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House of 1000 Corpses

Style, blood, guts and hard rock, without any decent script to back it up.
Rob Zombie has devoted his life to music and horror movies, but so far I haven't seen a single movie of his that's really worthwhile. The director's style is that very low-budget and low-quality horror that made school in the 70s and 80s. In truth, I must say that there is some coherence here, if we consider the musical style of Zombie's projects. However, it is a film that disgusts us, and that causes more strangeness and repudiation than fear.

In this film, we follow four teenagers who accidentally stumble into a village of abnormal people and end up intrigued by a local legend about a mad doctor who cut people up, was executed and disappeared, leaving in doubt whether he had really died. Of course, they end up in an even crazier, morbid and dysfunctional house of people, who are behind an endless series of crimes.

By my standards, this movie is so bad that it doesn't even work as a comedy. There is not a scary moment, based on a strangely bizarre script, without content. The film shows the influences of slash horror, with lots of gore, blood running everywhere and bodies torn to pieces. Cannibalism, necrophilia, sadism, if we think of depravity this film will probably have some scene associated with what we think. That, on the one hand, has a vantage point: the film is gritty enough to pull it off, in an era when horror movies are so bland that even underage kids can see them.

The cast brings together a series of actors who have become famous precisely in slash cinema: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Karen Black, Tom Towles, Dennis Fimple. Each one of them did their job well, they are the right actors for this type of material, they are perfectly comfortable doing this. However, Haig and Moseley are particularly effective and work very well, stealing the audience's attention whenever they appear. Sheri Moon, an actress who has a certain relevance in the film, is however an amateur, Rob Zombie's girlfriend, who entered the film at his request. Love has these things, it makes us do crazy things. Unfortunately, and as it is routine in these films, the teenage victims of the carnage are simply talking meat that we can't care less about for a minute.

The film does some pretty competent visual effects work, with gallons of fake blood and other effects designed to make the killing realistic and "fun" enough. The sets and costumes were also very well thought out and create a decadent environment, in which rurality is distorted and transformed into the perfect environment for a Halloween massacre. That is, the film has style, it has an extremely worked and complex look, but that's about it. It does not present us with content, substance that makes the film worthwhile.

Pride & Prejudice

Overall, it's a good adaptation, even if it's not free of mistakes and problems.
I believe that "Pride and Prejudice" is one of the most transported English novels to film and television. I've seen more than one adaptation, and each one has its merits and problems (however, it's generally agreed that the 1995 miniseries is the most perfect and canonical). This film is not as good as I would like it to be, it has several problems, but it is quite acceptable and also has positive notes to retain.

Here, the story we already know so well takes place in the final years of the 18th century. From what I saw, the director wanted to do this to avoid the fashion of the Regency period, which he doesn't like, and taking advantage of the fact that Austen wrote the early version of the book around this time. Well, I can say that I share the thoughts of the director, Joe Wright, when it comes to dresses from the Regency/First French Empire period. Aesthetically, they are much less interesting than the "bridal cakes" of the pre-French Revolution period, or the wide dresses that began to be worn in the Romantic period. The idea of these dresses, which greatly emphasize the woman's chest and then fall straight down like a nightgown, is in a way imitating what the Romans and Greeks were thought to wear. Even so, there are several errors in the way the characters were dressed, arranged, combed and characterized: basically, the director ignored everything that didn't suit him. That was a mistake.

The film is reasonably short for the literary work it brings, but I think it couldn't be otherwise. For the rest, the narrative is decently done, and the adaptation made to the source material is quite conscientious and tries not to cut important things. What I didn't like was the way certain characters were developed: Elizabeth became a wild girl and much less contained than would be supposed in the novel, for example. The rest, however, is quite satisfactory.

The film is full of great British actors: in addition to Keira Knightley, who manages well in the role of protagonist, we also have Rosamund Pike, Brenda Blethyn, Talulah Riley, Jena Malone and Judy Dench. Each did a fairly good job in the role assigned to them. We should also appreciate the work of Matthew MacFadyen, Donald Sutherland, Simon Woods and Tom Hollander. On a technical level, the film invests a lot in good sets, convincing and well-selected shooting locations and good props. The cinematography is also good and does an excellent job throughout the film, with enviable camera work and good colors and lighting. The film also has a good soundtrack.

Beautiful Thing

Yet another apologetic film about the assumption of homosexuality.
I've had other occasions to say that I'm not a fan of apologetic and contestatory films. I am not against their existence, there is room for them and cinema is a legitimate form for the expression and defense of political, social or moral agendas, theories and ideas. It's simply not a type of cinema that I really like to consume, not least because it's a niche cinema, that is, that tends to please those who already defend those ideas, in addition to trying to convince us to accept them. This film does precisely that with homosexuality. There are more and more films that talk about the subject, some do it with skill and even a healthy neutrality, which leaves us room to think and doesn't try to teach us the opinions we should have. "Dallas Buyers Club", "Philadelphia" or even "Milk" are good films about the theme and about people who defended well the sacred right of homosexuals (and of any citizen) to live their sex life without being the target of recriminations, as long as obey the laws like all citizens. This movie is not that good.

The script focuses on two young people from troubled families in the suburbs of London: after refusing to go home, where he suffers aggression, Steven is welcomed by Jamie's mother. The closeness between the two teenagers eventually leads them to become sexually involved, leading to major complications as their relationship becomes increasingly obvious to everyone who lives there. That is, the film is like so many others, except that it is about homosexuals who live in a kind of urban Babylon where crime, alcohol, drugs, sex and the end of moral values grow more easily than weeds. Supposedly, their relationship is the purest and most innocent thing that is born there... or that's what the film tries to convince us. I wouldn't have so many problems with the moral degradation of that social environment if the story was good, but it's not: it's too sugary, melodramatic, it's full of clichés, and it's approached in a dogmatic way, always around prejudice and shame in being homosexual. The film does not deviate from this tone and, using cheap sentimentality, wants to force us to think in a certain way.

Glenn Berry and Scot Neal are two actors I didn't know, and whose careers didn't take off. I don't know where they are today, but I can say that, from what I've seen, they don't seem to be working as actors anymore and haven't achieved any success. Perhaps this is due to the absolute lack of charisma that both suffer from, and that did not help them to sustain their role in this film. Linda Henry is much more effective and competent, even if she cannot save the film. On a technical level, and being an independent film with a limited budget, we can't fault it. The film does a good job with what it has. There just isn't anything that is really notable, or outstanding.

Dead Man Walking

A very human film that is solidly based on the performance of the two main actors and on the discussion around the death penalty.
There are certain films that are made to play with our feelings and with what we consider to be divisive themes. Films about the death penalty almost always do so in one way or another: the topic itself is highly controversial, and almost everyone has an opinion (the level of critical information in opinions varies) about it. The debate about capital punishment will never end, not least because there are legal, human, social and religious reasons that reasonably support who is in favor and who is against it. In the end, it is one of those choices that depends a lot on how the legal and correctional system is viewed, that is, whether we value more, as a society, the exemplary punishment of the criminal or his eventual atonement and correction.

The film is based on the memories and experiences of Sister Helen Prejean, a kind-hearted Catholic nun who, over the years, has accompanied and counseled several death row inmates in Louisiana, one of many US states that maintain the active practice. It is a very intimate film, as much of it is focused on the private conversations between the nun and the convict, who in this film is a man who killed a teenage couple, but who claims to be innocent.

The script does everything it can to sweeten the story in order to keep our interest: the constant allegations that he may be innocent, the flirtatious atmosphere that sometimes arises between the nun and the prisoner, the passionate (understandable) behavior of the victim's relatives, the various allegations about the promiscuity between the justice system and the conveniences (or inconveniences) of the death sentence for politics and for the image of the Governor. The film makes the most of its theme, shoots in several directions and, for the most part, hits its targets. In addition to being an authentic manifesto against the death penalty, the film is a poignant drama where a clearly evil and vicious man regrets the things he has done, even though it is too late for him. My only negative criticism of the script turns out to be, precisely, the flirtatious atmosphere felt in some parts, and which I think is left in the film, and was not necessary nor particularly positive.

Susan Sarandon, one of the great actresses of the late 20th century, gives us a remarkable job in which she ended up winning a deserved Oscar for Best Actress. She demonstrates sensitivity and a heightened sense of humanity as she plays the character, and never gives in to the temptation to become overly melodramatic (except, perhaps, for a few sugary, less-than-accomplished moments, near the end). Moreover, this is one of the great works of the actress's career. Sean Penn, on the other hand, still looks young, and is making the most of the opportunity to open doors to grow as an actor. As we know, he's going to do it, and he's going to get great achievements and important awards a few years later. Here, he is responsible for a good performance, in which he balances between resentment, regret, despair and the need for redemption and forgiveness. He never allows his character to appear to be one-dimensional, or too dark, or even too sugary, giving it complexity and various psychological undertones that are worthy of being appreciated.

On a technical level, the film is understated, functional and pragmatic. It makes no glaring mistakes, makes good use of source material and the collaboration of the real Sister Helen, who was engaged in this project, and tries to give the actors all the space they need for their work. This is the work of a sensitive and methodical direction by Tim Robbins, who knew how to understand that the film would depend heavily on the work of the two main actors, and he concentrated on extracting from them what he needed without adding anything that would hinder them or distract us. However, I don't think I'm being unfair or flattering if I briefly call attention to the good cinematography, with good framing (the use of bars and other effects to enhance the feeling of confinement) and an excellent setting. The film even has an original song, which was composed by Bruce Springsteen.


Absolutely wonderful, and suitable for the whole family.
Usually, people look at this movie as just another movie for kids. This is not my opinion. It is true that it is a fantasy film, with animals that talk and have human postures and behavior. However, it was built and developed in a way that turns out to be very pleasing to adults as well. Perfect to be seen with the whole family, it is a regular presence on television, especially during Christmas.

The script couldn't be more delicious: Babe is a baby piglet who, on his lucky day, was taken from the slaughterhouse where he would inevitably die (as happened to his parents and siblings). The little pig ends up in the hands of the owner of a sheep farm, who thought of fattening him up with the intention of killing him. However, and through a series of funny adventures, the little pig turns out to reveal a special talent for helping to herd the sheep, which will put the natural position of the animals and the reputation of the sheepdogs in the spotlight. Through this story, the film approaches, with humor and feeling, serious questions such as the meaning of life, death, the place of each one in the world, evil, reward and punishment.

Making this film as an animation, traditional or computerized, would have been easy. However, the production made the film with real animals and used technology to perfect the material and file rough edges. At the time, the film received some harsh criticism for making strong insinuations about meat consumption (after all, we are not used to seeing our lunch speak to other animals about the nobility of the food purpose for which it was created), and the truth is that it seems that there were really people to stop eating meat because of this.

If animals are the main protagonists of this film, where do humans come in? It's not the protagonism, I believe, that changes things a lot. The main human role in this film goes to James Cromwell, an extremely competent and talented actor who had no difficulty with his character, the owner of the farm where Babe will live, and who understands how special his piggy is. And despite speaking little, the way the actor communicates with his body and face is excellent. Magda Szubanski also does a good job, and it's interesting to see how the actress has aged so that she can play the character, which is a woman much older than the actress.

Technically, the film is exquisite and achieves some feats worthy of mention. To begin with, the number of animals, trainers and handlers that were used in the film is extraordinary. The logistical effort alone must have been enormous, in order to guarantee not only continuity (they could not all be different animals) but the hygiene and health of the animals. The make-up department, with her work, not only aged Szubanski but she humanized some of the animals, which is no small feat. The film has excellent sets and props, recreating well the childhood imagination and the idyllic bucolic rural life, very different from the life of hard work in the countryside. But what delights and surprises us most is the extraordinary cinematography, with vibrant colors, high contrast and radiant beauty. Although I'm not particularly a fan of mice, they serve their purpose. As for the soundtrack, it is solidly based on pieces from the classical repertoire such as the waltz "The Blue Danube", by Johann Strauss II, "Cantique de Jean Racine" from Gabriel Fauré's Requiem and, particularly, the adaptation of the most famous chords of the last movement. From Symphony No. 3 Op. 78 for Pipe Organ and Orchestra by Camille Saint-Saenz. It is a piece that seems to have been chosen at random, but that may be explained by the fact that the composer is also the author of the famous work "Carnival of the Animals", which could very well be here.

Knock Knock

Finally, Roth gives us something of value: even with its flaws, this film entertains its audience and works nicely.
Many years ago, a film came out where a pair of young seductresses managed to sneak into the home of a middle-aged rich man, seduce him and torment him: "Death Game" is one of those films that almost no one will remember now. I haven't seen it yet, but having seen this modern remake, I'm curious to see the older film.

Eli Roth gives us a very simple film. What I said above fits this film perfectly: Evan Webber is a conventional husband and family man who makes the mistake of giving shelter to two really attractive girls who, after a shower and clean clothes, decide to repay him with a night of adulterous and totally sinful sex. However, what seemed like an erotic dream come true turns into a nightmare when they begin to terrorize Evan.

This is not a brilliant, surprising film, it will never join a pantheon of great films, whatever genre or subgenre it may be, but it works and gives us what it promises: a sense of menace and pleasant tension, entertainment and a decent story. Of course, there are problems. For example, how would those girls know so much about Evan and his family without having spent a good deal of time spying on him? They showed, at various times, that he had not been chosen at random and that there was an intention in what they were doing with him. This is weird because the movie wants to explain it, but it doesn't do it very well. Personally, I think it would have been better if the film didn't exploit their intentions and just played with all the information they could get from Evan on that short night visit.

Be that as it may, this is, as far as I've seen, Eli Roth's best film to date: "Cabin Fever" was a decent effort, but very campy, and "Hostel" turned out to be simply unpalatable in its ambition to imitate the worst of "Saw". Roth seems to have finally learned that what scares us most is what is beyond our sight or foresight. Liters of fake blood and human bodies being hacked to pieces only serve to ruin the theater popcorn vendor's business.

Keany Reeves is the film's big star and the highest rated, and perhaps highest paid, actor here. He did a good job, with a character that, in other hands, could have been more limited, one-dimensional or sketchy. Over time, Reeves gives us a simple, down-to-earth, credibly authentic man, someone we can like. Someone who makes mistakes, but who still elicits sympathy by being punished far more severely than could be justified. Reeves never lets the character be just a puppet. However, the film is entirely dominated by female performances: slender and dangerous, Lorenza Izzo - the director's wife - and Cuban newcomer Ana de Armas deserve our full attention.

Technically, it is a film that stands out for its simplicity: everything takes place in a unique environment, and the scenery and costumes are reduced to the simplest, but effective and functional. Cinematography does not bring surprises or innovations, it bets on conventional formats and solutions and on pragmatism. The soundtrack isn't especially notable either.

Da hong denglong gaogao gua

In the context of oriental cinema, it's good... but it's very different from the cinema that we, in the West, are used to.
I think this movie was the first Chinese movie I saw, I'm not really sure. I am not an expert on the cinema of this country, but I can say that it is one of those films that you see without much special interest. Of course, I'm talking about the standard audience, because there are really oriental film lovers who will be more interested in this material.

The script is based on the story of Song Lian, a very young and well-formed girl who, after her father's death, is coerced into finding a rich man to marry. She ends up being the fourth wife of a man, having to live with the other wives and learn how to behave in a complex family system, where rivalries and envy are part of everyday life.

The film shows us a type of family life that, for us in the West, is far from being understandable. It could only take place in strongly patriarchal societies, where the role of women is more than subordinate. It's not a great film, but it's frankly decent, and I don't rule out the likelihood that it's a classic of Chinese cinema (experts will opine better).

Gong Li does a very good job in the role of the young Song Lian, and is very well supported by Saifei He, Cuifen Cao, Lin Kong and Qi Zhao. Jingwu Ma doesn't do an inferior job either, in the role of the patriarch and husband of all those wives. The cinematography is very good, as are the costumes and sets, which take us back in time and geography. What prevented the film, perhaps, from being a greater success in the West was the lack of publicity and the difficulty in adapting to the environment of the film, which is very different from the cinema that Hollywood usually exports: it is much more meditative, passive and depressive than most of the cinema we used to see.

Dazed and Confused

A nostalgic film, aimed at those who lived through that time and those experiences, but which was not intended for other audiences and ended up fatally forgotten.
I'm not sure what Richard Linklater was thinking when he decided to make a comedy film about the last day of school for a group of teenagers in 1976. I've never lived in the US, but I've noticed that American culture gives a big relevance to High School, and that these educational institutions are very different from their counterparts in my country. Around here, this level of education is just an antechamber with two exits: the job market, with all its hardships, and University. Perhaps Linklater was nostalgic about his own teenage past? If that's the case, I completely understand him, even if I don't really miss my time at High School.

The script is based on the nonsense of teenagers, which correspond to the stereotype that we always find in teen movies: they want alcohol, drugs, sex and the perverse fun that comes from pranks done, in a more or less consensual way, to freshmen. This will work very well with teenagers. For other audiences, it's debatable. And since today's audiences don't find it amusing to see a film where a group of teenagers is looking to get drunk, high or have sex, I understand why this film has fallen into oblivion, where it perhaps deserves to remain.

The big point where this film manages, somehow, to have value, is the professional and very focused way in which most of the cast worked. Despite being a weak film, there is no doubt that it represented an opening of doors for the careers of many of the actors. Matthew McConaughey is a clear case: this film was the film debut of the actor who, many years later, would win an Oscar for "Dallas Buyers Club". Ben Affleck is another similar case: the actor had done some minor work, mostly for TV, before entering this film. Mila Jovovich, actress and model, also didn't have a notable career before this film. In addition to these names, the film features actors such as Jason London, Adam Goldberg, Rory Cochrane and Wiley Wiggins.

On a technical level, the film only stands out for the quality of its soundtrack, which brings together a kind of collection of great songs from the late 70s. Nostalgics will smile and recognize Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, KISS, Aerosmith etc., names that we still consider illustrious today, with songs that almost everyone knows. But let's be frank: a lot of good actors, an excellent soundtrack and a massive dose of nostalgia are enough to turn this film into something really worthwhile? Personally, I don't think so.

Withnail & I

It's a good film, but it's very damaged by the abuse of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, and by the weakness of the script, in terms of narrative.
I expected a lot more from this movie, I have to confess. It is considered by many to be one of the best British comic films, and there is no doubt that the dialogues and situations were extremely funny, and it is not difficult to laugh at the absurd situations and conversations that are observed here. But it's also no lie that the film is far from being a work of perfection.

The script is based on the coexistence between two characters, Withnail and another boy, whose name is never mentioned, and who supposedly tells the story in the first person. They are two aspiring actors, absolutely failed, penniless and sharing expenses and an apartment in Camden during the late 60s, that is, in the midst of the cultural revolution and the golden years of drug use. Tired of the rot in which they live, they decide to go to the country house of a Withnail's uncle, not knowing that the place is inhospitable for the city dwellers.

The film has its moments, and this is largely due to a well written set of dialogues and absurd situations. Particularly memorable is the way in which Withnail practically deifies alcohol, not being able to remain sober for a minute, or the way in which he decides to go fishing with a shotgun, or even the journey of the two friends, in a beautiful old Jaguar that is truly a shame to see so mistreated. Unfortunately, the script and story don't go much further than this, and there isn't much material to support the film. On a narrative level, it is decidedly a very weak film. However, I was able to easily deal with it.

The film will only be as good as the audience is willing to "let it flow" without thinking too much about it, simply taking advantage of the many comic opportunities created. More than once, I felt that the film would work perfectly as a stage play, even more so than in the cinema. Very difficult to digest, however, is the constant apology for alcohol and drugs. I am sure that this was not the intention of the producers, but the fact that the characters are under the use of these substances for so long can really bother current audiences, who view the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and drugs in cinema less sympathetically. I tend to be quite open about this, but several times, in several scenes, I felt that the film was treading on dangerous ground in this regard.

The film has a reduced cast and only three actors deserve a mention. Richard Grant and Paul McGann made their cinematic debut with this film... and what a debut! Grant, perhaps without ever having imagined it, had the role of his career in this film, as no other work of his was as popular and as remarkable as this one. McGann was also very good, although he is not able to compete much with Grant, who has a much more intense and complex character. The late and late Richard Griffiths also appears here and plays a small role, but one that is very well done.

The film is not brilliant on a technical level, but there are some points I would like to highlight, the cinematography being the most relevant of them all. I don't know how this was achieved, but it is very evident that the film was able to emulate the look and characteristics of a film made in the 60s. I believe that the secret was in the light, in choosing the right film and the most suitable camera, as well as a good set of costumes and props. I especially enjoyed seeing Withnail's costume. In his clothes, he looks like a seedy, broke, alcoholic Mr. Darcy. There are also some visually notable scenes, like the roadside scenes, or the scene where the two friends leave Monty's house, and we see the stately demolition of an old Victorian house behind them.


A film that is much better than the critics would have said. Unfortunately, it's excessively exaggerated, has a confusing script and excessive sexualized characters.
David Koepp must have been very confident about this project. To make this film, he sought out a little-known character from a series of novels by Kyril Bonfiglioli, an author who will only be known by the English or by those who speak English as a native language. I have never found this author's books in Portugal. The film was a huge financial and critical failure, and I was afraid of what I was going to find, but the truth is that I find it mildly satisfactory.

The film begins by introducing us, in the voice of the protagonist, to the central characters of the plot: the art dealer Charlie Mortdecai, an aristocratic bon vivant, his beautiful wife and his faithful henchman Jock, tough and excessively virile. From here, we follow the protagonist on an adventure in search of a missing painting that could be a work by Francisco de Goya, with a past associated with the Nazis and believed as lost.

This comedy makes a huge effort to be as funny as possible and bets everything on a kind of comedy of exaggerations, in which each character is caricatured and everything is taken to the point of absurdity: Mortdcai, for example, is not just a "marchant d'art", he's an insolvent aristocrat with tics of grandeur and a fetish for his mustache (okay, I wore a mustache myself, and it was a similar style, but I never let the mustache used me, if you know what I mean). Likewise, Jock is transformed into a mobster and sexual athlete. Exaggeration pays off: it is impossible not to laugh at the absurdity. The most obvious example is the way in which Mortdecai insults the US when he treats it as if it were still an uncivilized British colony.

The problem with exaggeration is that it doesn't work if it's overused: the second half is much weaker because we already know what to expect from the characters. I'm even willing to forgive that; harder to forgive is how the script ends up lost in its own twists and turns. Am I the only one who feels that the story is so confusing that even the characters don't know what they need to do? I also can't forgive the amount of sexual jokes. The film had a very restrictive parental rating in the US, but the overwhelming majority of other countries, including Portugal, made the big mistake of giving it a much lower rating, making the film available to a teenage audience. It's not the fault of the producers, it's the authorities of each country, but I wonder if our teenagers, who are starting their sex life earlier and with less awareness, need more sex-promoting stuff. We are no longer in the domain of hedonism, this is perversion.

Despite having a string of hits and a solid career, Johnny Depp is not in top form. Having made this film after two other failures, the actor was going through a bad professional phase, which was associated with a controversial marriage (and a divorce, litigious and mediatic, years later). I don't know to what extent his personal life influenced his work, what I can say is that Depp is a shadow of himself. The jokes, the humour, the comic gestures that he masters so well... everything comes out so forced that it's not funny. Paul Bettany, Depp's personal friend and another actor with established credits, is much more effective in the role of Jock. It wasn't the first time that the actor played a tough character, and it seems to me that he has a knack for this type of material. It's nice to see Gwyneth Paltrow here: despite the cold and forced chemistry with Depp, I think the characters asked for it and Paltrow knew how to give her character an additional elegance and charm. Ewan McGregor is welcome support but has little to do.

Technically, the film has many qualities, and it is obvious that it had a budget worthy of the cast it had. The cinematography is very good, with excellent colors, lighting and sharpness, and it makes deft and intelligent use of effects and CGI. I particularly liked the effect with the planes and the names of the cities, used whenever the characters had to travel. The filming locations were well chosen and the props and costumes (in particular Depp's and Paltrow's) were very well designed... although I need to consider that the Mortdecai costumes, with excessive use of silks, velvets and strong colors, exude a certain "nouveau riche aroma" that a legitimate blood aristocrat would not fail to condemn. The soundtrack also does its job flawlessly.


A film that was enough for more than one review: dream, nightmare, utopia and reality.
It was in 1939 that composer and singer-songwriter Ary Barroso released the iconic song "Aquarela do Brasil". This samba became an icon of Brazilian music and was sung and disseminated by such noble voices as Francisco Alves, João Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Caetano Veloso, Tim Maia, Gal Costa, Erasmo Carlos, Elis Regina and, in English versions, Frank Sinatra and the Portuguese Carmem Miranda. Ary Barroso, however, never imagined that the mere sight of an elderly man, sitting on a beach on a rainy day while listening to his song, would end up inspiring Terry Gilliam to make a film. But, before these words can mislead anyone, and especially any Brazilian, it is necessary to clarify that the film has nothing to do with Brazil.

The film takes place in an unnamed country that lives under a dictatorship (okay, Brazil was a dictatorship when the film was released, but the similarity ends there). The government, obsessed with controlling information, has created a monstrous and highly ineffective bureaucratic system that makes fatal mistakes. It is because of one of these mistakes that a citizen is arrested and killed as a revolutionary, mistaken for the real fugitive. And so we meet Sam Lowry, a government official with a conventional life who is plagued by dreams where he flies like a bird and saves a damsel in distress. His life changes precisely when he meets a woman like the one in the dream and finds that she, too, is in danger of being arrested for another mistake.

I haven't seen both movies, but I believe the critics who said there were similarities between this movie and "1984". I myself could see the similarities with "Metropolis", either in the narrative or in the bizarre and exaggerated visual aspects. As in those films, we have a dystopian, totalitarian society, where the individual is stripped of his humanity and becomes a cog in a larger gear, serving the State. Of course, the film weaves a long and judicious critique around this, and the bureaucracy that the country sustains, and which is of little practical use. It also offers us some sharp criticisms of the futile needs and vanity of today's society. The big problem is that all this seems to have no meaning. In fact, the main plot ignores these issues: Sam, the main character, is not a revolutionary nor does he seem to have political ideas. In fact, if you look closely, he seems to act almost on instinct, living his life as if it were a dream. The main plot is underutilized and poorly harmonizes with the rest of the film, as if it conflicts with the visuals and the other points of the script.

Gilliam made an original film. Where he failed was in the harmonic conjunction of the pieces in his work. And of course, in the relationship with the studios, which almost forced him to accept a radical cut in the film, considered excessively long and expensive. In fairness, I can understand both sides: the studios were trying to monetize an investment and rationalize expenses; for his part, Gilliam did not want his creative work done in pieces, although it is clear where the money was spent: just look at the incredible visuals, the dreamlike way in which he expresses himself as a director. Jonathan Pryce is the featured actor playing Sam. He gives us a work of great quality and is very well assisted by Katherine Helmond, in a very interesting sarcastic role, and Kim Greist, his romantic partner. The film also features the participation of great actors of the time, namely Bob Hoskins, Jim Broadbent, Barbara Hiks, Ian Holm, Michael Palin and Robert De Niro. This perhaps shows the prestige and consideration that the artistic world already had for Gilliam: the actors, more than having a good salary, wanted to work with him.

All of this is very nice, but why is the film called Brazil, and why did I mention it in a song? I was also thinking about this for some time, it really is something that does not seem understandable at first glance. I saw the film, and nothing seemed to give me the answer to the choice of title, except the insistence on the song, which is the skeleton on top of which the film's soundtrack was assembled. But perhaps Gilliam was trying to show us, through this song, the dreamlike utopia of Sam's dream compared to the fantasies of others and the dystopian reality of his life.

Babylon 5: The Gathering
Episode 0, Season 1

Long forgotten, the series deserved to be reviewed, or the target of a remake.
This was the pilot episode of the Babylon 5 series, a dystopian series set in the far distant future, in the middle of outer space. Honestly, I saw this episode, but I wasn't convinced about the series. In any case, it has an excellent look and good sci-fi, especially if we consider that we are talking about material made for TV, and not for the big screen.

The episode shows and introduces several characters, starting with Michael Garibaldi, and even a series of alien races from various corners of the universe. Relations between all of them are not at all easy, and the murder of a diplomat promises to complicate things a lot. I didn't know about the series until a few days ago. It wasn't even born when it passed, but it didn't take much to understand that the series gained, for a long time, a cult status that was hard to disappear.

At a time when remakes are being made of everything and anything else, even things that don't need it, why not invest a few million in a remake of this TV series, with all the visual and computerized resources that we have now, and that didn't exist when was it made? It would perhaps be a way to revive interest in the source material.


A rude but understandable film.
I just saw this film, and honestly I was hoping for a slightly different comedy, with a more elaborate, more conventional structure and not based so much on endless dialogues. It is, however, an independent film, made a little outside of what traditional circuits and big studios are, and the budget is limited. If we consider all this, I think we can understand the film better.

The film basically accompanies a day in the life of two commercial employees who hate their jobs but need them, like any mortal. They work closely together and are friends, but the day promises not to be easy for either of them. The film is based on jokes of a very rude nature, sometimes also on the inelegant manners of the characters. There are a lot of allusions to pop culture throughout the movie as well, and I didn't always get that. It's not the kind of humor I really enjoy, though the film has its moments. Perhaps this style of humor works better with young people and teenagers than with someone more adult...

The cast features a number of actors that I don't really know. Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson had their most relevant work in this film, from what I've seen. The film is quite restrained in terms of costumes and scenery, and I believe that real stores were used for the production. What can be considered a weakness, the low budget, was to some extent an advantage, taking into account the type of film they preferred to make here. The cinematography is very good and well used, and is perhaps the film's most artistic feature.

The Magnificent Seven Ride!

The end of a franchise that should never have existed.
It is often said that there is no love like the first, and really "Magnificent Seven" was an excellent film, which deserves to be remembered and that is part of the great Western films, for me. The film had several sequels, as we know, but none of them were necessary, and the truth is that it would have been better if they had never been made.

This film was the third and final sequel to "Magnificent Seven". Again, we witness an absolute renewal of the cast, in a radical break with everything that was done previously: here we already see Chris (always the same character, despite the rotation of actors) aged, as sheriff, about to get married. A local bank robbery, followed by the kidnapping of his fiancée, will force the retired gunfighter back into action. He fails, however, to save the bride, who has been raped and killed by thieves. The plot continues, there are a few more deaths that motivate Chris to hunt for his target, which associate rapes with homicides.

The only good thing about this film is the plot: the script ultimately presents a different story than the one that was done in the first film, and repeatedly chewed up in the immediate sequels. We can even dispute the quality and detail of the script, but I think it's much fresher and more acceptable material. Even so, it is in the details that the problems lie: and there are many points where the plot really feels bad, far-fetched and forced.

Lee Van Cleef is a good actor, and it wasn't difficult for him to take the lead here. However, it does not seem to me that the film allows him to shine. I haven't seen much of the actor's work, but it's hard for him to make Brynner's performance in the same character forget. For the rest, he is the only actor who deserves a minimally positive mention. The rest of the cast is overwhelmingly average.

Filmed entirely in the USA, the film is the typical Western, where everything ends in a hail of bullets, looking for the massive action to effectively replace the weaknesses of the script and the rest of the material. Obviously, it doesn't work. The film has clearly fake sets and, on more than one occasion, I felt that the costumes are excessively anachronistic and even uncharacteristic or difficult to accept in a period production. Besides, there isn't much quality here, so it's not a film that I feel capable of recommending to anyone.

The Transformers: The Movie

A film that only interests those who know the animated series, but which marks the end of Orson Welles' work.
I saw this film by mere chance. Later, I was surprised to see how well regarded and highly rated it is. It is based on "Transformers", an animated series for children and teenagers that was quite successful in the 80s and 90s, but which I have to confess I never saw. Recently, Marvel invested millions in live-action films and revived this universe. I haven't seen them in full yet, but this is where I get to know the characters better. What did I expect from this movie? A bit of easy entertainment, assuming the movie would at least do the work of better introducing the characters and story. That's not what I found.

In fact, this is an "inward-facing" film, that is, it is aimed almost exclusively at an audience that already knows the animated series and the characters. Therefore, there are no explanations or introductions, anyone who wants to understand something should go and see the series. Three points down, I thought: I don't feel obligated to watch the series to understand the movie, I can just watch something else and send this movie to the trash can, where it belongs.

Despite everything, I saw the film, and after reading a little about the animated series on the Internet, I understood that the film kills a lot of characters that, until then, were central to the plot, and that the film was released between two seasons, introducing characters who would play a relevant role later. Not being an expert, I wonder to what extent the film was not a kind of publicity move, either for the new season or for the merchandising that is usually associated with this type of television material.

I won't waste my time describing the script, which involves a giant robot that devours planets and the war between the Decepticons and the Autobots, robotic races of alien origin that fight each other. What I can say is that, in addition to being an uninteresting film that will not captivate those who don't know the series, it has a very confusing and far-fetched plot.

The graphics and animations have that kind of quality you find in a lot of animated material from the late 80's, and it made me think about possible influences of Japanese and Korean "anime" on American production. Moreover, just a word to salute the effort that Orson Welles must have made to give voice to one of the creatures, at a stage when he was practically at death's door. The distinguished actor would die days after having recorded the material that was used in this film.

Shut In

An attempt at horror that doesn't yield more than a few jumps out of a chair.
For as long as there has been horror cinema, we have seen several films where the great element of terror is loneliness. With humans being as social an animal as we are, being confined (and we've seen this in the pandemic) can really be a form of slow torture, and things get worse if we associate loneliness with isolation. Being alone, in a place isolated from everything, like a cabin in the forest or a country house, can be ideal for relaxing, for a weekend, but few people adapt to living like this. Of course, there are people who prefer it... but they are exceptions.

This film's script is just another one that takes solitude and isolation to turn it into a painfully frightening experience (or at least, that was the intention). Here we have a child psychologist who seems to have been forced to suspend a good part of her work in order to be able to take care of a teenage stepson who became quadriplegic after a car accident, which he inadvertently caused in the middle of a fight, and in which his father died. She does, however, keep a patient, a deaf child who appears at her house at night, alone, in a blizzard, and who disappears into the surrounding forest. After several searches, the authorities begin to believe that the boy did not survive. At the same time, she begins to see him around the house, and to believe that she's being haunted.

This summary is enough for us to see that we are not looking at anything particularly original, and that much of this has already been done, better and more competently, in productions with a larger budget. Even so, and without ever being really scary, the film plays well with the theme and with the usual "jumps" that North American horror uses exhaustively. Farren Blackburn only loses for not being able to create a more effective suspense by investing more in the film's introduction and character development before launching the horror. There are films where we feel that the director wasted too much time introducing and presenting the story and characters... but this film makes the exact opposite mistake, and does not allow the audience time to sympathize with anyone. There is still a lot of material about dreams, or about nightmares, but none of it is really carried forward.

Naomi Watts is the movie's big star, and I really can't understand how she ended up here. Will she have read the script before taking this job? Is she going through a less good phase of her professional career? What matters is this: she is one of the few salvific elements that keeps this movie from being a total waste of time. The actress is a great professional and, as always, committed herself to her work, but she doesn't have the material to match, a skilful director or strong colleagues to take her to a more refined level. Steven Portman and Oliver Platt don't have the time and opportunity to show value.

Technically, the film doesn't have any major problems, but it doesn't have anything that gives it flavor either. It's like eating white rice without anything to go with it: we eat it, but it's not a dish that satisfies us, and obviously we don't like it, no matter how good it is.

Dragonheart: Vengeance

A "Dragonheart" lady in support of gender equality, in a film that is again as bad as the worst in the franchise.
After more than a handful of films, the "Dragonheart" franchise, which was carried in the arms of producer Rafaella de Laurentiis, has yet another launch: I hope it will be the last. In fact, despite the quality and magic of the first film, none of the releases that followed could even match the original. For this reason, the majority did not even go through the movie theater, going directly to DVD and other similar media.

This movie doesn't even make an effort. If the previous movie was decent enough to be worth a visit, this movie has so many weaknesses in the script that I can't really recommend it: the events occur at the same time as the first movie, but it feels like they are happening in another place, and report the quest for revenge of a young man whose family was killed in a car accident... wait! Wagon accident! As if the traffic was so much, at that time, and the trips so ordinary, that there could be the chance of something like that actually happening! It's preposterous, to say the least.

Obviously, the young man casually learns that there is a dragon, and goes to him in hopes of convincing him to solve his problems. Simple! The dragon, in this case a female, obviously doesn't accept it, causing the kid to throw a tantrum. Meanwhile, there's a war going on, we have the friendly people of the villages being starved to death thanks to bandits who burn crops, and a tyrannical king who seems, somehow, to be ominously in the middle of it all. Machiavelli would certainly be proud of such a figure... I honestly have seen better villains.

Despite Helena Bonham-Carter's decent job voicing the Dragon Lady, the rest of the cast doesn't seem to deserve monumental praise. Arturo Muselli was competent in the role of the king, and suitably somber, but Joseph Milson is, by no means, a capable and talented protagonist who can handle the role he has in hand. He just seems like an insecure, angry boy, looking for an easy solution to his problems.

Again, the film bets a good part of its chips on decent CGI, and on the creation of a fake dragon capable of convincing us. That was achieved, but as far as effects, we're done. The cinematography is pleasant, but at times it seems too artificial, as if the film were made entirely on a computer. What really looks bad is the dose of bad costumes and the excessively fanciful way in which the Middle Ages, in a very concrete and remote period, were portrayed. But that's a problem endemic to the entire franchise.

Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire

A film with some merits, even if it is far from the quality of the first "Dragonheart".
After more than a handful of films, the "Dragonheart" franchise, which was carried in the arms of producer Rafaella de Laurentiis, has yet another launch. There are no great merits to point out, other than the fact that it is supposedly a prequel to the first film.

The script is basically more of the same: we go back to a very remote period in the history of England, right after the end of the Roman Empire, to a place somewhere where there were dragons and a small monarchy, where a country boy ends up becoming king by being recognized as the son, never assumed, of the late local sovereign. The boy has a connection to a dragon, assumed by the marks he carries on his back, but this connection is incomplete, and it is when the kingdom is invaded by Vikings that he realizes the reason: his sister, who he thought was long dead, has returned to claim the kingdom for herself by being born a minute before her newly crowned brother! This is what I call a narrow margin win!

Despite the fact that the story has absolutely no trace of originality, and that the successive and poor sequels have never even been able to match the first film, I can say that this was the film that I liked the most, right after the original, but far from it. The fight between brothers is an additional point that worked well in the plot, even if it is very silly to think that a series of Vikings will adopt a baby in a basket just because.

The film features some actors who deserve a positive mention, starting with Sir Ben Kingsley, who once again voices the dragon with skill and talent. The work of Tom Harries and Jessamine Bell can be the target of some criticism, neither of them is particularly skillful, but the truth is that both managed to decently disentangle themselves from the challenge that was in their hands.

The massive CGI used by the film also seems to me to be more effective, better introduced and more elegant than anything that has been used previously (except the original work, obviously). The dragon that was presented here is good, it works well and the way it behaves and interacts with humans is well imagined. What really goes wrong with this film is the amount of bad costumes, bad make-up and the excessively fanciful way in which the Middle Ages, in a very concrete and distant period, were portrayed.

Guns of the Magnificent Seven

Yet another remake, or just mental laziness to make something new and fresh?
I recently saw the two films that, most notably, precede this film: "Seven Samurai" and "Magnificent Seven". The same story, in its essence, set in different places and different times, and made by drastically different hands: a Japanese film set in a troubled period of feudal Japan, and the classic American Western that adapts this story for the palate of the West, and which spread internationally. The American film, which I have just mentioned, then had a sequel which, in addition to being redundant and unnecessary, did not have a single point of merit in its favor. It was a mistake. This film, not being a mistake, can only be seen as a joke for the way it insists on repeating the story, the formula and the concept without having a single guiding element that unites it with its predecessors.

I won't dwell on considerations about the film's script: suffice it to say that there is a kind of military revolution in preparation in Mexico, the rural populations are, in a way, under the crossfire of the rebels and the loyalists, and they are going to ask for help from seven brave cowboys from the North American West to protect themselves from the brutal abuses they suffer in this context. It is, at base, the same thing we've seen time and time again. Was there really laziness to think among screenwriters at this point?

The cast of this film, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the previous films mentioned above. There is not a single face that has participated in them, despite the fact that, supposedly, the main character is the same Chris that Yul Brynner played, in such a competent and professional way. And they didn't even bother looking for another similar actor, or explaining anything to the public. Anything! After all, there are a lot of men named Chris! It could be this one, or that one. The audience inside the theater has already paid for the ticket, if we give them some big gunfights and a brave dose of action, they won't want to know the details! That's how the production of this film must have thought... and that explains the beautiful crap we have here.

I do not mean, however, to say that there are not some merits here. Unlike the film that came before, we have some capable actors who are trying to at least do something decent: conscious of responsibility, George Kennedy was a decent protagonist, and was well supported by Joe Baker, James Whitmore and Bernie Casey, but basically That's all we have. They haven't even bothered to compose a new song, or new songs that can match the old and overhauled musical theme of "Magnificent Seven".

Pride and Prejudice

A first adaptation of Jane Austen's novel, which is riddled with problems, but is competent, pragmatic and elegant. Thought of as a comedy, it was thought of the wrong way.
At this point, I believe that even those who have never read a Jane Austen novel will surely agree that the writer is, quite simply, one of the most distinguished in the classical pantheon of the English language. "Pride and Prejudice" is a novel that has been adapted to film and TV several times, and each production had its pros and cons. One cannot ignore this production, however, because it was truly the first to transport romance from paper to celluloid. Its impact, at the time, was enormous, it was a great success and even helped to make the original book better known and popular outside England.

I won't waste my time explaining the plot, which is well known to everyone who has seen at least one of the most recent adaptations of the book. What I can say is that this film, with its short duration, ends up not being able to do justice to the original material, which is largely hidden. It couldn't be otherwise, anyway, but director Robert Z. Leonard even cut out passages that were quite important for the general understanding of the plot!

Another problem with this film is how the production simply didn't care about choosing actors who fit the characters. Concerned with attracting the public and making the film work, the producers chose famous, recognizable actors, even if they are clearly older than the characters they embodied. "Safe bets", as I sometimes call them, because they combined popularity with assured talent: it's no wonder that, each in their own way, they managed to give us good performances. I particularly liked Greer Garson, who I feel made a genuine effort to look younger and more rebellious, as her character demanded. Also Edna May Oliver deserves praise for the way she gave life to the imposing and arrogant Lady Catherine. Maureen O'Sullivan, Edmund Gwenn and Edward Ashley do an equally good job, and despite not liking the overly pompous and arrogant ways, Lawrence Olivier was competent as Darcy.

Technically, the film has no major flaws or demerits worth mentioning. Filmed in black and white when originally planned to use color (due to allegedly running out of celluloid due to the production of "Gone With The Wind"), the film has very good cinematography and was elegantly shot. The soundtrack is not bad, being within what we expect to find in a film from the early Forties. However, I cannot fail to criticize, on the negative side, the option of temporally placing the action thirty years after the period in which everything takes place in the book, even though I understand the convenience, for the entire production, of being able to recycle part of the costumes used in "Gone With The Wind".

Der Himmel über Berlin

Essay on Sleepiness.
When I decided to see this film, I did it for three reasons: the first is the participation of Bruno Ganz, a German actor that I appreciate and that I started to like after seeing him do excellent work in other films such as "The Fall"; the second is the enormous consideration in which this film has been held by a very high number of distinguished critics and specialists; the third is the fact that it's the first West German film I've seen in my life (as far as I know and that I'm aware of).

The script, however, couldn't be more tasteless than it turns out to be: the film begins with the turns and wanderings of two angels through the streets and places of West Berlin, observing people's daily lives. Damiel and Cassiel, each in their own way, are interested in human beings. They cannot be seen, except for children, and for a single individual who manages to talk to them, and one of them ends up deciding to become a human being and live a mortal life, on Earth, after falling in love with a woman. Circus trapeze artist.

In fact, there is no lack of television or literary material about angels who fall in love with humans or who, for other reasons, give up their angelic life and become humans. It seems that there is, among us, a desire to humanize these creatures. In the wake of all this, the film makes a series of philosophical and metaphysical considerations that will only truly interest philosophers, or theologians, or writers in general. Wim Wenders is a director who appreciates this type of ultra-intellectual cinema, made for artistic cycles and festivals, never for the general public, who find it a good substitute for sleeping pills. Personally, I don't like this type of cinema, even though I recognize its artistic merit.

Bruno Ganz, on his journey, awakens to the beauty of humanity in an elegant way that borders on poetry. He sees beauty in the most trivial things, which we usually don't, not without an extreme artistic sensitivity that the common individual rarely cultivates. The actor couldn't be more competent in the work he does, and is skilfully assisted by Otto Sander, who has another angelic role. Solveig Dommartin and Peter Falk are also very good additions, with time to show value.

The problem with this film is really the excessively slow and cold way in which it unfolds and gradually exposes itself. The pace of the film is so slow that it becomes boring, and I confess that I didn't pay much attention to the permanent monologues. Things improve a lot when Falk enters the scene, giving movement to a bloodless and soporific plot. The closing credits, in German expressionist style, make a direct allusion to the cinematographic past of the city, and of the country, something that Wenders may have done as a tribute, or asserting himself as a continuer of the legacy of the past (which is not as modest as the first idea). Almost the entire film is shot in black-and-white, with cinematography that is very well achieved and worthy of merit. Colors are introduced later, becoming more associated with humanity, that is, with the way we see the world we live in. Original, well thought out. The film does not have a great soundtrack, betting more on monologues and very boring dialogues. Furthermore, the film is practically a city tour of West Berlin, a metropolis that has changed radically in recent years, as we know. The wall is there, even though it was purposely built for the movie and is not the real thing.

Notes on a Scandal

Lust, loneliness and bitterness in an engaging film with two great actresses.
I was very impressed with this film, which combines two huge and very talented actresses and a script full of tension and very well developed. It's not something new or original and there are a lot of relatively tense films that are set in a school environment. I can quote one that I saw recently, and that I remembered while watching this film: "The Children's Hour". Alright, the movie is about a hypothetical lesbian relationship between teachers, it's a different kind of scandal than what we have in this movie, but somehow it came to my mind. It is not an award-winning film, but it was nominated for two BAFTA, three Globes and four Oscars. Moreover, it was a competitive year, with several great films competing.

The script is very loosely based on a real case in which a female teacher had a sexual affair with a minor student. The situation is scabrous and criminal, despite the fact that it is also a type of frequent sexual fantasy to be found. However, the film is not about that, but about the tortuous relationship between the young teacher and an older colleague, who discovers the secret. Lonely, bitter, critical, psychologically unstable, with serious problems relating to other people and, eventually, a strongly repressed lesbian, the elderly woman creates an abusive relationship where she subjugates and blackmails her supposed friend, mercilessly manipulating her to obtain almost exclusivity of your attention.

In addition to a really good story, the film has an excellent cast and two great actresses who do a superb job. Judi Dench deserves a standing ovation for the work she leaves in this film: in addition to the sarcastic, almost cruel way in which she narrates the story, the actress was huge and impressive in the way she brought the character to life and played opposite Cate Blanchett. This one, in turn, was also very good, and does an equally good job, but it does not manage to have the magnetism of Dench. The two characters are also very different: Blanchett has on her hands a softer, more one-dimensional, less complex character than Dench, who is given more challenging, more complicated material, and a character who is really challenging to play convincingly. Despite being young, and having a minor role in the film, I also enjoyed Andrew Simpson's contribution.

Technically, it is a discreet film, with excellent cinematography, with dark notes of great skill, which help to thicken the tense environment in which the film develops. With good sets and costumes, but within the predictable, and a relatively good soundtrack that was composed by Phillip Glass (not as good as the one he made in other films, however), the film is discreet, but competent, and gives us excellent production values.

In the Name of the King: Two Worlds

Fight... to get to the end of the movie.
After having managed to find some redeeming values in the first film, "In the Name of The King: a Dungeon Siege Tale", I decided to also give its sequel a chance, also directed by Uwe Boll and, I thought, a likely sequel worthy of the first movie. However, the production was fatally injured by the brutal budget cut, perhaps due to the reception that the first film received from the public. These considerations do not, however, clear the director of his own weaknesses. Boll may not be a complete incompetent, I still don't know him well enough to evaluate him, but I've already realized from these two films that he's not particularly brilliant.

The script takes us back to the kingdom of Ehb, and the events surrounding the crown of that fantasy kingdom, when a former US Special Forces soldier is accidentally sent there. The whole story is weak, artificial, and the way the characters act is very silly and unnatural. In fact, the characters are mere figures and faces without any personality and about whom we know little and care even less. There are some attempts at action, but I believe that even the original video game is more exciting and intense than what we're given here.

The cast is led by Dolf Lundgreen, an actor I don't particularly like and who is far from what I would consider a versatile and skilled professional. He might even be, but in the hands of a director capable of extracting that from him. The actor has no difficulty taking on the role, not least because he seems to be almost the only minimally experienced professional around, but his performance is very weak. Lochlyn Munro, who should be someone more prominent, is not capable of being more imposing than a fifteen-year-old teenager on the first date. The rest of the cast, and especially the actresses, don't even deserve to be mentioned. Amateurism is a nice term to describe what they did.

Technically, we have to lament the Franciscan poverty of what is offered to us: the cuts that the production budget suffered necessarily implied cost reductions, which may explain why everything seems as fake as a theater play: from the costumes to the armament and props, the film is a Carnival from which only the sets and filming locations can be saved, chosen with care or created in CGI with competence. There is a lot of CGI here, including a dragon, and there is some investment in these resources, perhaps due to lack of budget to go further. The cinematography makes the best of these elements, but you never feel the confidence, confidence and ingenuity that the cinematography of the original film allowed the audience to exude. The soundtrack works very well, but it doesn't have the interest or sound of the one used in the first film.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Considering that it's based on an action video game, the film is quite enjoyable, and not quite as deserving of the hate it's been getting.
The movie market is full of movies based on video games. I even dare to say that practically all the most popular games have already known a film adaptation, from "Super Mario" to "Angry Birds". I've seen quite a few of them, and so far I haven't found one that I could say I liked. Or rather, what I can remember right now...

I don't know the game "Dungeon Siege", but from what I saw in a quick search on the Internet it must be very similar to other games of the pseudo-medieval genre. Wicked kings, dungeons and sorcerers are part of this universe. They are fantasy, intended to stimulate the imagination and thirst for action of those who have never picked up a real medieval sword.

Directed by Uwe Bol, a director I didn't know until now, and of whom I have not very recommendable references (but let's not, because of that, judge in advance!), the film I've just seen is relatively pleasant, and is based on a struggle for power in a kingdom called Ehb. On one side we have a wicked sorcerer and the late king's nephew, who wants to reign in his place, and on the other we have a poor farmer, at the head of an unlikely revolution. We've seen a lot of this, medieval themed films are always exploring these themes.

While originality is lacking here, the film works reasonably well and isn't as bad as some have claimed. There are far worse things floating around between big lauds. All right, the film lacks a more effective direction and a greater epic sense, much of what you see has already been done in other better films and the characters are sketches without personality. But considering that the movie is based on a game, I think a decent effort was made.

The cast has several big names. For me, the best and most competent is Ray Liotta, who really makes an effort to raise the quality of what he does with the poor material he receives and manages to steal our attention whenever he appears on the scene. However, I also liked Ron Perlman and John Rhys-Davies. I didn't like Jason Statham, he seems to be in the movie just for the pay, and the rest of the cast has little or little time to do something.

Technically, the film deserves praise for its excellent cinematography, the good shooting options and the chosen locations. The soundtrack harmoniously unites an excellent original soundtrack and several hard rock themes that appear more during the credits, and stays in the ear for some time.


A film that would be much better with less sudden flashbacks, fewer anachronisms and a more careful explanation of the theory it comes to present.
I've already written a lot here, and I've said it a few times, but it's worth saying again that, although I'm a historian and I like Shakespeare's work, I'm not a native English speaker (I'm Portuguese and I speak the language of my country) nor am I an intensive or specialized connoisseur of the playwright's life and work. Therefore, I certainly won't offend anyone if I say that, until I saw this film and documented myself a little to write about it, I didn't know that there were controversies surrounding the identity of Shakespeare. It is perfectly normal that there are doubts about the authorship of some of the works of an ancient author, there are many examples. Less normal is that there are doubts surrounding the totality of his work.

The film advocates the following theory: the real Shakespeare neither wrote a line nor knew how to write. Who really wrote the works, dramatic and poetic, to which he lent his name was someone who, for social and political reasons, could not do so: the Earl of Oxford, a nobleman and courtier. I'm not going to question whether this is true or false, there are people better qualified to talk about it. What I can say is that I wasn't convinced. If Oxford, for some reason, could not exhibit his literary work, how did he acquire fame as a playwright and poet? It does not make sense. Furthermore, for me, until this moment, Shakespeare was an author who did not deserve discussion. Trying to turn him into someone else's figurehead seems to me something that can only be asserted with overwhelming evidence, and not only do we not have that evidence, but the amount of historical inaccuracies and anachronistic errors that the film carries as well do not make us comfortable about the theory it presents.

However, the most complicated thing about this film are not the anachronisms or the far-fetched theory that it brings us, but the flashbacks and flash forwards that occur almost without warning and make it very difficult to follow the story. I also didn't like the way the film assumes from the outset that the audience is familiar with Shakespeare's life and the Tudor period. I happen to know, but people don't have to read an English history textbook before seeing a movie. When I saw Roland Emmerich's name in the director's seat, I also feared the worst. I feared that we had something brutally destroyed or that we were witnessing some kind of disaster. Luckily, or maybe not, we only have to mourn the loss of the Globe Theatre, completely consumed by a fire. Anyone who thought he was going to be able to make a film without destroying something didn't know him.

The film has excellent actors, and most of them do an impeccable job. I particularly liked Rhys Ifans and Sebastian Armesto, but Rafe Spall, David Thewlis and Joeli Richardson were also excellent in their roles. Vanessa Redgrave also does a well done job, but she had already played this role before, in another film, if I'm not mistaken. On a technical level, the film relies heavily on high-quality, well-crafted CGI, and on a selection of filming locations made with great care and discretion. On all levels, the film appears to be a major production, with some effort and investment.

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