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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.

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Review: The Host by Jamie

Spoilers Ahead! You have been warned.

Fresh from poisoning the minds of one generation of young girls and another generation of creepy older women, the deranged writings of Stephanie Meyer are brought once more to the silver screen in the form of ‘The Host’. This time Meyer takes on the world of parasitic aliens ala ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and I know what you’re asking already: “Does she bring the same level of creepiness to these alien parasites that she brought to Vampires and werewolves what with the silently watching a girl sleep in her room and the falling in love with a baby after it’s been torn from it’s mother by it’s father’s vampiric fangs?” Don’t worry dear reader, all will be revealed.

The story itself concerns a future in which most of humanity has been invaded by a race of aliens who lodge themselves somewhere near a persons brain and take over their body. There are few non-infected humans left, scattered around into various resistance groups. One girl, Melanie, is trying to get to one of these resistance groups with her younger brother Jamie and her boyfriend Jared when she is captured and has an alien implanted inside her. This alien, calling itself Wanderer, is questioned about the memories stored inside Melanie’s mind in an effort to try and find the resistance’s location.

Not all is right with Wanderer however. It turns out that Melanie is special and has such a strong will that she can’t be entirely subsumed by Wanderer which causes conflict in the mind of the alien. This conflict is played out by Wanderer talking to herself whilst Melanie’s voice is dubbed over with some of the worst voice over acting I have ever heard in my life. It’s incredibly over the top and makes the whole concept of the movie seem even more ridiculous than it already is which, and I remind you that this is a movie based on a novel by Stephanie Meyer, is already pretty fucking ridiculous.

Wanderer/Melanie manage to escape from the other alien infected humans and find their way to the desert base of the resistance led by Melanie’s Uncle Jeb. She is instantly met with mistrust but eventually, as more and more come to realise that Melanie is still alive inside her and that she is different from the other aliens, Wanderer comes to be accepted by the group and her name gets shortened to Wanda. This, of course, leads us to the romance that Stephanie Meyer is so renowned for making awkward and weird. In the Twilight series we had the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob and in The Host we have a four-way romance. What is that? A love square? A love quadrangle? Whatever. We have Jared who is in love with Melanie and eventually Wanda falls for another resistance member by the name of Ian. Of course, since Melanie and Wanda share a body the whole thing is very awkward and silly with Melanie occasionally taking control of her right hand to slap Ian when he’s kissing Wanda and the like. You know, the kind of thing you might see in a wacky body-sharing comedy like ‘The Thing With Two Heads’ or, you know, an adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s adult romance novel ‘The Host’.

All the while Wanda is being sought by an alien called ‘Seeker’ because we might as well keep things simple for this movies intended audience which I assume is the severely brain damaged and those who like to keep fire as a pet. The other aliens tell Seeker that she should just give up, after all the resistance is small and will eventually die out by itself. It’s just not worth bothering with. It turns out however that Seeker is hunting Wanda because she too is having problems controlling her host and so she wants to find Wanda in order to… Well, I’m not sure actually. I’m sure there must have been some reason. Meanwhile Wanda finds out that the resistance are cutting the parasites out of the infected and killing them in order to try and make them human again. She is disturbed by this and instead shows how to do it in a way that leaves both host and parasite alive, an operation they eventually carry out on Seeker, sending the parasite back to the stars.

Anyway the whole love quadrangle is resolved when Wanda is removed from Melanie and placed in a braindead body, thereby bringing life to a body that had none. And so everything is wrapped up in a nice little package and the movie ends with more aliens and humans learning they can live together in harmony thereby giving hope to the future of our two species or some bullshit.

Jesus Fucking H. Testicle Blasting Christ this one was a struggle. As a film fan I’ve poked my fair share of fun at the Twilight series but, honestly, those things are fucking masterpieces compared to this piece of shit. I tried taking notes during it but they eventually just devolved into me writing THIS IS THE STUPIDEST FUCKING THING I’VE EVER SEEN over and over again. At least you can have fun taking the piss out of the Twilight films, I will give them that and Michael Sheen is awesome for the small amount of screen time he has but this… This isn’t even worth sitting through to try and make fun of it. There’s just nothing redeeming here. It’s a poorly acted, poorly written, though admittedly nicely shot, mess. Friends I have gazed into the mouth of madness and what I found waiting was The Host. Nothing really makes sense. The aliens claim that of all the bodies they’ve inhabited humans are among the trickiest because of their strong physical desires. I assume that they’re talking about our sex drive which, assuming that they’ve inhabited other species that reproduce sexually, should be a pretty common problem throughout the universe. Sex is what drives any species that reproduces that way, for fucks sake!

There are two problems which I consider to be insurmountable when it comes to this film. The first is that this is actually a fairly interesting concept. A human and an alien sharing a body and the complications they face could make for a really good film but here the story is so lacklustre and the whole thing is handled so poorly that it results in one of the worst science-fiction movies that I’ve ever seen. The second problem is that this film shares a title with an awesome 2006 South Korean film and now whenever I say “The Host is awesome!” I’m going to have to qualify that I’m talking about that film and not this pieces of shit.

Half a pint out of five because, again, it is shot quite nicely. Has Stephanie Meyer written anything else of consequence? Not really? Good. Hopefully that’s the end of that chapter. Laterz.

The Host




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