Cassandra’s Dream: two brothers in financial trouble turn to their wealthy uncle for help… First off, this has more simplistic teenage-level melodrama than a papa roach album. It’s also full of good actors doing terrible acting, with dodgy accents… it’s hard to tell if it’s the shit script, stock characters (forenames only – a major pet hate of mine), soap-opera story or just bad direction. The characters are established through teeth-grindingly clichéd dialogue, not to mention that the entire story can be guessed at least ten minutes ahead at all times. To top it all off, it’s yet another Woody Allen film set in a romanticised version of a city, crammed with ra-ra artisan characters who have old-timey sensibilities (like a countryside drive in the old motor to a meadow picnic). By the time that Tom Wilkinson gets to inject a bit of acting and class in to this the film is already dead. Cassandra’s Dream is a piss-poor excuse for a tragedy; the biggest example of which is that this is what Allen’s career had come to.
In Time: the currency in 2161 is time, and on your 25th birthday you stop ageing… but only have one year left unless you work, beg, steal, borrow or inherit more. Most importantly, this is a well-realised vision of the future, not too ridiculous or unbelievable (Cars, buildings, technology, even the cool designer clothes). The concept is also strong, and quite unsettling that everyone looks fairly young – although not always under 25! Casting’s very clever, JT is more than watchable, Seyfried makes a great damsel with attitude, Cillian‘s a naturally magnetic authority and Pettyfer and his goons make for good pantomime baddies. There’s an interesting parallel/undertone of the current financial crisis, but it’s never the main focus, and due to the subject, there’s also a lot of ‘ticking clock’ situations, which are always visceral. The only downside is that the film has two main settings; standard and turbo. Standard is the great concept/story being played out in quite a mechanical, baggy, and fairly obvious way, however, at least a third of the film is in Turbo mode; the big reveals, pivotal moments and action sequences are all on an air-punching level. Put it all together and you have a well-designed, well-planned, neat, powerful, original and immersive sci-fi film – that’s more than just an update of Logan’s Run!
A Lonely Place to Die: [Spoilers] When a group of mountain climbers discover a captive girl their trek takes a turn for the dangerous. The film’s biggest weakness is that it’s totally confused, trying to mix action, horror, thriller, moral drama, hiking and more. The story’s also pretty poorly thought out – given the age of the person the ‘hidden’ back story is fairly obvious; half way through 99% of people would probably do the immoral thing; and the central group are also killed off too quickly, forcing the film to lean on the weaker story toward the end. It’s also fetishly ‘dirty’ by lingering on graphic violence throughout – especially gunshot wounds! Not to mention silly touches of ‘flare’ like the ridiculous pig mask and carnival in the last act. The final blow is that it’s insultingly over-Scottish: bawdy gaelic music, whisky, money jibe, bonnie highlands, bad accents, etc. With all that covered, there’s not a whole lot left to like; Melissa George leads the cast with ease, some of the aerial shots are technically proficient… and that’s about it. If you like homegrown horror this may be for you, although I wouldn’t recommend it.