Archive for the Adventure Category

Maleficent

Posted in Adventure, Family, Fantasy with tags on June 5, 2014 by Mark Walker

20140603-215731-79051699.jpg

Director: Robert Stromberg.
Screenplay: Linda Woolverton.
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, Juno Temple, Isobelle Molloy, Michael Higgins, Kenneth Carnham, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt.

I had wings once, and they were strong. But they were stolen from me

Better known for his visual effects supervision on such films as “Life of Pi“, or more significantly, as production designer on “Oz: The Great And Powerful” and winning consecutive Oscars for “Avatar” and “Alice In Wonderland“, Robert Stromberg now delves into his first directorial outing with a reimagining of the classic fairy tale, “Sleeping Beauty“. Much like the aforementioned “Oz“, the characters from this well known children’s story are playfully recreated in a lush and involving fantasy and with Stromberg’s expertise who better to take us on that journey?!…

Continue reading

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Posted in Action, Adventure, Fantasy with tags on January 9, 2014 by Mark Walker

20140109-140208.jpg

Director: Peter Jackson.
Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens.
Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellan, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Sylvester McCoy, Mikael Persbrandt, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Cate Blanchett.

Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of your enormity, O Smaug the Stupendous…

Now a year down the line, the residing question of whether Peter Jackson’s decision to adapt “The Hobbit” into a trilogy was a wise choice or not, has become a little easier to answer. I’d have to say, that he can probably feel somewhat vindicated as his vision seems to be working. That being said, there’s still an abundance of padding and repetition going on in this second instalment – just as there was in the first – but Jackson has definitely improved here by ironing out the creases a little more.

Continue reading

Gravity

Posted in Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction with tags on November 22, 2013 by Mark Walker

20131122-143749.jpg

Director: Alfonso Cauron.
Screenplay: Alfonso Cauron, Jonas Cauron.
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney.
Voice of: Ed Harris.

Clear skies with a chance of satellite debris“.

In 2009, director James Cameron opened the floodgates on the innovation and possibilities of stereoscopic filmmaking when he delivered “Avatar“. Since then, it has been experimented and tinkered with by many filmmakers but now, four years later, Mexican director Alfonso Cauron has set a whole new benchmark.

Continue reading

Stand By Me * * * * 1/2

Posted in Adventure, Drama with tags on September 22, 2013 by Mark Walker

20130922-144322.jpg

Director: Rob Reiner.
Screenplay: Raynold Gideon, Bruce A. Evans.
Starring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, Casey Siemaszko, Bradley Gregg, Gary Riley, Jason Oliver, John Cusack, Marshall Bell, Frances Lee McCain, Richard Dreyfuss, Bruce Kirby, Andy Lindberg.

Predominantly known for his horror stories, writer Stephen King released a book in 1982 called “Different Seasons“. It contained four novellas, three of which, went on to become successful Hollywood movies which were very far from most other adaptations of his work. One was Bryan Singer’s “Apt Pupil” another was Frank Darabont’s “The Shawshank Redemption” and the third – originally entitled “The Body” – became Rob Reiner’s “Stand By Me“.

Four young friends, Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Vern (Jerry O’Connell) and Teddy (Corey Feldman) go on an adventure together to find the dead body of a local boy who was supposedly hit by a train. By following the tracks, the friends’ journey becomes more about them and their personal struggles and soon, the boyish adventure becomes about their experiences of entering adulthood.

Delivered with a wonderfully nostalgic narration by Richard Dreyfuss and a good feel for 1950′s Americana, this inviting and honest, coming-of-age, tale captures the spirit of youth like very few others. Reiner’s feel for the time and the material is pitched so perfectly that you are completely transported back to this era. It’s imbued with a sublimely evocative soundtrack of classic 1950′s songs, ranging from; Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” through Buddy Holly’s “Everyday“, The Chordettes’ “Lollipop” and, of course, Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me“. It’s this very attention to detail that truly brings this affectionate and sentimental film to life, while completely involving you in the trials and tribulations of the four, endearing, youths at it’s centre. The four youths in question are embodied with charm and nuance by Wheaton, Feldman, O’Connell and, especially, Phoenix. They are so natural in their deliveries that the failed careers they would go on to have didn’t merit the performances delivered here. Phoenix was the only one of the four who would receive critical praise, but sadly his life was cut short at the tender age of 23, making his performance all the more poignant.
Rarely has a film captured the innocence and growing pains of young boys on the road to manhood and rarely do you ever get such a rich and heartfelt delivery. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t experience the 1950′s; stepped foot on an Americana front porch or played mailbox baseball. What matters, is that you identify with the characters’ rite of passage and that it still perpetuates it’s relevance.

20130922-144344.jpg

A wonderfully rustic and nostalgic gem, that’s still as inviting and honest as it was on it’s release. This is one of those timeless cult-classic’s that will always find an audience to resonate with.

Mark Walker

Big Trouble In Little China * * * *

Posted in Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror with tags on September 13, 2013 by Mark Walker

20130913-140105.jpg

Director: John Carpenter.
Screenplay: Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein, W.D. Richter.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong, Victor Wong, Kate Burton, Suzee Pai, Donald Li, Carter Wong, Peter Kwong, James Pax, Al Leong, Jerry Hardin.

Director John Carpenter made some excellent films during the 70′s & 80′s – “Halloween“, “Assault on Precinct 13“, “The Thing“, “Escape from New York” and “Prince of Darkness“. Some of these are considered classics bit all take on a serious and/or horrific tone. However, Carpenter has also dabbled in comedy with his debut “Dark Star” in 1974 and “Memoirs of An Invisible Man” in 1992. Here, he combines his talents of horror and comedy and delivers, arguably, the most accessible and enjoyable film in his canon.

Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is a loud-mouth, wise-cracking truck driver, who, while helping his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) find his kidnapped girlfriend, is drawn into a world of centuries old Chinese mythology. Not before long, he’s battling evil spirits and two thousand year old sorcerer David Lo Pan (James Hong) intent on lifting an ancient curse and ruling the universe.

When released in 1986, Big Trouble In Little China received a very poor reception amongst cinema goers. It was a box-office bomb which greatly harmed the reputation of Carpenter (he went back to making independent films after this) and, to some extent, it’s star Russell. The fault of this doesn’t lie at their feet, though, but actually at the feet of the studio who simply didn’t know how to market it. In some ways, this is understandable as the film refuses to be pigeonholed. In the same breath, it can classed as a Kung Fu movie, a Western, a Fantasy, a Horror and a Romance. In essence, it’s all of these things and it’s also not without moments of Comedy. Carpenter delivers an unashamed homage to B-movie filmmaking and incorporates everything he possibly can. This may not work for some but over the years, this has gained a strong cult following, of which, I’m proud to say I’m a member. It has it’s tongue stuck firmly in it’s cheek and it’s aided immeasurably by Kurt Russell’s riotously entertaining surrogate of John Wayne. His performances have rarely been pitched better or his lines as endlessly quotable. Russell’s embodiment of Jack Burton has to be one of the most enjoyable and buffoonish characters that cinema has to offer and had the studio had their way, it would have been Clint Eastwood or Jack Nicholson in the role. Thankfully though, it wasn’t, as Russell absolutely nails it – in a style not unlike both of the aforementioned actors – and he and Carpenter skilfully orchestrate their gags on the cultural differences between the East and the West. Burton is very much like Indiana Jones (minus the intellect), as he battles his way through an underworld of the fantastical and the magical where he crosses paths with demonic and monstrous adversaries. If the film sounds over-the-top, that’s because it is, but it’s also a highly imaginative and energetic crowd pleaser.

20130913-140145.jpg

Wonderfully witty and adventurous, and one that sees Carpenter at his most gleefully entertaining. He crafts just the right balance of humour and action and his abilities to turn on the horror aren’t amiss either.

Mark Walker

Spirited Away * * * * 1/2

Posted in Adventure, Animation, Family, Fantasy with tags on September 3, 2013 by Mark Walker

20130903-111005.jpg

Director: Hayao Miyazaki.
Screenplay: Hayao Miyazaki.
Voices of: Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette, Michael Chiklis, Lauren Holly, John Ratzenberger, Tara Strong.

Having co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and directed 11 films himself, the highly unique animator Hayao Miyazaki has unfortunately announced his retirement. The forthcoming “The Wind Rises” will be his last venture, so it now seems like a good time to look back at arguably his best film.

Chihiro is a 10 year old girl who is moving to a new neighbourhood when her father decides to take a short cut and gets the family lost in an abandoned theme park. Helping themselves to food that’s on display, Chihiro’s parents are transformed into pigs and it soon becomes clear that they have stumbled into an alternate reality. Chihiro is then forced to find a way to free herself and her parents and find a way back to the human world.

Quite simply, Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” is a triumphant, fantastical, masterclass. Not only is his hand drawn animation as gorgeously refined and refreshing as ever, but his storytelling incorporates everything from the mythical to the magical, taking us on a truly breathtaking visual and intelligent journey. As his later film “Ponyo” would channel the likes of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid“, here, Miyazaki has undoubtedly crafted his version of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland” and it’s in this similar realm of imagination that he is able to flourish. We are introduced to a myriad of fantastical figures from Gods, Spirits and Witches to a Sea Dragon, an enormous baby and strange little coal miners, known as “Sootballs”. Despite the rich hand drawn animation, though, it’s not all played for fun. It’s a rights-of-passage tale about the progression of a child to adulthood while finding the time to comment on the economic downturn of Japan and the increasing loss of it’s culture to the western world. It’s this very complexity that makes this Miyazaki’s near masterpiece. The only issue with the film is that it’s overlong, resulting in periodic disengagement – especially for younger viewers. It’s runs just over the two hour mark and this is with several parts of the story cut out- the original version of Miyazaki’s story would have run over the three hour mark. That being said, this is still one of animation’s true classics and thoroughly deserving of it’s Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002.

20130903-111027.jpg

A breathtaking tour de force from one of the finest and most imaginative storytellers that animation has ever seen. Sadly, there will only be one more outing from Miyazaki but thankfully we’ve had to the pleasure to enter into his creative genius at all. Such accomplished cinematic experiences will be sadly missed.

Mark Walker

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey * * * *

Posted in Adventure, Fantasy with tags on March 15, 2013 by Mark Walker

20130315-104730.jpg

Director: Peter Jackson.
Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens.
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Lee Pace, Graham McTavish, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Benedict Cumberbatch, Elijah Wood.

When news of an adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit arrived, I have to admit that I was very eager to see it move along briskly. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Production was so slow that original director Guillermo del Toro had to leave due to other commitments. Although this was disappointing news, all was not lost as “The Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson returned to the helm to assume control of this prequel. Expectations were high and it left the overhanging question as to whether he could emulate his past successes. Well, it’s certainly not without it’s flaws but again Jackson has delivered another indulgent cinematic experience from the treasured quill of Tolkien’s world.

The Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor has been taken over by the fearsome dragon, Smaug and a plan is set to reclaim it and the treasures lost. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is a Hobbit who finds himself thrust into this quest on the recommendation of the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen). Smaug is not the only thing that stands in their way, though; a malevolent presence is at work in middle-earth which could affect all of them.

After a brief introduction to the plight of the dwarves and a devastating introduction to the dragon Smaug, we are taken straight back to the Shire where the whole story of the Hobbit adventures originated. It’s here that we’re reminded of the twee environment in which these little halfling’s reside and with Jackson calling the shots, you know straight away that you are in comfortable hands. Gandalf and Bilbo’s first meeting is addressed and the rest of the main characters are rounded up before the film begins it’s “unexpected journey”. When I say this, though, it sounds like the film gets straight down to business and gets the formalities out the way. It doesn’t. Jackson takes his time in establishing the set-up and he chooses to flesh out every detail. As a result, it becomes apparent that the film isn’t flowing as easily as it could do. Things do pick up, though, and it’s very difficult not to get swept up in the sheer visual masterclass that’s delivered before your eyes. It’s absolutely breathtaking to observe and none more so, than when Jackson begins to deliver his highly impressive, action set-pieces. From a confrontation with campfire Trolls to battling Rock monsters and giant sweeping eagles, they’re all absolutely astounding and thrillingly executed. However, despite the excitement, what these moments lack is the ability to feel like the characters are in any real danger. Maybe this is because I had read the book beforehand or maybe it’s because the set-pieces only served to instil some excitement before taking a break and doing it all over again. There is a feeling of repetition to the film and, dare I say it, a feeling of tediousness. Jackson’s decision to flesh out this short children’s novel into a trilogy of films – that will no doubt run between two and three hours each – seems wholly unnecessary but I suppose time will tell on that. As it is, though, this film is certainly overlong and it, simply, didn’t need to be. Some scenes are laborious and you can’t help but get the feeling that Jackson should just move it along. On the other hand, I found it hard to deny how much fun I was having. Much like “The Lord of the Rings“, it’s aided by very strong performances; McKellen is his usual reliable self as Gandalf and although I wasn’t convinced with the choice of Martin Freeman as Bilbo, I have to admit that he slotted in very well indeed. As for the dwarves, well, out of the whole thirteen of them, only a handful actually stand out. The one that really rises to the surface is that of Thorin Oakenshield and Richard Armitage plays him to perfection – channeling an Aragorn/Viggo Mortensen charismatic presence. He’s so commanding that it’s hard to accept that he’s only a dwarf. Another highlight from the performances is seeing Andy Serkis reprise his role of Gollum. Once again, the go-to guy for motion capture brings this complex little character to life.
The ingredients are all here and it certainly looks like there’s more mileage in these characters yet. I just hope that Jackson knows when to trim the edges next time round.

A little less plodding and bit more urgency will be required for the second instalment if this trilogy is to truly find it’s feet. That being said, it finishes strongly and if Jackson can keep that momentum going then this could yet turn out to be a very successful return to middle-earth.

Mark Walker

20130315-104809.jpg

Cloud Atlas * * * * 1/2

Posted in Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction with tags on February 21, 2013 by Mark Walker

20130221-114234.jpg

Directors: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer.
Screenplay: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Ben Wishaw, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgees, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, James D’Arcy, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Keith David, David Gyasi, Xun Zhou, Gary McCormack, David Mitchell.

Recently, Yann Martel’s novel “Life Of Pi” made it to the silver screen after an exemplary adaptation by director Ang Lee. However, the novel itself had been deemed ‘unfilmable’ beforehand. There are many literary works that have come under this assumption and David Mitchell’s Booker Prize-nominated novel Cloud Atlas is another. The reception of this film has been very mixed but, give or take, the odd discrepancy and noodle scratching moment, this is an impressively successful endeavour that proves, once again, that the ability to transfer page to screen is entirely possible and vibrantly alive.

1849: a Pacific ocean voyage that unearths a stowaway slave.
1936: an inspirational composition of classical music in Edinburgh.
1973: a manuscript that invites a dangerous conspiracy in San Francisco.
2012: a publisher goes into hiding in a nursing home, fearing for his life.
2144: a totalitarian regime in futuristic Korea gives birth to a rebellious clone.
2321: a post-apocalyptic Hawaii that leads to the cosmos…
These are the six stories that connect life, the universe and everything as past, present and future interlace with one another and humankind struggle to make sense of their existence.

What better way to tell a story than to begin it in the ancient way? An old man sitting around a campfire with scars on his face and wisdom on his tongue. That’s exactly what the trio of directors Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer have done and it sets the perfect opening to an expansive, spectacular, hugely ambitious and visual, storytelling adventure. It’s so vast and labyrinthine that it’s hard to even begin to break it down. It works on so many levels; from the metaphorical to allegorical, as well as, the tangential and does so while setting it in six different centuries (from the 19th to the 24th) and having the same actors play several different roles throughout. It’s difficult to find your feet and it could take at least an hour before you even get a hint or actually begin to grasp anything that’s going on. Once the narrative strands do come together, though, the film becomes a completely immersive experience.
It poses questions as to the meaning of our existence and the direct relation we have to one another and whether our experiences in life are just luck or predestined by means of Karma, reincarnation or simply through a greater, unknown, connection within the universe. In other words, it explores the complex questions and search for answers that have been pondered from time immemorial. It also incorporates the influence of art, television and how easily deities can be constructed and how, essentially, humankind is their own worst enemy. There will certainly be more questions than answers throughout this journey but what this film does, is run with life’s conundrums, meanwhile freeing itself from narrative conventions and hits you from six different angles all at once. It really is astoundingly complex stuff.
Now, I don’t profess to understand Cloud Atlas in it’s entirety. I did manage to get a reasonably good handle on it’s elaborate tapestry but it’s a film that requires, at least, a couple of viewings to fully grasp. The utmost patience and concentration is essential and if you happen to switch off for a second – throughout it’s almost three hour long running time – then it will, ruthlessly, leave you behind. You have been warned: this film will pickle your brain for weeks. It has confounded many; so much so, that it’s been written off as disappointing or a pretentious mess. I, on the other hand, strongly believe that it should not be ignored. The only drawbacks I found were the tenuous linking between a couple of the stories and the tone of the film shifted a little uneasily in places. Nevertheless, this is one of the most ambitious, intelligent and beautifully constructed film’s for quite some time and, if invested in, will bring many rewards.

I don’t know why I’d choose to paraphrase at this point other than to sum up this film (and my review) by leaving you with the words of a wiser fellar than myself: “I guess that’s the way the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuatin’ it-self, down through the generations, westward the wagons, across the sands a time until – aw, look at me, I’m ramblin’ again… Catch ya further on down the trail“.

Mark Walker

20130221-114305.jpg

Life Of Pi * * * * *

Posted in Adventure, Drama with tags on January 13, 2013 by Mark Walker

20130113-124503.jpg

Director: Ang Lee.
Screenplay: David Magee.
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Ayush Tandon, Guatam Belur, Adil Hussain, Tabu, Rafe Spall, Gerard Depardieu.

The amount of times that director Ang Lee has delivered fresh material is testament to his bravery and skill as a filmmaker. He pushed genre conventions with Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain“, delved into the prose of Jane Austin with “Sense and Sensibility“, as well as, a meticulous take on Rick Moody’s “The Ice Storm” – and these are only his adaptations. He has challenged numerous genre’s from martial-arts (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon“) through comic-book (“Hulk“) to war and romance (“Lust, Caution“), among others. This time, Lee attempts an adaptation of Yann Martel’s ‘unfilmable’, bestselling novel and it’s another remarkable achievement.

On a huge freighter, leaving Pondicherry, India for Canada, a zoo keeping family are going to sell their animals and start a new life. Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) is the zoo keeper’s son and after the ship is sunk in a storm, he finds himself adrift on the Pacific Ocean in a lifeboat. He’s not alone, though. He shares the boat with a Zebra, a Hyaena, an Orang-utan and “Richard Parker” – a 450-pound Bengal Tiger. Somehow, he must find a way to survive.

As the film opens we are given glimpses of wild animals roaming around their habitat. Although subtly handled, it works an absolute treat in establishing it’s use of 3D. I’m not a fan of this new viewing gimmick we’ve had thrust upon us but in the hands of Lee it is used to it’s best and fullest potential. Visually it’s astounding (and it only gets better as the film progresses) and along with Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo“, it’s the best use of 3D I’ve seen yet. After this brief introduction, Lee gets down to the story. He builds slowly; introducing his protagonist’s curiosity of life and religious beliefs and does so with a lightness of touch and humour that makes him instantly endearing. Cleverly, Yann Martel’s story makes a point of incorporating many religions. Our protagonist doesn’t follow one particular belief but encompasses many, which is very important for the film to work on it’s spiritual level and not ostracise the audience. It’s these very beliefs that are questioned when the story of survival takes place and it’s here that Lee pulls an absolute mastery in his use of CGI. He skilfully combines the beauty and ferocity of our natural world and even though his palette is vast, he focuses it, mainly, in limited space.
When getting down to the bare bones, this a story about life, spirituality and metaphysics but ultimately, it’s a story about storytelling itself and the infinite possibilities that lie therein. It manages that rare balance of being both literal and symbolic and Lee and screenwriter David Magee’s biggest achievement is immersing the audience into this odyssey and allowing a freedom of choice in how it can be perceived.
Ang Lee has always been a director that has commanded respect but he has surpassed himself here. This is one of the most challenging book-to-screen adaptations ever made and it’s also one of the best.

Wondrous and awe inspiring storytelling is a rarity these days but this film certainly achieves that. Not that I ever really lost it but it has a vibrancy and depth that reaffirms my belief in the magic of cinema. Quite simply, it’s a film that’s bold and breathtakingly, beautiful.

Mark Walker

20130113-124638.jpg

Raising Arizona * * * * 1/2

Posted in Adventure, Comedy with tags on December 24, 2012 by Mark Walker

20121224-143139.jpg

Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen.
Screenplay: Ethan & Joel Coen.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, William Forsythe, Trey Wilson, Frances McDormand, Sam McMurray, Randall “Tex” Cobb, T.J. Kuhn, Lynne Kitei, M. Emmet Walsh.

In 1984, “Blood Simple” was released and it marked the debut of a certain couple of siblings named Joel & Ethan Coen. It’s was a marvellously dark and twisted, low-budget, modern noir and put their names on the film industry’s map. You’d think that once a particular, successful, style has been established it would be wise to stick with that winning formula but the brothers’ sophomore effort went in an entirely different direction and they delivered a wickedly, wacky and hilarious comedy, proving that their talents are comfortable in any genre.

H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage) is a repeat offender for petty theft and can’t quite keep out prison. It’s in the slammer though, that he meets his sweetheart Ed (Holly Hunter), the police photographer, and not before long the unlikely pair are hitched, on the straight and narrow and ready to start a family. Problem is, Ed finds out she’s infertile and deeply longs for a baby. It just happens around this time that local and well-known furniture salesman Nathan Arizona’s wife has just given birth to quintipulets. H.I. & Ed decide that having four babies is more than anyone can handle and decide to kidnap one for themselves. It’s here that all sorts of problems begin for H.I. & Ed as they try to keep their new family together with escape convict friends (John Goodman, William Forsythe) paying a visit and a rogue bounty-hunter biker (Randall “Tex” Cobb) on their trail.

The first and still one of the best of the Coen brothers’ comedies. This was the film that proved that the siblings could do zany and outlandish comedy with absolute ease and consummate skill. It also allowed them to show off their ability to film with such a kinetic energy and an introduction to their (ever growing) catalogue of zany characters. The performances across the board are outstanding with special mention going to the two leads; Nicolas Cage is marvellous as the hen-pecked, buffoonish, human form of Woody the Woodpecker and Holly Hunter is equally as good as his neurotic and controlling spouse. Cage has become a bit of laughing stock in the film industry these days but back in the 80′s and early 90′s he delivered some memorable roles. This is certainly one of them. What a joy it would be to see him reprise these type of roles and what a joy it is to watch such a sharp and exciting comedy from quite possibly the most consistant filmmakers around today. If ever there was a film that could be labeled as a live-action animation, this could possibly be it. It’s not just the work in front of the camera that excels though; behind it, cinematographer (and future director himself) Barry Sonnenfeld does some sublime work. He assembles some very fine action set-pieces and keeps the camera moving at an almost unbearably frantic pace. Roger Deakins has now established himself as almost another Coen sibling with his consistently reliable work on their recent films but he wasn’t always the man to bring their vision to the screen. Sonnenfeld was. Another frequent collaborator is the always reliable Carter Burwell who infuses all the mayhem with a pefectly fitting score that brings the whole package together.

Quite simply, this is how comedies should be made. It has a little of everything and it shows exactly why, I regard the Coen’s as the most consistently surprisingly and creative filmmakers we have today.

(This review was part of a “double take” with Eric who runs the IPC blog. To read the post in full and get his alternate take on it, please go here.)

Mark Walker

20121224-143336.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,820 other followers