Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Southland Tales

I seem to remember Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko follow up getting universally panned, being ridiculed at Cannes and disappearing back into the edit suite for a time, I also remember being very very intrigued by the trailer.

I missed seeing it in the cinema, in fact I missed seeing it for quite a while, always unsure as to whether it looked any good or not. Skip forward to December 2008 and an HMV 3 for £20 deal (this, [Rec] and Death Sentence btw). A day off over the xmas period and a quiet sit down to finally watch Southland Tales.

It's very weird, it makes very little sense, although you can follow a basic plot, it's over the top, part film - part music video and I loved it.

All the characters are off the wall, quirks, their affiliations are all over the place and for the most part you're not sure who's working for who or what their agendas are, which I guess kinda works as our main protagonist Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) doesn't really know what's going on either, at least not until the film's conclusion.

The highlights of the film for me, apart from just the really randomly enjoyable style, are Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott and Justin Timberlake. Now that may make me sound like a twelve year old girl, but their performances in this, whilst not Oscar worthy, certainly made me look at them in a different light.

The film is pure Sci-Fi, it's all out bat-shit crazy for it and that's part of what makes it so wonderful, it takes a heavy influence from Verhoeven, which is no bad thing but it's also, stylistically very now. It's a bit heavy handed with it's politics, but it does the job. I can see how it's not to everyone's tastes, but I was pleasantly surprised and am looking forward to The Box.

Southland Tales - 8/10

Kingdom of Heaven

I like Ridley Scott, he's one of my favourite directors, however he's well off his game with this one.

It didn't exactly get a good reception when it came out and i've now seen why, although I picked up the Special Edition for £3, thinking it was the Director's Cut, it's not, so technically I still need to see that as it's supposed to be better, although KoH is long enough as it is, so I'm not sure whether I can be bothered to watch it all over again, but with more!

Funnily enough, I don't buy Orlando Bloom as a hero knight, one minute he's a blacksmith in a muddy village, the next he's an expert military strategist?!?! With great motivational skills?!? No sorry, he's a cock. Eva Green's a waste of space in the movie, which seems to be a trend she's following, Jeremy Irons is always good value, but under used and it seems good ol' Liam Neeson still can't escape Qui-Gon.

I also spent the movie wondering who was playing the kings as he kept sounding like James Woods but a weedy James Woods... it's Edward Norton, so I was close.

The movie is on a massive scale, but isn't really that impressive, it also doesn't make a lot of sense, let's hope Nottingham will be Ridley back on form.

Kingdom of Heaven - 4/10

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

It took me a while to come around to the fact that Hellboy is actually pretty good in both the movie, which I saw first, and then the comics. Now I'm a pretty big fan of both.

So I was pretty stoked at the news of a movie sequel, until I saw the trailer that is, then a big wave of 'Meh' washed over me as I watched all the bright golds and heavy Del Toro touch unfold on screen.

The first movie's story was mostly lifted from the comics, not entirely, but a lot of the elements and basic points were from the stories in the comics. AFAIK, this was a completely original story thought up by Guillermo Del Toro, and it shows.

I really liked Pan's Labyrinth, but full on Guillermo, I don't feel works for Hellboy. The comics are more shadowy and minimalist, whereas Guillermo does like his "Fantasy Gold" (expect to see a very Gold hued Hobbit). The whole Golden (there it is again) Army thing was a bit of a let down, a non event really, there was a load of slapstick comedy that felt a touch out of place, don't get me wrong, Hellboy is supposed to be funny, but I think this went too far in the wrong direction and overall it seemed a bit jumpy and rushed plot wise.

Back to the looks, but characters in this case, Hellboy seems to have lost weight, which in certain scenes puts his head out of proportion to his body, Abe's gone VERY blue and stripy, and Johann Krauss, well I wasn't totally disappointed, he was a lot better than I thought, look fine, voice ok (Seth MacFarlane was a bit of a concern when he was announced), attitude, not so much, felt a bit more uptight than he is in the comics, but maybe I need to re-read.

I don't know how it will lead into a sequel, if they're gonna do one, but we'll have to wait and see, if they do make a sequel, hopefully it'll be darker and introduce Roger ;)

Hellboy II: The Golden Army - 6/10

Monday, December 22, 2008


From the director of Ong Bak and The Protector, the guy who gave us Tony Jaa, comes  a female Tony Jaa and Ong Bak with a girl!

Well kinda.

Chocolate is a rather bizarre story of Thai vs Japanese gangs, with an Autistic girl and a fat kid caught in the middle. It's sort of 1 part family drama, 4 parts martial arts action movie.

I really liked the Tony Jaa films, Ong Bak was pretty much by the numbers, but had a certain inventiveness to it, The Protector went slightly overboard, but again had some good bits. What both films gave us is some decent bone cracking stunt work that's not really been seen since classic Jackie Chan. Chocolate continues that trend with some serious injury inducing action (as demonstrated by the end credit outtakes).

As a film, it's not the greatest, the filmmakers can do action, but not so hot on the drama side. It's starts very differently from the Tony Jaa films, with a heavy French influence, echoing something more along the lines of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, it soon gets into standard territory though, although the action takes it time before it really kicks in.

Having an autistic girl as the lead is certainly a bold move, and to be fair, it works pretty well, JeeJa also sells it well on both the acting and action fronts, the latter very surprising as despite being 24 now, so probably 22/23 ish while filming, she certainly looks about 13, so being able to pull of realistically kicking someone's ass is no mean feat. She does start off a tad comical, but it's justified within the context of character, but by the 12-on-1 set piece, she's pretty kick ass.

Once it gets going, another entertaining martial arts flick.

Chocolate - 7/10

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Okay so a few days back I threw down my thoughts on Quarantine, which is the recent English language remake of this Spanish horror. I neglected to mention tho (I think, I could check, but sod it.) that the heating in that particular screen of Cineworld Crawley had broken and thus it was pretty cold in there. Despite the offer of a refund/credit if you came out within 45 minutes, only a couple of people left, everyone else stuck it out and was scared shitless, so by the time we left I felt that the cold certainly added to the experience, and wondered if maybe the cinema had done it on purpose, if so I applaud you sirs, well done.

ANYHOO.. Rec/.rec/[Rec]/[.rec] whatever.. there's probably gonna be SPOILER stuff here

Pretty much every thing I'd heard about Quarantine was that [Rec] was better, all the internet buzz and fanboys were "[Rec] is sooo much better, Quarantine is EPIC FAIL!" (paraphrased), even after I'd seen Quarantine and twittered how scary it was, someone posted "Rec is better IMHO :)"

My view on this is if you see [Rec] first, then you'll probably think [Rec] is better, the same with any original and remake combo, which ever you see first, you'll probably think is the better, there are going to be exceptions yes, but as a rule I think this will apply. Thus I saw Quarantine first, and do happen to think it's the better film, I digress..

Okay, so they're pretty much the same film from the overall structure and setup, the infection device is changed between the two, for clear cultural reasons, and to be honest the US one makes more sense to me, but there's still the reporter following the fire crew which leads them to the house and the old lady.

The main thing I found watching this second, is that there doesn't seem to be as much that happens, Quarantine, when it gets going, is pretty relentless, [Rec] gets going a bit, stops to throw in some more fluff in the form of "interviews" with the residents (Quarantine has pretty much all it's fluff up top), then ambles back into the "action" again.

I found Spanish Angela VERY annoying, one of the things with Jennifer Carpenter's Angela is she does completely shit scared VERY VERY well, Spanish Angela was just whiny and annoying. [Rec] wasn't as scary for me as Quarantine, this is because I knew pretty much when to expect the relevant beats, and was disappointed when certain ones weren't there, I wasn't as involved with the rest of the residents in this one and by the end I was feeling pretty Meh.

Also reading comments elsewhere like "..THIS is how to do hand-held-POV.." No it's not, unless of course it's supposed to be a 5yr old with a handycam, that's still crap.

Who knows how I'd felt if I'd seen this first, in my view it's an interesting idea, but the US remake takes that and runs with it, something that can rarely be said of a remake!

[Rec] - 5/10