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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Movie Reviews In Brief: Argo and Silent Hill 2

Well, well, well... look who's here: my fellow Chaotic brethren! Welcome to another edition of the Chaos Corner! I just bought the newest White Dwarf, and it continues the changes that have been put in place with the last issue. It's really solid, though it has more fantasy than 40K (to be expected, but I'm only a 40K player). There's a few painting and conversion articles, a section about terrain, two interviews with Black Library authors, and a lot more. All they have to do is have some small fluff/fiction, and it'll be perfect.

Anyways, I haven't had a chance to go to the movies, due to my illness. The last movie I saw was The Dark Knight Rises. I will review that after I get it on Blu Ray, as I was getting sick when I saw it, and I was just too tired to do the review. Besides, seeing it on Blu before review will give me a chance to really dissect the themes, as well as it's flaws. At any rate, I've only just now been able to go back to the movies again (though I missed some good ones like Looper). So, I've seen 2 movies now: Argo and Silent Hill 2. I'm going to briefly review both. One is excellent, the other... hehe, not so much.

So let's take a look:


I saw this one with my wife. I have never been a big fan of Ben Affleck (he was the bomb in Phantoms... ;-). His performances have ranged from just OK to truly, truly awful (Pearl Harbor, anyone?). However, his acting and direction of The Town was just great- a solid, suspenseful crime drama. Well, he's back with Argo, which takes place during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The movie is based on an actual event, and the movie only takes a few "artistic liberties" with the events, which is even more amazing. Basically, a few Americans escaped the Iranians who attacked the US embassy, but their still stuck in Tehran. If they are discovered, they will be executed as spies. With the clock ticking, one CIA operative comes up with a plan: he's going to disguise himself as a Hollywood producer, go in with fake papers, get the Americans and pass them off as his movie crew, and then escape. To make it convincing, he enlists Hollywood guys to really sell a fake movie to the press, the "science fiction epic-- Argo".

Sound far fetched? Haha! That's the point- its a scheme that's just crazy enough to work. It is a true story. The CIA actually did this, in 1980. This isn't Hollywood- this is an intersection of entertainment and real life. That's what makes this story so fascinating. Even better, Affleck does a great job of making this a thrilling, energized, suspenseful, and even humorous movie. The movie simply sizzles every second- the stakes are high, and you can't help but be on the edge of your seat- can they pull of this crazy rescue? Affleck makes sure that the tension is ever-present, but he's not afraid to let the absurdity of the plan shine through- the humor that occurs as these guys put together this fake movie is just great. Alan Arkin, as a Hollywood mogul, in particular, is a blast ("Argo fuck yourself" is something I now say, its such a great line).

Since this is a review in brief, I don't want to give it all away. I will say that the movie works on so many levels, it is a bit of a wonder. There's a lot of Oscar talk about this movie (IF that's important to you), but its easy to see why. This is an great suspense/thriller, but with a sense of humor AND it is historically "accurate"- it mixes together such disparate parts and makes them into a hugely effective combination, and you can't get better than that. I give it 4 out of 4 Marks of Chaos.

Silent Hill 2: Revelations

I have played Silent Hill games before (The videogame Silent Hill 2 is one of my favorite games of all time- this movie is NOT based on it though). I have also seen the first Silent Hill movie. That movie is perhaps the best video game adaptation ever put to film (not saying much when you see movie like Doom and Super Mario Brothers as the competition). That movie was a solid horror movie in its own right, but it happened to be based on the game. The images were right out of the game, as were its themes of religious persecution and hysteria. The actors all did a great job, and the effects were top notch.  Best of all, the movie had some scares, and it had a foreboding and nightmare like quality. It was even occasionally unsettling. It had flaws, but it was an entertaining horror movie.

Unfortunately, Silent Hill 2 has none of those things going for it, really. I saw this with my brother yesterday (he's a die-hard fan of the games), and I was very disappointed. I wanted to like this movie, and there were MOMENTS where I thought it was going to get its act together, but it never quite did. Basically, in my mind, it seemed as if the creative team LOVE the games, but didn't know what to do with it. They didn't know how to make a movie out of the games. It is basically the plot of the 3rd game, with several key differences. However, the core problems were the poor writing and lack of tension.

The movie lacks all the things that made the first one good (or indeed, anything that makes for a horror movie). There is no sense of dread, fear, or horror. The movie lacks any tension whatsoever. The script is filled with bad dialogue and double talk about cults that really go nowhere (and don't make much sense). However, the chief sin is that you're never afraid for the characters- you never feel like any of the characters are in danger. You simply can't have a horror movie where there is no sense of threat to the heroes. In this movie, that just never happens- the suspense is never built up. If you fail to have that, the movie must fail, and this one does.

It does have a few things going for it, though, which only made the disappointment worse. The creature effects were still top notch. There were some unsettling glimpses at these hell spawn (the spider made out of child doll parts was a particular standout, while Pyramid Head still is great looking) but again, without tension, the creatures just don't scare. The actors TRY to do their job, with the actress playing Heather, in particular trying her best, but the script and direction manage to ruin her conviction. Solid actors like Sean Bean, Malcolm McDowell, and Carrie Ann Moss are wasted, relegated to cameos, and again saddled with bad lines.

Again, if the movie had scares, a lot could be forgiven. Since this is a horror movie, the fact that there are no scares, no dread, no tension... well, that makes this movie a failure. Its a shame, as the first one was good, and there was potential here for a solid sequel. Unfortunately, the filmmakers squandered all those positives, making a mess and, quite probably, killing the franchise. Silent Hill could have been an anthology series, but now, if there is a sequel, it will be of the Direct to DVD bargain bin. That is a real shame. I give this 1 and a half out of four Marks of Chaos.

So, if you want to see a great movie, see Argo, as you won't be disappointed. As for Silent Hill 2- if you MUST see it, wait till DVD or Netflix. My brother liked it, but even he as a huge fan of the series could see it's flaws.

Until next time everybody!!

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