Tag Archives: Andrew Garfield

Empire Live: Hackshaw Ridge

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So last month I was lucky enough to go to an exclusive screening of Hacksaw Ridge, which won’t be out in the UK until 2017. Mel Gibson is back and this time he’s behind the scenes with a World War 2 movie that some critics are seeing as his Hollywood redemption. But is it actually any good?

Hackshaw Ridge tells the true story of Desmond Doss, the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor depsite refusing to hold a gun.

I came out of this screening feeling completely overwhelmed by what I just saw. It was such a a powerful experience that I was raving about to my friends afterwards.

The film had such a compelling story about a conscientious objector (or co operator as Doss liked to put it) and I was surprised I never heard about it before. Doss’ beliefs may be the focus of the movie but the film never feel preachy or try to convince you that Doss is right or the army is right, just that no one should go against their beliefs whatever that is. It also shows that you don’t have to hold a gun or fight in a war to be brave.

The first part of the film shows Doss early life as we get to know the young man and his loved ones. Then we see him volunteer for the army where his fellow soldiers and superiors are distrustful of Doss believing he is a coward and a liability. How can he help his follow men if he doesn’t have a gun? But throughout the training Doss doesn’t compromise on his beliefs-to serve his country and maintain his pacifist views. Two views that seem conflicting to the army but Doss had absolute belief in.

As we see Doss and the other soldiers head off to combat the brutal reality of war hits them, and the audience. There is no discretion shots or bloodless injuries instead the audience is subjected to extraordinary and brutal scenes of war. Gibson does a fine job directing throughout but really exels during the battlefield scenes as the soldiers come under constant fire.

The film does have a few flaws such as some moments which almost crosses into cheesiness. There’s also the fact that most of the soldiers in Doss regiment fail to stand out apart from Luke Bracey’s aggressive and determined Smitty and Vince Vaughn’s memorable turn as Sergeant Howell who tries to force Doss into quiting.

Through it all Garfield is outstanding. Doss could have come across as a bland do-gooder or a bit preachy but Garfield gives grace, intelligence and stoicism to his role of a true life hero. Can this be the year Garfield finally gets recognised this award season? His chances may be better than Gibson who may struggle to get such recognition considering his past, unacceptable behaviour. But with a film that promotes tolerance maybe Gibson can work his way back out of the Hollywood wilderness.

Rating 5/5 – outstanding, emotional and great work from Gibson and Garfield

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I’ve always enjoyed the Spider-Man character, and despite my initial reservations I liked the 2012 reboot The Amazing Spider-Man.

Having graduated from high school Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and on/off girlfriend Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) are trying to work out their complicated love life. Meanwhile Harry Osborn, an old friend of Peter’s, is in New York with a secret of his own, and a new villain Electro (Jamie Fox) is causing problems for Spidey.

First of all this film does not fall into the trap of Spider-Man 3 and become overwhelmed by the amount of villains onscreen. Out of the film’s baddies only Rhino (Paul Giamatti) feels like he was tacked on to give the film more villains. Fox is great as Electro, a guy desperate to be seen even before his unfortunate accident. Even better is DeHaan as Harry. Given a powerful motivation for his actions its easy to get swept along in his descent into villainy. He almost steals the show away from Garfield and Stone. But not quite. This is their movie.

The strength of the Spider-Man stories has always been the relationships, whether his romantic one with Gwen Stacey, his family bond with his aunt May or even his turbulent friendship with Harry Osborne. All the relationships here are handled beautifully. Of course at the centre of all this is Peter and Gwen’s relationship. Some of the best moments of the film is them discussing their relationship and their plans for the future, whether it should be together or apart. Garfield and Stone are key to making this work on-screen. Both handling their scenes with intensity and emotion that draws the audience in and gets you rooting for them. They are both also great with comedy and dramatic scenes.

There are some aspects which are lacking in this film. The action scenes are functional but not jaw-dropping and I’m still not completely convinced the mystery about his parents is that interesting. However when a film packs an emotioanl puch as much as this one does then it barely matters.

Rating 4/5-Funny, sweet and heartbreaking good with Garfield and Stone on top form

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Spiderman-To Reboot Or Not To Reboot

As I’ll be watching The Amazing Spiderman film this week it’s got me thinking about whether Spiderman really needs a reboot?  Is it necessary to keep the franchise fresh or just an excuse to make more money for studio bosses?

Personally I love the first two Spiderman films. I thought Toby Maguire was fantastic in the role of Peter Parker and had great chemistry with Kristen Dunst as Mary-Jane. Overall the films were filled with great action sequences (especially the train scene in the second movie) as well as a satisfying emotional journey for the characters.

Not that Sam Rami’s Spiderman films were flawless. Mary-Jane got more annoying with each film and the third film suffered from too many villains and wasting the potentially great character of Venom. Despite this I was sad when I heard Sam Rami and co would not be returning for another spin of the web (sorry I had to have one rubbish pun). Then hearing that another Spiderman film was due to be released rebooting the franchise to have Peter Parker back at school had me worried.

I have nothing against remakes/reboots in general. As long as they have something new to say about the concept they’re remaking. After the cheesy Batman and Robin the Batman franchise was in need of a facelift (although I have to say the film is a guilty pleasure of mine). Christopher Nolan put his own stamp on the franchise drawing inspiration from the classic comic books such as Batman: Year One to give us a darker Gotham, grounded in realism for the new Batman to inhabit.

For a remake or reboot to work I think a director has to carefully put his own style and creativity into the film, adding something fresh to the mix, a new perspective on the characters or making it relevant for a new generation of filmgoers, without forgetting what makes people love the original in the first place. This is not an easy task especially with audience expectations so high and studio meddling often involved.

Sometimes a film doesn’t need remaking. Case in point John Carpenter’s The Thing. Itself already a brilliant remake of The Thing From Out of Space. Last year’s remake/prequel of The Thing was just a waste of time (note to movie studios-if you’re lucky to get one excellent remake of a film what are the chances of it happening with a remake of a remake? Sorry remake/‘prequel’.)

Now Spiderman 3 wasn’t great but it was no Batman and Robin. I’m not against another Spiderman sequel but does it really need another origin story so soon? Couldn’t it have just been Spiderman 4 with a new director and actor? Or is the only option for a fresh take is to go the Nolan way and to start at the beginning?

There are good signs with this film. The leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are two of my favourite rising stars. Check out Garfield in brooding form in the first episode of tv series Red Riding or Stone’s hilarious turn in Easy A for evidence they deserve the success Spiderman could give them. I think Garfield could make a wonderfully geeky Peter Parker and Stone has enough presence to be more than just the ‘love interest’. It also bodes well that the director Marc Webb made 500 Days of Summer (go see it-Joseph Gordon Levitt is brilliant).

Still I can’t help but not feel overly excited by the prospect of seeing The Amazing Spiderman. With this film coming after the funny and exciting Avengers Assembled and with the hotly anticipated The Dark Knight Rise still to come, is there enough room for a third superhero film to share the spotlight this year?

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