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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.
Ludicrous, crass but also undeniably fun,Ted 2 - the sequel to Seth MacFarlane’s successful 2012 comedy, Ted –proves to be a more consistent and better drawn-out affair than its predecessor, even if the jokes – which there never seems to be a shortage of– don’t always land where they’re supposed to.
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, Ted 2 is once again centred on best-buds and avid stoners, John Bennett (Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) who, as it turns out, don’t seem to be living out their happily-ever-afters with the women in their lives. See, John has divorced the love-of-his-life, Lori (Kunis), and Ted, who at the beginning of the film shares his “I Do’s” with his human-bride, Tami-Lynn (Barth), is in constant clashes with his new wife.
Deciding that the best way to reconcile and put an end to all the bickering is to start a family, Ted reaches out to his best-friend for help; a decision which soon proves rather messy. However, Ted’s civil rights are soon called in to question by the government who wish to brand Ted as property as oppose to a living thing, leaving John and Ted with no choice but to turn to the rookie – and pot-loving- lawyer, Samantha (Seyfried) for some legal help in an attempt to prove that Ted is a living being with rights of his own. Hence the tagline ‘Legalise Ted’.
Endless pop-culture references and MacFarlane’s distinct brand of abstract toilet humour is once again the integral part of the story. While the first film lent most of its focus on Wahlberg and his romance with Mila Kunis – the actress was written out of the script due to her pregnancy with husband Ashton Kutcher – Ted 2 shifts the focus onto the talking teddy and his battle to be recognised, essentially, as a human.
The decision to shift proves to be a smart move, although the film does tend to take itself a little too seriously at times; in addition, Wahlberg – whose deadpan delivery is almost always spot on – seems to shine more in his secondary role.
Ted 2 is neither ambitious nor smart and its jokes are often offensive and pretty vulgar. Nevertheless, it’s a fun goofy kind of vulgarity that will ensure more box office success and probably even a third film.
Like it or not, the Terminator franchise holds a special place in Hollywood history – thanks in part to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The once great franchise is arguably Arnie’s most iconic role and despite being three year away from his 70th birthday, the former Governor of California doesn’t look half-bad in the fifth, but far from final, instalment in the franchise.
Terminator Genisys is the first of what has been described as a new, standalone trilogy, but if the first film is anything to go by, fans will most likely be throwing their hands in despair at what’s to come.
Set initially the year 2029, the film’s main device is time travel and the butterfly effect – concepts that are becoming increasingly difficult to keep fresh and original. While co-creator, James Cameron, has unabashedly put his support behind the Alan Taylor-directed flick –going as far as to say that it has reinvigorated the franchise – Genisys only served to further dilute a series that just can’t keep up with contemporarily conceived sci-fi action.
The story opens with A.I. system, Skynet, all but defeated by the freedom fighters, lead by John Connor (Jason Clarke). In one last attempt to defeat the resistance, a T-800 Terminator is sent back to 1984 to kill John’s mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), who is of course under the protection of the Guardian (Schwarzenegger). What happens from then on is a bit of mystery.
Possibly the biggest problem of the film is that it tries far too hard to maintain elements of the original series and fails to do so well. While staying faithful to the films that have made the Terminator franchise so iconic is commendable, all references and lines of continuity feel forced and unsubtle, as if to say, “hey, look – we haven’t forgot the original!”
Seeing Arnie don the Terminator character once more is, in itself, a novelty – especially after the horrendous CGI used to resurrect him in 2009’s Terminator Salvation. But outside of that, you come away with very little when the end credits start to roll. The two Clarkes starring in the film hot the right notes in their performances, but suffer the convoluted script more than anyone.
While reboots, remakes and distant sequels have generally found success in the last few years – some commercially, some financially, some both – the fact that the film has only recouped half of its budget, which includes a marketing budget of at least $50 million dollars, speaks volumes about how tame and just plain unexciting this endeavour has been.