Wednesday 11 July 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: A Real Catch.

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen will change your life. Momentarily. This feeling will soon pass and you'll realise that the characters you fell in love with were particularly more annoying than you first assumed. Regardless of this fact, for a cinema experience, it's pure gold. The basic plot line of the movie is that a ridiculously wealthy sheikh wants to invest upwards of 50 million POUNDS into introducing fly-fishing to the Yemen. The only problem is, the Yemen experiences an inundation, however, when it is not undergoing its period, it is dry and barren and becoming more and more of an analogy for the female reproductive system as I type.

The mission is arranged through Emily Blunt's character who has a ridiculously long name and researched by Ewan Mcgregor's Dr. Jones (insert outbreak into AQUA here).What ensues is more of a development of characters and the growth and expansion of their faith in something that was not believed possible. The scientific aspects of the film are put on the back burner as Blunt and Mcgregor's unspecified romance begins to spawn. There are several back-stories to each character with Blunt's fast tracked romance with Robert, the British Army participant, Mcgregor's crumbling relationship with his wife, Sheikh Muhammed's price on his head for defying god for altering his creation and the MVP of the film, Kristin Scott Thomas as Patricia Maxwell, the silver tongued PR adviser for the Prime Minister. The story grips you as it turns from disbelief to achievement and the concept is something that everyone should be able to relate to. The cons of the film are the fact that it takes a while to actually like Mcgregor's character and after the closure you're still not entirely sure you do like him and his unnatural tendency towards our omega-3 bearing friends. Furthermore, I found it particularly hard to sympathise with Blunt's character when Robert went MIA in action as she had only been seeing the man for 3 months. I have kept a toothbrush longer than that! If Sergeant Robert had made more of an appearance to begin with, the viewer might nearly have missed his presence, as it stands, we did not.

Scott-Thomas' character is gold, and her instant messaging with the Prime Minister is witty and effective for a shout out to pop-culture and the way we interact, or rather, don't interact today. Mcgregor is quite good with his fishy-obsessed self, but as alwayss Blunt is amazing channeling pure emotion even when she has Moet and it's clearly unwarranted and she will obviously move on. The film also has beautiful cinematography which accompanied with the ambience and score, crafts it into a tranquil piece of cinema that finds a way to touch you, in ways you probably didn't think legal in public. The underlying fish theme and swimming against the current carries a film that you should most likely tell your friends to watch.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen has earned 4.5 fishes.

Mirror, Mirror: Not Entirely the Fairest of Them All.

Mirror, Mirror is by no stretch of the imagination bad. It is surprisingly good. Yes, I was surprised. I went into this film anticipating Julia Roberts' The Queen to be ridiculously over-characterised and to ruin any form of antagonist in the plot. To my pleasant surprise, Roberts was just the right recipe of charm, arrogance and seduction. Her portrayal greatly adds to the comedic effect desired by the PG film which was clearly aimed at a family-orientated audience rather than the more recent Snow White and the Huntsman. The plot of Snow White remains the same, it just appears to be toned down and much more like a live-action version of Disney original, minus the Queen turning all evil on everybodies asses.

Newcomer Lily Collins plays Snow White and for the first quarter of the film, I found her portrayal to be naive and irritable. Luckily for the film, and the viewers, she grows on you. She too, has been given a somewhat female empowered spin and one is led to wonder where Germaine Greer and Emmalene Pankhurst were hiding on the set of this and every other fairytale rework in the last couple of years. I do wish, however, that at least one Snow White movie or even television show (see ABC's Once Upon A Time) would cease taking creative liberty and changing the characters of the dwarves. There are seven, they have names which are based on emotions, they are to represent humanity and interaction. They are not meant to be called Napoleon and want to be a hairstylist. I appreciate appropriation, but there is an extent to which it is acceptable.

The other main protagonist is the Prince which is effectively played by Armie Hammer (although I much preferred his serious acting debut in J. Edgar). Hammer acts a very convincing prince, and one you could understand both the Queen and Snow's infatuation with. I am left wondering how much he was paid though to act the 'Puppy Love' sequence because I can already tell you; it was not enough. The special effects and CGI are not as advanced as that seen in Huntsman, but the costume design is handsome and well appropriated to the family-friendly film. Mirror, Mirror is thoroughly enjoyable and whilst it does not stick with you too long after the film has concluded, it has enough charm to allow you get lost during it.

Mirror, Mirror gets 4 mirrors.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Prometheus: Not As Original As Intended.

Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus' is a disappointment. That does not necessarily make it a bad film, it is just nothing compared to the Alien franchise he had so meticulously crafted. The Alien anthology (despite getting progessively worse as the numbers increased) was outerspace's answer to Predator. It focused on man's primal instincts and was a reflection on humanity. Alien was observant and made commentary where Prometheus does not. Prometheus was originally pegged as a prequel to the Alien series, which might have actually worked better. On it's own, it appeared that the film was purely designed to shock. Whether it be the idea that man was created or to Noomi Rapace's DIY surgery.

Ridley Scott seems to have purposefully made the 'other life' so close in resemblance to humans in a bid to frighten society and potentially take a stab at religion and any God-theories. It does not come off as terrifying, but rather cheap and easy. It almost made it difficult to care knowing that we (as humans) were the byproduct of an alien society and had a used-by date. This is where the film falls short, essentially comparing humanity to the shelf life of milk.

Apart from the films basis and blatant killing off of characters when the story lags, there are some standout performances which, with further exploration of their characters could have made the film that much better and more human. Noomi Rapace as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw is wonderful, despite the fact you keep wondering why there isn't a dragon tattooed to her back. The character seems inquisitive and vulnerable but clearly strong as she doesn't let a premature fiery boyfriend (potential spoiler) break her stride. I understand Mr. Scott tried to focus some of Sigourney Weaver's Ripley into Dr. Shaw, but the character would have stood alone without the freudian sexual connotations about rebirth. Michael Fassbender as the android David is perfect, especially his innocent curiousity. I found it particularly interesting that he at some stage though, developed human inquisition and there was certainly an eerie vibe to him that you could not trust and it was not his perfectly quiffed hair.

Finally, the last acting Musketeer award goes to Charlize Theron as the heartless Meredith Vickers. She is cold, cruel and perfectly executed. Ms. Vickers would be the standout for me as she seems o have no attachment to the crew, nor to the task at hand. I found her cut-off personality and stalker-ish qualities quite endearing in the film, plus she sets someone on fire. One step ahead of Adele and her rain. Overall, the film has its positive moments, but there are lapses in plot and if only they cut out half of it and then re-added necessary segments, it could have been brilliant. As someone who detests Ridley Scott purely for Blade Runner (that film was a crime against the universe), I fear some of his veteran film arrogance has seeped into this film and ruined some of the potential charm and fright.

Prometheus gets 3.5 planets!

Snow White and the Huntsman: Kristen Stewart Doing Stuff.

Snow White and the Hunstman is certainly a more Brothers Grimm take on the popular fairytale, which does not fail to entertain. Led by the almost-lovely Kristen Stewart as Snow, it also features Charlize Theron as the botox-conscious Queen Ravena and Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman. Potentially the most striking detail about this new film is that Kristen Stewart actually does something and looks something other than constipated. I realise Bella from The Twilight Saga is not really much to go on and the only other film I had seen her in was The Runaways in which she urinates backwards on a guitar. Thumbs Up, Kristen!

Everyone knows the story of Snow White, and if not, that person needs to stop building areoplanes in a dungeon. Just for fun, though, Snow White is really fair. Queen wants to be fairest. Queen thinks that if she eats Snow's heart she will absorb all that fairness. Queen orders Huntsman to find and kill Snow. Huntsman is not immune to Snow's fairness. Snow rallies against the Queen. Queen is angry. Safe to assume, good prevails. What this film does differently, is has the Huntsman as the love interest rather than the normal Prince Charming chap (who in this film is beyond irrelevant) and that the Queen is even more of a masochistic hoebag.

In regards to the films acting abilities, Charlize Theron who can normally do no wrong has most likely figured out that she is awesome and therefore thinks she can do no wrong. She can. Queen Ravena is overacted, her voice permanently on 'deranged yelling' status, and she looks the most evil when she is calm, cool and collected. Or when she is diving into what appears to be a pool of very thick milk. Chris Hemsworth is substantial as the Huntsman, but the character is not entirely given much depth with his remorse about his see-you-bye wife, taken when he kisses Snow. Kristen Stewart is actually the strongest here with her doe-eyed awe of everything that is not a castle dungeon looking genuine. Especially when acting against a CGI butterfly-stag. The other purely amazing aspect of this film is the visuals. They are stunning and transcend the fairytale status to something truly fantastical.

This film warrants 4 apples.

The Raven: A Flying Take on Edgar Allan Poe.

The 2012 film The Raven portrays an accurate description of how one would imagine the mind of Edgar Allan-Poe would function. Played by John Cusack, who despite our awareness of his lengthy involvement in film, still manages to look old to us here. The plot circles around Poe being in the midst of writers block and rather than inspiring himself by looking at eerily positioned trees or trickling water, decides to fawn after the lovely Emily (here played by Alice Eve). You think Emily is lucky to be the object of Poe's affections until things turn a little sour, despite her father never approving of Poe. Somewhere in the renaissance, Emily's father is kicking back thinking to himself "I knew it".

In the midst of Poe's little vacation from writing gothic horror poetry and short stories, there is a fanatic out there that is weeping without the newest edition of Poe. In what is almost an ode to The Bone Collector, this avid fan starts enacting murders that fit the crimes rhymed by Poe in his dreary, yet surprisingly popular works. Poe is mildly concerned by the turn of events, but things turn a little sour once the killer kidnaps Emily and goes all Panic Room on her, burying her in a tiny little coffin-esque wooden box. Viewers with claustrophobia beware!

Poe is assisted by lead Detective Fields (Luke Evans) who continuously has a few anger management issues and looks bamboozled through a large majority of the film. With only a few gruesome scenes (namely one with a pendulum blade) it does not detract from the story whic does grip you and you'll find yourself wanting to know who it was. I found myself at the pinnacle going "What! No!!", the only problem is the final clue gives the person away and you realise that there were not any other clues directing to that person. It could have been Joe Black down the road and we would not have been any more informed by the previous killings. With some nice symbolism and a shout-out to Macbeth with some blood on their hands, it is an enjoyable Saturday night film (no other day).

I am giving this film 3.5 Ravens.

Monday 9 July 2012

The Whistleblower: High Pitched Whistle Goes Unheard.

The Whistleblower (2010), is a drama-thriller starring Rachel Weisz with sporadic, if at times unhelpful, appearances from the until now MIA Monica Bellucci. Weisz's character Kathryn Bolkovac is based upon a true story of a womans struggle as a UN diplomat. With supporting turns from Vanessa Redgrave and the virtually unknown Nikolaj Lie Kaas, the film portrays a rough-around-the-edges Weisz as a US officer who after losing custody of her children goes into an ambitious (conveniently well paid) diplomatic intervention in post-war Bosnia where she receives the fastest promotion in the history of the UN to Head of Gender Affairs. Through her role in the UN, Kathryn soon uncovers a human trafficking business which capitalises on young women, each seemingly from a different motherland with proves for some interesting discourse between the languages, and uses their bodies for commodities of sexual abuse and torture, and to a lesser extent; barmaids.

 The least of Kathryn's concerns is whether or not these troubled girls have their certificates for the responsible service of alcohol, as she soon discovers that some of her co-workers in the UN have been supporting the trafficking as a further source of blackmail and thus disposable income (in case the $100,000 tax free pay for a few months service was not enough pocket-money). Miss Weisz then undergoes a cat-and-mouse chase of a few girls in particular who without the proper documentation are as good as dead to the UN.

What ensues is a horrific sequence which for the purpose of non-disclosure will remain a secret and as the title suggests, Rachel blows that whistle. The film is good. Don't get me wrong, there is a touch of confusion to the story but that is perhaps the desired effect considering the amount of information that was obscured and obtained by our "peacekeepers". In terms of acting, the supporting actors aren't going to break headlines and Monica Bellucci has apparently disappeared for a reason as so has her ability to move her face. Lady Weisz (as she will now be referred to due to pure talent) is wonderful. I don't know if it's the complete lack of style or make-up, but the emotion is laid bare on her face as if she really understood what her Ukrainian tag alongs were saying. Weisz carries the film and the strong, times-changing character is similar to that she played in Agora (2010), seems like the powerhouse woman is her current trend. Fingers crossed she will eventually get another award that isn't merely for supporting Ralph Fiennes in a movie. As far as The Whistleblower goes, its a solid film and will make you feel remorse and guilt for the last 40 minutes and potentially 15 minutes after its closure.

I give this film: Three and a half stick-figure ladies!

A Less Than Formal Introduction.


It gives me great pleasure to announce the beginning of The Reel 3D Spielberg. A blog that appreciates, detests and diplomatically comments on film. Produced, Scripted and Directed by none other than yours truly, allow me to open a realm of the film medium never before explored by a smart, strikingly attractive young man.

Please stay tuned for further posts, until then, observe and explore.