FILM REVIEW: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (US 2017) ****

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All the Money in the World Poster
Trailer

The story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.

Director:

Ridley Scott

Writers:

David ScarpaJohn Pearson (based on the book by)

 

The big question everyone will be asking about ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is how effective the replacement of Christopher Plummer in the titular role of Paul Getty.  After the sexual harassment allegations surfaced on Kevin Spacey, director Ridley Scott (BLADE RUNNER) quickly replaced him with Plummer, doing the required re-shoots.  After viewing ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, all traces of Spacey have been removed and it is nothing short of remarkable that Ridley has done such a great job.  And Oscar Winner Plummer is great.  Spacey would ave added a sly, comedic sarcastic element to his portrayal – his trait, but Plummer plays him straight, funny or serious depending on the situation.  The world needs not need to see a more sarcastic Getty.

The film is narrated from the grandson, Paulo (Charlie Plummer, no relation to Christopher Plummer), giving the film his perspective on his grandfather.  “He is not only the richest man in the world, but the richest man who ever lived!”  Plummer as Getty shows the stingy side of a millionaire, how he trusts artifacts and objects instead of people, as these show themselves as they are, with nothing hidden. But just as his colleagues and friend betray him, he does the same with his grandson’s artifact.

The film contains a few ineffective segments.  One odd one that stands out is a short segment set in 1838 in Saudi Arabia where Getty (in younger mode and Plummer decked in make up and dyed black hair to look younger) discusses oil.  That scene is total unnecessary and could have been done away with to save money and Plummer looking a bit ridiculous.  One cliched segment has the grandson walking the streets of Rome in the middle of the night accosting the prostitutes.  When he remarks to one of them: “I can take care of myself,” one can guess that he is just about to be kidnapped.  The next scene has him pushed into a car by the kidnappers.

But there are a few impressive scenes like the beginning black and white shot of a city with vintage cars.  The scene evolves into colour and the famous Trini fountain is revealed while Italian dialogue heard in the background.  It could be a scene right out of Fellini’s LA DOLCE VITA.

All the performances are outstanding from Michelle Williams as the angry mother slowly developing more tolerance towards the hired Chase to Plummer to Wahlberg.  The best  performance, however belongs to French actor Roman Duris (THE BEAT MY HEART SKIPPED, THE NEW GIRLDFRIEND) as the Getty’s grandson’s kidnapper.

Scott’s film is strong on emotions.    Getty’s daughter-in-law played by Williams undergoes the entire spectrum of emotions and character including, anger, strength, vulnerability, love, sensitivity, tolerance and annoyance.  All kidnapping films have the element of the Stockholm Syndrome.  As the kidnapper and kidnapped are both male, the bonding is one of trust and respect, which makes for the film greatest surprises.

The film plays more of a suspense thriller than a biopic on the millionaire Getty.  Still, there are enough screen time given to Getty to  show him the man he could be.  The words on the screen at the closing credits makes it clear that though the film is based on true events, dialogue and some events have been fictionalized.  It would be interesting to know which parts of the film are fictionalized.  The whole story, at the very end, seems like the perfect kidnapping caper, perfect for a good suspense film.

The film also contains a message. Watching Christopher Plummer as Getty teaches me,  wealthy Scrooge, a few things while opening my eyes.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXHrCBkIxQQ

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Film Review: ALIEN: COVENANT (USA 2017) ***1/2

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alien_coventent.jpgThe crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Director: Ridley Scott

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
ALIEN helmer Ridley Scott (he directed two of the series) proves that at the age of 80, he still has it. The latest ALIEN called ALIEN: COVENANT the second of the prequel before the first ALIEN movie and the sequel to the last PROMETHEUS shows Scott in top form. ALIEN COVENANT is far superior to copycat space horror films like the recent LIFE and PASSENGER. ALIEN: COVENANT is the real thing – with real horrors in the abyss of space that will keep one at the edge of the seat watching face clingers and torso busters (called more mildly face huggers and chest bursters in the film).

The film begins with a short flashback showing Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) while he is still alive; he addresses a synthetic android (Michael Fassbender) who would become part of the Prometheus expedition. Weyland asks the android to select a name for himself and the android selects ‘David’ as his preferred name.

The film moves to the present which is 2104. The crew of the colony ship Covenant is bound for a remote planet with two thousand colonists and a thousand embryos aboard. While en route to their destination, an energy surge damages the ship, killing its captain and waking the crew. As they repair the ship, the crew intercept a radio transmission from a nearby planet and decide to investigate as the transmission is human in origin but the planet is supposedly lifeless. This is when the horror begins.

The first ALIEN film was panned by the critics with the critic at Time Magazine calling it a bastard movie, a cross between STAR WARS and JAWS. One can see why. Like JAWS, the first sight of the alien occurs almost a third into the movie just as the first sight of the shark was never seen till half of the film elapsed – a Hitchcock trait (best example: THE BIRDS). But once the monsters starts bursting out of the victim’s bodies – watch out ! Sound effects, special effects and all the horror instruments filmmakers use are perfectly combined to scare the hell out of audiences and for a fairly lengthy interval of time at that. PASSENGER never achieved that level of effect while LIFE imitated a few of the scares. The alien clinging on the outside of the spaceship as it strives to enter the ship, is seen in both LIFE and COVENANT. There are more characters in COVENANT than in any of the past ALIEN Films or in LIFE and PASSENGER resulting in more grisly deaths as well.

COVENANT is neatly tied in to PROMETHEUS though the audience need not know much about the original film. The film also contains an intricate enough plot, with a sufficient twist at the end, brilliant for the fact that the audience is supposed to guess it.

The only complaint is of the film being a bit confusing, though the confusion can be sorted out with a bit of reflection. One is the use of actor Fassbender to play the two androids David and Walter. The other is the flashback at the start of the film, which is not clearly conveyed to the audience as a flashback. When Fassbender appears on the ship, one assumes he is David, but he is actually Walter. Another disarray arises with the large number of crew suddenly descending on the planet as the film only showed a handful of humans awakened from their slumber.

Scott still uses the gimmicks of the past ALIEN films to ensure the film’s success. Katherine Waterston as Daniels, a terraforming expert looks like a younger Sigourney Weaver, especially in her sweat-soaked undergarments. The sight of the alien eggs before hatching still looks as eerie as before. A few new additions are added like the bath scene (looking almost pornographic) which is comical in a way as the alien strikes like a snake-like creature.

ALIEN: COVENANT returns the franchise to its roots and to what works. Fans and audiences would shriek in delight!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0VW6sg50Pk
 

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