Barry Levine

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Hercules Review


Very Good

Far more entertaining than it has any right to be, this is a big, messy blockbuster retelling of the Greek myth that thankfully has a sharp sense of humour and some surprising twists up its sleeve. The cast is also packed with veteran performers who know how to make the most of some eyebrow-raising innuendo, generating intrigue while keeping the audience laughing with them rather than at them.

The premise takes a revisionist approach, grounding the legend of the demigod Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) in real stories that have been exaggerated by his nephew Iolaus (Reece Ritchie), who travels with him as a kind of toga-era marketing expert. Their team of mercenaries includes wryly fatalistic seer Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), quick-witted blade-thrower Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), bow-wielding amazon Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) and loyal mute warrior Tydeus (Aksel Hennie). When they're offered a fortune by Lord Cotys (John Hurt) to quell a rebellion, they find themselves in the middle of a massive battle that doesn't go the way they expected. And as events take unforeseen turns, Hercules and his gang have to dig deep to turn the tide in their favour.

Johnson is a natural in the role, so massively pumped up that he looks like he could be popped with a pin. His hulking physique and just enough back-story give the character's reputation some weight, both literally and figuratively, so even if he's not half-god his achievements are still pretty impressive. (There are also plenty of hints that he may turn out to be a god after all.) And the surrounding characters add to this with cleverly written roles that are expertly played by British scene-stealers Hurt, McShane, Sewell, Mullan and Fiennes. McShane is so good that he essentially walks off with the whole movie. But relative newcomers Ritchie, Hennie and Berdal more than hold their own.

Continue reading: Hercules Review

Oblivion Review


Very Good

With elements lifted from virtually every sci-fi classic in film history, this post-apocalyptic adventure feels eerily familiar but features just enough plot twists and emotional resonance to make it enjoyable. Director Kozinski (Tron Legacy) also makes sure it looks amazing, with cool-looking sets and gadgets and an entertaining use of destroyed New York and Washington landmarks.

It also gives Cruise a slightly more internalised character than he usually plays in big blockbusters. He's Jack, a repairman 60 years after aliens blasted the moon to bits, causing earthquakes and tidal waves. Now it's 2077 and the remnant of humanity is being evacuated to Saturn's moon Titan, while mop-up teams help protect giant resource-gathering machines from alien scavengers. Jack works Sector 49 with his partner Victoria (Riseborough), but has vivid, impossible dreams of a life on pre-war Earth with a mysterious woman (Kurylenko). When she suddenly turns up in an ancient spacepod, and Jack discovers a scrappy group of human survivors led by Beech (Freeman), he begins to wonder what's really happening here.

And so do we, since we have begun doubting the entire set-up from Jack's opening narration. Mission commander Sally (Leo) looks very shifty indeed, and there's something vaguely fishy about all of the sleek glass, steel and plastic technology. As Jack's gleaming white leather outfit becomes increasingly murky, so does his simplistic view of his own life. And Cruise holds the film together nicely with an introspective turn as a man who's just enigmatic enough to engage our interest. Riseborough and Kurylenko, meanwhile, get much juicier roles, providing strongly emotional layers to the story. And Freeman and Leo add a bit of class.

Continue reading: Oblivion Review

Barry Levine and Jesse Berger - Celebrities attend Los Angeles premiere of 'Oblivion' at The Dolby Theatre. - Hollywood, California, United States - Wednesday 10th April 2013

Barry Levine and Jesse Berger
Barry Levine
Barry Levine and Jesse Berger
Barry Levine and Jesse Burger
Barry Levine and Jesse Berger
Barry Levine

Detroit Rock City Review


OK
Twenty years before Marilyn Manson put on ladies' makeup and frightened the crap out of mothers around the nation, a little band called KISS pioneered the idea, and played some good music as a bonus.

While KISS was a few years before my rock & roll prime, they were still quite popular when I was in school, and tales/rumors of Gene Simmons' cow tongue, blood splitting, backwards-masked lyrics, and the infamous "Knights In Satan's Service" moniker were the stuff of legend.

Continue reading: Detroit Rock City Review

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Jason Statham Loves The Mechanic's Complicated Action

Jason Statham Loves The Mechanic's Complicated Action

Five years after his first stint as hitman Arthur Bishop in The Mechanic, Jason Statham has returned to the role for Mechanic: Resurrection.

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John Krasinski Used His Experience To Make The Hollars

John Krasinski Used His Experience To Make The Hollars

In a busy year that has seen John Krasinski star in movies and TV shows, he somehow managed to find the time to direct, produce and star in the new...

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Barry Levine Movies

Hercules Movie Review

Hercules Movie Review

Far more entertaining than it has any right to be, this is a big, messy...

Oblivion Movie Review

Oblivion Movie Review

With elements lifted from virtually every sci-fi classic in film history, this post-apocalyptic adventure feels...

Detroit Rock City Movie Review

Detroit Rock City Movie Review

Twenty years before Marilyn Manson put on ladies' makeup and frightened the crap out of...

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