Tag Archives: Shea Whigham

Knight of Cups (2015) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language & nudity.
Cast:
Christian Bale as Rick
Cate Blanchett as Nancy
Natalie Portman as Elizabeth
Brian Dennehy as Joseph
Antonio Banderas as Tonio
Wes Bentley as Barry
Isabel Lucas as Isabel
Teresa Palmer as Karen
Imogen Poots as Della
Armin Mueller-Stahl as Fr. Zeitlinger
Freida Pinto as Helen
Cherry Jones as Ruth
Nick Offerman as Scott
Dane DeHaan as Paul
Thomas Lennon as Tom
Joel Kinnaman as Errol
Jason Clarke as Johnny
Katia Winter as Katia
Nicky Whelan as Nicky
Shea Whigham as Jim
Ryan O’Neal as Ryan
Joe Manganiello as Joe
Michael Wincott as Herb
Kevin Corrigan as Gus
Director: Terrence Malick

A writer (Christian Bale) indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women.

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I remember waiting for this movie for a long time. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it as Terrence Malick is a very polarising filmmaker but after watching and liking Tree of Life (which was quite unconventional as a film), I thought that I had a good chance of enjoying it. I recently watched Knight of Cups and… I really don’t know what to think of it. It is beautiful looking and it has a lot of great actors in it but otherwise it really didn’t do anything for me.

Describing the movie is hard. The basic structure of Knight of Cups is split into segments where Bale interacts with particular people. I’ve only seen 3 of Malick’s movies, Tree of Life, Badlands and now Knight of Cups and I liked the last 2. Even Tree of Life, for how unconventional it was I liked it but most of all, I could actually somewhat understand parts of it. I’m not even sure what Knight of Cups is supposed to be about, I couldn’t connect to it. So with that connection to whatever Malick is going for being gone, it takes away so much from the movie. When I’m just watching all these talented actors just internally monologing some deep poetic speech while the camera just follows them and I don’t understand what its supposed to mean, you can see how I would find it frustrating and pretentious. Don’t get me wrong, Terrence Malick no doubt had some idea of what he was filming, he wasn’t just filming nice looking stuff and calling it art. But whatever he was going for, I didn’t get it at all. The film drags consistently and constantly, at times its borderline a parody of a Terrence Malick movie with how self indulgent it is. I find it very difficult to recommend Knight of Cups to anyone, unless you are a die hard Terrence Malick fan.

There’s not really much to say in terms of acting, whereas most of the characters in a film like Tree of Life had some sort of character, from what I can tell all the characters in Knight of Cups represent ideas or something. Christian Bale here is pretty much like Sean Penn in Tree of Life, except he’s the main ‘character’ and appears from start to finish. He doesn’t really at any point become a character and just feels flat, Bale barely gets to do anything to leave an impression. Supporting actors include Cate Blanchett, Wes Bentley, Antonio Banderas, Natalie Portman and Imogen Poots and while they are good in their ‘roles’, they don’t leave too much of an impression either. Some actors involved were straight up cameos with Jason Clarke and Joe Manganiello, and supposedly Dane DeHaan and Joel Kinnamon was in it as well (I have no idea where they were though). The only performance that really stood out to a degree was Cate Blanchett but even then she’s not in the movie that long.

This movie is shot beautifully like all of Terrence Malick’s films. The locations, lighting, colouring, all of that was great and was probably one of the only things I liked in the whole film. That’s honestly is the only thing that I can guarantee you’ll think with Knight of Cups, that it looks great. The film also seemed to have a dream-like feeling to it, and the score by Hanan Townshend also played a part in that.

Having finally seen it, I can see why Knight of Cups was so divisive. I’m not entirely sure I actually like it myself. And it’s not that I don’t like Terrance Malick as a director, I liked Badlands and Tree of Life, and the latter was very unconventional. I guess I just connected a lot more with Tree of Life than Knight of Cups, which is why with KOC, it really didn’t work for me. I guess the movie is beautiful looking and that’s somewhat enough for me to call it somewhat above average but only just. If you flat out don’t like Terrance Malick’s other films, you’d probably hate Knight of Cups. I’m going to try watching Song to Song sometime soon, and I’m just hoping that Knight of Cups was the most Malick film he ever made.

Death Note (2017) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Nat Wolff as Light Turner/”Kira”
Lakeith Stanfield as L
Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton
Shea Whigham as James Turner
Paul Nakauchi as Watari
Willem Dafoe and Jason Liles as Ryuk
Director: Adam Wingard

Light Turner (Nat Wolff), a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L (Keith Stanfield).

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Adam Wingard’s Death Note was something I was curious about. I hadn’t watched the original anime but I knew of its concept and I loved Wingard’s direction of The Guest, so it had a lot of potential. Upon its release, his adaptation had received a lot of hate, mostly from people who saw the original anime. I decided to check it out for myself and honestly, Death Note wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it is a waste of potential. Some of the performances were good and the direction was mostly great, but this script has so many problems that it really lets the overall movie down.

I’ll just get this out of the way, the writing has a lot of issues. Again, I haven’t seen the original anime so I can’t comment on the changes they’ve made, but from what I can tell they’ve made a lot. The movie feels a little rushed, Light (the protagonist) gets the Death Note and makes his first kill within 10 minutes, there is barely enough time for his character or really anything to be established. This idea about the Death Note had a lot of potential and at first its okay, with Light killing off people under a different identity but after a while this plotline just stops. Honestly looking back at this movie, not a whole lot of things happen, Light gets the Death Note, he starts killing people off, a detective named L comes along posing a problem, there’s some conflict there and then it’s the third act. This movie is an hour 40 minutes, and while this movie isn’t always interesting, I’d be fine with it being longer if they actually had more going on. The dialogue was terrible at points, I found it difficult to care about what was going on and I really wasn’t consistently invested throughout Death Note. There were also some unintentionally hilarious moments, an example being Light’s reaction to seeing Ryuk (Willem Dafoe) for the first time. I will say that I enjoyed watching parts of Death Note, there were writing issues aside and some cringe worthy moments but for the most part I was somewhat intrigued or entertained. The third act however does feel like they just wanted to shove so many twists into it, like its ridiculous how many times they just kept putting twists, which makes the movie feel jarring instead of actually making it better. The writing is really a mixed bag.

Nat Wolff is the lead actor of Death Note, I don’t know if he is a good actor or not but he didn’t really give a good performance. Granted the character wasn’t written that well, his character motives and changes aren’t really established well enough. I guess from what I can tell, the character is different from the anime and while I can understand why it was done in this way, it’s less interesting. However Wolff does have some moments where he’s somewhat okay for what the character is written here. That’s more than I can say for the love interest played by Margaret Qualley, who is really annoying and unlikable. I get that she might be intended to be that way but there’s nothing likable about her. The romance between the two is unfortunately a prominent part of the film. The chemistry isn’t strong, and it just starts randomly after a few scenes of them together. Those two aside, there are some pretty good performances at the same time. Willem Dafoe does the voice or Ryuk, a demon of the Death Note book and he definitely stole the show whenever his character was around. Ryuk isn’t around a lot unfortunately. There was also the character of L, played by Keith Stanfield. He was a standout of the film, I can’t tell whether there was any major changes to him from the original anime but on his own I thought he was pretty good. The one issues I’ll say is that the film did seem to build up to his character’s backstory being explored but it never gets resolved. So acting/characters overall was rather mixed.

One of the things I was looking forward to with Death Note was Adam Wingard’s direction, the look of You’re Next and especially The Guest was incredible. Wingard once again directed this movie so well, the colour aesthetics looking beautiful, the cinematography was great, the direction was mostly great… I say mostly because for whatever reason there were constant turning dutch angles that just randomly appear, they were very out of place and obnoxious. One thing to note is that the death scenes that occur often feel like Final Destination deaths, as in they are very over the top, graphic and at times goofy. This may be a good thing or a bad thing for you, depending on whether it entertains you. For me I just found it laughably over the top at time, I couldn’t take it seriously. The score by Atticus and Leopold Ross was solid and worked very well.

Adam Wingard’s Death Note is a mixed bag. I loved most of his direction, some of the performances were good, and there were some aspects about the plot that I liked. But some of the performances were weak and the writing has a ton of issues, which really let down the movie. I guess if you’re curious enough check it out, its on Netflix right now, so at worse you’d only be wasting around 100 minutes of your time. I heard that Wingard may be doing a sequel to this movie, if this happens I hope he does a much better job than what he did here.

Kong: Skull Island (2017) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language

Cast:
Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad
Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard
John Goodman as William “Bill” Randa
Brie Larson as Mason Weaver
Toby Kebbell as Jack Chapman
John Ortiz as Victor Nieves
Corey Hawkins as Houston Brooks
Jason Mitchell as Glenn Mills
Shea Whigham as Earl Cole
Thomas Mann as Reg Slivko
Terry Notary as King Kong (motion capture performance)
John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.

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Kong: Skull Island was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. This film is also set in the same universe as Godzilla (a film that I liked) as the MonsterVerse is being created. Plus the cast and the trailers looked good, so I was definitely interested in checking it out. Although there are plenty of problems with this movie, Kong Skull Island is still a fun and solid movie, mostly due to the fantastic direction.

The story isn’t particularly special, above average, it’s serviceable for a Kong movie. The dialogue at times was hit or miss, some of it worked, some of it was cheesy and occasionally bad. Most of the comedy didn’t work, it only worked when it was delivered by John C. Reilly. One thing I will say though is that this movie definitely knows what it is. It knows its an over the top action movie and it delivers in that regard. Kong doesn’t show up a huge amount (like with Godzilla in his most recent film) but it doesn’t cut away from Kong just as he is about to do something awesome. He is in the movie in small enjoyable doses and was used very effectively, he was awesome when he was on screen. As for the last act… so fantastic.

Now this film has a lot of talented actors, including Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and Toby Kebbell. Unfortunately the film kind of wastes them and they don’t get to do as much as you think they would. However, these actors do try as best as they can, they still were good enough, they just should’ve been given more to work with. The actor who steals the show is John C. Reilly. He is entertaining, and also the only source of comedy which actually works.

What makes this film work effectively despite its flaws is the direction. This film is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. This is his first ‘big’ film and I can say that he is a talented filmmaker, and I can’t wait to see more movies from him. The direction of this film is so great, on a technical level, everything is excellent. Something that was perfect was the cinematography, done by Larry Fong (Batman v Superman, Watchmen, 300). The film looks absolutely beautiful, not one shot felt out of place. The action is intense, the special effects looked great, there wasn’t a fake looking creature or effect. The film also does a good job at making it feel like its set in the 70s. The soundtrack by Henry Jackman also made things a lot more epic. The only criticism I have direction wise is some of the music choices and style felt out of place but that is it.

Kong: Skull Island definitely has some flaws with regards to its plot, characters and dialogue, but the overall direction boosts the film immensely, and almost makes me completely forget about all the problems. Overall I liked this movie about the same level as Godzilla, this film does some things better and some things worse. While the movie wasn’t as great as I hoped it would be, it was still quite a fun time. Also, make sure you stay after the credits, because there’s a post credits scene, and it’s well worth waiting to see it.