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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: Clash Of The Titans 3D by Jamie

Well, it’s been a while since I last updated the blog, the reason being that I’ve been uber-busy with drinking, poker games and then I got ill for a week or so, so that was fun. Still, I am returned and with me comes a review of a film that I saw this past Saturday, the remake of 1981’s ‘Clash Of The Titans’ which was also named ‘Clash Of The Titans’.

Before we get into the review, I just wanted to mention the trailers that played before the film. There was on for ‘Toy Story 3’ which looks like it should be good though I can’t help but think they’re just doing the crazy Buzz thing all over again and they pretty much acknowledge it with the ‘return of the astro-nut’ line. Then there was a fucking confusing trailer for a film I’d never heard of before called ‘Legend Of The Guardians’ which only served to confuse me. It’s all about owls wearing helmets. I don’t know who could have forged these helmets as there don’t seem to be any humans or even apes around and owls certainly have a disadvantage when it comes to forging due to their complete lack of hands. I was even more confused when I found out it’s directed by Zack Snyder. Yeah, that Zack Snyder, the one who directed the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake, ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’. What the shit is going on?

But the trailer I really wanted to mention was the one for ‘Piranha 3D’. Is Piranha 3D going to be a bad film? I think it’s reasonable to say that it’s going to be a fucking awful film but it’s going to be fucking awful in that way that I love. It’s got killer fish, fish that kill people and fish with murderous intentions! What’s not to love? This may even be the film that turns me around on the whole 3D experience. Hmm, I may have shown my hand a tad here.

Anyway onto the main event. Now that night we had intended to go and see ‘Kick Ass’ but due to a comical series of misunderstandings and misadventures we ended up with tickets to Clash Of The Titans instead. The weird thing was that I had actually watched the original that morning. Hadn’t seen it since I was a kid and so I had decided to buy it and watch it before seeing the remake. I just didn’t intend on watching both on the same day.

And boy, did my enjoyment of the remake suffer for it. I couldn’t help but compare the two in my mind as I watched and the remake certainly did not come out as the favoured choice. Now there could be some light spoilers here, though if you’ve seen the original I don’t you can really consider them as such.

How best to describe this film? Well, you know those Junior Novelisation books? The ones that are produced for children featuring massively simplified versions of a movies plot? Well, that’s what watching this movie felt like. Many of the elements from the original were there but they were just rushed through in an effort to get to the next special effects extravaganza.

For example in the original film, Calibos is Andromeda’s lover who is deformed by Zeus for all but on of his sacred herd of flying horses. He wants kill Perseus because he chopped off his hand and solved the riddle that would allow him to marry Andromeda. In this film Calibos used to be Acrisius, Perseus grandfather who Zeus punished with deformity for casting Perseus and his mother into the see. He wants to kill Perseus because Hades asked him too. The herd of flying horses seems to be fully alive and Pegasus himself no a browny black flying horse that the other ones seem to be afraid of. Perseues doesn’t capture and tame him in this film as he does in the original, he just sort of shows up and helps him at the end after meeting him once.

Perseus himself seems to have been struck with Anakin-syndrome, spending the entire film whining and moaning. Whereas as Anakin, however, was whining about how he wasn’t allowed to develop his powers to their fullest extent, Perseus spends the entire film whining about how he doesn’t wish to use the powers granted him by his Demi-God status because he wishes to carry out this quest as ‘A Man!’

Perseus is like Supersanta. He Is A Man!

The problem is that Sam Worthington isn’t a bad actor, especially for someone who is primarily an action star. He was certainly the best thing about ‘Terminator: Salvation’. In this though he just sort of rasps his way through his lines, sounding for all the world like some kind of Jason Statham with an Australian accent. One of the few times he does actually sound excited is when he turns to his men before entering Medusa’s lair and exclaiming “Don’t look that bitch in the eye!” and it seems so completely out of place within the context of the rest of the film that you just can’t help but laugh out loud.

Speaking of Medusa, she had a confusingly attractively human face. Confusing because any discussion about her before had been very insistent on explaining just how hideous she had become now. There’s also absolutely no sense of suspense or terror involved in the heroes battle with her. It’s all a bit of a Transformers-esque action scene which is a bit of a shame. Her backstory had also changed. In the original film she willingly fucked Poseidon in Athena’s temple, causing Athena to curse Medusa. In this film, Poseidon rapes Medusa in Athena’s temple. Athena punishes her anyway. So… what? Am I supposed to have sympathy for Medusa now? Am I supposed to hate Athena?

Not that it’d matter anyway because Athena doesn’t really appear in this film. Nope, this is strictly Zeus’ and Hades’ show. Oh sure, Poseidon makes an appearance in order to utter a line and some of the other Gods appear in their council chamber but I don’t think any of the others are even named. The reason for this is sadly clear. The filmmakers have decided that they don’t want people to think too much so they are only going to include the Gods that they know for sure the majority of people have heard of and that basically comes down to Zeus, Hades and maybe Poseidon. Hades wasn’t even in the goddamn film only further to serve my suspicion that he was included here purely for that reason.

The original film was much more about the Gods and the feuds going on between them and the unfortunate way that humans just happened to get tangled up between them. This film is more about a kind of war between man and the gods, with some infighting between Zeus and Hades, though it’s fairly unimportant as a whole. And I don’t know exactly what the fuck Ralph Fiennes is doing as Hades here. He stalks about and whispers his line, mispronouncing the word Kraken. It’s all very bizarre and not as creepy as I’m sure it was intended to be.

On to the Kraken then. Well, it’s essentially a big incomprehensible CGI mess which thrashes about for five minutes or so before Perseus turns it too stone with Medusa‘s disembodied head. Which is kind of exactly what happens in the original. It has absolutely none of the character that the Kraken had in the original film, even if he did look like a plastic, four-armed monkey fish.

Ooh, before I go I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the scene with Bubo, the robotic owl from the original film. Whilst getting ready to go on their quest, Perseus pulls the creature from a chest. It blinks, flaps it’s wings and makes that weird Clangers noise that it makes for a bit. Perseus asks another person what it is and he simply replies that he should just leave it there. The message is clear ‘This isn’t your father’s Clash Of The Titans!’ or rather ‘That’s right we’re literally pissing on the original now!’

So was there anything good about this film? Well, some of the action scenes weren’t bad though, as I say, they did occasionally slip into Transformers levels of incomprehension. And the actors in the film are pretty much all good actors, they just didn’t really do much for me in this. Polly Walker, the MILF who played Atia in HBO’s awesome series ‘Rome’ is here essentially playing the same character which was great until she was killed off ten minutes later. As for the 3D, well, you can really tell it was a film that wasn’t originally intended to have been made that way. Nothing really jumps out at you (3D humour there, ladies and gentlemen) and you can’t help but wonder why they bothered with the conversion process after the fact.

Overall I’m sure I’ve been harsher on it that this film deserves and I honestly believe that that’s only because I did watch the original that very same day. Overall, I’m gonna give it two pints out of five. And now for all you potential heroes out there thinking of crossing the river Styx and giving Charon, the Ferryman of the Dead, some coinage in order to do so, here’s some advice from Mister Chris De Burgh. Laterz.





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