Wednesday, 8 October 2008


There's nothing more galling then thinking a film's great whilst everyone else slams it, except maybe the opposite. As a hopefully regularish feature, I've decided to discuss films that have pathologically mixed reviews. First up;


What it's about: A mysterious city in which something f*cked up is going on, as people perenially switch lives and experiences whilst being none the wiser.

Who's it by: Alex Proyas, who has quite a hand in Dark and Gothic Fanboy fantasies. Until he directed I, Robot anyway.

What's good: The visuals. This movie looks amazing, following in the grand sc-fi tradition of making hell from a cityscape. Both the cinematography and production design are exemplary and I should have imagined that seeing this in the cinema would have been a treat. Also to be praised are the ideas behind this film. Exploring the ideas of a fabricated reality by a malovent force before the Matrix staked a claim, a film easily dismissed as run of the mill sci-fi has solid and interesting theories behind it.

What's bad: The writing. Sadly Proyas isn't a great writer and his dialogue in this movie is banal as they come, and while the story has some interesting twists, everything is a little ham-fisted because of a script that doesn't quite do justice to Proyas' original premise. Similarly the acting isn't as good as it could be. Rufus Sewell is a no mark, and if the leading man had enough going on the film could have been held together by the strength of his performance, But Sewell is not up to that. Kiefer Sutherland's mad scientist archetype is more interesting, and William Hurt is suitably soulful. But the sparse cast of Brit-baddies act as if in a pantomime, and their over-acting does not help the film trying to find a convincing reality.

Who likes it: Fanboys and die hard science-fiction fans. This film has been resuscitated by the internet and real-life nerd, with comic book lovers across the world deeming it a lost classic. And thus it has joined the pantheon of sci-fi cult movies that includes Repo-man and Donnie Darko. The film also did reasonably well with some critics, but it should be noted that most praise is aimed at the astounding look of the film. I should imagine this movie has a decent rep in goth and emo culture as well. Also fans of strictly visual cinema.

Who dislikes it: Most people not in the above sects. For a casual sci-fi viewer there just isn't enough to suck you in, and while you may be thinking it looks good, you could give a shit about what happens to any of the characters. And while the retort may be a heart of stone is required to make a great sci-fi movie, as 2001 undeniably comes at as us from a detached perpective, it does so with an enormous amount of control, whilst Dark City is very scatty. And some credible characters or good performances may have given it the anchor it needs.

Where I stand: On the negative side I'm afraid. Its not a terrible film but it should have given as much attention to story and character as it did to production design.

Where people stand: It seems the people have spoken and told me to can it. The film scores 7.7 on imdb and 76% on rotten tomatoes. I have been told.

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