Author Archives: Ealasaid

About Ealasaid

Ealasaid is a technical writer, freelance movie reviewer, bookbinder, and geek-of-many-trades based in Portland, OR.

Legend

Legend

Directed by: Brian Helgeland Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston, Rated: R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual and drug material. The Kray twins were gangsters in London’s East End during the 50s and 60s. Between the various biopics based on their lives, the autobiographies they wrote separately and together, and the numerous books about their exploits, they are pretty well-known even outside of the UK. Tom Hardy plays both twins in “Legend,” the latest film version of their story. If you’re on the hunt for a gangster movie, it will hit the spot. Reggie and Ronnie Kray were both notoriously violent. Reggie also had a good head for business, but had to keep his brother under control – Ronnie was schizophrenic and not always willing to take his meds. The film opens with Reggie pulling strings to get Ronnie out of a psychiatric prison. We then follow them as they rise in

Read More

The Last Witch Hunter

The Last Witch Hunter

Directed by: Breck Eisner Starring: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Julie Engelbrecht, Michael Caine, Elijah Wood Rated: PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images Vin Diesel is famous for his work in movies where he generally plays a big, strong guy who speaks softly but can kick you across the country and back. He’s also famous among nerds for being a huge, huge nerd himself. In fact, the story and titular character in “The Last Witch Hunter” grew out of Diesel talking about one of his Dungeons and Dragons characters with a filmmaker friend. Even better, it’s a surprisingly good film if you like supernatural action stories. In the world of “The Last Witch Hunter,” witches aren’t human. They look human when they want to, and in the modern day many of them live peacefully among humans. The peace is kept by a longstanding truce between the Witch Council and The Axe and Cross,

Read More

Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak

Marketing can make or break a movie, and “Crimson Peak,” Guillermo del Toro’s newest film, is in serious danger. The previews and pretty much every other bit of marketing make it out to be a horror movie, but it’s a classic Gothic romance. Like “Rebecca” and “Jane Eyre,” it brings us a heroine who is drawn by love into the web of a strange and horrifying mystery. People expecting a standard gory, violent modern horror flick are likely to be disappointed, but folks who adore creepy atmosphere, gorgeous and decaying upper-class dwellings, and Tom Hiddleston are in for a treat.

The Martian

The Martian

Directed by: Ridley Scott Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Askel Hennie, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean Rated: PG-13 for some strong language, injury images, and brief nudity. The castaway tale is not a new one, but “The Martian” brings us a sci-fi take on it: rather than being stranded on a deserted island, our protagonist is stranded on Mars. While experts and enthusiastic amateurs will doubtless find plenty of errors to point out, this is a ripping yarn suitable for anybody who likes to see human spirit and ingenuity overcome impossible situations. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is one of six astronauts on a manned mission to Mars when a dust storm forces them to abandon their base and cut the planned month-long expedition short. When Watney is blown away by debris and they can’t find him or any trace of his various signals, Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) makes

Read More

Black Mass

Black Mass

Directed by: Scott Cooper Starring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Adam Scott Rated: R for brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use. Organized crime has long fascinated both Hollywood and of the American public in general. It’s no surprise that one of the many books about it is now a movie: “Black Mass.” What may be a surprise to folks who’ve seen the posters and print ads is that the ensemble cast is led by Johnny Depp in impressive prosthetic makeup. He delivers an excellent performance, reminding us that he can do more than just act drunk and chew scenery. The movie is a solid true-crime tale, likely to please serious enthusiasts as well as those who like serious dramas about people’s bad actions leading to their inevitable fall. Depp plays Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger, once an inmate at Alcatraz, now the head of South Boston’s Irish-American

Read More

A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods

Directed by: Ken Kwapis Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen Rated: R for language and some sexual references Bill Bryson is a travel writer, one whose books encompass everything from geology to history as they record his roaming in all sorts of places. “A Walk in the Woods” is a film adaptation of his book of the same title: the story of his hike of the Appalachian trail with one of his oldest friends. Like Bryson’s books, the film has a little bit of everything – a little philosophy, a little existentialism, a little comedy, a little romance, all mixed together just so, with some adventures thrown in for spice. It’s a fun film with a solid cast. As played by Nick Nolte, Stephen Katz is the kind of guy you tend to lose touch with, who has accomplished little but adding lots of notches to his bedpost over the last few

Read More

American Ultra

American Ultra

Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton, Topher Grace, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content. There are some movies whose trailers don’t quite do them justice, and whose theater runs are all-too-short. “American Ultra” seems destined for that fate: It’s a cross between the Bourne movies and a stoner comedy. Our hero has all kinds of amazing combat skills whose origin he doesn’t remember, and people are trying to kill him – but he’s just some stoner who works at the Cash-and-Carry and is trying to figure out when to propose to his girlfriend. This is not a movie for everybody, but for the right audience, it’s just about perfect. Fans of Simon Pegg’s Cornetto Trilogy and other genre mashups will probably feel right at home here. The tone wavers between stoner comedy and black comedy, and once the

Read More

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Ealasaid A. Haas Directed by: Guy Ritchie Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alici Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki Rated: Rated PG-13 for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity Guy Ritchie, fresh off his Sherlock Holmes movies, continues his trend of period pieces by bringing us a new incarnation of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” a TV show made and set in the 60s. The film version is set in the 60s as well, and everything from the clothes to the lighting is clearly aimed at putting us in that time.. You don’t need to have seen the show or even lived through the Cold War to have fun with the movie, though – Ritchie wisely opens the film with a sequence making it perfectly clear how well the West and the Soviets got along at the time. Our protagonists Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) could not be more

Read More

Jurassic World

Jurassic World

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Omar Sy, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, BD Wong, Irrfan Khan Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril It’s been 22 years since “Jurassic Park” came out, and “Jurassic World” brings us a vision of what things might be like 22 years after the catastrophe at the dinosaur zoo. If you just want to sit in a cool, dark theater and admire CGI dinosaurs, you will not be disappointed. If you want a film with character development, actual characters, or any semblance of good writing, stay far, far away. Mr. Masrani (Irrfan Khan) has turned the island into a theme park with more dinosaurs and what superficially looks like better security. His director of operations, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), is very good at running things from the control room, but not so good with people. Her nephews Gray (Ty Simpkins) and

Read More

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland

Directed by: Brad Bird Starring: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy Rated: PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language Remember when the future was hopeful? The original “Star Trek” series offered us a vision of a time when Americans and Russians could work together, where things were clean and orderly and all sorts of different people – non-humans, even! – came together to do great things. Somewhere along the line, though, the future became less “Jetsons” and more “The Matrix” – a cool-looking place, still, but all black leather and vinyl and dystopia. We no longer think of the future as a great place we’re heading to. Cynicism and pessimism are the order of the day. It’s not hard to see why – global climate change, the human tendency toward self-destruction, everything seems to be going down the tubes. “Tomorrowland” brings us Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), who

Read More