Monday, July 09, 2007

Familiar Faces in Movies (Part III)

Like the PLAMO Review series, another continuously blog entry I have on Ngeekhiong is Familiar Faces in Movies. If you have little idea of what is it about, you might want to read Part 1 and 2 first.

Also, I'm a lousy person at keeping spoilers after a movie, so please pardon me for exposing a lot of movie details below ^^;

John Neville

(Bottom left) Spider (2002) … Terrence
(Top) The Fifth Element (1997) … General Staedert
(Bottom right) The X Files (1995 – 1998) … The Well-Manicured Man

John Neville is a veteran actor, with many of his movies and TV appearances unfamiliar to me. I first knew him as the Well-Manicured Man from the X Files series I watched when I was still a kid. For me, he looks like a really well mannered senior gentleman, and perhaps the most kind-looking one among the ‘Syndicate’ members in that renowned sci-fi TV series. I guess most of the X-Files fans will only remember the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davies), or Cancer-man as he was called in the first two or three seasons, but John Neville played a much darker role than him, and the conspiracy plot became much complicated at one point when he was overthrew by the ‘Syndicate’ members lead by the Well-Manicured Man.

One thing for sure: in the few movies featuring John Neville, his appearance always conjures a heavy, serious and stern atmosphere moment. In Spider, a movie full of plot twists, John Neville is Terrence, the lead actor’s housemate in a halfway house for the mentally ills. In contrary to his role in the X Files, Terrence is a sad and miserable character, with many emotional scenes in that movie. Even in a sci-fi hit like the Fifth Element, which is full of humor and laughter, John Neville’s brief appearance as General Staedart created some really dark moments when he and his battle cruiser was consumed by the evil force at the beginning of the movie. No mean of disrespect whatsoever to him, but the movie certainly lightens up a lot after his death.

Ian Holm

(Left) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) & The Return of the King (2003)… Bilbo Baggins
(Bottom right) The Fifth Element (1997) … Father Vito Cornelius
(Top right) Alien (1979) … Ash

Another veteran actor as seen in the Fifth Element is Ian Holm, who played Father Vito Cornelius, who is a very funny character, most certainly more cheerful and likeable than John Neville mentioned above.

Most of us would know him as Bilbo Baggins, Frodo’s good old uncle in the Lord of the Rings. If you think about it for a moment, Bilbo’s role is very important to the whole trilogy, since his birthday is the start, while his voyage to the Grey Heaven marks the ending. For your information, years before Peter Jackson adapted the trilogy into the three movies we know of today, Ian Holm also voiced the radio drama version of the Lord of the Rings, and played Bilbo as well. Quite a natural cast for the character, is he not?

For me, the first movie I watched with Ian Holm is Ridley Scott’s famous Alien, where he played Ash the Cyborg doctor. I remember his performance very vividly, because I was as surprise as the other actors in that movie, the moment when it was revealed that Ash is not a living human being. The shock was very much like the moment when the Chestbuster appeared. Gruesome~

Miranda Otto

(Right) War of the Worlds (2005) … Mary Ann
(Left) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) & The Return of the King (2003) … Eowyn

Still on the Lord of the Rings. Now that I think about it, there are really few actresses in the whole trilogy. Cate Blanchett (Lady Galadriel) only appeared for about 15 minutes in all three movies! Most of her time was only in the first movie; Liv Tyler (Arwen) probably had another 15 minutes more than Cate, spending most of the time missing Aragorn in Rivendell. So the actress we get to see most is actually Miranda Otta, who played Eowyn. My favorite scene of Eowyn is her swordfight with the Witch King in the Battle of Pelennor. The moment when she took off her helmet, slammed her sword into the Nazgul’s head and said, “I’m no man” is just classic.

In Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, Miranda Otto had a less significant role as Mary Ann, Tom Cruise’s wife who only appeared briefly at the beginning of the movie (before the alien starts attacking), and at the very end of it (moment of reunion for her family). I don’t suppose her character had any big impact in that movie at all. So naturally, between the two characters, no doubt I like Miranda Otto as Eowyn more.

Marton Csokas

(Right) Kingdom of Heaven (2005) … Guy de Lusignan
(Left) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) … Celeborn

An actor with much lesser time of appearance than Lady Galadriel in the Fellowship of the Ring is Marton Csokas, who played Celeborn. Can’t remember him? He was one of the High Elves of Lothlorien, alongside Lady Galadriel who met the Fellowship after they escaped from Moria. That’s probably it if you only watched the theatrical version. In the Extended Version of the movie, Celeborn was also the one who gave Aragorn an Elven hunting knife before the Fellowship moved on with their journey.

In Kingdom of Heaven, Marton Csokas is Guy de Lusignan (pronounced as Loo-see-neon), the bloodthirsty king of Jerusalem who doomed his kingdom by launching a hasty attack against Saladin’s Saracen army, only to have his army exhausted to death under the hot sun.

It was actually very hard to draw any sense of familiarity between the characters played by Marton Csokas, but his voice gave me the hint to check out his profile on IMDB. In my opinion, he speaks with a slight arrogance and coldness, even as Celeborn. It’s hard to describe in details, lets just say his character is not a very warm and friendly person to have a conversation with. It worked fine for his role as a High Elf, because his race is supposedly way more superior to common men. But as Guy de Lusignan, his gifted voice made him a real villain. However, when it comes to discussing about villain in Kindom of Heaven, there’s one far worse than him.

Brendan Gleeson

(Bottom left) Kingdom of Heaven (2005) … Reynald
(Top Left) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) … Professor Alastor 'Mad­Eye' Moody
(Right) Troy (2004) … Menelaus

Presenting: Guy de Lusignan’s partner in crime in Kingdom of Heaven, Reynald de Chatillon played by Brendan Gleeson. As mentioned above, I think Reynald is much more evil than Guy. He raided Saracen caravan at least twice in the movie, heightening the tension between Saladin and Jerusalem. The second raid unleashed war as Saladin’s sister was among his victims. In history, Reynald did existed, and his evil deeds were quite accurately depicted in the movie as well. Even the way his throat was slashed by an anger-driven Saladin is very much true to the history book.

Brendan Gleeson’s record of being villains in movies also includes Menelaus in Troy. If you only remember characters like Achilles, Hector, Helen, or even Ajax from the movie, I don’t blame you. Menelaus was the husband of Helen, who ran away with Paris. During the beginning of the Trojan War, he was KO-ed by Hector in swordfight, which was supposedly between him and Paris. Anyway, I don’t suppose anymore missed him after his death at all.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you would probably remember Brendan Gleeson as Professor Alastor 'Mad­Eye' Moody as well. I can’t comment much on that role, since I didn’t watch any of the Harry Potter movies. Anyway, when he is shaved, Brendon Gleeson doesn’t look like a villain at all.

Vincent Regan

(Bottom) 300 (2006) … Captain
(Top) Troy (2004) … Eudorus

One thing I don’t get it at all, actors like Brendan Gleeson and Brian Cox get to be the villains most of the time because of their huge figure, which makes them look naturally fitting as obese greedy kings and knights. But what’s the logical explanation for Vincent Regan for getting he roles as second in command of an elite army squadron twice. Not to mention that in both movies, he fought for ancient Greek. Is it just an odd coincidence, or maybe not from the casting crew’s point of view? In Troy and 300, Vincent Regan played the second-in-command for the lead heroes. He is the captain of the Myrmidons under Achilles in Troy, and the Captain of the Spartan army under King Leonidas in 300.

Nathan Jones

(Top left) Huo Yuan Jia (2006) … Hercules O'Brien
(Bottom) Troy (2004) … Boagrius
(Top right) WWE … himself

I watched quite a bit of WWE a few years back, and witnessed quite a few good wrestlers come and go, and Nathan Jones is certainly one of them. I only remember him in a tag team match with the Undertaker (back then still in his ‘American Badass’ silhouette) at Wrestler Mania. Like The Rock (Mummy II, The Scorpion King) and Triple H (Blade III), Nathan Jones did some acting as well. However, the muscleman’s role in the two movies seems to be of much less significant than what his predecessors got on screen.

To be honest, I only know him in Troy, where he played Boagrius the warrior killed by Achilles at the beginning of the movie. Nathan Jones is quite a tall man, and the scene where he walked out from the Greek formation to meet Achilles is just unbelievable, the other soldiers were just too tiny as compared to him. In real life, I don’t suppose Brad Pitt who played Achilles has any chance of touching Nathan Jones in a real fight :)

I saw Natahn Jones again on the poster for Jet Li’s Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia is the Mandarin title) last year, and his role was again limited as a one-one-one stage brawler against Jet Li, very much like what he does best in WWE. Not sure if he survived the fight, but I don’t think I will ever bother to check it out anyway. Even though Jet Li proclaimed that Fearless would be his final martial art movie, I have no interest to watch it at all. From what I read, the story is 180 degree different from the actual martial artist’s biography, in a bad way some more. It’s more like a close-to-mindless action movie flashing Jet Li’s name, which you will forget as soon as you get out of the cinema.

That's all for Part III, Part IV is coming up tomorrow~