Thursday, December 04, 2003

Movie Review(Master and Commander)...

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Russell Crowe is arguably the best actor of his generation. I first noticed him in ‘L.A. Confidential’ and since then I have been a big fan of his work. The gritty realism he brings to the screen is perfect for the role of Jack Aubrey, captain of the HMS Surprise. Set in 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars, Master and Commander has been billed as the most realistic representation of seafaring life at the time. The painstaking detail is unsurprising as this movie was budgeted at $135 million.

Director Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Dead Poets Society) was inspired by the novels of Patrick O’ Brien, a series of twenty books written in meticulous detail. The task of adapting a book to film proved to be difficult, so the movie combines two of the novels. HMS Surprise is charged with the task of intercepting The Acheron, a French frigate determined to spread war. The Acheron is the far superior vessel and has more than twice the guns and numbers of The Surprise. During their first battle, the latter inevitably fares poorly.

Captain Jack has his heart firmly set on revenge, and despite the warnings of the ships doctor, his old friend Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany), continues the pursuit. Armed with some inspired writing, the supporting cast do a fine job here. Bettany had starred previously with Crowe in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and each complements the others talents extraordinarily well.

With not a single female lead, and a hero whom many will have trouble relating to, it is difficult to assess the films potential success. Hopefully with good word of mouth, it will receive the attention it deserves. With Oscar worthy performances and an engaging tale from start to finish, Master and Commander is highly recommended viewing.

4.5 out of 5

Movie Review(Elf)...

Elf

Elf tells the story of a human (Will Ferrell) who has been raised by Santa’s elves in the North Pole. The human, believing he is an elf named Buddy, has now grown up and is finding life in the North Pole a little awkward. Upon learning of his true origins, he decides to travel to New York City to find his father (James Caan). As ridiculous as it may sound, the movie actually works as it is played firmly tongue-in-cheek, with a knowing wink towards any audience member north of ten years old.

Best known for his roles in MTV’s Matrix Reloaded spoof, and the movies ‘Zoolander’ and ‘Old School’, Will Ferrell is quickly becoming the funniest man in movies. He spent seven years on U.S. comedy sketch show, Saturday Night Live, creating hilarious caricatures of a broad range of (in)famous personalities such as George ‘Dubya’ Bush.

Directed by John Favreau, who starred in ‘Swingers’ and ‘Daredevil’, Elf is this years best Christmas film. Children will love it for its sheer sense of fun, while most adults will be won over by the hilarity of Buddy’s fish-out-of-water misadventures. The physical comedy from Ferrell is reminiscent of Jim Carrey albeit slightly more restrained. A simple change in facial expression, and Ferrell will have anyone with any sense of humour howling with laughter. Indeed some of the funniest moments come from James Caan as he struggles to come to terms with the apparent ‘insanity’ of his long lost son. Best know for his role as Sonny Corleone in ‘The Godfather’, it is a joy to see him flexing his comedic muscles with such success.

The only complaint I have about Elf is the failure to keep both sides of the audience happy until the very end. This is perhaps irrelevant though because, as a kids Christmas treat, this movie can only really end one way. With the last twenty minutes, the children will be satisfied, and the adults will feel as if they have overdosed on sickly sweet sentimentality. This is by far the best option for anyone looking for some cinematic cheer this Christmas.

3.5 out of 5

For your consideration...

Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King
The final part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is released on the 17th December. Sneak previews indicate that it is not only as good as its predecessors, but in many areas, far superior.

The Matrix Revolutions
The final part in the matrix trilogy contains the conclusion of Neo and Trinity’s story. Some will be disappointed that not all questions are answered, however as a huge fan of the original, I was not disappointed. The action scenes are, as always, spectacular.
Highly recommended.

4 out of 5

Finding Nemo
The latest from Pixar, the team that brought us Toy Story and Monsters Inc. Equally as good as the latter, not quite as good as Toy Story, the story involves a mismatched pair of fish, Marlon(Albert Brooks) and Dory(Ellen DeGeneres), tracing the whereabouts of Marlon’s son Nemo(Alexander Gould). Appealing to both adults and children alike, this is the highest grossing animated feature of all time, surpassing even Disney favourite ‘The Lion King’.

4 out of 5

In America
Jim Sheridan’s latest is the touching story of a couple, Johnny(Paddy Considine) and Sarah(Samantha Morton), who move to America to start a new life after the death of their son Frankie. Their daughters, Christy(Sarah Bolger) and Ariel(Emma Bolger), find a new friend in Mateo(Djimon Hounsou), a mysterious artist who lives in the same apartment building.

3.5 out of 5

And saving the very best until last:

Kill Bill
Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film is a stunning mixture of action, comedy, animation, witty dialogue and violence. As the poster so rightly declares, Kill Bill is “A Roaring Rampage of Revenge”. A must-see movie.

5 out of 5