Russell Crowe

Marvel Movie News

Spider-Man Spinoff ‘Kraven the Hunter’ Casts Russell Crowe

It’s learned that Russell Crowe has joined the cast of Sony’s Spider-Man spinoff Kraven the Hunter movie that will star Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the titular character. Details are being kept under wraps but it is said Russell Crowe might be playing the father of Kraven, who in the comics is a Soviet aristocrat who fled

Marvel Movie News

Thor: Love and Thunder: Russell Crowe Confirms Zeus

Russell Crowe is indeed playing Zeus in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder movie for director Taika Waititi and Marvel Studios. The actor confirmed the role while appearing on the JOY Breakfast with The Murphys podcast. “I’m gonna get on my bicycle. I’m gonna ride up to Disney Fox Studios, and around about 9:15 I

Marvel Movie News

Russell Crowe Joins ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’

Russell Crowe has landed a role in Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder in an undisclosed role, though there is speculation the actor could be playing a god, possibly Zeus.  Crowe, who is known for a plethora of roles including playing the father to Superman, Jor-El, in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, joins Chris Hemsworth who

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Man of Steel (2013)

I’m More Than a Man in a Silly Red Sheet

A Film Review of Man of Steel

By: Lawrence Napoli


The DC/Warner Bros. alliance begins its rise to challenge Marvel’s Avengers Initiative with Man of Steel, and it certainly was a heck of a way to start.  This movie is big; like Michael Bay on steroids, crack and crystal meth, BIG!  It also looked really expensive to make with the expected cornucopia of CG effects constantly lighting up the screen.  All of the different POV perspectives on these shots as well as the aerial angles kept the audience amazed and engaged.  It also paid homage to the quaint origin story made famous in the Christopher Reeve/Richard Donner films in a way that communicates the drama and exposition without letting it run on for too long.  It also established Henry Cavill as the face of the Superman/Justice League franchise moving forward because the man has serious acting chops, is in peak physical condition and can be as impactful with his dialogue as he is with his fists.


Impactful.  Bang!

I am no particular fan of Zack Snyder mostly due to his efforts in Sucker Punch and Watchmen, but it’s all good because even he couldn’t screw up a story penned by the likes of David S. Goyer (Da Vinci’s Demons) and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy).  As fantastic as Superman’s abilities are and as epic a scale as this film presents, there remains a conscious effort in the script to keep the story grounded in reality.  This was certainly one of the concerns when Man of Steel was first rumored to involve the man who created the definitive depiction of a realistic Batman onscreen.  The concept of Batman isn’t as much of a stretch because with enough tech, training and resources, anyone can be Batman (which also happens to be that character’s appeal).  NOT just anyone can be Superman, so how can an alien make a realistic connection with audiences that know full well that he is not human?  You do it by highlighting character relationships, and in the case of Man of Steel, three keys unlock a character we can relate with.  Superman’s relationship with his father, Jor-El, brings out his morality.  His relationship with his human parents, the Kents, brings out his humility.  And of course, his relationship with Lois brings out his determination and inspiration. 


There’s enough Lois & Clark, but there could have been more.

Those story elements were meant to converge on the question of whether a being with such powers should ever present him or herself to humanity, and just about every practical reason to remain anonymous is addressed from several perspectives, not just those within Superman’s camp.  Unfortunately, the story also had to include a significant action element in the form of a bunch of pissed off Kryptonians with an axe to grind with the House of El, so Superman doesn’t exactly have a say in the matter.  It’s a real shame, too, because extending a preemptive olive branch could have expanded the few scenes Superman shares with various American, government officials which gives the audience some laughs and food for thought as a plain speaking super being lays it all out for an organization that personifies the concept of control.  Fighting Kryptonians also cuts into Superman’s relationship with Lois a bit as I feel the romance that clearly gets established right away, was a bit rushed – but I guess all the ladies swoon for the man with the big “S” for “Swag.” 


Swag.  That’s right.

Clearly, the filmmakers wanted just about every basic element about this updated version of Superman to be firmly planted in the ground as quickly as possible before moving forward with any sequels or expanded fiction.  Part of me appreciates this strategy for being extremely efficient by conveying Clark’s youth via flashbacks, while another part of me feels the drama from those missing moments take a back seat to explosions.  It’s not an easy task to address an origin film in this way, but Goyer and Nolan make enough of the right decisions to error on the side of balance between the drama and action.  Overall, the story is entertaining and intriguing without any significant lapses in continuity while managing to deliver a whole lot more of Kal-El’s Kryptonian heritage and the events that preceded his home planet’s demise. 


Don’t worry son.  The origin tale will be quick and painless.

Do you know what $225 million tells me?  It tells me that a movie with that kind of budget had better deliver some phenomenal visual eye candy via effects and CG, or else I’m demanding my money back.  Thankfully, Man of Steel delivers the best onscreen effects and action sequences to date in the summer of 2013, and they all begin with the depiction of Superman’s powers.  Not all of his iconic abilities are on display (as he’s clearly still learning to “test his limits”), but the ones he does show like flight, super strength, invulnerability and heat vision are very impressive.  As excellent as they all look, the use of sound, from muffled grunts to the vibrations on the ground and in the air, enhances the guttural effort Kal-El exerts to do the amazing things he does.  Kryptonian combat has a significant presence in the very beginning and end of Man of Steel which delivers fairly standard issue laser blasts, space ships and otherworldly technology at work.  These all looked fine, but presented nothing you haven’t seen before in the likes of Avatar, T2 or (here’s an obscure reference) The 6th Day.  I could say the very same thing for the destruction of Metropolis at some point, which features some pretty scary buildings collapsing all over the place that were inspired from movies like Green Lantern and just about every other disaster film (ahem, pun intended right there). 


Uh, you guys know I’m on YOUR side, right?

I wasn’t as sold on the entire cast’s performance as our EIC outlined in his Man of Steel reflection.  Actors like Diane Lane as Ma Kent and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White are there strictly for star power as their moments to shine are limited, and they don’t do too much with them when they are front and center.  I was particularly unimpressed with Lane as she seems to overact the crotchety old lady persona a bit to sell her advanced age which the make-up department didn’t exactly hit a home run on either.  Kevin Costner is almost in the same boat for this criticism, but his contributions were worth it thanks to the poignant moment that explains his character’s tragic passing.  The best supporting character, by far, was Jor-El played by Russell Crowe who officially begins his comeback from Les Misérables right now.  I respect that he got into a bit better shape for this film, but his impeccable line delivery, presence and ability to gaze through the camera’s eye resonates with the audience. 


I don’t wanna hear nothing about no Javert!

I never liked most of Superman’s rogue’s gallery nor the fact that we were going to revisit General Zod in this reboot once again.  The first moment Michael Shannon spoke a single line of dialogue was an instant wash for his performance in my book because I could never get past the awkwardness of his voice.  I don’t know if he was purposely trying to grate his rear molars as he spoke, but he seemed like an over-angry, over-powered, spoiled little jerk who couldn’t lead fish to water.  The real villain that stole the show for me was Antje Traue as Faora-Ul who is fairly attractive in as plain as Hollywood gets, and her diminutive stature wouldn’t seem to pose much of a threat to Superman, right?  Wrong!  Not only does she kick some serious ass, but she delivers the perfect villain’s voice, stare down, threat and general demeanor.  Why these crazy Kryptonians aren’t following her is completely beyond me.


Explain it to everyone how I’m a superior villain to Zod.

Of course, a Superman origin story ultimately boils down to him and Lois, and although I like the casting of Henry Cavill and Amy Adams in these roles, I haven’t quite bought into their onscreen chemistry which I am completely aware that they didn’t exactly have many opportunities to fully explore here.  Cavill is (unfortunately) another perfectly cast, British born actor for this role thanks mostly to his exquisite physical condition and piercing blue eyes.  He approaches his character with respect and dignity, so it matters not if he delivers dramatic lines in a spandex body suit.  His performance as Superman isn’t going for adorable charisma like Christopher Reeve.  He’s going for a simple man that has great ambitions for the future with even greater powers to accomplish them with.  Adams could take a page out of Cavill’s book and loose a little “adorableness” to revisit the assertiveness she displayed in The Fighter in order to deliver a slightly less girly, Lois Lane.  I like my Lois the way I like my coffee: BOLD!


I was going for “bold,” but now I need dental implants.

I have no doubt that Man of Steel will probably be the best blockbuster, action adventure film you will see all summer long, so now’s the time to break out those loose dollars you were hiding in the cookie jar.  This is a movie worth seeing on the big screen, but not necessarily on an IMAX screen as (once again) the 3D effect is nice, but it could be distracting to some and doesn’t deliver a game-changing experience.  This movie sets up DC and Warner Bros. quite nicely to move their own franchise forward in a realistic-enough world that rivals The Avengers.  The thing is, I don’t believe they could find a dedicated enough actor who has everything Cavill brings to the table and more (in the form of experience) to project the character of Batman on equal footing as the blue boy scout than Christian Bale himself.  Seeing Man of Steel actually reaffirmed my belief in Justice League working as a film adaptation, but only with that particular Dark Knight.  It’s just too bad that we didn’t get any post-credit teaser at the end of Man of Steel which my natural paranoia interprets as those who control the franchise not having a clear vision for their own future.

Movie News Reviews

Film Review of Les Misérables

Do You Hear the Oscars Sing?

A Film Review of Les Misérables

By: Lawrence Napoli


I remember having read the original novel by Victor Hugo in high school and despite viewing class as a complete and utter task, this was a story I genuinely enjoyed.  I remember having been treated to a Broadway performance of the show in NYC starring Colm Wilkinson as Valjean and being blown away by the featured performances of several “Valjeans” from around the world performing One Day More in their native tongues after the finale.  I remember being incredibly impressed by Les Misérables in Concert filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in London back in 1995.  I remember being somewhat disappointed by Liam Neeson’s dramatic adaptation of the character in a star studded Hollywood film directed by Bille August in 1998.  I am a Les Mis super fan.  Needless to say, when I saw the Anne Hathaway trailer and Hugh Jackman mini documentary at my local Regal Cinemas, I just about lost my mind with voracious anticipation.


One more day to fight.  One more day to live.

But wait!  The 2012 adaptation of the musical masterpiece of Les Misérables is not a perfect film despite every legitimate production element being worthy of Oscar nomination if not gold.  Weakness #1 must be the scene transitions.  Like any play, Les Mis has plenty of awkward shifts in geography and time as the plot progresses, but the format of this entertainment spares the audience uneasiness due to the orchestra’s transition overtures, on-the-fly stage transformation and strategic implementation of the curtain.  A movie has no such need for any of these tools as time and space is far more easily manipulated.  Unfortunately, 2012’s Les Mis has several moments where a change in song is as blunt as hitting the skip track button on a stereo.  Director Tom Hooper clearly wanted an authentic representation of the musical on film, but I don’t believe being a slave to the music was the way to go.  Adding short lines of dialogue or exposition could have easily reconciled these jarring transitions and would not have adversely affected the end product.


 Am I to be a slave of the original score?

Weakness #2 is that not every actor in this film is an accomplished singer.  You’ve probably heard it by now, but everyone has designated Russell Crowe as the weakest link, and I truly hate to kick him while he’s down, but it’s all true.  Yet, I feel compelled to defend Crowe because he is still a great film actor and some very raw emotion gets conveyed by the man’s face as the antagonist Javert.  However, the sound that protrudes from his mouth is the furthest from menacing, demonstrative and anything matching the proficiency of anyone else in the cast.  Tom Hooper could have helped his actor out in a couple of ways.  First, consider dropping Javert’s lyrics down an octave to more comfortably match Crowe’s speaking voice.  Two, immediately addressed Crowe’s legato delivery which is completely out of character for Javert who is meant to be staccato; further enhancing his domineering persona.  Three, consider recasting all together.  Russell Crowe is one of the greatest film actors of all time, but even his legacy will be bumped and bruised as a result of his efforts here.  I just hope whoever produces the upcoming Academy Awards show does not make fun of Crowe’s Javert because that man will show up specifically to knock someone out on live television – Romper Stomper style.


Not one word!  Or else someone gets a fist in the face!

Those issues aside, Les Mis uses other Hollywood tools to their maximum potential which infuses layers of pristine production value to the overall experience.  The camera’s ability to get right up close into each and every actor’s face is one thing the stage will never be able to duplicate.  Danny Cohen’s cinematography allows the audience to absorb every ounce of sorrow and happiness from an extremely accomplished cast that is equal to the task.  It also allows the actors to use the freedom of live singing as the cameras roll to put more of their characters into their songs.  The costume design by Paco Delgado reflects classic depictions of each character, but is no less proficient than any production that came before.  The combined efforts of production designer Eve Stewart and supervising art director Grant Armstrong deliver the kind of set pieces that give early 1800s France an epic scale never before depicted by this musical.


Set design: BANG!

The biggest surprise of this film was the performance of Amanda Seyfried as young adult Cosette.  She’s already shown that she could sing for the silver screen with her performance in Mamma Mia (2008), but those tracks were recorded in a studio and dubbed in post production.  Ms. Seyfried reveals quite the lovely soprano voice for her live recording and although I was expecting a professional acting performance, I was not expecting such an exquisite voice.  I totally bought into her chemistry with Eddie Redmayne’s Marius which was no small challenge thanks to both of their characters’ limited screen time. 


The blonde beauty of Seyfried

For the record, the biggest disappointment is technically Russell Crowe’s Javert, but he wasn’t the only one.  Thénardier and his Mrs. played by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter respectively were amusing playing the comic relief of this production, but neither was hysterical and I felt their acting and singing seemed to be holding something back, muffled in projection, diminished in capacity.  I respect that Borat was the only member of the cast to attempt a French accent whilst singing his tunes, but a man that has made a career out of shock, despicable and disgust should have been able to produce a more repulsively delicious rendition of Thénardier.  Granted, both Cohen and Carter have very limited screen time, but anyone playing a character not named Valjean or Javert has to deal with that reality and others did so with greater success.


Lazy, mailed-in, or something else?  You decide.

Speaking of which, Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Fantine was inspired, so much so that I must begin to reevaluate my general disdain for her as a result of her work in Les Mis.  Her performance of I Dreamed a Dream is easily one of the most emotional moments in the entire film as any viewer can tell that Hathaway is digging deep into her own soul to produce the face of despair and desperation.  Now, I could never claim to have tasted the kind of real world horrors like homelessness, disease and physical abuse, but I can certainly identify with the endless toiling of mind-numbing work where the only reward is keeping the bill collectors at bay.  However one identifies with Fantine, it is Hathaway that compels us to sympathize.  Even Victor Freeze would be hard pressed to hold back the tears.


Is the dream truly dead?

The Co-MVPs of this production are an obvious choice and an unexpected one.  Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean/24061 was just about the biggest no-brainer of the decade in Hollywood Land.  The man’s experience in musical theater, his physical stature, his experience in films in addition to the wide variance of his roles makes him the perfect actor for the perfect role.  Jackman buys into his role heart, body and soul as is frighteningly obvious as Valjean, the prisoner is almost Machinist skinny in the beginning of the film and I have never seen Hugh in any kind of physical condition other than prime.  Jackman puts the entire spectrum of human emotion on display and maintains a high level of intensity as only the best leading men of Hollywood have done.  It will be a stretch for Wolverine to triumph over Abraham Lincoln for this year’s best actor in a leading role, but it is very possible and quite deserving.  Also, his chemistry with Valjean Legend Colm Wilkinson, who plays the bishop in this film adaptation, is remarkable for its brevity and a proper homage to the history of this musical’s significance.


Machinist Valjean

The other MVP happens to be Eddie Redmayne as Marius.  I was misty eyed for most of the film, but when he sang Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, it was all over and the waterworks began to flow.  This moment is the emotional climax of the film and with only 50% of the film’s overall screen time to work with; Redmayne steals just about every scene late in the game because the intense sincerity in his eye is second only to Jackman.  Best known for his recent role in My Week with Marilyn (2011), Redmayne is coming up on the Hollywood power charts and I certainly expect his name to be nominated for best actor in a supporting role for his excellent work in Les Mis.


Red: the color of the carpet.  Black: the color of my tux.

Even the most casual fan of Les Misérables, the musical will be stunned by the vibrant life this film breathes back into the tale.  For those unfamiliar with the play or the novel, expect to see a powerful tale of the downtrodden attempting to rise above poverty, greed, hunger and hate to find a higher cause in life for themselves and others.  It is a story that reminds us that life will always throw danger, complication and hostility in our direction, but even a simple act of kindness given by or to us can give us the strength to carry on.  Those familiar with the story will be very forgiving of the transition gaps so viewer beware.  You may have to simply accept the plot jumps on faith alone, but also know this.  If you are willing to suspend that disbelief and open your heart you will bear witness to one of the best dramas that expose the essence of humanity: the dichotomy of grace and disgrace.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser.