Recently: The start of a sci-fi franchise, another Indiana Jones film and two very different styles of horror.
I can see with hindsight how the basic idea lead to franchise but by itself, the story isn't anything special, it has a few very neat twists but mostly it is a pretty standard sci-fi adventure story. The special effects still hold up very well, love what they do with the villains eyes, but the haircuts of the two male leads aren't great. The title sequence shows lovely detail, combines with great music and slowly builds to a dramatic conclusion but, like a fair few scenes, took to long to contain my interest for the whole thing. The romance was fairly nice, could see it coming but was enjoyable enough until it comes to the big romance moment, then there isn't quite enough fizz in the romance and I didn't care enough beyond "they seem fairly nice" for it have much affect. Characters were done decently enough but again, not enough for me to care in the big dramatic moments. The cast did well enough but have seen better from the likes of Mili Avital, James Spader, Richard Kind and French Stewart. Action scenes were decent, most of the movie was decent with a decent villain, decent dialog and so on but nothing more then a pleasant afternoon's watch that went on half an hour too long.
Overall: Decent enough, bar going on a bit too long, to have a pleasant afternoon watching.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
My father mentioned my sister and I had seen this when much younger but got scared. Can see why I would have been when I was much younger. There was a scene that thanks to video games, was iconic for me and my sister.
First thought: "have we got the wrong movie?" as "Willie" Scott sung and a rather camp spectacular dancing show went on. Second thought was disappointment that it was a prequel so not building on the Jones/Marian/Bellog thing of the first and it does leave me wondering if they explain what happens to Scott or Short Round future in later films (don't tell me though). Overall? For me, the film was a slow starter and mixed feelings which shifted from one phase of the film to another, it rarely felt like a popcorn adventure with a nice romance, intresting characters and so on. It rarely felt much of anything. What it did carry over from the first was humor and some nice touches, like some of camera-work which looked very nice or added something (though some things didn't age well), ditto the props. Dialog could be good, particularly with humor, and I liked the way the way they did the romance which more then made up for lack of time. Some of the props were quite good even now when age has perhaps taken away some of their power, costumes were good. Can see why some took offense at the scenes involving Indians.
Cast was decent with Kate Capshaw playing it with a sense of over the top, the late Amrish Puri had an aura about him and Roshan Seth could have made a decent suave Bond villain.
After the entertaining opening song/dance, there were flashes of humour but mostly found my enjoyment minimal thanks in part to the characters: Indiana's constant use of the word doll got to me, Scott was the type of character you can take in small doses but can be annoying given too long and Short Round is the type that is meant to be cute but feels like it is trying too hard. The story takes considerable time to set itself up, probably too long, and is still setting itself up when things start to go well. Suddenly, three strong comedy scenes, some of the rough edges off the characters so they become considerably more likable and things start clicking. What is odd is the adventure rapidly takes a darker turn and so loses the comic edge but the adventure holds it's own well enough. Some good scenes, some good ideas but some of the scenes do go on too long and by the end, the plot begins to unravel as plot holes emerge and questions remain unanswered. It doesn't stop it being a decent ending but it is noticeable.
So writing could be better. A quicker start, perhaps deciding earlier if going comedy-adventure or serious adventure rather then jumping from one to the other part way through. Going with one villain rather then two would have helped, both had potential but were wasted as suddenly the second appeared with no build up and never imposed himself, for awhile I even thought the second villain was the first one. I have no issue with changing the tone from the popcorn adventure of the first to the more serious second film, though I missed the fun of the first one at times, but this didn't feel like an Indiana Jones movie. It felt like an adventure movie which just happened to have a character called Indiana Jones in it. The only times we really get the sense of characters is in the early comedy, once the adventure starts then it could be (bar one of two Indiana trademarks), any hero with any girl and a childhood sidekick.
Overall: Didn't get into it though my sister enjoyed it
Me: 6.0, Sister: 7.5
Let the Right One In/Låt den rätte komma in
The Swedish version.
Came into this knowing it's strong reputation, first few minutes thinking that Oskar was a tad disturbing and that scenes tended to long too long... finished it by mentally adding it a "will see again in ten years", adding it to favourites and wondering quite how to score it. Not a traditional vampire film, would more say it is a drama film with a vampire an important part, and wouldn't call it a horror film either. Bit surprised it only got a 15 rating given some of the content, each adult moment justified and tastefully done but was expecting it to be 18.
Cinematography was beautiful though wonder if one scene would have been better if done differently, music was nice and in some of the later scenes did help with the mood. After the early stages, wouldn't say there was great atmosphere but it did carry a sense of the bleak world by what it showed and the way the film went. Excellent use of special effects and make up, never over the top and helping make an impact when required. Strong dialogue and good writing, glancing at the novel synopsis they do seem to have chosen well where and when to cut down to fit the film, not seen any complaints from those who have read the novel. They do make the vampire in a realistic world mesh together well, making it seem realistic while keeping a slight weirdness of a creature of the night plaguing 1980's Sweden. The film is happy to carry a sense of mystery, leaving things unanswered at times which can be frustrating in other movies but works very well here.
When not concentrating on the moments between the two children, the film is good but not great. The bullying storyline works very well, the bit involving the carer works quite well but one of the other storylines just didn't quite work for me. It has it's role in the overall story but feels like it gets slightly too little time so feels slightly rushed and doesn't click but had one powerful moment. For the big moments, they could build up tension but felt it lacked a bit of emotional power most of the time. Of the cast, felt Peter Carlberg had a bad five minutes at one point but was otherwise good, felt Per Ragnar linked well with Leandersson, Mikael Erhardsson had charisma and power, the rest were good.
The thing that turns the movie from good into something far more is the relationship between Oskar and Eli. They are good when with others, Oskar with the school bullies or his father, Eli with her carer but it was together that they were strongest. On the one hand this is a tale of is two lonely 12 year old children, finding friendship with each other and watching it grow, watching how they affect each other.On the other, you have a dark world with brutal murder and the strangeness that comes with a vampire in your world. Oskar provides the normalcy of a 12 year old boy while Eli both has a sense of being a 12 year old but also carries a sense of mystery/something unusual about her from very early on, something Leandersson pulls off very well that gives another side to their young friendship. Strong performances by the two child actors, plus good voice acting from Ceylan, excellent dialogue plus a sense of both normal children getting to know each other, of normal humanity combined the unusual made for a fascinating watch. Could be very touching and they hit their big moments, including a strong ending.
Sometimes after a film, I rewatch one or two scenes, sometimes I have a think. Let the Right One In was so impressive that I rewatched a lot of scenes and it's storyline made me think for quite awhile. Will probably watch the American version in five or so years to see how it differs and compares. Will certainly watch this again someday.
Overall: A strong central story and relationship combined with the fascinatingly unusual.
The Amityville Haunting
In the interests of full disclosure, had a bit more then usual to drink so don't know if that affects my judgement on it. Maybe makes me more susceptible to what it tries to do. Uses the same mass murders as the Amityville Horror series and the remake, then plays it for horror, does seem to make nods to the original film. Otherwise not part of the cycle.
Starts off fairly well, the four youths bantering and teasing like slightly drunk students, glimpses of things to unsettle the nerves and then suddenly builds up the tension in a few great seconds... which is undermined by unnecessary nudity and doesn't quite carry off the scare. After the early attempt to scare, the main family/story comes in. Overall, the story isn't great, will touch on idea's then frustratingly leave them, fail to explain stuff that feels a tad odd and gets itself in a bit of a mess at some points. The characters aren't very deep, well rounded enough to avoid being one dimensional but it allows them to throw in anything they want without it seeming out of character. The habit of having Tyler recap at the end of the day all what we have just seen is rather annoying. Yet it is pleasant enough, the characters aren't unlike-able though Douglas is a bit worrying and can see why Tyler annoys the family, there are flashes of humour and conservations go down pretty well. Once or twice, the use of video-recorder means graphics are deliberately bad/blurry but otherwise looks decent enough and sound quality is good. Had the slight problem of the other Amityville films colouring my view so I was expecting certain characters to do certain things but eventually managed to switch my brain off. Overall, if it wasn't a horror movie then it would be pleasant enough to drift through, as long as the brain is switched off and you don't start analysing the story, but would eventually switch off tv.
As a horror, it's attempts when it goes for a direct scare misfire rather more then it works. Partly because there is a period where it does a certain trick before the scare so you know it's coming. What the film is far better at is slowly creating an unsettling atmosphere, the sort where you leave the light on if your alone in the room for a few minutes. It is good at allowing the camera to linger and then suddenly "did something happen just then?" in an unsettling way or being more obvious with something unusual happening. None of these are scary but it ratchets up the tension, increases the unsettling feeling slowly but surely. In one scene, used music and sound effects very well to make the heart jump. One idea they try to use to further such unease is undermined by the need for better story writing to pull it off and another actually takes some of the tension out. The end phase is a bit hit and miss, on the one hand it is undermined by bad story holes/lack of explanations setting it up, on the other hand it is the scariest part of the whole movie. It really build up the tension and unleashes all it has to try, and fairly succeed, to scare. I was bit uncomfortable with one of the scenes, which I'll put down to looking worse then intended, but unfortunately the scares are undermined by one very very laughable moment.
The decision to have the film as if done by a, admittedly with unrealistically good sound recording, video camera was a good one. I know people dislike the "lost footage" genre and opening up with a claim that it is real footage is just plain ridiculous that loses the film some goodwill. Not seen many of the genre but thought it worked quite well for the film, helping provide a fresh angle and allowing the film to try a few tricks that it couldn't have done with a normal horror film.
Overall: Watched a comedy afterwards to ensure I could sleep without nightmares sort of unsettling.
<stattingXe> Dong Yan 65-63-89-70-74 Statting (e)
Hong Han (169) 36-66-75-40-86 Skills: Arson, Charming, Networking (e), Riot, Rumour, Spy, Stealth
Also playing: Pang De
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