A really bad 'Blender' demo reel, with zero story and zero humour...
What more needs to be said? CGI created with Blender or the like, (but obvious;y with so little facilities available that almost every scene is comprised of cycling short animations, with jump-backs that really jar. (Witness an astronaut - with motionless arms - start at one end of a corridor, glide painfully slowly down the corridor - remaining motionless bar the glide - and suddenly jump back to the start of the corridor again, or DJT conversing with said astronaut and being in 4-5 separate locations whilst doing do! Ahhh!!
At no point do the animators dare to tackle a human face, apart from vague impressions of DJT's clownish boat-race through his visor. He is never seen outside of his space-suit. (Although it is a spookily familiar shade of orange...)
After 15 minutes of the most banal attempts at story and humour, I started skipping a couple of minutes at a time and quickly realised I was doing myself a favour, as I witnessed aliens, wheelchair bound Lucifer, werewolves, Alastair Crowley, Van Helsing, Dr. Jeckyll, Ra, Anubis and Joseph freaking Stalin!
If I had forced myself to watch it all, I think I might have stabbed myself in the eye with shards of my melted laptop. One star for the attempt and one star for the song over the closing credits, 'Another Witch-hunt'. Avoid it. Seriously.
Like many works of art, you'll either get it, or not...
There are many artworkss I have come across I don't understand, or that grate on my eyes and ears, but I could never say 'this is the worst I've ever come across, I want my money or time back.' I just acknowledge I don't understand it and move on. The rhetoric used in many reviews here (and on other titles here) is nothing short of churlish and immature. I hope people with more rational minds can ignore the cancel culture reviews, use better judgement as to whether this film is worth their time or money and give equally fair reviews.
That being said, I've given this a 7 (a 'good' but not 'great' in my personal estimation, your mileage may vary) and recommend this highly to lovers of noir fantasy/science fiction parables, or bleak social commentary framed in a Carrollian/Kafka-esque/David Lynch set-up. Many others, like me, may probably like, enjoy or appreciate it to varying degrees, but shouldn't 'hate' it.
The two leads (Eisenberg and Poots) are quite up to the demands their predicament puts on them, and show a varied range of emotions and states. The supporting child actor, however, gives me the willies! If that wasn't his normal voice I was hearing, his mannerisms, posture and acting were still scarily on-point. (If that was his voice, however, his career should skyrocket.) As a 'family' their dynamic is both an exaggerated mirror of modern unprepared families, as well as a starkly portrayed descent into madness.
Set design and overall production quality was obviously low-budget but very effective nonetheless. It perfectly evokes the subliminal nausea that modern suburbia often instills. You are asked to pay more attention to the tasteless food, the cookie cutter clouds and the pictures on the walls to better understand the complete lack of emotion or creativity of the antagonists, how completely different a species they are.
The script is the only thing I knock a point off for. While it didn't do anything 'wrong', per se, I can agree with some reviewers that maybe, just maybe, some kind of clarification, exposition or slightly less bleak ending would make it more palatable to a much wider audience, but then we would be as remiss as if we asked Picasso to paint the whole face, or Jackson Pollock to join some of the dots up and give us a clue... Sadly, therefore, the point lost is for my own (and others) lack of vision or understanding, not the Writer/Director's ability.
Most of the English 'voices' were dubbed by Native speakers in post but, for an actor experienced in ADR/dubbing booths, lip-syncing to the Russian actors shouldn't have been too hard.
No, the trouble arises with the very words the Russians and their English colleagues were uttering; I get the distinct feeling that a great screenplay had been written but, with the decision to film a Russian movie in English, someone ran the script through Google Translate or a cheap Russian translator. (Not an English one, as they would surely have spotted 'the problem'.)
And the problem, when you get right down to it, is that NO ONE SPEAKS ENGLISH THE WAY THESE CHARACTERS DO. It is jarring. Constantly. Because words are being constantly uttered, badly, in every single scene.
That being said (sic), some of the dubbing was actually ever so slightly off and the script and film editing did need a little more care and attention, as did some of the fight choreography.
Weirdly though, I still actually enjoyed the movie. The titular character and her father have a nice interplay, the grown Abigail is pleasing to the eye and I assume is acting quite well, (given the bad script she has to read,) and most of the rest of the cast are decent enough too. (The villain and the absent minded old-man were a little off-putting but i'll put that down, again, to the script.)
The sets, costumes, sound design, lighting and camerawork are excellent and, of course, the CGI is breath-taking. (Something the Russians seem to be able to do for minimal budgets these days, take note Hollywood.)
If there any scenes removed that give a fuller back-story to the world and history outside the walls, these should be put back for the eventual DVD release but, in its present state, i'd say it is not as bad as has been made out elsewhere but does have room for improvement. 6/10
This was not at all good; but nowhere near as bad as has been made out.
I'm a former Christian and now a vocal atheist. I read the reviews for this movie and out of sheer stubborn curiosity I had to see what a disaster Nic Cage had gotten involved in.
Truthfully, I think many other atheists have been a little unfair. Yes, this film wears its 'holier than thou' on it's sleeve, yes the story is pants and yes, definitely among Mr. Cage's worst efforts ever.
The acting is, well, okay. The cinematography and direction is also okay and the music choices, while certainly awful in two places (both Christian songs,) were nowhere near as bad as has been made out and even, occasionally, appropriate for many scenes. (A sinister yet choral piece during the actual rapture and tense, dramatic music for the finale being decent examples.)
Which just leaves the writing. Well, when all is said and done, its based on a book series that was designed to preach to the choir and the film was only ever really going to see mass numbers in the Christian community, so non-Christians, agnostics and Atheists could not help but feel preached to.
That being said, the film opens with an evangelist being quite effectively 'shut-down' by a non-believer right from the start and, apart from dad 'hinting' at mom's new-found craziness and the daughter almost getting preached at by said mom, there's nary a mention of religion until about 3/4 of the way through and, even then, no-one yells 'you have to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour to reach the Kingdom of Heaven!' at any point. Oh, there's one almost guilty pleasure at the sight of a Christian Pastor who was not saved and I couldn't help thinking that, in reality, there's going to be hell of a lot of supposed Christians with eggs on their faces if the Rapture was really going to happen as their 'lip-service' Christianity is rewarded like this guy.
Truthfully, apart from the insulting way that the writers and director insinuate that those who have not been saved by God are almost all morally deficient in one way or another - rioters, armed robbers, bag snatchers, violent angry bystanders, philanderers, Muslims (not my take, theirs), capitalists, conspiracy nuts etc - the story is just a plain old interpretation, with a sprinkling of family drama and action, of 2000 year old Biblical hog-wash. The way it was interpreted, acted, filmed etc was nowhere near great but it was also quite watchable... just.
I watched this film in the vain hope it was an adaptation of a video game whose plot I remembered being quite interesting. (I couldn't remember it at the time but now know it was 2010's 'Singularity.') Sadly, I was disappointed. (On more than one level.)
The plot sees Eric Roberts hiring a team of mercenaries to retrieve a long since discontinued Russian cold-war experiment which is buried in a remote bunker. With a fairly decent premise for the ultimate nature of the experiment, six different story locations, the presence of Game of Thrones' brilliant James Cosmo (Jeor Mormont) and no less than five plot 'twists', reveals and 'turnabouts' you'd be forgiven for thinking the film was, at the very least, good-ish, but you'd be wrong.
The problems begin with the script and the way it's delivered; "Do you mind if I smoke in your house" says a merc to his boss while he's already sat smoking. (Not funny, not necessary, not delivered well and does nothing for the scene.) Or some tasteless racist comments from one character that are also not funny or necessary. (His opponent was going to kill him anyway, he didn't need a contrived reason.) There are so many places where the lines, or their delivery, just fall flat or detract from the pace or tension.
On that note, it is sad to see the formerly brilliant Eric Roberts totally phoning his lines in. (When an actor has over FORTY films due for release in 2016 alone, that's not a good thing and it really shows.)
Next, there are the asinine plot decisions, such as a merc in desperate need of lots of artillery who finds a room full of AK47s and takes one. Just one. And no extra ammo; or the totally inexplicable appearance of the boss, near the end of the film, who really should have just gone there with the mercenaries. And the mercenaries? This crack team seem to know nothing about each other or their true motives and I couldn't imagine them working together by the end of the film.
Then there are the effects. Apparently, 1960's Russia were using 1990's white computer monitors for their excellent quality closed circuit cameras. I can forgive using the same couple of tunnels from dozens of angles, with different lighting each time, to simulate the effect of a maze-like bunker but adding some changing corridor furniture or wall decals would have made it more believable and less boring. As to the cheap and ludicrously obvious chroma key for cavernous rooms and absolutely dire and badly scaled CGI/image cloning for the battalion is totally unforgivable in this day and age, when better end results can be seen on you tube with free software.
Ultimately, this film is not so bad that it isn't watchable, (it's even occasionally enjoyable (especially the very well choreographed hand-to-hand fight sequence) but the let-downs outnumber the tolerable parts a little too much for my liking. It's curious to note that, despite my going into this thinking it might be based on a well-loved game, it turned out not to be, but it looked suspiciously like a film from the king of god-awful video game to movie conversions, Uwe Boll. That should say it all, really.
Where to begin? Firstly,a quick nod to all the forum flamers and negative reviewers here: Yes, this is a VERY shaky film and could induce motion sickness in some, but that is not a reason to mark a film down. If the motion detracted from the storytelling, I could understand but, in my humble opinion, the camera in this film comes off as a character in it's own right. At least, unlike a certain other film, the camera's picture quality is utterly perfect for most of the film and, also unlike that other film, you get to see a fair bit of this film's 'witch'...
From the moment this retrieved camcorder footage begins, you are fed crumbs that come together neatly later on. Rob films his new sweetheart, Beth. All of a sudden, (as this is a typical linear recording,) it's a month later and Rob's brother has acquired his camcorder and is unwittingly about to record Rob's friend's goodbye messages over these earlier memories of what turns out to be a now soured relationship. These messages are chillingly echoed at the end of the movie, as are the occasional breaks in the current recording, revealing some of the too-short time Rob spent with Beth.
After just enough time to become acquainted with the major characters, Cloverfield appears. And what an appearance. If you want to know what it feels like to be caught in the middle of a surprise terrorist attack, a-la 9/11, I imagine the feelings I experienced by proxy through Hud the camera guy's perspective, and those around him, would not be too far off the mark.
I will say little about the beast, except that you DO see it. Not too often and not too much of it. (What person is going to run with a camcorder toward such a thing, with buildings collapsing around them and soldiers running amok?) But later on, you are rewarded with some honestly brilliant creature effects, or at least you are convinced of such because you think it is being filmed live, with a camcorder... (...all of a sudden, the decision to use this type of camera makes PERFECT sense.)
There isn't too much story from here on in. The need to survive is easily enough to drive you onward, but the aforementioned sour relationship comes to the fore here to add a little bit of humanity to the mix and, conveniently, give our victims a reason to actually get closer to Cloverfield while everyone else is bugging out.
Overall, the acting was appropriately tense, camera-work (don't laugh,) was excellent, and the special effects some of the most 'realistic' I think I have ever seen. There are a couple of oddities, such as the nasty Nokia product placement throughout certain scenes, (BAD idea, so obvious, the damn camcorder moves at one point to position the subject on the far left of the screen and allows the centre/right to be filled with a massive nokia poster on a wall! Another scene has a crowd quieting in the lower half of the screen to allow Rob, in the upper centre, to give a speech, and guess what someone in the crowd holds over the heads of everyone else so they can record his speech? Slap bang in the middle of the cinema screen? A bright pink nokia! Stop it!) There was also the very odd 'Dolby Digital' moment that I won't spoil, but when you get there, you'll know it!
Nevertheless, this one still pushes all my buttons and I have finally found a reason to buy an HDTV and HD-DVD.
The premise of the film is initially intriguing, escaping death by swapping your 'self' with the bodies of others. Three sensible, adult couples on a romantic cruise to Fiji stumble upon the last survivor of a fishing crew that met with disaster. The survivor wastes no time shedding the knackered body he currently inhabits, using an ancient dagger/talisman, and taking the fittest looking body aboard.
From here on in, the film races along in an exciting, if predictable, fashion, to it's obvious finale. The horror, for the most part, is 'felt' more than 'seen' and it is the better for it. *SPOILER* A good example is the scene where the 'ancient' forces a woman, as she is slowly dying 'within' her boyfriend's body, to watch her own body masturbating...
Good use is made of the limited confines of the small yacht, seeming at times to be a lot larger than it is. The tension within and between the couples is realised excellently and Rhys is his usually brilliant but cheesy self. The only real let-down, and it is quite a let-down, is the script...
*SPOILER* If the ancient had survived for thousands of years, you'd think he'd have become a lot smarter than to immediately start terrorising his potential rescuers. Where is the sense in offing what may be the only person who could pilot him out of there? Worse still, it seems he has been avoiding the ferryman (oh yes, there is actually a ferryman in here somewhere,) who genuinely needs paying to cart you to the 'other side.' Why all the hoo-ha then? Why not just 'not' pay him? I'm sure there was more to both the legend of the ferryman and the reason for the talisman, but neither were adequately explained. And where did the child, with it's timely solution, fit in? (Does the ferryman not know about afterlife child-labour laws...?)
Overall the less than water-tight script does not mean the film should be ferried away. It is plenty enjoyable despite it. 7/10
I ask this question sincerely, as all through this movie, I found myself relating to Mr Brooks, admiring his tenacity, wiliness and 'style', and - dare I say it - hoping he would reach the end of the movie as the victor.
There, I said it. You can cart me away now that Mssrs. Costner, Hurt, Cook and Ms Moore have thoroughly scrambled my sensibilities and fostered in me a grudging respect for a damn serial killer! Not since Hopkins' Lecter has a film succeeded in making you root for such a thoroughly bad person, but moreso than the 'Lambs' this one actually has you LIKING the protagonist! Sick.
My fervent hope is that Costner really does have a trilogy and overall story arc to play out, and that they are done with the same skillful direction, stylish acting and, most importantly, technically superb story that this movie had in abundance. A heartily recommended ten out of ten.
Having read the prior reviews, I have to take umbrage at some of the hyper-critical comments. Yes, this film could have been better written, yes the editing and camera-work were a little less than stellar and yes, the acting from the ordinarily half-decent Ms Archer could have been, well, better. I even agree that the motive behind the plot was just a tad wishy-washy, (not to mention the phenomenal cost of setting such a plan up, and the secrecy issues that are an inevitability...)
However, look at the upside, (and gag the nay-sayers for just a moment,) this is a low/mid budget production starring at least two of the best actors around. It has a taut, relentless pace that keeps you interested, if not hooked. The action scenes are way, way better than you would expect (check out the truck/cuba/car sandwich and the shootout at the warehouse... hints of Woo in there...)
The story, while having a flimsy justification, does at least seem plausible if viewed with 'Action-Film-Goggles' and it is with this stylish eyewear that the aforementioned nay-sayers should be seeing this... This is a Saturday evening time killer, not 'Gone with the Wind'. When watched without too much expectation of perfection, this film succeeds at being exactly what it is: a good action-thriller.
A brief note to the 'denouement' critic... it makes a nice change for the villain to say 'up yours' and get away with it, and while the final scene did leave me wanting resolution it is, in the End Game (sic), acceptable.
A shame the score is so low on this one. Have just caught it on a late night showing and was thoroughly taken with the obviously intended side-swipes at all the conspiracies surrounding JFK's demise.
*SPOILS* (The second gunman, the window in the corner building, the 'Warren Commission' style report, Jack Ruby slaying the patsy, Cuba, Castro, the mafia, the CIA, the NRA, big business, the Kennedys - heck, everything but the magic bullet and the Zapruder film!) *SPOILS*
The fact that at no point do you find yourself openly saying 'that's just taken from the Kennedy...' etc proves the writing and acting pull you in so tightly. The just-below-the-surface absurdity of it all keeps you grounded and you come away knowing no more than you ever did, but mightily entertained. (In my book, not an easy task with this subject matter.)
*SPOILS* Highlights for me include the Jeff Bridges in a car filled with bodies, utterly terrified and, I think, screaming for his 'ma', and Anthony Perkins as the certifiably mad personification of the entire intelligence community. *SPOILS*
A deeply black comedy with a serious message and hilariously shocking scenes!
I first saw Harold and Maude as a teenager in the early eighties and, even then, was moved by the moral of the tale... celebrate life while you can, don't dwell on impending death - however near or far it may be. What puts this film above any other morality tale, however, is the side-splittingly funny way it gets this message across.
The scenes where Bud Cort's mother introduces him to potential partners only to have them scared away when he commits 'suicide' are some of the funniest I have ever witnessed on celluloid.
The 'affair' between Bud and Ruth Gordon imparts another underlying theme of inter-generational love and does so in a tender and sensitive manner.
The finale serves to drive home the message so well that this film rose to and has, for nearly twenty years since, endured as my personal favourite movie of all time.