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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.
Justin Reardon’s feature-length directorial debut, Playing it Cool, sees an attempt at bring some freshness and originality to the rom-com genre falling into the same old clichés.
Dreaming of one day becoming a successful action screenwriter, the main character of the piece – simply referred to as ‘Narrator’ and played by Chris Evans – isn’t all that enthusiastic about being handed the task of scripting a romantic comedy. See, he’s never been in love – a side-effect from his mother’s abandonment when he was only a young boy – and therefore, he’s unable to see himself writing something that he ‘doesn’t believe in’.
Enter ‘Her’ (Monaghan); a beautiful young woman he meets at a charity event. Sparks fly and he is instantly smitten; however, she’s already engaged to be married to handsome and aloof Brit, ‘Stuffy’ (Gruffudd). Powerless to get her out of his mind – a place filled with a vivid, and often dramatic, writer’s imagination – emotions soon spiral out of control and, well, you know the rest.
Desperately trying to swerve away from the lovely-dovey trappings of the genre, Playing it Cool is the kind of film that’s really difficult to pin-down. Is it a rom-com parody? Or, is it just another movie that begins by dismissing the very notion of romance before eventually falling into the very hole it’s been trying to avoid from the beginning? We’ll go for the latter. Already drawing comparison to movies such as Amelie and 500 Days of Summer – a notion that’s awfully difficult to grasp to begin with – the story lacks the charm, focus and the overall substance that made the aforementioned movies the cinematic success they are.
In fairness, though, the two leads do share some genuine onscreen chemistry; however, the movie’s relatively unexciting script is not smart, strong -or creative enough to take advantage of the fact. Monaghan is the stronger of the two; her charm is infectious and it’s easy to see why any guy would fall for her while Evans, who just doesn’t seem right for the role, tries his best to stick it out. However, just like the story itself, he just doesn’t seem comfortable in his own skin – stick to being Captain America.
Essentially, the problem here is that this is a film that tries too hard to be unique, quirky, ironically, doesn’t play it cool one bit.
Arriving almost eleven years after its first big-screen adaptation with The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, one of the most popular Nickelodeon series of all time has ventured onto the silver screen again.
Directed by Paul Tibbitt, Sponge Out of Water returns to Bikini Bottom, the story begins with Mr Square Pants and co learning that the infamous Krabby Patty formula – Krusty Krab’s signature recipe – has been stolen.
Krusty Krab’s nemesis, Plankton, is the first suspect, though it quickly becomes clear that he’s innocent. As things get desperate in Bikini Bottom, he’s even eventually convinced by SpongeBob to join the search for the missing recipe, with their adventure eventually leading the rag-tag team to ruthless pirate, Burger Beard – voiced by one Antonio Banderas – and forcing them to step out of the water and onto land.
Entertainingly silly, though at times perhaps a little testing, SpongeBob Out of Water is mainly targeted at the series’ existing fan-base; for those unfamiliar with the character and the story – whose seemingly abstract premise is hard enough to digest – might find it a bit hard to find any value in the film’s goofiness. It’s definitely a strange world to get sucked into, however, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth dipping your toes. Told through a series of more traditional and old-style animation storytelling methods and once again using live-action settings, there’s a cheerful, optimistic and at times even psychedelically euphoric quality about that is sure make the film appealing to both adults and children alike.
The jokes are aplenty and the humour is definitely one of its strongest points. However, the story does falter a bit in the third act – once SpongeBob and his buddies wash-up ashore and turn themselves into a group of modern-day superheroes – and the film loses energy and momentum. Nevertheless, the franchise has proven that it’s still going strong and, even though it might not win over any new fans, it will keep the old ones – which there are plenty of – very happy and satisfied.