Skip to main content
Tag

eastern promises

Review: Resident Evil- Extinction, Fracture, Away From Her, Perfect Creature, and Eastern Promises

By Cinema and Reviews

Resident Evil: Extinction posterBack in 1984, Russell Mulcahy made Razorback, the tale of a giant mutant pig ter­ror­ising a small out­back town, and his next film is going to be about a man turned into a koala by an ancient abori­gin­al curse, both of which make Resident Evil 3: Extinction look like Anna Karenina. You don’t need to have seen the pre­vi­ous two Resident Evil films or played the video game (I had­n’t) as the plot is pretty simple: zom­bies = bad; super­mod­els = good; genet­ic engin­eer­ing = very bad (unless you are genet­ic­ally engin­eer­ing super­mod­els which = very good). Stoic action-hero Milla Jovovich is pho­to­graphed using the Chanel fil­ter whenev­er she isn’t sli­cing up the un-dead and the film is enter­tain­ing when there’s action and tedi­ous when there isn’t.

Fracture posterIn Fracture, hot­shot young act­or Ryan Gosling plays a hot­shot young Deputy DA, about to make the leap to a big-time cor­por­ate gig but first he has to con­vict Anthony Hopkins who has just shot his wife in the head. Now, IANAL but Fracture seems pretty shonky from a pro­ced­ur­al and leg­al point of view. Can the LA County court sys­tem really send an attemp­ted mur­der­er to tri­al less than a fort­night after the offence? I doubt it, but that con­densed time-frame is vital for Goslings’ char­ac­ter motiv­a­tion and there­fore the rest of the plot, so best to turn a blind-eye to the detail and focus on two great screen act­ors enjoy­ing themselves.

Away From Her posterFilm of the week by some dis­tance is Away From Her by the sub­limely gif­ted Sarah Polley. In snowy Ontario Julie Christie is Fiona, a woman strug­gling with the onset of Alzheimers Disease. Husband Grant (Gordon Pinsent) seems to be strug­gling even more, how­ever, and when she decides to go in to res­id­en­tial care he feels that, per­haps, he is being pun­ished by her for past transgressions.

Christie is sen­sa­tion­al but the rev­el­a­tion for me is Pinsent, a liv­ing legend in Canada but rarely seen else­where. His is an extraordin­ary per­form­ance, fully invest­ing his char­ac­ter with all of the pain­ful mash of love, loss and guilt that Polley’s elo­quently spare script requires. His raw and con­fused emo­tions are not just etched in his craggy face but into his ever-moistening eyes.

Perfect Creature posterGlenn Standring’s Perfect Creature is a respect­able genre effort, although devoid of much ori­gin­al­ity. In a steampunk-flavoured altern­at­ive real­ity New Zealand, genet­ic­ally engin­eered vam­pires known as Brothers con­trol soci­ety via reli­gion. When one of their order goes berko and starts eat­ing cit­izens, the sup­posedly del­ic­ate bal­ance between the species/races/whatever is threatened. Deputy Brother Silus (Dougray Scott) teams up with the cheekbones of Detective Lilly (Saffron Burrows) to bring the fiend to justice.

Eastern Promises posterOne of the most start­ling career re-inventions of recent times must belong to screen­writer Steven Knight who until 2002 was a TV hack best known for being Jasper Carrott’s chief gag-man and cre­at­or of Who Wants To be a Millionaire? The script for the excel­lent Dirty Pretty Things launched his fea­ture career and he now delves even deep­er in to the seedy under­belly of gang­land London with Eastern Promises, star­ring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts. Watts plays a London hos­pit­al mid­wife and (help­fully) daugh­ter of a Russian. A young girl dies in child­birth on her watch but the diary she was car­ry­ing provides a clue to her iden­tity and leads Watts to the Russian mafia king­pin (Armin Mueller-Stahl), his nut­job son (Vincent Cassell) and the son’s driver (Viggo). Director Cronenberg steers us through the murk effect­ively enough and there’s one thrill­ing set-piece in a turk­ish bath which con­firms his tal­ent for cine­mat­ic viol­ence (if it was ever in doubt). Final irony: the three Russians are played by a German, a Frenchman and a Dane.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 31 October, 2007.

Notes on screen­ing con­di­tions: Away From Her was screened in Penthouse One and the shut­ter tim­ing is still out and get­ting worse. There are also signs of dam­age to the screen (from some­thing behind it?) on the right-hand side. It was also the most uncom­fort­able seat I have sat in this year. This is all a bit of a shame as Penthouse Three (the new one) is per­fectly fine but it looks like stand­ards aren’t being main­tained everywhere.