Archive for April 2010

Beneath Hill 60 Review by Sam

April 27, 2010

From the trailers I saw when viewing other films, and the TV-spots I saw when watching my favourite television shows at night, Beneath Hill 60 looked like it was going to be a complete revitalisation to Australian cinema.

Beneath Hill 60 Poster

I even went as far as to think it may be the new Gallipoli – an Australian classic that set a high benchmark for Australian cinema.

Gallipoli Poster

Beneath Hill 60 - The new Gallipoli?

Whilst technically this film was executed well, I felt there was a lack in a few other areas, prominently the acting and some of the script.

Firstly, the set-design and cinematography were great, and even resembled an American production – something that is rarely seen in Australian films. The sound-design and sound mixing were also up to very high standards, and created a great atmosphere for the film. Even the visual effects were of a high quality, which was great at portraying the intensities of what the Australian men went through beneath hill 60.

I want to specifically focus on the sound mixing used in the film for a moment, as it really was a highlight. There were many scenes where sound effects were put to use without visuals, as if they were happening off screen, and actors would react accordingly. One would seemingly say this was a result of a lower budget, but the effect that it provided was great – and I found it intriguing that it was highly believable.

The cast of Beneath Hill 60

The cast of Beneath Hill 60

Let me cover the elements of the film I disliked. First and foremost, a high portion of the acting – it was unbelievable, and I was completely aware that I was watching someone [at least try to] act – rather than being engrossed in the story and feeling as if the characters were real. I shouldn’t be so harsh; not all the acting was poor. Actually, all the performances by actors that weren’t Australian were great, and of high quality, and a majority of the acting that took place during the war was up to standards and believable. The scenes that I struggled with the most were the ones set before our protagonist, Oliver Woodward heads off to the tunnels in the war. In these scenes audiences got to see the poor performance of Brendan Cowell as well as the horribly over-acted part of Marjorie Waddell played by Bella Heathcote – a part that had me and my older brother laughing at times at how ridiculous it was.

One part that had me and my brother shocked and in horror was the scene in which Brendan Cowell’s character (who looks at least in his early 40’s in the film) says to Bella Heathcote’s character (who is written to be 16 years of age) – “Marjorie, I’m 10 years your senior.” What a shock this was to us! Had he said “Marjorie, I’m 25 years your senior,” that would have been much more acceptable. That was some poor casting if you ask me.

Brendan Cowell

Brendan Cowell in Beneath Hill 60

To me, I believe the film would have been a whole lot better had they not focused on Oliver Woodward’s earlier life before the war at all, and rather spent more time focusing on the Germans on the other side, or more time developing the characters so audiences had more of an emotional connection with them.

Whilst I’m on the topic of the scenes with the Germans, I would like to say that these were some of the best scenes in the film – the acting was by far the best, and the suspense was great. The only problem was that their scenes only entered about two thirds of the way into the film, and ended quite suddenly. Had they been included in a constant sub-plot from beginning to end, I believe it would have served the film extremely well.

Finally a comment on the films score; like the acting, the high points to the score were in the scenes at Gallipoli – timed well, provided great military atmosphere and suspenseful atmosphere when needed, and heightened the emotion incredibly. The score when the film was focusing on Woodward’s pre-war life was not so superior. There were some scenes that required music, yet none was to be heard, and some scenes where the music was timed in a way that it came out way too corny. For an Australian film, the score was done quite well, and was a nice addition, serving the Gallipoli scenes well. Yet, as all good things ‘supposedly’ come to an end, so does the well timed and appropriate score for the film.

Overall, whilst Australia has done reasonably well with Beneath Hill 60, it isn’t a masterpiece, and will most likely not go down as a classic piece of Australian cinema.

I give it 3 film reels.


Clash of the Titans 3D Review by Sam

April 22, 2010

When considering what movie to go and watch with my siblings at the cinema, this was one of the first choices to come to our minds. We hadn’t seen the original, so we didn’t know what to expect, but we all love great battle movies and we enjoy watching Aussies represent Australia in massive blockbuster films. This film ticked both boxes, but did it live up to its hype?

Yes and no.

Yes, I know that is a confusing answer, but I will do my best to explain.

Clash of the Titans Poster

First thing’s first, the 3D. Was it necessary? By no means! I was outraged at the fact that I had to pay that little bit more for a film was in 3D, and there was noreal difference! Usually when I watch a film in 3D, and I take my glasses off, I really struggle to see anything clearly on screen. When I momentarily took my glasses off to investigate, I found that I could have comfortably watched most, if not the entire movie without them!

Aside from the 3D not being up to standards, the story’s pacing was a little strange at times. Sometimes it was way too slow, and got a little enduring, and other times it was way too fast, and was hard to keep track of what was happening, what characters were dying, and so on.

Other than those two negative elements regarding the film, I found the film thoroughly entertaining.

Sam Worthington in Clash of the Titans

Sam Worthington as Perseus

Sam Worthington delivered a solid performance in his role as Perseus, although I did find it interesting to hear his Australian accent make an appearance every now and then. The supporting cast did the job well too, and made for an easy-to-watch film. Liam Neeson did great in his role of Zeus, despite my initial thought of an interesting casting choice.

Zeus and Hades

Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes gave a fairly solid performance, although it did remind me a little too much of his Harry Potter character, Voldemort.

Except for the few elements of confused pacing, the direction was fine, and did a good job at conveying the desired story and dialogue.

Of course, the main focus of the film is the crazy visuals and CGI. And there was a lot of it too! Each and every element of the film was emphasised by the use of extraordinary visuals. Audiences saw crazy battles with the giant scorpions, a stylish, unique design of Medusa and even Pegasus the flying horse. The visuals were most definitely the high point of Clash of the Titans, and added to the films great entertainment value.

I will point out that if you walk into the cinema thinking that it the story is going to be the highlight, and it’s going to be some epic tale that will leave you thinking months after viewing the film, you will be highly disappointed.

What it is: is a great, visually pleasing, action packed film. Nothing more, and it didn’t need to be anything more.

So what remain is a couple of questions. Is Clash of the Titans worth seeing at the cinema? Yes. Is it worth seeing in 3D? No.

Real D 3D Glasses

So, I can honestly say that I was thoroughly entertained throughout the entire film, and was quite satisfied with our decision to watch it.

I give it 3.5 film reels.

Date Night Review by Dave

April 13, 2010

For a long time I subscribed to the theory that woman simply cannot be funny. Indeed, it’s a very polarizing statement- undoubtedly and particularly among the woman- but I’ve learned that life is not about pleasing the masses, even if those masses are angry wannabe-comedian woman. Some may argue that I’m just not watching the right television. Interestingly I don’t really watch much television at all. Then I saw Date Night starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell and I was forced to rethink my postion.

Date Night Poster

Tina Fey is an absolute crackup! The brilliance lies in her natural approach to being herself. Now that previous statement may have sounded a little tautologous and somewhat paradoxical but therein lies the illuminating  truth. Fey’s comedy is natural. Unlike the hopeless parades of limelight-bounding woman who feel it necessary to embrace a sarcastic-and often vulgar- alternative persona to showcase the funny (I shudder at the image brewing in my mind), Tina Fey’s comedy is effortless: it’s elegant sophistication meets Scooby-Doo. I was holding in the laughter out of fear of embarrassment.

Steve Carell made the perfect sidekick. His dopey Sylvester-Stallone-comes-to-Manhattan feel was light and fun. For the non-Sly lovers, Carell played a slightly more sophisticated Derek Zoolander in a domestic-turned-criminal-underground scenario with an ridiculous, yet non-exhausting, plot.

I draw attention to “plot” for a number of reasons. Firstly, I am a strong advocate the integral presence of a strong (or at least a simple) plot. The plot in Date Night was extremely unlikely but surprisingly I was not left frustrated. I’m struggling to not make a comparison to 2009 film “UP” which, in my opinion, took the unlikely (and extremely tedious I might add) plot to the levels of Chinese water torture. I don’t think it matter if your target audience is infants or adults, a logical (even complicated) plot is always a winner.

Having said all this, the unlikely storyline was a timely accompaniment to Fey and Carell’s comedy. The two elements went hand in hand.

Shirtless Mark Wahlberg

One of my favourite scenes involved a certain Mark Wahlberg who, uncharacteristically, was not wearing a shirt. When Fey and Carell make a surprise visit in the middle of the night, a scantily clad Israeli woman appears on the staircase to inquire as to whether they (Fey and Carell) will be joining them (her and Walhberg) in the bedroom. This was amusing in itself. The funniest part was a brief aside made by the Israeli woman regarding the visiting couple. I won’t ruin the scene- but it was so bizarre, and seemingly out of context that it made me laugh out loud.

It’s not going to be nominated for Academy Awards- nor will it probably be a box office killer. But for the purpose of delivering a great night out, it was on the money.

I give it a pleasant 3.5 reels out of 5. Good light-hearted comedy.