Wednesday, 15 February 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: THE GREAT WALL

7/10
William and Tovar are two mercenaries in search of the black powder - a weapon worth more than gold. As they reach The Great Wall of China they get dragged into a war between humanity and lizard like creatures that terrorise the planet every sixty years. Will our friends find the more noble way to implement their amazing fighting skills, or will greed and selfishness prevail?

The trailer of THE GREAT WALL undersells the movie in my opinion, presenting us with another explosive fantasy feature with CGI monsters and bloodless "epic" battle sequences. What it delivers in the end is a very detailed and highly inspired spectacle. The world created in THE GREAT Ğ»WALL is  very much alive with inventive designs of weapons, armour and mechanics. This film had been made with love and pride and it is carried through every frame.

The film is concise, precise and simple in its moral, as any fairy tale should be. The message is delivered without preaching, the action served in the right dosage, giving just enough time to stop, look around and take in this incredible world.

Zhang Yimou had created many worthy historical fables: HERO, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, THE CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, to name a few. He brings his unique Arthouse style to this big budget blockbuster, and, although THE GREAT WALL cannot compete with the above mentioned films, it's a solid and entertaining movie with its heart in the right place.

Although the film features prominent Chinese actors such as Andy Lau and Hollywood A- listers like Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe, the focus is on green monsters. Menacing, but a little pokemonish, they are not threatening enough to be scary, but will make fabulous action figures.

The grand scale siege scenes look like the Israeli sequence from World War Z and this is what THE GREAT WALL is - a bloodless zombie film which is focused on an adventure rather than scares.

With its basic story line and a few cardboard characters THE GREAT WALL has space for improvement, but it is still first class entertainment.

Monday, 13 February 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: ELLE



10/10

Michele has a full life. Too full in fact. She runs a successful computer games company, her son has just moved in with his pregnant girlfriend, her Botox-ed mother is about to marry a man the age of her grandson and her down on his luck, writer ex husband demands her attention like never before. Not to mention her love affair with her best friend's partner... things get even more complicated when she is attacked and sexually assaulted at her home...

To everyone's surprise Michele  does not report it. She carries on as if nothing had happened... but the accident opens some old wounds. And when the mystery stalker comes knocking again she is ready.

ELLE is a perfect example of suburban noir which is so popular these days. Michele is a curious character. She is a practical and confident woman who enjoys life immensely. The assault, however, makes her face some unfinished business. There's a perfect explanation for Michele's inner strength, that makes her strange choices into logical ones.

Isabelle Huppert in the title role is the main driving force of the film. She gives Michele the down to earth quality and charm, and you can see why she is so attractive to the men that surround her.

The mystery element is not a focus but a compliment to the storytelling, which describes the daily dramas of the middle class. But the story takes a turn when the villain reveals himself, and although his identity is not a huge surprise, what happens next is entirely unexpected. Where other thrillers end,  ELLE is just getting started and although the adrenaline filled finale is something you've seen before, the journey to it is an unusual one.

The movie is surprisingly funny with sharp dialogue and many catchy phrases that will remain with you long after the credits roll. Examining the many sides of the female psyche, the story puts sensuality,  sensibility, sexuality and intellect against each other in a battle royal spectacular. What are the moral choices of the woman in the modern world, and when things get dire, are there any choices left?

The book market is overflowing with female oriented suburban noir stories, but only a few of them have an impact and unpredictability similar to ELLE. Forget "GONE GIRL" and "THE GIRL FROM THE TRAIN". ELLE is in the league of its own.