I didn’t expect much going into it, except for a relatively good time, and just a fine way to spend a night of nothing to do, but what I got was a lot more.
The direction by Matthew Vaughn is very good, and was surprised that his only other direction credit comes from a gritty crime film, which I also thought was innovative. He uses some of the charm from his other film, L4yer Cake by making the “PG” action scenes very interesting, as well as tense. He also had a lot of ‘fanatical’ vision, which also was very surprising. He did a great job with good material, and made the movie a huge summer surprise for me.
As well as directing the film, Matthew Vaughn adapted the screenplay from the novel, alongside Jane Goldman. The screenplay is very interesting, with it’s captivating plot, great characters, and a lot of good humor, done very well by the cast. I assume that it’s a good adaptation (never read the book), because it contains everything a good ‘fantasy’ film should have, which is a lot of interesting ideas, unrealistic but yet “plausible” story (plausible meaning ‘suspending your disbelief’) and character’s you won’t find anywhere else. A true fantasy film, and certainly one of the better ones in awhile.
The ensemble of the film was extravagant. From the unknown lead of the film Charlie Cox, to the hilarious cameo from Ricky Gervais, the cast was basically flawless.
Starting with Peter O’toole in his small role as “The King“, which is an important role, because he sets off the entire plot. The small time he has on the screen isn’t a problem for Mr. O’toole, as he transforms such a seemingly average role, into something much bigger. In his few minutes on the screen, he creates tension, great comic timing, and delivers some very weird lines, perfectly.
Sienna Miller, who I assumed had a much larger role, was pretty good in her small role as “Victoria“. I was disappoint with how little screen time she had. She just played her role, that’s it. Nothing too special about her character, hence nothing too special about her performance.
Mark Strong was very impressive in his role as “Septimus“. His character is full of fury, and a lot of evilness, and he pulls the role off so realistically, that it’s scary at how easily he transformed into a monster. He delivered all of his lines with a fiery attitude, which made his story the best of the 3.
Robert De Niro plays a character named “Captain Shakespeare“, and if you’ve asked around about the film, most people will tell you his performance is excellent, and I’d have to agree. I think he was made for the role, because no one can pull off such an interesting character like Robert. Every line delivered was either hilarious, or true to real life. Never before in my life have I seen an 8 minute role done so well.
Michelle Pfeiffer plays the true antagonist of the film, and with such magnificent attitude. She plays a ‘witch’ (I’d say), named “Lamia“, who is kniving as well as full of pure hatred for everything, and everyone. Michelle truly captures the essence of the role, and does a wonderful job with it. She is one of the only actresses, I can call a true ‘character actress’.
Onto the leads of the film, starting with Claire Danes, who is love or hate. I personally, think that she is a good actress, but nothing more. She can turn a great performance, and she can turn an average performance, but so far hasn’t impressed me. In this film, she plays ‘the fallen star’ Yvaine, and does a good job in the role. She works her emotions either just right, or over the top. She has good chemistry with her co-lead in the film Charlie Cox, having a few great scenes with him. On a side note, her eyes irritate me at times, because when she delivers an important line/monologue, she opens her eyes wide, and it makes me take what she’s saying very lightly. Onto the main character of the film “Tristran“, played by Charlie Cox, a predominantly unknown British actor. Honestly, I didn’t expect a good performance from this young actor at all. I thought he was just meant to be in this role, because he could attract teenage girls, but I was wrong. He was cast in the role, because he truly fit the part. Cox delivers his lines with poise, and never falters throughout the entirety of the film. He could’ve done more with the role, but considering I hadn’t heard of him before this film, he did a very good job, and is certainly someone I’d like to see more of.
The technical aspects of the film range from excellent to average.
Starting with the average, the score by Ilan Eshkeri is basically that. He doesn’t bring any new ideas with his composing, and just brings around the same, ‘cliche’ adventure score. To me, it seemed as if he stole a lot of his ‘ideas’ from Hans Zimmer’s score in Pirates of the Carribean.
The cinematography by Ben Davis, who also did a great job with Hannibal Rising earlier this year, brings a lot of great settings for scenes. He creates a very mystical atmosphere, which draws you into the film more, giving you a better feel for the story and situations.
The visual effects were pretty good as well. Sometimes a little on the corny side, but still good. There was nothing fancy about them either, which was a relief because lately films focus more on their special effects, rather than the film itself.
The sound of the film was also very well done, no flaws that I saw of at least. A lot of realistic sounds from very unrealistic things.
The art direction was wonderful. From the decrepit, pale interior of a house inhabited by careless people, to the extravagant kingdom, it’s very well done. The same can be said for it’s costume design. It ranges from the prestigious clothing of a king, to a very torn, ragged robe.