Tag Archives: Eric Bana

Big Fish


by Rachel Willis

An encounter with a wild blue grouper sends 8-year-old Abby on a lifelong mission to understand, and save, the ocean ecosystem in writer/director Robert Connolly’s feature, Blueback.

We follow Abby through three stages of her life. The first – and shortest – at age 8 is precociously played by Ariel Donoghue. Teenage Abby, played by Isla Fogg, is who we spend the most time with as she reconciles her love of the ocean with her mom, Dora’s (Radha Mitchell), overt activism. A contemporary framing story follows the adult Abby (Mia Wasikowska) as a marine biologist who returns home after Dora (the older version portrayed by Elizabeth Alexander) suffers a stroke.

On paper, this seems like a lot to contend with, but Connolly handles each stage well, ping-ponging primarily from adult Abby and teenage Abby with a skillful touch. There’s never any confusion as to where we are in time, as both Fogg and Wasikowska cement us with the character (as do Mitchell and Alexander with Dora). Both depictions are so strong as to convince us that we’re watching the same woman across time.

The movie’s biggest problem is overstuffing the scenes of teenage Abby’s life, leaving too little time for both the framing story, and the fish that gives the film its name. Though Eric Bana is a fine actor, his character Macka feels extraneous. There are other characters with whom our time is better spent.

Because we spend so little time with the grouper, there’s never the sense that we’re connecting with an animal in the way other films showcase the human-animal bond. It’s possible it’s simply hard to make a girl and her fish land the same way as a boy and his dog, though I imagine those who saw My Octopus Teacher might beg to differ.

Despite the film’s tendency to take on a little too much regarding its worldbuilding, it’s still an effective exploration of family and community, and how we relate to the natural world. There are those who seek to exploit it for everything it’s worth, while others wish to preserve it for future generations.

There’s a sense that for each piece of the world we lose, more than we can ever imagine is lost along with it. Abby and Dora hope to preserve that which connects us to something bigger than ourselves. The theme is always one worth repeating, and Blueback adds a unique perspective to the mix.

Lock, Stock and One Smoking Sword

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

by Hope Madden

Right, Guy Ritchie’s medieval-ish sorcery fable King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is bad.

But how bad is it?

Or more to the point, how Guy Ritchie is it?

The filmmaker mixes his trademark hypothetical-scenarios, quick-cut montages and period anachronisms with video game quality CGI, and it’s hard to decide which approach is more ill-suited to the material.

Or is the bigger issue the fact that this story – among the oldest, simplest, most re-told in the history of the English language – is befuddled beyond recognition once Ritchie and his team of co-writers have their way with it?

The film opens appealingly enough: King Uther (Eric Bana) hands his crown to his brother Vortigern (Jude Law) to hold while he single-swordedly defeats the villainous wizard Mordred – who controls super colossal elephant beasts with his mind!

This makes Jude Law’s nose bleed, so we know something’s up. Next thing you know, there are hungry sea-serpent siren things, Uther’s attacked, and little bitty Arthur finds himself floating Moses-like toward Londinium and the waiting arms of some golden-hearted prostitutes.

Flash forward through the first of several watch-him-become-a-man montages and Charlie Hunnam appears. Street savvy, tough, flippant and boasting what can only be the work of the most stylish barber in all of Londinium, he runs afoul of the king and accidentally pulls Excalibur from its stone. He’d just as soon put it back.

He’s reluctant! He doesn’t want all this! He’s just a regular guy – who looks like super-cut Charlie Hunnam and says things like “ya big, silly, posh bastard.”

And if you think he seems out of place in about-to-be-Arthurian England, check out Jude Law and his leather blazer and matching skinny jeans.

But what did you expect – that he wouldn’t Guy Ritchie this thing? It’s Game of Thrones meets Sherlock Holmes (the Ritchie version). And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

The Arthurian legend can be a stiff slog, and a little shot of style could enliven things. Unfortunately, Ritchie buries every stylistic choice he makes under charmless and pace-deadening CGI.

It would take more than magic to save this thing.