The Last Legion

The Movie Snob fesses up:

The Last Legion (C). Can you imagine a swords-and-sandals epic starring Colin Firth, of Bridget Jones and Pride & Prejudice fame, as a Maximus-style Roman warrior? No, you can’t. Nobody’s imagination is that good. Instead, you have to go see this cheesy-in-a-good-way flick. In the waning days of the Roman Empire, 12-year-old Romulus (Thomas Brodie-Sangster, The Maze Runner) is crowned emperor only hours before the city is sacked by the barbaric Goths. The boy Caesar is taken prisoner and has to be rescued by a rag-tag band of survivors. These include doughty Aurelius (Firth), a hippie-looking philosopher played by Ben Kingsley (Transsiberian), and a beautiful warrior from the east named Mira (Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai, Bride and Prejudice). The group decides to head off to Britannia, I guess because they all have British accents already anyway, and on the way they discover Julius Caesar’s own sword, which bears an inscription something like “ES CALIBUR.” Hint! Hint! Firth looks embarrassed throughout, which is amusing during the fight scenes and inexplicable during the scenes when the exotic Mira is making goo-goo eyes at him.

Daniel Deronda

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Daniel Deronda (B+). I didn’t realize it when I had my girlfriend Netflix this DVD, but this is actually a BBC miniseries rather than a movie. But Entertainment Weekly recommended it, and I enjoyed it just like EW said I would. It is 1870s England, and Daniel Deronda (Hugh Dancy, The Jane Austen Book Club) is a handsome young man trying to decide what to do with his life. He has been raised by a rich aristocrat, Sir Hugo (Edward Fox, The Importance of Being Earnest), whom everyone assumes sired Daniel out of wedlock, but Hugo has never talked to Daniel about it, and Daniel does not even know who his mother was. In a parallel story, Gwendolyn Harleth (Romola Garai, I Capture the Castle) is a young woman whose father is dead and whose family is falling on hard times. She foolishly marries a wealthy but cruel man for his money, but she seems to have an instantaneous bond with Daniel when they first encounter each other. And for three and a half hours, the stories of her marriage and his quest to find himself unfold, with some unexpected twists and turns. I liked it.

The Bourne Ultimatum

From The Movie Snob

The Bourne Ultimatum (B+). For what it is, this movie is very good. Matt Damon (The Martian) reprises his role as Jason Bourne, a man who has lost most of his memory but possesses a startling array of skills that would be characteristic of, say, a top-secret CIA agent of some sort. As in the first two movies (as best I can recall), he’s on the run from the CIA because some top brass are afraid that Bourne will spill some of their ugly little secrets. But plot is almost superfluous; what counts are the action sequences in which Bourne must outfox his shady pursuers over and over again. These chase scenes are even more over the top than in the last movie, but everything is filmed so convincingly that I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.

Three New DVD Reviews from Nick at Nite

Disturbia

Rear Window for the teen set. It is not exactly the same as the Alfred and Jimmy masterpiece, but it is pretty close. Teenager is placed in Martha Stewart lockdown at his house for three months over the summer after he punches his Spanish teacher. Teenager starts to spy on his neighbors and watch the goings on in the neighborhood. Of course, the goings on are bad goings on, and our teenager must deal with it. Even though it is a copy, it isn’t all bad. This is worth a rental. I give it a “B.”

Ocean’s Thirteen

Ocean’s Fourteen, Ocean’s Fifteen, Ocean’s Sixteen . . . as far as I am concerned they can keep making these movies until the end of time. I know it is a formula. I know it is campy. I know it is a continuation of a remake from the original rat pack. Still, I like ’em. These heist films are fantastic. The how-did-they-do-that and comedic bent make them better than the fare you normally see at the cineplex. Sure, my wife likes Pitt, Clooney, and Damon, but that is not main reason we like these movies. We have fun at them. Isn’t that what it is all about? You know, it looks like the actors had fun making this movie. I give it an “A.”

The Ex

I don’t know how I feel about this movie. It has a bunch of actors I like. Jason Bateman (Disconnect), Zach Braff (TV’s Scrubs), Charles Grodin (So I Married an Axe Murderer), Amanda Peet (Gulliver’s Travels), and Mia Farrow (The Great Gatsby). It has some laughs, I always like that. But, it also had some of those fleeting moments of uncomfortableness seen in What About Bob? (why won’t Billy Murray leave Richard Dreyfuss alone?), The Break Up (when it this gonna get funny?), and Swingers (did he really call ten times in a row?) that make my stomach hurt. I watched this with my wife, she kept saying she was going to be very unhappy if it did not have a happy ending. My point is this, when people make movies that are supposed to be funny, they need to be funny, when people want to make dramedies (dramas that have some funny moments), they should clearly label the DVD case or film poster as such. I give a “C+.”

Hairspray

New review from The Movie Snob

Hairspray (B-). I am not familiar with either the original John Waters movie or the stage musical on which this movie is based, so I approached it with no axe to grind. Set in Baltimore circa 1960, it is the story of an overweight high school girl who dreams of dancing on a local television show sort of like American Bandstand. And it is a story about the civil rights movement and integration. And for some bizarre reason it stars John Travolta (Pulp Fiction) in a fat suit as the protagonist’s mother. I enjoyed it for a while, but I thought the movie sort of lost steam when the desegregation plotline moved to the fore. Still, worth a look, especially if you are fan of musicals.

Stardust

From The Movie Snob

Stardust (B+). This is a very enjoyable fairy tale starring Claire Danes (Shopgirl), Michelle Pfeiffer (Dark Shadows), Robert de Niro (Everybody’s Fine), and some fellow I’ve never heard of named Charlie Cox (Casanova). In 19th century England there is an old stone wall with a breach in it, and on the other side is the magical kingdom of Stormhold. Tristan (Cox) is an amiable young man from the real world who crosses over in search of a fallen star. Unbeknownst to him, in Stronghold, a fallen star is not a lump of space-going rock but a living, breathing person—in this case a woman named Yvaine (Danes). An evil witch (Pfeiffer) is also looking for Yvaine in order to cut out her heart and gain immortality, while several potential heirs to the throne of Stormhold are after the royal jewel Yvain wears around her neck. And so the three separate but converging quests niftily wend their way to a satisfying conclusion. Parents should take the PG-13 rating seriously, however, because of some adult humor and some violent images.

P.S.   Looking back at this movie on IMDB in 2016, I see that it has a lot more famous people in its cast, including Peter O’Toole, Sienna Miller, Mark Strong, Henry Cavill, Rupert Everett, and Ricky Gervais.  I didn’t notice it at the time!

Alaska: Spirit of the Wild

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Alaska: Spirit of the Wild (B). I saw this IMAX movie back in Arkansas last week, and heaven only knows how old it is. Charlton Heston (Antony and Cleopatra) narrates, and I thought he had retired from public life years ago on account of Alzheimer’s disease. Anyway, with Heston at the helm you can be reasonably assured you’re not going to get an ultra-Green piece about how we are destroying all the wildlife in the great white north. It is a celebration of Alaskan fauna, and a beautifully filmed one, but it is not overly sentimental. Global warming gets nary a mention. Worth seeing.