It takes a very enticing movie to tempt me to the cinema any longer. That or something I just can’t resist on the big screen (no matter how dubious the prospect – step forward Mr Lucas). I tend to categorise movies in to: must see on the big screen, must buy on DVD, can wait until its shown on Sky, and don’t ever want to see it!
One I was happy to leave until it reached digital TV was ‘Lemony Snickets A Series of Unfortunate Events’. Having been slightly unimpressed by the first of the books (contrary to the opinion of many), I assumed the movie might prove to be equally uninspiring. However this turned out to be a pretty good film, visually inspiring, with the outlandish style of a Tim Burton movie, and a high-powered cast doing a fine job of not getting their egos in the way of their characters. Plus Jim Carrey for once being perfect for the part, rather than just too big for it. Most impressive of all however were the ‘child’ actors. Let’s face it many a brilliant, or even half-decent film has been destroyed by the bad casting of a child actor. (Ahem! Mr Lucas, pay attention, this is how to cast younger actors to play, say, Anakin Skywalker). These three (four in fact as Sunny was played by twins – take a bow Kara & Shelby Hoffman) were key to the success of this film, with the two older actors responsible for the bulk of the exposition required throughout this film (take a bow also Emily Browning and Liam Aiken). Finally have to say that the end credits were even worth sitting through, or at least the first animated half were. Note to self – check out other things by Brad Silberling.
In a contrast more extreme than you could invent, I also saw ‘The Descent’ this weekend. The choice of this movie was influenced by writer/director Neil Marshall’s previous movie ‘Dog Soldiers’, which I enjoyed enormously despite some small failings. The expectation of ‘The Descent’ was of a much darker, scarier film, and so it proved. A group of ‘daredevil’ women challenging themselves by potholing in some uncharted caves – Unlike Dog Soldiers there’s no room for humour in this piece, a series of shocks, particularly effective in the earlier part of the film, accompanied by a growing sense of claustrophobia. I have to say that the scenes playing on the claustrophobic setting of the tunnels are far scarier than the later more gory scenes. Once we get beyond the natural terrors to the more supernatural ones the film has less originality. On the whole then this is not as successful a film as the earlier Werewolf movie I enjoyed so much. But Neil Marshall continues to be one to watch out for too.