Tag Archives: Michelle Williams

Shutter Island (2010) Review

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels
Mark Ruffalo as Chuck Aule
Ben Kingsley as Dr. John Cawley
Max von Sydow as Dr. Jeremiah Naehring
Michelle Williams as Dolores Chanal
Emily Mortimer as Rachel Solando 1
Patricia Clarkson as Rachel Solando 2
Jackie Earle Haley as George Noyce
Director: Martin Scorsese

Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), two US marshals, are sent to an asylum on a remote island in order to investigate the disappearance of a patient, where Teddy uncovers a shocking truth about the place.

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Shutter Island was great when I saw it some years ago, and I’ve been meaning to give it a second viewing for some time. The acting was really good, it was greatly directed, and it was an effectively suspenseful thriller with some effective twists. I can confirm that Shutter Island works an even better level after the first viewing.

There are plenty of movies with some twists and reveals, and then people say that apparently you’ll see the movie completely differently on a second viewing. Shutter Island is one of the strongest examples of a movie that really holds up to that. There is so much in this movie that I can’t reveal, so I’m basically forced to keep some things vague. It’s a movie that has a number of effective twists and captivates you from start to finish. You really are following along with the main character and trying to figure out the mystery of what’s going on. The only problem that I had with the movie was how they handled a certain reveal in the last act. They spend a lot of time outright explaining it right after saying what really happened, and it sort of dragged on for a little too long, killing much of the shock and tension that was originally generated. I liked what direction the plot in and especially the ending, but that portion was a little messy.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances as lead character Teddy Daniels. It’s extremely difficult to talk about why his performance is so great without giving much away, it’s effectively emotional and he fits into the role perfectly. The supporting cast is also good, with Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine adding quite a bit to the movie. For the sake of not revealing too much, I won’t talk too much about them either.

Martin Scorsese directs Shutter Island excellently, creating a dark and unsettling atmosphere. He also does well at giving the feeling like you’re right in a noire movie. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is stunning, gorgeously dark and gloomy, it really places you on this gothic island that just doesn’t seem right. Speaking of which, the production design is very effective and detailed. There are some dreamlike and hallucination scenes that are among the best I’ve seen in a movie. Shutter Island is the closest thing to a horror movie that Scorsese directed, and makes you uncertain about a lot of the things you see. The music choices are also great, and using Max Richter’s On the Nature of Daylight is never going to stop hitting me right in the feels.

Shutter Island is a fantastic movie that for whatever reason often gets placed among ‘lesser Scorsese’ films, I consider it at least in his top 10 for the time being. The story and premise might be a little typical of many other thrillers, but Martin Scorsese really gives something special to this one, the plot is gripping and suspenseful, and the acting is great, particularly from Leonardo DiCaprio. A second viewing only elevates the movie further, knowing what’s really going on the whole time. Definitely worth seeing if you haven’t watched it already. And if you have seen it once, check it out again, it’s a completely different experience.

Venom (2018) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock/Venom
Michelle Williams as Anne Weying
Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake/Riot
Scott Haze as Roland Treece
Reid Scott as Dr. Dan Lewis
Jenny Slate as Dr. Dora Skirth
Director: Ruben Fleischer

Journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is trying to take down Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake’s experiments, Eddie’s body merges with the alien Venom — leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating.

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Venom was on my most anticipated movies of 2018 list. A Venom movie has been in development ever since Spider-Man 3, and they eventually got it made by Zombieland and Gangster Squad director Ruben Fleischer. With the involvement of Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed, I was intrigued by a solo villain movie that’s more darker and different than most comic book movies nowadays. With that said, there were some reservations about it. This Venom movie doesn’t feature Spider-Man at all (something which is hard to picture considering Spider-Man is instrumental in his origin in the comics) and knowing how Sony botched some of their Spider-Man movies, you can see why people would be nervous about what they would do with this movie. Sony also are building their own Spider-Man cinematic universe (without Spider-Man) not connected to the MCU, and while that sounds interesting, it sounds rather peculiar and very familiar of Sony trying to build up the Sinister Six before they canned it. Nonetheless, I was sure that Venom would be a very entertaining movie, and I was actually somewhat right. Venom isn’t a very good movie, it’s very messy, the writing is flawed, it feels dated and all around there are a ton of problems. However, it is at the same time unbelievably entertaining, crazy and hilarious and I had such a fun time with it.

The first act of Venom is necessary but its quite slow, drawn out and is not very interesting. It doesn’t seem like it would be that much of a problem, but it is one of the worst parts of the movie because it’s not entertaining like the rest of the movie is. Not to mention despite how dull it feels, it feels really rushed and even the editing is really choppy, like they knew it was not as interesting or fun as the rest of the movie but wanted to keep the essentials of the scene so edited them down to the bare minimum. Venom picks up a little after a random 6 month time jump (which it really didn’t need) and especially once Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock comes in contact with Venom, just before (or at) the second act. Just so you know, it takes about an hour into the movie before we see Eddie Brock in full Venom beast mode. I think one of the biggest disappointments of Venom is the fact that the plot as whole is very generic and familiar. What’s in the trailers is pretty much what’s in the movie (in fact in typical Sony fashion they actually showed a little too much). Honestly I think plotwise there’s not really anything to spoil. With that said, what could actually be spoiled is some of the insane moments, particularly the things that Eddie does in the movie (I’ll get a little more into that aspect when I talk about Tom Hardy). The second act is really good and is full of insane Tom Hardy/Venom moments that are endlessly entertaining. One of the best (if not the best) part of Venom is the dynamic between Eddie and Venom, which is done almost perfectly. It’s hilarious and entertaining watching these two interact with each other and from what I can tell it is straight out of the comics. The third act however feels rather abrupt and loses a lot of the energy from the second act, it becomes a pretty standard comic book movie at this point. Also, throughout the whole movie its been building up this character of Riot and while at certain points he’s great, in the third act he doesn’t feel like that much of a threat in the end. Really, it’s the second act that works the best. Venom is an hour and 50 minutes long which is a little short, I kind of wished we got a longer movie (and by that I mean a longer second act with more of that kind of content). In terms of other problems in general, the dialogue can be weak, even terrible at times, and the film in terms of writing can feel very dated, in fact the writing on the whole wasn’t that good. It actually had 3 screenwriters who did the script, which probably explains one of the biggest problems of the movie: Venom wants to be so much, a buddy comedy between Eddie and Venom, a cheesy creature feature, a body horror movie, a really dark comic book movie and it all tries to do all of that and more at the same time and it doesn’t quite work. It tries to do multiple things at once (with only some of them succeeding) and it would’ve worked a lot better if it just settled on one type of movie. The movie actually worked fine enough without Spider-Man, when it comes to the long list of problems that Venom has, the lack of Spider-Man is pretty low down on it. Venom has two credits scenes, one setting up for a sequel, and the other is another Sony Spider-Man related movie. With the first of the two, I like the implications of it but some aspects of it came across as a little goofy and hard to take seriously. Both I think are worth staying around for.

Tom Hardy is one of the best actors working today, putting everything into every one of his performances, and his performance as Eddie Brock/Venom is no exception here. This is a less villainous take on Eddie Brock (let’s just say that Topher Grace’s Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3 was much more villainous than Hardy’s version), this version of Brock is much more likable and while it is a departure from the comics, it does actually work well for this movie (especially when he’s contrasted against the Venom symbiote). There is no other way of putting it, Tom Hardy is the reason that this movie works. A lot of his performance is very comedic and most of the insane things that happen in this movie involves him, and Hardy absolutely commits to these scenes. For example, without revealing anything there’s a scene that takes place in a restaurant involving Tom Hardy and it’s probably one of the most hilarious scenes of 2018. Even for all the other good aspects that this movie has, this movie would not work without Hardy, he’s the glue that is holding everything in this movie together. He is great at the comedy but also sells the emotional moments that his character has, when he’s scared finding out that he’s having all these powers and finding himself doing weird things, it is really believable. He really does seem like someone who is forced to share a body and mind with another alien being. Earlier I mentioned about how the Eddie and Venom interactions are some of the best parts of the movie and Hardy really helped to sell that aspect (it helped that he actually voiced Venom as well). The rest of the cast are decent enough but don’t reach Hardy’s level (not necessarily their fault however). I think the problem is that there’s almost a disconnect between Hardy and the rest of the cast. Hardy seems to know that he’s in a cheesy and comedic comic book movie, whereas the rest of the cast play everything very seriously, and whenever Hardy isn’t on screen, things fall a little flat. Michelle Williams does play the ex girlfriend character to Hardy and while she does get some things to do than most characters that fit within this type, most of the time she isn’t really used to her fullest potential. Williams does elevate her performance slightly however. The chemistry between Hardy and Williams is a little hit or miss sometimes but it works okay enough. Riz Ahmed plays Carlton Drake, the villain of the movie and he is a little cartoonish, having these long speeches about humanity and how symbiotes combined with them are the higher life forms and other things like that. He isn’t a very memorable villain and is pretty generic but Ahmed does play up the silliness of the role well and ultimately still gives a pretty good performance.

Ruben Fleischer directed Venom and it is a bit over the place with some aspects being good, and some other aspects not being quite as good. The CGI on the whole is a mixed bag. The CGI on Venom actually looks pretty great and impressive. When it came to other parts though, especially in the climax, it could looked look a little cheap at times. Almost all of the action scenes are pretty good, especially when Venom is involved, they really made him such a hugely powerful figure. The last action scene however wasn’t that good, as it was a little hard to see what’s going on. As for whether Venom needed an R rating, it worked fine without it, they still do well enough with the PG-13 and push it as much as they can, managing to still have some dark and scary imagery at times and even featuring Venom eating people. However, an R probably would’ve allowed them more freedom with the things that they could show and would’ve made it a little more entertaining as well. I think there may have been some heavy edits and cuts to the movie, and you can feel it a little in the first act, for example there’s a scene between Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams and the sudden cuts and the lack of continuity is really obvious. Most of the time its fine but you can really notice it sometimes. I also have mixed feelings about the look of the overall movie. At times it can look great but at other times it can look really dated, like it should’ve come out in the early to mid 2000s.

Venom is an odd movie to say the least and one of the most unexpectedly entertaining movies in recent years. No it’s not really that good, it has a ton of problems, but it has a lot of entertaining aspects, the highlights being Tom Hardy’s performance and his dynamic with Venom. With the potential that a sequel would have, I really want to see the teased sequel. Hopefully this sequel will be R rated (which would probably be wise considering the implications of the credits scene), focuses up on what kind of movie it actually wants to be and is just overall much better than this first movie. Honestly, I can’t tell whether or not you’d like this movie, you will just have to take into account all of what I’ve said about this movie and decide for yourself if this is something that you feel like you would enjoy.

The Greatest Showman (2017) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as P. T. Barnum
Zac Efron as Phillip Carlyle
Michelle Williams as Charity Hallett-Barnum
Rebecca Ferguson as Jenny Lind
Zendaya as Anne Wheeler
Director: Michael Gracey

Inspired by the imagination of P. T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

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I didn’t know what I would think of The Greatest Showman. There seemed to be quite the hype for it, with it seeming to promise an entertaining musical with some good songs. There was a lot of talent involved with Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and others involved. However, I had a feeling that it would just be entertaining but not that great overall as a movie. Unsurprisingly, that was pretty much what I got. The Greatest Showman is entertaining but there’s not a whole lot of substance, it’s flashy and stylistic and has actors you love performing some great songs but that seems to be all it really has to offer. The movie even gets worse when you look into it more, as the way the filmmakers try to use the story of real life person P.T. Barnum to make it a musical is highly questionable at best. However there is still fun to be had with the movie.

Even outside of its accuracy to real life issues, The Greatest Showman does have some plot issues. At times it was trying hard to get you feel things but it felt shallow and by the numbers. The story is also quite predictable, there aren’t really any surprises. Despite it being an hour and 45 minutes long, it drags at some points, particularly in between the flashy sequences. There are some aspects that feel not as interesting like with Rebecca Fergusson’s character, there was quite a lot of focus on her and then she just disappears from the movie at some point. It feels like all that time should’ve been spent between Zac Efron and Zendaya as their storyline were a little more interesting. Now onto possibly the biggest fault of the movie. From what I can tell, this movie isn’t very accurate at all, usually I’m a little lenient on some movies based on true events but this is a case where a lot of the changes really bothered me. From what little I researched about P.T Barnum, The Greatest Showman makes him unbelievably likable in comparison to his real self. In retrospect, they really should’ve just taken some inspiration from P.T. Barnum and create their own story completely. Earlier I mentioned how Rebecca Fergusson’s character didn’t fit in with the movie, apparently she plays a real life person named Jenny Lind, once again if they only took inspiration for the story they wouldn’t have to put her in the movie (it is also worth noting that they got a lot of things about Lind wrong). Zac Efron and Zendaya’s characters also never existed in real life, despite them being some of the main characters of the film. It’s like someone saw a very rough outline of P.T. Barnum’s life and what he did, took random bits out and turned it into a musical. All the faults of the movie as a story are made even worse by the inaccuracies to real life, if they could just make up things, why couldn’t they write a better story? So for enjoyment’s sake, I just look at this movie as a fictional musical. P.T. Barnum is not a good subject of focus for a musical, if they really wanted to make The Greatest Showman and have it inspired by some of Barnum’s life, they should’ve just taken some aspects but otherwise make just about everything fictional, and also don’t claim to attempt to basing the movie off of him. Inaccuracies aside, the story is just passable at best, nothing really that special.

Hugh Jackman is good as always, whether it comes to acting, dancing and singing. As I said previously, he’s not really playing P.T. Barnum, for the way that his role was written though, he was good at it. Just imagine that here he’s playing someone named P.T. Barnum who isn’t related to the real life P.T. Barnum. The supporting cast with Zac Efron, Zendaya, Michelle Williams, and others were also good. Although her character wasn’t so great, Rebecca Fergusson was good enough in her role, although it felt a little odd and out of place that the rest of the main cast sung whereas her singing was dubbed by Loren Allred.

The Greatest Showman’s greatest strengths aside from its actors is the direction and the music. It is directed rather well by director Michael Gracey, who makes his directorial debut here. The musical sequences are all pretty great, the choreography, cinematography, production design, everything is on point, if rather over the top, overblown and silly at certain points. Nearly all the songs are great, with maybe 2 or 3 songs paling in comparison to the rest of the songs. It is a very flashy and entertaining movie, I can say that, which helps make the so-so story somewhat bearable.

The Greatest Showman was entertaining but that’s all I can really say about this movie. Aside from the good performances from the actors, some flashy and fun sequences and the songs, it really is a sort of passable movie with a shallow and average story which relies way too heavily on its style and its entertainment factor over having enough actual substance. The inaccuracies to the story just make the movie worse and are more bothersome the more you look into it. I will say that I still did enjoy watching The Greatest Showman, but there is a lot of things wrong with it. I’d say give it a chance if you like some musicals, just don’t expect it to be mindblowing amazing and be aware that this movie might as well have nothing to do with the real life P.T. Barnum. Accuracy aside, it is still an entertaining movie and to a degree I recommend checking it out, despite its faults.

All the Money in the World (2017) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Contains violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast
Michelle Williams as Gail Harris
Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty
Mark Wahlberg as Fletcher Chase
Charlie Plummer as John Paul Getty III
Romain Duris as Cinquanta
Marco Leonardi as Mammoliti
Director: Ridley Scott

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom. When Getty Sr. refuses, Gail attempts to sway him as her son’s captors become increasingly volatile and brutal. With her son’s life in the balance, Gail and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time that ultimately reveals the true and lasting value of love over money.

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I was aware about All the Money in the World in the lead up to its release, even before the controversy hit the film. As most people know, because of the sexual allegations against Kevin Spacey (who had already filmed scenes as J. Paul Getty), director Ridley Scott decided to reshoot his scenes with Christopher Plummer as Getty. This brought a lot more attention to the film, the question being raised often is whether Ridley pulled the reshoots off months before its release, the answer is yes. However, how is the movie on a whole? All the Money in the World is another solid movie by Ridley Scott with the great performances being the highlight.

I was interested in the movie from start to finish but I will admit that it took me a little while to get into it, it was a little slow initially. It is a pretty long movie at around 2 hours and 15 minutes, however looking back at the movie I’m not exactly sure what I would cut out. By the second half of the movie though I was fully into it. The film doesn’t just cover the whole kidnapping, it also goes into some depth about the Getty family through the use of some flashbacks. The film really got more intriguing as it went on. As for how accurate this movie is, I know that there are a few aspects that are inaccurate, especially in the third act, it was probably done to make the film more dramatic. I guess all the real events weren’t interesting, dramatic or captivating enough, so some changes were made. I think most of the film is accurate but it is hard to tell as it’s difficult to find facts. On the whole though, the story was done quite well.

Michelle Williams shouldn’t be overlooked amongst all the Spacey/Plummer controversy. She’s truly great and believable as a mother trying to get her son back and being faced with so many odds. Definitely worthy of a lot of praise. Despite being brought in at the last minute, Christopher Plummer is fantastic as J. Paul Getty. Along with actually being the right age to play Getty and not having extremely distracting makeup (unlike Spacey), acting wise he’s more appropriate. Plummer manages to ground Getty in reality and feel like an actual person instead of a character. Getty definitely is ruthless but has reasons for his decisions and Plummer was fantastic in every scene. Mark Wahlberg was also pretty good, he doesn’t stand out as much as some of the other performances but he does have his moments and still adds quite a bit to the movie as well. Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher Plummer) is Paul Getty III and while he doesn’t have too much to work with he did act very well with what he’s given. A performance I also don’t think should be overlooked is of Romain Duris, who’s one of the kidnappers of John Paul III and ends up befriending the captive. They have an interesting relationship that I didn’t expect. Overall all the acting is great and is one of the best parts of the film.

Ridley Scott is still to this day a great director and he does great work here again. Anyone worried about the reshoots shouldn’t be, they were seamless. If you showed the film to someone who never heard about the controversy, they wouldn’t be able to tell that reshoots happened. Besides, it’s pretty obvious that every single scene Christopher Plummer is in is a reshoot, none of that is distracting though. There was only really one scene that stood out involving a desert and green screen (which from what I could tell is the only way they could reshoot that scene), otherwise pretty much everything else is in place. The cinematography, lighting and colour pallet throughout the whole film were pretty good, although a little distracting at times with how it changes during some segments. Whenever the film needs to be tense, it is very tense, especially one hard to watch scene in the second half. The score by Daniel Pemberton was also quite good.

All the Money of the World definitely manages to pull off the reshoots and be an engaging thriller. Ridley Scott’s direction was great, the film was for the most part gripping and the performances were fantastic. I’m not sure if I would put this as being one of Ridley Scott’s all time best films but it is one of his best in recent years at the very least. It was a very different kind of movie for him and he pulled it off greatly. It is definitely worth giving a watch.

Manchester by the Sea (2016) Review

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Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language and content that may disturb
Cast:
Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler
Michelle Williams as Randi
Kyle Chandler as Joseph “Joe” Chandler
Lucas Hedges as Patrick Chandler
Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother’s (Kyle Chandler) heart has given out suddenly, and he’s been named guardian to his 16 year old nephew (Lucas Hedges). As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren’t enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.

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Manchester by the Sea was a movie that got a lot of attention, particularly from it being an awards movie. Much of the attention was on the acting. I was curious about this movie but not sure how I’d feel about it. I have to say that Manchester by the Sea deserves all the praise and attention. The story, the direction and particularly the acting was so great, all of it combining to make such an emotionally affecting movie.

Manchester by the sea 2016 Real Kenneth Lonergan Casey Affleck. Collection Christophel © The Affleck / Middleton Project / B STorie / Big Indie Pictures

At first it may be hard getting into the movie. Early on, Lee is a character hard to like. But over time as you find out what happened to him in the past, you begin to empathise and understand why he is how he is. The film is a bit unconventional, it doesn’t really have a 3 act structure like most movies do. The flashbacks used were effective, sometimes it takes a while to figure out that the scenes are even flashbacks. The dialogue between the characters seems so natural, it almost feels like we are listening in on real life conversations between real life people. That’s one of the main takeaways from this movie, it felt so real. There is also surprising amount of humour in this movie, to offset some of the darker moments of the film. Something to address is that this movie isn’t for everyone. It is a very depressing movie, with characters going through some issues (especially with Lee). But I feel like this was done very well, it didn’t feel overdone and it felt so real. I will say that I didn’t really like the way this movie ends. It’s not bad, I just don’t really know what to think of it. It just sort of ends unexpectedly. Also at times this movie does feel a little too long. Those are really the only problems with the movie.

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There is no doubt that the acting is the highlight of the movie. Everyone was excellent in this movie, they felt like real people. Casey Affleck played his role incredibly well. He’s so subtle in his performance, it’s never showy. He might not be saying anything but you can tell whatever he’s feeling based on his expressions and through his eyes. Michelle Williams is not in the movie a whole lot but she really is great when she’s on screen. There’s a scene she shares with Affleck later in the movie, and both of them were absolutely excellent in it. Lucas Hedges is also great as the teenager that Lee may end up looking after, definitely looking forward to seeing more of this newer talent in future movies. Other supporting actors such as Kyle Chandler were also great in their roles.

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The direction wasn’t flashy and wasn’t the highlight of the movie but it was good. The cinematography is beautiful and the colour pallet fitted the tone of the movie. The soundtrack was also very effective.

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I think Manchester by the Sea is definitely worth checking out. It’s an incredibly emotional experience, powered by its compelling story and its pitch perfect acting. You just need to know what you’re getting into though. It is depressing to sit through. However I do think that despite that fact, you really should see it.