Wednesday, February 27, 2019
World War II movies and horror movies have been thrown together more often than you would think. With films like RED SNOW and becoming hits with the horror crowd it was only a matter of time before a mainstream film took the subject in hand. After all Hitler was supposed to have believed in numerous superstitions and various programs have discussed his search for ancient relics to help him win the war. Now we have OVERLORD.
The time is D-Day and a group of soldiers are being flown behind enemy lines with the intent of taking down a radio tower so that the air support for the beach invasion can assistance. Before they can get to their jump point their plane is shot down, half the men are lost in the plane and the rest tumble out in the nick of time. Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is lost and confused but find the remaining members of the team.
Now in charge is Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell), the munitions expert whose job it is to take out the tower. Also on hand are the wise cracking New York accented Tibbet (John Magaro), wanna be writer Dawson (Jacob Anderson) and Chase (Iain De Caestecker). As they regroup and head into town Dawson is killed by a landmine. Continuing on they come across French girl Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) from the village where the tower is located. With her own reasons for hating the Nazis she aids them by taking them to her home.
Living with her are her 8 year old brother and her aunt who has been disfigured due to some strange experiments taking place at the German headquarters where the tower is. While the team discusses what to do next a squad of Nazis arrives at the house. Led by SS man Wafner (Pilou Asbaek) he enters the house while they hide, flirts with Chloe before sending his men outside and then attempts to rape her. The team comes to her defense and captures the SS leader and kills his men.
Using what information they can gather from Wafner they devise a plan to get into the underground headquarters and blow up the tower. Separating with plans to regroup, Boyce comes across a group of Nazis dumping the bodies of disfigured experiments gone wrong and burning them. Concerned that more is taking place he gets on their truck and finds his way into the underground location.
As he wanders the halls attempting to avoid being discovered Boyce finds out the types of experiments that have been going on. Various dead bodies are being brought back to life. The most disturbing is a head with spinal cord still attached that is living. Sneaking out of the headquarters via a sewer tunnel, but not before taking a syringe filled with the Nazi serum, he meets the team and tells them what is taking place. They head back to the house to determine what to do.
Once there they begin discussing what to do next. Unfortunately they’re interrupted by a group of soldiers who shoot and kill Chase before they are all dispensed with. Not knowing what to do Boyce injects the Nazi serum into Chase who rises but begins to change. His body contorts, he strength increases and he loses control of himself. They then realize that the serum will be used to turn the Nazi soldiers into superhuman battle ready combatants that must be stopped.
The movie works well on many levels but at the same time becomes far too involved at others. It features so many story points that overlap and run on top of one another that by the end you’re left trying to remember if all of them have been answered or not. In spite of that it does provide an interesting film that will hold your attention from start to finish.
While most of the cast is rarely unknown (for me I only recognized Bokeem Woodbine as the squad leader killed early on and De Caestecker who stars as Fitz on TV’s MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D) they all do an admirable job here. Their fear is palpable and their incredulous looks when confronted by what could be the ultimate evil are quite believable.
In the end I would recommend the movie for an evening’s entertainment but perhaps not for the squeamish. The effects are well done and compliment the story and that story does draw you in. It ended up being a movie I enjoyed watching but also felt I’d never revisit.
I sat down to write this review of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY and had it nearly complete. But while typing I realized that what I was writing was a pat review, a listing of what takes place when with a small comment at the end. Like the movie I reflected and felt that the review needed to be better. I scrapped what was written and began again. While the movie is entertaining a part of me wished they had done the same thing.
Don’t go into this movie thinking you’re going to see a movie about the rock band Queen. This film is all about Freddy Mercury with Queen added in the mix. The makers of the film couldn’t have picked a more popular person to make a biographical film about. Mercury’s life lent itself to the big screen. He was larger than life and the legend of him as a quintessential rock star lives on.
The film follows him from humble beginnings to meeting the band as they are in search of a new lead singer. The right place at the right time. Heckled by the crowds expecting the band’s previous incarnation Smile they’re quickly won over when Mercury (Rami Malek) begins singing. He meets the love of his life Mary (Lucy Boynton) who he writes a song for titled just that, “Love of My Life”.
While recording their first album on their own an executive hears what they have to offer and takes an interest. The band is given a chance to tour in Japan and a record deal follows. Here is where one of the first items comes into play that delves far from reality and into Hollywood style alterations of the truth. If you’re a fan you’ll notice it immediately. Songs are chosen randomly rather than how they were actually released making the story seem jumbled.
Mercury starts off as aloof and imposing, demanding his way when he can as a representation of the band. The band gets a tour of America and afterward begins work on a new album. While working on this one Mercury comes up with his grand experiment in creating something never done before, a 6 minute opus called “Bohemian Rhapsody”. So different for a single at the time that the record executive the recorded the album for refuses to release it causing the band to walk out of his office.
The film moves forward after the first 30-45 minutes and then turns to a completely different story almost where Mercury begins experimenting with his bisexuality. A gay member of the band’s entourage, Paul (Allen Leach) encourages his interest. This seemed forced into the film, as if Mercury was being coerced into the lifestyle rather than delving on his own. Admitting this to Mary results in her leaving him.
Success continues but at a cost. Mercury begins doing more drugs and experimenting with his sexuality. It becomes an issue with the press and he begins a slow downward spiral. After one concert Mary shows up to his joy only to then feel crushed when she introduces him to her new boyfriend. It isn’t long before corporate big wigs come at him and offer him the chance to go solo. The offer angers him at first but eventually takes the offer, essentially breaking up the band.
Manipulated by Paul and living an extreme lifestyle which Paul takes full advantage of Mercury seems lost. This part of the film takes up far too much time and results in the well-known fact that Mercury eventually contracts AIDS. As we near the end of the film the band reunites to play at Live Aid, the most successful reunion to ever take place.
So what works? The fact that we’re hearing about the band works. The performances all around are well done. Malik has been singled out but each member of the band (Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor and Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon) are exceptional as well and underused. As for Malik I don’t think this is an Oscar worthy performance in spite of his being nominated. The majority of the film feels like a caricature of the man and it isn’t until the last 45 minutes or so that his performance changes for the better.
In the end I neither hated nor loved the film. It’s not one I’m likely to revisit. This is the music of my youth, the band being popular in my high school and college years. The end of the film will cause many to find themselves wiping away tears, I found myself that way and the loss of what could have been and a man who died too young at 45. But it did make me go back and listen to their music again. Perhaps that will be the legacy of this film, that it will make people rediscover Queen. In a time of programmed music we can only hope.
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Click here to order.
Women have made great strides in movies in the past decade or so. Rather than playing the background characters or women who are meek little heroines in need of rescue, they’ve taken on lead roles that have gone to men in the past. Many times this has worked against women with them remaking movies that starred men in the same roles (GHOSTBUSTERS, OCEAN’S EIGHT). But on occasion some great movies have been made offering women lead roles more worthy of them, original films that deserve attention. WIDOWS is one of those movies.
The film literally opens with a bang as a heist gone wrong takes place. The men involved are wounded and on the run when the police catch up with them, not just shooting them but blowing up the van they were driving. The men and the money from the heist at the same time are gone in a flash.
All of this is taking place during a high stakes election in Chicago. The opposing forces are Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the latest in a long line of Chicago style politicians whose father Tom (Robert Duvall) has done something to make his sure thing not so certain. His opponent is Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), a local crime boss turned politician who sees a more lucrative career milking contracts as a politician.
In the midst of this tight election the two opposing forces are doing everything they can to win, be that legal or not. When it turns out the money that was lost were the same funds backing candidate Manning he holds the widows of the men who were stealing the money responsible. He now tells Veronica (Viola Davis), the widow of the ring leader Harry (Liam Neeson), that he holds her responsible and gives her one month to come up with the money.
But Veronica wasn’t aware of the dealings of Harry. All she has is a key to a safe deposit box. What she finds in the box is meticulous details that Harry kept in a notebook as well as the plans for his next heist. Turning to the other widows, each in dire needs with the deaths of their husbands, she makes them an offer. Join her to carry out the last job, pay off the debt to Jamal who otherwise will kill them all and still have enough left over to live a decent life.
As Viola works on each of the wives to join (Michelle Rodriquez, Elizabeth Debicki and Carrie Coon) she assigns those who join her different jobs to prepare for the job. Picking up weapons, finding out where the location the floor plans Harry left behind are to and finding a driver for the job.
As all of this is taking place two other stories are running concurrently. One is the political maneuverings going on between the candidates. The second involves Jamal’s son Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya), still employing the thuggish street gang methods his father once employed to find out what Veronica is up to. Leaving behind wounded and dead men in his wake, he plans on taking things into his own hands.
A twist presents itself about an hour in and then all of these threads tie together to form the final 30 minutes of the film. They are weaved together intricately and splendidly to tell a story that’s more than one would expect from a simple heist film. And while one twists is presented more are compiled one on top of the other before the credits role.
And while we’re witnessing these women commit a crime we want to see them get away with it, to redeem themselves from the terrible predicament they’ve been put into. We cheer them on as they become resourceful and learn to work with one another in spite of their differences in lifestyle and predicament. We want them to succeed and for the bad guys to get what’s coming to them. They are a formidable force to be reckoned with and one that no one expects to come out on top. We cheer them on because they’re the underdog. These are strong female characters and a nice change to what we’ve seen women play in the past. It’s a refreshing action film with enough drama to keep you interested. This is one worth watching.
Click here to order.
Click here to order.