Colonel, for what it means,
I think my father is dead.
I can fully understand that when you haven’t heard from a friend who lives a few blocks away for a long time, you get prepped and plan a visit to the person in question. Just like that. Just to find out why he or she hasn’t been in touch all this time. And to check whether everything is still alright. In most cases, you’re actually not going to experience anything exciting or breathtaking along the way. Now, extrapolate this situation to a much greater distance. From Earth to Neptune, for example. That’s an enormously long time that you are on the road. And if you’re lucky, you won’t come across any life-threatening or perilous situations either. In short, you are on a spaceship, feeling at ease and try to kill some time. Maintaining your ecosystem daily. Going through your huge pile of magazines full of crosswords that need to be solved. Or you give your spaceship a decent scrubbing every week. All sorts of things so as not to get mad out of boredom. I’m afraid that many home viewers will do the same things while watching “Ad Astra“.
Navel-gazing in space.
Claiming that there’s really nothing happening in “Ad Astra” is, of course, a bit exaggerated. For example, there are space pirates on the moon targeting the convoy, with Brad Pitt among the travelers. Apparently, building a high-tech space station on the moon is a piece of cake. But a solid defense system to throw naughty space pirates back into the infinite galaxy (far, far away) was apparently too much to ask. Next, there’s also a run-in with a crazy primate on a space ship in distress. And the end of the film is also provided with some fragments that are more action-rich. But most of this two-hour-long SF is nevertheless filled with a lot of complaining, staring at an undefined point and moments of self-reflection. To be honest, I’d call it a demonstration of navel-gazing among the stars.
I confess. I expected something completely different. Let me put it this way. I would have preferred “Ad Astra” to be more in the corner of films such as “Interstellar” or “Gravity” (although I wasn’t a big fan of the latter). The first is a more scientifically oriented SF about black holes and dimensions and whatnot. While “Gravity” wanted to be the most populistic one. And this by having George Clooney and Sandra Bullock make a round dance in space. I link “Ad Astra” to a movie like “High Life“. This was also such a film where the aspect of human psychology and conflict situations between individuals took center stage. And just like the other listed movies, there are some amazing visual highlights in this movie. Those images of space looked impressive on the large silver screen despite their minimalistic character at certain moments. But then again, I wasn’t waiting for a story about an intergalactic father-son relationship with all its ups and downs.
A stunning acting performance by Brad Pitt.
The most impressive thing about the film? The acting by Brad Pitt. The way he plays the astronaut Roy McBride is simply stunning. An autistic character whose numbness and phlegmatic nature make him a suitable candidate for carrying out such an expedition. The way he performs the psychological evaluation tests bears witness to total body control and lack of emotions. Roy McBride is a person whose heart rate never exceeds 80 beats per minute. Not even in a life-threatening situation when he tumbles out of the atmosphere. And the way he shows how emotions slowly seep into his system is simply admirable. After “Once upon a time … in Hollywood” this is also a rendition with which he could receive a well-known award. They also managed to bait star actors such as Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, and Tommy Lee Jones. The roles of the first two, however, have little to no impact.
I can feel it. A nomination is in the air!.
“Ad Astra” is not an epic space story full of sensational space battles or creatively worked out aliens. Apart from some sporadically added action-rich scenes, this is a film full of philosophical musings and impressions of weighty loneliness. I fear that the opinions about “Ad Astra” will be divided. Some will regard it as the most moving film of the year. In general, the Film Press has words of praise for it. So trust me, it’s a film that will be loved by the connoisseurs of the “better” film. Others are more likely to call it plain boring. The message about the loss of a parent and the search for that parent is kind of obvious. There’s even a theological theme to discern. The result, however, is an end-product that looks long-winded with a denouement which isn’t really satisfying. Well, I’m sure that an Oscar nomination will be in place next year. But for me, it remains an honorable mention.
My rating 5/10
The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power: Review | An Epic, Cinematic Journey Through Middle-Earth
Sleeping evil, long-lost heroes, and a world without wizards? The Rings of Power is middle-Earth like you’ve never seen it before. The highly-anticipated Prime Video series The Lord of The rings: The Rings of Power is an ethereal and irresistible cinematic masterpiece. This season brings to the screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.
The scope and scale of the story are immense as we begin to forge a new path through Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of compelling, familiar and new characters as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the farthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
This fantastical universe created by J.R.R. Tolkien is much bigger and more expansive than just the events featured in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. This second age is defied by many events, victories, and defeats, but perhaps it’s well known to be the time when the Rings of Power were created. Spanning 3500 years, we witness the Harefoots, the Elves, Mankind, and dwarves all occupying a very different Middle-Earth, one where there is love but also darkness as a nameless shadow is waiting. The time period is documented extensively in The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s posthumously published book which was finished, edited and released by the author’s son, Christopher Tolkien in 1977. This is the setting of Prime Video’s The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power, the most ambitious streaming show ever made. Amazon bought the rights to the trilogy, The Appendices, and The Hobbit and with the vast amount of material they’ve created something ambitious and worthy of Tolkien. This onscreen return showcases the mythology as the creative team has envisioned a sprawling bespoke series that’ll eventually be told across multiple seasons. The Second Age of Middle-Earth truly is an amazing untold story with themes focusing on fantasy and heart, dark sorcery and political drama, as one moment you’re exploring the landscape with the Harfoots and the next in the Elven realm discussing the fates of the Kingdom.
ASSEMBLING A FELLOWSHIP
Some of the characters in The Rings of power will be familiar. Thanks to the everlasting nature of elven-kind we see younger versions of Galadriel and Elrond, previously played by Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. Both these characters maintain the whole history of Middle-Earth, having lived through all the Three Ages. Galadriel now played by Morfydd Clark brings such an outstanding performance as The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power gives viewers a younger, grounded take on the character. Clark brings naivete to this immortal being who dons such graceful armour as this warrior has an instinct that evil is not finished. Elrond now played by Robert Aramayo is an architect and politician, he has strong ambitions as the herald to Gil-Galad, the King of Lindon, the elven kingdom where Elron resides.
For each of the worlds in The Rings of Power, the creative team crafted a theme and their own language to show their beginnings, with the Elves being connected to a spiritual realm they have real ethereal quality, everything about them is shiny and lustrous. Contrast that with designing the Harfoots who are the ancestors of the Hobbits. They are much more primitive and live in the land. Harfoot are very endearing people and their styling is very much based on natural elements. They’re also very earthy with large feet and from lying in the undergrowth they have bits of branches and moss tangled in their matted hair.
The Dwarves are thriving in their underground kingdom of Khazad-dum during the Second Age. They’re mystique in their culture but you’ll see an expansive amount of gold down there. They are a strong-knit community with very traditional ways of being, they wear their hearts on their sleeves and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Disa and Durin played by Sophia Nomvete and Owain Arthur are the Princess and Prince of these Misty Mountains.
Headlining this ensemble cast are Cynthia Addai-Robinson (The Accountant), Robert Aramayo (HBO’s Game of Thrones), Owain Arthur (BBC’s Casualty), Maxim Baldry (Mr. Bean’s Holiday), Nazanin Boniadi (Showtime’s Homeland), Morfydd Clark (Saint Maud), Ismael Cruz Córdova (Showtime’s Ray Donovan), Charles Edwards (Netflix’s The Crown), Trystan Gravelle (ITV’s Mr. Selfridge), Sir Lenny Henry (Netflix’s The Witcher: Blood Origin), Ema Horvath (What Lies Below), Markella Kavenagh (True History of the Kelly Gang), Tyroe Muhafidin (Caravan), Sophia Nomvete (Award-winning UK Theatre actor), Lloyd Owen (Apollo 18), Megan Richards (Wanderlust), Dylan Smith (Maze Runner: The Death Cure), Charlie Vickers (Netflix’s Medici), Leon Wadham (Go Girls), Benjamin Walker (The Golden Compass), Daniel Weyman (BBC’s Silent Witness), and Sara Zwangobani (Monarch Cove).
Each actor had a unique challenge. Some had to follow in the footsteps of iconic performances and others got to bring iconic Tolkien characters to the screen for the very first time. The show presents itself as a more diverse version of Middle-Earth, which has always been a theme in Tolkien’s work as he often wrote characters uniting, despite their different backgrounds.
JOURNEY BACK TO MIDDLE-EARTH
I’ve seen the first two episodes, and they are filled with the kind of special effects magic that fans of Peter Jackson’s “Lord Of The Rings” movies and Tolkien’s books will love. It’s such a hugely expansive series as you have this army of fantastic technicians, artists, and craftsmen bringing such detail to the project on an epic scale. There are creatures and monsters such as the terrifying Orcs, the beastly creatures are visually grotesque and horrid which perfectly fit this world that’s full of darkness and shadows. there is also fighting, battles, and armies galore. The series truly hits the ground running with its intense action but also throughout it carries hefty themes of good vs evil, morality, hope among grief and ultimately a fellowship. Through Television we are able to get more time with these characters as they interact with each other. The sheer scale of the project is such a technical achievement for streaming especially, there are over 9,500 VFX shots in the first season alone. Director J.A. Bayona directs the first two episodes with such grandeur, that he beautifully captures the picturesque landscapes of New Zealand as he enhances the story through visual elements which included the overall sense of beauty. The cinematography and the use of light are astonishing thanks to Oscar Faura. Everything I witnessed whilst watching the first two episodes was delicious, especially the score by Bear McCreary. The Soundtrack which is available now honours the legacy as he created 15 new themes and melodies, it features a ninety-piece orchestra, plus a 40-voice choir. The score alone will transport you right back to Middle-Earth.
Have you ever wondered what else is out there beyond our wander? Ultimately The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power an Ethereal & irresistible Cinematic Masterpiece. The scope & scale of the story is immense as we forge a new path through Tolkien’s Middle-Earth! Features stunning visuals, Storytelling, and compelling characters! Writers and showrunner McKay and Payne have written an unexpected journey full of twists, turns, and surprises.
THE RINGS OF POWER, from Amazon Studios and JD Payne & Patrick McKay, will premiere exclusively on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories around the world in 32 languages on Friday, September 2, with new episodes available weekly.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Review | A Meta Lucid-Trip
Nicholas Cage stars as Nick Cage in the action-comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, the fictionalised version of Cage must accept a $1 Million offer to attend the birthday of a dangerous superfan (Pedro Pascal). Things take a wildly unexpected turn when Cage is recruited by a CIA operative (Tiffany Haddish) and forced to live up to his own legend, channelling his most iconic and beloved on-screen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones. With a career built for this very moment, the seminal award-winning actor must take on the role of a lifetime: Nick Cage.
From filmmakers, Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a sincere, authentic, and hilarious love letter to Nicholas Cage. It’s also an absolute hoot and delightfully bonkers as we take a rollercoaster ride through his iconic filmography. Full of quirky and heartfelt moments, the film showcases the most uncaged performance from the man himself as, after all, it’s the role he was born to play.
Nicholas Cage is nothing less than a screen legend whose iconic pictures include The Rock, Face/Off, Con Air, Moonstruck, Honeymoon in Vegas, and Academy Awarding winning turn in Leaving Las Vegas. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent builds upon that renowned work and twists and turns it with an imagined “Nick Cage”. He’s able to do any genre from romantic comedies, avant-garde films like Mandy and Wild at Heart, and big tentpole franchises such as National Treasure.
The film is a homage to his body of work and the genres that he’s worked in. He’s a man known for taking risks early in his career that paid off handsomely but in the later years, he’s taken to independent film work some heading straight to streaming. Mandy, Joe, Prisoners of Ghostland and Pig are among my favourites. Each is interesting ranging from unusual to insane.
In the movie “Nick Cage” is a fictionalised version of the star, imagined as a once-highly respected actor who has fallen on hard times and is craving a return to box office glory and prestige. But his waning career is only one of his problems. The faux Cage’s megalomania has poisoned his relationships with his ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and daughter Addy (Lily Sheen), unfortunately, though he can’t see it as the fictional Cage is feeling unfulfilled and rejected. This is in contrast with the real Nicholas Cage who recently received his best reviews for his performance in Pig
Nick becomes frustrated and a little unhinged, when he loses out on a role that he’s desperate to inhabit so when his smarmy agent played by Neil Patrick Harris extends him a lifeline with an offer to attend a birthday party for a cool payday of one million dollars, Nick despite his instincts reluctantly agrees, and hops on a plane to meet the birthday boy/ cage superfan in picturesque Mallorca, Spain.
Upon arriving in Mallorca and being greeted personally by Javi, Nick is completely checked out until he discovers that he and his host have much in common and begin to bond. Both are cinephiles and share a love of everything from The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to Paddington 2.
That’s not all they have in common. The wealthy man is just as neurotic as his guest of honour and they both find themselves looking for inspiration from the actor’s famously bold audacious characters.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is an intriguing change of pace for Pascal, he inhabits the role of Javi, but as neurotic as he is the character turns out to be an international arms dealer and crime boss. Both Cage and Pascal have incredible chemistry together and truly form a bromance. They are so much fun together and unapologetic about their shared admiration. It is infectious.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was such a hoot & delightfully BONKERS!! a rollercoaster ride through Cage’s iconic filmography & full of quirky & heartfelt moments The most uncaged performance was suave in this meta lucid trip.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Review | A Nostalgic Next-Level Adventure
The world’s favourite blue hedgehog is back for a next-level adventure in Sonic The Hedgehog 2. After settling in Green Hills, Sonic is eager to prove he has what it takes to be a true hero. His test comes when Dr Robotnik returns, this time with a new partner, Knuckles, in search of an emerald that has the power to destroy civilizations. Sonic teams up with his sidekick, Tails, and together they embark on a globe-trotting journey to find the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands.
The first Sonic movie only opened in February of 2020, and it turned out to be far better than expected and a faithful video-game adaptation. The Blue Blur raced towards a box office record when the pandemic hit. But fast forward two years, and we already have a sequel. A sequel in fact that is bigger and bolder, takes every endearing aspect of the original and cranks it up to the next level which makes it a worthy successor.
Previously Jim Carrey’s Dr Robotnik vowed revenge after being banished to the Mushroom Planet, while high-flying fox Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) appears through a ring portal above Sonic’s new home of Green Hills. The first film also began with baby Sonic, back in his universe, being hunted by a tribe of Echidnas, which felt like a hint that red-fisted Knuckles wasn’t far behind. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 showcases these previous events and has taken the foundation laid from Sega’s second Sonic game from 1992. The 16-bit platform sequel showcased a newly revamped Sonic with new controls and a two-tailed fox friend that aids him. With the new upgrades also came more threats from Sonic’s nemesis evil Dr Robotnik, who is once again planning world domination. Paramount’s sequel expands the story of the platform game and delivers a nostalgic themed ride with laugh-out-loud moments and valuable life lessons.
The first movie was all about Sonic finding his place in a lonely world, while the sequel uses these life lessons by challenging the titular character to slow down and think of others. Having found a home and family we find Sonic restless for adventure. Tom (James Marsden) his adopted father figure helps to guide this blue justice (trademark pending) urging him to be more responsible after his short-lived stint as a vigilante.
Sonic is still the sarcastic and absurdly obsessed with contemporary pop culture Hedgehog we know and love. Voiced once again brilliantly by Ben Schwartz, he imbues an energetic childlike performance. Much like a child-friendly version of Deadpool, Sonic cracks jokes about Vin Diesel and busts some moves to some old-school classic hip-hop.
The additions of Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) and Knuckles (Idris Elba) was a welcoming one as they inject a surprising amount of humour and heart into the story and feel like faithful live-action adaptations as you would expect from their game appearances. Tails is the brains of the trio, with his gadgets and smarts are made use of during many of the action sequences. Tails is a young, anthropomorphic fox cub with two distinct tails, which allow him to fly. He idolises Sonic as a hero and ring portals into Green Hills having tracked Sonic and takes off to find him, hoping that he’s not too late. Watching the pair’s friendship develop on-screen was adorable, there are genuinely sweet moments between these two.
O’Shaughnessey is the one voice cast member from the sonic games to reprise her role for the film. She’s spent eight years voicing Tails and has an endearing understanding of Sonic’s best friend.
Elba channels the little red wrecking ball with deadpan humour which contrasts Sonic’s speedy energetic snark. An anthropomorphic red Echidna warrior with super-strength is the sole survivor of his tribe after they were wiped out. His entire existence is about honour and being a warrior, describing him as a force of nature who collaborates with Robotnik to find the master emerald and defeat Sonic. The chemistry between the three main video game characters is a genuine highlight.
Jim Carrey is diabolical and even more unhinged in the sequel, he delivers one of his most over-the-top performances and fully embraces his respective role with exaggerated deliveries and elastic slapstick humour only he can provide. When teamed up with Knuckles this creates a juxtaposition between brains and brawn and with the return of Latte loving Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) creates entertaining sequences and dialogue scenarios that are hilarious for children and adults alike.
With a speedy pacing, dance number, and a Hawaiian subplot featuring characters and arcs outside the main storyline, the movie tends to exert itself but made up for it with a bridezilla rampage and an escape sequence. The story picks up the speed with the CGI characters as Sonic and Tails embark on an adventure to retrieve the emerald before Robotnik can get his hands on it. Along the way, we’re treated to high-octane action sequences, easter eggs, and plenty of gags. The sequel takes them on a globe-trotting journey through an exhilarating snowboarding sequence and many familiar moments featured in the game, seeing the Tornado biplane brought to life truly put a smile on my face. The scope and scale of the sequel are immense as we portal across the globe to hot, cold, and hostile environments.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a more confident sequel and a more enjoyable family film, that delivers heart and authenticity for fans of the game. With elements that set up a third entry, I can’t wait to see what’s next in the franchise as it expands with a mid-credits sequence and an already-confirmed streaming show on Paramount Plus starring Knuckles. The Sonic Cinematic Universe is a franchise I can’t wait to see grow, with decades of characters to appear, it’s gonna be an exciting time, especially since Sonic the Hedgehog is celebrating his 30th Anniversary.
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