Sunday, 29 March 2015

Zhong Kui: Snow Girl And The Dark Crystal Review

Zhong Kui is a young warrior who is trained and bestowed powers by a god for the purpose of fighting and killing demons. The powers he is granted turns himself into a large 'monster' like creature when he opens up a fan. Zhong Kui also awkwardly pulls out his spine when in this 'monster' form which he then uses as a sword. Zhong is then commanded by this god to take the dark crystal from hell which he does and hell wanting it back sends demon's in the form of beautiful women to reclaim it and thus begins a series of twist involving poorly established love angles, poorly staged action, embarrassing dialogue and acting combined with some stunningly bad editing.

So it should be abundantly clear that I did not enjoy the individual parts of this film or the film as a whole. One of the larger issues is how cheap everything looks, which in many films would be a minor issue. However given how much time is spent viewing these sub par effects and that it is clearly intended to be part of the draw and you have something that is not only exceedingly dull to watch, but cheap enough that one could be mistaken for assuming this was a made for tv syfy original. To be far the costumes whilst nothing special are passable and it does seem that the poor effects are more a result of the overly low budget for what the film was hoping to achieve. But none of this makes the results any more palatable. I will say that whilst for most of the film the 3d is wasted their are a handful of breathtaking shoots where the 3d is well utilized. However for most of the film you could easily forget you where viewing a 3d film and thus if you do decide to see this film, it is not worth paying the additional premium to view it in 3d. However fans looking to pick it up on blu-ray will likely be happier with the 3d release for a small additional cost for what would presumably be multiple more viewings.

The larger issue however is the acting and story. The story fells overly simply with the twists being as obvious as possible, yet set up and revealed as if they wher meant to shock. The dialogue is atrocious and the acting does this poor writing no help either. Frequently falling into what some may view as laughably bad territory, I however was simply bored by what was occurring. The editing only makes such issues more obvious and goes as far as to have two characters meet and then show you the scene after for why you should care about the characters in the previous scene meeting so that the previous scene can be effective. This obviously doesn't work in the films favour and simply has me confused as to how someone could edit a film together and feel that this was the most effective placement of scenes. Likewise large scale action set pieces start as quickly as they end and the film starts dragging early on yet refuses to give it the brisk pacing that a story as simple as this demands.

It is rare that I come across a film with as few redeeming features as Zhong Kui: Snow Girl And The Dark Crystal. With the exception of a passable but well trod concept and a handful of beautiful 3d shoots there is nothing I can say I enjoyed. With most of the film been a dull chore that makes even the most toxic of poorly made action films that spew out of Hollywood seem like relative masterpieces. My recommendation, stay very far away.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Collection Updates (March 2015)

Their was another 20% of sale and thus I picked up a number of blu-rays. I will also take this moment to note I am hoping to post Sunday every week, which I have stumbled in doing so recently. I however should be back on track for a review most Sundays with the occasional collection update or other movie related post.

 Lucy is a film that whilst a gigantic box office success seems to have received a rather mixed response which after viewing some trailers and promotional materials I can understand why. The film itself has an exceedingly fast pace yet contains very little action which is what the film advertising material promised. It likewise is a film that I imagine will be divisive, I myself found it to be a stylish, brisk and silly ride that was a joy to view. The blu-ray itself is absolutely stunning with reference audio and video.

The Young and Prodigious T.S Spivet is a film that few will have seen as it has struggled to even have a release in numerous markets. It is a fantastic film with absolutely stunning 3d that I can't recommend highly enough. The 3d is amongst the best available which is certainly a nice bonus for those who are enthusiasts of the format and those who are 3d ready. As is the cost of the 3d and 2d release being the same price that a 2d only blu-ray release usually is.

Life of Pi is another film that features reference 3d and along with The Young and Prodigious T.S Spivet and Hugo are amongst the format has to offer. None of which are action films which despite the common view that 3d is only beneficial for sci-fi and action films the 3d here adds far more then 3d has for any action film.

Not much has to be said about Game of Thrones as their is little to nothing I could say about season 4 that hasn't already been repeated ad nauseum. I will note that if you like me don't often veiw any television shows, I would strongly recommend considering giving it a chance.. I must also note though that whilst the Australians rating logo is always horrid, it is particularly bad with simplistic designs as it is in the above. I have only viewed one episode thus far on blu-ray but the transfer is as stunning as the previous seasons. Which brings me to the end of this rather small collection update.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Let Me In Review

Let Me In features two of the strongest lead performances I can recall which
is all the more surprising giving the leads ages.

Let Me In is an adaptation of both the novel and screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvistof's Let The Right One In, and is both written and directed by Matt Reeves who’s most notable previous work was Cloverfield and has since directed the fantastic Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Whilst I am no fan of Twilight, its advent has allowed for a number of vampire films that I find myself to have thoroughly enjoyed such as Only Lovers Left Alive and Byzantium. All of which are films that seemingly where only made possible by the extraordinary success the Twilight films achieved in spite of their own qualities. So is Let Me In another triumph or does it suffer the same fate as a lesser quality vampire film.

Let Me in is a film about the difficulties of adolescence and follows the young boy Owen who is relentlessly bullied at school and has not real support from home where his parents who are divorced are to busy with other matters to even notice the issues Owen is facing, let alone help him with them. Which is where Abby comes in, having recently moved into the same apartment complex as Owen she senses his loneliness and for 'questionable' reasons decides to befriend Owen. This is where Let Me In quickly differentiates itself from other films as it develops into what is a far more complex narrative then we usually see in genre films such as this as characters both young and old are well realized and have numerous reasons for their actions. At its core however Let Me In remains a film about isolation, adolescence and love.

Let Me In is one of the darkest films in recent memory and will test
even the best of displays.

Performances are simply sublime and the two child leads give far better performances then the overwhelming majority of films and are amongst the best performances I have seen let alone those by children/teenagers. The supporting cast for the most part has less to work with but are similarly impressive and the whole film is cloaked in darkness that whilst gorgeous will test even the best of displays to faithfully replicate the intended appearance. As expected from Michael Giacchino the score is similarly ominous with bursts of beauty that superbly enhances the film without becoming overwhelming or aggressive.

The main issue I expected I may have is that the film is strikingly similar to the Swedish film Let The Right One In, which whilst not entirely unexpected given that they are not only both based on the same source material but Let Me In is also based on the screenplay for the Swedish film, it was still worrisome given the .poor track record of American remakes of foreign films. At a cursory glance those familiar with Let The Right One In will find numerous shoots in the trailers for Let Me In that closely resemble one another and as one may expect the stories in both films are strikingly similar. However whilst there are certainly elements that closely resemble on another the two films are notably different. Most notably is the characters growth throughout the film being different to those in the original film and book. Likewise unlike the 'original' film, Let Me In remains aggressive and horrific throughout its entire proceedings (which ties in nicely with the leads perception of violence as the film progresses).

At it's core Let Me In is a film about isolation, the terrors of adolescence and love. Put simply Let Me In should not be missed and comes with my highest recommendation.