Why I Love… #1: Benedict Cumberbatch – Update 2

I’ve realized that there’s more than just To the Ends of the Earth that I haven’t yet written about regarding Benedict’s performance. But, since it’s the latest thing I’ve watched, I’ll start with that.

To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy that mini-series that much. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to see parts of it while being sick (and actually feeling sick): all that constant movement of the ship – done very realistically by the way – not really a nice distraction when you feel sick already. But even today, when I felt slightly better, I couldn’t really immerse myself in the story or empathize with the characters. Not even with the main character that Benedict portrays so convincingly. I like what the director David Attwood said about why they chose Benedict:

We found Benedict Cumberbatch fairly early. We needed a very good actor, someone young enough to be believable as an aristocratic, an almost slightly dislikeable character who is an adolescent in terms of his views of the world, his upbringing. But we also needed someone who could hold the screen for four and half hours, in every scene. We needed someone with experience who was not only a very good actor, but also with terrific comic timing. Benedict was the ideal answer to that.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/totheends/notes.html

Indeed, he was the perfect choice, and he did show a remarkable range of emotions. I love how he can express so much with just one look. Still, I wasn’t emotionally involved with what he was going through.

Two more movies that I’ve watched recently also starred Benedict Cumberbatch, if only in supporting roles, and in one of those you don’t actually get to see him at all.

First: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I’ve made my rather negative opinion about the movie in general clear on my German-speaking Blog Singende Lehrerin. One of the good things about the second installment of the Hobbit trilogy is, however, Smaug – voiced by Benedict. The conversation between Bilbo (Martin „Watson“ Freeman) and Smaug („Sherlock“) is clearly THE highlight of the movie! Which makes it even sadder that what followed this scene reduced the Great Smaug to a figure of ridicule. In addition, he also „played“ the Necromancer, but since he’s even more unrecognizable in that role, there’s not so much to say about it.

Second: 12 Years a Slave. This movie got the Golden Globe for Best Drama; critics and movie-goers both praise it. I, personally, do not consider it to be the best movie of 2013. Maybe it’s the most important movie, depicting how cruel slavery really was and how it could affect even „free“ blacks, as the true story of Solomon Northop shows, and the slave owners, as well. And, yes, the cinematography and cast are outstanding. Yet, for me some scenes were too extended and cruel, causing me to not being able to watch them, and thus distancing myself from what was happening. Anyway, I wanted to talk about Benedict’s performances. Well, this time he had a role that could have been played by many other actors. I think he was really wasted on this. It’s not like he did not perform flawlessly – he did -, but it wasn’t a particularly challenging role (director Steve McQueen gave that to Michael Fassbender, who will also be featured here soon in the „Why I love…“ category).

Much more awe-inspiring and showing Benedict’s comedic talent is his appearance in the BBC radio sitcom Cabin PressureSo far I’ve only listened to the first of four seasons – but I’ll definitely listen to all of it! It’s hilarious and all the actors seem to just have had a ball recording this program about an airline which only consists of one plane, of which Benedict is the not very experienced young pilot (it took him 7 times to get his license).

Now I can’t wait to watch the third series of Sherlock. According to Amazon.co.uk, the DVDs should be here between the 22nd and 23rd of January. Another movie to look forward to is August: Osage Country

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