Posts Tagged ‘Charlize Theron’

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The Fate Of The Furious (2017)

April 28, 2017

Starring: Vin Diesel, The Rock, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron
Director: F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Comptom, Law Abiding Citizen)

Bottom Line: Full disclosure: I’ve never made watching the Furious movies a priority (this is the first one I’ve seen in theaters since maybe the second one, possibly the first one) so I never got around to watching the seventh installment before seeing this movie. It only feels moderately necessary – and my skimming of the franchise’s Wikipedia page made me feel primed enough to take on The Fate Of The Furious without feeling like I’d be too lost.

I never would have thought when the original film debuted in 2001 that it would go on to become one of the most successful action franchises of all-time, spawning seven sequels – most of which are pretty fun – and a Universal Studios tram ride. But here we are, in 2017, watching the 8th installment of a series that has continually surprised and has arguably been picking up gradual steam since it rebooted in 2009.

Well, while The Fate Of The Furious is going to disappoint few die hard fans and, at this point, it seems ridiculous to be overly critical of how preposterous all of it is, this is the first clear step backwards since the Tokyo Drift spinoff/sequel. For me, it all starts with Charlize Theron’s Cipher, a techno-terrorist that lures Dom (Diesel) aboard her nefarious mission by showing him something on her phone and pits him against his scattered team of driving/thieving wizards. So, in a sense, we get to see Dom be the villain for the first time in a while, which is kind of cool, but it also creates a weird dynamic where the audience is supposed to buy that his team – wife included – actually question his intentions. Cipher is a computer hacker genius, with access to every camera and vehicle computer in the city, but Dom is somehow able to orchestrate a perfectly timed sidestep in order to meet up with the mother of the Shaw brothers (villains of the last two movies) and set in motion his plan to overcome his current situation. Yes, totally unbelievable and it seems like an easy target for criticism but at some point you have to realize when you are simply watching lazy writing.

Theron isn’t given much to work with here and she totally phones in her performance. She’s completely over-qualified and doesn’t bother to raise the bar. Jason Statham and The Rock, however, are perfectly suited for this kind of movie – they can crack jokes and kick ass with the best of them. Since I skipped the seventh movie, I never saw Statham playing the bad guy in it, but he’s definitely a welcome addition here and clearly one of the film’s highlights.

The Fate Of The Furious wasn’t bad and I found myself entertained watching it, but it did start to feel a bit tired and everything happens a little too perfectly – at one point, my friend turned to me and made a comment about how little concern one of the characters was showing in a specific moment and I replied: “no one is ever concerned about ANYTHING.” And that’s what the Furious franchise has come to. Yes, the spectacle can be fun to watch, but at this point, no one is fooled into thinking anything is ever actually at stake.

Replay Value: Not sure I’ve seen one of these movies more than once.
Sequel Potential: Believe it or not, Vin Diesel is already attached to parts 9 and 10.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 5/10 (watchable)

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My Top 5 Actors and Actresses in 2016

November 18, 2016

I just finished watching Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston and it inspired me to think of my favorite actors of the current film era. This list in no way reflects a life time of work – so legends like Pacino, Nicholson, and De Niro are notably absent – it is simply a list of the actors or actresses I’d most like to see in a movie if it came out tomorrow:

1. Leonardo DiCaprio
2. Christian Bale
3. Benedict Cumberbatch
4. Daniel Day-Lewis
5. Bryan Cranston

Comments: Leo has been the most consistently awesome actor of the past 15 years. The Wolf Of Wall Street, Django Unchained, Inception, and The Departed were all my favorite films of their respective release years – and only The Wolf Of Wall Street represents one of his five total Oscar nominations. Dude is crushing. Bale was a great Bruce Wayne (and a good Batman) but he’s on this list for his work in The Fighter, American Hustle, The Big Short, and American Psycho. Cumberbatch has leaped up on my list because of his brillaint work as Sherlock Holmes and his Oscar nominated performance in The Imitation Game. Plus, he was perfect casting for Marvel’s Doctor Strange, giving an unheralded superhero an extra level of credibility. Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t always star in movies, but when he does, he usually gets nominated for Best Actor and then he usually wins – he’s the only actor in history to win Best Actor three times. Cranston’s peformance in “Breaking Bad” is one of the best you will ever see. He’s just now establishing himself as a big name in the movies, getting an Oscar nomination in his first major starring role in 2015 for Trumbo. I haven’t seen The Infiltrator yet, but I’m sure he’s great in it and I suspect he’s going to be one of the most consistent actors in the next 5-10 years.

Honorable Mentions: Tom Hardy, Denzel Washington, Michael Fassbender, Jake Gyllenhall, Ryan Gosling, Idris Elba, Eddie Redmayne, Christoph Waltz

1. Jennifer Lawrence
2. Amy Adams
3. Meryl Streep
4. Kate Winslet
5. Scarlett Johansson

Comments: Jennifer Lawrence was basically unknown in 2010 when Winter’s Bone came out and garnered her first Best Actress nomination. She’s been nominated for an acting Oscar in four of the last six years, including a Best Actress win for Silver Linings Playbook, and has starred in the ultra successful Hunger Games franchise, establishing herself as the most talented and most successful young actress in the world. Adams has 5 acting nominations since 2006 and her performance in Enchanted was far better than that movie deserved. It’s highly likely that she will be nominated for this year’s Arrival as well. Not much to be said about Meryl Streep. She’s the GOAT. 15 acting nominations in her career – and only one win (a crime!). Kate Winslet has become this generation’s Meryl Streep. None of her movies really jump out at you as great, but her work in them is undeniably phenomenal. She has 7 acting nominations since 1996, but only one win (The Reader). Scarlett Johansson has quietly put together a very impressive and largely overlooked resume. Maybe it’s her overwhelming beauty or the fact she’s played an Avenger five times in the past six years, but Scarlett has been giving great performances since Ghost World and The Man Who Wasn’t There in the early 2000s. She’s still searching for her first Oscar nomination.

Honorable Mentions: Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Marion Cotillard, Natalie Portman

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

May 25, 2015

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
Director: George Miller (Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Happy Feet)

Bottom Line: I felt it necessary to watch the original Mad Max and it’s sequel The Road Warrior to prime myself for George Miller’s 2015 update of his defining franchise. I can assure you, these films are not essential prerequisites. I liked them okay, particularly The Road Warrior, but they have little to do with Fury Road.

Actually, Fury Road is the Mad Max world on steroids – it’s Barry Bonds. George Miller waited thirty years to update this franchise and Fury Road wastes little time establishing itself as the new bar for cinematic action. We are briefly introduced to Tom Hardy’s version of Max Rockatansky before being plunged into a chaotic post-apocalyptic world and a heart-stopping vehicle chase. Miller leaves it up to us to figure out the who and the why as the story develops… and I’ll tell you, I can’t remember being so entertained by a movie where I have almost no idea what’s going on. Fortunately, there is time to fill in the blanks later as Fury Road adds a bit of character development in between its absurdly intense action sequences.

Fury Road is big time cinema at it’s finest. Miller’s world is meticulously crafted – from the costumes, to the set designs, to the vehicles, to the score – it’s all top notch and perfectly executed. It may be grimy, but Fury Road is a truly beautiful film. No dollar in this budget was wasted. Mad Max: Fury Road may be all George Miller, but his cast does great also. Tom Hardy is good enough in the Max role to make you forget about Mel Gibson and Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is the story’s true hero and Theron knocks it out of the park.

Calling this movie a sequel or a reboot is really doing it a disservice. It pays tribute to the concept of the original run of films while improving on them in every possible way. Perhaps it’s not so bad for Hollywood to constantly rehash old ideas if it’s capable of occasionally producing something as awesome as Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller has quite possibly crafted a modern classic.

Replay Value: I’d watch this again in theaters and it feels like a must own for the blu-ray collection.
Sequel Potential: Mad Max: The Wasteland has already been announced with Tom Hardy attached to star and George Miller writing, but if Miller isn’t directing mark me as skeptical.
Oscar Potential: Fury Road should have no problems scooping up nominations for some of the technical aspects, particularly costume and set design, sound, editing, etc., and it may have an outside chance at Best Picture and Best Director.

Grade: 8.5/10 (Excellent/Blew My Mind)

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Snow White And The Huntsman (2012)

June 26, 2012

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Director: Rupert Sanders

Quick Thoughts: There’s no doubt this movie is visually stunning and while I applaud its attempt at originality, this dark take on the classic Snow White fairy tale is actually rather boring. The visual effects and set pieces are impressive, but the story is weak and there’s no emotional investment in its characters. I could care little whether Snow White lives or dies and Chris Hemworth’s huntsman seems like he’s tacked on as an after thought, so when a romance develops between the two characters, it’s like “huh?” It’s possible Charlize Theron gives a quality performance, but it seems over the top and out of place here.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: The first viewing was tough enough for me to get through.
Sequel Potential: A sequel has already been announced.
Oscar Potential: I suppose it’s possible this film could get some visual effects or costume attention.
Nudity: Well, that’s one way this movie could be improved.
Grade: 5.5/10 (Recommended/Wait For Red Box)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 49% Audience: 57%
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
Recommendation: I was pretty bored by this movie but it wasn’t insultingly bad and I’d potentially worth seeing in theaters for the visuals. Also, general audiences seem to be enjoying it quite a bit.