Tag Archives: Michael Sheen

Kingdom of Heaven: Director’s Cut (2005) Review

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Kingdom of Heaven

Time:
144 Minutes (Theatrical Cut)
194 Minutes (Director’s Cut)
Age Rating: 860949[1] 
Cast:
Orlando Bloom as Balian of Ibelin
Eva Green as Sibylla of Jerusalem
Jeremy Irons as Raymond III of Tripoli (“Tiberias”)
David Thewlis as The Hospitaller
Brendan Gleeson as Raynald of Châtillon (“Reynald”)
Marton Csokas as Guy de Lusignan
Edward Norton as King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem
Michael Sheen as Priest
Liam Neeson as Barisan of Ibelin (“Godfrey”)
Director: Ridley Scott

In the twelfth century, blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom) travels to Jerusalem, a city seething with religious wars. He transforms into a defending warrior who saves the city and its people.

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I have heard about Kingdom of Heaven for a while, mainly about it being another historical epic from director Ridley Scott. I also heard that it’s one of the most infamous instances where the director’s cut is far better than the theatrical cut, with the latter reportedly removing so many important parts from the film. So I sought out the Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven and I’m prepared to say that it’s one of my all time favourite films from Ridley Scott, which is quite something considering his filmography.

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Kingdom of Heaven was a very well-crafted historical epic, it does have fictionalised events but that’s to be expected from most big budget Hollywood historical epics (especially those directed by Ridley Scott). The large scale of this movie is impressive, and the story is grippingly told with high stakes very apparent throughout. It has a complex plot with many well thought out characters and plotlines and with the director’s cut at least, I think it was put together well. On one hand the film is a classic tale about an individual who rises to become something great, but it’s also a movie about the Crusades. I don’t know much about the subject matter but the Crusades sound like a fascinating historical period, so that was interesting to watch. One of the most surprising parts of the movie is that it does a great job at depicting both sides of the fight equally, with Islam and Christianity being represented fairly. It would have been easy to pick one side over the other, but it’s a well balanced telling of both religious sides. It is particularly powerful when you consider this holy war conflict is framed against a post 9/11 backdrop with the film being released 2 years into the Iraq War. And thinking about it, this is probably one of the many reasons why Kingdom of Heaven wasn’t liked by some when it came out. There’s a lot to this movie thematically, especially about hope and redemption, and it has a very humanist view on religion and life in general. The director’s cut includes 45 minutes of extra footage compared to the theatrical cut. I can’t speak for myself about how much the differences matter since I never watched the theatrical cut, but I heard the extended scenes flesh out many of the supporting characters and storylines. As I said before it is a complex and long movie, making it 3 hours long. However I think the runtime was worth it to tell a story of this magnitude. The movie takes its time, it has many subplots it juggles but takes time to develop them and the characters and it really pays off.

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Kingdom of Heaven has one of the best casts I’ve seen in a movie and overall there are some strong performances playing well realised characters. The cast includes Michael Sheen, Brendan Gleeson, Eva Green, Marton Csokas and many more. For me the standouts were Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, David Thewlis, Edward Norton (as a character whose face is never seen yet gives a scene stealing performance), and Ghassan Massoud. The one cast member I hadn’t mentioned yet is the actor who plays the lead character, Orlando Bloom. His performance has been criticised by many, potentially partly due to his cut scenes. He definitely pales when put alongside the other actors in the movie and better actors could’ve been cast in his part. However I do think Bloom gives a really good performance, definitely the best I’ve seen from him.

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Ridley Scott’s movies are generally impressive on a technical level and Kingdom of Heaven is no exception. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, it’s possibly one of the best looking movies that Scott has made. You really feel the sense of scale with this movie, the production design and costumes are top notch, and get you completely immersed within this time period. As a spectacle it doesn’t disappoint, with some intense battle and action sequences which hold up well today, including the CGI. Finally there’s the great score from Harry Gregson-Williams, which could very well be the best I’ve heard from him.

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The Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven is a fantastic historical epic that’s worthy of being placed among the best. The stellar cast are fantastic in their parts, Ridley Scott’s direction is top notch, and the story is complex and with compelling characters. Of course if you are going to watch it, make sure to watch the director’s cut, it’s pretty much universally accepted by everyone who’s watched it as the definitive version of the film.

Apostle (2018) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Dan Stevens as Thomas Richardson
Michael Sheen as Malcolm Howe
Mark Lewis Jones as Quinn
Paul Higgins as Frank
Lucy Boynton as Andrea Howe
Bill Milner as Jeremy
Kristine Froseth as Ffion
Director: Gareth Evans

London, 1905. Prodigal son Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) has returned home, only to learn that his sister (Elen Rhys) is being held for ransom by a religious cult. Determined to get her back at any cost, Thomas travels to the idyllic island where the cult lives. As Thomas infiltrates the island’s community, he learns that the corruption of mainland society that they claim to reject has infested the cult’s ranks nonetheless – and uncovers a secret more evil than he could have imagined.

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I had been meaning to get around to Apostle for some time. I was aware that Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen but most of all that Gareth Evans, director of The Raid movies, would be taking on a horror movie. While I only saw the first Raid, it was such a solid action movie, and it would be interesting to see him doing a horror movie. While it’s not one of the best horror movies to come out in recent years, Apostle is still a really solid one.

The movie around 2 hours and 10 minutes long and it is a bit too long. On top of that the pacing, especially at the earlier parts of the movies, can be a little too slow. The decision to make this a slow burn kind of horror movie is respectable but in that first half there isn’t enough interesting things happening, the attempt of dissection of cults wasn’t deep enough, the characters don’t have enough to them and some plotlines aren’t all that interesting or necessary (especially one involving a romance even though that eventually pays off later in the movie). After a while though, Apostle picks up in the second half, had the entire movie been pretty much what happened the second half of the movie, I would’ve liked the movie a lot more. The finale makes it all worth it, with it being brutal and satisfying for the most part. I feel like the ending was a bit abrupt though, and could’ve been a little longer even though I was fine with the direction it was taking.

The acting all round was pretty good, even if the characterisation isn’t all that deep. Dan Stevens is good as the lead, I haven’t seen Stevens in much but he always seems to act differently in everything that he’s in, and Apostle is no exception. The whole thing about his character trying to find his sister was fine enough, but you don’t overly care about it, you just sort of go along with it. Michael Sheen was the standout of the movie performance-wise, as the lead prophet of the cult. Other performances like from Lucy Boynton were also very good.

As previously mentioned, Gareth Evans had directed The Raid movies, which were filled with some fantastic action scenes. Apostle however is very much not an action movie, there are only a few fight scenes in the movie, though all these fight scenes are great. Apostle primarily is a slow building horror movie, and Evans actually does pretty well with the horror aspect. I wasn’t really scared throughout the movie but there are some freaky imagery. Also this movie can be unflinchingly brutal, way more than you’d initially think it would be. The whole production design is good, you really feel just on this island isolated from the rest of the world.

Apostle is a solid horror movie that has some setbacks that work against. While it starts off being reasonably okay, it’s all worth the watch for the second half and especially with the climax (the movie really isn’t for the faint of heart though). It’s a brutal movie that doesn’t quite deliver as well as it was aiming to be, but it’s nonetheless pretty good. As far as Netflix movies go, this one is actually on the better end of the spectrum.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) Review

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) in Disney's ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, an all-new adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll's beloved stories.

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Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Some scenes may scare very young children
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Tarrant Hightopp, the Mad Hatter
Anne Hathaway as Mirana of Marmoreal, the White Queen
Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh
Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth of Crims
Sacha Baron Cohen as Time
Rhys Ifans as Zanik Hightopp
Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Alan Rickman as Absolem, the Butterfly (voice)
Stephen Fry as Cheshire, the Cheshire Cat (voice)
Michael Sheen as Nivens McTwisp, the White Rabbit (voice)
Timothy Spall as Bayard, the Bloodhound (voice)
Director: James Bobin


Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Underland and finds the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) in an illness. The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) told Alice that in order to help the Hatter, she must travel to the past, only to find out that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), a walking clock-like man, have a plan to take over Underland.

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I didn’t have any expectations going into Alice Through the Looking Glass. I really disliked the first film, it’s been 6 years since the original and it seems that the only reason this film exists is because it made lots of money. And the sequel was pretty much what I expected it to be. The story is messy, the acting (for the most part) is over the top and sometimes bad, and the visuals are fake looking (even more so than the original). It’s a frustrating because the film had some potential.

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This movie is all over the place. There’s so many elements crammed into this movie and they aren’t fully formed or developed. This movie has so much going on, the Red Queen and White Queen’s backstory, the Mad Hatter’s backstory, Alice in the real world, and so many more and I didn’t care about any of these plotlines. It’s almost as if it was a tv series with all the plots of the episodes plots stuffed and cut down to fit one movie. I will say that this movie had more potential than the first film as it dealt with time, and there are some ideas in the film which seemed okay, at least to me. But as I said, the ideas aren’t fully realised or developed well enough. I also never really cared about what was going on or was concerned about how things would end, I just straight up didn’t care about anything that was going on in the movie.

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In the first movie, I didn’t like Mia Wasikowska’s performance, I thought that it was bland, boring and flat (though it really wasn’t her fault). I actually liked her in this movie however, she doesn’t have a lot of great material to work with but she was quite good here and was a likable protagonist. I also really liked Sacha Baron Cohen as Time. However if you think that Time is the main antagonist of the movie, that’s unfortunately not the case, it’s the Red Queen again, which… kinda sucks because she’s extremely over the top and doesn’t work at all. Everyone else is pretty much their characters from the first film, but worse. Johnny Depp is doing Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter is doing Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway… really didn’t give a good performance here either. Particularly those three were annoying in their roles.

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The first movie had an overload of CGI and green screen, leading to some sequences feeling quite fake, however it was still a good looking movie overall. Somehow this movie manages to add even more CGI and green screen, nothing feels natural, everything feels artificial and fake. The designs for a lot of the locations and the characters (like in the first film) were creative and sometimes great, but they aren’t portrated on screen that well.

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Alice through the Looking Glass is what I expected this movie to be. It’s about as bad as the original, there are some elements which are better and there are some elements which are worse. I did like Mia Wasikowska and Sacha Baron Cohen in their roles, and there are some ideas and potential in the story. But at the same time the script is crammed with so many unformed ideas, the acting is mostly over the top and occasionally bad (particularly from Depp, Bonham Carter and Hathaway) and the CGI and green screen was horrible. I have no idea what you’ll think of this movie, but I’ll say if you didn’t like the first film, I think it’s highly unlikely that you’ll like the sequel.

Nocturnal Animals (2016) Review

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nocturnal-animals

Time: 116 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual violence, offensive language & nudity
Cast:
Amy Adams as Susan Morrow
Jake Gyllenhaal as Edward Sheffield/Tony Hastings
Michael Shannon as Detective Bobby Andes
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ray Marcus
Isla Fisher as Laura Hastings
Armie Hammer as Hutton Morrow
Laura Linney as Anne Sutton
Andrea Riseborough as Alessia Holt
Michael Sheen as Carlos Holt
Director: Tom Ford

The life of a successful Los Angeles art-gallery owner’s idyllic, named Susan (Amy Adams), is marred by the constant traveling of her handsome second husband (Armie Hammer). While he is away, she is shaken by the arrival of a manuscript written by her first husband (Jake Gyllenhaal), who she has not seen in years. The manuscript tells the story of a teacher who finds a trip with his family turning into a nightmare. As Susan reads the book, it forces her to examine her past and confront some dark truths.

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Nocturnal Animals was a movie that I was curious about, mostly because of its great cast. I didn’t know a lot about the movie aside from that, but the cast and the premise was enough to intrigue me. I have to say, Nocturnal Animals is not only a great movie, it’s also one of the best movies of the year. The acting, the direction and the story was done excellently. Even if you don’t like the movie, there’s no denying how unique Nocturnal Animals is.

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This movie has a very unique structure. This movie cuts between storylines, with the present day storyline, the novel storyline and the flashbacks with Amy Adams’s character. It seems like it had the potential to become a mess but not once do any of the scenes feel out of place. There is something intriguing about this movie that had me invested from start to finish, it’s been many days since I’ve watched this movie, I’m still processing what I watched. I will say, without spoiling anything, the ending is one that might annoy some people, I myself was confused when I saw it. It is one of those endings that you need to think about for a while to understand the intent of it. I honestly want to watch this movie again, it’s one of those movies that gets better and better the more you watch it.

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The acting by everyone is absolutely superb. Amy Adams gives such a great performance, both this and Arrival shows that she really is an excellent actress. I’ll just say that her performance here is truly one of her best, and that’s saying a lot. Jake Gyllenhaal unsurprisingly is excellent, showing that he is one of the best actors working today. There are two showstealing supporting performances in thismovie. One of them is from Michael Shannon, who not only has an entertaining character to work with, but also gives one of his best performances in a while. He was so enjoyable to watch but at the same time was very compelling. The other showstealing supporting performance is surprisingly from Aaron Taylor Johnson is also great as one of the villainous characters in the novel. Aaron Taylor Johnson is for me a decent actor, but this is hands down his best performance yet, Taylor-Johnson fully embodies the character. The cast all do a fantastic job, and all deserve high praise for their work here.

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The style and overall direction by director Tom Ford is done excellently. This film is shot absolutely beautifully, it’s one of the best shot films of the year. Every scene was directed perfectly. A great example was the first scene in the novel storyline, without spoiling anything, I’ll say that it was truly unsettling and intense, and Ford’s direction executed this scene excellently. If I had to mention one problem I had with the film, it’s with the opening credit sequence, which I’ll just say, was really out of place. If you watch the movie, don’t be deterred by this though, the rest of the movie is great. The soundtrack by Abel Korzeniowski was also truly great, and added a lot to the movie.

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Nocturnal Animals surprised me, I was expecting great acting at the very least (which I did get) I didn’t expect this movie to be this investing and to be directed so greatly. While I do think you need to know what sort of film you’re getting into before watching it, I do recommend going into this movie without knowing a whole lot about it. That’s how I watched it and I really got a lot out of it, and the surprises were more impactful. I personally loved Nocturnal Animals, it is a very ambitious film that manages to succeed on mostly every angle. It’s one of the best of the year.

Alice in Wonderland (2010) Review

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Alice in Wonderland

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Frightening fantasy scenes and violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter
Anne Hathaway as The White Queen
Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen
Crispin Glover as Stayne – Knave of Hearts
Matt Lucas as Tweedledee/Tweedledum
Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh
Alan Rickman as Blue Caterpillar (voice)
Stephen Fry as Cheshire Cat (voice)
Michael Sheen as White Rabbit (voice)
Timothy Spall as Bayard (voice)
Director: Tim Burton

A young girl when she first visited magical Wonderland, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is now a teenager with no memory of the place — except in her dreams. Her life takes a turn for the unexpected when, at a garden party for her fiancé and herself, she spots a certain white rabbit and tumbles down a hole after him. Reunited with her friends the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Cheshire Cat and others, Alice learns it is her destiny to end the Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter) reign of terror.

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Tim Burton nowadays can be hit or miss with hits with Sweeney Todd and misses with Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. When it comes to his take on Alice in Wonderland, people are divided but the movie did make a lot of money so obviously a lot of people liked it. However in my opinion, Alice in Wonderland is a miss and it might be his worst work yet. I haven’t read the book or seen any of the previous interpretations but yet I found this movie a bad adaptation. It tries to be this big grand war movie when it didn’t need to be. It’s so strange how this movie turned out, considering the fact that Tim Burton is a perfect choice to direct an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. But whatever the case, I felt that this movie was a huge let down and a terrible version of the classic story.

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It should be noted that this movie isn’t even an adaptation of the original Alice in Wonderland story because this isn’t the first time Alice has been to Wonderland. Later you find out that this place isn’t even called Wonderland, it’s called Underland. So the movie is more Grown Up Alice Returns to Underland than Alice in Wonderland. This movie also seemed to miss the point of Alice in Wonderland. There is some made up prophecy story forced into this movie and it also tries to make a war movie out of Alice in Wonderland. Because of this there are so many plot holes, like there’s a scene where Alice uses the enlarging cake to grow bigger, couldn’t they just make more of that cake and use it to win the war? Also despite this movie being PG, there are some pretty dark things that happen in the movie, so this film also doesn’t know what age they are working towards.

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Mia Wasikowska plays Alice and she is extremely bland and boring in this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she’s a great actress, I just think it was the direction and writing that let her down. She barely looks interested or distressed by all the events happening all around her. Johnny Depp is playing typical Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter is playing typical Helena Bonham Carter. They aren’t bad but they aren’t anything special either, same can be said for the other characters.

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I will say the one good thing about this movie is that at times the style does show Wonderland off quite well. The designs for all the characters are perfect, take the Cheshire cat for instance. Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland were a perfect pair for each other and although the rest of the movie isn’t good, at least everything looks great, even though there is quite a lot of CGI used.

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Alice in Wonderland was so popular that this year we’ll be getting a sequel. Do I think it’s possible for it to be good? Anything is possible but it’s unlikely. This film did have some good designs and some potential with Burton’s involvement, however the writing completely lets the story down by being bigger and more serious than it should. I think this is my least favourite Tim Burton movie so far. I know that Burton isn’t directing the sequel but I’m still not looking forward to it. Then again Alice in Wonderland is not a very tough act to follow, so it might at least be better.