Archives for posts with tag: Russell Crowe

Do I really need to give a summary of the story here?  Hmmm…considering there are people who can’t even find their own country on a map, I think I should.

“Noah” is the about the biblical Noah — you know, the dude who God gave a heads up that God was going to destroy the world with a big flood.  Why?  Apparently, God got pissed that people are so wicked.   Huh?  Shouldn’t God have known that from the beginning, because God is supposed to be all-knowing and all-powerful?  Whatever.

Russell Crowe, who plays Noah, interprets his visions to mean that he should build an ark that can hold many animals so that the world can be reborn again when the flood is over.  Only Crowe believes that people shouldn’t be allowed to repopulate the Earth, that he and his family shouldn’t have any more children, that their purpose in surviving the flood is to help some of the animals live.  This is one of the problems hardcore, bible people have with “Noah.”  It doesn’t mean a damn thing to me as I don’t adhere to any religion.  I’m just looking for an entertaining movie.   And it is entertaining.

“Noah” gives us enough drama (Crowe and his family are surrounded by bad people waiting for their chance to attack and take over the ark; Crowe’s son complaining that he doesn’t have a woman, and time is running out for him to find a suitable wife; and two other sub-plots that I won’t mention so as not to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet), action and suspense to keep things interesting.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Crowe has a dream of what God has planned for the Earth.  Crowe is underwater, and all around him are the dead bodies of people and animals.  At this point Crowe has no idea that God plans to spare him and his family, so Crowe is freaking out, and justifiably so.  I had a dream years ago that my car — that I owned at the time — got wrecked because some ass crashed into it.  I was freaking out in the dream, and when I woke up I freaked out for a few seconds until I realized it was just a dream.  So I can imagine what Crowe was feeling with his dream of being drowned in a global flood.

As for my most memorable, movie moment of “Noah,” that would be the sequence when The Watchers (fallen angels) are shown falling from the heavens, their glowing bodies falling into and being enveloped by the rocks of the Earth.  They are now giant, lumbering creatures made of rock, with only their eyes and mouths revealing their spirits within.   A pitiful lot, they keep waiting for God to forgive them someday and bring them back to heaven, but God is silent.

These Watchers are the ones who helped Crowe build his massive ark.  And I’m glad that the movie gave Crowe help in building this structure, because if it was just Crowe and his family doing all this work, I would’ve cried a loud “bulls@#t” at the screen.  I think Crowe would’ve uttered many obscenities himself if he had to do all that work without God’s help.

Oh…years after my dream of my old car getting wrecked, some drunk ass did crash into my old car and totaled it.  And it happened in the same spot where I dreamed it would happen.  The drunk kid was lucky God didn’t give me a vision to take a hammer to his skull.

My car hit from behind.  Screw the flood, look at my car!

My car hit from behind. Screw the flood, look at my car!

 

— M

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“The Man With The Iron Fists” is a nice throwback to the Kung Fu flicks I watched as a boy in the 1980s in NYC during Saturdays at 3 p.m.  The movie is about government gold that has been stolen by gangsters in a village called Jungle; and now all types of shady characters come out of the woodwork to get a piece of the stolen loot.

There is Dave Bautista, who plays a thug who is nearly indestructible due to his brass body.  There is a surprisingly fat, Russell Crowe, who plays an Englishman who pretends to be only interested in whores; but you can tell he’s out for more than the pleasures of the flesh.  There is RZA, the blacksmith who happens to be black, and who also plays the title character who is honest and kind and just wants to earn enough money so he and his girlfriend can move to a better place and live out their lives in peace.  There is Lucy Liu, who plays Jungle’s whorehouse madame who is waiting for the right opportunity to seize power from the men she serves.

There are many more interesting, dirty, filthy characters, most of whom can’t act.  But that’s okay.  They can fight, and that’s what they’re really needed for.  And a lot of fighting is what you get.   Outrageous, high-wire fighting sequences you typically get in Hong Kong martial arts movies.   Not realistic, of course, but the point of this movie and those that inspired it is to entertain; and this movie is entertaining.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Man With The Iron Fists” is the scene when one of the heroes is fighting Bautista.  The hero punches, stabs, and cuts Bautista only to see Bautista’s flesh immediately turn to brass when it is about to be harmed.  D’oh!  I would’ve turned around and ran, crying like an intern who just got felt up by an old Congressman.   How do you beat a guy like this?  Ah, don’t worry, Grasshopper…everything has a weak point; and no matter how strong one is, there is always another who is stronger.

Finally, for those who are my age and who lived in NYC watching Kung Fu flicks during the weekend, here is the link to a youtube clip of the intro to the 3 p.m. Saturday movies on Channel 5 in NY back in the ’80s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg9_RM3z0sk

M

Director Zack Snyder — director of “300” and “Watchmen” — tackles the story of Superman, and he does it so well that Snyder should be a defensive lineman.   Of course, a movie’s success and quality depends upon more than just the director, and “Man of Steel” has the talented cast and screenwriter that helped this movie to be a hit.

“Man of Steel” takes us from the birth of Superman (played by Henry Cavill) all the way to when Cavill wears the famous red and blue suit, accepting his role as Earth’s protector.  But the story is told in a non-linear way, meaning there are lots of flashbacks to key moments of Cavill’s life as a boy, a teen, and a young man.   I believe the reason Snyder did this was to move the story along at a faster pace, without sacrificing important elements of the backstory.   But what is sacrificed is the wonder we feel as we watch Cavill go through an awkward and emotionally painful childhood, the emotions in him — and in us — building up if  we were to see him grow up in a linear way, from a scared boy to a confident superhero.  Jumping around in the storyline, as “Man of Steel” does, takes away a lot of that wonder and emotional buildup.   Watch “Superman” after you watch “Man of Steel,” and I’m sure you will have a stronger connection with Superman in the 1978 movie.

That said, this is still a very good movie.  I’ve got $10 waiting to buy this when it comes out on BD for that price (yeah, I know, it’ll be a while before that happens, but I can wait).   Superman purists may be upset about a few things, such as: the lack of red briefs in Superman’s suit, there is no kryptonite (at least in this first movie), Cavill has a beard, and Perry White is played by a black guy (Laurence Fishburne).  Well, there’s no point in rebooting the Superman story if you’re just going to leave everything the same.   Whatever changes Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer made to the Superman story, they do not significantly alter what we know of the Superman world.  Watch and see for yourself.

And should you do that, you will see a Krypton that is grittier, like a “Star Wars” planet where large beasts roam the skies with spaceships.  You will see Cavill aimlessly going from job to job, travelling all over the world as he figures out his purpose and place on Earth, waiting for the right time when he can reveal himself to the world and hope that he will be accepted.  And you will see Michael Shannon — who plays Kryptonian General Zod — seek and find Cavill, not to kill him, but to ask for his help to create a new Krypton, founded upon the destruction of Earth.

And speaking of Shannon, one of my memorable, movie moments of “Man of Steel” is the scene when Shannon passionately explains to Cavill why Shannon does what he does.  Shannon was raised to be a soldier; his sole purpose is to protect Krypton and its inhabitants, by any means necessary.  And by extension, he has the obligation to find a new world to terraform into a new Krypton for the last remaining Kryptonians who still live, including the unborn, Kryptonian babies that are harbored in Cavill’s cells.  “What!” you yell out.  “What was that?”  That’s right, Spartacus, you heard me.  And some guy took a vial of Cavill’s blood.  Where that vial is, we don’t know.  But I think it will be used somehow in the next 2 sequels.

Now, my most memorable, movie moment of “Man of Steel” is the scene when Kevin Costner (who plays Cavill’s human father) finds himself on the path of a tornado.  SPOILER ALERT here.  Costner had already instructed Cavill and Diane Lane (who plays Cavill’s human mother) to seek shelter under an overpass as Costner helps others who are in harm’s way.  Costner has no time to escape as the tornado is upon him.  He looks at Cavill, and puts his hand out signaling Cavill to not use his powers to save him, because that would mean exposing Cavill’s superhuman abilities to the whole world, as there are many witnesses around.   We see Costner quickly swallowed up by the twister, and he is gone.  Why did Costner sacrifice his life in order to keep his son’s secret?  Because he felt the world wasn’t ready — as well as his son — for the upheaval that the revelation would bring.

Screw that.  If I had the powers of Superman, no way in hell I would allow my father to die in front of me when I could easily save him.  Damn the world and its small-mindedness, its fears and its prejudices.  The world would just have to deal with me being an alien with powers to destroy the Earth.  Deal with it.  And if you can’t…well, what are you going to do about it?

M

Russell Crowe stars in “Romper Stomper,” a movie that put him on the radar screens of movie critics, and ultimately leading him from Australia and into Hollywood.  The Australian movie, “Romper Stomper,” is about a group of skinheads whose favorite target are Vietnamese immigrants who are just trying to live their lives in a new country.  Crowe, the most vicious and charismatic of the skinheads, leads the group.  Daniel Pollock plays the second in command, and the best friend of Crowe’s.  Pollock is the tragic figure here, as he has the most heart and compassion; and it’s easy to imagine him living a quiet life working a regular job.  But as we see so often in life, boys get into the wrong group for whatever reason, and they get entangled in all the nonsense and stupidity that usually leads to prison or an early death.  Complicating Pollock’s relationship to Crowe is Jacqueline McKenzie, who plays a troubled girl — troubled because her father molests her — who joins the group and becomes Crowe’s girl.   Crowe clearly doesn’t care for McKenzie, and McKenzie and Pollock slowly develop a friendship that leads to genuine affection.

So far, it sounds like “Romper Stomper” is a romantic drama, right?  Oh, no.  This is a vicious, hard-hitting movie that quickly draws you in, making you care for what happens to the skinheads.  That’s not to say you’ll like the skinheads, unless you’re a bigot who agrees with their sentiments.  Rather, you will want to know what happens to the characters, as all good stories will do.  Now, you may find yourself liking Pollock, as he has many redeeming qualities.  Don’t blame yourself if you do, because I wound up liking his character as the movie progressed; and that is a hard thing to admit to, considering I’m Asian, and Asians are the targets in this movie.

The movie opens with 3 Vietnamese kids — 2 teen boys and a teen girl — getting the hell beat out of them by the skinheads they run into.  What the skinheads don’t know is the girl is the sister of a tough, young man who commands the attention and respect of dozens of Vietnamese factory workers.   So, the Vietnamese group is on the lookout for the skinheads, if only they can find them.  And one day, they do.  The skinheads get a hold of two Vietnamese brothers who they beat mercilessly; but the 3rd brother gets away and goes to the factory where dozens of Vietnamese workers are.  This leads to my most memorable, movie moment: when dozens of enraged, Vietnamese teens surround and overwhelm the skinheads.  The skinheads make a hasty retreat, with one skinhead after another getting left behind to suffer brutal beatings by the Vietnamese workers.  The one-sided fight continues through alleyways, streets, and ultimately the home of the skinheads.   The Vietnamese workers crash through as the skinheads escape, and the Vietnamese continue their vengeance by trashing and burning the warehouse home of their enemy.  If this sequence doesn’t make your heart pound, it’s time to admit that you died and just don’t want to face it.  Oh, for those crying, “Why, oh, why, Manny, did you tell us the ending!”  Um, all this happens in the first act.

Next runner-up for my memorable, movie moment of “Romper Stomper” is the scene when Pollock and McKenzie have sex for the first time.  It ends with each saying to the other “I love you.”  Both are surprised to say it as well as hear it coming from the other person.  These are two characters who’ve dealt with nothing but s*@t prior to meeting each other; and now they’ve found something beautiful and truly meaningful in their lives.   But Crowe stands in the background, with his hate threatening to destroy the new love that has formed.

“Romper Stomper” is one of those rare movies that are hard to watch because of the harsh, subject matter; but once you start watching, it’s hard to stop.  That is great storytelling.  My compliments to the writer/director, Geoffrey Wright, and the actors of this movie.

M

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