Showing posts with label Ewan McGregor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ewan McGregor. Show all posts

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Island

I saw The Island a few years ago and noticed that it was on TV again so decided to give it a second watch. It didn’t make a huge impression on me the first time around but I remembered being interested by the opening act and Scarlett Johansson is in it so… I had a vague recollection of her in a tight, white jump suit so had to watch it again. As it transpired I was correct about the costume and Johansson looks incredible. I also correctly remembered the opening half an hour and it was still an interesting concept even though it was slightly diminished due to knowledge of any potential twists. What I’d forgotten though were the seemingly endless car chases and explosions which accompany the second hour of the movie. These were almost unwatchable due to the quick cutting and despite everything going on, felt really boring.

In the years following an untold natural disaster the world has become too contaminated for humans to live outside. The few survivors live in a deeply regulated and controlled facility in which every aspect of their life is measured and organized by those in charge. One of the few survivors is Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) who begins asking questions about his surroundings and the rules he is forced to follow. He becomes friendly with Jordan Two Delta (Johansson) who is the winner of a lottery to live out the rest of her life on ‘The Island’ the last uncontaminated place on Earth. Lincoln is worried though that not everything is as it seems and tries looking for answers.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Impossible

Man, I wish I was a heart string salesman. Sales will be going through the roof after the two hours of tugging and eventual breaking of heart strings due to the release of The Impossible. A Spanish production and based on a real life Spanish family’s experiences, The Impossible stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as the husband and wife of a family caught up in the Boxing Day Tsunami that struck South East Asia in 2004. While on holiday the Tsunami hits the Thai beach resort that the family are staying at, separating Wife Maria (Watts) and eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) from Husband Henry (McGregor) and youngest sons Thomas and Simon (Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast). With Maria seriously injured and little help at hand, the family struggle to survive in the most unimaginable conditions.

I have mixed feelings about The Impossible. On the one hand it is an expertly made film which brings a terrible tragedy to the big screen but on the other hand that tragedy is still fresh in the memory and the lengths to which the movie tugs at the audience’s emotions feel cheap and unnecessary. Although I’m sure it will be well received by critics, I have my reservations and my girlfriend downright disliked it.

Monday, 27 February 2012


Beginners is a wonderfully sweet and sad film from writer/director Mike Mills who is perhaps better known as a Graphic Designer and Music Video Director. His past comes across in a very pleasing way in Beginners, a film which doesn’t shy away from unusual ‘arty’ cinematography and surprising pop up images. The film follows the lives of Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) mostly towards the end of Hal’s life and shortly after his death. After the death of his wife, Hal comes out as being gay at the age of 75 and wants to experience a lifetimes worth of homosexual activities in the short time he has left. Oliver is mostly supportive of his father but feels distanced from him as a result of their lack of time together in the past. There is also an undercurrent of animosity towards his father as a result of seeing his mother’s unhappiness throughout their marriage.

For the entirety of the film I either had a huge smile or sad look on my face. The film is full of emotion at both ends of the spectrum. There are some incredibly light and happy moments which often come with the interaction of Oliver and his dog or Oliver and a woman he meets, Anna (Melanie Laurent). Their love affair is filled with the same diametrically opposed emotion as the film itself. As is so often the case, this film features more laughs than most out and out comedies. There is subtle humour woven throughout and it boils over into full on laugh out loud moments on a number of occasions.

All three principle actors are superb. Melanie Laurent, in her first English language role is both frothy and seductive but has a deep lying cheerless existence while her accent is very appealing. Ewan McGregor is equally as good playing a depressed graphic artist. His American accent is also much better than his English accent! He shows emotional depth which I haven’t seen from him before. While the two aforementioned actors are both excellent, it has been Christopher Plummer who has drawn the most critical acclaim, winning both the BAFTA and Oscar awards for Best Supporting Actor. His performance is sublime. He manages to convey his excitement for his new life as well as the sadness that his life is coming to an end when it is only just beginning.

The film is full of hopeful optimism as well as gloomy sadness and is directed and acted wonderfully throughout. I thoroughly recommend it.


Friday, 10 February 2012

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

When Avatar 3D became a huge box office hit in 2009, taking over $2.8bn in theatres alone, one had the feeling that it was only a matter of time before George Lucas recycled his Star Wars franchise one more time with retro-fitted 3D. The first film to be released in 3D is the worst of the bunch The Phantom Menace.

The plot is basically the back story of Luke Skywalker’s parents, Anakin Skywalker and Queen Amidala. It shows their first encounter as well as about an hour of nonsense politics that even I with a Politics degree couldn’t care less about. Anakin is a slave on Tatooine who gains his freedom with the help of Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gonn Jin while Queen Amidala is under threat from The Trade Federation who with backing from Darth Sidious is attempting an invasion on her home planet of Naboo.

The first problem to address is the 3D. There is absolutely no need for it whatsoever and it actually detracts from what was already a quite bad film. At times I had to take the glasses off due to the background being fuzzy and sometimes it was like I had double vision in certain areas of the screen. It looked really shoddy. I had two pairs of 3D glasses with me and the problem was consistent with both. While I had the glasses off, it became apparent that only about half of the film was even in 3D. But this at least meant that it only looked crap half of the time. I can’t think of one scene in which the 3D enhanced my viewing experience. One can’t help but feel ripped off when the quality of the product is this poor. My 3D hopes had been raised after Scorsese’s Hugo but with poor retro-fitted 3D like this around, it is surely only a matter of time before people say enough is enough.

My problems with the film are two fold. Firstly it is really boring. I hadn’t seen it for a couple of years so thought maybe id been overly harsh on it before, but if anything I wasn’t harsh enough. There are a few scenes which get the blood pumping but these are usually interrupted by an annoying character. For the most part it is like you are watching an episode of The Daily Politics in a country you no nothing about and care even less. My second problem is with the films the characters. Upon its release, many people complained that Jar Jar Binks was just an opportunity for extra commercial tie-ins but I see him as more of a lazy, racist stereotype. It is quite clear that he and his race of Gungan’s are based on the people of Jamaica and it is quite incredible that no one during the films production pointed this out and had the character altered in some respect. The Trade Federation also sound like a ten year old doing a Chinese impression and slave owner, Watto is a hideous caricature of an Arab trader. Where the human characters are concerned, it cant be often that Yoda comes across as one of the most natural speakers in a film but here he is surrounded by Natalie Portman who sounds as though she is trying to do an English accent while eating peanut butter, Ewan McGregor who seems like he is acting with a baseball bat up his arse and Jake Llody who gives one of the worst performances of any child actor I’ve ever seen. The only actor who comes out with any credibility is Liam Neeson who does a decent job playing Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn.

On the plus side, while the thirteen year old CGI looks quite cartoony, it has held up well to the test of time. I liked the character of Darth Maul and his fight scene was good. Also, some of the scenes did look spectacular. The pod race in particular looked very nice but was incredibly boring. Another positive note is that it’s over now and we only have two more films to sit through until Episode IV.


If you don't like my review then try this from the BBC's Mark Kermode. click here for short video

DVD Extra --- I've seen the film at least four times now but yesterday I noticed something new. When I got home I googled what I thought I saw and it turns out I was correct. During one of the long, boring Senate scenes, have a look out for a well known alien from outside of the Star Wars franchise. When you see him you can 'phone home'...