Guy Ritchie

Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

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Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

About every ten years or so new filmmakers like to remake/reboot/reimagine classic tales, folklore or novels. Typical examples are Tarzan, Robin Hood, and the legend of King Arthur. This year is no exception, with a brand new telling of the King Arthur legend in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. But this time around it’s directed by the always-stylistic Guy Ritchie, mostly known for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and the Sherlock Holmes series. Here he brings his unique vision and style, keeping some of the old story in place and working new elements into the legend. It’s full of magic, action and humor and is one incredible fantasy-action flick.

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Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

In a year that is rather heavy with the spy genre flicks; Spy, Kingsmen: The Secret Service, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and, this Christmas, the latest James Bond film, how is one supposed to stand out from the other? Well, having the amazing Guy Ritchie as a director sure helps. His latest movie is The Man From U.N.C.L.E., based on the spy television series of the same name that ran from 1964 to 1968. Set in the 1960’s, while the Cold War was raging, two agents from opposing sides, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and the KGB’s Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), are forced to work together to extract a young woman, Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) from East Berlin whose father is being held by Nazis who want him to build them a nuclear bomb. What could have been just another spy flick, ends up being a beautifully stylized film filled with all things that make Guy Ritchie movies so much fun.

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Sherlock Holmes

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You may have watched the preview for Sherlock Holmes and thought, “This looks like Long Raging Bull Goodnight: Die Harder.” I suppose we have Hollywood to blame for that. Over the years they took Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant deductionist who had training in fisticuffs and made him an effete snooty cartoon — more in line with the anti-intellectualism we see everywhere today. Well, director Guy Ritchie is taking back the rough-and-tumble Holmes. He went younger, scrapper, and more eccentric than fey: Robert Downey Jr. (as in so many things) is a brilliant choice to play the famed inspector. Downey as Holmes has a wonderful distracted, confident, mental patient air about him. Someone whose brain catalogues and cross-references details so constantly and meticulously would probably today be diagnosed with some nervous disorder or tic. Downey’s Holmes has an ADD-like concentration and wide scatter of the net, and a disdain for the distracting requirements of polite society. He already floats a little above our plane of reality with his survivor’s eyes and keen intelligence, and here it’s put to marvelous use.

Jude Law as Downey’s partner in life and in crimes, Dr. Watson, is also a fantastic choice. He’s groomed, urbane, exasperated, arrogant, playful – and smart enough not to bore Holmes. They have sparkling old friend chemistry and an eye-rolling true affection for each other that borders on hostility. I confess I adore this pair and I do hope for a mini franchise, just for the pleasure of being longer in their company. Yeah, I said it. Of course I said the same thing about the ensemble in Pirates of the Caribbean and look where that got us. Rachel McAdams is the unnecessary but still enjoyable sexy American petty criminal who joins the fun and of course becomes key later. Judging by her scenes in the preview cut from the movie, she was the first sacrificed on the altar of the brisk 90 minute running time.

The adventure story of the film is a classic — it could be Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot, or Scooby Doo. A criminal (Mark Strong) terrorizes the city for his nefarious and ambitious plans. He does so in an inexplicable and therefore seemingly unbeatable fashion, and all are powerless to stop him. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for these bickering, brilliant kids. Keep in mind, this is still directed by Guy Ritchie, so we have some exciting James Bond-worthy action and a nailbiter climax, and yet it’s all kept very feasible and well within period limits. The wonderful Industrial Age details and technology of society as a whole, the machines and lab equipment and exciting new inventions, the opportunistic weaponry and beaten-looking citizenry, these all prevent Sherlock Holmes from feeling like someone just made another action movie and dressed it in Beloved Icon drag (for a bad example of this, see Star Trek: Nemesis). Holmes feels very of his time and very relevant at the same time. Sherlock Holmes is a solid, enjoyable film with a fun score, a great use of sound and environment, and a trio of confederates you will want to know more of.

MPAA Rating PG-13

Release date 12/25/09

Time in minutes 90

Director guy Ritchie

Studio Warner Brothers

Comments Off on Snatch

Snatch

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If you have not seen writer/director Guy Ritchie’s former film, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is lots of style, lots of nouveau-Pulp Fiction cum Trainspotting style and Clockwork Orange men-oriented ultraviolence with touches of absurdity to make it go down more smoothly. Snatch follows the same lines, but with somewhat less brutality, more absurdity, and Brad Pitt doing a wicked accurate gypsy accent. This is not to say that Snatch is not an entertaining film – it is entertaining, it is amusing, and it is full of surprises. However, Snatch is also rather like Chinese food. Tastes great, but no sense memory afterward. I am giving this movie a lower rating than I gave Lock Stock even though I actually enjoyed Snatch more. This inconsistency will surely be noted by my friendly detractors (KS), but I have decided I like these films less than I initially was seduced into thinking I liked them.

A zillion characters parade about in Snatch, each trying to out-leverage the other and get the prize – though some of the stories seem utterly unrelated despite their intimacy within the story. I hardly took a note, so involved was I while watching it, but it was a thin slice of pure entertainment – I am even struggling now for something to say. Please note the padding to make the minimum 450 word review length. This, to me, is not the sign of a fine film – or an awful one. I recalled thinking, a while afterward, that Lock Stock was very funny, but upon rerenting it, discovered it was really more the laughter that you have when you don’t quite believe something – when a huge, complex tidal wave of happenstance bears down into a sharp point, you laugh in nervous amazement, and (I felt, at least) sheer delight that somehow the screenwriter was able to tie it all together. Snatch ties together less neatly, but inserts more genuine (though thin) humor to make up for it. Less stories are juggled, less onscreen violence, and some yuks improve Snatch as a sort-of action movie, sort-of drama, but it is the same non-genre that Trainspotting and Reservoir Dogs belong to.

The humor being more of the self-deprecating British punk humor than the you-deprecating Yank humor, and the attendant darkness behind all crime-humor gives Snatch it’s charm. I liked it, but I doubt I would see it again. Four hundred and six words, and what can I say? It looks cool, but not innovative. It is amusing, but not lasting. It’s better than a music video, it has a genuine, involved story, but it’s just paper thin. Like this review – no substance.

MPAA Rating R -strong violence language nudity.
Release date 1/19/01
Time in minutes 103
Director Guy Ritchie
Studio Screen Gems