Tag Archives: Beowulf

Black Death: The Medieval Wicker Man

In a movie undeservedly put under the radar, it came as a surprise to me after watching Black Death that it wasn’t a more well liked and well known film. Among a handful of other medival pieces on Netflix (such as Ironclad, and Season of the Witch – review coming soon) this one, I would say, stood out as the #1 spot on the leaderboard. I mean, come on, you got Sean Bean as the lead. He puts his own amazingly remarkable mark on any and all medieval period pieces he does (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones). So its time to delve into those boils and see what’s good.

This movie starts (and focuses) around the account of a young monk in training. All around him, Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) sees the pestilence of the plague as a blight from God himself. As the movie begins, we even discover that he himself was being tested to see if he caught the plague. As a devastating disease that just took hold of his Church by the throat, Osmund finds himself in turmoil. His new found love Averill

Ulric and his gang at a witch burning. Monty Python style.

(Kimberley Nixon), something the Church wouldn’t approve of, must leave the confines of the monastery and find safety in a forest village far from the reaches of the plague. She promises to go, but will only wait for Osmund for 7 days.

With this separation between human love and the love of God, Osmund must make a choice to choice (although it would be frowned upon if he left the Church at all). Upon praying to God for some sort of sign on which way to go, Ulric and his band of merry men roll up hard to the Church to find a guide.

There are repenters in every one...

There is talk of a necromancer in a swamp somewhere near where Osmund is familiar with. Double whammy for him? He can meet his wench on the way. Overjoyed at the excuse to peace out (deuces style), he volunteers to lead Ulric. After some minor preparation, they head on out.

Here’s where things get sticky. Some people die, some people may (or may not) have the plague, and this village they find in the swamp, hasn’t been touched by the plague. So Sean Bean and his boys suspect witchcraft. And they’ve brought some deadly torture devices to get some confessions and drag home one witches corpse. Utterly decieved, Osmund has no choice but to go on this miniquest for God and his way of life.

The travelling troupe.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the ending, but think The Wicker Man. it doesn’t matter which version (Cage or no Cage) but watch that first and prepare for the medieval version afterwards. It’s not all that uncommon, I’m sure, for a movie to be inspired by another, and I found this version of a society that’s not what it seems to be quite unnerving. Upon looking into this movie, I got worried they’d introduce some B.S. magical element into the story. And I wasn’t having that from a movie that came from a very real place. (Speaking of real, we’ll have to talk about the realness that is Season of the Witch.)

Sean Bean. Witch hunting.

Luckily, I was spared and the movie satisfied me like a goat-wrapped Snickers. And you wanna know who stole the show? It wasn’t Sean Bean. He gave his great performance as his stock Boromir character. It was good, no doubt, no doubt. The real ingenious lay in the true to life performance from Eddie Redmayne. A relatively young actor I’ve not heard much from (other than the big works he’s done that I haven’t seen yet) has been doing period pieces like its his job. I mean, My Week with Marilyn? Who but the Redmayne is lucky enough to do that? But what I really felt about his acting is that he wasn’t faking. He looks like a normal person (of the time period) and I felt his true anguish and terror. Nothing felt forced. It was a spot on acting job.

But I do give Sean Bean his credit. I know that every time I watch a Sean Bean

The evil wench, Carice van Houten.

film, I’m getting a true to life, Shakespearean performance. He cuts no corners when it comes to true acting. On some other levels I found John Lynch’s role as Wolfstan to be riveting. As the older and wiser 2nd in command, Wolfstan tries to protect all that he can and do so with kindess. That kind of heartfelt performance comes from some attention to detail. A little nod to Andy Nyman, a pretty funny guy who applied some dark comedy to Black Death. This was a big turnaround role for me last seeing him as the portly and spunky friend of a friend in Death at a Funeral (the real one). I mistook Johnny Harris, the big old badass with twinblades for Eddie Marsan, and if you’re familiar, you may understand my mistake. Both bald, both bearded, both decent actors.

Will love find a way in such dark times?

As with most adventure movies like this (not exactly adventure, I guess I mean questing), you get to know all the characters in the travelling party a little bit. But not enough to really care whether some of them live or die. I mean… Griff and the mute guy Ivo in this movie? One had boils and one couldn’t talk. Not much was lost when they were killed. Not to say their characters weren’t important, it’s just with movies like this, you can tell the expendables from the not so. So when it comes down to the last guys, then you feel the heartache.

And with this classic film form in mind, the storyline bloodily zips along to its conclusion. Some twists and turns and some witches who burn, the transformation of Osmund is the final result of this film. Told in an almost brutal, Gerard Butler in Beowulf kind of way, a bit of magic never hurts to mix in. This movie delivers how its supposed to and makes for a fine period piece. I’ll give it an 8.1 out of 10.

Truly symbolic.

 


Tron: Legacy

So, as it was described to me, Tron: Legacy is “an orgasm of light and sound”. I’d tend to agree. Knowing next to nothing about Tron other than what I know from Kingdom Hearts II (Kingdom Hearts fans know what I’m talking about), I don’t know how thorough I will be in credibly reviewing this movie. But I’d love to throw in my two cents here.

So from what I got through a first watch of this movie: Sam Flynn is the son of Kevin Flynn, the guy who created this digital world back in the 1980’s.His goal was to create a sort of free space for programs and such to grow in a free grid. (What I kind of thought of it as was like the Internet. Free and you can get¬†anything off of it.) But one day, when Sam was a young’in, Kevin Flynn promised him another game of Tron or something or other, and never came back. 20 years later or so, Sam is on a mission to make his father’s company free from greedy businessmen, and what he stumbles upon is the world his father created. But things are a bit different.

Upon entering the grid, Sam is entered into the games, and these games kill you. It’s not like how steroids kill you, it’s more like how Murderball could kill a

Sam Flynn. He has a Bugatti.

person not in a wheelchair. By playing these games, Sam discovers Clu, the alternate grid-ego that his father created to help him create the cyber world he’s in now. And he’s gone completely evil. (Also, he’s completely digitally animated. Think Beowulf, the newest version.) And unfortunately, so has Tron. And these two have taken over the cybernetic world and have destroyed the one thing that came about from Kevin’s creation. *Secret* Don’t wanna spoil it.

So yeah, as some critics might say, it was a bit flimsy on the plot. I say, what do you expect from a PG Disney movie. No, it’s not necessarily geared towards children. But older children can appreciate this movie, knowing nothing about the movie that came out 20 years before they were born. You have to look at the demographic and the time it was created in. (I don’t feel like critics ever take that into account. Just harshly compare it to the classics.) At face value, I’d take this film to be quite visually pleasing. The lights and visual effects that went into this movie give it a very sleek and appealing look. And to accompany this? Daft Punk. These guys were great in the creation of this soundtrack, and coincidentally make a cameo appearance as the two masked DJs in the in Zeus’s club.

Acting wise? Some big acting chops are brought to the table in this film. Of course we have Jeff

Well that's certainly a change...

Bridges as Kevin Flynn/Clu, reclaiming his original role in the Tron film. There’s also Garrett Hedlund who plays Sam Flynn, the bad boy hacker and heir to his father’s company. I’ve seen Garrett Hedlund in other movies (Troy, Four Brothers, Eragon) and now I realize he’s an actor who is typecast in certain roles. Either the bad boy or a minor character, I feel as if he might/might not break out of these roles. (I haven’t/won’t see Country Strong, but that’s a change of pace, right?) Olivia Wilde plays Quorra, nothing special there (not a big fan).

And then there are the special appearances. Bruce Boxleitner plays Tron, one of the biggest badasses that makes me want to see the original. Michael Sheen makes an amazing appearance as the slightly flamboyant and hilarious Zeus, the club host with the most. I love how much work Michael Sheen gets ever since he was in Underworld, and I think it’s really great how much range he has. Oh, and really, don’t forget Cillian Murphy, the badass Scarecrow back to strike again as always, performing amazing role after amazing role. I love his work and, even in the smallest part, I feel he never lets me down.

Michael Sheen. Master.

So I’d have to say that first time director Joseph Kosinski did quite a nice job on touching up and updating the Tron movie that so many came to love in the 1980’s. The lights, the sound, the actors all came together for one nice 2 hour thrill ride that was quite entertaining to watch. And if it was nothing more than entertainment, not a tribute to the Tron “legacy” at all, then I apologize to all you diehard Tron fans out there. Sorry to disappoint. But I wasn’t disappointed. 7.3 out of 10.