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Dreadfully written. Equally Dreadfully filmed
To get it out of the way: "Saw" has its similarities. A psychologically scarred protagonist who kidnaps a bunch of people. There is some reason for the people he selected. Could it be that Saw plagiarised this film in that respect? Possibly. The general synopsis is rather similar between the two. Despite this, the similarities end rather soon after that (though there are some semantic likenesses such as being chained to walls and such) when you have a poorly acted film and even more poorly written script (which Saw does not suffer the same fate). To add injury to this insult, the cinematography is as psychotic as the central character. In some cases, have frantic camera work can be a plot device or push the story, but in Den, it's simply another distracting feature prompting more glances to your watch than are generally considered acceptable in an hour and a half period.
Where Saw uses clever writing and plot twists that are realistic, and yet elusive, Den fails on these points miserably. It's plot is overly contrived and once the film reaches its climax, it soon after meets an anticlimax too soon and after some biblical facts being splashed about the screen, which were poorly investigated, the film ends.
The characters were the strength of the film. The characters were all unique enough to hoard in actors willing to play them, and earned actress Dana J. Ryan a best horror actress award in an independent vote. The problem with the characters is that the film in its tenure took its cast through a frightful experience that taught them nothing and ultimately almost everybody had blood on their hands. The other issue with the characters was that their depth wasn't explored. Facts were shown about the characters. The revelation to the Doctor that his wife's pet name was known to Milton was an unrealistic reaction. It wasn't one of surprise, though nor was it one of inquisition. It was almost spoken atonally and without any meaning.
The greatest flaw of the film was the writing, however the actors surrounding the words given were not nearly strong enough to make a bad script good. They even failed at making a bad script bearable.
If you're interested in seeing films that bear similarities to Saw, see its sequels first and foremost. They're the greatest films of their "new horror" genre. Second to these I'd suggest is House of 9 featuring Dennis Hopper. But do yourself a favour and avoid Den in favour of this.
Even see a Uwe Boll film before this.
Nochnoy dozor (2004)
If you can bear to watch this whole movie, Congratulations!
I was really looking forward to this film when I first heard about it.
The graphics looked quite amazing. The actors unknown, but usually that's a good thing. The storyline was intriguing, with the sense of familiarity of being about vampires and such, but meanwhile seeming fresh because it broke the rules and introduced new variables.
Sadly, though all of these things are true, the film as a whole didn't hold together because of wooden acting and confusing editing.
It also was distracting in that it didn't explain itself very clearly, and though I know there's said to be two more films in the series, I just don't see how some things become resolved.
I can only comment from an English speaking perspective, so maybe it's just me or the English dubbing or translations, but much of the script was forced and contrived and not organic. It just didn't flow. I felt like I had to be too much of an active filmwatcher. Typically, in an action film, you should be actively engaged in the action and the intensities, but shouldn't be engaged trying to figure out what's actually going on. This film fails to find it's own rhythm, and as a a result, doesn't flow. This sort of film should have been simpler in all ways, allowing the audience to take in the film. To be able to be a little passive and "soak it in", but (at least in the English speaking version) the film does not allow for this.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Still going strong
15 years on and still Terminator 2 remains a turning point in cinematic history introducing the world to photo-realistic computer generated 3D rendering. To this day, this is still an astounding achievement, however (ironically) these are the things that re-watching the film now, you notice as not being to the standard we now expect films to be.
As a result of this, you're then forced to look beyond the graphics in search of other quality. When I last watched it (about 3 weeks ago), something stood out to me that never did before because of no longer being mesmerised by the graphics.
This was the interactions between characters who are gritting, no nonsense, hard edged people, but those who care deeply for one another. In particular, I'm referring to Sarah and John Connor, but also to the inhuman T-101 in all it's programming trying to humanise itself (at the demand if John).
Though these might sound like day to day interactions (pardoning the whole terminator and robotic elements here), but to put them onto film and not have them feel forced or contrived is quite a feat, and all of these were achieved far above the expectation of one watching an "action" movie. You truly believe that John is devastated to have to lose T-101. You can tell he's fearful about Sarah going off to kill the man who would kill the world, unwittingly.
I urge you all to sit down and watch this film again. You will remember things you've long since forgotten, and maybe appreciate something you never even noticed was there before.
The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005)
A vast improvement and the best since the first film
I'm one who's read the comics.
I'm one who's seen all the films.
And I'm one who sees many films.
This film is not great. I was hoping it'd be better. I really like both David Boreanaz and Edward Furlong. I like seeing Danny Trejo in films. Tara Reid or Macy Gray? I could take them or leave them. They didn't add to the film, but nor did they take away. And Dennis Hopper, great though he may be, has once again chosen to do a film that does him no favours, like Waterworld or House of 9. Luckily he's still got Las Vegas at the ready.
Once again, this Crow film was well written, but sadly dulled down for the purpose of "b-movie-ifying" it, it would seem. Just like the last 3 films. Luckily, the acting carried this film through a script that deserved lesser actors.
Another thing that dragged this film down lower that it deserved to be treated was poor filming and editing. I'm not too knowledgeable about these things, but I generally know what does and doesn't look good on the screen, and this was deep below the par.
Uniquely conceived but left a little weak at points
I'd like to say that this was a GREAT film.
I'd like to say that Uma was amazing in her portrayal.
I'd like to say that Bryan really convinced me.
I'd also like to say that Meryl made me really think she was a Jewish overprotective mother.
I'm afraid that I can't really say any of these things without lying to you or myself.
I'd also be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the movie, so rest assured if you're starting to get fired up.
This was a very cute, quite funny and bubbly lesson in life about interaction, sex and relationships. Oh yeah, and therapy.
I really liked the characters. I thought they were magnificent, in fact. Brilliantly crafted, and the script should have jumped off the page with such talented actors on screen with realistic situations. Sadly, their portrayal is really where the film gets let down, in my opinion. Greenberg's One Tree Hill role really opened him up to a real chance at stardom, with realistic acting, but this was not found here.
Again, quite an entertaining film, if you can get past the acting for 2/3 of the film. There's about 1/3 of the film where the acting is brilliant, I must say, though. But it seems like they spent lots of time on these scenes, but rushed the rest.
The very last scene is one such beautiful scene. If anything, it's worth seeing this film even just for the last scene alone.
The pace is set.
Just under 7 years has now passed since Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace was released.
In a sense of nostalgia, I think this movie will always have a warm place in my heart. You can indulge in the flaws, faults and inconsistencies that were created by this film in contradiction to the Original Trilogy (That then subsequently needed be remedied through the stories of the 2 to follow). That's all good and well, but by the same token, you need also to appreciate the movie culture and the stress of besting the (arguably) best film ever made. I know that George Lucas never expected to outdo the original, but by the same token, the only way it could be conceived that he would deliver a film anything like the originals would be to chop up bits and pieces of the originals and splice it all together.
Since that was never going to happen, we must be content with this film.
And I feel it's a brilliant delivery, despite the common need expressed by many fans to tear it down.
OK, maybe Jar-jar should have been a much less annoying character who wouldn't be detrimental to our mental health and have the speech capacity of at least a 15 year old, and not a 4 year old. But this movie's not about him. It just has him.
Let's focus on Obiwan Kennoby and Qui-Gonn Jinn. By this point as a Star Wars fan - or even casual bystander - everybody knew who Kennoby was. Luke's mentor. Yoda's apprentice. But wait, in this, Qui Gonn is his mentor. OK, some consider this an inaccuracy, but again: Obiwan's Point Of View is different to ours.
There was a brilliance to the connection between these two that I feel every time I watch this movie. A bond like an uncle showing his nephew how to fish. He's keen to show and the nephew's keen to learn, but they occasionally have their falling outs. The mentor-learner relationship here is by far, one of the best and most lifelike in any film, executed perfectly by Liam Neeson and Ewan Macgregor. I promise you that you'll enjoy this movie on a much deeper level next time you watch it if you focus on the interpersonal interactions between these two, especially when on Coruscant.