August Blind Spot Review: The Orphanage (2007)

“Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. Believe, and you will see.”
– Aurora

SYNOPSIS: A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. – via IMDB

Finally got to checking this out, too, and again, another one I am pleased to have checked off my list. For years and years it has been recommended to me and I have always been like Captain Eventually about it, but this year was the year for me! I honestly didn’t know too much going in to watching this, not about the story, nothing (except maybe that the kid from above was in it), and I am grateful for that. This is the kind of movie where the less you know, the better.

The movie gets into the swing of things gradually, not too rushed or anything, and you get the backstory for what is going on. When Simón goes missing, the effect on the Laura and Carlos is heavy. Their hope dwindles as time moves on, and to see the way they handle it is really sad. I think the story is woven so well, because there is a psychological and emotional aspect to this and it is handled deftly throughout. You really get caught up in the story and their suffering, as well as the mystery.

The performances from Belén Rueda and Fernando Cayo are truly good, as they are the ones that sell the story to you throughout. The Orphanage is a creepy film – it does not go big for jump scares, but a subtle chill that creeps in, which is awesome. Jump scares are overrated, and I always prefer a movie that works more with the atmosphere and the psychology. This one definitely goes for more of a look at the parents, specifically the mom, and how she is dealing with it. I wish they had explored a little more how it was for her to be back at the orphanage she grew up in. 

So we have covered the performances and the pacing, which leaves us with how the movie looks and sounds, and I think both work wonderfully to weave that dark, mysterious, magical feel of it. It all works together to create a fantastic atmosphere. I  didn’t expect it to have as much of an emotional core as it did, but I really think it takes The Orphanage from being a generic mystery/horror to having a little dramatic spine which elevates the whole experience.

The Orphanage is such a good movie and it has so much going for it. I was mesmerised from the off and enchanted throughout. It is a magical, mystical, dark, creepy film, and after having

Advertisements

July Blind Spot Review: Cronos (1993)

“You may continue the game. After all, you have the toy. But I’m keeping the instructions, and I’m open all night.”
– Angel de la Guargia

SYNOPSIS: A mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. – via IMDB

Finally! I know it has been forever since I posted a Blind Spot review, but with the move and all that I just did not have the time, and had to get my hands on movies and get some time to blog and blah, blah, blah, but I finally have it. I have been really interested in seeing Cronos for some time as I really love Del Toro’s Spanish work.

I have never really read too much on this movie because I like to go in to watch things with as little knowledge as possible, so that it is a totally new experience for me. Definitely what I got here. For one, I was shocked that sections of it were in English, though the majority was Spanish. I also was not impressed with Ron Perlman, but that is just me. He irrationally annoys the crap out of me, and this was no exception.

The movie is shot well, and has the beginnings of that magical charm to it, but never realises it quite like The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth. The dark fairytale teases but never fully comes to life. The storytelling is a bit uneven, too. We get the whole concept of life everlasting, then the Alchemist is dead, this antiques seller has the archangel statue that houses this “eternal life”, he mistakenly finds it and then is suddenly using it and the people searching for it immediately know he has it and… yes, I could go on, but it is all so messy and sudden.

The story I liked, but was a bit disappointed that ultimately it was all about vampirism, and the insect running the show was never explained. I wanted answers! Once I accepted that the life everlasting was vampirism, there was a lot to appreciate. I did enjoy the undertaker/makeup man, he provided some solid humour to the movie, and I also liked the fact that, while this is ultimately vampirism, it is different from what we are traditionally used to (the turning, for instance). The movie also has a darker tone to it, and weaves a few different themes throughout it to varying degrees of success.

Cronos is worth a watch, and it shows that Del Toro is gifted, I just felt that it was a little underwhelming, more like his English works (though still better than the rest) than his Spanish fantasies that I have come to love. I know a lot of people love this movie and think it is brilliant, and I am glad that I have watched it, but it is certainly not my favourite of his, but worth a watch.

Review: It (2017)

“When you’re a kid, you think that you’ll always be… protected, and cared for. Then, one day, you realize that’s not true. If you open your eyes, you will see what we’re going through. ‘Cause when you’re alone as a kid, the monsters see you as weaker. You don’t even know they’re getting closer. Until it’s too late.”
– Stanley Uris

SYNOPSIS: A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of clown, begins hunting children. – via IMDB

So I never actually liked the original It movie, and Pennywise didn’t scare me as a kid. A few years back Ryan posted that It was being redone (and kept us updated), and I felt pretty indifferent towards it. I didn’t think we needed a rehash of the old movie. Then they started releasing posters once a director was ironed out and shooting got underway, as well as the casting for Pennywise, and it looked like it had potential. By the time the teasers dropped and then the trailers, I was convinced that I was definitely tripping out to the cinema to see this.

Well, I had a total blast. I thought the casting was absolutely brilliant. I swear. child actors are so much better nowadays than ever before. They actually get into the roles, they aren’t these awkward little kids who are acting, they come across as the actual characters. I was really impressed with all the kids, truly, and was so stoked to see Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things here, and I am convinced he could have a great career ahead of him – I enjoyed him so much here.

It was put together really well – the score worked with it and it looked really good. While there are a ton of jump scares, there are also slower, creepier moments woven into it, which really works. Muschietti also did a fantastic job of how the story was split – the entire kids section of Stephen King’s novel for this movie, and the secondary adult half for the sequel. Muschietti took the time to give us backstory and personality for all of these kids, because then you actually cared more for them and their battle against this creepy thing in Derry. There was some heart at times and some good development woven in between the blood and the thrills. I also truly appreciated how much of the book made it into the movie, truly.

The humour is subtly balanced into the horror, carefully working to bring some lightness into the dark. I wasn’t always a fan of the CGI though, it was a bit over the top and dodgy at the best of times, and it just didn’t get with the rest of the movie. Obviously this review cannot be written without speaking of the latest Pennywise, Bill Skarsgård. He was the moneymaker here at the end of the day, the draw that got everyone out to the cinema, and the whole movie depends on solid casting for this role, and I think that Skarsgård nailed it. He was creepy, scary, bizarre and plain down gets that wtf vibe down that you expect from Pennywise, and I was impressed. 

I definitely enjoyed this one and can recommend it for a watch. While there are cheap jump scares tossed in, there is also heart and absolutely excellent performances from the cast all round, who share great chemistry. It is shot quite well, and sketchy CGI aside, it works really well. I am truly looking forward to the second part!

Review: Stake Land (2010)

Stake Land Poster

“They’re dead! There’s nothing to be done about it but kill that thing.”
– Mister

SYNOPSIS: Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation’s abandoned towns and cities, and it’s up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent’s New Eden. – via IMDB

So I watched this a few years ago at the behest of some fellow bloggers, and remembered liking it, though not loving it. Recently on Netflix I saw the sequel, and figured I might as well give this a rewatch for refresher purposes and check it out. Now, this is actually a decent watch but it also has a lot of things that are annoying.

Let’s start with the vampires – I struggled with them because, well, they are vampires, but they behave just like zombies. While I appreciated a fresh, different aspect on the phenomenon, I also wanted more answers. Keeping it vague kept it interesting, but also frustrating. But then, as Mister says, “we don’t do history”, so that also ties in nicely. The acting at times is a little awkward, too. Like, Mister must be badass, and Mister is pretty damn cool, but sometimes it comes across like he is trying too hard.So I watched this a few years ago at the behest of some fellow bloggers, and remembered liking it, though not loving it. Recently on Netflix I saw the sequel, and figured I might as well give this a rewatch for refresher purposes and check it out. Now, this is actually a decent watch but it also has a lot of things that are annoying.

I really liked the relationship between the Martin and Mister. Like, the other characters come and go, and Martin becomes more attached to them than Mister, who has obviously been around long enough and lost enough people, yet he has this attachment to Martin he does not demonstrate to the others. It is them against the world. I was quite interested in the concept of this crazy Brotherhood and their special brand of cuckoo, and I saw Michael Cerveris in there and all I thought is “September went dark side”, like the Observers went more off the deep end before. I found the ultimate showdown between him, Mister, and Martin to be rather dull, and it had so much more potential, and it was built into this big thing.

I enjoyed the ambiguity of the story – no real history (though it could get frustrating at times), it just gets right into it, and we are told this snippet of a story by a boy who was saved by a stranger who has taken him on this deadly journey. The sets are great, and everything looks apocalyptic and dreary. The narration from Martin is sad and depressing, and the score works together to bring this all together.

Stake Land is a slight different vampire movie in the sense that we get zombie like vampires with no higher brain functioning, but it is a decent watch. You will be engaged throughout, and the dynamics between Mister and Martin are enough to keep you going, and to see how people have survived this apocalypse, or, more accurately, how they are trying to survive.

Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

“I did not start this war. I offered you peace. I showed you mercy. But now you’re here. To finish us off… for good.”
– Caesar

SYNOPSIS: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. – via IMDB

Oh yeah! Went to see this the a while ago (my first official trip to the cinema in London) and I had a blast. Actually, I don’t know if that is the right phrasing. Either way, we are going to roll with it. Andy Serkis returns as the most amazing Caesar, and is as honourable as ever. War for the Planet of the Apes really goes for certain themes, and the conflict and strife between the apes and the humans reach a peak.

Woody Harrelson steps in as the truly reprehensible Colonel McCullough . Like I mean really. The man waltzes in and just destroys things all round. Harrelson was good, if underused, which was the same complaint lodged against Oldman in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There is so much more potential here, but it doesn’t come. Serkis completely owned in his role of Caesar, but I expected no less from him on that front. His portrayal is brilliant, he really has made Caesar his own. Naturally the movie was visually stunning, too, because these movies have all just looked fantastic from the beginning. It definitely has heart and is excellent. I must be honest and say that Dawn is still my favourite.

The plot progression is also good here. It rapidly brings you up to speed with where everything is now in the world, and then it hits the ground running and it does not let up. You feel the fear and the anger here, and I would like to give the movie credit for that. The score also works hand in hand with the visuals to set the mood and tone for what it to come. I was also super pleased to see Maurice, Luca, and Rocket all together here, and I also found Bad Ape to be an amusing and yet sad (his backstory and the lasting implications on his psyche) addition to the movie. This movie didn’t really go between the two sides, as we have become accustomed to, giving us the first movie that is more about the apes than anything.

I feel this movie was totally worth the excitement I had stashed away for it. It totally had that Logan vibe going for it, like this was the last stretch, and it was most certainly serious. It was grim and heavy and it was not out of place. These movies started at a lighter area and have progressed through a whole array of emotions and settings, and have not once stumbled. These movies are a great example of how a film franchise, and especially a reboot franchise, should be handled. War for the Planet of the Apes is definitely worth watching!

Review: Equilibrium (2002)

“You exist to continue your existence. What’s the point?”
– Mary

SYNOPSIS: In a fascist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system. – via IMDB

I haven’t seen this since I was a kid, and I have been meaning to rewatch it for ages now as I quite enjoyed it then and wanted to see how it held up after all these years. Recently I did so and my husband joined me, as he had not seen it. Well, in short, it is still good, though there are some things that I do take issue with.

First and foremost, the story is interesting. Nothing really new, and has pieces that distinctly feel like they are in line with concept of The Matrix, and it is very heavy handed with its message at times. That being said, it is an enjoyable watch if you don’t overthink it or watch Diggs’s performance too closely, because that it probably the biggest drawback of the movie. He is terrible, and my husband had severe beef with how cheery he seemed and smiley, especially if he was supposed to be hopped up on as much Prozium as his counterparts. Also, I get that Bale started feeling, but his character fell apart so violently at times that it was impossible to suspend belief that this futuristic regime would not notice their top cleric going to pieces as he was.

I did like the revolution that was being planned to revert back to the core of what people are, and to see how books and music and little things have been banned in this future world is heavy. Granted, you might be rid of war this way, but you have also lost the core of what it means to be a human, to feel, to have free will. I did like the colours that were used, and Preston’s clothes colours demarcating who he was and what he felt ultimately were good. I do enjoy imagery like that in movies. The costume design for this was also really good, and suited the tone and style of the movie.

The action sequences were fun, too, as is expected from an action movie, and they are choreographed well. I see that this movie gets quite a bit of hate, which I don’t get. It looks pretty good and has a solid story and comes together quite well. It is flawed, yes, but then just about every movie out there is. Go in for an action film with more story than most, and you will be in for a pretty good time. Equilibrium is well worth your time I would say.

Review: Dunkirk (2017)

“Men my age dictate this war. Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?”
– Mr Dawson

SYNOPSIS: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. – via IMDB

So I went to see this in IMAX when it came out (I know, taking my sweet time to churn out reviews, but we are only just starting to settle in). First IMAX in years, and the first experience ever for my husband, and it was well worth it. I have been waiting for this for quite some time, because Nolan in a cinematic master who can do no wrong in my eyes. I was so excited to see his take o a war movie, and I was rewarded, greatly so.

Dunkirk is visually stunning. Every scene is masterfully crafted, and looks amazing. The fact that more practical effects were used over CGI again shows that practical is the way to go. It gives a sense of realism. I also appreciated how young the soldiers were, because it accurately depicts that they were essentially kids, trapped on a beach waiting for help, a doomed hope by all accounts. The movie does not mess around in terms of making you feel the plight of these men, and it is a heavy ordeal, one you are wholly and totally sucked into visually and with some phenomenal scoring. The performances all round were impressive, and even Styles brought the goods to the table, something I was so suspect about after his casting was announced.

The movie has three divisions, beach, sea, air, and they all take place at different times, ultimately coming together to tie the story up, and I think that was crafted and handled very well. Tom Hardy again demonstrates that he can out-act the best of them with just his eyes, and Jack Lowden was excellent as Collins, his scene of being stuck in a sinking jet something that is haunting and gets under the skin, something that lingers. Cillian Murphy has one extremely damaged character, and your heart just breaks for him, no matter what happens. Branagh is stoic and crushed, and you feel for them.

I felt that the movie was a little distant though, and the coldness worked for it in places, and worked against it in others. The only real characters that brought some form of heart, something for you to attach to, was Mr Dawson, Peter, and George. Like really, that was sad. Not that the plight of the soldiers, trapped like helpless rats, was not bad. That gets to you, and is hopeless and claustrophobic. It is heavy, and it is scary, and the minimal dialogue runs home the bleak situation, and Hans Zimmer again delivers a most perfect score. It really takes the movie experience to a whole new level. It’s all painful, and it sticks, but all these stories don’t have any real backing. Now this works to show you that these guys could be anyone, absolutely anyone, but because you don’t ever really attach to them, invest in them, they are just desperate men trying to get home, and that is where there is also a drawback.

While Dunkirk was masterfully crafted, visually stunning, contained solid performances and had an absolutely brilliant score, I do feel that it was just a bit flat in the sense that you don’t connect with it like you would hope. It is well worth a watch, and as I said, masterfully crafted and definitely something worth tripping out to the cinema for.