Tag Archives: Lily Collins

Titans or Princesses?

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I don’t know if this is the case for you but I find myself being oddly defensive towards fantasy flicks, sci-fi pics and things horrific when they open at the box office – on the basis that if you don’t support them, all we’re going to end up with is bland mainstream thrillers and Katherine Heigl rom-coms because that what’s Hollywood thinks they know how to make.

Note the presence of the word ‘thinks’ in that paragraph.

Take, for example, the soon-come first Snow White movie of 2012, Tarsem Singh’s revisionist fairytale “Mirror Mirror”.  The first trailer had me gagging, the second one less so and now I’m kind of in two minds about whether I want to go and see it at the cinema after Den of Geek’s surprisingly decent review (Mrs Rolling Eyeballs is also fond of revisionist fairy tales so this is quite up her alley).

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The thing that’s putting me off – or, to be more accurate, having me think that I’ll get more bang for my buck – is “Wrath of the Titans”.  I was no fan of Louis Leterrier’s charmless “Clash of the Titans” reboot as it squandered an amazing cast, resources and mythology in favour of delivering a movie which felt more like “God of War 4” than an actual film – unskippable PS3 cut-scene as cinema.

There are aspects about this sequel which perk up my interest – this trailer helped, the presence of the always excellent Rosamund Pike, this movie actually featuring some ACTUAL BLOODY TITANS, which is quite nice.  Plus, you can’t go wrong with Ralph Fiennes looking like he’s auditioning for Dimmu Borgir

The Antiquity Ass Kicking may have sealed things for me, but there is a dark horse candidate which also looks rather fabulous…

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Gotta love Aardman Animation.

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A Season of Vamps – “Priest”

As part of the build-up to the January 20th release of “Underworld: Awakening”, a movie which I feel like an ill-advised, one-man-band cheerleader for (don’t ask me why I am, just be aware that I am so afflicted and aim your sympathy accordingly), I thought that it might be fun to run a series of posts which look at recent, classic and current vampires in pop culture and discusses what we think about them, why we watch them and why they persist as a horror staple when so many other fictional monsters fall by the speculative fiction wayside.

To get things going with a resounding “Hmm…”, I’m looking at 2011’s Franchise Which Wasn’t, the Korean comics adaptation “Priest”.

On the face of it, this is a can’t miss premise: disgraced religious warrior is pitted against super-powerful vampire hybrids in a dystopian future.  It’s a simple high concept which has a lot of scope to talk about faith, fear, politics, the self, and all manner of interesting subject matter and juxtapose that against a fast-moving tale which hits on our enduring love of the undead and our uneasy relationship with religions and their place in contemporary society.

I can’t speak to the Korean manhwa (comic) by Min-Woo Hyung but the film which results from his work is a disappointment on a couple of levels – some of which it takes sole responsibility for, one of which is resolutely the result of my own (not realistic) expectations.

To the latter – when I watched the trailers for this film, I was honestly expecting the “Judge Dredd” film that we didn’t really get with Sylvester Stallone and director Danny Cannon, back in the mid-1990’s: a world in which we had surrendered  personal freedoms to live in a none-too-welcoming future of grim, impersonal super cities, presided over by a ruthless warrior police force whose remit was more based on a more binary morality than interested in anything resembling justice.

It’s fair to say that we do at least a visual sense of that world in the finished film, but the representation is brief and doesn’t really extend to a convincing, detailed depiction of what it might be like for people to live in it.  Like much else in the film, the film’s universe is a purely visual creation, where things exist to be cool and look striking – if aspects of the world in “Priest” don’t seem to make too much sense, the viewer frequently gets the idea that we’re not meant to be looking at them with too much scrutiny.

What was hinted at by the advanced trailers for the film is fully depicted in the end product – this is more of a sci-fi western than a horror picture and in that respect it at least manages to subvert expectations by largely eschewing the dark and dingy territory that you might expect from a story where the antagonists are vampiric creatures and setting much of the action in a bright, sun-drenched, sandy, lawless badlands environment.

Think “Mad Max” with a hint of the Man With No Name and you’ll get a sense of where the film makers are aiming at but don’t quite manage to hit.

The actors are good  – Paul Bettany doesn’t play down to the material or do anything less than his best work in this film.  He’s a muted, tortured presence as the titular character, but I wonder what kind of effort he was exerting to stay with the American accent that his role demands here – is there any real reason this particular protagonist in a ruined future absolutely has to be from the States?

He’s more than matched by Maggie Q, whose turn in this film suggests an actor familiar with the traditions of the ‘Martial Chivalry’ genre – she’s grave, restrained and capable in the face of the unstoppable Vampire foe, here epitomised by Karl Urban.

Urban is one of those reliable actors who lends even fairly straightforward material like this a bit of quirky individuality and energy.  He’s particularly fun in this film as a mysterious bad guy who has a history with Bettany’s hero and a revenge motive which is quite neat and mean-spirited.

The vampires in this film, you see, waged war against humanity for centuries until they were bested by a resurgent human race banded together under the banner of religious faith.  The surface of the planet after the war is a scorched hell – the excellent animated prologue movie by director Genndy Tartakovsky fills in some of the back story in eye-popping style – and vampires are consigned to reservations far away from the Walled Cities which house the survivors of the conflict.

When a report of a vampire attack on his estranged brother reaches Bettany’s character, he rejects his religious order’s call for calm and sets out to arrest what he believes must be a resurgent vampire populace before it can again overrun the new cities and what’s left of humanity.

If any of that sounds a little ordinary and entirely devoid of innovation, that’s because it really rather is.  Again, I can’t say how this reflects on the source material, but the adaptation is – charitably – based on archetypes and lots of things that you’ve seen before in other media.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as with many B-movies part of the joy of them is in noticing the homages and allusions to what’s gone before.  Director Scott Charles Stewart openly homages John Ford’s “The Searchers” during the film and that’s nothing if not ballsy – this vampire actioner really doesn’t have the story or stylistic chops to live up to the legacy of that celebrated Western.

It’s a pacey and concise film – the running time is a brief 87 minutes – but it could also have benefited from more of a sense of humour.  I’m not saying that Bettany’s tortured hero had to quip wise after each vampire fight, but some levity might have lifted a story which takes itself rather more seriously than is probably good for it.  We’re not dealing with the angst of a tale like “Let the Right One In”, after all – this film doesn’t have much more to say than ‘kung fu priest beats up mutant vampires – repeat’, for cripes sake.

In the pantheon of throwaway horror action pics, this is a little bit more throwaway than most, but your enjoyment of it may increase relative to your love of Paul Bettany, Karl Urban and Maggie Q.  If you happen to be a fan of any one of those actors, you can consider this a three and a half star to four stars out of five film.  Everybody else should consider this as one of those films that you watch on an otherwise unoccupied evening and enjoy despite yourself if you’re any kind of SF geek.

 

 

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“Mirror Mirror” – the OTHER Snow White film has a trailer

Lily Collins, as the fairest of them all, in Tarsem Singh's "Mirror Mirror"

You wait for one revisionist take on the Snow White tale and then two of the blighters fetch up at the same time.  Typical.  Have a gander at the first teaser for “Mirror Mirror”.

This version comes from Tarsem Singh, whose myth, blood and thunder tale “Immortals” opened last week to less than stellar reviews and middle-of-the-road box office takings.  I hesitate to bad mouth anything when all that I’ve seen is a two-minute trailer, but I get the distinct sense that this iteration isn’t aimed at me and that I won’t be going to see it any time soon.

The look of the scenes in the trailer is odd, for one thing.  It looks more like a sitcom on broadcast TV than a film – I’ve heard the late, lamented “Pushing Daisies” as a reference point but that’s not what I was getting from the “Mirror Mirror” trailer.

I liked “Pushing Daisies”.  This, Sir/Madam, is noPushing Daisies”.

As an additional entry in the debit column, Julia Roberts is villainously mugging for all that she’s worth as the Evil Queen, dropping a series of not even remotely funny one-liners and doing her best to assassinate a faux-British accent.

I don’t like to pre-judge anything, but this trailer suggests a film which is headed directly towards the ‘Does Not Want’ file when it opens on March 16, 2012.

 

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Geek News, October 7, 2011

I kind of prefer the Kristen Stewart version, weirdly...

“Entertainment Weekly” have some pictures in their current issue from the Tarsem Singh “Snow White” project – this is the one with Lily Collins and Julia Roberts, not the competing one with Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth (which looks a bit more interesting).  Still, those Tarsem colours, huh?

Den of Geek, meanwhile, has set pictures from the Vancouver set of Zach Snyder’s “Superman” reboot, “Man of Steel”.  For some as yet unknown reason, Henry Cavill has gone the ‘Jesus Hobo’ look.  It’s a look, I guess…

From "21 Jump Street" teen idol to multi-generational icon. Nice work if you can get it.

Empire reports that Johnny Depp is filling up his dance card – he’ll be the lead in a biopic of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr Seuss and star in a new version of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man”.

 

Topless Robot, meanwhile, have some updates on the imminent “Batman – Arkham City” game – meet Robin, everyone, or ‘Tim Drake’ as he’s known to his mum.

Single-handedly erasing those terrible, Chris O' Donnell memories...

Finally, Digital Spy has a trailer for season two of “The Walking Dead”, which returns to FX in the UK on 21 October, at 10:00pm.

 

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