Acclaimed Hong Kong cinematographer Peter Pau takes another swing at directing a major motion picture with this grand scale fantasy about legendary demon queller Zhong Kui. Assisted by co-director Zhao Tianyu and featuring some spirited performances, the result is a bumpy, yet enjoyable tale of otherworldly romance and adventure.
I had no interest in watching what appeared to be yet another post-Twilight supernatural romance actually turned out ot be one of the best examples of the genre. Aidan Ehrenreich plays Ethan, a frustrated Southern lad, who escapes his mundane small-town life by incessantly reading. When the mysterious Lena (Alice Englert) moves into town, Ethan is instantly smitten, but as Ethan soon discovers, Lena’s entire family is coven of witches – and Ethan’s own family has its fair share of secrets too.
The leads are likable, but its the heavyweight thesps in the supporting cast – namely Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson – who prove the real treat. Special mention must also go to Emmy Rossum, as Lena’s seductive cousin Ridley. The film was sadly overlooked at the time of release, but in this realm of YA fantasy, it proves a refreshing surprise.
Disney’s classic tale of beautiful maidens, wicked witches and dashing prince charmings ushered in a new era of animated filmmaking at a time when the entire industry was looking to up ts game and compete with a little invention called television that was taking the world by storm. While the story itself is fairly simple and genetic, the visual style and animation craft on display showcases Disney at the height of its powers. The film is packed full of vibrant imagery, vivid colours and wonderful character designs that earn the film its place in the very top tier of the studio’s work. Maleficent, the iconic villainess of the piece, also lends her name to a live action remake of Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie, which we can expect to see next summer.
I was unfamiliar with the source material of this Twilight-esque tale of angels and demons walking the Earth amongst us. The film was fairly resoundingly dismissed upon released, both by critics and audiences, but I actually quite enjoyed it. Lily Collins (daughter of Phil) is rather good as Clary, who discovers she is a half-angel when her mother goes missing in present day New York. She soon hooks up with an assortment of demon quellers, including the dreamy Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), while her best bud Simon (Robert Sheehan) can only look on and pine. It’s all utterly ridiculous in fairly predictable ways, but it ultimately works because those involve commit themselves 100% despite the overwhelming temptation to poke fun at the material.
I never got around to seeing the first film in the series that looked like little more than an American knock-off of Harry Potter, albeit one embroiled in the world of Greek Mythology. The sequel proves to be competent yet leagely inconsequential, as Percy, who is the illegitimate son of Poseidon, God of the Oceans, is sent on a quest ot find the Golden Fleece, with his trusty friends in tow. Nathan Fillion pops up and makes a decent Firefly gag, but really there’s nothing here to raise the film above the realm of disposable, and it all just feels a little too close to home for anyone familiar with a certain universe created by J.K. Rowling.