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Posts Tagged ‘Liam Neeson’

For the past couple of days, I’ve been off of work and I desperately needed to do something that I haven’t had a chance to do in a while:  go see a movie.  And given my current situation (more on that later), I needed something light-hearted, something that didn’t take itself seriously or was going to leave me even more of an emotional wreck.  Clash of the Titans it was, then, so I hopped off to the theater yesterday in the afternoon to go see it.

Clash of the Titans‘ greatest asset is the insane cast Louis Leterrier and company got lined up.  Pete Postlethewaite opens the movie, gaunt and bearded, as Spyros.  Mads Mikkleson and Liam Cunningham play soldiers from Argos.   Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes play Zeus and Hades, respectively.   That’s a lot of good actors to squeeze into a movie.

Sam Worthington is Perseus, a boy rescued from a casket at sea by fisherman Spyros and his wife when Perseus was a mere baby.   Perseus is happy as a fisherman and Spyros tells the young orphan that someday, someone will have to stand up to the cruelty of the gods.   On a nice day, the family is fishing when a group of soldiers from Argos topple a statue of Zeus, declaring that humans no longer need to worship the gods.   Hades rises from the deep, striking the soldiers down for their insolence and destroys Perseus’ family for their insolence.

On Olympus, Zeus is furious.   In Zeus’ eyes, the humans are ungrateful for the great gift of life he has bestowed upon them; he asks in return their love and prayers to sustain his immortality.   His fury leads Hades to persuade Zeus to allow Hades free reign in punishing the humans’ uprising.   Zeus agrees and Hades schemes to overthrow his older brother that cursed him to the underworld.   After a mortal queen claims that her daughter Andromeda is more lovely than any goddess, Hades appears and punishes her by giving the city of Argos an ultimatum:  sacrifice Andromeda or sacrifice the city to Hades’ wrath.   Either way, the Kraken will be summoned.

Perseus begins a quest to find a way to save Andromeda, Argos and avenge his family’s death at the hands of Hades with a group of Argosian (?) soldiers.  They visit some witches, go slay Medusa and Perseus returns on a pegasus to defeat the Kraken.  (Spoiler!)   There are scorpion fights and djinns and all sorts of godly muckings about.

Leterrier is great at directing action; both here in and Transporter 2 he has always directed tense scenes that have necessary urgency while still being able to be clear about who is doing what and where and when, something other action directors often fail at doing.   The cast is mostly great, although Gemma Arterton as Io is so boring one is tempted to cheer when she finally exits the film.   I genuinely like Sam Worthington but not necessarily as Perseus.  Worthington has a sort of nice normalcy about him that seems to be rare in Hollywood, but Sam, darling, please, please work on losing that Australian accent or keep it altogether.  Seesawing between the two is distracting.

The whole story is very odd; the furious Zeus steps into help the humans he wishes to destroy, adopts the son he spurned previously as his own; the other gods are given the barest of mentions.  After Act I, Perseus only briefly mentions his adopted father Spyros; out of the trio of godly brothers of Poseidon, Hades and Zeus, Poseidon is given short shrift with a whopping two seconds of screen time and no involvement in the plot.   Andromeda is set up as a love interest for Perseus and then dropped in favor of the ageless Io.   It is odd and strange, but I guess I didn’t see Clash of the Titans for the story as much as the action – and Liam Neeson, natch.   (CHUD has a great article here on this.)

Which brings me to the weird of all this.

If I could ask anything, it would be what in the holy fuck the costume designer was smoking on this film, because never in my wildest nightmares did I think that it would be possible to make Liam Neeson look like someone genetically fused Waylon Jennings and Liberace together in one unholy body.   Observe:

WHAT. IS. THAT?

And Fiennes doesn’t get the better treatment, either – for some reason, his hairline’s receded an inch and looks like he has a band of grit traveling down his forehead.  Why?  Who knows?!   Everyone else has long, braided locks but Sam Worthington for some inexplicable reason has a shaved head.  I don’t get it.

Clash of the Titans isn’t bad, it’s just messy in the story area and the CGI is distracting at times.   Titans is a fun movie; it was worth the $8.00 to hear Neeson order “Release the Kraken!”  and Liam Cunningham chewed some valuable scenery.   It was nice, fun, exciting and light-hearted, which was precisely what I needed at the moment.

I give it a B-, myself, but your mileage my vary.

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Not to sound like a broken record, but the only thing I’m getting out of The A-Team is some gratuitous shameless objectification of a Hot Old Man.

No Mr. T?   Wrong, wrong, wrong.   Can someone tell me why, all of a sudden, Bradley Cooper is in everything?

Damn you, Hollywood.  This looks like a hot mess of Chernobyl proportions, but all you had to do was give Liam Neeson a cigar and some gray hair and I’m thinking about pre-ordering tickets.   Damn my predictability!   Damn it all to hell.

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I am deeply, deeply ashamed of myself.

FOR SHAME!   For the year that I’ve been doing monthly hot old man posts, I had never given Liam Neeson his own month?  Really?   Did I just assume that everyone knew he was the king of the Hot Old Men and therefore went without mentioning?    Did I have some sort of accident wherein I lost my memory and forgot?

I don’t know but I’m making it up now.   Think of it as a Christmas present to myself!   Neeson as Mr. December, oh yes.    He was fabulous in Taken, deeply saddening in Schindler’s List, and charming in Love, Actually among the many, many great things he’s done on stage and on screen.

Yes, Merry Christmas (or Happy Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice or whatever beautiful holiday you may celebrate), boys and girls, have some Liam Neeson.

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I’ve reviewed Love Actually before (see here) but I went back and watched it again for Reader’s Choice.

Set a few weeks before Christmas and leading up to the big day itself, the movie examines the lives and loves of several groups of people, from family to friends and romantic relationships.  It’s a tricky thing to do, since Love, Actually  packs a lot of storylines into one little movie, but the film pulls it out quite well.

There are many things I don’t like about the movie – Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, that obnoxious “Colin Goes To America To Have Sex With Girls In Wisconsin” interlude – but since this is Reader’s Choice – Guilty Pleasures, I might as well own up to the cheesy fun in the movie.

Part of what I think makes the movie a secret pleasure is how obvious it is that the movie is so damn emotionally manipulative in many ways.   There are the rare stories (Laura Linney’s storyline and Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson’s storyline) that are the exception, but more often than not, the woven tales of Love Actually are little more than sentimental pieces designed not even to tug but wrench on your heartstrings. 

I guess that it’s helpful that Love, Actually has one hell of a cast.

Bill Nighy is practically perfection as Billy Mack, a washed up, no-filter rock star who basically begs and grovels for the public to give him a number one hit at Christmas.   The only faulty thing about his storyline is the weird bromance with his manager tacked on at the end, but that can easily be forgiven.

And Alan Rickman as the emotionally cheating husband and Emma Thompson as the crushed wife are wonderful.   I think it’s because it injects a healthy dose of reality into what is otherwise a rose-colored view of love, especially when you count the cornier aspects like the cue card admission of love and Colin Firth learning Portugese and yes, Liam Neeson encouraging his stepson to go crazy nuts overboard for a fellow classmate.  

Likewise, Laura Linney’s storyline about sacrificing one love for another kind is equally sad and sweet.   Linney, Rickman, Thompson and Nighy carry a lot of the movie on their shoulders, because Colin Firth and Hugh Grant are too busy playing Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.  

There are some filler stories; while the stories about the porn actor stand-ins is oddly endearing, it’s forgettable and boring.   Liam Neeson’s storyline about a widower raising his lovestruck stepson is sweet but ultimately kind of creepy and strange if you think about it really hard.    And the woman Rickman’s supposed to be emotionally cheating with is so devoid of emotion that you can’t help but wonder what Alan Rickman sees in her.   She attempts to pull off a slow, smoldering seduction.   It comes out more like someone with slight brain damage being flirty.

Even with all the cheesy and mediocre stuff packed in and the previously mentioned abysmal Colin Goes To America storyline, Love, Actually is a romantic comedy that I enjoy quite a bit.  Between the random cameos (ahoy, Billy Bob Thornton as the President, and hello there, Rowan Atkinson) and the fine juggling the director does to interweave the stories together as well as one could expect, the scenery chewing and actual good work of the aforementioned actors is a joy to watch.   And truth be told, most of us feel a little sentimental around Christmas.   Love, Actually asks some suspension of disbelief from the viewer, but hey, why not … it’s Christmas.

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If you’ll remember, a while ago there was a not very flattering poster released for Liam Neeson’s new movie, Taken.

I’m pleased to see a new poster that rectifies all that awfulness.   The new one looks pretty slick and it has a serious lack of Liam Neeson looking like he’s been made out of leftover candle wax drippings.    That gives it a hearty two thumbs up from me, as that last poster was absolutely criminal.

taken-poster-dark-fullsize1

Alright, so you don’t get to fully bask in his glory, but I think that quote sells that movie as well as you could sell it.

I like my Liam Neeson very much alive looking, thank you very much.

Poster via Film School Rejects.

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This Is Made of Wrong

Full-size for the horror of it all.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIS FACE?

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I was really mystified when this landed in my hands from Netflix. Then I realized why I’d received it – I hadn’t done my normal Netflix reshuffling and this had worked its way up to the top of the queue.

I had always meant to watch Michael Collins again. I saw it a few years ago and left it feeling that it was a decent film but not feeling like I wanted to watch it again any time soon, considering it made me cry buckets of tears (which is difficult to make me do, and I have only now remembered my lengthy, post-Michael Collins crying session).

Making a movie about Michael Collins would be difficult, one should think, given the gravity of the time and place in which Collins lived, and the kind of life Collins led. It certainly didn’t stop them from making one, though.

By all accounts, Collins was a pretty fearsome guy. From Wikipedia:

In retrospect, the sheer scale of Collins’ workload and his achievements are substantial. He created a special assassination squad called The Twelve Apostles designed to kill British agents; arranged the “National Loan”; organised the IRA; effectively led the government when [Eamon] de Valera travelled to and remained in the United States for an extended period of time; and managed an arms-smuggling operation.

Damn, dude.  All judgments aside, that’s a lot to do, especially when you take into consideration that Collins was shot and killed when he was 31. Of course, this movie benefits from having Liam Neeson in it, if we’re taking my pure shallowness into consideration. And believe me, Mr. Neeson is smoking hot in this one, but I had forgotten that my arch-nemesis was in this movie.

JULIA ROBERTS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THIS MOVIE?

In a movie chock filled with every semi-known Irish actor you can think of for the time, including Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn and lots of other people, Julia Roberts was the best choice to play Kitty Kiernan, the love interest for both Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn) and Michael Collins?

No, really?

It’s not that I detest Julia Roberts; I just got really, sickeningly tired of her a long time ago and she doesn’t do much to hold anyone’s interest in this movie. She’s just sort of there, like a robot helping to move the film along bit by bit.

As far as sheer movie-making goes, it’s a very well-done film from the standpoint of ignoring the history bits. It starts out in 1916 during the Easter Rising and travels all the way to Collins’ assassination, thereby skipping the early life of Michael Collins and picking up pretty much where he starts doing all those big things he’s still remembered for. Neil Jordan, the director, pulls the right strings appropriately to get your emotions going in a very deft way. The acting doesn’t really need any comment as I’m sure you can assume everyone’s spot on, which they are. Besides Julia Roberts, the only sore spot is the way Alan Rickman speaks as Eamon de Valera, which is slow and stilting. You’re always anticipating the next syllable to come out of his mouth. It’s extremely irritating, and I think the film kind of portrays de Valera as a schemer and a slow, conservative man who’s not quite as righteous nor as forward thinking as Collins. In essence, the film plays up Collins but even more plays down de Valera. Whether or not this is historically accurate, I can’t honestly say – but it does feel like de Valera’s made a little awkwardly villainous to accentuate or highlight more positive elements of Collins’ character.

And, at the very least, Michael Collins did remind me of why I scowl a little when I initially see Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS KILLED LIAM NEESON, YOU GUYS. Nowadays, I just look at him and think, “Really? Joe from Bend It Like Beckham was the guy that took down Michael Collins? Runs like a girl? Wore makeup in Velvet Goldmine? He’s supposed to be hardcore enough to shoot Michael Collins?”

Snerk.

For what it’s worth, it’s a good movie in my opinion that is interesting. It does kind of canonize Collins and portrays him as so heroic in a way that makes you wonder if you’re getting the whole story (and surely not everyone finds Michael Collins to be how the film portrays him).  However, it is entertaining but extremely depressing. For God’s sakes, I may never be able to watch anything with Stephen Rea ever again without crying.

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