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Viy comes from east slavic legends. Based on these legends Nikolai
Gogol depicted Viy in his story back in 1835. There were several film
adaptations, but the most notable is considered the one filmed in 1967
I can't say that Viy 3D is an adaptation. It is a story which uses Viy legend just as background. And this is the first problem with the film. When you talk about Viy, you talk about fear. The legends are about that, Gogol's story is about that, 1967 film is about that. So how can a film, which places Viy in its title, and even mentions Gogol story, just throw away this spirit of something unknown and frightening, and instead suggest some stupid explanation for the story and challenge the existence of Viy.
Another problem of the film is its ugly propaganda constructed from old clichés. Orthodox church is for enslaving people (wow, have you seen this 'new' idea before?), ukrainian сossacks are drunk and live in dirt, the English scholar is smart and can handle everything. In general you can see the contrast - bare and dirty Ukraine vs rich and beautiful England.
OK, so maybe for someone who doesn't care about Viy concept and propaganda, is this film good?
The story in film is very similar to Sleepy Hollow, but is worse. Plot doesn't offer something new, but fails to provide some solid story. It is a mess without any reasons. I can recall the most effects-loaded scene of cossacks transforming into devils and trying to frighten cartographer. Are there any reasons for this part of plot? No. Are there any consequences of this scene? No. The cartographer wakes up next morning and just continues his work. So you can just remove this scene from the film and you don't lose anything as far as plot is concerned. Same for many scenes.
Effects are OK. You can enjoy some scenes.
The film is not scary, there are some exciting moments, but the film never crosses the line of a real horror.
Acting is decent, everyone did a good job.
Conclusions: 1) If you like the story of Viy and want to see some adaptation - the film is not for you. 2) If you want some horror film - this film is not for you. 3) If you don't care much about a new story and would like to enjoy the effects and acting - you can have a good time.
I liked the movie. When I was going to see it I had already known that
it was not a screen version of Nikolai Gogol's story but "a movie based
on it". That's why I was not disappointed as some people who went to
the theatre to see just a new version of 1967 "Viy". Because it is not.
This new "Viy" took the same legend from the book (based on a Slavic folklore legend), the same characters, the same location - a small Ukrainian out-of-the-way village, added some new characters , CGI (quite good), shuffled everything, sprinkled it with humour (sometimes dark)and eminently suitable music. And as a result, we have an interesting mystic story definitely worth watching.
Of course, this film is _based_ on a Gogol's story, not a direct screen
version. And this is most interesting, because it creates an intrigue.
If one had read Gogol or had seen the film of 1967, he/she could expect to see something like that, just with 3D effects. These expectations disappear immediately, leaving the spectator face to face with an enigma.
As the director of this film said in an interview, they used an early edition of Gogol's text. The screenwriter continues from the very point where Gogol has put the last period.
On my mind, the story of Viy 3D resembles Umberto Eco's "The Name of The Rose", but with cossack's specifics.
It is dark - but not black. It is mystic - but not fantastic. (A bit of fantastic, of course). It is hard to predict if there would be happy end or not - many times. But this is not typical noir or horror.
Who or what is the "boss enemy"? Where the root of the evil hides - in the spirit of savage forests, in black souls of bad guys, or just in alcoholic delirium? What will triumph - an European rationality or Russian mystic? And many, many more questions.
And finally I must conclude: the film is positive. This is a perfect tale.
P.S. The priest, father Paisiy, is similar to Vsevolod Chaplin, the chief of public relations of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was quite funny to see his face in this context.
If you're a Gogol follower - skip it. The original story ends as the
movie proceeds. Yet you would definitely like to step into the new
fantasy world, glamorously picturized by the talented
scenarist+director. Russia/Ukraine has an awful lot to offer - the
whole abyss of an amazing mythology, with stunningly scary monsters
rooted in a fascinating history. While the native language speaker will
certainly find the movie rather colorful and surprising, the
"foreigner" will be stunned by the visualizations and enjoy the
unexpected appearance of a Englishman scientist whose stepping in turns
this originally "horror" scenario into a detective, "The Hound of the
Baskervilles" style. Strongly recommended to those who liked "Hellboy",
"Sleepy Hollow" and "The Hound of the Baskervilles"...
8 out of 10
"Viy", a.k.a. "Forbidden Empire" is a fantasy film with a confused
story about a British cartographer that flees from England (actually
from his future father-in-law) expecting to raise a fortune in the East
to marry his beloved girlfriend but finding a cursed place. The film
has wonderful special effects but is hard to be followed since the
pretentious screenplay is not well-written and is totally disconnected
with many plot points.
The 1967 film is a Russian classic horror movie and a little gem. However this unnecessary remake is a complete mess and difficult to understand which the target audience is. My vote is three.
Title (Brazil): "A Lenda" ("The Legend")
This movie is probably quite unknown by most people. I certainly had
never heard of it when I stumbled on it. It is a quite entertaining
little fantasy / supernatural / crime movie though. I am actually not
sure what to classify at as. It starts of as a fantasy movie but is it
really? The cinematics of this movie is very good. For me it was the
main part contributing to the enjoyment. The small world of these
villagers is cinematically beautiful, dirty and gritty at the same
time. The characters themselves with their enormous moustaches and
weirdly cut hair are great. The special effects will perhaps not win
any awards but they were good nonetheless. I especially liked the
transformation scene during the meal somewhere in the middle of the
The story is a bit of a roller coaster ride and sometimes it felt a bit disjointed. It was not really obvious why one scene or event was followed by another at all times. But then, taking into account the later events in the movie it was perhaps meant to be a bit disjointed and "dreamy" and I have to confess that I was extremely tired when watching this movie.
The ending was a bit of a surprise. This is where the movie kind of went from a fantasy movie to more of a crime story. I have to say that I did not really see that coming until it was about to fall in my lap.
There are definitely worse ways of spending two hours in the evening, especially if you like movies that are not the typical mainstream Hollywood fare.
Forbidden Kingdom is surreal and pragmatic at the same time. Its a
disorienting mix that mostly works, even though it probably should not.
There's a lot of fantastical, hellish fantasy elements in this film, that have a rather medieval feel to them. Horned demons, winged sprites and variety of other bizarre creations. This sits alongside a rather pragmatic tale of rationalism with an inexplicable, religious twist.
The acting seems reasonable but I feel a lot has been lost in translation. Its pretty clear the Russian component of this film has been dubbed. As a result I suspect is a lot of the meaning conveyed in Russian that would help to fully explain the story has been lost. As a result, for English speakers like myself, this film may have a disjointed feel to it. There is no clear segue between the scenes that make up the story and as a consequence no sense of cohesion and unity in the overall story itself.
Its worth briefly mentioning the cinematography used in this film. Its truly exceptional and really gives this film great visual depth and beauty.
All in all, for a non Russian audience this film may be a little too difficult to grasp and fully appreciate. As I said, the English translation does this film no favours. As a result its hard for me to offer an unequivocal thumbs up. That said, this is still a highly original and very creative film, reminiscent of works by Tim Burton. As such, I would suggest its still worth your time. Seven out of ten from me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie didn't reach my countries cinemas, even though it's just a
country away from the old SSSR. They don't tend to show Russian films
in my homeland (although 'Stalingrad' was shown during some festival),
so i had to pirate a bluray release to finally see the film.
First of all, i must address, mostly negative comments that I've noticed, coming from Russia and the region. One aspect of that negativity came from the notion that this movie, doesn't follow or respect Nikolay Gogol's story or the eponymous 1967 film. There is truth in this (although some motifs are repeated, like 'all women are witches' stuff, and 'scientist-philosopher' babble), story is restructured and changed, almost entirely ignoring central theme of Gogol's tale, which is fear, deathly fear.
That brings me to the second aspect of negative reactions, which claims that the movie isn't scary. Not scary as 1967 film. Well, what can I say except that that's also true. This film is not a horror, and trailer gives false impression that it is.
One thing that is not true though is comparison of this film with Tim Burton's 'Sleepy Hollow'. Resemblance is only superficial, this film doesn't share Tim Burton's mixture of violent horror and morbid humor, although there's plenty of humor in this film, performance of some actors is almost entirely in comedic fashion.
So, what this film actually is, is a funny horror fantasy. 12+, a family horror, something like this would never be approved for production in the Hollywoods. If they even decide to distribute it there, film is probably facing cutting, like the fate of unfortunate 'Snowpiercer'.
Even the 1967 film was marked with comedic performances, so I don't see what the fuss is about, as for the plot, plot is not weak, it's chaotic, especially the ending, which only adds to the overall charming film. Film doesn't resemble Hollywood productions as some claim, most noticeable is respect that this films has for all characters, there's no cannon fodder characters which is a disgusting standard in Hollywood works.
As for the special effects, they vary through the film. For instance, cgi dove is visibly fake in two scenes, while the scenes of breakfast with Cossacks if fantastic. There's cgi, prosthetic, even beautiful stop motion (update: no stop-mo, it's animatronics)
This is only one of three movies that I really liked this year and I watch them plenty. Other two are 'The zero theorem' and 'The anchorman 2'.
Seriously, this movie is special, the fact that Jonathan's dialogs look like they're from an 17-nth century adventure story, or the overall superstition and fear of everything, or the religious tones eastern style, film feels unique.
Also, you should check 1967 'Viy'. It's super.
Just in case you didn't know (like me), this is sort of a remake of a
1967 movie. Though as some have stated here and on other places, it's
not really a remake or people shouldn't expect it to be one. Whatever
the case, this has pretty good special effects in it. The acting on the
other hand is hard to rate.
Why is that? While watching (in English in this case), you might realize that something is off with some of the actors. I can only assume, but most of them either couldn't speak English or their English was so bad, they had to be synced. And that is very apparent in many scenes. Obviously Jason Flemyng does not have that issue. And if you are a fan of Fantasy Fiction, you will still sort of love this. But there are things that just don't work or are too convoluted ...
Thoroughly enjoyable bit of weirdness. The movie looks great and there is some great comedic timing from a lot of the characters here too. The juxtaposition of peasant superstition and aristocratic "there's an explanation for everything" is a great mix. For most of the movie, what is supposed to be real or an illusion from the story's point of view is in question. This reminds me of parts of Pan's Labyrinth, Naked Lunch, Van Helsing, among others. It does have some flaws in the logic and the pacing at times, and it can be a little confusing separating the characters from their grime to make sense of the story. This is one of those movies that's got a lot of art house in it so it's not going to appeal to everyone, but if you like a unique mix of camp, fx, and writing that leaves some questions unanswered you'll enjoy it. I highly recommend this one. I would go see a sequel in a heartbeat.
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