Category Archives: adventure

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.

Le Pacte Des Loups * Christophe Gans (2001)

Vincent Cassel with a wig and Monica Belluci as a high-class prostitude. Little can go wrong with that, right?

“The Brotherhood of the Wolf” is placed in Renaissance France where an area is haunted by a man-killing beast. An adventurer with his Amerindian bloodbrother go to the area to help the people. They mix in the upper class of the area, but have little luck in finding the vicious beast. Until the end of course.

This was only Gans’ second film, so I wonder how he managed to get Belluci for the part. She is perfect for it though. It is not like this, or Gans’ other films, is a big production. The setting (a historical adventure) is a bit dated, the genre used to be more popular; but also he put in unlikely elements such as the Eastern martial arts Indian.

All in all the film may not be great, but it is a nice film to watch when you feel like seeing something different.

Vikings (series, season 2) * Michael Hirst (2014)

Season 1 did not really convince me, but a year and a half after I saw it, I still got myself season 2.

Well, season 2 is not really much better than I remember number 1, but I would not rate it 1,5 stars. Season 2 is more historical and less based on myths and sagas. It mostly tells the story of Lothbrok raising in power, travelling to England and making friends and enemies. Story-wise season 2 is more of a soap opera with more focus on the relations between people.

I still cannot say that I really like the series. I still might some day watch the third series, but they did not come high up my list after watching the first two.

El Abrazo De La Serpiente * Ciro Guerra (2015)

I found this film because it features the Belgian actor Jan Bijvoet. I have seen Bijvoet in a few smaller and weird parts, but in this film he is one of the main characters.

“Embrace of the serpent” actually tells two stories. Bijvoet plays the scholar Theo who spends much of his life in the Amazon rainforests to investigate the people who live their and the things that grow there. During his travels he built good bonds with some locals. When he gets sick he is escorted to “the wandering shaman” who takes him to the mountains where the Gods reside in order to find a special plant to cure Theo.

The other story plays many years later. Evan follows Theo’s tracks to look for the same cure. He travels with the same shaman.

In both stories there are an open-minded Westerner who travels with a native and an ‘in between’ (a native who has lived most of his life with Westerner). Of course cultures clash, but all parties learn from each other.

The story may not be very original, but it is based on true events, so nothing can be said about that. The time of adventure films in exotic cultures is mostly something of a decade or two ago, but Guerra managed to make a descent contemporary one.

Alice Through The Looking Glass * James Bobin (2016)

Johnny Depp returns to Alice’s wonderland. This film is an obvious sequel to Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland” from 2010. The actors are largely the same as are the way things look. Story-wise Bobin’s film is a bit of a prequel explaining the youth of the hatter and the reason for the Red Queen’s head-size.

“Alice Through The Looking Glass” is amusing, but never reaches the level of Burton’s film. It has the usual Disney mix of children’s and adult’s humor, adventure and weird characters (such as Sacha -Borat- Cohen as Time).

An amusing watch, but not a must-see.