Showing posts with label Alexander Skarsgard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alexander Skarsgard. Show all posts

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The East

I’ve been writing little film reviews on this blog for about eighteen months now. I’ve almost always written a review within twenty-four hours or so of watching a movie but I saw The East nearly a week ago. Whether due my brief illness, boredom of writing or lack of interest in the film I can’t say, though I think all three contributed. The trailer for The East was one of the best I’ve seen in recent months. It gave little away and felt edgy and interesting. The film however doesn’t live up to the trailer. I’m a big fan of Brit Marling and thought that her writing and acting in Another Earth were superb. Here she crafts a script which is full of intrigue and expectation but fails to get to the heart of the issues that she is focussing her attention on.

I won’t go into much detail about the plot as some of the characters differ significantly from what I was expecting. All I will say is that there is a group calling themselves The East. They’re environmental terrorists (or freedom fighters depending on your perspective) who use tactics which can be best described as being ‘morally grey’ to right the wrongs done by large corporations. Brit Marling plays a member of The East but begins to question the morals of both sides as she uncovers more about The East, the corporations and herself.

Thursday, 12 April 2012


Battleship is loosely based on the board game Battlships and stars Taylor Kitsch as an unlikely hero in a battle between the US Navy and alien invaders. We see Kitsch at the beginning of the film in a bar being told he has to think about his future. He is 26 and without a job, living on the sofa of his Naval Officer brother’s house. He is reckless and seemingly lacks direction. Then suddenly he is a Lieutenant in the US Navy and in charge of the weapons or something on the USS John Paul Jones (which isn’t named after the Led Zeppelin bassist unfortunately). While out on manoeuvres with an international fleet off the coast of Hawaii, Kitsch (and Rihanna…sigh…) are sent to investigate a crashed UFO somewhere in the Ocean. It transpires that five alien ships have been dispatched to Earth after a transmission to their home planet. After travelling though millions of miles of space, one ship inexplicably hits a satellite in Earth’s orbit, while the other four plunge into the Pacific Ocean. Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson) orders a warning shot which starts a battle. A battle with ships.

I was sceptical going in about how a film could be made based on a game I used to play with my dad using two pens and a maths exercise book. For about five minutes, two thirds in, the film succeeds in making a film like the game. This sequence is also exciting and interesting. For the rest of the film, bar the odd overhead shot of ships in formation, it might as well have been any old Naval action movie.

There is so much wrong with this movie that I could go on for pages but I’ll try and keep it brief. Firstly, the dialogue is atrocious. It’s like it was written by a teenager who has seen two action movies. It is so cheesy that it is actually funny. Secondly, the acting is really bad. Good actors such as Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard have no more than fifteen minutes of screen time between them and instead we are left with Rihanna who mainly sits by a computer and says “Yes Sir!” I’m pleased that she didn’t take the Britney Spears Crossroads route into acting but she hardly sets the world alight and her casting is an obvious attempt to draw in people who wouldn’t see the movie without her in it. Brooklyn Decker spends most of the film standing on a mountain with a legless man, looking confused but pretty. This is apart from one scene in which she is somehow channels Colin McRae and becomes a rally driver. She is nothing more than eye candy here. After the critical and commercial failure of John Carter, Taylor Kitsch again fails to impress and lacks the charisma to carry the film. I personally think that Skarsgard would have been a better choice for the role. He completely outclasses Kitsch in their scenes together and has bags of charisma.  The whole film is played far too straight. It is always so serious. Blockbusters used to be fun and this definitely isn’t.

Much of the film is stupid and makes no sense. After an alien craft destroys a 7,000 tonne Cruiser, a mile away, it then fails to blow up a rubber dinghy carrying Kitsch and Rihanna which is ten feet from its hull. Also, after a ship has been destroyed with tremendous loss of life, someone asks Kitsch if everyone is ok to which he replies “Yes!” What he meant to say is “Well I’m fine, Rihanna’s fine and the Japanese guys alright too”. The entire plot is as full of holes as the destroyed Cruiser while the obvious product placement will have you stopping by Subway on your way home to pick up a Coke Zero. One thing that really annoyed me was the constant robotic/electronic noises which permeate the whole film. They are present in most sci-fi action films but just sound ridiculous. The film’s ending is ridiculous too.

The next paragraph contains spoilers.

After aliens have destroyed all of the modern ships, Kitsch et al find the 70 year old museum ship the USS Missouri and along with about five shells and a crew of pensioners manage to defeat the aliens when 21st Century technology has failed! Its admirable that the film makers used real WWII Veterans but their inclusion helps to pile on the cheesiness.  

Spoilers over. 

On the plus side, some of the GCI is good. The design of the alien ships and particularly the aliens themselves were excellent. A lot of though had gone into what they looked like and why and they were very believable. Another aspect I liked was that the aliens are never the aggressors. This also felt realistic and believable. If we went to a new world, we wouldn’t go in all guns blazing Independence Day style but would identify targets and differentiate between friend and foe. At the beginning of the film I thought that maybe this would be a rare Blockbuster in which the USA doesn’t go it alone but apart from a token Japanese guy, the excellent Tadanobu Asano (Zatoichi) this turned out to be the case.

The message the film delivers is commendable but is unfortunately lost in the explosions. The film is trying to tell us that sometimes the old ways are better and that we shouldn’t rely too heavily on technology but the way it tells you is ridiculous and laughable. On the whole the film is a massive disappointment. It is too long, it takes itself far too seriously, is no fun and features terrible acting and dialogue. The relationships feel false and while you’d expect a side of cheese, here it is served as the main course. If you want to watch Transformers on water then this is for you but if you want something more you need look elsewhere.


Thursday, 22 March 2012


Melancholia follows the story of two sisters, Justine (Kirstin Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) during and shortly after Justine’s wedding. Both, but especially Justine, are suffering from depression which is perhaps being bought on by the fact that the rouge planet Melancholia is on course to come very close to colliding with the Earth.

The film begins with a long sequence of ultra slow motion images that are beautifully framed and shot. While stunning to look at, after a few minutes I did begin to worry if the whole film would be like this and it unfortunately began to remind me of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life which I really did not get. The remainder of the film is split into two sections, each named after one of the sisters, the first at a wedding and the second shortly after. After the quite wonderful opening sequence I found the cinematography in the rest of the film annoying. Von Trier uses a lot of shaky camera work and at times it is more like a Bourne film than an emotional drama.

Another problem I had with the film was Dunst’s character. While she is excellent in the role and probably the best I’ve ever seen her, I felt that her behaviour at her own wedding was ridiculous. I was surprised that her fiancĂ© Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) would have wanted to marry her in the condition she was in. At the best he should have got her some medical help and at the worst, run a mile. I also found it strange that Dunst was American yet her mother, father and sister were English. It didn’t make much sense and I was confused for the first 45 minutes by who her parents were. I thought that the film on the whole was clunky and like a first draft. There are undoubtedly great moments in there but to me it felt like half a film. I also found it very monotonous. On the plus side, the view of Melancholia as it passed by and approached the Earth was spectacular and stunning.

Considering the last Lars von Trier film I watched, Antichrist had Charlotte Gainsbourg ‘pleasuring’ a man until he bled and then removing her own clitoris, I was hoping for a more enjoyable watch with Melancholia but while Antichrist isn’t an easy watch, I thought it was a better film. I realise I am opening myself up to not getting what von Trier was trying to do and while I do get the idea of depression and someone’s depression destroying the world, I just didn’t think it was dealt with in a satisfying way. The film was confusing and not interesting enough.