Anthony Hopkins

REVIEW: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

The centuries old vampire Count Dracula (Gary Oldman) comes to England to seduce his barrister Jonathan Harker’s (Keanu Reeves) fiancée Mina Murray (Winona Ryder) and inflict havoc in the foreign land.

As I was watching Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I realised I didn’t really know the original Dracula story. Dracula (and vampires in general) is a character that’s so ingrained in our popular culture so I know the general things of what makes a vampire and I’ve seen so many variations of the story like Dracula Untold (2014) or Van Helsing (2004) but never the origin of Count Dracula so watching Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a weird experience. I knew the names, places and the general story beats but seeing them all play out on screen was fun – though obviously I don’t know how true it is to the source material.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is visually interesting. The costumes, the set design and make up are all so striking. The make up used to make Gary Oldman look thousands of years old was so good that you just took his Dracula at face value so when he suddenly appears looking young and how Oldman looked in the early 90s it’s very effective.

The use of lighting and shadows adds to the creepy feel of Dracula’s home and the whole story. The way Dracula’s, and other creatures, shadows work, seemingly to touch people while they are the other side of the room, increases the uncomfortable feeling the humans have when in their presence.

The acting is a bit all over the place really. Keanu Reeves has a terrible British accent and both he and Winona Ryder are a bit wooden, especially in their scenes together. Somehow it doesn’t break the film though. Anthony Hopkins plays Professor Van Helsing and looks like he’s having a whale of a time with it. He swings from one emotion to another, serious professor to almost overexcited child at what is happening around him. Oldman’s Dracula is suitably unsettling and captivating and sells the obsessive love he has for Mina.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is over the top (the bright red blood, the dramatic dialogue and score) but it totally works. Watching it for the first time now, almost thirty years after it was released, there’s a certain charm about Bram Stoker’s Dracula that we don’t see as often in modern films. It’s proper old-fashioned filmmaking with striking sets, impressive make up and beautiful costumes. I often feel films that are set in the past, in this case the late 1800s, have a timelessness to them, so the potentially outdated effects etc just help make the film feel like a perfect time capsule. Bram Stoker’s Dracula really is worth the watch if you enjoy classic stories of good vs evil. 4/5.

REVIEW: Thor (2011)

After Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) reckless behaviour, his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) banishes him from their home in Asgard, to live amongst humans on Earth. There he must learn to be a better man and face his jealous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

Thor combines the action and adventure of superhero films with royal family feuds. Thor is a Prince and so is his brother Loki, but Loki has forever been in Thor’s shadow and wants to be seen as his brothers equal in their father’s eyes. Loki is a fascinating character and is one of the best villains in the MCU. His jealousy over his brother is justified from what you see and when its revealed how his father has been lying to him all his life, his actions are somewhat understandable, although very misguided.

On Earth, Thor meets scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her friends and colleagues Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). They attempt to show him how things are on Earth which allows for many fish out of water scenarios for Thor which are played brilliantly by Hemsworth. Thor is a more serious film, but its humour comes from its characters in a really honest and unforced way.

Thor’s fantastical elements come from the idea that science and magic are one and the same. The scene where Thor explains how he see’s the universe to Jane helps to fully ground Thor and his people in the everyday world Jane, and us as the viewers, inhabits.

Asgard is a beautiful place. The camera work along with the tech wizards who brought Asgard to life, show off this world in all its glory. The score helps with that too. Composed by Patrick Doyle the score is as magical and epic as it should be, and is worthy for the story of a God. Thor is directed by Kenneth Branagh and he handles the grandeur of this royal family in conflict brilliantly. By focussing on the family dynamics between Thor, his brother, and their father, it makes them all seem more human and relatable while still being incredibly powerful Gods.

Thor is a sweeping drama with battles, humour and romance. It’s a solid first outing for the character, setting up his world and people near-perfectly, and gives us a star performance in Hemsworth and one of the most interesting characters in the MCU in Loki. 4/5.

REIVEW: Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Humans and Transformers are at war and Optimus Prime is missing. The key to the survival of both species is buried in the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth – inventor and friend to the autobots Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) must find the truth to save them all.

The Last Knight is not a good film. In fact, you could call it a bad film. You could also call it dull, tedious and, at times, incoherent. Now while some people may be like “oh what a surprise! Michael Bay-Transformers films suck” I went into it hoping I’d like it. I do have a soft spot for the franchise. Transformers (2007) is a fun, decent film that’s very enjoyable – the rest are all varying degrees of quality but you can generally have some fun with them. Admittedly that ended for me with Age of Extinction (2014) but I’m an optimistic kind of person.

The Last Knight is a nice looking film, all the CGI looks great and all the transformers look different and it wasn’t too difficult to follow which transformer was which in big action sequences. That’s the thing, I could follow the robot fights but when there was people running about, that was not edited well. It was often hard to tell where people are in relation to each other and whatever the danger is and also there were times where it felt like a shot or two had been forgotten as a character would pop up somewhere and you’d be like “I did not see you go from place A to place B?!”

Also, as a small pet peeve, The Last Knight has some of the worst UK geography I’ve ever seen. Whether it was driving down The Mall in London one way, then the other (without showing Buckingham Palace and no sign they turned around) or the fact when it was set in Oxford, historian Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) was giving a tour to students and it made it look like Bodleian Library was a part of the Museum of Natural History when it’s in fact a 10 minute walk down the road.

I did like how the character of Colonel William Lennox (Josh Duhamel) returned to the franchise. He’s working for the government task force that are hunting down transformers so there’s some interesting conflict there as he knew and worked with some of the autobots – unfortunately this potentially interesting character arc and conflict isn’t really explored at all.

The Last Knight generally looks great but its let down by a script that has many, many jokes that do not land and any conversation feels awkward. All the human cast gives fine performances and in the case of Sir Anthony Hopkins, a very weird performance. Sir Edmund Burton is an eccentric guy who is part of a secret society that’s known about transformers for hundreds of years and Anthony Hopkins give a strangely fascinating performance – it’s just not the sort of thing you’d expect Hopkins to do.

The main problem with The Last Knight is that while it had a lot of stuff going on, I found myself bored. I was looking at my watch during the final showdown because it was not keeping my attention and I was just waiting for it to be over. I also found myself wanting to be home watching the first Transformers film as at least that’s fun.

That’s the thing with Transformers: The Last Knight – the main emotion it brought out of me was apathy. I just didn’t care about these characters, both human and robot, and while it looked pretty good, sometimes it was too chaotic and incoherent for me. 1/5.