‘The Gentlemen’ Review

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Matthew McConughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Strong, Tom Wu, Eddie Marsan and Hugh Grant

Synopsis: A British drug lord tries to sell off his highly profitable empire to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires.

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Writer/director Guy Ritchie made a splash on the film scene with his gangster comedies like Lock, Stock and Two Smokin’ Barrels and Snatch. He’s recently taken a crack at a TV spy adaptation in The Man from U.N.C.L.E (which is criminally underrated), a different take on King Arthur with King Arthur and the Legend of the Sword and recently, the successful, Disney live-action film Aladdin. One thing that was clear in all of them, Ritchie has a style that he’s mastered, and it’s damn enjoyable when he finds his groove. Enter, The Gentlemen.

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American-born, marijuana kingpin in London is looking to get out of the game. He’s lucky enough to find a buyer in Jeremy Strong’s Matthew, but when Dry Eye (Henry Golding) tries to make a move on Mickey’s empire, things get a little too complicated. On top of that, Mickey’s right-hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam) has to deal with an ambitious, and somewhat sleazy cunning private eye in Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who is under employment from Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) to write a big story.

I won’t lie, I’ve been looking forward to The Gentlemen since I heard about, and it really did not disappoint. The movie is truly a Guy Ritchie film, but with some grown maturity from the filmmaker. The film throws you right into the action of everything with the movie mainly being told through the framing device of Fletcher telling Ray what he’s found out. Because of that, the first act of the movie is pretty exposition heavy, but Ritchie’s setting the stage for everything that’s about to come.

The movie doesn’t really slow down too much, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your viewing. Honestly, the only thing that I would count against the movie is sometimes the plot can get convoluted, and Michelle Dockery, who plays Mickey’s wife Rosalind, doesn’t have too much to do expect one pretty out there scene that surprisingly works.

If the plot doesn’t draw you in then maybe the cast will. McConaughey plays it pretty straight despite him playing a weed kingpin, but it’s the confidence that he drips makes the character. Hunnam’s Ray is a loyal soldier to Mickey and besides dealing with Fletcher, he deals with another subplot in the movie. Henry Golding’s Dry Eye isn’t the most interesting “villain” in the movie, and you can clearly see his ambition gets the better of him. Jeremy Strong’s Matthew still a character you like to hate, which the handful of scenes he has.

Easily, the two show-stealing performances belong to Colin Farrell’s Coach, a boxing coach to the local young kids, and is a much more important character than you think. Then there’s Hugh Grant, who is having a BALL playing Fletcher, as he chews up the scenery every time he’s on. He’s a bit scummy, but it’s hard to hate him.

All in all, The Gentlemen is an entertaining gangster comedy from beginning to end, with a great cast and catchy dialogue. It’s a fine return to form by Guy Ritchie to the genre, and something I hope we see more of him in the future.

The Gentlemen

Rating: Stamp of Approval

 

Mini-Reviews: Snatched and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. Been a while since I’ve done one of these, so please, bare with me. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Snatched

Director: Jonathan Levine

Writer: Katie Dippold

Cast: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Tom Bateman, Bashir Salahuddin, Oscar Jaenada and Christopher Meloni

Synopsis: When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, a young woman persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise, with unexpected results.

 

Snatched follows Emily (Amy Schumer), who has not only been fired from her job, but also gets dumped by her boyfriend (Randall Park) and has booked a non-refundable trip to Ecuador. This leads her to go to her overly cautious mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn), to go with her especially after discovering an old photo album that showed a younger Linda on adventures. When Linda finally breaks down, the two end up in Ecuador where they meet a pair of tourists Ruth (Wanda Sykes) and her partner Barb (Joan Cusack), who was in the Special Forces. However, Emily connects with a good looking stranger, James (Tom Bateman) who shows her a good time before taking her and Linda to see the rest of the island. The three end up in an accident with Emily and Linda being held captive, and having to find a way to escape.

The film surprisingly works when it completely goes for ridiculous moments, rather than quick-witted humor. In fact, the ridiculous moments actually made the film more bearable for me to watch. I’ve admitted that I’m not the biggest Amy Schumer fan, but I didn’t let that effect the way I watched the film, and with that said, Schumer isn’t even the funniest person in her own movie. Schumer’s Emily could come off as unlikeable and annoying, and I wouldn’t blame you, but her relationship with Goldie Hawn’s Linda is the main focus of the film.

The mother-daughter dynamic starts off almost immediately and isn’t that bad, but the real deeper moments are far apart and actually feel real and not forced. Its arguments you can with our mothers and the resolution isn’t really always there and a quick answer. Schumer and Hawn handle those scenes so perfectly that for just a brief second you forget the comedy aspect of the film.

One of the things that makes Snatched work is the supporting cast, mainly the chemistry and scenes between Ike Barinholtz’s agoraphobic adult son Jeffrey and a State Department official Morgan Russell played by Basir Salahuddin. Anytime the two are on screen, you will be laughing hard – I know I did. Then there’s Christopher Meloni’s character, Roger Simmons, who I won’t spoil, but I’ll just say this – he’s a great and welcome addition to the ridiculous that is this movie. The same can’t be said for Oscar Jaenada, who plays the man in charge that kidnaps Emily and Linda, is wasted in the film, but it isn’t his film to begin with so I can forgive that.

All in all, Snatched works when it’s over-the-top. Not all the jokes work, and even the ones that do are a little iffy. Even though Amy Schumer is the lead in the film, the supporting cast is what makes this movie work on the levels that it does.

Snatched

3 out of 5

 

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Joby Harold

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law, Aidan Gillen, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Tom Wu, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay and Eric Bana

Synopsis: Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword starts off with a lengthy opening credits scene showing off Arthur’s father Uther (Eric Bana) facing a powerful Mage attacking his castle. It gives us a tease of the power of the sword Excalibur. After his battle, Uther’s brother Vortigern (Jude Law) plans a coup and kills Arthur’s parents, but not before they were able to send a young Arthur down the river. We jump forward in time and find a now grown up Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), who grew up in a brothel, and with his two friends Wet Stick (Kingsley Ben-Adair) and Back Lack (Neil Maskell) have a good thing going. They protect the girls at the brothel, and take a little bit of money from people on the street. However, when the seas by the castle start to recede, they reveal Excalibur, and Vortigen finds out that the sword has found a new person to wield it and use it against him.

The search wages and eventually Arthur finds his way there. When he pulls the sword from the stone and instantly becomes a target and a legend among the people. Arthur is then saved and works with his father’s old allies in Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), Goose Fat Bill (Aidan Gillen) and The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey). What follows is Arthur coming to terms with not only learning to use the sword and defeat Vortigern, but become the legend the people think he is.

Legend of the Sword has many things working for it. The Guy Ritchie touch is welcomed to a story we’ve heard, read and seen numerous times. One of the best moments in the film is when Arthur and his friends are recounting a story about a troublesome group and what happened – it’s Guy Ritchie at his finest. In fact, the film works better when it’s not focusing on the mystical side of things. Seeing Arthur as a street-level grounded character was a good way to go with his concept.

That’s not to say some things don’t work. When the film goes all in on the mystical side of things, some of it stumbles. The idea that humans and Mages are at war – said at the beginning of the film – doesn’t really pay off for the rest of the film. Other than Vortigern having some powers and the character The Mage, that part isn’t really brought up again. Even some of Voritgern’s powers that are introduced don’t really make too much sense or are never really developed. Speaking of Vortigern, Jude Law does an okay job, but his character isn’t really all that fleshed out.

When it comes to the rest of the cast, Charlie Hunnam does fair job as Arthur. Obviously, it is a different take on Arthur, and Hunnam’s performance is connected to the sword as it shows him the last moments of his parents, which already keeps him up at night. Also, his chemistry with Ben-Adir’s Wet Stick, Maskell’s Back Lack and Bleu Landau’s Blue (son of Back Lack) works really well. Astrid Berges-Frisbey’s The Mage, keeps her cards close to the vest, but her powers are on full display throughout the film. Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen are there to add a boost to the supporting characters, and do a find job at that.

The third act of the film however, is when Ritchie falls into summer box office territory. It goes completely over-the-top with the special effects and mystical side of things. It also gets a little hard to follow and feels a bit out of place even within the perimeters that film has set for itself.

All in all, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword isn’t all that bad. There’s a lot of good concepts within the film, and although some things don’t really work out or are either underdeveloped or not fleshed out enough, the film never falters too much. Needless to say, this isn’t your parents King Arthur.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

3.5 out of 5

May Movie Releases

Hello Boys and Girls!

It’s the beginning of the Summer Movie Season!

What better way to start off this run of movies than a great month of films. We got a lot of films to get to, so let’s get to it!

 

5th

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Sci-Fi Action – Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Guardians (Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite character from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand. The returning cast includes Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion (playing a different character), Sean Gunn, and Glenn Close. The film’s new cast includes Kurt Russell (Quinn’s father, Ego), Sylvester Stallone, Chris Sullivan, Pom Klementieff, and Tommy Flanagan.

 

 

12th

Limited Release: The Wall

Directed by Doug Liman, an American sharpshooter is trapped in a standoff with an Iraqi sniper. The film was suppose to come out in March, but got pushed back to May, but either way it looks great. The Wall looks like a tension-filled drama I can’t wait to see. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laith Nakli and John Cena.

 

 

Lowriders (Drama – Universal Pictures/BH Tilt/High Top Releasing/Imagine Entertainment)

A young street artist in East Los Angeles is caught between his father’s obsession with lowrider car culture, his ex-felon brother and his need for self-expression. The film stars Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, Eva Longoria, Melissa Benoist, and Demian Bichir.

 

 

Snatched (Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Cherin Entertainment/Feigo Entertainment)

After being dumped by her boyfriend, Emily (Amy Schumer) decides to take a spontaneous trip with her mother (Goldie Hawn) to Ecuador, where they find themselves kidnapped, escaping and having to go on the run. The film stars Christopher Meloni, Oscar Jaenada, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bateman, and Wanda Sykes.

 

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Fantasy Adventure – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Wilgram Productions/Safehouse Pictures/Weed Road Pictures)

Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film takes the very Ritchie tone to bringing a new take to the classical character Arthur played by Charlie Hunnam. The film sees Arthur, a street-smart brawler who finds himself drawn into a battle when he takes possession of the sword Excalibur. The film stars Jude Law, Annabelle Wallis, Katie McGrath, Djimon Hounsou, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Hermione Corfield, Aidan Gillen and Eric Bana.

 

 

19th

Diary of Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (Family Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Color Force)

Continuing the series based off the books by Jeff Kinney, Greg (Jason Drucker) convinces his family to take a road trip to attend his great grandmother’s 90th birthday as a cover for what he really wants: to attend a nearby gamer convention. Unsurprisingly, things do not go according to plan and the Heffley family antics ensue. The film also stars Charlie Wright, Tom Everett Scott, Owen Asztalos, Carlos Guerrero, and Alicia Silverstone.

 

 

Everything, Everything (Romance Drama – MGM, Alloy Entertainment, Itaca Films)

Based on the novel by Nicola Yoon, a teenager who’s lived a sheltered life because she’s allergic to everything, falls for the boy who moves in next door. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, and Anika Noni Rose.

 

 

Alien: Covenant (Sci-Fi Thriller – 20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions/TSG Entertainment/Brandywine Productions)

The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape. The film looks like it’s finally an Alien prequel, and bloody. Very, very bloody. The cast includes Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, Demian Bichir, Danny McBride, Callie Hernandez, Noomi Rapace, James Franco, and Guy Pearce.

 

 

25th

Baywatch (Action Comedy – Paramount Pictures/Seven Bucks Productions/The Montecito Picture Company/Cold Spring Pictures/Contrafilm)

Two unlikely prospective lifeguards vie for jobs alongside the buff bodies who patrol a beach in California. Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra, Hannibal Buress, Pamela Anderson, and David Hasselhoff.

 

 

26th

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Action Adventure – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films/Moving Picture Company)

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) searches for the trident of Poseidon when an old enemy from his past comes to haunt him. The film also stars the returning Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Martin Klebba, Stephen Graham, David Wenham, and Paul McCartney.

 

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Crimson Peak’ Review

crimson_peak

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Writers: Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman, and Doug Jones

Synopsis: In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I should point this out right from the beginning, despite the ads and the heavy use of the horror elements, Crimson Peak is not a full blown horror film. Guillermo del Toro has instead created a wonderful, dark, twisted and beautiful gothic romance. The film also brings del Toro back to his Pan’s Labyrinth sense of wonderment and style, and it’s great to finally see him come back to it.

Set in the early 1900s, Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) is an aspiring writer who wants to be taken seriously. One day she is at the office of her father Carter (Beaver), a powerful businessman, who hears a proposition from Baronet Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston). The business proposition involves Thomas’ estate in England, Allerdale Hall, which sits on top of a valuable mine. However, during Thomas’ stay he manages to win Edith’s heart, much to Carter’s dismay, and his enigmatic sister, Lucille (Chastain). Eventually, Edith marries Thomas and relocates to Allerdale Hall where she finds out that the house not only holds dark and terrible secrets, but also ghosts, which remind her of a warning she got as a child from her departed mother, “Beware of Crimson Peak.”

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Again, Crimson Peak is as del Toro has said, a gothic romance and has stressed that it is not a horror film. The film does have many horror elements scattered throughout the film, but for the most part del Toro sticks to his word about it being a gothic romance. Matter of fact, Edith even says at one point when presenting her book that it’s “more of a story with a ghost in it.” This may turn off some people, especially those waiting for a full blown horror film, but don’t worry, there are enough horror elements in the film to hold you over.

The cast is pretty spot on here. Mia Wasikowska’s Edith is filled hopes and dreams, but seeing it slowly get taken away from her as the film progresses and seeing her go through the horrors and spirits she sees in the house. However, the character falters a bit, because all the ambition is put to the side once she enters the house, it’s not too surprising since the focus becomes Edith’s terrors, but a silver lining is that Edith becomes more powerful and her survival instincts take over. Wasikowska does great regardless.

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Tom Hiddleston’s Thomas is nicely layered as a charming, sympathetic and mysterious figure that fits him perfectly. You’re conflicted as to whether or not Thomas actually loves Edith or is he merely acting a part of whatever scheme he and his sister have up their sleeves. Charlie Hunnam pops in as an old friend of Edith and now a doctor that has his own practice. His character isn’t really used too much and it’s a bit of a shame, but he is the least interesting character in the film. Jim Beaver’s father character is surprisingly greater than I thought it would be, even though Beaver is great in pretty much anything he does. Burn Gorman also pops in as a investigator of sorts that works for Carter.

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However, this film belongs to Jessica Chastain’s Lucille Sharpe. Chastain is one of the best actress in Hollywood today and she always gives it her all in whatever role she in, and Crimson Peak is no different. Her portray of Lucille is closed off and cold to Edith most of the time, but there is something about the way she acts for the rest of the film is what makes her more interesting and mysterious, especially in the end, when we finally see her reveal everything.

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Of course, if you know Guillermo del Toro’s work, you know he has a knack for amazing visuals and Crimson Peak may be one of best works yet. Del Toro actually built Allerdale Hall and rigged the set to make it an actual character in the film, and there is no doubt that Allerdale Hall is a character in the film. The production design is top notch, and dare I say, del Toro’s best he’s ever done. Everything down to the clothing, the decaying house and the walls of the massive house even look like they’re bleeding (will make more sense when you watch the film). Even if whatever reason you don’t like the film, you’ll at least me impressed by how beautiful it looks.

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The film is a bit of a slow burn, with the last twenty or so minutes not only revealing everything, but also turning the film up a notch. The film is also surprisingly bloody. I know it’s teased in the film and in the trailers, but actually watching it was shocking to me. However, del Toro manages to make it fit and a part of the story, rather than just have violence for the sake of having violence. Moreover, the ghosts in the film also serve a purpose and are not there for the sake of a scare. The ghosts are rather creepy at first glance, but it seems that ghosts are all CGI, which seeing the production design, I can see why del Toro would rather go the CGI route since he probably spent most of the budget on the house alone.

All in all, Crimson Peak is a dark and twisted story that could be a hard watch sometimes, but there is something beautiful and touching in its own weird and twisted way. The film does take a while to get going, but the performance, especially the standout of Jessica Chastain, and subtle nuances laid throughout the story will keep you going along for the ride. While not a full blown horror film, the gothic romance angle of Crimson Peak is beautiful enough for me to appreciate.

 

Crimson Peak

4.5 out of 5

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‘Pacific Rim’ Review

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Dir: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini,Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., and Ron Perlman

Synopsis: As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.

 

*Review Note:This is a non-spoiler review as always.*

 

Set in future, humanity is in its seventh year of war against giant alien monsters known as “kaiju”, which emerged from a portal deep within the Pacific Ocean. In order to fight back, the world put aside their difference and banded together to create giant robots called “jaegers” that require two pilots to link minds in order to operate in what’s called “the drift,” as Charlie Hunnam’s character says “the deeper the connection, the stronger the bond.” However, the kaiju invasion becomes more and more overwhelming,and the jaeger program is on its last legs.

Former pilot Raleigh Beckett (Hunnam) is pulled back in by project overseer Stacker Pentecost (Elba) in order to make a last stand against the kaiju. With the help of rookie pilot Mako Mori (Kikuchi), Raleigh attempts to stop the invasion alongside other jaegers from different countries. Meanwhile, scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler (Day) is hunting down a kaiju brain, which may provide the key for closing the portal.

The tagline “go big or go extinct” is perfect for setting the mood. The action sequences are not only amazing to look at but it really brings you into the movie. The jaegers and the kaiju each have their own unique designs that distinguish’ each of them and doesn’t have the viewer think about how’s fighting. Seriously, the kaiju and jaegers have their own names like two the jaegers are named Gipsy Danger and Striker Eureka and one of the kaiju’s is named Leatherback. The actual fighting is a spectacle of its own. At times it feels like a boxing or wrestling match with the way Del Toro sets up the fight but it’s also an all out brawl as these giants hit each other with you can feel the hits.

One of the complaints that a lot of people have is the human element. Hunnam does a decent job as Raleigh although there are times were I wish he did a little more. Idris Elba plays the no-nonsense Pentecost well but behind his hard-ass exterior there is something there that makes us like him(you know, besides being Idris Elba). The standouts – of the human cast that is– is Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Pealman who plays a black market dealer of kaiju parts. Day plays a kaiju expert and has his comedic moments but also plays it a bit serious. Rinko however is the real standout. Her character has the most emotional depth of the cast and holds her own against the boys and quiet literally when she has a practice fight against Hunnam’s Raleigh.

Other characters that pop up are Hercules Hanson (Martini) and his cocky pilot son Chuck Hansen (Kazinsky), Dr. Gottlieb (Gorman) who works with Day’s character and isa bit odd himself. Clifton Collins Jr. shows up as an operator to the jaegers and for you video game fans Ellen McLain aka GLaDOS from Portal plays Gipsy Dangers AI voice.

All in all, Pacific Rim is a true summer blockbuster that will have something for everybody. Yes, there are moments when the movie slows down but I don’t think it hurts the movie. The human element isn’t probably the strongest especially after the action sequences. If you want my opinion spend the extra money to watch it in IMAX 3D. It is worth seeing and I think might be the only way to truly experience the movie. Also stay a bit for the credits.
Pacific Rim

5 out of 5