Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Week 21: Poltergeist

Director: Gil Kenan
Writers:  David Lindsay - Abaire (screenplay) Steven Spielberg (story)
Seen:     Thursday 21st May 2015
Venue:   IMC Galway
Snacks:  Blueberries and apple (healthy :))
Mood:    Bemused

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We have reviewed several really brilliant horror films in the blog so far so I must admit Poltergeist had a lot to live up to and I wasn’t expecting a great deal. It was lucky for me that I didn’t have high expectations because this film is a real flop.
This is a remake of the original Poltergeist (1982) directed by Tobe Hooper and I cannot  grasp why it was necessary to remake this film, more to the point I am not sure why there is a need for remakes at all? Prequels, sequels I get but a remake smacks a little of a director wanting to outdo another director which they RARELY do.
Anyway, onto the film. I for one found the acting almost laughable in some scenes, Sam Rockwell is miscast as the father figure he doesn’t even seem worried when his daughter is taken by the ‘lost ones’. The reactions from all are disingenuous, for example, I would imagine that when a child is yanked into the nether world they might be a bit shell shocked when they come out of it? The two child characters  involved Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and Madison Bowen (Kennedi Clements) are not at all freaked out, not even a little.
Compared to the brilliant (and ORIGINAL) ‘Unfriended’ and the super creepy ‘It Follows’ this fails miserably, the scares are cheap, the acting is not believable and the score (something which added extra depth to the original Poltergeist) is instantly forgettable.

There is one scene which I enjoyed and that was the end credits. If you go onto Youtube and watch the trailer all the ‘scares’ are in that and you wont have forked out €10 for the pleasure.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Week 20: Mad Max: Fury Road

Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nick Lathouris
Seen: Friday 15th May
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Chocolate
Mood: Exhilarated 

Make sure your 3D classes are tightly on if you go to see Mad Max: Fury Road because from the opening frame it is a fantastically fast, non-stop action spectacular and I loved it. Director George Miller, who also was at the helm for the original films, said that he wanted to do the film “as an extended chase” what he described as “visual music” and what he has created is an experience more like riding a roller coaster than watching a film.  

How does Mad Max: Fury Road compare to the originals? Where does it fit in the earlier trilogy? It is beyond the scope of this review to get into that, so I’ll leave it up to fans of the Mel Gibson led films to decide for themselves. For me this is a completely different film but with some similar themes. The world that Miller creates in Fury Road is scarily real yet unrecognisable, the attention to detail is visible, precise and stylish. It is a world that is resource scarce, oil and water are in short supply, not too alien of a concept in this epoch. The world is full of imaginative characters throughout, from the electric guitar playing warrior leading the tribe into battle, to the head warlord Immortan Joe.  

Fury Road can be seen in 2 and 3D, we choose 3D and were happy we did, at times it was freakily good, I even saw a member of the audience close to us flinch a few times. The same guy broke into a round of applause when the credits appeared, something you don’t often see in Irish cinemas, but can certainly be warranted for this film.  3D can be a hit or miss experience, although similar to the 2013 hit Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron) it is brilliantly done. Miller similar to Cuaron didn’t over indulge in it, instead it is used appropriately throughout the film.

The performances are strong and the word coming from the actors involved in this mammoth production is that the process was a gruelling one. Tom Hardy plays Max, keeping with the tradition of a tormented but resilient character and equally as stoic as Mel Gibson’s original interpretation of Max, first brought to the screens 35 years ago. For me though the stand out performance is Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, she is arguably more of a lead than Hardy and it is refreshing to have a strong woman as a central character of an action film.

 The action genre is probably my least favourite, with the exception of the Bond franchise, so I have little to compare it to, however, I can confidently say the action aficionados out there will be more than pleased. Mad Max: Fury Road is a colossal film of mega proportions and to fully appreciate the experience it should be watched on the big screen. Although not yet confirmed, there are rumours of more to follow, possibly another two films, so just in case I have put my 3D classes safely away till then.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Week 19: Unfriended

Director: Levan Gabriadze
Writer:    Nelson Greaves
Venue:   IMC Galway
Snacks: Quavers
Mood:    Virtually hooked :)

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As I have professed before I am a bit of a scare seeker and love a good horror flick. When I heard the premise (and even the title) of ‘Unfriended’ I admit I thought it was going to be just another cliched teen slasher film. I can now put my hands up ( I promise they are up!!) and admit I was wrong, this film is quite simply (in my opinion) completely original, inventive and believable.
Unfriended centres on the suicide of Laura Burns who killed herself after a very embarrassing video of her went viral, now on the anniversary of her death six friends are receiving messages on Facebook from Laura. We are linked into a Skype group video call with the six friends where a mysterious anonymous caller appears to be listening in.
‘Laura’ threatens to expose them all online just as she herself was cruelly exposed.

The director Levan Gabriadze has achieved something quite unique as the entire film is played out in the virtual world with the cinema screen mimicking that of a laptop. Not once do we foray away from the screen into the real world and whilst this may sound tedious it is done with such aplomb that it is completely absorbing. I was not bored for a second and in fact the extra little nuances like buffering and slow downloads all added to the tension of the film.
I think this film really highlights the ‘cult’ of social media and the inability some people have to detach from it, there is also an element of dark humour and I found myself having a chuckle several times. This is such a totally new era of information  and you are left wondering what the future implications of such constant access will be.

The acting in this film is definitely worth a mention as it is so completely genuine, you really feel involved in what is happening on screen almost like you are the seventh person. The teenagers are exactly as you would expect them to be, sometimes annoying, sometimes loud but always believable.
Compared to ‘It Follows’ which I reviewed in week 10 it stands up very well, it is by no means AS sinister as ‘It Follows’ but I think ‘Unfriended’ doesn’t slot perfectly into the horror genre, it is more of a moral tale with a few scares along the way, the real bogeyman here is the limitless possibilities of the internet.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Week 18: Get Up and Go

Director: Brendan Grant
Writer: Brendan Grant
Seen: Sunday 3rd May
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Kinder Bueno + Quavers
Mood: Tired

This week we watched Get Up and Go the latest Irish release from director Brendan Grant. We promised that we would support Irish film throughout the year of this challenge. It is fair to say that Irish film often gets a bad rap, Michael McDonagh director of last year’s Calvary got a few knickers in a twist by slating the standard of Irish films, brashly stating they were not “technically accomplished” or “intelligent”. Tut - tut Michael, that’s a bit harsh considering your first and only two films were completely based in the West of Ireland and you received substantial funding from the Irish Film Board to make them.

Nonetheless, McDonagh is completely entitled to his opinion and I am sure his opinion is shared by many but I totally disagree with his assertion. I believe in every country there are films both good and bad being produced regardless of the size of the country. Two recent examples of great Irish films and most certainly “technically accomplished” and “intelligent” were Glassland by Gerrard Barrett and Patricks Day by Terry McMahon. And after this week’s viewing I can point to an example of a somewhat bad Irish film that is Get Up and Go, which is not to say that all those involved in it tried to make the best film they could. So, Mr. McDonagh you see Irish cinema like most other countries can throw out both good and bad productions, maybe a bit of discretion is advised the next time you comment. Rant over, point made!

Get Up and Go had the potential to be something of an enjoyable watch but man does it get lost. The theme of the film is a day in the life of two young male Dubliners Alex and Coilin, we watch how their day gets gradually worse (cliché). They win money then lose money (cliché) the innocent shy Coilin (Killian Scott) can’t get the girl he loves (cliché) the brash confident Alex (Peter Coonan) wants to leave his girlfriend because she is pregnant (cliché). Unfortunately, I could go on.

If I had to find something good to say about Get Up and Go it would be that there are some funny moments between Coonan and Scott and it is clear that these guys are good actors. Regrettably though they are not enough to save it.