I went to see Legion in theaters for it's midnight release. My movie ticket cost $10.50, and I was excited enough to bring a friend along and pay their way as well. I want those two hours of my life back even more than the $21.00 I wasted.
The plot asks us to believe many things, and sometimes it simply asks too much. We are told that these demonic creatures are attacking humans because God is disappointed in people and has decided to eradicate the entire race. This goes directly against Christian lore, as the Bible claims God will never try to end humanity again after that whole thing with Noah and his ark. I'm guessing the writer just didn't do his homework there. And why are the angels possessing people? Just for a bit of fun? Most of all though, I couldn't believe that God- The Almighty, The Creator- couldn't figure out how to get past this gang of stereotypes. This “God” is getting his metaphysical booty kicked by a bunch of dumbasses.
This film seemed to have everything it needed for success: all of humanity in peril, the ever-beautiful Paul Bettany, a director boasting visual credits from Sin City and Jurassic Park, angels sword fighting, and various other Bible-related allegories. What we got was a lead actor who could not seem to close his mouth when he wasn't spouting nonsense in the Joseph role, a kinda slutty Mary, Dennis Quaid paying his mortgage, and a host of talking bodies fulfilling the need for demon-fodder. The plodding plotline is uneven and, for the most part, actually pretty boring. The fight between two archangels should be epic, but it doesn't even make it to entertaining. It leaves you feeling the same way you would if your guy friend, who has always bragged about how good he is in bed, finally convinces you to come home with him after that last mixed drink, and three minutes after you've entered his bedroom he's asleep: that was it?
If you like Dennis Quaid, go watch Far From Heaven, or Smart People, or even the '98 remake of The Parent Trap. If you like Lucas Black, get Sling Blade or Jarhead. If you like Tyrese, go buy his albums. Adrianne Palicki has been in a host of great television shows, and Charles S Dutton has probably made 80 movies better than this one. Paul Bettany must be friends with this guy. And, if you are either a sucker for an underdog or Scott Stewart's mother, you can watch Priest, another religious sci-fi action flick starring Bettany. Thankfully, something in Stewart's two years away from directing helped him make Priest a film superior to Legion in every way.
The penultimate film in the Harry Potter film series (based on a series of books of the same name by author J.K. Rowling), Deathly Hallows Part One is quite possibly the best movie in the series. The script is well written, the plotting and pacing are very tight, and the acting has a quality of realism that seems to come from having played the same characters for many years. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry and Emma Watson as Hermione in particular shine in this film, conveying emotional depth and quality of acting at the highest level.
This film picks up right where its predecessor left off; Dumbledore is dead and Harry, Ron, and Hermione are preparing for their quest to find and destroy the Horcruxes which are keeping Voldemort alive. Events in the film gain speed as it progresses and reach a quite frenetic pace after the fall of the Ministry of Magic. This fast pace suits the film well, as it adds to the tension which we in the audience are meant to feel.
The film comes off extremely well in comparison to the book. There are two main reasons for this; the first is that there are events in the book which, when read, are fairly monotonous. The film however, is able to show these events rather than tell them and the pacing of the story is improved because of this. The second reason is that the book does not fully explore the emotional journeys of all the characters involved. The film is able to explore these journeys because having actors depicting these emotions on screen allows us an insight into characters besides Harry himself. The film’s ability to show rather than tell makes it a substantial improvement over the book, and showcases the brilliant work of everyone involved.
That said, the film is not without its problems. The largest problem is one of accessibility. There are many characters, places, and things in this movie which were introduced in previous films and so do not receive a new introduction in this one. Obviously, this movie is intended as part of a series and as such can be forgiven some of this, but it is a noticeable issue. The second problem is one of intended audience, because when Rowling was writing the books upon which these films are based she began by writing what is essentially a children’s story. However, as the books developed more mature themes made their way in – with the result that the final books in the series are actually quite dark. This progression is mirrored in the films but its effect is heightened because the films show events rather than telling them; it is one thing to read about Bellatrix torturing Hermione, it is quite another to see and hear it.
These minor problems aside, this is an excellent film and I would recommend it to anyone, so long as they've seen the previous films in the series.
When Steve Coogan was invited by The Observer to tour and review English fine dining establishments, he expected to bring along his girlfriend. Unfortunately, his girlfriend backs out on him, forcing him to take Rob Brydon, his best and most irritating friend. This chronicle is the shortened film release of the original six part television series, which aired on BBC.
Coogan and Brydon, both playing versions of themselves, are fantastic. They have great chemistry, and the myriad brief guests in their strange little bubble have a great time dealing with these man-children. The Michael Caine impersonations are especially entertaining (especially considering they get one of the quotes wrong). You get the feeling, watching these guys just eat and talk and roam about the countryside, that this is what you and your most annoying good friend would be like, were you both much more funny than you actually are. The 70 plus minutes cut from the miniseries are missed, causing the pacing to be altogether skewed. However, the end result is certainly easier viewing, as the cut scenes were largely on the somber side.
I have a feeling much of the American audience will be utterly lost watching this film, and it may not have found distribution here in the first place had it not been edited down. I found Coogan and Brydon to be hugely entertaining, both during their improvised comedic scenes and their melancholy ones. These men do not lead easy lives, but they are certainly striving to look on the bright side. If you are not a fan of British film, need lots of action to keep you interested, have never heard of James Bond or Michael Caine, or actively dislike either of the main actors, this is definitely not the film for you. On the flip side, if you've a taste for British comedy, enjoy impersonations, or wish to be entertained and maybe even slightly touched at the end of a film, rent this one.
Set during the crusades in the 12th century, this Ridley Scott film is epic in scope and full of quite breathtaking visuals. The time period of the film puts it several years before King Richard’s crusade, at a time when European Christians still control Jerusalem. The film centers around Balian (Orlando Bloom), the bastard son of Godfrey (Liam Neeson), who is a Baron of the kingdom of Jerusalem. Balian’s wife has killed herself and he sets out from France with his father on a journey of religious redemption.
The journey to Jerusalem is a hard one and Godfrey dies along the way; however other characters are met, and after much difficulty Balian reaches Jerusalem and the movie truly begins. Balian (now a Baron after the death of his father) is thrust into the turbulent politics of Jerusalem. Which are complicated by increasing tensions between Christian zealots and adherents to other religions, the failing health of Jerusalem’s leprous king, and the threat of the Muslim armies of Saladin which surround the kingdom. The story unfolds around Balian as he tries to adhere to his princicples in the face of these issues.
At its heart this film is about principles and the ultimate danger of fanaticism. To this end Balian is an interesting compass, first as a Christian who is losing his faith, and later as something of a secular humanist. The film contains many moral lessons but rarely feels “preachy.” Excellent acting by an all-star cast allows the characters to seem human even while playing through the moral messages of the film.
However, there are some serious problems with the film, especially with the theatrical release. The most egregious of these problems is that there are holes in the plot. Some characters’ actions are left largely unexplained and the motives of many others are murky at best. These problems sometimes make the story hard to follow, and certainly make it harder for audiences to sympathize with characters whose actions they simply cannot understand. Thankfully, there is a director’s cut of the film which utilizes approximately half an hour more material to address these issues.
I would recommend this film strongly – even in its theatrical release it is worth watching as the acting and the visuals are top notch. If you can get the director’s cut version and have the time to watch it, do yourself a favor and get it.
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