23 Jan 2011

Narrative Movie Reviews

On this page, I'm going to collect all the movie reviews of the unit, ones I've posted and ones I haven't to easy reference and so they don't get piled under with Maya and other posts:

Lost in La Mancha:

This one was frustrating. Not because of the quality of the documentary but because of the content.
'Think about this Logically...'
That's what I wanted to shout at Terry Gilliam, the director.
The documentary follows the director on his quest to produce the movie he has wanted to make for 15 years. But tragedy struck the production of the film in one of the worst places, Pre-production. Its at this stage when you have to take a step back and re-evaluate, just like the assistant director said. But Gilliam forged on and entered the Production stage, pushing his forward forward. It was during the FIRST week of production that the entire film was in jeopardy and finally canceled. Much to Gilliam's dismay, the financiers pulled out and with no money and no more main actor in the form of Jean Rochefort, the entire film was canned.

The whole emphasis of this documentary was disaster. At every possible opportunity, something went wrong, whether it be equipment washing away or actors getting Prostate problems. At so many stages, you couldn't help but think 'look at this logically'. Gilliam was so obsessed with this film he let it control him, not taking any advice seriously and in the end blowing millions of dollars. Its a case of not getting stuck in to one project so deep that you can't escape.

Ed Wood:

Before watching this I did have prior knowledge of Ed Wood and his Legacy, thanks to an Internet personality called James Rolfe. Over on he done a series called 'Ed Wood-A-Thon' and a review of Tim Burton film 'Ed Wood' (I'll post links at the bottom).

It was very interesting to watch the entire film and compare my opinions that I had of Ed Wood and the film from the reviews.

In the Golden Age of Cinema, Ed Wood was highly revered. Good or Bad? Mostly bad, as he was considered one of the worst directors of all time, but he has left a legacy behind that we today are still talking about. One could say that Ed Wood owes his career to the classic actor Bela Lugosi, probably most famous for the role of 'Dracula', it was Lugosi that allowed Wood to get his foot in the theoretical door.

In terms of the film itself, it takes a rather strange approach to a Biographic film, by instead of bombarding the audience with facts and the film makers opinion, it takes a more comedic approach, making an enjoyable film instead for even those that have never heard of Wood but are simply seeing it for the Depp/Burton combo. I think this was the right choice to make on Burtons part as not only does it broaden his audience but allows more people to enter the world of Wood. As per usual, Johnny Depp excels in his roles, being able to absorb all the traits of Wood and portray in a genuine way. You get the feeling that Depp is 'mocking' Wood with an over the top impersonation but with a real retelling of how we know him.

I have to mention the black and white. At first, I was against it simply because my feeble mind couldn't understand why when they could have used colour. But it all helps in the end, create a unique world that Ed Wood seemed to inhabit. A world that Ed Wood lost himself in.

James Rolfe Reviews:
Ed Wood-A-Thon Part 1 and 2:

The Quartermass Xperiment (The Creeping Unknown):

This remake followed the BBC serial called 'The Quartermass Experiment', which influenced many sci-fi serials in the UK such as 'Doctor Who' which has gone on to become part of our culture. So surely the thing that began it all was something really special.

The Story follows Carroon, a survivor of the rocket crash at the beginning of the film. It turns out that Carroon has changed on the journey, that Quartermass sent him on, becoming an alien creature that could threaten the entire the planet, so the professor has to make a stand.

For such a low-budget film, its incredible how the film-makers employ other techniques to trick and fool the audience whilst telling a convincing story. The acting was very good, and its good to see a British B-Movie becoming so big. It may borrow some aspects for American films, such as using cleverly placed landmarks to emphasise the location of the story. The idea of the professor being the evil one is a contrast to American B-Movies where that character would be the hero. Although I would say the professor is more of an anti-Hero. Yes, he stops the alien, but only to further his own goal. And he starts the experiment again.

So in comparison to American B-Movies, it goes to show how we approach things. America usually has the big budget allowing the makers to create big monsters and set pieces to thrill the audience, whilst Britain goes down the horror route. It instead decides to make the audience uneasy with the threat of attack as opposed to actual attack.

The Day the Earth Stood Still:

A clear contrast to the last movie. 'Day' starts very bombastic what with the many army scenes and the spaceship landing. It eventually changes to a more subdued film, which uses paranoia to effect and the fear of the unknown. In contrast to the last film, the hero is the professor looking Klaatu while the military doesn't understand the threat so simply wish to burn it with fire (and lots of bullets). This action only proves to Klaatu that humans can't be trusted with the power they are creating, but one family that Klaatu is forced to stay with, changes his mind about the real future of the human race.

This movie is considered one of the great sci-fi films of all time (can't judge the remake, haven't seen it) and it earns that title throughout the film. The acting is brilliant, the story, for its time, was new and unique, and yes, the effects have aged but for the time this was revolutionary. It uses everything aspect of film making and polishes it to the greatest it can.

I'm not sure what category this film belongs to, B-movie or not. I always see B-movies as cheesy (which I've learnt there not) but this transcends all those trappings to be a great film. I don't care about categories or genre when I like something, and I love this, so for all I care, it can be classed as a Romantic Comedy.

House of Wax:

Hmmm. I'm not a fan of this movie to be honest, but lets go from the beginning.

Starring a Horror Movie Legend, Vincent Price, as the wax sculptor that provides the models for the wax display. But an insurance scam arises by his partner, Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts). He intends to burn the House of Wax for the money, but Jarrod (Price) won't go down easily. Jarrod survived the fire, and rebuilds the Waxworks and it becomes a huge attraction. After some deaths, its revealed that Jarrod is using dead bodies in his exhibits but falls into the Wax Vat before he can do the same to his next victim.

I didn't enjoy this film as much because all the factors I looked for just weren't as good. The acting was 'OK', I never felt anything for these characters which was the problem. Oh No, she's going to die... oh well, which one was she again? A positive is that, the sets where rather grand and did evoke a eerie feeling and the interior of the (Dead)Wax Works was creepy.

It was a good movie to experience but I feel that the story was weak and that's the most important thing to me when watching a film.

Oh and watch out for Paddle-Ball Man. He'll have your eye out...


Yeah, A good ol' Vampire Movie! Dracula (or The Horror of Dracula) stars Christopher Lee as the titular character. Before I start I just have to say, that I love Lee as Dracula. He has everything that I feel the 'Prince of Darkness' should have. Tall and imposing, you know that you don't mess with this guy. The pale skin and almost pointed face allows Lee to command the room with his performances.

The story utilised smartly by seemingly killing of what you first consider the main character. Johnathon Harker visits the castle of the demonic Count to exterminate the man. On his attempt, he is killed by Dracula. Enter Van Helsing...

Searching for his friend and uncovering the truth about Dracula and the Castle, Van Helsing learns the way of Vampire, eventually trapping Dracula and killing him.

First off, the sets for this film are brilliant. It really brings the Gothic vibe out of the story and allows you to become engrossed by it. I loved how the story was seemingly split into two, one for Harker, and one for Van Helsing. It allowed the audience to never settle. Van Helsing could meet his fate the same as Harker did.

I really enjoyed this film, as it reminded me what a GOOD vampire film was like compared to some recent vampire outings.


Them! is a story that is the epitome of B-Movie (although not considered as one), as it follows the new menace of the earth... Ants. The story spans Mexico and America, with the FBI trying to discover the reason for some strange deaths in Mexico. Dr Medford figures out that its the ants (of course) causing the deaths and that they must have become mutant ants after the Nuclear tests that where in Mexico by the American military. With the Ant nest destroyed, the queens flee, one onto a ship and one to America. The ship is sunk but the America queen escapes and starts a new nest. Upon finding that, it is destroyed and all is well.

For such a silly story, it does make a very interesting and enjoyable movie. The threat of a Nuclear Bomb (or its aftermath) was first addressed in this film, so it used a unique premise for it story telling, even if it is a bit contrived now...

Being a big budget movie of the time, Them! has some very impressive sets and props for the ants, making them a little more threatening especially at the time. The budget allowed it to be a precursor the non-sensical action movies of today


This was a film that I didn't expect to like. I didn't know what to expect when I saw the poster in the lecture theater, but i was intrigued none the less. Fast forward one and a half hours, and I leave the theater with a big grin on my face, having just seen a thoroughly enjoyable film. Its as if it knows what it is, and goes with it. Killer Worm monsters? We can have fun with that!

The story follows Valentine Mckee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (nice name!) Basset (Fred Ward) in there little town called 'Perfection'. This double act is pretty much the handymen of the town, doing the odd jobs that need doing. When residents and animals start going missing, its Val and Earl that discover what is really happening in this town. Teaming up with a seismologist and later, the entire town, they must take down the mysterious creatures or flee from there homes.

As I said, I loved this film. It was so enjoyable, with some great set pieces, a rather creepy subterranean enemy, a tight script and good performances all round. The setting of Perfection is great for a movie such as this. It lends that feeling of isolation without it being obvious. Seeing the town getting destroyed was great bit, as you see the residents watch there homes be destroyed by an unknown terror from below. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward where never aiming for an Oscar, instead deciding on do convincing performances and having fun with it. It shows through, and allows the audience to have fun as well.

I wonder if I should watch the sequels, or will that kill this great film?

The Mist:

I really liked this film before we watched it again. I had seen it a while back and still remember the ending fondly. I didn't think a Hollywood film could be so brave as to nearly everyone. Its a thought provoking film that studies what humans really are.

The Mist is the story of father David Drayton, that after a freak storm (or is it?) heads into town to get the materials required to patch up his house. When the mist rolls in, he is forced to hunker down with his son in the shopping center. Its in hear, that the peoples fear of the mist changes everything and in fighting begins led by the religious Mrs Carmody. The survivors also have to contend with any attacks coming from within the mist.

The setting of the Shopping center is a great choice. It has everything that humans would need to survive for a few days while waiting for rescue, but the weakness is the structure itself with a glass front. It allows a good dynamic of safety and danger with an uncertain barrier between them. The acting is convincing throughout and even when talk of dimensional windows and evil spiders showed up, I was already invested in the characters, so I wanted to know what happens to them.

An incredibly good movie that leaves the audiences thinking and concludes the story as it should, not with some mighty mcguffin that saves every one.


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