interesting characters I have watched on screen. Daniel Craig is also really good here who also has great chemistry with Rooney Mara. Other actors like Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard are also really good in their roles.

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David Fincher’s films always look great and this movie is no exception. The locations in Sweden are well made and the film looks downright beautiful when it takes place in winter. Incredibly, some of scenes used CGI, when all of the film looked like it was filmed with none of that. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is also really good and sets the mood for the location, particularly in the snow.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo proves again that David Fincher knows what he is doing behind the camera. It may not be the most pleasant film to watch but it is always eye catching with beautiful cinematography, a captivating tone and brilliant performances, mostly notable that being of Rooney Mara’s. It’s extremely hard for me to find any flaws in the movie and I’m looking forward to the sequels and I hope they get made.
9/10