Bombshell (2019)

Director: Jay Roach

Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell, Allison Janney

Screenplay: Charles Randolph

109 mins. Rated R for sexual material and language throughout.

 

Bombshell is a movie I was very excited to see as soon as I caught the trailer. First of all, I didn’t realize it was Charlize Theron (Monster, Atomic Blonde) under all that makeup, and that shocked and excited me. Also, I was a big fan of Vice, which follows people I don’t much like doing bad things, and I felt like Bombshell had a lot in common with Vice tonally, so that made me all the more excited.

It’s 2016, and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (Theron) has made an enemy of Donald Trump by asking him about his comments toward women. Meanwhile, Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge!, TV’s Big Little Lies) has been removed from her place on Fox & Friends, and she is contemplating a lawsuit. At the same time, Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie, Suicide Squad, Peter Rabbit) has just been hired and she wants to get to the top. When she reaches out to the Head of Fox News, Roger Ailes (John Lithgow, Late Night, TV’s 3rd Rock from the Sun), she is put into an inappropriate situation by Ailes. Soon after, Gretchen begins a firestorm when she comes forward with sexual harassment claims against Ailes, and Fox News begins to implode in the process.

This movie was painful to watch, and that’s kind of the point. The film’s trailers presented a very chic and stylized film, and while the style is definitely there, the story made me really uncomfortable, and in that way, I really found it to be an effective drama. It’s hard to really explain the techniques, but I think mostly it came from the tremendous acting work across the board and the sharp writing from Charles Randolph (The Big Short, Exposed). Director Jay Roach (Trumbo, All the Way) also elected to focus his camerawork on the performances and the story, which I really respect. The film’s overall effect on me was powerful.

Our three female leads are all incredible, each one owning their screen time quite well. The fact that Margot Robbie is able to hold her own against Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman is astounding considering the latter two actresses have been around for awhile and are playing real-life humans, whereas Robbie is an amalgam of other people. Their interactions are fiery and full of so much humanity. It’s astoundingly-performed.

John Lithgow is a disturbing presence as Roger Ailes. I never would have placed him in the role, but he is incredibly slimy and full of so much villainy. His makeup as well as that for Theron and Kidman is incredible, and their strong performances work all the better for the makeup. Having seen recent films like The Grudge, I can say that a poor makeup prosthetic can ruin a good performance and a good one can elevate it.

I also have to throw some love to Connie Britton (American Ultra, TV’s Dirty John) because she won’t get the attention she deserves for her work as Beth Ailes, Roger’s adoring wife. She doesn’t have a lot of scenes in the film, but with that time, she disappears in this role and showcases a woman who believes with all her heart that her husband couldn’t have done anything wrong (that, or she willing ignores it), and it’s shocking how long she is able to keep up with the scandal. In a lot of ways, we like to believe that our loved ones could never do anything to hurt us, and Britton exemplifies that.

Outside of the writing and acting work, there’s nothing too flashy in the film other than the strong production design, which recreates an environment like Fox News, and I think it creates a sense of realism in the film. Director Jay Roach also capably creates connections with people that I don’t really know and makes them realistic.

Bombshell is a strong performance-laden film with some shockingly-good acting work from pretty much the entire team, and its screenplay is incredibly well-constructed to connect with its audience on a cerebral level. It’s not an easy viewing experience but it is well worth it. Outside of those elements, there isn’t a lot of notable wins here, but I highly recommend the film to anyone, whether or not you like the people being portrayed.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Jay Roach’s All the Way, click here.

Wonder Woman (2017)

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya

Screenplay: Allan Heinberg

141 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content.

 

Well, DC did it, everyone. They finally won one. In the race to create the first good female superhero film, DC just crossed the finish line before Marvel. Kudos all around. But is it actually good?

On the mystical island of Themyscira, Diana (Gal Gadot, Fast & Furious 6, Criminal) has grown up surrounded by strong and powerful Amazonians, but when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, Star Trek, Hell or High Water), an outsider, washes up on the island, Diana finds a call to action as the rest of the world need her help. Her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen, Gladiator, 3 Days to Kill) forbids her from leaving but Diana believes it her duty to help Steve end The War to End All Wars. Once she arrives in London, Diana is met with an entirely alien culture and new adversaries in German General Ludendorff (Danny Huston, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Big Eyes) and Spanish chemist Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya, The Skin I Live In, The Infiltrator), and it will take all Diana’s might to defeat them and bring peace back to the world.

Finally. Finally, we have an excellent super heroine film. Wonder Woman is damn good, everyone. Hearkening back to the spectacular Superman: The Movie of 1978, Wonder Woman is a fairly straight-forward telling of Diana’s backstory. It is very close plot-wise to the pilot of the Lynda Carter Woman Woman series from the 70s, but it is more successful in its adaptation of the source material.

Director Patty Jenkins (Monster, Exposed) directed the hell out of this movie, focusing on Diana’s character traits and flipping the traditional idea of the hero and the damsel. Screenwriter Allan Heinberg (TV’s The Catch) plays Diana as the hero and Steve Trevor as the damsel in distress, and Jenkins pushes it as far as she can.

Gal Gadot gives serviceable work here as Diana. She probably isn’t the best actress for the role, but she is showing signs of improvement with each installment of the DCEU. Chris Pine helps by giving fully to his performance and director Jenkins knows how to get the best from her leading lady. It also helps to have a well-balanced supporting cast of players like Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, TV’s House of Cards), Danny Huston, David Thewlis (Naked, TV’s Fargo), and Connie Nielsen. Surround yourself with greats and you will be great, and Gadot is extremely entertaining and charismatic to watch.

Now, the final act of the film falls apart quite a bit, but it is the character piece that Jenkins has presented that makes Wonder Woman such a treat to see, and being the first well-reviewed of DCEU’s slate, this bodes well for the future of the franchise and its star performer.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

What did you think of Wonder Woman? Has all the world been waiting for her? Let me know/drop a comment below!

 

 

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, click here.

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, click here.

For my review of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, click here.

 

 

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