Reviews written by registered user
|4 reviews in total|
Actually, it did. Hands down my favourite movie of all time. And it ain't just about drugs, kids. "Fear and Loathing," like the book, is as much if not more about politics and reaction against the boringly insane culture we live in. It's as relevant today as it was when Thompson wrote it. Both actors turn in brilliant performances, the direction is appropriately breathless and manic, and even the special effects still hold up well. In these times of new age conservatism and general stupidity on both sides of the political divide, we need more writers like Thompson, freaking out in front of everybody just to spark a reaction. We certainly need more movies like this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This version of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" is quite well-done, despite obvious flaws. I did miss the parallel romance of Levin and Kitty, but one can only fit so much into a two-hour film and director Clarence Brown chose to focus on the title character, which isn't exactly surprising. Garbo is wonderful--beautiful, yes, but also strong on the one side and vulnerable on the other...just the way I imagined Anna. Her death scene is profoundly moving, as is the scene between her and her son, Sergei (Freddie Bartholomew). Unfortunately for the film, while all the supporting actors are marvelous, the most important supporting player comes up distressingly short. I cannot for the life of me understand why Anna would leave Basil Rathbone's exciting and strangely attractive Karenin, for Frederic March's commonplace and genuinely boring Vronsky. They needed another actor (Errol Flynn springs to mind) to play the role of Vronsky, who is supposed to be the sort of man a woman would leave her husband, her family, and her entire social existence for. March just isn't all that interesting, and it makes the movie more disappointing than it should have been. Rathbone, on the other hand, is wonderfully repressed, with just enough passion lurking beneath the surface to make the viewer ask the inevitable question: why would anyone leave Basil Rathbone for Frederic March? You get the sense that a simple conversation between husband and wife would have solved all the problems. 9/10 stars for the sheer brilliance of Garbo, Rathbone and supporting cast, with the loss of one star for the forgettable March.
To get it out of the way to start with, this film is not a horror film.
It's not scary (unless Beckinsale's atrocious accent frightens you, as
did me) and it's not particularly full of horror of any description. I
will start with what is wrong about this film--then what is right
about it (the latter being the larger part of this review).
Yes, Beckinsale and Jackman do take themselves too seriously.
They seem to be under the impression that this film was meant to
be some sort of Shakespearean-type horrorfest--a blend of the
artfulness of "Hamlet" and the terrifying aspects of the 1931
"Dracula." Well, the truth is that the film seems to be leaning
closer to the Hammer studios and/or Rocky Horror-type scenario.
It's supposed to be funny-something that neither Jackman nor
Beckinsale seem to comprehend. Beckinsale's accent is horrible,
and not in the funny kind of way. It's just bad. Will Kemp as her
brother is probably the only bad actor in the lot, and he proves it
too. Yeah, acting school. Beyond that, the carriage exploding like
an 18-wheeler at the bottom of a gorge in Transylvania (I know that
there's supposed to be nitroglycerin in it, but really now) is just a
little too over the top for even my sense of the absurd. So much for
the bad. Now for the good.
First of all, the sets are fantastic and the CGI appropriately silly in
places. The opening scene is a glorious homage to the masters
and every shot is perfectly, gloriously derivative, making the film
into a work of post-post-modernity. David Wenham as Carl is
simply marvelous and funny, and Shuler Hensley as a semi-philosophical Frankenstein Monster makes the world
appear at least a little more serious--maybe. The brides of
Dracula are, well, the brides of Dracula,and with their shrieking
laughter and rampant desire to sleep with anything and everything,
they are entertaining. What more can you expect from a tribute to
the B-horror movie genre?
A word must be said about the incredibly attractive and sexy
Richard Roxburgh as Dracula. Honestly, the sexiest Dracula
since...well, the sexiest Dracula. He is so wonderfully over the top,
taking the role both seriously and with a grain of salt at the same
time, and never once losing his accent (which, like everything else
in this film, is properly affected and a little silly). If this film is
destined to be made into a movie franchise, let Sommers bring
back Roxburgh for the sequel! He was by far the best part of the
film, and always enjoyable to watch. Let this be the incarnation of
a cinematic Dracula that is here to stay!
So, it's not a bad film if you can laugh at it. Don't rent it, buy it, or go see it without knowing that you have to laugh (whether you're
supposed to or not is beside the point). Take "Van Helsing" too
seriously, and it's a dud. But, take it as it seems meant to be
taken, as a tribute to B-horror films and an entertaining (if not
totally campy) piece of Hollywood silliness, and you'll be satisfied.
There's no reason not to laugh.
OK, so it isn't the most original adaptation of Conan Doyle's
masterpiece, but truth be told, this version of "The Hound" is pretty
good. While the great debate among Holmesians rages over the more
definitive actor to play Holmes (Rathbone or Brett?), Roxburgh has
deftly slipped into the role and made it his own, and Hart has managed
to produce a fairly good Dr. Watson (not the bungling, Nigel Bruce
The story need not be retold here, because most people who see this film will have either read the book or seen one of the other versions. While certainly not sticking close to the original story (for a more complete adaptation, see the Granada television version with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke), this film does manage to introduce some new concepts into the Holmes film genre that make it interesting. The relationship between Holmes and Watson is evidently strained, and there are points when Watson becomes properly angry with his friend's behaviour. Watson is much more his own person in this version; not one to be put down or controlled by the kindly, if domineering, Holmes. Because "The Hound" gives Watson the biggest part, it necessitates that Watson be an interesting and compelling character, as we essentially follow him around for most of the time. Hart does manage to captivate the audience, but as usual there comes a point when one simply wants Holmes back.
Roxburgh's Holmes is a little less neurotic and a little less personal than Brett's exquisitely human portrayal of the detective, but no ones expects Roxburgh to be Brett, after all. Holmes's addiction to cocaine is more prevalent in this than in any other film (or, for that matter, any of the books or short stories), making sense of Holmes's somewhat erratic behaviour, but threatening to irk the more traditional, purist Holmesians. There is a definite sexuality to Roxburgh's Holmes that did not really exist in Rathbone's portrayal , and that only just began to come to the forefront with Brett. Roxburgh and Brett are the two best-looking men to play Holmes, and the result is that the caricature with deer-stalker and pipe has gradually dissipated and become that of a tall, elegant gentleman.
Essentially, what we have with this film is not a perfect film in any sense, but a very interesting interpretation of a story that has been done many, many time by many different people. Frankly, I would love to see Roxburgh and Hart come back to do a few more of these, because they have the potentiality to become, if not the definitive Holmes and Watson, at least intriguing incarnations.