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Film review: Beowulf (2007)

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World of Warcraft meets Lord of the Rings in this retelling of the classic Old English epic using motion capture technology.

The story is set in Heorot, in ye olde Denmark, where King Hroðgar (Anthony Hopkins) reigns. One night, the King and his thanes are raucously celebrating their victories in the mead (beer) hall when they unwittingly awaken their neighbour, Grendel (Crispin Glover), the village monster and long-time curse for the King. Grendel pays them a surprise visit, and rather than tell them to keep the noise down, tears the hall (and its folk) to bits.

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Written by Darren Smith

6 October 2008 at 9:34 pm

Film review: Fracture

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Anthony Hopkins

If you’re planning a major career change or retirement in the near future, be prepared to meet your sociopathic nemesis. He’ll be cold, clever, calculating and have some kind of obscure hobby.

In courtroom thriller Fracture, Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson) encounters his nemesis in Ted Crawford, played by none other than Sir Anthony ‘Hannibal’ Hopkins. Beachum is just about to leave his district attorney’s office job to practise with major commercial law firm, Wotton Sims, when what seems to be a straightforward murder case lands on his desk.

Enter Crawford, who has shot his wife for infidelity and now faces trial. His prosecution should be a wrap because they have a motive, witnesses and a confession. There’s just one hitch and that’s Crawford himself, who has masterminded a plan for all the players to fall into, just like one of his ‘Mouse Trap’ contraptions. What ensues is a game of chess between Crawford and Beachum, who is desperate to find a chink in Crawford’s armour.

The encounter comes at a pivotal moment in Beachum’s career, just as he is about to make his move into corporate law. In some ways the film is about how Beachum discovers and maintains his integrity in the face of a successful corporate career. Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike, Die Another Day), Beachum’s Murphy Brown-esque senior associate boss at Wotton Sims (and love interest), is trying to get Beachum to drop the case. He has everything on offer, but the all-American Beachum goes for justice.

The storyline is not particularly new or fascinating and, at least for the earlier majority of the movie, quite tiresome. With Hopkins playing the villain, you can’t help but think of The Silence of the Lambs, where Hopkins played the sociopathic Lecter against Jodie Foster’s Clarice . While the relationships are similar (both characters having a curious admiration for each other), Fracture really lacks any of the tension, macabre and thrill of Lambs. The thrills really kick in at the last 15 minutes, and with what, in my opinion, was a rather unsurprising and banal twist.

The shining gold in this flick is the performances from Hopkins and Gosling. Hopkins played Crawford brilliantly — a soft, mild-mannered, somewhat anal and chilly monster, whose favourite past time is manipulation. Think Niles from The Nanny and you’re almost there. Like those glass ball contraptions (a great motif through the film), Crawford is almost endearing, absorbing and comical … but undeniably creepy. Gosling’s performance also stands out. You could pare the film back to these two interacting and it would be thrilling.

A major quibble for me was the romance plot, which was bothersome and tacked on. This part of the storyline seemed a little unbelievable (Gardner is Beachum’s boss and yet everything is quite hunky dory) and not followed up.

One other quibble — product placement. I don’t have a problem with product placement, but in Fracture it was so blatantly obvious that for a moment I thought I was watching an advertisement for Apple laptops.

If you want to see Hopkins playing another villain — get the DVD. Then, again you could just hire out Silence of the Lambs.

This film review was brought to you by an Apple Macbook.

Written by Darren Smith

26 August 2008 at 2:52 pm