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, May 23, 2015

Review: The Oklahoma Kid


Set in 1893, with Jimmy Cagney as the good guy title character, who is actually not really a good guy, but a bad guy on a redemptive mission. Bad guy Humphrey Bogart and his gang have wronged The Kid (the black sheep of his family) in the past, something only slowly revealed. Donald Crisp plays the local judge, one of the few willing to stand up to Bogart and his men, who are otherwise pretty much running the town. Rosemary Lane turns up as Crisp’s daughter, whilst Ward Bond is one of Bogart’s gang.

 

Although Jimmy Cagney is somewhat goofy casting as the title character and it peters out after about an hour, this 1939 western from director Lloyd Bacon (“42nd Street”, “Larceny Inc.”) isn’t bad and picks up the pace again towards the end. It’d be even better if veteran gangster actors Cagney and Bogey were in more city slicker surrounds. Having said that, Cagney and Bogey (who apparently didn’t much like one another off-screen, either) still make for interesting forces on opposing sides here and the film is fairly watchable.

 

Even if he doesn’t sound remotely close to Oklahoma, Cagney sure does put his own stamp on the western hero. He’s not Jimmy Stewart, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott, or Yul Brynner. He’s his own man. He starts out as somewhat of a pugnacious little shit-stirrer, but after a while you realise this guy has a legit beef. Many actors would fail to make both halves of the character work, but Cagney gets it. The awfully petite Cagney may look like the Milky Bar Kid (or at worst, an extra from “The Terror of Tiny Town”), but his unpredictable nature and slightly unhinged persona offer up something different for this kind of character. Dressed in black, even in 1939 Bogey was looking shockingly thin and a bit sickly. He’s certainly not the most physically intimidating villain of all-time. Dude has no muscles whatsoever, though with Duke regular Ward Bond as your number two, perhaps he can take care of the physical threat factor well enough. What I really liked about Bogey in this one is that he’s the kind of bad guy who doesn’t have to shout or get all demonstratively moustache-twirlingly evil to intimidate. He’s almost relaxed. This guy’s entirely in control. It’s called power, I believe, and the scene in which he effortlessly whips a mob into frenzy almost makes the lynch mob in “The Ox-Bow Incident” look like total non-conformists. Scary stuff. Long-serving Scottish-born character actor Donald Crisp gives us an early essay of the genteel Englishman who somehow always seemed to turn up out west in these sorts of things. He’s like the template for this kind of character, rock-solid work from Crisp. However, for all the talking leading lady Rosemary Lane does from behind her teeth, you’d swear she was in a toothpaste commercial. Hers is a goofy and wooden performance that unfortunately distracts.

 

Oh, if only this were set in 30s Chicago instead…it’d be a winner. As is, it’s an interesting curio with several familiar actors keeping one awake for the duration. It’s a diverting B-movie made before Bogey had really hit his stride, and hell Cagney hadn’t even made “White Heat” yet. Not remotely convincing as a western, but the climactic knockdown, drag out barroom brawl between Bogey and Cagney sure is a doozy. Miscast or not, Noo Yawkers Bogey and Cagney are hard to keep your eyes off in this one. Exciting Max Steiner (“King Kong”, “Johnny Belinda”, “The Caine Mutiny”) score, too. The screenplay is by Warren Duff (“Angels With Dirty Faces”), Robert Buckner (“Jezebel”, “Dodge City”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”), and Edward E. Paramore (“Three Godfathers”, “Three Comrades”), from a story by the latter and Wally Klein (“They Died With Their Boots On”).

 

Rating: C+

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: Darling


Julie Christie stars as a dissatisfied model in an unhappy marriage, who embarks on an affair with TV journo Dirk Bogarde. However, that doesn’t stop her from also bonking her supposedly charming (bastard) professional acquaintance (a well-cast Laurence Harvey), upsetting Bogarde. And when the relationship with Harvey doesn’t satisfy her either, she leaves him for an Italian prince. Does she ever stop and think maybe it’s her and not them? No, of course not, darling. Zakes Mokae can be briefly scene at the most bizarre and abstract party in cinematic history, whilst James Cossins makes his film debut in a small part.

 

Some films are timeless and are as effective now as they ever were. Other films have dated, but can still be appreciated for the time in which they were made. And then there are films like this 1965 British flick from director John Schlesinger (“Midnight Cowboy”, “Marathon Man”, “Pacific Heights”) and screenwriter Frederic Raphael (“Daisy Miller”, “Two for the Road”), where you wonder just what the fuck everyone at the time was seeing in it. Julie Christie won an Oscar for her effort in this, and I suppose I can see why (I can’t see why Raphael’s screenplay also won, though). I mean, I certainly wouldn’t have given the gong to Julie Freaking Andrews in “The Sound of Music”, that’s for damn sure, though I begrudgingly give “The Sound of Music” credit for being a better film than this one, even if it isn’t my kind of film. I found Christie far too giggly for someone carrying on an affair especially since it flies in the face of the regret and understanding she seems to show in her narration. However, it’s not Christie’s fault that the film sucks and really isn’t about anything. OK, so I think the film might be about Christie eventually finding the person she wants to be with, but since she cheats on everyone leading up to that, and acts so horribly and totally unlikeable, why should I give a rat’s arse who she ends up with? And if, as some seem to suggest, the film is satirising all these unlikeable characters, why would that make me want to see how things turn out for Christie, either? I mean, if these were interesting characters it wouldn’t matter that they were unlikeable. No, they’re insufferably dull for the most part, and unlikeable.

 

I get the feeling that when Dirk Bogarde calls Christie a whore, we’re meant to disagree with him. I disagree with anyone who doesn’t take money for sex being labelled a whore, and don’t much like the word used in any other context, either to be honest. But I’m still firmly on Bogarde’s side here. Whore or not, Christie’s character is truly unpleasant, unlikeable, and horribly selfish. She even shoplifts at one point, and being a snobby model she’s hardly starving or penniless. Nope, she steals…because. This is also a woman who has an abortion simply because she can’t be stuffed. I’m pro-choice, but that’s simply not a good enough reason (Though I’ll be the first to tell you it’s up to the woman to decide). She also refers to some ‘gorgeous negroes’ (this woman never shuts up about her apparently fascinating opinions) and says to Bogarde that she’s not the jealous type but complains about his wife, and yet thinks that leaving the wife and marrying her would make them both dreadfully unhappy. Ugh. This is our lead protagonist? I did not want this woman to find happiness, insofar as I even cared about any of this.

 

The screenplay is also strangely choppy. It’s not exactly episodic or incoherent, just annoyingly disjointed at times. The one scene that is genuinely incoherent is the party scene involving Christie, Laurence Harvey, and a young Zakes Mokae. I have absolutely no idea what was going on in this scene. What was that? Why were they doing whatever they were doing? Why would I want to watch some snooty people at a party doing something I don’t understand, which no one really explains?

 

Aside from a solid performance by Dirk Bogarde and an OK jazzy score by John Dankworth (“Accident”, “10 Rillington Place”), the best and frankly only other positive aspect to this film is the B&W cinematography by Kenneth Higgins (“Georgy Girl”, “Hot Millions”, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, “Julius Caesar”), and I even have an issue with that. The film looks lovely, but being that this is very much a swinging 60s film, why the hell is it in B&W? I enjoy B&W films just as much as colour films (possibly even more, actually), but in my view, depictions of the swinging 60s in London should always be in colour. Always. Yes, even “A Hard Day’s Night” should’ve been in colour. It just doesn’t look right, otherwise. I mean, this is hardly “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” or “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is it?

 

Boring and unlikeable material and a disastrously detestable lead character in a once fashionable film that now seems like endless, pretentious nothing (Though I’m sure someone out there will like it, just not me). The two leads are well-matched, but I loathed this film and I don’t think it holds up well at all after almost 50 years have passed.

 

Rating: D

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: Alice in Wonderland


The story of young Alice (voiced by Kathryn Beaumont), who follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and ends up in Wonderland, a most curious place indeed.

 

Although I prefer “Pinocchio”, “Peter Pan”, “Robin Hood”, and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, this 1951 Disney animated version of the infamous and enduring Lewis Carroll classic is highly enjoyable stuff. This is what Disney animation does best, not crap like “Fantasia” or “Treasure Planet”. Classic stories well told. I liked the Tim Burton version from 2010, but if you’re gonna skip the book and watch the film (Don’t, though! Reading is important), make it this one.

 

This version hits all the main beats of the story, and all of the scenes with an oversized Alice are particularly fun, and probably a challenge at the time from an animation standpoint. I actually think the story works better than the animation here, though the latter is fine. It’s a very pretty and colourful film. It’s a cracker of a story to begin with, and although being Disney means it’s probably a tad less weird than other versions, the story hasn’t been ruined or anything, at least not the important bits (Carroll purists will complain that the film is a hodgepodge of the two Alice stories, instead of just the first one, though).

 

It’s a shame about the awful singing (Kathryn Beaumont in particular can’t hold a tune at all, though otherwise terrific), but even that fails to get in the way of the family fun here. In fact, poor singing or not, the tunes themselves are actually infectious…possibly ear-worm like. There’s lots of wonderful characters here, even down to the cute talking flowers. What can I say, I love pansies OK? What? What did I say? The caterpillar voiced by Richard Haydn is possibly the trippiest thing in the film, and quite memorable. Weird as hell, but memorable. I swear this story is about drugs, man…opiates specifically. It has to be. The Mad Hatter’s tea party is quite possibly the most insane thing in a very insane story. I mean, this is a story where we get a bird with a body made out of a birdcage that houses another bird. Mind blown. Far and away the most memorable characters are the White Rabbit (voiced by the inimitable Bill Thompson), The Mad Hatter (voiced by an insane Ed Wynn, a million miles from “The Diary of Anne Frank”) and particularly The Cheshire Cat (voiced by none other than Winnie the Pooh, Sterling Holloway), who easily runs off with the whole film. When I think of the Cheshire Cat, it’s this version of the character I think of, and boy is he tripping on drugs, man. Also unforgettable for me are the army of playing cards. I just love that idea, wonderfully realised on-screen here.

 

Yes, it works better for kids than adults, but that’s the way it was once upon a time. When Disney tried to appeal to adults, we got “Fantasia”, and “Fantasia” sucks. The film was directed by Clyde Geronimi (“Peter Pan”, “Cinderella”, “Lady and the Tramp”), Wilfred Jackson (“Fantasia”, “Peter Pan”), and Hamilton Luske (“Pinocchio”, “Fantasia”, “Peter Pan”). It was scripted by a slew of writers; Winston Hibler (“Cinderella”, “Peter Pan”), Ted Sears (“Cinderella”), Bill Peet (“Fantasia”, “Cinderella”, “Peter Pan”), Erdman Penner (“Fantasia”, “Pinocchio”, “Cinderella”, “Lady and the Tramp”), Joe Rinaldi (“Peter Pan”, “Cinderella”), Milt Banta (“Peter Pan”), William Cottrell (“Pinocchio”), Dick Kelsey (Art Designer on “Dumbo” and “Pinocchio”), Joe Grant (“Dumbo”), Dick Huemer (“Dumbo”), Del Connell (“The Three Caballeros”), Tom Oreb (“Make Mine Music”), and John Walbridge (“Make Mine Music”).

 

Rating: B

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: Control


The last years in the life of Ian Curtis (Sam Riley), lead singer of British band Joy Division. Curtis’ life in Manchester was an unhappy and painful one dealing with not only epilepsy, but the numerous drugs he was prescribed to combat it. He also married young to Debbie (Samantha Morton), has a baby with her, and carries on an affair with a Belgian rock journo (played by Alexandra Maria Lara). Unfortunately, Curtis’ internal struggles would prove to be the end of his short life just as Joy Division were really making a name for themselves. Craig Parkinson turns up as the infamous Tony Wilson, former broadcaster and Factory Records entrepreneur, who famously signed contracts in blood (Leading to one of the film’s few moments of levity where Wilson unfortunately makes a spelling mistake).

 

Joy Division and their troubled front man Ian Curtis figured into Michael Winterbottom’s irreverent “24 Hour Party People”, but Curtis takes centre stage here in this 2007 biopic from debut feature film director Anton Corbijn (a former rock photographer who actually took photos of Curtis) and screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh (“Nowhere Boy”), working from the book by Deborah Curtis herself. It’s obviously a deeper portrayal with Sam Riley very effective in the lead, with absolutely no disrespect meant to Winterbottom and the memorable performance Sean Harris gave in “24 Hour Party People”. Corbijn and Riley simply have more to work with here, the film is more of a complete picture. Both films are solid, one is entertaining, and this is the other one, but that doesn’t mean the film has no merit. Riley (who looks more like Curtis than Harris did) certainly gets Curtis’ physicality on stage down pat. Just look at the scene where he’s singing ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Aside from being shot in B&W, it looks identical. Uncanny. But he gets inside the guy’s skin as much as is likely humanly possible. I never really felt like I was watching an actor, always a good sign.

 

Like the other film, you get the sense that this guy just wanted to end it. He didn’t want to do his life anymore. Obviously, this is the more substantive depiction of this, but “24 Hour Party People” was about Tony Wilson, not Joy Division or Ian Curtis. Curtis in a way reminds me of Kurt Cobain, though I think the latter had more talent IMHO. Both guys have everything of themselves to music, but their lives were painful and neither guy seemed to have a clue what to do with success or fame.

 

The other thing to talk about here is the film’s look. Shot in B&W by cinematographer Martin Ruhe, it’s the perfect look for this rather dour, glum story. This wasn’t shot in B&W just to be pretentious, arty, or contrary, it actually adds to the mood of the film. It’s a drab, grey, and harsh film in the best way possible, and colour just wouldn’t look right here, if you ask me. I don’t think there were many colours making an appearance in Curtis’ life (A life that ended, by the way, exactly one month after I was born. 1980 was a bad year for musicians, but surely my birth made up for that, right? Right?). B&W also really, really agrees with star Alexandra Maria Lara, who looks absolutely edible here as a Belgian interviewer. I want one! (Unfortunately, Mr. Riley beat me to it. Lucky bastard!)

 

A well-made, rather straight-forward piece of storytelling that isn’t very entertaining. Whether that matters or not, I’ll leave up to you, I certainly won’t dock it any points for being miserable. It certainly feels authentic, realistic, and convinced me. I think Joy Division fans will get the most out of it, but I really have no complaints here at all.

 

Rating: B-

Review: Lilo & Stitch


Set in Hawaii, Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) is a frankly weird little girl whose mischievous behaviour is causing child services to send a hulking social worker (voiced by Ving Rhames!) around on Lilo’s guardian, her older sister Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere, overworking her already Hawaiian accent). Then one day Lilo adopts what she thinks is an unusual dog from the local pound (even though it quite clearly looks like a differently coloured koala). Calling it Stitch, it turns out to be an alien, and Stitch’s comrades come to Earth looking for it. In the meantime, Stitch is a chaotic little shit who causes all manner of problems for Lilo, who in turn causes problems for her genuinely loving and hard-working sister.

 

Gee, aren’t kids movies fun, folks? One of the lowest of the lows in Disney animated features, this ugly, unlikeable film from 2002 is directed/scripted by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (who later teamed up for DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon”), the latter of whom irritatingly voices the character of Stitch. It’s not quite as bad as “Fantasia”, but it’s probably below the eye-rolling and patronising “Pocahontas”. The animation here is appalling, we’re talking “Ren & Stimpy” levels of crudity and artlessness. Instead of looking like a Disney film, it looks like a morning cartoon show from post-1997. That’s not a compliment. Most of those shows are terrible. More importantly, for a film that was made after “Tarzan”, it looks incredibly flat and drab. The colours are nice, but the backgrounds look cheap, and remind you of Disney films of the pre-“Little Mermaid” era, once again not a compliment, much as I love a lot of those films. There’s just no life to the backgrounds, they look like matte drawings or water-colour paintings. The character design however, is just as bad. Stitch and the other aliens are charmless, ugly, and uninteresting to look at. If you remember the alien blob from the pissweak “Treasure Planet” (from the same year, not Disney’s best year), that’s how charmless Stitch and co are. He (She?) also speaks in squeaks and farts reminiscent of the title character in Disney’s live-action/animation combo “Pete’s Dragon”. Lilo and the other female Polynesian characters are bizarrely designed to have big, slanted eyes (That’s a description, not a derogatory term in this case) and big fat noses, so that they look more like dugongs with legs, or at best, inbred humans. In regards to Lilo’s sister, those legs are so distinctively masculine that they look like they don’t belong to the rest of her body. The animators have obviously tried for something different and unique, and they’ve come up with something different and unique from what they were actually likely trying to achieve. Seriously, it looks like the lower half of Lilo’s sister’s body has been replaced by a ‘roided-up male bodybuilder.

 

But it’s not just the visual design of the Lilo and Stitch characters I didn’t take to, the characters themselves are thoroughly repellent. Lilo is meant to be adorable, but she’s loud, obnoxious, pudgy, thoughtless, weird, and bratty. Even if one were to excuse some of this as typically childlike, she’s a total brat and completely unlikeable. I know not everyone believes that animated films necessarily need to cater for adults, but this one offers up absolutely nothing for anyone over the age of 10. I can’t even begin to tell you how bad the finale of this film is, except that the character voiced by Ving Rhames (sigh) has apparently worked for the CIA before turning to child welfare. The fuck? He was also highly suspicious of Lilo’s sister’s parenting skills the whole film but apparently doesn’t mind the kid keeping an alien for a pet. WHAT?

 

This is beneath Disney, a terrible and brainless film that is somehow quite popular. You people are sick. It’s like a modern day Saturday morning cartoon of the ugly “SpongeBob” variety stretched to feature length, and featuring characters with no redeeming or interesting qualities whatsoever. I hated this film, in case you were wondering, “ET” it most certainly is not.

 

Rating: D

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Review: Knights of Badassdom


Wannabe ‘doom metal’ god Ryan Kwanten is struggling with a bad relationship breakup. His stoner pals Peter Dinklage (!) and Steve Zahn get him high, and before he knows it he is joining them in a LARP event (‘The Battle of Evermore’, of course). He’s never engaged in the activity before, but as a former top D&D player, his friends assure him he’ll be fine. Unfortunately, even the best of players will find it hard to survive when Zahn reads from a strange old spell book and inadvertently conjures up a Succubus-like demon that runs havoc amongst the gaming grounds. Summer Glau plays a ‘badass’ female LARP enthusiast, Jimmi Simpson plays Sheldon Cooper…I mean he plays the uber-serious games master who refuses to break character (i.e. Refuses to stop talking in fake old-timey speak), and W. Earl Brown plays an a-hole paintball redneck who tries to spoil their fun.

 

A 2013 horror-comedy about LARPing (Live-Action Role Playing) and heavy metal music that unfortunately seems to look down upon those who engage in the former, and is extremely inauthentic in representing the latter. It also hasn’t got a single laugh in the whole damn thing.

 

I’m especially surprised and disappointed that Peter Dinklage and Summer Glau would associate themselves with such derisive material, given they are both well-known figures in the sci-fi/fantasy/Comic-Con community. Hell, even Aussie Ryan Kwanten would fall into the same category for his work on “True Blood”, I guess. However,  I’ll lay a lot of my scorn at the feet of director Joe Lynch (“Wrong Turn 2: Dead End”) and his screenwriters Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall, for creating such a feeble, lousy excuse for a film, which never seems to have as much affection for its characters as other films/TV shows about geeks like “The Big Bang Theory” (where the characters are stereotypes, but acquire depth throughout the series of course), “Revenge of the Nerds”, “Free Enterprise”, “Fanboys” etc. It’s that lack of sincerity that really offended me, and I’ve never even met anyone who engages in LARP, let alone engaged in it myself. Sure, the fake-arse English accents are accurate to LARP enthusiasts, but that gets insanely annoying after 10 minutes, and it all gets taken too far so as to make these characters look like tools, which I doubt is true to life (Jimmi Simpson’s character is especially guilty). How are we meant to care about these characters’ safety if they’re being sent up and made to look foolish and sad?

 

Meanwhile, I am a heavy metal fan, and I can honestly tell you that the only legit metal credentials this film has is in naming two of its characters King Kerry and King Diamond. It’s the one funny joke, and it’s in the end credits. There are references to ‘doom metal’, which I must confess I’ve never heard of (apparently it’s real, but it sounds like a made up term for generic guttural-vocals/crunching guitar Death Metal to me), but I can almost guarantee that the score/soundtrack by someone unfortunately named Bear McCreary is about as convincingly metal as Bon Freakin’ Jovi. The filmmakers miss a golden opportunity for some classic Ronnie James Dio, the late, great man used to sing about demons and kings, and wizards and dragons all the bloody time. What gives?

 

Steve Zahn is well-cast (and the only likeable presence in the film), but it’s particularly depressing to see the talented Peter Dinklage play a LARPing stoner idiot. Even more depressing? He’s the Executive Producer of this insulting piece of crap. Why didn’t he demand at least one amusing line of dialogue for himself? It’s a particularly bad idea to cast sci-fi TV actress Summer Glau in something like this. We all know she’s too cool to hang out with LARP fans, I mean she wouldn’t even have a bar of the “Big Bang Theory” guys when they tried to chat her up on the train. Here she looks like she’s being held at gunpoint to appear in this film. Mr. Kwanten looks bored out of his mind, too and is fatally miscast as a heavy metal fan. He looks ridiculous when trying to ‘rock out’ (Which he shouldn’t be doing anyway, because heavy metal fans don’t ‘rock out’. I’m not sure any self-respecting person does, to be honest. Punk-pop twits maybe).

 

Even if you don’t agree with me that the filmmakers are looking down on the characters (then why is most of the source of humour directed at them instead of with them?), it still looks and plays like a bad softcore flick from Seduction Cinema minus the sex…and any point in watching it. Apparently director Lynch has disowned the film, after the film got the “Magnificent Ambersons” treatment. And that’s the only time I’m gonna bring up you and Orson Welles in the same sentence, Mr. Lynch. Take it as a compliment. I can’t believe so many familiar faces (including veteran character actor W. Earl Brown) got roped into appearing in this shit. Definitely one of the worst films of 2013, I had a real lousy time with this one. Definitely not recommended to LARP enthusiasts…or anyone with a working brain. Maybe it works better if you’re drunk, I wouldn’t know, but I loathed this.

 

Rating: D

Review: Silent Hill


Radha Mitchell’s daughter Jodelle Ferland is sleepwalking and keep mentioning the title town in her sleep. Her husband (Sean Bean) isn’t keen on the idea, but Mitchell decides to take her daughter to the town, which appears to be something of a ghost town. Shrouded in fog and with a distinct burning smell in the air, apparently the town experienced some trouble back in the 70s involving a mining fire, and it hasn’t recovered since. They find themselves pursued by a butch motorcycle cop (Laurie Holden) and after nearly hitting a young pedestrian (resulting in a minor accident), Mitchell somehow loses Ferland. And so her search for her daughter begins, as she also learns more about the town and its troubled backstory. Meanwhile, husband Bean is on his way to the town, but having trouble getting in. Kim Coates plays a cop, whilst Alice Krige plays a local cult leader.

 

Probably one of the better adaptations of a computer game, this 2006 film from director Christophe Gans (the highly underrated “The Brotherhood of the Wolf”, and the also underrated manga adaptation “Crying Freeman”) and screenwriter Roger Avary (“Beowulf”, the story for “Pulp Fiction”) is an effectively and oppressively doom-laden film. Director of Photography Dan Laustsen (“Brotherhood of the Wolf”, “Solomon Kane”) really does capture some beautiful imagery in this, great shot composition in particular. The use of fog is especially expert and the film looks more like a painting come to life than a computer game. The visuals/backgrounds really are a character unto themselves. I hear the film is pretty faithful to the game, especially the first act of the film, and I believe it (I haven’t played the game, but the burning children looked like they just had to be holdovers from the game. They just gave me that vibe).

 

It’s just a shame that the story really doesn’t grab you the way you’d like it to, and the FX are somewhat uneven too. The big explanation behind everything has been done before, and although it doesn’t indulge in the cliché as much as say “Doom” or “Resident Evil” (the latter of which wasn’t bad), the film does indeed go into ‘long, dark corridor search’ mode a bit too often for my liking. That’s one of the problems with computer game adaptations (at least this type), and even the better ones like this and “Resident Evil” can’t help going there. It’s fine when you’re playing the game, but watching someone else search long, dark corridors is like watching someone play a computer game. Limited appeal. I also have to say that Sean Bean’s character is very clichéd, and there’s not much he can do with it. In fact, I’d argue that his scenes are unnecessary and maybe even detrimental to the film. They certainly slow things down a bit (Apparently his character was only added because someone told the director that the film needed a male character. Says everything, really). Laurie Holden’s typically wooden and unlikeable performance is also an issue. Linda Hamilton she ain’t, try as she might. However, Radha Mitchell is rock-solid in the lead and the film really does look amazing at times.

 

On the production design side of things, it’s so well-done that you wish the story could match it. I also enjoyed seeing Alice Krige here, doing her skin-crawlingly evil thing. She’s probably a lovely woman in real life but she’s been giving me the willies since “Sleepwalkers”, and her final scene here is the damndest thing you’ll ever see. It’s kinda awesome, actually.

 

Ultimately a great look and solid lead performance can’t quite make a film work when the narrative is so familiar and one-note. It nearly works, but nearly isn’t quite good enough. Still, you’ve seen a lot worse computer game adaptations out there, that’s for sure.

 

Rating: C+