Sometimes, it’s nice to be surprised, like I was when I saw this film. Other times, it’s not. Like in the case of Liam Neeson’s Air Marshall Bill Marks, who, on what he presumes is a routine flight, gets sucked into a terrorist’s threat, and a whole lot of intrigue… To say much more may spoil the plot, and therefore, the fun, so we’re going to leave it at that for now…
As anyone who even considered buying a ticket to this or, say, Taken, knows, Liam Neeson is a certified, grade-A badass. But in a twist from his usual grizzled badass with a troubled past traditional character… he’s… uh… a grizzled badass who’s also really rude at times, and an alcoholic? At a first glance, Marks is not a large step out of Neeson’s comfort zone, but after the slow burn of character development, becomes a little more human than some legendary god-like figure of awesome, which is really appreciated after seeing him as John McLane Squared in the Taken series.
As for the parts of the film that aren’t Neeson/Marks, the majority is pretty solid. The film sets itself up as a pretty solid mystery, legitimately offering multiple suspects from the get-go that each seem to be likely in their own way. The supporting cast, while not given a lot besides adding to the tension, all seem to be pretty good, and don’t make me wince at their performances, something I’ve come to expect within this genre.
As for the problem areas of the film, there aren’t many. The cast does their part, and the people generally act like real people… with the exception of the antagonist. The motivation there, in and of itself is dubious at best. And as other critics have said, the plan set up by the antagonist is rather flimsy at times, though, while I was watching it, I was pretty entranced, and wasn’t really distracted from the film. It was actually after the film ends that I properly realized some of the silliness. That being said, that’s not too terrible in my book. I generally see films to be immersed in their world, and I’m not always looking for a deeper meaning, so if I enjoy it while it’s on-screen but question it after, I only will ding it’s score a little bit.
Also, since I wasn’t sure which category to put this in, I figured I’d add one more note here before we progress onward to the final score. This is not a hardcore action flick akin to Taken or several of Neeson’s other recent films. This is more Hitchcock-ian with a lot of tension and slow buildup, with only a few fights, and some may be disappointed in that fact. I wasn’t, but I feel it’s a necessary thing to bring up.
Aside from some weak characterization for the antagonist, and a tonal misdirect on the trailer’s part, it’s still a rather enjoyable film. I’d definitely recommend a rental or a matinee. 7.5 tiny airplane drink cups out of 10.
The tale of Victor Frankenstein is one of the oldest horror stories ever adapted to film, so I figure explicitly going over it beat by beat is unnecessary. Doc Frankenstein plays god, creates a creature, eventually grows to dislike his own creation, and depending on the adaptation either dies trying to hunt down his monster or witnesses it’s death. The film opens with a quick run-through of the events of the original tale, starting with the monster, known as Adam, burying his creator, when suddenly he is attacked by demons. Though he holds his own pretty well, he is rescued/kidnapped by some local gargoyles, who are evidently engaged in an age old war against said demons. After finding out what he is, they provide him with “holy” weapons (read: batons with a generic supernatural looking symbol), and send him on his way, hoping the bad guys don’t find out about his origins… Guess what happens next?
What Didn’t Work:
The script and FX were laughably bad. Character’s motivations are tenuous, if actually existing at any point. During the 200 years Adam separates himself from humanity, the montage on-screen indicates he was playing with batons for the entirety of that period. I could go on for ages about the dialogue… It is really difficult to call something quality that contains the phrase Gargoyle Queen roughly 20 times.As for the FX, the majority were a monstrosity (pun not intended). The demons appeared cheap, as if they went over-budget with the CGI on the gargoyles, though I sort of doubt that, judging by what I observed during the film. Namely, during one of the final sequences, the gargoyles are hovering in the air together and they all appear to have the same wing flight cycle, to what appeared to be precision. The film has textbook awful scientists and scientist characters, whose science is very sketchy at best. I will never be able to think of Aaron Eckhart as some hideous monstrosity. I mean, look at the guy. Putting like 5 randomly placed scars on a guy’s body does not make them horrendous. I mean, otherwise, I’m definitely going to die alone.
Freekz80: As far as what doesn’t work, I generally agree with Cinematichris. A good chunk of the dialogue and behavior from every character is incredibly cheesy. While I don’t feel it was as terrible as Chris makes it out to sound, “Gargoyle queen” is one of those cringe-worthy titles that is heard repeatedly throughout the film. Also, the demon makeup and costumes were very laughable and anything but frightening (although that may not have been the intention, demons should still look DEMONIC!) and akin in appearance to twelve year olds who’d just been shopping at Party City. That being said, I suppose the torn and stitched up face of Aaron Eckhart could be somewhat reminiscent of Two-Face! Another aspect of the film vulnerable to criticism is the special effects. The death effects of Demons and Gargoyles appeared quite rushed and was far from unique. In addition, there are some plot points that leave you asking for more. Apparently, for a weapon to be effective against Demons, it simply needs to be inscribed with some arbitrary symbol. That’s all. Any average joe could carve a Gargoyle emblem into a stick and effectively beat a Demon over the head with it and be good to go.
Bill Nighy and Aaron Eckhart do well with what they had, proving that regardless of the project, they still give a 100 percent. The film is one of those rare, The Room-esque experiences where so much is bad, that the film somehow turns around and becomes enjoyable again.
Freekz80: As we stated earlier, the film has a lot of negatives. Everything we’ve covered screams “AVOID THIS!” but someway, somehow, I had a LOT of fun watching this film. To the point where I would recommend others view it IN THEATERS! Of course, I went into the film with Chris expecting a mediocre story, cheesy action sequences, and a literal non-existence of horror elements. I got what I expected, but much more! The characters are anything but convincing, however watching Frankenstein pummel Demons with his unconventional weaponry and corny one liners is one hell (pun intended!) of an entertaining experience! I left the theater quite satisfied with what I paid for, and while the film is hardly a cinematic masterpiece, it remains a fun experience that I would recommend and do again. When it comes to films like this, I think it is important to keep in mind that you are not in for a mind-blowing film, and if you can accept that you can definitely appreciate the movie for what it is.
On a technical level, a 1 or 2. Enjoyment-wise, a 7.5.
Freekz80: It may come as a surprise due to the extensive amount of negatives we have criticized this film for, but I believe I, Frankenstein deserves a solid 7.5. 8 would be a bit too generous, as there is nothing spectacular about the film. 7 feels a little lacking, as I really did have a great time watching this. This may not be a blockbuster, but I would definitely recommending giving it a shot if you are into gothic atmosphere (I’m pretty sure the ENTIRE film was shot at night…), laughable yet entertaining dialogue and Demon bashing!
The time has come again to return to the dysfunctional society of The Hunger Games, with the movie of the second book in the bestseller series by Suzanne Collins. The first film actually set the bar rather high for a book to film adaptation, so how did the second fare?
Normally I would summarize what’s going on, but I’m fairly sure you’ve heard about it plenty by now so I will not delve deeper. Our very own, CinematiChris will be doing his own video review later this week, so he’ll be able to give you a bit more detail then.
What Works: One of my issues with the first film was the production values, and mainly the cinematography. I don’t mind the found footage style shaky cam, but it was hard to tell what was going on during the entire movie at times, when everything was plain blurred out. Thankfully, the crew fixed this error, and have presented one of the best looking films of the whole year thus far. The sets look crisp, the visual effects are stunning, the costumes and make up are much better as well. The whole thing feels far more polished, and that’s a major feat for a sequel.
The cast is also much improved, in fact I dare to say it’s one of the best ensembles of the year. The returning players are on their A-Game, Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely fantastic at all times, Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta is one of the best improved, I liked him a whole lot more this time around, just everyone was wonderful, and that seldom happens. The script is also much tighter and well controlled, and the emotions run quite high this time around, the victory tour is a hard sequence to watch especially in District 11. Let’s just say there was not a dry eye in the theater.
What Didn’t Work: While for the most part I was incredibly impressed with the level of detail and skill that went into pulling the story off, there were a few bits that didn’t quite sit as well for me. Luckily, they are not deal breakers, but the pacing of the film is a little off as it does take quite a bit of time before the games are going, and when the Hunger Games start up, it’s quite a lot to take in and it starts off rather quickly, too quickly to really keep track of what’s going on. Also, upon second viewings of certain scenes, some of the visual effects could use some tweaking, the fog and the monkeys come to mind at a few points during the games.
Catching Fire proves that the second film is not always a weaker film, in fact it showcases just how strong it is beautifully. It’s one hell of a ride, and one that fans should not miss out on. 8.5 out of 10.
“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You DO NOT talk about Fight Club.” Well, I am unfortunately about to break the first two rules of this initially ill-received film turned internet cult phenomena. But for a good cause! Despite Brad Pitt’s appearance, Fight Club wasn’t the most popular of films at the time of its release in 1999, receiving only $100 million at the box office. Many critiqued Fight Club for its supposed lack of target audience and encouragement of recklessness, and at one point it was almost marketed as an art film. However, over the years it became a huge hit and a frequently referenced movie on the internet, spawning a cult following similar to that of A Clockwork Orange 30 years earlier.
Edward Norton and Brad Pitt join forces in this dark, gritty film to expose the flaws of civilized society with elements of anarcho-primitivism, neo-luddism, and nihilism. The Narrator (Ed Norton), an insomniac living the typical mundane life of the American young professional, meets the free spirited soap maker/distributor Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who enlightens him to the meaninglessness of everything modern society places value in. At first, the two personalities seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, but it doesn’t take long for the Narrator to warm up to Durden’s mentality. The two form an underground fight club which becomes very popular surprisingly quickly. It doesn’t take long for the club to evolve into something much more sinister.
The first thing I’d like to mention about what works with Fight Club is the character and plot development. The lead characters are constantly evolving throughout the film, and almost every turn the plot takes is unexpected. There is never a dull moment, relationships and personalities are being built upon all the way through. Also, the themes expressed in the film, alongside its dark atmosphere, appeal very well with the male psyche. To add to this, the fight scenes are just incredible and a few completely unorthodox. The movie is packed with not only action, but a very intriguing plotline that is nigh impossible to not become immersed in. To top it all off, the icing on the cake is the soundtrack. Featuring artists such as The Pixies, the great variety of music further increases the intensity and even sentimentality of several parts of the film. Oh, and a Meat Loaf cameo! What’s better than that!?
What doesn’t work:
Fight Club is criticized quite heavily for its violent and anti-establishment concepts. Initially, it was a concern that the younger audience of the film would take its themes to heart. Not that they are “bad” per se, as the film does portray some valuable insight, but it also does encourage violence as a road to enlightenment. This could be a concern for some. Also, and this may be a bold statement, but I believe the film may not appeal as well to women. The film does sexualize women in a way that may not be attractive to all audiences, as the primary female character, Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) explicitly displays. In combination, the aggressive and rebel motifs that are fundamental to the film would seem to appeal more commonly to the younger male audience.
I feel this is an extremely powerful film that combines a very intriguing story with jaw clenching action and timeless themes, expressed by actors that could not have suited their roles more perfectly. Those into gritty actions films will appreciate the destructive atmosphere, and those searching for immersive, twisted plotlines will appreciate the story. Overall, this film deserves a solid 9 Brad Pitts out of 10.