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adventure

Freaks Out – Gabriele Mainetti (2021)

We follow a few people with ‘special abilities’ who work at an Italian circus. Then the Nazis take over the country and things do not go entirely as planned. A bunch of them gets separated from the leader of their circus and decide to go and find another local circus looking for a new occupation.

We have a hairy man, a young man who can direct insects, a magnetic man and an electric girl. During their walks through occupied Rome they encounter German razzias, but mostly have quirky adventures and encounters. “Freaks Out” reminds a bit of the work of Jean Pierre Jeunet.

The film is amusing, but do not take too much notice of the historical elements in the story. As the film continues, the focus starts to go to one character in particular who has much bigger ‘super powers’ than the rest.

A nice one when you feel like something light-footed (but not too much) odd.

The Green Knight – David Lowery (2021)

I had some expectations for this film. I did wonder how a tale that can be told in about five minutes would fill a two hour film. Well, the latter doubt proved to be more true that the former hope…

The story of Sir Gawain and the green knight is a famous one. The film is based on that story obviously. At the court of an unnamed king during Christmas eve celebrations a green knight enters the room and challenges those present to cut off his head. In exchange, the person who does so, will meet the knight a year later at the green chapel. In the film, the green knight is identified with the Green Man.

In his only act of chivalry, Gawain accepts the challenge, but in the film he apparently thinks he has to fight the green knight. In any case, the green knight picks up his head, reminds Gawain of his promise and leaves. These first scenes have quite some annoying additions to the story which apparently are added to give a bit of a spooky atmosphere.

Not really out of free will, Gawain sets out for the green chapel a year later. So that would be two hours of adventures, right? Not really. The film is minimalist and slow, but (in my opinion) not in the good way. It is pretty boring. The story remains fairly true to the actual story until the end.

Gawain ends up in a castle of a lord who likes to hunt. There the story seriously starts to divert from the Gawain story and towards the end, Lowery appears to have missed entirely the clue of the actual story. He uses most original aspects (such as the green ribbon), but fails to let Gawain come out of the bargain as a hero with a minor scratch. What a weak ending!

As I said, the film is slow and fairly boring, the acting is fairly flat and especially the weak end makes me have to conclude that his is a pretty weak film.

Game Of Thrones – Benioff & Weiss (series 2011-2019)

I doubt that there is anybody who does not know the biggest hype of the past millennium. I do not remember exactly when I started watching GOT. When something is popular, it usually drops on my priority list. At some point I probably ran into a not too expensive DVD box of the first season and decided to see what all the fuss is about.

From the beginning I found GOT alright, but not too interesting. After finishing the first season, I doubted I would watch the second, which I obviously did some day and so on.

I do not get the 9.3 rating on IMDb.com. After almost a decade of watching the eight seasons, I think think GOT is alright, but nothing too great.

Anyway, should you have lived under a rock, the known world is divided over seven kingdoms ruled by families. There are friendships, but mostly feuds and a lot of intrigue. GOT shows how politics work where the people in charge are not necessarily the most powerful, while others want to expand their might. The “iron throne” is the desired seat for the ruler of all seven kingdoms.

This leads to a massive amount of plots, subplots, etc. which makes it quite hard to keep up with who is who and what was what. A red line is a thread coming from more Northern that the Northernmost part of the realm, the “winter” that is coming.

A massive soap opera with interesting and less interesting characters around which interesting and less interesting stories are woven, a massive budget which shows of. Indeed, GOT is the contemporary version of Tolkien books.

Like I said, not boring, but not 9.3 on a scale of 10 either.

How It Ends – David M. Rosenthal (2018)

Just when Theo is all across the USA visiting his parents-in-law-to-be, something happens in Seattle where his fiancee remained. Impossible to find contact, Theo and Tom (the father) decide to take the long road trip to Seattle.

“How It Ends” is an apocalyptic film. The disaster has cut of all communication with the area where it took place, so nobody knows what is going on. During the road trip the chaos obviously leeds men to its worst so an thriller adventure unfolds.

The film is alright.

Noah – Darren Aronofsky (2014)

Aronofsky seems to want to try something different with every film. This time he took a stab at Hollywood spectacle and I must say, this is by and far his weakest film.

Aronofsky make a somewhat odd variation on the famous Bible story about Noah and the Flood. He starts with explaining why there are good and bad peoples. The bad ones seem to refer to our contemporary mentality and are led by Tubal Cain. Noah -of course- is one of the good guys and he has a dream that warns him of an upcoming calamity.

There is a strange element of stone giants who used to be angels and the apparent pretty drastic plans of God with human kind.

Of course Noah builds his arc. This takes about the first third of the film. When the water comes the adventure moves to the vast oceans.

There is the obligatory Hollywood drama and yawn-inspiring morality and sentimentality.

Indeed, if “Noah” had had another director I would probably have never watched it. If Aronofsky wanted to prove that he can make Hollywood drama, he succeeded. In line with his previous films, this really is a wrong turn though.

Redbad – Roel Reiné (2018)

There is not often a production this size in the Netherlands and this film is about the national ‘heathen hero, so it was hard to miss when the film came out. Still I had to wait before the DVD price dropped before I watched it.

Even though the 160 minute length, a lot of story is crammed into the first 15 minutes. In Frisia harvest has been bad for four years so the people demand human sacrifice to “Freyja”. Of course it is the girl that Redbad, the son of the king, is in love with, whom is chosen by lot. When she is to be burned, the Christian Franks raid Dorestad and in his effort to rescue his girl, Redbad causes his father to be killed.

Again lots have to be drawn and Redbad is found guilty by “Wodan” and is offered to the God of the sea. Instead of dying, he washes up on the shores of Denmark where he stays with a local tribe, marries and becomes a father.

When he hears that his own people have given in to the Franks and that his sister has an arranged marriage with the son of the Frankish king, Redbad decides to go back and help his people.

Then follows a adventure film with large fights between the freedom loving Frisians and the brutal Franks. Also Wilibrord and his young pupil Boniface are shown Christianizing.

The Frisians speak strangely contemporary Dutch. Of some actors you can even hear from what city they are. The two English missionaries speak Dutch too. The Franks and Danes speak English. A bit weird, but I can understand the director had to make choices.

The camera work looks good. The big fights look good too. The acting is not too bad, but mostly scenes that are supposed to be dramatic are not too strong, especially not when a dramatic interlude in a fighting scene is filmed.

It is a long wait until the scene which Redbad is most famous for. About to be baptized he asks if he will meet his ancestors in heaven and when the answer is ‘no’ he declines. Yet his Danish wife has been Christian (and fiercely fighting Christians too) for a long time. A bit of an odd variation to history too. Both the Christians and the heathens are shown to be brutal too.

The film is rather long but I did not really find it too long. Like I said, it looks quite well, but is certainly no big Hollywood production. Just a film to watch some time if you are curious about Dutch film making and (not too correct) history.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – David Slade (2018)

IMDb.com

1984. The gaming business is on the verge of exploding. Stefan Butler is working on turning the interactive adventure book Bandersnatch into a game.

In the book, the reader is presented options which make on which page (s)he continues reading. Thus Butler is making a game with the same options. Typing commands has been done before, he just gives two option to choose from using the joystick.

The film is made the same way. When you go along you have to choose what to eat for breakfast, to drown the computer or smash it, etc. thus giving an alternative turn to the story.

The first time I navigated myself to an end within the hour. The second time I noticed that most other options are just small loops back, but there are so many loops that I started going in circles, so at one point I just turned it off without trying to find out any of the alternative endings (which I somewhat doubt there are (m)any).

Nicely thought off, but it makes a fairly dull film with only here and there an amusing twist/loop.

The Vikings – Richard Fleischer (1958)

IMDb.com

I am not sure how this film entered my watch-list. It is an ancient Viking film. The story reminds a bit about the contemporary series. The Vikings go to Britain, bring back an Englishman, find a way to navigate (here “through the fog” and with another device than in the series) and ravage Britain.

As you can expect from such an old film, the acting is not great, the music is classical and the stages and effects are poor to our current ‘standards’. In spite of that the film is still somewhat enjoyable.

The Vikings are much more than nowadays portrayed as drunk barbarians who have some weird practices. Some obligatory romance and drama is added.

Not a film to put high on your list, but amusing to watch some time.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Ron Howard

Ah yes, a Star Wars spin-offs to keep the money flow going. As the title suggests, this film zooms in to the character of Han Solo. We learn how he got out of slavery, how he got his name, how he met Chewie and how he got his ship.

Of course that is but a hook to hang on a space adventure including a wonderful Woody Harrelson as space renegade and Emilia Clarke gets to show that she can play more parts than Daenerys Targaryen. The story is told without most of the known Star Wars characters or even being part of the ‘bigger story’.
Actually, the title may suggest that the viewer gets to know Han Solo, but some light is only shed on a small part of his life.

Still, the film is enjoyable. There is no need to watch it on the big screen, but I suppose people who like Star Wars will enjoy this little spin-off.

Hero – Yimou Zhang (2002)

An epic, Chinese martial arts spectacle. The film does not really look as if it was adopted for a Western audience. There are many dialogues and some silly aspects in the fighting scenes. I guess that makes the film a little more interesting though.

The film is based on a legend in which some people want a king dead and we follow one such person. After ten years of practice, he became the best fighter and has built an elaborate plan to murder the king. We find him explaining his plan to the king and with flashbacks we get the story, or actually stories, since as the king understands that what is presented are not facts, the story changes.

The viewer is presented with massive fighting scenes and of course a lot of one-on-one sword fights with flying people and strange weapons. The film has some cultural and somewhat spiritual elements as well.