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The Raven: Suspense-less Thriller Based on Edgar Allen Poe’s Work
A deranged groupie has taken Edgar Allen Poe’s (Cusack) literature a little bit too literally. He goes on a killing spree using different murders from Poe’s stories as inspiration, where each murder contains a clue to the next. The murderer starts improvising though and kidnaps Poe’s girlfriend, Emily (Eve), to draw the author closer in; taunting him. The murderer orders Poe to write a story and publish it in the newspaper where he works, based on the murderous actions. In the story, Poe both immortalizes the killer and shapes his future actions.
This is a film with a decent concept that just doesn’t work out. Making a murder-mystery out of bits of Poe’s literary tales could have been pretty interesting, but it basically boils down to us hopping from one gruesome murder to the next. There isn’t even much connecting one murder with the next. Also, by having Poe translate the murderer’s escapades into fiction the film has a very strong going-through-the-motions vibe, killing any sense of suspense or tension.
The characters aren’t much better either. Cusack’s character of Poe is a depressed alcoholic with a raging ego and an insufferable sense of superiority – basically a cliché of an artist. Eve’s character Emily is pretty and, unfortunately, doesn’t get much of a chance to transcend that trait seeing as she’s stuck in a box for most of the film. Also, Poe is at least double her age and is probably old enough to be her father. Their relationship is kind of creepy and you wouldn’t be wrong in completely empathizing with Emily’s father who does his best to keep them away from each other. Luke Evans plays Detective Fields, the officer in charge of the investigation and the man who first makes the connection between the murders and Poe’s stories. He does a decent job not least because he isn’t saddled with the ‘artistic,’ heavy-on-the-synonyms dialogue that Cusack has to deal with.
At the very least, the film looks good even though it’s not as extravagant as other period films. It has a very Gothic feel with its bleak palette and reams of fog unfurling everywhere, which does manage to give the film a vaguely foreboding feel. The murder scenes are pretty gory, the costumes look good and are sufficiently showcased in the scene of a ball.
The film is disappointing on two levels: it squandered a cool concept and it ended up a completely by-the-numbers thriller.
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.
Written and directed by Gattaca’s Andrew Niccol, Good Kill arrived in Cairo cinemas with generally favourable reviews and the distinction of having competed for the Golden Lion at the 2014 Venice Film Festival. However, despite a strong performance by lead man, Ethan Hawke, and the film questioning the necessity of war, the film loses its way after raising some thought-provoking points.
The story is centred on former Air Force pilot, Tom Egan (Hawke), who now operates as a drone pilot, comfortably flying in and out of enemy territories from the safety of a Las Vegas control centre. Working under the command of the officer-in-charge, Jack (Greenwood), Tom is considered as one of the best in the business, although his six tours in Iraq have left him itching to be out on the battlefield.
Hitting targets – and occasionally a few innocent civilians – has become a part of his daily routine and his ambiguous mental state is often carried into his private life and marriage to wife Molly (Jones), as he becomes more and more distant. It’s only when Tom and co are forced to cooperate and take orders from the CIA that the hushed man begins to questions the the dubious missions he’s been asked to carry out.
Good Kill starts off relatively strong and the setup to the dispassionate and the merciless world of drone warfare – where targets are killed off with a flick of a joystick – is executed remarkably well. Infusing plenty of technological detail, the film’s premise offers an interesting, if not necessarily fresh, outlook on the concept of the ‘war-on-terror’ and for the fans of the genre, there is definitely enough here to pass the time.
However, the film quickly loses its way and, after the initial engagement, things simply trail off, and the film doesn’t deliver the strong climax it promises. This is of course not the first time that Niccol puts the spotlight on modern warfare – see Lord of War. The difference here, however, is that the director fails to maintain the same level of interest in his characters.
And it’s a shame, because Hawke is able to pull a quietly impressive performance of a troubled soldier of war, but it’s his life at home and his connection – or lack thereof – with the terribly wasted January Jones – as well as his fellow pilots – that throws the movie and everything it tries to achieve, down the drain, turning Good Kill into an occasionally fascinating, occasionally tiresome watch.