23 April 2011

Red Riding Hood

This particular film has had a lot of bad reviews from what I've been reading and hearing, but really this it has been bigged up by the film industry a little too much. after all, this is a film based on a children's fairy story, so it will never be absolutely superb, unlike a film directly from a creative mind, rather than something pre-existing. It is also directed by the same woman who directed Twilight, but thankfully she had gotten rather a lot better actors in this movie.

This is the story of Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), from a village bang in the middle of a huge forest that is plagued by a werewolf. She is just planning to run away with the man (a woodcutter, and a hot one at that) that she loves when her sister is killed by it.To make matters worse, her parents have arranged her to marry the very rich blacksmith (played by Jeremy Iron's son Max, who is also nice to look at). As a result of the death, the men go out to to hunt for the beast, only for a man to be killed and the village to be attacked. Then along comes Father Solomon, a pious and cruel man who wants to rid the world of werewolves, and the havoc begins.

I find what they did with the story quite refreshing and yet not altogether new. They changed the original story so much, but kept all the best bits; the red riding hood, the wolf, the forest, the grandmother in the woods and of course those famous lines - 'What big teeth you have... all the better to eat you with.' The entire story is geared so much for that same audience that loved the twilight films though. That was it's only downfall. The ending, although kind of sad, was rather too happy in my opinion. You had the werewolf, the hot young men and the inevitable love triangle predicament. It was all a little obvious, to say the least.

With performances from Julie Christie and Gary Oldman, this film made my day despite it's obviousness. The plot kept you guessing who the werewolf was right until it was revealed. And no, it wasn't who I thought it was, and usually I'm right. I thought the film overall was quite clever; it was made entirely for the teen girl audience, and yet had enough storyline to hold an audience fairly captive. Yes, I could have missed some and still got the point, as some of the scenes were a little long winded, but I also could have missed a clue as to the wolf's identity.

I liked the way that the story was a little more fantasy based, and had a very old fashioned feel to the village. The idea of witches, werewolves and religion was inspired, I thought, as it gave a twist to what could have been quite a boring film, had they not adapted the story.

The setting and scenery were stunning, particularly at the beginning where there was a pan over the landscape. I also thought the wolf was good, as it was scary, but not. You knew what it was capable of and yet there was a humanness that made you think of it. And the story makes sense, which some of these films rarely do, especially when there is a mystery concerned.

Overall, I was quite impressed. However, I will give this film a 7/10, as I feel it lacked the dynamism and acting that would have made it a better film, which would have been more suitable for a wider audience.

15 April 2011


Suckerpunch is a dark and surreal story about a mental patient and her escape from a sordid institution. The scenes are confused and the mental institute turns into a sort of sex trafficking scheme, without being this explicit. Since it is from the point of view of the girl, the viewer assumes that she really must be crazy. She dreams up her own world inside a world, where she and her friends battle with enemies to find certain artifacts to escape.

The film is odd as it combines sexuality with brutality. As in every man's dream, the girls are scantily clad in leather and school girl-like clothes for the fight scenes. They shoot guns and kill monsters, Nazis, Samurai's, you name it. They scenes were reminiscent of the matrix and 300 in the way that the fight scenes were slowed down to show clearly each punch or clever move. The girls could take hits almost super humanly, and they had skills they could never dream of doing in reality.

As I said before, this film is dark. There is a clear threat to the girls by men, which also implies that this is a film about much more than an accidental murderer. At the beginning, it seems that her step-father is in some way hurtful towards both of the sisters; he locks Babydoll (the main character, whose real name we do not know) in her room and advances towards her little sister in a menacing manner, prompting her to try to shoot him. The man in charge of the institution seems to enjoy making the girls do his bidding. He is cruel, and arranges a deal with Babydoll's stepfather to give her a lobotomy, something that will subdue her entirely. Every enemy that the girls face is either a creature or male.

Some of the scenes, though only suggestive in some places, are very shocking. It has sexual references, knifes, arson, death, destruction and fighting. You may find that this isn't at all your type of thing, and yet this film makes the divide between reality and fantasy so blurred that you are never sure whether these things happen or not. I would like to believe that they didn't, and yet the end of the film suggests otherwise.

The acting in the movie was good. There was a great deal of emotion in everything that happened, leading me to very nearly tear up. Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) and Jamie Chung (Grown Ups) could have done more with their roles, but it was a toss up between Oscar Isaac (Robin Hood, as Prince John) and the doll-like Emily Browning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) as to who won the prize for best acting. I dare say it actually goes to Oscar Isaac, who was totally convincing as the terrifying owner of the institute.

Quite strangely, the film delves into many different genres; fantasy, with dragons and orc-like creatures, war, action, you name it. But the real drama is by far the ones that most stick in your mind. The treatment of these girls clings to you long after you see it. I came out of the cinema with a feeling of defiance, and a message; 'you have all the weapons you need. Now fight.'

This film is probably everything a man could ever want, and yet it cleverly conceals a very female friendly message. It tells women that they have all the weapons they need to get out of situations they don't want to be in. It gives those who are being hurt and are afraid hope and determination. And yet it doesn't fully agree to this. The end is mixed. It ends on a happy note, and yet it doesn't, but you'll have to watch it to know what I mean.

All in all, I would like to point out that this is a very good film. It certainly gave me a lot to think about and to talk about to you all. Based on this and the other points I have made, this film deserves an 8 out of 10, the 2 marks only being taken off of it because of its confused nature.

12 April 2011

The Eagle

This film is about a young Roman (Channing Tatum) who is stationed in Britain to look after a small settlement. After battling with the native tribe, he is injured and honourably discharged from the army as a result, since he will never fully recover. While Marcus (the Roman) recovers, he sees a fight to the death between a British slave (Jamie Bell) and a gladiator. The slave, Esca, is saved by him after being defeated when he makes the crowd shout for him to live. The slave then serves him out of debt and together they embark on a quest to find the Eagle: a golden statue held by a legion that was lost in the north.

This film made me very thoughtful. As a British inhabitant myself, it made me both proud and disgusted at my heritage. They valour and bravery of both the main characters was something that I appreciated, as well as the attention to detail. The British tribes, for example, had their own language that was separate from the roman language (this was English for the film). The costumes were also paid attention to, which made it much more realistic. It was interesting to see the original British tribes and how they contrasted with the regimented life of the Romans.

The tenuous friendship between the two characters is also something that really got to me. When travelling into Scotland through Hadrian's wall (which, by the way, was huge compared to how it really was/is) the relationship between them becomes confused. They are no longer a master and a slave, they are equal, sometimes tipping this balance completely the opposite way. Sometimes you wonder if they will betray each other in some way, and this adds some suspense to the film.

The actor who particularly stood out for me is Jamie Bell. He has come a rather long way from his all dancing role as Billy Elliott, and although he did appear in King Kong as the rather creepy cabin boy on the ship, his role in this film was so much more impressive. He gave the character many more dimensions than you would first think, and he has a mysteriousness that makes you question your perceptions of him. I really love this actor.

Channing Tatum was pretty good, but didn't give too much away about his stoic and quite aloof character. It was a little bit disappointing actually, though Jamie Bell more than made up for this. I would, however, like to mention an appearance from the ever more popular Mark Strong, known more for his role in the recent Sherlock Holmes film as Blackwood. He is a terrific actor, and I can't wait to see him in other films soon.

Like all other Roman or Greek films, there will always be one that it will be compared to, and that's Gladiator. But I think I'd like to be different and compare it more to other films in the action genre. As it goes as an action film, it is pretty good. The fight scenes are good and keep your interest, it has flashback and dreamlike sequences that make for a little bit of intrigue, and it has subplots that are easy to follow, as well as the main plot of finding the eagle.

All in all, I think this film deserves 7/10 stars.