The Walking Dead (s01 e03)

The walking Dead – Episode 3  (7/10)

EPISODE 3 – Tell It to the Frogs

Director: Gwyneth Horder-Payton.  Writers: Frank Darabont, Charles H. Eglee, Jack LoGiudice

CAST: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Emma Bell, Andrew RothenbergMaddie Lomax

It’s interesting to see how different these last three episodes have all been.
The first one (arguably the best) has been setting up a perfect eerie and uneasy mood. It was truly scary despite the fact that it was marching through a very well-known territory (both the settings and the actually zombies themselves are nothing new and yet it was all terrifying).
The second episode went for the gore and it felt almost like a parody of the genre itself (by saying that I don’t mean to criticise it, however some of the “yuk factor” was so over the top that somehow it became less scary).
Now, having set up the main story and the characters, finally this third episode can afford slow things down a bit. Gone is the eerie atmosphere and the splatter  factor (a part from one scene, where a head gets chopped off). Gone are also the big action set pieces and they all seem to have given way for more character-building scenes.
The makers are obviously aware that this is a TV series after all, where from episode to episode we get to know more and more about each character and they have decided to exploit the format to their advantage by pushing all the right emotional buttons at their disposal.
Last week in my review I wrote that I was afraid the series might end up looking more like a soap opera, but I now happy to say that I was wrong.
What could have been really cheesy sequences about a family being re-united and about a wife betraying the memory of his dead husband by cheating with his ex best friend, in this third episodes exploded into some of the most emotional sequences in the whole series yet, mainly thanks to a particularly well handled direction and some excellent performances.
I must confess , when or main character, Rick Grimes, finally sees his wife and child again, I was almost brought to tears
One  also has to appreciate the boldness of the makers who mercifully went straight for the punch lines and the “big reveal” without over-stretching the storyline of the return of the thought-to-be-dead-husband into 3 or 4 episodes.
Let’s just see how will they now handle the “betrayal” stuff and let’s hope they’ll be able to keep the pace up.
On the downside, I still have some problems with predictably of some of the set ups; for example (SPOILER AHEAD) the fact that the guy on the roof would have use the saw to free himself from the handcuffs was basically telegraphed from last week.
However, for the time being,  I’m still hooked to this.
7/10

The Walking Dead (s01.e02)- Review


The Walking Dead

(episode 2) 7/10

Created by Frank Darabont. Directed by Michelle Maxwell MacLaren. With Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie HoldenJeffrey DeMunnSteven YeunChandler RiggsMichael Rooker

I might have built up too much expectation after first episode last week and even though I still enjoyed this second part, I didn’t find it as stylish nor compelling as the first one.

Gone were all those long silences and eerie atmosphere that made the pilot so intriguing, scary and horrific (in a good one, of course). What was basically a one man show has now become filled with a series of new characters, most of whom are not defined enough to care.

However what lacked in mood was definitely compensated by action packed sequences and a lot of gore, possibly even more than in the first episode, to the point of parody. Which brings me to ask: “what kind of a series does this want to be?” Is it going to be a horror series, or is it going to be a bit of a parody? The whole subplot about  Andrew Lincoln‘s wife and her affair with the ex partner (and friend) scares me a little bit. I really hope this is not going to turn into a soap opera…

I didn’t particularly like the fact that the zombies themselves seem to have learnt how to run and jump over fences on this one. I thought they couldn’t run on the previous episode. Are we back to “28 days later” territory again? And taking about ripping things off from other movies, the idea of having a group of people seeking shelter from zombies in a shopping mall is lifted from Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

Also I thought that the whole dropping the key into the hole moment, was a bit silly… Surely they could have found a better excuse to leave that guy handcuffed.

Anyway, the production value is still pretty high and I to be honest I did have a lot of fun watching this (in fact the episode felt faster than the first one did. Was it shorter by any chance?) but I am fearing that it could all possibly run out of steam or ideas sooner than I though.

I’m rating it with a 7 mainly because  I still have a little bit of excitement left from the first episode. Let’s hope it doesn’t go below that.

7/10

Click here to read the review of  EPISODE 1 

Click here to read the review of EPISODE 3

The Walking Dead (s01.e01)- Review

The Walking Dead

(Episode 1)  (7.5/10)

Created by Frank Darabont. With Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. First the early rumors from the States, then the massive adverts all around our underground stations, then we started to get bombarded by adverts on TV. FX clearly believe that this is going to be the next big thing on TV. And they’re not completely wrong…

There’s a lot to like and appreciate from this first episode and I am definitely going to mention all the things I love about it, but first, let me just talk about what I didn’t like, so that I can get it off my chest. Was it just me or the whole idea about somebody walking up in a deserted hospital, after a sort of coma to find out the world has been taken over by zombies is just absolutely identical to “28 days Later” by Danny Boyle? I was really shocked to find out similar it all felt (even the fact that Andrew Lincoln wakes up very very thirsty, just like Cillian Murphy did). I suppose the problem with doing anything about Zombies today is that we’ve seen so many of them over the years that the genre seems to be pretty exhausted.

Zombies are not as sexy as vampires, they don’t talk, most of the times they move pretty slowly and all they’re interested about is flesh. In other words, let’s face it: zombies are dead boring! Furthermore, after Shaun of the Dead it’s even harder to take them seriously.

(SPOILER ALERT) However “The walking Dead” does manage to bring back, not just the scary part of Zombies, but also that more poignant and sad side of them. Let’s all not forget who zombies are. They are first and foremost dead people, and not just anybody. They could very well be your recently deceased grandfather, or grandmother… or, like in this first episode, the recently deceased wife and mother. The scene where Lennie James tries unsuccessfully to shoot down his wife, is one of the highlights of the episode and one of the most heat-breaking. All of a sudden you can see the potential of a series like this. It might even became a sort of cross between Six Feet Under and A Zombie movie.

Technically, we are really into feature film territory here. There’s nothing that says TV to me, unless we consider TV like the more refined brother of cinema (at least when it comes to series like the West Wing, Six Feet Under, The Wire, 24, Dexter and so on), in which case, this is really like the best TV can be.

The photography is excellent, the camerawork really impressive and so are the special effects, the make up and the stunts.

I really loved how the music was really spare in this episode (this is actually a trade-mark on AMC, I’ve noticed). We are so used to hear music pretty much back to back in these sort of films, that it’s a big relief to find something so brave, competent and sure of its own merits that it refuses to fall into that usual trap of music overload.

The silence in those hospital corridors, along those empty streets, during those darkest nights, it all works perfectly and it enhances the eerie mood and uneasy feel that permeated the whole hour or however long this first episode was.

We’ve seen very little of all the other actors in the series, a part from our hero Andrew Lincoln and the already mentioned Lennie James. They are both very good indeed and I am looking forward to seeing where it all leads to and how their characters will evolve

So, to wrap it all up, though not completely original the series seems to walk through a path which is somehow fairly familiar and yet it is all so handsomely done that I really want to be patient and give it the benefit of the doubt. I shall definitely be watching the second episode and unless that is a complete disaster I’ll carry on till the end.

AMC has really put a lot of money in this series and it shows. The production values are all there on the screen. After their incredibly good work on series like Mad Men, Breaking Bad or Rubicon, they have all my respect and my trust. The least I can do for them is to give them an hour of each week for the next five weeks.

Looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.

7.5/10

Click here to read the review of  EPISODE 2

Click here to read the review of EPISODE 3

127 Hours – Review


127 Hours

Directed by Danny Boyle. Starring James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn.

For some reason I keep on comparing this film to “Buried”: the concept and the  scope of both films is pretty much the same. One person stuck in a confined place for the whole length of the film. But while in “Buried” the director was able to keep the entire film inside the box and never “cheated” by giving the audience flashbacks or shots of whatever was happening in the outside world, here in “127 Hours” director Danny Boyle uses every trick in the book to make the visual more exciting and sometimes to the expense of the emotional response that one should have for a story of this kind. Split screens, speeded up/trippy sequences, long zooms out from a tiny close up of James Franco’s face to the widest view of the Canyon. Surely it makes it all exciting to watch, yes the photography is beautiful (2 different Directors of Photography were used for this film. And by the way that first bicycle riding sequence is really breath-taking), yes the editing is as flashy as it can be (in fact I think it’s easier to produce showy editing of this kinds than proper invisible one… But then again, wait and see how this one will win the Oscar), but when it comes to getting really close to our main character, knowing his history, his background, his life, that’s when the film fails for me.

Listening to a Q&A sessions with the makers at the end of the film, I was actually intrigued to hear about the real story and I started longing for a documentary about it… Hold on a second… Would I need a documentary if the film had satisfied me completely?

It’s really not James Franco’s fault! He gives the performance of his career and I can easily see an Oscar nomination coming his way, the problem is that Boyle is so preoccupied about whizzes and bangs, about his visual flashy style and about making you feel so trapped like the main character has, that he forgets what the story (and the original book) was really be about: a cathartic experience about a man who’s accepted his own death and looks back at his life realising all the mistakes he’s done. In the end it just becomes a story about the power of self-preservation.

It’s absolutely not a bad film, but this one could have been so much deeper and fuller, at least to match the fullness of the visuals (and its soundtrack too, I should add, as always in a Boyle’s film, was very accomplished).
People will love, I’m sure about that, but I really wanted a masterpiece out of this one, like the trailer made it look like. At the end of the day, the style of the film won over the actual substance e reduced it to just a good one, but not a great one.

7/10

RETATED REVIEWS:

 Buried

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