Posts Tagged ‘Keira Knightley’

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

May 23, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

This Pirates of the Caribbean film really brings it back to the style of the first film.  Yes, it is absurd in that has mermaids, zombies, and voodoo, but it is a stand alone film.  It leaves itself plenty open for sequel, but it doesn’t require one.  If Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz decide not to come back and do another film, it isn’t a big deal, even though Penelope Cruz’s character would make sense in a sequel, she can even be replaced as there are a number of ways that it can go.  This was fun like the first one, a bit absurd, but very strong in terms of a stand alone summer sort of film.  With as bad as the summer films could have been, they have turned out quite nicely thus far.

The story is that of Jack Sparrow trying to make is way to the Fountain of Youth.  Not because he really wants to, all he really wants is The Black Pearl back (yet again), but Angelica (Penelope Cruz), basically kidnaps him to work for her father, Blackbeard, on his ship and to get him to the fountain of youth because it has been prophesied that he will be killed by the one legged man, Barbossa, who managed to escape from the Black Pearl before Blackbeard captured it.  Barbossa knows that Blackbeard is going after this, so he slides himself in with the British government in order to have a ship to go after Blackbeard and the fountain of youth.  At the same time, a Spanish general goes after it as well.  Leading to a three way race to get two silver chalices and a mermaids tear.  Much confusion, betrayal, and randomness happens on the way to the fountain of youth.

The acting is what you expect from a Pirates of the Caribbean film.  Johnny Depp slides back into his role of Captain Jack Sparrow very nicely, and it was kind of refreshing to not have Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley playing opposite him in the lead roles.  Penelope Cruz does a good job of stepping in as a sweet lady who Jack had corrupted and Ian McShane does a good job stepping in as Blackbeard, neither performance is astounding, but they are as good if not better than those of Bloom and Knightley.  Geoffrey Rush comes back as Barbossa, and he really does a very good job as Barbossa.  There are a few other characters that are brought back, but for the most part, there aren’t any other strongly memorable performances.  Keith Richards makes another guest appearance which is okay, but really could have been done without.

In terms of the level of competence in the film making, the direction by Rob Marshall is good, and the screenplay, while having some very absurd elements to it, is strong.  They manage to add in zombies and mermaids very well.  The voodoo aspect gets a bit shaky at a couple of points as Blackbeard is able to control parts of his ship with just his sword, I felt like that was over the top, but the voodoo doll of Jack Sparrow was a nice touch and didn’t seem too strange at all.  The score, by Hans Zimmer, was good as always and was similar to the previous ones which makes all the films have the same feel quite nicely.

Overall this was an entertaining film.  It won’t get a ton of critical love because there isn’t anything all that special about it, but it is a summer film, and it is rare that summer films, like Thor and the Pirates films, get all that much love.  I’d place this as the second best pirates film, and while I did enjoy the second and the third, even with their absurdity (and you have to view them as a single film), this fourth one is much closer to the first than either the second or third were.

Entertainment Grade: A-

Critical Grade: C

Overall Grade: B+

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

July 8, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

After seeing all three of the films on TV on my day off (5th of July), I decided it was time to review probably the greatest pirate film series of all times.  With enough excitement and humor to keep anyone entertained, Pirates of the Caribbean jumps off the screen.  Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the most memorable characters of the current generation of film.

The story revolves around Jack Sparrow, adeptly played by Johnny Depp, as a pirate who is trying to get back his ship, the Black Pearl, after his crew had mutinied him.  That is the very very basics of it.  It starts off with him trying to steal a ship so that he can run down his own ship.  He ends up being captured after he rescued Elizabeth Swan, daughter of the governor, who had fallen off of the ramparts of a fortress into the water because her corset was too tight.  When his pirate ship attacks the village, not to get back Captain Jack Sparrow but to find the owner of a piece of cursed gold, Elizabeth Swan is captured and Will Turner comes to Jack for help in getting her back.  Jack, has his own plans about regaining his ship, and he works those along with what Will wants into getting away from the colony and back out at see where they track down the Black Pearl, not without a fair number of difficulties.

Johnny Depp completely steals the show in this film.  His mannerisms and brilliant scheming in a confusing manner make this film.  If these films were considered “Oscar worthy” Depp could have easily won a best actor.  The supporting cast around him does a pretty solid job as well.  Keira Knightley looks beautiful in the role of Elizabeth Swan, and while it isn’t as good an acting performance from her as in Atonement or Pride and Prejudice, it is still an entertaining performance, and a great performance wasn’t needed, because it would be hard to compete against Jack Sparrow.  Orlando Bloom takes on the role of Will Turner.  I’m not that big a fan of Bloom’s acting, he seems more like a pretty face for the girls (which isn’t all that needed with Johnny Depp in the film) and that seems pretty common with most of his roles.  Bloom doesn’t detract from the film, he just isn’t nearly as talented as Depp or Knightley are.  Geoffrey Rush is the other big name in the film, and he takes on the role of Captain Barbossa, the man who led the mutiny against Jack Sparrow.  He really seems pirate like, whereas Sparrow is a character who is a little more out there, Rush plays Barbossa as a strong blood and guts pirate who only cares about gold and pillaging.  There are a number of other fun performances by some of the side characters, but it is simply too many to get into.  Besides Bloom who seems quite wooden (as normal) there aren’t many weak links in terms of acting.

Gore Verbinski does a great job with this film.  It feels like a fun period piece, it isn’t frumpy and he keeps the action going.  It helps when you get a performance like Depp’s, but he gets good performances out of the whole cast.  And visually he keeps the action going throughout the whole film.  Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio have to be commended as well for creating a very entertaining story, and while the next two films don’t live up to this standard, this one is one of the better purely entertaining films out there.

This film just comes together in nearly every facet.  The story is fun and entertaining, the direction is very good, and the performances are great and in some cases what legends are made of.  Thankfully the next two don’t disappoint (when viewed as a single film) and I look forward to seeing Depp back in the role of Jack Sparrow in 2011 as he searches for the Fountain of Youth.

Entertainment Grade: A+

Critical Grade: B+

Overall Grade: A

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The Hole

April 22, 2010

The Hole

The Hole

This film is based off of a book by Guy Burt and really fails to live up to it.  The book is a pretty quick read and simple but very intriguing and delves more into the characters.  The movie is pretty predictable and almost seems hastily done.

The story starts with Liz Dunn escaping from “the hole” an old bomb shelter left over from World War II where she and three friends (four in the book) have been hiding out to escape a school trip.  She makes it to a phone and calls the police saying that her three friends are dead and that something went terrible wrong.  The police look at the scene and try and piece together exactly what happened as Dr. Phillipa Horwood gets Liz to slowly open up about what happened.  Liz tells how at the school there is one guy who she has liked for a long time, Mike Steel, and with the help of her friend, Martyn Taylor she convinces Mike, Frankie, and Geoff that they can escape going on a school trip if they hide in the old bomb shelter.  They will tell the school their parents were coming to get them and the school that they were going with their parents and no one would notice.  Once they are in the hole, Martyn locks the door, for his protection, so that they don’t get caught, and he will come back for them in a couple of days when the school returns.  He doesn’t return and they are trapped in the hole and things start go very wrong leading to Geoff, Frankie, and Mike all dying.  The police bring in Martyn and he tells a very different story.  Dr. Horwood believes it is lie and when Martyn later admits it she passes it off as nothing.  There is a pretty obvious but entertaining twist at the end, even though it doesn’t show it off as well as the book.

The best performances in the film are of Liz and Martyn.  Liz is played very well by Thora Birch.  Some would say it isn’t all that great, but that is because the twist seems predictable through her.  However, just in terms of her acting, she plays the role very convincingly.  A complete unknown, Daniel Brocklebank, plays Martyn.  However, this role he plays the role very well showing up as very full of himself and in control of things.  The one big name in the film is Keira Knightley.  She plays Frankie, a spoiled high school student who is like the queen bee in terms of the attention she demands and gets.  The actor who plays Mike has continued on with a fair amount of TV success, playing the heart throb on shows like Gossip Girl.  Desmond Harrington gives a pretty poor performance, though.  The rest of the performances are pretty poor.  None of them are all that great, but Thora Birch does an effective job.

The creation of this story and film isn’t all that great.  Nick Hamm does a decent job with the story that he is given creating the emotion from partying to the panic in the very limited amount of room he is given with the hole.  But the story just isn’t strong enough to make a very good film and what Hamm gets from his talent isn’t all that great.

I’d recommend reading the book before watching the film.  It is a quick read and a pretty fun read.  The movie could definitely be worse, but isn’t all that good.  There are a few redeeming moments, mainly the twist at the end and Birch and Brocklebank’s performances.  There are a lot of better options for thrillers out there, but at least this is a small budget film with relative unknowns (before Knightley made it big), because so many huge Hollywood thrillers barely live up to this standard, they might have more suspense, but will lack a story that is as good.

Entertainment Grade: C+

Critical Grade: D+

Overall Grade: C-

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Atonement

April 21, 2010

Atonement

Atonement

This is one of my favorite romances of all time, I’d argue that Casablanca is a romance more then a drama or anything else, so that would go as number one, but Joe Wright has made a brilliant romance.  This story hast he same beauty in the style that his previous work, Pride and Prejudice did and he works with some of the same talent again getting more brilliant performances.

The story is that of love and betrayal going through several different time periods.  It starts in the English countryside where Cecilia Tallis is part of the upper class living in her family estate along with her younger sister Briony.  Both of them have feelings for one of the hands on the estate, Robbie Turner, but with Briony being only 13 and Cecilia and Robbie being older, Briony has no chance.  One evening, before a dinner party, Briony comes across Cecilia and Robbie in each others arms and Briony, in a fit of jealousy, lies and accuses Robbie of committing a crime that happens, but one that he did not commit.   With Brionys standing because of her family, even though she is only 13 and Robbie being nothing more the help, the police arrest Robbie and he is put into prison for four years.  He is granted an early release if he joins the British armed forces and he does to become part of the troops who go to France to halt the Nazi advances.  I fear that is as far as I’m going to reveal the plot as there is a nice twist in the film that is very touching and you will need to see it for yourself.  But based off of a novel by Ian McEwan, this is a brilliantly told story.

The acting in this film is extremely well done.  Keira Knightley takes on the role of Cecilia, working for a second time with Joe Wright, and she gives a very good performance.  She has a very proper feel about the way she acts the role which works wonderfully with the type of life that she grew up with.  Briony is played by multiple actresses, due to jumps in the time line, but the best performance of her is definitely be Saoirse Ronan.  Ronan was actually nominated for a supporting actress role in this film and while none of her performances since this role have lived up to this standard, she is a very solid up and coming actress.  Romola Garai takes on the role of an 18 year old Briony, but her performance doesn’t match up to that of the younger Ronan.  It is still a solid performance and believable as an older Briony, but the talent level shown off by the two isn’t the same.  James McAvoy takes on the role of Robbie Turner and gives another solid performance.  In comparison to the performance of Ronan and Knightley, McAvoy isn’t as strong, but he doesn’t falter compared to them either.  The rest of the performances are solid, but the film really is locked onto these three characters as the story does completely revolve around them.

Visually this is a stunning film.  Joe Wright shows off the English countryside again in this film and gets it to come to life.  Even in his grand sweeping shots there is beauty that works along side the beauty of the story.  The music in this film is phenomenally done as well.  Dario Marianelli wrote the original score for this film, and it is simply beautiful complimenting every scene as it goes and displaying the wide range of emotion shown throughout this film.  Joe Wright gets everything to work together in this film.

This is a film that I highly recommend.  Some might say, it is a romance and therefore more of a film for chicks,and some macho guys will definitely not appreciate it as much, but that is there loss.  This film is wonderfully crafted telling a great story.  It works visually and the acting is extremely good as well.  This film is an example of how everything can work together and a masterpiece can be created.

Entertainment Grade: B (why so low, because it isn’t an easy film to watch all the time, it is well made and will keep your attention, but is a very serious film)

Critical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

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Pride and Prejudice

April 7, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s classic novel comes to life in this 2005 adaptation by Joe Wright.  It is a beautiful film.  The story flows wonderfully, the visuals are simply stunning, and the acting performances are very good.

The story adheres closely to the original book by Jane Austen.  Having not read it, I’m going based off of what others have told me and seeing the A&E special, which was brilliantly done.  It is hard to compare the stories between the two since this version is two hours as compared to five hours with the A&E version.  The story of the five sisters who are looking for love and basically living their lives in Georgian England.  It combines subtle sarcastic humor, with drama, and with a few different romantic trysts.

The acting is very solid.  The lead performance by Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, the second oldest sister in the Bennet family.  Knightley is a good actress, but she really shines in these period pieces and under the direction of Joe Wright.  They collaborate on Atonement as well.  Carey Mulligan, who should be coming a household name after her performance in An Education, plays one of the younger sisters, Kitty Bennet.  Her performance isn’t the most memorable in this film, but it is solid, and in terms of talent, she is the next best actress.  The rest of the talent in this film is relatively unknown.  However, none of the performances are poor at all.  Dame Judy Dench is a solid performance in this film, but a smaller performance.

Visually, Joe Wright, is a very good performer.  He does a good job creating the atmosphere of Georgia England, and it is very entertaining, that way.  It is a wide sweeping film with lots of grand shots of the rolling English countryside.  This works well for this type of film works well for the time period of film in which it is set.  It is a slow paced film and the wide shots like that work extremely well.

This film is a well constructed film overall.  It does lose some of the humor and subtly that shows up in the A&E version.  It was very entertaining as a whole, and the acting talent is probably better.  This is a film that most guys can enjoy, but for obvious reason it is good film for girls.  The humor itself makes it worth checking out as Jane Austen is good at adding sarcastic humor in the story.

Entertainment Grade: B

Critical Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B+

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Love Actually

April 5, 2010

Love Actually

Love Actually

The greatest romantic comedy of all time, or at least my favorite.    It has a star studded cast that works wonderfully in this film, it is just smart enough and edgy enough in its comedy.  What is impressive about this film, besides the cast, is how it blends so many stories together.

The story is very improbable, there are at least six or seven love stories going on at once, and they work out very well.  It starts so many simple love stories some at weddings, some in Wisconsin, some at a lake cabin, and some in the office of the Prime Minister.  They are all little absurd stories, but they all really show off a little different type of love stories.  There are loves rekindled, new loves, loves going across languages and countries.  It has a lot of heart, which it needs for a romantic comedy, and a lot of good subtle humor.  A lot of little jokes pop into the film, and there are many absurd situations, and while the culmination is extremely unlikely, but that is par for a course for a romantic comedies.

The talent in this film is impressive.  You look at the top of the IMDB page, and you just see a long list of British stars.  Bill Nighy plays an eccentric pop rocker past his prime.  Colin Firth plays a writer who finds out that his lover is cheating on him and then falls in love again.  Alan Rickman plays a father who has potentially lost his way.  Emma Thompson plays Rickman’s wife.  Liam Neeson plays a relatively recently widowed husband with a young kid.  Hugh Grant plays The Prime Minister and a fairly odd one at that.  Keira Knightley plays a young married woman.  Even the smaller named actors and actresses do a great job.  Often times in films with half this star power have all the stars stepping all over each other, but the stories are kept separate enough that no one treads on the other actors and actresses.

Richard Curtis both wrote and directed this film.  He does a good job in this film and it is impressive since it is the first film that he directed.  It is beautifully done and put together and visually entertaining.  It is set around Christmas and it is very vibrant in how it is shown.  Christmas is always very bright, with all the red and green.  He probably should direct more films, even though his talent is probably more on the end of writing as compared to directing, he is much better.

This is a fun romantic comedy film, and it comes together pretty nicely.  The story is good, and comedy is good, and the romance is good.  I personally believe that a lot of guys have a soft spot for romantic comedies that no one talks about.  This is the only romantic comedy that I’ve ever seen where guys talk about liking it as much if not more then I’ve heard girls talking about it.

Entertainment Grade: A

Critical Grade: B+

Overall Grade: A-