Film Review: ALADDIN (USA 2019)

Aladdin Poster
A kind-hearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

John August (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (screenplay by)

Disney takes a risk at hiring British writer/director Guy Ritchie for their live action remake of their classic animated ALADDIN with Robin Williams as the genie.   

ALADDIN is a Persian tale from the 1001 Arabian Nights stories, but the film somehow comes across as mixed Bollywood (Indian) , which is really strange considering that most of the actors are from Iran or Egypt.  It does to help that the dance sequences where the actors ham it up during the closing credits looks typical from a Bollywood musical.

What is expected from an Arabian Nights film is provided with no surprises.  There is a chase through a busy bazaar, a villain who wishes to usurp the throne, a King who wants to marry his daughter to a prince, unsuitable suitors, a poor beggar who turns up to be the handsome prince and so on.

Aladdin is a street thief in the city of Agrabah who falls for the princess who is never allowed out of the palace grounds.  The King fears for her safety.  The villain of the piece wants the throne and knows of the existence of the lamp and the genie.  Aladdin finds the lamp and the genie grants him three wishes.  The genie wants to be free and this would be Aladdin’s last wish: to free the genie.  In the meantime, there is the boring romantic affair between Aladdin and the princess amidst some dancing and silly songs, with some fight scenes included.  It also feels that director Ritchie is looking for any excuse to insert his special effects action sequences.

The two young leads Mean Massoud (a Canadian with Egyptian background) and Naomi Scott (British) as Princess Jasmine are quite the perfectly looking couple.  Marwan Kenzari Marwan Kenzari fares better as the conniving villain Jafar, the nefarious and deceptive sorcerer, and Grand Vizier Agrabah and the Sultan’s chief advisor whose name precedes him.

ALADDIN is here a musical, with songs that are indistinguishable from one another.  The film has nothing new up in terms of tricks or story.  The supposedly plot twist in tricking the villain with his last genie wish does not make any sense if one considers the logic behind the reasoning.  The addition of the new character, Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen) – the foreign suitor from Skanland is as ridiculous as his character.  ALADDIN comes more than a predictable romantic comedy which lasts two hours – too long for a typical rom com.  The part with the Will Smith telling a fable on a ship to his two children is also totally predictable from the start where the story was leading to.  The magic of ALADDIN is truly gone.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foyufD52aog

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1997 Movie Review: MEN IN BLACK, 1997 (Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones)

 

MEN IN BLACK
MEN IN BLACK, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Barry Sonnefeld
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Laura Flynn Boyle, Rip Torn, Vincent D’Onfrio
Review by Andrew Kosarko

SYNOPSIS:

In the 1950s a super-secret government agency was formed to monitor and police the activities of extraterrestrial aliens on the planet Earth. Some 40 years later a founding father of the agency, Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones), finds himself with a new smart-mouthed partner fresh from the NYPD who is soon dubbed Agent Jay (Will Smith). Their first mission is to save the Earth from destruction by a giant insectlike alien (Vincent D’Onfrio) that, incidentally, drives an exterminator’s truck. Armed with their matching Ray-Bans, skinny ties, and space-age weapons that Jay barely understands–he calls the Neuralyzer the “flashy thing”–the new duo begin another average day of fighting intergalactic terrorists.

OSCAR Winner for Best Makeup

OSCAR Nominee for Best Art Direction and Best Music

REVIEW:

It’s funny. It’s fun. It’s entertaining. It’s engrossing. What else can you ask for? Oh, Will Smith? Yup, this movie hits the mark across the board.

The Story: The story follows the induction of Agent Jay into the MIB agency. Not only does this give us a background of the agency, but it also gives us an “everyman voice” throughout the film that makes for some great comedy. Will Smith is the guy that says what everyone is thinking, and is still able to twist it to make it funny. He’s teamed with the rough seasoned veteran Agent Kay, who’s on his way out. This perspective really opens up the world and gives us two very contrasting takes on this journey while one character struggles to understand it all, the other is trying to forget it. The story is perfectly structured to involve some minor characters but never getting off base of training Jay and uncovering the mystery of an intergalactic terrorist bug who plans on stealing a precious galaxy from earth (condensed into the size of a marble) which, in turn, puts the aliens trying to keep their enemies from controlling that galaxy, in the position to destroy earth to save themselves. Say what you will, it is an original take on the “destroy the world” problem.

Acting: Not a bad hat in the bunch. There’s things in Hollywood called bank-able elements. AKA, something that is guaranteed to make money for the studio. The actor that will define my generation is Will Smith. You put him in a movie, and you have a hit. Smith really doesn’t get the acclaim he deserves. Sure, he’s no Gary Oldman or Johnny Depp where as he doesn’t dissapear into his roles, but Smith can carry a scene like no other. No other actor in recent memory has been as consistently funny as Smith has. He brings his A-game to everything he does and I have never seen a film where he disappointed me. Tommy Lee Jones, while I have a personal disdain for the man, does a solid job as well. The real “chameleon” of the movie is Vincent D’Onfrio. He is almost unrecognizable once he becomes “the bug.” Granted, there’s a heavy makeup job involved, but the walk of an alien uncomfortable in human skim, persona and voice changes, he really does an incredible job.

Directing: Sonnenfeld is known for more kooky, campy humor, and while that is an element in this film, it never overshadows the narrative. Which is important. Substance over style has always been my favorite approach. There are really no “flat” scenes in the film, and everyone of them keeps you hooked and intrigued.

Cinematography: It works just fine, don’t get me wrong, but there’s really nothing amazing to say about it. It’s just….shot like a movie. Can’t really compliment or condemn it.Production Design: Somehow, there’s this weird off-beat characteristic to the production design, and yet you can’t put your finger on it. I mean, it’s realistic, and yet otherworldly. At times it’s a bit too colorful and leans toward this teal blue color, but overall what matters is that it’s effective. Editing: From what I can gather, it’s effective. It’s not special by any means, but the pacing is there and the emotional resonance is intact in every scene, which is an editor’s two main concerns.

Score: Danny Elfman’s last hurrah if you ask me. His scores following this were on a continual down slide and got worse and worse following this. But this score is solid. It captures the tone of the film, gives it some identity and intensifies the emotional underscores.

Special Effects: This is one of those films that really hits that middle mark in terms of it’s visual effects. Which, in my humble opinion, is right where it needs to be. It’s not overly obvious that it’s CGI, and at the same time it’s not so realistic that it’s not realistic (fif that makes any sense?). It just works. Much like Jurassic park, there’s a blend of the digital composition and live action animatronics which really helps make this world believable.

In closing: I suggest this movie for anyone. It walks the line of being a family movie with some choice language and occasional violence, but is still fun none the less. Guaranteed entertainment.This film won Best Director and Best Cinematography, and was nominated for five other categories. The screenwriter was nominated, and rightly so. Taken from a short story that first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933 by Maurice Walsh, Green Rushes, Frank Nugent was able to weave a story rich in subtext and conflict.

The collector’s edition of the DVD includes an interview with Maureen O’Hara where she reminisces about filming The Quiet Man, and is well worth watching.

 

MEN IN BLACK, 1997

Film Review: COLLATERAL BEAUTY (USA 2016)

collateralbeauty_movie_poster.jpgCOLLATERAL BEAUTY (USA 2016) **
Directed by David Frankel

Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, Keira Knightley

Review by Gilbert Seah

The subject of coping with death has been dealt in dozens of ways in films. In the recent ARRIVAL, the death of Amy Adam’s daughter is tied into the main plot of alien arrival. This worked. In another space film GRAVITY, the Sandra Bullock character is given the grief of a dead child to humanize her character. The ploy did not work and the story looked totally fake. In the recent praised MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Casey Affleck’s character comes to terns with death in a gut-wrenching emotional tale of redemption. In David Frankel’s COLLATERAL BEAUTY based on a script by Allan Roeb, Will Smith’s character finally accepts his daughter’s death with all the sugar coating of all the Christmas cakes in a pastry shop. Despite attempts to make the story believable, COLLATERAL BEAUTY is plain horrid!

When the trailer for COLLATERAL BEAUTY first appeared on the internet, Guardian Magazine came out with an article heralding the arrival of the worst movie of 2016. And understandably so! The trailer showed Will Smith as a man grieving the death of his daughter by writing letters to Death, Time and Love. Scenes that follow show the personifications of these abstractions with Smith speaking to each of them, played by Helen Mirren, Jacob Latimore and Keira Knightley respectively. The music and mood are sloppy sweet sugary, especially catered for Christmas. Who would want to watch such Hollywood bulls***? There is one word for all this, in the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge – HUMBUG!

But the film is not all that bad. The reason that Death, Time and Love are in the story, actors playing the parts, is to fool Howard Inlet (Smith) so that he can be deemed mentally unfit to hold on to his shares and thus prevent his firm from being sold. So three employees, who have worked with Howard since the incident of his daughter’s death, Whit (Edward Norton), Simon (Michael Pena) and Claire (Kate Winslet) plot the scheme. But this not not mean that the film is all that good either.

Director Frankel who directed THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA knows how to set up scenes. The first 10 minutes of PRADA when Meryl Streep, the no-nonsense head of the Prada office strides in – to the total disarray of all the other scattering employees is one unforgettable, beautifully executed scene. There are a few of these in COLLATERAL BEAUTY, like the confrontation scene between Howard and Time on the subway train, but the individual set-ups do not work on the whole. The metaphor of the falling dominoes is used to the maximum of a ridiculous three times. The film eventually settles to boredom as it is hard to care for characters made so unbelievable.

It is a complete waste to see Oscar Winners Winslet and Mirren in this silly story. Mirren does bring a bit of dignity into this nonsense but she must be laughing her head off, off screen.

The film partly works when it pokes fun at the credibly of the story. When Howard looks shocked at the sudden appearance of Death, Time and Love, the shock looks genuine – probably because of genuine disbelief. The film is the worst when Howard pines over his dead daughter – the worst of the worst has him watching a video of him playing with her, when she was still alive in a park, and shouting… “Daddy, daddy!” If this scene was not so obviously manipulative, it might have jerked a tear or two from a few of an innocent audience.

There is a twist in the plot at the end which makes no sense to the whole story of what Howard is going through.

Christmas brings along good films – Oscar contenders. But it also brings the worst of Hollywood films – COLLATERAL BEAUTY being one of them.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isQ5Ycie73U

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Happy Birthday: Will Smith

willsmith.jpgWill Smith

Born: September 25, 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Married to: Jada Pinkett Smith (31 December 1997 – present) (2 children)
Sheree Fletcher (9 May 1992 – 10 December 1995) (divorced) (1 child)

[on refusing to kiss Anthony Michael Hall in Six Degrees of Separation (1993)] It was very immature on my part. I was thinking, ‘How are my friends in Philly going to think about this?’ I wasn’t emotionally stable enough to artistically commit to that aspect of the film. In a movie with actors and a director and writer of this caliber, for me to be the one bringing something cheesy to it… This was a valuable lesson for me. Either you do it or you don’t.

MEN IN BLACKMen in Black
1997
dir. Barry Sonnefeld
also starring
Tommy Lee Jones
Laura Flynn Boyle
ALIAli
2001
dir. Michael Mann
Starring
Smith
Jamie Foxx
Jon Voight
BAD BOYS 2Bad Boys 2
2003
dir. Michael Bay
starring
Smith
Martin Lawrence
I ROBOTI Robot
2004
dir. Alex Proyas
Starring
Smith
Bridget Moynahan
HITCHHitch
2005
dir. Andy Tennant
also starring
Kevin James
Eva Mendes
The Legend of Bagger VanceThe Legend of Bagger Vance
dir. Robert Redford
Stars:
Smith
Matt Damon
HANCOCKHancock
2008
dir. Peter Berg
also starring
Jason Bateman
Charlize Theron
SEVEN POUNDSSeven Pound
2008
dir. Gabriele Muccino
also starring
Woody Harrelson
Rosario Dawson
I am LegendI am Legend
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring
Will Smith
MOVIE POSTERMEN IN BLACK 2
2002
dir. Barry Sonnenfeld
Cast:
Will Smith
Tommy Lee Jones
MOVIE POSTERAFTER EARTH
2013
dir. M. Night Shyamalan
Stars:
Will Smith
Jaden Smith
MOVIE POSTERMEN IN BLACK III
dir. Barry Sonnenfeld
Stars:
Will Smith
Tommy Lee Jones
MOVIE POSTERWINTER’S TALE
2014
dir. Akiva Goldsman
Stars:
Colin Farrell
Jessica Brown Findlay

WATCH TOP WILL SMITH MOVIE SCENES

SEX SCENE – Watch SEVEN POUNDS. Will Smith and Rosario Dawson make hot passionate love in the climax of the film

FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR OPENING THEME – Smith performs opener from his hit 1990s TV show

I AM LEGEND FINAL SCENE – Watch I AM LEGEND. Will Smith sacrifices himself for the sake of mankind. Something all movie stars need to perform!

ALI FINAL SCENE – Watch ALI. Muhammad Ali (Will Smith) defeats George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle.

ALI BOMA YE – Watch ALI. Muhammad Ali(Will Smith) runs through Zaire Africa(1974) before his big showdown with George Foreman, with the African people shouting “Ali Boma ye, Ali Boma ye” “kill him Ali

SPOONER – Watch I ROBOT. SPOONER SAVES SUSAN. As robots take control of the city, Spooner (Will Smith) rescues Susan (Bridget Moynahan) from her apartment.

DRAGGING THE ALIEN – Watch INDEPENDENCE DAY. Captain Hiller (Will Smith) complains to the dead alien as he drags it across the desert.

KISSING SCENE – From HITCH. Watch scene with Will Smith and Kevin James. Teaching the art of the first kiss. The 80/20 method. In teaching session, the two guys kiss!

CHARLIZE THERON VS WILL SMITH – Watch HANCOCK. The battle for the superhero ages fight through the city streets of Los Angeles

DANCE SCENE – Watch Mendes and Will Smith dance in HITCH wedding scene.

SEEING THE FIELD – Watch THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE. Will Smith the caddy teaches Matt Damon how to really see things in perspective.

WATCH TOP WILL SMITH MUSIC VIDEOS

MEN IN BLACK

JUST CRUISIN

GETTIN JIGGY WIT IT

MIAMI

WILL 2K

JUST CRUISIN

SO FRESH

FREAKIN IT

BLACK SUITS COMING

JUST THE TWO OF US

1000 KISSES

SWITCH

PARTY STARTER

TAKE A LOOK AT 100 PHOTOS OF WILL SMITH

SEE – 2010 PHOTO

SEE – 2011 PHOTO

SEE – ABS PHOTO

SEE – ABS PHOTO

SEE – AND ANNE HATHAWAY PHOTO

SEE – AND BRANDY PHOTO

SEE – AND BRUCE WILLIS PHOTO

SEE – AND CHARLIZE THERON PHOTO

SEE – AND ELISE NEAL PHOTO

SEE – AND FAMILY PHOTO

SEE – AND GEORGE CLOONEY PHOTO

SEE – AND JADA PINKETT PHOTO

SEE – AND JADEN SMITH PHOTO

SEE – AND JAMIE FOXX PHOTO

SEE – AND KIDS PHOTO

SEE – AND TERRENCE HOWARD PHOTO

SEE – AND TOM CRUISE PHOTO

SEE – AND TYRA BANKS PHOTO

SEE – AND WILL FERRELL PHOTO

SEE – ANGRY PHOTO

SEE – ARMS PHOTO

SEE – AWARD PHOTO

SEE – BALD PHOTO

SEE – BASKETBALL GAME PHOTO

SEE – BEACH PHOTO

SEE – BEARD PHOTO

SEE – BLACK SUIT PHOTO

SEE – BLAZAR PHOTO

SEE – BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO

SEE – BODY PHOTO

SEE – BROTHER PHOTO

SEE – BUFF PHOTO

SEE – CALENDAR PHOTO

SEE – CARICATURE PHOTO

SEE – CARTOON PHOTO

SEE – CASUAL PHOTO

SEE – CLOSE UP PHOTO

SEE – COOL PHOTO

SEE – CURLY HAIR PHOTO

SEE – DAPPER PHOTO

SEE – DOG PHOTO

SEE – DRAWING PHOTO

SEE – EARRINGS PHOTO

SEE – EARS PHOTO

SEE – EVA MENDES PHOTO

SEE – EW PHOTO

SEE – EX WIFE PHOTO

SEE – EYES PHOTO

SEE – FACE PHOTO

SEE – FASHION PHOTO

SEE – FRESH PRINCE PHOTO

SEE – GLASSES PHOTO

SEE – GOATEE PHOTO

SEE – GOLFING PHOTO

SEE – GQ PHOTO

SEE – HAIRSTYLE PHOTO

SEE – HANDSOME PHOTO

SEE – HAT PHOTO

SEE – HEADSHOT PHOTO

SEE – HIP HOP PHOTO

SEE – HOT PHOTO

SEE – JEANS PHOTO

SEE – LIPS PHOTO

SEE – MARVIN GAYE PHOTO

SEE – MODEL PHOTO

SEE – MOM PHOTO

SEE – MOVIE PREMIERE PHOTO

SEE – MTV PHOTO

SEE – MUSIC AWARDS PHOTO

SEE – MUSTACHE PHOTO

SEE – NOSE PHOTO

SEE – OBAMA PHOTO

SEE – OSCARS PHOTO

SEE – PEACE PHOTO

SEE – POSE PHOTO

SEE – POSTURE PHOTO

SEE – PROFILE PHOTO

SEE – RED CARPET PHOTO

SEE – ROBOT PHOTO

SEE – SHAVED HEAD PHOTO

SEE – SHIRT PHOTO

SEE – SHIRT OFF PHOTO

SEE – SHOES PHOTO

SEE – SIX PACK PHOTO

SEE – SMILE PHOTO

SEE – SON PHOTO

SEE – SPOONER PHOTO

SEE – STYLE PHOTO

SEE – SUIT PHOTO

SEE – SUNGLASSES PHOTO

SEE – TATTOO PHOTO

SEE – TEETH PHOTO

SEE – TUXEDO PHOTO

SEE – VOGUE PHOTO

SEE – WALK OF FAME PHOTO

SEE – WALLPAPER PHOTO

SEE – WEDDING PHOTO

SEE – WIFE ART PHOTO

SEE – YEARBOOK PHOTO

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Movie Review: Concussion (2015)

concussion_poster
CONCUSSION (USA 2015) **
Directed by Peter Landesman
Starring: Will Smith, Luke Wilson, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks

Slated for a Christmas release opening on Christmas Day, CONCUSSION has been picked probably because the studios thought it would be a film that would make a difference. Concussion is thought do to professional football what cancer did to the tobacco companies. Michael Mann’s THE INSIDER was a superb film about whistleblower Wigand played by Russell Crowe.

Unfortunately, Peter Landesman film about Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) is a sad disappointment.

It all starts in the film with huge praise for Dr. Omalu. He is cited as as an expert giving testimony in a murder case in court. He is questioned on his credentials, which he rattles on and on and on and on. For he is a very smart man. But the film is not.

The film for one is too formulaic. No surprises are in store – in any shape or form. Dr. Omalu is introduced in the film as the protagonist hero. As a forensic pathologist, he finds medical evidence of a common thread of suicides among former NHL football players. He discovers or rather names the disorder, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Before long, he comes head to head with the high rollers of the NHL who want him silenced. Dr. Omalu is offered a Washington job that he declines. And the script calls for him to romantically fall in love with his tenant, a nurse also from Nigeria and have a daughter. That is too much niceness for a Christmas movie.

The character of Dr. Omalu can do no wrong. He is already, deemed the most intelligent person in America, by the list of degrees the audience is informed at the start of the film. He is shown angry for all the right reasons. He is shy, kind, handsome and hardworking. He will go against the bad people. He talks to the bodies he performs autopsies on. He given choice dialogue like: “If you don’t speak for the dead, who will?” One would like to see a more believable human being – one who has faults and who makes mistakes in real life. The only scene he is shown with a slight fault is when he is accused of being a self-righteous bastard, but even then, he has a reason for being one. As Dr. Omalu comes from Nigeria, Smith plays him with an African accent, which many will assume is the accurate Nigerian accent.

The film is dotted at regular intervals of the deaths of various NFL players beginning with the longtime, Super Bowl-winning center for the Steelers, Mike Webster (David Morse). Dr. Omalu did his first autopsy on Webster. There are several other heroes in the film like Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin) and Omalu’s boss (Albert Brooks).

But despite the film being formulaic in dishing out a romance, confrontation scenes, feel good and feel bad segments, the film is a narrative mess. An example is the segment in which his girl Prema (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) speeds way in a car believing she is followed only to result in a miscarriage, one that serves no real purpose in the story.
The best thing about the film is the appearance of British actor Eddie Marsan as expert Dr. Steven Dekosky.

Unfortunately, the film does not have more of him. Marsan shows how acting can be done with the minimum of dialogue.
CONCUSSION’s potential as a film could be better tapped with a script doctor doing an autopsy on the original screenplay.