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Silent Hill (2006)
Very faithful and yet original interpretation of the source material, but not perfect
I came in Silent Hill expecting the worst, simply another bad film based on a video game. Instead, I loved the experience throughout, though looking back, the film is actually quite mixed. It has many upsides and some disappointing downsides.
First off, what is Silent Hill about? The Silent Hill games are known for their unique brand of fear. They take you, the player, and put you in the role of a perfectly ordinary human being caught up in a nightmare, as opposed to some bland superhero. Having very little ammunition to deal with a supply of twisted, warped monsters, you have to think as to whether you want to fight, or just make a run for it. Things get worse during the moments when the entire town changes, converting from a foggy, mostly deserted town, into a surrealist nightmare of stylized decay.
The movie remains largely true to this idea. Rose, the heroine, is an ordinary mother who isn't sure of how to deal with her adopted child's sleepwalking and obsession of a certain town, a town by the name of Silent Hill. She decides the best way to deal with this problem is to do some hands-on investigating of Silent Hill itself, and quickly ends up wishing she hadn't after her child goes missing.
Rose is not an action heroine. She spends more time using her wits to survive rather than any weapons; in fact, she uses less weapons than any of the Silent Hill game heroes ever had. This was a great touch, and helped to preserve the Silent Hill concept, rather turn the movie into a generic action flick.
The town itself does indeed change from "foggy" to the nightmare rendition. Unfortunately, I felt that the nightmare moments were fewer and shorter than in the games, and that more time could have been spent in them. In the games, it was often a relief when the world changed back from "nightmare" to "normal". In the movie, it doesn't stay "nightmare" long enough for the relief to set in, thus hurting the atmosphere and mood.
But the basic and most important features that make Silent Hill what it is are there. The theme of the game series has been transferred brilliantly. So what of the movie itself? The pacing starts out great. Much like the games, the very first scene doesn't waste time in letting us know we're in for a heck of a ride. The mood quickly becomes subdued and more traditionally expository immediately afterward, and then the plot beings to progress in a more traditional fashion. Pacing is excellent throughout most of the film, except during around the final 1/3 or 1/4. Around there, it seems as if too much may have been crammed into too little a time period, and the plot reaches the climax rather quickly. I enjoyed the climax itself and how it played out, but the film was beginning to show signs of rushing through the story, which was the exact same problem I had with certain other major films (namely, Narnia and the first Harry Potter film).
Sadly, there are moments in the film that seem to be aimed directly at the games' fans, without having any real importance to the film itself. Music from the games is sprinkled liberally throughout the soundtrack, even being used in a few early parts that I felt would have worked better without music. The popular monster Red Pyramid (known also as Pyramid Head) makes appearances, but feels tacked on, put there for the sake of being there.
Finally, the ending is somewhat ambiguous, but not necessarily happy. The Silent Hill games had multiple endings which could be acquired by making certain choices in the gameplay, so it was possible to achieve an unhappy or scary ending as well as a happy one. Well, this movie gives us an ending that is closer in line with the negative endings seen in the games. Some may see it as a good thing, others a bad thing, while I personally have mixed feelings on it.
But all in all, I greatly enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed the plot, the presentation and style, most of the pacing, and of course, seeing the town of Silent Hill realized in film. I admit that I saw it from the perspective of one who has played the games, but then again, I saw it with my father, a non-gamer who also enjoyed the experience. Silent Hill is not a traditional film. It's not a traditional story even by movie-making standards, just like the game series is not traditional by video game standards. If you have never played the Silent Hill games before, I invite you to see this film. Please keep an open mind, and you may end up enjoying it like I and my father did.
Neco z Alenky (1988)
More of an experience than a story
This was certainly an interesting movie. "Alice" is a rather original take on the Alice In Wonderland story many of us are familiar with, but with numerous twists.
The theme is quite removed from the original story. The woodsy locale has been replaced with an abandoned house in an abandoned slum; the white rabbit, with a disturbing living taxidermy display. Many of the original characters, and even scenes in the story, are represented in a similar nightmarish fashion.
The pacing is rather slow compared to standard movies. In most films, scenes are generally sped up to keep the viewer interest. As a result, we don't see a hero eat their entire breakfast, drive a car from one destination to another, or do any other thing in the time it would take to do so in real life.
Not so here. "Alice" takes place almost entirely in real-time. Everything Alice experiences, we experience with her. I have only seen one other movie attempt that, and that movie was "Phone Booth". However, Alice's world is not as chaotic as that of the main character from the other movie, so what we have here is more of a slow, gradual trip through the many different things Alice experiences, at her own pace.
Alice herself seems to press on almost as if she were in a dream, or simply dazed by the odd goings-on around her. Her facial expression is somewhat blank, much like a child who is lost in a world she does not understand, although there are a few events which manage to stir up some emotion in the melancholy girl. Overall, Alice just seems almost resigned to her fate, as if she were simply pressing on in a completely foreign, creepy, and sometimes intimidating environment.
This movie is really more of an experience than it is a story, with its seemingly random events all occurring in real-time, but it's an experience I'm glad I was able to have. Some will absolutely hate this film for its unusual style, but for those who are more open-minded, it might be worth looking into.