Tag Archives: Stanley Tucci

The Lovely Bones (2009) Review

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Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence
Cast:
Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon
Stanley Tucci as George Harvey
Mark Wahlberg as Jack Salmon
Rachel Weisz as Abigail Salmon
Susan Sarandon as Grandma Lynn
Michael Imperioli as Detective Len Fenerman
Director: Peter Jackson

After being brutally murdered, 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) watches from heaven over her grief-stricken family (Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz) — and her killer (Stanley Tucci). As she observes their daily lives, she must balance her thirst for revenge with her desire for her family to heal.

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The Lovely Bones looked like it had all the elements for a great film. It had a great cast including Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci, was based off a murder mystery book with fantastical elements, and was directed by Peter Jackson of all people. So it just was a shame that the movie didn’t turn out to be all that good really that good.

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I’ve never read the book of the same name, so I’m just judging the movie as it is. The setup is reasonably straightforward, lead character is killed by killer, and the lead character is in purgatory watching events happen. After that though, it all just sort of falls apart. First of all, the tone is pretty weird and all over the place. As I just said, murder plays a big part of the movie. At the same time there’s a lot of random comedy, for example there’s a particularly comedic scene with Susan Sarandon and it doesn’t work with the rest of the movie. Maybe it was aiming to be a dark comedy of sorts, but I was trying to even look at this it from that angle and that still didn’t work as that. The approach to the afterlife was even weirder, especially with how Jackson decided to portray it on a visual level. Aside from occasionally watching over her family and friends and trying to communicate with them, it’s just Susie watching from her place and not doing much. Not only that but the story too, it is approached with a family friendly sort of way, and that just doesn’t work. Even though it’s not shown on screen, the setup of the movie is that the main character gets raped and murdered by a killer, at this point one probably shouldn’t be trying to make that story a movie with a PG-13 approach. I just wasn’t all that invested with what was going on, not with the thriller and murder level, and not on the supernatural afterlife level either. It’s a shame because there was some potential. After the murder, it felt like they didn’t know what to do with the concept. The writing itself isn’t particularly good, the dialogue can be particularly bad. The ending was particularly weak, and without spoiling anything, the message at the end of all is more than a little questionable, whether it’s intentional or not.

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The cast is pretty talented, but the acting is a bit mixed, there are really two highlights that stand out among the rest. Saoirse Ronan’s acting as the lead character of Susie isn’t one of the best performances of her career, but she plays the role as best as she possibly can, and adds quite a lot to the movie. The highlight performance of the movie however is Stanley Tucci as the killer. This is one of those performances where a familiar and likable actor plays such a dark and different role from what they are used to, and they pulling it off seamlessly. Tucci’s character already shows early signs of being a killer and at times it gets a little silly, but at the same time there are many parts to him that feel creepily naturally. Mark Wahlberg’s performance here is a big of a mixed bag. Generally he’s at least okay enough at acting but his acting here reminded me a lot of his performance from The Happening, and it was just rather hard to take him seriously. Even in the more dramatic scenes he seemed really out of place. Rachel Weisz is a great actress but she does just okay here, honestly she doesn’t get a lot to do in the movie. The rest of the cast is mostly just fine, not bad by any means, but nothing above just decent.

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We all know that Peter Jackson is a really good director, but his direction of The Lovely Bones is a bit all over the place. Most of the work in the real world sections are filmed fine, if nothing spectacular. The visuals are quite large during the afterlife sequences, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily good, they were quite over the top. At times it could be cartoonish and really silly. I will say that as glossy and weird looking as the effects are, it is a good looking movie generally.

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The Lovely Bones unfortunately isn’t that good and is among Peter Jackson’s worst movies. I can’t comment on whether the book delivered these concepts better but whatever the case, the movie didn’t reach its potential with the ideas. Saoirse Ronan and particularly Stanley Tucci were great, and that might make the movie worth watching. Outside of that there’s really not that much. Watch it if you’re curious about it, but you wouldn’t be missing much if you chose to skip it.

Night Hunter (2019) Review

Time: 99 Minutes
Cast:
Henry Cavill as Lieutenant Aaron Marshall
Ben Kingsley as Michael Cooper
Alexandra Daddario as Rachel
Stanley Tucci as Commissioner Harper
Brendan Fletcher as Simon Stulls
Minka Kelly as Angie
Nathan Fillion as Matthew Quinn
Director: David Raymond

A police lieutenant (Henry Cavill), his entire force, and a vigilante (Ben Kingsley) become caught up in a dangerous scheme involving a recently arrested, troubled man (Brendan Fletcher) who’s linked to years of female abductions.

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I knew about this movie for a little while, even back when it was originally called Nomis (before it was changed to the more generic title of Night Hunter). It looked like a standard thriller, but it was the cast that had me interested, with the likes of Henry Cavill, Ben Kingsley, Brendan Fletcher and more involved. Even though I heard some mixed/negative things about this movie, I wanted to check it out for myself. It indeed is a rather generic and average serial killer thriller, with some decent performances making it relatively watchable.

Night Hunter is aiming to be one of those serial killer thrillers like Se7en and Silence of the Lambs, but instead just end up having the standard clichés and tropes that a lot of other imitators have in their movies. That includes the roles from Cavill’s super serious cop to Kingsley’s vigilante. So much happens early in the movie (mainly the first 15 minutes) and it really feels too much and rushed. Then it suddenly slows down to a crawling pace after the first encounter with the serial killer character. The movie is an hour and 40 minutes and doesn’t necessarily feel too long, but it definitely stretches out some sections of the plot for too long. The most ridiculous side of the movie is the use of futuristic technologies, from high level tracking devices to hackers who quickly type on a keyboard and say “I’m in”. If you read a summary of the plot it doesn’t sound so bad, but in the movie itself they really fail to make it interesting. At some point there’s an attempt to find what makes this killer tick, but it doesn’t last very long. Night Hunter is quite procedural and you don’t really feel anything throughout, despite a couple of okay twists. It oddly enough manages to be a little too complicated and convoluted, and it really didn’t need to be. The third act isn’t even really that satisfying, it just sort of ends and that’s it.

As I said earlier, they’ve got a good cast here, but they don’t deliver their finest work. Henry Cavill is the lead as the police lieutenant, and he is good, probably the strongest of the cast. His character is a pretty familiar cop character, but Cavill manages to elevate the role just a little bit. The rest of the cast is mainly a mixed bag. I’ve not seen much of Alexandra Daddario in other movies for me to say that she’s a great actor, but she’s been better in other movies, it’s hard to buy her in this role. Though to be fair to her, despite her character featuring quite prominently in the plot, she’s given practically nothing to do for the most part. Ben Kingsley has his own plotline, with him and Eliana Jones (as his adopted daughter) as vigilantes hunting down sexual predators, and although that aspect makes the early section of the movie feel overstuffed, it at least provided a somewhat interesting angle for the story instead of just feeling like a standard cop finding serial killer movie. With that said, you’d think with the way they are set up in the first half that they will play a major role in the movie. In a sense they do play a part in the second half but not has much as you’d think, and by the end they mostly just feel like setup for the serial killer to be encountered by the rest of the characters. There are other actors like Stanley Tucci who are also decent enough, but some cast members like Minka Kelly and Nathan Fillion are more background characters, and honestly could’ve been played by anyone. Brendan Fletcher as the serial killer had me interested, his performance in the Uwe Boll directed Rampage trilogy was the saving grace of them, and he was legitimately great in them. Here his performance here is a bit odd to say the least. I know that people who have seen this movie are a little split about how they feel about him. He is very over the top but he does convey the craziness of the character quite well. With that said the character has DID, let’s just say that it’s not a good or respectful portrayal of people with that condition. It certainly wasn’t the best choice for the character or the movie. When Fletcher does get more serious and less goofy with his performance, he’s a lot more effective, so removing the whole mental condition aspect would’ve made the movie and character much better.

I believe this is David Raymond’s first movie, and for a directorial debut it’s not bad. With that said, it does seem like at many points he’s trying to imitate some classic thrillers with his direction, much like with the story. The music is trying really hard as well, being overly intense when the movie really wants you to be tense, but it’s so heavy-handed that it’s more distracting than anything. The direction isn’t bad, just pretty standard.

Night Hunter may have a great cast mostly giving okay performances, but it’s not really worth watching it for them. The story is pretty familiar and nothing special, the direction is just okay, and overall it’s a standard thriller that isn’t particularly engaging. If you have an hour and 40 minutes to spare and are genuinely curious about it, then I guess it might be worth checking out. It’s not as bad as what I’ve heard from other people, but it’s really just okay at best.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Emma Watson as Belle
Dan Stevens as The Prince/Beast
Luke Evans as Gaston
Kevin Kline as Maurice
Josh Gad as LeFou
Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza
Ian McKellen as Cogsworth
Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts
Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette
Director: Bill Condon

Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

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Although Beauty and the Beast was on my most anticipated films of 2017 list, it was a movie I was feeling mixed about. It had a lot of potential with it having a good cast. At the same time though, it’s yet another live action adaptation of a Disney movie, which feels like just another cash grab. Overall that’s pretty much what this movie is, it’s not necessarily a bad movie though. On the contrary actually, it’s a pretty decent movie. The acting and most of the execution worked really well. However some of the directional decisions made were rather questionable and took me out of the movie.

The story was good overall, I had no real problems with it. With that said, from what I can tell, this story follows the original story quite closely. So, I don’t take much issue with the story itself, it was some of the decisions made in delivering that story that I felt a little mixed about. I personally liked the second act the most (though again that’s most likely due to the directional decisions being the best).

The acting was generally good all around. Emma Watson did a pretty good job as Belle, I still saw her as Hermoine Granger as Belle, but she did well in her role. Dan Stevens was also really good. Most of the time he is under a lot of makeup and costume but yet is able to convey emotion underneath all that. Luke Evans was great as Gaston, it was a larger than life performance, it was very over the top, which it did take me out of the movie. But from what I can tell it is still less over the top than other versions of Gaston. I will say that Evans fully embraced the role. The standouts to me were Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan, they were voicing Lumiere and Cogsworth respectively and were quite entertaining.

I like most of the directional decisions made. The effects involving the Beast were very effective, I’m not sure how they did it, but they managed to make it so that Stevens could be able to express his emotions through it. The costume design was great overall. The CGI was effective for the most part, although some of the CGI in the last act was a little fake. I liked most of the musical number. Despite many of the directional decisions I liked, there were some very over the top elements that took me out of the movie, such as the opening Belle song and the last act. Now I haven’t seen the original film, so I can’t tell if some of the decisions were to pay homage to the original film. But either way with some I just couldn’t get into it.

Beauty and the Beast was a pretty good movie overall, with the acting and most of the directional decisions made being decent. I did however have a lot of issues with some of the directional ideas chosen, these ideas really took me out of the movie. As I said, it was not necessary for this movie to exist, it’s yet another okay enough live action Disney adaptation. But despite it being unnecessary, I still think that overall I think it’s a decent movie and if you are a fan of the original film and are interested in seeing this version, see it. You’ll most likely like it a lot.

Spotlight (2015) Review

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Spotlight

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language and Content that may Disturb
Cast
Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes
Michael Keaton as Walter “Robby” Robinson
Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer
Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron
John Slattery as Ben Bradlee Jr.
Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll
Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian
Director: Tom McCarthy

In 2001, editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll (Brian D’Arcy James) and Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

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Spotlight had my interest ever since I saw the huge and talented cast involved but the story behind it also interested me, and it sounded like a story that should be told. The large amount of Oscar nominations also increased my interest in seeing this film. With the great performances and most importantly the fantastic script, Spotlight really is a must see movie and is one of the best movies of 2015.

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First off let’s get it right out of the way, the script by Tom McCarthy is excellent. The dialogue, the way the story moved, the plot points, everything fell nicely into place in telling this very fascinating story. The pacing is also set at just the right speed and the entire movie is so captivating the entire runtime, despite its lurid subject matter. Another thing is that everything felt so real, at some point this movie started feeling less like a movie and more like a well put together documentary. There isn’t really anything noticeably wrong with the movie, but if I had to be a little nit-picky, I would say that the beginning of the movie, like the first 5-10 minutes was a little slow. This beginning segment didn’t bother me a lot but I did feel like it could’ve been paced a little faster and it does take a little while before the plot starts happening. Aside from that aspect, everything fell nicely into place. I can’t say for certain how accurate this entire movie was to the events that took place, but the way it was done made it definitely seem credible.

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The cast in this movie is big and talented with Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber and many others being a part of this movie. All of them do excellent work and get to shine. I said earlier how this movie felt so real and at some point felt like a documentary, this also applies to the performances. There aren’t any moments where the actors gave ‘an Oscar moment’. Instead they are all thankfully subdued and feel much more like real people, they really felt like journalists trying to find the truth.

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery play Boston Globe journalists in the film, Spotlight.

There isn’t much to say about the actual direction of the scenes as it’s mostly the script and the performances that are the highlights of Spotlight but I will say that the film and scenes are very well directed by Tom McCarthy. The soundtrack by Howard Shore was also good and fit the rest of the movie perfectly.

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Spotlight is one of the best movies of 2015 and in my opinion it is actually a pretty important movie. From Tom McCarthy’s great direction, to its grounded performances from its huge and wonderfully talented cast as well as its realistic and fantastically written screenplay, Spotlight is a great movie that succeeds on just about every level. Definitely check it out when you have a chance, I know that it’s not an easy movie to watch given its subject matter, but even so, I still think that it’s really worth seeing.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Review

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Captain America

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips
Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Sebastian Stan as Sergeant James “Bucky” Barnes
Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark
Neal McDonough as Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan
Derek Luke as Gabe Jones
Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine
Director: Joe Johnston

It is 1941 and the world is in the throes of war. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to do his part and join America’s armed forces, but the military rejects him because of his small stature. Finally, Steve gets his chance when he is accepted into an experimental program that turns him into a supersoldier called Captain America. Joining forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Captain America leads the fight against the Nazi-backed HYDRA organization.

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Although making a Captain America movie isn’t as big of a risk as making a Thor movie, it is still pretty hard creating a Captain America movie that takes him seriously. The 1990 film didn’t help this movie’s chances. However like Thor, Captain America is a surprisingly good entry in the Marvel universe. It’s not one of the best, but it is enjoyable, well-made and it does have an engaging story and establishes one of The Avengers’ key members.

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One of the best parts about this movie is of course the fact that it actually manages to take Captain America seriously. There are actually stages of Steve Rodgers becoming Captain America, as well as explanations for all the things that happen, for example there’s a reason Captain America decided to use a shield over other weapons. It’s not like the 1990 film where he becomes Captain America and suddenly has this design. I also thought it was a strong decision to have Captain America’s first appearance be in a World War 2 setting. It would be so easy to just have Captain America created and then rush his appearance into Modern day (again like the 1990 film) but it was a great idea to have him in this setting. A lot of the supporting characters end up playing roles in later movies so these characters aren’t just wasted being in the 1940s.

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Chris Evans is really believable as Captain America. It is so easy just to have Steve Rodgers be this generic good guy character but Evans makes this character feel believable. The supporting cast is also good, consisting of Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell (the latter of which did a particularly good job). Hugo Weaving plays the main villain Red Skull and although he is good (and better than most of the other Marvel villains) he does seem like a standard villain. I don’t know much about Red Skull but I know that he’s basically Captain America’s biggest enemy so it’s unfortunate that he’s not very interesting here.

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The action scenes of course are well filmed, I especially liked how they incorporated Captain America’s shield. I also liked the look of Captain America’s suit, it feels like a war suit than a goofy looking outfit, something that the first Avengers didn’t get right. The only thing production wise that could’ve been improved was Red Skull’s head. It looked a little goofy and even the 1990 film version looked better. An effect that’s worth mentioning is that at the beginning of the movie, Steve Rodgers looks really skinny before he goes through the experiment and I thought that the effects used to show his change was really impressive.

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Captain America: The First Avenger was a really good movie. Its sequel, The Winter Soldier, was the movie that really advanced the Marvel series but this first film did do what it set out to do: make audiences take Captain America seriously. Not only that, it had a pretty engaging and interesting story, with good acting and good action. The film could’ve been better if they improved Red Skull but for the most part Captain America: The First Avenger achieves what it set out to do.