Tag Archives: Adrien Brody

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The Village (2004) 4.29/5 (2)

 

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Rating: The Good – 66.8
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Duration: 108 mins
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Joaquin Phoenix

An isolated old time village of people, hiding from the cruelty of the towns and cities, share an uneasy truce with a species of carnivorous creatures living in the surrounding woods. When one of the young folk breaches the border, the creatures begin entering the village to seemingly offer a fresh warning. However, when that same man is injured, his fiancée decides to cross those same woods in the hope of reaching a town and bringing back medicine, an action that challenges the village elders’ reasons for their isolation in the first place.

The Village is a deeply curious film that arguably defies its ultimate betrayal thanks to remarkably polished direction and a story that bears all the texture and resonance of a hardened mythology. First thing that needs to be said here is that M. Night Shyamalan initially concocts an elegant fairytale that comments on society and its traditions with the same grace and primal fear that has defined the classics. Strongly influenced by the folk tales of his Indian background, his creatures in this film are inspired devices in both conception and depiction. The sounds they make and the half glimpses that we are treated to all promise to add richly to the lexicon of horror, a genre in desperate need of new form lest we be left with the continued flogging of the vampire, werewolf, and zombie staples. Being savage and monstrous, yet possessing the outward trappings of a society or culture that has emerged in parallel to human culture, these creatures play so delicately on our archetypes of terror and so deeply in the recesses of our minds that they invigorate in a manner that recalls the chills of Harryhausen’s Medussa. All clicks and unbearable hideousness. The corners and bends to the mythos realised in striking colour contrasts upon Roger Deacons’ otherwise starkly painted canvas. In the haunting violins of James Newton Howard’s softly beautiful score. A remarkablly visceral piece of filmmaking.

The screenplay struggles (even contrives) to live up to the weight of this singular achievement but Shyamalan’s cast, the kind of that would normally bedeck a Spielberg epic, still manage to act their socks off. Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver and Adrien Brody are all excellent, Howard and Brody especially. They are helped ably by the director’s extraordinary ability to capture subjectivity in dialogue not to mention frame significant moments or build to powerful crescendos. There are also more of those lovely moments of innocent humour that have marked Shyamalan’s previous movies.

Unfortunately, at the final hurdle this undeniably talented filmmaker falls victim to his reputation and quite literally undoes the entire fabric to his film. In the end, storytelling is paramount and he appears to betray that for no other reason than to add a fairly insipid twist. It’s feels like a body-blow to the audience, counting surely as one of the more disappointing reversals ever and if you’ve managed to avoid hearing of this twist, you’ll probably guess it far in advance.

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Predators (2010) 3.57/5 (2)

 

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Rating: The Good – 68.9
Genre: Science Fiction, Action
Duration: 107 mins
Director: Nimrod Antal
Stars: Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Alice Braga

Despite what some of the fans have said, Predators is a hugely enjoyable sequel to the 1987 McTiernan film and easily stands along side Predator 2 in both class and execution. Like Danny Glover was in that latter film, Adrien Brody is a revelation as an action hero. The movie opens as his character and a number of other elite killers from around Earth are being parachuted unconscious into a jungle on a small moon as prey for three Predators. Nimrod Antal’s film looks great and the many luscious jungle locations provide the backdrop to some seriously impressive action set-pieces. The script is smart with some nice humour here and there. There are, however, a few too many references to the original Predator and Alien films (characters spouting familiar lines) to the extent that at times it’s as though the script is serving those references as opposed to the other way round. However, other than that weakness, the film hits all the right notes. Brody’s brilliant tough guy performance is well supported by a series of strong actors with Alice Braga in particular standing out. As in the first two films, the special effects are used sparingly but to good effect and the decision to introduce a new even more vicious race of Predator proved inspired (despite some of the more precious fan’s opinions to the contrary) as it reinvigorated the scariness of the 20+ year old screen monster.

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