(Photo by Sony Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection)
Who had a more explosive directorial debut in the rollicking, post-Pulp Fiction ’90s than Guy Ritchie with his Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels? The stylish, gritty descent into the criminal underworld rocked both sides of the Atlantic, which then gave Ritchie the opportunity to give his style an even slicker, international sheen with Snatch.
So synonymous is Ritchie with this style and subject matter that no matter where his career takes him, whenever he returns to this topic it’s always celebrated as a back-to-basics comeback. RocknRolla, for example, helped sweep away the sour tastes of Swept Away and Revolver.
And now The Gentlemen and Wrath of Man have arrived as counterpoint to the blockbuster bombast of Aladdin and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. (Though certainly Sherlock Holmes and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. found a happy, kinetic medium between these two extremes.)
Which movies are his Freshest? Find out in our guide to every Guy Ritchie movie, ranked by Tomatometer!
(Photo by Michael Gibson/STX Entertainment)
To some fans, Idris Elba will forever be Stringer Bell from The Wire. To others, he’ll always be best remembered as John Luther. For still others, he’s the guy who gave us the Heimdall of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or — and this is admittedly a much smaller subset — finally brought gunslinger Roland Deschain to the big screen in the long-gestating adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. All of which is to say that Mr. Elba’s done a lot in his impressive career, and by all appearances, he’s still just getting started: even if those persistent rumors about him taking over the James Bond franchise never pan out, he’s got plenty of projects lined up to add to an eclectic filmography that already includes some of the more popular and widely acclaimed TV and film releases in recent memory, including an original character in The Suicide Squad. And now we’re ranking all Idris Elba movies by Tomatometer!
Robert Downey Jr. can’t quite remember why he was on the phone to Guy Ritchie the first time Sherlock Holmes was mentioned, but it was to give him some advice about the trailer for his comic thriller RocknRolla, not to bid for the lead in his $80m Victorian detective caper. But Downey does remember that when the conversation finally swung round that way, Ritchie told him he’d be too old for it anyway.
Nevertheless, within weeks of that chat, a press conference was held in the Freemasons Hall in central London, announcing the news that Downey had signed to play the eccentric sleuth. Just over 12 months later, the film is imminent, and what at first looked like stunt casting now appears to be a stroke of crazy genius. Once a cadaverous codger with a deerstalker hat and fogey pipe, Arthur Conan Doyle‘s most famous literary creation gets a jolt of adrenaline with Downey’s firecracker performance, cutting a psychedelic swathe through the fog of Old London Town.
He talks exclusively to Rotten Tomatoes about the challenge of playing the most brilliant man there never was…
Robert Downey Jr.: Well, I never thought I could or couldn’t, actually. I just remember talking to Joel Silver and saying, “Dude, where’s our franchise?” Joel Silver and Mrs. Downey had done Guy’s film previous to Sherlock, RocknRolla. Rather, they had put up the dough and had enjoyed the results. In the meantime, [producer] Lionel Wigram, had, I guess, been trying to figure out – like the rest of us, once we got it going – how come Sherlock Holmes had not been snatched up and done already? I remember in the 80s, 90s and on through nowadays, all search engines were on high alert for what the next franchise could be. So I guess it had been hiding in plain sight all along.
RD: Absolutely. That, to me, was the whole point. The realisation I had was that Holmes and Watson were the first action duo – I dare anybody to predate them. So I thought, Wow, this really is a two-hander. And while the script had the relationship there, I’m sure, initially, it was geared toward reintroducing a generation to Holmes himself. And maybe it was, partially, to share the load, or take off the pressure, but I think more so because it was my first instinct, I said, ‘Well, this is a movie about two guys.’ The movie, just as the books, is told, through Doyle as Watson, describing Holmes and his adventures. At a certain level, Doyle is Watson. It’s hard to make that come through in the script, because usually when studios take a property, they decide to spin a point of view on it. Well, this one didn’t need to be spun, we just needed to find the right guy. So we were pursuing Jude, and, understandably, he was cautiously optimistic. I asked him to come over to… where were we staying? What’s the coolest old-school hotel in London?
Robert Downey Jr. with Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes.
RD: Claridges! Of course. And I had a feeling it was kind of a perfect match, as all of the females on my team all of a sudden needed to be in the hallway for no reason when he was coming up in the elevator. So I thought that it could really work for everybody. I knew that it was gonna work out, because two seconds after we started sitting down and having a coffee, we were already talking like we were shaping and workshopping every and anything that was possible with these guys. And, most of all, we were looking back into the massive database of books and short stories regarding those two fellows.
RD: Very much so. And that just goes back to Doyle. Doyle was a serious spiritualist. He was in touch with a lot of intuitive folks. I know there’s some square, maybe it’s Berkeley Square, in London where he had a spiritual society. As a matter of fact, in the 80s, when I was doing Air America, I used to go to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Spiritual Society and listen to mediums as they shared the intimate goings on of the recently deceased with their mourning loved ones.
Continue on to page 2 as Downey shares his curiousity about spiritualism, the rumours about Brad Pitt’s Moriarty and what we can expect from Iron Man 2.
RD: It was a curiosity. Yeah, I was a kid. By the way, I don’t believe in it or not believe in it. It is what it is and there are certain realms of activity where you can get information.
RD: That’s still the case. I like it when you take something in a movie that obviously lends itself to making a couple more. It’s the same thing we did with Iron Man. At the end of Iron Man he reveals his identity. So we did not disappoint the audience by using all the same Texas Hold ‘Em cards as the studios, which usually wind up making a decision that is for the quote-unquote best.
RD: Yeah. I mean, the rumours have changed a couple of times, and I definitely talked to Brad about it. There’s just really no telling where it’s going to go. But the good news for us is that I think that this version of Holmes, if we’re lucky, will really be a done and dusted calling card for whoever winds up being Moriarty, if we continue.
Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes.
RD: I think we’ll know December 28, to tell you the truth. We’ll know a few days after the movie opens if it’s going to perform, generally, well enough to continue.
RD: My take – Jon [Favreau] was in agreement, and Marvel supported us – was that once you tell an origins story pretty well, that’s usually where things start to get dull, and one or two or three things start to happen over and over again. So, we made Tony Stark’s challenges very much outside the usual realm of activity. As much as anything else, it’s much more of a side job for him the second time around. And the great thing, too, is that the Marvel universe is wild; it’s so far out. That’s the big balance to strike. It would be so easy to go so far out it would intergalactic and nothing would be grounded in reality any more.
RD: I think what worked for Iron Man is that it almost seemed like something from the cover of Popular Mechanics. These kinds of suits were starting to be made in the States and Japan, so people were responding to Iron Man almost as though it was a more of a high-tech James Bond. So how could we start to introduce elements of the storylines in the comics without becoming too outlandish, where it wasn’t rooted in some kind of reality? That’s my big thing, and the only thing that’s really been of been of any benefit with my – quote, unquote – successes recently, is that they have allowed people to trust my instincts more comfortably, and to give me a little more creative leverage. And that’s all that matters, because all the other stuff comes and goes.
I’m really, really, really hell-bent on protecting what’s beautiful about my relationship with Marvel and my relationship with Jon Favreau first and foremost, then, secondarily, Iron Man at large. And the tertiary element is always the audience: what would I pay to see if these schmucks had me roped in to come see the movie again? Because I kinda know I’m going to go anyway, and I hope that I’m not sorry I went.
Sherlock Holmes is released on 25th December in the US and 26th December in the UK and Australia. Iron Man 2 follows in 2010.
The year is beginning to get good for home video enthusiasts, with a band of notable new titles and Blu-ray releases to get your itchy fingers twitching. Add Guy Ritchie’s latest cockney caper to your collection (Rocknrolla), see Woody Allen’s awards season romance (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), immerse yourself in the real-life legal woes of one of modern cinema’s greatest directors (Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired), and pick up a Disney classic on her 45th birthday (Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition). And who out there with a Blu-ray player can resist nabbing this week’s glorious HD offerings (The Bourne Trilogy, Zodiac Director’s Cut)?
After debuting with 1998’s smashing Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, director Guy Ritchie hit upon a successful formula: tell stylized, twisty tales set in London’s criminal underworld in which a host of unsavory sorts double-cross one another on end. Genius! If only he hadn’t stuck so doggedly to that recipe. Ritchie claws his way back toward Fresh territory with yet another British crime caper, RocknRolla, in which a host of unsavory sorts double cross one another on end, among them Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Tom Wilkinson, and newcomer Toby Kebbell. While it’s not the second coming of Snatch, Rocknrolla is nevertheless a return to form for the cockney gangster genre master, and worth a rental for Ritchie fans. Pick up the Special Edition for a commentary track with Ritchie and star Mark Strong, which headlines a fairly sparse bonus menu.
Next: Vicky Cristina Penelope Scarlett
Fresh off its win for Best Comedy at the Golden Globes, Vicky Cristina Barcelona comes to DVD this week. Woody Allen’s sexy tale about two BFFs (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall) embroiled in a love quadrangle with a Spanish artist (Javier Bardem) and his ex-wife (Penelope Cruz, Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress) garnered kudos in limited release last year while steadily generating solid awards season buzz; at 82 percent on the Tomatometer, it’s Allen’s best-reviewed film since Everyone Says I Love You and Bullets Over Broadway, and his best collaboration with new muse Johansson (Scoop, Match Point). Vicky Cristina Barcelona is also one of Allen’s first Blu-ray titles (Scarlett and Penelope in High Def!), though all of that extra disc space is wasted thanks to exactly zero special features.
Next: Ed Norton and Colin Farrell in Pride and Glory
3. Pride and Glory — 34%
Edward Norton and Colin Farrell face off in Pride and Glory as good and bad members of a Boston cop family in Gavin O’Connor’s drama, co-written by Joe “Smokin’ Aces” Carnahan and co-starring Jon Voight. But clichéd Bostonian dialogue and silly-yet-generic writing turned this promising project into a turkey of a drama, and most critics agreed it was skip-worthy. A single featurette and a digital copy of the film can be found on the 2-disc Special Edition (what, no room for extras?), although said featurette is an hour-long documentary about the making of the film.
Next: Sam Jackson menaces in Lakeview Terrace
Samuel L. Jackson has proven that he can turn any silly premise into an exercise in badass-ness. But, snakes on airliners aside, is that enough to make even the most absurd of thrillers watchable? (We’re not even talking about Jumper.) Jackson stars in Lakeview Terrace as an LAPD officer who turns less than protective when an interracial couple moves in next door; directed by Neil LaBute, who’s had previous experience mining unintentional laughs from self-serious situations (Wicker Man, we’re looking at you), the film veers into ridiculous territory by the time the hills of Los Angeles get swept up in a heavily symbolic brush fire. Actress Kerry Washington and director LaBute appear in a feature-length commentary and commentary on deleted scenes, while three additional featurettes round out the special features.
Next: Adolescent hijinks in College
MSBNC.com’s Alonso Duralde called it one of 2008’s very worst films in our RT Tomatometer Critic poll; this week, judge for yourself as the puerile comedy College comes to DVD. In it, three high school seniors spend one hellish weekend at a college, where they hope to stumble into sex-filled party times, a la Harold, Kumar, Bluto Blutarsky, and everyone from American Pie. Instead, they find themselves humiliated — as are we, by proxy, for watching. The film’s unrated cut must be considered a “bonus” by some stretch, as no other features accompany the disc.
Next: The Rocker does not go to eleven
Rainn Wilson (The Office‘s Dwight Schrute) rocks out with his, uh, mullet out in this lame comedy about a has-been drummer who’s last chance for stardom is joining a high school garage band. Though its cast strains mightily to bring some enjoyment to their thankless roles, The Rocker‘s Christina Applegate, Emma Stone, and director Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) fail to turn this one up to eleven.
Next: Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
The story of auteur director Roman Polanski and his years-long exile from Hollywood is infamous; this documentary explores the behind-the-scenes tale in depth, from the loss of Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, to the legal firestorm that followed his fateful sexual encounter with a teenage model in 1977. Director Marina Zenovich focuses her lens on Judge Laurence Rittenband, the volatile justice whose personal crusade left an indelible effect on the legal proceedings, and consequently, on Polanski’s life. Interviews with Polanski associates and lawyers discussing the case — and the question of whether or not Polanski will ever return to the States — supplement this highly fascinating documentary.
Next: Kirk Cameron’s Christian indie, Fireproof
Though a handful of faith-based films make their way to theaters and DVD each year, Christian cinema got its biggest boost (that is, aside from Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ) with a small family drama starring former Growing Pains actor (and evangelical Christian) Kirk Cameron. The story of a firefighter struggling with marital problems is not for everybody; like many films with a specific genre, if you’re in its target demographic, you probably already know about it. Deleted scenes, filmmaker commentary, gag reels and many, many more features also comprise the release.
Next: Mary Poppins celebrates her 45th birthday
One of Disney’s best-loved classics is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. Pick up this remastered version of Mary Poppins to share the tale with a new generation, and to get lost in a bounty of bonus features surrounding the production and legacy of the film. If you already own one of the previously released Anniversary Editions, seeing the umpteenth featurette on songs like “Spoonful of Sugar” and even the deleted song, “Chimpanzoo,” may not seem so fresh; if you’re not yet a Mary Poppins owner, however, the 45th Anniversary edition should make an incredibly comprehensive addition to your collection.
Next: The Bourne Trilogy comes to Blu-ray!
Finally, you can watch all three of Jason Bourne’s shaky rooftop chases in glorious HD! All three films — The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum — come to Blu-ray this week with an array of special features. While all contain their previously released “vintage” special features, you’ll also find new Blu-ray exclusive materials, including Picture-in-Picture interviews and cast snippets, “Spy Training” quizzes, and a pop-up trivia feature. All three also feature director commentary tracks.
Next: The Bourne Trilogy comes to Blu-ray!
Given Zodiac‘s underappreciated theatrical run back in 2007, it’s nice to think that David Fincher’s gripping retelling of the real-life serial killings can enjoy a second life of sorts on home video. Pick up this 2-Disc Director’s Cut for a five-minutes longer version of the film, which is about as lossless as they come; even the real 1980s San Francisco didn’t look as good as Fincher’s 1980s San Francisco. Tons of extras also abound here, including commentaries by Fincher, James Ellroy, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr., and fantastic featurettes that reveal more details (and CG work) than you might have realized went into production.
In the final weekend before a new president is elected, all polls show that the raunchy comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno is the leading ticket among the frame’s new candidates. Horror fans will get a fright flick with The Haunting of Molly Hartley which creeps into theaters on Friday, Halloween Day. Two films in limited release expand nationwide too – Angelina Jolie‘s missing son drama Changeling and Guy Ritchie‘s crime pic RockNRolla. All will have to work hard in order to beat out the incumbent hit High School Musical 3 which is coming off of a spectacular debut. Overall, the five-week box office winning streak should come to an end as North American ticket sales are not likely to top year-ago levels when November kicked off with a bang.
Years before Judd Apatow became a brand name in the business of R-rated comedies there was Kevin Smith who now leaves behind New Jersey for Pittsburgh in his newest laugher Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The Weinstein Co. release stars Apatow regular Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as two life-long friends and debt-ridden roommates who decide to film an X-rated flick in order to make some quick cash. Older teens and young adults will take interest here and cross-gender appeal is solid. Reviews have not been glowing, but they are more than adequate for a pic like this. The catchy title and savvy marketing materials will also spark interest with audiences looking for envelope-pushing humor. And a divide and conquer approach to the advertising has led to tame television shows having spots for Zack and Miri while commercials on more crude shows use the full Porno title.
It’s been a good year for raunchy R-rated comedies with openings of $17.7M for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, $30.9M for Will Ferrell‘s Step Brothers, and $23.2M for Pineapple Express. All were produced by Apatow. But Smith is a bankable name too especially when he’s outside the Jersey Girl world. Zack should build upon the audiences that came out for the 2006 pic Clerks II ($10.1M) and 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back ($11M). Rogen has become a superstar in this genre so his name will draw sales too giving Smith his biggest debut ever. Competition will come primarily from Saw V and Max Payne. Young adults looking to get away from the non-stop election coverage this weekend will have a very appealing option with this one. Bowing in 2,735 locations, Zack and Miri Make a Porno may gross around $19M this weekend.
Aiming for 14-year-olds that can’t get into Saw V and find HSM3 uncool, Freestyle Releasing unleashes its PG-13 horror flick The Haunting of Molly Hartley on Halloween Day. The story of a teenage girl whose soul was sold to the devil lacks starpower, but its intriguing concept and spooky marketing materials should allow it to connect with its target audience in the short term. Plus the rating will allow it to reach a wide audience of younger teens looking for a good scare so the timing is good. Competition from the Jigsaw sequel’s second weekend will certainly curtail Molly‘s potential. And Freestyle is not known for drawing large crowds to their releases so don’t expect a runaway smash like The Grudge or The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Creeping into 2,250 locations, The Haunting of Molly Hartley might bow to about $11M.
The Angelina Jolie mother-in-crisis flick Changeling got off to a robust start last weekend averaging $32,601 from only 15 theaters. Universal got the word out for the Clint Eastwood-directed pic with that limited bow and will now go nationwide expanding to 1,856 sites on Friday. Changeling has starpower working in its favor as Eastwood and Jolie are both popular draws – in the right movie. Plus there is little competition for older adults right now. However, the mixed reviews and grim subject matter will dampen interest with mature audiences. The long running time and lack of Oscar buzz won’t help either. Plus films that take place in the 20s and 30s generally do not perform all that well. There was a time when dramas like Seabiscuit could pull in over $100M outside of awards season. Those days are gone. Changeling might take in about $9M this weekend.
By what must be pure coincidence, Guy Ritchie‘s confirmation of his divorce plans got the director plenty of press right when his new film RockNRolla was hitting theaters in limited release. The Gerard Butler starrer bowed in seven theaters to a muscular $20,672 average, but then saw the figure slump significantly to $6,103 from 22 sites and then dip again to $5,404 from 19 locations in the third session. That does not bode well for the nationwide expansion on Friday when the R-rated crime pic widens to 826 theaters. Look for the average for RockNRolla to get diluted down much further with a weekend gross of under $2M.
Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, et al in RocknRolla
Last weekend’s top two films should suffer hefty declines thanks to their built-in audiences all rushing out on opening weekend, but given their relatively low costs each is already singing in the rain. High School Musical 3 will have more than $45M in the bank after its first full week of release, but its 9% Friday-to-Saturday drop during the debut frame indicates that the G-rated film is very front-loaded. Fans will buy the DVD and get most of their repeat viewing done that way so a large 55% fall could result this weekend. That would still be less than the sophomore drops of 58% and 67% seen by past Disney Channel pics The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Hannah Montana, respectively. HSM3 could end up with about $19M this weekend and reach a cheery ten-day total of $66M.
Saw V tumbled by a whopping 30% on Saturday from its powerful opening day. The sophomore slide should be on par with what the last installments in the torture franchise have seen. 2006’s Saw III fell by 56% while last year’s Saw IV crumbled by 67%. With Halloween falling on Friday, some fans may get a kick out of spending the later hours with Jigsaw. A 60% decline could result putting Saw V at $12M over three days and pushing the cume to $47M.
Disney will have no new competition for its doggie hit Beverly Hills Chihuahua so a 35% dip may occur. That would give the kidpic roughly $4.5M for the weekend and $84M after one full month of play.
LAST YEAR: Denzel Washington scored a career high opening with American Gangster which bowed at number one with a potent $43.6M for Universal. Ridley Scott, who will be lucky to reach that figure with the entire run of his latest Russell Crowe starrer Body of Lies, found his way to a stellar $130.2M domestically and $265M worldwide. Opening in second targeting families was Jerry Seinfeld‘s animated entry Bee Movie with $38M for Paramount and DreamWorks which went on to collect $126.7M with a global gross of $287M. Saw IV collapsed losing two-thirds of its opening and fell to third with $10.3M for Lionsgate. Rounding out the top five were Buena Vista’s Dan in Real Life and The Game Plan with $7.9M and $3.9M, respectively.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got suspicious spies (Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe), gridiron greats (The Express, starring Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid), underground empires (City of Ember, starring Bill Murray and Tim Robbins), and deadly outbreaks (Quarantine, starring Jennifer Carpenter). What do the critics have to say?
Troubled times inspire troubled movies, and critics say Ridley Scott‘s espionage thriller Body of Lies is brainier and politically sharper than your typical spy yarn. However, others say it gets too bogged down in action scenes to totally hit its mark. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Roger Ferris, a CIA operative who has tracked down a terrorist leader in Jordan; however, he must get approval from his boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), as well as the head of the Jordanian Intelligence agency. Naturally, machinations and intrigue follow. The pundits say Body of Lies‘ impressive pedigree goes a long way toward redeeming the film; it’s well acted and expertly crafted. However, some critics feel the story is way too labyrinthine and scattershot to be emotionally involving. Body of Lies currently stands at 57 percent on the Tomatometer.
The inspirational, tragic life of Ernie Davis was ready-made for cinematic treatment: the first African American player to win college football’s Heisman Trophy, Davis set rushing records — and battled racial prejudice — before succumbing to leukemia on the eve of turning pro. Critics say The Express is a worthy big-screen tribute to one of pigskin’s greatest heroes, overcoming formulaic biopic tropes with sincerity and excellent performance. Rob Brown stars as Davis, an extremely talented but apolitical young man thrust into the harsh glare of history, and Dennis Quaid plays Syracuse coach Ben Schwartzwalder, a man who changes as a result of his charge’s heroic perseverance. The pundits say The Express has plenty of solid gridiron action, and it exceeds typical inspirational sports movie fare with its heart and craft. At 65 percent on the Tomatometer, The Express sails through the uprights.
Set in a crumbling underground city that houses humanity after earth’s surface has become uninhabitable, City of Ember follows the exploits of two youngsters who find a magic box that provides clues on how to escape from the depths. The pundits say City of Ember has whimsy to spare, and should please younger viewers with its phantasmagorical imagery, but the plot is difficult to follow and character development is limited at best. At 46 percent on the Tomatometer, Ember doesn’t quite shine. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we take a closer look at the best-reviewed films of star Bill Murray‘s career.)
It seems that Keira Knightley stars in every other British period piece these days. And, as The Duchess demonstrates, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Knightley stars as Georgiana Spenser, an ancestor of Princess Di’s, who becomes an 18th century style icon while navigating the rough waters of palace life. The pundits say The Duchess is a visual treat, and Knightly and Ralph Fiennes turn in excellent performances. However, some feel The Duchess is too frothy and melodramatic, and forgoes the meaty parts of Spenser’s real-life contributions in favor of obsessing over her frippery and fashion. The Duchess is at 61 percent on the Tomatometer.
Apparently out of concern for critics’ physical well-being, Quarantine has been, ahem, quarantined, since reviews aren’t coming out until the day of its release. The film stars Jennifer Carpenter and Steve Harris as a television crew trapped in an apartment building where a strange outbreak of rabies is causing people to commit savage killings. Kids, guess that Tomatometer!
Also opening this week in
Breakfast with Scot, a comedy about a closeted sportscaster and his flamboyant son, is at 57 percent.
Good Dick, a quirky indie comedy about a video store clerk’s strange relationship with one of the store’s customers, is at 55 percent.
Choose Connor, a thriller about a teenager who learns dark secrets about the congressman for whom he works, is at 38 percent.
Finally, we’d like to sing the praises of halose7en, who correctly guessed An American Carol‘s 14 percent Tomatometer.
Recent Leonardo DiCaprio Movies:
It’s not a vintage week for releases this week, but nevertheless it’s encouraging to see the two big British releases getting their fair share of the plaudits. Guy Ritchie returns to his Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch roots in the London-based gangster flick Rocknrolla. Keira Knightley squeezes into yet another corset for the period drama The Duchess. Nicolas Cage squeezes into yet another improbable hairpiece for the Hollywood remake of Thai hitman thriller Bangkok Dangerous. And the movie literally no-one had been waiting for, Disaster Movie hits our screens. So what did the critics have to say?
After two bona-fide Tomatometer turkeys – Swept Away at 5% and Revolver at 16% – Guy Ritchie returns to more familiar roots with cockney-crime-caper Rocknrolla, and with the film currently at 63%, the critics agree he has taken a step in the right direction. A fine cast, snappy direction and trademark flashy editing add positives, whilst a poor script, naff gags and derivative plotting referencing his own previous movies drag down the movie on the negative side. All in all, a return to form, even if that form wasn’t particularly great in the first place.
The distributors have unashamedly promoted The Duchess with the tagline “There were three people in her marriage” to draw parallels with the titular Duchess of Devonshire and her direct descendent Diana Spencer, but most critics feel the comparisons and allusions in the movie itself are heavy handed and predictable. Just scraping in as Fresh at 65% on the Tomatometer, Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes deliver decent enough performances to prevent it from leaning from period drama to period soap opera.
With limited press screenings, and a review embargo until today, Nic Cage’s latest, Bangkok Dangerous, had a whiff of being Rotten before the day had even began. With a new low for Cage at 10% on the Tomatometer, the critics are wondering when the once-funny and dependable Cage will stop appearing in every pointless remake going. The biggest talking point of the movie seems to be Cage’s hair piece with Charlotte O’Sullivan of London’s Evening Standard saying, “It seems Cage wants the world to believe he still has long, flowing locks; if so, his big mistake was to graft bits of an old shag-pile carpet onto his head. Because that’s what his ‘hair’ looks like.”
The original centred on a deaf-mute hitman, but with Cage starring and producing, this interesting angle on a tired genre is thrown out in favour of Cage, you know, talking and that, so then it does just end up being a tired generic addition to the actors recent poor output.
But what can be said of Disaster Movie other than Movie Disaster? At a truly pathetic 0% on the Tomatometer, its seems that the bottom of the barrel that Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer had been scraping for their previous stinkers, Meet the Spartans and Date Movie, has finally given way and they have started to scrape the mouldy detritus beneath, to bring us what could potentially end up being the worst movie of the year. Devoid of laughs, humour or charm, shamelessly referencing nearly every movie from the last 12 months, seemingly without having seen half of them, Disaster Movie has managed to elicit precisely zero positive points from any of the UK critics.
Quote of the Week
“You’ll find yourself less fixated on inner turmoil than whether you could feasibly slip a cocktail sausage between her perma-pouting lips.”
The Duchess — Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro
RocknRolla is, critics are rumbling, Guy Ritchie‘s powerful return to form, a snappy ensemble crime caper featuring drug dealers, Russian billionaires, rock stars and a priceless painting. And with two sequels planned, along with a big-screen adaptation of Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr., it seems the inventor of the mockney gangster flick has returned from the rocky road of Revolver and Swept Away.
His lead in RocknRolla, Gerard Butler, couldn’t be on finer form. After breaking out in a big way as Leonidas in Zack Snyder‘s excellent 300, the Scottish actor is now one of Hollywood’s most beloved A-listers, even an appearance in the risible P.S. I Love You didn’t seem to shake his cool.
RT caught up with Butler in London to talk RocknRolla and learn more about the rumours of a 300 sequel. Would the actor be up for hitting the gym for a potential flashback-cameo from Leonidas in follow-up? Watch the feature and find out!