The lull is here… I have felt it strong within me… or is that just the damn humidity already permeating my skin and pores and insides? We have some catching up to do, so let’s commence.
Last week brought in yet another fantasy film in its case of goodies to the cineplexes, and this time it was brought in by none other than Duncan Jones, known also as the son of David Jones, who is better known as David Bowie, or as I call him, God. Did I ever tell you about when I met him on Mulberry Street in NYC? I didn’t… well, I shan’t now but perhaps one day.
Bringing a piece like Warcraft from the small, gamebox video world to the big screen has been no easy feat. Production and squabbles about film rights went on for years and how can you ever please an audience jacked up on video power and Monster energy drinks? Well, this film tries… dividing its cast of characters to either humans OR a species of world-jumping conquerors and orcs, searching for a new home to replace their dying one. Serve with that a heaping of tried-and-true, atypical warrior spirit scenes, sprinkle in codes of honour and some black magic… and voilà! Things are now FANTASY! But no, they are not. The humans, though more obvious in character, are no more interesting than their orc counterparts. One-dimensional and nerdy, bookish images come to mind and then are thrown at you from every possible angle, and even decent actors like Dom Cooper or Ben Foster in the Merlin role fall flat when everything around you is a green screen… even the lovely Paula Patton is undervalued in this trite shite. Watching Warcraft, you keep expecting to be taken to a magical warrior realm of some kind that enthrals and keeps you in suspense… but then it never happens! Duncan Jones has scored great reviews for past stuff in his short filmography but this one never quite hits it out of the park, especially for an early summer wannabe blockbuster. It’s too bad really, as I’d love nothing more to see Bowie’s offspring continue to deliver solid material. FAIL! ##
The Meddler (Una Madre Imperfecta) starts easy and soft and then builds into something so relatable it gets a bit therapeutic at times… to say the least, I was unexpectedly happy watching this film. Susan Sarandon can be hit or miss lately, and after the letdown of director Lorena Scafaria’s last film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, nothing was a given coming into this production. What we get is the gift of Marnie (Susan Sarandon), who not only gives us the every-aunt/mum/grandma rolled into one, but the essence by which you see her portray this role is one of the most dynamic I’ve seen from Sarandon since Thelma and Louise and Lorenzo’s Oil when I was a wee teen. She is mesmerising and she makes the other dull cast of characters shine by her mere presence. Marnie is a recent widow, who has packed up stakes from the NJ/NYC life she’s always known and moved to be closer to her daughter in Los Angeles, a blocked tele/film script writer and doctor. The daughter, played by Rose Byrne, is not so keen on having mum around and yet as we the audience spend more time with Marnie, you start to question why Rose is so bitchy to her fab mum. The thing is, Marnie is also a woman whose bereavement forces her to seek solace with others by going over the call of duty… implications that she got a great insurance settlement after hubby’s death abound. Naturally within the confines of the film are the basic ingredients for a standard-issue comedy about a parent with boundary issues… I mean, hellooo? That film title? Here’s one time I actually preferred the Spanish title to the original one! We see Sarandon (or rather, Marnie) also take to a couple of possible gent callers, played by Michael McKean and another by J.K. Simmons with a reserved caution which plays as a mini-distraction for her from the aforementioned loss of her husband. The film is a tad longer than needed, but when you get out of the cinema, you are practically compelled to call that lady you love more than anyone else in your family and give them some cariño. Well done to all involved! ###-½
Lastly for this Friday catch-up review is Eddie the Eagle, just opening this weekend. Now, while most Brits need no introduction to this famed Olympic story from their country, some of us do! The latest fun romp from actor/director Dexter Fletcher and producer Matthew Vaughn (both are Guy Ritchie cronies) comes easily and calmly to the big screen. Telling the true story of Eddie Edwards, a child-cum-man who dreams of representing England in the Olympics somehow until in ’87, he gets his wish in the form of receiving permission to perform in the skiing competition in the Olympic Winter Games. Let the obvious high jinx ensue, for alas, they are formulaic and fun! Eddie is played with aplomb by Kingsman alum Taron Egerton. Now, let’s get real… a whole lot of Edwards’s story has been exaggerated for the film; you know the stereotypical cliches that just have to be… a rough-n-tough alcoholic coach, scheming British Olympic officials, determined to maintain only the finest, cream of the crop on their team; there’s Eddie’s unsupportive, working-class builder father, to go with his patient mumsy… claro! And we even get a brief moment with Christopher Walken as another former coach-now-guru of international ski jumping. The good thing is that this fun film does NOT even try to act like it’s the truth-bomb.com, not at all. Its realness lies in its enjoyment of the story, the trials and tribulations and ultimate, victorious non-victory of the main character, Eddie the Eagle. Director Fletcher has kept the tone light, having fun with the clichés, silly montages, and the tongue-in-cheek reverie never falls too flat! While the film is undoubtedly simple, it is well within its reach of simple glory! This is a child-to-man’s dream coming true in some form or fashion, and watching this happen makes you walk out of the cinema with a smile and with perhaps even a tinge of faith. A damn good film! ###-½
See you all back here just after the weekend! More juicy stuff for you then!