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Valley of the Wolves: Palestine: Focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Valley of the Wolves: Palestine is the latest instalment of a popular and successful film series in Turkey. In this sequel, the story focuses on a team of Turkish operatives on a mission to avenge the deaths of the aid workers killed by Israeli commandos in the flotilla that was bound to Gaza.
Polat Alemdar (Sasmaz) and his men put their lives at risk by crossing more than just the enemy’s lines as they head to Palestine on a mission of revenge, honour and patriotism.
The freedom fighters’ main objective is to locate and eliminate Moshe Ben Eliezer (Besikcioglu), the Israeli military commander responsible for the killing of innocent aid workers in the Gaza flotilla raid. However, Eliezer’s arrangements take an unexpected turn as Polat Alemdar will stop at nothing to bring him down.
Valley of the Wolves: Palestine is clearly influenced by the Palestinian conflict. The main stars are just drawn into the plot as supplementary elements; the real chronicle focuses on the people of Palestine and their suffering.
However, the highlight of the plot is how such undercover teams make their way through Israeli intelligence and the numerous army forces. The brutality of some scenes will stir compassion and empathy for the Palestinian people: one scene in particular shows a disabled child buried alive under the wreckage of his home by Israeli soldiers.
The supporting actors in Valley of the Wolves: Palestine actually give more memorable performances than any of the leads, who are pretty average at best. As the most expensive film ever made in Turkey, Valley of the Wolves: Palestine is full of action scenes from beginning to end. While the action element is not exactly top-notch when compared to Hollywood standards, audiences will still appreciate the effort. However, many scenes are over the top as our heroes seem to be superhuman; it quickly becomes insulting to the audience’s intelligence!
The film was actually shot in Turkish and Hebrew, but the version in Cairo cinemas is dubbed in Arabic, which is frustrating as Egyptian audiences may not fully understand the dialogue because of the poor translation and strange accents.
Overall, Valley of the Wolves: Palestine is a well-made film that demonstrates the violence and injustice of the Palestinian people’s struggle.
There’s quirky and then there is the outright ridiculous. Unfortunately, it’s the latter that best fits Johnny Depp’s Mortdecai performance.
Based on Kyril Bonfiglioli's 1973 book anthology, Don’t Point that Finger at Me, the film follows the eccentric and the unconventional life of swindling British art dealer, Lord Charlie Mortdecai (Depp), who seems to have fallen into a financial rut. His lavish family estate – which he shares with his wife, Joanna (Paltrow) – is now in danger of being taken away from him and his long list of clients have caught onto his deceitful ways.
To make things even worse, Charlie soon finds himself at odds with Joanna, who is refusing to speak to him until he gets rid of the ridiculous handlebar moustache.
It’s not until Inspector Martland (McGregor) – Charlie’s old college roommate – shows up asking for help with a murder case that’s linked to the theft of a lost Goya painting that things begin to look up. Hoping that the finder’s fee will help him, Charlie – with the assistance of his loyal manservant, Jock Strapp (Bettany) – soon finds himself trotting around the globe looking for a painting that is not only valuable, but one that may lead them to a hidden treasure of gold.
Adapted to the screen by Eric Aronson, Mortdecai’s story is overly complex and disjointed to the point of complete and utter breakdown. The pace is relatively brisk and the gags – mainly involving Charlie’s moustache – are aplenty; however, the jokes are forced and never really hit their mark, leaving the whole development of the plot a little exhausting.
Depp – someone who has grown accustomed to odd-ball roles such as this – seems to be happy to step into the part of the eccentric British aristocrat, however, his usual charm and irresistible unconventionality seem to be a little on the off-side. Lacking originality and character, Depp is a babbling mess while Paltrow, McGregor and Bettany, were all a little lost in their respective roles.
Succumbing to a series of cheap gags and an ongoing barrage of humourless quips, Mortdecai – probably best described as Austin Powers meets James Bond – feels like a missed opportunity considering its accomplished and talented cast.
The month of January – as far as the movie business goes – is regarded to as a ‘dump month’ or ‘cesspool’, where some of the most disappointing features of the year are innocuously seeped into cinemas. Michael Mann’s latest feature, Blackhat, is one of said disappointing features.
It all starts with a mysterious cyber-terrorist attack on a nuclear plant in China, which not only causes a near meltdown, but also manages to drive up the price of soy with the cagey and the enigmatic hacker pocketing millions as a result.
Enlisting the help of a computer-wiz, Chen Dawai (Wang), both the Chinese and U.S governments are eager to locate the hacker before he gets a chance to strike again. However, Chen is unable to do the work alone and soon asks for the help from his old MIT classmate, Nicholas Hathaway (Hemsworth); a masterful computer genius who is currently being held behind bars in a U.S federal penitentiary.
Pulled out from prison to assist the mission, Hathaway’s movements are closely watched by F.B.I agents, Carol Barrett (Davis) and Mark Jessup (McCallany). Joining the team is Chen’s sister, Lien (Tang) – the only person Chen can really trust – and soon, the group finds themselves embarking on a trek around the world to locate the ‘Blackhat’ hacker.
Michael Mann has been entertaining audiences for over thirty years with films such as Heat and The Insider paying testament to his largely unanimous standing as one of the greatest directors of all time. However, his distinct voice and style hasn’t been quite as potent in recent, as can be seen in his last two directorial efforts, 2009’s Public Enemies and 2006’s Miami Vice.
Sadly, Blackhat continues the disappointing run of form; derivative, one-dimensional and peculiarly tension-free, everything about Blackhat feels under-developed. Full of clunky, tech-heavy gobbledygook, the the banal dialogue fails to bring any sense of reality to a plot that already lacks originality.
Marooned in the middle of the flimsy script is hunky chunk of brawn, Chris Hemsworth, who fails to really register as the only A-lister in a film that is decidedly B-list. A competent leading man for Hollywood action, his character is riddled with the kind of anti-hero cliché that was scoring big numbers at the box office in the eighties. In fact, that’s a perfect summation of Blackhat; a tiresome and commonplace action flick that just isn’t even in the same league as the Bournes and 007s of today.