I need to keep this blog ticking over but can’t be bothered to type anything until I am off work for Christmas. So here are a few short reviews of the DVDs I watched this weekend. I might one day return and do more full reviews of each of these films eventually.
Prometheus (2012) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_%282012_film%29 : Is it a prequel to the Alien series? Highly likely. Is it a prequel to the Predator series? It could be inferred though there seemed nothing blatantly indicating this. Is it ‘in the same universe’ as the AVP series but not part of those storylines? Alien and Predator were originally not connected at all and were done as a cross over event by DarkHorse comics… so it’s a very retroactive continuity anyway and apparently this film conflicts with the history of them presented in the AVP film.
The film is well made on the technical side with excellent creature designs but the script and editing leave unnecessary issues for the audience. There are good ideas and concepts presented but a number of issues ruin the impact and leave the audience with more questions than they began with. The fact the creators had to explain so much of the plot narrative’s context after its release even though it is a mainstream film should tell you everything you need to know. It is not art house or philosophical enough (e.g. 2001: A Space Odyssey, the different versions of Solaris, Silent Running or many 1970s science fiction films based on science fiction literature) to get away with leaving mysteries for the audience to answer for themselves. In fact many things were explained in supplemental things like online videos released prior to the film but a film should be self-contained and not assume the audience will treat it as a multimedia experience. AVP was too dumbed down while this film asks too much of the ‘blockbuster’ mainstream audience. In all honesty unless they make a Prometheus 2 and expand on the concepts they introduced I would suggest going back and watching the originals Alien, Aliens, Predator and Predator 2 as there were issues with the other sequels which, while fun in their own right for the most part, don’t match up to the quality of these early efforts. Alien: Resurrection is best viewed as ‘what happens if an American studio tries to make a French style science fiction film’. The extras on the DVD are deleted scenes and alternative scenes. I remember on my copy of the X-MEN film there was an option to have these inserted into the running order of the film as you watched it. I wish all DVDs allowed that as it was a great feature.
There is a Russian language track. That surprised me. I last saw one featured on my copy of Ed Wright’s Adaption of Anna Karenina where it made sense (to me). I am trying to learn Russian and so that was a nice surprise. Of course for Region 2 DVDs we tend to get French, German and occasionally Spanish or Italian. Oddly if you look at the back of many DVD cases they don’t account for the language tracks they offer but it’s always a nice surprise if you are trying to learn a language and find a film has one you can use. Admittedly considering the amount of technical terminology in this film it probably isn’t going to be that good in some scenes but from what I watched its all easy to follow and thus a good source for pronunciation (as long as you keep in mind David is speaking very formally similar to the actor’s Peter O’Toole impression he does in the original Elnglish language version).
The Quiet Ones (2014) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Quiet_Ones_%282014_film%29 : I love HAMMER films and felt ‘The Woman In Black’ was a worthy addition to the company’s back catalogue. ‘The Quiet Ones‘ deals with a parapsychology experiment which is a story type I don’t think HAMMER ever did before. It definitely has the tone and pacing of the older 1970s HAMMER films. I enjoyed it but in all honesty if you have seen a parapsychology experiment based film you can pretty much guess the narrative (which is true for a lot of horror films sadly). ‘The Quiet Ones‘ is a high quality addition to this kind of story but it offers nothing new if you have seen this type of film before. I would suggest ‘Red Lights’ (2012) which has a different take on the theme or ‘Insidious’ (2010) because it is a less serious, over the top, version of the idea. The DVD has quite a few extras which was a really nice surprise.
The Great Gatsby (2013) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby_%282013_film%29 : Visually stunning but unfulfilling if it is your only experience of the story. I enjoyed watching it as I do many of Baz Luhrmann’s works as I prefer a hyper stylised film adaption than a ‘straight’ normal looking presentation. I find I enjoy his works more if I know the original from another source than if this is my first experience of it. It is eye candy quickly forgotten like a nice painting seen in a gallery you appreciate when stood before it until you move onto the next. The 1974 adaption starring Robert Redford still seemed to be the measure of the novel’s film adaptions. Go read the novella as surprisingly it is written in a very immediate visual style and most of Toby Maguire’s voice over narration is lifted directly from the first person narrator’s commentary in the novel. The DVD has short clips of Baz Luhrmann introducing and discussing a few of the deleted scenes explaining his narrative choices which was actually a very good edition as it helps explain things if people are dissatisfied with his adaption omitting certain aspects of the novel. Again I wish there was an option to insert these omitted but filmed parts back into the film’s running order. Admittedly there is the director’s intent and these things are unwanted extras taking away from their clear narrative but I would like the option and it seems a shame to orphan these aspects as an aside.
Hopefully I will find time to do a proper blog entry soon.