Saturday, October 29, 2011


We watch a lot of films ... most evenings are spent enjoying something on the DVD or Blu-Ray, and sometimes we'll go back and revisit old favourites, or films we've not seen in an age, as well as picking up some new fare from Blockbusters, or buying them when we know they are things we'll want to add to the collection to watch again.

So recently we rewatched the 2002 version of The Time Machine - the one with Guy Pearce and Samantha Mumba as the female Eloi. To my surprise this was much better than I had remembered it. The acting was pretty good, and the effects nicely done. Mumba was OK, and Jeremy Irons as the lead, intelligent, Morlock was chilling and convincing. I remember that the film was panned when it came out, and it's hard to see why as there's not much wrong with it. I wondered what had happened to former popstrell Samantha Mumba ... a quick check on Wikipedia reveals that she seems to have been doing mostly TV reality shows, guesting on daytime TV and concentrating on 'acting'.

This week we pulled three films from Blockbusters to check out. First of all we watched The Green Lantern.  Oh dear. What a two hour something something borefest. It's hard to believe that a film with such amazing visual effects could be so slow and boring. But it is. The plot really stretches the imagination too ... there's an intergalactic consortium of superheroes called 'the Green Lantern' apparently because their power derives from will, which is green. So they can do anything they can imagine they can do - so pretty much limitless power. Except that the human representative who ends up with the power (Ryan Reynolds) has the imagination of a damp sponge. When a helecopter is crashing, all he can think to do is to turn it into a giant Hotwheels car and track and let it go all over the place like that. When bad guys attack, what does he do? Open a black hole and suck them in? No. Create an impenetrable barrier and enclose them in it? No. He gets pushed and battered and bruised and eventually uses the gravity of the Sun to drag the baddie to its doom ... so not much imagination at all. It was a chore to finish the film to be honest.

Next up was I Am Number Four ... which I was hesitant about, but apparently the book is good ... but unfortunately the film isn't.  It's unfortunately from the Twilight stable of teen romantic stylings and concentrates on how the alien 'Number Four' (Alex Pettyfer) falls in love with a girl at high school (Dianna Agron, who is quite cute) and who then jepordises his future, race and whatever else these mysterious nine kids need to do, by mooching and fawing over her rather than battling the evil bad guys who are out to kill him. In this film the power of good is blue, and the power of bad is red, by the way ... and his hands glow like torches for some reason.

The film sort of struggles along until the last half hour when a kick-ass girl in the form of Number Six (Teresa Palmer) appears. She has the usual teenage girl croaky-voice, but Australian this time rather than the usual American croaky-voice which every female in every film has to have. So annoying. But she is cool, wears leather, rides a motorbike and can sort of dematerialise, move at lightning speed and kill the bad guys with a short sword/dagger thing ... so she's OK. It reminded me a lot of the character Nightcrawler from the X-Men films ... but that's good as he was an excellent character too.  The last half hour is actionpacked fighting with guns and explosions and everything ... and then it slows to a dead stop for the last five minutes as our hero has to say farewell to his love, and the evil bully from school turns good guy ... sheesh.

So onto the last film of the week, and after those two I was feeling a bit down. Thank God for Luc Besson! The final film was the French offering The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, and this has gone straight on my to-buy list as it was awesome. I am a big fan of The Fifth Element, a brilliant, rollicking science fiction film from Besson, and this one matches it for sheer audacity and imagination. The effects and acting are superb, and the plot ... oh the plot ...

What I really liked about it is that it's unpredictable and above all original. I've never seen anything quite like this before. A scientist, Espérandieu (Jacky Nercessian) puts his mind into that of an ancient pterodactyl and hatches it from an egg at the museum. While the creature causes havok in Paris, an incompetant policeman, Albert Caponi (Gilles Lellouche) is assigned to sort it all out ... thus Espérandieu is discovered and arrested. Meanwhile our hero Adele Blanc-Sec (Louise Bourgoin), is in Egypt, raiding a pyramid to try and obtain the body of the Pharoah's doctor as her sister has been badly injured and brain-damaged, and she wants Espérandieu to revive the mummified doctor to see if he can help her sister ... so the film moves from Egypt back to Paris, and Adele has to try and spring Espérandieu  from jail to help her. We end up with all the mummies in the Louvre coming to life, and going on a sightseeing tour of Paris, and Adele riding the pterodactyl bareback across the city!  Honestly, you couldn't make this up ... and it's brilliant brilliant brilliant.

All the actors bring a superb French/Parisien sensibility to it all, and some are quite comic-strip in their characterisation, all wearing bowler hats, and Caponi constantly trying to have something to eat - and being interrupted every time. Everyone is polite and nice, and Adele is the icing on the cake. Louise Bourgeon is simply superb - she is feisty, kick-ass, go getting and sassy, but at the same time polite, gentile and mannered. A brilliant creation indeed.

Personally I have no problems with subtitled films, though I appreciate that they are not everyone's cup of tea, and here the film is in French with English subtitles. So be aware of that if you decide to give it a go.  And I strongly recommend that you do.


Steve said...

We very much enjoyed Les Adventures Extrordinaire, but there's a reason it feels comicbooky - it's based on a bande dessine by Jacques Tardi, a French comicbook creator of some considerable fame.

Fantagraphics are translating the originals into English.

David said...

I didn't know that ... :) Wonderful stuff.