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Review: Bohemian Rhapsody (2020)

Cast:

Rami Malek                              Freddie Mercury

Lucy Boynton                            Mary Austin

Gwilym Lee                               Brian May

Ben Hardy                                Roger Taylor

Jospeh Mazzello                        John Deacon

Aidan Gillen                              John Read

Tom Hollander                          Jim Beach

I am still working through a stack of unwatched Blu-Rays that I had collected over the years, albeit with streaming services, the pandemic, and of course a reduced Hollywood production calendar, this stack is getting smaller every week. Grabbing the next disc, I was very glad to see that it was Bohemian Rhapsody, while I had bought this disc a year or so ago, I have just not gotten around to watching it. This movie struck a chord with my memories as a youth. Queen had an eclectic range of music that appealed to me and my friends. Songs like “We will rock you”, “Another one bites the Dust”, “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “We are the Champions” and of course the title song “Bohemian Rhapsody” were staples in our music library whenever my friends and I got together to have a party. Through the years, I have always smiled in remembrance whenever these songs come on the radio, while my music tastes may have changed over the years, my memories of Queen and their music were always enjoyable. 

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a Biopic or Docudrama if you will, of Freddie Mercury rise to stardom as an individual and also as a member of the iconic Rock band “Queen”. As with many films of late, Rhapsody, starts with the end, and then flips backwards to tell you of the journey of the key characters and how they got to that point. Once in the flashback, we find a young Freddie Mercury (Malek), before he changed his name, working at an airport as a baggage handler during the day, and frequenting the pub scene at night. While on only touching on his origins, this film does display the early struggles of Mercury as an immigrant from Zanzibar with Indian roots, trying to assimilate in London in the early 1970’s. 

While touring the pubs and local music scenes, he meets up with Brian May (Lee) and Roger Taylor (Hardy), to join their band “Smile”, John Deacon (Mazzello) would join them in 1971. “Smile” would then be subsequently rebranded as Queen, just prior to their first album’s release.  

“Bohemian Rhapsody” portrays the band’s early struggles, internal and external conflicts, creation of the hits, recording, and finally in concert. The film had a steady pace that was easy to follow and when the music would begin it was part of the storyline and an integral inclusion. (Not like other films, where it would appear that they would break into song, without any consideration for the storyline at all). The casting was quite impressive, as many of the cast either resembled or were made to look like their real-life counterparts. While the songs were lip-synced, it was not done in such a way to take away from the story. Yes, it would have been more impressive if they performed all the songs, especially Malek, but not everyone has the chops for that kind of work. I was also very impressed with their movements while performing, specifically Malek, as it reminded me of the video’s and concerts that I had seen of Queen in my youth. Yes, there were some artistic licenses taken with the film, i.e. The signature mic-prop did not start during their first gig, the details around Mary Austin (from what I have read, changes were made to protect portions of her private life), and errors in dates for song’s and albums to name but a few. But none of these errors really took away from the film or the enjoyment. 

While the film centred on Freddie Mercury (Malek) there was also enough details about the other band members to ensure that they were not presented in one-dimensional way. Additionally, I was impressed with the way the film not only handled the craziness of a “rockers” life, specifically with respect to the drugs/alcohol and sex issues that would have had a great influence on their lives. Yes, these details were presented and shown, but it was done in such a way so that the film could actually appeal to a greater audience and not offend or overly distract from the story itself. 

The chemistry between the cast was quite impressive, each member played off of each other to ensure a great performance. I cannot really say that there were any weak characters in this film, as each and every one aided to the final product. Furthermore, while watching the film, it felt like you were watching Freddie Mercury, not someone playing him. Malek became Mercury, and you, as the audience forgot you were watching a film about the singer, and you could just sit and enjoy the ride. 

While we are on the subject of the cast, lets take a look at the major characters.

Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin: In our opinion, Boynton did a great job portraying Mercury’s best friend. You could see the love between the two characters that cemented their relationship as well as her acceptance of Mercury’s lifestyle. Not overly familiar with her past performances, as I had only seen her in “Murder on the Orient Express” a few years ago, I found that she supported Malek throughout the film and was integral not only to the story, but also that of the main characters. I look forward to seeing her in other roles in the future. 

Gwilym Lee as Brian May: First, I have to say that looking at Lee as May I must give kudo’s to the cast. They did a fantastic job of making him look like May. Like Boynton, I had not seen him in anything before, so I have nothing to compare his performance too. However, I found his performance to be extremely complimentary to the film and his co-stars. I thoroughly enjoyed his part in the film.

Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor: While not as good as casting choice in the “resemblance” department, Ben Hardy also did a great job as the drummer for Queen. His dialogue was well done, as well as the emotions during the tense moments of the band’s development and reconstruction. I was impressed that he learned to play the drums so that his shots during concerts etc. looked real and not staged. A relatively new actor, I had only seen him before in 6 Underground and X-Men Apocalypse. In both roles, he did a fair job, but as far as I am concerned, he came forward in Bohemian Rhapsody and really added to the product. 

Jospeh Mazzello as John Deacon: Another case of great casting of an actor to play a real person. Looking at the photos of both (actor/Deacon) there are enough resemblances to really add to the film. While it seemed that his character had the least dialogue or impact, he was still integral to the film. What I found the most surprising, was that it was Mazzello who I had seen the most in previous films/shows. Starting as a child actor, in such films like Jurassic Park and moving all the way to the mini-series The Pacific (also done with Malek) he demonstrates a wide range of characters throughout his life, and in roles that enhanced the project. In Rhapsody he continued to support the cast and move the story along. Overall, a pretty good performance!

Aidan Gillen as John Read: Gillen is another one of these character actors who always comes across as slimy or possessing a secret agenda. This type of performance continued, albeit at a lesser level in Rhapsody. As the manager to Queen, he embodied all the right characteristics of a manager in the music industry. His sliminess fit in the role and his chemistry was admirable in the scenes that he shared with the other characters. Gillen continues as always, to be a very good supporting actor.  

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury: I saved the best for last, Malek as Mercury was formidable. I have been watching him in television and film for a few years and he never ceases to impress me. He was Freddie Mercury, he embodied the spirit, the movements and mannerisms of a Rock Icon who I remembered growing up. I can see why he won all the awards when this film was made, and he deserved every bit of it. Even watching some of the real footage of the Live Aid concert and comparing it to the performance in the film, it was like watching mirror images. Just fantastic, however, kudo’s are not only to him for emulating Mercury to such a tee, but also to the support/direction/script that enabled him to provide such an awesome performance. Malek has great on screen presence, and it really shone through in this film. Dialogue and movements were extremely well done, and as I had mentioned previously, even though he was lip syncing the music, it still came across as believable and not hokey. What can I say, a truly great performance by Malek.

What did I like about the film? I think I pretty much covered it. First, there was a great story that was expertly delivered, and even though there were some warts in the characters, the direction/script/actors allowed them to come forward without overpowering or distracting the story. Excellent soundtrack, and an extremely talented cast that not only let you think you were watching the real people, but let you immerse yourself into the story. I even liked the small cameo by Mike Myers, I actually did not recognize him at first and then had to double check with IMDB that it was actually him!

Overall a fantastic film, that any music lover will enjoy. As far as musical Biopics go, I have to say I enjoyed this a little more than Rocketman, but that could be due to the fact that I liked the music of Queen over Elton John. I highly recommend this film if you are interested in Biopics, and Music/Rock history, so if you have not yet seen this film, que it up on NETFLIX or AMAZON PRIME, open a bottle of wine and get ready to enjoy a great story with some fantastic performances, not to mention, great music too!

Our Rating: 8/10

If you are interested in further shows/films from the principal actors, please consider the following recommendations:

Rami Malek                  Mr. Robot, Papillon, The Pacific, 24 (Season 8), Night at the Museum, 

Lucy Boynton                Murder on the Orient Express

Ben Hardy                    6 Underground, X-Men Apocalypse                    

Jospeh Mazzello            Jurassic Park, The River Wilde, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Pacific, Justified            

Aidan Gillen                  Shanghai Knights, The Wire, The Dark Knight Rises, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders      

Till Next Time!

Review: Greenland (2020)

Cast:

Gerard Butler                John Garrity

Morena Baccarin           Allison Garrity

Roger Dale Floyd           Nathan Garrity

Scott Glenn                   Dale

This week I decided to go back to Amazon Prime to see what I could find for a review. Lo and Behold, I came across Greenland as a new release and addition to the service. I watched the trailer, thought OK, a mild rip off of Deep Impact and Armageddon, with a hint of Geostorm and 2012. But, what the hell, will give it a try. Why not, it stars Butler and Baccarin, two actors that for the most part that I like their work. So, we queued up the film and settled in to be entertained. 

Now for a quick synopsis on what Greenland is about. I will try and not to give out too many spoilers, but in a nutshell, Greenland tells the tale of a family who is trying to survive after a near Extinction Level Event. A meteor called “Clark” (I found out later, named after Arthur C Clarke, and most specifically his story “Hammer of the Gods”.) will be hitting the Earth and basically wiping out all of civilization. Now, at first the public is told that it will miss Earth (even though the Gov’t knows it won’t) and they will only really see a meteor shower to provide some stellar entertainment.  Enter our hero of the story, John Garrity (Butler), he is a structural engineer and architect with marital problems. Going home (and into the spare bedroom) so that he can join his estranged wife and son to celebrate the son’s birthday, Garrity (Butler) receives a text and Presidential alarm stating that he and his family have been chosen to go to the Government bunker to weather out the calamity. As this warning happens not only when he is shopping for last minute party supplies, but again when all their friends and neighbours are at the house it makes for a few awkward scenes between Butler and Baccarin, as well as their house guests. Packing up their things, while their neighbours start to panic, primarily as they were not called we are presented with a scene much like Deep Impact when the lucky few were taken away to safety. The Garrity’s pack up and head out to the designated pick up point, and we are informed that there is a bit of an issue with respect to the son’s insulin medicine. This insulin is dramatic foreshadowing on what will play out later in the film.  

The Gerrity family is denied entrance to the base due to the medical issues of their son, becomes split up and must make their own way north. Allison (Baccarin) leaves John (Butler) a note stating to meet her at her fathers place in Tennessee. Again, I don’t want to give out too many spoilers, but let’s leave it to the fact that they all have very separate and distinct adventures, discovering the good and bad in their fellow citizens, and manage to re-unite at the father’s place (Scott Glenn) in Tennessee. 

While on the road, Gerrity (Butler) learns that Canadian pilots are ferrying people to the bunker located in Greenland so he decides that he must take his family North and eventually to sanctuary. That is pretty much the story, while I gave out some spoilers, (but were they really?). We knew from the outset that they would have problems getting to safety, that the destination was Greenland (hence the title), it was just the process of getting to sanctuary that I left out (sort of). 

So what did I like about the film, well, for once, Butler was not saving the world or a President, he was out to save his family. At least that was a welcome change. The acting and character development was not bad, not great, but not horrible. Butler usually delivers in the action genre, and he did so here. He played the father who just wanted to protect his family at any cost. He demonstrated good chemistry with his son Nathan (Floyd) and his estranged wife Allison (Baccarin). The only time that I found his character lacking was the scene at the in-law’s place in the barn. Ok, we had to find out why there was issues with his marriage, but it was poorly laid out and/or delivered. This could have probably been presented earlier in the film. 

Additionally, there were some pretty big goofs in setting and details in my opinion. Here are some of my first observations:

  • I don’t think the technology is in place for a specific persons tv to get a personalized amber alert (or presidential alert in the case of the film).
  • If there was enough research done for an individual lottery for rebuilding the states to include the families, I am sure it would have had the child’s diabetic condition.
  • Yes, the drive according to Mapquest, from Tennessee to Osgoode Canada is 12 hours or so as mentioned in the film. But the timing is given in perfect conditions, not when highways would be jammed, accidents and meteor holes throughout. So 12 hours would not be the case here.Additionally, I had problems with the border crossing. I have used the border crossing closest to Osgoode on numerous occasions, and it is not even remotely the same. At least have something better than a sign, perhaps an empty line wickets between the two nations with the flags flying, and maybe the ever-present duty free store? Furthermore, there is no airfield in Osgoode as mentioned in the film, but there is a small airfield located not far from there (as well as the Ottawa Intl Airport a further 50k or so down the highway). 
  • While on the subject of travelling from Tennessee to Osgoode Canada, the father in law (Glenn) says “take my truck, it has a full tank” well my friends, it would take more than one tank of gas to make it that far…at least 2 ½ to 3, depending on the gas mileage and speed. Could have shown our heroes siphoning gas from abandoned vehicles or even from a gas station itself.. However, this would further add to the 12 hour timeline for driving to Canada.
  • Using a Twin Otter aircraft to fly from Osgoode to Thule AFB Greenland is ludicrous. We are talking a flight of about 3500km with a plane that only has the range of about 900km. I have flown in this type of aircraft in my military career, and while a robust airframe, it does not have magical abilities to fly that far. The distance from Osgoode to Thule AFB is approximately 3500km, the top speed of a twin otter is 296kph, so for simple math it would take 11 hours to fly there, but the asteroid that will end all life is expected in 6 hours…hmm, methinks that should not be able to make it in time. If they picked a C130 Hercules, it would have taken 6 hours (max speed 592kph) …would have been close, but could make it in time. 
  • I have been to Thule AFB in Greenland on numerous occassions in the 80’s and 90’s, and trust me it does not look like what was portrayed, and I do not remember any “green spaces” like the film demonstrated. I do know that the film scenes for Greenland were shot in Iceland, thus the difference. But don’t make it look like the land of cream and honey when the countryside is very rough and barren. On a side note, I do have some great memories of the “Top of the World Club” in Thule…well ok, they were drunken memories, but it was a good time nonetheless. 
  • I also have some issues with the way that the shockwaves were portrayed, in one scene, all the windows get blown apart, the next it just moves things around and previously broken windows are now magically repaired, poor editing here I believe.

Now it is time to take a look at the principal cast members of this Amazon film.

Gerard Butler as John Garrity: As previously mentioned, Butler is best suited for the action genre (i.e. 300) then the romcom (PS I Love you). While he can do both, he is best at action films where he can make the quick decisions, use his mind, and fists to solve the day. While he did not do much fighting here, the quick tempo of the film (besides the first 10 minutes) did make it for some half decent entertainment. He demonstrated good chemistry with his principal co-stars (Baccarin, Floyd and Glen) and portrayed believable emotions while he was trying to find and subsequently save his family. Not his best performance, but not his worst by far. Overall, I liked him in this role and I always look forward to seeing what he does next.

Morena Baccarin as Allison Garrity: I first noticed Baccarin in Firefly, (a sci-fi Cult favourite) and then subsequently in the remake of the series V. She is pretty talented and can pull off the worried mother, or tough alien Commander with equal ease. In the case of Greenland, she stuck with the worried mother who as the film progressed became stronger and harder. I must say that this is the first time in a while (including guest spots on various shows i.e. The Good Wife, The Mentalist) where she did not really use her sex appeal to get what she wanted. (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind when she does that, but this was the first time that I had watched her in a show where she did not!) Her chemistry with Butler was pretty good and you could see her feelings change throughout the film from and estranged wife who was extremely angry with her husband, back to falling in love again. Pretty solid performance from Baccarin, and on par with what I have seen in the past.

Roger Dale Floyd as Nathan Garrity: This was the first time I have seen Floyd in any production. For a young kid he was not bad. Emotions and chemistry were well presented and I think that he has the potential to go further. I see in his resume that he is in Doctor Sleep, a production that I look forward to seeing in the near future. 

Scott Glenn as Dale: Glenn actually had a minimal role in this film, but I had to include him as I always liked his style. Having been around for decades, he has pretty much played the full gambit of roles, everything from a cowboy to astronaut. However, this is the first time that I can say that he really looked his age of 81. Even though he had minimal screen time and had a cheesy scene with Butler in the barn, he still pretty much stole the scenes with his presence (his presence, not the dialogue). I understand why they had to include the character, primarily as a place where they could all meet again, but it was really a throwaway role for Glenn. This was not his best role by far, but it was nice to see him in a film again.

Now for the big question, were we entertained? Yes, we were. While not an awesome film by any means, it was good enough to keep watching and it did initiate some conversation between my wife and I when the goofs were noticed (She too had been to Thule a few times, so we did talk about our mutual memories of the place). This film was far better for Butler than the last one we watched (Angel has Fallen) with him but still not as good as say, 300. It passed the time on a weekend night, and kept us watching. Would I recommend it? Yes, if you are a fan of Butler and Baccarin, you should give it a run. Also, if you like the whole “Death to humanity by meteor shtick” then this one is not a bad film to watch. It is more like Deep Impact and 2012 than Armageddon, but it follows a proven action formula and will entertain you on a winter night. So if you like what I mentioned above, and you have Amazon Prime, give this a shot.

Our rating: 5/10

If you are interested in other films/programs with our key characters, please consider the following recommendations:

Gerard Butler                Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, 300, Gamer, Law Abiding Citizen, Machine Gun Preacher                    

Morena Baccarin           Firefly, Homeland, Deadpool (1&2), V

Scott Glenn                   Silverado, The Right Stuff, The Hunt for Red October, Silence of the Lambs, Backdraft, Absolute Power, Courage under Fire, The Bourne Legacy, 

Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Cast:

Tom Holland                             Peter Parker/Spider-Man

Samuel L. Jackson                     Nick Fury

Jake Gyllenhaal                         Quentin Beck/Mysterio

Marisa Tomei                            May Parker

Jon Favreau                              Happy Hogan

Zendaya                                   MJ

Jacob Batalon                           Ned Leeds

Even though we are living through another COVID lockdown, and every day seems to be another Groundhog Day, Friday came along, so it is another movie night in our household. For this week, we decided to revisit the Marvel Comics Universe again with the viewing of the latest Spider-Man film. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is a light romp that takes place after Avengers: Endgame in the MCU timeline. With the movie selected, the bottle of Chardonnay opened and pop-corn popped we inserted the film to start the latest Spider-Man adventure.

Spider-Man has always been one of my favourite characters in the MCU. I remember as a child watching the cheesy cartoons on Saturday mornings. Even as an adolescent, I could see how the same frames were always being used to demonstrate Spidey swinging through the streets, but it did not matter. I enjoyed the story-lines and re-watched the episodes’ time and time again on weekend mornings. Not only did the cartoon’s stick in my mind, but also the theme song “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can”. Don’t tell me you didn’t sing along with lyrics; and you can thank me for the ear worm that you now have with the song resounding in your head for the rest of the day.  Don’t forget, I am old enough that I remember when these cartoons were “new” in the late 60’s as was our colour television! Not to mention, this was pre-cable era and we only had a few channels, so whatever was on tv was what we had to choose from, and there were only a half dozen channels! But, I have digressed, we are here to read about the “Far From Home” not my memories of a cheesy cartoon from the 60’s.

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” stars Tom Holland in the title role. He is the 3rdSpider-Man in the MCU film adaptions, and for me, Holland actually embodies the Spider-Man of my young memories. The previous actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were valiant attempts to capture the essence and youthful exuberance of Spider-Man, but I personally found them lacking. Especially Maguire, Garfield was a bit better, and with Holland, they have truly found “Spider-Man”. To round out the cast, we have Zendaya (MJ), Jacob Batalon (Ned Leeds), Favreau (Happy), Tomei (Aunt May), Jackson (Fury) and for the villain Jake Gyllenhaal (Mysterio). Each character adds to the film and balances it like only a proper MCU film can. 

While this film storyline continues shortly after “Avengers: Endgame”, it is robust enough that it can almost be watched as a stand-alone movie. However, having said that, if you are not familiar with the whole MCU film history, you may lose some of the nuances, inside jokes and continuity issues, but not enough so that you will not enjoy it. “Far From Home” is essentially about Peter Parker taking a high-school trip to Europe with his greatest hope of finally hooking up with his teenage crush, MJ. Prior to departing, Happy (Favreau) presents Peter (Holland) with a final gift from Tony Stark. This gift is in the form of a unique pair of sunglasses that will allow the approved wearer (in this case Peter) all the power of Stark Industries (To include a myriad of space based weapons systems, communications monitoring and a fleet of armed drones). Concurrently, we find Nick Fury investigating an otherworldly occurrence in Mexico where a demon of some sort is battling a new caped warrior (Gyllenhaal). 

Fury (Jackson) is trying to contact Parker/Spider-Man (Holland) while on the trip as he needs his assistance to combat these new bad guys (who we later find out are called “Elementals”). Ghosting Fury (Jackson) Peter/Spidey continues to try and woo his crush, MJ (Zendaya) while in Venice. At this point, I have to stray for a minute, my wife and I really loved the Venice scenes as it brought us back to a pre-covid trip where we spent a few days wandering/rowing around that fair city. The cinematography was excellent in these scenes and the memories that surfaced brought us extra enjoyment while watching it! Now back to the movie…we find our high school trip touring all the major sites of Venice, when suddenly, a new Elemental arrives and starts to destroy some of the historic buildings and sites. Quentin Beck (Gyllenhaal) shows up and starts to battle this new foe, and Peter (Holland) must ditch his classmates, don his Spider-Man persona and help him out. Together, the two intrepid heroes manage to save the city and destroy the elemental. 

Now that Spidey (Holland) and Beck (Gyllenhaal) have met, Peter/Spider-Man believes that he was given too much power and responsibility from Tony Stark (Ironman) and passes on his sunglasses to Beck so that he can do good with them. (BTW it is at this time, the term Mysterio comes into play and Beck takes on this new moniker). Peter then goes to rejoin his classmates and their tour, and hopefully his romance. Shortly after receiving his new powers, Mysterio/Beck’s (Gyllenhaal) true identity comes forth and we find that he is a disgruntled employee from Stark Enterprises. Not only is he upset with the way that Stark treated him, but he has surrounded himself with other upset geniuses from his former employer. Now in control of all of Stark’s toys, specifically the armed drones and illusion generators, Beck’s real dream of trying to out Avenger the Avengers comes to light. Beck/Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) wants to have monster illusions that only he can fight and demonstrate that he is the new hero of the world as the Avengers are all broken up as a result of Endgame. Ok, I have now pretty much given half of the movies plot, needless to say, Spider-Man has some other great adventures around Europe, keeps on putting the moves onto MJ, and it all culminates in a final battle between Spider-Man and Mysterio…and also not to mention leaving it open for the next phase of movies in the MCU. 

What did I find entertaining about this film? Well, for starters the story line was pretty tight. In our opinion this was one of the better Spider-Man movies to date. (We really liked the first one, and this was a close 2nd). The characters are continuing to develop, not only Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Holland) but also the supporting characters as well. The CGI was very well done and the cinematography was excellent. For us, as avid travellers, it really brought it home with some scenes as it brought back memories of us travelling all over Europe. The villain, Beck/Mysterio was enjoyable to watch, not to over the top as some villains are portrayed, but done well enough to add to the film. To us, this was important, as we are not really fans of Gyllenhaal, but at times he does some pretty good work. As I previously mentioned, even though it takes place after Endgame, it has enough meat to it and fill-ins so that you could almost watch this as a stand-alone if you are unfamiliar with the whole storyboard presented over the last 10 years or so. Also, we found the chemistry between all of the cast to be excellent which really added to the film writ large. 

Now, let us take a look at the main cast of this popcorn film;

Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man: I have already mentioned that I like Holland the best in the title role. To me, he really embodies Peter Parker and his innocence as well his desire to be the hero, help enhance the character immensely. What we really liked in this film was the way he portrayed his inner anxiety as he was torn between being a hero and also a teenage boy with his first love. He pulled off the emotions extremely well, and balanced the enought to bring out a truly strong character in this film. I really look forward to his next outing as Spider-Man in the third film and how he takes this character further.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury: What can I say about Jackson? He is the consummate actor and even when he is in smaller roles, he leaves an impact. Samuel Jackson is Nick Fury! I can’t picture any other actor in this role who embodies the strength of character and leadership as Jackson has created in this franchise. While his role in this film is minimal, his contribution to the storyline is integral to it, and as usual, he delivers in all facets. What I always find amazing when he plays Fury (or Windu in Star Wars), is that he can actually speak a sentence without his trademark “MotherF*&ker”.  I know he is in 70’s and that his timeline for this role is limited, but I would be hard pressed to suggest a replacement. As always, his contribution to a film or project is a key ingredient to it’s success!

Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck/Mysterio: As mentioned previously, I am not a fan of Gyllenhaal, but I can recognize when he contributes to a film or performs well in a role on film or television. In the character of Quentin Beck, he did a fair job. Even in his first scene in the film, you could see that he had some ulterior motives but we were hard pressed to figure out what it was initially. When his true motives came out, it was done in a believable fashion which added to the character and the film. His villain of “Mysterio” was not really a villain like the Green Goblin, but more so a misguided individual who really wanted to be better than he really was and to prove his worth, not only to a deceased former employer, but to himself. In that respect, he did deliver those emotions to the audience. Gyllenhaal also displayed chemistry with his co-stars to not only enhance their performance, but also his own. Overall, not a bad performance, but not his best either. 

Marisa Tomei as May Parker: What can I say about Tomei, I have been a fan of her work since I first saw her in “My Cousin Vinny”. She is talented in comedic as well as dramatic roles. While her repertoire of films may not all be blockbusters or award winners, I always seem to enjoy her performance. Her portrayal of a younger “Aunt May” is refreshing compared to the older actresses who played that role in previous Spider-Man forays. She handles the role well, to include her knowledge of who Peter really is. Not a huge role for Tomei, but an enjoyable one nonetheless. I especially liked the chemistry between her and Happy (Favreau) and their own sub-plot that seems to be continuing throughout the series. 

Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan: Favreau is another actor that I always enjoy watching. He can switch from a bumbling idiot, comedic tough guy to a dramatic role easily enough. Though I prefer when he is in one of his more comedic roles. He has excellent chemistry with all of his co-stars (especially Tomei) and his character is integral to the “passing of the torch” if you will between Iron Man and Spider Man. A constant character in the MCU, he is always a joy to watch.

Zendaya as MJ: Zendaya is the 3rditeration of MJ (much like Spider-Man himself) and she brings her own style to the role. Even though her resume is quite impressive for such a young actress, I have only watched her in the Spider-Man franchise. Her portrayal of MJ is a bit more impish and sneaky compared to Stone or Dunst and more specifically less whiny than Dunst’s portrayal of the same character. Additionally, as they are supposed to be teenagers going to high school, (yes she is in her 20’s) but she does look a bit more like a teenager. I would be hard pressed to say which portrayal I enjoyed more, Stone or Zendaya, as each of them have displayed unique interpretations of the same person. Overall a very good performance and I look forward to seeing her in Dune in the upcoming year.

Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds: Batalon is an excellent sidekick to Parker/Spider-Man. I enjoyed his incredulity in the first film and how he has matured and grown (character wise) in this film. One thing I did especially like in this movie was the fact that he was not the typical “fat nerdy kid” and they let his character develop and have a girlfriend. He adds a touch of comic relief in every scene and does it well. I have only seen him in the Spider-Man franchise so have no other roles to compare it to, but I hope to see him in future films or television shows as I believe he has a comedic talent that has yet to be discovered. 

So overall, were we entertained? Yes, we definitely were. This was a light enjoyable film with a solid cast that kept you watching. The special effects, story-line and chemistry displayed throughout the film ensured that the audience was entertained throughout. Sure, there may have been a few errors or goofs in the film, but nothing that would detract from the viewer’s enjoyment. Would I recommend it? Of course, especially if you are a fan of the super-hero genre of films, or even if you want to watch a light action/comedy for entertainment. If you are not a fan of either, then you might want to give it a pass. 

Our rating: 7/10

If you are interested in watching other films/shows with the principal cast, please consider the following recommendations:

Tom Holland                 Avengers Endgame and Infinity War, Spiderman: Homecoming, Captain America: Civil War

Samuel L. Jackson         (Pretty much anything!) MCU Franchise (Capt America, Avengers etc), The Negotiator, Shaft, Glass, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Unbreakable,The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, Black Snake Moan (and the list goes on!)

Jake Gyllenhaal             Life, Southpaw, Source code, Jar Head, 

Marisa Tomei                My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler, Wild Hogs, Rescue Me,  

Jon Favreau                  MCU (Avengers, Iron-Man etc) Entourage, The Break Up, Four Christmas’

Till next time!

Review: Inside Man: Most Wanted (2019)

Cast:

Aml Ameen                               Remy Darbonne

Rhea Seehorn                           Dr. Brynn Stewart

Roxanne Mckee                        Ariella Barash

Well it has been a few weeks since my last review, this delay is not caused by not wanting to write about a film or show that we have watched, but primarily because every weekend’s movie has been pretty dismal. First a few weeks ago we started with “Breaking In” starring Gabrielle Union, I usually enjoy all of her films but this movie was so bland and predictable that I could not even get the urge to use sarcasm in a review. Then we tried “Palm Springs” which is currently on Amazon. While not a fan of Andy Samberg’s humour, we gave it a try. Man, were we disappointed, a blatant rip-off of Ground hog day with not enough originality or comedy to make it remotely watchable. (Though we did watch to the end, good thing we had lots of wine) and to round up this trifecta of fecal matter we suffered through “Angel has Fallen” starring Morgan Freeman and Gerard Butler. You would think with these two powerhouses the film would have been great…but Nay Nay my friends, this film goes straight to the garage sale pile without stopping at go and collecting 200 dollars. It was just horrible, even with stars of this calibre. So what do we have left to watch this weekend you ask? Well since we were on a run of horrible films, we tried the sequel Inside Man: Most Wanted (2019). Again, we were disappointed. Not only was this an unwanted sequel to a fantastic film (Inside Man (2006) starring Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster and Clive Owen) but there was nothing and I mean nothing original about this follow-up film. 

First, let me state that if you watched the original Inside Man or even Money Heist, you have the plot. It is identical with no surprises, and I mean no surprises. There were no twists, no turns, just a straight boring line of a plot. (well the original was good, but I watched that a long time ago.) Where can I start with this poor excuse of a film. It opens up in a scene during WW2, where an intrepid bunch of American soldiers find a cache of Nazi Gold and return it to the states. So, Ok, besides historical inaccuracies of an integrated unit fighting in WW2, I will continue watching the film. It can’t be any more farfetched can it? I am only 5 minutes into the film. But let me continue…fast forward 60 years, the story continues in NYC and we are introduced to a fast talking, identity confused hostage negotiator. When I say identity confused, I am talking about the character being portrayed. Remy Darbonne (Ameen), he is a hostage negotiator for the NYPD, however, his character is a cross between Martin Lawrence/Will Smith in “Bad Boys” and Dennis Quaid in “the Big Easy”. He is glib operator, who can’t retain an accent, or mannerisms. He flips back and forth between the various personalities faster than a corvette on a winding road. While he may be amusing at times, it tends to come across as more annoying as the movie progresses.

After this introduction we spy a bunch of ne’er do wells, who don’t look “suspicious” at all casing the US Federal Reserve in NYC, while concurrently we see a professor, Dr. Brynn Stewart (Seehorn) teaching hostage negotiations to a classroom of FBI wannabe’s. What can be more predictable…well, she is actually talking about the instances that were covered in the first Inside Man movie…please lord, let us have some originality in a movie!! Well she gets called into help because the aforementioned crooks have taken over the federal reserve, taken hostages are now looking for some Nazi gold that is in the vault. After following the same steps as the first Man Inside movie, (making the hostages wear the same masks and coveralls as the crooks etc) our FBI negotiator now has to commence negotiations with the crooks for the hostages’ release. Let us not forget that the FBI negotiator is actually an instructor for the FBI, but it seems that she will need help, so re-enter Darbonne (Ameen) who not only helps the FBI, but actually seems to take over and offer advice all the time. Really? The FBI is supposed to be the big league, but our wannabe Marwill Lawsmith (get it…combining Lawrence and smith!) comes off as the real annoying expert. 

So negotiations commence, some people get killed, the plot continues to follow the first Inside Man and Money Heist storyline. Like I said earlier, there is nothing really new here, but if you are going to watch the film I won’t continue with spoilers. Let us just say that the good guys win, not all the bad guys are really bad, there are reasons behind their decisions, and the negotiators save the day. Oh, that’s not all, they will leave enough openings for a potential sequel of this travesty of a film.  

At this point, let us look at some of the main characters/actors in Inside Man: Most Wanted:

Aml Ameen as Remy Darbonne: As I had mentioned previously, Ameen plays Darbonne as a cross between Will Smith, Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys) and Dennis Quaid (Big Easy). While there is some talent shown, there is no consistency. It is almost like he is trying to hard to be glib, cool, suave, and smart at the same time and all attempts are unsuccessful. If he would have stayed with one “homage” if you will to one of the aforementioned stars instead of trying to switch them up all the time it would have probably been better. His chemistry with Dr Stewart (Seehorn) was almost forced and actually hard to believe, even when he was being nice to her. What I found kind of annoying with the plot is that he is the negotiator for the NYPD, and is supposedly an up and comer within the department with his craft, when encountering Dr. Stewart (Seehorn) who is the presumed “FBI Expert” he seems to know more in real life than the FBI negotiator. I think they could have still presented the differences between the styles without making him a know it all, but that is just my personal preference. His scenes negotiating with Barash (Mckee) were played well and in my opinion provided more impact than when Barash (Mckee) and Stewart (Seehorn) played off of each other. Having said all that, I did find his character somewhat enjoyable, especially when he would stick to one character for a length of time. It was when changed them back and forth that I would lose it a bit. Even though Ameen has been around for awhile, this was the first time I had seen him in a film or television show, so I have nothing really to compare this role with from his previous endeavours. 

Rhea Seehorn as Dr. Brynn Stewart: Seehorn portrayed Dr. Stewart as a stoic know it all, with a perpetual stick up her butt. I found it hard to get invested into the character and for someone who was supposed to be the “Expert” in hostage negotiation and even instructing classes on the previous films case, you would think she would have been more on the ball. When in the field she came across more of a novice than an expert, was this so that it would be more believable to have the local negotiator helping her out? If so, then why would she be the expert, it would have been better if she was a new graduate of the negotiating classes and this was her first one. That way when Remy (Ameen) would show up the assistance would have been warranted. I found her character development lacking, as well as her chemistry with her co-stars. Even though she has been in several shows that I have watched in the past (i.e. Whitney and Veep), I really don’t remember her character standing out. Overall, I found her performance lacking in this film.

Roxanne Mckeeas Ariella Barash: I actually liked McKee the most in the film. She was assertive and confident throughout. She also displayed the inner turmoil on why she was doing this heist in a somewhat believable fashion. However, I did find her French accent to be a bit cartoonish, but the German one passable. Having watched the first film, I knew where she was going to go with almost every scene, though this is not the fault of the actor, but the director/writer. It was still not a bad performance overall. This is another instance where even though she has been in several shows that I have watched, I cannot really remember her character. I may have to watch them again (specifically Game of Thrones) to be able to really compare this performance with that of her previous work. I think that she has the potential for some good roles and time will tell to see what she will do next. 

What did I like about the film? I think if I had not seen the first movie, I might have actually enjoyed this one a bit more. As I had previously mentioned, once Ameen settled into a “character” be it Lawrence or Smith type, he was not that bad. Though he could have gotten rid of the Dennis Quaid, “Big Easy” accent/style. It actually took away a bit from the character. The storyline, while not original was ok, and flowed relatively well. Mckee did an admirable job as the bank heist leader, and her chemistry with the co-stars was evident throughout.

What didn’t I like? Well there was clear editing and direction errors throughout the film. First, the accents that were thrown around like rice at a wedding. Please, stick with one and roll with it. Also, there were some actually very funny errors that were consistent throughout. I had mentioned previously about the integrated army unit in WW2, in WW2 there were no racially integrated units within the US military, I know that Hollywood is always trying to be inclusive, but sometimes for something that is supposed to represent part of history it actually takes away from the story. In the case of this film, there were many more opportunities for inclusion without trying to rewrite historical facts…even it is supposed to be a fictional film. Other examples of inaccuracies or goofs are; you will see one of these big burly henchmen grab a bar of gold and carry it like it was 200lbs. The actor is huge, and has biceps bigger than my leg, yet this bar makes him strain. Yet a few scenes later, you see the guy grab two or three and a close up of the ingot itself saying it is 12.4 kg (or 27.4lbs). Seriously if you have pipes like these guys, there should have been no strain carrying this bar of gold. Additionally, after the same gold bar is melted into long golden rods, these same individuals throw them around like they are straws. C’mon guys, pick a lane here, are they heavy or light? Speaking of melting the gold, there was so much gold on site, they would have been melting for weeks, not just 8 hours. That is not addressing the excess heat and fumes that would have been generated during the melting process. I do not believe that bank/reserve basements have ventilation that could handle that load. 

I also found that some of the ‘tie-ins’ to the original film actually took away from the story itself. They should have left them out, and make it a stand alone film, and it might have made it better. Also, where did these guys get all the equipment to make the hole in the vault. I don’t remember seeing a scene on where it was brought in. Speaking of equipment, the water jet used to drill through the wall. To make this work it would have taken copious amounts of water, yet where did they hook it up? Did they bring in tanks of water? I don’t think a bank vault will have a faucet located within the room…just another mistake that the director/writer did not think to offer an explanation. These were just some of the errors/goofs in the film that I found hard to take and actually detracted from the storyline…however, if you give it a watch, I am sure you will find even more!

So now for the big question, were we entertained? Not really, we watched to the end primarily to see if they would follow the original film...(which they did) and if there was actually going to be a twist or turn. The acting while not great (as I am sure you have surmised already) was ok enough that I did not turn off the blu-ray player, but not good enough that I did not pick up my I-pad and do some surfing while watching the show. Would I recommend this film? Only if you have nothing else to watch, or if you had not seen the original, or Money Heist, then you might get more out of it. 

Our rating 2.5/10

If you want to see a good heist film check out the following recommendations;

The Italian Job (1969)

Heist (2001)

Logan Lucky (2017)

The Usual Suspects (1995)

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Till next time!