Saturday, April 7, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: See these incredible scenes before your unbelieving eyes!

November Criminals (2017): Sometimes, one really wonders why certain films don’t come together as well as they should. This one clearly has a decent enough budget, features a good cast with Ansel Elgort, Chloe Grace Moretz as well as Catherine Keener and David Strathairn in the unthankful parent roles, the script is written by well-known professionals, and Sacha Gervasi’s direction does not suggest a lack of talent. Still, what all the talent before and behind the camera adds up to is a film that seemingly can’t decide what kind of movie it is, what it is actually about, if it has a point, or what that point might be. There are a few intriguing, or at least interesting subjects broached, but the film never really hones in on one (or just a couple), instead wandering from one idea to the next with all the focus of a toddler distracted by the next shiny thing. There’s so much less substance in here than you’d expect, it becomes rather annoying right quick.

Hellstone (2016): In comparison, this little German microbudget horror movie about a guy stumbling through a patch of woods fighting off demons directed by Andreas Tom seems laser-focused. It is clearly inspired by spirit and body of the original Evil Dead (as is only right and proper) but does feature a couple or three ideas of its own. The film nicely concentrates on the things it’s got going for itself – a claustrophobic cabin (set), woods, one and a half actors who are decent, a handful of pretty great practical effects, and people behind the camera who do know what they are doing – using them with a complete lack of pretension but a degree of style and what feels like quite a bit of enthusiasm. It’s not the sort of film that’ll have anyone re-writing the history of horror, but it’s fun and suggests a degree of care from its makers; not something I’d say about many German microbudget films.

The Dark Tower (2017): But back to the bad stuff, or really, the completely puzzling stuff. I don’t understand why anyone would buy the rights to Stephen King’s Dark Tower cycle and then turn its first part into a painfully generic bit of YA fantasy in which the supposedly central Gunslinger Roland (a wasted Idris Elba) becomes a side-character in the yawn-inducing story of some kid (Tom Taylor) the film never bothers to give me any reason to care about discovering how very special he is.

Now, if it were a good YA movie, I’d still be puzzled but at least feel entertained, but standing between entertainment and me are a near complete lack of dramatic tension, the usual dependence on the Hero’s Journey trope even if it makes no sense in context, lackluster production design, a mechanically creaky script and Matthew McConaughey playing the villain Walter/The Man in Black as if he were the bad guy in a kid’s TV show.

Honestly, I have no idea what this is supposed to be, for whom it was made, or why anyone should watch it.

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