Roman Polanski’s latest production is based on the stage play by Yasmina Reza (entitled God of Carnage) which tells the real time story of the parents attempting to deal with a boy’s attack (under provocation) on another with a stick. The parents agree to meet up in order to resolve the situation, but the evening descends into chaos as each of the four parents bicker among each other. Polanski’s film, set in New York (filmed in Paris for obvious reasons), is excellently acted by the likes of John C. Riley, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet with Waltz being a particular highlight as the rude, and work hampered Alan (who’s constant phone breaks are annoying everyone, including the viewer). Each of the characters has their own flaws and each of their flaws is magnified the longer they stay in the same room. Penelope Longstreet (Foster) is self-righteous and aware of her own self importance, her husband, Michael (Riley), is cynical and negative while Nancy (Winslet) is a phony with a particularly weak stomach. Polanski’s script (co adapted with Yasmina Reza) is full of comic wit and Paweł Edelman’s cinematography captures the claustrophobia of such a meeting, which the longer it goes on adds to the character’s rising blood levels. It becomes clear that the parents are pettier than the kids when it comes to bickering with one another. The contrivances to why Nancy and Alan fail to leave the house despite meaning to on several occasions becomes slightly less believable as time goes on, but it is only a minor nuisance in a exquisitely well acted film. Not his best work, but a fine addition to Polanski's filmography.
Having written Pride and Prejudice and Zombies it is perhaps unsurprising that Seth Grahame-Smith’s next novel was a similarly odd mash up of history and the undead, in this case it was Abraham Lincoln and vampires which is what Timur Bekmambetov’s film is based on. Abraham Lincoln (played by Liam Neeson look alike Benjamin Walker) hides a secret about his nighttime occupation of vampire hunter while being an aspiring politician by day. After an attempt to avenge his mother’s death Lincoln is rescued from the clutches of a vampire by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) who later becomes Lincoln’s mentor. Lincoln takes up the job of vampire hunter, but his quest is fueled by the desire for revenge. Naturally with a film like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter you have to take it for the silly, utterly ludicrous flick it is and when the film is taken for what it is it does a reasonably good job. Undoubtedly the film is a prime example of style over substance, as much of Bekmambetov’s films are, but it remains mostly entertaining throughout despite the fact, for such a nonsensical premise, the film lacks humour even with the knowledge that the filmmakers knew how absurd the whole production is. Benjamin Walker lacks charisma in the lead role as he does not create a likeable (nor unlikeable) character, yet he is saved by an impressive Dominic Cooper. The villain lacks the element of a pantomime villain that this production desired, this issue adds to the lack of interesting secondary characters who are good as invisible. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is stylishly shot and never boring, but not particularly exciting either. 3D is crap, obviously.
2.5/5 or 3/5. I can’t decide.