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3ala Wahda We Nos: Another Embarrassing Egyptian Belly Dancing Flick
3ala Wahda We Nos stars Sama El Masry, a belly dancer who is apparently quite famous, at least according to this reviewer’s usher at the cinema. The jury’s out on the extent of her dancing skills mainly because the film is shot so atrociously and focuses more on her boobs and bum than on her dance moves. But this reviewer can conclusively say that she’s an atrocious actress; a trait that’s made even worse by her uncanny resemblance to the fantastically talented Idina Menzel.
She plays Horreya, a woman who becomes a belly dancer when she finds herself thrown out onto the streets, betrayed by everybody in her life. At this point, a film about a belly dancer who actually likes her job or who chose this line of work without being coerced or abused would be revolutionary. Anyway, back to Horreya. An orphan raised by her aunt, she leaves her house when her aunt’s husband starts to get frisky with her. She ends up at a women’s boarding house that is full druggies, prostitutes and, inexplicably, a TV presenter about to travel to Cannes to cover the film festival. This presenter introduces her to a bunch of guys who do that creepy eye-rape thing when they see her - actually, every single guy in the movie, except for one, has his rape face on the entire time. One of these guys hires her - on the strength of her copious cleavage - to work as a reporter for his newspaper. As you might imagine, he turns out to be a complete arse, tricks her into signing a marriage contract and gets her kicked out of the boarding house - in a scene in which she bites another woman’s bum no less (cat fight!). Naturally, She subsequently becomes a belly dancer at a cabaret whose owner turns out to be a smuggler and in cahoots with no less than her old boss/husband. She tips the police off to their latest transaction, they’re carted off to prison and she wins at life.
This is more of a farce than an actual film so it makes sense to share some of the more unintentionally hilarious aspects. Every single time the setting changes, whether it be to the boarding house, cabaret or police station, a sign indicating the place’s name in the same exact font is stuck next to the door every time. Because it of course takes a rocket scientist to figure out that a guy wearing a police uniform and sitting at a desk is probably at the police station and that a belly dancer doing her thing while backed by a full band is definitely in a cabaret.
Moving on, the many shots of Horreya sleeping in her various satin nighties with her bum stuck out couldn’t have been more posed nor the laughable attempts to pass off her constant hair-flicking as natural. And just so you know, Horreya isn’t a dancer she’s an artiste. She’s multitalented; she also sings and could totally have been a model if she wanted to. As a result we’re treated to a bunch of musical numbers in which she lip-synchs, dances and pouts like there’s no tomorrow.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.