Wednesday, 28 March 2018

enTombing the Raiders

I loved the 2013 game, so why wouldn't I want to see The Cutscene: The Movie?

Richard Croft leaves Lara to go look for something and disappears, leaving Lara to act out about her loss. Some time later, she finds a clue to where he is, so goes to track him down, using all the work he put together and none of her own. Eventually she gets to the island and immediately is with the bad guy for a while before going into a tomb.

Okay, as a movie: this feels very pedestrian. Go to remote locale where Evil Team McEvil are trying to get Ancient Artifact of Power(tm) and be forced to help them... didn't I see this as an Indiana Jones movie? Or an episode of MacGuyver? It's hard to say what defines a movie as a "Tomb Raider" movie, but the 2001 movie felt more like a Tomb Raider movie than this did.

As a game adaptation, wut? There are some scenes replicated from the game (and a whole bunch done at once), but whereas we start on the island in the game, here we take around half an hour or so to get there. In the game, while Lara is fit, she uses tools (axe, bow and arrow, guns) to help here. In this movie, they go out of their way to show how scrappy Lara is and how she can take on people one-on-one, and point out how intellectual she isn't.

Not to say I had high hopes for the movie, but I did want better than this. Frankly, the cutscenes stitched together would probably have made for a better movie, whereas nothing in this surprised me. And where is the supernatural/mystical element? Did the movie makes do more than hear someone describe some of the plot down a staticky telephone line?


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Tuesday, 27 March 2018


This is a French film that was made to largely celebrate Jaques Tati, and in english is called The Illusionist.

A magician isn't making waves in Paris so heads to London. But as this is the late 1950s, there are rockers rocking out on stage and he can't really get a look in. He ends up in Scotland, does a good act in a pub in the far north, and catches the eye of a young madam up there, who he quickly dotes on like she's a daughter. When he leaves for Edinburgh, she tags along, and while he barely manages to make some kind of ends meet, she is enamoured by the city life and he tries to keep her in the fancy clothes that catches her eye. But eventually he can't keep up with the random jobs he ends up, and a young man catches her eye, and so he bows out, leaving them together.

This was a script that got handed down until Sylvian Chomet made it. This is a rather sweet portrayal of who is basically Tati, but as the magician you follow along and can see as he despairs of his jobs and getting caught up with Alice. The animation is simple, but there were moments where I was just grinning at the canvas on display. The dialogue is kept simple as well, but we don't really need it.

This is well told in drawings although I'm glad it was only 80 minutes.


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Wednesday, 21 March 2018


This has a great premise, the house with multiple rooms and stairways going nowhere. So what's the chance of this doing something interesting with it?

The widow Winchester is making a house, and she owns majority of the company. The company aren't too happy with that, so hire a doctor to assess her. Wouldn't you know, but the doctor has a past that ends up tying in with why she is interested in him. And there's an explanation for what's going on: ghosts. Namely, make a room of where the ghost died (unfortunate if they were outside) and then talk to them to allow them to rest... if they will. Go on, guess what happens.

And that's the thing. Once you get the set up unique to these real events, then it becomes a standard haunted house story. This feels like a mediocre low budget effort, but I'm not sure that a high budget wouldn't a) have stretched it out worse, and b) make the story stupidly complicated and overblown. So, yay, on the lesser budget. But I still feel like the story could have been better.

Yeah, I like Helen Mirran, and here she's doing more than the script should be worth, although she's not exactly pulling out an A-game here. Jason Clarke is our 'hero' and is a lot more believable that most ghost interacters, until he has to believe of course. And there are a range of other character actors that are familiar, and working well, but again nothing really stands out here.

Should have been better, but it doesn't outstay its welcome.


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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Rouge Bird

A thriller where the lead is a female? Hey, I've seen Atomic Blonde and this... is nothing like that.

A ballerina takes an aphorism too far, and ends up conscripted into her uncle's business. She's not that great at giving away her body, but she is into the manipulative bit really well. She's tasked with getting the name of the Russian mole out of the American handler, but all too quickly is ready to turn on her own side. And eventually we uncover all sorts of things in which we find out she had the power of script to set up the end scene way ahead of time.

You want a slow spy thriller? You got a slow spy thriller. And at over two hours, it has plenty of time to be quite slow. Not to say this isn't decently plotted, but it is very leisurely paced. Oh, and definitely don't expect any action scenes where JLaw takes out groups of men. This isn't that sort of movie.

That all said, easily the best part of the movie is Charlotte Rampling.

I can't say it was the movie I thought it was, but if you are into that sort of thing (which took me some time to tune into), it's a decently average entry.


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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Sharp of Whater

So is this the origin story no Abraham? No, it's the consensual version of Black Lagoon!

Everyone overlooks the janitorial staff, so when a (seemingly random) concrete scientific institution of the 1950s gets their hands on an Amphibian Man, no-one realises that Elisa is going to fall in love with him (because she already has water fantasies), and manages to undermine a psychopathic security military man to get him away. Hopefully.

Can you guess that "the real monster was man all along"? Yes? Okay, that's good, because we get that around five minutes in, so we're all on the same page.

What this really is is a love story that crosses boundaries. That they are species boundaries is rather incidental when there are plenty of other boundaries on display that are being smacked around as well. This is well done, because this isn't that challenging a theme for GdelT (see, for example, Pan's Labyrinth), there's just the sci-fi layer over it because, again, this is GdelT.

I would add more praise, but this is standard GdelT great work, so I'm sure you already know if you want to see this or not.


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Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Fantastic Planet

Hey, the first movie of the Wellington Film Society I got to this year. I'm not sure why this is called Fantastic Planet when the French title is clearly "The Savage Planet".

The Draags are blue aliens, and keep the tiny Oms as pets. Oms are small humanoids they gathered from various planets, eg from Terra. (Ie, humans.) One Om pet gets his learning on, then escapes to join other wild Oms, which Draags consider vermin. But after one eradication too many, the Oms manage to get away and luck into getting their hands on technology, and then we'll see who rules this savage planet.

This is a French animated cartoon and it is weird AF. There are lots of strange plants and creatures, and a lot of this movie is "hey, check out this weird thing we came up with!" (In one case, it doesn't even bother with the pretense of following the Oms moving around to cut to a weird animal interaction.) Often I had only the barest idea what was going on. Not to say this is a complex story, just that it involves so many random moments you can easily lose track of what you are supposed to take in.

Although given that this is little creatures trying to get away to a place of their own in a bigger world, I kept flashing back to Watership Down.


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