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Ewan McGregor

Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn) (2020)

DIRECTOR: Cathy Yan

CAST: Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ella Jay Basco, Ewan McGregor, Chris Messina

REVIEW:

Like last year’s Shazam!, the wordily-titled Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn) demonstrates that the most enjoyable entries to emerge from the troubled DCEU are those that throw the dark and dreary approach brought into vogue by Zack Snyder to the wind and go into outright comedy mode (or, barring that, are simply unconnected stand-alones like Todd Phillips’ critically-acclaimed Joker or Matt Reeves’ upcoming Batman movie). DC’s answer to Marvel’s Deadpool, Birds of Prey employs a similarly madcap comedic approach, stylized action, a whiz-bang pace, and an unreliable (and thoroughly whacked-out) narrator/protagonist (Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who stole the show in the Suicide Squad ensemble and has been rewarded with her own movie). While Birds of Prey is not as well-constructed as the first Deadpool, it’s in similar enough vein that it might appeal to some of the same audience. It’s a glibly vapid and chaotic hyperkinetic mess that never completely comes together, but it’s at least never boring.

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Angels & Demons (2009)

DIRECTOR: Ron Howard

CAST:

Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Thure Lindhardt

REVIEW:

While Dan Brown’s novel Angels & Demons chronologically took place before The Da Vinci Code, the movie is a sequel to the 2006 Ron Howard-Tom Hanks film.  In the wake of scathing reviews dissmissing the first as leaden and ploddingly-paced (which I did not, for the most part, agree with), Howard obviously took a few steps here to make Angels & Demons more conventionally cinematic, but despite a faster, somewhat more action-oriented pace, Angels & Demons is a close cousin to its predecessor, and whether that is a good thing or a bad thing will largely depend on your opinion of The Da Vinci Code. Continue reading

The Island (2005)

DIRECTOR: Michael Bay

CAST:

Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Bean, Djimon Hounsou, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan

REVIEW:

There’s an intriguing idea at the heart of The Island, but the fact that the director’s chair is occupied by Michael Bay instead of, say, Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott should clue one in as to how deeply it’s going to be explored. Bay’s forte isn’t developing fascinating ideas, it’s a lot of whizz-bang flashy action extravaganza that might provide a momentary thrill ride for those who don’t demand too much but has about as much depth as a shallow puddle by the side of the road. The Island initially seems like it might aim a little higher with an intriguing premise, but it’s disappointing how quickly it surrenders to expected Bay form. Continue reading

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