Tag Archives: Hayley Atwell

You’re nicked…

After witnessing Messrs Clarkson and Hammond lay waste to the set on a recent episode of “Top Gear”, I confess to being a little bewildered by the idea of a modern reboot of classic British TV cop drama, “The Sweeney”.

If it means anything to a modern audience, I would imagine that the show’s lasting legacy is inspiring the character of boorish, unreconstructed seventies copper Gene Hunt in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.  Is the notion of a B.S. averse, rule-flouting cop really going to appeal to the kind of multiplex audience who makes a film a hit and who may, you know, not exactly be the biggest fans of Her Majesty’s Police Service?

Let’s take a look at the trailer, shall we?

Don't move, son, you make a lovely table...

Lots of villains getting a slap, break-neck car chases, incongruously posh Hayley Atwell feeling collars and sleek cityscapes right out the Michael Mann visual playbook – if I were going to make “The Sweeney” for a contemporary audience, this is probably how I’d do it too.  On first glance, I’m not sure how Ben Drew (aka Plan B) is going to do in his mainstream acting debut, but then I’m very old and not up to speed with the young youths and ting.

“The Sweeney” will be bursting through your front door and urgently requesting that you desist in taking liberties on 21 September 2012.

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Some notes on David Yates’ “Doctor Who” movie…

Ever since it was announced the other day – causing regrettably vocal sections of the internet to go into full, petition-starting meltdown – the prospect of a “Doctor Who” film directed by David Yates has been near the front page and key to the discussion on most nerd-centric websites.

Not to be uncharitable, but I imagine the thought process of most negative posters on forums and in comments sections goes something like this – “It’s a terrible idea!  How dare Americans conduct a cultural smash-and-grab on one of our favourite Sci-Fi heroes! Furthermore, if you just examine my seventeen-volume collection of fan-fiction, you will see that only I am capable of successfully rebooting this franchise with my hitherto unheralded genius”.

Let’s see whether this project goes beyond being fodder for fevered blog posts and traffic-grabbing news stories before writing off the project before a word of the first screenplay draft has been written –  at this point, there are so many steps for this film to travel along before I’m writing a fevered blog post about the first trailer for the actual film.

That said – let’s get to casting this mother.

As the Doctor, I will accept no substitute.

Greatest. Living. Englishman.

Eccentricity? Yes. Have seen him?  Laughs? He makes me chortle like a loon.  Emotional range?  He can break your heart with a single, well-timed pause and a low-key line delivery.  There’s life and a tangible thought process going on behind his eyes and he’s an actor who appears to have lived life – he’s definitely not a substance-free leading ‘man’ and as we’ve had a couple of Doctors in the TV series who have skewed younger in age, it might be time for a Doctor who’s slightly older?

Additional, not-to-be-overlooked advantage – he’s worked regularly with project mainstay David Yates in the “Harry Potter” films, as Ministry of Magic head Rufus Scrimgeour.

I’m inclined to veer towards somebody with looks and acting chops as a companion – if, indeed, that is the format with which Yates proceeds.  I mean, we might not see such traditions being adhered to if the director is as good as his word and goes back to code, not focussing so much on the demands of established canon and choosing to create a new world to draw stories from.

So, if we do have a companion, I’m going to suggest…

Serious, funny, rather delightful - very British. Yep, she's a keeper.

That’s Hayley Atwell, who you might have seen in this summer’s “Captain America – The First Avenger”, the recent cinematic adaptation of “Brideshead Revisited” and Woody Allen’s “Cassandra’s Dream”  or her roles in TV series such as “The Pillars of the Earth” and “The Prisoner”.

She’s done franchise work, she’s done more cerebral fare – she’s funny, refreshingly not a stick-thin every-Blonde and has an undeniable but oddly relateable poshness which might well endear her to some American fans.

Not sniffy about genre, unapologetically bright and a dog lover:  I may be biased, but she makes my list.

Of course the fun of writing a post like this is looking back on it in a few months and finding out that you were completely wrong and that somebody you could never have thought of in a million years has been cast in the film:

Had to use this pic - thanks, Google Image search!

Coming soon – Alan Carr is the Doctor in “Carry On Who!”

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Make Mine Marvel Movie Mayhem!

Steve Rogers, extraordinary everyman

A few weeks late to the party, I’m afraid, but here are my thoughts on the second Marvel Studios release of the summer, Joe Johnson’s “Captain America – The First Avenger”.

Marvel have had a lot of success with their superhero adaptations – “Iron Man” and it’s sequel, “The Incredible Hulk”, the “Spider-Man” series, the “X-Men” series, the two “Fantastic Four” movies and this summer’s “Thor” – and that winning streak continues with “Captain America – The First Avenger”. In many ways, this is the best Marvel film yet.

A real American hero - and none too annoying with it...

Chris Evans stars as the titular character, an archetypal 90 pound weakling whose attempts to join the US Army during the latter part of the second world war are thwarted until he meets Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), whose experimental growth serum is being tested by the military to create a war-winning strain of super soldier.

So far, so Marvel. Sensibly, Marvel have resisted the urge to update the character and pitch him straight into the same contemporary landscape occupied by Tony Stark and Dr Bruce Banner – this is, for the most part, a period-set tale of derring do, irredeemable Nazi bad guys and a world torn asunder by conflict on a massive scale.

As with his previous comic book adaptation, “The Rocketeer”, Joe Johnson displays a deft grasp of historical setting, stages large-scale action set-pieces which don’t dissolve into a morass of fast cuts and is seemingly as interested in his actors as he is in getting the cool alternate technology and gadgets right. He’s aided by a tight, funny and – whisper it – smart script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, which mixes up mythology, history, comic book canon, pacy plotting and laughs in a hard-to-resist package.

Much less so than, say, “Iron Man 2”, this is a summer adventure which isn’t hamstrung by having to set up aspects of next summer’s “The Avengers”. The inter-universe continuity in recent Marvel flicks is here – the Cosmic Cube from “Thor” shows up and a certain, eye-patched gentleman appears towards the end of the film but the heavy lifting has already been done. We all know that there’s an Avengers movie coming, so it’s refreshing to not have to navigate a primer in Marvel Mythology when we could be having a superhero knock-down, drag-out action sequence to justify the increasingly hilariously over-inflated price of cinema tickets.

For the record, I saw a 2D print of “Captain America” and firmly avoided the post-converted 3D effort also doing the rounds – I couldn’t see many examples of cinematography, setting or action which would benefit from the process, honestly.

Chris Evans is excellent in the lead – he’s far from being a cocky, know-it-all, take charge douche and surprisingly easy to relate to. His Steve Rogers doesn’t give up in the face of insurmountable odds and leads from the front – an entertaining section of the film sees Rogers sidelined by bond-selling, USO show-appearing, conflict-avoiding duties on the home front as his friends are pitched head-first into the horrors of the European theatre.

Equally reliable are Hugo Weaving, as villain The Red Skull, whose horrific, red-skinned countenance probably accounts for much of the film’s 12-A rating. He’s got the standard villain’s modus operandi – world enslavement, troubling obsession with occult arcana and weapons of mass destruction are all accounted for – but there’s a fun parallel to be drawn between the Skull’s search for occult objects to fuel the weapons used in his diabolical schemes and the ostensible good guys that we’re rooting for who…use occult objects the fuel weapons to assist their somewhat more benevolent schemes.

Tommy Lee Jones pops up, doing a masterclass in gruff paterfamilias leadership as Colonel Phillips and he’s as economic, laconic and splendid as you might hope. My favourite character, though, is Peggy Carter, Cap’s UK contact, love interest and awesome 40’s dame. She single-handedly erases the bad taste left by “Iron Man 2”, which saw fit to turn Gwyneth Paltrow’s previously competent, business-like Pepper Potts into a screeching ninny – there’s never any sense that Peggy can’t handle herself and essentially kicks more Hydra (the Red Skull’s deep science, Nazi off-shoot army) ass than the Cap does.

Summing up – well worth seeing, possibly just a bit more fun than “Thor” (though make no mistake, I fricking loved Kenneth Branagh’s superhero adventure) and it brilliantly does the job of making you pine for what nerd godhead Joss Whedon will come up with for 2012’s “The Avengers”.

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