The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

LEGENDS OF THE SILVER SCREEN: LIAM NEESON

Liam Neeson has done it all in his long and illustrious career. He’s played superheroes, super-villains, Jedis, gods, Scottish historical heroes, Irish historical heroes, and has lent his voice to everything from lions to Legos. Today, we’ll take a look at three of Neeson’s films.

First up is…

CROSSING THE LINE (1991) **

Liam Neeson stars as a loving father and family man who just lost his job. Out of work (and blacklisted for hitting a police officer), he eventually tries to put food on the table by being a bare knuckles brawler. Naturally, his wife hates the idea and leaves him, which disappoints him. But when the job has such perks as hookers and drugs, it’s hard to miss his old life. After Neeson blinds an opponent in the ring, he tries to make amends and quit the fighting life. He soon finds that it’s easier said than done.

Crossing the Line gets off to a very slow start. The scenes involving Neeson’s family strife are particularly dull. Overall, the first hour of the film feels like a bad British soap opera. Once the fighting aspect of the flick crops up, things improve, but not much. Neeson’s big match is fairly long and brutal, but the ensuing business with the gangster at the end draws things out needlessly.

Liam is nevertheless quite good and keeps things afloat whenever the pacing gets slow. The supporting cast is filled with a lot of familiar faces too. Joanne Whalley-Kilmer co-stars as Neeson’s wife, Pat Roach plays his first opponent, Hugh Grant is onscreen for about a minute as Whalley-Kilmer’s new man, and Billy Connolly has some good scenes as Neeson’s down-on-his-luck friend. Their performances don’t exactly help Crossing the Line cross the line into good movie territory, but they keep you watching.

AKA: The Big Man. AKA: The Big Man: Crossing the Line.

Our next Neeson film is…

WRATH OF THE TITANS (2012) **

I pretty much hated the Clash of the Titans remake. This one isn’t all that good either, but at least it doesn’t insult your intelligence or the memory of the 1981 original film. That doesn’t make it “recommended” though.

The Titans are losing their power. Zeus (Liam Neeson) wants to get help from his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes), but he kidnaps him and unleashes fire-belching monsters on the humans. Zeus’ son, Perseus (Sam Worthington) must once again fight the gods and make some unlikely alliances to rescue his father.

Wrath of the Titans wastes no time getting down to business, which is admirable, but it suffers from a decided feeling of déjà vu. At all times it feels like deleted scenes from the Clash of Titans remake than a narrative of its own. But although the story is slight, it moves at an acceptable pace.

Perseus battles a Cyclops, a Minotaur, and various other assorted monsters. None of these scenes are especially great or memorable, but at least shit is happening. In the end, he fights a giant lava beast that is basically just a smoke and soot version of the Kraken from the first movie, which is a tad disappointing though.

Director Jonathan Liebsman films everything in a monochromatic pallor. He gives us a lot of monster battles, but they all kinda of blur together by the end. And you just have to sort of roll your eyes when the plot takes an X-Men 2 turn when the villain teams up with the heroes.

Worthington is yet again bland in this. And Fiennes looks like he’s there because his contract says so. Neeson is held captive in chains most of the time, so he’s not given much to do sadly.

The script, such as it is, isn’t much to brag about, but I did get a laugh during the scene where someone told Worthington to “go to Hell” and he replied, “That’s exactly where I’m going!”

And finally we have…

BATTLESHIP (2012) **

Taylor Kitsch stars as a fuck-up sailor who gets assigned aboard his brother Alexander Skarsgaard’s battleship. He’s in love with Brooklyn Decker and tries to meet her admiral father (Liam Neeson) and ask for his permission to marry her during the Navy’s war games off the coast of Hawaii. Before he can do that though, aliens land and start blowing up the fleet. Kitsch winds up being in command by process of elimination (READ: A whole bunch of people die) and it’s up to him and his remaining crew to save the world from an alien invasion.

Battleship was of course, based on the Hasbro board game. There is one scene where Kitsch and his crew use a low-fi method of using a grid to fire upon alien ships that is like the game, but it’s a long time coming. And not surprisingly, this is the best scene in the entire movie since it relies more on suspense than brainless action sequences.

Mostly, the film plays like a tribute to Michael Bay. It’s like a noisy, soulless mash-up of Pearl Harbor and Transformers. The good news is that director Peter Berg resists the temptation to use shaky-cam and over-edit the action scenes like Bay does.

Taylor Kitsch is kinda funny when he’s trying to impress Decker by breaking into a convenience store and stealing a burrito for her. And he isn’t bad in the scenes where he has to lead his men into battle. Rihanna is mostly there because they needed a pop star in there somewhere, but she doesn’t embarrass herself or anything. Neeson isn’t given much to do besides act grumpy and isn’t on screen long enough to make much of an impression.

Overall, Battleship is a “Miss”. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

Next week’s Legend: Steve Martin!

Tags: .legends of the silver screen, action, b, c, drama, sci-fi, sequel, w
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