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.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: A Sound of Thunder


Set in the US in 2055, Ben Kingsley plays the mastermind behind Time Safari Inc., which allows the rich to travel back in time to the prehistoric era and walk amongst the dinosaurs. And hunt them down. In order for the ‘butterfly effect’ to be adhered to, only dinosaurs who are set to die anyway are used, and a strict adherence to the location where they fall and die must be undertaken. Catherine McCormack plays a former employee of Kingsley’s who warns him of the dangers of carrying out such things, no matter what precautions they think they are undertaking. But she’s a girl and makes sense, so why would anyone listen to her? Unfortunately, after coming back from a latest expedition, chief palaeontologist Ed Burns (!) indeed suspects that something was changed in the past that is now going to cause havoc in the present. And this change will start a ripple effect of subsequent changes, and before long the world seems to be crumbling towards an apocalyptic end. Oh and there’s these reptile-monkey hybrid creatures...but the less said about them, the better. Jemima Rooper and David Oyelowo play Burns’ fellow expedition team leaders.

 

You’d think a film based on the short story that coined the phrase ‘butterfly effect’ would have to be pretty fascinating sci-fi goodness, right? Yeah, you’d think. Unfortunately, this 2005 film from Peter Hyams (“Capricorn One”, “Outland”, “Timecop”, “End of Days”) takes the famous Ray Bradbury short story and gives us a pathetically inept, cheap-looking production values and a complete lack of understanding of what the ‘butterfly effect’ really involves. The backgrounds in this look appalling, like old back-projection shots from Hollywood films of yesteryear, only not as forgivable. I’m not sure that’s the kind of time-travelling Mr. Hyams had intended, and it takes you out of the whole film. It’s laughably done, and the SyFy Channel-level FX of shaking the camera to simulate dinosaur movement is just embarrassing.

 

The overall conception of the prehistoric period is on the level of a “Mad TV” sketch. Yeah, not even “SNL”, but “Mad TV”. And why are spacesuits even necessary? They’re not on fucking Mars, they’re just in prehistoric Earth. I get that the suits might be necessary for the actual time travel process, but why do they continue to wear them after the fact? It makes everything look like one of those awful Russian sci-fi films of the 60s that AIP would re-dub and throw in an aging Basil Rathbone for a few scenes. There’s not even any adherence to scale consistency with the FX, a big no-no in my book. Either that or it’s a film about midget dinosaurs and someone forgot to tell me.

 

How did this turd even get released? Studio bankruptcy (Blame hack producer Elie Samaha’s creative accounting for that one) and a horrible on-set flood undoubtedly played a big role here (the film was supposed to have been released in 2003), but this is just lousy filmmaking by a director-cinematographer who should know how to make a good-looking film and I can’t imagine the Bradbury story being this stupid. I haven’t actually read the story myself, but I can’t understand how they can know what the butterfly effect is, yet no one sees any problems with going back in time to kill dinosaurs? And don’t give me any of this crap about drawing within the lines meaning that nothing would be changed. Just because I dinosaur is already set to die, does not mean that the butterfly effect wouldn’t come into play if you have the dinosaur die in a different manner than originally intended. Having it die in the same geographical location is hardly the point of the principle (And then there’s the matter of the impending volcano eruption...) Killing and letting something naturally die off (or be killed by someone or something else) aren’t the same thing. Yes, arguing about time travel principles is in a way silly, because it’s science-fiction, not science fact. But as with most viewers, there are some principles I can buy in, and others I can’t. The more recent “Looper” crapped all over this same principle, and this film isn’t much different in that regard (though at least no one talks to their future/past self in a coffee shop in this one, thank heavens, though they nearly head in that direction). From that moment on, the film was dead to me and believe me, it didn’t get any better (If you fix the problem and therefore won’t know that there was a problem to begin with, then how is it even happening? Some time travel paradoxes are inevitable, but that one stood out like a sore thumb to me). A billion butterflies get stepped on in this film, but we’re supposed to ignore most of them. I couldn’t. It’s very disappointing from Mr. Hyams, a journeyman, but a solid one most of the time.

 

Meanwhile, I think Ben Kingsley might be a bad guy here, just quietly. He seems a teeny bit dodgy. Seriously, that frosty wig makes him look like a villain out of a Rankin/Bass stop-motion animation classic. Except those films had better FX. Yeah, I said it. Kingsley is appallingly bad here in a cartoon pantomime villain performance (whose comeuppance is completely unsatisfactory), but even Catherine McCormack and the normally fine Jemima Rooper are having off days, and Ed Burns hardly convinces as a scientist. He sounds too cynical and Noo Yawk to convince as a brainiac. Poor David Oyelowo seems to have at least read the script and watched the dailies, because he clearly looks like he doesn’t want to be there. I don’t blame him.

 

The Nick Glennie-Smith (“Fire Down Below”, “We Were Soldiers”) music score attempts to make this a lot grander than it actually is, and if you’ll excuse the pun, is the only sound element here. To be honest, for all the laughable ineptitude, it’s actually really boring. And that’s frustrating because the idea behind it all is classic sci-fi stuff. It’s just been horribly, horribly botched. It makes “Stargate” look like...well, Ray Bradbury. It’s no wonder that this one ended up sitting o the shelf for years and flopped on release. Thematically fascinating but a complete failure on every level as a movie. I wish this was fun, folks, but it’s really, really not. The screenplay is by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer (who both wrote the “Conan the Barbarian” remake which wasn’t too bad, really), and Gregory Poirier (the extremely underrated John Singleton film “Rosewood”), who all presumably flunked science in high school almost as badly as I did.

 

Rating: D+

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Solitary Man


 

Michael Douglas plays self-made man (and pants man) Ben Kalmen, a 60ish car dealer who still thinks he’s in his 20s. But Ben is falling on hard times, his business reputation having been damaged by the revelation of some dodgy practices. He is also finding it hard to connect with his loved ones (daughter Jenna Fischer, ex-wife Susan Sarandon), whom he has spent a lifetime neglecting for whatever piece of tail catches his eye. Not that Ben has any plans of changing his ways, he even beds the daughter (Imogen Poots) of his current girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker) after accompanying the former to a college interview (He knows the dean). Ben is also afflicted with a serious health issue that he is trying to ignore whilst he focuses much of his energy on trying to regain his business cred in between quick shags. Meanwhile, he has taken an awkward college student (Jesse Eisenberg) under his wing, hoping to impart some ladies’ man wisdom on him. Did I mention that Ben is a complete narcissist? Will he mend his selfish ways before it’s too late? Danny DeVito plays a former friend and high school acquaintance of Ben’s who is happy living a modest life, Olivia Thirlby is a college girl Eisenberg is keen on, and Richard Schiff plays a banker.

 

It won’t win any awards for originality, but this 2009 film from Brian Koppelman and David Levien (the former of whom also wrote the screenplay for this and the enjoyable “Rounders”) makes up for its lack of originality with perfect casting, especially Michael Douglas. Douglas elevates this mixture of Arthur Miller flawed family man drama and (Douglas’ own) “Wonder Boys” with an authenticity that is invaluable. I wasn’t even sure of Douglas was even acting at times, that’s how perfect he is for this material. He’s ably backed up by the lovely and underrated Jenna Fischer (I love her and I don’t even watch “The Office”), the always appreciated Susan Sarandon (once again doing as much as she can with an estranged wife role), right down to smaller turns by Mary-Louise Parker, Jesse Eisenberg, Richard Schiff (who deserves better than the functionary bit roles he gets these days), and a strangely uncredited Olivia Thirlby, who is becoming a favourite of mine and who steals her every scene here. She has one really effective moment where she puts Douglas in his place. Sarandon, as I said, is always great to have around, here playing a woman who has become comfortable with her own life that she no longer harbours any anger towards her foolish, philandering ex.

 

It’s great to see the inimitable Danny DeVito in something worthwhile, and he has an obvious warm chemistry with Douglas, whom he acted opposite in “Romancing the Stone” and “Jewel of the Nile”, as well as directing Douglas in the black comedy “War of the Roses”. DeVito is easily one of the best character actors around, as this, “The Rainmaker”, “Get Shorty”, “Heist”, and “Throw Momma From the Train” are evidence of.

 

It’s a small film, and too similar to “Wonder Boys” for my liking at times, but if you’re a Michael Douglas fan you owe it to yourself to see this, one of his best roles to date. It’s kinda scary that he had real-life health concerns after this film was made, and he is surprisingly redeemable and vulnerable (or at the very least, pathetic enough that you don’t hate him), underneath that selfish, pants man exterior. Terrific use of Johnny Cash over the opening credits, too. Not the kind of film you’d expect from “Knockaround Guys” filmmakers Levien and Koppelman (both of whom also wrote “Oceans 13”), I must say, but a much better one.

 

Rating: B-

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review: Casablanca


Set in the title city in French-controlled Morocco in the early 40s, which has yet to be taken over by the Nazis. It is seen as a temporary stop for fleeing refugees (as well as thieves, other assorted criminals and eccentrics), and some of these people come to Rick’s Cafe, run strangely enough by a guy named Rick (Humphrey Bogart). Rick is a cynical, world-weary guy who claims to not want to stick his neck out for anyone. And then in walks Rick’s old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband, rĂ©sistance hero Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), hoping to gain a visa to escape to America. Hoping to nab Victor are Nazi Maj. Strasser (Conrad Veidt- who in real-life absolutely hated the Nazis) and sly police captain Renault (Claude Rains), the latter of whom strongly suspects Rick of being in possession of two ‘letters of transit’ that would solve Laszlo’s problems. Further complications become evident when Rick and Ilsa appear to still harbour deep romantic feelings for one another. Bar piano player Sam (Dooley Wilson) certainly doesn’t help, by continually playing their song, ‘As Time Goes By’. Sydney Greenstreet turns up as an opportunistic black market operator, Peter Lorre plays a thief, and long-serving character actor John Qualen plays one of the regular visitors to Rick’s.

 

After managing to stomach “The Sound of Music”, I decided to give this 1942 film from director Michael Curtiz (“Angels With Dirty Faces”, “Captain Blood”, “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex”) another go. I had failed to sit all the way through it twice before for reasons I can’t quite recall. This time around, I had no such problems and even enjoyed it, though I pretty much consider it overrated and frankly, a B-movie. Since I like B-movies, I don’t consider that much of an insult, though the opening narration and accompanying Max Steiner (“Gone With the Wind”, “Johnny Belinda”, “White Heat”) music score certainly do feel a tad cheap and hokey. Apparently this one section of music was recycled from Steiner’s score for “The Lost Patrol”, which is a bit of a shame, as it certainly stands out from the rest of an otherwise fine score.

 

I also think the film gives Rick’s and Rick (Humphrey Bogart) himself a strangely inconsequential introduction. But after a while, one does indeed get engrossed in the story, thanks mostly to a stellar supporting cast and fascinating characters, right down to the cameo players and their little bits of business to the side. Peter Lorre in a mere cameo and Claude Rains in particular steal the show from everyone else (Rains’ arched eyebrows upstage everyone), with Sydney Greenstreet and the inimitable Dooley Wilson not far behind. It’s a shame Greenstreet only turned to cinema late in life because like Claude Rains, he was able to convey so much with so little effort, and that’s especially remarkable here given his obsequious and opportunistic character is pretty complex. Conrad Veidt is also tops as a much less complex, villainous Nazi character. Meanwhile, just as I felt Ben Kingsley’s character was much more heroic than the title character of “Schindler’s List”, well-cast Paul Henreid plays a much more heroic character here than Bogey’s Rick. And Henreid is a superior actor, too. Bogey is OK but has been better elsewhere (Especially in “The Caine Mutiny” and “The Harder They Fall”), Ingrid Bergman is much better than Bogey in a role that I just can’t see anyone else but Bergman in. They do have good chemistry together, I must say, and Bergman deserves extra credit for doing such good work with a script that didn’t even have a set ending until late in the shoot. What’s your motivation? Uh...we’ll get back to you on that, Ingrid!

 

I think my main problem with Bogey is more the rather rank dialogue he is sometimes given. The bitter romantic dialogue just seems too well-written for such a character to be saying these things organically, and his turmoil-ridden face does the job well enough on its own, so that the cheesy dialogue kinda ruins his performance a bit. Also not helping is the fact that Lt. Frank Drebin would pretty much take the piss out of this kind of dialogue some 45 or so years later. Bogey’s ‘hill of beans’ line makes me want to vomit in my mouth, and the dialogue has aged more than anything else in the entire film. The final line is unquestionably brilliant, however.

 

One thing I did find absolutely fascinating about the film was that WWII was well and truly going on by this point, and the film is set in the then present. The B&W cinematography by Arthur Edeson (“All Quiet on the Western Front”, “The Maltese Falcon”) definitely deserves a mention, with some really nice lighting and use of shadow throughout. Mr. Edeson definitely seems to have a hard-on for horizontal lines, and it adds texture and aesthetic appeal. Whatever my issues are with Steiner’s occasionally cheap-sounding score, ‘As Time Goes By’ really does take on a haunting, romantic quality here (Hilarious Fact: Dooley Wilson was actually a drummer and had to fake playing the piano!). And cheesy or not, the bit with the note with the ink running in the rain is just perfection. Oh, and one final note: Did you hear what Ingrid Bergman says to Dooley Wilson? ‘Play it Sam. Play As Time Goes By’. She does NOT say ‘Play it again, Sam’. That’s the title of a Woody Allen movie. Get it? Got it? Good.

 

This isn’t the great masterpiece many herald it as, in fact it’s extremely overrated and slow-moving. I’m not sure if the plot is especially earth-shattering, either (I think this stuff was told much more entertainingly on “Allo, Allo” to be honest), though being very much up to the minute for its era is certainly to be commended. It’s a much easier watch than my three attempts would suggest, and it’s a solid film. Certainly better than “Gone With the Wind” and “The Sound of Music”, that’s for sure. And a lot shorter. I wish I loved this film, but I don’t. It’s entertaining and worth seeing, however, even if it needed a lot more Peter Lorre.

 

The Oscar-winning screenplay is by Julius J. Epstein (“The Man Who Came to Dinner”, “Born Yesterday”, “Cross of Iron”), Philip G. Epstein (“The Man Who Came to Dinner”), and Howard Koch (“The Sea Hawk”, “Sergeant York”). The film also earned Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director, whilst Bogart, Rains, Steiner, and Edeson all received nominations.

 

Rating: B-

Review: Fantastic Fear of Everything


Simon Pegg stars as a children’s author who is struggling to break out of that mould of twee stories about hedgehogs. He wants to write something more sinister, a Victorian-era crime novel. Unfortunately, his obsession with fear has led to him becoming, literally (and actually- see what I did there?) afraid of everything. He can barely even leave his apartment. He has to, though, in order to get to a business meeting. But first he needs to go to the Laundromat to wash his one and only shirt. This journey proves surprisingly sinister and terrifying for him. Paul Freeman plays Pegg’s shrink, and Amara Karan plays a sweet young woman at the Laundromat whom Pegg inadvertently frightens.

 

When you first read the synopsis for this 2012 film from writer/ co-director Crispian Mills (who was the lead singer of Kular Shaker, to the two of you who remember that one-hit wonder band whose only hit was a cover of ‘Hush’) and co-director/production designer Chris Hopewell, it sounds like a can’t miss premise. And indeed, the first few minutes are quite clever fun, as are the comically sinister opening titles. The visual style, at least early on is amusing and dynamic (Check out the obvious “Psycho” visual cue with the eye). Simon Pegg is well-cast and gets one great line at the beginning; ‘There I am. Absolutely shitting it’. The idea of a children’s author who would rather write about death and forget that he was ever a children’s author is cute too.

 

But then you realise that either the concept actually can’t be stretched to feature length, or the filmmakers simply haven’t the imagination to stretch it out. My guess is it’s the second one, because there was potential here, it has a Douglas Adams vibe, kind of like the first few pages of “Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (the greatest book ever written), but neither Mills nor Hopewell are Douglas Adams’ equal in terms of imagination. A little of this goes...well, not very far at all. I mean, it takes forever to get Pegg out of the damn apartment, for one thing. It becomes monotonous and thin very quickly, through no fault of the game Simon Pegg in the lead.

 

It’s also a film that is far more interested in washing machines than I am, I’m afraid. And I would also rather listen to Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ (maligned in this film) than any hippity hop crap Mr. Pegg cares to offer up. His preoccupation with profane gangsta rap is odd, unfunny, and unnecessary. There’s a real problem with a film when you prefer the villain’s taste in music to the protagonist’s.

 

Overall this is awfully thin and quite disappointing. I’m just not sure what the point of it all was. No, this one just didn’t bring enough to the table for me.

 

Rating: C

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Review: Les Miserables


Set in 19th Century France, Hugh Jackman stars as reformed thief Jean Valjean, whose wish to leave his criminal past behind him is constantly threatened by the overbearing presence of Inspector Javert, who refuses to let Valjean forget that he is and in his eyes forever will be a criminal who broke his parole. Valjean has since become a respectable factory owner under a different name. Unfortunately, his cover is blown when trying to save a prostitute named Fantine (Anne Hathaway, in the screen version of a role her own mother once played on stage!) from arrest. Fantine’s descent into a life of easy virtue was as a result of the factory manager firing her for being an unmarried mother, something Valjean feels somewhat responsible for. Javert sees through Valjean’s new respectable image, but once again Valjean manages to escape, this time rescuing Fantine’s infant daughter (Isabelle Allen) from her rotten guardians (played by Helena Bonham-Carter and a seriously slappable Sacha Baron Cohen). Years pass and Cosette has grown into the beautiful Amanda Seyfried, romanced by a young revolutionary (Eddie Redmayne). Unfortunately, the dogged Javert is still on Valjean’s trail as Paris undergoes a violent uprising all around them. Samantha Barks (a musical theatre actress in her film debut) plays Eponine, whose unrequited love for the young revolutionary nearly gets in the way of true love. Colm Wilkinson (Valjean on the stage himself back in the 80s apparently) has a memorable small role as a compassionate bishop.

 

I generally take poorly to musicals as you probably well know by now, and I especially hate musicals that involve singing dialogue. This is even more the case when the people doing the singing frankly aren’t very good. This 2012 big screen adaptation of the legendary stage musical (as well as the original novel by Victor Hugo) ticks all of those unfortunate boxes (in addition to being awfully downbeat for a ‘musical’), but manages to actually come out alright by the end. Directed by Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”), it’s not a great film, and features some serious flaws, but if even a hater of musicals like me can comfortably make it to the end of this 2 ½ hour film, most others will likely be quite enthused by it, so long as a story that is pretty much ‘The Miserables’ is your idea of entertainment.

 

The chief talking point here is clearly the cast, and they’re a bit of a mixed bag. Oscar-winning Anne Hathaway is probably the best of the lot, and her rendition of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ is heartbreaking and seriously moving. I don’t understand why many women don’t like her (<cough> jealousy <cough>), but it’s impossible to hate her here. She gives the role (and that song) everything she’s got. It’s just a shame that she’s barely in the film, something that surprised me (having no experience with this story before). I actually found her to be the heart of the film, really. Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are perfectly cast and a lot of fun in their dastardly, but largely comedic roles. They’re not very good singers, but I don’t think their roles require it, and Cohen is particularly hilarious. The rendition of ‘Master of the House’ (which, like George Costanza, I can’t get out of my head) is good fun, one of the highlights of the film, musically. Eddie Redmayne (Second ugliest man alive, behind yours truly), Amanda Seyfried, and Samantha Barks probably do some of the best singing in the entire film. Redmayne in particular surprised me, but his acting, as per usual, is bland as hell. Seyfried already proved she could sing better than anyone in the cast of “Mama Mia!” (especially Pierce Brosnan), and once again I found her lovely here, and certainly well-cast. Barks can definitely sing and is way too attractive for Redmayne not to notice her, even with the lovely Seyfried in the room. She’s also surprisingly adept here in a medium outside of her norm (Perhaps being a stage actress in a film version of a stage play she has already acted in, gave her a real advantage).

 

Hugh Jackman probably came to this film with more weight on his shoulders than any of the other principal actors. He’s a musical theatre veteran, and can definitely both sing and act. In the role he has been given here, however, his acting is of a far better quality than his singing. Part of this is because of the way the movie has been shot. The singing was done live on set, to help with the acting performances and with spontaneity, and thus a bit of the singing quality is going to suffer. I get that, though it didn’t seem to negatively affect Hathaway’s singing, merely enhance it with emotional acting. Others aren’t as successful. But I also think that this role from the point of view of singing requirement, was an ill-fit for Jackman anyway. He embodies the role well and acts his arse off, so in that respect it’s his best film work to date. But the singing register is set far too high for Mr. Jackman’s capabilities, sending him into far too nasal territory as his voice is stretched a tad (a noticeable tad) beyond its limits. Jackman is a natural baritone, the role is a tenor, and apparently adjustments were made to suit Jackman. Not nearly enough adjustments if you ask me. You’d think Jackman would be the bonafide singing success of this film, but he is hampered by the choices made, presumably out of his control. That said, I shudder to think what any other actor of lesser singing ability and experience than Jackman would’ve done in the role. He’s OK, and on an acting level, even better than that.

 

The film’s biggest weakness is clearly Russell Crowe. Anyone who has had previous misfortune to witness Crowe’s previous forays into so-called music are well aware that he’s a teeny bit crap, and that is definitely on show here, big-time. The problem is, Crowe clearly thinks he’s a great singer (Just as he refuses to believe he had an Irish accent in “Robin Hood”). And maybe before he started drinking and smoking heavily he might’ve been...decent (Apparently alcohol consumption was banned during filming. Too late for Crowe if you ask me). Y’know, usually Aussies like to claim Kiwis as our own, but after his turn here as dogged Inspector Javert, maybe the Kiwis should keep the former Russell Le Roque for themselves. Crowe is capable of so much as an actor (presence and gravitas personified), but as a singer he is embarrassing in a role that he is uncomfortably miscast in already. I’m not saying Russell can’t play a villain, but Javert is more of a miserable, one-dimensional jerk than a villain, and Russell just didn’t seem to fit. Hell, he didn’t seem to want to be there, and given how shite his singing is, I kinda wish he wasn’t. To be honest, the character itself didn’t work for me, either. It seems so one-dimensional and not belonging to what is an otherwise quite strong, occasionally stirring story. I can appreciate the rather garish caricatures played by Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter, but Javert surely shouldn’t be a caricature. It also seems a rather repetitive role, as though he’s the only copper in all of 19th Century Paris who could interfere in people’s squabbles. It gets a bit silly after a while, bordering on being that Graham Chapman character on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” who was always turning up to try and stop a sketch from becoming too silly. His best singing moment is probably when he’s on the rooftops sing about the stars.

 

Kudos to the casting director for finding a young girl (Isabelle Allen) who looks the spitting image of the character (of the young Cosette) on the infamous poster we’ve all likely grown up seeing. That girl is uncanny. Aside from the two best-known songs (‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and ‘Master of the House’) the best songs are actually the group ones, and all of those are well-sung too. Meanwhile, the film looks great, with terrific production values and convincing period recreation. The music score by Claude-Michel Schonberg is superlative, stirring, and infectious. Unfortunately, there was just too much singing for me, and purists of the musical can go and take a flying leap. This is a film musical based on a stage musical (or novel, really), not a stage musical itself, and in my view, musicals that sing about 95% of the dialogue are about my least favourite thing on Earth. I can handle cockney accents in a French story, but my tolerance for sung dialogue is very, very low. It tends to take me out of the drama a touch. Sure, with that much singing, it becomes a bit less noticeable that there’s so much singing, but at the end of the day, I would’ve cut half the singing out and replaced it with dialogue so that there’s some breathing room in between the big numbers in particular. As such, the numbers tend to bleed into one another and most end up being forgettable. Obviously, musical fans (and purists) will be able to swallow it a lot easier than I, but surely we can all agree that any scene involving Russell Crowe attempting (and failing) to sing probably should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. Along with anything else Crowe was doing in the film.

 

Look, I went into this expecting to turn it off after ten minutes. I stayed for the entire journey, and that right there is a testament to the power of the original story, more than anything. It’s a sad, depressing, and yes miserable tale, but an interesting and enduring one. As for the film itself? It’s pretty good, no better, no worse. The adaptation is credited to screenwriter William Nicholson (the underrated “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”), but let’s face it, the songs are doing most of the work and they were there before Nicholson came along. I’m not so sure what his input would’ve been. A solid, but lumpy film, that probably would’ve benefited from replacing one of the principal cast, and cutting out at least half of the singing.

 

Rating: B-