Archive for March, 2012

The Thing – Snow need to panic

Friday, March 30th, 2012

the_thing_wallpaperThe Thing is a prequel set before The Thing, which was originally a remake of The Thing From Another World, based on a novella which wasn’t called The Thing.

The original novella Who Goes There? told the story of a vicious shape-shifting alien, which had previously crash landed in Antarctica and frozen in the ice. Discovered by researchers, and subsequently thawed, the creature goes around generally causing chaos, violently murdering the protagonists, ingesting their corpses and imitating them individually, thereby creating a sort of whodunit horror.

In 1951, it was given a typically American movie reinvention, replacing Antarctic researchers with the U.S. Air Force. The Thing From Another World was a hit, but the adaptation was rather loose, and in 1982 John Carpenter stepped in and gave us a an intense horror masterpiece which was far more loyal to its source.

The Thing 1982 took the whodunit horror concept and joyfully played with it for an hour and a half. Kurt Russell was brilliant in the lead role of MacReady, and the creature effects were as elaborate as they were shocking. It was horrific, but heart-pounding fun and a riveting watch, as each character tried to work out who had been infected with The Thing, before meeting a brutal demise. Upon being rumbled, those infected would freak out and split into some kind of deformed mess of filth. Grim.

Now there is a prequel; first and foremost, just calling it The Thing, like its predecessor, was a stupid idea. Moving on, there are two ways of looking at The Thing 2011; either it is a loving and loyal tribute to, and story expansion of, John Carpenter’s 1982 effort of the same name, or it is a horrible cash-in. Although if you want to cash in on a movie, best not to wait 30 years. This has been evidenced by the meagre box office takings.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Aching Yawn

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

breakingdawnposterIt’s that time of year again, when we are subjected to a movie adaptation of one of the Twilight novels. Whether or not the books are good is irrelevant; the first film was a fine balance of grim and dull, the second was an absolute slog and full-on filmmaking disaster, and the third was a marginal improvement but still awful in a way that leaves searing pain coarsing throughout the central nervous system.

So, Breaking Dawn was unlikely to do much except for the fully committed and blinded-by-devotion fans of the series.

Breaking Dawn – Part I sees the eternally depressed Edward and the eternally depressing Bella get married on an island, sleep together and have a baby. There isn’t much more to squeeze out in terms of a premise; the marriage ceremony seems to drag on longer than a German opera, and then they finally have sex, but not without Edward whinging his pitiful way through the process, emanating about as much eroticism as a dead cat.

Bella gets a couple of bruises from their night of vampire-human playtime, and then Edward insists they play chess for the remainder of their honeymoon. Lucky Bella!

We are saved from this nonsense by her pregnancy, but the weird baby-human-vampire inside her is a bit much for her measly pelvis. Jacob is still really upset about her choice, and stumbles through the film looking miserable and being annoying. Much of the same ground is covered, and there is a meagre threat from some of Jacob’s clan.

The performances are abhorrent, with US daytime soap-style line delivery, and a total absence of charisma. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are all terrible in slightly different ways, and their little triangle has somehow been stretched out over six hours of achingly dull cinema. The minor shining light is a cameo from the awesome Michael Sheen during a mid-end credits sequence. Too little too late, sadly.

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Drive – Bleed for Speed

Monday, March 12th, 2012

drive-poster1Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn was responsible for the offbeat, often surreal and grimy madness that was Bronson, starring an unrecognisable Tom Hardy as the eponymous hard case with a penchant for the savagery of solitary. The film gained well deserved widespread acclaim, and was regularly touted as a modern Clockwork Orange due to its inventive style, harsh violence and über-dry humour.

His follow-up was the abysmal Valhalla Rising; a slog of a mess of a movie, barely glued together by its only positive which was the cinematography. A few guys wander slowly through some scenery, stopping for the occasional grunt or bout of violence. It’s horrible, dull and pointless.

So, not sure what to expect next then, but his adaptation of 2005 James Sallis novel Drive has already developed cult status, earned numerous plaudits and nabbed the Best Director gong at Cannes.

Drive stars Ryan Gosling as a stunt driver and mechanic who earns extra cash by offering his services as a freelance getaway driver. He has strict rules; his clients have a five minute window beginning from the moment they leave his car for the heist, and during that time he accepts total involvement and shared responsibility, but anything outside of that time frame simply isn’t his problem. He will not carry a gun, and he will not be involved with any clients for a second time.

From the viewer’s perspective, he is known only as The Driver, and comes across as a shy but focused recluse with very little interest in socialising. His world takes a peculiar twist when he meets new neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son Benicio. They quickly bond, whilst The Driver is also offered the opportunity to race pro, courtesy of local financier Bernie Rose.

As Drive coasts along with glorious fluidity, punctuated by a pounding, wonderfully intense 80s-style synth soundtrack, we all know that things must take a turn. Once we realise that Bernie and his partner Nino are more than a little dangerous, just as Irene’s husband makes a reappearance, the film kicks into top gear and we get an action-packed thrill ride all the way to the end.

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