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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Peter O’Toole

Stardust (2007)

Better than Goldust’s brother.

Tristan (Charlie Cox), a young man from the town of Wall, a small, quaint and lovely little town on the border of Stormhold, a magical kingdom where all sorts of crazy things happen. To hopefully win the heart and the hand of his girlfriend Victoria (Selma Miller), Tristan enters the magical world to collect a fallen star, in hopes that he’ll obviously win her over, but prove that he is quite the man that he always thought he could be. After little issues here and there, Tristan eventually collects the star who, to his surprise, is a woman named Yvaine (Claire Daines). However, Tristan isn’t the only one who’s looking for Yvaine; numerous witches, Kings, Queens, Princes, and Princesses also want this star and will do anything to get it, by any means. So now, Tristan’s job just got a whole lot harder. Not to mention that he and Yvaine, while initially not being able to get along with one another at all, start to see each other as equals and even, well, connect. In possibly more ways than Tristan has been able to ever do with his possible future-wife.

A pretty hot star.

Matthew Vaughn is probably the perfect director for a Neil Gaiman book, because no matter how strange, or action-packed, or even tense things get, Vaughn remembers not to take everything all that seriously. Meaning that we do get a lot of jokes aimed at the material, but it’s also very funny in the same way that the Princess Bride was – it respects the fantasy-genre up until the point of where it realizes how ridiculous it truly is. That’s a lot of Gaiman’s material and while there’s been plenty of attempts at recreating the same kind of odd-style that he has, Vaughn’s perhaps the closest one to achieving that.

And yes, it also helps that the movie is buckets of fun, reminding us that, when he isn’t trading quips and smart-ass remarks, Vaughn knows how to keep the action moving and exciting. Cause Stardust is a little over two-hours and about a bunch of silly witches and knights battling it out for a star, it can be a bit too much to ask for a non-lover of the fantasy genre. And yes, I am one of them.

However, Stardust is a much different tune.

It’s in on its own joke, it never really relies too much on exposition, or world-building, or certain other tricks and trades of these kinds of stories that can tend to make them a bit annoying. The story itself is already pretty straightforward and thankfully, Vaughn doesn’t try to over-complicate things; he keeps it simple, effective and most importantly, fun. He could have done anything he wanted with this movie and I wouldn’t have cared, because he knows how to keep it fun, even when you least expect it to remain as such.

That’s Michelle Pfeiffer? Uh. Yeah. Time has not done well for her.

And a whole bunch of that fun extends to the cast, too, who are, as expected, game for this kind of silly material. Charlie Cox, in a pre-Daredevil role, shows a great deal of charm as Tristan, a dork-of-a-man who we like right from the get-go and sort of stand-by, no matter where he goes, or what he does. Claire Danes is also quite great as Yvaine, the star with a whole butt-load of personality. Danes knows how to make this wacky material work and come-off not so wacky, and yes, her and Cox have a neat little bit of chemistry that transcends most other movies that are just like this.

In that we actually care and want them to get together in the end.

The rest of the cast is, thankfully, having a ball here. Michelle Pfeiffer shows up as the main evil witch, vamping it up and having an absolute ball; Robert De Niro may seem out-of-place, initially, as a pirate, but really blends in with this goofy-world; Mark Strong is, as usual, charming and a lot of fun as Prince Septimus, Tristan’s ultimate foe; and well, there’s plenty more where that came from. The real joy is just getting a chance to see everyone here show up, have a good time, and not make us feel like we aren’t involved with it, either.

We are and that’s the greatest joy of all.

Consensus: Despite its silliness, Stardust wears its heart and soul on its sleeve, with a fun and exciting pace, matched by an even more charming ensemble.

8 / 10

There were a lot of Italian pirates back in those days, people! Come on!

Photos Courtesy of: Paramount Pictures

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Ratatouille (2007)

Some French people are so pretentious, that they’d actually think a rat who cooks food is “neat” and “ground-breaking”.

Though Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a rat stuck living the countryside, where he has to search for and steal whatever sort of grub he can find, he still dreams of doing something better with his life. In this better life of his, not only is he appreciating his food more, but also making it himself and dedicates plenty of his time to reading a cookbook from the late, but well-known Chef Gusteau (Brad Garrett). One day, however, Remy is forced to take up a different path than he normally does and, much to his surprise, finds himself in Gusteau’s restaurant’s kitchen. Here, Remy feels as if he can let his talents run wild, but how can he? For one, he’s a rat, and as most people know, rats and kitchens don’t quite go well. Then, there’s also the fact that he’s a rat and can’t be understood by humans. So yeah, the odds are stacked-up against Remy, but once a new chef named Linguini (Lou Romano). Despite Linguini’s awkward persona and general lack of prior experience in the kitchen, Linguini happens to be Gusteau’s kid, which gets him the job in the first place. But because Linguini is so desperate and willing to keep his job and make sure that he doesn’t disappoint his supposed father, he actually decides to take lessons from Remy and learn how to not just be a better cook, but in the process, become a better person, as well.

Take that dairy!

Take that dairy!

It’s still surprises, even until this very day, how an idea like this worked? I know it sounds so simple, but really, a movie about a rat making food? It’s so stupid and silly, in fact, that somehow, it made perfect sense why it would all work out. Because Ratatouille is, of course, a Pixar picture, there’s going to be a whole lot more effort, heart and emotion put into play; not to mention that because Brad Bird works on it, there’s going to be a chock full of inspiration, as well.

Which is exactly what Ratatouille is.

Pixar movies, from the very beginning, have always followed a sort of pattern that they so rarely stray away from. Granted, there are certain variations on the structure but, for the most part, there’s always this general sense that every Pixar movie is made out to be the very same as the last one, given the obvious differences in terms of plot, characters and general location. But it’s hard to get on Pixar’s case because they’ve always been known to kick some fine ass; though they definitely had a rough streak of three years-in-a-row with Cars 2, Brave and Monsters University, they still bounced back with Inside Out, showing that not only were they able to get back their creative-genius, but remind people why they fell so hard and deep in love with their movies to begin with.

It’s honestly a manipulative system, but it’s one that I will always continue to fall for, so long as Pixar continues to churn out actual, good movies that don’t feel like they exist to sell a whole bunch of T-shirts and toys.

Even though, yes, that’s exactly what they’re made for.

But despite all of this, Ratatouille is the kind of Pixar movie that makes you wonder just how they do it all. Because, for one, Ratatouille is a funny movie in that it’s not only just cute, but quite witty; there’s certain jokes that are clearly written in a smart-enough way that only an adult paying attention would be able to understand. Of course there are definitely jokes made for the younger-ones out there, but they mostly have to do with obvious slapstick – the adults are the ones who get treated to jokes about French people, food, and critics.

Speaking of which, Ratatouille isn’t just a movie based on the pure humor and fun of its gimmick. Sure, watching Remy and Linguini get together, work in tandem, and create all of these fancy dishes for even fancier people, is more than enough to make you want to step into the kitchen and whip up your own concoction, whatever it may be. Though we’re all talking about CGI food and whatnot here, it’s still hard not to get wrapped-up in everything and start to feel the adrenaline and fun one gets while creating something and absolutely loving every second of it.

Once again, this is an animated flick I’m talking about here, people.

But then again, it’s Pixar, so we all know what I’m talking about.

Like I was saying before, the heart of Ratatouille is what really helps it out in the end. What’s perhaps most interesting about Ratatouille is that there’s no real one, key moment where the water-works are demanded to start working. In other Pixar movies, this is very much the case; the first Toy Story has Buzz realizing that he’s an actual toy and not a real astronaut from Star Command, Monsters, Inc. has that tearful goodbye with Boo, and, as everybody knows, Up has the first ten minutes. Of course, there’s plenty more of these moments in other Pixar movies and I promise you, they don’t sound as obvious as I may make them out to be – you just know to expect one when you’re watching a Pixar movie.

That’s why it’s so strange that Ratatouille, despite featuring some nice moments of heart and kindness, doesn’t really have one of those moments. Then again, it doesn’t need one, because it’s already as sweet and as endearing as can be. Bird, despite working with animated characters who look like over-the-top caricatures, is able to give each and everyone their own bit of back-story/personality that makes them feel like actual characters with personalities that we can identify with.

Rats are cute and all, but they shouldn't be allowed in kitchens. No matter if they sound like Patton Oswalt.

Rats are cute and all, but they shouldn’t be allowed in kitchens. Regardless of if they sound like Patton Oswalt.

The most perfect example of this is the prestigious food critic, Anton Ego, as voiced by the late Peter O’Toole. As most people know, critics don’t always get the soft side of the blade in movies – that’s why, whenever a movie comes out that portrays critics as being something other than miserable, cruel sad-sacks that hate their own lives so much, that they have to project their negative feelings onto other people’s hard work and dedication, it’s quite a lovely surprise. Here, we get the feeling that Anton is, yes, a very intimidating and picky figure, but, just like he states in the movie, it’s all for a reason. He loves food so much, that when he gets food that he doesn’t like or think is actually “good”, he spits it back out.

He loves his trade and he will do anything to ensure that the best players in said trade, continue to get the praise they deserve.

That said, Ego isn’t the only one who gets the lovely treatment here. Remy, as voiced by the lovable Patton Oswalt, goes through an awful lot of transformations here that help this character develop, despite being just a talking-rat; Linguini may have that nerdy shtick, but also seems to have it all come from a soft place in his heart, which helps make his growth, as a character, seem all the more believable; and Ian Holm, as the constantly paranoid and crazy Chef Skinner, also seems like he loves cooking so much, that he will do anything to make sure that his legacy stays alive and running, by any means. There’s plenty of other recognizable voices and nice characters here, both of which, go hand-in-hand oh so perfectly.

And you know what? Despite there being no big moment in Ratatouille, I still teared-up and awful lot!

Damn you, Pixar!

Consensus: Ratatouille is another addition to the long list of Pixar flicks that are not only funny, entertaining and heartfelt, but also have an endearing, rather inspirational message about always doing the right thing and being your best self. It’s typical Pixar, but hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

9.5 / 10

Paris. Still a beautiful place to see. So do it.

Paris. Still a beautiful place to see. So do it.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Venus (2006)

All somebody needs in life is a little acceptance. Even from a dirty old man who just wants to get in your knickers.

Maurice (Peter O’Toole) is nearing the end of his life, but still keeps a smile on his face and himself busy with work. He’s an aging-actor that takes jobs as lifeless corpses in certain shows and movies, however, it’s work nonetheless, and that’s more than he can say for his dear old buddy Ian (Leslie Phillips), whom he gathers with every so often to hang out, shoot the shit, drink some tea, read the paper and talk about people who have just recently passed. Since Ian himself is getting so old, his family thinks it would be best for him to be looked after, so then enters his great grandniece Jessie (Jodie Whittaker), who, at first, he thinks is going to practically save his life and make him feel young again, but once he actually gets to meet her, realizes anything but. However, what doesn’t happen to Ian, happens to Maurice and sooner than later, he finds himself hanging around Jessie more, getting to know her, helping her get some steady work as a “model”, gaining some confidence in herself and sometimes, even being the object of his desires and pleasures. Yeah, it gets pretty creepy, as you can tell.

That Petey O'Toole. Sure could get down with the best of them youngsters.

That Petey O’Toole. Sure could get down with the best of them youngsters.

With a story like this, it’s hard not to get at least a little bit uncomfortable, all because who likes watching it when old, creepy and decrepit men, start pawning after young, blissful women? Nobody, and even though it definitely does happen in the real world (half of Hollywood), it isn’t like we really want to see a movie about it, let alone one that practically sympathizes for the man’s case. Then again though, you also have to take into consideration that the old, creepy and decrepit man called into question is in fact Peter O’Toole, and then you realize, “Oh, well he can’t be that bad! Can he?” And thus, we have our movie’s dilemma, but yet, a very good one that makes this a lot more interesting in the way it plays-out, then the way it looks on paper.

I guess the only real way to start this review off, and to start it right would be to credit the most important, and best aspect that this movie has going for it: Legendary stage-actor himself, Peter O’Toole in one of his final roles ever on screen. Knowing what we know about him now, it’s hard to watch a movie like this seeing as how his character is practically a take on his own person. For instance, the character of Maurice is an aging stage-actor that although may not be so noticeable and famous that he needs a bodyguard to keep hordes of fans from attacking him on the streets, is still a big enough deal in certain social-circles to where he gets invited to fancy parties, complimented on his past performances and maybe, just maybe gets asked for a few autographs here and there. And while this would probably make any 74-year-old man more than happy, it somehow doesn’t put a whole smile on Maurice’s face, instead, he just wishes he could turn back time and relive all of his glory days, and possibly make-up for the mistakes that he’s made; of which he has plenty.

That’s why we do sort of sympathize with him, in a way, to when he starts hanging around this much-younger gal, begins complimenting her on her body and sometimes, even touching her in inappropriate matters. Yes, it can be quite painful to watch since you know they don’t stand a single chance in hell of shacking up and living happily ever after for a couple more years together, but you still understand why a guy like Maurice is falling weak at the knees for this girl, so therefore, you don’t quite hate him as much as you do feel bad for him. This is all because of O’Toole’s performance and in the way he’s able to make us see how a guy as accomplished as this, who has been through so many ups and downs in his life, doesn’t look at the life he has now with a frown and paranoid feeling of death being in the air, but more of a hopeful, inspired feel that makes him act as if he could die tomorrow, and he wouldn’t feel like he’s stepping out on anything. In that aspect, it’s sad, but to see the way O’Toole has his character look at life with the sunny-side-up, you can’t help but be on his side and hope that he keeps on being happy.

However, you do also make sure that he doesn’t try anything too dirty with this young girl. That much is certain.

Hey, lady! Can't you read the sign?!?!? Oh....

Hey, lady! Can’t you read the sign?!?!? Oh….

And speaking of this young girl, Jodie Whittaker, despite being stacked-up against one of the best ever, doesn’t really disappoint in terms of giving us a female character that feels like a troubled, upset and self-conscience girl that just needs some guidance in her life, and will take it in any which way she can. Her character isn’t written very-well, and you can definitely tell when personal problems of her own are more than likely going to come up and disrupt the rest of the plot, but Whittaker always feels raw and understated, which never got in the way of the always-amazing O’Toole. Good for her, and good for me. Also, be on the lookout for a small, supporting role from Vanessa Redgrave as Maurice’s ex-wife that still has some problems with him, yet, is ultimately forgiving in the end. Wish I could say the same about some of my ex’s, but so be it.

But the reason why I’m high-lighting these performances so much, particularly O’Toole’s, is because, when you get down to the nooks and crannies of this thing, they’re the only thing keeping it altogether. The plot is, for lack of a better term, lifeless and goes through the usual hoops that one dramedy needs to go through in order to have development, have a problem and have a resolution. It’s not a terrible story per se, it’s just not a very original, or compelling one. It’s just solely there to give these actors a chance to work their magic and that is exactly what they do, even if it does feel like there could have been more working here, had the screenplay itself not felt like such an afterthought. Oh well, at least we had Peter O’Toole doing what he does best, and what a legend we are truly going to miss.

Consensus: While Venus rests solely on the shoulders of its performances, mainly O’Toole’s, it’s still in good hands considering they are all what gives this movie life, hope and most of all, a heart that never stops beating, even when the end seems very near.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

What an ass Peter O'Toole looks like right there...

What an ass Peter O’Toole looks like right there…

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

Troy (2004)

Now I know more about history.

In 1193 B.C., the love-struck Prince Paris of Troy (Orlando Bloom) kidnaps legendary beauty Helen (Diane Kruger) from her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta, setting the two nations on a fast-and-sure collision course for war and bloodshed. The Greeks, including Achilles (Brad Pitt), marshal their entire armada, sail to Troy and begin a decade-long siege. Eric Bana plays Hector, the leader of the Trojan forces, and Sean Bean is the wily Ulysses.

I’m not a huge reader of old Greek mythology, but I know my way around it. However, due to this film, I may want to give them all a second reading.

This film is really great to look at, and you do have a fun time. The set pieces and costumes are extremely beautiful, and you almost feel as if you are in ancient Greece watching all these battles go on. The battle sequences are awesome. If you love watching bows fly in the sky, and swords be thrown around like frisbees, then this is definitely the film for you cause the violence here is down-right bangin’.

The problem with this film is that when all the action is not going on, there really isn’t much else to this film to keep you entertained for long. I thought that the script was pretty lame, and there are a lot of lines that seem cheesy and cliche.

You also can’t really connect to these characters cause the film is more about the events happening, and less about the actual people involved. The film doesn’t really give you an idea as to who the bad, and the guys are, and it’s not that you can make up that assumption for yourself, the film doesn’t really let you in to figure that out. So by the ending, I didn’t feel any real connection to these characters, and their fates were kind of not as important to me. These actual historical figures seem more of action hero cliches rather than actual people, and that’s the problem cause you could have actually rooted behind some of these people if the film just let you. But you are never really given that chance.

The acting for me here was pretty good. Brad Pitt is oddly in this film, and it seems kind of strange, but I think this was his days before Angelina, so it’s kind of understandable that his career didn’t really pick up just yet. He’s good as Achillies and actually brings a charm to his character that I wasn’t expecting him to do with such a cheesy script, but that just proves his skills as an actor. I also liked Eric Bana as well, and thought that his performance as Hector, brought a lot of emotion to the film that it needed. Orlando Bloom was kind of a downer for me, cause his performance isn’t that good, and his character is even worse. I don’t know what he was trying to do here, but being compelling surely wasn’t one of them. Diane Kruger is alright in this film as well as Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Peter O’Toole, and the always reliable Brian Cox.

Consensus: It’s beautiful to look at, and the action is exciting, but the film’s bad script, keeps Troy away from the emotional resonance that could have actually helped the film be more than just a standard action movie.

6/10=Rental!!