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The King's Speech: Captivating, Oscar-Winning Film
Set in England just before World War II, The King’s Speech focuses on Prince Albert, the Duke of York (Firth) and the second son of the King of England, who has been suffering from a devastating stutter ever since he was a child. In an attempt to help him, his wife Elizabeth (Bonham Carter) hires an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Rush).
At first, Albert is mostly frustrated by Lionel’s eccentric teaching methods. When his father, the King of England suddenly passes away and his brother, Edward VIII abdicates to marry an American divorcee; Albert is forced to take the throne as the new king. Humiliated by his speech impediment and aware that he must make a speech to the people of England, he turns to Lionel for help.
Albert’s speech problem is a matter that anyone can relate to, which is the beauty of the plot of the King’s Speech: audiences instantly feel sympathy for Albert and share his pain and struggles. When audiences have a special connection with the story and characters, this film’s already a winner.
The highlight of this brilliant film is its cast; a line-up of the finest British actors that can be considered a direct threat to Hollywood actors. The film is based on real-life events during World War II; providing an intimate insight into the family of Queen Elizabeth III – Albert is her father; and the queen is featured in the film as a child. The film also cleverly and respectfully presents a historical event, while interspersing it with dry British humour for added entertainment.
The King’s Speech is full of wonderful performances, including Bonham Carter, who is understated yet powerful as Queen Elizabeth, and brief appearances by stellar British actors, such as Guy Pierce as Colin’s brother.
Firth and Rush’s chemistry is beyond charming and funny; Firth often seems to struggle between wanting to hang Rush and accepting his teaching methods. Yet the subtlety of the nuances in their dialogues and arguments shows a relationship between two men from drastically different backgrounds trying to cope with each other to reach an important goal. The witty banter between the leads reminds us of legendary actors Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in The Odd Couple. Surely, that doesn’t mean that the film is aimed to be a humorous one; but when it was meant to be so, the script and the acting made it work perfectly.
Between close-ups of his stuttering mouth and wide angles of the awaiting crowds, the exquisite cinematography helps create intimacy and intensify Albert's emotions. Beautiful scenery, including the elaborate interiors of Buckingham Palace, further emphasize the sense that we are granted a rare, intimate glimpse into England’s enigmatic royal family in such a pivotal time.The King’s Speech is an outstanding film, with some of the most exceptional performances of the year. It is a worthy recommendation for anyone who appreciates fine acting and storytelling.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.