Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Grey (2011)
Liam Neeson is OFF MY LIST
I went with to this on "girls night away from the Superbowl crazed boys" night.
I admit up front: I had seen the previews, and had not planned to see this film.
Nonetheless, the consensus of the group was that Liam Neeson is a very good actor who makes interesting choices, and we all liked his work. Which is true. Until last night, I had never been disappointed by one of his performances. Until last night, Liam Neeson was one of a half dozen actors whose choice of material I was willing to trust.
He's off my list.
PROBLEM 1: Plotted misuse of resources. These nutbars are surrounded by sharp plane wreckage, YET use none of it to fashion EITHER shelter from the storm, OR weapons to fight the wolves. Exhausting themselves to 'walk to the tree line" was just STUPID. They all deserved to die for that alone. (I should have left THEN, and gone to see a different movie.)
PROBLEM 2: Excessively poor CGI wolves. I mean, so bad as to cause me to giggle every time they showed a wolf running thru the snow! Did these guys get some kinds of product placement cash for using the software to "make" the wolves, as opposed to hiring animal handlers to use real ones? I think real wolves might have helped a LOT.
PROBLEM 3: Blowing now substituted for plot. See, the thing is, they didn't HAVE to be struggling with the blowing snow. They could have stayed with the plane, forted up and defended themselves. The blowing snow could have been an interesting thing as an adversary, or could have been used as an ally, using snow to solidify and insulate their forted up space....Instead, the snow just blows around. A lot. I mean, a REALLY lot of blowing. I'll bet 45 minutes of this movie were shots of blowing snow!
PROBLEM 3a: Intense staring substituted for dialog. I know, they have no breath to talk because they're stupidly running from wolves thru the woods; but the staring thing does NOT work. It ESPECIALLY doesn't work when the 'stare' is being generated by one of the laughably bad CGI wolves!!!!
PROBLEM 4: Generic characterization, compounded by furry hats, making it hard to tell which actors were which; the only reason you could tell Neeson was his accent, plus he was always in the lead. Actual dialog between the characters could have helped this. The only character that talked, they killed 20 minutes in!
PROBLEM 5: Consistency of thought processes: e.g., the broken mini-bottles. REALLY? You had mini bottles you could have broken and made SPEARS with, and you wait until NOW, and then strap them between your fingers??? What was that you said about using sticks for distance when you were duct-taping the shotgun shells to sticks earlier? The whole film is just riddled with this kind of 'didn't you just....' It's very annoying; but this film has at least 4 bigger problems than consistency....
As I said before: Liam Neeson is OFF my list. I'll never take a chance on another film just because he's in it.
The Killing Game (2011)
Read Face of Deception instead....
There are multiple and serious problems with the adaptation of the second book of Iris Johansen's bestselling Eve Duncan crime series.
PROBLEM SET 1: What would possess anybody to adapt the 2nd book of a series, instead of the 1st? That's particularly an issue in The Killing Game, because even as a novel, it's only effective if you've already read Face of Deception; in some critical ways, these books are a single story arc, and by starting their adaptation in the middle of said arc, the producers have handicapped themselves with an almost insurmountable amount of expositionand then left it all out!
I watched this with someone who hasn't read the books, and all I got were questions: Is that cop guy her brother? (No, he was a detective on her murdered kid's caseread Face of Deception.) Is that reporter her boyfriend? (No, just a reporterread Face.) Is that kid her niece? (Just a kid that looks like the dead kidyou need to read Face) Wasn't the killer executed at the beginning?? (Yes! Watch the movie! Read Face!) Is this her rich father's house? (No!) Who owns this place, anyway? (great, they've left out Loganread Face, you'll like Logan) Isn't Joe a cop? How stupid is he? Why can't he find this fancy estate? (because Galennever mind, they've left Galen out, too. So apparently Joe IS stupid.)
Not only stupid, but miscast, which brings us to PROBLEM SET 2: The only characters in this entire fiasco that weren't desperately miscast were the 10 year old and the dog. It was depressing, how consistently miscast these actors were.
Laura Prepon has her admirers, I know; I'm willing to concede that she is talented within a clear and well defined range. JOHANSEN'S Eve Duncan is a deeply complex character who isn't within three standard deviations of Prepon's range, though. And were the producers too cheap to even buy a bottle of Clairol? The particular shade of blonde she was sporting was so unflattering as to be distracting even to the person who hadn't read the books (What's wrong with her hair? Is it supposed to be that color? How old is she supposed to be, anyway? Are you kidding, I thought she was supposed to be 40!)
It's fine when supporting actors like Ty Olsson are given a shot at the romantic lead, but this whole production would have been 90% better if Olsson had been cast as Mark the Reporter and Kavan Smith been given a shot at Joe Quinn; Smith is a more versatile actor and is actually a better demographic fit for the part, given that Joe is supposed to be 10-12 years older than Eve. But the utter lack of chemistry between Olsson and Prepon utterly doomed this production. The "love scenes" are so deeply squicky, I don't ever want to see either of those actors in a love scene againwith anybody, ever, ever, ever!
I am a Teryl Rothery fan. She's far and away the most capable and believable actor in this cast. I've been very skeptical about all of these Lifetime Movie adaptations (let's be honest, adulterations) of popular women's fiction, but I gave this one a chance specifically because TR is always watchablewhich she was, even in this mess. Unfortunately, Sarah Patrick is supposed to be the same age as Evenot old enough to be Eve's own teenage mother. There's just nothing TR can do about being 20+ years older than the character she's supposed to be playing, no matter how well she plays Sarah. She sticks out like a sore thumb, and makes you wonder why the whole thing isn't about her!
Brian Markinson can act, and isn't so much miscast as typecast. My friend who hasn't read the books took one look at him and said "He's a bad cop, right?" What the producers should have done was adapt Face of Deception and cast him as John Logan. He'd have been a fantastic choice as Logan.
And Naomi Judd Is by her very nature 500% too glamorous to be playing Eve's prostitute/drug addict mother, even if she could act, which she manifestly cannot.
PROBLEM SET THREE is just the final nail in the coffin lid: the MIA serial characters who are critical to the action.
John Logan, man of mystery, is a total and effective red herring in Face of Deception. Why not use at least THAT element? Even if all you keep from Face is his romantic interest in Eve and the fact that he owns the estate in AZ. Except that:
Logan's sidekick Galen is critical to the preservation of Joe's intelligence as a character. Without Galen running interference for Eve when she goes to Logan's place in AZ, Joe is left looking stupidfar, far too stupid to either be a cop, or be interesting to Eve.
Bonnie herself. Why eliminate Eve's psychic connection/conversations with Bonnie's ghost? Eve's latent and unadmitted-even-to-herself psychic gift has always been what set her apart from the general run of literary forensic heroines; the decision to just eliminate that who aspect of her character turned her into a flat, uninteresting cipher. Why maintain the pointless, useless character of Sandra, and dump BONNIE?!?
I'm afraid that this ridiculous attempt at "interpreting" a popular women's fiction title "for film" is the last straw for me and Lifetime's adaptations. It's been bad enough, how Mandalay has managed to mangle Nora RobertsTHIS is just insupportable.