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Posts Tagged ‘Kate Beckinsale’

Following the release of The Expendables 2 earlier this there was a lot of buzz about an all female Expendables. At the time I speculated on the stars of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who could star in it, but given the action movies from this year I thought I would look at it from a different point of view. Who are this years top female action stars?

If you remember the original Total Recall (Sharon Stone) has one good action scene before getting killed off. In the remake director Len Wiseman has extended the part and cast his wife Kate Beckinsale, she reciprocates by playing the part with relish and being the best thing in the movie totally eclipsing Jessica Biel’s Melina. Beckinsale also stars as Selene in Underworld: Awakening, back for a third time in the fourth installment of the vampire v werewolf franchise. It is possibly the weakest of the series but Beckinsale still does a great job. Resident Evil: Retribution is the latest in Another franchise that has lasted longer than anyone thought possible, the reason to keep watching, Milla Jovovich. From successful franchises to ones that can’t get off the ground; although not a financial success, Dredd is a big improvement on the previous attempt to make a Judge Dredd movie, Olivia Thirlby’s rookie judge Anderson gives the movie a new dimension and direction.

The star of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace has made the jump to Hollywood. Elizabeth Shaw is the central character at the heart of Prometheus, she is no Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) but still makes a compelling star. I first saw Naomie Harris in 28 Days Later… 10 years ago, she has had a few decent roles in the decade that followed she has had the odd good role, its great to see her get one Eve in Skyfall. Anyone who has seen Winter’s Bone would probably agree that Jennifer Lawrence was the only person who could have played Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. A reluctant hero, she may not have the ass kicking credentials of Gina Carano or Kate Beckinsale but she has more grit and determination than any actress/character on this list. Lawrence also appeared as Raven / Mystique in X-Men: First Class, with The Hunger Games first sequel Catching Fire due out next year and X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014 expect to see a lot more of her. Its also worth remembering Rebecca Romijn’s all action take on the part to give an insight on where the character is going.

Given the amount of hits this site has received in the last few years from people searching for “Anne Hathaway Catwoman” its fair to say Anne Hathaway’s Selina aka Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises has been the most anticipated female action role of year. I’m not sure she has replaced Michelle Pfeiffer as the ultimate Catwoman but she certainly didn’t disappoint. The other highly anticipated, big budget franchise movie of the summer was The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble here in the UK). As a regular human I was concerned at what Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) would have to do in The Avengers surrounded by gods, monsters and super solders not to mention a billionaire playboy with a powered suit of armour. As it turns out her and Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton / Hawkeye are at the heart of the story and are both brilliant.

The biggest action star of the year (male or female) came out of nowhere, former mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano as Mallory Kane in Haywire. There is something old-fashioned about Steven Soderbergh’s action revenge thriller Haywire, using long takes, still cameras and short lenses that give lots of depth of field. This is the perfect showcase for Gina Carano to show of her fighting ability. It takes the movie back to a pre Bourne time for action movies and has resulted in a love it or hate it reaction. Whatever your thoughts it looks like we have seen the birth of a new action star. An honourable mention for Melissa George who impressed again in last years A Lonely Place to Die, she doesn’t have any movies coming out this year but is currently starring on BBC1 in Hunted. The show is formulaic in the style of Spooks but she is really good in it.

Other performances that didn’t make the grade but are worth a quick mention are: Although there was nothing wrong with her performance Nan Yu’s Maggie in The Expendables 2 was a caricature rather than a character. Kristen Stewart was actually quite good as Snow White but the film wasn’t up to much and she was totally overshadowed by Charlize Theron. Rihanna looked good in Battleship but the film was pretty crap and the girl can’t act. Wrath of the Titans was marginally better than Clash of the Titans and Rosamund Pike is reasonably good as Andromeda having been given a much larger role than Alexa Davalos in the first film. Maggie Grace managed to avoid getting Taken in Taken 2 but she more than makes up for this by being held hostage in Lockout. In both movies she does have a few action scenes. Combining this with a part as a vampire in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 she may be moving more towards action roles.

Did I miss anyone out. Can anybody recommend any movies or performances I have missed from the past year?

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With just two more movies to see this year: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (making a total of 108 movies seen at the cinema this year) I am already looking forward to the new year. I am led to believe the early part of the year can be a bit of a barren time for American cinema goers but here in the UK the new year is often the time to see the Oscar bait movies that week get a few months later.

With two academy awards from sixteen nominations, nothing says Oscar like Meryl Streep. The Iron Lady tells the story of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. From the clips and trailers I have seen, it looks interesting, the only doubt, the directors, Phyllida Lloyd’s only other feature appears to be Mamma Mia!

I have heard nothing but good things about Shame despite the unusual and controversial subject matter, sex addiction. After the excellent Hunger (2008), the re-teaming of director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender must be a good thing. The addition of co star Carey Mulligan and I am really looking forward to this one.

Clearly Ralph Fiennes’ doesn’t believe in making life easy for himself, making his directorial debut with an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. The updated setting is reminiscent of Richard Loncraine’s Richard III (1995), looks interesting.

I understand J,Edgar has had mixed reviews on the other side of the Atlantic but with Clint Eastwood in the directors chair and Leonardo DiCaprio in the starring role it has to be worth seeing.

There is already Oscar talk about George Clooney in The Descendants, directed by Alexander Payne (Election 1999 & Sideways 2004). I don’t know much about it but Clooney on good form remains a watchable movie star reminiscent of the stars from the golden age of cinema, I’m in!

Bizarrely, the two films I am most looking forward to aren’t going to feature at the Oscars, they are more what is (condescendingly) referred to as “genre movies”. As one of the few people who liked The Girlfriend Experience I am always interested in Steven Soderbergh’s more experimental ideas. Like with The Girlfriend Experience Soderbergh has gone for an unexpected lead actress for the action movie Haywire, former Mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano. He has surrounded her with an impressive supporting cast including: Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton. As I said it won’t win Oscars but it looks like its going to be fun.

There are two real guilty pleasure franchises around at the moment, we have to wait until later in the year for the next Resident Evil movie, but Underworld Awakening is out in January. Nearly a decade after the first Underworld movie Kate Beckinsale is back in her most iconic role (and costume). From the trailer it looks as dumb as the previous movies, but I really don’t care, I can’t wait!

Other movies coming out in January include: War Horse. Thanks to a really cheesy trailer, I can honestly say I have never been less excited by a new Steven Spielberg movie. I know nothing about The Darkest Hour other than what I have seen in the trailer but with director Chris Gorak who impressed with his debut Right at Your Door (2006) and Timur Bekmambetov credited as a produce I will give it a go. Another movie I now nothing about other than the trailer is Man on Ledge. The trailer makes it look a lot like Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006), that isn’t a bad thing.

Check back on the 1st of February to find out what I actually saw and what I thought of them.

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Back in January 2010, with all the vampire movies in production I suggested that it could be the year of the vampire. Looking back at the old article I suddenly realised that I have now seen all (but one) of the movies I wrote about, but were they any good?

By the time I wrote the article I had already seen Daybreakers and was impressed with the original and high concept.

30 Days of Night: Dark Days was a sequel to 30 Days of Night (2007) (a movie I really like), it retains the original character from the first movie Stella Olemaun, however Kiele Sanchez is a poor stand in for Melissa George who turned it down. The film also suffers from a rubbish story.

The director of the original 30 Days of Night, David Slade took a second stab at the vampire movie when he took over the reigns of The Twilight Saga. Not as good as 30 Days of Night but The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was certainly an improvement on the lame and unfocused New Moon.

Lost Boys: The Thirst is the one movie on the list I haven’t seen.

Let Me In, the Hollywood remake of Let the Right One is well made and well acted but all a bit pointless. It looks great but lacks both the heart and the edge of the original, a good movie for those too lazy to read subtitles.

Priest didn’t make it to the UK until May this year as it went back to the f/x drawing board to retrofit it with ineffective and pointless 3D. The film itself is actually surprisingly good and certainly better than most reviews would have you believe.

Another movie we had to wait for here in the UK was Stake Land, it was well worth the wait. I was lucky enough to catch it during its blink and you miss it seven day theatrical release. The best vampire movie since Let The Right One In. 

The Bleeding is a cheep looking, poorly directed, terribly acted, direct to video movie. It is utter rubbish but still sort of entertaining.

Not included in my original list but also released in 2010, Bloodrayne: The Third Reich. The third in Uwe Boll’s computer game based film series sees Rayne fighting against Nazis during World War II. Its about as good as the first two movies, yes that bad!

So what’s next for fans of Vampire movies? The first half of the final Twilight movie Breaking Dawn opens next week. January 2012 will see Kate Beckinsale return to the underworld franchise in Underworld Awakening. Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D, currently in post production is yet to receive a release date but will probably see the light of day some time in 2012.

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The “scream queen” has been with us as long as cinema itself but became more notable and memorable when they became audible with the invention of sound (a synchronized soundtrack to me more precise). Possibly the and certainly the most famous scream queen was Fay Wray who appeared in many horror movies but is best known for the classic King Kong (1933). By the 1960’s the scream queen was an archetype of Hollywood movies, even Alfred Hitchcock got in on the act giving Janet Leigh one of cinemas most iconic scenes in Psycho (1960). During the 1960’s and 70’s British cinema developed its own batch of scream queens thanks in part to Hammer horror movies; the most notable of these was the Polish born actress Ingrid Pitt. By the end of the 70’s Leigh’s daughter Jamie Lee Curtis had earned the accolade of being the “ultimate scream queen” following her role in Halloween (1978). With Halloween, director John Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis gave cinema a great gift, a scream queen who fought back making them heroines and not just eye candy and amusement. This is a trend that continued through movies like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), The Fog (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). The interesting result of this is movies that are empowering when they appear to be exploitative.

Many people feared (and some hoped) that that Scream (1996) with its self (and genre)-aware characters and a more satirical approach would be the end of slasher movies and the scream queens that inhabit them, fortunately they where wrong. Detractors of the horror genre and the female place within it will dismiss not only the character but the moniker of “scream queen” as sexist or derogatory. I think these people somewhat miss the point of the importance of these characters within the genre. On a side point it is worth noting a lot of the so called scream queens are also noted for playing kick ass action heroines too, for example: Kate Beckinsale, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dushku.

This leads to the question who are the current scream queens? Thanks to her appearance in the original Halloween franchise (parts 4 and 5 1988/89) and Rob Zombie’s “re-imagining” Danielle Harris is widely regarded as the current scream queen. If you haven’t already check her out in the apocalyptic vampire survival road movie Stake Land (2010), a great low budget movie likely to appear in my top ten movies of the year. There are two other names that stand out for me, hovering somewhere between A list and genre pictures, they are talented actresses who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty (literally at times) in horror movies when they could have take the easy rom-com option.

Amber Heard: Her breakthrough role should have been All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006), sadly it sat on the shelf for two years and remains underappreciated. She also had a small but significant part in Zombie land (2009). More recently she starred in an American remake of And Soon the Darkness (2010). Also little seen, The Ward (2010 ) is the first feature directed by John Carpenter in the best part of a decade and the best for more than two decades. Despite its title and themes Drive Angry (2011) is more an action thriller than a horror but certainly doesn’t harm her credentials.

Melissa George: Following a successful TV career and numerous small parts in movies Melissa George took the starring role alongside Ryan Reynolds in the remake of The Amityville Horror (2005), she followed this with the Americans in peril abroad movie Paradise Lost (2006) also featuring Olivia Wilde. The highlight of her horror career is a choice between 30 Days of Night (2007) and Triangle (2009), the first an innovative and effective vampire movie, the second brilliantly constructed time slip thriller. Later this month sees the release of A Lonely Place to Die, a film I am really looking forward to having recently heard about it.

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