Two films on a Friday – back to a semi-regular way to round off the week with Gillian. We opted for a nicely opposing pairing this weekend. One silly action film and another deemed somewhat of a classic from the previews.
Plot-in-a-nutshell: Absconding knights offer to take an alleged witch across country for trial so they don’t get executed. Like a road movie with armour.
Behmen and Felson (Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman) get a little sick of being told to kill innocents in the name of God, so decide to turn their backs on the Crusades. Popping through a small town, they are discovered as deserters and sentenced to death. As luck would have it, the town is suffering a plague brought on by a witch and in exchange for offering to transport her to a monastery to undergo trial, they’re given their freedom.
That pretty much covers the plot. Other than that it’s moderately average action / medieval fare. Cage and Perlman get all the good lines and there is some decent banter. The effects are passable (until the end when there’s some CGI that makes Doctor Who look big-budget) and the acting’s tolerable.
It’s not a classic, but even by Cage’s standards is just not up to par. Certainly, it’s not a complete heap of arse like Ghost Rider (seriously – they’re making a sequel?), but there’s just not a lot to it. By the end, there’s a feel that you’ve watched an over-long TV drama rather than a decent motion picture.
The King’s Speech
“I have a voice!”
Plot-in-a-nutshell: true story of a king-to-be who has a speech impediment, and the work done by a therapist to get him through it.
Short review: See this film. See it now.
Longer review: This is a heartwarming tale of royalty meets common-folk set in the 1930s as Britain gears up for war and the royal family goes through some upsets. King George V doesn’t have long to live and his son (the soon-to-be King Edward) is filandering with a twice-divorced American. Marrying her would mean he can’t be king, and his younger brother Bertie would take the reins.
Bertie (better known historically as King George VI, and played magnificently by Colin Firth) has a problem. His job is to be head of state, he need to give speeches… and he has a very pronounced stammer. At the insistence of his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) he does the rounds of speech therapists, eventually ending up with the rather unusual Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).
Thus begins a story that takes us from Bertie’s small speeches as Duke of York through to his first – and famous – speech as King just as Britain announced that it was to go to war with Germany for a second time.
The film very much focusses on the relationship between Â Lionel and Bertie. The Australian voice doctor much preferring to be informal with his patients initially sits very badly with the occasionally bad-tempered King-in-waiting, but the two do gel as time goes on.
The dialogue between the two fizzes, even when Firth is stammering away. One of the therapy sessions includes the funniest swearing sequence I think I’ve seen since Steve Martin’s car hire rant in Planes, Trains and Automobiles – a segment which initially earned the film a 15 rating due to the number of “****”s. It was downgraded to a 12A with the warning that it was “language in the setting of speech therapy”. So remember, kids – it’s acceptable to swear at your doctor.
There isn’t a single bad member of cast in the entire movie. A small surprise for me was seeing Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill. A far cry from the labourer he played all those years ago in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Derek Jacobi is superb as the pompous Archbishop of Canterbury, a man obviously used to getting his own way.
Firth plays the Prince/King very well and the script portrays him as a troubled man who underwent a harsh childhood being by far the second most important behind his elder brother. Despite this, he’s a good father to his two daughters and by all accounts was a popular king before being succeeded by our current monarch.
I’m no royalist, but this is an incredible story and certainly one that deserves two hours of anyone’s time. With some excellent dialogue, funny moments and a story that doesn’t stop with a ton of history and trivia thrown in it’s great value for money.
- Season of the Witch Review (screenrant.com)
- ‘Season of the Witch’ Reviews: Going to Need More Holy Water (nowpublic.com)
- Season Of The Witch (2011) (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com)
- Marshall Fine: Movie Review: The King’s Speech (huffingtonpost.com)
- Movie Review: ‘The King’s Speech’ (pinkisthenewblog.com)
- ‘The King’s Speech’ review: Leader finds voice (sfgate.com)
- The King’s Speech, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- FILM REVIEW A voice for the King (tech.mit.edu)