Saturday, 20 December 2014

"The hobbit: battle of the five armies" review: most disappointing film of 2014

"The hobbit: battle of five armies" is by far the most disappointing film of 2014. There it goes, Peter Jackson lost his edge for me, as he fell for the magic of CGI recreation and extended edition material. After having a relatively better chapter in his Hobbit trilogy with the "desolation of Smaug" providing some interesting set pieces with the barrel sequence and a truly terrifying dragon in the face (or voice) of Benedict Cumberbatch, "The battle of five armies" is an empty spectactle with nothing new to offer.
Lee Pace nails it as Thranduil
Plot: Pwned. Basically there is no plot. At all. Of course there wouldn't be since you stretched out a book of 300 pages minus to a trilogy of 3,5 hour movies. It makes perfect sense. While the first film had just indistinguishable dwarves talking and walking, the second put higher stakes with the dragon face off and the take over of Erebor. However, what is left to put in the third film Jackson thought? I know what! I will put an epic battle of 45 minutes (minus some dialogue bits here and there) and everything else will be random characters interacting with each other offer zero analysis of their action and psychosynthesis with extended scenes that serve no point or purpose to the "story". The introduction of the actual desolation of Smaug is especially annoying because it could easily be put into the second chapter and it feels that it drugs the film rather than providing a useful base to continue the story. Really some bizarre choices when it comes to storytelling this time.

Characters: Which brings me to the characters in the trilogy. Jackson handles them as filler material and they never get a single scene shining their courage or dismay for the circumstances. Most of this should go towards the dwarves. With the exception of Balin, Thorin, Kili and into some degree of Dwalin, the dwarves are nobody. We do not care, we know nothing about them or what do they think about Thorin losing it. They just stand there and never do anything that the plots requires. Sure this is not entirely on Jackson's fault but you have three movies man. You could easily try to put some characteristics to each one of them. Additionally, we never understood the basic motivation of Thranduil and why he wishes to wage war. Sure he does say he wants his family's gems but for all of that he acts so distantly cold and selfish? Tauriel on the other hand, whom I personally loved in the DOS, here is absolutely a pointless character. She basically has no arc and her love story with Kili is expanding way too fast especially when they only have shared two scenes in DOS within 2-3 days! Talking about a believable love story. Not only that, but the (current) finale of the "five armies" robs her of coming to closure with her path. She goes nowhere and serves only as an antagonist to Bolg. Proper disappointment though with Benedic Cumberbatch as Smaug as I thought his final scene could have been a way better pay off that what we actually see and his role as the Necromancer is actually a joke - Sauron does not appear or move or fight at all which is LAME.

The cast: Richard Armitage nails it as the paranoid Thorin who keeps getting worse and worse with the dragon sickness. The sheer confusion between his honour and the emotional charger that carries behind him is probably the entire heart of the film. Additionally, Lee Pace just wipes out anyone who happens to share the screen with him and it is a shame that this chapter does not have enough Thranduil. His mannerism and unblinking eyes make him a very interesting individual to watch and his final scene (with Tauriel) is quite memorable as we get to see more inside him. The rest of the cast with the exception of the always likable Luke Evans as Bard (he does a fine job) do not have any special scenes. Ian McKellen is sitting at the background this time and even during his (limited) action scenes, Legolas is proper action canon and finally Martin Freeman officially feels a second/third character in his own movie as basically has nothing to do for the entire film. Always happy to see the great Christopher Lee coming back as Saruman and being less evil and actually good. The sight where he kicks all types of Nazgul ass at Dol Goldur is just awesome!
Martin Freeman feels as he is not the main character is his own movie (maybe that should be the case)
Action: There are some inventive bits in action as Jackson constantly finds interesting locations and paths for the unfolding of the fighting. A skirmish of Legolas versus Bolg that resembles a tetris game is actually pretty entertaining and the final fight between Azog and Thorin has actual momentum with the latter losing being a matter of time due to this size (and this is where the film comes genuine close to generate feelings of excitement and threat). The exteded cameos of Christopher Lee, Cate Blancett and Hugo Weaving banishing Sauron from Dol Goldur result in a pleasant as well action sequence with the 92 year old going magic kung fu against the Nazgul.

Battle of five armies: The battle itself unfortunately fails to capture the magic of the original trilogy. It starts well but then it descends into chaos as the good guys seem overwhelmed and ... finally the weight of the battle changes for no reason!? There are some nice moments left and right but overall, there is a great amount of build up that is failed to be resolved. Matters are not especially assisted through the heavy use of CGI and the high frame rate definitely adds to the lessening of the experience.
Shame of Ian McKellen - he is not in it much, Luke Evans great job as Bard
CGI: Too much special effects in the last Hobbit and I am actually up for CGI. Problem here is that even the Orcs and Goblins are computer creation and frankly they are not remotely scary or authentic. Does that make sense? Our enemies are facing wave after wave of bad guys and we know that they are fighting in a giant green screen against nothing? The LOTR trilogy had a feeling of palpable threat and we genuine care about the characters and how they are going to face off for example the Uruk Hai in Amon Hen since they are bigger, scarier than orcs and much more powerful. Here, the dwarves take on anyone at anytime with so much ease and finesse that make anyone in the first trilogy beginner in the school of fighting.

Violence: Another thing that annoyed me is that the fight in the caves of Moria was so gruesome (for a PG-12) film and here despite the number of decapitations, there is not a single drop of orc blood. Remember the goblin whose head Aragorn cut off in Moria? You get to see a bit of blood coming off its neck! Here there is no blood at all due to the heavy implementation of CGI and the lack of threat combined with fictional opponents makes everything unrealistic. Thus any effect of violence has not .. well real effect even when important characters bite the dust.

Is it a terrible movie? Not by a long shot. But after the surprisingly entertaining DOS you would expect that Jackson will close nicely his trilogy. Instead we are left with frustrating motivations (Thranduil), murky arcs (Legolas' mother?, Tauriel will do what in the future, Saruman going against Sauron?), unresolved conflicts with only a royal send off to some of the basic characters. Perhaps an extended - omg - edition might resolve some of these issues. Funny thing, I did not have a bad time BUT "The battle of five armies" is not the ground breaking action piece that I was expecting. 

+ inventive action sequences
+ Richard Armitage as confused Thorin
+ Lee Pace, Christopher Lee, Luke Evans
+ great build up
- underwhelming final battle
- bizarre violence rating
- too much CGI
- no real threat
- no plot
- not enough character motivation
- Tauriel's arc is pointless
- no emotional pay off

5/10


"The pyramid" review: worst film of 2014?

"The pyramid" comes after another found footage archaelogical horror theme flick ("As above so below") disappointed epicly with a rather again intriguing promise.

Plot: A group of archaeologists discover a 3 side pyramid in Egypt and ... for all the wrong reasons decide to visit it. And that's it. Sounds interesting no? I mean a three side pyramid, buried deep, who knows what secrets might be unfolded? However, the filmmakers are not sure as to what to do with idiotic lines of dialogue - you will not believe what comes out of their mouths, incredibly retarded decisions and the solution to the mystery utterly ridiculous. Mistakes regarding people appearing and disappearing when the plots calls for are unacceptable as well. 
Just die all of you
Characters/cast: It does not help that the entire cast is absolutely talentless. When they start getting dispatched one by one by an invisible force, we are (finally) relieved and that is a crucial mistake in a horror film as we need to relate to the characters and the situation they have found themselves in (see "Scream" and "Rec"). Nevertheless, since they are total idiots, unsympathetic and combined this with a below bad acting skill, I was rather amused, satisfied and excited to see them gone. Their decisions require a Darwin award for not endangering the entire human species (e.g., walks over the cracks on the floor instead going around, runs amock in the darkness of a booby trap pyramid, experienced archaeologist touches everything he sees and so on). Problem is you cannot take it as a parody due to the seriousness that the "story" oozes. Good call filmmakers.

Horror: There is one scene that is particularly unexpected but pretty much everything else is same old samo. All the typical cliches of the found footage genre can be found here and it does not help that the cinematography is terrible. There is some gore that may keep you happy BUT most of it has ben done through CGI that looks real due to the prevailing darkness.

Found footage or not: You have noticed that I keep using found footage terms. Having said that, the film keeps switching from found footage to non in a bizarre decision to give us a better realistic version? of the events in a pathetic I would say attempt that fails miserably. The tone of the film should be consistent and at the hands of a perhaps more skillful director this could have been something good but here everything is just below average.

Threat: The resolution of the mystery while utterly ridiculous (and somewhat unexpected!) is being handled wrong in my opinion and its realization through poor special effects disappoints a lot. Also, it makes no sense regarding its movement (so silently) in some scenes and then in others is uber loud, therefore in the quiet scenes you expect something.
Potentially the most annoying character in the film and one of all time
Any positive stuff: I would say the atmospheric sound design/music. It really gives a nice sense of doom and peril and it is a shame that the film does not go all the way with it. Sounds coming left and right in a dark unorthodox pyramid can be quite scary more than any poorly realized CGI monster. But guess what, the filmmakers chose option B.

Verdict: Remember the "descent"? Now that is what I call a kick as film. Characters you care and like, not sexualised at all, fantastic cinematography, proper sense of disorientation and a real (most of the times) unseen threat accompanied with exceptional sound desing. "The pyramid" could have been super scary and an example of awesomeness if it was not for the terrible acting, horrible CGI, miserable cinematography, shallow non-sense plot. Avoid at all costs.

+ exceptional sound design and doom-y music
+ solid jump scare
- everything else including...
- acting
- directing
- characters
- plot
- scares
- CGI
- cinematography

1/10


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Review "The hunger games: Mockingjay Part 1": join the partial revolution

"The hunger games: Mockingjay Part 1": Definitely interesting film but I still feel that people are making this to something huge when it is not. Here are my thoughts regarding the latest adaptation of the "hunger games" books.
Gale - a male "plant" in the franchise.
Story: I will admit that being a (huge) fan of "Battle Royal", I was really sceptical with the hunger games. I have never heard of the book and I considered myself to be less excited about the cinematic adaptation. Having said that, I finally watched the first instalment and although I consider it weak if you compare it to BR - as these two share more than one idea and setting -, it was a pretty solid film, particularly in an era that not many female protagonists carry on their shoulders a franchise ("Twilight" does not count). Although as a film it was simply good, the interesting aspect is that audience want to see a woman in the main role, kicking some sort of ass rather being presented as a princess type that needs rescue. Add on that a background of politics, poverty and propaganda and you get a rather intriguing idea that does not necessarily have to bring on the table massive explosions, action, gore and ABS! So now we are after rather catastrophic hunger games tribute, at the beginning of a revolution and this is I guess where the franchise took an interesting turn. Although the suspense of the arena and of killing each other with creative ways is gone, the complex socio/political issues take center stage here in a surprising turn. Instead of having a montage of Katniss leading missions against the capital that try desperately to shift the odds towards the rebels, we get a quieter tale of a girl in the midst of political chaos with each emotion and decision that she takes could be the catalysts of creating a revolution against a Hitleric state. These are some powerful stuff.

Politics: There is more complexity than your average blockbuster (although this cannot qualify as blockbuster, not enough action, megastars or special effects) and it would have been great if the filmmakers would have gone completely overboard with their ideas. I can see why they didn't (their teenage? audience). Rich people control the poor through an oppressed movement where clearly those with money live at the expense and in favour of those less fortunate. It is not that different from real life and what is interesting here is that there are always casualties when fighting a war and the film is not afraid to show it. In addition, even the rebels have their own society (and subsequently issues that need addressing) that see Katniss getting caught in the middle. There is no room here for laugh, celebration, anger and even despair. It is now or never and Katniss has to play the game if she is want to be as relevant as the rest of the world made her to be. 

Cast: Which brings me to the cast. What I admired about this movie franchise is the great range of actors and actresses they have amassed to portray heroes and villains. Among my favourites, Stanley Tucci (phenomenal before, reduced here though for an extended cameo), Woody Harrelson (solid), Donald Sutherland (having a blast as President Snow) and Elizabeth Banks as Effie who is truly amazing as a luxury driven woman who in three films now seems to be reborn again slightly but not too much out of her comfort zone. Our main character and the public's fan favourite Jennifer Lawrence is still doing a solid job although her character seems a bit stale. In basically three movies now she still seems lost between the (political) conflict and her emotions. Come on, there should be a bit of character development right there after all you have been through. While she is definitely more than 2 dimensional, she never strikes as a decisive person and spends basically the entire film looking (at giant tv screens, I counted at least 4 times, I think!) and listening to what other have to say. Newcomers disappoint a lot: Julian Moore adds gravitas in the proceedings but her role is not memorable (except her contact lenses) or quotable enough with mostly one dimensional characterization; Natalie Dormer looks cool but she gets no more than 8-10 minutes of screentime with no backstory whatsoever and enter the satellite character zone as well as Gale (Liam Hemsworth) whereas Josh Hutcherson and Jenna Malone are reduced to tiny minute cameos (especially Jenna..she is there 20 seconds). Of course, the film cannot cover all characters in a mere 2 hour length but it could have tried to suggest sharp psychological characteristics.
PSH's last film provides an average performance of this excellent actor. JM as the leader of the revolution looks cool but lack deeper characterization.
Action: Surprisingly for a film that talks a lot about revolution, besides two scenes it does not show much. While it is a welcome addition to avoid Hollywood melodramatic inspirational scenes, they could have show more the effects of the Katniss effect to the rest of the districts (unless we see more of that in Part 2). So far after three films, we keep wanting the final confrontation with President Snow and even after Part 1, I still crave some more! I wanna see arrow action damn it!

Direction: Francis Lawrence seems way more confident here than he was on "Catching fire". He can still showcase a frame that can carry the emotional weight of the film (see District's 12 death scene). It is remarkable as well that he tones down the special effects particularly after the disastrous "I am legend" and aims to create a dreadful and without hope world. His extraction scene was quite suspenseful and personally I think it would be a tough scene to match in the last instalment.

Emotions: Not being a fan of the books, I watch the film entirely on my thoughts as an avid cinema goer. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is thought behind this and they have not sacrificed the quality of the movies for the sake of millions besides well making a part 2 where they could have easily put everything together. I was thrilled and even moved by certain actions, a rarity among high profile films like this. Are there elements they could have done better? Definitely. More revolution, more decisive main character and more and deeper portrayal of the opposite side (what does the Capitol citizens think of all these events?  Why President Snow is so relentless?). Tiny bits of humour was a nice touch as well.

+ cast
+ ... especially Donald Sutherland
+ serious tone
+ unafraid to show "cruel" scenes
+ interesting political ideas
+ some tiny humour touches
- that do not get fully explored
- films seems restrained
- satellite characters that offer nothing to the plot
- feels unfinished

6.5/10

Review "The babadook" : a drama with supernatural touches, not the horror film that is being suggested

"The babadook is one of the scariest movies of all time!" the tagline screams. "It will crawl under your skin!". "You will sleep with the lights on!" Hm...actually none of these actions did occur after my viewing of the "babadook". Is it a bad movie? Not by longshot! Is it scary? Definitely not! Let's get down with the details, shall we?
This is why I do not want to have any kids in the future
Story: "The babadook" is not something you have not seen before. In fact, if I had to describe it in terms of films I would say that is a combination of "We need to talk about Kevin" (an annoying child, a "bad"? mother) and "the orphanage" (creepy, supernatural atmosphere, is it real or not?). However, it is the plot thread that the script of the director (newcomer Jennifer Kent) chooses to focus: the cope of loss, post-traumatic stress and the raise of a child solo. It is a terribly difficult issue with amoral grey areas that the film raises along with interesting questions accompanied by a supernatural touch (I will talk about this later). Amelia has to endure an already impossible task to raise Samuel alone, cope with a not at all understanding and supportive sister, carry on with a depressing job without the pleasures of friends or companions. How far you will go to protect and raise your child especially when your own personal life is a mess? When your child is a such a douchebag! that will allow nothing to enter in your life without hating your spawn first? The introduction of the whole post-traumatic experience - Amelia lost her husband who was driving her to the hospital to give birth to Samuel - is a clever touch and something that we in everyday lives think of not so highly and consider it easy to overcome. Add on the mixer a supernatural threat that desires human souls and you get a rather intriguing combination of cinematic finesse. Nevertheless, the third act disappoints especially after the strong start as it falls into predictable territory and if you have seen the trailer, basically you know what is coming for you.

The babadook: So what is the babadook? Apparently it is an evil spirit in the same lines of "Freddy Krueger". I cannot say more than that. The design of the monster is particularly cool and Jennifer Kent is smart enough to allow glimpses of it rather than showing it in full scale. A hand there, a shadow here and these are combined with thoughtful and precise cinematography, Kent creates a cosy little environment for her creature to unleash its attacks.
Great chemistry between these two! Essie Davis deserves at least an award nomination for her work
Scare factor: This is where most of the movie disappoints. Armed with the horror reviews of being super scary and shitting enough bricks to build the pyramids, I was confident enough that I would not sleep in the night. However, it is more of a supernatural drama rather than a full fledged horror movie with multiple jump scares (like the "conjuring"). Despite the existence of a more mystical atmosphere that something always is lurking around that depressing house (credit to the production design for making that estate properly moody and a joy killer), the films seems restrained and barely crosses the line of horror to go full mode.

Performances: "The babadook" does not have a huge cast and the main story and emotions are expressed through Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman.  Not sure who is more charismatic here but Essie Davis gives a compelling performance as the broken/depressed single mother. There are certain scenes that you will think she will explode with all the things she has to put up with in order to raise such a child. And oh my, what a child is that. Noah Wiseman portrays a mentally? unstable child that screams and annoys his way through with basically anything. From repeating the same word over and over again to the point of insanity and to create "weapons" that damage the house to wake his mother up every single day to check the entire house for monsters or to speak without thinking to a stranger about his father. This is a child from hell and even though he does have redeeming qualities and factors that have to be taken into consideration (he does not have a father, his mom is mostly passive, and he genuine cares for her), he is a catalyst about Amelia's state of mind and subsequent mental explosion. Which brings me back to Essie Davis who not only she shares a great chemistry with Noah but she is doing a fantastic work with her eyes and body language to display her sadness and inner turmoil.

Direction: Jennifer Kent reminded me Ty West's "House of the devil" and the early Carpenter flicks of the 80's. A very promising director indeed, looking forward for her next feature and I hope she goes ballistic into horror. She has the skills, she understands the primitive nature of fear and I am confident that if she wants us scared, she can do it effortlessly.

+ artful direction
+ Essie Davis is outstanding
+ Noah Wiseman - not sure if he is acting!
+ Creature's design
+ complicated social/family issue
+ atmosphere
+ unconventional approach
- that disappoints in the third act
- not scary enough - mis-advertisement
- too depressing and too much (especially for those that are single parents)

6/10



Monday, 10 November 2014

Review "Annabelle": an average horror b-movie

Why the fuck I would like to have that shit in my house? 
After the huge success of the "Conjuring", someone decided that it was a good idea to show the backstory of "Annabelle", the creepy looking doll in the prelude of James Wan's horror rollercoaster. Although I have to admit I was intrigued by the concept, at the hands of a competent horror director - Carpenter, Wan himself, Craven - "Annabelle" could have made you shit bricks. However, it is just an average b-movie horror ride.

Story: Not much is happening or explained in "Annabelle". The story follows typical and formulaic plot points borrowed from better films with predictable situations and outcomes. Mother is locked away with the baby being helpless somewhere else. Mother is terrified to search the house while following the babie's cries, etc, etc. Nothing is original and for those who are not looking for inspired plot but at least brilliant execution, you will be a bit disappointed. 

Characters: There is basically no development for the protagonist duo and they are all dimensional. You would have expect that after the "conjuring" where a nice family was put up front and centre with demonic spirits, filmmakers would try to put more care into who is the victim. Here, sadly this is not the case. Although the duo is not particularly annoying, they are just so blunt and one dimensional. The doctor who is working too much, the fragile and beautiful housewife who is alone in the house all day, etc. Everything is following the cliche and not the tiniest bit of effort is being shown on the screen. Any satelite characters who tend to be more interesting are not given any gravitas at all and that makes you wonder why even bother to write them into the plot?

Direction: Surprisingly John R.Leoneti after the disastrous "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation",you would think that he learnt his lesson. Not really and apparently being director of cinematography for James Wan's films assisted him a lot. You can see clear influence of Wan's style all over "Annabelle". From bizarre close up shots to long steadycam ones. It is a welcome addition in the cluster of modern horror movies where there is crazy editing and quick cuts that do not allow enough atmosphere. Of course that does not mean that the field here is flawless. More on that below.

Scare factor: Does "Annabelle" provide enough scares and creepiness? Yes and no. There are definitely some nice (although cheap) scares with nicely integrated direction (with the music of Joseph Bishara definitely a plus). The close ups of the doll are to die for...but you always feel that Leoneti seems restrained. There is a particularly creepy scene when the demon attacks and you can slightly see it at the bottom of the stairs but Leoneti keeps cutting off as to not scare the viewer away. It would have been great if the camera was steady for at least a minute and let our imagination run wild as to what the outline of the figure looks like. Lots of scenes have potential but they are not using maximum efficiency. And it is a shame because in two or three scares, Leoneti pulls them off nicely.

Annabelle: Why someone would buy such a doll is beyond my comprehension. It is creepy, scary and frankly upsetting seeing that thing. Congrats to the designers of the doll. These are the stuff that nightmares are made off...and it is sad that "Annabelle"does not get the spin off it deserves but a mish-mash of been there, done that.

+ decent direction
+ Bishara's music
+ any scene with Annabelle
+ one-two succesful jump scares
+ kinda likable protagonis duo
- but very blunt and cliche
- not enough "Annabelle"
- not enough tension
- formulaic storyline
- cliche after cliche

5/10


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" : one of the worst films of the year

"TMNT" is probably one of the worst if not the worst film of 2014 for me. Not only I am a huge fan of the original material and the beloved cartoon series but expectations were kinda high for me as this new take on the turtles had a big budget, a solid cast and top notch theoritically special effects. What could go wrong though? Well pretty much everything.
One of the few scenes that is kinda funny. Sadly one of the few
The material: First of all, if you are making a turtles movie you have to show love for the material that you are adapting. Clearly, here that was not the case. Why then changing the entire storyline of Splinter? Or of Shredder? Or of April O'Neil? There is not point unless...

Dark and gritty: you want to go the Nolan - godamn you - route. Meaning even if we are talking about mutated ninja turtles that are learning martial arts from a Japanese master who transformed into a rat and forced himself to leave in the sewers while battling the foot clan, we have to find elements to make it realistic. Well piss off guys. Changing Splinter and the turtles into O'Neil's pets makes no sense. Because the rat! incorporated all the moves that he was seeing from a Japanese master into his brain and then when he mutated, he assimilated himself to the ninjitsu and the philosophy of Japan? How is that making any remote sense? In the original storyline, the guy was JAPANESE!!!! who was mutated into a rat and due to his amazing physical appearance, had to seek refuge in the sewers. Since he already knew lots of things related to martial arts, he passed that knowledge to his apprentices, the mutated turtles. Sounds predestrian? Sure. Could have in an alternative reality? Yeah. So why the fuck you change the entire thing? Then you give the turtles super powers - bullet proof, massive strength that moves containers!? and jump really high abilities! .....

Action: Surely with all these liberties at least the film could make up for shiny special effects and potentially fun action sequences, right? Nope. Since the budget was spent to make the motion capture turtles, there is no room for huge action set pieces and on that department, the film fails epicly. Remember the independent movie of the 90's? It has REAL actors and real stunts! Here we get the generic frenetic cam-fu - we do not understand who is shooting who, who is kicking who and when we do, it is vastly underwhemling. Put the film next to "Raid 2" and you see what I mean.
Action is frenetic and uninspiring
Effects: For a massive blockbuster, Jonathan Liesbeman did a far better job on "Wrath of the titans" than here. Effects range from meh to ok with nothing new or exciting to show off and when the duels occur it is a digital figure vs another one, so no real stakes or danger. 

Villains: Shredder is just a massive disappointment. Beng kept into shadows for the 2/3s of the film, one of the best bad guys ever is written into an one dimensional role that lacks grace or logic. Why he is bad? Who cares? Why he hates Splinter so much? He dislikes rats as pets (story makes no sense AT ALL)? Any motivation? Who needs that. Dramatic substance? Pfff these are elements for losers. Towards the unavoidable climax, Shredder appears as a CGI monstrocity in an Iron Man like suit!? I want to see him kicking ass in his normal armour with a stunt guy. Is that too difficult to ask?  Enter William Fitchner who tries to do his best but whereas we have found him to be pleasantly awesome ("Drive Angry" comes to mind), here he is just too cliche. A businessman who is evil, wants to take over the city and frankly is not menacing to say at least or intriguing. He is flat out boring.

Turtles: Although they are trying to incporate pieces of their original personality, the turtles fail to make any impact. Besides one or two scenes where there is a good chemistry and child like humour - pizza test and elevator singing - they do not have enough character on the screen. They go from point A to point B referencing pop culture and pizza. Is that enough? 
MF tries her best she has basically a flat character
Megan Fox: For the backlash that Fox is taking, it is not her fault. I actually think she is a decent actress but she needs to pick more juicy roles. Here the screenwriters trying desperately to inject some gravitas into her motivations - dead and inspiring father, aspiring reporter, made fun of - but we actually never buying into that. Know why? Because we do not really care.

So is "TMNT" one the worst films of the year now? Absolutely. Why? It does not have something truly bad, but it is painfully average and the lack of excitement and love for the material shows. The alteration of the entire storyline makes the film more convoluted and the turtles themselves do not truly shine. As for Shredder, the less said about him the better. Still the 90's film holds really well. I will take any day than this.

+ some good character moments...
+ Megan Fox looks nice and she is ok
+ ... and that's it
- but way too few
- terrible villains
- what they have done to Shredder?
- William Fichtner, disgraced role
- unconvincing effects
- "dark" and "realistic"
- storyline makes no sense even for a film based on cartoons
- passive direction
- action is not even great 

2/10


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

"Dracula untold" review: an average retake on the classic myth

Exactly as I thought it would be "Dracula untold" offers an interesting take on the titutal character but it is not fleshed out enough while disappointing with the lack of creativity.
Luke Evans is doing his best but...
The cast: Luke Evans makes a fine Dracula but he is not given enough material to work with. Even during the action scenes while convincing as a force of nature, he does not get the chance to truly shine. It is such a shame that "Dracula untold" is not the vehicle that it was supposed to be. Dominic Cooper hams it up completely as the Turk Soultan with eyeliner(!) lacking any characterization and dramatic moment to establish his persona. The rest of the cast are pretty forgettable with uber bodyguards againt Vlad the Impaler and friends that protect him with an onion being able to display more charisma than these roles. Saving grace is Charles Dance as an ancient vampire who is able to generate tension with that Tywin Lannister look (you know about what I am talking about), buried under lots of make up that makes the most of it in the limited screentime of 5 minutes.
Vlad's wife....zero characterization
Story: Biggest problem of the film so far. While the idea of exploring the character of Dracula from the beginning in a prequel form and suggest him as a rather heroic personality from one perspective (Transylvanian one) and a monster from another (The Turkish one) is intriguing, it is not fleshed out properly. In fact it just been barely recognized and acknolwedged through the main characters so we can get the plot going. Any supporting roles bare limited or no gravitas so any occuring death comes without the generation of the slightest emotion to the viewer. Although there is a quite fast pace for this sort of film, at the end everything is just empty and lacks depth as the filmmakers seem to be enthusiastic to finish the film. Any dramatic substance even in the most crucial moments is being ignored for the sake of the next scene and the application of the produced consequences is never seen or felt.

Action: For a trailer that heavenly showcased special effects and huge battles, "Dracula untold" disappoints a lot. Pretty much everything is in the trailer. Vlad's powers are not fully explained and his fight with the Othoman hordes is rather brief and frnakly not impressive. Since the film has its main fights taking place during the night, the dark cinematography and a crazy edit from the early 00's school, do not help to establish who is fighting who. When you get to see some, it is rather blunt and unimpressive and no different than other straightforward blockbuster movies that spent limited time to conceive impressive swordfights. "Solomon Kane", a film that passes in similar fields of "Dracula untold" contains some truly impressive swordplay with clear and brutal choreography.
Dominic Cooper continues the string of bad guy for no reason roles
Rating: The rating basically is a joke. While we are off from a rather upsetting and gothic start, soon "DU" descends into PG-13 level category with a bit of bite. It's like as the director decided to make a hybrid of horror action with emphasis at the latter. Suffering for not showcasing how brutal that era must have been and jeopardising the violence to secure a more friendly rating, "Dracula untold" is too dark for the young ages and too kid friendly for the older ones.

 Everything else: Pretty much the average standard things you expect. Special effects are ok but not groundbreaking. Cinematography ranges from good (daylight scenes) to terrible (nightime), costumes are sufficient and so on. It all just looks ok but nothing to be worthy of remembering or at least having fun with.

Overall, "Dracula untold" is not a terrible film but it is a terribly average one. It could have potential with a sharper script, strong focus on the horror aspect and the torment of this classic icon and the gothic setting. Instead a get a watered down version of one of the most famous monsters of all time. Is this really what we wanted?

+ Luke Evans doing his best
+ Charles Freaking Dance scene stealer
- Dominic Cooper - blunt performance
- not enough action...
-...and not thrilling enough...
- watered down version
- terrible edit
- no dramatic substance
- less than one dimensional characters

4+/10