Film Review: The Awakening (2011)
My Rating: 5 craft beers on a 6-pack scale.
Runtime: 107 mins
Directed by: Nick Murphy
Writers: Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy
Stars: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton
Note: English language film, a UK production.
So I write this a day after watching The Awakening. Looking at the film a day later I almost wonder at my initial high rating. Perhaps too high in fact. When compared to the IMDP and Metascore ratings I see I’m indeed a little elevated. Perhaps my 5 craft beer score has more to do with the fact that I was on my 5th beer by the end of the movie and again I’m on my 5th brew as I write this now. Perhaps. I’m sticking with the rating however so here we go.
IMDB The Awakening
There will be no spoilers so don’t worry. Really this review is my impression and not a justification piece to point out what worked and what failed. This film was pretty darn good. The thing that’s quite possibly the most scary is the screen presence of Dominic West. I try to not like him. I try really, really hard. But I can’t. Even when I think about him in Centurion (as a very unbelievable Roman general with a terrible, terrible accent) and The 300 (as a douchebag politician who…well he nailed this one actually) I just don’t like his work very much. But in The Awakening he’s pretty darn good as a cross between a lead and a supporting actor. I wish we got a little more about his story, but we got what we got, which was enough to move the story along.
Rebecca Hall was good simply because she wasn’t over-the-top annoying. She was beyond annoying in The Town (my previous reference film concerning the actress) and I wasn’t thrilled to see she was in this but she managed to not suck so she was therefore good enough. It was hard sometimes to hear exactly what she was saying but thankfully I had the subtitles on so I could more easily follow what she was saying despite much of it probably being better off as internal narrative. I have to say that I’m 36 and not hard of hearing. West came in lough and clear so the subtitles were not needed throughout. Hall just needs to speak up a bit. Maybe it wasn’t that bad…but I think it was.
So there is a little blood (in like one rather super violent scene), a little less blood in another violent scene, and a couple of places where you may be a little scared but not royally so (in my opinion). Oh, and you see a boob and thusly the film is rated “R.” What really drew me into the film was the setting as a period piece (set in 1921). The Awakening takes place just three-years or so after the First World War and it did a pretty good job of conveying the psychological scars of a nation with wounds that are far from healed. To have a generation or two erased from existence due to the horrors of war is a pretty heavy burden for a people to carry. England is a country of people that want ghosts to exist because there are so many loved ones now absent.
Is this a lights out scary movie? No. Not at all really. What’s best about The Awakening is that it isn’t a super clichéd slasher, buckets of blood, screamfest. Nope. It’s just an entertaining thriller with some rather solid acting (West) and a pretty good ending that made me think I should have seen it coming but didn’t. I like films that surprise me and The Awakening did so. It’s worth a watch but perhaps my 5-craft beer rating was too high. I may change it tomorrow. I’ll sleep on it.
“HARD TO PUT DOWN!”
“GRABS HOLD AND DOESN’T LET GO.”
Film Review: The Returned
My Rating: 4 ½ craft beers on a 6-pack scale.
Runtime: 98 mins
Directed by: Manuel Carballo
Writers: Hatem Khraiche
Stars: Kris Holden-Reid, Emily Hampshire, Claudia Bassols
Note: English language film, shot in Canada, production company based in Spain. Watched via stream from Netflix.
Want to see a very different take on the zombie apocalypse and the impact it would have on the world? Well, look no further than the excellent indie film The Returned. There are NO spoilers below so don’t be worried.
This is not a movie with buckets of blood (the first 3-minutes of the title segment notwithstanding), deeply flawed and yet lovable survivors, and nor does it feature the lost child looking for someone to protect and adopt them as their own. The Returned is a movie about how the world, which survived an outbreak or two already of the zombie plague, managed to hold society together in the aftermath with fears of a new outbreak looming. Some, but in my opinion, not enough of the flaws of society are exposed here. But there is certainly enough to have a discussion with fellow zombie lovers afterwards over a bottle of wine or some craft beer (I’m on board with the latter).
The IMDB rating for it is surprisingly low. When this was written it had an average 5.9/10 rating by the nearly 4700 raters. The metascore was also lower than I expected. Much, much lower in fact. I wonder if these ratings can be attributed to all The Walking Dead and World War Z lovers out there that felt cheated that it wasn’t 98-minutes of skulls being caved in and intestines pulled out of the guts of unlucky folks like scarves from the shirtsleeve of a magician.
Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t the end-all be-all greatest zombie movie of all time. It is just a different kind of zombie movie. A movie you can watch while your kids are in the other room and if they happen to walk in there’s a 90% chance they won’t be severely traumatized.
In the end I was greatly entertained and left wanting more. Wanting more not because there was a tremendous lacking in this offering but because this imaginative universe can easily support a sequel and/or a prequel as well. A wonderful piece for those that love the zombie genre but need a bit of a break from the gritty, bloodbath, and ultra-depressing dystopian/apocalyptic world displayed on our entertainment screens day-in and day-out.
Prediction: When will we see the first zombie based “reality” TV series? When creative television is truly dead and the ratings will be off-the-hook no doubt. (You heard it here first).
Oh…and what’s the best thing after a movie? How about a good read!
UPDATED CONTENT AT BOTTOM OF POST
As I was walking my wookie this morning (my dog Jack who we call “wookie”) I was thinking about the upcoming Episode VII of the Star Wars franchise. I think about Star Wars often. I even watched the best of the first 6 (I have to include the terrible terrible terrible prequels in the 6 I guess) as recently as last night; The Empire Strikes Back. Even the sometimes glaring silliness of that movie such as Fett and Slave I not being spotted in the rear view mirror by Han, who is an experienced smuggler who is always on the lookout for “the man,” as he jetted away from the dumped trash after the star destroyer departed. There are several others but that isn’t what this post is about.
And getting to it…
My first guessification (aka prediction) is that because the Star Wars movies always start with a starship shot, of the craft arriving somewhere – Abrams better not mess with this tradition!!! – the first thing we will all see in Episode VII is…the Millennium Falcon. I believe that seeing the Falcon, for the first time in more than 30-years!!!!, folks will stand and cheer (with me among them despite not being a “cheery” kinda guy). This will go a long way towards setting the tone for the new series. A tone that was last set by leaving the audience with mouths agape at the end of Episode I when folks were trying to come to terms with such a terrible terrible terrible opening for what would be one of the worst trilogies of all time.
Stay tuned for more guessifications as the inspiration strikes.
UPDATED: So I predicted (guessified) that Episode VII – The Force Awakens (kinda a silly name?? maybe??) will start with a ship traveling/arriving. Now, more specifically I would like to speculate just what that ship is. What was missing in the prequels? Well, an awful lot as we all know, but what I noticed as missing from the theaters was excitement and cheering. Of coruse there was cheering for those folks that bought tickets months in advance or stood in line all day to get to a midnight showing. That sort of excitement is expected for such a franchise and its loving followers. Some of those that saw the prequels the first day probably thought Jar-jar was “fun”…to avoid a tangent I’ll get to the point. Finally. That ship we’ll see zooming from an underneath shot will be…the Millennium Falcon of course! What better craft to bring everyone to their feet in excitement? There’s your update.