Tag Archives: Anthony Hopkins

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Transformers: The Last Knight is the loudest movie of the year. And it still made me fell asleep. Twice.

Yes, the fifth and latest instalment in the Transformers franchise is, as most expected, very bad. I don’t know if it’s the worst of the lot — mainly because I can’t remember any of them after the solid first one — but it sure feels the same old crap that Michael Bay keeps rolling out, the same old crap that keeps making over a billion dollars at the box office.

This one was supposed to be different, I had some hope for a different kind of Transformers movie after early reports that they gathered a clan of renowned writers to brainstorm new and innovative ideas. Optimism quickly turned to doubt when I heard they were going to go draw from the well of King Arthur, and that Nazis were also going to be involved. It just sounded like they were grasping at straws.

Indeed, neither idea worked well, though I think at least one of them was pivotal to whatever the plot was. I’m still not quite sure what it was all about. All I know is that Marky Mark Walhberg came back for another paycheck, and he dragged Sir Anthony Hopkins along with him. The storyline was simply all over the place, a mish-mash of tired ideas executed much better in other films. You have the Autobots fighting the Decepticons still, with the humans dancing on the sidelines pretending to be relevant. Optimus Prime is for some reason hypnotized by some evil robot, and there’s Sir Anthony Hopkins playing the guy who explains everything, an annoying teenage girl (Isabela Moner) who runs around war zones acting tough, an annoying blue robot who can only say one word, an annoying and obvious rip-off of C3PO, and British Megan Fox (Laura Haddock).

I don’t know why I expected something different from Michael Bay this time.

Anyway, despite all the explosions and car chases and robot-fighting action, Tranformers: The Last Knight is mind-numbingly dull. And it’s 149 minutes long. Marky Mark is a professional and does his best to pretend he’s not in utter trash, but all the other returning characters appear to have no idea why they are in the film, or care. Josh Duhamel is back as a military commander who again does almost nothing, while John Turturro spends most of his time acting like an idiot in Cuba. I don’t remember that Stanley Tucci is in the movie.

As for the newcomers, Sir Anthony Hopkins appears to have a smirk on his face throughout every scene, probably thinking about his bank account. He basically has a role similar to Ian McKellan’s in The Da Vinci Code, ie, a wealthy old man who lives in a mansion and seems to know everything the protagonists need to know, and then goes about explaining it to the audience. British Megan Fox (Haddock) is basically just that, except she plays an Oxford professor (I’m not kidding) with multiple PhDs. She also likes wearing tight outfits, which is all that matters.

The bulk of my disdain goes to this young teenage girl named Izabella (Moner), who is supposed to be this symbol of courage and likable, but turns out to be the complete opposite. She’s like nails on a chalkboard unbearable from the moment she appears on screen. The more the movie tries to make us like her the more I could not stand her. The funny thing is that after the film spends ages building her up to make her seem like the new protagonist of the franchise, she then disappears for pretty much the rest of the movie. Not like I was complaining.

Ultimately, there just isn’t much to like about Transformers: The Last Knight. Stupid premise, stale ideas. Tons of pointless exposition. Tasteless and unfunny humour. Unlikable characters. Poor performances. Cringeworthy dialogue. Way too long. It’s very messy and noisy. And despite all the crazy robot fights and excellent special effects (which, let’s face it, we’ve all seen before), it simply isn’t exciting or compelling to watch. I honestly fell asleep twice, and the second time was when the film was in the middle of its climactic final battle. I guess that says it all.

1.5 star out of 5

Solace (2015)

 I like my psychic movies, and hence I was automatically drawn to Solace, a thriller about an old police medium (Anthony Hopkins) forced to come out of retirement to catch a mysterious serial killer. By his side are two good-looking officers played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who seems to be in everything these days, and Australia’s very own Abbie Cornish. Rounding out the star cast are Colin Farrell and Northern Exposure alum Janine Turner (remember her?).

I really wanted to like Solace because of the intriguing premise, though at the end of the day this is very much B-grade, straight-to-DVD stuff. Directed by Brazilian filmmaker Afonso Poyart, the film offers a mix of weird ideas — there appear to be visual influences from TV’s Hannibal — and sentimentality, but never really the nail-biting horror or suspense I had been hoping for, nor does it provide any real insight into what it’s like to be a police psychic or to work with one.

Instead, the film is surprisingly philosophical and goes into this exploration of the morality of death and suffering. That’s fine if it’s what the movie is trying to aim for, except there’s not enough depth or new ideas to keep it interesting. The film just takes itself far too seriously when it only scratches the surface of the issues it is trying to tackle.

To be fair, the film does begin with promise and at least makes an effort to offer something a little different. The actors are also solid — none of them are phoning it in, and there’s even decent chemistry among them, in particular Hopkins and Farrell. However, it doesn’t take long — though it might feel like a long time — before the film starts becoming tedious. Even if you haven’t seen it before you’ll feel like it’s all awfully familiar. There are a couple of little surprises here and there, though by and large it struggled to maintain my interest. And that’s unfortunate, because the potential was there at the beginning to be more than just another average thriller.

Ultimately, Solace is a case of “good effort”, but not much more than that. It’s nothing special, though you could do a lot worse if you’re randomly picking titles to watch on an uneventful evening.

2.75 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Thor (2011)

Thor was one of those movies that had me intrigued as soon as it was announced.  Of all the superhero premises, this one had ‘disaster’ written all over it more than any other.  A magical hammer, the God of Thunder, guys dressed in shiny armour fighting blue giants that can turn things into ice.  Not exactly the type of material that you’d think would make a good, (at least) semi-serious film set partially on present-day Earth.

But then enter director Kenneth Branagh (you know, the guy that does all the Shakespeare stuff), throw in Aussie Chris Hemsworth (probably best known by non-Aussies as Kirk’s dad in the Star Trek reboot), Academy Award winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, and all of a sudden the film starts having potential.  Could they make this farcical premise work?

Well, yeah, they did.  About as well as I could have imagined.

Thor, like the other successful Marvel adaptations (especially the first Iron Man), is great fun, a rollicking good time.  It’s visually spectacular, with tremendous action, a likable protagonist and occasional laughs that hit the right spot.

Chris Hemsworth really buffed up for this role and does a solid job as the charming titular character, ensuring certain stardom for years to come.  Natalie Portman’s role is largely limited to ‘intelligent love interest’, but she’s always nice to look at and have around.  And when you have the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard and Rene Russo in supporting roles, you know things can’t be too bad.

Considering how badly things could have turned out, Thor was almost a minor miracle.  While it is certainly not perfect, I found myself taking all the ‘other worldly stuff’ seriously enough to be laughing along with the movie as opposed to laughing at it.  It was slightly uneven at times, given the contrast between Thor’s supernatural world of Asgard (reminded me of a futuristic Clash of the Titans-type place) and some ordinary small town in New Mexico, but for the most part it worked.

On the other hand, while Branagh is no doubt very capable in creating drama, I did find some of the fight scenes a little lacking.  Interestingly, it was the scenes that featured only actors and no special effects that worked best — the action scenes that relied heavily on CGI, probably because of the way they were shot (too many cuts), didn’t quite pack the same punch.

That said, I was impressed with how Branagh allowed Thor to be a part of the Marvel universe (in light of the upcoming The Avengers film) while giving the film its own voice and style.  Pulling off a film like this where the supernatural and science co-exist peacefully was no mean feat.  This was a terrific introduction to a character that I’ll be happy to see again when The Avengers is finally released in May 2012.

3.5 stars out of 5

PS: I saw this film in 2D, but it was bloody hard to find a cinema and a session that did not screen the film in 3D only.  Ridiculous.  Spare a thought for the people who don’t want to waste their money on 3D!

PPS: Look out for Jeremy Renner in an extended cameo.  I was surprised to see him but after some research it looks like he’ll be a key figure in The Avengers film.

PPPS: Make sure you stay until after the credits — there is a scene with Samuel L Jackson at the end which could potentially be relevant for The Avengers or a Thor sequel.

Movie Review: The Rite (2011)

I am a huge fan of horror films, and few intrigue me more than those with ‘possession’ and ‘exorcism’ angles.  So of course I was eager to see The Rite, which was apparently aiming to be this generation’s The Exorcist.  It stars Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins and newcomer Colin O’Donoghue (great screen presence), and tells the story of the young son of a mortuary owner (O’Donoghue) who almost drops out of seminary school and is instead whisked to Rome to participate in ‘exorcism’ class, and ends up learning from an unorthodox expert (Hopkins).

I didn’t have to see the film to know that critics were probably going to savage it — few horror films these days, especially those dealing with the supernatural, are likely to pass through unscathed.  However, I thought the previews looked pretty promising, so I was kind of hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

I’ll get straight to the point.  The Rite started off extremely well, almost too well for its own good.  It was atmospheric, intriguing, chilling and rather eye-opening.  It also asked some interesting questions about religion, faith and psychiatric illness, without coming off feeling contrived.  There were some fantastically effective scenes and sequences that made me recoil in horror.  It’s supposedly ‘inspired’ by true events, though I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that.

However, at some point, around halfway through the film, The Rite takes a massive wrong turn.  I can almost pinpoint the exact scene where things start going downhill.  The point of view begins to switch awkwardly all over the place, and all subtlely flies out the window.  Instead of keeping you guessing, everything is spelled out and shoved down your throat, and genuine chills are replaced by cheap scares and special effects.  What began as potentially a new classic spiralled into just another uninspiring supernatural horror flick.

Sigh…

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the first half.

2.75 stars out of 5

Movie Review: The Wolfman (2010)

Argh!

Talk about a massive disappointment.

The Wolfman (the film not the man) is a ‘remake’ of the 1941 classic horror movie (which I haven’t seen), and had been on my ‘must-see’ list for quite some time.  I’ve always been a sucker for monster movies and this one looked highly promising.

Ponder the following:

  • a classic werewolf storyline (let’s not pretend there’s any surprises here);
  • 2010 make-up and prosthetics skills combined with the latest special effects technology;
  • Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins, Golden Globe nominee/winner Emily Blunt, and freaking Mr Smith/Elrond (Hugo Weaving)! and
  • script by Andrew Kevin Walker, who worked on Seven and Sleepy Hollow (plus uncredited rewrites of Stir of Echoes and Fight Club!).

There was no way this film could not be awesome.  Or so I thought.

Even when I heard that The Wolfman received lukewarm reviews, I was convinced the critics were wrong.

Well, they were right.  It’s still early, but there is a good chance The Wolfman will be my biggest disappointment of 2010.

It’s difficult to know where to begin. The Wolfman‘s biggest problem is that it’s not scary.  Not one bit.  All the elements were there – the full moon, the shadows, the misty woods, and even the growls – but there was zero tension.  Not having seen the 1941 original, I can’t say whether this was supposed to be a tribute or a ‘re-envisioning’, but The Wolfman felt like a cheesy, unintentionally comical mess.  I couldn’t decide whether it was trying to take itself seriously or be tongue-in-cheek with the over-the-top blood and violence.

The pace was all stuffed up (when a 102 minute film feels both too long AND rushed at the same time, you know there’s a problem) and the script was utterly predictable all the way to the end.  Even the music didn’t fit.  Worst of all, the special effects and make-up were sub-par.  The CGI buildings and scenery were good, the morphing process were decent, but the post-transformation scenes made me think I was watching a pissed-off Chewbacca on acid.  While there may be excuses for all the other problems, there’s no excuse for for this in a production of this magnitude.  Not in 2010.

I should have known the film was in trouble when Benicio Del Toro (one of my faves) appeared on screen sporting the worst haircut since ‘The Hanks Disaster’ from The Da Vinci Code.  When I heard Del Toro was cast in the lead role, I thought, “Great choice!  They’ll hardly have to use any make-up!”  However, that haircut made him lose all credibility, and I think the look on Del Toro’s face throughout the movie confirmed that he was embarrassed to have such an abomination on his head.

As for the others: Anthony Hopkins looked like he was just there to pick up the paycheck, Emily Blunt did her best in a thankless role, and Hugo Weaving was utterly hilarious (unintentionally, of course).

There must be a plethora of reasons why The Wolfman was crap, but the easiest point of blame is director Joe Johnston.  It’s not he is a bad director, but his style didn’t fit this film.  It may have worked for Jumanji and Jurassic Park III (and could for the upcoming Captain America and Jurassic Park IV films), but not for The Wolfman.  How they ever managed to botch up something so promising this badly is beyond me.

1.5 stars out of 5