30 December 2009

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

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B-

Sherlock Holmes
2009, 135mins, PG-13
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer (s): Simon Kinberg, Anthony Peckham, Michael Robert Johnson, Lionel Wigram, Arthur Conan Doyle (characters)
Cast includes: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Mark Strong, Rachel McAdams, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly
Release Date: 25th December 2009

I’m not a fan of Guy Ritchie and the gangsters and geezers nonsense on which he has built a cinematic career, so upon hearing that he would be directing an updated version of “Sherlock Holmes” one of the greatest literary icons of all times, I was definitely sceptical. The casting of Robert Downey Jr as the legendary sleuth seemed apt but Jude Law’s inclusion as his sidekick raised eyebrows and the first trailer looked overly action packed at the expense of story or intrigue. Now the film has arrived in theatres and enjoyed a profitable $65 million opening weekend, cementing the idea of further sequels and adventures for the updated detective. “Sherlock Holmes” feels like the opening of a series rather than an individual film, an enjoyable start, but one that feels incomplete and too open ended come its finale. Further films are welcome and this certainly marks Guy Ritchie’s most accessible picture to date but by the finish the sequel bating has become a chore rather than a punchy pleasure.

Proceedings start with a fairly hectic chase sequence in which Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his partner Dr. Watson (Jude Law) attain and capture the nefarious Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), a politician who has been using black magic to commit a series of heinous and bloody murders. However before being sent to the noose Blackwood demands a final meeting with Holmes, in which he warns the legendary detective that worse is to follow. Following this ominous meeting Blackwood mysteriously appears to rise from the grave, frightening the entire City and continuing to kill in order to achieve his devious aims. Holmes and Watson quickly hit the case; despite the fact the latter is set to leave his current lifestyle in favour of marriage, much to the disdain of his brilliant companion. However when one of Holmes old flames Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) reappears with a query suspiciously linked to the Blackwood case, London’s greatest detective starts to ponder just how large a conspiracy he might have wandered into.

Guy Ritchie’s take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s magnificent literature is considerably more reliant on blockbusting set pieces and spectacle than the original texts, wrapping them in a credible but far from stunning mystery. Folks looking for a full blown helping of narrative sustenance will struggle with aspects of “Sherlock Holmes”, it’s a story filled with gothic imagery and lavish action scenes, yet in itself it feels light and frothy. The new case cooked up for this rebirth lacks the audacious complexity and skilled logicality of Conan Doyle’s very best, holding together on the promise that grander and more intrepid twists are to follow in future offerings. It’s cute and certainly watchable but this new screenplay won’t be the cause for much intellectual uproar within the diehard Holmes community.

Robert Downey Jr is fabulous as Holmes and whilst his jabbering occasionally borders on inaudible, his frantic energy and quick wit never cease to impress. It’s no secret that Downey is both a fine dramatist and a proficient comedian and he sells both of these assets into the equation as Holmes. He exudes the likable lunacy and pinpoint brilliance of the character, occasionally touching on his darker and more emotionally troubled side too. If a sequel comes to be the filmmakers ought to push harder at the edges of Holmes sanity but as an introductory session with Downey’s vision, this is more than ample. Jude Law is unusually solid as Watson and builds a strong comic chemistry with Downey; the British actor who is all too often a dull and lifeless presence actually acquits himself very neatly in “Sherlock Holmes”. His relationship with Kelly Reilly’s Mary takes up more time than I felt was necessary but it’s nothing in comparison to the muddled inclusion of McAdams Irene Adler. McAdams is a likable performer but why her character exists within the confines of this story is suspect, all she seems to do is provide an opening for a sequel and confirm to the audience that Holmes isn’t gay. Her character is simply a tool for marketing purposes and simpletons; her performance is as such practically irrelevant. Hamming it up as the villainous Lord Blackwood Mark Strong is effective in the most basic of fashions, he snarls well, he creates an uneasy atmosphere and audiences will hate him from the word go. In terms of blockbusting bad guys that renders him nearer the top of the pile.

Ritchie has never had such a mighty budget at his disposal and he showcases a surprisingly deft touch with CGI, not overloading the film with helpings of action but timing their inclusion rather nicely. Whilst it’s considerably more spectacle and explosion filled than any of Conan Doyle’s books the film isn’t as balls out action obsessed as early previews suggested, something of a relief for audiences tired of digitalised mayhem. Ritchie places notably more emphasis on the relationship between Holmes and Watson and the assorted comic banter the picture offers than his linear mystery or expensive blockbusting. Again this is a choice that might really pay off in future sequels, after putting so much effort into their relationship here the screenwriters should find it easier to maintain in further escapades. It’s a tactical choice that I admired and even in the immediacy of this film it remains enjoyable.

The film looks grubby in the most polished sense of the word, the London setting given a stylish sheen of greys and metallic blacks to create the down and dirty aesthetic of the city at the time. Adding to that is a rousing Hans Zimmer score which avoids the generic trappings of big budget music whilst getting the blood pumping in a way akin to many event movies. Ritchie at times robs a slow motion fighting style from Zack Snyder and it doesn’t really work in the context of this feature, but its usage is few and far between limiting the damage it does on the finished product. It’s hard to get around the open ended conclusion, a slightly disappointing and profit engineered climax. The last big set piece is certainly well handled but the story feels loose and utterly unresolved by the finish, a distraction that takes something away from the experience. However to say the movie is anything less than a robust studio picture would be unfair, it is for example better entertainment than the likes of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” or “Surrogates”. “Sherlock Homes” doesn’t work out to be a magnificent time at the cinema but it is technically excellent and a promising beginning for a new era at Baker Street.


A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009

27 December 2009

Quick Update

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Not seen a movie since "Avatar" so posts have been few and far between in the last few weeks. I hope by Wednesday to have a "Sherlock Holmes" review available and after that, I'll feel comfortable doing my top and bottom 10's for the year. Hopefully they will be on before the end of the week.

16 December 2009

Movie Review: Avatar

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A

Avatar
2009, 160mins, PG-13
Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron
Cast includes: Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Joel David Moore, Michelle Rodriguez
Release Date: 17th December 2009

“Avatar” is an astonishing cinematic gambit and clearly one of the best films 2009 is going to deliver. Having been out of the game since a little 1997 film called “Titanic” James Cameron has been an elusive Hollywood presence but with “Avatar” his name is stomped firmly back onto the map. Those who doubted the movie on the basis of promotional material from a few months back will be retracting their words after viewing the audacious and majestic finished product, a triumph from both a visual and storytelling perspective “Avatar” truly is a groundbreaking feature.

Set 150 years in the future “Avatar” sees’s humanity having landed on the lush and fertile planet of Pandora, seeking a valuable energy source that is in bountiful supply below the new world’s soil. The indigenous species called the Na’vi aren’t pleased about the invaders but unless they vacate their jungle habitat, humanity has made it clear war is the only option. In a last ditch attempt to avoid bloodshed the humans cook up the “Avatar” program, the avatars in question biological reconstructions of the Na’vi that can be controlled through machinery by humans. Jake Scully (Sam Worthington) is an ex-marine tasked with using his avatar to make contact with the Na’vi and after enduring a series of trials and training he is accepted into the alien culture. Jake is recruited by the nefarious Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) to feed back info concerning the Na’vi so Quaritch can plan ahead for his impending campaign of terror. However as Jake ingratiates himself further into the Na’vi social strata and begins to fall for a young Na’vi warrior called Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) he begins to suspect it is the humans who are at fault and not this new and environmentally astute species.

“Avatar” is visually a true rollercoaster ride of a movie, in 3-D it is certainly the most lavish and impressive looking picture of the year. Cameron shows imagination in nearly every aspect of Pandora’s conception, ranging from the strangely imposing Na’vi to its other more lethal inhabitants and luscious fauna. Every so often a film comes along that simply ups the standard for visual effects, titles like “Jurassic Park” and Cameron’s own “Terminator” sequel immediately jumping to mind. “Avatar” is one such movie and its meticulous deployment of 3-D is beyond anything that audiences have been treated to before. Whilst creating a compelling surface is less than half the battle “Avatar” accomplishes the feat with panache and flair only a true master of filmmaking could muster, the world of Pandora surely set to become one of the all time greatest movie landscapes.

The acting ranges from adequate to excellent, Sam Worthington continuing his stake to be taken as a serious thespian presence in tinsel town. After doing a good job in “Terminator Salvation” Worthington imbues the potentially one note character of Jake with a terrific dose of heart and a sense of fearful uncertainty. His romance with Saldana is blissfully engaging despite the heft amounts of CGI and creature designs it requires, the actress herself also handing in a polished and emotionally rich performance. Stephen Lang is a little broader and less refined as the villain of the piece but ultimately he does suitable work and the ever brilliant Sigourney Weaver knocks her scientist role out of the park. Even generally awful performers like Joel David Moore and Michelle Rodriguez are bearable, truly a testament to Cameron’s filmmaking prowess if ever there was one. Cameron clearly understands acting and whilst he is renowned for pushing his casts to the edge of their sanity with his standards the results are nothing short of marvellous. “Avatar” certainly gives viewers plenty of human meat to hang their own experience on.

The screenplay is epic and at 160 minutes in length so is just about everything else, the story unfolding steadily and with a confidence and understanding that a man out of the business for 12 years really ought to be missing. Some of the dialogue misfires but the plotting is superlative and weaves in a plethora of underlying environmental messaging and even what appears to be messianic imagery. These additives don’t grate but are subtly knitted into proceedings, providing Cameron’s science fiction labyrinth an extra helping of depth and relevance in the world today. Interestingly Cameron also clearly takes another swing at the sort of corporate behemoths found in “Aliens”. Here it’s equally as pronounced and intriguing as it was in 1986, the horror of war and the unknown used to emphasise the killer and carefree instincts such industrial tyrants exercise.

The movie is structured so that the action and scope become gradually more bombastic and Cameron closes on an absolute gem of a final battle. Throwing everything at the audience in one intensely prepped and heated burst of visual ferocity Cameron has probably concocted the blockbusting climax of the year, the money is all up on the screen and boy is it enjoyable. Explosive action has always been a key asset in Cameron’s filmmaking DNA but in “Avatar” he completely rips the screen to pieces and manipulates 3-D to full effect in the pursuit of his destructive and chaos filled passion, shooting the action with a machismo and skill that few others could hope to attain, all the while retaining a steady hand and keeping the plot in strong focus. The editing work is flawless and the musical score from James Horner a respectable addition to this cinematic treat. The photography and various fantastical beasties are equally pleasurable; some of the monsters in “Avatar” showcase an almost completely authentic and threatening look.

“Avatar” is a joyous diversion and one of the best fantasy pictures since Peter Jackson brought Tolkien to life. The digitals and 3-D are just as outstanding as anyone might have hoped and the plot doesn’t fail to impress either. James Cameron has returned to filmmaking with the sort of level hand and swagger that we really ought to have anticipated, but what he has wrought as a consequence is probably amongst even his best works. “Avatar” stuns and surprises in equal measure and deserves to be seen by as many as possible. After all, “Titanic” has to be knocked off that box-office perch sometime.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009

14 December 2009

Movie Review: The Box

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C

The Box
2009, 115mins, PG-13
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer (s): Richard Kelly, Richard Matheson (short story)
Cast includes: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella, James Rebhorn, Sam Oz Stone
Release Date: 6th November 2009

Based on a short story written by Sci-Fi maestro Richard Matheson “The Box” is an ambitious but heavily flawed motion picture. Directed by Richard Kelly, it has all the filmmaker’s quirky trademarks and is filled with his quizzical nature but somehow it just doesn’t come together like one might anticipate. Many have actually touted “The Box” as Kelly’s first proper foray into mainstream cinema following his cult favourite “Donnie Darko” and the perplexingly odd “Southland Tales” but in truth the movie is probably one of the least conventional pictures currently playing in multiplexes. The first 30 minutes or so fit into a robust but standard pot-boiler template but then “The Box” moves off into seriously surreal territory and asks many questions the audience are unlikely to expect. However there is such thing as too much and Kelly has stuffed his bonanza with overly fruitful ideas and designs, leaving the picture an intriguing but messy enterprise.

Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) are struggling with financial strain, neither is granted the professional path they were hoping for and as a consequence the future looks uncertain. One morning they are rudely awakened by the doorbell only to find a parcel sitting on their porch, the package containing a strange technological contraption and a note informing them that its prior owner will visit later. When he appears he turns out to be the charming but hideously scarred Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) and he has a curious proposal. The product left on their doorstep is a “button unit” and in exchange for pushing said button Steward will give the Lewis’s the exceedingly generous gift of $1 million. However there is a catch. By hitting the unit they will not only become rich but also claim a life, leaving them with a moral dilemma like few others. They won’t know the deceased nor will Steward ever make contact with them again but as things surrounding them become stranger and life more troubling the Lewis family may be left with no choice.

“The Box” starts on a hugely simplistic idea and works it into a story that evolves to include NASA, masses of seemingly possessed people and science fiction malarkey concerning Mars. Basically it’s what you pay for when taking a trip through the eyes of Richard Kelly. This is a movie that I genuinely wanted to like and in honestly I was encouraged by the stylish trailers but “The Box” isn’t the film that promotional material suggests. It’s a deeper and more ambitious effort for a start but it also never finds the thrills or excitement hinted at in previews, and from a narrative standpoint it has far more content than it needs. I’d rather sit through an original and intellectually admirable failure than an ordinary and consistently dull studio piece of the same standard but mediocrity is mediocrity and “The Box” unfortunately suits such a moniker.

The performances are one of the high points, Diaz and Marsden make an agreeable couple and each develops their individual character surprisingly well given the preposterous contortions of the picture. Diaz in particular gives it a strikingly heartfelt go, nursing character traits soundly and working to build a fizzy rapport with other screen presences. These are essentially people you route for and the film does allow the audience to place themselves within the couple’s shoes via several dialogue heavy exchanges, at least on this point Kelly has done his job well. Langella is also impressive as the mysterious and iffy Steward, chilling and charming with equal measure. From an acting perspective “The Box” has fuel for the fire, but sadly Kelly can’t ignite the other elements to a satisfactory degree.

“The Box” opens promisingly enough and despite the normalcy the first 40 minutes are probably its best. Kelly utilises suspense and some disturbing imagery neatly during this segment, the problems arise when he starts to throw in further additives with sledgehammer subtlety. “The Box” clearly wants to be another weird Richard Kelly film but by the finish it’s not far from incomprehensible, the middle third a particularly drab and self indulgent mash up of added characters, twists and soul searching mystery. I’m certainly not a card carrying member of the “Donnie Darko” fan club but I can see why it’s a good film, such an epiphany never arrives during “The Box”. Lovers of wacked out movies might find more to like than most but excessive amounts of what “The Box” is pushing doesn’t work.

Aesthetically it captures the 1970’s with a sweet eye and some amusingly retro soundtrack choices but these can’t disguise the storytelling discrepancies and disconnected rambling. I will always be willing to slap a filmmaker on the back for taking risks but with “The Box” it appears Richard Kelly’s luck has run dry. Maybe next time he’s given a potentially marketable cinematic property he should tow closer to the line and give himself a chance to steady his feet, if not only so he might return to form and deliver the follow-up his early career impatiently demands.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009

10 December 2009

Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon

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D-

The Twilight Saga: New Moon
2009, 130mins, PG-13
Director: Chris Weitz
Writer (s): Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Cast includes: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Anna Kendrick, Michael Sheen, Ashley Greene, Dakota Fanning
Release Date: 20th November 2009

Last year’s “Twilight” wasn’t a despicably awful motion picture but neither was it particularly good. My memories of the venture are largely those of boredom punctuated by a few instances of commendable filmmaking and two modestly effective performances by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Now after the big box-office haul the sequel arrives a mere one year later, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” adding a love triangle element to the already dramatic romance between its two leads. However whilst the first film had its moments “New Moon” is a consistently ghastly movie, even the teenage girls who cherish this series are unlikely to be impressed by director Chris Weitz’s terrible follow-up. I don’t hate this movie because it’s incredibly popular or because I take issue with the literature from which it is sourced, I despised it because it’s an unbelievably drab and hastily constructed cash grab.

The plot opens after the occurrences of part one, Bella (Kristen Stewart) is turning 18 and beginning to realise that whilst she grows older her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) will remain forever 17. After one of Edward’s family attacks Bella following a paper cut induced moment of temptation the vampire clan leave town, leaving Bella in a fit of uncertain depression. Comforting her is Jacob (Taylor Lautner) but even he has a terrible secret to keep, he’s a werewolf, and so despite his human desire for Bella his destiny forbids him from romantically embracing her. As Edward hides away to keep his love safe and Jacob struggles to withhold his attraction from her, Bella is once again forced into a life of danger and peril as the blood feud between the two boys slowly becomes clear.

There was a time when I enjoyed Chris Weitz as a filmmaker but after disappointing with “The Golden Compass” and now outright insulting audiences with “New Moon” I fear those days may be over. I haven’t read the book on which the film is based but I doubt it’s as pompously self-interested and fanatically dull as it’s cinematic incarnation, a motion picture that incidentally is a contender for my bottom 10 of the year. The film is a vapid bore, badly written, weakly acted and directed with only an eye for dreary cinematography and moody lingering shots of sulky teen faces. At over two hours it is also unforgivably overlong, I was ready to leave the theatre after 20 minutes, so the thought of having to spend another 110 was mind bogglingly frustrating.

I actually thought Pattinson and Stewart were decent in “Twilight” but things seem to have taken a drastic turn in the last year. In “New Moon” both provide stilted and wooden performances, especially Stewart who large portions of the enterprise are utterly dependent on. She hasn’t the shoulders for such heavy lifting and things deteriorate around her at an astonishing rate. The chemistry between Pattinson and Stewart was average at best in the initial effort but at least it was something, In “New Moon” the characters seem like colourless acquaintances meeting together for about the second time. There is no spark, energy or even tragic potential in the relationship in “New Moon”, the film fluffs the central romance and so the audience can’t get invested or begin to care about the sorry excuse for a narrative. Lautner doesn’t fare much better alongside Stewart but he seems more at ease with the material, and despite copious amounts of unnecessary topless scenes, is probably the best of the key protagonists. It’s faint praise and by no means does it mean his acting is good in any proper sense of the word, but he’s considerably more kinetic and alive than Pattinson or Stewart. Elsewhere the like of Billy Burke, Ashley Greene and Anna Kendrick are forgettable in nothing roles, whilst Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning pop up amusingly as the heads of a mysterious vampire council. Both ham it up big time and at least manage to be entertaining in a cheesy and over the top sort of way.

With the love elements so disastrously hampered by the limp lead duos god awful efforts all that’s really left in “New Moon” are irregular doses of wolf and vampire action spread thinly over the pictures monstrously overwrought runtime. These scenes aren’t much better, the action is recycled and unoriginal and the technical effects are mediocre at best. As the meandering story wanders towards its perplexingly stretched and anticlimactic denouement, Weitz tries to add fizz via these lazy moments of mythical carnage and of course the obligatory broad humour that teenage girls so dearly love. Neither of these aspects appears credible let alone enjoyable; indeed it’s hard to see the appeal in this rancid mess from the first frame. It’s understandable why the first movie hit a chord, it’s fantasy of undying (and fabulously good looking) teen love tapped into an idea that the oestrogen intoxicated were bound to fall for. “New Moon” only serves to display that in actual fact young infatuation can be a rather boring and tired experience.

Visually Weitz sets a dour and permanently melancholy mood, it’s not that the movie looks amateurish but rather that the bleak atmosphere of the film only further compounds it’s listlessness. The languid pacing is an issue especially seeing as the feature actually stops rather than finding a satisfactory conclusion, and the musical accompaniment is a mixed bag. Some of the slow burning tunes played through “New Moon” suit the story nicely but unfortunately Weitz shows little diversity in his musical choices and repetition sets in with sudden and unrelenting venom. One montage which features the villainous Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre – touted as a big baddie at the end of part one but here getting about 2 minutes of screen time) fighting a wolf is nicely composed and strongly executed but otherwise it’s weary business as usual for “New Moon”.

The film attempts to cook several underlying ideas but mostly fails to make anything of them (the concept of Bella’s fear of aging starts with promise but disintegrates alarmingly fast) and as already discussed the love flat lines completely on this outing. “New Moon” is an abysmal feature with practically nothing to recommend it and is utterly undeserving of its box-office success. We only have to wait another 7 months before “Eclipse” the third film moves into theatres, and you know what, I’m dreading it already.


A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009

4 December 2009

Movie Review: The Uninvited

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C+

The Uninvited
2009, 87mins, PG-13
Director (s): The Brothers Guard
Writer (s): Doug Miro, Craig Rosenberg, Carlo Bernard
Cast includes: Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbell, Elizabeth Banks, David Strathairn, Maya Massar
Release Date: 30th January 2009

For the longest portion of its neat 87 minutes “The Uninvited” is an enjoyable film. The problem is that when the finishing act comes around it represents a mystifyingly frustrating misstep, whoever thought the twist added onto this one was a good idea has to have their artistic credibility called into question. I realize the film is a remake of the Asian property “A Tale of Two Sisters” yet either that movie suffers the same implausible denouement or deploys it in a more opportunistic and effective manner. Either way this Americanized retooling plays solidly for about an hour then blows much of its respectability due to an unsatisfying finish. As a result it goes from being certifiably good to being little better than average.

“The Uninvited” has been pitched to audiences as a ghost story, though in truth the supernatural only play a small part. It rattles along much more in the vein of a thriller or teenage conspiracy flick and whilst the summation of proceedings reverts back to spirits and ghouls the majority of the movie flows more realistically. Anna (Emily Browning) has just been released from the mental institution in which she has resided since the death of her mother, killed in a suspicious inferno that consumed part of her house in peculiar circumstances. Her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) and Father (David Strathairn) are initially pleased to see her, though for Anna at least they carry some bad news. Her Mother’s nurse and fathers new girlfriend Rachel (Elizabeth Banks) has moved in. Rachel is initially welcoming but her mood starts to change when Anna begins to suspect she may be culpable for her Mother’s death, haunting visions and ghostly appearances of past victims leading to the assertion. Her Father isn’t impressed with what he sees as insane rambling yet Alex is easier swayed, and together the two sisters attempt to expose the newest addition to the family.

For a horror movie rated PG-13 “The Uninvited” is surprisingly chilling and exciting in places. It’s also worth acknowledging that whilst I haven’t seen the original it strikes me as superior to most remakes. So for directorial duo Thomas and Charles Guard it’s far from a bad way to start their Hollywood careers and between them I do see potential. “The Uninvited” is a polished and moody movie with several genuinely suspenseful moments; from a visual perspective at least it’s a definite triumph. The Brothers Guard (as they prefer to be credited) certainly shows a command of cinematography and a flourish for atmospheric shot construction; aesthetically it’s consistently interesting and aids the story rather than overwhelms it. The musical score from Christopher Young is another thing that really stands out in aiding “The Uninvited” in its quest for thrills. Young has complied musical accompaniment that evokes an eerie sense of dread and uncertainty, it’s not a groundbreaking orchestral effort, though it’s solid and recognition worthy in the confines of such a modest motion picture.

The performances are decidedly mixed though the characterization is involving, certainly more defined and unique than the horror genre tends to offer. Browning and Kebbel never quite convince as the vengeful sisters, though in fairness specific facets of their acting do work. Browning in particular is commended for trying to bring what seems like an ethereal edge to her character and isn’t unsympathetic even if at times she relies overly on a puppy dog sense of disbelief. Kebbel just seems wooden for large sections of the movie though she rarely appears in anything more than a swimsuit which goes someway to compensating for her lack of energy or enthusiasm. Strathairn is overqualified for such an undemanding part though he carries it off well and Elizabeth Banks is excellent as the menacingly sweet Rachel. Banks has in the last few years shoehorned her way into the A list comedy scene, though “The Uninvited” shows that she has aspirations beyond that as an actress. I would probably go as far to say that along with the photography Banks is the movies greatest asset, charming and intimidating in equal measure.

The finish is where it all goes pear shaped, up until that point “The Uninvited” registers as a quietly efficient and entertaining attempt at mainstream horror. However not only does the picture insist on offering an incredibly lazy and unsubtle explanation it’s also a finale that invites narrative criticisms and shapes plot holes. The Guard brothers attempt to defend these inconsistencies through a quick replay of a few key scenes with the final twist in mind, and whilst their selected examples may make sense there are plenty of other moments that don’t. If taken purely as an experience “The Uninvited” works far more often than it does not, but when viewing it in retrospect as a story or tight narrative things struggle to hold up. It’s a disappointing end to what is otherwise a reasonably diverting film; the writers really would have been better going for a conventional serial killer style conclusion than the absolute cluster-fuck that appears on the screen.

I want to give “The Uninvited” a hearty recommendation, but in the light of its troubled ending that’s hard to do. The film is much better than most PG-13 drivel and actually manages to be scary from time to time but that doesn’t solve the other grander artistic issues. The Guard brothers look like they might be decent filmmakers and on the basis of this I’m more than willing to give them another chance but “The Uninvited” certainly could use improvement in a few vital areas.


A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009

2 December 2009

Reviews at DVD Verdict

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Reviewed the "Funny People" Blu-Ray at DVD Verdict this week. Really strong release for a good film. Other recent reviews include "Shorts" and "Four Christmases". Links to all three below.



Links:

Funny People
Shorts
Four Christmases