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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.
Disappointingly cartoonish and almost unbearable to sit-through, Barry Sonnenfeld’s Nine Lives - the Wild, Wild West director sinks to a new low here - is just as dreadful as its trailer suggest. The story - shockingly credited to a total of five screenwriters - is lethargic and uninteresting with Sonnefeld’s inability to ignite some much-needed energy or thematic effects into the mix, clearl throughout the entire ordeal.
The story is centred on Tom Brand (Spacey); an outspoken and a hot-headed New York real estate kingpin who is currently devoting all of his hours to putting the finalising touches on the largest skyscraper the world has ever seen. Working alongside his son David (Amell), Tom is a workaholic and his long working hours tend to keep him away from spending more time with his second wife, Lara (Garner), and their daughter, Rebecca (Weissman).
In an attempt to make up for missing out on his daughter’s eleventh birthday, Tom decides to buy her a cat from a mysterious pet shop owner named Felix (Walken). Picking out Mr. Fuzzypants as the gift, things take a turn for the wacky when, Tom falls off a roof and through a glass wall, losing consciousness in the process. Miraculously, he survives the fall but, when he awakes, Tom realises he’s trapped inside the body of Mr. Fuzzypants.
It’s seemingly hard to get excited or find anything nice to say about this latest talking-pet-family comedy that, considering its poorly constructed script and even worse special effects - seventy percent of the movie was entirely computer generated - seems lazy and uninterested in telling any kind of story to begin with. What’s even more surprising about Nine Lives is that it’s produced by Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp - the production company behind hits like Taken, The Transporter and Lucy - making you wonder what possessed them to take on the story of a human trapped inside a body of a feline in the first place. It just doesn’t make sense.
It’s not entirely surprising, though, that Spacey was chosen to play Mr Fuzzypants, with the Oscar winner and House of Cards star’s alluring yet coldly indifferent voice standing in as the perfect match for the role of the cat. However, thanks to a long-series of bad jokes - which of course include plenty of poop gags - lame dialogue and a script that can’t seem to come into its own, Nine Lives has racked up enough points to be nominated as one of the worst films of 2016.
Mechanic: Resurrection, an unexpected sequel to 2011’s The Mechanic - a remake of the 1972 original which didn’t quite receive glowing reviews to begin with - offers the right kind of platform for Jason Statham’s already well established and very specific brand of action. However, while there are genuine moments of thrills to be had, Mechanic: Resurrection’s needlessly complicated and, at times, ridiculous storyline does get a little heavy-handed, turning the story into a relatively entertaining but helplessly cheesy action romp.
The story introduces us to Arthur Bishop (Statham); a retired contract killer who has decided to fall off the grid and live out a relatively quiet life in Brazil. However, his peaceful existence is soon disrupted when a group of associates, sent by his long-time enemy and prominent arms dealer Riah Craine (Hazeldine), threaten to uncover his location to the people who presume him dead unless he agrees to perform three hit jobs for Craine.
Managing to escape, Arthur flees to his home in Thailand where he soon comes across Gina (Alba), whom he manages to save from the hands of her abusive boyfriend, Frank (Quintavalle). From there, murmurings of a romance begin to bud, but not all is what it seems as Artur realises that Craine isn't too far away, even in Thailand.
Just how much you will enjoy this latest Statham-extravaganza solely depends on how much love you have for the man himself. As expected, the forty-nine-year-old star is reliable as ever and completely devoted to the action stunts required and even though there is nothing new on offer – we’ve seen him do this stuff before - he still manages to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his co-stars who are either given very little to do - we’re looking at you Ms. Alba - or don’t know how to handle the material given - see Hazeldine as the bland villain.
In terms of story itself, it takes a little bit time for the action to get rolling and while audiences will probably get a kick out of the various action set pieces and dangerous situations that Bishop finds himself in the plot, scripted by Phillip Shelby and Tony Mosher, boasts a certain degree of absurdity which might be difficult to swallow. Additionally, the romance between Statham and Alba feels forced and when things go awry, it’s difficult to become fully connected with the situation and the stakes.
All in all, Mechanic: Resurrection is a relatively fun, but by-the-numbers Statham action flick which is capable of offering a good time, but only if you go in knowing what to expect.