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Gone: An 'Is She Crazy, Is She Sane' Psychological Thriller
Jill (Seyfried) doesn’t have the best relationship with the police. After being kidnapped and thrown into a hole in the middle of the forest, which she luckily managed to escape from, the police refused to believe a word she said and stuck her in a mental institution. Fast forward a bit and she’s out of the loony bin, dealing with anxiety problems, carrying a gun and taking kickboxing lessons. She comes home one day from her waitressing job to find her sister gone. Convinced that the kidnapper came back for her and took Molly (Wickersham) instead, she tries to get the police to take her claims seriously, but to no avail. Left with no other choice, she takes to the streets piecing together the clues to find Molly and her kidnapper, before time runs out.
This thriller requires you to suspend your powers of logic for a while. While for the most part it tries to be more of a psychological thriller, the moments which require Jill to do some actual sleuthing are a long shot - to put it mildly. The clues she finds as to the kidnapper’s whereabouts are either absurdly simple or completely farfetched. The latter in particular are a real crime since the kidnapper keeps asserting that he kidnapped Molly to lure Jill. If his aim was truly to lure Jill, the clues he left her wouldn’t have been so discreet, random and easily overlooked.
Also, the characters are pretty shallow. The police officers are uniformly incompetent or lazy or a mixture of both. They stand around looking annoyed for the whole film. As for Jill, she’s rather strange. She fluctuates between two states: one in which she’s single-mindedly obsessed with saving her sister and the other in which she compulsively lies to everyone she meets. The first is logical and, based on her own history with the kidnapper and her relationship with Molly, highly understandable. The latter however is just plain odd. We’re never given a motive or reason for why she’s such a pathological liar and it seems rather out of character. Would somebody in her nerve-wracking situation have it in them to lie so well, or keep their numerous stories straight for that matter? We’re told that Jill stuck to her story for the entire time that she was locked up in hospital. Would somebody who wouldn’t tell a fib to get out of a mental hospital become a chronic liar?
In addition to being a liar, the film also keeps trying to push the possibility that Jill isn’t really all there in the head, though seeing as it’s Jill’s word against that of the useless police force, the idea never really registers the way it should in order to give the film a decent psychological bend and keep the viewers guessing.
Despite its inconsistencies, Gone manages to be a decent, light thriller until the ending which derails the film completely. It’s not innovative and the film is very basic despite the attempt to give it depth. However, it’s rather fast paced and Seyfried makes for a very watchable heroine, even if her character makes little sense and is unworthy of her talent.
Arriving six years after Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland took the box-office by storm – the film ended up earning over a billion dollars despite receiving mixed reviews - the adventures of Wonderland continue with a story that serves both as a prequel and a sequel, in James Bobin’s visually exciting, but rather empty, Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Three years after sailing around on her late father’s ship, Alice (Wasikowska) returns to London to learn that there has been some significant changes in her mother Helen’s (Duncan) living situation and that, on top of everything else, she is now at risk of losing her father’s ship for good. However, before she gets a chance to deal with the situation at hand, which finds her at direct conflict with her ex-fiancé Hamish Ascot (Bill), Alice is contacted by the caterpillar-turned butterfly Absolem (voiced by the late Alan Rickman) whom she decides to follow through a magic mirror leading to Wonderland.
Once there, Alice learns the Mad Hatter (Depp) who, as a result of believing that his family is still alive, has now begun to age rapidly and is slowly dying. Tasked by the White Queen (Hathaway) to save their land by going back in time, Alice decides to pay a visit to Time himself (Cohen); a half-man, half-machine King of clockwork who is not so keen of allowing Alice to use the chromosphere to travel back and save Hatter’s parents from. Refusing to accept defeat, Alice steals the device and sets on her journey, though she soon learns that changing the past doesn’t come without consequences.
Written by Linda Woolverton and directed by The Muppet’s James Bobin, there’s a significant change in the story’s visual dynamics which finds Tim Burton’s shadowy, gothic style in Alice replaced by a psychedelically vibrant and colourful backdrop that is both pleasing and exciting to watch. However, unlike the obvious work and creativity put into bringing energy and precise technicalities into its visual – the use of 3D actually pays off - the writing comes off as a lazy.
Woolverton’s screenplay is confusing at times and the characters, despite their whacky and imaginative surroundings, fall surprisingly flat. At twenty-six years of age Wasikowska seems a little too old to be wandering around Wonderland. Although typically weird and zany in their reprising roles, her co-stars Depp, Bonham-Carter and Cohen, fail to rise to the occasion.
Shiny and exciting to look at, Alice Through the Looking Glass is, overall, a disappointing revisit to Wonderland which, despite its best efforts, fails to make a lasting impression.
Failing to develop its concept, writer-director James DeMonaco’s final chapter in the horror series, The Purge, the franchise has reached its final destination with a damp squib.
Set in year 2025, it’s once again time for the annual Purge; a government-sanctioned twelve hour period where anything, including murder, is allowed. Designed on the theory of keeping crime down for the rest of the year by letting people let loose, the New Founding Fathers of America - led by Caleb Warrens (Barry) - are big supporters of the occasion and look forward to it every year. However, Senator Charlene ‘Charlie’ Roan (Mitchell) is not exactly on board with the idea and having lost her entire family to the Purge eighteen years before, she’s determined to shut it down and eliminate the practice for good once she is elected President.
Naturally, Roan’s objections to the annual ‘cleansing’ doesn’t sit all too well with the Founding Fathers and order the assassination of the Senator during the upcoming Purge. Protected by Detective Barnes (Grillo), Roan’s security system is soon breached, forcing her and Barnes to flee and head to the streets where the annual violence has already begun.
Playing off of the same concept as the previous two films - except this time there seems to be very little creative direction from DeMonaco - there is an obvious lack of danger present in the mix, with the writing defiantly refusing to explore its premise beyond the aggression masked killers and bloody street violence. What was once a seemingly interesting idea that had theory behind it, now relies on a shock value that has simmered over the trilogy.
Offering a not-so-subtle political viewpoint, subjects such as racism, sexism and religion are integrated into the storyline, but are never really explored in the context of the film’s concept.
Adding to the story’s demise are performances from a cast who fail to evoke any emotion throughout the entire movie, let alone establish a connection with the audience. As the fearlessly-protective cop, Grillo is stiff and ends up taking the material given a little too seriously, while Mitchell is surprisingly hollow as the idealistic politician.
The rules of the game are unclear and the gaps in logic in DeMonaco’s flimsy screenplay are aplenty. Bloody, violent and ridiculously adrift, The Purge: Election Year has failed to cash in on its potential and has settled on a meandering ending to the series, reminding us all that it was probably never really that good to begin with.