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Tomorrow, When the War Began: Unrealistic War Drama
This is ultimately a war film, but the story doesn’t subscribe to the same traditional elements of the genre. Rather than focusing on the battle and the politics of war on a grander scale, it looks at it from a civilian’s point of view. While the characters are numerous, the attempt to cover a broad cross section of personalities often ends up in a portrayal of clichéd stereotypes.
A film that relies so heavily on a character-driven plot, naturally also relies on the performance of its actors. Unfortunately, the young cast fails to deliver, and the film as a whole lacks the drama and action that you’d expect from a subject matter like this one.
The brief and infrequent action scenes stand out as impressive and entertaining, but at times border on the ridiculous. In one scene for example, heavily armed military vehicles are pursuing two girls in a truck, and are powerless to apprehend it.
Tomorrow, When the War Began is an overall weak production that lacks realism, intensity, and features a distinctively average cast. The green light has been given to produce the sequel, which is based on the second novel in the Tomorrow series, with the third part also being considered. Picking up where this film finishes, the sequel will hopefully develop the series into a better watch.
David Robert Mitchell’s beautifully envisioned It Follows is no ordinary horror film. Though the filmmaker can be considered a novice in the industry, his only other feature, The Myth of the American Sleepover, gained the writer-director awards and acclaim, and he has seemingly carried its momentum into what is a broody, dreamy horror.
Maika Monroe stars as Jay Height; a teenage girl living in a deserted, yet eerily beautiful, suburban area of Detroit. She shares her home with mom – someone we don’t really get to see much of - and her younger sister Kelly (Sepe) and enjoys spending the lazy summer days lounging around in their family backyard pool.
She begins dating a mystery guy named Hugh (Weary) whom she soon decides to go the extra mile for and spend the night making sweet love in the back of his rather spacious ride. After they have finished the deed, so to speak, Jay is knocked out cold by her new man only to wake up tied to a chair in the middle of nowhere and told that she is now infected with a curse. It turns out that Jay is now being relentlessly followed by a shape-shifting entity and the only way to get rid of it is to sleep with someone else before ‘it’ catches up to her and kills her.
One of the most striking things about It Follows is how every single frame – no matter how small or insignificant as it may seem – is able to tell its own story and how very little dialogue is used to create both atmosphere and plot development. The atmosphere is thick with slow-building anxiety and a profound sense of loneliness symbolised by the forsaken Detroit backdrop.
Mitchell achieves this party with a simple combination of long-shots and slow-zooms and he crafts the world of his film an abundance of subtexts and metaphors – what ‘IT’ represents is left up to the audience to decide. Additionally, the eeriness of Rich Vreeland’s synth-score – reminiscent of horror movies of the 70’s – is especially gratifying and the cast, led by the convincingly haunted Monroe, are grounded and extremely easy to connect to.
It Follows is a slow and unnerving horror film that builds masterfully; it treats its characters and its audiences intelligently, offering layers beyond the usual horror tropes – things you can’t say all that often about the contemporary horror genre.
Arriving fourteen years after the last Jurassic Park entry, the fourth film in the twenty-two-year old franchise is finally here with Trevorrow’s Jurassic World; a thrilling, but flawed, addition to the series that never really recapture the magic of the original, but still manages to excite and serve as a fitting summer blockbuster.
Picking up twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, the story is centred in and around the dinosaur amusement park on Isla Nublar, belonging to billionaire Simon Masrani (Khan), who has taken the idea from the late John Hammond and turned it into a multi-million dollar reality. Responsible for managing the park’s security is rigid operation manager, Claire (Howard), while her impressively knowledgeable colleague – and love interest - Owen (Pratt) is in charge of training the park’s dinosaurs.
As one might expect when playing god, things quickly go wrong when the genetically engineered Indominus Rex – the park’s latest attraction – escapes from its enclosure leaving Simon and his team of soldiers – led by Vic (D’Onofrio) – to fight of the giant monster.
Having spent over a decade in development limbo, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction to be found in the realisation of what, at times, like a pipedream for diehard fans. Though reception has been mixed, Jurassic World proves to be a thrillingly visualised world. The park and all of its bells and whistles – including a petting zoo and a triceratops ride – are designed with careful detailing and the film succeeds in communicating a sense of awe and wonder.
However, in the harsh light of day, the film just doesn’t have the same impact, when considering the fact that the plot isn’t all that fresh – in fact, the skeleton of the story is the same – scientists play god, things go wrong, step forward hero. Granted, the dinosaurs being substantially larger and smarter adds a grandeur to proceedings, their human counterparts aren’t so lucky.
Performances by both Pratt – channelling his inner Indiana Jones – and Howard are solid, however, most of the characters aren’t explored or fleshed out enough to make you care about the outcome, leaving the mass destruction the hub of enjoyment – and it’s simply not enough.
Considered by some quarters to be Spielberg’s biggest contribution to Hollywood, Jurassic Park has a timeless quality about it; a quality that stacks the odds against a successful sequel even more so. This is a top popcorn movie, so to speak, but just lacks the sheer magnitude in ingenuity of the original. But then again, it has broken several box office records.