Tag Archives: Russell Crowe

Noah ***

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As a big fan of director Darren Aronofsky I was quite surprised when it was announced that his next film would be the biblical epic “Noah”. I admit that I did not see that coming. The result is an odd mixture that blends the traditional story of Noah’s Ark with some elaborate fantasy elements as well as some large scale action. I enjoyed the film overall but found myself indifferent to it in ways that I can’t honestly explain.

The story I think almost everybody is familiar with. Noah, played by Russell Crowe, begins having visions of a coming flood that will wipe out all life. He believes he has been tasked with building a great Ark that will provide refuge for as many non-human creatures as they can. The flood will wipe out mankind and all their sins so that the world can start over.

This causes some concern to all peoples who are not Noah and his family. They spend years constructing this vessel only to come up against an army of truly evil people who wish to take it and save their own lives. This results in a battle between people and a group of fallen angels now trapped in rock like structures.

When the great flood comes it is brought to terrifying life by a mix of CGI and model sets. I was in awe as the waves came crashing through all life but also depressed by the thought of millions of people meeting their demise.

Aronofsky does a good job at trying to create a movie that is truly amazing to look at. He shoots a lot of the landscapes with a gorgeous backdrop of stars and sky. I really felt as if these were biblical times. I also liked how he brought together the large scale action as well. I guess I felt indifferent because all of these moments just didn’t blend together as seamlessly as we might of wanted.

Man Of Steel ***

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“Man Of Steel” is a reboot of the Superman franchise. After the disaster that was “Superman Returns”, Warner Bros. decided to start the franchise over with a new director and cast. Christopher Nolan was brought in to come up with a story and produce the film as his “Batman” films have shown us just how amazing a superhero movie can be. His vision for Superman is to imagine what it would be like in todays world if he existed. He then brought in Zack Snyder, the director of films like “300” and “Watchmen” to bring it all to life.

The result is a fairly engaging and some times exhilarating Superman movie. I think this is the film that fans were hoping for when they said that “Superman Returns” did not have enough action. This film has all the large scale destruction that one would want from a summer blockbuster. But it also tells a story that has dramatic weight and meaning.

The film opens on the doomed planet of Krypton. Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe, is trying to convince the planet’s government that their home world is going to fall apart and they must evacuate as soon as possible. He is interrupted by General Zod played by Michael Shannon, as Zod stages a coup igniting a massive battle. This sequence is exciting and epic. It is one of the most visionary battles put to the screen since “Avatar. After seeing multiple movies taking place on a futuristic earth, it is a pleasure to visit a different place in the universe.

As Krypton starts to crumble, Jor-El sends his only son, Kal-El, to earth. Kal-El grows up to be Superman, aka, Clark Kent, played by Henry Cavill. As a boy he is raised by Jonathan and Martha kent played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. Jonathan thinks it is best to keep his origins and powers a secret because he believes that the people of earth would fear him. One sequence has Clark saving his schoolmates from a bus that has fallen off a bridge into a river. Jonathan says that maybe he should of let them die to keep his secret

As an adult, Clark spends his life as a drifter, occasionally saving lives then falling off the map. Eventually he finds his way to his fortress of solitude and learns the truth about his heritage. This happens just in time to greet General Zod, who has arrived on earth to find Clark for reasons I will not spoil here.

Now amazingly, Snyder is able to dial down his signature visual trade marks in favor of telling a more straight forward story. He focuses on the story of this young man as he quests to find out his true purpose in the world.

The performances were the real highlight of this movie for me. Cavill in particular as Clark Kent, plays it more dramatic that Christopher Reeve did in the original. He is more of a man of action with little time for light hearted humour or romance.

Costner and Lane as his adoptive parents are particularly effective as they attempt to raise an alien with essentially human values. Crowe is also very good here as his biological father, who has instilled his consciousness in the fortress of solitude as a helpful guide.

Michael Shannon, who play’s Zod here, takes on his first major role in a blockbuster film. After giving some powerful performances in independent films, he gets a chance to make a mark in a major studio tentpole and he does not disappoint. His Zod is maniacal but not without purpose. He truly believes that he is attempting to save his own race by basically wiping out all humans.

All the action sequences are top notch, especially when Superman battles Zod and his minions. There is much destruction starting in his home town of Smallville then spanning the globe. My only concern here is the amount of lives that are lost during these battles are way more than you would expect in a Superman film. The city of Metropolis is literally turned to rubble. Skyscrapers topple over on top of each other. The 9/11 imagery is evident in almost every one of these scenes.

So compared to other super hero movies, “Man Of Steel” holds it’s own. I still prefer the Iron Man and Batman series simply because I find their stories to be more complex and interesting. But coming from someone who never really got in to Superman growing up, this movie is pretty great.

Broken City **

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“Broken City” is the latest film from Allen Hughes, who co-directed such great films as “Menace II Society”, and “From Hell”. Sadly this film doesn’t come close to his previous heights. It is a poorly plotted and lazily directed thriller where the actors look almost bored as they wade through a murky plot that is pushed along by clunky dialogue.

The story starts with Mark Wahlberg as a police officer on trial for killing an alleged rapist. The result of which ends up with Wahlberg out of the force but not in jail. Cut to years later and he is working as a Private Investigator. When the mayor, played by Russell Crowe comes calling, he jumps at the opportunity to make some cash. This leads him in to a mess that results in corporate crimes and murder.

The setup is not so bad. This could of ended up as an intriguing thriller. It is the execution that bothered me. Everything seemed so convenient and predictable. Even the car chases and fights seem almost stuck in to create some sort of excitement. In the end I found myself bored and sort of glad it was over.

Les Miserables **

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I am not really the biggest fan of musicals. There have been a few in recent years that I have enjoyed but overall the genre just doesn’t impress me. When I saw the previews for “Les Miserables”, I got to say I was pretty absorbed. Something about Anne Hathaway’s voice singing over the epic looking production just sucked me in. The results unfortunately are a major disappointment.

I think the reason I found myself frustrated with this movie is because every spoken word is sung by everyone in the cast and it is done live on the set. The results are startling bad, especially by some of the less then stellar voices in cast. You can really tell who has experience in live theatre and who does not.

Another reason I was put off by this flick is by the direction of Tom Hooper. The sets, locations, costumes and overall production are pretty awesome. It is just a shame that we don’t get many shots that let us drink it all in. There is an odd number of scenes where we get close ups of the actor’s faces during their songs that seem to go on forever.

The cast itself includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. All of them do what they can but seem lost in a production that has simply overwhelmed them. I felt like I was looking at miserable actors standing around in the cold.

To see this movie get so much awards recognition does not give me a lot of hope in the current state of the film industry. I feel like it is receiving all this attention simply because it is based on a legendary musical.