Tag Archives: Eric Bana

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

The film was pitched to the studio as Lord of the Rings meets Snatch. Charlie Hunnam, who won the role of King Arthur only after promising Guy Ritchie that he’d bulk up for it, and offered to fight (and win) the other two in consideration (Henry Cavill and Jai Courtney), said that the description sold him on the movie: “That’s a film I wanted to see.” Unfortunately, we can now say that Hunnam was the only one who did. King Arthur bombed big time at the box office this weekend, earning just $17M against its $175M production budget. Sean and I were part of that tiny 17 million dollar sliver, but only because it was opening night at our local drive-in theatre and we just couldn’t stay away.

Full disclosure, the moment the movie began, I turned to Sean and said “I really don’t like 1200x675movies that mix fantasy and historical.” Sean let out a breath. “You’re going to hate this.” He was right. I kind of knew it too. But as soon as I’d said those words, I realized they were too general. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but I’m certain there are plenty of movies who get it right. I know I was thinking of The Great Wall when I said it, as King Arthur’s opening scene immediately put that to my mind, which was a rough way to start. It would later remind me of the egregious Ben Hur remake, an even worse comparison.

The premise is, of course, familiar: King Uther (Eric Bana) has a rocking sword named Excalibur and a shitty younger brother named Vortigern (Jude Law, who only plays bad guys since he lost his hair) who doesn’t love anyone as much as he loves himself, and loves power most of all. He’ll stop at nothing to win and keep the crown, and he slays his way through his own immediate family, spilling their blood to make himself king. His kingdom suffers from his megalomania for years, but just when things go really REALLY bad, Excalibur reveals itself, the sword in the stone that no one can liberate. Vortigern ka-17714r_-_h_2017knows that only his nephew will be able to handle it, so he rounds up all the age-appropriate young men in the kingdom and eventually Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is revealed. And then it’s game ON. Arthur isn’t really motivated to do battle with his ruthless uncle, but a beautiful mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) persuades him that it must be so.

Guy Ritchie’s Arthur was raised in a brothel and is a bit of a thug. His gang is fast-talking, full of the saucy wit we’ve come to expect from a Ritchie movie, only now it’s mixed with magic and sorcery and feels wildly out of place. It’s clear Ritchie is aiming for a stylish, genre-bending effort, with anachronisms he doesn’t quite pull off as well as say, Baz Lurhrmann did in Moulin Rouge or even Brian Helgeland with A Knight’s Tale (although the heavy-breathing score is kind of inspired).  This King Arthur is a muscular and masculine movie that’s devoid of plot or character development. There’s no risk of actual tension so instead Ritchie has made sure that “stuff” is always “happening.” The movie just plops you down in the middle of the action, stuff that Ritchie apparently just made up in his head, and expects you to know what he was thinking. If you feel quite confident about your ability to read Guy Ritchie’s mind vis-a-vis magic and ginormous, fantastical pachyderms, you’re set. Otherwise, you’re in for a world of confusion, and the fact that Ritchie is apparently allergic to linear story-telling doesn’t help. One scene is constantly inter-cut with another because Guy Ritchie JUST CAN’T WAIT TO GET TO THE POINT! But will still make you sit through the dreary stuff as well, edited so its dreary-ACTION!-dreary-ACTION!-dreary-ACTION! and you forget which time line you’re actually in, even though they’re probably only separated by about 6 minutes or so, making it all feeling DREARY-DREARY!-DREARIER-DREARIEST!

This was meant to be merely the first installment of a planned six films series; safe to say the other 5 will soon be scrapped. Ritchie might be good at gritty crime dramas, but audiences just aren’t receiving his douchebag approach (hello, David Beckham cameo!) to King Arthur very well. I’ll tell you one redeeming thing though: Charlie Hunnam is indeed fit to be king. Very, very fit. I thought the wardrobe choice for him was interesting but cannot, for the life of me, understand why he wasn’t just shirtless the whole time. His physicality seemed to be of utmost importance to Ritchie, so why not capitalize on his one good idea and call it a day?

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The Finest Hours

You’ve already seen this movie. If it differs much from The Perfect Storm, I can’t remember how. But The Perfect Storm was a much better movie, and I’ll tell you why: it’s because you cared whether the characters lived or died. The Finest Hours does not care to imbue you with any such worry. The men on the sinking ship are hardly known to us. Their leader, played by Casey Affleck, is so poorly drawn that all we know about his life off the boat is that he doesn’t have one. And yet we still like this guy more than Chris Pine, a grunt at the coast guard with a chip on his shoulder. What we know about him: he rejects his girlfriend’s proposal for an unknown reason and then accepts in order to avoid a fight, but then neglects to mention\get permission from his commanding officer (Eric Bana), and won’t pick up the phone to tell her goodbye (won’t even answer the phone when SHE calls HIM) even though he’s about to go on a suicide mission. Helluva guy.

But you know. He’s broody. He’s let men die before and he’s not going to imagesdo it this time, even if it kills him and everyone he knows. His crew is pretty nervous about this plan but it’s either meet their fate in the ocean or go home and marry a pretty girl, so of course he sallies forth. And don’t worry, they’re successful.I do not believe I am spoiling anything in telling you this because you know exactly what kind of movie this is going in: man vs. nature. Man must triumph (and then return home to be cowed by a 22 year old woman with red lips).

Chris Pine is no George Clooney and though I wouldn’t call The Perfect Storm an altogether perfect movie, The Finest Hours does pale in comparison, and compare you must. And I don’t mean a Canadian’s legs after a long, hard winter pale. I mean an anemic, Irish zombie who’s locked in a closet and is starving for brains pale. A couple of reviews ago I asked what’s blacker than black, and I got my answer. So today I’m wondering: what’s the whitest shade of pale? And disappointingly, it’s white. White is the lightest possible colour on the spectrum, so even if we found something whiter than white, that would just become the new white and we’d have to come up with a new shade name for old white that’s not ghost white or snow white or white smoke, since those are already taken (And are all darker than white, and don’t tell me you can’t tell!).

Should you watch it? No one’s stopping you. It’s a perfectly serviceable rescue drama where you know exactly how things will play out based on the title alone. It won’t impress you much, but maybe after a hard week of work and a large bowl of popcorn at your disposal, that’s all you need.

Special Correspondents

It looks promising on paper: two radio station journalists get locked out of a big story in Ecuador so they decide to make it up instead. Eric Bana plays images73W735HWFrank, the dashing and charismatic reporter while Ricky Gervais plays his lackey, Finch. Finch is a clumsy and oblivious guy with a beautiful but disloyal wife (Vera Farmiga) whose ineptitude causes he and Frank to miss their career-making flight to Ecuador just as a war is breaking out.

Unable or unwilling to admit their mistake, the two men decide to hole up in New York City and broadcast fake reports convincingly doctored via satellite phone. Somehow neither anticipates that this will get out of hand, even when a sweet colleague (Kelly MacDonald) worries over the increasing threat to their safety. Do things snowball? Yes, yes they do.

Ricky Gervais adapted the script from an existing French movie (Envoyes tres speciaux). Nobody skewers celebrities quite like Gervais, his stand-up is tightly written and expertly delivered, and he’s got so many successful TV shows that IMDB stopped counting . Movies, however, seem not to be his forte. There were moments during Special Correspondents when I thought: “Niiiiiiice.” but those turned out to be little desert islands in a huge sea of disappointment.

 

The premise is teeming with satire potential but the movie is devoid of Special1anything intelligent or funny or worthwhile or clever. It’s flimsy. Like, paper-thin. And the characters are so one-dimensional that while we can’t really believe that there is not one but two Hottie McHottersons willing to bed Finch, we also don’t really care. This feels lazy and phoned-in and at times it also looks downright cheap, and I don’t just mean that it was filmed in pretend-NY Toronto (although it was. Sidebar: Gervais’s father is Ontario-born and French-Canadian).

The cast is fairly impressive but the poor script and direction make sure there are no stand-outs (and to be honest, I’m still wondering if the stuff with America Ferrera was just really weird and unnecessary or if it was as downright racist as it felt). In the end, Special Correspondents isn’t even a satisfying way to pass the time. If you’re looking for something decent to watch on Netflix, look elsewhere – perhaps to Grace & Frankie, a series that actually does have something to say, and lands laughs while doing it.