Parental advice: The characters use rather violent language in some scenes, shouting at each other and there's even face-slaps, so you might consider leaving the kids at home for this one.
There's not a single joke in this movie and very few sceens anyone would find funny ... so, as mentioned, as a date movie it really depends on your date - but if he/she likes 'Enter the Void', well - you're lucky, that's obviously a person worth knowing!
So, while the ingredients of the comic are all in place - stupid criminals, trussed-up low-cut girl victims, dangerous low-cut ladies, techical gadgets and the (more or less) all-knowing, cynic and invincible (in the end) hero - it's too little to make the 90 minute film really gripping. Another drawback is the low budget: the actors were mostly B material and there's a very limited amount of sets.
At least it's not boring, most gags are ok, the pace is not too fast but relentless, many scenes even felt a few sentences short. Recommended for fans of the comics or completists of 50s german cinema.
Recommended for Zeman and animation fans; on its own merits this film is a bit boring.
Was there something not to like? There's a side-plot about enemy agents which is completely superfluous; every scene we spend with those cardboard Russians is a scene wasted imho; ads nothing to the story and takes us away from the protagonists. In a fairy-tale things should be kept simple.
But overall, while not delToro's best, The Shape of Water is definitely worth a ticket.
The real triumph of Phantom Thread lies in the fact that it manages to make the strange relationship between Alma and Reynolds believable despite the extremes of silliness and brutality and tenderness it goes through. Highly recommended!
Overall, interesting mostly for fetish completists; as an actual comedy it falls a few inches short.
The movie gets plus points for trying to get its history right; I liked how it highlights the fact that even then, in the late stone- / early bronze age, humankind was already far removed from the nature it still depended upon. A good idea in this respect were some rituals, plus of course the story's MacGuffin, an obsidian shard used for rituals which is kept in a pretty wooden box.
On the minus side, the amount of violence was maybe historically accurate but if you already go the length of portraying a stone age society halfway correctly (including made-up speech), you might as well include the nicer aspects of human life. A few tender looks and embraces during the first five minutes is all we get.
From the technical POV, the production is OK, out of their limited budget they got everything which could be expected and then some - the sets were fine, the costumes great, casting and acting good (nice lengthy cameo by Franco Nero) and of course the spectacular outdoor locations are an asset. Yet in many instances the camera-work stays rather pedestrian, so while the story shares some genes with "The Revenant", the photography is of lower quality (no big deal, Lubezki is a genius and no mistake). There's only two scenes where the pictures really take flight - one chase along a ridge filmed with a drone or cable-camera against spectacular backdrops, really vertigo-inducing that one - and one lengthy sequence where the hero is trapped in a crevasse below the glacier. Both scenes only emphasize that there was a better movie somewhere but it got buried under a too-simple and violent plot.
Recommended all the same, especially for the realistic portrayal of those early societies.
Which brings us to the weakest point - the comedy aspects just don't work that well here, most gags are rather cheap laughs, some not very funny at all - the drama parts are more enjoyable. Recommended all the same!
Next, the sheer inventiveness of designers, artists, set builders, wardrobe and makeup - again, makes us painfully realise how off-the-rack and dull most blockbusters are. Add to that Besson's quirky aesthetics and you're in a world that's nearly overpowering you with its inventiveness, its visual splendour, and also plain fun. I mean, a movie where a Jessica Rabbit cameo doesn't feel forced or out of place, that's just unique.
In my opinion, the optical fireworks were even a bit overdone, some scenes were plainly set up in a certain way to make them more spectacular but didn't really add to the story - an early on action sequence in a half-virtual market comes to mind that would work nearly equally well in a normal bazaar, just without some gags.
As to the story-line - lovers of the books (as I am) will recognise a lot of ingredients and species, and the main set-piece, a space city, is obviously taken from "L'Ambassadeurs des Ombres", but the story itself is a new one and revolves around a planet wiped out in a war about 30 years back, and the repercussions thereof. The "secret" someone wants to keep is not that secret to us, in fact about half an hour into the movie you already have a pretty good idea of what's going on, the joy comes from the detours we're taking on the road to the happy ending, not from silly plot twists.
Now, the characters, Valerian and Laureline: Dane DeHaan looks too young for his part from the comics (where Valerian was the more experienced partner, here he just has a higher degree), Cara Delevingne is perfectly cast, standing her ground with just the right amount of sarcasm and spunk. The team dynamics were as readers know it - Valerian the one who tends to stick to the rules and play by book while Laureline tends to act more impulsively - but both working together really well, be it as a duo or solo. There is a romance angle in the movie that was not taken from the books and feels a bit forced, thankfully it stays marginal and doesn't lessen the overall enjoyment.
And cheers to the screenwriters (Besson, mostly) for not going full in with the stakes. While there's some serious action here - people die and some more might die if V&L didn't succeed - it's actually a rather smallish plot, with just one single villain, and no worlds or even the universe to be saved, just the lives of some innocent bystanders.
Big recommendation for all fans of colourful SciFi and optical fireworks!
Now, the weak points: - Light and camera are amateurish, much of the stuff looks as if filmed with a smartphone; the cuts to stock or other material don't get smoothed over. This is stupid because you can create good atmosphere with very little money, just some thought and playing around with light.
- The sound mix is even worse, parts of the stuff sound as if they've never been through a mixer after the recording.
- The SFX are lame. And I mean, lame even for a very low-budget production as this obviously was.
- There's a lot of lagging in the stories - basically, you could have told every of those 90 minutes episodes in 60 minutes. The most grating lags are when they use the Transporter - every time, it's 5 minutes (feeling like 10) of gyrating bodies pressed against the machine with a nervously circling camera, epilepsy-inducing light and hammering music. Feel free to fast-forward since there's never any point to it.
- Lastly, not really a weak point but a critical remark: Allie Haze as the titular Emmanuelle seems too young - for her role in the series (owner of her own TV channel) as well as for the name - "Emmanuelle" was always a young woman, not a girl. Apart from that, Allie is really cute and sexy and seems to have had a lot of fun with the series.
I've rated the series 6/10, that's pretty generous (some of the episodes are definitely worse) - but as mentioned the fun parts outweigh the dull ones, and the good intentions are clearly visible. Only, in the back of my mind, I can see a much more interesting and better-looking result if the same concept and scripts had been realised by a bunch of film students instead of a crew used to shooting porn.
What does not work so good: The other actors pale a bit besides the starring duo, especially Vincent Price as Richelieu is not very menacing, nor do we believe in his intellectual schemer. The music is very in-your-face (just my opinion, of course) and rarely lets the actors work their magic. But the biggest problem is the pace: We hurry from key scene to key scene without a chance to catch some breath, it's so jumpy the plot is in constant danger of getting whiplash syndrome. And said key scenes are also often extremely short - d'Artagnan marries Constance in 5 seconds and gets widowed in 20.
Despite those shortcomings, a hearty recommendation - it's a fun adaption with not a single boring moment.
"Die Hölle" shines first and foremost through excellent atmosphere and a beautiful rhythm and pace - it starts with two to three bangs so we know it's serious and bloody, then takes itself back to introduce the characters, then there's a first series of bloody scenes - after that a few relaxed minutes with some gentle laughs and even a budding romance, before we get to the bloody and drawn-out showdown. Overall, a very straightforward, fast-paced thriller without any detours.
The urgency of the plot gets fortified by the neat trick of over-straining both Özge and Steiner with family handicaps - he's burdened by (and living with) his demented father, she has to look after her murdered cousin's toddler (really sweet girl, that) because her own parents aren't any good. It also helps that Özge is excellently cast, Violetta Schurawlow has that hard, tough look which carries most of the scenes without many words. Also excellent: make-up and effects. Look for the scene where Özge, having barely survived her first meeting with the killer, stands in front of a mirror and decides to kill him.
Is there something not to like? The camera always stays very close to the protagonists - obviously an intended decision on Ruzowitzky's part but it means that we get very little orientation and much blur during the chase scenes. The romance angle seemed a bit forced; thankfully it stays marginal. Otherwise, I find no faults with "Die Hölle", it even feels a lot less contrived than most thrillers. Highly recommended!
Now, the pros: Most of the gags do work, slapstick as well as running gags, funny banter and visual gags. The rhythm is relentless, there's not a boring minute in this movie. But what makes it really shine is the excellent cast with lots of character faces - Gert Fröbe as villain "La baleine", Gordon Mitchell as a grumpy hit-man, Gérard Jugnot as a sideline booking agent, "Khan" the exotic bodyguard, Valerie Mairesse as love interest / police officer "Bunny" - and among them, Pierre Richard in his usual shtick as a harmless guy completely out of his depth but still self-confident to a fault - and chasing every skirt crossing his way while his enemies are dropping like flies. Recommended, just don't expect sense and blood but a lot of good-natured laughs. This really is a nice comedy!
My biggest nitpick, though, concerns the overall rhythm - some scenes like the Pan episode (which always seemed very central to me) are dealt with in a near offhand way, while Toad's exploits are given too much room (maybe, it's all a matter of taste, of course).
Still recommended as it's surely one of the better adaptions of the book out there (I have to admit I have seen only a few of them, there seem to be more than ten, some rather hard to lay your hands on)
The idea of doing a real-life version of a LooneyTunes cartoon is interesting, and Kirk Douglas really tried to breathe some life into his Wile E Coyote, but the dynamic and rhythm are way off - most gags last about five times as long as in the cartoon if not longer - and stretching such a 7 minute cartoon to feature length without adding anything at least resembling a decent story or interesting characters makes Cactus Jack nearly painful to watch.
The only trap they fell into is bad acting - if you're spoofing something so inherently funny as those old serials, the best thing you can do is try to catch the tone and play it straight - it doesn't get funnier by deliberate bad acting. And a minor gripe: The sound mix could use some fine-tuning. Bot overall, a charming mix of spoof and nostalgia which stays entertaining from start to finish.
It's the most SF-ish of all the Star Wars movies - no princesses, no magic swords, prophecies or whatever - and it's extremely straightforward: no side quests, no twists, not even a romance. There's little humour or funny one-liners, most of those thanks to droid K-2SO; I don't know if that's a good thing, I have to watch it again someday to see if this droid doesn't get grating. The straightforward approach also means that we have very little in the way of character development or political or historical background but I didn't miss those ingredients much, the move was so entertaining. This is, from start to finish, an actioner.
Production design and SFX are very good, the Star Wars universe feels lived in and many characters and places have a realistic touch about them. The action sequence at the end goes on for maybe a few minutes too long, but never gets boring at least upon first viewing. And the whole story expands very nicely upon Episode 4's "history", probably makes watching the original "Star Wars" nearly a new experience. In fact, I don't know why this movie is set apart from the "main" SW movies at all, it's not apart in any meaningful manner but should really be called something like "Episode 3.9".
The only drawback to this otherwise nice comedy is the generic plot (an oil magnate trying to grab poor farmer's land); with action that absurd the movie would have deserved some crazier story, too. Apart from that, recommended for anyone not put off by absurd humour.
The motif of man stripping away his (more or less) thin coat of civilisation is not exactly new, but it's very seldom used - a recent example the not-so-successful adaption of Ballard's "High-Rise" - but the film nearest to "Wild" would probably be the Michel Piccoli-starrer "Themroc" from the early 70s. I'd say "Wild" is the best of those three - it keeps its focus on the protagonist (like Themroc) but has just enough outside world left to stay interesting. Also, it has humour - it's no comedy, but there are quite a lot of snickering moments spread throughout the crisp running time.
"Wild" is a low-budget production - since the story is focused on very few people and sets, that's no big problem, but it is told in such an ambitious manner that I wished the production design and especially camera work had a bit more class - as it is, "Wild" seems rather pedestrian despite the outrageous plot, often like a TV production. I also felt the whole thing rushed, the atavism happens very fast once things get rolling.
Despite the shortcomings, I rated it 8/10: The lead actress is enchanting, the wolf (or wolves, two were used for the production, probably the biggest budget point) is terrific, there are a lot of interesting scenes, and the story is extremely quick-footed. That the ending may not seem very satisfactory to some is inherent to the "genre" - once you're back to primitive, free from society, there's really nothing more left to tell, is it?
conclusion: You could argue for hours about the metaphors and meanings which play into "Wild", but even taken just at face value, it's still a powerful, entertaining and thought-provoking low-budget production. Recommended!