Happy St. Paddy’s Day – Jekyll Centurion In The Grey Bruges

Well no green beer for me this year but I thought I’d highlight some films from my favorite Irish actors.

The Grey

 

The Grey (2012) – Rated R

After narrowly surviving a deadly plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, a band of oil riggers must battle the elements — and a pack of wolves.

Obviously, Liam Neeson kicks serious butt. He currently stars in Non-Stop which was a lot of (nonsensical) fun AND The Lego Movie (as Good Cop/Bad Cop) which was even more fun. While I enjoy his action movies, The Grey is not actually the survival story the trailer would have you believe. Instead it’s a wonderful existential treatise on life and death disguised as a survival movie.

Jekyll

Jekyll (2007) – TV-14

In modern-day London, Dr. Jekyll’s last living descendant believes he can control his dark side, but a secret society has other plans for him.”

James Nesbitt is a favorite Irish actor of mine, mostly for this British miniseries. He is just fine as Jekyll but the first time you see him as Hyde, you’ll be hooked. He currently stars as Bofur in The Hobbit movies.

In Bruges

In Bruges (2008) – Rated R

After a job goes wrong in London, two hit men are ordered to lay low at a bed-and-breakfast in Bruges, Belgium, until their boss contacts them.”

In Bruges features two of my favorite Irish actors. When he isn’t getting into trouble, Colin Farrell is quite the charmer and Brendan Gleeson is always good, usually better than his material deserves. In Bruges is absolutely hysterical, an understated gem from the folks that made Seven Psychopaths (also hysterical)

Centurion

Centurion (2010) – Rated R

In 2nd-century Britain, a famed centurion and a handful of Roman soldiers try to survive behind enemy lines after Pict tribesmen decimate the platoon.”

I really enjoy Liam Cunningham in everything. Lately I’ve caught him as Davos in Game of Thrones but that obviously isn’t on Netflix. Netflix does stream Centurion, in which Liam has a supporting role. Not only that but it has Michael Fassbender in a starring role. In spite of that, the movie is stolen by Dominic West as General Virilus and Olga Kurylenko as Etain.

 

Coming Back on a Jet Plane

Well it doesn’t have the same ring but my daughter and granddaughter are on their way back home today. If I didn’t scare them off last time, maybe these cinematic gems of airplane travel will do the trick. All are currently available on instant Netflix.

Air Collision

Air Collision (2012) – Not rated

“Air Force One and a passenger jet wind up on a collision course after a solar storm destroys the air traffic control system. Now those on the ground and on the planes must work feverishly to avert disaster.”

Turbulent Skies (2010) – Not rated

New aircraft-guidance technology promises to replace human pilots, but the system’s big debut leads to a crisis when a computer virus sends a 747 loaded with celebrity guests straight into an electrical storm.”

Ground Control (1998) – Rated PG-13

“In the stressful business of air traffic control, Jack Harris (Kiefer Sutherland) was the best — until a crash ended his career. Haunted by the tragedy, Jack struggles to cope. But when a fierce storm cripples the Phoenix airport, he’s called back into action. Now, he must fight his demons to clear his conscience and save the lives of hundreds of people. Robert Sean Leonard, Henry Winkler and Margaret Cho co-star in this gripping thriller.”

Airline Disaster (2010) – Not rated

“In this fast-paced actioner, members of the Aryan Brotherhood hijack an airliner piloted by the younger brother of the president of the United States. They threaten to kill his family if imprisoned members of their group are not freed.”

I’ve mentioned these two recently but they bear repeating. Lost features a terrifying plane crash and The Grey has a rather artsy one.

The Grey

The Grey (2012) – Rated R

“After narrowly surviving a deadly plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, a band of oil riggers must fend for their lives in the ice and snow. But thanks to wolves that view their presence as a threat, they aren’t alone.”

Lost

Lost (2004-2010) – Rated TV-14

“After their plane crashes on a deserted island, a diverse group of castaways adapt to their new home in this Emmy-winning drama. As if learning to survive and get along weren’t enough, they soon must contend with the island’s mysterious forces.”

Winter is Coming! or Not Week

 

Snowman’s Land (2010) – Not Rated

“When the wife of a crime boss is accidentally killed, the hit man who was hired to protect the remote house in which she was living tries to keep her death under wraps. Fearing vengeance from the gangster, he’s soon locked in a fight for survival.”

First off, I love the title Snowman’s Land. This is a foreign film with subtitles (whoops lost half my audience right there) and the German title translates to Freed Pigs which I don’t understand at all. Winter is clearly in evidence here.

Unlike Deadfall where everyone looked far too pretty to be who they were, the characters in Snowman’s Land all look suitably grubby. Jurgen Rissman plays Walter, a low-level sad sack crook who bungles an assassination. He isn’t very smart but he is leagues brighter than his partner.

Things go comically wrong but not nearly so hysterically as in Headhunters. If you don’t mind reading subtitles then go watch Headhunters. It is hysterically funny as everything unravels. Snowman’s Land isn’t half as clever but is a passable waste of a hundred minutes.

The Grey (2012) – Rated R

“After narrowly surviving a deadly plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, a band of oil riggers must fend for their lives in the ice and snow. But thanks to wolves that view their presence as a threat, they aren’t alone.”

The Grey is a wonderful film but it is important to know what it is not. It is NOT Taken 2  – Taken 2 was also not Taken 2 but I digress. It is NOT an action film. Neither is it truly a survival tale. The Grey is a lyrical treatise on death & dying in the guise of a survival tale.

Unfortunately the studio did not understand what it had or how to market it. Every trailer is cut to make it look like Liam Neeson vs. The Wolves, action extravaganza. The trailers even show scenes that take place in the last few seconds of the film – a definite no-no in my book. Even the tagline from the poster is quite misleading.

There are some quibbles with the film. Occasionally even director Joe Carnahan forgets which film he is making. There is perhaps too much action for an introspective drama yet there is not enough to call this an action film. Flawed though it is, The Grey is a powerful film and the winter scenery is well-realized.

It’s Hammer Time plus Liam Neeson Among the Wolves

I’ve had mixed feelings about the new Hammer films. I have seen three of their four new offerings. The Resident was not very good, Wake Wood had an intriguing premise but was flawed, but Let Me In was a magnificent remake of Let the Right One In. I missed The Woman in Black but look forward to catching it down the line.

Hammer Films now has a YouTube channel. They plan to rotate some of their older films. Currently you can view these films in their entirety: Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter (1974), The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), The Man in Black (1950), Dick Barton Special Agent (1948), and The Last Page aka Man Bait (1952). The Quatermass Xperiment is wonderful, Captain Kronos is fun (and you can see where they hoped it would be a series) but I have not watched the other three.

* Whoops! Apparently The Quatermass Xperiment and Captain Kronos are blocked in the United States.

The Hammer Films channel also has trailers and featurettes but is still a work in progress. I really like the restoration work they are doing before releasing their back catalog on Blu-Ray. Unfortunate not in the United States as yet and they are far too expensive for me to start importing. I’d have to find a region-free Blu-Ray player as these are region-locked and then they would cost me 10-17 pounds apiece plus shipping.

Compare that price to The Ultimate Hammer Collection on DVD. The collection costs 26 pounds but for that you get 21 movies including my favorite (and long out of print in the U.S.) Quatermass and the Pit. I bought a region-free DVD player and this set and it was still cheaper than buying the out of print Quatermass.

I sure hope the Blu-Rays will come over here at some point. Until then I will have to content myself with Synapse’s Twins of Evil Blu-Ray and perhaps I’ll even spring for Vampire Circus.

If you are patiently awaiting Taken 2 in theaters then try Liam Neeson’s latest manly manfest The Grey – now streaming on Netflix.

After narrowly surviving a deadly plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, a band of oil riggers must fend for their lives in the ice and snow. But thanks to wolves that view their presence as a threat, they aren’t alone.”