- Reviews Written:
Posted on 4/25/06 01:36 AM
There is a time in a person's life when they must bear down and do something they don't want to do. Whether it's collating a report for the boss at work or have surgery on a major part of your body, you wince at the very thought of whatever it is you have to put yourself through.
For me, it was Friday, April 21st, when my best friend got me, my brother and five other friends tickets to see "Silent Hill".
Never before have I wished to be collating a major report or having my toenails removed following getting eight shots in each foot just to numb it.
I have been careful not to write my initial thoughts about the movie because I didn't feel like fielding a zillion complaints about how wrong I was and how the movie was like the second coming and the greatest thing since...oh, I dunno, the release of the last Silent Hill video game.
Little do these people realize that I am a gaming veteran. I'm not talking about the 64-bit Sony/N64 era. I'm talking about the Atari 2600, the 8-bit NES, the 16-bit Super Nintendo, the Gameboy, and the obtuse Atari Jaguar. I've played on nearly every gaming console there ever was.
I was whooping ass at Pac-Man on the Atari 7800 while you whippersnappers (I've ALWAYS wanted to use that word someday) were in diapers.
I played Silent Hill for about a minute on the PlayStation and I admit to liking the concept. It's not my favorite game but it was cool.
So, there's my background.
The movie opened Friday. I remember, at this time last year, that Sin City was released and I looked forward to another early and thrilling start to the Summer Movie Season. Now, I wasn't looking for another "Sin City" because, let's face it, "Sin City" was a great movie, but I WAS looking for a good movie.
If I were to sum this review up in one sentence just so you could understand my feelings and so a clever publication can use it as a blurb, I would say this:
Watching this movie is like watching one of your friends play "Silent Hill" on a giant movie screen.
It's like going to his house and sitting down on his couch and hearing him say to you, "Hey, you wanna WATCH ME play 'Silent Hill' until I finish the game?"
And, so, you nod just to be polite, hoping that he'll get bored of it or he'll sense your boredom and he will just stop playing so you can play something else or watch a movie.
But he doesn't. Instead, he just plays for hours on end until you're nearly falling asleep and it takes that much longer because he hasn't exactly mastered every nook and cranny of the game and keeps getting his head lopped off, his skin torn to shreds, his body burnt to a crisp, or he just keeps falling into a pit of lava while breathlessly reassuring you, "Dude, trust me...I ALWAYS pass this stage."
The movie stars Radha Mitchell as "Rose DaSilva".
Now, according to dedicated gamers, who have followed "Silent Hill" like a religion, this movie is "100% accurate to the game".
I guess not because I don't ever remember the main character being named, "Rose DaSilva". I don't remember the child being named, "Sharon". I remember that the main character was a GUY named "Harry". Him and his daughter were going on a vacation to Silent Hill.
Her daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) has trouble sleeping at night and just gets up and sleepwalks all over the place. On this particular night, Sharon has found her way to to the edge of a cliff that is conveniently located, not only next to Rose's beautiful home, but next to a bustling freeway overpass.
After saving Sharon's life, Mommy DaSilva decides to do the most responsible and motherly thing to help her daughter cure her sleepwalking problem once and for all.
She takes Sharon to a doctor and--oh, wait a minute...no, that's what would happen in a LOGICAL movie.
Without doing ANY RESEARCH WHATSOEVER, Rose decides to take Sharon to the town of Silent Hill. Had she looked the town up like her much smarter husband (played thanklessly by the always-great Sean Bean), Rose would have found out that Silent Hill was closed to the public years ago due to a fire which left toxic fumes floating all over the place. I'm sure she would have also used Google Earth and been surprised that the town hasn't yet been razed by state and government officials.
Anyway, forget all that. They travel to Silent Hill and immediately draw the suspicion of the local police, which there seems to be only one besides Officer Thomas Gucci (Kim Coates) who has the arduous task of helping Rose's husband, Chris, find his wife and daughter.
To my knowledge, none of this is in the game...but let's go on.
For some reason, instead of pulling over to the side of the road when Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) tells them to, Rose decides to go really, really, OMIGOD, really fast, in pouring rain, smashing through a gate, running across a rickety bridge, endangering her child in a way that Britney Spears would be proud of.
In the process, Rose runs right through the ghost of Alessa, a child who haunts the town, and the Jeep crashes.
Rose awakes to find Sharon gone. She has apparently sleepwalked her cute little butt into the town of Silent Hill. Rose, at this point, decides that she needs to find her daughter. She's attacked by things resembling burnt chicken wings and is nearly killed. Yet, she continues to run in to find her child.
The one reason to like this movie is the art and set direction. Everything looks depressingly pretty...but that's also another reason to be unimpressed. I've seen the game. I was impressed by the trailers. The art direction, at that point, no longer produces the same level of seratonin in my body. I'm sorry. I've seen it in a game, I've seen it on a screen...and I've seen it BEFORE there was a Silent Hill video game. It's called "Cambria, California on a foggy day".
It's a town covered in FOG people. Get a grip! I could see that if I go into my town during the winter!
The dialogue is a winner, too. It mainly consists of Rose spouting lines with conviction and finality and Sharon's name yelled every minute on the minute. Rose also is a big fan of reassuring herself, Cybil, and her daughter that "everything is OK".
After running back to the Jeep, Sharon is arrested by Cybil who laughably tells one of those bandaged up armless things, "don't move" as it comes grunting and moving its way towards the girls.
Rose runs from Cybil AGAIN which just makes one wonder how Cybil EVER became a cop in the first place when she can't seem to hold on to a single suspect. When they find one another again (after nearly being torn to shreds by a muscled-up thing with a motorcycle ramp for a head), the two agree to work together to find Rose's daughter.
Meanwhile, Chris and Officer Gucci exhaust every possible method to find Chris's wife and daughter. This extensive sweep of the town includes Officer Gucci...and Chris...and Gucci's reassurance that "Rose isn't here, Chris".
You can't make this stuff up, folks.
We later discover that Sharon is magically linked to Alessa, somehow, some way and that Alessa needs Sharon's help in getting revenge on the twisted zealot group that took Alessa's life.
The end is something I cannot even imagine in my nightmares.
In fact, there were several moments where I was looking at my watch and wishing that I was somewhere else. One such moment was where the Pyramid Headed guy (called, "Pyramid Head", go figure) gets a hold of one of the female villagers. The movie, just to be exploitive and plain sick, chooses the quick and easy path to disgust: instead of P.H. killing her, he rips the villager's clothes off...then rips all her skin off her body. If THAT wasn't enough, he throws her freshly-ripped flesh at the church doors where the villagers hide, splattering blood all over Cybil and Rose.
Folks, I can handle violence. If you looked at my DVD collection, you would KNOW that I am a huge fan of guts and gore. Romero's "Dead" movies come to mind...but THAT...that is simply uncalled for.
One of the reviewers tried to sum it up by saying, "It's based on a video game, not Shakespeare."
That isn't enough reason to excuse this movie of its sins. By that rationale, I guess that Mortal Kombat and Bloodrayne were masterpieces, too, right? I don't think that studios are aware that video games made into movies just DON'T WORK. I don't care how accurate or fantastical or beautiful they "look" or how authentic they are to the source material.
The source materal (writing, dialogue, plot) is what will kill a video game movie EVERY SINGLE TIME.
I don't think I CAN sum this up. I could take the easy way out and say, "fans of the video game will adore it".
It's fairly simple to say that seeing as how it's a giant tribute to the ultra-geeky fanboy. Over half the time, the movie is a giant eyeball that winks at every gamer who has held a PlayStation controller in their grubby little hands. At times, it winks so much that it seems to say, "Remember that from the game? Do ya'? DO YA'? DO YA?!?"
It may be true to say that fanboys would rejoice at this movie...but that also does not, a good movie, make. If so, then one could simply say, "'The Fast and the Furious' will be adored by fans of tricked out precision automobiles" or "'Stick It' will be enjoyed by gymnasts everywhere".
Nope. Can't say either of those...but I can say this:
Silent Hill is boring, at best. Its ideas are as interesting as what is seen in the video game, which means that it does NOT translate well at ALL to a movie screen. The writing is crap. The dialogue is atrocious. The story starts out in the survival horror realm and degenerates into some unbelievable mess of a plot about religious extremists who tortured "evil and sin" in their town.
The "message" about religion (which I also don't follow in my life) and the use of "fear as a weapon" is hackneyed, heavy-handed, and wholly unoriginal, even though I detest the current Administration.
Silent Hill is easily a candidate for worst movie of the year.
* out of ****