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Movie Review: Dragonlance – Dragons of Autumn Twilight

This film is bad. Really bad. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly bad it is. I mean you might have been appalled by The Crystal Skull but that’s just peanuts to this. Listen…

I read the Dragonlance books as a teenager and am, even as we speak, playing through the AD&D Modules. I was dead excited to hear there was a film and even enjoyed watching it for the first ten minutes. It begins at a quite relaxed pace, introducing the characters with some humorous banter and bloodless action. But this is soon replaced by break-neck pacing. The plot feels as if it is on fast-forward, with a lot being told in exposition and chunks of the story being missed out altogether. With a large cast of characters they get no more than a handful of lines each, and several are left standing around with very little to do. Ultimately 90 minutes just isn’t a sufficient run-time to do the story justice.

dragonlance

The animation is mostly 80s style 2D, with the jarring addition of 3D CGI for the Dragons and Draconians. The two styles just don’t mesh and make the production look amateurish. The bloodless action is replaced by amazingly inconsistent gore. One moment we are looking at Hobgoblins dying in pools of blood, the next the ground is perfectly clean! Continuity errors like this persist throughout the film, almost every time the viewpoint changes, and their lip-synching is about as good as mine!

So I was enormously disappointed and appalled to think that this might be anyone’s introduction to Dragonlance.  So do yourself a favour and don’t let this film ruin what could be a wonderful experience. Read the books.

Links

Official Dragonlance Movie Site

Buy the DVD on Amazon (if you must)

Buy the books on Amazon (that’s better)

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Blog Movie Reviews Movies/Film

Movie Review: JJ Abrams’ Star Trek

I watched JJ Abrams’ Star Trek on my Birthday. I’d read some positive reviews – unprecedented given Treks usual reception – but I was still anxious. Resurrecting this mostly-dead franchise could have been no easy task. Failure would have been the final nail in the coffin – Star Trek rest in peace. But could it be reborn, be popular even, without sacrificing everything that made Star Trek special? The answer is “Yes.”

star-trek-2009

Now, this film is by no means perfect. Indeed I could nit-pick it to pieces, but if that ruined our enjoyment of Star Trek we’d have been on a bad trip since ‘The Cage.’ Continuity errors and implausible science almost make it feel more genuine!

In respect to all that has come before this Star Trek is not a clean reset; Leonard Nimoy’s Spock appears to pass the torch onto this new cast and crew. The plot incorporates Trek lore accurately and appropriately. I had the impression that the creators had not only watched every episode in existence, but read the books as well. I recognised elements from Diane Carey’s ‘Best Destiny’ – a novel about Kirk’s tearaway youth and his relationship with his father. On further investigation (namely Wikipedia) I discovered this, and others, had indeed been an influence. It’s rewarding to see all that wonderful material put to good use.

Yesterdays Enterprise’ stylē the plot involves changes in the timeline creating an alternate reality. (It was cool then; it’s cool now). This neatly explains why the characters are a little different from the originals and injects a sense of danger that would otherwise be lacking. We can’t sit comfortably, safe in the knowledge that Kirk dies on Veridian III and Scotty spends 75 years in a transporter. The future is uncertain. Some, like Tasha Yar, might get the chance to live again whilst others have their lives cut short…

Kirk regrets taunting Spock with "your Mom!"

Kirk regrets taunting Spock with “Your Mom!”

The interior design is probably the most jarring thing for Trekkies. Unlike the Enterprise exterior – which seems like a ‘best bits’ version – it borrows very little from its progenitors. It has a sleek, touch-screen, Macintosh feel to it that’s hard to relate to the 1966 design. It looks futuristic, but not distinctive. Personally I’m a bit bored of monochrome sci-fi look. I’d have loved to see some bold primaries in there.

The actors do a great job, especially the leads, and are believable younger versions (though Yelchin’s Chekov is too close to Wesley Crusher for comfort)! The youthful element sets a different tone than we are used too. This film is exciting and entertaining with more humour than there’s been in the last four Trek moves put together. It’s a clear, self-contained story for Trek virgins with plenty of background details and in-jokes that die-hard fans will appreciate. I really enjoyed watching it – it doesn’t suck.

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Blog Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Hunt for Gollum

Filmed in Great Britain and free to watch The Hunt for Gollum is a fan-made Lord of the Rings film based on Tolkien’s appendices. Taking place between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, the story follows Aragorn as he tracks Gollum across middle earth to prevent him revealing The One Ring’s location to Sauron. It’s stylistically similar to the film trilogy and the actors seem to have been chosen for their resemblances to their movie counterparts – I’m certain they used some of the same extras as well. All this makes it feel like a part of the series, and the production values are extremely high.

It’s a beautiful production, especially from a visual perspective. A lot of the landscapes are digital but they look incredibly realistic. These guys literally went out and created a whole new world. I cannot fail to be impressed; I’ve seen my share of fan films and where some might achieve the standards of a TV movie The Hunt for Gollum has the quality of a cinema release. They achieve a lot on a budget of only £3000.

Aragorn gets Gollum into the sack

Aragorn gets Gollum into the sack

I’m not sure why –lack of funds or difficulty with the CG model perhaps- but you don’t see much of Gollum throughout the whole thing. There are a lot of scenes with him tied up in a sack (which, incidentally, seemed to change size between shots). This seemed vaguely ridiculous and I just couldn’t believe Gollum would have any difficulty escaping from it. This is the weakest part of the entire film that some rescripting – involving Argorn finding Gollum later in the story – could have avoided. I would have liked to see Aragorn chase Gollum all the way to Mordor only to have him taken by the Orcs. It would have added more emotion and drama to the film – Aragorn getting so close only to fail.

As a fan it’s good to see more of Aragorn as a Ranger. Adrian Webster does a rather introverted performance, but is solid throughout and the camera obviously loves him. This is a huge contrast to most fan productions where the acting just makes you cringe! The fight scenes are the gem of this film, especially the one with the Orcs. All the people involved are experts in stage combat and it’s beautifully choreographed. The Hunt for Gollum really pushes the boundaries on fan-films; no Lord of the Rings fan would want to miss it.