About This Blog

A place to find my reviews not featured on epinions.com or horror-asylum.com, as well as opinions and lists on everything from movies to TV to music. It's all about me! Send hate mail to vegie18th@hotmail.com or just leave a comment beneath the posts. Review grading system assumes C+ is somewhere in the vicinity of a Passing grade or minor fail.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: Howling II: Stirba- Werewolf Bitch


Set shortly after the events of the first film, Reb Brown plays the brother of Dee Wallace Stone’s doomed reporter, as he tries to work out what happened to her (Didn’t he see the news?). He is joined by reporter girlfriend Annie McEnroe and a werewolf hunter/occult expert named Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee), who claims the dead woman must be given a titanium stake to the heart (Not wooden, not silver, but titanium!) or else she’ll rise again as a vamp...er...undead werewolf, I guess. Meanwhile, Sybil Danning stars as an ancient werewolf queen named Stirba, who is holding a werewolf orgy in Transylvania. No, I’m not kidding. Judd Omen plays Stirba’s offsider/minion, whilst musician Jimmy Nail and European genre actor Ferdy Mayne have small parts.


The sequels to “The Howling” got seriously weird and have for many tarnished the name of the first film, which I consider to be the best werewolf movie ever made, alongside the 1941 film “The Wolf Man”. This 1985 film from Aussie director Philippe Mora (“The Beast Within”, the awful “Howling III: The Marsupials”) is regarded by many as the worst of the sequels. It’s certainly among the biggest shifts in tone and concept of any sequel I’ve seen (It’s British, and there’s lots of awful New Wave/punk music in it, for instance). It is not, however, a contender for worst film of all-time in my view. Watch this film and then watch “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan”, “Equus”, or “Nightmare on Elm St. 2: Freddy’s Revenge”, and tell me “Howling II” belongs in the top 10 worst films of all-time. Top 100, definitely, but let’s keep things in perspective. I mean, at least it’s memorable and interestingly stupid, and makes good use of Christopher Lee’s booming voice (Lee gives the film’s opening narration). He deserved a special kind of Oscar for acting in this film with a straight face (He later apologised to “Howling” director Joe Dante for this sequel to his film). Believe me, it wouldn’t have been an easy task, this is insane up to ying-yang. The man is a truly great actor, just see this film as proof.


Exploitation queen Sybil Danning, meanwhile, is perfectly fine under seriously stupid circumstances. Her disrobing scene is one of three memorable scenes in the film. Her tits are awesome, something I’ve wanted to see ever since she nearly burst out of her costume in “Battle Beyond the Stars”. She has one of the most impressive chests in cinema, and is the second best actor here behind Lee. Way behind Lee, but second best nonetheless. Also memorable is the werewolf ménage-a-trois. Yes, a werewolf ménage-a-trois, complete with hairy werewolf titties. Believe me, folks, you have not lived until you’ve seen hairy werewolf titties. Having said that, Mora should’ve been drawn and quartered for giving us a threesome with Sybil Danning (whose wardrobe is wondrous as usual) that isn’t even remotely sexy. How does that happen? Once again, hairy werewolf titties. Also worth mentioning is a bit with a priest and a bat/gargoyle creature that completely defies explanation.


The setting (and set design) and local gypsy flavour also come across really strong in the film (Despite being filmed in Czechoslovakia, not Romania). Best of all (or at least funniest) is that Danning’s big disrobing scene gets repeated like 10 times in the end credits. I’d have loved that as a 14 year-old, but now it’s just hilarious.


There’s lots of lessons to be learnt in this film: Reb Brown, for instance, can’t act worth a living shit (And he was clearly only cast for his slight resemblance to Christopher Stone from the original film). Christopher Lee, meanwhile, apparently buys his sunglasses from the same shop the Lords of Death from “Big Trouble in Little China” frequent. Director Mora could learn a thing or two as well, including never using red titles/captions. Never. Oh, and Mr. Mora, vampires and werewolves aren’t the same fucking thing. Mora has created the most vampiric lycanthrope movie I’ve ever seen to the point where you have to wonder if someone isn’t playing a practical joke on Christopher Lee, who probably thought he’d washed his hands of the Dracula series. The sexualisation of the werewolves seems more fitting of vampires, and here werewolves get killed by a stake through the heart. Um, what? If Mora wanted to make a New Wave vampire movie like “The Hunger” then why is he directing a film called “Howling II”? Some will like the prog rock soundtrack here, but it’s not to my taste. We even get garlic and fangs throughout the film. I know werewolves have teeth too, but c’mon, this is just stupid. And to top it all off, the film largely takes place in Transylvania. Fuck me dead. No wonder Hemdale films went bust before long, with terrible films like this. I dunno, maybe all the vampire stuff was intentionally inappropriate, but even then...why? It’s stupid and unfunny.


The whole film is shoddy, really. Most of the werewolf stuff is kept in close-ups and the werewolf transformation is done via montage, which just isn’t acceptable, at least not the way it is done here. It just comes off as too disjointed and cheap. The guy whose eyes literally pop out of his head is amusing, if completely unconvincing. Nice severed arm, too. In fact, the whole film is nice and gory, certainly moreso than the original. The film’s tenuous connection to the original is cheaply done too. They simply redo the end of the first film with different (and presumably less pricey) actors, in unconvincing fashion. Aside from the FX, the film does have nice, foggy cinematography by Geoffrey Stephenson (“The House That Cried Murder”), and a Hammer Horror aesthetic (graveyards, churches, etc) that makes it look a little less cheap than other areas of the film might (strongly) suggest.
 

The film is in a terrible, fucked up way, kinda compelling. It’s certainly never dull, and it’s...something. It’s insane and far too fascinating for me to hate it, and yet it’s a bad film. That makes it awfully hard to grade. It’d make an interesting double-bill with “Shock Treatment”. Well, in theory. “Shock Treatment” is boring as hell. I don’t know why this is called “Howling II”, or why the subtitle was changed from the ridiculous “Your Sister is a Werewolf” to the batshit insane “Stirba: Werewolf Bitch”, I don’t even know what the hell this is. It’s...it’s...inexplicable.


Stupid, cheap, insane, horribly acted...and I kinda enjoyed every minute of it. Not in a good way, not quite in an Ed Wood way, no this film is in a special category of WTF all of its very own. Watch it for the werewolf titties. You know you want to. The screenplay is by Gary Brandner (who wrote the novel the original “Howling” largely ignored) and Robert Sarno, from Brandner’s own novel.


Rating: Um...It’s on a level of crap impossible to quantify.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Cut and Run

Lisa Blount is a shonky TV reporter who is somewhere in South America with her cameraman (Leonard Mann) looking for Willie Aames, son of her boss Richard Bright. Aames was photographed with Colonel Horne (Richard Lynch, as a kind of Col. Kurtz character), a former associate of cult leader Jim Jones who was believed to have died at the Jonestown massacre. Blount decides to kill two birds with one stone by trying to find Col. Horne for an interview, whilst also hopefully locating Aames in the process. Meanwhile, we come across Aames, who along with the pretty Valentina Forte, is currently in the employ of drug dealer John Steiner, but is about to attempt an escape. Michael Berryman appears as the leader of a band of savages who attack John Steiner and his men. Eriq La Salle plays a pimp (!), and Karen Black is a TV news producer.


This 1985 exploitation flick is my first taste of  Ruggero Deodato (director of the infamous “Cannibal Holocaust”), and although I’m pretty sure the version I saw was heavily cut, this film is too crazy and compelling not to recommend. I’m not sure what to make of it in terms of plot and overall quality, but it sure is something and it definitely kept me entertained throughout. It has enough plot for at least three films. There’s a once-in-a-lifetime B-cast too, including Willie ‘Bibleman’ Aames (who I assume now blames cocaine and booze for his appearance in this), “Hills Have Eyes” co-star Michael Berryman doing his inimitable thing (I just bet he’s a swell guy in real-life), and “Godfather” character actor Richard Bright in a good guy role for a change (and doing a fine job). It’s certainly strange seeing the future Christian TV star Aames taking on a role that requires him to break one of the ten commandments on more than one occasion. Bibleman sure is trigger-happy. Or does Aames have a bible that reads ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except’? Thank you to the three of you who get that semi-obscure horror reference.

 
However, the most memorable appearances are by Lisa Blount (sporting the same mullet I had in my teens, shockingly), Richard Lynch, and Eriq La Salle. Blount is genuinely good as the lead in this film, never for a second looking embarrassed to be here. Her character should be embarrassed, however, for coming up with the dumbarse idea of doing a piece to camera near a waterfall! Who does that? Regular B-movie villain Richard Lynch (who sadly died fairly recently) is interestingly cast as an associate of real-life cult leader Jim Jones, considering he essentially played a faux Jim Jones in the awful “Bad Dreams”. I’m not sure what accent he was attempting here, but he’s perfectly evil as always and well-cast. And then there’s Eriq La Salle. Oh boy. If you thought Eriq had a reason to be embarrassed about his juicy Jeri-curl in “Coming to America”, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. As a purple hat wearing, pimpin’ pimp named Fargas (get it?) he’s instantly hilarious. He’s terrible as always, but some might get a kick out of seeing him look so baby-faced (and ridiculous). In all seriousness, if ever a film needed a lavender and periwinkle-attired pimp named Fargas, it’s not this one and his scenes drag the film down, whilst still being strangely amusing. Meanwhile, the always incompetent and cross-eyed Karen Black thankfully has limited involvement here in what amounts to a guest star role, essentially.


One of the film’s highlights is the cool, if incongruous synth score by Claudio Simonetti (of Goblin and Dario Argento fame). It’s way too loud, though. The screenplay is by Dardano Sacchetti and Cesare Frugoni, as well as an uncredited Luciano Vincenzoni and will certainly appeal to fans of crazy Italian exploitation films.


I’m not sure if this film even makes complete sense, but it’s not dull and I’m sure there’s an audience for it. It certainly kept me engaged...for some bizarre reason. Maybe several bizarre reasons.


Rating: B-

Review: How Do You Know?

Paul Rudd is a decent, well-meaning corporate exec who may be facing jail time if an internal investigation into stock fraud uncovers any wrongdoing on his part. His boss is also his father (Jack Nicholson), whose reassurances aren’t very reassuring, largely because dear old dad is clearly the guilty party and he knows dad ain’t taking the fall. On this very day he finds himself on a date with cute softballer Reese Witherspoon, and manages to make a bollocks of it, understandably being distracted and frankly depressed. Witherspoon, meanwhile, is cut from her team for being too old (early 30s!), and is kinda in a relationship with a douchy baseball player (Owen Wilson) who seems to think his philandering should just be accepted as one of his charming little quirks. Seriously, the guy’s a dickhead, albeit well-meaning, and a completely oblivious narcissist to boot. Meanwhile, a frankly drunk Rudd decides to give Witherspoon another call, makes a bad second impression, and then they somehow seem to fall for each other. Kathryn Hahn is Rudd’s supportive, heavily pregnant co-worker, Mark Linn-Baker (he’s still alive?) turns up as a spineless corporate-type, Molly Price is Witherspoon’s supportive coach, and Tony Shalhoub has a worthless cameo as a shrink.


This 2010 James L. Brooks (“Terms of Endearment”, “Broadcast News”, “As Good As It Gets”) romantic comedy is the damndest thing. I’m not sure if I liked it. I don’t quite know what to make of it. It’s essentially a romantic comedy, and it has me assessing what it is that either a romance or a comedy (or perhaps just a romantic comedy) needs in order to work, not to mention the fact that I wasn’t sure if it was well-enough made for a film in any genre. For instance, this is an often very funny film. The character played by Owen Wilson alone is an hilariously douchy comic creation, and the only character in the entire film who really works. Seriously, this guy is the biggest douchebag in existence. He’s not only a douchebag of epic proportions, but he also has absolutely no awareness of the problem with this, let alone any recognition of the feelings of others. He’s almost bloody charmingly innocent...in a completely wrong way. I mean, this is a guy who has a whole wardrobe of spare clothes and a drawer full of spare toothbrushes for his one-night stands to use the morning after...but what kind of sleaze does that? A considerate one, I guess.


But the film itself isn’t just about laughs, also has a story, a plot, and it also has characters. And those things are not handled very well at all. The film’s dodgy business dealings subplot, for instance, is thrown at the audience without anywhere near enough information on the situation for us to fully understand what is going on. Some don’t mind being left in the dark, especially for what is just a subplot, but because it ends up tying into the main plot at the end, it very much bothered me. Not only that, but I was never one hundred percent convinced of Rudd’s lack of knowledge or involvement in it. Given he is one part of the film’s romantic triangle, and the film’s supposed nice guy, that bothered me. Sure, he was probably every bit as innocent as claimed to be, but I dunno. Did the film really need such baggage, especially when it’s so confusingly conveyed in the first place? (The first scene we’re confronted with this subplot in particular, is so clunky and confusing, it’s almost embarrassing for someone of Brooks’ stature).


I also didn’t buy the film’s characters, and this kinda impacts the film’s credibility as a romance. Aside from the dubious nature of Rudd’s character, I also found him a little disturbing in other ways. I’ve always found Rudd a pretty unlikeable and morose screen presence, and that’s definitely the case here. Even though the audience knows what he’s going through, he always seems to be in such a bad mood when he’s around Witherspoon that, coupled with his possible future stint in prison, it hurts his credibility as a romantic leading man. The audience might have sympathy for him, but looking objectively, I couldn’t follow the logic that sees Witherspoon even agreeing to a second date. The whole scenario feels like the worst possible time for any of these people to hook up, and that’s not as clever as Brooks perhaps thinks it is because it’s not very appealing to watch. Just because real life is messy, doesn’t mean it’s fun to watch a romantic comedy that is messy, too, especially when the film is hard to swallow in other aspects anyway. For instance, we’re given absolutely no indication as to how or why Rudd falls for Witherspoon so quickly in the first place. Their kinda sorta blind date meeting, the subsequent awkwardness of their first date, and both of their being distracted with other issues, meant that we never really get a sense of that transition into being interested in one another. It’s so sloppy.


Witherspoon, meanwhile, is given the annoyingly quirky character of a female softball character, and a gaggle of ‘You go, girlfriend!’ teammates who never for one moment seem like anything other than a lazy screenwriter’s creation. Sure, there’s plenty of female softball players out there, but here it just seemed like a too-cute quirk to me.


Even the scenes with supporting characters didn’t much work for me. Jack Nicholson, one of the all-time great movie stars, is given a role way beneath his talents here and gives a lazy-arse, frankly phony performance to match (I read a review online that hilariously suggested that Lou Gossett Jr. could’ve played Rudd’s dad and it wouldn’t have mattered. And it’s not all that far from being true, either) It’s as if he was a last minute replacement for the first choice. Apparently Bill Murray turned the film down, and indeed Murray would be an easier sell in the role than Jack. Almost every scene of his is a surprising failure, and the lack of clarity in the subplot certainly doesn’t help. I did like him trying (and failing) to suppress his profanity, though. That was funny. Nothing else in that scene, however, takes place in any kind of reality that I can think of. The stuff with the pregnant co-worker no one seems to notice (Kathryn Hahn), is particularly bad. The delivery room scene is even worse, and extremely clunky.

So what does a comedy need in order to be considered a successful one? Is it just laughs? A film like “Flying High!” (AKA “Airplane!”) would suggest so. It’s one of the funniest movies ever made, and it really only has a plot because it’s a spoof of airline disaster flicks. The gags are the whole show. But when you add the romance aspect, I think the worthiness of the plot and characters does become a legit factor. Maybe it doesn’t matter to the point of a film’s success or absolute failure, but a funny film with plot and character issues certainly loses a few points. From someone as esteemed as Brooks, this is pretty lousy material once you take out the laughs. And the film isn’t a success from the romantic side of things either when you consider Witherspoon’s ultimate choice. I think she makes the wrong one, or more precisely, I didn’t believe the choice she made is the choice she would really make based on who she is and what she needs. ***** SPOILER WARNING ***** Think about who she is and what she needs. She’s an athlete and she’s currently unemployed. Her two choices are a douchebag but successful baseball player, and a dour but seemingly nice guy who even if he doesn’t go to prison for some vaguely revealed financial/corruption/ethical issue at work, is still unemployed and still possibly deserves some air of suspicion. It’s as if Witherspoon is choosing Rudd more because it’s what writer-director Brooks has decided for her to do. Yes, she should choose Rudd, and would likely be happier (if poorer) if she chose Rudd because he’s probably the nicer guy, but it’s not the decision I think she would make. I mean, she wouldn’t keep seeing Wilson throughout the rest of the film otherwise. Then again, I also got the feeling the only reason why she was with Wilson was because it was written to be so, as well. The other thing that bothered me is that although Wilson is playing the biggest douchebag on the planet, he’s so much more entertaining and funnier here than Rudd, it ends up a disappointing choice on that level too. It’s the damndest thing. In every other romance, you want her to choose the nice guy, but here’s the one movie where I actually think the wrong guy was the right guy. Can a romance film really be considered a success if the wrong people end up together? (By the way, in Brooks’ overrated “Broadcast News”, none of the romantic leads were interesting to me, so this is an improvement I guess). Well, considering Rudd is the more likeable character, I suppose I can’t be too harsh. But c’mon, am I the only one who felt the wrong people ended up together at the end? ***** END SPOILER *****


The best asset the film has from a romance standpoint is easily the lovely Reese Witherspoon. She has her detractors (idiots), but I think she’s a terrific actress in the right part (principally “Freeway” and “Walk the Line”), and here she is both gorgeous as hell and absolutely adorable. She sells it as best she can, though I’m not even sure if Witherspoon knew why she wanted either guy.


One small criticism I have is that the film features the most number of ringing phones in any movie I can recall to a ridiculous and infuriatingly annoying degree (Full disclosure: I have only used mobile phones to make calls to book taxis, that’s it. If I’m otherwise unable to be reached, then...I’m otherwise unable to be reached. Tough titties, y’all). If Brooks was trying to make some kind of statement about our reliance on technology or something, he certainly hasn’t made it well. In fact, the whole film feels like an unfinished product. Was there a rush to release the thing? Sorry, but as much as this film has laughs and good work by Witherspoon and Wilson, it’s still not an especially good film. Amazingly, it still almost works, but not quite. Mind you, that’s almost a helluva big achievement, considering how messy it is.


Rating: C+

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Daniel Craig plays a disgraced journalist in Sweden employed by rich retiree Christopher Plummer to write his biography. However, he has another reason: He wants Craig to find out which member of his family was responsible for killing his niece in 1964. The girl went missing, but her body was never found and is assumed to be dead. It’s a cold case that Plummer has never been able to find peace with, and he truly believes a member of his own eccentric family (which includes the odd Nazi) is involved. To help Craig in his investigation, he hires a bisexual, troubled computer hacker (Rooney Mara) to be his research assistant. Stellan Skarsgaard plays Plummer’s nephew and the missing girl’s brother who now runs the family (big) business. Steven Berkoff is Plummer’s lawyer who puts Craig in contact with Mara. Robin Wright plays Craig’s boss and lover, Joely Richardson is another relative of Plummer’s, and Julian Sands appears in flashbacks as Plummer’s younger self. Embeth Davidtz gets even shorter shrift as Craig’s estranged wife (ex-wife?).


You’re all gonna hate me for this, so you’ve been duly warned. I’ve been reviewing films online for about a decade now (and for my own personal amusement long before that), and I don’t normally watch a remake of a film before seeing the original, but; a) I’ve heard the original was originally intended for TV, so that doesn’t interest me much, as a cinematic purist, and b) I was bored, it was available to me, and there was nothing else to do. So I watched this David Fincher (“Se7en”, “Fight Club”, “Panic Room”) remake of the Swedish original, and I must say, I was bitterly and aggressively disappointed. Mostly, though, I was even more bored out of my mind than I was before sitting down to watch it.


The film starts off a mixed bag. The opening titles are cool and rather Bondian, but are almost ruined by a hideous nu-metal cover of Zeppelin’s brilliant ‘Immigrant Song’. The other thing that stood out like a sore thumb pretty quickly were the wildly varying accents used by the international cast. American Rooney Mara affects a slight but uneven accent that might vaguely resemble Swedish. The film is set in Sweden, so at least Mara was trying, which is more than I can say for Daniel Craig (who I frankly don’t like at all) and Robin Wright, the former retaining his Brit accent and Wright affecting an OK Brit accent. Craig’s daughter, however, sounds awfully Swedish to me. It might be a small thing, but it’s incredibly annoying and set me off very early on in the film. Why not just cast all-Swedish actors? Oh wait, they did that...in the original.


I normally love a good mystery movie and films about Nazis, but this is dense, dull, dry, and colder than a meat locker. Those latter three things make the first even worse, because it’s hard enough keeping track of who’s who but it’s also keeping me at a distance. There’s not a lot of plot per se, but there’s so many characters, names and details that it seems really dense and bare bones all at the same time. You can criticise me for not being smart enough to follow the film, fair enough (I’m pretty much of an idiot). But it failed to give me any incentive to care to even really try, it’s seriously tedious stuff. The character played by Oscar-nominated Rooney Mara, in an overrated and uninteresting performance is a big problem. Her character is thoroughly unappealing- skanky, androgynous for the sake of being different (in a cinematic sense, not that the character herself is trying to be different), and to be honest the film should’ve been called The Girl With Venereal Disease. What bothers me is how put-on it is and how overdone it is. Did lead actress Mara earn an Oscar nomination for wearing various body and facial piercings? Because that’s all I could get out of her monotone performance. The character nor the performance seemed real to me. I haven’t seen the original, but I’ve seen what Noomi Rapace looks like in it, and Mara has gone way too far into making herself look androgynous and physically unappealing (tattoos and piercings are perfectly fine, but Mara has gone way overboard with them) to the point where she doesn’t even resemble a real human being. I don’t understand why female action heroes have to lose their femininity as well. I think that’s what I reacted against. Not because I’m sexist or whatever, I just don’t understand why a woman can’t be beautiful in a traditionally feminine way and be tough. I would think it would be saying something worse about a woman that she had to act and look like a bloke in order to be taken seriously as a ‘tough chick’. Angelina Jolie seems to get the balance right (despite not being much of an actress), but most others like Mara go the borderline shemale route. That’s perfectly fine if the character was meant to be a hermaphrodite, perhaps. But that’s not the case (David Fincher seems to disagree, dismissing another well-known actress, Scarlett Johansson as being ‘too sexy’- WHAT?), and even so, Mara’s overall performance simply didn’t interest me in any way (Natalie Portman was among many considered and would’ve gotten the balance a lot closer than Mara has if you ask me). It actually distances me from the character, not draws me in. Perhaps that’s a failing on my part, but nonetheless I was repelled. I understood why she was the way she was, I simply think in this film, it was way overdone.


The way her character is used in the film is truly perplexing to me. Despite being the title character, the film spends most of its time concerned with Daniel Craig (in the same seriously dull performance he gives in everything) and the mystery he’s solving. Mara is merely hired help, a computer hacker, and the film takes way too long to bring these two story strands together (Apparently even longer than in the Swedish version). The scenes we do get with Mara before this are completely unappealing, and even once the two strands do come together, I felt that Mara’s title character was actually pretty unnecessary. So while I found it odd that “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was a supporting character in her own film, I also got seriously impatient with the scenes that were concerned with her because they were unpleasant and irrelevant. Did we really need to see her character get anally raped? Why was that important to the case Craig was working on? It wasn’t (I’ve heard it plays a part in later stories, but I’m reviewing this one, and it seemed unnecessary to me here. Did it have to be anal rape? Really? No, it didn’t. Fincher just wanted to be ‘cool’. Yes, cool in a rape scene. Pretty objectionable, really). If she were the main character, then perhaps this wouldn’t be an issue, but she wasn’t and it was. This aspect definitely could’ve and should’ve been removed. It annoyed me because there might’ve actually been a decent mystery in all of this, but it runs way too long, and clearly needed an editor. Screw faithfulness to the original novel (a movie isn’t a novel, the mediums are different), I’d have cut a lot of it out, starting with yes, the title character.


One of the worst things about Mara’s character in this is that a part of her character has been neutered for some reason. She is meant to be bisexual, but whilst we get two (two!) heterosexual sex scenes with her, we only get the hint of her attraction to women when a girl hops out of her bed. So we can see her get raped up the arse and have sex with Daniel Craig on two occasions, but nothing from the Isle of Lesbos? This film has a very weird view of sex, in my opinion (An opinion that probably sounds like that of a pervert myself. I swear I’m not one, though!).

 
This is such a boring film and nothing like I expected, genre-wise, either. Aside from one brief bike chase, there’s no action like I had anticipated. The performances by old pros Christopher Plummer and Steven Berkoff for me were the only positives in this film, and sadly both are underused. It’s good to see Berkoff cast slightly against type, and Plummer is perfectly cast. He’s got a crafty, malevolent twinkle in his eye that makes you distrust him in every role, and here it means you’re constantly wondering if even he can be trusted (He’s a fine substitute for Max von Sydow, who had to turn the role down, apparently). One actor, unnamed here, however, is far too obviously cast. As soon as they turn up, you know they’re one of the major villains (They also play Enya songs, possibly the worst form of torture imaginable). They even deliver the following line; ‘Y’know we’re not that different, you and I’. I shit you not.

 
Other than a couple of good supporting performances, I got no entertainment value from this film whatsoever. Seemingly pointless, it’s easily David Fincher’s worst film to date (after giving us one of 2010’s best, “The Social Network”) and glacially paced. Is there really going to be two more of these? Dear God, why?


Oh, and a question for cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth (“Blade Runner”, “Fight Club”, “The Social Network”): If the lamps in a room have white (or at least yellow) lights, then why are the rooms glowing green? I’ll keep harping on about it until I get a legit answer. Although I’m underwhelmed by Fincher’s recent fascination with pea-green cinematography (See “Zodiac”- really, see it. It’s good!), I will say this, at least it’s not murky or terribly ugly. Just incompetently thought out.


I was never going to love this film, there’s just too many things here that go against what I tend to enjoy, but even so I’m shocked at how many Oscar nominations it received. I found it completely unappealing in just about every way. The script by Steven Zallian (“Awakenings”, “Schindler’s List”, “American Gangster”) claims to be based on the original novel by Stieg Larsson, rather than the Swedish film adaptation. Whatever its origins, I just didn’t like this film at all.


Rating: D+