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I Frankenstein

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I Frankenstein Bluray 001This my second attempt to watch this film without falling asleep to give it a fair review then I can just forget it existed. This film is certainly not horror but is more of a fantasy action adventure film and in tone and colour palette is very similar to Underworld, which means very stagey dialogue interspersed with bloodless cartoon fight scenes and a sense that it’s up itself with its own importance.

The film starts right where the novel finished with Frankenstein dead and his creature (Aaron Eckhart) brings his body home to bury him in his family plot. That’s when he gets attacked by demons that seem to have escaped from an episode of Buffy. He kills some of them before getting knocked out and a couple of CGI gargoyles fly to his rescue, transforming into humans as they land.

Ophir (Mahesh Jadu) and Keziah (Caitlin Stasey) take him back to the cathedral to see their queen Leonore (Miranda Otto). After reading the text of the book they found with him Leonore realises what the Creature is and takes pity on him, naming him Adam. She explains to Adam the war between the gargoyles who fight for good and the demons who fight for evil and that he is being sought by the demon Lord Naberius. Leonore offers Adam shelter but he’s not interested though he accepts the offer of a free dip in their armoury and leaves with two demon killing sticks.

Forward about two hundred years to the present (I think, it is difficult to tell since the only real world event ever referenced is the publication of the original Frankenstein novel). Adam hunts down and kills demons in an alleyway but a policeman gets killed by a demon and this apparently is such terrible event that the gargoyles grab him and hold him prisoner.

We finally get to see Naberius (Bill Nighy) the lord of the demons as he supervises an experiment by a scientist called Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) who is trying to reanimate a dead rat and the experiment works. Naberius wants to know when human testing is happening and Terra claims that reviving a rat is simple! and that humans are so much more complex than a rat. That is just ignorant bullshit and I have been given no reason to be kind to the writer of this garbage.

Naberius asks Terra about what she thinks of the story of Frankenstein and Terra dismisses it as fiction but Naberius pulls her up for her close-mindedness. Naberius is funding Terra’s research for the same reason he has been looking for Adam. He needs soulless re-animated corpses to house the demon army he has waiting in hell and wants to examine Adam because clearly Frankenstein succeeded. He sends one of his demon commanders to capture Leonore to force the gargoyles to hand Adam over.

Adam escapes the cathedral and breaks into the demon base and meets Terra who is very excited to see him. Terra wants to help Adam if he can help her but she has no idea what Naberius plans to do with her work.

Visually the film is okay but the story is dull and the characters are just flat creatures of the plot. The script tries to draw on emotional relationships during death scenes that were never given the time to be established. The whole story is ridiculous but the film has no humour or joy in it.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Thor – The Dark World

Cinema 

1185066_386159968178782_1116796319_nOdin (Anthony Hopkins) gives us a potted history of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and the Dark Elves in a voiceover with the battle on the screen. Basically they existed before light came into the universe and Malkieth wants to return the universe to darkness and they have created weapon called the ether to bring it about during the conjunction of the nine realms. Odin’s father Bor destroyed the dark elf army and forced Malekith to withdraw into hiding. Bor could not destroy the ether so he hid it on the empty world of the dark elves.

Forward to the present and on Asgard they are dealing with the consequences of Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) actions. First for what he tried to pull on Earth Odin puts Loki into a cell where only Frigga (Rene Russo) his adopted mother visits him. Next Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three battle long and hard to restore peace to the nine realms now that Bifrost the Rainbow Bridge has been rebuilt.

On Earth Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is hard at work dating Chris O’Dowd but the date gets interrupted by Darcy (Kat Dennings). She has actually been working and this is first time she took a break. Now Darcy is here with one Jane’s instrument that keeps beeping, indicating an anomaly just like the ones she detected before that turned out to be Bifrost.

Darcy has got herself an intern called Ian (Jonathan Howard) who has found something very strange. It’s out in some abandoned industrial zone where gravity is behaving very strangely and there seems to be wormholes around the place. They have all sorts of fun playing with the wormholes so it’s obvious something bad is going to happen. Jane falls through another wormhole and finds herself on an empty dead planet. It turns out that this is the world of the Dark elves and Jane seethe ether which enter her body.

Thor had been talking to Heimdall (Idris Elba) when Jane went into the wormhole. Heimdall saw Jane vanish from his sight so Thor heads to Earth to look for her. Jane comes back to Earth through another wormhole and is shocked to see the police there but she’s been gone for five hours so Darcy had no choice. Thor arrives just then and Jane is happy to see him but pissed off that he didn’t come to see her last time he was on Earth. When the ether energy inside Jane strikes out suddenly Thor realises that this dangerous and so he grabs Jane and whisks her off to Asgard.

Odin is not at all happy about Thor bringing Jane to Asgard and though he sounds like an arrogant old bigot he may be thinking of the problems of relationships between long-lived Asgardians and humans but he still doesn’t have to be such an old prick about it. He changes his mind when he discovers the ether inside Jane which the Asgardian doctors say is killing her.

When Jane got filled with ether Malekith and his dark elves were awakened. He launches an attack on Asgard to get to Jane and retrieve the ether. The Asgardians defend themselves and drive off the elves but at the cost of many Asgardian lives. This sends Odin into a rage and he wants vengeance so knowing that Malekith will return for Jane he imprisons her.

This time it is Thor who has the cooler head and comes up with a plan to take the battle elsewhere and lessen the potential for death. For that he needs the help of Heimdall, Sif and the Warriors Three and he also needs Loki’s specials skills. Thor frees Jane and they head off to take down Malkeith.

I think this was a better film than the first which was only really an introduction to Thor and the world of Asgard. This film we get a lot more of the characters doing things and seeing how they relate to each other. Odin is not all the harsh but wise king, he makes mistakes and is conflicted between what he wants to do as a father and what he feels bound to do as a king and I‘m really glad they have Anthony Hopkins in the role. We get to see a bit more of Jane Foster and Eric Selvig and Darcy does the comedy relief. We see the complex relationship between Loki and Thor a bit more in this film when they are reluctantly forced to work together yet there’s a sense that both want to. The only weakness in this film is the one note villains. They want to destroy the universe because that’s what they want to do. Overall I had a good time with this film but I doubt it is going to convince anyone who didn’t like the first film.

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

When Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3 was a box office hit but was slagged off by fans and critics it led to Sony choosing to reboot the series with a different director and a new Spider-man (with a hyphen). It hardly seems like any time has passed at all since Spiderman 3. Despite these thoughts I was intrigued enough by the casting and clips so I went to see it and I really enjoyed it. The cast is great, especially Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and it has a good mix of character drama and action and I think it is an improvement on Raimi’s films.

In this film we see Peter Parker as a young boy living with his parents before they have go away somewhere and they leave him with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) Right away this give Peter and his Aunt and Uncle a deeper characterisation than in the previous film. Then it’s a transition to Peter as a high school student where it establishes that he is nerd picked on by the school bully Flash Thomson (Chris Zylka) and he has a crush on a girl in his class called Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

Peter finds his father’s leather briefcase in Uncle Ben’s basement where he finds a photograph of his father with another man. He learns that this man was his father’s partner Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) and he works at Oscorp. Peter wants to know more about his parent’s deaths and he sneaks into Oscorp tower pretending to be a candidate for an internship in Dr. Connor’s lab. Unfortunately Peter’s cover gets blown when the assistant showing the candidates around turns out to be Gwen Stacy. Peter sneaks away from the group and explores the secure area of the lab. He comes to strange room where a fibre is being created and there are many spiders (uh oh). He pulls a fibre and ends up covered spiders. He brushes them off and gets out back to Gwen who is a bit pissed at him. That’s when a spider that he missed bites him and injects him with its groovy magic venom.

We know what’s going to happen but this time the film takes it time in the gradual transformation of Peter into Spider-Man. He discovers his sticky hands but can’t control it which leads to a funny action scene on a subway car where Peter also discovers his increased strength and agility but it really takes him time and practice to get used to using these new abilities.

He decides to humiliate Flash Thomson in the gym in front of his jock pals and damages the basketball backboard Uncle Ben gets called into the school and he finds Uncle Ben very disappointed in his behaviour. Later Uncle Ben gets killed in a struggle with fleeing armed thief that Peter could have stopped earlier if he wasn’t being a bitter smartass. This really hits Peter hard.

This leads to Peter using his powers to hunt down criminals who look like his uncle’s attacker. He’s not fighting crime, he’s on a vendetta and I doubt he has even considered what he would do if he caught the guy. This is when the costume forms, not all at one but in stages, mask first. Then comes the webbing which is where this really differs from the Raimi series because these are created by Peter and not some unlikely extra superpower and it drives home how smart Peter is.

Once we get our Spider-man we need a villain for him to fight. Peter went to see Connors at his home and reveals that he is Richard Parker’s son. Connor’s research has hit wall but thanks to formula discovered by Richard Parker and given to him by Peter he has a breakthrough. Dr. Connors becomes desperate when an Oscorp executive shuts him down and seizes his research because he refuses to push ahead into human testing so Connors injects himself with the formula. He regenerates his missing arm but the formula goes much further and transforms him into the Lizard, a sociopathic humanoid reptilian creature with a mad plan to transform everyone into reptiles to make the world perfect.

This film has a nice balance of character drama and action and relationship that develops between Peter and Gwen is really believable. There is a great supporting cast and Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Denis Leary as Gwen’s father Captain Stacy in particular are really great. Stan Lee has a really amazing cameo right in the middle of an action sequence that I just loved. I also liked that the film showed Peter had to work to become Spider-Man. The only weakness is that Connors/the Lizard is a bit underdeveloped but this a long film and I suppose sacrifices had to made. This is really solid entertaining film and I recommend it.

Rating 8.5/10

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review : Bathory

I had heard of Countess Bathory but most of what I had heard is based on old stories that may not be true and the classic Hammer film Countess Dracula which is fiction. She’s apparently listed by the Guinness Book of Boring Pub Conversations as the biggest female serial killer in history but the figure of 650 victims is from an unverified claim. This film is an attempt to tell the story of her life more sympathetically. Her life story is being written by a fictional old monk Pastor Ponicky (Antony Byrne) and as he writes he narrates her story. One of the notable things he says at the beginning is that history is written by the victors hinting that this story cares nothing about what has been said about Erszebet Bathory (Anna Friel) in the history books. Since I know nothing about the history of Hungary I am in no position to judge the historical accuracy of this version but it certainly is entertaining.

The film has divided her life story into three chapters titled after the most important person in her life. The first part is titled Ferenc after her husband and it covers the early part of her life and her arranged marriage to Hungarian nobleman Ferenc Nadasdy (Vincent Regan). They have two daughters but when Ferenc rapes her while pregnant with their son she loses the baby. Ferenc doesn’t spend a lot of time with his wife after that but he does send her a Milanese painter that was a prisoner of the Ottomans that he defeated. This painter turns out to be Merisi Caravaggio (Hans Matheson) and Bathory wants him to paint her and her daughters. The two grew increasingly close and they explore their mutual fascination with human anatomy with the highly taboo dissection of corpses in Bathory’s hospital. Despite Merisi being gay the two of them fall for each other. She starts having strange dreams where she is with Merisi in his paintings. This not the only sign of her increasing mental instability and she confesses to Merisi that she is scared because she hears the sound of the sea in her head. Bathory starts acting more and more paranoid she accuses Merisi of cheating with his models. When Ferenc returns from war she has him send Merisi away

Ferenc is concerned about Bathory’s health so he hires a pagan herbalist to help her. Divulia is the title of the middle section named after the herbalist Divulia who promises that not only can she help treat Bathory’s condition but that she will bear a son and heir. The narrator Pastor Ponicky actually takes part in this part of the film investigating the suspicious reports of strange deaths from Bathory’s castle for the Catholic Church. He’s accompanied by a young neophyte called Cyril(Jirí Mádl). These two spies observe many suspicious things but conclude that Bathory is not doing them or at least not to the extent that the rumours claim. Not sure it’s a good idea to try and make the case in defence of Bathory through the agency of two fictional comedy relief spies who have roller skates, clockwork skis and some bizarre imaging apparatus.

Bathory has a few enemies in particular Juraj Thurzo (Karel Roden) a nobleman who fought alongside her husband and whose land adjoins her own. When Ferenc dies of his injuries during one battle Thurzo sets about undermining Bathory. His wife dopes up the potion Divulia makes for Bathory and instead of easing her symptoms it sends her into a full psychotic breakdown and she kills one of her servants. She blames Divulia who gets out of the castle. Divulia then gets captured by by Thurzo who has her tortured and takes out her tongue

Thurzo convinces King Mathias (Franco Nero) that action has to be taken against Bathory. This starts the third chapter of her life titled Thurzo. Thurzo is Palatine of the region and begins an investigation, collecting evidence from locals. He raids her castle arresting four of her servants. They are questioned under torture then quickly put to death while Bathory is put under house arrest. King Mathias is furious with Thurzo for killing the only witnesses since the evidence of the locals cannot be used to try a noblewoman. But Thurzo does not want her tried for then she would be executed and her lands seized by the crown and he has done a deal with her sons-in-law and her son to retain her property and title.

This a strange rambling film that takes it time to develop the character of Countess Bathory and Anna Friel is brilliant in the role but apart from the ever reliable Karel Roden as Thurzo the other characters are amateur dramatics. It did give a context to her life story during a chaotic time in history of Europe. The film never goes as far as suggesting that Bathory is completely innocent but it does still have her as a victim of a conspiracy. Overall the film was okay but I did find my attention wandering a bit.

Rating 6.5

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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Ninjas vs Vampires

When Cowboys vs Aliens got made this seems to have inspired a surge of cash-in action based on similar cross-genre titles by other studios. One approach was to re-title films they had already made so the Quick and the Undead got re-titled Cowboys vs Zombies. This film fully embraces the pure cheesiness of the concept and seems to have had this title from the start and despite having almost no budget they have produced a fun film that is worth watching.

Two friends Aaron (Jay Saunders) and Alex (Devon Marie Burt) are sitting in a park at night talking when they get attacked by group of vampires. Aaron lies helpless, watching as they go to bite Alex. Then a group of ninjas appear out of nowhere and wipe out the vampires. Aaron wakes up in his bed and remembers the incidents of the night before so he goes to check on Alex. But she has no memory of the vampire attacks or ninja rescue. Even worse Aaron discovers that she instantly forgets about them even after he tells her what happened.

Aaron tracks down ninjas and watching their house when he gets discovered and captured. The ninjas also capture Alex but her memory is still playing games and she’s unable to remember where she is and why, a side-effect of meeting the vampires. They realise that if they let them go the vampires will use them to find out where the ninjas live. The ninja team have a magical amulet used by their sorceress Ann (Melissa McConnell) as a weapon which she uses to change Aaron into a ninja, since its a better  option than killing him. The rest of the team are Lily (Carla Okouchi) a vampire who only feeds on the blood and power of other vampires, Cole (Cory Okouchi)  the leader of the group and finally there’s the wisecracking Kyle (Daniel Ross).

The vampires are led by Seth (Kurt Skarstedt) who really plays his part as the evil bad guy and giant ham pretty well. He is wealthy and well-connected but he has big plans. He offers the other vampires sanctuary in return for attacking the ninjas and bringing him the magical amulet which will make him all powerful and resistant to all attacks including sunlight. His vampires are like bunch of squabbling spoilt children who look like they dressed in a Halloween costume shop, including one called Maximilian who wears a huge helmet with a plume and a red jerkin from an old style British military uniform.

The acting in this film is at about the amateur dramatics level at best but there is a lot of self-deprecating humour in the dialogue which is what  just about saves this film. I know some people will not watch anything with this low a budget but if you can you may find yourself enjoying this film more than you expected to.

Rating 6.5

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Rare Exports – A Christmas Tale

This film is from Finland and is mostly in Finnish and is subtititled. I saw the trailers that heavily hinted that was going to be a horror film but instead it is a dark fantasy comedy.

A scientist called Riley (Per Christian Ellefsen) is searching for something in the remote Korvatunturi mountains in Finland and he has a team working on excavating a mountain and they have found layers of sawdust buried deep in the Mountain. Riley explains to the foreman Greene (Jonathan Hutchings) that sawdust is used by people in Finland to preserve things frozen in ice and he suspects that the mountain is a man-made construction to bury something. He warns Greene that the workers must obey a strict set of rules of behaviour and that the mountain should be regarded as a sacred site.

Two boys have been spying on the excavation site, Pietari (Onni Tommila) the hero of the story and an older boy Juuso (Ilmari Järvenpää). The boys return home through a hole Juuso cut in the fence with wire cutters. Juuso mocks Pietari for still believing in Santa Claus but Pietari does not believe in the warm friendly Santa of modern western (American/English) culture. This Santa is a horned flesh-eating pre-Christian beast god that punishes wicked children by stealing and eating them.

Pietari lives alone with his father Rauno (Jorma Tommila) who is a reindeer herder. His mother left him many books on folklore but she died. Pietari consults his books on the local folklore of Santa to learn what he may up against. Next day all the local men get ready for the reindeer herd’s annual migration through the mountains and Pietari and Juuso are there too. This clearly one of the most important events for the local economy. But the herd don’t turn up, just one or two deer. The men go to investigate and they find the herd was slaughtered. They are baffled but think it must have been wolves displaced from the mountain by the excavation work. It is going to be a very lean time for them all this Christmas.

At home Rauno digs a trapping pit with the bottom lined with wooden stakes and baits it with a pig’s head hung over the pit to catch any wolves prowling round. The next morning they find something in the pit, or rather someone. It is a filthy old man with white hair and a dirty white beard (Peeter Jakobi). Juuso’s father Piiparinen is doing his rounds as Santa so helps Rauno take the body into Rauno’s slaughterhouse where then man doesn’t respond and they think he’s dead. They examine the clothes that he’s wearing and find a passport that belongs to one of the workers at the dig.

Pietari has a look at the pit himself and he finds a sack with a crudely carved life-size wooden doll. This old man is one of Santa’s helpers who goes out on Christmas Eve to take away naughty children in sacks for Santa and leaves wooden dolls in their place. When Pietari goes into the slaughterhouse the old man reacts by sniffing the boy’s scent.

Now that they know he’s alive Rauno goes to get Aimo, a local man who can speak English and who tries communicating with old man. They believe he one of the excavation team and they want to hold him hostage and will return him to excavation team when they get the money they would have earned from the reindeer. Their efforts to communicate are useless Only Pietari knows the truth and his worst fears are confirmed when he has Piiparinen phone home to check on Juuso whose mother thinks Juuso has gone out early and left a wooden doll in his bed as a prank. Santa has many helpers and they’ve all been busy.

They take the old man up to the excavation site to discuss with Riley exchanging him for money. Once there they see what Riley’s team dug up and they realise Pietari was right. It is then up to Peitari to come with a plan to not only save all the naughty children from Santa but to save his family and friends from financial ruin.

I like films that take the time get you deeply involved with the life of the characters and I felt a real sense of the pressure Rauno was under. I thought that the performances from Onni and Jorma Tormilla as Pietari and Rauno were so convincing I wonder if they are actually father and son. The ending made me laugh a few times with its twisted pragmatism. This is probably not suitable for young children but this would be okay as a family film.

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film review: Season of the Witch

Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman phone it in this medieval fantasy hokum.

Synopsis: Two crusader knights Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) get sick of the fighting in the Holy Land so they desert and return to Europe. They find everywhere stricken with a terrible plague. The church is certain the disease is a curse by the witch that they have caught (Claire Foy).  Cardinal D’Ambrosie (Christopher Lee) sets Behmen and Felson the task of transporting the witch to a remote monastery where she will face a trial and if she is found guilty her curse can be broken.

The film is okay, It delivers the required dose of plague pits and sword fighting. I found Cage hilarious doing a totally deadpan delivery of his incredibly overblown lines. One scene in particular that sticks in my mind is when they are approaching the monastery and Behmen and Felson are talking and their delivery is so plain and low-key that it’s like they had just been given the script for the scene right before filming. I sensed Cage and Perlman could not believe the lines they were reading and nor could I. It is not brilliant but it’s as watchable as a SyFy film

Rating 6/10

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004L53CQY

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479997/

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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