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Review: Byzantium by Jamie

The vampire craze doesn’t seem quite as strong as it once did. Twilight is over, True Blood has essentially become a parody of itself and the Underworld movies… are they still making Underworld movies? I dunno. My point is that there is perhaps a waning in the interest in stories about Vampires whilst their undead brethren, the Zombies, continue to shamble on triumphant (though I honestly think that could change is World War Z is as bad as I think it is going to be). Still the effect of the popularity of these big budget Vampire efforts is that we’ve also seen some far more interesting, smaller films be released. Films like ‘Let The Right One In’ and it’s American remake ‘Let Me In’. It is with those films that Byzantium resides.

Let me start of by saying that this film is directed by Neil Jordan, director of 1994’s ‘Interview With The Vampire’ and it’s pretty clear why he was hired to direct. The main thrust of the plot of Byzantium, adapted from the play ‘A Vampire Story’ by Moira Buffini, is all about a 16-yeat old (well, technically 216 year old) girl, Eleanor Webb (Saoirse Ronan) who wants to tell the story of her creation and two hundred year existence as a vampire but being unable to because of the rules that she lives by in order to remain safe. She just wants to live and love and considers herself a monster. It’s, well, it’s a story that’s almost identical in that regard to ‘An Interview With A Vampire’. In tone, however, this film shares far more with Let The Right One In especially as the story focuses more on her developing relationship with a young boy named Frank (Caleb Landry Jones)

So yeah, it’s fair to say that in some ways this film feels like a mish-mash of two different vampire films but that’s certainly no bad thing when both of those films are great and you can’t help but give them a little leeway since the director of one of those films is also the director of this one. And despite this the film remains an original story. There are also a number of tweaks to vampire mythos which purists may find annoying. These vampires can go out in the sun and rather than fangs, they pierce their victims skin with a retractable claw-like thumbnail. However, they also seem to able to be killed in ways that would kill a normal human, though may be able to take a little more punishment before death would occur.

I don’t really have a problem with that in this film. The reason that the sun thing annoys me in Twilight is that it’s obviously done just to make the Vampires look pretty. It’s also not balanced with any weakness to anything else. It seems, pretty much, as though the only thing that can kill another Vampire in Twilight is another Vampire or a Werewolf. By all rights, we should be living in a vampire-dominated world in those films.

I think it’d be fair to say that this film will not be everybody’s cup of tea. It’s slow and ponderous as a meditation on immortality perhaps should be. There is also the problem that all Vampire films seem to have ever since Interview (though that film manages to avoid this problem itself) and that’s that there isn’t really a character who seems to enjoy immortality. It’s possible that Eleanor’s progenitor Clara (Gemma Arterton) does though it’s never really made one hundred percent clear. It seems as though all modern vampires are made in the mould of Louis. They’re all so mopey. Don’t any of you enjoy the fact that you’re going to live forever? So you lost your soul? You don’t need one if your never going to die.

Despite all this, I still really enjoyed this film and found myself hooked as more and more of Eleanor’s story was revealed. Like I said though, it’s not gonna be for everyone. It does have Gemma Arterton dressed like a hooker throughout most of it so, yeah, there is that as well. Four pints out of five. Laterz.

Byzantium.



Review: The Troll Hunter by Jamie

A short one today because I’m feeling a little under the weather.

Norway is a country that I know very little about so let’s just get into the review. The Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren in it’s native tongue) is a Norwegian film shot in the found footage documentary style. It follows the story of three college film makers as they try and make a documentary about a possible bear poacher, Hans, operating in Norway. Initially the man is resistant to there attempts to interview him but they follow him into the forest at night where they are attacked by something and one of the film makers is bitten. After the attack Hans relents and allows them to film him and his work as a Troll Hunter and explains that yes, trolls exist and they are kept in check and kept secret by a shady government organisation. Recently they have been leaving there territory and getting closer to human settlements meaning his work load has increased substantially lately. He destroys the trolls by using bursts of simulated sunlight which enough of can cause the trolls to turn to stone or explode. They then go on several hunts with him, discovering the true nature of trolls and trying to figure out the mystery of why they are venturing outside of their territory.

First of I want to say that this film is pretty goddamn awesome. It manages to be quite tense at times but really quite funny at others. I can’t really remark on the quality of the acting because it’s always hard to gauge when people are talking in a foreign language but it seemed as though everyone was doing a pretty good job.

The special effects of the trolls are generally pretty good but there were times when they did seem very fake, particularly when the first troll on screen and the stone troll it became. There is a band of smaller trolls later on that looked very good and the biggest troll you see is also exceptionally sweet.

There was one other major problem that I had with the film. They seemed to go out of their way to try as hard as they could to make the trolls seem as scientifically viable as possible. They state that the reason that trolls turn to stone or explode when exposed to sunlight is due to an inability to process calcium which causes them to calcify (Ok, maybe not that scientific but they’re doing the best with what they have). There is one trait that the trolls possess which seems impossible to explain away with even pseudoscience and that is their apparent ability to detect Christians by their smell. It just doesn’t make sense and I’m sure it comes from old legends from the area but they discounted other legends claiming that the trolls were essentially long lived, large mammals and didn’t possess substantial intelligence so why not just dispell the Christian smelling myth as well? As far as I can tell it was for a certain part of the story which is understandable but it just seems to not make sense within the context of the reality the film is trying to establish.

Still overall it was a pretty enjoyable film and a pretty nice addition to the admittedly overburdened found footage genre. Three and a half pints out of five.



Review: The Princess Bride aka Jamie Learns An Important Lesson About Not Judging A Film By It’s Title by Jamie

Generally with a film you can get a pretty good idea about what kind of film you’re going to get from the title. ‘Jurassic Park’ for example. That title may not tell you the intricacies of the plot but you can get a pretty good idea that dinosaurs are going to be in it. That’s awesome. Everyone knows dinosaurs are the greatest thing that ever happened ever. Ever. Or take the ‘Terminator’. That title may not exactly tell you that it’s a sci-fi film about a robot but it does tell you that there’s something that terminates things. On a side note robots are the second greatest thing. Combine robots and dinosaurs and you have something so pants-shittingly awesome that it can cause your eyes to bleed.

Please consult a doctor regarding the blood leaking from your eye sockets.

There exist, however, films that have what you might consider deceptive titles. Today we’re going to look at one of those films, ‘The Princess Bride’. You see what that title implies? It implies the girliest film that mankind has ever created. It has the word ‘Bride’ and the word ‘Princess’. Neither of these words suggest a film that a young boy or a manly, masculine man such as myself would want to watch. So I spent years avoiding this film. Throughout those years I’ve had people come and tell me that it’s a great film and yet I resisted, probably because most of the people who told me that were women of the female variety. You know, the ones with the breasts and things. This did nothing to persuade me that this was a film that a tough, testosterone-filled male like me would want to watch. My God, I’m Manly.

Then one day, I just relented. I bought the bullet and just decided to watch the damn thing. After all it was only an hour and a half long so what did I really have to lose?

So how did I get on with it? Well, I will admit I fucking loved this movie. It was so ridiculously awesome that I barely know where to begin. I don’t really want to give any of the plot away because I’m sure that there are other powerful, virile chaps like me out there who also haven’t seen this film based simply on the title. What I will say to you my manly brethren is just ignore the title or, as a friend suggested, imagine a new title for it. I found his suggestion of ‘Quipping Gents With Swords Go Adventuring’ most apt.

So what can I say about this film without revealing nothing about the plot? Well, I can tell you about the fucking incredible cast. We’ve got Cary Elwes as Wesley, the main gent with a sword, Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, the quipping Spanish gent with one of the most quotable lines in movie history, Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck, a right royal prick, The 5th Baron of Saling Christopher Guest as the sadistic Count Rugen who has one of my favourite lines ever uttered in a movie (“Have you been chasing me your whole life only to fail now? I think that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard… How marvellous), Wallace Shawn as the too clever for his own good Sicilian Vizzini, Fred Savage as The Grandson, Peter ‘Fucking Columbo’ Falk as The Grandfather (The character names for these two make much more sense when you watch the film), Peter Cook as The Impressive Glergyman, Mel Smith as Rugen’s torture assitant The Albino, Robin Wright as the titular Princess Bride, Billy Crystal as the fucking hilarious Miracle Max and Andre The Fucking Giant as Fezzik. Yes, Andre The Giant. Can’t understand a fucking word he says but it’s just awesome to see him in this film.

The film is directed by Rob Reiner, yes the same Rob Reiner who brought us possibly the single greatest comedy film of all time, Spinal Tap and this film has a slightly similar feel to that hallowed work. The humour that pervades it does parody the entire fantasy genre somewhat but the comedy works in parallel with the story much in the same way that the comedy in Spinal Tap parodied 80s metal bands whilst still having a coherent plot. Well done Rob Reiner, I applaud you… or at least I would if I weren’t typing.

Go back up and look at that cast. Every single performance in this film is golden and it’s hard not to when you have a cast like that. Even Cary Elwes who have issues with (I really don’t like the first Saw film) is incredible and some of the physical comedy he pulls off towards the end of the film is truly a joy to watch. As I said before the only bad part of the film is Andre The Giant’s incomprehensibility but you kind of let it slide because you’re watching a fantasy film with Andre The Goddamned Giant in it! It’s brilliant.

There’s really not much else I can say about this film. It’s so good that I actually hate myself a little bit for not having watched it earlier. What a fool I was! So if you haven’t watched it for fear of having your masculinity compromised then get over yourself you prick! And if you have seen it but haven’t watched it for a while then dig it up and give it another watch. You know you want to. Five pints out of five. Laterz.




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