Kong: Skull Island—No thank you

Go watch Peter Jackson’s Kong instead.

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Here is a movie that will end with you asking yourself one question: why did I just hand over ten dollars of my hard earned money and two hours of my life to such an unnecessary reboot? Kong: Skull Island assembles a wonderful cast of actors, tosses them into recycled action sequences, bores you to death, and is a complete waste of time and money.

Tom Hiddleston is paid to brood around the set, and play the storied action hero role. I liked him better as Loki in Avengers. Brie Larson just won an Academy Award for The Room, but she is given the role of “damsel in distress who steals the big fella’s heart”. It’s a classic Oscar win rebound role, so I hope she has something special planned with Captain Marvel. John Goodman gave one of the most overlooked performances of 2016 in 10 Cloverfield Lane, but there he is playing the supposedly crazy “geological” hunter of inhuman beings. Snooze-worthy. Samuel L. Jackson plays Samuel L. Jackson again, and there are mild benefits to that which drift away quickly.

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John C. Reilly is the only one who didn’t run to the bank to cash his check, and actually breathes a little life into the role of the local Island kook who leads the trackers, photographer, and soldiers around to their imminent death. Continue reading “Kong: Skull Island—No thank you”

Ray Stevenson talks “Big Game” when it comes to movies

Ray Stevenson is a lifer when it comes to film work, and a face you should get to know.

When you hear the name Ray Stevenson, your mind may wander and think, “I know that guy, he’s the one in the..what is it?”It’s time to get familiar with the man’s work. Ray Stevenson is a face of film and an actor to look up, dig into and appreciate. He likes what he does. “I’m a lifer. I’m going to do this for as long as I can because I absolutely love it.” You don’t hear many actors speak with the ambition that Ray does.

Stevenson Big game 2Working for 22 years in Hollywood and making 46 different projects separated through TV and film, the 51 year old tall dark yet vulnerable screen presence has done it all. He’s fought alongside Clive Owen’s King Arthur, dished his take on Frank Castle’s Punisher, locked horns with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in G.I. Joe:Retaliation, and matched minds with Showtime’s Dexter and played Marcus in this year’s Insurgent.

Stevenson’s latest film, the adventurous Big Game, where he co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson, was a particularly special experience and I had a chance to speak with Ray about the shoot, Jackson and what the film’s experience brought him.

On Sam L. Jackson-“It was fantastic. He’s one of the most interesting and creative wonderful actors to work with. He’s one of the best working actors on this planet. I had the opportunity to meet him in London and tell him how blown away I was by his work in Django(Unchained, directed by Quentin Tarantino). He’s that good. The difference in his roles is amazing. Special human being.

Does Sam have some fun or is he serious? Not on this movie. If there was something happening on set, he’ll make you get it together. He’ll loves what he is doing. His film sense is amazing. Working with him face to face is an experience. He is a giving actor and it was great seeing him work with the young actor Onni Tommila as well. 

On the differences between big budget films and smaller budget films like Big Game-It has to work like a well oiled machine. It will run away if it is not prepped to the highest degree. The pre-shoots and storyboards are important and if not done right, the entire production can be rough. It comes down to the people involved making it a convenient shoot and just rolling with it.

On shooting in the great outdoors and its effect on the story-We shot in a wonderful place called Bevaria, in Germany. It’s got an old schoolStevenson Big game 3 feel about it and also epic scope about it. At the heart of the film is a story about a child’s rite of passage. A very inventive way to shoot and lovely location.

Stevenson’s biggest legion of fans in America know him as Titus Pullo in HBO’s short lived yet brilliant series, Rome. Playing the playful yet ferocious warrior giant ally to Kevin McKidd’s Vorenus, Stevenson forged a cornerstone character. The effect the character had on Stevenson is apparent and is still something he literally carries around with him. “I still wear the 13th legion ring around, the one that Pullo wore in the show. It brought me my recognition in the states and connected me to so many fans across the country. It’s something that should have went on and on, for at least seven seasons. However, there was a change in HBO’s programming management and it was cut short. While we dropped the ball in not keeping it going, it is a treasured experience I will always hold dear.”  

When asked about a possible movie version of Rome, Stevenson was clear. “Wow, I’d love it. I’d love to go off and do a story about Pullo and Vorenus.”

On his upcoming slate, Stevenson is bringing the heat in different venues. He’s finishing a TV mini series called Saints and Strangers, about the first year of Pilgrims in America. He co-stars in the reboot of The Transporter series with the new Frank Martin, Ed Skrein(stepping in for Jason Statham), Transporter Refueled. He plays Martin’s father, a man with a shadowy past to MI-6. He plays Blackbeard on the Starz series, Black Sails this fall. When it comes to film, Stevenson is indeed a lifer. Someone who will work until it stops coming and judging by Ray’s unique set of skills, that time won’t be coming anytime soon.

While Big Game will be known as a Samuel L. Jackson experience, it will be hard to keep your eyes off the menacing Stevenson.

BIG GAME is a huge Samuel L. Jackson mistake

Samuel L. Jackson needs a new agent and I tell you why in my review of his latest, Big Game.

I need to speak with Sam L. Jackson’s agent. It won’t take long.  I am going to ask him why he passes on these dreadful scripts to his popular client. Jackson has done some drivel in recent years, but Big Game takes the cake. It’s a riff on Air Force One with Jackson’s President being stranded in the woods after his plane is blown out of the sky and it’s up to him and a young kid to survive and defeat the bad guys.

Jalmari Helander writes and directs a movie that may have been digestible in 1987, because back then trash dialogue and kindergarten special effects weren’t frowned upon yet swallowed whole like a McDonald’s double cheeseburger at 11 o’ clock at night.

Hey, there’s cool bad guy Ray Stevenson(Rome and Dexter) slumming it as a man who wants a piece of the Executive Chief. There’s highly respected actor Jim Broadbent, the man back home in the Pentagon who knows what is going on and chews on an apple for the entire film. Felicity Huffman and Victor Garber show up as well. Onni Tommila is the Finnish kid who helps our guy but he can’t even work a bow and arrow. How did so many good actors find their way into this film? Was it code named “Marvel spinoff” and they got duped?

There’s one cool shot of a man diving out of a plane and as he falls to the ground missiles fly past him up into the sky. That’s it. Everything else is bad music, lazy editing, laughable dialogue, corny action and slow motion amateur hour. I’m getting tired of the President in duress plots as well. It’s been done, overcooked, deep fried and saturated in muddy cinematic waters. Let’s can it.

Is there any delight here to be had? Sure. If you ever wanted to watch a movie while typing away on your phone or while cooking dinner in the other room, this is the one for you. It’s only 90 minutes and doesn’t stay on your mind long afterwards. All you will think about as this film concludes is why all these fine actors partake in this mischief. What was the catch? It didn’t cost much to make but it reined in some big names. Did it get lost in the editing room? Did the Cliffhanger/Air Force One aspect get lost quickly? I am not sure.

I can tell you this. Big Game is a big waste of your time.