Maybe if I liked Ring 2 better I'd have been more willing to forgive this one. It feels like the series is just repeating itself...as if the script said "so what I've been trying to tell you is...blah blah blah". SOME SPOILER-TYPE ITEMS FOLLOW!
Part of the reason why the whole Sadako mystery was effective is that we had to imagine the events that lead up to her fate. This film tries to paint a complex picture behind those events and for that it succeeds on some level. By the time the movie ends, I have learned nothing really, except maybe that nobody could blame people for eventually wanting to kill her. Her fault or not, running around killing will eventually make more people want you arrested - or in the case of an out of control psychic, dead. We are supposed to feel these events lead to a tragedy that Sadako wasn't really in control of - it being her rage that is behind the violence she deals out (as witnessed in Ring 2). To be honest, I did not feel too sympathetic...well, I did - to a point. In the same way that I feel many people in prison for murder could have avoided that fate if they were only treated right, Sadako deserves the same. She doesn't deserve death as much as the next person. Of course, does this tell us anything about how we should feel concerning her 'out of control rage' dishing out vengeance from the bottom of a well for years to come? Maybe...or not.
None of this says that Ring 0: Birthday is a terrible film. I just think that far too much was asked of this viewer to have a film degenerate into a hybrid of Carrie and Frankenstein while giving very little to the story. Everything important was learned from the previous two films...even if (or especially if) they were only sketched out or hinted at those times. 5 out of 10.
I have viewed all versions of Ring and it seems my very unpopular opinion is that this version is the best choice. Why? The story unfold at a much better pace and relies less on 'mysterious insight' and the random exposition that sometimes clutters the Japanese 'psychic horror/mystery' films...you know the kind of scenes: two characters walk up to a piece of string and one looks at it and starts telling the other (and the viewer) the events leading up to the string's appearance. And no, I don't dislike that style completely, it does save a lot of time (and money for the crew) and advances the story rather quickly...it's just that I found slower building story of the Korean version to be far more interesting - and as far as my investigations have found, truer to the novel these films are based on. A good example is the omission of the distorted photographs (which are in both the US and Japanese versions) - I am told that was not in the book.
The scary, more straight horror aspect of the Japanese (and even more so with the gore injected U.S. version) have been toned down to an almost non-existent state...one of the reasons why most people probably don't like this version. The video itself is a definite improvement. The fact that it doesn't 'cut off' abruptly but rather, taped over before the solution could be given - that is brilliant! Especially in light of current urban legend interest.
Simple version: See Ring Virus if you want a more detailed, story-driven version (some say 'boring') - more of a creepy drama. The Japanese version if you want a mysterious psychic-powered ghost film. The US version if you want a hyperactive, steroid injected retelling of the Japanese version, in English.
In the end, it just depends which method you like best.
amazing film...and one solution (SPOILER! BE WARNED!!)
This film is one of Lynch's best...maybe his very best, though only time will tell if I like it better than Lost Highway. Most people know that this was made from a television pilot and that makes it more impressive to me. It is definitely not a film for everyone.
There are possibly any amount of solutions to a David Lynch movie, he brings a to his films a painter's power, where everyone can lend themselves to his films and pull from them something that makes complete sense...though maybe not the same sense that another has experienced.
I look at Mulholland Drive in two sections, told out of order. The second section tells the reality of the story: A woman (Diane)comes to Hollywood to be a star and is beaten out of a part by a sexually manipulative woman named Camilla. After being discarded by Camilla at a party, where she appears to be in the process of sleeping her way even further to the top, Diane hires a hitman to have her killed. Driven mad with guilt she ends her life with a gunshot.
Section one is her dying dream (possibly dreamt just before her own death, or during), where everything is trying to go right, until she is forced to start making connections, leading to full realization, and vanishing into death. It is interesting to see her reaction to various events in this section when we are aware of what occurs in the final parts. Like when Camilla is cast in the movie (the same movie we find out she was beaten for in "real life")...that nervous look and panic seems to say "this is not how it is supposed to go" - the whole time the director is focused more on Diane than Camilla. These little recognitions of what really happened reminds me of the film Jacob's Ladder, though they work much better here in Lynch's world.
As in many Lynch films the "circle is closed" - here by the old couple. Who or what they represent is unknown to me but they are in the film at both ends...they appear with her during the jitterbug opening, they usher her into the first section smiling, and usher her out of the second section far less cheerful.
This probably (most likely) isn't the only explanation of Mulholland Drive but it is one that works and makes for utterly fascinating viewing! (10 out of 10 - hard to imagine it done better)
First up, the story is better - some folks are saying there was no story but this one has 200% more story than the cliche that is the first movie's 'plot', that one and this one are really about Snipes fighting vampires, not an in-depth character study. Great plot twists included - there are some moments early on where I was thinking how stupid for Blade to be told and shown so much but later you find out why...now, I wouldn't have told him so much if I was one of those vamps but hey, they wanted his trust right? So, it may have been a bit stupid but it IS possible. Also, not having to set the character up, we get right to business and that equals 40% less exposition.
Action is far better. It wasn't bad in the first one but his foes were not too skilled and the fights were not long enough...as a result, the original Blade film couldn't top the opening fight (one of it's few flaws). but here the fights start high, dip to a steady level and escalate to a smashing finale! Lots of things I am hearing about the fights are that they are too similar to Matrix scenes...this makes complete sense seeing as Donnie Yen, who plays Snowman in Blade 2, was the fight choreographer on this movie (the film's credits say he was assisted by Michael Woods, who was in a bunch of Donnie Yen's Hong Kong films). He learned all about fight choreography from Yuen Wo-ping who did the Matrix fights and he (Yen) also did the fights in some of those Yuen Wo-ping Hong Kong films. So now you know WHY they look so similar...they are not copies of the Matrix, more like brothers to that film's fights.
My ONLY complaint abot Blade 2 is that Donnie should have been used in the movie more than he was...yeah, they also could have dumped some of those special effects fight bits but they really didnt do it too much for the hand to hand stuff, more for the leaps...so, it doesnt get in the way all that much (even if it does look weird).
I'm looking forward to seeing this one again (and still again!) and would tell anyone/everyone to run out and see it. For what is tries to be and how well it succeeds: 10 out of 10!
Brisco County Jr...ah, we some great times, didn't we? This show is on my "top 10" shows of all time list...it had a great hero, who would shoot a tree branch, causing it to fall onto someone's head, rather than shoot the villain - violence was not really his bag. He would ALWAYS try helping his foe if they were falling off a cliff or other high place...even though he knew (as did we) that it was some kind of trick. Can you imagine that during the year that Brisco County did it's TV run, it was called "the most violent show on television" by one of those groups that have nothing better to do but protect the world from entertainment? For the record, the show that was viewed for 'most violent' status involved a boxing match and every punch was called "an act of violence"! Those crazy kids!
Still airing every so often on cable, I would say find it, watch it! The series was one of many at that time to have a structure of ongoing story with stand alone tales between. I lived in fear that this would get canceled before we found out what happened to Brisco and his goal of serving justice to the outlaws that killed his father...BUT...can you believe it? Somehow the story was actually finished! I don't know if it was intended to continue from the point where we were left but as it stands, the story concludes and the final few episodes found Brisco and friends working for the president!
Amazing show with great writing and superb acting (WHY isn't Bruce Campbell a huge star?. One question here: with such great fun to be from this one and a story that concluded...WHY NO DVDs??? I'd buy!