All the Money in the World (2017)

All the Money in the World

Gail (Michelle Williams), won’t let family troubles stop her from getting her son back.

It is impossible to talk about All the Money in the World without mentioning how the movie almost never happened. While the movie is far from perfect, I find all who made the film (mainly director Ridley Scott and star Christopher Plummer) deserve a load of respect.

The film tells the true story of how a teenager named John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) was kidnapped and held for ransom until his family paid a vast sum of money. He still lives with is divorced mom Gail (Michelle Williams), but it is on his father’s (Andrew Buchan) where the money is. The teen’s grandfather, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer, who is not related to the younger Plummer in real life), is an oil magnate, and is one of the richest in the world (if not the richest). He refuses to pay the ransom, basically giving off a vibe that would make the Grinch look like Gandhi. Gail is helped out with a co-worker of her father in law, Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg).

 

Of course, it is the making of this movie that has been the stuff of fascination. The original actor who was to play the elder Getty was Kevin Spacey. However, after reports surfaced of his many past acts of sexual misconduct, Ridley Scott cut out all of his scenes, and replaced him with Plummer (not to mention bringing back Wahlberg and Williams for reshoots), and finished in a week (with a few weeks before the film was to be released). This is not the first time Ridley Scott has had to do something of this magnitude: 2000’s Gladiator was in trouble when a few scenes were still needed after the death of star Oliver Reed.

 

The original trailer with Spacey is still online, though Scott has said he does not plan on releasing the Spacey version. It was said that Spacey’s portrayal was more dark and sinister than Plummer’s, but I for one thought it was better the less evil Plummer appeared. Of course, we cannot root for this sinister man with all his cash, yet the veteran Plummer still gives him plenty of charm that makes us realize how he got rich in the first place. It is great acting.

 

Parents, the movie is R, mainly for swearing and violence (particularly one graphic scene). There is no real sex or nudity, so I would say High School and above.

 

Had the movie not been stained with the Spacey reports, perhaps we could have watched the movie for what it is, and not for what happened off camera. I personally would like to see the Spacey version, only to compare what might have been. Of course, no amount of money will allow me to see that.

 

Overall: Three and a Half Stars *** 1/2

The Martian (2015)

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who faces seemingly insurmountable odds as he tries to find a way to subsist on a hostile planet.

Matt Damon is the first being to be a Martian.

 

What surprised me the most about The Martian was the fact that it was directed by Ridley Scott.

The same man who did dark films such as Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), Gladiator (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001), and (the very underrated) Prometheus (2012), Scott is always great at visual style. What I did not know was he could do it with light comedy (although I admit I forgot he made the 2003 film Matchstick Men, also underrated).

The film starts out on Mars, with a strong storm forcing the Ares crew to return home to earth. On the way, one of the crew, Mark Watney, is hit by debris, and is pressumed dead. Of course, he is not actually dead (or the movie would not have happend).

Watney is played by the always talented Matt Damon, but even I was a little surprised he was able to do a performance where comedy was not needed, but still adds to the story. It is the type of attitude from a character that I like (recently I saw Jupiter Ascending, and the Mila Kunis character was the exact opposite: totally boring. In fairness, she was just one of a lot of things wrong with that film.)

The film also has a very strong supporting cast. The crew captain is played by the wonderful Jessica Chastain. Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jeff Daniels are in charge of NASA. Even Kristen Wiig gets a chance to show she can be more than just comedic.

The film does have some flaws, as it does drag at times, and I did find myself looking at my watch more than one occasion. Also, there is a lot of title crawls showing us information not needed. I understand why we need to know what day it is to show how long Mark Watnay is on Mars (and he is there for sometime). What I don’t get is why we need to see everyone on Earth’s name and job title.

Parents, the film is rated PG-13 mainly for swearing (two or three F words) but nothing sexual. It is definetly ok for middle school and up.

I end by saying that I thing film had a great message at the end. One that everyone in the world can apply to on Earth, not just on Mars.

 

Overall: Four Stars ****