Ein! Zwei! Die!
Dead Snow: while staying at a remote cabin in the woods a group of friends are attacked by hordes of Nazi zombies! You immediately warm to this film as it put all the horror movie tropes front and center: horny “teenagers” in the remote wilderness with no phone signal, then they realise that it’s is how horror films start (ay oh!!). There’s also a film geek thrown in for reference-o-rama – we get everything from a braindead t-shirt to Arnie impressions. Once the setup – complete with creepy old local warning them – is out of the way we’re treated to a barrage of old school jumps, dark horror comedy, and loads sensational barnstorming, limb-pulling, head-rolling, splatter-tastic blood and guts – that puts the film somewhere between Raimi and Troma. Everyone involved looks like they’re having fun, and the ‘zombie cast’ are also fantastic – even tougher when they’re not strictly zombies: faster, smarter etc. The last hour romps through so much entertaining gore and dark jokes that when one of the last scenes gets a bit serious it feels like a hefty dramatic gut punch. If you’ve read this far, you probably don’t mind the idea of watching a Nazi Zombie film; and I can’t imagine many being better than this. Dead Snow is an absolutely solid (Nazi) gold, gory-AF horror-comedy.
B-Movie Score: 9/10
Law Abiding Citizen (mild spoilers): when his wife and kid are murdered and the legal system fails him, a disgruntled everyman with nothing to lose spends years engineering his quasi-legal revenge. Gerrard Butler (Shut up, Butt wad), WTF are you doing man? You’re all over the place and why the fuck did your character get nude when you were arrested? The Fantastic Mr Foxx is OK, doing what he does (normal guy in a moral quandary) but his character’s role is unbelievably wonky: supposed to be a prosecutor, but does loads of detective work. The film starts off interesting – and the opening in particular is powerfully violent – the set-up is theatrically gruesome, but once Butler is in prison it turns absolutely ridiculous – and when you hear about his previous employment it’s like being slapped in the face with a big silly stick. However, it’s quite funny and enjoyable despite being so bizarrely cheesy and shockingly stupid. Deliberately 18-rated, over-the-top B-movie with an A-list cast.
Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os): an unemployed wayward man falls in love with a whale trainer – but in European cinema, it’s rarely as easy as that. This feels like a mish-mash of many big European films – although to name some would probably be spoilers. There’s not much of a scope or message, and as the film jostles with so many big questions that you leave the screen wondering what it was all about – love, coping with disability, family, sex, fighting, morals, fatherly responsibility… to name but a few. It’s also pretty nihilistic, to the point where you hope one good thing happens to the characters, although there’s a few silver linings, and some brief comic relief. You can’t fault the acting much – big, powerful, deep, solemn performances – but it’s very “European social-drama” (open, blunt, provocative everyday dialogue), which matched the vagueness of the story. It’s also peppered with dozens of random arty shots, for no reason other than filler. For such a diehard ‘European’ film, the American Indie/Pop soundtrack felt really out of place, and like it was screaming for international attention. The computer effects (greening out) when required were fantastic, seamless, you would think that everything you saw was absolutely in-frame. Rust and Bone is an interesting film, and to a point it’s watchable, but the vagueness and slow-pace means that your interest dips in and out, and it’s hard to engage with. It does end up feeling like a random bunch of poignant scenes and circumstances.
1911: Anniversary film about the revolution that ended 2,000 years of imperial rule in China. There’s a whole lot of revolutioning rolled into the opening 30 minutes, and the story doesn’t rest after that – entire week-long battles are boiled down to a minute of slow-mo and a paragraph summary of events. Even the indoor political scenes have frantic jump-cuts (like individual words have been removed) and crazy-fast dialogue. The overall tone of the movie feels like retrospective propaganda – definitely a rose-tinted version of history told by the winners, about their noble martyrs. Several westerners pop up at various points, and are portrayed as 1-dimensional cold fat-cats, only interested in money. On the up, it’s stunningly shot, every frame looks picturesque. Sets, costumes, detail all outstanding, especially in the large-scale set-pieces. Jackie Chan gets to administer a token ass kicking; more generally, he does well with his character, despite sharing screen time with scores of important characters that are continually introduced up to the last reel. With several TV series of the same story warranting 60 x 45 min, and 41x 45 minute episodes, this film feels like you’re flipping through a 1,000 page history book looking only at the pictures and captions – ignoring the main text. Unfortunately, being Chan‘s 100th movie is the most significant thing about 1911, and most disappointingly, there’s only a glimpse of the entertaining ass-kicking and stunts that made him a global star. The scope is just far, far too big to pull off in a conventional movie format.
NOTE: UK DVD is 95 minutes long, not international 125 minute cut