Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"That cold ain't the weather, that's death approaching..."

Mes Amis

Its been too long since I last posted a movie review. Mostly cos nothing's got me mooing one way or the other. Except the godawful War which was, admittedly, worthwhile as we tried to figure out just what the fuck the scripters were on. It was like a high budget game of consequences with guys writing the next scene who had no idea what had happened just before. There was a kind of insane genius there. But it still wasn't a good movie.

Stardust was light, frothy entertainment. Exactly what you'd expect. Kind of a Princess Bride feel but not as deliciously subversive as one might expect from Gaiman source material (I admit I have never read the original so it could be exactly that way anyhow) or as enthusiastically fun as Princess Bride. But De Niro is brilliant, the dead brothers are great fun and the Goat is worth the admission price alone. Although Ricky Gervais pops up and does exactly the same thing he does in every cameo in every film which, frankly, getting a bit tired. I'm sure the guy has range. Would someone let him use it?

And then this week we got in a (late) Halloween mood by going to see 30 Days of Night which is based on a graphic novel, has vampires and is produced at least in part by Sam Raimi*. The premise is brilliant. A remote Alaskan town is about to suffer from 30 days without sunshine. Vampires decide, hey, an all you can eat buffet, and move in to scoff themselves to bursting.

They don't reckon on Josh Hartnett being...


Josh Hartnett.

Strike one.

Actually, appalling as Hartnett has been** he does try, bless, with this material. Really, look, he's got this two mile stare thing going on that means He's Seen A Lot In Life. Yeah, now he's a grown up. And he does his best with the aneamically written role of the Sherriff.

So for once, he's actually watchable. Even at the end where he tries to kick Vampire ass in a ludicrous plot development. He's still not a tough guy, but... he does okay.

He's surrounded, in the cast, by a similar bunch of acceptable actors. Everyone's really trying, but the script doesn't really develop the townspeople enough for you to really care. There's a halfbaked love story about Josh's estranged wife, but even this doesn't go anywhere. And what's with the mother's cancer? I mean, its mentioned purely so she can grow weed under UV lamps in her house? (Yeah, let's play guess the plot point - a UV light surely couldn't be useful in a vampire movie, could it?).

This is the main problem with 30 Days - - it goes from A to B to C and doesn't detour. It does precisely what it needs to and no more which is, frankly, dissapointing. When it comes to small town under seige from the supernatural, I want my scripts to do a Stephen King and breathe a life into the small town. Remember the nineties adaptation of IT? Yeah, it breathed a bit of life and interest into Derry. Okay it was a miniseries and not a 90 minute movie, but still...

What saves the movie, honestly, is the production. The film looks fantastic. Really. The vampires are uber-creepy, and the blood spatters nicely. The town in the dark is brilliant. The snow is painfully heavy. And when the action comes, its good fun. Watch out for a modified tractor thing that goes up against a bunch of vampires. Really, I was giggling away right there. Also there's a great tracking shot from an eagle-eye view of the town as all the slaughter goes on. Brilliant looking stuff.

But ultimately, the script leaves you with a lot of questions. Why were the vampires there? Where did they come from? Why spend centuries, as the head honcho says, convincing humans that they were nothing more than myths? How does infection work and why does it seem to randomly affect characters? Why doesn't Hartnett's wife get horrific scalding in the movie's final scene?

Its a stupid, stupid script. Maybe the graphic novel feels smarter, but the movie leaves too many gaping holes and while all the actors are serviceable, they don't fill the moments with meaning or emotion. They just move, like the script, from a to b to c. Which doesn't make for a bad film. Just one that could have, if they applied the details to more than just the well evoked imagery and action, been so much more than it actually was.

All of which being said, I did have a... uh.... bloody good time sitting through this one.

Au revoir


*Okay, let's forget Spider Man 3 shall we? And some of his other mis-steps. He still did Evil Dead, and A Simple Plan as well as the first two Spider Man movies.

**See The Black Dahlia and Forty Days and Forty Nights.


Mikey P said...

Josh Hartnett - in the Spiderman films? Really?? Which character, because I sure as heck didn't see him...

russel can't be arsed logging in said...

I may have messed up my footnotes.