14 December, 2006

Word of Mouth

The Covenant

This warlocks coming-of-age supernatural horror isn’t brilliant but it’s OK for its genre and undemanding demo, I suppose. The main problem (amongst many) is that it sets up a fake mystery about who the bad guy is. If you’re paying attention it’s pretty obvious, actually even if you’re not paying attention it should be pretty obvious.

Instead of the mystery, they should have been clear from the start what was going on and focus on the baddie as well as the goodie. You could still have had the mystery but it’s a mystery to the goodie not to the audience. You also have the added bonus of dramatic irony, something like “you’re my best friend in the world”, when the audience knows the best friend wants to kill him. (That isn’t a spoiler. Or is it...)

I like the theme about power and its responsible use but having personal physical consequences of mis-use and over-use is a bit of a cop-out and keeps it strictly in a fantasy realm with no parallel with society. We see the consequences of people mis-using power everyday, they usually just end up richer and more powerful. It might affect them psychologically and it’s those consequences that we can relate to and are interested in.

What I also liked was a reference to Harry Potter, early on. I used to think that mentioning other fictional characters would break the fourth wall but it may have the opposite effect in that it says Harry Potter is fake but this is real life.

Writing this review, I’ve realised just how much I’ve learnt from Joss Whedon and the Buffy writing team.

Box Office #9

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Happy Feet

I’ve seen all the animated animals films this year and was getting bored. However, this film shows it’s not the genre but how you do it what counts. The other films had too much in common either because they went for the most obvious ideas or they directly ripped off previous films. One thing you can say about Happy Feet is that it is original.

It features Mumbles, a penguin who is a dancer when everyone else is a singer and is ostracised as a result. I happen to be very good at both but I could still empathise with his pleas to be allowed to be who he is. Because, lets face it, this isn’t really about singing and dancing but the importance of individuality and not having to conform to fundamentalist religious doctrine. I’m not sure the kids are going to get all that but the other theme about humans destroying the environment is a little easier to get.

As well as having a funny story that says something and gets you emotionally involved, it also has the best animation and direction I have ever seen. Some sequences literally took my breath away. I think there’s some kind of debate between the photo-realist school and the clearly caricature school of animation styles but, bearing in the mind the message of this film, animators can choose whatever style they want.

Box Office #1

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The Holiday

I was looking forward to this romantic comedy by Nancy Meyers and ignored the negative buzz because I really rate her screenwriting. However during the first twenty minutes of setting up my goodwill drained away.

I think, the problem is that the two main characters are alone when they instigate and do a house swap. So they talk to themselves and read out internet messaging out loud. For the story we do need to see them being lonely and realising other character development stuff before they meet ‘the one’ but this was done in an annoying way rather than an amusing one.

Amanda newly in the UK, for instance, drives into town and she’s all panicky about driving on the left and has a couple of near-collisions. She drinks a bottle of wine while she comfort food shops which is wacky fun but I can’t have been the only one thinking that if she can’t drive sober how is she going to drive drunk?

But as soon as we are introduced to their prospective paramours the Meyers magic begins. Interesting stories, nice characterisation and witty dialogue.
What was also very interesting was the sub-plot involving Iris, on holiday in America, and her relationship with the veteran screenwriter who lives next door.

It’s not brilliant, as Something’s Got to Give was brilliant but it’s entertaining and fun which is good enough.

Box Office #2

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