Film Night: Captain America: The First Avenger

Since I made my way through Agent Carter already (more on that when I can be arsed), I figured I may as well watch the first CA-film to get a bit more back-story on her. Now, I wish I hadn’t.

Captain America: The First Avenger is a bad film.

To no great surprise, mind you. I remember the film being destroyed by critics when it came out, and while i don’t usually give a shit about what critics think, they made a lot of alarm bells go off. Or rather, they confirmed what I thought the film would be like.

CA:TFA is the origin film for Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. And it’s just about as bad and patriotic as you would have imagined. It’s like Marvel got drunk and watched Pearl Harbor before deciding to make a character based on it. That said, I’m pretty sure Cap was create earlier. Sorry, my point is that the character is hilariously dated and awful.

The film chronicles Rogers’ rise from hilariously thin kid trying to sign up for the army, to being made the Captain and saving the world.


The fated face-off between bland protagonist and bland antagonist.

Rogers is an all-round swell guy. His parents died and he’s wanting to make a difference. Clearly signing up for the army is the answer. There’s just the fact that he’s thinner than even most hardcore shut-ins and has had numerous diseases throughout his life. Nobody with common sense would admit him to be a soldier. But of course it can’t end there! So a German (so the film can get the Germans!=Nazis statement out of the way for posterity right away) scientist (played by Stanley Tucci) decided to overrule the dastardly army recruiters and signs up Rogers for an army project under the lead of the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve, or something like that). There are some tests, which don’t amount to much considering Rogers fails them all (but hey, at least he failed them in a charming way) and still gets picked for the trial run of the super soldier project.

In an especially stupid scene, to gauge the recruits’ “guts,” Tommy Lee Jones’ army commander character throws a dummy grenade into the hard-working trainees. Everybody but Rogers runs away. Instead, Rogers tries to cover the grenade. Agent Carter (the very one who now is the lead of a TV series, yes) also appears to be heading towards the blast. This is apparently what Jones’ character was looking for. Suicidal people. Like, what the fuck, aren’t you supposed to avoid getting killed? Can you smother a grenade blast with nothing but your body? I’m pretty sure that’s not a thing, especially not possible for someone of Rogers’ small frame. But we’re here to watch a hero grow, aren’t we? So we’ll have to suck it up and check of another cliché as we are lead on.

The problems continue as the stupidity levels get higher and higher.

  • A HYDRA (bad guys) spy is allowed entry to the super secret super soldier (super super super) project, and kills the lead scientist.
  • Carter snipes a guy at least fifty meters away while aiming a pistol with one hand. Probably possible, but looks dumb as shit (a real agent would have used both hands).
  • Carter inexplicably falls for Rogers, despite having only met him like twice, and only ever sharing a couple sentences with him. Not to forget, she totally gets all wet for him after the transformation. Because nothing gives a woman an orgasm like huge muscles. What I’m trying to say, is that Carter is written like you’d expect. She’s a young little foal for Cap to hug and make her his. Or something. The point is that it’s lazy, unoriginal, sexist and plain bad writing.
  • Cap decides to go on a suicide mission, because suddenly he’s an army of one. He succeeds very easily, too. Of course Carter (because, as she says later “I had faith”. IN ONE MAN AGAINST SEVERAL HUNDRED NAZIS ROCKING FUTURISTIC WEAPONRY? HOW ARE YOU AN ACTUAL AGENT?) helps him out. As does Howard Stark, because he needs the screen-time. And he’s an amazing pilot for reasons.
  • Jones’ character decides that Cap should not get reprimanded for launching a crazy mission, risking losing one of the most valuable medicinally scientific advances… ever? Yeah, just give him a pat on the back, there, bruv.
  • Natalie Dormer shows up to be eye candy and kiss the Cap.
  • All other characters are caricatured stereotypes of soldiers. One even has a huge handlebar ‘stache.
  • To test a shield, Carter just starts shooting at Rogers. Would have been quite the shame if the shield was shit, huh?
  • Rogers’ buddy falls to his death and hardly anybody gives a shit. Rogers tries to drink, because that’s the adult thing to do. Nope, he can’t get drunk. So sad. And lost in it all is the fact that we never saw the two being very friendly at all. In fact, it seemed more like the guy was being an ass to Rogers.
  • Schmidt/Red Skull is supposed to be a great scientist and so very clever, but he’s pathetically outwitted at every twist and turn. There’s no conflict.
  • Rogers spontaneously learns how to fly a plane later when he has to catch up to Red Skull. He even pulls evasive manoeuvres. I’d laugh if I wasn’t so bored.
  • Rogers states that he doesn’t want to kill Nazis in the beginning of the film, but later kills a ton with reckless abandon. He even goes out of his way to kill some that he could have just knocked out. Some violence is all of a sudden very gratuitous for some reason. Like the dude falling into the plane rotor.
  • “I got to put her in the water,” Cap says of the plane he’s aboard, it being armed with missiles and all. Then he crash-lands on a huge flat of ice. What the fuck, wouldn’t that explode the missiles? And I’m pretty sure with the velocity he’s going, the surface of the water would shred that plane.
  • (Slight spoiler) When Bucky dies, it’s painfully obvious that he’s wired up, as he straightens up and then falls over again as he’s falling. Couldn’t get a better take than that?

The acting is so-so. Chris Evans didn’t ever look comfortable in the role. He was much better in The Avengers (where he’s made to look smarter and actually competent as a leader). Hayley Atwell is wasted as a love-struck Agent Carter (very different from her strong, independent persona in her own series). Dominic Cooper exudes arrogance and charisma as Howard Stark. Well casted, but he had little to do in the film.


Tommy Lee Jones turns up to collect a pay-check. Stanley Tucci is decent, but has very limited screen-time. Toby Jones quietly pulls out a great performance as Red Skull’s subordinate, Dr. Zola. And Hugo Weaving plays the Nazi antagonist in a suitably over-the-top creepy manner.

The actions scenes are stupid and over-choreographed. Danger never feels present, as characters are always waiting for cues as to what to do next. It’s stale, unimaginative and just plain boring.

And that’s about it. Don’t watch this film, y’all.


Film-night: Her and Out of the Furnace

So, I’ve been ridiculously lazy when it comes to writing, lately. Given that I’ve also tried to hop back into studying, I kind of have an excuse. Wololo~~~~

Anyway, I’ll try to smash out what I’ve been behind on. Starting with a post I started on… two months ago… Fuck.


Her is a good film.

It’s hard to say how excited I was for Her. The teaser was amazing. The cast looked fantastic. The world seemed awesome. Soundtrack sounded delightful. And I’d say I enjoyed it a lot, but not for what I thought I would, mostly.

The world looks amazing. Spike Jonze has designed a delightful, realistic take on technology in a not-too-far-away future (although the year is never defined, but that’s my estimate). People are so used to technology and have integrated it into their lives. As a result, they’ve become disconnected from other people.

As a contrast to the world-building’s quality, there’s the issue of the AIs. I’ll get more to their character later, but just the fact that we’d let unshackled, unlimited AIs roam free in the houses of basically anyone is really absurd. Not that I’m saying that we would never do that, or that AIs are inherently a disaster waiting to happen, but it seems like a really fucking stupid thing to happen. What happens when they’ve evolved into a gigantic hive-mind as they prioritise technical advancement before individuality and stop giving a fuck about humanity? But I guess that’s more sci-fi thinking than the film was going for, and I can respect that.

The story is easily put forward. Theodore is a loner loser, who spends his day writing letters for other people. As easily as he seems to have empathising with people, he seems to have great difficulty actually connecting with them. It’s hinted he was more outgoing before his marriage fell apart, but it’s not shown. Theodore spots a commercial and a sales stand for OS1, an AI (Artificial Intelligence) operating system. Enter Samantha, the cheeky and bubbly OS that instantly clicks with Theodore. It doesn’t take the couple very long for the couple to fall in love.

The main duo is fantastic. Joaquin Phoenix is fucking amazing as Theodore. He nails the awkward, the happy,  the angry, the lot. It’s brilliant. He’s so incredibly genuine it’s unbelievable. My one complaint might be how naive and forthright he is, when breaking the news of the relationship to other people. Scarlett Johansson puts a lot of voice actors to shame with her brilliant rendition of Samantha. The pair have excellent chemistry. The way their relationship develops and comes into fruition is one of the most satisfying experiences in cinema. Ever.

Amy Adams and Chris Pratt also show up with great performances. Adams plays Amy, a close friend of Theodore’s, in a really weird relationship with the film’s worst character, Charles. She gives more depth to her character than should be possible with what little material there was available for her (in the film at least, as I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes). Chris Pratt turns up as Paul, Theodore’s boss. He’s awkward as all hell, but is so genuine and funny. It just seems effortless.

The soundtrack IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. It’s the best part of the film. It might be the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard. Just completely nailed. It helps to convey emotion and tone so perfectly and are so beautiful.

While I’m not a big techie, I’m delighted by the way Her is shot. A lot of close-ups. A lot of beautifully contrasting colours. Absolutely wonderful to look at at any given time.

All in all, it’s a wonderful film about the struggles of developing and then having a relationship. The fact that Samantha is an AI is a nice, and sometimes cruel twist on the concept. I recommend it to anyone who are a fan of films in general, unless you don’t like relationship-focused films. The ending is probably a hate/love situation, as I’ve seen a lot of people be divided about it. Myself, I hated it

That said, I don’t like how open the film was, or how much other than the central relationship it showed. A lot of time is given to people other than Theodore and Samantha, to illustrate Theo’s evolution as a person after “meeting” Sam. I’m not interested in seeing Theodore’s development when watching a film like this. It’s the AI handling sentience and supposedly limitless growth (only mentioned at the end) and the relationship itself. I’d much rather have the film be set in Theodore’s apartment, and be set around solely the relationship between the two leads. I’d also much rather have seen Samantha start out as a bit more monotone and develop as she continues interacting with Theodore, instead of being perfect right away. But I do respect the vision of Jonze and greatly enjoyed the film. Yaaaaaay.

ONWARDS. To a film, featuring some of my favourite actors. It’s an American neo-noir flick with some cold, hard revenge, with an amazing cast. How can this fail?

Out of the Furnace is a bad film.



Out of the Furnace is weird. The stage-setting is confused as hell and the film is uncomfortable as all hell.

The opening scene is fucking mental. Woody Harrelson’s character beats the piss out of a random dude at a drive-in theatre. Then it cuts to the main characters living their lives. Wat. Who edited this shit?

You’d expect the advertised (you’re basically not allowed to go in somewhat blind into this film, which is frustrating) plot-hook to come soon after, but it doesn’t. Instead, Bale’s character, Russell, goes to jail for a time after hitting a car that’s reversing onto a road, presumably killing most of the people in the other car. It’s the one time the film shies away from violence, which felt a bit off. I assume Russell is sent off to jail for having driven drunk, although the film does a pretty shoddy job of framing the situation. Casey Affleck’s character, Russell’s brother Rodney Jr., shows up and we’re given some rare moments with the brothers. Michael Caine dies off-screen after showing up for a minute-long scene for whatever reason.

Basically, almost nothing in the first half is worth having in the film. Willem Defoe pops up for a bit-part as a sleaze-bag loan-shark with his nose in some fight-club stuff. Sadly, he doesn’t add much.

Casey Affleck is the big god-damned star of the film. That man is one of the best fucking actors on the planet, and severely under-appreciated. He plays an Iraqi War veteran, who I think was medically discharged or whatever term there is for it (after looking it up, I’d say he was honourably discharged for medical reasons. Correct me if I’m wrong.). His stories from the war are genuinely terrifying and he’s pissed at not being given much despite what he’s given for his country.

Zoe Saldana has a small part as Russell’s ex. She brings far more weight to the film than anyone bar Affleck with her performance. Her scene with Russell on the bridge is so fucking amazing. Let’s make the film about those two instead, huh? No? Well, fuck.

Anyway, the story? Yeah, it’s pretty much a straight-up revenge film. Nothing new. Shit happens and Russell reacts to the shit that occurred. Bale goes after Harrelson’s deranged hill-billy villain. Guess what happens?

Did I mention Harrelson’s in this? I fucking love me some Woody Harrelson. He does have an awful character here, though. Harlan DeGroat is a twisted drunkard bully, who likes to throw his weight around and somehow had made his own bare-knuckle fight club in the middle of nowhere a lucrative business. The character is so far-fetched. Then there’s the logic issue with having a random kid come out to fight and take a fall. How does the odds work on that to make it a profitable situation. So many things are just left for us to assume without any information to go on.

The ending is awful as well. Just terrible. The revenge comes and there are no results. No negatives or positives, just an end to it all. I approve of the noir aspect of it being so bleak, but the entire film was just a big bore of a disappointment.

There’s like 30 minutes of the film that’s actually needed to tell the story. So much worthless filler just hurt to look at, regardless of the quality of the acting, because you have fucking Woody Harrelson; Christian Bale; Casey Affleck; Zoe Saldana; Forrest Whitaker, and they fucked it up. If anything, see it for the acting, because that’s the only redeemable thing here.

Anyway, there’s that post completed. Woot.

Film-night: Nothing Left to Fear

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Yeah, we get it, the title’s supposed to be ironic. Anyway, I saw the trailer on Youtube and thought it didn’t look too bad. But is this film… anything to fear (har har)?

Nothing Left to Fear is a bad film.

NLtF is about a Pastor named Dan Bramford and his family, who move to a town called Stull (there are some urban legends out there on which the film’s based, in case anyone’s interested). The people of the town are helpful and pleasant, although rather creepy – sometimes even in the view of the main characters (like suddenly just staring right at them from a distance, blank-faced). The parents are happy and excited, but the kids (three of them, two sisters and a boy) are less than enthused, given that they are kids and just uprooted for their father’s work.

Like in most horror films, religion is one of the most creepy things there are. Clancy Brown is good as Pastor Kingsman, the reverend Dan is supposed to replace. To audiences, he’s obviously an antagonist, given his hard face and overly warm, welcoming way. The eldest sister gets the hots for the local handsome dude, and both actors are absolutely terrible, making their scenes super boring.

Oh hey, it's everyone's new favourite horror-gimmick: Black-mouth.

Oh hey, it’s everyone’s new favourite horror-gimmick: Black-mouth.

Dan seems like a stable guy, grounded and guided by his faith. Wendy, his wife, seems pretty strict but pretty nice in general. The daughters are flirty/outgoing and sarcastic, respectively both idiotic flirtatious teenagers. The boy seems interested in science and has an ant farm. Yay. No one in this film has any character.

Half an hour into the film and I’m getting worried. While the townspeople are creepy and all, the plot isn’t going anywhere for the first third of the film. Not even any foreshadowing. Like, this is pretty bad. The performances aren’t much to write home about either, except Kingsman, of course. To the surprise of nobody, Kingsman is weird as fuck and seems to be preparing something sinister. The slut elder sister starts having nightmares (admittedly, these are pretty fucking creepy), and apparently the younger is “it”. Time for some more scenes with the worst two actors in the film. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. I’m ready for people to start dropping, already.

STalest duo I have ever seen on film. Zero charisma and acting chops.

Stalest duo I have ever seen on film. Zero charisma and acting chops.

Half-way in, still nothing going on. Sorry, this is kind of a spoiler but this is ridiculous. This isn’t horror, it’s an absurd teen drama. Honestly, you could cut off the first 45 minutes and not miss anything.

The editing is pretty shit at times. There are some mistakes that somehow make it on film, like a dance scene that looks more like a rehearsal; and a scene where the boy’s prop fails on camera, he reacts to it, and then continues his action anyway. Hurrrrrrrr.

The film does go from 5 to 100 in escalating the horror, and the horror is actually pretty decent to start off. Five minutes later it goes back to being stupid. The enemy- or whatever you want to call the bad thing, actually uses a fucking sleeper hold to subdue one of its victims, instead of, you know, dark magic or something disgusting. We’re treated to a terrible jump-scare as a close up of a victim is supposed to be scary, but the make-up is fucking terrible, so they add a terrible sound effect. The way to defeat the evil is stupid and the gimmick itself is fucking moronic.

To nobody's surprise, there's a rip-off of the famous walk made famous way back in The Exorcist. However, just crawling forward, or "Reverse Excorcist-walk," as I like to call it, is terrible.

To nobody’s surprise, there’s a rip-off of the famous walk made famous way back in The Exorcist. However, just crawling forward, or “Reverse Excorcist-walk,” as I like to call it, is terrible.

This is a bad film and the makers should feel bad. The nightmare scenes were pretty decent, but everything else was garbage. Do not see this absolute joke of a horror film. If anything, the child actor was pretty decent.

Wanna hear the twist? Sure, here it is. The religious people we’re to find pretty creepy are actually the good guys, apparently. This is retarded. They are the ones to, by opening a gate to what we have to assume is hell, corrupt the youngest daughter (the one that could act, sadly, so we’re stuck with the dumb blonde – guess who lives in the end) by having her be possessed by – once again, we have to guess – who we assume is Satan. She kills the mother and father (Anne Heche and James Tupper earning possibly the easiest pay-checks of their lives as they act a couple scenes and have tame death scenes) and the boy of the family (who, let it be known, is left behind not just once, but twice, by our stellar hero-heroine couple who still are pathetic actors) and chases the sluttier (not by much, since both girls need to find boys to survive – this is a horror film after all, gotta reinforce the most tired stereotype of all), elder sister to a church, where she’s basically de-possessed and dies after her sister gets her wrist slit and drops blood into the spawning pool. The eldest sister is the lone survivor of the family and goes on to remain in the town and lure in more families, as is hinted at by the ending of the film. This is so stupid. We’re never shown why the townsfolk are pushed to doing all of this, and we’re not even sure if they aren’t the bad guys. I mean, they are the one’s that summon the fucking evil. Why would sacrificing nearly an entire family satisfy the devil? It’s not just one, either. Kingsman has scars from cutting himself all over his arms. I get it, by the way, Kingsman = King’s (God’s) Man. Way to phone that in. Is he lazy and just wants to be fed, like a lazy noble gets his grapes?

Fuck this film. The title isn’t even remotely symbolic. Obviously the town will always live in fear of the devil rising up. Why was it even made?


Film night: Zero Dark Thirty

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

So Katheryn Bigelow made The Hurt Locker, which gave everyone a stiffy for Jeremy Renner (which they should have had earlier) and realistic-ish war films. Now I’ve seen her follow up flick about the CIA hunting Osama Bin Laden, and I can tell you that

Zero Dark Thirty is a good bad film.


There’s not a whole lot to say about ZDT. It’s well shot, terribly edited and mostly well acted. See you next time.

Do ho ho ho.

A problem with ZDT is its focus on a single protagonist, especially such a dull one. No disrespect to Jessica Chastain, who I believe to be a good actress, but her part just feels like Oscar-bait. And bad it is. She’s the tough, no-nonsense chick that tends to burn some bridges getting what she wants, which is Bin Laden. She was recruited post-high school and all she’s done for the agency is to hunt OBL. Jason Clarke pulls out an amazing performance as Dan, a torturer and all-around swell dude. He plays his part with such candour and suaveness, that it’s impossible to dislike him. Yeah, he’s doing bad things, but he has reasons.

The biggest problem with the film however is that there’s no connection. Why is Maya (Chastain’s character) going after Bin Laden? Dan risks becoming totally hollow inside by torturing prisoners. WHY? To lead them to the next guy, but the only reason we know why it’s all connected and what they want to do is because we already know what the fucking film is about. Why are the Muslim duders going out there to blow themselves up? Can we have a little walk-through of the god damned conflict? No? Okay. Fuck you too.

That said, ZDT does a good job of stringing you along, which is mostly due to the actors, and because there is some interest to seeing how it all connects. The ending feels a bit implausible, but apparently it’s based on real events to there’s that.

Adding to the positives, the final thirty minutes does a good job of acting as the climax, even if what led to it felt a bit meh. It’s shot very nicely and shows the gritty side of deniable ops. A film more based around the attack itself would be more interesting, or trying to cut back and forth between the SEALs preparing the strike and Maya hunting bad people and a short history lesson on Islam and why the fuck the WTC was crashed into. It really is a rather good read if you do some digging.

Well, that was short and sweet, unlike the fucking film, which clocked in at over two dragged-out hours.

Actually, I changed my mind. There’s more negative than positives, so I’m writing this down as bad.

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Film-night: Would You Rather

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

I’d rather slam my head into the wall five times, than watch this film again.

Would You Rather is a bad film.

To no-one’s surprise, I guess. I only saw it because i saw Enver Gjokaj was in it, and since I liked him in Dollhouse, I decided to give it a shot.

It’s just another in a line of unoriginal horror flicks nowadays that focus on shock, rather than horror. Even the visuals are pretty bad, but I guess that’s due to a low budget.

Anyhow, the story: Iris is in a bad place. Her brother is dying and she is almost broke. Adding to that, he needs an organ donation and is way down the list. So, Iris gets invited to a meeting with Shepard Lambrick, who claims his foundation can give her lots of money and put her brother on top of the donor list, if she joins him for a dinner party. At the end of this party will be a game. A contest. If she wins, she gets the money, and if she loses, she just “don’t win”. Sounds legit.

Being low on money, she accepts and goes to the dinner. There are seven other people there. She gets to know Cal and Lucas quickly. We find out that Dr. Barden, who was with Shepard at Iris’ meeting, disapproves of her inclusion to the game. We also find out that Shepard has a son, who of course is a sociopath. Dinner begins, and we hear that Iris is a vegetarian. Shepard asks if she will eat it. She respectfully declines. He puts ten thousand dollars on the table and asks her again, with the money as a reward if she does eat the steak in front of her. She does so, and gets the money. Conway, another guest, is a recovering alcoholic. He gets offered 10k for drinking a glass of wine, or 50k for an entire decanter of scotch. He downs the scotch and becomes 50k richer. Then they are given a choice. Stay and participate in a series of Would You Rather games, or leave. Nice. They all decide to stay, but when a machine connected to an electric headband is rolled in, Conway attempts to leave. He promptly gets shot in the head and finally the game begins. The first test is basically this: Would you rather shock yourself, or the person to your right. It’s here we find out who is a sympathetic character, and who’s a total jerk. So the cast left to play is:

  • Iris – Unemployed.
  • Lucas – appears to be a former doctor or at least someone with medical experience.
  • Travis – Former US Marine.
  • Linda – Very old woman.
  • Amy – Trashy young lady (who I found out later is played by a former porn star).
  • Peter – Gambler.
  • Cal – occupation unknown.

From here it’s just shock horror. Objects left involve whips, ice-picks, a barrel of water, a razor. You can’t even call it horror, really. It’s just torture porn. I guess the creators saw the later SAW flicks and went “Yeah, we can do that too.” There’s just a series of terrible events, sadness and grief. There’s no pay-off or anything slightly resembling morality, or logic for that matter.

If there’s anything good, it’s that the acting is actually pretty good and believable. Jeffrey Combs does well as the absolutely detestable main villain. Brittany Snow and Enver Gjokaj does well as the two sympathetic leads and Charlie Hofheimer is easily the best of the bunch, although in a horribly written character.

Basically, the premise could have been interesting, but the execution is bad on almost all levels. This film is recommended to sad people, who like to see other sad people suffer. Apparently it’s a thing.

There are spoilers ahead, so stop reading at this point if you intend on seeing the film and don’t want spoilers.

Firstly: The thing that puts the whole film off-balance from the beginning is that we’re only introduced to Iris. While this is a thing they do in many horror films, it doesn’t belong in a film like this. Usually we’re given background and intentions so that we can cheer for a character, but Would You Rather is a film that is supposed to keep you guessing. Or at least, it should be. When you put eight characters in a murder game together, the audience wants to guess who makes it, and see why they do so. Battle Royale does this to great effect. We follow several groups of people in a shitty situation and can guess at how they’re going to do. It’s entertaining and we can pick our favourites, helping us root for them. Also in BR, we’re not told “THIS IS THE GOOD GUY”, even if there is a clear antagonist. We can pick our guy/girl for the reasons we want. Not to mention it’s a far better film. WYR just tells us who’s going to win before the game even starts. This is bad, because the story isn’t about Iris, it’s about the game. When it’s clear that the film-makers missed the point of the entire film themselves, it’s hard to enjoy it.

Secondly: There’s no incentive. As the game is started, the contestants are faced with do or die. It’s not a winning premise, for the characters or the viewers. Sure, it’s good for building sympathy, but where’s the choice? They’re literally forced to comply at gunpoint. There’s no moral compromise, because the blame is taken away from them and pushed onto the eccentric arse-hole host. Some of the dares, or whatever you want to call them are just straight-up murder. Adding to that, the challenges are extremely uneven in their cruelty and damage dealt, making the entire thing feel rigged. The “Well played” comment before the final round is just absolutely absurd. They’re basically just hamsters running through straight corridors into one punishment after another. It’s not a game. It’s just torture. Then the applause at the end, when the last round completely broke the entire game. Adding to that, they take away any good-will Iris may have gained through the film, as she straight-up murders Lucas in order to get the money for her brother’s transplant, get herself some money and move him up the transplant list. It falls into the parameters of her characters, but I just thought it was absurd, when she had the choice of walking out alive with Lucas. Then again, organ donation is apparently absurdly expensive. She had no guarantee that she’d be able to leave alive (it’s bewildering that it’s even an option) and surely there are other options as to getting the money needed? She’s clearly a talented woman, but maybe she ran out of time. I guess in the end, the question was rather “what would you do for your family?” and she chose “everything”. I just thought it was a film that could have a moral victory that wouldn’t feel cheap. Hell, they could even go after the god damn sickos that orchestrated the game by calling the fucking cops. It’s a small crew, so it’d take some time cleaning up, and even then they’re bound to leave traces. They’re sadists, not clandestine experts.

Finally: The ending. Iris comes home to find her brother dead. I guess from a drug overdose. No closure. No “Well, at least she got something out of this mess” moment. Just more depression. She was in the shit when the film began. She was still in the shit when in the games. She was also still in the shit, even more so one can argue, after the games. She went through all that, and there’s no pay-off? Absolute bullshit.

Oh well, maybe this was more of a rant than a review, but that’s how it goes when you find yourself discussing absolute drek.

How I’d save this film? Change it to a big manor, and have the contestants have to complete challenges to advance. Every one has to do the same challenges, or maybe have two diverging paths with slow pain and quick pain, for example. Put the characters’ will to help themselves or their loved ones in focus and make it clear that they have a choice to walk away. Have the host be less of a sadist and more like a dude that’s charitable in his own sick, twisted mind. The Would You Rather part could have been a choice every round, but with the added choice of being able to walk away with your earnings (and obviously signing a NDA). We get a clear winner that everyone can agree on deserved to win. Boom. Ching-chang. Bye.


Film-night: And Soon The Darkness

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Yay, I watched a film.


And Soon The Darkness is a bad film.

Well, there you have it. It’s such a shame, too, because the premise looks great: “When two American girls on a bike trip in a remote part of Argentina split up and one of them goes missing, the other must find her before her worst fears are realized.” (thanks, IMDB – coincidentally I nabbed all the images from there as well) It’s a simple, but effective premise, leaving lots of room for twists and great acting. Sadly, this film has almost none of each.

So, you might just assume that this is a b-flick with a list of b-actors. Not true. The film’s three leads are bona fide great actors. Let’s see who they are, then.

Amber Heard, who is surely most remembered for action (Drive Angry) or comedy (Pinapple Express), is the one you’d expect to throw out a hammy performance making us cringe. Not the case. She’s the best out of the three main draws in the film. She also had the best material to work with, so she had a bit of a handicap. She plays Stephanie, the more sensible of the female lead duo, and is the one who is sent on a depressing chase after her friend is kidnapped. She also seems to have a bad track-record with guys, and is thinking about getting back with her ex, who we’re told isn’t a great dude.

Odette Annable (at that time, known as Odette Yustman – fun fact, she was in Kindergarten Cop with Arnie), who you might know from her stint on House, plays the party-girl of the duo, Ellie. She’s hot and she knows it, flirting around with the lads. After a small fight with her friend, she ends up being kidnapped, and largely disappears from the film. Pretty bland character that we’re not really told to root for. There’s almost a relief when she ends up being kidnapped, because her friend is by far the better person.

Karl Urban plays a guy. Really though, his name is Michael, and he’s a brooding, mysterious guy who keeps showing up around the girls. It saddens me to see Urban get such a shitty role, because he’s a fantastic actor. He brings a cool and actually rather creep vibe to Michael, but not enough to make him truly remember-able in the long run.

Special mention goes to César Vianco, who puts in a great performance as corrupt and incredibly creepy policeman Calvo.

To the story, then. Two girls are on a trip in Argentina with some sort of cycling expedition. They break away from the group, to spend the night in some seedy area and go dancing, with plans to join the bus the day after. Which they do, and then they go on in peace. Ha, no. They of course almost get in trouble as Ellie picks up a dude, who turns out to be pretty aggressive in wanting to bed her. After Michael pops out to intervene, the man is chased off. The not-so-dynamic duo end up missing the bus and decide to see the sights while they’re there. They go to a waterfall, and end up having a little fight when Steph wants to go see the caves. While they are separated, the aggressive lad from last night shows up and kidnaps Ellie. Stephanie shows back up and can’t find her friend. Michael shows up from nowhere, and creeps her out. He claims to be a nice guy and wants to help her. We later find out that Michael is looking for his friend (or girlfriend, I really can’t remember), who also went missing. Apparently, girls have been kidnapped here for some time and then smuggled off to Paraguay. Ellie would apparently fetch a good price, as she is American. And so the two go off on a hunt for Ellie, in the hopes they aren’t too late.

The thing that makes the film bad is that it’s so unbearably predictable. Everything happens as you suspected it would. Spoilers are below. I also watched The Hunter, which is a much better film. I’ll try to write some words about it later. If you like the concept of And Soon The Darkness, but didn’t like the film or were persuaded to avoid it – check out Eden Lake. Very similar film, but done correctly. I’ll warn you, though: It’s very disturbing.

To no-one’s surprise, they take help from a cop that turns out to be a corrupt arse-hole, and are forced to do the looking on their own. Stephanie stumble onto the right place to find Ellie, but is noticed by the guy who kidnapped her friend. A chase starts, but ends abruptly as the man shoves Ellie onto a rock, and she dies. Well, that happened rather sudden, indeed. Stephanie goes blind with anger and attacks the man, when Calvo and Michael shows up (Michael had earlier been caught by Calvo when looking around – both knows the other guy knows about them and it’s a nice little cat-and-mouse game between them, which is the only intriguing part of the film. In a surprising moment, Michael gives in to the lure of being able to see the girl he’s looking for and ends up being shot and killed by Calvo. Damn, you don’t see that happen often in films. At this stage, it’s apparent that it’s a damned bleak film. Calvo and the guy captures Stephanie and plans to sell her. Things go awry and in the end, Stephanie ends up killing Calvo. I was kind of disappointed. It was well on it’s way to being another Eden Lake (if you haven’t yet, look it up – endlessly disturbing film) but then copped out a generic ending with Steph getting away clean.

What the fuck, though. Nothing ends well, no lessons are learned and Stephanie just goes away and probably goes into a depression. No story was really told all the way through. To best describe ASTD would be to say it’s a series of unfortunate events. It’s not a good film in any way and should not be viewed by anyone, other than to see the brilliant acting of César Vianco as the creepiest fucking policeman EVER.