I, Frankenstein review

I, Frankenstein is a fantasy action film directed by Stuart Beattie, chronicling the adventures of frankensteins’ monster (not actually Frankenstein) in the modern day, he’s somehow alive and going about his way, he gets caught up in an ancient war between Gargoyles and demons and is forced to choose a side. Frankensteins’ monster (Aaron Eckhart) is also great at fighting for some reason, the film stars Aaaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Bil Nighy, Jai Courtney and Socratis Otto.

And while the film has an interesting premise going, it falls short but quite a bit in its’ execution, visually the film looks great, the fight scenes are choreographed quite well and the depiction of deaths in this world was interesting, i.e. Gargoyles dying and their souls literally going up to heaven. While the film tries to go in interesting direction, giving a different twist on Frankensteins’ monster and putting him in a modern setting for a change, the film feels a tad directionless with things just happening and Frankensteins’ monster just being the middle, also the Gargoyle and Demon war is just another thing that’s happening with no real explanation or backstory to it.

The film has a somewhat interesting roster of characters but ultimately they’re one dimensional cardboard cutouts and clearly in the plot to serve as points of exposition or to be that one lackey character, or angry warlord and so on, either that or the more interesting characters were left with barely anything to do like Terra (Yvonne Strahovski). And despite the rather disappointing story, Aaron Eckhart (Adam) still puts in a good shift and is good in his role, even though action isn’t his natural forté, while Bill Nighy cuts a hammy character as Demon leader Neberius.

Ultimately the film is pretty average and ends on a rushed, predictable note and the story stands as poor execution of a fairly interesting premise on a character not that well known these days.

5/10

. Decent visuals

. Rushed, lacklustre conclusion

. Wasted characters, one dimensional

Immortals review

Immortals is a fantasy adventure film directed by Tarsem Singh, following the story of Theseus in a fictional ancient Greece, a mortal who engages with mad King Hyperion, in the effort to stop his rampage and his plans to gain a weapon of immense power, the film stars Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, Isabel Lucas, Kellan Lutz.

The story of Immortals is an interesting mish mash of some ancient Greek mythology from the story of Theseus and the minotaur, to him fighting against a God in mythology – Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), other Gods in the film are also included, Zeus (Luke Evans), Ares (Daniel Sharman), Athena (Isabel Lucas), Poseidon (Kellan Lutz), Hellios (Peter Stebbings). Though for the most part they’re not hugely important to the story, their arc does affect the main plot here and there, they also work as a lot of the spectacle in the film, taking part in 3 of the best looking scenes in the film – with Poseidons, Zeus dealing out punishment and the climactic God – Titan fight.

A lot of the film has some pretty fantastic visuals though, with some cool use of slow-mo, very well choreographed fight scenes and some pretty epic set pieces, combined with an interesting visual tone for the film as well, looking more gritty and dark in general in comparison to other, bright and vivid looking films based on ancient Greek mythology – Clash/Wrath Of The Titans, Percy Jackson. This different look works for the film though, with a more earthy, gritty feel to everything, from the looks of the Gods themselves, who all look like warriors, clad in golden armour, to Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), there’s a very stylised, nuanced look to things and it works hand in hand with the alternative way the plot tells a few Greek myths and legends:Theseus and the Minotaur and the Epirus Bow for example.

Henry Cavill especially is great in the film that probably bought attention to him as a solo action star, he’s great in the action scenes, while he also brings a feeling of frustration but unwavering drive to complete his mission, he’s a character you want to succeed, meanwhile Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) cuts an imposing, dominating figure as the villain willing to challenge the Gods. And for these 2 good performances, you also have several one dimensional, cliché characters for this type of story, which don’t hugely take away from the film but don’t add anything to it either, writing interesting, new characters in a story based on greek mythology might be a challenge but it would be fun to see characters that aren’t purely evil or good for a change.

The stories’ plot is interesting enough with its’ use of the real world and the Gods in the story, who ultimately don’t play a huge role and are interesting characters by themselves, though the film presents a world in which some of humanity in part has given up on the Gods and wants to go it alone. Immortals isn’t a particularly deep story but it is entertaining and a great visual feast, it could have used some more three dimensional characters to compliment its’ main ones, the action/set pieces are the highlights and the nuanced storytelling of some ancient Greek myths makes for interesting viewing in what is otherwise a predictable, straightforward plot.

7/10

. Has some fantastic visuals, great action

. Plot is interesting, has some nuanced portrayal of Greek myths

. Some basic characterization

Oz The Great And Powerful – review

Oz: The Great And Powerful is a fantasy adventure directed by Sam Raimi, serving as a prequel to the story of The Wizard Of Oz, showing how the wizard Oz came to be in the land of Oz and gained his title, the film stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King.

Disney crafts a somewhat interesting prequel story to The Wizard Of Oz, showing us the personal story of Oz and how he became the famed wizard, James Franco is an interesting casting choice as Oz, a street magician and con man who winds up magically in Oz. While the supporting cast performs to mixed levels, Mila Kunis is alright as Theodora but a bit hammy in her role as the story progresses, while Rachel Weisz as Evanora cuts a more convincingly solid character. The film doesn’t have that many characters so it does heavily rely on Ozs’ personal journey, as he discovers Oz and the fantastical elements, creatures and features of the land and while the story does work, it also feels a bit soulless. Franco isn’t a bad actor at all but he’s a tad out of his depth in the role, he sells the sleazy con man side to the character well, but isn’t at all a convincing and iconic figure, though the way the film sells the way that he gains the mantle of Oz is somewhat well done. Though making an entire film out of the the answer to the question of the origin of Oz feels a bit unnecessary.

That being said, the film looks good enough visually and different parts of the land of Oz look interesting and vibrant but the film is also oddly tonally balanced, with things gradually getting darker as the story goes on, while characters like Finley (Zach Braff) the flying monkey who works for Oz keeps things light and humorous. There is some tension later on the film as we eventually see the Wicked witch of the west rise to power as well as some easter eggs and nods to The Wizard Of Oz but ironically this just serves to remind you of how good The Wizard of Oz is, this film just feels a bit odd tonally.

I suppose people didn’t really invest too much into the story because they felt it was too full of CGI and because they didn’t like the performances in the film and that is a fair assessment to a prequel that no one really wanted, it looks okay visually and seeing various parts of Oz was a nice touch but ultimately the story falls a bit flat and it’s way wide of the mark in relation to The Wizard Of Oz and it’s iconic status in film.

6/10

. Has some nice visuals

. Some of the acting falls a bit flat

. Story feels a bit predictable, dull

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – review

Peter Jackson directs The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, the 2nd movie in The Hobbit trilogy, the continuation of the prequels’ story as the company of travelling dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf draw closer to Erebor and to Smaug, encountering new challenges and threats along the way. The main cast returns with new additions in Elf king Thranduil (Lee Pace), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), the returning Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Bard the bowman (Luke Evans), Mikael Persbrandt (Beorn). Lee Pace is geat as Thranduil, a reluctant an harsh ruler, out to safeguard his people, not caring for Dwarves, while Tauriel, a character invented for the films specifically brings a nice, different take on Elves to the story and Evangeline Lilly plays the role well.

The Desolation Of Smaug picks up where The Hobbit left off as the company continues onto the mountain and the film has slightly darker tone to the plot, with the story of the necromancer (Sauron) gradually returning to power in Minas Morgul as an interesting side story. And we also get the side stories that the setting of Laketown provides, with Bard the Bowman and the towns mayor. Meanwhile Saurons evil influence and power is felt across middle earth with increasing numbers of Orcs and giant spiders, this sub plot as a nod to the rise of Sauron was a nice touch, not really relevant to the story of The Hobbit but cool easter eggs for Lord Of The Rings fans. Though the main story of The Desolation Of Smaug follows along the same lines as An Unexpected Journey with a lot of trekking across middle earth and the company encountering different challenges as they get captured 3 times in the film alone, in varying circumstances.

The Dwarves are again a driving force of the plot with their bantering and playing off of each other, though there is more depth and new dimensions to certain characters explored via Thorin and Killi, as well as Bilbo, who grows as a character throughout the trilogy and you see active development in his character. More development of the different dwarves would have been a nice but fleshing them all out would  understandably have been a logistical nightmare with the runtime the film already has and as it is, I feel that Desolation is well paced and flows well enough.

There is a bit more action in the film and the set pieces are somewhat bigger in scope and definitely more long winded, especially that river chase sequence involving the Dwarves and the orcs, you know that I’m talking about, the set pieces are again CG heavy and some scenes do look even more like cartoons but the story is still an engaging watch. Not using Smaug himself that much in the film is a criticism, though for the little we do see of him, he does come across as  a menacing and formidable evil force feeling voiced fantastically by the evergreen Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Desolation Of Smaug stands as a more well rounded, evenly balanced film than The Hobbit which may have felt a bit too light in tone for some, the action and set pieces are bigger in scope and it’s great to see even more new, different parts of middle earth, the stakes are higher and the story is told well, with a bit of a darker tone and more action as the Dwarves converge on the Lonely Mountain.

8/10

. Plot adds more depth to some characters,  good dramatic moments

. Great, fun set pieces with some good action scenes

. New character additions to the plot fit in with the story well

. People may be disappointed with the lack of desolation in relation to Smaug

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – review

Peter Jackson brings us all back to Middle Earth for another trilogy in The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, with a great cast including the returning Ian Mckellen as Gandalf and Elijah Wood as Frodo, while Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, James Nesbitt and Aiden Turner among a host of others also star.

The film was somewhat new territory, being filmed and shopped in 40FPS and being the first true full HD Lord Of The Rings film and understandably it looks great, from the costumes in the film to elemental effects to the various locations in the film, The Hobbit is a bit of a visual feast, everything looks very bright, colourful and vibrant for the most part. Which falls nicely in line with the brighter, lighter tone of the film and book itself, being a childs novel and significantly shorter than the Lord Of the Rings novels.

The story this time around takes place in another part of middle earth and focuses on Bilbo and his adventure decades before the Lord Of The Rings story as he reluctantly joins a company of dwarves, led by Thorin (Richard Armitage) as they seek to reclaim their home of Erebor, which has been taken by the menacing dragon, Smaug. And for a LOTR fan, you’ll probably be right at home, exploring a different side of middle earth, still occupied by orcs, goblins and elves but with a quite different feel, a lot of this differing tone is brought on by the cast of Dwarves who bring a bantering, jovial nature to The Hobbit. Though in essence, following a group of characters (in the Dwarves) with no sense of belonging and home is quite a tragic, dark story and the loss of Erebor was to Smaug was pretty calamitous and An Unexpected Journey sets you up to empathise with the Dwarves and their plight.

Ian Mckellen as Gandalf is again in his element and great to see in the role, 10 years after the end of The Lord Of the Rings, while the new addition of Martin Freeman as Bilbo is a great chasting choice, playing the straight, cautious character of Bilbo, wholly unprepared for a journey a few minutes away, let alone outside of the shire itself. While Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield is fantastic, bringing a darker, more sombre mood to the film, helping to balance the often childish humor which may throw some long time Lord Of The Rings off initially. That being said, the tone wasn’t really a huge issue for me, as it fits the quirky, jovial nature of the Dwarves. The pacing however may be a broader issue, with the first third of the film being a bit of a slog, the film takes a while to really get going but gets progressively more interesting as it goes on. The set pieces are quite large in scale but great spectacle, often full of CGI which may take you out of them a bit as scenes look a bit cartoony, but the action is still pretty solid enough.

And some more on the tone, the film has a brilliant soundtrack, well tempered to each scene and fitting of a Lord Of The Rings film, from the more sombre, ominous music in scenes with the orcs to the more triumphant, uplifting music when things are going well. There are darker moments in the film nearer the end, with characters in danger and while the solutions may seem a bit predictable, the darker moments temper events and make the story all the more engaging, with the Orc Azog, Thorins’ arch enemy being a formidable foe for the travelling company. And for a film that’s over 2 and a half hours long, the plot certainly flies along once it’s in its stride, with well done dramatic moments and a particularly fun scene with Bilbo and Gollum playing riddles in a cave,  An Unexpected Journey is a fun start to The Hobbit trilogy, lighter in tone but well balanced, with some pacing issues but overall good flow to it, it’s a good introduction to story of The Hobbit.

7/10

. Film looks great visually, albeit a bit CGI heavy

. Great great performances from Richard Armitage, Ian Mckellen, Martin Freeman

. Brilliant use of costumes, locations, re-imagining Middle-Earth