Cinepub


2011 in Film: Number 1: Season of the Witch by Jamie

Spoilers ahead.

Starting a new little project on this blog and going to try and watch every film released in 2011 (at least as listed on Wikipedia) and as luck would have it, I must begin with a Nicolas Cage film. Now normally I like to do a video review of Cage’s films but I’m having some technical issues in that department so I have to resort to something barbaric like typing out the words with my fingers rather than speaking them with my mouth parts. Enough of my problems, on to the review!

The film opens during the crusades which were apparently fought by quipping Americans who may or may not be trying to do English-esque accents. I honestly can’t tell if Nicolas Cage is trying speak with an English accent and just failing or if it’s just the way his voice goes when he’s trying to speak in somewhat faux Olde English. Ron Perlman, on the other hand, doesn’t even seem to bother and honestly, his performance is more enjoyable because of it. Anyway, the two Crusadery chums are hacking their way through battles, killing for God and drinking with wenches and just generally having as good a time as two knights can. After a while though, they come to the realisation that they aren’t just killing deserving infidel warriors but also women and children too. They decide that enough is enough and leave the Crusades and go on the run as deserters.

So they find themselves wandering around medieval Europe. What are they doing? Well, that’s never really explained. Probably going from village to village and righting wrongs where they can. That’s the ind of shit that righteous outlaws are always doing from Robin Hood to The A-Team. Anyway, they come across a kingdom blighted by the plague where they are recognised and arrested. However they are given a holy quest by a plague-ridden Christopher Lee (in one of the more bizarre cameo appearances in film history). The quest is to deliver an alleged witch to a monastery where a rite will be performed that will remove the curse of the plague. Cage is reticent to sign up and work for the church again but ultimately relents in exchange for a guarantee that the accused witch will receive a fair trial and that he and Perlman are given full pardons.

They are accompanied on their quest by a priest, the unfortunately named Debelzaq, a swindler/merchant named Hagamar, another knight whose own land has been ravaged by the plague, causing him to lose his daughter, named Ulrich and a young aspiring knight Kay. They set off and, honestly, not much actually happens on the way. There’s a few deaths and few things which are possibly meant to make you wonder if the girl actually has supernatural powers or not whilst actually makes it pretty fucking obvious that she has supernatural powers. What happens could best be described as dude gets stabbed, there’s a rickety bridge on which no one dies, some demon wolves and then bam. They’re at the monastery.

There are bad things afoot at the monastery however! Apparently the plague has struck there too and it’s down to Debelzaq to try and perform the rite to sort out the witch. But bad things are afoot inside the girls body! It turns out that she’s not a witch at all but she is, in fact, possessed by bad CGI Satan! So any chance of this being in anyway interesting is almost immediately lost, any hint that maybe the girl wasn’t supernatural and was perhaps just crazy is instantly gone (though they would have had to explain a shit lot of the stuff that happened earlier if they had gone that route). What we’re left with is a final battle between our main cast and some poor special effects. Ugh.

So where exactly did this film go wrong? Well, there’s the cheap look which renders everything just a little unbelievable, the poor writing and somewhat stilted acting but the biggest problem is the constant shift in tone. This film doesn’t know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a buddy action comedy? A psychological thriller? A straight up supernatural horror? Don’t get me wrong, tonal shifts in movies can work but not when they seem to be happening every time there’s a scene change. It’s just comes off as jarring.

Was there anything good about the film? Well, this isn’t the worse that Cage has been and he isn’t exactly bad at playing the repentant, world-weary warrior but you can’t help but feel a little disappointed that Cage isn’t playing it a little crazier given the setting. Also Perlman’s entertaining but he’s taken being entertaining in cheesy bullshit and turned it into an art form.

At the end of the day those two points aren’t really enough to recommend the movie to anyone really. I will say that there are entertaining moments but they are very few and far between and most of them are quite near the beginning of the film. Overall I can’t in good conscience give this more than one pint out of five. Laterz.



Zombie Month: Doghouse by Jamie

Kind of working with a touch of flu here so yeah, this isn’t my best work. Sue me. Also, slight spoilers ahead.

Any British Zombie comedy film, in fact probably any Zombie comedy film, is going to get compared to ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Hell, I’ve done it throughout several of my reviews already. It is the nature of things. Some of them come of favourably by doing something different or by being influenced by but not copying ‘Shaun…’. Others, well, others don’t come of quite as well against it. Doghouse is one of those films.

The basic plot is a bunch of guys from London decide to go on a lads weekend to the small village of Moodley, where the women are rumoured to outnumber the men 4 to 1, in order to help their mate Vince (Stephen Graham) get over his recent divorce. The guys are a mix of general steretypes. You’ve got Neil (Danny Dyer), the ladies man, Mikey (Noel Clarke), the kind of stupid one, Matt (Lee Ingleby), the geek, Patrick (Keith-Lee Castle), the overstressed one who’s trying to work it out with stress relief podcasts and Graham (Emil Marawa), the gay one. Alright, I suppose they aren’t all exactly stereotypes but still.

Anyway, they get to Moodley and discover that the town seems pretty deserted. The reason? A virus has broken out which infects only the women and turns them into flesh-hungry Zombies. The boys have to do their best to survive, find out the reason behind the outbreak and escape the village.

Now, the first stumbling block you’re going to have with this film, if you’re anything like me, is the inclusion of Danny Dyer. The tiny-headed, half-human half-chipmunk hybrid just pisses me off. It doesn’t help that he’s playing a particularly unlikeable character in this as well. Still, he gets stabbed in the hand pretty early on and he get’s a little bit tortured later on as well, so yeah, thanks movie. I sincerely mean that.

The biggest problem that this film really has is ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Without it, it’d probably be seen as a decent if somewhat lacklustre Zombie comedy with a few chuckles here and there but since ‘Shaun…’ exists, it really just comes of as a bit of a tired retread of territory which has already been covered much better. Sure, it removes the romantic aspect and replaces it with a kind of bromance motidfd throughout but that slight difference isn’t enough to set it apart.

What the film does get right is the gore. There are intestines strewn all over the village, zombies get horribly mangled and burned and victims get axes to their brain areas. Yes, there’s no shortage of the visceral. What it falls down on is the humour. For example, this is an actual joke form the film “What kind of virus only effects women? Bird flu.” Yes. Hilarious. Except of course it isn’t. A lot of the jokes fall flat and while there are moments that you just can’t help but chuckle at, they are few and far between. There’s also a slight misogynist tinge to everything which, I understand, it’s a ‘lads’ film and that kinda things to be expected but the final moral seems to be every now and then a woman just needs a good beating to stop them from trying to domesticate men. I may be reading to much into it but that’s kinda the gist I got…

Still, I will say that the relationship between the guys seems believable enough. As a guy there are definite archetypes that you can recognise in a group of guy friends and, stereotypical as they may be, they are still kinda true so well done for that movie. Overall, two and a half pints out of five.




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