Mandeville, LA – I watched 4 films this weekend, 2 were excellent, 1 was average and one was just awful unless you think that the action movie line cliche hasn’t been exploited enough. – By Mike Church
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ESCAPE – 4 Reagan’s
This Norwegian, subtitled film is beautifully photographed and thrilling from the 4th minute ’til the end. Ingrid Bolsø Berdal is magnificent as the detestable Dagmar, an accused witch who was drowned with her daughter by her village for the offense but somehow survived and lives in the 1840’s, Norweigian highlands with a band of merciless savages who prey upon travelers for supplies, and we are led to believe, food. Isabel Christine Andreasen delivers a sympathetic, heroic portrayal of “Signe” the film’s heroine. Signe’s family is ambushed and killed by Dagmar’s clan but Dagmar spares Signe to be the next day’s dinner, how’s THAT for mercy!? Once back at the Dagmar Clan’s camp Signe meets Frigg, a captured girl who Dagmar and her “husband” now claims as their daughter. When Frigg is ordered to learn the clan’s ritual and mutilate Signe the next morning she instead sets Signe free and the pair escape together.
Now the non-stop action begins across the highlands with the 2 young girls avoiding capture and having to find ways to fight hand-to-hand with barbaric, lustful men. Signe and Trigg find their way down from the peaks of the highlands into a valley and the farm of an unidentified, gentleman farmer. There, they learn the story of Dagmar the accused witch and her drowning fate. Signe is also taught a few basics of self-defense that will come in handy during the showdown with Dagmar. There’s a fake ending about 2/3 of the way through, stay tuned for the final battle between Dagmar’s clan & Signe. The cinematography of the highlands is breathtaking and the film succeeds without being gratuitously violent. There’s nothing objectionable for language or nudity but there is some violence and intimated cannibalism; this film is NOT for children. – 4 Reagan’s
Curse of The Dragon Slayer – 3.5 Reagan’s
I like this movie a lot and I’ll tell you why. It’s an action, fantasy film with likable characters, decent, not indulgent special effects and although a bit predictable, an intriguing storyline that follows a Tolkien model (there’s even “Orcs”)! Unlike most big-budget productions, “Curse” doesn’t try to make the unbelievable appear normal, rather it attempts to make the normal stretch the bounds of believable, a far better (and cheaper) way to approach the material.
Nemyt, an Elfin lass played by the likable Danielle Chuchran, is shown in the opening sequence shooting down an Orc Shaman riding a dragon but her javelin doesn’t kill the Orc. In the ensuing sword battle when Nemyt finally takes the Shaman’s head she gets the bonus plan: his “shadow” soul, which leaves a mark on the left wrist of whomever it possesses. It is The Shadow that is the villain for the rest of our story.
A sub-plot running the course of the film is the Orc “Kullimon the Black” (Paul D. Hunt) fighting for the soul of his “horde” which has been taken over by the evil Orc, Gyarmak who is in allegiance with The Shadow (but of course!). Kullimon thinks the endless wars fought against humans have not worked out well for the Orcs who are now universally hated (sound familiar?).
The source of Light in this world is The Prophetess whose devoted monk Keltus The Wanderer (Richard McWilliams) enlists Nemyt and Kullimon in his quest to thwart The Shadow’s plan to revive The God of the Dead who appropriately resides in what looks like a burning hell. From here there are lots of sword fight scenes, a plot twist or two, a betrayal, an evil dwarf that fires exploding grenades and even a giant troll.
You won’t get too excited watching “Curse” because your expectations for visual candy will never rise to the level of the same material if produced by the gregarious Michael Bay (Transformers) or anyone else in the Disney stable of $250,000,000 “blockbuster” directors. You will come to enjoy Nemyt and Kullimon’s dialogue, Chuchran’s athleticism (it looks like she did her own stunts), the anti-war theme and the hint of Christianity on display plus the modest presentation of effects. There is nothing objectionable in this film either but it is violent and not appropriate for young children. – 3.5 Reagans
The use of the “documentary film gone terribly wrong” as a substitute for actual story development and cinematography has become so common these days it should have spawned some self – deprecating names, “hackumentary” comes to mind. Who could have known that because we liked and were genuinely spooked by Cloverfield that we would assist in unleashing an actual monster on the entertainment world? The Conspiracy is another derivation of this theme, better made than most, but that’s not high praise..
This film attempts to paint us a picture of The New World Order as being real (I don’t deny this) and pursued by a cabal of conspirators who all meet yearly at “The Hunt”. There a Bull (or so we are led to think) is sacrificed, new members initiated and the plan to dominate the world is agreed upon and commenced. The Hunt is discovered by über Conspiracy theorist “Terrence G” who has uncovered the conspiracy by simply reading enough newspapers, clipping the right headlines out and then connecting them together on his bedroom wall by thumbtacks and yarn. This would have worked had the disappearance of Terrence been a bigger part of the unfolding danger the story tries but fails to convey.
Along the way to unraveling the plot to dominate the world we meet journalist “Mark Tucker” who is the only writer to have ever written a full expose of the Taurus Group (in Time Magazine of all places!) and chronicled part of “The Hunt”. One of our heroes could have asked Tucker just how he might have come to witness “The Hunt” (it’s not clear that he actually saw it) seeing as how the smartest conspirators in Earth’s history have managed to keep the ritual secret since before Christ? Do our heroes not think that the conspiracy overlords are dumb enough to let “a groundskeeper” in on the secret AND sell access to it to filmmakers (or perhaps this is an ingenious plot twist…hmmmm maybe The Conspiracy has lasting effects on viewers minds)?
The last act is entertaining and the “surprise” ending rewarding enough to keep most people from screaming at their TV’s for the waste of their time. This “Conspiracy” never quite gets your heart pounding or mind racing like it might have. Starring Aaron Poole and James Gilbert, Directed by Christopher MacBride. – 2.5 Reagan’s
THE EXPENDABLES II – 0.0 Reagan’s
Skip it unless you are stuck at a party and the sound is off. This film is so cliched and poorly written that it almost appears that this was intentional. If you want to relive the glory years of every action movie star and be forced to sit through their perfunctory delivery of famous cliches, then you might find 10 of the excruciating 78 minutes enjoyable. Otherwise, donate the rental fee to Catholic charities then go to confession even considering watching this turkey (I begged forgiveness for an entire day) – 0.0 Reagan’s