Saturday, January 16, 2016

Movies: Domhnall Gleeson Triple Feature

Weirdly enough, I've seen three films starring Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson over the past three weeks: "Ex Machina," "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and "The Revenant." That's a banner year for any actor (two of those movies are huge blockbusters, and the other is well-reviewed high-concept sci-fi), but let's see how he did in each one.

Ex Machina

Gleeson Factor: 10/10

Gleeson is the protagonist of this meditation on artificial intelligence, and his character's cat-and-mouse relationship with a reclusive tech billionaire (played by Gleeson's "Star Wars" co-star Oscar Isaac) is easily the best part of the movie. Unfortunately, the story itself is a warmed-over mishmash of familiar concepts going back to Mary Shelley, but it does move briskly and looks gorgeous thanks to Alex Garland's direction.

Rating: 7/10

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

[everyone's seen the official trailer a hundred times, so here's the George Lucas special edition]

Gleeson Factor: 4/10

Gleeson plays General Hux, a younger, more Nazi-fied version of the villainous Governor Tarkin. He's not the main baddie of the movie, but he absolutely chews the scenery in a long monologue that is such an on-the-nose reproduction of Riefenstahl that you can't help but laugh.  As for the movie, I loved the first hour, but everything went south when J.J. Abrams decided to cut-and-paste Episodes VI, V, and VI into the second half of the film.

Rating (first hour): 9/10
Rating (second hour): 5/10

The Revenant

Gleeson Factor: 6/10

Gleeson's character in this one is a (heavily) fictionalized version of Andrew Henry, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He plays the "straight" man compared with the resolute Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio, in the role that will surely win him his first Oscar) and the devious John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Gleeson manages to convey a righteousness that is tragically at odds with the amoral, majestic wilderness shot by director Alejandro Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.

Rating: 8/10


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