Tag Archives: Daniel Bruhl

Captain Crunch

The Marvel gang’s all here in superhero-packed mega-movie

CivilWar56e1af999ef83_crop

Captain America: Civil War

Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan & Scarlett Johansson

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

PG-13

What do superheroes do when they’re not saving the planet? A lot of the same things everyone else does—they prattle around the house, do their best to get along and sometimes get on each other’s nerves.

“Who’s putting coffee grounds in the disposal?” Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) asks his houseguests, which include Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Vision (Paul Bettany). “Am I running a bed and breakfast for a biker gang?”

Crammed into a back of a tiny VW Beetle, the hulking Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) has a request of Falcon (Anthony Mackie). “Could you move your seat up?” Like a grumpy sibling on a family road trip that’s already over-stretched his patience, Falcon isn’t exactly in an agreeable mood. “No!” he snaps.

CivilWar56e1afd80d855_crop

Spider-Man (Tom Holland) gets in on the action.

Captain America: Civil War is a big, sprawling superhero mega-movie, with more spandex to the gallon than any flick that’s come down the pike in a long time. The latest in the multi-billion-dollar Marvel cinematic canon, it’s officially the third of the Captain America franchise, but it’s also a continuation of the Avengers movie arc, and it ropes in characters from other Marvel movie properties as well, including Iron Man, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and even the new Spider-Man (Tom Holland), whose movie won’t be in theaters until next summer.

The “Civil War” in the title refers to the major rift that occurs within the Avengers when a United Nations panel wants to rein them in. The global community is concerned about the civilian deaths and wakes of destruction that accompany the superheroes’ bad-guy smackdowns—a theme that also cropped up a few weeks ago in another comics-character slugfest, Batman v Superman.

The Avengers divide into two camps about the issue—those who feel that some international oversight and cooperation is the way to go (led by Iron Man), and the rebels who refuse to sign the accord (team Captain America). That sets the stage for several spats, a couple of subplots, more than two hours of squabbles and one stupendous battle royale in an abandoned airport.

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War..L to R: Sharon Carter/Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp), Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2016

Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Captain America (Chris Evans) have a serious huddle.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo keep things moving along with style, substance and significant flair, and they give all their characters time to shine—no easy task when they are so many, including newcomers Chadwick Boseman as an African prince who becomes the Black Panther; Marissa Tomei as Peter Parker’s Aunt May; and Daniel Brühl as the Eastern European über-villain Zemo. There’s also Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Martin Freeman as a CIA official, Emily Van Camp (from TV’s Revenge) as Sharon Carter, and William Hurt as the U.S. Secretary of State. Oscar-nominated Alfre Woodard pops in as an aggrieved mom.

But through it all are the Avengers, the world’s coolest, most powerful cadre of superfriends—family, actually—being ripped apart, fractured from within, pulverizing each other as the divide between them, widened by treachery, becomes filled with distrust, dark secrets and deep wounds from the past.

There’s a whole army of frozen Winter Soldiers, a funeral and a sweet kiss between two characters that may point to future romance.

How does this wham-bam, jam-packed road trip on the superhero highway end? I won’t spoil it. But you shouldn’t be surprised to know that even when it does, it doesn’t, and that the Marvel movie map is still being drawn for Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and other characters for years to come!

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Life in the Fast Lane

Director Ron Howard’s ’70s racing rivalry is a hip, sexy crowd pleaser

Rush

Rush

Blu-ray + DVD $34.98 / DVD $19.96 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Director Ron Howard’s thrilling recreation of the real-life rivalry between two 1970s professional racecar drivers, English daredevil playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and straight-laced Australian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), is a hip, cool-running crowd-pleaser set in the daring, dangerous golden age of Grand Prix racing. Olivia Wilde has a knockout supporting role as a globetrotting fashion model, and generous bonus features on the Blu-ray combo include a several mini-documentaries, including one on how Howard and his crew created the illusion of filming all over the world while shooting mostly in the United Kingdom, and another on the movie’s sexy flashback style.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Information Breakdown

WikiLeaks drama pounds its story, but becomes too much of a cold slog

Daniel Br?hlThe Fifth Estate

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch & Daniel Brühl

Directed by Bill Condon

R, 128 min.

Earlier this year, I went to a team trivia event where one of the questions was “What is the ‘fourth estate?’

Having a bit of newsprint in my blood, I knew that it was an old British term for “the press.” Our team got the point—hooray for us, right? But what struck me that evening was how many teams were completely stumped for an answer.

Was the term really that arcane, that unfamiliar, that antiquated?

If so, are the people on those teams going to have any idea what The Fifth Estate is, either? And an even bigger question: How interested will they be in seeing this movie, no matter what it’s called?

The Fifth Estate dramatizes the beginnings of WikiLeaks, the cyber-organization that shook up world governments and conventional media by posting highly confidential news from anonymous sources, who “leaked” it from places where it was supposed to be contained, sealed away, secreted. Among other stories, the site released sensitive files about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about civilians killed by military airstrikes, and about what went on at the notorious prisoner detention center Guantanamo Bay.

The term “fifth estate,” the movie tells us, refers to the way news reporting was shaped by the speed, force—and recklessness—of information zipping around the planet in the new millennium’s digital, instant Internet age. If the old-fashioned printing press was the pillar of the fourth estate, new e-media, spurred by WikiLeaks, became the fifth.

The movie centers on WikiLeak’s Australian founder, Julian Assange, and his contentious, co-dependent relationship with Daniel Berg, the site’s German representative (on whose book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time at the World’s Most Dangerous Website With Julian Assange, the screenplay is partly based).

FE2Benedict Cumberbatch is mesmerizing as Assange, a blonde-haired cyber warrior crusading to expose fraud, corruption, injustice, war crimes and other sins in high places. Daniel Brühl, who also co-stars in the new movie Rush, is Berg, a young computer hacker whose prankish, anti-establishment sparks are fanned into flames of international activism by Assange’s zeal and heated rhetoric.

Director Bill Condon—whose diverse credentials include the musical Dreamgirls, the Gothic drama Gods and Monsters and two Twilight teen-angst vampire sagas—pumps the story hard, backfilling details of Assange’s damaged childhood; weaving in a difficult romantic relationship for Berg; and inserting a pair of Washington D.C. insiders (Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney) who have to deal with the serious fallout WikiLeaks creates as it puts foreign diplomats, military personnel and their families in danger by revealing their identities.

FE3Was Assange a hero or a traitor? That’s the question the movie wants us to ponder. It also paints him as a cyber rock star, with throngs of fans, followers and groupies. (He’s currently living in London, where he’s been granted diplomatic asylum after a 2010 sexual assault investigation.)

But the movie’s all too much of a slog, I’m afraid, through a story that a lot of viewers will find too heavy on current events and history and too light on entertainment. Like the cold, bleak backdrops of Belgium and Germany, where the filming took place, there’s far too little warmth, wit or movie sunshine to penetrate its overarching sense of its own seriousness.

The movie ends with a faux-documentary segment in which Cumberbatch, as Assange, addresses the audience, as if he’s being interviewed about the movie they’ve just seen. He somewhat dismissively brushes the question away, then looks directly into the camera and tells viewers to become inspired to seek their own truths, to ferret out their own information, to become their own crusading whistle-blowing leak-finders and “look beyond this story.”

That’s assuming, of course, that they see it begin with—which might require a leap of an estate or two beyond a lot of people’s usual areas of interest.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Life In The Fast Lane

Ron Howard’s real-story racing movie is a hip, cool-running crowd-pleaser

RUSHRush

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl & Olivia Wilde

Directed by Ron Howard

R, 123 min.

Released Sept. 27, 2013

The rivalry between two professional racers becomes the driving force in Rush, director Ron Howard’s dramatic depiction the 1970s competition between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

The racing world was captivated, back in the day, as Hunt and Lauda became superstars of European-based Formula One racing and vied for championship trophies in the first half of the decade. Not only were they passionate, prickly competitors, they also represented polar opposites: Hunt was a dashing, daring blonde-haired British playboy; Lauda was a straight-laced Austrian with an obsessive, calculating mind wired for speed—and a face, as Hunt used to remind him, like a “rat.”

The media loved them, the public loved them, and they loved—well, they loved racing, even though they knew it could kill them. There was a part of them that loved it because they knew it could kill them.RUSH

As Lauda (Daniel Brühl) points out, every time he climbs into his car’s cockpit, he’s aware there’s a 20 percent chance he won’t make it out alive.

“Staring death in the face, there’s nobility in that,” says Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). “It’s like being a knight.”

Brühl and Hemsworth are both outstanding, and it’s especially good to see Hemsworth break out of his Thor tights. Olivia Wilde shines in her role as the globetrotting fashion model who becomes Hunt’s wife…until another playboy, this one a famous Hollywood movie star, enters the picture.

RushMoviegoers who might be put off by the idea of a “racing” movie should know that while Rush revs up its story, it’s much more than a flick about fast cars. At its core are two men who happen to be racers, and the drama that builds around them as the years unfold. We learn how both Hunt and Lauda came to be both rivals and admirers, and how they were both “hulk-headed kids, scorned by [their] families, headed nowhere,” before finding their futures behind the wheels of the low-slung, super-fast cars on the Grand Prix circuit.

And we see how Lauda finds the will to recover from a horrific accident, and return to the track, by watching videotapes of Hunt continuing to win races.

Howard, the former child actor who grew up to become one of Hollywood’s top directors, adds another winner to his resume with this hip, cool-running crowd pleaser that’s also a terrifically made movie all-around. Each scene is meticulously constructed with careful detail, from the burnished, Kodachrome-esque glow cast by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (who won an Oscar for his work on Slumdog Millionaire), to the parade of ‘70s fashions and the soundtrack of retro tunes from David Bowie, Steve Winwood and Thin Lizzy.

8D92_FPF_00305R.JPG_cmyk

The racing scenes, whether on sun-dappled pastoral country roads in England or dark, rain-lashed sections of do-or-die championship track under the imposing shadow of Mt. Fuji in Japan, are thrilling, taking advantage of everything that modern movies can do with seamless integrations of live action and digital effects.

But the thing that Rush does best, however, is never let you forget about the two men—the two real men—who did the driving.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

Tagged , , , , , , ,