Sunday, 30 November 2014

2014 Catch Up Part 3

Kit Harrinton (of Game of Thrones) is a Celt whose family has been destroyed by the Romans. After displaying some fine fighting talents in Londinium he is sent to Pompeii. There he meets Cassia (Emily Browning) and two quickly fall in love. Coincidentally Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland ), the man who slaughtered The Celt's family, arrives in Pompeii, but the rumblings from the mountain dominating Pompeii's surroundings make for an ominous feel. 

Paul W.S Anderson (not to be confused with more talented Andersons) has shown some talent (Event Horizon is superb), but Pompeii is a reminder that Anderson's directorial talent doesn't go much further than the impressive but depth free visual flourishes. Pompeii is lacking dramatically in human drama, good acting, decent script and interesting storyline. Pompeii borrows heavily from the likes of Spartacus (a slave fighting against Rome) and Gladiator (which was also heavily influenced by Spartacus) and then begins to copy other disaster movies, such as 2012, when Mount Vesuvius does eventually blow its top. 

However, all it not too bad, the city of Pompeii is well created (using GCI), the fighting sequences in the arenas are quite exciting and Kiefer Sutherland hammy performance is massively enjoyable (the internet informs me that he was speaking in a "British accent". It was so bad I had no idea). There is a sense of tension as the fateful day of the volcano's eruption approaches, but once the volcano explodes into life and each falling building and fiery, flying rock misses our heroes by inches it gets harder and harder to care about their fate. 

Apart from being exciting in short bursts, there isn't much to find enjoyable in Anderson's latest film.


Based on the book by Andrew Hodges, Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game is about mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing who managed to break the unbreakable ENIGMA code and shortened the war and thus saved millions of the lives in the process. 

 Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game is a poignant but celebratory look at the heroic life of Alan Turning who was sadly persecuted by backwards British laws for homosexual acts. The anger at the British government stabbing such a man in the back is palpable as the film treats Turing as an inspiring, brave, if arrogant, hero whose intellectual brilliance undoubtedly helped Britain crack the German code and win the war. Benedict Cumberbatch, in a role not too dissimilar to his role in the BBC drama Sherlock, is superb as Alan Turning as Cumberbatch captures Turing's arrogant and autistic side but Cumberbatch also gives a truly emotional performance (the final scenes in Turing's life are incredibly moving).

Graham Moore's script, naturally, fabricates elements of drama (the 'fifth man' for instance), some of which it is not strictly necessary (for example the scene in which one of the code breakers' brother is on the boat targeted for attack is ham-fistedly done). However, contrary to the fears held by some during the film's production Moore's script does not skimp over Turning's homosexuality. In fact, in each of the different time eras Turning's homosexuality plays a major part. Moore's script is slightly formulaic, but celebrates Alan Turning in a moving and poignant way.

Supporting the superb Benedict Cumberbatch is Keira Knightley as Joan (the pair share a good chemistry), the pantomime villian Charles Dance as Alastair Denniston and Mark Strong as the cynical head of MI6, Stewart Menzies. The film follows a formula, but Benedict Cumberbatch's magnificent performance elevates proceedings significantly.


Much like the Harry Potter and Twilight franchise it was decided that the final book of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games franchise shall be split into two films, it has become the standard procedure and looks sets to continue.  In the previous film, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) destroyed the games, this led to revolutionary movements inside a number of the districts and capture of Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). After some convincing, Katniss agrees to become the symbol of hope for the rebel movement.

At 123 minutes the latest film in the Hunger Games franchise is the shortest film in the franchise (both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were over 140 minutes long), perhaps because a film 140 minutes in length isn't strictly necessary when the film is going to be split into two different parts. Francis Lawrence (who directed the previous film) does a decent job a maintaining an even pace and keeping the films' themes of authoritarianism, revolution, propaganda, and the importance of symbols of hope at the forefront of the picture. This makes the entire franchise more intelligent and interesting than a number of Hollywood productions as the series discusses major and relevant themes in an easily digestible way.

Since the first Hunger Games was released there has been controversy over the rating the BBFC have given the film (the Daily Fail were moaning about it just last week). The controversy mostly rages over the strong bite the violence gives as it mostly concerns teenagers killing teenagers. There are no games (thanks to Katniss) thus there is no teen on teen violence, but Mocking Jay is perhaps the darkest of the three films so far as it shows the brutal, uncompromising and merciless tactics of the Capital.

Jennifer Lawrence is yet again excellent in the lead role and she is well supported by the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman (the film is dedicated to him), Julianne Moore as district 13 President Coin, and the Donald Sutherland as the malevolent, and deliciously evil, President Snow.



  1. I agree with what you said about POMPEII (I didn't know that was a British accent either) and MOCKINGJAY PART 1 (what's the grade?).