Director; Chalerm Wongphim and Chalerm Wongpim
Runtime 143 minutes
Buffalo rustlers are out in force more so than ever before placing the local farmers, with no other means to tend to their lands, in quite the predicament especially with families to feed and crops to harvest.
Are these two developments related? You betcha’ ass they are but as luck would have it Zieng (Born to Fight’s Dan Chupong) is around to right these wrongs. All the while seeking out those responsible for slaughtering his own family many years previous in much the same situation.
In his quest Zieng becomes entangled with a group of shady types operating under cunning camouflage. Will he get to find those guilty for the deaths of his family in finding aid from these folks? How is it that he knows so much about incendiary devices, rocket fuel and the many uses of gunpowder? And why has he suddenly become obsessed with the menstruation cycle?
These and many more questions are answered (many only in part) as the movie progresses.
At various times throughout Dynamite Warrior sports a Troma-esque aura. In these scenes the acting is gloriously over-the-top though it’s difficult to know whether this is intentional on account of the film’s dubbing or due in large part to the glaringly obvious and countless cultural differences on display. Admittedly this aspect only adds to the films appeal a huge arena bursting with elements that are vivid, eye opening and wholly unexpected.
Dynamite Warrior harkens back in large part to Chinese fantastical martial arts epics from the eighties in which persons are possessed by animal spirits (gaining unfathomable ferocious abilities and strengths as a result) magicians boast feral eyebrows, curses are thrown around more liberally than the N word on a slave owner’s ranch and high wire stunt gymnastics are more than appreciated, expected in fact.
For fear of spoiling the storyline I’ll merely mention that this feature has everything that any connoisseur of the genre and its (often jaw dropping) origins seeks out.
Truth be told from the movies opening action scenes (which weren’t half bad. Lots of knee damage just for the record!) I was of the mind that it was just another martial arts film though one with a western historical theme. As it played out in fact it transformed into so much more.
Explosions, a touch of romance, plenty of back breaking stunts, lots of docile shaggy beasts, a giant who performs at optimal levels when famished and mastery of the elements what else could one possibly wish for. A fantastic nod to high flying Kung-Fu epics of the past.
Director; Nicholas Winding Refn
Runtime 90 minutes
Spending the better part of the movie in a wooden cage set against a windy crag, with only slop and minimal liquids to live on, Mads is utilized for combat (the type to make fans of the original no-holds-barred UFC style cringe) and bragging rights by a local chieftain. When another wishes to purchase him the chieftain understands that harsh times mean he cannot refuse and One Eye goes on a sojourn through frosty harsh terrain with a new owner and his tribe to stranger parts still. Along for the ride is also a youngster (deemed too young to be of real use to the tribe) responsible for One Eye’s feeding in fact the only person to ever gives ‘two shits’ about the mysterious warrior whom no one knows anything about.
Without dishing out a slew of spoilers the movie progresses our hero encounters and joins a small band of ‘Viking Christians’ (wait what-?) with the youth tagging alongside. This band’s leader sees visions and has set his life goal as a heroic quest to spread the word of Christ to whomever may be present to hear it. (Note; to my knowledge this is one of the very first and therefore quite unsuccessful Crusades circa 1000BC. Though I may in fact be far wrong.)
Filmed with attention to detail, minimal dialogue and scenes ripe with beauty and striking scenery to make any professional photographer weep in appreciation Valhalla Rising is an amazing visual treat that demands witness. Action scenes are brutal, unrelenting, vivid and excellently filmed. To call this rather bloodthirsty throughout is to call a Smurf merely blue.
What may, however, pull the viewer’s attentions away are various scenes in which One Eye ponders, muses and has what the audience can only assume are moments where he is lost in deep thought (after all what else is there to do when you’re chained up in sub- zero temperatures waiting for your next chance to split more skulls in twain). Ingenious use of stark colors and monochromatic effects are utilized perhaps to place the audience within One Eye’s thought processes. Perhaps he truly is a devil, a saint, a fallen angel I’m of the conclusion that most will come to their own conclusion in regards to this perplexing enigma.
Valhalla Rising isn’t just a film it’s a celebration of both artistic talent and a story that doesn’t conform to the rules or parameters of the Hollywood norm, one that may well in fact throw more than a few viewers off kilter.
In essence I’ll state that it’s neither a Centurion, The Eagle or a 300. Several scenes towards the film’s finale revolve around ‘religious experiences’ (personal visions) brought on by consumption of a liquid I’ll keep a safe distance from these include non-consensual buggery and a lingering tutorial on how to stack large rocks.
In conclusion be prepared for something a little different, a feature that showcases the beauty of the Scottish Highlands with breathtaking shots and a film that may or may not have you glancing towards your watch an awful lot depending of course upon your level of patience and appreciation of someone else’s vision be it loaded with subliminal context and striking imagery as is found here.
In a nutshell this is a love it or hate it movie. It will leave audiences divided some shaking their heads pondering upon what they had just witnessed and others left in a state of wonderment on account of what they had just experienced. I’m still on the fence though I can and do appreciate it on account of its artistic merits, unique properties and stunning visuals. That’s not to mention Mads splendiferous and powerful performance.
Director; Rob Lettermen
Runtime 103 minutes
Jack Black steals the scene with his portrayal of R.L Stine (an author responsible for all of the Goosebumps titles) a recluse for good reason, as viewers will discover partway through the feature. Zach (Dylan Minnette) moves in next door and within no time whatsoever falls ‘ass over tit’, silly smitten, for Hannah (Odeya Rush).
As often happens with teenagers’ shenanigans transpire and they get themselves in a huge spot of bother it all turns incendiary as Champ, Ryan Lee, a nervous nelly (who supplies classic one-liners throughout this feature’s length) joins the fray with only one thing initially on the forefront of his mind; girls.
Within no time whatsoever the movie garners quite a rollicking pace in the interim introducing characters that set the films oft hilarious and rather unintentional mood. Zach’s aunt Lorraine, Jillian Bell from Workaholics, does a great job as a new age type who manages to embarrass though later becomes rather indispensable to the film’s plot.
To provide somewhat of a spoiler (though not really if you’ve seen the above trailer already) many of Stine’s imaginary characters become unleashed as his books are unlocked. At first it’s merely an accident (whoops I’ve apparently let that monstrous snowman fellow loose) but then after one particularly nasty wooden fellow by the name of Slappy (don’t whatever you do call him a dummy) ‘cottons on’.
The producers and those responsible have realized and have managed to plentifully supply several elements, an exquisite combination that is truly what any movie rtequires for huge ratings and a blockbuster gross, amazing CGI, more beasties than Cabin in the Woods provided though slightly easier to deal with, an easy to follow plot and a dialogue that provides plenty of laughs. All provided in spades and brilliantly executed.
In conclusion, because I tend to prattle on when I get excited and I’m doing my damndest to keep this short(ish), Goosebumps is a film that can easily be enjoyed by both viewers young and old, but best IMO when viewed as a family unit if just to see the excitement and various reactions on the little one’s faces as the movie progresses. Full of thrills, a fast pace and nary any boring moments this will most probably spawn various sequels and/or spinoffs. Let it, if they are half as much fun as this then there’s a generous amount of great viewing to be had.