Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

I, Frankenstein – We, Bored

Posted 20 Oct 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

I, Frankenstein, Australia / USA, 2014

Directed by Stuart Beattie

I, Frankenstein is a film that focuses to the point of obsession on every MacGuffin it can find, and it expects the audience to give a shit. The longer you watch I, Frankenstein, the harder it is to believe that it is an actual theatrical feature and not just a bad TV movie made for the Syfy channel. Despite big-name, reliably good actors like Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Miranda Otto, and special effects that, at their best, at least look like a really good video game, the entire project is bogged down by the bizarre combination of extreme silliness and relentless self-seriousness. Somehow, in making a movie in which Frankenstein’s monster (Eckhart) is reimagined as a modern-day superhero fighting against a legion of demons that want the secret to his immortality, no one managed to have any fun. The audience (such as it has been) is certainly no exception.¬† Read More

The Sleeping Beauty – Better Not Bring Your Kids

Posted 22 Jul 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

The Sleeping Beauty, France, 2010

Written and Directed by Catherine Breillat

Based on the Story “Sleeping Beauty” by Charles Perrault

The Sleeping Beauty is a frustrating, disappointing new film from Catherine Breillat. If ever there was a movie I didn’t get, it is Catherine Breillat’s latest, a bizarre, meandering adaptation of the classic Charles Perrault fairy tale, “Sleeping Beauty.” Perhaps it is because I have only seen one of Breillat’s previous films, the almost universally reviled but, in my opinion, underrated and fascinating Anatomy of Hell (2004), and I am therefore not entirely familiar with her sensibility, but I just couldn’t get into this one. Though it is pretty and has a distinct air of artistry about it, I found Breillat’s The Sleeping Beauty to be tedious, and somehow both opaque and obvious at the same time. Of course, it didn’t help that I was constantly reminded of similar but better films by the likes of Terry Gilliam and David Lynch, not to mention Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and especially Sally Potter’s Orlando (1992). Though they share themes such as the transcendence of time and gender, one distinct advantage Potter’s film has over Breillat’s is the stellar, engaging central performance by the great Tilda Swinton, of which none of the actors in Beauty seem capable of approaching. Read More

Dorian Gray – The Portrait Has Aged Better

Posted 12 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Dorian Gray, UK, 2009

Directed by Oliver Parker

Gray is all about the atmosphere in this version, not so much about the preservation of Wilde's wit nor the story itself. You would think that turning an Oscar Wilde novel into a sensationalized, nearly exploitative camp piece of pulp fiction might prove impossible, but Oliver Parker would prove you wrong; shamefully so, seeing as how his adaptations of other Wilde works, like An Ideal Husband (1999) or The Importance of Being Earnest (2002), have been rightly lauded. Even more amazing, Dorian Gray failed to find a distributor in the United States, and was doomed to a direct-to-DVD release here, after a theatrical release in the United Kingdom. As it stands, though, Dorian Gray is all about the atmosphere in this version, rather than the preservation of Wilde’s wit or the story itself. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what we’re left with at the end of the film; lots of pomp, but very little circumstance.

Honestly, it might be more accurate to consider this as a prequel to Stephen Norrington’s 2003 Alan Moore adaptation¬†The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Of course, this is an adaptation of the 1891 Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, but so little is done to honor the work that it seems cruel to connect the two. The ideas behind the two frames remain the same, but the results are entirely different. Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes), a youthful man of twenty or so, inherits a fortune after his father passes away. With that fortune comes the posh lifestyle of the early 20th century and a slew of new friends, the most important of which proves to be a man named Henry Wotton (an excellent Colin Firth), who teaches young Dorian to not be afraid of pleasure in all its forms, and another named Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin), who paints a wonderful portrait of Dorian and wishes to put it on display. Of course, he can’t. Why? Because the Dorian in the picture ages, rather than Dorian himself, and the life Dorian is leading – a life bitter with corruption and decadence – isn’t to kind to him. Read More

Coraline – Henry Selick And The Giant Letdown

Posted 02 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Animation, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Coraline, USA, 2009  Coraline is a 2009 stop-motion 3D fantasy children's film based on Neil Gaiman's 2002 novel of the same name.

Written and Directed by Henry Selick

Based on the Book Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Henry Selick, notable director of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), is hit or miss. With James and the Giant Peach (1996) and the aforementioned Nightmare under his belt, I’m not quite sure where he went wrong. Those two organically energetic and bright films were followed by Monkeybone (2001), and the soulless concoction of Coraline. His heart might have been in the right place, and I’m sure his intention outweighs the validity of the project, but it’s been years since I’ve seen a film so bereft of heart. This is not to imply that heart means something jolly or even fun, but rather a passion for craft, mainly. The film as a whole winds up being depressing, mainly because of this lack, and ugly for a slew of other reasons, and while moments of the film remain frightening, as does the entire idea behind it, there’s something intangible that’s hard to abide. Read More

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – A Little More Penzance Than Last Time

Posted 19 Jun 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, USA, 2011

Directed by Rob Marshall Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a 2011 adventure fantasy film and the fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

In what could be called “Captain Jack and the Last Crusade,” we say goodbye to Will and Elizabeth Turner (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, respectively) and hello to a more expensive look, drearier set pieces, and a more puzzling plot line. However, one benefit of the Pirates films is that no matter how twisted the story may be, and no matter how questionable things may get, everything seems to fall into place. The franchise has always had a firm rooting in faith, spirituality and things seemingly happening for a reason, with the hint of a moral compass always guiding the way, so in that aspect the film gives itself room to take outlandish turns, so long as everything fits. On Stranger Tides is certainly no exception to this rule, but At World’s End (2007) had that market cornered.

I have to say, and I know I’m one of the few, but I missed seeing Bloom and Knightley side by side with Johnny Depp. I always took them to be the crux of the trilogy, especially because their stories were the forefront: them meeting, discovering more about their pasts, getting married, having a baby, etc., all while Captain Jack Sparrow gets himself in one scrape and out of another. But, inevitably, their story drew to an end in At World’s End, giving this film more of a chance to focus on Sparrow’s past – lost love, old friendships, all that. As the film opens, Captain Jack (Depp, as savvy as ever) impersonates a British judge to escape hanging for crimes he may or may not have committed, though he probably did; he’s just not ready to hang for them. The opening of the film tells us this: Jack is in London looking for a ship and a crew. This is true, but not in the sense that everyone thinks it is; in fact, it’s an impostor posing as Jack. Her name is Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and she’s the only one with enough guts to impersonate the infamous captain and get away with it. She’s an old love, or as close as Jack has gotten to it. Meanwhile, Jack is looking for the Fountain of Youth. The catch is, so is the Spanish kingdom, the British Navy, helmed by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, back from the first film and looking barely alive), and Blackbeard (the performance of the film, from Ian McShane), along with his daughter, Angelica. Spoiler? Not really. Read More