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Coriolanus: Updated Shakespeare Tragedy
Taking cues from films such as Baz Luhermann’s Romeo + Juliet, Coriolanus is a Shakespearean tragedy, set in modern times. It may require a bit more concentration than regular films but it’s a treat hearing the prose just roll off of the tongues of trained actors.
The film takes place in Rome and tells the story of an army general by the name of Caius Martius Coriolanus (Fiennes). Stern, violent and anti social, he was nonetheless considered a hero by the people of Rome. When he decided to run for Consul however, his detractors used his rigidity against him and sparked a riot that had him banished from the city. In revenge, he teams up with his mortal enemy, Aufidius (Butler), leader of the Volscian army, to wreak havoc on the people who dared deem him a traitor.
Maybe because he isn’t hidden behind a ton of makeup and because this time around he has a nose, but Fiennes is more deranged in this role than he was as Lord Voldemort, and that’s saying something. He has an intensity that poor Butler, as his adversary, just can’t hope to match even though he does do a pretty good job regardless. In fact, the acting here is uniformly strong, but Fiennes is simply phenomenal. The only people capable of going toe to toe with him are Chastain, who plays his wife, and Redgrave, who plays his brutally chilling mother.
On the one hand the film analyses the connection between what the public wants from their politicians and the personas that said politicians present to them. Unlike every other politician in Rome, Coriolanus refuses to sugar-coat his words and openly declares his loathing of the people. His stubborn, idealistic nature greatly complicates his transition from the battlefield to the senate much to the chagrin of his mother - who’s probably even colder and more terrifying than he is. He’s a very ambiguous character and it’s this that gives the film much of its depth. He’s a bloodthirsty tyrant just like his mother yet also a bundle of intense emotions, be it love or disdain.
The film is a complete blood bath which shouldn’t come as a surprise in a film about an army general, but the intensity pervading the film takes the fights to another level. The Romans and Vulscians have a ‘fight or die trying approach’ to war directly inspired by their leaders’ complete contempt for their own lives. And while the cinematography captures the fight scenes really well - Aufidius and Coriolanus’ one-on-one fights are particularly thrilling - it does even better with the rest of the film. The protest scenes feel utterly contemporary and give the film a sense of immediacy; no mean feat when you’re speaking in Shakespearean English.
It’s not a perfect film but it's close and the acting, Fiennes in particular, is as close to perfect as you can get. Despite that though, the film’s main strength lies in the fact that it updates the play and makes it completely relevant to modern audiences. The themes that the play covers are ones that play out in our political arenas every day and it makes for absolutely riveting viewing.
The follow up to Carlos Saldanha’s vibrant animated feature, Rio – a film that grossed over half a billion dollars at the box office - finds the Brazilian-born filmmaker returning to the pulsating streets of Rio Di Janeiro, before setting off into the wilderness of the Amazon.
Picking up some time after the end of the first film, Rio 2 finds the Blue Macaws, Blu (voiced by Eisenberg) and Jewel (Hathaway), happily married and living a carefree life while raising their three hatchlings, Carla (Crow), Bia (Stenberg) and Tiago (Gagnon), at the Blue Bird Sanctuary.
However, their children’s overly-domesticated habits begin to worry Jewel, who is fearful that her children are slowly losing touch with nature and what it means to be a bird. So, when she hears that there may be a flock of Blue Macaws living in the Amazon rainforest, the family decides to fly across for a vacation and a bit of an investigation.
Once there, not only does the family discover that there is more of their kind in the world, but that the flock is led by none other than Jewel’s long-lost father, Eduardo (Garcia). Jewel soon finds herself toying with the prospect of moving her family there for good, while Blu – who now must prove himself to Jewel’s apathetic and unconvinced father – isn’t too sure whether he’s ready to give up his life in Rio. Meanwhile, Blu’s lifelong nemesis, Nigel the Cockatoo (Clement), who is no longer able to fly, follows the family to the rainforest in search of revenge.
Eisenberg and Hathaway return to reprise their roles as the lovable Blu and Jewel and, although their shared chemistry can still be felt throughout, it seems that their second outing is not as charming as their first. Clement is hilarious as the grouchy Nigel, while all of the supporting characters, excluding Chenoweth’s hysterical performance as Gabi – a poisonous frog hopelessly in love with Nigel – aren’t given much of the spotlight, apart from indulging in a few impromptu sing-offs, including yet another cringe worthy rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.
Just like the original, Rio 2 dazzles with its vibrant and bubbly tone; the opening scenes of the New Year’s Eve celebration on the bustling streets of Rio Di Janeiro are breathtaking and Saldanha, succeeds in adapting the alluring and captivating magic of Brazil.
The story, unfortunately, is not as engaging the second time around and Saldanha seems to have sent the story on a downward spiral the minute he decided to step out of Rio and move his flock of birds into the back woods of the Amazon rainforest.
There are still plenty of thrills and spills, but had it not been for the infectious Brazilian music and a handful of interesting characters, this would have been a complete washout.
David Ayer, the writer behind award-winning Training Day and 2012’s End of Watch, ventures into yet another shady underworld of dirty cops with his latest creation, Sabotage.
Set in Georgia, the film follows the story of an elite, undercover DEA Special Ops team of nonconformists; ‘Monster’ (Worthington), ‘Grinder’ (Manganiello), ‘Pyro’ (Martini), ‘Tripod’ (Vance), ‘Sugar’ (Howard), ‘Smoke’ (Schlegel) and finally, Lizzy (Enos), who are all led by their grizzled Special Agent, John Wharton – a.k.a Breacher – (Schwarzenegger).
While out on a mission raiding the mansion of a notorious drug cartel, the team comes across ten million dollars and decides to conceal it, with the plan of coming back for it later. However, when they return to collect their hidden treasure, the group discovers that the money is gone, and the guys quickly find themselves under investigation for the missing money.
Months later, the case is dropped and the group is quick to return to duty, but things are far from back to normal. The mystery behind the missing money reaches another level of obscurity as the members of the notorious team are killed off, one-by-one. The murders draw the attention of a homicide detective, Brentwood (Williams), who begins digging into the killings, whilst Breacher begins suspecting that the perpetrator might be one of his very own.
At times, Sabotage plays out like a classic mystery-thriller and has, rather hastily, been compared to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Other than one seemingly long car chase and a few gun-fights, the story is surprisingly short on action, keeping its focus on the dynamics of the team, who, thanks to an overdose of bravado, are incredibly difficult to connect to, let alone root for.
Surprisingly, Schwarzenegger settles into his role quite nicely; his now ripe physical condition is suited to his character’s troubled ways, and although many would find it difficult to swallow the ex-governor as a rogue cop, he manages to sell his side of the story pretty well.
As part of the murky mis en scene, Ayer uses a type of violence more associated with a slasher flick and goes a little overboard – in other words, blood for the sake of blood. To top it off, the mystery, supposedly the driving force of the story, is sloppy and is met with one too many confusing twists and turns.
Bloody, vulgar and full of one too many shock moments, Sabotage is passable, but still an overly messy thriller, whose occasionally implausible plot twists suck out both the fun and the logic from its otherwise well-constructed tone.