Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Skarsgard’

In a nutshell: By jingo, it’s Battleship!

Popcorn rating: 3.5/5

I remember the Battleship board game from when I was a kid. I think it’s fair to say I wasn’t a fan. I certainly wasn’t a player. If anything, Battleship seemed to be an interminably dull game, one that people who liked grey cardigans and thick, dusty books on military strategy might play. Not the type of people I wanted to be consorting with, you understand. And, because I presumed the game itself so be yawnsome, I also presumed it had a series of complex and lengthy rules, like chess. In other words, dull, dull, dull.

Battle ship the movie, on the other hand, sounded right up my street. Dull? As if! Complex and intelligent? As if! Who you kidding cardigan boy? I take your stuffy old game and I give you Rihanna in fatigues and tattoos, I give you big explosions and even bigger specials effects, I give you scary aliens in massive, f*ck off spaceships. I give you Battleship, reimagined.

In many ways, I was right. About the movie that is. The game? Well, let’s just say, I’m still not a fan. On any medium.

So, what’s the movie about? Well, in brief, a naval fleet at Pearl Harbour must battle alien invaders, thwarting their presumably evil intentions and saving the world. That’s it really but, because this is “Hollywood”, selected (and beautiful) humans must also find inner strength and learn some moral lessons, before becoming heroes.

Director Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom) serves up a slice of typical Blockbuster-On-Sea. There are plenty of eye sizzling explosions and big action sequences to keep any eight–year-old happy and they do work, they really do. Our trusty group are likable enough, slacker turned navy man Taylor Kitsch has a certain sweetness, Rihanna and her pal Ordy (Jesse Plemons)  are peppy, while everyone else plays their own version of strong, military type. Oh, and we get to see the aliens in the flesh too, which is good, though they are strangely human, and their motives remain unclear, especially given how reluctant they are to kill people one-on-one yet wreak devastation on a grand scale.

On the downside, and as with so many blockbusters, the actual story is almost laughably bad, from stereotypes (I already mentioned the slacker turned hero but we also have the nerds, the stoical old navy men, the mean daddy/commander, the beautiful girl….I could go on) to cheesy twists, dreadful dialogue, unbelievable coincidences and, yes, some really wooden acting. It’s all in there as we lurch from scene to scene, waiting for the next big bang.

But, to be honest, even with all the cheesiness and the ardent US jingoism which abounds, Battleship still kinda works. It’s stupid yeah but it’s big, it’s flashy and it’s a lot of fun. A guilty pleasure that’s best seen on the big screen.

Reviewer: CurlyShirley

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In a nutshell: Better than you might think

Popcorn rating: 3.5/5

Melancholia. In which Lars von Trier shows us the end of the world as a metaphor for depression. No wait, come back, it’s really a lot better than that sounds. Beginning with the end (or THE END rather), the film opens with a series of stunning slow motion tableaux, soundtracked by Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, culminating in the earth exploding on impact with an enormous blue planet. Beautifully photographed by Manuel Alberto Claro, these scenes are simply breathtaking.

However, once introduced to our cast as they meet their inevitable end, the film then shifts gear and moves into its first part, entitled Justine, after Kirsten Dunst’s character. Justine is a bride to be on her wedding day, the reception being held at her brother-in-law’s opulent country hotel, in its sprawling grounds. This all appears to be happening prior to widespread knowledge about the earth’s imminent demise. Von Trier develops this into a masterful ensemble piece, where Justine’s burgeoning depression is met with incomprehension from her pragmatic sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), her husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) and the remaining guests, including the groom. Ultimately Justine’s marriage is destined to end as almost as soon as it has begun and von Trier unflinchingly shows her disintegration in the face of demands she’s simply unequipped to meet.

In Claire, the film’s second half, the arrival of the blue planet, named Melancholia, is imminent and the family – Claire, her husband, her son and Justine – are marooned at the country estate, awaiting their fate. Here we see Claire’s pragmatism tested, and broken, by her fear and helplessness in the face of cosmic events. Justine, however, now seems to have found a kind of equilibrium and is fully accepting, if not welcoming, of the end of the world. The feeling von Trier creates is one of claustrophic intimacy set against the beautiful landscape of the setting and the terrible inevitability of total destruction.

Melancholia is not an easy film, but that’s hardly a surprise. Von Trier doesn’t quite put his characters through the wringer here like he did in Antichrist – there are no mutilated genitals to contemplate – but he does successfully capture a sense of hopelessness, and his big metaphor of a large blue planet inexorably obliterating life as we know it, works in spite of its obviousness.

Reviewer: Tom Ridge