Tag Archives: Ewan McGregor

Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack-the-Giant-SlayerTim Burton hit it big with “Alice in Wonderland,” but the fairy tale-to-film effort is still a horrifyingly expensive crapshoot.

As children, both Jack and Isabelle took a liking to the legend of the giants of Gantua. However, now young adults, neither is remotely close to achieving any degree of adventure, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) stuck working on his uncle’s farm and Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) forced to be a proper princess, staying within the walls of Cloisters. However, after a mix-up at the market, Jack accidently winds up with a sack full of magic beans. Coincidentally, later that evening, Isabelle opts to sneak out of the castle and winds up at Jack’s door seeking shelter from a storm. Little does Jack know, one of his beans slipped through the house’s floorboards, right along with the rainwater that triggers them to grow.

After a failed attempt at saving Isabelle, she’s lifted up into the land of the giants while Jack comes crashing back down to Earth. When King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) hears of what’s happened to his daughter, he commissions Elmont (Ewan McGregor), the leader of the king’s guard, and his men to scale the beanstalk with Jack in tow to bring Isabelle home.

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From the Set: Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack-the-Giant-Slayer-PosterWe’ve already seen Alice in Wonderland and a double dose of Snow White, but with Maleficent, Pan,Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio and possibly more fairy tales-turned-big screen epics hitting theaters in the coming years, perhaps Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer will actually wind up slipping in at just the opportune time.

The project is a long time coming for Singer. He first signed on to direct back in September of 2009, but didn’t get the green light until just over a year later after which he went through a lengthy pre-production process before finally bringing the project to set in the spring and summer of 2011. Even then, the film still wasn’t in the clear, getting ousted from its original Summer 2012 drop date, settling back in on March 22nd, only to be moved up to March 1, 2013.

Will the tale of Nicholas Hoult’s Jack, a lowly farm boy who scales a beanstalk to save Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) from a brigade of giants eager to destroy King Brahmwell’s (Ian McShane) kingdom, be worth the wait? With the latest release date locked in place and now just a month away, we’ll find out soon enough, but if the final product sucks you into the world with even a fraction of the force the experience standing on set during production did, Singer’s time will have been well spent.

Click here to read the full set visit and here for additional interview highlights.

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Review: The Impossible

The-Impossible-Poster-1“The Impossible” begins with a full sentence of text explaining that the film is based on a true story. That sentence then does a slow fade to black, but leaves the words “true story” behind. After scoffing at the overly dramatic opening, I was sure “The Impossible” would be melodrama to the max, manipulating emotions rather than earning them. To my surprise, delight and horror, the film brings on the waterworks and goes on to earn each and every drop.

Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as Maria and Henry, two loving parents traveling with their young sons, Lucas, Thomas and Simon (Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast), to Thailand for a vacation. The trip is packed with wonderful meals, family bonding and Christmas presents up until the morning of December 26, 2004. While enjoying a day at the pool, the family, other hotel guests and just about every person in the coastal zone is swept away by a devastating tsunami.

When the wave subsides, Maria resurfaces and is only able to track down her eldest son, Lucas. While the two desperately try to make it to drier land Henry and the other two boys are holed up at the hotel. An opportunity to be taken to safer ground arises, but Henry can’t leave without finding his wife and son first.

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Review: Perfect Sense

After catching a disaster film, my family always gets a laugh out of trying to figure out exactly what each of us would do in a time of crisis and I’m proud to say that the odds are generally on me to survive. However, if I ever found myself in the situation presented in Perfect Sense, I might just spare myself the stress and put an end to it before my time is really up. Then again, that probably has to do with the bleak and disheartening tone of the film more than anything.

Eva Green stars as Susan, a scientist living right near the restaurant where Ewan McGregor’s Michael is head chef. A little Romeo and Juliet-esque flirting ensues and they fall for each other. However, their intense passion for one another is somewhat tainted when the world is hit by a virus that causes people to lose their senses one by one. The first to go is smell and while it’s a sad thing to lose, the world recovers. When taste slips away, things get tougher, but people adapt, Michael altering his menu accordingly, putting more emphasis on texture rather than aiming to please a person’s palate.

That’s about it in the synopsis department because, well, you can probably figure out where it goes from there. Perfect Sense packs a particularly intriguing and disturbing core concept, but doesn’t really do much with it. The film is a one-way road to darkness. The lead character is a scientist and yet the effort to cure this disease is nearly nonexistent, which leaves the viewer with nothing to root for. Lacking even the slightest bit of hope, Perfect Sense is somewhat like watching someone with a terminal illness just slip away.

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Review: Beginners

There’s great danger in opting to stray from the conventional linear storytelling method. Not only do you run the risk of lacking a constant pace and confusing your viewers, but simply forcing them to think too much. Oddly enough, that isn’t the case in the least with Beginners. Yes, the piece gets the wheels in your head turning, but it uses its main character as a vehicle so, curiously, it’s the character that winds up doing the thinking for you, making the film a beautifully consuming experience.

Ewan McGregor is Oliver, a 30-something guy who was once funny and made for good company, but now walks around with a grey cloud over his head and a Jack Russell named Arthur by his side as a result of the passing of his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer). It isn’t until Oliver’s pals drag him out to a Halloween party that Oliver finds a little light in this world, an actress named Anna (Mélanie Laurent). However, with the wonders of budding love come memories from his past, namely ones of his unusual and inhibited mother and the final days of his father during which Hal puts to use his newfound status of being out of the closet.

Beginners is a nonlinear tale that roots itself in the present, focusing on Oliver and Anna’s relationship, but regularly jumps back to the past. We get mere glimpses of a young Oliver by his mother’s side as well as a more in-depth look at the days following his 75-year-old father’s official change in sexual orientation to the discovery of a cancerous mass in his lung up until his eventual death. Writer-director Mike Mills does a beautiful job interweaving every stage of Oliver’s life so as to enrich the character and make every scene in the film quite multidimensional.

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Interview: The Concert’s Melanie Laurent

Most of us know Mélanie Laurent as one of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, but Laurent had a lengthy resume even before then. But being that they were all foreign films, very few in the US experienced her work. With her new international star status that’s all changing and now we’ve got the chance to see her latest release, the French film The Concert.

“I knew the movie of the director, there was a movie made before, and I was really honored to work with such an amazing director,” Laurent explained. But Radu Mihaileanu wasn’t the only thing that drew Laurent to The Concert. “The script was really amazing because it’s popular and emotional and a challenge with the violin, so I was really excited to be involved in that project.”

The story is about a former conductor, Andrei Filipov (Aleksei Guskov). In his heyday he directed the famous Bolshoi orchestra, but when he was publically criticized for including Jewish performers in his group, his renowned career came to an end. Now he’s merely a janitor where the Bolshoi perform. However, one day, that works to his advantage. He intercepts a fax inviting the Bolshoi to play at the Châtelet Theater in Paris and opts to seize the opportunity for himself, reassemble his old musicians and head to Paris pretending to be the Bolshoi.

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