Looking at: Unfriended

Well that was laughable. Unfriended is a new horror film trying to utilize social media and technology. The whole film takes place during a skype conversation between six friends and the computer screen is all we’re looking at in the film.

Now the concept was interesting. I saw the trailer quite a while ago and it had peaked my interest as there are so many films that failed to use social media and computers effectively in film (one of the recent ones trying this was Men, Women and Children). The film moves very seamlessly and the on-screen nature of it keeps you engaged with it’s added trinkets such as open tabs and cluttered desktop. It appears quite authentic.

However, it’s a shame that the film has to feature such unlikeable characters and have a very tried and tested plot. It takes place on the anniversary of a girls suicide. The film opens with the protagonist Blaire watching the suicide video and then moves to have a skype conversation with her boyfriend, which is later invaded by their friends and they start their meaningless conversation about how horrible people they all are. They are also joined by a random user with no profile picture. They discover it’s the dead girl’s account (Laura Barns). From here the “horror” starts. Same story, spirit comes back to haunt the characters, they all die one by one in some gruesome death and there’s some life decision at the end.

The concept was interesting, but the characters are those typical middle classed, white suburban, teenagers who have completely no depth to them and are at the surface relatively vile people. It is revealed that one of these characters was the cause of Laura’s suicide as an embarrassing video of her was uploaded by one of the group. There’s no investment with the characters, even the “virgin” character is a borderline emotionally bankrupt. When they start dying you just relish in the fact that we are now rid of such filth. The plot is thin and nothing new. They only part which I found interesting was when the characters started turning on each other, resulting to their survival instincts and revealing hurtful secrets. But even that was predictable.

The film is just laughable. I really hope the next film using this gimmick is some what better.

 

 

Why there shouldn’t be a Fast and Furious 8

Now before I continue, first watch this.

Now, spoilers ahead.

That is how the 7th film ends. With a very respectful and well put together tribute to the late Paul Walker. Now I’m a person who really disliked this franchise. I thought it was a shallow and boring piece right from the first film. I hated what it stood for and that it makes so much money when other better films struggle to make an impact at the box office. But, even I found this tribute to be fantastic. When watching the seventh film, I connected with the characters and their family unit. See, when the film was good, it wasn’t during the chase scenes or fight sequences, it was during the character pieces. When Vin Diesel spoke about the group being a family, the humorous banter among the characters, the sense of unity when Hans died, and the final scene when they see where Brain really belongs. With his family.

Now when they were shooting that final scene, it was after when Paul had died. So the reactions from the characters about them losing a family member is very real. The actors were all very close as having been on the same project for a number of years. Everything was authentic.

Now you ask what does this have to do with an eighth film. This film ends perfectly. Some say it has an open ending, but it is also all wrapped up. Bad guy is caught, old romances rekindled and Brian returns to his family for good. It’s a perfect ending. It ends on a sentimental note. You can’t ask for a better ending. To do another film would do a big injustice to not only this ending, but to Walker’s tribute. How do you follow that? The death was something that affected not only the film makers but the huge fan base. And to carry on the series would be to “brush it under the carpet”.

Now I’m realistic, I know too well that with this film making $800 million worldwide in its second week, it screams for a sequel to be made, but from a critical point of view, there is such a thing of spoiling a good thing. Too many films ruined by studio greed with the dreaded sequel. Before this film the franchise resembled a line graph where the dots were forgettable films judged only by their box office performance. Now the seventh actually put some life into the film, took it out of the graph and into our hearts. With that, it would be a massive shame to see it go back to another statistic.

Looking at: Fast and Furious 7

Gonna put it out there, I had very little expectations for this film. I’ve seen the first and fifth film and didn’t like either. I had to give this a watch due to the $300 million it made in the first three days. What drove the hype around this film was Paul Walker’s death in the film.

Now, the film was a lot better than expected. Yeah it had the normal action film tropes which couldn’t be ignored but it’s called fast and furious so what you’re gonna expect. The story, Jason Statham is seeking revenge for his brother being in hospital which is what the protagonists did. He hunts the, down, there’s shootings, driving, killings, helicopters, drones etc. It’s a story that a child could’ve come with. A constant repeat of set ups with even more ridiculous and unachievable goals. But hey it’s dumb fun. I use the word fun very loosely however.

But the film’s biggest achievement was through it’s sentiment. There’s a big feel of family and loyalty among the characters which does make them interesting and pushes the film beyond the standard action film. Walker’s death was handled very well and respectfully in the film, I won’t say what happens to him but the film does give a very fitting tribute to him throughout the film which is where it shines.

Not a groundbreaking film, but enjoyable.

 

Culture in Conflict – 5 Broken Cameras

Live blogging from tonight’s screening. Just finished watching 5 Broken Cameras, a powerful documentary detailing the conflict between Palestine and Israel. Shot over a number of years, we follow Emad Burnat as he films the oppression and demonstrations that happens at the “wall”.

Tracey McVeigh leads the discussion with the audience.

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Looking at: Chappie

Enter the world of Chappie. Neill Blomkamp’s latest venture into the feature film game and it couldn’t come at a more pressing time with the news of him helming the next Alien film.

Chappie is a robot who has gained a consciousness and has to learn life much like a newborn child. I personally really liked this film. It is a mash up of Short Circuit and the original Robocop, both fantastic films. I liked that it featured the South African group Die Antwoord, they had great screen presence and had good dynamics with the title character. Hugh Jackman’s appearance as mullet wearing villain wasn’t unwelcomed and Dev Patel’s geeky scientist was nice but a bit in the background. With the scientist, Chappie was his creation but it’s Die Antwoord that really had the influence on him. At times, Patel would appear to give Chappie some life advice then run away in fear for most of the film.

The film does struggle to find it’s audience as it has the adorable “better at being human” robot who then suddenly becomes a bad-ass and starts carjacking. It’s too much for children but not enough for adults.

SPOILER

However, my biggest problem with Chappie was the final moments. These are big spoilers so don’t read on if you haven’t seen it. Towards the end, Patel’s character get’s mortally wounded and Chappie is also “dying” due to his battery running out. Chappie found a way to “upload” his consciousness to a computer. He then does this with Patel’s character and transfers it to another robot who then becomes Patel. This doesn’t work. Especially not the way it’s portrayed. It was very lazy, not something I fully believed in. The film was doing very well before the ending. A lot of things in this film happen with great ease, there isn’t anything challenging which again goes to the film not knowing what it wants to be. Everything’s confused, themes are mashing up against each other and it changes tone left right and center.

All in all, great film, just confused in parts.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhNshgSYF_M

Culture in Conflict – Hunger

Another fantastic night. Our latest screening was Hunger, the film detailing the events of the Irish prison hunger strike. We had guest speaker Stephen Martin, leader of film studies at the Irish Cultural Centre. Hosted by the great guys at A Thin Place, looking forward to next week’s Five Broken Cameras.

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