No matter what your opinions on his personal life, there is one thing about Roman Polanski that you cannot deny: he is an amazing film maker. He has made hit after hit, with the deeply disturbing Rosemary's Baby, the adaptation of Shakespeare's classic Macbeth, the classic movie Chinatown, and the heart wrenching and confronting Pianist. Now, in his 77th year, Polanski again brings to the screen another movie, The Ghost Writer.
Ewan McGregor stars as the 'The Ghost', a writer who is hired to complete the memoirs of the recently dismissed British Prime Minister Adam Lang, played by the fantastic Pierce Brosnan, just as he is convicted of committing war crimes during his service. As the Ghost begins to work on the memoirs, he inevitably gets embroiled in the scandal involving the ex Prime Minister, and thus begins digging deeper in both the past of the shadowy political figure, and also the mysterious circumstances surrounding the previous ghost writers' suspicious demise. What follows is a thrilling tale of political intrigue and conspiracy, as the Ghost gets entangled in these peoples' lives and the grey world of politics. The entire movie knowingly leads to a twist ending, and, though it doesn't deliver a brilliantly original twist that makes your mouth hit the floor, it does give a very clever twist, unlike many other political thrillers out there.
There is no doubt in my mind that if anyone could pull this movie off, it would be Polanski. The most unique thing about this film is the fact that the story itself is nothing original; it is a classic tale of political intrigue and the man who tries to uncover the truth. But Polanski handles this material in such a spectacular way that brings a sense of originality and brilliance to it. The directing in the movie is flawless, with every shot being original, absorbing and fascinating, and the sound and music by Alexandre Desplat does nothing but improves the movie by creating a gripping and tense mood perfectly. The photography and set design is perfect as well, especially due to the fact that though the movie is set in Massachusetts, it was actually filmed in Germany due to Polanski's inability to set foot on US soil.
The entire cast of the film is amazing. Ewan McGregor as The Ghost portrays the writer intricately, while Olivia Williams does an excellent job as the ex Prime Ministers wife, and Tom Wilkinson fits his role like a glove. But the real star here is Pierce Brosnan, assuming the role of the disgraced and now ex Prime Minister Adam Lang, who shares many notable similarities with the real life Prime Minister Tony Blair. Brosnan brings to the role a sense of modesty and personality, completely immersing himself in the life and body of a disgraced political figure, who is now left a husk of what he once was. Brosnan delivers in every sense, convincing the viewer completely with the haunted expressions and the rage that he exhibits.
An unfortunate truth however is the fact that Polanski has been forced to now live in a constant shadow of his former glory. Ever since Chinatown, he has been cursed with never being able to make a movie that will ever compare to it. And, unfortunately, The Ghost Writer is bathed in this knowledge, existing in Chinatowns broad shadow, knowing that it is not nearly as good. But, despite this fact, The Ghost Writer is still an excellent movie, delivering an interesting and chilling plot, a powerful ending, brilliant scenery and direction, and fantastic performances. Though Roman Polanski's personal life may be a dark and disturbing quagmire, he is unquestionably a cinematic genius, and so, to him again I humbly tip my hat.
In a season of remakes, re-imagining's and sequels, Predators certainly lives up to what's expected of it. It's a re-imagining of the classic 80's action movie which had Arnie take the reigns as the leader of a super band of commando's being hunted by an extra terrestrial in the middle of the (jungle), and ended up spawning quite a franchise, consisting of a sequel, and 2 movie mash ups, the Alien vs. Predator films. Fans of the original and followers of the franchise can be forgiven for being weary of this remake (after all, I was), but believe me, Predators is the best in the series since the original.
Predators, as the name suggests, features more than 1, which alone makes you wonder how true to the original this will be. Well, the movie approaches this question in a strange way. First, it takes the original premise of a band of elite warriors being hunted by an unstoppable alien menace, and gives quite a unique and refreshing twist, delivering another band of elite warriors, but this time being hunted by 3 Predators, and on THEIR planet, rather than Earth. Then on top of this, Predators takes much of what made the original great; the cheesy dialogue, the big guns, the crude humour, and even some of the same great moments, and adds them in to give Predators its own unique style, while still paying a worthy homage to the classic. There are some direct references to please the original fans, but it's not spoiled by filling it with references that only the die-hard fans would understand like many other movies are. Most of the action scene's deliver and the fire fights are well done. The scenery of the planet is beautiful (though it's actually only Hawaii), and the movie generally has a good pace, despite some times where this falters. And I have to award bonus points for the movie's opening: it was a unique way of introducing us to the situation, and without giving too much away, it sucks you in, even if it is a little far-fetched.
But don't get too excited, the movie definitely has its problems. Some of the dialogue, especially of one character is just bad, and I'm still not sure whether or not it tried to do it purposely and just failed, or if the writers just scribbled down anything they could think of at the last minute. Then there's also some back-story and deeper meaning to the entire Predator universe and their scenario, which is nice, but at times it really drags on and takes the rest of the movie down with it. There's also one specific scene, which includes a homage to the original, but is ridiculous, and apart from the reference, it's almost laughable. One of the biggest things that got me though, and it may not annoy others, is the amount of Predator screeches and screams. It seemed as though every 5 minutes, another Predator was screaming for some unknown reason. Maybe he didn't hit what he was aiming for, maybe he trod on a sharp rock, or maybe his Predator wife left him and he's not taking too well, but any way I don't care what's happened, so please stop screaming at me! The casting is strange to say the least. Adrien Brody, trying to channel the essence of Schwarzenegger, and who would have been my last pick as an action hero, pulls off the role surprising well. Most of the actors perform satisfyingly, and the brief appearances by Laurence Fishburne and Danny Trejo are a nice touch. My only queries with the casting are that of Topher Grace. He spends the entire movie seeming out of place, not quite fitting in to the situation, and at no point is he even slightly convincing as the character he is meant to portray.
Predators was released with some big shoes that it knew it had to fill, and so instead of trying to outdo the original or be new and fresh, it uses what made the original great to its advantage. I must say kudos to Nimrod Antal for directing, and kudos to the make-up department, because they definitely outdid themselves with this project. Predators is a refreshing shot in the arm to a nearly dead franchise, and stands out in the ocean of movie remakes and sequels that Hollywood is churning out. For what it's designed to be, an action blockbuster popcorn flick, it definitely delivers.