Tag Archives: Fantasy

Review of The Dead Zone (1983)

7 Feb

dead_zone_xlgThe Dead Zone (1983) is a thriller/fantasy/horror film, which is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King.

Directed by David Cronenberg (Shivers (1975), Cosmopolis (2012)).

Written by Jeffrey Boam (Straight Time (1978), The Phantom (1996)).

Starring: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerrit, Martin Sheen, Herbert Lom, Sean Sullivan, Anthony Zerbe and others.

So here’s another one of the four thousand movies based on a Stephen King novel. When I watched the film I had just finished reading the book and my interest level for it couldn’t be higher. So it was hard avoiding comparisons, which is both good and bad as it always is when you’re watching adaptations of literary works you’ve read.

A young Christopher Walken plays the protagonist John Smith, who in the novel is a very normal guy, which is something you can’t say about any character played by Walken ever. He doesn’t look as sinister as when he got older, but his speech pattern alone makes him a more odd and arguably interesting character to follow. Yes, he might be miscast, but I never complain about seeing Christopher Walken in a movie, because he as always gives an excellent performance.


I can’t tell you how much I love this clip.

The story concerns an English teacher who gets into an accident, goes into a coma and then wakes up with a psychic ability. Of course this is half the book, because King likes to set up every character and its mother before something starts happening, here it is all the first act. A lot of character lack the depth, but you can’t do that in a movie and have a sensible running time.

They change around the way the accident happens and other details to shortcut between the main plot points and I have to admit that mostly they do a good job, since it would really slow the movie down, had they left all the extraneous shit in. Where I wished they had spent a little more time is the exposition, because it feels rushed and establishes neither the relationship John had before the accident or the lengthy period he spent in coma very well.

One aspect, which I wish they had included as it was, is the implications on the moral level, with Johnny’s mother’s obsession with god and insistence on Johnny being on a mission from god. They do allude to this, but the connection with his mother is left out. But at least the theme of Johnny being a messianic character still clearly shines through.

The movie builds suspense pretty well and it is basically a supernatural thriller and not really a horror movie. One of the best aspects is how the movie moves past the supernatural element, because it is important only as a set-up and for the plot points, which themselves illustrate. Also the plot is polished and structured better and with more sense. For example a section of the book which was just a serial killer murder mystery out of the blue, here doesn’t get so much attention and just advances Johnny’s character, is cool and moves on.

Another performance worthy of notice is Martin Sheen as a two-faced politician, who has a big ominous role in the future of the world. He is great and unlike Walken is perfectly cast as this despicable character.

From the direction stand point, it is a bit cold and detached, doesn’t seem David Cronenberg really was all that into making this movie, since there’s very little of his signature style.

Overall, definitely one of the better Stephen King adaptations, both in quality and faithfulness. I really liked it. Recommended.

"Who wants. To LEARN some English? Today..."

“Who wants. To LEARN some English? Today…”

Review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012)

20 Nov

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012) is a fantasy/romance/adventure film, the fifth film in the Twilight film franchise based on the series of novels by Stephenie Meyer.

Directed by Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011), Dreamgirls (2006)).

Written by Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight (2008), Step Up (2006)).

Starring: Michael Sheen, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Maggie Grace and a shitload of other good-looking people.

Here we are again. Thankfully, for the last time. Please, even if they decide to do some shitty spin-off, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. Unless it is about Aro. I want to see a movie about him.

I don’t know where to start talking about this, because I don’t want to. The series as a whole has been an incredible journey through bad female role models, bad acting, bad effects and bad filmmaking in every other way. A year ago we saw the first part of the adaptation of the fourth novel. It was one of the most boring movies I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen Heaven’s Gate, Titanic and Alexander‘s final cut. It dragged like shit. If you pressed your ass against the floor, had some diarrhea explosion and then tried to blow it along the floor, using your mouth, it would be a more or less acurate representation of watching that movie.

To be fair this movie was way less boring. I still got bored, but I could see the simple-minded fans, who like the blank characters, enjoying the ethnical stereotypes, idiotic plot and the horrendous special effects.

We start off with Bela Lugosi waking up as a vampire chick now, all her senses have heightened, so she hugs Squidward with her Hulk-strength and then decides to go hunting for deer, doing weird faces and feral noises. She almost kills some cliff-climber, who doesn’t look down to see her jump away in a humourously frozen position doing an arc over a canyon, one of the many special effects in the movie done by a 5-year-old with Down’s Syndrome. Just donate the money, don’t make them work for it.

Then she remembers her baby, which is the most fucking creepy thing I’ve ever seen. Now she’s kind of pissed that Sixpack has ‘implanted’ her baby, so he’s destined to bang her. Him saying „It’s not like that!”, when it is exactly like that doesn’t sit well with Bela Lugosi, so Kirsten Stuart tries to do something she hasn’t done before. Emotions. Sorry K-Stu, A for effort, but F for looking like you’re face and voice doesn’t understand the concept.

After this, Sixpack goes to show his six-pack to Bela Lugosi’s dad, Charlie Movember. Sixpack for some reason thinks that taking off his clothes and turning into a cartoon-wolf would somehow explain his daughter’s absence. It doesn’t. Like at all. Charlie Tom Selleck is the saddest character ever. Every scene is him saying „Fuck it, no one is telling me shit, there’s no reason for me to be in this movie, I’m just going to grow my fucking moustache until someone decides to actually give me something to do.”

So basically Eddie Van Paleface and Bella Van Blankface have their horribly deformed child. It seems she’s ok, except for Sixpack’s  pedophile curse, being half-vampire and having this disgusting CG face. It’s uncanny beyond the valley of death. I wanted to turn away every time I saw it. 10 actresses play their daughter. So they all (or at least 9?) have CG faces. It is insane.

And that is not the only awful effect they have. They’re all rubbish. Almost every scene takes place on a set. There’s a shitload of blurry matte paintings, green screen as shitty as they get. Having people wave their arms in front of a green screen, and then replacing the background with a sped-up footage of a forest is not an effect I should see in a 100+ million dollar movie.

The movie starts as an unfunny fish-out-of-water comedy with Bella Lugosi discovering her abilities, having PG-13 extreme close-up sex and ironically having to learn to act human. Then it transforms into a superhero team forming movie, where vampires from all over the world are gathered. They all have various superpowers and represent stereotypes, eurotrash Russian guys, red-haired Irish ones, an Egyptian (might as well be Indian) who is the last airbender, yet conveniently forgets to use his abilities during the final battle and even some Amazonians and later Brazilians dressed in loin-clothes and face-paint.

They need to gather this team of vampire X-men, to protect them from Volturi, the evil vampires, who want to kill Squidward and Bela’s daughter Jailbait, because they think it’s a full vampire and not a half-ling that will look like a full-grown woman at the age of 7, when Jacob is going to fuck the living shit out of her unstable pre-school psyche. For some reason they manage to gather this team from every corner of the earth during a couple of months or something, while the Volturi are travelling from Italy. What is taking them so long? Are they taking the bus?

The plot they devise to protect the little CG-creep is so stupid and involves so much unnecessary details, which does not make sense when they have a chick, who can tell the future. I guess these vampires don’t get wiser as they get older. Just like the wolves keep looking completely awful as the movies go on.

I do have some good things to say. Since the love triangle is resolved, the movie is a lot less annoying, since characters actually have some motivation. The actors seem more comfortable. Chicken-Stu attempts emotions, Bobby Patterson at times seems to enjoy himself and Squidward laughs when Betty is kicking the mexican’s ass. And the mexican gypsy is somewhat likable, since he’s moved on and is saving his sixpack for Charlie Brown Moustache and his 8-year-old granddaughter.

Another thing I loved was Michael fucking Sheen. He acts so over-the-top flamboyantly gay, I almost felt like being prison-raped and loving it. I think he knew exactly what he was doing and joyously screeching at the sight of the abomination that is the little half-vamp Renesmut, is something he did specially for me the desperate anti-fan, who somehow failed to feel the tone of scenes despite the constant bombardment soft rock and score telling me what to feel.

So yes, the ending that involved the most decapitations you’ll ever see in a movie, Michael Sheen’s constant mugging, mincing and overacting, while masturbating in his pocket and leaving the unconvincing love-triangle in the dust made the movie barely, but bearable. Despite the ending introducing a cop-out twist, some deus-ex machina and Beige saying „No one’s ever loved anyone as much as I love you, Squidward.”, which is an outright lie. Turning it into a B-movie was the right choice.

Overall, it was better than the previous Twilight movies, but that’s like saying a kick in the balls is better than a paper cut on the tip of your penis. Some might disagree, but most will agree that both are pretty bad. I would never recommend this movie to any sane person. But let’s rejoice, it’s over.

“Oh my, Carlisle, you’ve been working out, haven’t you? And that neckerchief, a feast for eyes, you are.”

Review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)

14 Oct

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) is an action/fantasy/thriller film, based on the Marvel Comics character Ghost Rider and is the sequel to Ghost Rider (2007).

Directed by the filmmaking duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Gamer (2009), Crank (2006)).

Written by David S. Goyer (Death Warrant (1990), The Unborn (2009)), Scott M. Gimple (The Walking Dead (2010 TV), Life (2007 TV)) and Seth Hoffman (House M.D. (2004 TV), Prison Break (2005 TV)).

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan, Christopher Lambert and others.

Neveldine/Taylor is enough for me to sell a movie, ranging from their best (Crank 2: High Voltage) to their worst (Gamer) movies, one thing is clear, it’s going to be interesting to watch what crazy shit they’re going to pull this time. So here we have a sequel to what is generally considered one of the worst comic book movie adaptations. And then there’s Nicolas Cage.

We open to some black guy coming to a monastery led by Giles from Buffy. He rescues a woman and her son from some bad guys. And then the woman and kid run away from the black Frenchman, who decides to turn to our good old friend – burning skull guy.

Poor Johnny Blaze, his hairline has completely changed in just a couple of years and now is decidedly receding. So the black guy approaches him and basically says „Save this chick and you’ll get your soul back,” and Blaze is like „ok”. The deal is some bad guys have the woman’s son and he goes to get him back. He does get him and then there’s scenes where Blaze and the kid, who is pursued because of his destiny, start bonding and the boy starts admiring him, it reminded me a lot of Terminator 2.

This time the Ghost Rider effects look a lot better and he’s actually sort of terrifying. When you first see him as Ghost Rider you realise, that these guys were meant to make this movie. It’s as usual. visually very stylised, even dialogue is sometimes shot handheld with rapid zooms, there’s animated sequences, and great, memorable action set-pieces. Ghost Rider is actually bad-ass, he sort of now has a personality of his own. To be clear, I know almost nothing about the Ghost Rider mythos and so I didn’t care how faithful it was to it.

But the most important thing is that Nic Cage is used correctly, he’s a powerful tool in the right hands. I just love the guy. Here, they have him totally start freaking out as he’s about to turn into the Rider and Cage goes into his overacting mode, which is gloriously entertaining. The key aspect here is fun, when Cage seems to be having it, he’s awesome.

Maybe I’m not allowed to judge it, because I watched the movie on a 3D TV, but I really found the 3D barely noticeable. Speaking of 3D, Christopher Lambert appears as a monk with a tattooed face. Yeah, I know, maybe Christopher Lambert was worth a separate paragraph.

It’s not trying to be this over-the-top B-movie, but it is and that is what I like about Neveldine/Taylor, it’s that they do things that they think are cool and funny and those are the same things that I like. Seeing Ghost Rider pee fire? Count me in! Although, I would almost wish they would’ve gone even a bit crazier, but they did a lot within the constrains of the PG-13 rating. Yeah, I’m never satisfied.

Overall, it’s really not a „good” movie, don’t get me wrong, but it’s entertaining as shit. If that shit was on fire and hitting people with a chain while being on fire and hitting people with a chain. Recommended.

They’ve really outdone themselves in the special effects department this time. Those glowsticks look so bad-ass together with the halloween kids make-up.

 

Review of Dreams in the Witch-House (2005)

23 Sep

Masters of Horror – Dreams in the Witch-House is a horror/thriller/fantasy episode of a TV horror anthology series, each one-hour episode done by a different director.

Directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator (1985), Stuck (2007)).

Written by Dennis Paoli (From Beyond (1986), Dagon (2001)) and Stuart Gordon (Body Snatchers (1993), The Dentist (1996)), based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft.

Starring: Ezra Godden, Campbell Lane, Jay Brazeau, Chelah Horsdal, Yevgen Voronin, Susanna Uchatius and others.

I want to note, that this series of horror stories is pretty cool and unless it’s something really interesting, one hour is actually a decent length for an average horror movie, because usually when it’s more, you can see that the concept hasn’t been broad enough for it to sustain 90 minutes and they throw in pointless padding.

A physics student starts renting a shoddy room in some apartment building and as he works on his project, he gets to know his neighbours: the building’s asshole manager, a young woman with a baby and a creepy old guy. You know, your typical set of oddball sitcom neighbours.

Soon the guy starts having various weird dreams. In one of them the single mother is doing full-on nudity and turning into an old, ugly woman, who is equally naked. Then he keeps seing a rat with a man’s face, which looks really silly. Then he’s in a library and Necronomicon appears briefly. All this is due to some witch, which the title hints at.

Beside the close-ups of a talking rat, the movie has some decent suspense building, some over-the-top gore and almost depressing last 10 minutes.

Overall, it’s ok, nothing really special though, it’s an odd mix of brutality and a stupid rat. Not bad if you decide to watch it, but nothing really worth looking up. Not recommended.

Pictured: If you try really hard you can make the rat-human in your movie look less scary than anything from The Witches (1990).

Review of Conan the Barbarian (1982)

11 Sep

Conan the Barbarian (1982) is an adventure/fantasy/action film, based on the stories by Robert E. Howard.

Directed by John Milius (Red Dawn (1984), Dillinger (1973)).

Written by John Milius (Evel Knievel (1971), Farewell to the King (1989)) and Oliver Stone (Platoon (1986), Savages (2012)).

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max Von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman, Mako, Gerry Lopez and others.

It opens with a narrator telling us about Conan, but the way he talks, you don’t really care to listen, because it won’t really matter anyway. Then the movie finds it important to randomly show us some blacksmithing, just before kid Conan’s village is attacked and I wonder if I should care for these people I see for the first time.

Then James Earl Jones arrives on the scene and you know what? He looks ridiculous, even his epic voice (why couldn’t he narrate the movie instead?) doesn’t change the fact, that his wig of long, straight, black hair doesn’t look awesome at all. Yes, even after he decapitates Conan’s mom. And he doesn’t say a word during the whole scene, so he talks for the first time somewhere in the second half of the movie, when he appears again.

So the attackers kill everyone, except the children, which they take with them, because they’re pedophiles… or slavekeepers, I’m not sure. They make kid Conan push some rotating thing and a couple of years later he’s Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger and it doesn’t take long for Arnie to make his classic guttural “argh!” sounds.

Then we spend some time watching Conan killing people in arena fights. After becoming this champion fighter, he’s almost a celebrity, he gets whores and is allowed to read, which isn’t very barbarian-like thing to do, but don’t worry Conan isn’t smart. He just has the best possible life a slave can have, he lacks some freedom, but in every other way his life is much better than it would have been in his native village. Being an unappreciative bastard he uses the first opportunity to run away and be free, only to be instantly chased by a pack of wolves and falling into a cave to struggle with making fire and shit. If you ask me, being a slave was way better.

25 minutes into the movie we hear the main character speak for the first time and, oh dear god, where did he develop this thick Austrian accent? To think of it, 80s were a weird time, when people actually accepted his accent, this would never happen today.

He stumbles on some chick, they chat for a bit and then we get to listen to her moan out the rest of her lines, while they both are having sex. After that she turns into a horrible witch-monster, so Conan throws her into the fireplace. Who hasn’t had this first date, am I right? From this point on, it’s just Conan having various shenanigans, while searching for the man, who killed his parents. He meets a thief guy and then a  chick and they form a party of D&D characters and proceed on their adventure, which includes among other things, stabbing a huge rubber snake through the head and Conan punching a camel. There was once a time when a snake could look at least somewhat realistic and not like a CG piece of shit.

The movie is often very slow-paced. You get to see quite an amount of naked breasts. These were just two facts about the movie that sort of negate each other. The dialogue is often very clunky and not only when put into Arnold’s mouth. Some people, like Sandahl Bergman, deliver it quite well, with this rhythm, like it’s from Shakespeare, but you only half-listen to what is said. Later on they use Jones’ booming voice and he gives easily the best performance in the movie, but it doesn’t take back his absurd appearance and not having aged a day in the time when Conan became Mr. Universe.

To give credit to Arnold, he might be the only actor that sort of can pull off the Conan look, but when at one point in the movie he is disguised as a monk, he does look ridiculous, the robe failing to hide that he is a muscle-bound freak. Often I got the feeling that the script had lines, but they opted for Arnold just to stay quiet and scowl or not emote at all.

The movie has some nice gore and it’s actually kind of odd, the movie is a solid R, but it clearly appeals most to teenage boys, younger than the allowed age. Also it made me think if we really see any R rated adventure flicks nowadays. I don’t think so.

Overall, a decent, but really predictable movie for adolescents. I didn’t find it as entertaining as some later Schwarzenegger flicks, but if you’re a fan give it a watch, nothing remarkable about it. Not recommended.

Between your villain looking like a drag queen and your protagonist looking like this, I’m really not sure which side to root for.

Review of Insidious (2010)

25 Aug

Insidious (2010) is a horror/thriller/drama film, focusing on a boy entering a comatose state to become a vessel for beings from an astral dimension.

Directed by James Wan (Saw (2004), Death Sentence (2007)).

Written by Leigh Whannell (Dead Silence (2007), Saw II (2005)).

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Leigh Whannell, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey, Andrew Astor and others.

This is an interesting movie, it plays on clichés, at first it seems like the most generic horror flick involving a creepy kid and like the most usual family ever, but throughout the movie I kept guessing what is going to happen and most of the times I was wrong. We start out with this normal family living their normal lives in a fairly normal house. Some subtle creepy stuff happens and one of the two kids goes into coma. I thought he’s going to come out of it and be different, but no.

We switch to 3 months later, now the son is in coma at home. And then some seriously creepy shit starts happening, like someone starts speaking through the baby monitor, the way it is done is insanely effective. The movie is very well shot, like it changes from the completely static shots when the characters are out of the house or someone else is in the house to this handheld slightly zooming style when they’re alone in the house and spooky things happen. This adds so much to the mood and a lot of times there are cool continuous shots, following the characters.

Probably best scene of the movie is a “fuck you!” to all the haunted house movies. Soon after all the weird shit starts, the wife says that the house is freaking her out and they have to leave. Cut to: they’ve moved out. It’s almost funny how sudden that is. However, despite the characters thinking so, it’s not the house that’s haunted, as it soon turns out, it’s the kid.

Patrick Wilson in my opinion is a perfect everyman actor, who seems like this very normal guy, but has more to him, so he’s not bland. His character is the one, who has to pull back the movie to earth, after things, like an old woman delivering a speech about demons, happen. He really doesn’t go for all the crazy ghost talk, because he hasn’t seen much, but Wilson plays it so that he doesn’t seem like an unsupportive asshole.

The things the wife sees soon stop being corner-of-the-eye sort of stuff and become full on plain sight shit, like people coming at her or a kid running around the house. I usually don’t like jump-scares and this movie has them in spades, but they’re executed really well and aren’t false, when they happen, they startle the characters and are real scary things and not a douchebag friend sneaking up on you or a cat running across the hall.

The last half hour of the movie has sort of an A Nightmare On Elm Street feel to it and ends on a cliffhanger, but I doubt if we’ll ever see a sequel, not that I want it. The whole movie feels like a very dark fairy tale. In an age of forgettable, bland horror movies, this is actually fairly original and stylish and not afraid to be kind of ridiculous.

Overall, a really cool, suspenseful and at times legitimately scary movie. One of the best horror flicks, you’ll find in the PG-13 section of the genre. If you can have your horror without gratuitous violence, nudity and exploitation, recommended.

“Honey, look what our son drew. Do you think there’s something wrong with him?”
“You’re damn right, there’s something wrong with him, he’s a fucking artist!”
“No, I mean, do you think he needs therapy or something?”
“Military school is what he needs, woman!”

 

Review of Barbarella (1968)

17 Aug

Barbarella (1968) is a Franco-Italian sci-fi/comedy/adventure film, based on the Barbarella comic book series by Jean-Claude Forest.

Directed by Roger Vadim (Et Dieu… créa la femme (1956), And God Created Woman (1988)).

Written by Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), The Loved One (1965)) and Roger Vadim (Spirits of the Dead (1968),Don Juan ou Si Don Juan était une femme… (1973)) and others.

Starring: Jane Fonda, John Philip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O’Shea, Marcel Marceau, David Hemmings and others.

To be fair, I think every movie should start with a naked Jane Fonda flying around in zero gravity inside after stripping out of a spacesuit inside a spaceship, with its entire interior covered entirely in shag-carpets. Ok, maybe not, it’s enough with one movie that starts like this.

So here we are with this Barbarella chick, who is some sort of law-upholder in a very hippie-ish vision of the far future, where greeting is „love”, people aren’t ashamed to be naked (at least Jane Fonda isn’t) and there’s nothing that doesn’t scream 1960’s.

To give the film some real credit, even though it’s cheesy beyond imagination, the people involved must have been aware of it, it’s not like they tried to do some epic space opera and unintentionally created this cheese-factory.

At one point Barbarella is bitten by some creepy dolls with nutcracker mouths, then rescued by a guy who speaks an unknown language, until she adjusts her „tongue box”. I think they thought it was hilarious themselves. It is often considered a classic ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ movie, but really, it’s so tongue-in-cheek, that I don’t really consider it appropriate.

Then later on it turns out that on Earth in the future, people have sex by holding hands, which, I suppose, is the reason why it’s a peaceful, weapon-less planet now. Because everyone stops waving their dicks around while shooting from machine-guns. However, Barbarella is polite and agrees to do it „the old-fashioned way” and enjoys it quite a lot.

The movie has some really good 1960’s music, which doesn’t change, but distracts you from the plot that makes little to no sense. The set-designs are campy and as actual locations don’t make sense either, but at the same time, they’re very detailed and in a way fascinating.

The only way I could describe the plot is by summarising its structure: Barbarella goes somewhere, someone tries to kill her, she has some sexual experience and then it repeats. We even get to see the hilarious hand sex.

David Hemmings appears as a rebel leader and he is great, his scenes were the highlight of the movie, since when he’s on screen the movie starts feeling like a straight-up comedy or a spoof, but then he goes away and we’re back to weird shit, that is funny in its own ‘who came up with this?’ way, like a scene, where a bunch of chicks are smoking the „essence of man”, which is a guy boiling in a huge fishbowl.

I learnt a lot from this movie, but not one of these things are of any use. I doubt if I’ll ever have the chance to perform CPR on an angel, by cranking his wings from the back.

Overall, I got kind of bored, because the movie threw too much nonsense at me, for me to keep caring what’s going on. Might be fun with some friends and alcohol, otherwise, not recommended.

I don’t… what’s happening? I saw the movie, didn’t I?

Review of Dracula (1992)

29 Jul

Dracula also known as Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) is a fantasy/horror/drama film, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (Dementia 13 (1963), The Godfather (1972)).

Written by James V. Hart (Hook (1991), Muppet Treasure Island (1996)).

Starring: Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Waits, Monica Bellucci, Cary Elwes, Richard E. Grant and others.

I won’t dwelve much into plot details, because if you don’t know what happens in Dracula by now, you probably don’t care to find out anyway. Coppola decided to do a little more faithful adaptation of the novel and called it Bram Stoker’s Dracula, however, how its faithfulness is debatable.

Right from the start and throughout the movie we get some amazing visuals, which are even more impressive because they’re all practical. The movie also has this otherworldly, dreamlike quality.

One interesting thing is that we are provided with more insight into Dracula’s character than in the novel, and he now is less of a villain and just a tragic figure, he is basically an anti-hero and way more likable than the protagonist.  We first are introduced to Dracula in a very bad state, he looks old, frail and has an absurd looking wig/hairstyle. Gary Oldman is great casting for the role, but then again, when is he not a great casting choice.

Then, when Dracula gets to London, he starts looking as a young man again and for some reason he walks around the city in daylight. In the novel Dracula was mentioned being able to turn into a wolf, but even though it looked cool, they went overboard here and made him turn into a fucking werewolf, nice effects, but still.

I don’t hate him, but I wonder why some filmmakers cast Keanu Reeves in serious dramatic roles, it’s clear he has a very limited range, he can play a certain type, but it is definitely not Jonathan Harker, the horribly stilted accent he’s doing doesn’t help either.

Jonathan Harker is an odd character, because in all adaptations, that have him arrive at Dracula’s castle, he is very oblivious about all the strange things going on around him. Here they do that as well, but it is sort of explained. He notices all the weird shit, but is just too polite to say anything and after all, Count Dracula is an important client, but still, he should be more creeped out, especially in homoerotic scenes, like one, where Dracula is shaving him.

Winona Ryder is another odd casting choice. I like her just fine, but she doesn’t make any sense as Mina Murray. There’s also Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, which is a good, yet uninspired choice. I wish he had been in Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein, then he would have been in all the modern versions of Universal Horror’s „big three”.

I wouldn’t call this a horror movie though, it’s more of a psychological thriller, exploring the themes of sexuality. And it’s very unbalanced overall. It is the most interesting portrayal of Dracula, yet the least interesting of all the other characters. It is a very well-made and cool looking movie, but not very involving and after a while becomes even slightly dull. Coppola seems to pay great attention to details, yet lose the sight of the picture as a whole.

Also I think of Dracula as a very hard novel to adapt, because of its unconventional format. It consists of letters, diary entries and telegrams, which makes the narrative subjective and constantly changing perspectives, when you apply conventional movie structure to something like that, it tends to fall apart.

Overall, it’s not a great movie, but probably the best adaptation of the novel. I felt it was, in a way, style over substance type of deal, which is weird, since the movie is very much about the characters and romance. I don’t know, I have mixed feelings, but still – recommended.

“I know what you’re thinking “how does he look so cool, without seeing himself in the mirror?”, well let’s just say I have a lot of paintings of myself at home.”

Review of The Avengers (2012)

3 May

The Avengers (2012) is an action/sci-fi/adventure film, which is based on Marvel Comics’ superhero team of the same name and several previous movies featuring its members.

Directed by Joss Whedon (Serenity (2005), Firefly (2002 TV)).

Written by Joss Whedon (The Cabin in the Woods (2011), Toy Story (1995)) and Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk (2008), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)).

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and others.

This is the movie, that it’s all been leading up to. Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America together in one movie? Sounds epic? Yes, it does! Does the movie live up to all the hype? Maybe? Not really? I don’t know.

I’m really lost on all of it so I’ll just run through the characters.

Black Widow – although they tried to make her do some cool stuff, she still felt like the lamest member of The Avengers, I mean, being a spy is cool and all, but she has no powers, except looking hot. In one scene Johansson attempted to speak Russian, I’ve heard worse in movies, but if her character is Russian, she should be able to speak better, that’s just a nitpick though.

Hawkeye – not much to say about him, at first he just shoots arrows while under Loki’s control and later he shoots arrows and… well, there’s not much else to his character, but Renner does well in the role.

Loki – the villain. Hiddleston really impressed me, I thought he was ok in Thor, but here he was just great, not overly serious, just a very stubborn, arrogant jerk, at first I thought it’s not the greatest villain choice, but Hiddleston made it enjoyable.

Nick Fury – Well, it’s Samuel L. Jackson, in other words, he’s a stick with two ends, you can’t go wrong, but you can’t do anything new and interesting either.

Thor – He’s kind of whatever, I’ve never cared for his character, even after his movie, the only difference was that I could accept him as a serious character.

Captain America – Chris Evans is ok, his costume helmet looks a bit stupid, but it’s not a big deal, the waking up in a world where everyone you knew is dead and everything is different is an interesting aspect of his character, but only vaguely explored.

Iron Man – he is still sort of funny, but I’m getting tired of Downey Jr.’s shtick, his fast talking asshole genius routine is getting tiresome for me.

Hulk – I was surprised, but he was totally the best part of the movie. Mark Ruffalo was good as Banner and the Hulk was awesome. He looked as good as a green CG gorilla can look and was used correctly. There’s one beautifully hilarious moment, where Hulk goes against Loki.

The story itself is basically: bad guy has MacGuffin, good guys need it, with some ulterior motives and dire consequences thrown in. Most of the entertainment comes out of Hulk smashing and personalities clashing. It is cool that the team doesn’t really get along. That is until they get something to… (clue: the title).

The 3D is shit, it’s incredibly pointless. It was ok in the last half-hour, in the climactic action scene, which was going on at daytime New York, but the first half of the movie, takes place mostly during the night or in dark places, so it sucks. If I had watched it in 2D, I’d probably enjoy it a lot more.

Overall, it’s a fun, entertaining, lighthearted movie, it walks the line between providing fan service and fun for the common movie goer, who cares if it also loses something in both departments at the same time. Recommended for everyone who enjoys some superhero action and doesn’t mind heavy CG.

“Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking superheroes on this motherfucking plane! ”

Review of Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)

27 Mar

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) is a Danish/Swedish silent horror/documentary film, that shows how superstition led to witch-hunting.

Directed by Benjamin Christensen (House of Horror (1929), Mockery (1927)).

Written by Benjamin Christensen (The Devil’s Circus (1926), Seven Footprints to Satan (1929)).

Starring: Benjamin Christensen, Clara Pontoppidan, Oscar Stribolt, Astrid Holm, Maren Pedersen and others.

So this early horror classic is actually a weird documentary consisting of various ways of portraying witchcraft myths and truths, while adding up to a creepy piece of silent cinema.

There are some strange illustrations while some facts about the way authorities have dealt with witches are told. This feels like an odd educational film for kids, that kids shouldn’t be watching.

When we actually get to the live-action stuff, they show both the portrayal of people thinking everything is black magic and re-enactments of the myths about witches. The movie has a sort of dark sense of humor as it shows us witchcraft rituals that might ask for a figurative interpretation. Like „all the witches had to kiss devil’s behind” gives us a rather amusing sight of witches lining up behind the devil (played by the director in make-up), who has bent over. I don’t think the filmmakers took these parts too seriously themselves.

Seeing this early example I noticed that often I’ve seen monks portrayed as morbidly obese, gross pigs, eating like whole  cow-legs. Does that mean they are corrupt or just into gluttony? I guess the first option is better since corruption is not a deadly sin. Here the monks are total assholes and one example of a witch-myth actually made sense. Why did this fat monk just rape some girl? Of course! A witch must have slipped him some love potion.

Another great example is a totally absurd way of making sure if a girl is a witch. You tie her up and throw her in the water. If she comes up, it means she is a witch and they kill her, if she does not and drowns, then you should thank God for her innocence. One thing is for sure, they knew a fool-proof plan, when they came up with one. It is an interesting commentary on how people afraid of some things actually create the myths about the existence of such things.

At times I felt like the movie is just throwing examples and concepts at me, but doesn’t do anything with them, they’re just there and don’t lead anywhere. After a while I started wondering what’s the point of all this. I get that people were gullible and stupid, move on!

Some of the imagery is really creepy and for 1920’s the make-up and costumes are pretty decent. Out of the context those scenes are even nightmarishly unsettling. Back then the audiences must have been terrified by this stuff.

Then there’s some presentations of various torture devices, they just show them to you, tell you what they do and almost show you them in action. Sounds boring, but actually was my favourite part, because it is done in the classic horror movie way. They set up how they work and just before you see them deliver the crippling they cut away and you’re left there imagining what did happen.

I wonder why nowadays there are so few mainstream witch movies? I guess we are so PC that they would be instantly considered sexist. Yet having the lead of a vampire/werewolf movie be a blank, selfish and unlikable human girl isn’t a disservice to women.

The score is really great, having some nice classical pieces, like one of my favourites – Beethoven’s „Moonlight Sonata”. On the other hand I’m not sure if they aren’t just randomly thrown on or do they in fact add to the idea of scenes.

Also it concludes with some scenes showing how the alleged „witchcraft” is now recognized as various mental illnesses and they are being treated instead of persecuted.

Overall, it is an interesting piece of cinema history and I would recommend it as such, but it doesn’t really work as conventional movie due to the constant changes of narrative style and it doesn’t work as a documentary, because it spends too much time on just dramatically portraying various myths. Still, recommended for enthusiasts of cinema history, other than that it doesn’t offer much for a modern viewer.

SLUT

Pictured: Probably the illustration for the phrase "what the fuck?" in the Danish dictionary.