Posted on 4/21/13 01:19 PM
Judge, Jury and executioner, the 'judges', a futuristic cop-team who won't take no for an answer are faced with the influx of a new popular drug, aptly named 'Slo-Mo'. It's the job of Judge Dredd and his newly appointed rookie to investigate the drugs ring and ultimately 'bring em down'!
An oddly popular technique within comic book adaptations is to strip them down to the bare bone, where it simply becomes a basic (and usually corny) story about a badly dressed man with an unorthodox fighting style. All the positives of an accomplished series are diminished in seconds as we see our favourite hero's lose all their credibility, uniqueness and likability through scenes of careless ridiculousness. Of course their are exceptions, most notably being Christopher Nolan's batman series and of course the recent release of Dredd 3-D.
Contrary to many films of a similar theme, Dredd (or Dredd 3-D if you must) actually manages to live up to it's highly violent persona, which is something to be expected of from a graphic novel. Ignoring the 'warnings' over box-office intake through incorrect target market, Dredd produces a much deserved sturdy '18' certificate, wanting to portray a realistic representation of the comics and doing just that...x10. Armed with countless amounts of unique bullets, Dredd intelligently slaughters those who stand in his way through a plethora of mediums including, fire, explosives and good ol' brute force! Creating for a thrilling hour and a half of action in which no one person dies the same way. This hardcore action is aided by the exceptional use of Slow-Motion, used not only as a plot-device but also for some truly stunning visuals. Whilst a bullet tearing through a man's cheek may not be the most delightful of images it certainly helps to convey the brutal pain that the 'judges' deliver. Especially effective was the use of slow-motion within a POV shot, casting a eerily realistic shadow over the scene, as we follow the victim descending to his inevitable death through the building in an all to beautiful 3rd dimension. Being the only impressive 3-D film to date, Dredd takes this technological premise and uses it as an immersive technique rather than an ineffective money-grabber, by sending blood and similar debris/body parts flying at the screen. Never over-dramatized, the 3-D is always there but not always noticeable allowing the audience to become truly involved within the action.
Taking the reigns from the brilliant/diabolical performance of Sylvestor Stallone's chin is a difficult challenge for a majority of actors, which makes Karl Urban's performance all the more mesmerising. In a sense mimicking the work of Stallone, Urban manages to create the same aura of intimidation without the temptation of removing his helmet. Every judgement is brutal, yet voiced in a comedic style, as you begin to support this oddly likable mass murderer with morals. Following him in his activities is his undeniably useful rookie 'Anderson' carrying the ability to read minds, a premise initially shunted but which actually proved to be used extremely effectively. Poignantly used in the harrowing interrogation scene, this psychic ability, although debateably unnecessary, did insert some much needed change into the otherwise linear narrative, which wasn't aided by the tame leadership of the anti-hero.
Ma-ma, a babies first word and now apparently a threatening name for a diabolically sick ringleader, who aims to take over the city after she takes down the law. Quite an ambitious ask for a tame performance from the poorly casted Lena Headey, with her femininity protruding too much from the male-dominated gang. None of her commands felt genuine and once she grasped the mounted machine gun and mindlessly obliterated a whole floor, a huge dose of unrealistic stupidity seeped in.
An immersive narrative isn't wholly necessary here, a thrilling experience can be created through it's multitude of barbarically graphic action sequences. Delivering unprecedented creative techniques in order to convey unbearable pain and fear, Dredd certainly wipes the floor with the rest of it's comic book competitors. After all who wants to see some dumbed-down unrealistic action when you could see the whole picture in all it's explosive glory.
80%- Justice has been served for 1995
Posted on 4/02/13 05:13 AM
The dark re-imagining of classic fairy-tales has become a bizarre trend of recent cinema, all sharing the unfortunate traits of inconsistent tones and overall mediocrity. The newest of the bunch is Jack the giant slayer, hoping to scrub off the naff fairy-tale stereotype with its reimagining of the tale 'Jack and the beanstalk' by possessing an intelligently advanced narrative and militant towering giants.
With an imaginative and accomplished tale acting as the baseline plot, Jack the giant slayer does a brilliant job in making the story fresh and original providing an intelligent twist in the tale. Hollywood influence may have given the story an air of predictability throwing in a king, a princess, a blatant villain and the 'average Joe' underdog as Jack, however this shows to coagulate with the original tale feeling like a warm and assuring bedtime story. Taking a while to find its feet we find ourselves procrastinating in the human kingdom of Cloister for perhaps a little too long as Jack is introduced, to instant appeal, and the plot is set in stone as the familiar tale plays out with Jack's purchase of the magic beans. Soon enough once the princess spontaneously and coincidentally
turns up on Jacks door on a thunderous evening, the bean fertilises and reveals the stories anchor of the beanstalk behemoth as the princess is unwillingly pulled along with it, prompting a rescue.
Once the realistically laborious task of reaching the top is achieved, we are introduced to the giant's kingdom and the dirty, disgusting giants themselves. Despite aesthetically looking like CGI blobs the giants act in a way which is playful and dumb without being childish and terrifying, providing a handful of laughs as well as moments of surprising disgust. Unlike the dark twist in other recent fairy-tale adaptations, this gritty feature in Jack the giant slayer works to excellent effect acting as a necessary and relevant asset to the story. Marked with a 12A certificate, the violence consistently pushes the boundaries feeling surprisingly grim at times as the knight's gallop from bloodthirsty giants, ripping bystander's heads off and discarding their bodies as trash. This however never feels out of place, like an overactive childish imagination nothing is beyond violent reason. This does not excuse however the bombardment of whimsical dialogue that is spoken from the mouths of these stereotypical yet enticing characters. No child let alone adult audience member wants to witness a statement of love to one another as Jack and the princess descend the tumbling beanstalk before they nonsensically and unnecessarily swing to safety on a vine. Scenes such as this one appear sporadically throughout the film momentarily disrupting the even tone for something more undeniably idiotic.
Jack the giant slayer should certainly not be compared to its dismal cinematic fairy-tale counterparts proving to be far more original and creative in its narrative, paving the way for a thoroughly enjoyable family romp. Its chances of success are squandered by a perhaps expected whimsical shroud of dialogue and slap-stick scenes of action, however this doesn't distract from the heavily immersive and entertaining story at hand.
6.5/10- A simple yet delightful twist on the classic tale.
Posted on 2/20/13 10:09 AM
As universally recognised as it was, many were oblivious to the pain-staking years of effort that went into the hunt for 'Osama bin Laden'. Unlike various similar situations this hunt was largely a silent one, done behind the closed doors of CIA offices instead of the brutal front line, suggesting that perhaps Kathryn Bigelow's newest Oscar contender 'Zero Dark Thirty' isn't the action spectacular that many expect it to be.
With Oscar nominated Jessica Chastain leading the hunt as 'Maya' a CIA officer, this film largely follows her inner struggles of desperation as her job and patriotic pride hang on thin strings, and for the majority her performances truly drives the film along with the remaining male cast running obediently behind.She leads the narrative as thin as it proves to ware, showing to be of smaller substance as initially perceived with many scenes showing almost identical subject matter to the previous. It's largely brilliant in captivating it's audience through political discussions and the tedium of the lengthy hunt, however its not helped by it's occasionally poor screenplay that acts as irregular comic relief as unknown sub-characters blurt convoluted phrase's with near to no following explanation. Almost inevitably a huge sense of 'deja-vu' is felt as the film procrastinates in it's progression through bogs of unnecessary dialogue .This may be an unintentional positive however as that's how the process played out in reality, this wasn't a months work as most CIA thrillers display it to be, this was a 10-year hunt, constant revisits to the 'drawing board' are to be expected.
Aiding in Maya's hunt is 'Dan' (Jason Clarke), a fellow CIA officer with perhaps more brutal tactics than the initially disgusted protagonist, displaying controversial scenes of reportedly 'stylised torture scenes'. This is in fact far from the case with Zero Dark Thirty only providing an all too realistic depiction of the torture involved with such a brutal hunt, little felt stylised with most feeling aptly uncomfortable. In fact looking on the whole the most poignant of positives that this film beholds is in it's terrifying authenticity, every scene of violence is seen through the lens of reality with little left to the imagination. With the majority of the film being dialogue between political and military figures, it comes as quite the expectation to see the resulting raid and assassination, and although it lasts for around 25 minutes it certainly proves to be one of the most accurate and exhilarating action scenes in recent memory. Transitioning between night-vision POV and 3rd person personal view, this scene is a perfect example of directorial excellence, with the audience feeling part of the troop as they squeeze through tight spaces and detonate intense controlled explosions.
In comparison to Zero Dark Thirty's Oscar nominated, declassified counterpart Argo, this picture proves to be significantly more indulging and interesting, containing a much broader and largely stronger narrative. What this lacks however is dramatic flair with interest barely maintained during the seemingly unnecessary sections of repeated dialogue. It does however significantly pick up towards the end, showing Bigelow's directorial finesse proving to be crucially accurate in it's depiction of silent and dramatic warfare.
7.5/10- As disturbingly dark as it is terrifyingly realistic
Posted on 12/30/12 04:53 AM
Ang Lee, director of the truly fantastic and the dismally underwhelming, it seemed as though after his momentary downfall with 2003's Hulk that he would never return to the bright limelight of the blockbuster. It may have taken him nine years to do so but Ang Lee has returned to serve a dose of fantasy in the form of the beloved novel Life of pi, and whilst it may not be a blockbuster for the masses it is certainly a blockbuster none the less boasting high end CGI and a typical third dimension to match. Issues arise whilst analysing the narrative : a boy and a tiger (named Richard Parker) find hope in each other after the ship carrying them sank and there're left stranded on a stray life raft. It may not be the most relatable and linear of narratives present however that's where it's true triumph stands, Life of pi manages to bring intelligence to the mainstream blockbuster in a way which is subtle and undeniably beautiful.
From it's exterior it seems as though Life of pi is simply a convoluted fantasy tale, it's not until you begin to watch the film that you know it's going to be about so much more. Beginning at Pi's childhood we see his controlled upbringing and also his introduction to religion in particularly large doses. A familiar cinematic route is to take sides on a certain view on religion rarely braving to speak a unique mind, Life of pi however is very different doing just this with controlled understanding and intelligence showing zero tolerance to religious injustices. Pi grows older leaving the humor of the first half in it's rightful place, taking upon a more serious meaningful tone till the point where Pi becomes stranded and the film disembarks on a cinematic journey of wonder.
With a very large majorety of the film shot with CGI settings and characters, Life of pi did a fantastic job in riveting the audience to the story making the CGI become seamless and irrelevant. Unlike many blockbusters of a similar nature the CGI is used sparingly only to enhance the visual features and sustain disbelief. This creates for some truly momentous scenes of pure beauty creating a visual spectacle like no other, treating the senses to incredible settings and creatures that only look more fantastic in the third dimension. It's much deliberated but the 3-D in Life of pi is truly astounding and not to be missed, immersing the audience into the wildlife and surrounding scenery to the point where you felt transported to the world yourself. The connection made not only between audience and scenery but also audience and protagonist is astounding, we believe his every action and hope for his well-being. Never before have seemingly in-cohesive characters managed to create a narrative that is as compelling as it is sustainably intriguing .Every performance was fantastic with emotion forcefully driving each character and their subsequent actions, most notably the performance of young lead of Suraj Sharma was outstanding especially considering the fact that a lot of the acting was done against non-existent characters on blue screen.
With early critics stating that Life of Pi was 'unfilmable' the finished result simply goes to show that any book can be transcribed if enough thought and emotion is inserted into it. There is an overwhelming triumph surrounding Life of pi and it's responsible director Ang Lee, once again displaying that he is a truly influential film maker capable of anything. The extent to which this film connects to the hearts of the audience is touching and unprecedented in a year of soulless dramas. Life of pi is a cinematic epic that will be remembered for years to come, proving to be majestic without being pretentious.
10/10- Rich in meaningful messages which will remain with you for days prior. A true beauty.
Posted on 12/15/12 06:23 AM
After the worldwide success of the universally praised Lord of the rings series it was almost inevitable that it's child friendly predecessor would follow suit with a feature film adaptation. Many years later after much cast deliberation and technical issues, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has wondered onto our screens boasting a crystal clear higher frame rate as well as the modern blockbuster necessity 3-D. With much hype to live up to The Hobbit didn't have a particularly easy task, transcribing the innocence of the children's novel with the previously established gritty world of middle-earth ; and whilst it was pleasant to revisit Tolkien's universe, the Hobbits journey felt slow, forced and tediously childish.
A seemingly forgotten fact surrounding The Hobbit, is that it's very much a children's novel, following the adventure of a mythical Hobbit being taken on a quest to a mountain guarded by a vicious dragon. It's a classic children's novel with obvious coinciding themes. However the problem lies when Jackson attempts to merge the gritty sensation of Lord of the rings with the totally contrasting themes of The Hobbit. This results in a giant mess of Dwarves, dragons, necromancers and nonsensical folk-law A clear target demographic is not present and in an attempt to appeal to everybody it coincidentally appeals to nobody. One scene you find yourself in the company of a jolly naturalistic wizard tending to the needs of the local wildlife, the next he's being confronted by the deeply intimidating shadow of the necromancer. This unproductive contrast between every scene makes for a totally inconsistent tale of messy fantasy.
Many of the cinematic issues with the Hobbit come as a result of the brilliantly told, yet undeniably faulty tale of the novel. Most notably the Dwarf pack was simply too large for the audience to care for each one of them, so in an attempt to display individual personalities Jackson tries to give each one sufficient screen-time yet even still, the most memorable ones are the ones which are simplistically stereotyped for the joys of a younger audience. Characters are forgotten as the story becomes overwhelmed with sophisticated ideologies instead of focusing on character depth, which it's Lord of the rings counterparts achieved with excellence.
CGI which was previously used sparingly as a tool to sustain an audiences belief and enhance the visuals, in the Hobbits case has now become an easy way to show off the worst of a wonderful universe. This overindulgence of hackneyed special effects detracted from the story completely, forcing you to think that your watching a low budget B-movie rather than a cinematic spectacle. This extensive use seemingly poor CGI, wasn't aided by the technical addition of a higher frame rate, only highlighting the prosthetic and computer animated negatives. This unrepresented technology did near to nothing to enhance the viewing experience of the audience with the exception of the fluid movement and crisp imagery during the establishing shots of vast nature. It's increasingly useless counterpart of 3-D followed in an all too familiar suit, proving to be useful in the first 5 minutes yet simply being an irritating 'dimmer switch' in the events proceeding.
The novel, although providing some nuisances does however provide the sturdy foundations for this epic adventure tale, which in itself is sweet and nostalgic. Displaying scenes of creative imagination for the most part, despite it's obsession with special effects. The novel however is transcribed in a bizarre fashion, dragging each chapter to unbearable lengths in the hope that they'll fortunately piece together making the shape of an 'epic trilogy'. The obsession of money is a clear drive behind the narratives procrastination, with greedy box-office numbers getting the upper hand on cinematic beauty.
Much of this films faults come as a result of it's tonal inconsistency, which is a shame as there's much to be admired here if it wasn't for the sticky facade of issues. Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins is the link desperately holding the story together, providing a performance that was not only relatable but also innocently charming. The best scene, displaying middle-earths magic once more, appeared from the magnificent chemistry between the performances of Freeman and the iconic Lord of the rings creature, Gollum. This scene perfectly encapsulates the excellent performances of both actors as well as being one of the few scenes which truly balances witty humor with child friendly storytelling. Issues arise when observing the bigger picture, with two more installments on the horizon and little explained in 'An Unexpected Journey' the Hobbit needs to rethink it's demographic and find harmony in it's tones.
65%- Middle earth is as much missed as it is infested with issues.
Posted on 11/29/12 02:41 PM
Often confused and always predictable is an accurate description of nearly every 21st century 'rom-com' to date, used as a cheap way to lure couples and unwilling men. The newest in this dying genre is the lavishly named Silver linings playbook, a film which looks to be a 'game changer' displaying an interesting premise that has been largely ignored. Although this film proves to be impressive from the exterior, as you delve deeper into the film and whittle down it's tough shell, it shows it's true bland colours.
With clear intentions to be a sophisticated tale, pandering to the mature audience, and with desires to be considered for an Oscar nomination, Silver linings playbook became discombobulated in it's storytelling, unsure of what its themes were and who to aim them at. Beginning with rich depth and intrigue we follow Bradley Cooper a recently heartbroken husband who went into a state of mild insanity after he found his wife with another man. He attends daily treatment after his short term stay at the mental institute as he attempts to escape his past, however despite his efforts he cannot seem to forget his wife as he attempts to frequently visit her. Soon after his release he's invited to a friends dinner whereby he meets Jennifer Lawrence a young relatable woman with similar issues.
Throughout the course of this opening quarter we follow his daily life and are introduced to a number of possible meaningful themes however none are fully explored, instead the remainder of the story ensues in all it's idiocy. What should've been an intellectual study into the pathways of love, instead transformed into a naive view of relationships tentatively poking a plethora of meaningful themes but rarely delving in deep. This subsequently led to a bland two hours of bad jokes and whimsical dialogue, as the characters failed to create any connection to the now tiresome audience. The only characters that make this picture bearable is the bulging personalities of the two leads, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, although a connection to the audience fails, a connection to each other was certainly present providing some fantastic chemistry from the contrasting bland screenplay. This provided for the odd occasion of genuine emotion and sincerity that is to be expected from a film of this calibre.
Irritation soon seeps in as an obvious half hearted effort is inserted, both in the areas of screenplay and acting performances. The extensive supporting cast do little at all to support the two lead characters, only providing the occasional unnecessary appearance and comment, and in the rarity that they do appear they're all piled together in one room which adds no meaning or relevance only unintentional humour. The performances of the fantastic De Niro and Weaver are as still as good as ever however alike the majority of the films burdens, they're done an injustice by the poor screenplay giving neither of them any where near enough screen time as is necessary.
With the potential to be a true 'game changer', Silver linings playbook disappoints in nearly all areas, providing an uneven mess of a narrative to pathetically fuel the apathetic cast 'over the finish line'. With Lawrence finally beginning to find her feet in the industry, this films few saviours appear in the performances of the two leads as well as De Niro and Weaver, their involvement may not have been fully abused however when it was, we saw glimpses of brilliance. Interpreted as an ignorant route towards Oscar nomination, Silver linings playbook contains little substance and near to no 'silver lining'.
55%- Like a dry cream cracker, bland, boring and with no substance.
Posted on 11/13/12 02:39 PM
Shortly after the worldwide success of the critically acclaimed Casino Royale came , questionably, bonds worst outing yet, in a title that isn't even worth mentioning due to it's unnecessary amount of syllables. After it's release bond hit a brick wall, procrastinating in development whilst production teams thought of ways to repair the badly injured franchise and MGM sorted out their money issues. A refreshing four years later, whereby audiences had discarded Bonds previous outing and Bond hit the magic age of 50, Skyfall had finally been completed, with the prestigious mind of Sam Mendes at the helm. Boasting an impressive cast and crew to match, it almost seemed inevitable that Skyfall would bring about better things for Bond, and that's certainly the case, this is well worth the wait.
50 years after the loved and perhaps missed style of the classic 60's bond, comes Skyfall a 21st century impression of the bond we all know and love, made relevant to today's society through a contemporary narrative. Following the story of MI6 as it comes under a hugely relevant 'cyber attack', Bonds loyalty to M is tested as he faces the repercussions of her past. Through this plot, he is put up against the deeply intimidating 'Silva', leading the attacks for a largely realistic reason.
Although humongous volcano lairs, containing eccentric traps of dangerous animals, is quite sensibly a thing of the past, their was an aspect of such bizarre narrative that seemed to gel successfully. After all Bond is one man on a slightly unrealistic mission, a hint of fun should be effortlessly inserted. Evidently such ambitious strongholds remain buried in the 1960's, however that's not to say aspects of such classics should be forgotten. Contrary to recent Bond films Skyfall enjoys itself, whilst immersing it's audience within the suave and sophisticated world of Bond. Such audacious features may not be as prominent, but they remain present providing a comforting 'nostalgia blanket', whilst still keeping it contemporary. The film begins in familiar Bond style, in the form of an exhilarating, if not slightly ridiculous chase sequence which does wonders in setting the tone for the remaining film. Immediately a sense of relief was felt, as Bond makes chase on foot through the bustling streets ,before taking to the rooftops on a motorbike. The chase is extensive and exhausting, due to the fantastic cinematography reminding you of the similarly brilliant chase in Craig's first outing. The scene soon draws to a close in dramatic style as the classic title card sequence begins with familiar punchy artwork and a riveting score to match
Skyfalls forceful drive is very much due to its immersive, contemporary narrative that is usually dismissed for an overused archaic ' world dominance plan'. Although it has it's incoherent times that come with the use of a technological narrative, it does a good job in tying the story together into a neat, streamlined picture. With this narrative comes the frightening dominance of the anti-hero 'Silva', played by the excellent Javier Bardem who displays a sophisticated attire within a mind of insanity and a perfect 'blonde mop'. Such a villain has been unheard of previously in the Bond series, but he has no doubt been catapulted up to stand with the very best through his rich character depth and oddly alluring personality. A scene in which Silva and Bond are introduced for the very first time, contrasts the two giant persona's perfectly, with the controlling Silva ultimately providing the background narrative for his motives, in a scene of pure enjoyment and art. A similar intimidating theme continues throughout the film until it's thrilling climax, where we discover the perhaps unnecessary inclusion of Bonds past whilst preparing for a stunning action set-piece. This climactic action sequence mostly delivers however does have the tendency to trip over into the ridiculous at times, inadvertently becoming quite rushed, especially compared to the amount of build up that was given to set the scene.
The Bond franchise needed redemption, and to achieve this Skyfall needed to prove itself, it needed to prove Casino Royale was no fluke and that Bond is still relevant and popular in a modern society. Skyfall achieves this in sublime style, through a fresh plot full of creativity facing a a realistic and furthermore relateable threat that is unprecedented within the Bond series .Bond may be ageing but he is very much better than ever.
90%- The Bond flame is rekindled with style as we celebrates his 50th
Posted on 10/30/12 05:29 AM
After the almost inevitable success of the utterly ridiculous release of Taken in 2010, a manufactured sequel was assured to be to 'on the cards', especially after Liam Neeson's much loved caricature. Alas here we are in 2012, dawned with the latest in the line of Hollywood sequels ready to suck up our savings.
Continuing from the dark climax of the first film, Taken 2 follows the revenge plot of those solemn and bereaved families of the criminals that Neeson viciously slaughtered, with a lack of consequences. A concept that is left largely unexplored throughout most action films of a similar genre...for wise reasons. After what seems like hours of initial family debates and pointless conversation the film finally begins as Mr Mills (Neeson) travels to Istanbul on a business trip. He is then later surprised by his daughter, visiting him from America buzzing with excitement with an obscure willingness to venture into Europe despite the sheer horror she experienced years prior. With her, tags Mill's ambivalent ex wife acting as mundane baggage as she drags herself behind each scene. Add a gang of ill tempered, poorly trained elderly men and 'Voila' we have the worst film of the year.
From the little you could have salvaged from the entertaining disaster of the previous installment has been demolished by the pathetic efforts of it's predecessor. Almost unimaginably this film hits none of the 'right buttons' missing the mark in perhaps every aspect of film. The narrative although relatively clever follows a linear route, abiding by all the cliches, whilst producing some utterly mindless scenes of stupidity. Rarely reminding the audience of Neesons 'particular set of skills' this film instead reminds us of his occasional sparks of idiocy, instructing his daughter to carelessly chuck grenades from her location in order for him to calculate his location.
The lavish action that made the first film so memorable is replaced by pathetic scenes of hand slapping, that is made totally indecipherable due to the poor cinematography. This isn't aided by it's '12A' certificate lowering the age rating by 6 years, so that Fox Studios can line their pockets with undeserved cash. The comical thrills of the first film are left to rot, as nothing similar is repeated in the 2nd film, no intimidating phone calls expressing the protagonists desires, no gritty action sequences of pain, just pathetic scenes of frivolous events, avoiding action where possible. The supposed 'poignant' moment of action ignores the lead anti-hero and instead supplies an unknown gang member as him and Mills tussle on a circular table, in a familiar lack-luster tone. Theirs no area in which we can relate to any characters, each one is as bland as the next supplying no motivation or explanation for their actions, resulting in a finale of disinterest.
The threat which was evidently present in the 1st installment through the grizzly form of prostitution, follows in a contradictory form being replaced with a band of erratic fools unsure of their intentions. This results in some totally incoherent scenes of embarrassment as the gang decide what to do next, despite their 'months of planning'. The main antagonist leading this party, does little to organize them, or in fact do anything at all, as for most of the film he's slouching in an archaic arm chair looking as bored as the audience. This is until his 'big moment' finally comes, the final fight, the supposed thrilling climax to this terrible story, can't even produce a satisfying ending. Previous plot points hit a dead end, the audience howls with insulting laughter and the film finishes with a nonsensical splat.
Little can be salvaged from the wreckage, apart from an enjoyable performance from the ever impressive Liam Neeson, and the frankly hilarious climactic epilogue , where we are relieved of our anxiety as the daughters driving test results are finally revealed... This film fails on a triumphant scale, producing nothing memorable whatsoever, destroying all enjoyment of the previous film ,so please Mr Mills be careful, don't get taken again!
20%- Taken 2 far.
Posted on 10/19/12 10:30 AM
Over the past few years the horror sub-genre of found footage has developed a generic name for itself, with every new release recycling the cliched conventions in order to create yet another boring tale; and what with 'Halloween' just around the corner prepare for a sudden influx. Hence Sinister, the newest film in the popular genre hoping to differentiate itself from the crowd with an alternate view on found footage, replacing 'HD pov', with archaic celluloid.
With a formulaic story at hand, alongside 'another demonic being', it was hard to predict whether this film would be 'more of the same' or in fact something much more sinister! What results is a coagulation of both,with the first half producing a truly engrossing suspense building horror, only to slip into the familiar stereotypical tale, we've all grown to know and love in the second half. This doesn't detract from the fact however that Sinister is an extremely scary film, producing some truly terrifying sequences of home-video violence that certainly sets it apart from the ever growing family of found-footage.
Whether it was the ageing appearance of the clunky film projector, or the seedy image which it produced, there is something about celluloid which creates a more threatening tone than the overused sight of the modern day 'camcorder'. Out of this machine comes a series of videos which prove to be much darker than previously expected, displaying graphic, uncomfortable contrasting videos of a family, first socialized then being maliciously slaughtered .Not only is the picture of terrifying quality but also the obscure choice of music present in each video, aids considerably in raising the tension in order to terrify the audience. This tension building is aided by the terrific performance of the anchoring protagonist Ethan Hawke, who provides a totally convincing and relate able character for the audience to cling onto. Although the remaining family may not be anywhere near as convincing as the lead performance they do a relatively good job in supporting him through their bearable yet undeniably monotonous personalities.
These shockingly beautiful scenes of found-footage build up to an unbearable level whereby the story begins to further unravel itself and subsequently fall apart.
Once the clever found-footage has been left behind, we enter into the supposedly terrifying world of 'bagul', a sweaty six foot tall demon that does little to express his purpose. True he is the centerpiece of the film, supplying horror through his demonic appearance, however little is explained to why he's actually in the film, and why he's committing these diabolical murders. This soon proves to be one of the many plot devices that go left totally untied, leaving you scared while somewhat confused. Totally spontaneous random events begin to occur opening up a land of continuity errors and issues detracting your from the horror as you scan your brain for possible reasoning.
The most common of techniques however used widely throughout this film is the use of the consistently successful yet cheap jump-scare. Being always predictable and generic, the jump scare is simply an instinctive way of making people scared, its not intelligent or fresh it's just boring, once you've seen one you've seen them all. As the film progresses another classic technique presents itself, the use of children. However these famished children are in no way effective, supplying only a source of abnormal humour, as they play a puerile game of hide and seek with our protagonist. Displaying the most pathetic prosthetics of (easily treatable) dry skin and greasy hair, these children made a mockery of this film supplying a light dusting of comedy that is vital to avoid.
In an industry where Horror films are beginning to look more like comedies it is overwhelmingly refreshing to see one that works on a number of levels. This is how found footage should be used, not because they can but because it works, it's intelligent, scary and above all sinister! They just seemed to forget that the most dominating of effects is what you don't see...
70%- Burdened by plot devices of stupidity, but saved by it's sheer magnitude of horror.
Posted on 10/06/12 09:01 AM
It was arguably the 1999 release of the undeniably awesome 'The Matrix' that initially transformed the dynamics of a simple action. Many attempted to replicate its success in the years following but many failed, ignoring the classic formula that The Matrix devised. It wasn't until 2010's Inception that such a cinematic revolution was replicated. Instead of spectacular action, Inception provided a more sophisticated attitude, treating the audience like civilized intelligent people by displaying a puzzling narrative of a variety of platforms. Two years later, Looper a time travel mind-bender is hoping to make it's mark on the constant evolution of the genre of Sci-fi.
Set in a steam punk dystopian future where time-travel is relevant yet very much illegal, Looper follows Joe (Joseph Gordon -Levitt) a hit man with complications, eradicating criminals from the future as their sent back from the past. Following a strict set of rules Joe must deliver an immediate blow to the futuristic perpetrator, it's not until his future self is blasted back that he procrastinates and produces our film. This concept initially proved simple through a helpful briefing from the protagonist himself, highlighting key points of interest to prevent unnecessary confusion. However as the film progressed the story began to develop further it began scattering plot devices to create for a more intelligent, more enticing narrative than expected.
Considering that this film juggles a handful of tricky plot devices, it does a good job in retaining control ,making sense of each one. Never did the story over complicate itself with sci-fi jargon, instead it remained relatively simple, helping the audience to understand, rather than bogging them down with convoluted nonsense. Although the future world remains forever present throughout, the film never lingers too long in fear of confusing the audience with yet another vision of the future. A medical revelation has also been uncovered, which unfortunately follows in the same traits as the remainder of the future technologies, left to be accepted rather than be explained. Although this device was used to brilliant effect, a brief explanation of how it came to realization would've been appreciated in order to create a larger sense of realism. This device which soon turns out to be an extremely important sub-plot, is somewhat awkward to the hugely believable world which has been accurately portrayed, frustratingly detracting the audience from the hugely thrilling action of the loopers. As said however this device is executed brilliantly even if it doesn't really fit into the tone set by the film, and produces the plot which makes the film considerably more unique than it's competitors.
Linking the juxtaposing story lines were the two protagonists and the unlikely poorly trained anti-hero who supplies nothing but comedy value. Consistently failing to impress his boss he remains determined to take down Joe, hunting him down only for him to carelessly slip through his fingers in utterly ridiculous fashion. He's simply used as a utility character, if scenes are dragging, it will usually cut to him failing at his job, to then provide a mindless action scene where he'll yet again attempt to take down his enemy only to be left embarrassed on the floor. Rarely do the characters refer to him or even acknowledge that he's there, he's a totally unnecessary character that only blocks the fantastic view that the film provides.
While Looper may not posses the skills to be quite as good as it's sci-fi counterparts it certainly creates a prominent stamp on the genre. Through the excellent performances from the prosthetic face of the increasingly surprising Joseph Gordon- Levitt and his rough-cut future self, Bruce Willis, a truly magnificent story can be taken, following the worryingly accurate vision of time travel.
85%- Dark, gritty and never afraid to break stereotypical conventions.