In a world filled with serious and kick-ass James Bond’s and Ethan Hunt’s, especially after the expectedly explosive summer blockbuster season and approaching the very serious fall award season fair, one man and one film aims to give audiences the laugh-out-loud moments and gags everyone deserves. Johnny English Strikes Again may be a Rowan Atkinson vehicle for a once applauded physical-comedy actor to cash a cheque in a cultural landscape where audiences are obsessed with uber realism and knock-your-socks off action, but the placement of the newest English film may be the spy’s most daring mission yet.
Running for his life, a young soldier Hans Quangel (Louis Hofmann) finds himself jolting in a bleak and otherwise bare forest somewhere in the battlefields of World War II. Scared, alone and out of breath, the young German soldier seems lost and directionless. As his breaths sharpen and his fear settle, the young soldier spends most of his run with his head looking back; whether it be an enemy, the war itself, or a version of himself he is fearful of becoming, the young Quangel maneuvers himself between the tall and dark trees, the mysteriousness of the forest and the impending and looming death that looks for many young men in the battlefields of war. Before anyone can make any sense of it, we hear a gunshot, fatally wounding the young soldier and forcing him to the ground. As his bright blue eyes begin to turn to grey, life fleeting him quickly and the forest embodying his body, Alone In Berlin begins with what seem like an insignificant death to many, but an impactful one for few.
The fact that I have never seen Mary Poppins should not compromise the extent of happiness that I experienced as a youngster. Yes, it may seem a bit bizarre that I never indulged in Julie Andrew’s Oscar winning performance and one of the most iconic screen roles of all time, but the fact of the matter is, Mary Poppins is a definite Disney film classic whether or not I have seen it. And although I may be in the minority of film critics who have never had the opportunity to see Poppins, I can assure you that it would have not changed my mind on the overall result of John Lee Hancock‘s cookie-cutter retelling film Saving Mr. Banks. Formulaic, emotionally manipulating and typical in Disney’s ugly duckling to sparkling swan narrative arc, Mr.Banks needs a lot more saving than it thinks.