Avengers: Endgame (2019)

end1A crushing disappointment. I’ll get that out of the way right now. While I didn’t believe Avengers: Infinity War was the slam dunk classic that some, or even the majority of, fans did, I did have hopes that my reservations with that film would be addressed by the second film, that things that troubled me would make sense in hindsight. Alas, the simple truth of Endgame is that it doesn’t – indeed, it just throws more wood into the fire and causes even more consternation.

One caveat here- while I have read loads of Marvel comics from the 1960s/early 1970s era, I know nothing about the original Thanos material in the comics that, presumably, led to an Infinity War saga that crossed over several of the Marvel comics lines. So I have no way of knowing if my issues with it all stems chiefly from the comics themselves and the films being faithful to them. I suppose the film-makers are caught in no-mans land, somewhat, if they are beholden to those comics and keeping faith with them.

But if so, then oh boy, I wish they had gone the other way and trod some other path. Time travel? Alternate timelines, ignoring time paradoxes with some kind of casual “nah, that’s just movies” remark and just doing whatever they please?

Let’s get this right: at the end, for some unfathomable reason they just don’t make clear, while they have dismissed the inherent paradoxes of time travel as nonsense. they maintain that somebody has to go back and return the Power Stones to where they came from in the several desperate time-zones and locations. So Captain America elects to do this, and they send him back – presumably he has some kind of Time Machine Wristwatch so that once he delivers one Power Stone he can then dial up another location/time and deliver the next one and so on, which suggests that perhaps they should have done this in the first place when they originally went back for them- all the heroes together to each Power Stone and then move on to the next, etc. But anyway, conveniently bypassing that particular plot hole, Captain America goes back and delivers each Power Stone, presumably fixing any temporal issues we were earlier told were not an issue. Then he decides to go back to 1940s America and his lost love Peggy Carter and spends his life with her, presumably spending his life in some alternate timeline thus created- and yet ends up on the park bench in the current (?) timeline as an old man. Surely he should be in some other universe/timeline in which he stayed with Peggy, not the one in which he fought in the various Avengers/Captain America movies and Peggy married someone else and…

Its just noise. I know that all it is. Its all nonsense, trying to make sense of it and it’s only a comic book superhero caper, its grown men (and women) dressed up in silly costumes with silly powers that defeat all laws of physics. But surely it could do without all that noise of plot holes and paradoxes and sensical conflicts and fan service?  That first section of Endgame, in which our heroes traumatised by the finale of Infinity Wars unite to track down Thanos and undo the Snap that took out 50% of all life in the universe- surely that should have just been the entire Endgame movie? Just spread it out into some huge interplanetary adventure figuring out where Thanos is and figuring out a way to defeat him and use the Gauntlet to fix everything? I mean, ultimately, it would do without all the Time Travel theatrics, which don’t ultimately really fix everything (we don’t get Gamora back, or the Vision etc) and just give me headaches every time I think about it.

end2.jpgTime travel is real: okay, so we go back and kill Thanos before the events of Infinity War. We’ve established it won’t create any Time Paradox because Back to the Future is just, hey, a movie. We go back, nuke Thanos or flush him out an airlock or decapitate him and presto, everybody’s back, because Thanos didn’t live to get all the Power Stones. Or, let’s go back to every previous Marvel movie that featured a Power Stone and steal it and destroy it before Thanos could get it. Presto, everyone’s back, and there’s no Power Stones or Gauntlet that could ever snap them away. No, instead, let’s go back, steal those Power Stones, then use it to do our own snap (without the Gauntlet?)… er..

Yeah, only the Gauntlet can harness and control the powers of those Power Stones, I think that was established earlier, so what the frak does Iron Man do at the end of Endgame? When he and Thanos are having that wrestling contest, Iron Man somehow comes out of it with the Power Stones without Thanos sussing what he’s done in a split second of wrestling masterclass brilliance, and no, I don’t remember if he’s actually wearing the Gauntlet having somehow undressed Thanos of it like some kind of party trick Paul Daniels would be proud of, he’s just in his Iron Man suit and somehow he performs a Counter-Snap anyway? WTF? The grand conclusion of the saga has me scratching my head about what the hell actually happened- a clever twist or terrible storytelling?

I realise they filmed both Infinity War and Endgame together, back to back, but it really feels as though they shot and released Infinity War, and then had to figure some way out of it with Endgame, to fix it all back. “How do you fix the problem of Infinity War?” seems to be a question they didn’t already have an answer to, which for me feels weird, because presumably they had all this mapped out before they even started shooting any of Infinity War, nevermind what Endgame became. I mean, they did, obviously, because this is how they made the two films but it doesn’t feel like it, it doesn’t feel inherently sound or whole. Which is what disturbed me the most about Endgame.

Repeat viewings may answer some of my concerns and may make more sense of it all, but I rather doubt it. I think Endgame (and it’s a bit of a shame, but that also includes Infinity War before it), is rather a miss-step for Marvel. The box-office seems to be beyond spectacular so I’m likely in the minority as usual, but hey, box-office billions in no way reflects upon actual quality. It just possibly reflects upon the gullibility of fan-boys and a general public clamoring for the next big Event Movie. From my one current viewing, I’m of the opinion that Endgame was pretty poor and a crushing disappointment.

And next week I’m watching the grand conclusion of season eight of Game of Thrones, another saga that threatens to collapse under the weight of fan expectations and several years of build up and hype and popular-culture hysterics. I sense a pattern emerging and its not particularly pretty…

John Wick Ch.3: Parabellum (2019)

wick3This third entry in the John Wick franchise knows what it is doing from the start- pleasing John Wick fans and lovers of action movies. In that sense, the film is some kind of relentless machine, delivering elaborate fights, bloody headshots and pretty breathtaking stunts in spades, right from the opening. When I exited the cinema I wondered how long it’s going to be until somebody does a bodycount and reveals just how many dead bodies Wick and his freinds leave in their wake (I’m guessing something like two hundred, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were actually higher).

There is something almost cathartic in that cartoon violence, a ballet of death that is almost glorious- this series of films remains an action-movie fan’s wet dream, stripping down all plot and characterisation to something like a videogame level. I remember there was a game several years ago, I forget the name, but it put the player in several first-person levels/scenarios of killing and rewarded the player by scoring for headshots/stringing deaths together etc – this is that videogame as a movie.  The problem is, it gets a little wearing at times, the endless action, the relentless death and destruction lacking any depth or perspective that, say, a proper script with proper characters would have. I may be missing something, but towards the end of the film a group of bad guys in a busy concourse of the train station are suddenly wiped out through some surprise intervention (that makes little sense really when I think about it, except that the big bad guy doesn’t want the other bad guys spoiling his fun- that’s about as complex as this stuff gets) and none of the public commuters react – I even looked for the bodies in the background as the camera started to move away and I couldn’t see any. Did I blink and miss the corpses getting ‘cleaned up’? Shouldn’t hundreds of panicked commuters have been fleeing the scene?

Should I really be enjoying this silly movie so much?

Its hard to believe that it was back in 2014 that the first John Wick came out of nowhere like a breath of fresh air. Stripping the usual action movie tropes to the barest minimum, its retired assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) was a mystery, barely a character outline- described as ‘Baba Yaga’ , a shadowy legend whispered about by fearing criminals, he was suddenly unleashed like a bloody force of nature when the grieving mans car was stolen and his dog killed. It was simple, and the bad guys deserved everything they got (never mess with a mans car or his dog). As action films go, the brevity of the plot and characterisation makes the film pretty much perfect.

John Wick 2 delved deeper into the mysterious mythology only hinted at in the original, and Parabellum (its funny how sophisticated/complex a title it is for a film so simple) opens things much further, actually breaking out of the city and into the outside world, as far as the deserts of Africa (in a sequence which is, ironically, the weakest of the movie, which may be telling).  Each John Wick film has added more characters in the supporting cast, more back-story, ever more elaborate myth-building. At this point with the third film, we’re pretty much at the level of the first Matrix film, the defined world having its own weird logic – assassins everywhere, a payment system of unique gold coins/tokens, administrative clerks, adjudicators, sacred codes of conduct, John Wick even practically holding status of ‘the One,’ the status of unkillable, with all the other assassins trying to prove themselves by doing the impossible. Oh, and if the moral of the first film was ‘never mess with a man and his dog’, this one offers the adage ‘never mess with a woman and her dogs’ – Halle Berry and her deadly dogs being one of the highpoints of the film (although I maintain that this section of the film away from the city is its weakest section) and it’s pretty damn certain she’ll be joining Wick in Chapter Four’s carnage.

At this point it’s pretty clear that there is a danger these films will collapse in on themselves by adding too many layers to its mythology, becoming too complex to support the inherent daftness and joy of its fairly chaotic cartoon violence. Fans always want more, and will gleefully greet John Wick 4 or even John Wick 5 (probably as inevitable as Thanos, at this point). I have to wonder though when the inevitable happens and all that violence, and Wick’s own increasingly hilarious invincibility,  just becomes wearisome. I’d much prefer the Wick films to go out on a high and not become too diluted by too many sequels or its stunts etc just get too insane in the pursuit of being better than before.

Parabellum is still a pretty damn cool action movie and cements the reputation of the series as whole, although it’s clear that there are worrying indications of the point of diminishing returns rearing its head before long. Roll on Chapter Four anyway.

Creed II (2018)

creed2There’s a really engaging story in this film, and the trouble is, its not whats happening with Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan)- instead I was really interested in the silent giant Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), living a tough existence in Eastern Europe under the rough guidance of his father,  former Russian champion boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren, reprising his role from Rocky IV). Their relationship is one of silences and some considerable tensions and was, to me, far more interesting. Munteanu, who I believe is a professional boxer, does a lot with his stares and frowns and while he’s built like a frightening man mountain he exhibits considerable warmth and fragility in his silences, no mean feat for a guy who’s not, I suspect, a professional actor. Had the studio behind this series had the nerve and boldness to follow the first Creed by a film titled Drago which dwelt on Viktor’s rise to success in Eastern Europe thanks to, or in spite of, his father and his father’s own ghosts, and perhaps that led to the inevitable Creed II that we have here, I would have been very happy.  But the cynic in me thinks that likely smells too much like franchise building, so hey ho maybe it’s a good thing after all.

Nonetheless, the biggest weakness of Creed II is that it feels like a by-the-numbers Rocky franchise movie, lacking any of the depth, sensitivity, emotion or sense of meta-reality that the original film did. We know that Adonis Creed will have a crisis of faith, will have personal problems and doubts, and that he’ll somehow turn defeat into victory thanks to Rocky guiding him and a really cool training montage. There’s really not enough surprises here, and Viktor’s story remains the more interesting.

There is, though,  a really great drinking game here- have a shot everytime you see Adonis’ girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) with a new hairstyle. You’ll be under the table before you reach the climactic fight (and consequently might be more surprised by the outcome). I usually like Tessa Thompson but something here just irritated me- likely its really the writing of her character; here she’s no longer a ‘real’ or normal person, she’s too perfect, too beautiful, a singing celebrity in her own right and far too comfortable with the millionaire lifestyle. When she’s singing some maddeningly bombastic song as she leads Adonis down to the ring for the final bout I suddenly realised that this is the one thing the ‘legend’ that is Beckham never dared- imagine Posh serenading him down the tunnel out to the wembley faithful for his last England game there. Would have brought the house down (or emptied the stadium, I’m not sure).

So anyway, Creed II was definitely a disappointment having enjoyed the first film when I finally caught up with it a little while ago. Here’s hoping any eventual Creed III turns its back on the Rocky tropes/mythology and strikes out for something new. Or failing that, lets see that Drago film.

The Terror of the Tongs (1961)

terror2I’ve finally gotten around to what is, as expected, the weakest link in an otherwise surprisingly high-quality set of movies in Indicator’s third Hammer collection, Blood & Terror (the three other entries being The Camp on Blood Island, Yesterday’s Enemy and The Stranglers of Bombay). While the film is at heart an old-fashioned potboiler of hidden menace in the Far East in the vein of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu yarns, it’s a pretty mediocre and predictable story, further tarnished by the unfortunate casting of a mostly English cast of Hammer thespians playing Chinese characters, wearing dodgy ‘slitty-eyed’ makeup that looks decidedly un-PC in our enlightened age and also limits the actor’s attempts to emote, instead making them look like wooden actors playing aliens in ‘sixties-era Doctor Who. That being said, Christopher Lee chews up the scenery in his role as the leader of the Red Dragon Tong, as if he’s auditioning for Macbeth or something. I guess he was doing something right, as he’d later be promoted to the role of Fu Manchu in some genuine Sax Rohmer-based flicks later on.

Its also a sign of the times in which it was made, that even though the film seems pretty tame nowadays, it was pretty brutally trimmed by the censors of the time and the cuts, which are really jarring, have never been restored. One death is not so much blink and you’d miss it as much as, well, the character is alive one moment and dead the next- it’s almost quite bewildering and almost breaks the scene its in entirely (surprised they never bothered to try reshoot a censor-acceptable version, but that’s possibly just an indication of how casual the Hammer chiefs were rushing these flicks out as cheaply and efficiently as possible).

terrorPositives, few as they are, are the colourful cinematography and the beautiful Yvonne Monlaur in one of her two Hammer roles, probably the highlight of the film for me- she’s a much better actress than this hokey script, and Hammer in general, deserves, and I think it’s rather odd she didn’t have a more successful career in film. Even in a poor film with a poorly written character, she has a connection with the camera and a presence that really resonates. If ever I decide to rewatch this film again, it’ll be largely just to see her performance (and that of Christopher Lee, of course, chewing up the scenery as only he could- like Peter Cushing, he had a way of elevating Hammer to some kind of Shakespearean tragedy, as if he’s making a film no-one else can see).

Adrift (2018)

Adrift, based on a true story of a woman in 1983 surviving being set adrift at sea following a disastrous encounter with a hurricane, is competently made but suffers from being all too familiar. Which is odd enough, thinking about it, as it’s a remarkable enough story but it does seem like we’ve seen it before- most recently in films like All Is Lost or older films such as Castaway. Certainly in many ways this film is no worse than them, or other similar survival at sea thrillers. Its well made with a decent cast, great cinematography and effects. Its just a little unfortunate that it feels, well, so familiar.

Funny, though, when watching films like this- I keep thinking about Jaws, about how difficult that film was to get made, the logistical and technical challenges of filming out at sea, and how well films manage it now. I wouldn’t suggest it was anything easy, I guess it can still prove to be a nightmare, and at least in something like this they weren’t contending with a giant mechanical shark. All the same though, the underwater photography is particularly fine here and the effects work involved in the wide expanses of sea and the storm sequences is all very impressive.

Its a shame the film doesn’t fully engage. Its effective enough, but not really enthralling or as tense as it might have been. Perhaps it is the films structure that undermines it, the post-storm wreck and ensuing crisis being broken up into flashbacks that establish the characters and their past. A more conventional chronological set-up might have been better; might have encouraged our empathy more, but I suppose the way its done is an attempt to encourage a sense of mystery and interest and ensure the central ‘twist’ works (although I guessed it before it came).

The Wandering Earth (2019)

This is almost infinitely bonkers. I don’t even know where to start regards reviewing it. If I were to suggest its best bits compared to the worst excesses of Armageddon, and that it also just went beyond that in featuring almost blatant lifts from Interstellar and Gravity and The Day After Tomorrow and Sunshine, becoming some kind of sci fi Disaster Movie Greatest Hits package, well, I guess that would just about sum it up and make the rest of this post quite redundant.

Its not that I haven’t seen anything quite like it, it’s just that, well, I have, but it was spread across several movies, and this thing condenses it all into a two-hour effects marathon that just assaults your eyes and intelligence in ways that even The Transformers movies stumbled at. I remember everyone scoffing at the science of Gerry Anderson’s Space:1999 back in the 1970s, and here we are with somebody suggesting that, well…

The sun is dying (Sunshine) and the only (?) hope for humanity is to pilot Spaceship Earth by, er, strapping several thousand huge bloody engines to it and letting rip, er, breaking out of orbit and literally flying the planet Earth to another star. Wait, just pause and digest that a moment, they are taking the Earth on a two-thousand year journey out of the solar system across interstellar space to another star. Okay. This also involves building a huge spaceship to lead the way with a Chinese astronaut sacrificing his family duties in order to step up and do his astronaut duty (Interstellar/Armageddon) and leaving his estranged children rather pissed off. Earth of course plunges into winter as it moves further from the dying sun (The Day After Tomorrow) and as the cities above plunge into icy horror (Snowpiercer) the remnants of humanity live in gigantic underground cities, busy maintaining and fueling the massive rockets on the surface pushing the planet into space. Unfortunately there has been some miscalculation or freak act of interplanetary gravitational mechanics because the Earth is moving too close to Jupiter (2001 etc) and is caught into its gravity well and planet Earth’s journey to another star (no, I can’t quite get my head around the sheer audacity and stupidity of that) is threatened to be cut short by the Earth plunging into Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

It really is that insane, and I haven’t gone into the details about giant trucks on Earth or the HAL9000-wannabe up on the spaceship or the disparate groups and arcs running through the film. Its like someone took the sci-fi writer’s handbook of credibility and chucked it into the bin. A hugely successful blockbuster in its native China, it seems to have slipped onto Netflix out of nowhere and is quietly gathering some notoriety as being the film to make Michael Bay seem the very definition of restraint. I suppose the one good thing about it appearing in the West so quickly on Netflix is that it nixes some damn fool in Hollywood deciding to make a Hollywood remake. Its not to suggest that Hollywood could have done it any better or worse- one thing I can say about this film is that it definitely puts Chinese film-making on the map, technically at least, as it’s certainly up there with the kind of scale of effects spectacle previously the domain of the major American studios. Sure, it does look a bit too much like videogame cutscenes much of the time, but that’s true of some Hollywood stuff too.

Its just a shame, really, that instead of being uniquely Chinese and its own thing, it spends so much effort clearly mimicking Hollywood and recent Pop Culture excess, but on the other hand, it is refreshing to see a film in which its someone other than the Americans saving the world. Thinking about it, it perhaps indicates the future and real world order- I suppose in the Victorian era, it would have been the British Empire saving the world, in the last century it would have been America saving the world, but in this new millennium power is clearly shifting, and perhaps its true that it will be Asia and the Chinese that will step up in future apocalyptic movies to save the world.

Its stupid. Its a blast. I felt a little dirty after sitting through all of it. I mean, really, it’s almost insulting, how daft and spectacular this thing is. But it’s certainly something. Just not really sure what it is. Crazy, yes, certainly. Lousy. Noisy. Eye-candy. Its the film that almost makes Armageddon seem like an arthouse movie. Perhaps there will be a sequel where they take a wrong turn near Saturn… I mean, considering the film’s huge success in its home territory a sequel is surely inevitable, it’s just I’m rather scared at where they will take the next one.

 

Halloween (2018)

hall1.jpgHalloween 2018 starts out really well. Its central conceit is that none of the myriad Halloween sequels/remakes/spin-offs or reboots ever happened, and that, 40 years later, this is the Part Two to the 1978 original’s Part One. A little like how the aborted Alien 5 would have pretended that Alien 3 & Alien: Resurrection never existed. In a similar way to films like Creed and BR2049, it treats the original material and mythology with some reverence and sincerity. It also allows, as the other films did, for the intervening years in the real world to be reflected by the passage of time in the movie world, adding some weight of pathos to the proceedings, allowing that sense of the weight of time for the characters to be shared by viewers. Maybe it just makes the nostalgia and recollection of the original feel more intense, and maybe it transfers those feelings to the new incarnation.

Of course, the central issue for Halloween 2018 is that its taking something that’s inherently very simple (the 1978 film is basically just a b-movie slasher/exploitation horror flick that has been endlessly copied ever since) and treating it very, very seriously. I’m a big fan of the original- John Carpenter was (is?) a consummate horror director with a keen eye for composition and skill in the editing room at maintaining tension and jumps and scares, but really, Halloween 1978 is not High Art, although it’s surely a classic of a genre not particularly renowned for high quality. Its simplicity is likely the key to its effectiveness and how well it has stood the test of time- and of course there is the brooding, relentless electronic score.

That score returns (and John Carpenter, on scoring duties here, with it), and it really helps Halloween 2018 feel authentic, in just the same way as BR2049 felt like a Blade Runner movie.  Something’s a little off though, with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) not quite ringing true as she goes all Sarah Connor from T2, ready and waiting for Michael Myers to inevitably escape from his incarceration and run amok on another killing spree. This time she’s spent decades survivalist training and building Fortress Strode out in the woods into a safehouse for when Myers comes knocking. And of course, he does, complete with his iconic Captain Kirk mask, conveniently brought along by dim-witted journalists looking for a great story and getting undone by it, the mask apparently the trigger for The Shape to do what he does best on another Halloween night. There’s lots of graphic deaths and grisly gore here, a marked difference to the surprising restraint and suggestion which Carpenter crafted in the original- perhaps the most disturbing sign of just how much times have changed.

It seems churlish of me, really, to criticise this film as it was surprisingly sincere and effective in approach and how it was made, and the cast are great, the jumps are pretty great and the violence certainly made me wince- it works so well in so many ways. But I just didn’t buy Laurie going all Sarah Connor. It just makes it feel like a different, ‘wrong’ movie, like when James Cameron spun his Rambo-in-space yarn from Alien‘s ‘ten little indians’ horror film. Suddenly the tables are turned and the hunter becomes the hunted, and a crazy woman having an arsenal in her basement something to be applauded. Infact, thank God for that, because the doctors are crazier than Myers (I so sorely missed the great Donald Pleasence, whose presence seems to haunt the film like a vacant void) and the cops are more stupid and ineffective than ever. I suppose there’s a kind of movie myth that the world needs heroes like Sarah Connor rather than the original 1978 films nice girl next door; gun-toting heroines rather than terrified babysitters just trying to survive. I quite liked the post-traumatic, dysfunctional and rather unhinged Laurie that we first see in the film, but got rather bored by the killing machine survivalist she turns out to really be. Maybe the film is some kind of commentary on violence breeding violence and Myer’s bloody violence transforming 1978s nice girl next door babysitter into, well, another killer.  Maybe I’m just missing something.

Mortal Engines (2018) 4K UHD

mort3Berating Mortal Engines for being just a silly fantasy is like criticising the Hobbit films for being a saga about little folk with large hairy feet. It is what it is: a dystopian steampunk story, pretty basic in plot with characters that follow the usual tropes. Where it scores, and it does so quite highly, is in its production values- fantastic production design, from sumptuously detailed sets and costumes to brilliantly realised visual effects, all coming together to depict a pretty breathtaking world. In 4K UHD, it looks really spectacular, the details fascinating and the HDR both adding a great sense of depth but also an added realism to those effects.

Unfortunately, it’s also quite true that such incredible visuals only exasperate the simplicity and predictability of its story- albeit such issues are possibly as much to do with the original source material (based on a series of books by author Philip Reeve) as anything the film-makers are guilty of. I think its quite possible that the huge expense of the intricate detail and care and conviction in its making (and of its visuals) works against the film, considering the narrative shortcomings – its something just as true of this years Alita: Battle Angel and 2017’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: both were impressive visually and both were hampered by issues of plot, drama and characterisation. I think I actually preferred Mortal Engines of the three, and there’s obviously many other cinematic cousins that I could mention, like the live-action Ghost in the Shell. Its also far better than that Solo movie that tanked last year. It is evident that compared to the old days when the original Star Wars trilogy stood apart from most other genre films, these days all film-makers seem to have an incredible toy box to play with.  What distinguishes them isn’t so much the execution now, as the quality of the story and narrative arcs, characterization, tension, drama etc., elements which modern blockbusters aren’t particularly famous for. Studios seem to be mired in a no-mans land of late, of creating big spectacular films for the biggest, commonest denominator, comfortably familiar stories that try to woo instead with bigger and more beautiful visuals- but so many are doing it now that those visuals just aren’t enough anymore.

mort2Mind, the relative failure/struggles at the box office, of, say, Blade Runner 2049 which coupled big productions values and visuals with a thoughtful and actually rather complex plot seems to indicate that the mystery of what makes a successful film that isn’t a caped crusader caper is as confounding as ever.

So anyway, I really quite enjoyed Mortal Engines, and was pleasantly relieved to find that its a pretty much standalone adventure that doesn’t hint at better stories to follow or leave many threads hanging in the air to infuriate me on subsequent viewings. I’m certain as the book series it is based on numbers at least four books that I know of, that it was intended to serve as the launch of another franchise but thankfully such cynical thinking doesn’t seem to have impacted on the final result: the film ends with an ending, not a tease for something next.

mortal2And it really does look gorgeous on 4K UHD. I’ve read that the film was shot in 8K and finished in genuine 4K so isn’t the usual 2K upscale (not there’s much wrong with that, really, but you can see the difference here). Admittedly I come from the era of dodgy matte lines and fixed-camera compositing that plagued (which seems the wrong word, as ILMs work in the 1970s/1980s wowed us immeasurably back in the day) pre-computer imaging so all of this modern effects wizardry likely impresses me more than many and yes, seduces me into forgiving-mode somewhat. But in any case, the artistry involved in the intricate design work in this film, which harks back to stuff like Brazil and other Gilliam fantasies, which is great, is almost beyond eye-candy, it’s almost a piece of art in of itself. Its just gorgeous and quite bewitching. The sets are hypnotically fascinating, the visual effects mightily impressive- turn the sound down, run the film in the background, like a two-hour plus wallpaper, it’ll draw the eye and your attention just the same.

Of course, its frustrating that this film wasn’t some kind of dramatic, high-tension thrill ride with all sorts of twists and novel moments to confound and surprise. But it would seem the book/s aren’t either. Perhaps it was too faithful, I cannot say, as I haven’t read the book/s but as fantasy epics go, this was really quite enjoyable. Shame it flopped so badly really- I don’t miss the sequels that might have been but it seems ill reward for all the effort and artistry involved in putting this film together.