This is adapted from a novel written by a German. It was filmed in Spain with a British cast, speaking English to make it acceptable to the International (i.e. American) audience. Unfortunately it was regarded as unmarketable to the Americans.
This is an ugly tale, beautifully told. It is basically a slasher film, told from the killer's perspective. It is not about heroism or redemption.
This is a stage-play brought to life with an all-star cast.
The hero doesn't fight Death, he plays chess with the spectre! Hence the homage in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey .
The travellers are beset by a Balrog, some CGI wolves and other assorted contrivances from other films.
A knight (Sean Bean - Game Of Thrones ) visits, requesting a guide to a nearby village where the plague has not yet struck. Osmond volunteers, because he knows the knight's route will take him near to where Averill is waiting for him. However, he has gotten out of his depth.
The knight is an Inquisitor. He and his companions, including John Lynch ( ), are going to the village in order to kill the Necromancer who rules it. Yes, much like the test for witchcraft - if you do not drown then you are guilty - they assume that only satan-worshippers will be immune to the plague.
The village is run by Hob (Tim McInnerny - ). A mysterious wise woman ( Carice Van Houten ) lurks in the background, offering assistance. But who is to be trusted?
The movie has an amazing cast, for what it is. Unfortunately it is let down by the poor cinematography. Everything seems to be shot in medium frame, which means we get to see very little of the wild landscape or the impressive medieval village set. A better director could have provided much more impressive visuals, and the complete lack of on-screen spectacle means this disappointing effort is a wasted opportunity.
Amanda Seyfried lives in a medieval European village filled with Canadian actors, including Michael Shanks from Stargate SG-1 and Colonel Tigh from BSG 2003 . But the village is plagued by the plot from The Wolfman .
There is no magic in this version, our heroine relies on Girl-power. Leonardo Da Vinci also puts in an appearance.
Alice ( Caterina Scorsone ) is an American judo instructor who lives in modern-day London with her mother ( Teryl Rothery ). Her father went missing years ago, so when her boyfriend gets kidnapped she follows ...
Alice finds herself in a steampunk distopia, where humans use Wonderland nicknames and codenames. Hatter (Andrew Lee Potts - Primeval ) and the Don Quixote-looking White Knight (Matt Frewer - Max Headroom ) help her. The Queen of Hearts ( Kathy Bates ) and the King of Hearts (Colm Meaney - Star Trek: DS9 ) want to capture Alice to get her ring, which controls the magical looking glass. And Resistance leaders Dodo (Tim Curry - Rocky Horror Picture Show ) and Caterpillar (Harry Dean Stanton - Alien ) have their own agendas ...
Although Oz is a shyster with no magical powers, he runs into a trio of powerful witches. Mila Kunis falls in love with him, her sister Rachel Weitz manipulates him, and Michelle Williams straight-out uses him for her own ends. Luckily, Oz is owed a wookie life debt by a flying monkey (Zach Braff - Scrubs).
This may be a Sam Raimi film, but it is also a family-friendly blockbuster. The darker aspects of the script do not go further than anything done by Tim Burton . The 3D SPFX are at their best when the characters are flying around in the air, but otherwise add little to the film. All in all, it might be the best of a clutch of 3-D blockbusters released in Spring 2013, but it is not a terribly memorable film in its own right.
We start with a long-winded exposition on the Witches of Oz stealing the Book of Ultimate Magic from the Wizard (Christopher Lloyd - Back To The Future ). Dorothy Gale steals the book's key, then returns to Kansas. When she grows up she lives in modern day New York City. Frank L Baum never existed, and Dorothy Gale herself is in the process of writing the Oz books!
The Witches come to NYC, looking for the key. This means that the budget is not wasted on Fantasy sets, and is instead spent on talent. Luckily for Dorothy she has three male friends (including Billy Boyd - Lord of the Rings ) to help her out.
In 1844 the Shogun's relative is an evil sonovabitch, and must be stopped before he inherits even greater power. A handful of samurai are hired to assassinate him. The sword-fight that follows is about as long as the climactic gun-battle in John Woo 's Hard Boiled.
Queen Mab ( Miranda Richardson ) is now referred to as The Lady of the Lake, a dumbing-down of the original concept.
The stereotypical characters are present:
In the second two-hour segment of the mini-series, it is up to the Apprentice and his fellow tweenagers to save the folks.
Sinden and his colleagues discover a lost island peopled by Vikings, who have not advanced technologically in a thousand years. The plot then proceeds like a Doug McClure film. They must escape through a volcanic wilderness, while pursued by bloodthirsty Vikings.
Our heroes, nominally Musketeers (who use Muskets), are normally portrayed as expert swordsmen instead. But here they are James Bond type secret agents, with special skills and fancy gadgets. They include a couple of recognisable faces - Porthos (Ray Stevenson - Rome ), Athos (Matthew McFadyen - Robin Hood (2010) ) and Aramis (Luke Evans - Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug ).
There is a great supporting cast - Milady ( Milla Jovovich ), Buckingham (Orlando Bloom - Pirates of the Caribbean ) and Planchet (James Cordon - Lesbian Vampire killers ) are scene-stealers. Seriously, it is that bad. In its defence, the visuals are spectacular - if you like anachronistic pre-steampunk CGI airships blowing things up.
Unlike the book, but in common with most adaptations, we know from the very start that Long John Silver (Eddie Izzard - Mystery Men ) is up to no good. But the gentlemen who help Jim in his quest are also given more characterisation than in any previous version. Dr. Livesey (Daniel Mays - Outcasts ) is cast as a coward. Squire Trelawney (Rupert Penry-Jones - The Strain ) is a money-grubbing and brutal fool. Only good old Captain Smollett (Philip Glenister - Life on Mars ) is allowed any sense of honour or decency, in line with the character in the original book.
In Part 2 of the story our young hero, Jim-Lad, is marooned with cast-away Ben Gunn (Elijah Wood - Lord of the Rings ). Poor Gunn is haunted by memories of Captain Flint (Donald Sutherland - Don't look Now ).
Farmer (Jason Statham - Ghosts of Mars ) is a turnip-loving ... farmer. He is somehow also an expert warrior, with a boomerang and Chinese kung-fu swords (and skills to match). Farmer and his friend Ron Perlman ( Season Of the Witch ) defeat a gang of Orcs who had wiped out the proper army's best men.
Farmer's wife ( Claire Forlani ) and son take the harvest wagon to the town of Stonebridge. Strangely, it has no bridge of any kind. But strange names are the least of this film's problems. Farmer and Perlman go to rescue the damsel, en route encountering Acrobatic tree-nymph Kristanna Lokken .
King Burt and his African-American General lead their army to face the Orcs. The pitched battle takes place in a forest, where cavalry cannot charge and there is too much cover for archers to be effective. Luckily the Orcs are too stupid to hide behind the trees. This leads on to great shots of massed combat, with hundreds of extras in full costume. That said, the inexplicable shots of ninjas somersaulting through the trees are a bit distracting.
No sooner is a new King crowned than he sets off with a motley fellowship of misfits in order to invade the villain's fortress. Yes, he thinks of his kingly duties as an excuse to go on a heroic suicide mission.
Shockingly, this is not as bad as the original film (despite having the same director - Uwe Boll ).
The changes are mostly for the worse, making the story fit the cliches of the modern American movie. Ishmael is now the harpoonist, and Quequeg is merely a token ethnic sidekick. Rachel is Ahab's adopted daughter, a supermodel-type beauty.
The Jabberwock is a monster that prowls the wilderness and eats people. Our hero is Village blacksmith Helo ( BSG 2003, Dollhouse ).
This is a typical Asylum project, with only half a dozen speaking parts and only one recognisable face. But the script is okay, and some of the dialogue actually works!
This effort's portrayal of Vikings has about as much realism as in Pathfinder . But it isn't meant to be a documentary, it's an entertaining enough piece of work.
This film is pure style over substance. The paper-thin plot is merely an excuse for stylish violence with slo-mo, back-lighting and a smoke machine. In one respect this is high-brown fare: the Norse speak their own languages, with English subtitles. Presumably this is the main reason it did not do better financially.
Will the stone-age hunter-gatherers triumph over the strangers who only want to build farmsteads in the New World? Silly question!
Charlton Heston ( Ben Hur ) is the title character, the greatest knight in all of Spain. We follow his life through his dramatic courtship of Sophia Loren , and his noble efforts to avoid the intrigues of the Spanish court. If anything his lack of guile and subtlety makes him a bit annoying. He is portrayed as always doing the right thing, which does not actually make any sense. When the country is split by civil war he turns from one side to another repeatedly, always undermining his friends. But finally, he tries to unite them against the invading Moors Ö
Despite white-washing El Cid's deeds, this is not a straightforward propaganda piece. There is a group of token good Moors, who are almost as noble as Ed Cid himself. The villain is the Moroccan Emir Herbert Lom.
Longbow archer Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe - Gladiator ) pretends to be a knight, Robert of Loxley. He goes home to the Knight's father, elderly Baron (Max Von Sydow, in a role much like the one he played in Solomon Kane ). He also has to contend with feisty widow-woman ( Cate Blanchett ) who could do worse than the oafish sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew McFadyen - The 3 Musketeers )
Meanwhile, rent-a-villain Mark Strong ( Stardust ) plots to help the French King invade England.
He receives opposition from the local Reverend (Ben Kingsley - Sound of Thunder ), a powerful figure who dominates the film.
This is part comedy of errors, part journey of self-discovery for the Pastor and especially for his wife. There is an undercurrent of magical realism similar to Picnic at Hanging Rock . The magical atmosphere of the Outback, the subtle implication that the artist's models are the seductive sirens of Greek myth ...
After Dorian takes a 25-year tour of the world, he returns to discover that Henry has a Suffragette daughter ( Rebecca Hall ). But Dorian's shame over his magical portrait of sin is so great that he will kill to protect the secret.
This was adapted from the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde . How ironic that Dorian's so-called sins seem to be mere induldgence in non-vanilla sex, when Wilde himself was famously convicted of homosexuality. More recently, the character of Dorian Gray was used as one of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen .
The pair started off as friends, working with Ricky Jay (a magician in X-Files ), Michael Caine ( Man Who Would Be King, Goldmember ) and Piper Perabo . But a tragic event pushes them apart, creating a deadly feud between them. Each seeks to best the other at performing a new trick, The Transported Man. Assistant Scarlet Johanssen , engineer Andy Sirkis ( LOTR, Deathwatch ) and Nikolai Tesla himself (David Bowie - The Hunger ) all play a part.
But in a battle of wits between two master illusionists, what is truth and what is illusion?
The first half introduces our protagonists. Instead of the original hero (Richard Francis Burton, Victorian hero of the British Empire) we get a Yankee astronaut from 2009. He teams up with Alice Liddell ( Emily Lloyd ), who is evidently the brains of the operation. They are enslaved by a Vandal horde led by Kevin Smith ( Xena: Warrior Princess ).
In the second half, Sam Clemens (AKA Mark Twain) faces off against the Emperor Nero. Somehow, Nero has gotten older since he died - and a lot better at sword-fighting and military strategy.
Being force-fed sugary goodness turned Hansel into a diabetic. It also seems to have prematurely aged him, because in real life Jeremy Renner ( Avengers Assemble ) is 15 years older than his supposedly twin sister, Gemma Arterton . Arterton is tougher than one would expect, in a role usually given to the likes of Milla Jovovich . But she does a good job. And she swears more than in any of her mainstream Hollywood roles so far. That said, she did a lot of near-the-knuckle stuff in low-budget Brit thriller Disappearance of Alice Creed a couple of years ago, so her potential should not be underestimated.
A Grand Witch ( Famke Janssen ) has a secret plan.
Writer Christopher McQuarrie and Director Bryan Singer deliver a mediocre CGI-fest. The 3D SPFX are at their best when the characters are swinging around on a giant Beanstalk. But didn't Puss in Boots already do this?
Abe's team include a token good vamp, a shopkeeper (Lloyd from Breakout Kings) and a Token black guy. He marries Scream Queen Mary Elizabeth Winstead , who is stuck with a very unflattering look.
The film misleadingly represents Lincoln as being primarily an Abolitionist (not a Federalist, as he was in reality). Worse, it portrays the Confederates as literally being bloodthirsty vamps.
The problem is that this story is a parody of OTT action films. But it is not even the first of its kind - it imitates Pride and Prejudice and Zombies , which had the decency to admit its own comical intent.
The film cannot seem to make its mind up. Bodies pile up, quite literally - but is this linked to Bathory herself? The overall theme of the film is that she was framed by a rival Aristocrat who wanted to seize her lands.
Dracula is a great swordsman, trained as a Jannisary (during his time as a Royal hostage) and skilled enough to take out several of the Sultanís best men single-handedly. However, this is not enough. He makes an offer to a murderous vampire (Charles Dance - Game of Thrones ). Drac will have temporary vamp powers for 72 hours, and as long as he does not drink human blood in that time his humanity will return.
Naturally, things go wrong. Drac has to abandon his plan, and falls to darkness. However, he still manages to be the hero of the piece.
The movie is set up for a modern-day sequel, thanks to some Lost -Type exposition about an eternal battle between good and evil.
Someone steals the lightning bolt of Zeus (Sean Bean - Game of Thrones ), who in turn blames Neptune (Kevin McKidd - Rome ). Percy (short for Perseus) is Neptune's illegitimate and unknowing son, who lives in NYC with his mom ( Catherine Keener ) and her slobbish BF (Joe Pantoliano - The Matrix ).
Pierce Brosnan ( The World Is Not Enough ), unconvincingly disguised as a greybeard in a wheelchair, sends Percy to the Demi-Gods's training camp so he can master his gifts. He gets a love interest ( Alexandra Daddario ), a daughter of Athena. But since all Gods are related, thus all Demi-Gods are too ... So he is upholding the ancient Greek tradition of incest.
The teenagers train with metal blades and no tuition - But at least they can heal minor wounds.
The trio (Percy, the babe and the token black guy) go on a quest to find 3 magic pearls to get into the Underworld. They encounter Medusa ( Uma Thurman , who was Aphrodite in Baron Munchausen ). Hades (Steve Coogan - Night At The Museum ) is cast in the villain's role, equating Tartarus with hell. Persephone ( Rosario Dawson ) is a nympho, although the token Satyr is toned down to PG level to make this a kiddie-friendly film.
The studio threw money at this - there is lots of CGI and big-name stars - in the hope it would be the new Harry Potter . But they forgot that Harry Potter was a world-famous International publishing phenomenon before it was a movie. And it had something of a moral centre, while this has none. The post-credits sequence shows the protagonist using his superpowers for personal gain (well, to even a childish score with lethal consequences).
Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman - Noah ) and Annabeth ( Alexandra Daddario ) head off on an unauthorised quest together, along with the Token Black Guy and Percy's clumsy one-eyed brother Tyson. They encounter a few celebrity cameos, such as Yvette Nicole Brown (Community) and Missi Pyle . They get some magical gadgets from Hermes (Nathan Fillion - Firefly ), who can make time for them but not for his own son. They also encounter some monsters that are actually quite impressive, considering they are CGI.
There are some villains who want to use the fleece to revive their ancestor Kronos (Robert Knepper - Stargate: Universe: Season 2 ), King of the Titans, so he can destroy Olympus. This is the ultimate form of teenage rebellion, and the Olympian Gods are a bunch of deadbeat parents who can make time for infinite vengeance but abandon their children on a world plagued by horrible monsters.
There is a violent sub-species of vamp known as the Vampanese, led by Ray Stevenson ( Rome ). They want to start a war and wipe out the vamps.
Eventually Balthazar finds Merlin's sucessor in - where else - modern-day New York City. Unfortunately for him, it is a skinny nerdy kid from a few Judd Apatow films. As the title of the film suggests, there is a compulsory homage to the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon. However, our nerdy hero is genre-blind insofar as he has obviously never seen the cartoon!
Horvath wants to rescue Morgana so they can destroy the world together. He gets a Johnny Rotten-looking sidekick to help him.
In the Holy Land circa 30CE, Israelite Aristocrat Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston - Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, Soylent Green ) is betrayed by his boyhood friend, Messalla (Stephen Boyd - Fantastic Voyage ). Our hero is cast into ignominy as a galley slave, where he serves under Jack Hawkins (Bridge on the River Kwai). In the second act he gets the chance to defeat Messalla in a chariot race. Finally he can return to the Holy Land to help Jesus heal some Lepers. Just in time for the Crucifixion.
The only other film to win this many Oscars was Titanic by James Cameron . It has been said that Cameron didn't necessarily use the BEST tech, just the most expensive. The same can probably be said of Ben Hur. But the difference is, Ben Hur is so SLOW. It drags horribly. The film is three hours long, though the book is under 200 pages. It could have been adapted into a mere 90 minutes. In contrast, Cleopatra Is a similar length of film, but is much better paced.
In the Holy Land circa 30CE, Israelite Aristocrat Judah Ben-Hur (Klaus from Vampire Diaries ) is betrayed by his boyhood friend, Messalla, and anti-Roman Zealot David (Marc Warren - Hogfather ). Our hero is cast into ignominy as a galley slave, while his sister ( Kristen Kreuk ) and mother ( Alex Kingston ) are imprisoned in a leper's cell.
Eventually, our hero gets the chance to defeat Messalla in a chariot race. Kris Holden-Reid ( Lost Girl ) has to be removed from the running first. The race scene was the biggest expenditure of the Charleton Heston version, but this is shot on the cheap for television. The crashes are made more dramatic by the constant use of slo-mo.
Everything is wrapped up just in time for the Crucifixion.
However, this is not just a slam-bash action film like Wyler's version. It is what Wallace's book was supposedly intended to be - a tale of two warring brothers (a metaphor for the American Civil War), put to the plot of The Count of Monte Cristo (a wrongly imprisoned man seeks revenge) and mixed in with some genuine Xian redemption (cue a cameo role for Jesus of Nazareth himself).
There is much about this film that is distracting. The cast are mostly unknowns (except for Nora from How I Met Your Mother), and the maxim of No stars, just talent only works with arthouse films and never with mega-budget blockbusters. The story, as has been pointed out, strays massively from previous versions. However, if watched through until the end it is actually quite a good effort.
This film was the first to feature and Oscar-winning performance from an African-American man. Naturally, it has been condemned as racist because he does not play a violent gun-toting thug! It demands a remake, with Samuel L Jackson as Uncle Remus. I got a bedtime story for ya, child. Get the f*ck to sleep!
8 years later, Valjean and Javert bump into each other. Valjean is a respectable businessman, but Javert begins to suspect him. Valjean could easily escape, but is held back by his compassion for dying prostitute Fantine ( Anne Hathaway ). He promises to care for her daughter, who is being cared for by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (still in character from the OTHER 19th Century musical they did together, Sweeney Todd ).
Over a decade later, the daughter has grown up to be Amanda Seyfried , who falls in love-at-first-sight with a young man. Unfortunately he is indulging in childish rebellion against his bourgeois family, and joins a student revolution. Their only plan is to set up a roadblock in a slum, then shoot any soldiers they can see. Valjean gets dragged into this stupidity, trying to save his foster-daughter's BF. Javert, of course, tries to save his country from the murderous anarchists.
The film has come in for a bit of criticism because of the singing. Virtually all dialogue is sung, not spoken - but in a Musical, that is not a bad thing. The singing was done live on set, not looped in an ADR booth in post-production. Russell Crowe's performance is flat - but that is the kind of person Javert comes across as being. He is dour, unimaginative, and only obeying orders.
The real discovery of the film is Manx actress Samantha Barks , who steals scenes as the second tragic heroine, Eponine. Her part is actually cut down from the stage play, in which she appears as near equal to Fantine. But Ms Barks, despite virtually her only credit being stage performances of this part, acquits herself as an equal of Anne Hathaway.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman - Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy ) is recruited by Gandalf the Wizard. He joins a dozen Dwarves on their quest to kill a dragon and reclaim their home. En route, they encounter Goblins and other monsters. Lots of stabbings and violent death ensue - but to get a PG-13 rating, there is no blood!
The problem with the story is that it has been overly padded out. This film only takes up the first six chapters of the book, which has been split in three to make it a LOTR-style trilogy. Radaghast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy - Dr Who ) only gets mentioned in passing in the original book. Here, extensive scenes featuring him have been shoe-horned into the story. This pads out the running time, but adds nothing to the actual story. If anything, this added distraction just makes the story drag.
The Dwarves encounter the Wood Elves. The Elf-King (Lee Pace - Pushing Daisies ) is a sociopath, and his son Legolas (Orlando Bloom - Pirates of the Carribean ) insults Gimli's father. Tauriel ( Evangeline Lilly ) is Captain of the Guard, and starts to fall for Kili the Dwarf (Aidan Turner - Being Human ). The Elves barely get a mention in the book, while now they get to do huge cartoonish battle scenes where they wipe out dozens of Orcs.
Gandalf ventures off to meet Radaghast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy - Dr Who ) to fight the Necromancer, who only gets mentioned in the original book. Here, extensive scenes featuring him have been shoe-horned into the story. This pads out the running time, but adds nothing to the actual story. If anything, this added distraction just makes the story drag.
When the Dwarves get to Laketown, Bard (Luke Evans - Three Musketeers ) tries to involve them in his Socialist uprising against the oafish Mayor (Stephen Fry - ). And when they get to the Mountain, Bilbo has to face Smaug (Benedict Cumberbach - Star Trek: Into Darkness ).
Despite there being literally an army of dwarves from the Iron Hills present, the fact that Thorin refuses to abandon his post is made a big deal of. An extra dozen dwarves would hardly turn the tide of battle against thousands of orcs. Likewise, the human mayorís toadie is treated like a villain for his cowardice. But he can hardly be blamed for staying out of harmís way - he would be a liability to anyone who fought beside him.
Finally, the Dwarf Champions take on the Orc Champions. Legolas gets to run on stones in mid-air (like Wylie E. Coyote), and the laws of physics are generally ignored. This cartoonishness removes all suspension of disbelief, damaging the film even more.
An evil Wizard (Torin Thatcher - Lost in Space ) curses the Princess. Sinbad and his crew sail off to the wizard's island, where they must fight their way past the giant claymation monsters so they can defeat the Wizard and save the Princess.
They are joined by a feisty princess in a slave-girl outfit. Wow, that's original. But then, Sinbad is not something that should be associated with originality.
The merry men are pursued by a bald-headed necromancer and his sidekick, some kind of leopard-man. Like characters from the 1970s movies.
While the minotaur of the title is an enormous carnivorous CGI Bull, there are plenty of man-beasts for Sinbad and his friends to fight.
A gang of Somali pirates hijack an oil tanker in the Indian Ocean. The shipping company's owner, a descendant of Sinbad, personally takes the ransom to the delivery point.
This then leads Sinbad to encounter CGI monsters, as an updated version of the original movies.