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Olga Kurylenko

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“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”

Ike Evans risks everything in a life and death battle to rid his Miramar Playa Hotel of the mob and Ben “The Butcher” Diamond. Even if Ike’s long-shot gamble to take back his hotel succeeds, will the price of victory be too high?

Magic City returns to Starz on Friday, June 14th at 9/8C.

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Poster

After the sex, violence and political intrigue of Ancient Rome in Starz’ Spartacus series, it seems odd, yet somehow appropriate to find the same ingredients put to more nuanced use in the network’s Magic City [Fridays, 10/9C] – a series about hotelier Ike Evans and his family and their efforts to bring the magic with a legendarily luxurious hotel, the Miramar Plaza [modeled after the famous/infamous Fontainebleau Hotel].

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Grade: A-

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Jeffrey Dean Morgan-Olga Kurylenko - Craig Blankenhorn

Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Olga Kurylenko star in Starz’s gangster drama, Magic City – set in the Las Vegas of the ‘50s. Magic City was written and created by Mitch Glazer and is scheduled for Spring 2012 debut.

Follow the jump for a series synopsis and a teaser trailer for the show.

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If you’ve seen Casino Royale, then you’ve gotten all the character development you need to enjoy Quantum of Solace, the latest adventure of MI6 operative James Bond [Daniel Craig] – but it’s not all the characterization you’ll get before the film ends. This film, which begins twenty minutes after the end of Casino Royale is a sleek action flick that – while it may be influenced by what Paul Greengrass did with the last two Jason Bourne films – manages to use some of the handheld techniques from the Bourne trilogy without ever moving completely away from the equally kinetic but different style of the previous film.

Bond & Camille

Here, Bond is out to avenge the death of the only woman he ever loved. The problem, he learns, is that her killer is part of a global network dedicated to take over the planet by perverting the fight against global warming to their own ends. The film’s most visible antagonist is Dominic Greene [Mathieu Amalric], the front for an organization of alleged ecological crusaders. Complicating things is a woman who is after the man who killed her family – and is now working with Green.

Quantum, it turns out, is the name of this shadowy organization and their claim that they are everywhere is supported by an attempt on M’s [Judy Dench] life by her own bodyguard. Circumstances dictate that she cut Bond loose to do what he does best – while looking like she’s trying to get him to stand down. It gets even more complex from there though Bond’s ability to suss out information from the slimmest resources gets him through it in fine style

Marc Forster’s direction, as mentioned above is somewhat influenced by the Bourne films, but he skilfully weaves unexpected character moments throughout in a way that’s so invisible that many reviewers have found the film devoid of characterization. Such is not the case – though much of Quantum’s character moments come through choices Bond makes in the midst of action.

The action sequences are breathtaking throughout, but the bookends of the opening chase/fight sequence and the wall of destruction just before the film’s conclusion are among the best I’ve ever seen. The cast is excellent as well – especially Olga Kurylenko as Camille – the woman who, like Bond, has vengeance on her mind [her situation at the end may have something to do with her not sleeping with Bond, but that’s a subject for Bond fanatics to debate.

Amalric makes a good villain for two reasons: acting skill [and knowing when not to chew the scenery], and the fact that his eyes seem just a tad bit too large for his face [just enough to be creepy; not enough to be funny]. In terms of sheer presence, none of the other Quantum employees/conspirators matches him.

Overall, then, while Quantum of Solace won’t be making any top ten best films lists for 2008, it is in no way a bad film. Rather, it is one of the half-dozen best Bond films – and that’s not too shabby.

Final Grade: B+

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Take the basic Punisher plot [cop’s family killed by bad guys], add some designs by Constantine and top with a superficial gloss of Norse mythology, and you get the videogame-based Max Payne. Max Payne [Mark Wahlberg] is the cop whose wife and son are murdered; Alex Balder/Baldur [Donal Logue] is his ex-partner who discovers a link between the deaths of Payne’s family and the death of Natasha Sax [Olga Kurylenko], sister of assassin, Mona Sax [Mila Kunis].

maxpayne 

Then there’s the blue fluid that is a failed super-soldier formula [so very Captain America] and the hallucinations it induces of Valkyries [the warrior women who bear Vikings who died in battle to Valhalla. The question is this: if everyone who uses this stuff sees the same hallucination, is it a hallucination or a glimpse into a supernatural realm – a question that is never answered [and could have made the movie something much better]. That fluid leads to the mighty Aesir [residents of Asgard – home of the Norse gods] Pharmaceutials. The company’s head of security [Beau Bridges] is Max’s dad’s former partner on the police force.

There’s more of this kind of thing throughout Max Payne – like the big blowout that occurs in a club called Ragnarok [the Norse end of the world myth]. Of course it’s a red herring. What else could it be? The biggest twist possible would have been if the club actually was where the movie ended.

Max Payne is beautifully shot, well-paced and so technically accomplished, overall, that it’s a shame it never attains any actual style. Most of the action choreography is an homage to John Woo [or blatant theft – you decide]. All it needs is a few doves…

Max Payne is a waste of some very talented actors – and of an hour and forty minutes in the life of anyone who sees it.

Final Grade: D

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