Wednesday, October 28, 2015

movies you may have missed

hello there

does anyone at all know why movies, or for that matter movie, look you see, now comes up as an incorrect or misspelt world? movies has for decades been a commonly accepted term to refer to films of the motion picture variety. who is it in charge of spelling on the internet and what is their issue?

anyway, over the course of the last five or so months we, as in my (considerably) better half and i, have managed to watch precisely two movies of our own choosing. in the case of the most recent we were required to stay up until 1am to do so, but no matter. i figured a review of both might be of some use to someone, so here you go.

what two movies did we watch? these.

these were not two movies widely spoken of as being either "must see" or as being ones that broke box office records. i figured, then, giving them a bit of air here might allow those interested and doing a google to see if they were worthwhile or not.

a quick, spoiler-free review of both? it is decidedly so. Dracula Untold is rather good despite essentially covering the same ground dozens of Dracula films have over the decades, and Child 44 is an as good as it could have been adaptation of a novel, but ultimately proves that the story was best told as a novel in the first instance. and Tom Hardy's Russian accent is nowhere near as annoying or distracting as reported.

and yes, weirdly, we somehow ended up electing to watch two films that feature minor "power house" supporting performances from Charles Dance. who has, let it be said, got totes better as an actor since those halcyon days of Last Action Hero

righty-ho, as i will be giving some information over for those who read the book Child 44 i must insist on you paying attention to this *** POSSIBLE MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING *** what i have put here. and with that, on we go.

it has been a few months since we watched Dracula Untold, so bear with me.

plot? instead of allowing his young son to be drafted into fighting a war on behalf of the Turkish, crown prince Vlad decides to allow his whole country be put at risk of death and destruction off of the Turks instead. as you do, for what is a position of power if not a position to abuse. anyway, sensing the end of days, he heads off to a cave to cut a deal for invincible power with a mystery monster.

is it any good? yes. basically it's yet another go at an "origins" story of Dracula, and that's still not been bettered at being done than when Francis Ford Coppola gave 8 or so minutes to telling it at the start of his version of this. but that doesn't mean it''s bad.

i am, for instance, quite happy to confirm for you that Luke Evans, he of the title role, is hands down the single best ever Welsh Dracula. unless Richard Burton or Tom Jones has played the part at some stage and i somehow missed out on it. actually, i might have a look around and see if either did, as that would be quite smart in either case.

whereas it's not bad, there's obviously not much of a jot of anything new here, and it's not ever mindbogglingly awesome as it retells that which has been told before. it's a kind of a functional film, then - does a job of entertaining without overwhelming, and has the obligatory ending to suggest that it was intended to be the first of a series of films with the same actors and characters. well, those that survived, at the least.

as you can see, it's got a 15 certificate. despite horror origins and moments, by no means would i call this a horror film - a few jumps and frights, sure, but mostly it's all action. and then you've got the problem that if you want a vampire film that's action not horror, we live in a world where the movie Blade exists. except Wesley Snipes is not Welsh, i suppose.

i picked up Dracula Untold as part of a 2 for £10 deal at HMV. meaning i spent £5, or if you like a fiver, on it. i would say that's on the button. if the movie comes your way cheap, or free via TV or whatever, then it's not a waste of your time.

there were high hopes for the movie adaptation of Child 44 to do well and be brilliant, but it was a box office disaster by all accounts; buried for the most part by reviews that concentrated almost exclusively on Tom Hardy's somewhat heavy but not all that bad Russian accent. this is something of a shame, for whilst it is no overlooked masterpiece that should have won lots of awards, it's certainly not that bad.

plot? a hero of the Soviet army (Hardy) from World War II becomes a prominent figure in what i think is supposed to be the police arm of the KGB. a sequence of events, however, sees him become demoted and an outcast. then he stumbles on connections between the murders of children across the Soviet Union; murders the authorities say do not exist because there is no murder in a Communist heaven. with the help of a senior officer (Oldman) he risks his life to investigate, and in so doing discovered that virtually nothing of his life is how he believed it to be. and if that sounds in any way, shape or form like the 90's Stephen Rea film Citizen X, that would be a yes, it does, just as the novel felt like it "owed" a fair bit to that movie. and, indeed, the real life disturbing events which inspired that particular film.

there's a lot more to it than that. an awful lot more in the book, but this is the film. so the question would be does the film work for you if you've not read the novel? according to my (considerably) better half, the answer to that is "kind of". she says there were parts that didn't make sense initially, and you had to wait for a few moments into scenes to clock what was going on, only then being able to make sense of something which happened minutes before - kind of distracting you from the current action. as i watched it there were times when i felt like i was watching "selected dramatisation" of parts of the novel, made exclusively for the benefit of those who had read it.

as for the lead cast, Noomi Rapace is perfect for the part. i can't decide whether or not Tom Hardy is a sublime genius actor or just a ham-fisted hack, for he seems to be both at once. Gary Oldman in yet another "bit part for the money" role is better than he has been for a while - i really think he should have been in the lead role, but he seems not to want to do lead acting anymore.

for those who have read the novel and are interested, here come the major differences between book and film. i am going to try and change the colour to black to hide away serious spoilers, so you will need to drag your mouse over to read.

* Leo Demidov's origins have changed. he is an orphan. yes, that has radical bearing on the family relations from the novel, in particular at the conclusion. 

* the chase and arrest of Brodsky is simpler and more action orientated 

* i seem to remember a scene with Raisa, Vasili and a knife. if i remember right, well, no matter, it has gone. 

* Raisa's big reveal of the truth is poorly done

* the epic, brilliant train carriage escape from the book is made a lot simpler and faster

other than that, in a condensed way it pretty much covers the important elements of the novel. it just doesn't present them as well as was the case in book form.

would i suggest or recommend that you seek out Child 44? it's north of two hours of not easy watching, but it's not a waste of that time. if nothing else it's a reminder for those of us who remember when he cared in the 80s and 90s that Gaz Oldman can be quite good, still.

so, there you go. two films which i doubt will blow you away or have you saying "that was, like, totes the best thing i have ever seen", but all the same two movies that i doubt anyone would lament giving the time involved to watch them.

if the above has assisted or contributed to you decided to either avoid or have a go at one or both of these movies, nice one.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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