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michael-albertsen

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3 reviews in total 
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38 out of 49 people found the following review useful:
Quality crime drama - but nothing earth-shattering., 4 October 2013
7/10

Caught the Danish premiere yesterday with a friend - going in without much in the way of expectations.

I'm still in the process of reading the book, which I think is a fine crime/thriller/drama - but not much more than that. Not sure what all the fuss is about - but maybe the latter half of the book will make that clear.

Inevitably, there are significant changes from the source - most notably the protagonist Carl Mørck being significantly younger in the film. But Nikolaj Lie Kaas does a fine job portraying the jaded and highly sarcastic cop despite his age, and he's a reasonable fit for the part.

Fares Fares plays Assad, the upbeat immigrant counterpart to Mørck - and he's the standout in the film, if you ask me. He's a pitch-perfect match for the character in the book, and he manages to give the part warmth, machismo and endearing humor all in one package. Pretty much exactly as I imagined him - and that includes his physical appearance.

The character of Merete Lynggaard is played by Sonja Richter - and I'm not sure what to think of her portrayal. It's for certain that she's done a great job with her physical appearance - which changes during the film, to a degree not unlike the well-known extremes like DeNiro in Raging Bull or Christian Bale in The Machinist. Not quite that extreme, but probably the most significant physical change I've seen in Danish acting. That's commendable, of course, but I honestly don't think she's a good fit for Merete as described in the book. It's mentioned several times that she's almost divine and irresistible in her beauty and charm.

I imagined her as having much more presence than Sonja, I have to say. Overall, I'll give her a pass because of the work she put into her body for the film - but I would have chosen someone else for the part.

As for the film itself - it obviously skips a lot of detail, but that's to be expected. I did miss some of the interplay between Mørck and his boss (played by Søren Pilmark) and they didn't do justice to his relationship with Hardy, his crippled-by-gunshot best friend (Troels Lyby).

But beyond those omissions, I found the experience very engaging and quite faithful to the book. The atmosphere is very strong - with great photography and lighting. It has a very suitable Noir feel throughout - and I particularly liked the music, which did a great job of setting the dark tone.

The locations are strong - and I must admit that the police station and its "Afdeling Q" basement looked more or less just like they did in my mind when reading.

The buddy cop partnership of Mørck and Assad is spot on - and has a great combination of humor and subtle mutual respect. The banter between these two guys is definitely the high-point of the film.

I'm not going to spoil anything - so it will suffice to say that the ending is good and extremely tense.

Essentially, it's a great adaption - and I don't think they could have done much better, given the nature of film and the limited run-time.

It probably bears repeating that I'm not a major fan of the book (based on the first half) - and as such, I might not be invested enough to notice all the flaws. So, take that into account when reading this review.

I hope I've been helpful ;)

9 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Well acted, well written, and well produced - but too extreme., 13 May 2013
6/10

I've seen all episodes so far, and I've finally made up my mind about this show.

It's been a bit back and forth for me - and there have been times when I've greatly enjoyed it, which is why I can't be too harsh.

I've read about half of the first book, just because I wanted to see how different it was - and it seems to me the show is quite loyal to the book in the important ways.

Now, I can see the appeal of this show - but I must say I disagree with the universal praise. It's obviously supposed to be a plausible reflection of medieval Europe with some fantasy trappings - but I don't see how it succeeds.

My primary issue is extremity. Every character seems to be an extreme of one sort or another. I'm not saying they don't have nuances or that they're not "grey" - because they are, and that's fine. But their acts and their profile are basically extreme. This goes for ALL the primary characters - and almost all of the secondary characters.

We have the most altruistic honorable people and we have the most excessively cruel sociopaths. They may have nuance and grey areas - but they're delivered through extremities.

It's like the writer or the producers want to make an impression every few minutes. Every time we establish a warrior as the greatest of all time - and we get some excessive act described or demonstrated, another warrior comes along that's just that little bit more extreme. Constantly. How many "best" and "most fierce" warriors do we have again? Bronn, Nedd, Kingslayer, Rob, Robert, Bear, Hound - and on and on and on. They're all superheroes, basically. They all have a well told tale of some superhuman act in the past that hammers into the head of the audience just how bad ass they really are. It's cool the first time - but not the 20th time. It loses its effect and you get diminishing returns.

This goes for all the profile types, including the power-hungry lords and ladies and the schemers. Each more extreme than the last. It goes for the "evil" people as well.

Every time we have a person behave in the most cruel way imaginable - we have another enter the scene and demonstrate why the last satanic individual was almost kind in comparison. Lest the viewer/reader forgets how very harsh this world is.

It's layer upon layer of extremities. It's as if the world has no subtlety and the characters are incapable of not trying their hardest to get noticed at every turn.

To me, that's desperation. It's the desire to bring shock and awe over the desire to write or show real people with real issues. Sure, the conditions are brutal - and people would naturally have to do a lot of questionable or brave things to survive - but not with every beat of their heart.

If you want the greatest impact, what you do is that you pace your big scenes. You hold back and you build tension. You don't have to torture people visibly every other episode. One time is enough - and you don't have to make every character an extreme. Some people have a harmony about them - and they can make a strong impression over time.

All those "cool" scenes of torture, violence, sex and so on would be so much more profound if they didn't happen constantly.

I understand the temptation of a writer who's trying to match a true great like Tolkien. Tolkien was very different - and his was a very romantic and mythological approach. But he understood subtlety and he didn't bring too much attention to his characters at every turn. No, he built tension slowly - and the effect was that much more powerful.

That's something Martin could learn from. Yes, yes - the world is harsh and people suffer all the time. But even in the harshest of worlds, we will have the mundane and we will have average people failing or succeeding without going above or below average.

Subtlety did exist in medieval Europe - I'm almost sure of it.

Prometheus (2012/I)
2547 out of 3173 people found the following review useful:
Ridley Scott forgot everything about great movies except for the craft, 31 May 2012
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm really sorry, but this a major disappointment.

No, I didn't expect miracles or something close to the original Alien. I've been following Scott for 30 years - and it's clear that he has been on the decline since Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.

I liked a few of his later movies like A Good Year - but most have been rather flat and uninspired.

One thing I've noticed, is that he's gotten increasingly complacent with his own "point of view" in terms of historical facts and how things work in reality. It's like he has a complete disregard for plausible motivations or factual information about how things work.

Case in point - there's a scene in the movie where a certain character has to have an operation performed on her body - and it involves slicing directly through the skin and muscle-tissue of her abdomen. After the procedure, she's simply "stitched together" by metal clips in like 3 seconds - and with a bit of local anesthetic, she continues to move and jump about with some moaning. Ehm, you CAN'T have any kind of normal movement with your muscle tissue completely severed - and there was absolutely no healing involved. Just one of a series of ridiculous events.

The plot is entirely juvenile and cliché stuff with "profound" questions like who created us. For some reason, the beings who created us also want to kill us - and it seems to involve incredibly elaborate genetic engineering that also happened to kill most of them in their remote "lab facility". They're CLEARLY much more powerful than we are - and they could just bomb the hell out of us, or do it in a thousand simpler ways. But no, they seem to want to utilize excessively elaborate and dangerous genetic modification or infestation - that they can't even control.

They also like to record recent events with some kind of holographic recorder device that is unable to render clear images, only some cool ghostly images that I bet Scott loved to play with. But they're quite flexible in how they let you play recordings of their security procedure - so you can access their systems without effort.

Characters are void of personality and growth, they're REALLY stupid - and they like to freak out for no reason, and they like to stay calm and playful when there IS a reason - like when encountering a nasty looking cobra-worm - an alien - for the first time in history.

Among these faceless people - we have some willing to gleefully commit suicide by ramming an alien ship, because they like their captain, and they're required to do so because he "can't fly worth a damn" - despite him being the primary pilot hired by a billionaire to do nothing but fly the ship.

We have a religious scientist who concludes that she's found our creators, based on: "It's what I choose to believe".

Then we have the very same religious scientist look at an alien "head" they brought back - and she notices some strange growth on it. She then spends 2 seconds thinking and concludes that this is obviously some kind of "foreign cells" (impressive deduction, I must say) - and she decides to stimulate the cells with electricity - just to see what happens. No research - no caution - no nothing.

We have people who decide to open the door to their ship, seemingly with no thought process, despite having just faced complete chaos by extremely hostile alien forces - because one of their crew mates seems to be lying in front of the door. This while other crew mates have just been taken over by some kind of alien infestation.

Then we have the boyfriend of said religious scientist (a douche) who decides that the air in an alien environment is safe to breathe because his device tells him it is - and he immediately removes his helmet. A classic Hollywood scientist moment, and clearly there's no need to worry about biological contaminants in a place like that.

This movie is FULL of this kind of utterly implausible behavior and random decisions.

It has a couple of "for effect" gore scenes - but Scott manages to include ZERO tension along with them. As a result, they're mildly disgusting - but they have no lasting effect whatsoever.

The "aliens" that are a part of this movie all look like plastic - because of overly smooth and pale skin. They look like Lovecraft creatures without a much-needed paint-job.

We have a horribly predictable, pointless and wasted twist involving Guy Pearce and a certain other cast member.

We have an android, well-acted by Fassbender, who seems to be fully random in his decisions and motivations. Few actions made sense in any context - not to me anyway.

The music was overwrought and didn't fit with the mood of the film, and it seemed like one theme being repeated endlessly. A surprise, given Scott's usual flair for good music.

I think Lindelof is a complete and total hack - who only got the job because he was the "yes-man" who could match Scott's ego. This is pretty obvious in interviews - where Lindelof always manages to publicly kiss Scott's behind.

1 Star for Fassbender's performance.

1 Star for the amazingly detailed visuals.

1 Star for how the above combine to form the excellent beginning.

Now, it's just a matter of leaning back - musing over a thousand different people coming up with a thousand different explanations - each being the "correct" interpretation of this deep and thought-provoking masterpiece.

Going by the IMDb rating, I can do nothing but stay mesmerized by how efficient it is to rely on the "Emperor's New Clothes" effect and let hype do the rest. Stay real Scott, Lindelof and Hollywood.