Tag Archives: Hugo Weaving

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the alcoholic antisemite nutjob sure knows how to make awesome movies!

I was somewhat wary about his latest film, Hacksaw Ridge, the remarkable true story about a Christian conscientious objector who became a hero during World War II. Given Gibson’s religious leanings, I was concerned that he was going to push that aspect of the movie down my throat, but I guess I didn’t give him enough credit because Hacksaw Ridge is one of the most epic and inspiring war movies ever made. And it’s technically an Aussie film!

Former Spider-Man Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, a young man who felt obligated like so many in his hometown to join the US military and fight the Japanese during WWII. The problem is, he’s a devout Christian who not only refuses to kill but even refuses to carry a weapon. Obviously, if he were simply sent home at this point, Hacksaw Ridge wouldn’t be much of a movie. So you can kind of guess what happens next. And yet, the battle sequences, when they finally hit, are so impactful and devastating that I became totally immersed in the film, such that it didn’t matter if I knew what the story was about or what the outcome would be.

We all know Mel loves violence, and Hacksaw Ridge doesn’t hold back one bit. Bullets shredding bodies, exploding heads, flying limbs — the carnage actually wasn’t too far off from the over-the-top massacres in Rambo (2008), except here it felt terrifyingly real. Well-developed characters you care about and good acting can make all the difference.

Garfield is really, really good as Doss, and I wouldn’t be upset if he snags one of the five Best Actor spots at the Oscars this year (he also could for Silence, though I haven’t seen it yet). It could have been easy for Doss to come across as too self-righteous and obtuse, but Garfield’s performance makes him a protagonist you want to root for. The rest of the cast is fantastic too, including Doss’s abuse, alcoholic father played by Hugo Weaving and mother played by Rachel Griffiths. Teresa Palmer puts in one of her better performances as the love interest, while Luke Bracey and Sam Worthington — two guys who haven’t been great leading men but have been solid supporting actors — are as good as they have ever been as soldiers in Doss’s unit. Vince Vaughn rounds off the stellar cast with also one of his best performances in years as their wise-cracking sergeant, providing the bulk of the film’s humour without at all coming across as jarring or out of place.

Hacksaw Ridge a brutal, harrowing film about the horrors of war, but also an uplifting one about faith and sticking to what you believe in and who you are. You really don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy this movie or be moved by it. You can actually even hate Christianity but love this movie because the themes are universal. Inspiring is inspiring, and a great movie is a great movie.

4.5 stars out of 5

PS: Apparently the film is pretty accurate too. Some timelines are shifted or stretched, but the core facts are verifiable.

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