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Review: The Tall Man

DVD Review

The Tall Man DVD 001This is a difficult to film to give any good outline of the plot because it one of those films that appears to be one thing but twists around so much that I really had no idea where it was going to go. This is unusual since I’ve seen so many variations of plot before that it really is rare treat to find one that had me guessing and not just thinking WTF.

Julia Denning (Jessica Biel) is a nurse in the run-down mining town of Cold Stone and the film starts with the police searching for a missing boy and police detective Lieutenant Dodd (Stephen McHattie) questioning a bleeding and shaken Julia while her injuries are treated by a nurse. We get a voiceover introducing us to the town and the curse of the missing children stolen by a character which locals have named the Tall Man, a large hooded figure that has been seen by locals. None of the missing children have been found dead or alive

The film jumps to 36 hours earlier and we see Tracy (Samantha Ferris) and her daughter Jenny (Jodelle Ferland) helping her other daughter Carol (Katherine Ramdeen) to Julia’s house. Carol is doubled over with crippling pain and Tracy begs for Julia’s help. They get Carol into the clinic and as soon as they get her coat off the diagnosis is obvious to everyone: Carol is pregnant and is in labour. Jenny helps Carol to deliver her baby, despite it being breach birth. The baby takes its time to start breathing for itself so Julia has to give it some artificial respiration to get it started. Julia has questions about how Carol got pregnant and hid it for so long and it’s clear after a couple of unanswered questions that Tracy’s useless violent boyfriend Steven is the father. Julia pleads with Tracy to get rid of him but she claims it’s complicated.

The town of Cold Stone is dying slowly and painfully since the mine closed which was the town’s only industry. This has put enormous strain on families and often it is the children who would suffer. On top of all that is fear of the Tall Man. Julia and her husband Dr Robert Denning (Garwin Sanford) had come to Cold Stone and set up practice after years of travelling in the poorest parts of the world and doing charity medical work. He really helped the town out a lot but when he died Jenny could not fill the gap he left but she tries her hardest.

Julia visits Tracy next day and Steven (Teach Grant) is still around, giving Julia grief for interfering in his life. Tracy tells Julia that she sent Carol and her baby to stay with her sister in Seattle and she needs to take her time with getting Steven out. Since baby and mother are gone Julia leaves but stops on the way to talk to Jenny who is the film’s occasional narrator. This is ironic because Jenny cannot talk and communicates with Julia by writing in her sketchbook or showing her pictures she has drawn. Jenny wants to know what Julia thinks of the Tall Man and Jenny dismisses it as a story but Jenny writes that she has seen him.

Julia goes to the diner for a coffee and one of the locals Douglas (John Mann) is sitting with Sheriff Chestnut (William B. Davis) talking about what sort of horror the missing children have gone through. Suddenly a bedraggled confused looking woman Mrs Johnson (Colleen Wheeler) appears at the window but doesn’t enter. Her son has gone missing recently and it seems to have unhinged her mind. Julia tries to take her a cup of coffee but she runs off in fear when Julia comes near her.

That night Julia goes home and her babysitter Christine (Eve Harlow) has been taking care of her young son David (Jakob Davies) while Julia was out. Now she’s home they can have dinner and David shows Julia a mathematical trick Christine taught him. After dinner David goes to bed while Julia relaxes with a drink.

Julia falls asleep in her chair but wakes up when she hears a noise. She finds Christine tied up and shoved in a cupboard. She hunts for David in his room and every room then sees a hooded figure in black carrying David away out the door. Julia goes after the figure to rescue her son. That’s when we start to discover the secrets of the Tall Man and that changes everything that we thought we knew was true.

I really enjoyed this film and I liked the way lets you get comfortable with the type of the story you think you are getting before whipping that all away. I can understand with the marketing that some might get the impression that is a horror story but it is really more of a mystery thriller that I had to keep watching to see where the film was going as every one my stupid guesses about where it was going were proven wrong.

Rating 8.0/10

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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Total Recall (2012)

Another remake of a ‘classic‘science fiction film of the 80s what sacrilege, whatever happened to original ideas blah blah blah. To be honest this remake did intrigue me right from when I heard about it.  I really enjoy the original which did a good job Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember it for You Wholesale into a big action blockbuster. This film has just as much action and it comes at a frantic pace. It sets up a fairly intriguing future world and goes into some detail to make it look real.

Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is feeling unsettled. At night he dreams of a different life but wakes to a life of low income in a crap factory job making security robots on the other side of the Earth and he has to travel there every day. He has beautiful wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) but he just wants something more.

The world has been through some very hard times. Over-population has scarred the world once more with biological warfare and left most of the surface uninhabitable except for two zones, the wealthy United British Federation (UBF) that occupies the British Isles and north-western Europe, and the Colony which occupies Australasia which is much poorer, which is why Quaid has to travel though the Earth the every day to work.

This daily travel is by means of The Fall, a large capsule which free falls through a tunnel bored right through the Earth between the two regions. The Fall is powered purely by gravity and this is totally feasible if the problem of tunnelling though all that hot liquid rock can be solved.

Quaid is interested in the services of a company Recall who can implant memories of exciting lives to brighten up those who lives are dull and unsatisfactory. The technology has a sleazy reputation and Quaid’s work colleague Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) tells him a scare story about the risk of brain damage. Later on a new worker tells him Harry is talking crap because he’s used it with no damage. He gives Quaid a card for the place and tells him who to ask for.

That night Quaid goes to the Recall Lounge where he listens to the sales pitch and chooses to have the memory of a secret agent implanted. The tech McClane (John Cho) explains that they have to scan his brain because if they try to implant a memory that is true it can cause a conflict that can damage the brain. McClane is looking through his memories while other techs get him set up in the machine and the start the process. Just before it starts McClane spots a problem, Quaid actually is a spy. He halts the process immediately. A squad of armed federal agents burst in on the place and shoot all the staff dead. Quaid is frightened and confused which seems to trigger a physical memory of being a bad ass and he Jason Bournes the agents killing them all and escaping before more arrive.

Quaid goes home and tells Lori all about it. She doesn’t seem to believe him but she hugs him and tells him it will be all right. Her hug turns to an attempt to choke him to death. Lori is not his wife and he’s not Quaid and because he knows this Lori is going to kill him. She’s under orders from the leader of UBF Chancellor Cohaagen (Brian Cranston) to not kill Quaid but she has her own ideas on that subject. Quaid and Lori fight then Quaid escapes and Lori chases him. A lot. While running and escaping from Lori and the police Quaid gets rescued by rebel fighter Melina (Jessica Biel) who knows him from his real life and who helps him find out who really is and why Cohaagen wants him.

This film has so much action you barely get time t breath and it really does give you the sense that Quaid is constantly under pressure either being chase by Lori or trying to stop Cohaagen’s plans. Well, he did wish for an interesting life. The film looks really good with a lot of work done in creating a future world that looks both futuristic and decayed. I liked all the futuristic stuff like the maglev cars, the vertical cities and the 3D elevators. I can see the influence of films like Blade runner in look of the Colony and it also reminded me of the over-crowded sprawl of Williams Gibson’s future settings in stories like Neuromancer.

Colin Farrell turns in a really solid performance in this, Jessica Biel was okay as Melina and Brian Cranston was good as usual but I think Kate Beckinsale really hit this one home. Her character is a combination of two characters in the original film that were played by Michael Ironside and Sharon Stone but she is much more physical and relentless in this.

The story is interesting but it has the same plot twists as the original so if you seen that you know what’s coming even if the details have changed. It still about a man trying to discover who he was and realising that it’s who he is now that matters.The rich and powerful are still stomping on the weak and powerless and the hero has to step up and stop him. Overall its a lot of fun but it doesn’t do much more than the original.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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