Tag Archives: Rhys Ifans

Official Secrets (2019) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Keira Knightley as Katharine Gun
Matt Smith as Martin Bright
Matthew Goode as Peter Beaumont
Rhys Ifans as Ed Vulliamy
Adam Bakri as Yasar Gun
Indira Varma as Shami Chakrabarti
Ralph Fiennes as Ben Emmerson
Director: Gavin Hood

One day in 2003, in the lead up to the Iraq War, British intelligence specialist Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) receives a memo from the NSA with a shocking directive: the United States is enlisting Britain’s help in collecting compromising information on U.N. Security Council members to blackmail them into voting in favor of an invasion of Iraq. Unable to stand by and watch the world be rushed into war, Gun makes the gut-wrenching decision to defy her government and leak the memo to the press.

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Although there wasn’t a lot of widespread attention given towards Official Secrets, I had been hearing a small amount of positive buzz for it. The premise certainly sounded intriguing, as was the cast assembled for it, so I was interested in checking it out for sure. Having finally seen it, I can confirm that Official Secrets is really good, a tightly directed political thriller, and I don’t know why it’s not receiving much more attention. Worth watching for sure.

Admittedly, Official Secrets starts off a little slow to begin with. It even takes a while for the information to leak and then be published in the story. From that point onwards however, the movie really picked up from being pretty good, to really good. It shows the perspectives of Katharine Gun, who leaked the information, as well as the journalists who break the news. As someone who never knew about this story, it was very interesting and most of all informative watching all of it unfold on screen. It is maddening watching this at times as you see what happened, as it should be given that this really happened in real life, and the story is told as honestly as possible. It’s quite easy for big budget political thrillers about real life stories like this to make up things about what happened just for dramatic purposes. However from what I can tell, it stays as true to the real life story as it possibly can. In the second half it becomes really tense, but it never overplays it, it feels very grounded in reality. Now it is definitely more informative than entertaining, while it’s not one of the most gruelling watches or anything, it’s not exactly fun to watch. But as that type of political thriller, it really succeeds well.

The talented cast all do a great job and are among the highlights of Official Secrets. The main lead is that of Keira Knightley, who gives one of her best performances of her career as Katharine Gun, she’s very believable in her role. However it’s not just her who works, the movie also has Matt Smith and Matthew Goode as journalists, Ralph Fiennes as Katharine’s new lawyer, Adam Bakri as Katharine’s husband, and others like Rhys Ifans and Conleth Hall. All of them play their roles believably, and they really added to the movie.

Gavin Hood directs this very well, it’s a great looking movie and it’s been put together solidly. As I previously said, the scenes of tension are quite effective, without being too overbearing and overblown. It’s all directed at the right level required for the story really, keeping your interest and attention without trying to make it flashy or pretty for the audience.

Official Secrets is one of the most overlooked movies of the year, and it really should be seen by more people. It’s directed and written well, the cast are great, particularly Keira Knightley, and it’s an important story that needs to be known and seen. Watch it for the performances at the very least. Definitely don’t miss it, and see it as soon as you can.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) Review

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Griphook
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
John Hurt as Garrick Ollivander
Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
Director: David Yates

Without the guidance and protection of their professors, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin a mission to destroy the Horcruxes, the sources of Voldemort’s immortality. Though they must rely on one another more than ever, dark forces threaten to tear them apart. Voldemort’s Death Eaters have seized control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, and they are searching for Harry — even as he and his friends prepare for the ultimate showdown.

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I’m aware that Deathly Hallows Part 1 gets a bit of a bad rap but I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s a part 1 of a story, and is really seen as just setup for the second half. However this might be one of the best films in the long running series. Director David Yates once again does a great job, he takes advantage of having the story in two parts, utilising it well, adding some character development to the main characters. It does drag a bit especially in the second act but most of it really works.

The movie is quite dark, definitely the darkest of the movie series (though it doesn’t have as many depressing moments like in Half-Blood Prince) and you really feel the stakes throughout. There are little spots of brightness, just enough so that the movie isn’t overwhelmingly dark but not too much that you forget what’s at stake in the wizarding world. Splitting the books up into two really was a wise decision, it’s not the longest book in the series but it is a very big story and a whole lot happens, and so the more screentime given to the story, the better. It also allows David Yates and everyone else working on the movie to take their time with telling the story, you couldn’t do the entire Deathly Hallows book in one 4 hour long movie, and if one was to do that it wouldn’t be as good as what they have done here. Splitting the movie into two parts also gives more time to these characters and we get to know them a lot more and see them go through a lot of change. Deathly Hallows Part 1 really does feel like a Part 1 of a story and a setup for a big climax, however it’s not like other YA movies that have their last book split into two parts, it doesn’t feel like it’s padding out time. Yes, the second act does drag a little bit, especially when they are in the forest and not really doing anything, but it doesn’t drag too much, and as I said these moments are often used for character moments. The third act is done really well, very dark and tense and ending it on a pretty good note that sets it up for the last instalment in the franchise. Again, book changes are apparent, most of them don’t bother me. The movie does a good job at simplifying some of the things that happen and cutting out some of the unnecessary bits. With that said, Deathly Hallows Part 1 does have the singularly most obnoxious book to movie change, it’s to do with how Wormtail (Timothy Spall) is dealt with at the end, if you’ve read the books you know exactly what I’m talking about. Had they changed it to how the book did it, it would’ve taken up a minute at most and would’ve been a very dark and impactful scene. However they instead used that moment as a joke. It’s not movie-breaking but it’s nonetheless really irksome. Also a tad glaring is a bit involving a mirror, in the books its established in Order of the Phoenix, but here in the movie it just comes out of nowhere with no explanation for what it is and how it got there.

The acting once again was great. The dynamic between Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) was great and they give some of the best performances of their characters in the series. Since the movie is just them focussing on hunting down the Horcruxes we get to see them very prominently throughout the movie; we see them come together and get into conflicts as they struggle to complete this seemingly impossible task. A lot of the side characters are pushed to the background (because of how many they are and the fact that most of the movie is just focussed on the main 3) but they all do great, whether that be Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange or Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. One casting decision which wasn’t that great was Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood. Ifans is a good actor but he feels a little too over the top, even if he’s only in a couple scenes. Also while it’s a decent casting decision, Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour (the new Minister of Magic) is really only in a couple scenes here (having about the same screentime as in the book). He was introduced in the Half-Blood Prince book and they should have done the same as with the movie (this is more of a criticism with Half Blood Prince than Deathly Hallows Part 1.

Direction by David Yates really works once again for the Harry Potter movies. The cinematography is a little brighter than in Half-Blood Prince so you can actually easily see anything, however is dark enough that it fits with the tone of the story. The production design, CGI and other technical aspects are greatly handled as well. There is a storytelling scene close to the third act that is done really well with the visual style and animation. One scene that had some issues with its direction was a chase scene in the forest scene, it was really shaky and it was hard to see what was going on. I know I brought it up in other Harry Potter reviews but it is absolutely jarring how different the time period is, because some of the locations are rather modern looking at times. Not a huge problem but definitely something that stands out. The score for the movie is done by Alexandre Desplat this time and it was truly fantastic, adding a lot to the movie.

I actually really liked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, it’s a lot better than I remember it being. It is quite bleak at times, and drags in some moments but ultimately it does achieve what it sets out to do, and makes for one of the best movies in the Harry Potter series. The story being in two parts may not be something that a lot of people like, but I think that overall ended up improving the films.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard
Emma Stone as Gwendolyn “Gwen” Stacy
Denis Leary as Captain George Stacy
Martin Sheen as Benjamin Parker
Sally Field as “Aunt” May Parker
Irrfan Khan as Dr. Rajit Ratha
Director: Marc Webb

Abandoned by his parents and raised by an aunt and uncle, teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), AKA Spider-Man, is trying to sort out who he is and exactly what his feelings are for his first crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). When Peter finds a mysterious briefcase that was his father’s, he pursues a quest to solve his parents’ disappearance. His search takes him to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), setting him on a collision course with Connors’ alter ego, the Lizard.

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5 years after Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy concluded with Spider-Man 3, Sony decided to reboot the franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man. This series (if you call 2 movies a series) has been receiving a lot of mixed reactions. I personally find The Amazing Spider-Man to be an underrated film. It has a great story, really good acting and really solid direction from Marc Webb. The only thing holding this movie back is the villain but aside from that, that’s it. I honestly don’t get why this movie is criticised so much.

This movie does tell the origin of Spider-Man and it is similar but different from the first movie. This film does have some usual moments with Peter being bitten by a spider, getting his powers, his uncle being shot and Peter becoming Spider-Man. The original Spider-Man seemed to present the story like a comic book whereas The Amazing Spider-Man does it more like a movie. Personally I liked how it told its story here. I also like how it showed Peter discovering his powers, there’s quite a lot of time dedicated to this. The pacing is pretty steady, never too fast, never too slow. On top of that, it does have more going on than in the original Spider-Man but it’s still quite easy to follow. From start to finish I was riveted and entertained by the film. Although it doesn’t feel like it, there are some scenes missing, which really hold the film back from being the best it possibly can in one aspect (I’ll get into it later). But asides from that aspect, I don’t have that many complaints about The Amazing Spider-Man.

Andrew Garfield is the 2nd actor to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man and this is a very different interpretation from Tobey Maguire’s. While a lot of people didn’t like that this version of Spider-Man was a lot more edgy, I liked that. Maguire’s version, as much as I love it, doesn’t exactly work for our time nowadays. Andrew’s however fits perfectly in the 2010s. He’s a genius with a bit of a quirky, eccentric and fast paced demeanour. And the thing is that I can perfectly see a character like that dressing up like a spider and fighting crime. While I personally Andrew’s Spider-Man more, obviously there are plenty of others who prefer Tobey’s, I guess it depends on what you prefer to see in Spider-Man. Honestly the only negative thing that I’ll say about Garfield’s Spider-Man here is that he is clearly too old for the role, he does not look like a teenager in high school at all and that can be very distracting at times. But that’s really it. Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy, who’s the love interest of the movie, but honestly just saying the love interest would be a disservice to her character. She is a well done character on her own, she’s not just a superhero’s girlfriend who’s only existence is to be saved. But on top of that, Garfield and Stone have excellent chemistry, it is very believable (though a big part of that is probably that they were both dating at the time, so the chemistry would be easy for them). Honestly its one of the best relationships in a comic book movie(s) (with this and Amazing Spider-Man 2). The supporting cast was also quite good with Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan and many others, most of them get a good chance to shine.

The villain is Curt Connors/The Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans. I have mixed feelings on him. Ifans is well cast in the role and he is good when he’s on screen, he does the best he possibly can. Connors is given a lot of good setup, with him knowing Peter’s father, and his desire to get a cure which would fix his physical impairment (a missing arm), I’d even say that the setup is perfect. However the payoff with him becoming The Lizard is just slightly above average. After the first transformation, The Lizard becomes a rather generic villain who becomes motivated to do his plan…. Because he feels like it. He’s not bad and he does have some good moments, but he definitely felt very weak. However its worth noting that he had many of his scenes removed, and these scenes at the very least made him stronger as a character. And these scenes could’ve easily been put into the film. But Sony does what Sony often does, and cut these scenes out. Watch the movie and directly afterwards watch the deleted scenes, you’ll be shocked at what they cut out.

The Amazing Spider-Man series does make use of the advanced technology. The action scenes are fast and intense, everything that I think most of us would want to see in a modern day Spider-Man movie. The CGI doesn’t look fake at any point (except for maybe the Lizard, and even then it’s more an issue with the design). It is a nice looking movie, especially when Spider-Man is in action, seeing him swing around really is something great. While it’s an unpopular opinion to have, I really dig the Spider-Man suit in this movie. It seems like the type of costume that this version of Peter Parker would wear and use as Spider-Man. It’s a very unique look and I would’ve loved to have seen that suit return for the sequel. The music by James Horner was really great.

The Amazing Spider-Man is honestly quite an underrated superhero movie. It has most of the elements of a great superhero movie, with a well written and acted superhero lead, a riveting and entertaining story and great action. The only problem I can find with it is the villain, and even then he’s not horrible, he’s just okay and feels weak in comparison to a lot of the other elements. Come to think of it, The Amazing Spider-Man is probably the second best Spider-Man, only behind Spider-Man 2 (very unpopular opinion, I know). But it’s honestly not that far off. Marc Webb has done a great job with Spider-Man.

Hannibal Rising (2007) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Sadistic Violence
Cast:
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.

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.