Tag Archives: Russell Crowe

Man of Steel

So here is the latest Superman film since 2006’s Superman Returns. I found the  last film was disappointing. Although I liked Brandon Routh in the title role the story felt flat to me, Kate Bosworth was miscast as Lois Lane and the less said about her son the better. Now Zack Synder is taking the reigns-can he do better?

This time we get a reboot of the Superman Origins. Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is trying to figure out what to do with his life. Should he continue to keep his powers a secret or announce himself to the world? It might be taken out of his hands if journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) tracks him down. Then  an old enemy from Krypton General Zod (Michael Shannon) appears and Clark has some tough choices to make.

I’ve always found films by Zack Synder to be more visually impacting than the story or characters, but at last he seems to have got all the elements right.  The film has a fine balance keeping us mostly in the present but with a good amount of flashbacks, meaning we’re not too bogged down by Superman-the early years. We get a sense of why Superman has been hiding for so long and  explores his reasons for deciding to stand up and fight now despite the risks.

As Superman Henry Cavill looks and acts the part well. He has a strong screen presence and treats the material seriously. Amy Adams is great as Lois Lane and has great chemistry with Cavill which makes you believe in their willingness to protect each other despite not knowing each other for very long. Although she could have done with some more character development, as most of the time she’s either vulnerable girl in peril or feisty reporter, would be good to know more about her. Luckily Adams is a great actress so she makes Lois a more 3d character. The rest of the supporting case is great, especially Russell Crowe who does a lot with what he’s given as Superman’s dad Jor-el.

There are also some fantastic fight scenes in this film, with Superman’s fight against two of General Zod’s soldiers being the best fight scene I’ve seen so far this year.

However the film is not without its flaws-mostly being that it’s too long. This isn’t always a problems with blockbusters but if a film is going to be 143 minutes long you don’t want the audience to feel it. I thought it could have ended half an hour earlier.

Rating 4/5

Unlike Bryan Singer’s effort, this Man of Steel looks set to soar

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Les Miserables

I came out of seeing Les Miserables an emotional wreck. I wasn’t expecting the film to hit me this hard. After all everyone’s singing –it can’t be sad right?

Very wrong.

The basic plot of Les Miserable starts in 1815 when prisoner Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is set free after nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread. When he breaks his parole to start a new better life for himself under a new identity he is followed by Russell Crowe’s Javert who is determined to bring him to justice. Years later Valjean’s life crosses that of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen and later Amanda Seyfried) changing his life forever.

It’s astonishing that Tom Hooper is not nominated for Best Director at this year’s Oscars. The scale of this film is immense and he handles an all-star cast and the extravagantly detailed sets with aplomb. Anyone else might have let the grandness of this film overwhelmed the film itself, Hooper manages to keep everything in order and produce a fantastic film at the same time.

As the film is set in three time periods it appropriate that there’s three actors who stand out in each time period.

In the film’s first section set in 1815, Hugh Jackman is amazing as Jean Valjean. When we first see him he is thin, haggard, a prisoner whose been barely treated like a human for nineteen years. His desperation shows throughout his face and his transformation from petty criminal without hope to a well-respected man with a new sense of dignity and responsibility is convincingly portrayed. He thoroughly deserved his win at the golden globes.

Speaking of golden globe winners-best supporting actress Anne Hathaway steals the second part of the film based eight years later.  Although she is barely in the film Hathaway makes a huge impact. Her character’s Fantine’s fall from grace is harrowing and Hathaway bares it all in her performance. Fantine is broken and has given up everything for the love of her child. It was a risk for Hooper to make the cast sing live on film, rather than in a recording studio but it pays off when you hear the emotion and despair in her voice during “I dreamed a dream”.

The last part of the film takes place nine years later. It’s here where newcomer Samantha Barks (from tv’s I’d do Anything) stands out against the Hollywood heavies acting beside her. It helps that she played Eponine in the west end. As lonely, hopelessly in love Eponine she conveys much more feeling and emotion than the bland love story between Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) does. Her song of unrequited love for Marius in “On my own” shows her impressive vocal range whilst pulling tightly on your heart strings. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor girl.

It’s fair to say that Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks break my heart in this film.

However the film is not without its flaws. It does feel too long at times, where the story seems to drag. I didn’t feel emotionally connected to the story of Cosette and Marius (mostly because I cared about poor Eponine instead). Also Russell Crowe doesn’t have the strength in his singing voice that the other actors do, although it’s not as bad as others may have you believe, but he does struggle with the singing but then that is the risk in letting all your actors sing live. However he acts the part well and is an intimidating antagonist to Jackman’s Valjean.

These points however don’t get in the way of a heartbreakingly, emotional film full of terrific performances.

Rating 4/5

Tears, young love, unrequited love, death, a man on the run and a student uprising-the film packs a lot in its 158 running time, but it wasn’t a disappointment.

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