Sunday, 23 February 2014

Film Review: "I, Frankenstein" (2014).




"I am like no other."
Unfortunately, this is not the case with I, Frankenstein. This fantasy horror thriller action film written and directed by Stuart Beattie, based on the graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux. The movie follows Frankenstein's creature as he finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries old war between two immortal clans.

Kevin Grevioux of Underworld sold the original screenplay to Lakeshore Entertainment in 2010. Lakeshore, an independent Los Angeles production company which also produced the Underworld films, brought Stuart Beattie on board to re-write and direct in early 2011. In November 2011, it was confirmed that filming would take place in Melbourne and that Australia's Hopscotch Features would co-produce the film with Lakeshore. It was announced in October 2011 that Aaron Eckhart would play the lead role. Eckhart described his character thus: "Frankenstein is an intelligent, evolved man, and that’s how he is portrayed in this movie, for sure." In November 2011, Yvonne Strahovski was cast as the female lead, a scientist working to reanimate the dead, while Miranda Otto was cast as the queen of the gargoyles. Bill Nighy plays the film's villain, whom he described as a "Nasty piece of work; one of the angels descended with Satan." Eckhart and Otto trained for three months with martial arts experts Ron Balicki and Diana Lee Inosanto in the Filipino martial art of Kali for their fight scenes. Principal photography began in February 2012, based at Docklands Studios Melbourne. Filming took place in Victoria, Australia over a period of ten weeks, with multiple scenes being filmed at Ormond College. Orginally set be released on February 22, 2013. The film was pushed back to September 13, 2013, only to be shuffled once again to January 24, 2014.

The movie stars Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto and Jai Courtney. Overall, the performances given by the cast were some of the worst performances ever given by a promising cast. Eckhart, especially, who showed so much promise in The Dark Knight has since skewed into career of misfires that have resulted now in one of the worst iterations of the famous monster. What... a... shame.

I, Frankenstein is a relentlessly unpleasant fantasy epic. It's a hybrid horror and action film that succeeds as neither. It fails to deliver with anything truly tasty or memorable. This is a movie so paltry in its characters and shallow in its story that the war seems to exist primarily to provide graphic visuals. Stylish and cruel, and mightily entertaining for certain covens out there. By any reasonable standard, this dark fantasy epic — all massive overacting, cologne-commercial design and CGI infested monsters — sucks. The film could use more plot and deepened characters and less vapid expository dialogue, flashbacks and ballets of bullets. This mostly mediocre movie is a painless enough time-waster, thanks to slick production values and some impressive stunt work, but it never lives up to the potential of its premise.

Simon says I, Frankenstein receives:


Monday, 17 February 2014

Film Review: "12 Years a Slave" (2013).




" I will survive! I will not fall into despair! I will keep myself hardy until freedom is opportune!” Which is what 12 Years a Slave brings brutally to the screen. This British-American epic historical drama film is an adaptation of the 1853 memoir of the same name by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free African-American who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for twelve years before his release.

After meeting screenwriter John Ridley at a Creative Artists Agency screening of Hunger in 2008, director Steve McQueen got in touch with Ridley about his interest in making a film about "the slave era in America" with "a character that was not obvious in terms of their trade in slavery." Developing the idea back and forth, the two did not strike a chord until McQueen's wife found Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir Twelve Years a Slave. After being in development for some time, between which Brad Pitt's production company Plan B Entertainment backed the project, which helped get some financing from various film studios, the film was officially announced in August 2011 with McQueen to direct and Chiwetel Ejiofor to star as Northup. By early 2012, all the roles were cast, and filming was scheduled to begin at the end of June 2012. Principal photography took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, from June 27 to August 13, 2012, on a production budget of $20 million. The locations used were four historic antebellum plantations: Felicity, Magnolia, Bocage, and Destrehan. Of the four, Magnolia is nearest to the actual plantation where Northup was held.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in the leading role of Northup. Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong'o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt and Alfre Woodard featured in supporting roles. The performances in this film were all amazing portrayed despite the film's hideous and grim subject matter. Fassbender, Cumberbatch, Dano, Giamatti, Paulson, Pitt and Woodard gave amazing performances even if their roles were minor and small. But much praise goes to the two actors, Ejiofor and Nyong'o. Due to McQueen's bold direction, Ejiofor has given the finest performance of his career. It is Ejiofor's extraordinary performance that holds the movie together, and that allows us to watch it without blinking. He plays Solomon with a powerful inner strength, yet he never soft-pedals the silent nightmare that is Solomon's daily existence. Certainly a performance that is Oscar-worthy. As well as Nyong'o's, who gave the film's breakthrough performance that may find her making her way to stardom.

McQeen’s 12 Years a Slave, like Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993), is about the ways good men try to escape realistically from an evil system. This film works better as narrative because it is brutally realistic portrait of slavery, and that it is about the search for a truth that, if found, will be a huge, deep wound to the millions of existing slaves and their descendants. As a result, the movie has the emotional charge of McQeen's earlier films, which moved me, one way or another. What is most valuable about the film is the way it provides faces and names for its African characters, whom the movies so often make into faceless victims.

Simon says 12 Years a Slave receives:


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Film Review: "Saving Mr. Banks" (2013).




"Winds in the east / Mist coming in / Like something is brewing / About to begin / Can't put me finger / On what lies in store / But I feel what's to happen / All happened before.” Which is what you’ll happily expect in Saving Mr. Banks. This American-Australian-British historical comedy-drama film is directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Centered on author P.L. Travers who reflects on her childhood after reluctantly meeting with Walt Disney, who seeks to adapt her Mary Poppins books for the big screen and the development of the famous 1964 Walt Disney Studios film. Taking its title from the father in Travers' story, the film depicts the author's fortnight-long briefing in 1961 Los Angeles as she is persuaded by Disney, in his attempts to obtain the screen rights to her novels.

Essential Media Entertainment and BBC Films initially developed Saving Mr. Banks as an independent production until 2011, when producer Alison Owen approached Walt Disney Pictures for permission to use copyrighted elements. The film's subject matter piqued Disney's interest, leading the studio to acquire the screenplay and produce the film. Principal photography commenced the following year in September before wrapping in November 2012; the film was shot entirely in the Southern California area, primarily at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, where a majority of the film's narrative takes place.
The film stars Emma Thompson as author P. L. Travers and Tom Hanks as filmmaker Walt Disney, with supporting roles from Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, B. J. Novak, and Colin Farrell. The performances in the film were all superbly portrayed, especially the two leads. Thompson was impeccable, She takes charge of the central role of P. L. Travers with an authority that makes you wonder how anybody else could ever have been considered. Thompson dances her way through Travers's conflicting emotions, giving us a fully rounded portrait of a person who is hard to like but impossible not to love. Thompson's the show. Each withering put-down, every jaundiced utterance, lands with a little ping. It is her best since Sense and Sensibility (1995) and she makes the Australian-born British transplant a curmudgeonly delight. Emma Thompson prepared for her role by listening to Travers's own recordings conducted during the development of Mary Poppins, and also styled her natural hair after Travers', due to the actress's disdain of wigs. Hanks's portrayal captured Walt Disney's folksy charisma and canny powers of persuasion — at once father, confessor and the shrewdest of businessmen. Hanks as Disney, despite its brevity, the film would have been largely bland without it. To accurately convey Walt Disney's Midwestern dialect, Tom Hanks listened to archival recordings of Disney in his car and practiced the voice while reading newspapers. Hanks also grew his own mustache for the role, which underwent heavy scrutiny—with the filmmakers going so far as to matching the same dimensions as Disney's.

Saving Mr. Banks is so well made, so much fun and so wonderful that it would make Mr. Disney proud. It's a serious contender for Best Picture, lead actor, lead actress, director, screenplay and music. It’s clever and witty; the making of Mary Poppins is depicted in detail without seeing a single frame of the completed movie. Ultimately, the film lives and breathes through Hanks and Thompson. It is one of the best films Disney has ever produced!

Simon says Saving Mr. Banks receives: