Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Lovely Bones...

.... not so lovely film.

I haven't read the book.  It hadn't crossed my path before I heard of the film.  By then I was hearing rumours of the film and the book being different and the ususal statements of the book's superiority.  My 'to read' pile is massive.  I didn't want to add something else to it so I decided to just see the film.  A rarity for me.  I much prefer to read a book first and get my own vision of the world created before I see someone else's.

I can't see myself ever reading the book.  The main ideas of the story just don't appeal to me.  The whole film wasn't really for me.  I don't believe in an in-between, an afterlife or anything else after death.  When I'm gone all that will be left of me will be memories.  No ghost, no presence, no Heaven, no Hell.

The cast in this film was pretty damn good.  Stanley Tucci is a personal favourite of mine.  His performance was pretty good, although he could have lost the Marlon Brando cotton wool in his cheeks.  He seemed to be portraying a sinister hamster at times.  Rachel Weisz' performance was great.  I really felt for her character, her pain seemed real.  Susan Sarandon stole the show when on screen and in a good way.  She is one hell of an attractive older lady!  Imperioli played his usual kinda thing but I like his thing.  The stand out for me was the younger sister.  Rose McIver is an actress I'll be watching in the future.  I thought her performance in this was the best thing in the film full stop.  Then we get to Mark Wahlberg....  Why was he cast, could no-one else see how limp he is?  He looks like he's taking the Michael.  Every scene he was in, even when he wasn't speaking, took me completely out of the film.  In the scenes shared with Weisz all I could see was the chasm between their acting skills.  I have only liked him in one film, The Departed.  I'm worried that if I see it again, I'll like his performance a lot less.  After this and The Happening he's enough to stop me seeing a film.

Some of the scenes in the In-Between were absolutely gorgeous.  They were stunning.  Unfortunately I felt I was looking ata  very pretty scene which to me didn't gel with the story I wanted to be carried on in the 'real world'.  I felt the film was too long, it dragged and the scenes with Susie were the main cause of that.  The voice-over began to grate after a while.  I left the cinema feeling guilty that I'd been irritated by a dead girl telling her and her family's story.  The guilt couldn't stop me being sick to the back teeth of her voice though.

I felt the film did well by skipping the obvious ending.  The fate of one character just seemed rather ridiculous to me though.  It didn't leave me satisfied with their outcome at all.  

Spoilers Below (rollover to view)
Well, the scene from Ghost they put in at the end.  That just really took the biscuit.  Unnecessary, saccharine and hell, it was pretty awful when they did it in Ghost.  Repeated 20 years later?  WTF???

It had it's good points but unfortunately too much tosh to let me really enjoy it.

3 out of 5 pawprints

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Anything the BBC can do....

..... Hollywood can do shinier.  Edge of Darkness, a review

First of all I must say I saw the BBC serial quite a while ago so it isn't completely fresh in my memory.  As it's a direct remake I can't avoid comparing it to the original work.  I did think the BBC version was very good.  My only complaint was that it was a little too long.  Maybe this is partly because I watched it on dvd rather than as it was shown in weekly episodes.

After last year's State of Play I wasn't expecting too much from this.  I found State of Play to be much inferior to the original BBC production.  Mel Gibson is far from my favourite actor.  Ray Winstone I was very unsure about, how was his stereotypical, London hard-man type role going to stand up?  I always enjoy watching Danny Huston but I've pretty much made up my mind about what his role will be before I even see a trailer.

The main bonus for this film was the speeded up plot.  I think it was a little too speedy but perfect for a film rather than a tv serial.  I'm getting sick of sitting through films that should be 30 minutes shorter.  It was also updated well.  Keeping the nuclear shadow but in something much more applicable to current times.

Gibson surprised me.  I bought his character.  I forgot it was Mel Gibson (and all his baggage) on the screen and enjoyed his performance.  His chemistry with Winstone cut the mustard too.  The whole story needs you to suspend a little disbelief and go along for the ride.  Both of these characters made it a popcorn-tastic ride.  It's probably one of my favourite Winstone performances.  Huston did what he does best as he always does it.  I do crave to see him in a role that doesn't mean he's a highly suspicious/downright evil character.  I didn't think Gibson's character showed enough of a descent into madness as is required by the title.  He was plenty angry and seeking for the truth but I never really thought he may crack completely.  The fact that they kept one aspect of this was a nice surprise for me.  The fact that his daughter speaks to him once she's dead.  Which is never fully explained either.  I really thought this aspect would be left out.

The ending was typically Hollywood.  All endings tied up nice and neatly.  A bit of a disappointment really.  I know the whole plot is rather far-fetched but a nice ambiguous ending would have made me feel it was that little bit more real.

A good popcorn flick, but it's unlikely I'll be re-watching anytime soon.

3.5 pawprints out of 5.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Full Moon Frolics - The Wolfman

As a lifelong lover of most things Gothic there was no question of me missing this film at the cinema.  I was of course worried what they would do with a tale I've been fond of for as long as I can remember.  If I ever were to get a tattoo (less likely than me giving up Midget Gems for Lent) it would probably be the poem from the poster above.  This love of the story did make me a little nervous, what would they do with the story?  Would they bring modern moral aspects to it? Then I realised that the (extremely tame) film that terrified me as a a child wasn't really a cinematic masterpiece in itself.  I had little to lose and hopefully much to gain with the visit to my local multiplex.

The cast listing looked fantastic.  Emily Blunt, an actress who brings a decent amount of spunkiness to her roles.  She would have made a better Irene Adler IMHO.  Benicio del Toro, well he was kinda born to play the part.  He should be named Benicio del Lobo.  Anthony Hopkins, not by any means a favourite of mine but very well suited to a period piece such as this.  Art Malik, I haven't really got much of an opinion on him except to say I enjoy his work.  Hugo Weaving, a man without a huge range but usually easy enough to watch.  

Well, they all pretty much lived up to my expectations.  Hopkins had presence in droves and was perfect for the role.  Malik, we saw little of but he played his cameo role really well.  Blunt gave a good strong role for a woman the performance it deserved.  Vulnerable, with an inner strength.  Weaving was pretty much a 19th Century Agent Smith.  It sort of worked though.  Del Toro smouldered his way through pretty well.  I don't really have any complaints with the actors in this film.

It still wasn't a good film though.  For a film made over 25 years after American Werewolf it really should have taken stock of what made the werewolves in that film believable.  The werewolves in this film looked slightly ridiculous.  Now this is the case in nearly every werewolf movie made.  Werewolves are much more scary in literature.  On screen they usually range from faintly ridiculous to downright amusing (AWiL excluded of course). These just reminded me of furry Hulks.  Not a good look for me as I've never understood The Hulk's appeal.  I didn't like the Wolfman when he was angry either.

The only scene I thought suffered from a modern film-maker's mentality was near to the very end.  I wasn't expecting a Super-Hero fight in a Wolfman setting.  My untrained eye also felt there was a little too much CGI in there.  I can't help it I just don't like it.  I never see CGI that fits when it comes to a period setting.  It's always nice to see Chatsworth, my favourite Stately Home on screen.  That just seemed badly aged too though.  I'm sure some was done at the time of shooting but a lot of it seemed to be CGI.  Are there no semi-derelict large houses in Britain they could have used?

The final scene really p'd me off.  Everyone involved should be thoroughly ashamed.  It was the worst amateur dramatics I've ever seen from a man I know can do much better.  Maybe it was the relief of nearing the end of a 'troubled' production.

Overall I'm glad I saw it.  I didn't hate it.  I enjoyed quite a few parts of it.  It just didn't hit the spot. I didn't leave the screen inspired into howling like a wolf on the way home.

3 out of 5 pawprints.