Tag Archives: Mads Mikkelsen

Polar

Duncan is two weeks away from a cushy retirement. He can’t wait. But his former employer is thinking better of letting him escape to Florida, or whatever it is that ex-assassins do when they’re all used up. So they pit him against an elite army of young killers and hope nature will take its course.

I kind of love how director Jonas Åkerlund introduces his team; the film’s opening scene makes me shockingly optimistic that I may actually enjoy this film. Duncan (Mads Mikkelsen) is very much the classic, gritty assassin, but many of other characters seem to belong to some heightened reality. Åkerlund isn’t afraid to establish Polar as a little mv5bzdcyn2iyywutmzy0ny00mza5lwfhmgutmgy5ndqwmdbiotizxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntcwmti4mtc@._v1_sx1777_cr0,0,1777,875_al_outside the normal bounds of action thrillers, and I admire that, though I quickly lost my patience with his clumsy stabs at auteurism. And I don’t mean to imply that he shouldn’t have the opportunity to put his flashy  mark on things, only that you have to have 110% of the talent and style to pull off such a ballsy attempt.

The movie is overstuffed with cartoonish deaths and gruesome flashbacks, including a crucifixion that Jesus Christ himself would find cruel and unusual. It’s so busy being cool and shocking and weird that it mostly forgets to be a movie that makes sense or is watchable. If you think that kind of thing is overrated, then hey, Netflix is catering to your dark and closeted fantasies. I wanted to celebrate Polar’s oddball tendencies, but it does as much to alienate even the most open-minded audiences as it does to stoke our need for something we haven’t seen before.

Despite my misgivings, I must admit that Mads Mikkelsen exudes mustachioed magnificence. If you don’t mind wading through the hot mess, or if you have an appetite , not to mention a high tolerance for, the strange and unusual, this role is truly something special for him.

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Rogue One

k-2so-in-star-wars-rogue-oneRogue One is the movie the prequels should have been. It is fresh, entertaining, and necessary. Rogue One’s humour works for adults as well as five year olds (though any self-aware Star Wars fan must acknowledge that the gap there for us is not all that wide). Rogue One links to what we’ve seen before in a way that feels natural and rewards fans who are familiar with every scene of the original trilogy, and leads into the known end point of A New Hope without any trouble whatsoever.

Rogue One is also a movie that could never have been made under George Lucas’ watch. I do not even want to imagine how he would have approached this story, but tonally Rogue One is entirely different than all the movies that have come before, and better for it. This is not a classic adventure serial, it is a war movie with high stakes, and we quickly realize that the stakes are appropriately high considering the evil dictatorship that runs the galaxy is constructing a superweapon to crush its opponents once and for all.rogue-one-cast-photo-d23-1536x864-521514304075-1

At the same time, Rogue One gives us the funniest character of any Star Wars movie. Fittingly, it’s a robot. But where R2-D2 and BB-8 were funny in a sweet, childlike way, K2-SO is funny because he is an asshole. It’s fantastic and he is absolutely one of the best parts of this movie.

Felicity Jones is great as well as the leader of the motley crew trying to save the galaxy. Her team (and the movie as a whole) is refreshingly diverse. Though this welcome injection of diversity is, on a meta-level, unintentionally remiciscent of South Park’s Operation Human Shield, since the multi-ethnic team is the one on the suicide mission while the all-white crew from A New Hope is (or soon will be) galavanting around in the fastest, most indestructible ship in the galaxy.

Rogue One has some cheesy parts that took me out of the flow a bit, but Jay rightly pointed out that I should expect nothing different from a Star Wars film. The end result is a movie that orson-krennic_4c6477e2occasionally feels like an awkward mix of serious war movie and hopeful space odyssey, but only rarely did I have that feeling. It definitely did not ruin the movie for me and that Star Wars feel is an overwhelming positive overall (especially an amazing Darth Vader scene during the climax that shows us the power we always knew he had).

My only other complaint is the use of CG to add a few familiar faces to the film. I found it distracting and yet I also thought it was kind of a nice tribute to one of the great characters from A New Hope. Maybe we’re just not quite there on the FX front but we are incredibly close.

This is a worthy addition to the Star Wars universe. If you’re at all a fan you should see it, but if you’re at all a fan you probably already have! Rogue One gets a score of eight May the Force be With Yous out of ten.

 

 

Doctor Strange

strangeMarvel did it again.  They took another obscure supporting character, built a movie around him, and made me eager to see his next appearance in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This time, that obscure character was Doctor Strange, Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.

Anyone who’s read Marvel comics even sporadically knows who Doctor Strange is, because every so often he’d randomly pop up in your favourite hero’s comic to provide assistance or a few words of wisdom or encouragement.  As you may already know, my favourite hero was (and is) Spider-Man, and every ten issues or so I could count on Doctor Strange appearing through a portal, sticking around for 10-12 panels to move the story along, and then exiting as quickly as he entered.

strange-2But in this movie, because Doctor Strange is the star, we get to follow him through those portals and see what happens next from his perspective.  And it’s a hell of a ride.  Naturally, I could have done without the origin story but fortunately it’s injected with a welcome dose of humour that makes it speed by.  It helps that the opening scene features a battle that will leave the viewer wanting more and provides purpose and urgency to Strange’s magical training.

The special effects are spectacular and the visuals are glorious in IMAX 3D, just as last month’s sneak peek led me to believe.  It’s probably also tolerable in regular 3D or god forbid, stupid boring flat 2D, but I’ll never know, at least not until the movie comes to Netflix and I half-watch it while folding laundry.

The icing on the cake is that Marvel has assembled some first rate on-screen talent to supplement those trippy visuals, led by the Doctor himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, who is perfectly cast and does his usual baritone voice/good acting thing featuring a solid American accent.  If only I could do a British accent half as well (preferably cockney but I’m really not picky). Taking in a few more episodes of Sherlock can only help, right?

Add some Canadian flavour in Rachel McAdams, doing her regular accent as far as I know (honestly, if we don’t say “about” can you even tell we’re not American?), and a few more Brits in Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton (also both doing American accents even though their characters are worldly people currently living in Nepal), and by my count you’ve got one Oscar winner and three other Oscar nominees, whose talents really help sell silly comic words like Agamotto and Dormammu.  We’ve come a long way since the Stallone-Schneider superteam in Judge Dredd!

Doctor Strange is pure comic book joy.  It’s a welcome November blockbuster that will keep you entertained from start to finish.  I give it a score of nine spiritual goatees out of ten.

Doctor Strange: IMAX 3D Sneak Peek

Last night I got to see what amounted to an extended trailer for Doctor Strange, in IMAX 3D.  At one time not too long ago, 3D movies were a real draw to me.  I remember dragging Jay to several 3D re-releases of movies we’d seen a million times before (but only in boring old 2D).  After intensive therapy (mainly arm punches from Jay), I’m mostly over that phase.

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Nowadays, I usually see movies without the dopey extra glasses, but after last night’s sneak peek I am convinced that I should see Doctor Strange in 3D, punching be damned.  The visuals are trippy enough to live up to Steve Ditko’s acid trip 60s backgrounds, depicting all the crazy dimensions that Doctor Strange passed through on his adventures, and that’s a high bar!

The preview’s centrepiece was an absolutely incredible city chase sequence, with gravity changing constantly, New York City collapsing onto itself, and destruction raining down on all sides as copies of buildings collide with each other.   Other scenes included nightmare dimensions full of grabby baby hands, fractal patterns expanding and contracting as Doctor Strange plummets through them, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t even begin to describe.  doctor-strange-comic

Marvel has done a great job of translating its characters to the screen while retaining the soul of the comic, particularly for second tier characters (with Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy being the best examples).  Doctor Strange seems set to follow that same path and with those other movies having paved the way, seems destined to depart at least a bit from the tried and true formula that we have seen way too often.

Whether the movie actually ends up being worthwhile is yet to be determined, but with a stellar cast (including Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelson), an hour of IMAX-specific footage, the report that Marvel had to adapt the visuals to make the 2D version make sense, and the amazing effects in the preview, IMAX 3D is the clear platform of choice to view Doctor Strange’s adventures when the film opens November 4th.

 

Moomins And The Comet Chase

Have you met Moomintroll? Inspired by the stories of Tove Jansson, Moomintroll brings his adventures off the pages of popular children’s books and onto the big screen – it’s available on DVD and VOD right now.
MoominsCometWith an all-star voice cast and music composed by Moomins’ biggest fan, Bjork, this little movie is hitting plenty of high points.
With the help of his father, Moominpappa (Stellan Skarsgård), Moomintroll (Alexander Skarsgård) and his worried friends embark on a journey to the observatory to find out why everything in their valley is covered in thick grey dust and the sky continues to get redder by the day. They discover a comet is heading straight for them, but can they make it back to Moominhouse to get everyone to safety in time?
The Moomins are the world’s favourite troll family, and they’re brought to life with the help and voice work of  Max von Sydow (The Exorcist, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens), Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Stellan Skarsgård (Good Will Hunting, The Avengers), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal, Casino 8893944_watch-trailer-for-moomins-and-the-comet_2e9fc054_mRoyale), Peter Stormare (Fargo, 22 Jump Street), and Helena Mattsson (Iron Man 2, American Horror Story: Hotel). Do you think this gang can work together and overcome obstacles to beat the comet and save everyone from disaster? Skarsgårds to the rescue!
Will the Moomins win over North America? Only time will tell.
If you’ve seen this movie or know the books, let us know what you think!!

Watch the trailer: