Tag: Twentieth Century Fox
Directors: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
DANIEL Day-Lewis leads an all-star cast in a historical film that is extremely faithful to the history books. The problem is the specifics of the history aren’t overly familiar to the masses outside of America. While the acting is stellar—and the buzz surrounding Day-Lewis’s transformation into Abraham Lincoln in particular is warranted—it’s difficult to connect with a plot that doesn’t translate across borders.
The trailers would have you believe that it’s a race to collect a handful of votes to push the slavery emancipation act through the divided and mostly bigoted North American senate, as rumours of a peace-treaty offer from the slavery-supporting South circulate, all the while American blood is being spilt. Unfortunately, for the film to get to the climactic stage of collecting a handful of votes, you have to sit through close to two hours of the 150-minute runtime.
To further compound matters, the tantalising prospect of Abraham Lincoln the tyrant—a theme that is touched on but rarely explored—is only ever talked about. Lincoln knows that if the Civil War comes to an end, he will not be able to ratify the slavery amendment act when the South has representatives in the senate. The cost, though, is that he’s delaying peace talks at the expense of the lives of soldiers which, thematically, is fascinating, except for the unfortunate reality that the audience is never actually shown this loss of life.
The inclusion of battle sequences wouldn’t have only shown what Lincoln was willing to wager in order to abolish slavery, it also would have resulted in a film that could have been more accessible to non-American audiences. As it stands, incredible performances aren’t enough to distract from the longwinded reality of a historical film whose tension is offset by the near-certainty that cinemagoers may not know the intricacies of the facts, but they almost certainly know how this particular tale ends.
Couple this with the two-dimensional portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln, played by the talented likes of Sally Field (reduced to an antagonising, nagging wife), and the subplot sidelining of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (whose lack of screen time feels like a wasted opportunity), and there were more than a few times when I was checking my watch.
Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader (even in his limited role) are all fantastic, but it’s difficult to recommend Lincoln to those who aren’t well versed in and fascinated by the ins and outs of American history.
LINCOLN is in cinemas on the now.
Review: Nathan Lawrence
Directors: Sacha Gervasi
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
RENOWNED character actor Anthony Hopkins once again transforms into another iconic on-screen character in Hitchcock. The difference this time, though, is instead of playing the fictional likes of Doctor Hannibal Lecter, Hopkins embodies silver-screen icon Alfred Hitchcock.
After the success of North by Northwest, film media are asking Hitchcock if he’s had his day and it’s time to retire. Rising to the challenge, Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville (Mirren) wager their reputations, savings and even their house on a risky film adaptation of Robert Block’s horror novel Psycho.
Hitchcock orders his assistant Peggy Robertson (Collette) to buy all stocks of the novel to ensure that cinemagoers won’t know the plot twists ahead of time but, despite his commitment to the adaptation, none of the Hollywood studios want to finance the film. Even when Hitchcock and Reville self-fund the film, distributor Paramount is dubious as to the potential success of a controversial storyline and is constantly watching over Hitchcock’s shoulder as he tries to work. To further complicate matters, a rift forms between Hitchcock and Reville, as suave author Whitfield Cook attempts to woo Alma.
If you know a lot about Alfred Hitchcock or, specifically, the behind-the-scenes trivia surrounding Psycho, there won’t be any plot turns you won’t see coming. That being said, it’s a credit to the filmmakers that they haven’t strayed from the facts, and where poetic licence is injected, it really works.
Hitchcock does fall flat in parts, but that’s mainly due to the constraints of telling a biographical tale. Hopkins is enchanting as the eccentric Hitchcock, Mirren portrays a believable dichotomy in her love/loathe marriage with the auteur, and the supporting cast all offer fantastic performances; even those with limited screen time.
Hitchcock isn’t exactly a necessary film; it’s not the type of story which, after you’ve seen it, makes you understand why it had to be immortalised. But it is a quirky and interesting story nonetheless; and one that’s worth the price of admission.
HITCHCOCK is in cinemas on the 10th of January.
Review: Nathan Lawrence
Directors: Timur Bekambetov
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell
Twentieth Century Fox
YOU’VE got to respect a film whose title has no misconceptions about what it’s all about. As you may have already guessed, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter follows the fictional historical revisionism that tells a very different tale about the 16th president of the United States of America, Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln.
The respective zany and highly stylised tendencies of director Timur Bekambetov (Wanted) and producer Tim Burton (Mars Attacks!) unite in complementary ways to create a film that balances fun, horror, action and even a healthy dose of historical accuracy (vampires notwithstanding) to create a mature and entertaining romp from start to finish that really works, most of the time.
As a boy, Abraham Lincoln witnesses the murder of his mother at the hands of a slave-trading vampire. Years later and consumed by revenge, a drunk Lincoln confronts his mother’s murderer and is almost killed, save for the timely intervention of Henry Sturges (Cooper). Sturges takes Lincoln under his wing and trains him in the axe-wielding art of vampire slaying.
Lovers of traditional pre-Twilight vampires can rest assured that Vampire Hunter is a return to form for the blood-sucking mythical beasts, which are actually rather intimidating in their presentation and actions. And as Lincoln gains confidence by slaying vampires by night, he slowly takes an interest in national politics by day, becoming the man that can be known from the history books.
Except for a few scenes in the middle of the film that slow down the pacing and forget the preceding fun, Abraham Lincoln is an absolute riot. The action is engrossing, the comedic beats work well and, refreshingly, the 3D presentation is actually worth paying the surcharge for because of the clever foreground visual techniques employed to add depth to action sequences and the fact that it actually adds a layer of immersion to this historical fantasy world.
The title of the film is partially ridiculous for a reason: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter isn’t meant to be taken seriously, and in those few scenes where it takes itself too seriously, it suffers for it. But outside of this, the film is a hell of a lot of self-aware fun from start to finish that’s well worth the price of admission.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER is in cinemas on the 2nd of August.
Review: Nathan Lawrence