Review Club #6 – Agora

agora_poster05

To switch things up a little, here’s my review first (I know, I’m a wild one!):

Mel’s 10 Things About: Agora (2009)
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Rupert Evans, Homayoun Ershadi, Michael Lonsdale, Sami Samir

agora

So this was a pretty hard movie to watch. It had a hard time finding distributors, and yeah, I can understand why. I’m having trouble completing full ideas today, so here’s a list of my thoughts about the film. {SPOILERS AHEAD}

1. I like Rachel Weisz. She’s hot.
2. The young slave is also hot. Who’s he, and where’s he been all my life?
3. The acting ranged from decent to good.
4. The sound mixing was AWFUL. The music would blare one second and then the talking was so low it was ridiculous. My tv volume went from 12 to 34 regularly. It’s annoying.
5. I don’t understand why Davus turned so fast and became a murderous dick. Did I miss something? And don’t say it’s because she called him an idiot in the heat of the battle. He’s smarter than that.
6. It made me angry and sad to see the Library of Alexandria get trashed. “We don’t need all this stupid science when we have God”. Ugh. So much knowledge, destroyed. How much more advanced would we be now if all of that needn’t of been relearned?
7. The film just fueled my disdain and, shall I dare say, hate?, of organized religion. All of them, not just Catholicism. “It’s written in a book, so it must be so”, right? In that vein of thought, vampires are real, we’re all pod people, and werewolves occupy positions in government offices. Ridiculous.
8. The film was shot beautifully, the sets and costumes absolutely gorgeous.
9. You’d think the most disgusting character would be the Bishop in black, but he’s not. He’s evil, yes, but always was. The worst character is Hypatia’s friend, the Bishop in white, who turns on her in the blink of an eye after hearing a quote from that damned book.
10. It’s a real shame Hypatia didn’t have a Davus to kill her peacefully at the end in real life. The poor woman was stripped, stoned, dragged around town behind a horse, her body being skinned and torn to bits, then she was burned. This lady didn’t have a good go of it.

8.5/10

M.

 

Up next is Eric, from over at The IPC.

Agora AKA One Million Angry Christians in the House

I had never heard of this movie before Mel assigned it to us but I saw that it had Rachel Weisz in it so I got a little excited – I think she’s super hot and can act well sometimes. My semi-chub was reduced to nothing pretty quickly as this movie started and NOTHING happened for any amount of time. The only thing I could think of was “fuck these Egyptians are awful white” and I couldn’t keep track of any of the male characters because they ALL had white skin, black hair and had a name that were five syllables long and ended in “ius”. Erictheopolius. Ericmeniopolius. Ericmomonius, etc. So there was that and the fact that this was REALLY boring so I didn’t care. The most interesting and bizaare thing to happen was when Weisz’ character brings one of her suitors a blood stained rag and says “this is the essence of my womb” or something which I guess was her way of saying “I don’t want to go out with you”

blood rag

Then the Alexandrian Whites got angry and started killing the Christians who got mad and then started killing the Alexandrians and destroying everything so the Alexandrians converted to Christianity and then they all started throwing rocks at Jews who threw rocks back and then the Jews were all killed or exiled and Weisz figures out that the earth revolves around the sun so they stone her to death. I have to admit that this movie looks really pretty but the dialogue is atrocious and silly and it was kind of embarrassing to see Weisz commanding her slave to “Grab the bag! Just grab the bag! Do as I say and grab the bag!” during the big siege scene. Oh well – I didn’t like this very much. Say – someone once told me that my first Gravatar image looked like a “period stain” – what do you think?

theipclogo5a

2 bloody rags out of 5

 

Up next we have my darling husband Francois, over at FrankishNet.

Agora – a short review

I have mixed feelings about Agora.

The first feeling is love. I loved it. The historical accuracy and setting, the costumes, the actors. It is also original in the sense that it is an “Historical religious move”, and yet not, since it’s about science. I position myself with our heroine: there is science, the rest is not really worth believing in, as it is a tool to serve a political agenda, or to justify hate and murder. On this account, this movie brilliantly demonstrated the relationship of hate and horrifying acts justified by religion, that we live in daily still today.
No wonder they had troubles distributing the movie…

The second feeling is hate. I hated it. Already charged with political, scientific and religious turmoil, the movie was already heavy for the regular watcher. Then add in the mixed opinions on slavery and possession. Our heroine is gentle and intelligent and respects the slaves. Yet, they are still slave and are meant to obey. And that is totally normal given her birthright, upbringing and era.

However, her acts of kindness toward a slave, who is very intelligent and kind as well, are twisted and transformed in his heart, making him fall in love with his mistress. How is this represented? He asks the gods to “own” her, and ultimately kills her himself, after betraying everything he had learned with her, because she had reminded him of his slavery when the library was being taken.
Yes this adds a lot of dimension to both the movie and the character. But with a movie that was already heavy with subject matter, this felt too much and out of place. They should have left the topic of “Slaves wanting to own their mistress so badly that only them are allowed to kill them, and that is fine” out of the movie and kept it as background noise. “There are slaves. Slaves are slaves. Its the era, its fine”, and let us cry horribly when she is stoned to death, as happened in history.

So here, a good mix of hate and love. It was a very heavy movie, that does not leave you feeling good with yourself, but it did a great job at making us reflect on just how much pain are we ready to take or inflict for our believes, and if those believes aren’t just in truth disguised lust for power, or survival.

I’ll give it a solid 8/10 in its “historic” category, and a mixed 5 in “I enjoyed watching it”.
(Except for her ass. Her ass is 10/10).

 

And finally, rounding things out is Rob, from over at MovieRob.

Before Mel chose this as the next Review Club entry, I had never even heard of this and upon reading the summary, it definitely seemed interesting.

This movie does a very interesting job of trying to discuss modern seemingly contradictions between religion and science set in an ancient world.

Many people nowadays still believe that these two subjects cannot coexist in society in the same way it was believed during the time that this movie takes place 1700 years ago.

Unfortunately, despite it revolving around a very interesting subject matter, the story itself is less interesting and I actually got tired of the soap opera-esk storyline.

I didn’t find any of the male characters compelling enough for a story like this and as great a job as star Rachel Weisz does here, her role isn’t ‘meaty’ enough and in some parts of the movie even seems like she is completely wasted.

As far as historically accurate movies go, I have no idea what really happened or not in real life. Personally, I don’t go to the movies for historically accurate depictions on the big screen, I go to be entertained by the stories. If I did, I’d be better off just watching ‘The History Channel’ all day. 😉

Some of the effects in the movies were done well, but the coolest effect is the use of ‘Google maps’ to zoom in and out of cities and magnifying things to minute details.

This could have been so much more interesting, but instead it was a wasted storyline that comes off quite mediocre.

5/10

And that’s it folks! Join us again in two weeks for when we review Chef!! 🙂

 

PS, what do you guys think of my new review format? I was having trouble making a coherent paragraph for Mel’s 5 Second Review, so I came up with Mel’s 10 Things About. Do you like it? Which format do you prefer? Let me know please! 🙂

Advertisements

Review Club #3 – Dracula Untold

DraculaUntold

 

First up, here’s Rob from over at MovieRob:

I am by far not the biggest fan of movies in the horror genre, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed the “generic” stories of the “original” four; Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolfman and of course Dracula.

When this movie came out, I avoided it like the plague because I had heard so many crappy things about it that it just didn’t sound worthwhile to give it a watch.

…But then came Review Club

So I decided that worse comes to worse, I wasted 90 minutes on a movie (which happens now and again)

Instead, I found myself sucked in to the story, because it wasn’t a horror movie, it was instead a historical action/drama with a supernatural element to it.

I could empathize with the characters and although this isn’t a Braveheart or Gladiator, it was still a compelling movie about love, honor and protecting one’s family and loved ones.

This really is an interesting take on the Dracula myth and I liked how it all comes full circle at the end in order to open up the possibility of continuing the storyline.

It’s too bad that it seems that this will be the last of the series because the idea to reboot the “monster” franchises of days of old is a great idea.

7/10

 

Next up is Eric, from The IPC:

When I first saw the trailer for this, I blew it off as PG-13 CGI horseshit and never gave it another thought. Then I saw a couple of positive reviews from some writers I believe in and I was all “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!” You know – I dropped to my knees and aimed my head at the sky and screamed “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” much to the alarm of my co-workers. Eventually I composed myself and went on about my business and forgot that anything like that had ever happened and then Melanie started Movie Club and she took out her whip and snapped it a few times and said we had to watch this movie and I was all, knee dropping again and I screamed “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” But, I am loyal and faithful to my friends so I ordered it up and it wasn’t too bad, actually. But I wasn’t really in love with this:

DU1

The opening and first third of the film was pretty good and I was buying into it. I thought it got a little dodgy when he killed 1000 men by himself but…. OK…. the rest of the thing wasn’t too bad – that part where someone falls off of the tower was pretty good but there were too many “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” moments for me. Would I recommend it? MEH. It’s better than I thought it would be, for sure, but it’s still a movie about how Dracula became Dracula filled with lots of CGI and melodrama. It’s a better vampire movie than that one Twilight movie I watched.

3 out 5 Men Screaming NOs

DU2

 

We continue with Abbi, from abbiosbiston:

Luke Evans plays Vlad, a fifteenth century Transylvanian prince who was once part of the Turkish army after being offered up by his father as a kind of hostage (like they do in Game of Thrones) as a child. During his rule his kingdom has been at peace with the Turks, mostly by paying them off. When the Turkish king, Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) – or I think he was the king anyway – decides he wants a thousand boys for his army, including Vlad’s son (again played by the kid who played Rickon Stark – he’s everywhere), Vlad cannot bring himself to acquiesce. He’s outmanned and outmatched though so he makes a deal with a vampire (Charles Dance) to receive his powers for three days. If Vlad can stay off the old claret for that time he’ll go back to normal if not he’ll be forever changed and the vampire will be released from the cave he’s imprisoned in. Vlad finds himself almost unbeatable but also tortured by an unslakeable thirst. Will he be able to resist and will it all be enough to hold off Mehmed’s horde?

So Luke Evans is super hot and Vlad has some pretty epic powers – infrared vision, sonic hearing, star gazing, he can turn into a fleet of bats… but that is about all that is good about this lacklustre film. The dialogue is stilted, most of the acting is wooden and there is zero character development. This movie is only 92 minutes long but it feels like it goes on forever, probably because it’s hard to give even a single fuck about any of the characters. I didn’t care about Vlad or his inspid wife or Rickon Stark and I half wished the Turks just mowed them down in the first 10 minutes. Oh and what was up with Dominic Cooper playing a Turk? He’s about as convincingly Turkish as I am, and it didn’t help that he’s been taking accent lessons from the Tom Hardy school of sounding not very Russian at all. What a load of batshit. 1/5

 

And lastly, here’s mine:

Mel’s 5 Second Review: Dracula Untold
(2014) Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Paul Kaye, William Houston, Noah Huntley, Ronan Vibert

sunburn

This film was torn apart by the critics, getting the abysmal score of 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience liked it a bit more, but still only gave it 59%, and only slightly better on IMDB, with a score of 6.4. And I truly don’t understand why. I thought it was great. No, it wasn’t Shakespeare, but really now, it wasn’t trying to be! Taken as what it is, a vampire action film, it succeeds very well. This origin story starts with the same base as a lot of the films, that Dracula was born from Vlad the Impaler, but everything else is rather new, and interesting. Most of the acting was quite good, the action scenes were fun (if a little over-CGI’d at times), and the characters were engaing enough to keep us caring about them. And yes, the two leads were plenty pleasant to look at. I’m a bit sad that then open end took us all the way into the present, I’d have liked another period piece as a sequel (if they do indeed decide to make one), but then again, Dracula films in the present are relatively few, so it’ll (hopefully) be something fresh. All in all, I thought this film was great fun, and it receives an equally great score of 8.5/10.

This film isn’t currently on Netflix, but is rentable on On Demand. Enjoy!

M.

 

And that’s it for this round! Join us again in 2 weeks for reviews of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters! 😀

Review Club #1 – Stake Land

Allo all my netizen friends! Welcome to the first edition of Review Club, and hopefully not the last! No ado needed, lets get right to it.

 

Stake_Land

Starring: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Kelly McGillis, Danielle Harris, Sean Nelson, Michael Cerveris, Bonnie Dennison

 

First up, the ever entertaining Eric, from The IPC.

STAKE LAND (2010)

The rendering of this review for Film Club kind of comes with some explanation. When I watched this, I absolutely hated every single piece of noise that came out of all of the character’s mouths. I hated the growly lead’s voice-noise, I hated the kid’s voice-over voice-noise, I hated the growling-noise that came from the vampires and I hated the main villain’s voice-noise. I hated it so much I wanted to start punching those noises. But I couldn’t because that would be insane, right? But, if I stop being an asshole and get over myself, I really enjoyed the scenery and the sets and the gore and my forever girlfriend Danielle Harris so I had to break out my Scales of Ma’at.

MAATSCALES

In one scale I placed a blackened heart, pulled from the body of a Canadian man who had tried to barter sex with my horse for four of his pulled, rotten teeth; this represented my hatred for the noises I heard. On the other scale I placed the feather of hawk who had just eaten one of my neighbor’s fucking incessantly barking chihuahuas; this represented Relief and Pleasure; symbolic of the visuals of the movie. I then waited patiently for the balance to measure and, when the sands had settled, I looked up my scales with this face:

neutral

Somehow the weight was divined evenly and I can give this a:

3 Canadian Celsius out of 5

P.S. This movie is about some apocalypse survivors trying to make their way to Canada while avoiding being devoured by vampires. Thus the Canadian references.

 

And now, my turn. Hopefully this will catch on more with time, hehe.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: Stake Land

 

Stake Land

This film fell into my “blind spot” almost as soon as it came out. I’ve been wanting to see it for years, but I never got around to it. And so when it was picked for my very first Review Club post, I kinda had no choice. And boy do I feel like a weenie now. I really liked it, more than I thought I would. It’s pretty slow, so for people who like all-action-all-the-time kinda films, I’d advise against seeing it, but I thought it was great. I’ve never really been a fan of the animalistic vamp (I like my vamps sexy and sophisticated), but they do a good job of it here. The acting was all pretty good, the only one who faltered here and there was Danielle Harris. She may be pretty, but she’s not a very good actress, which is likely why she’s never made it outside indie horror (sorry Eric :-p ). There was plenty of gore, but not so much so that it just became a bloodbath with little else. They also put a couple of truly horrifying scenes in there (one at the very beginning, one close to the end) that I was pretty surprised they had the balls to include. All in all, it was quite good, and get a score of 8/10 from me.

This film is currently streaming on Netflix. Enjoy!

 

And that’s it! Join us next week for Beyond Clueless!