Film reviews

  • 2004-05-20
This week:
- Troy
- The Butterfly Effect
- Infernal Affairs


Epic scale doesn't necessarily make an epic and "Troy" is ample proof of this. It copies what other films (i.e. "Lawrence of Arabia," "Gladiator" and "Lord of the Rings") have done before but in failing to bring anything new to the genre, it also fails to thoroughly blow you away. The large-scale battle scenes are sadly unimpressive, and though "Troy" has some glorious moments, (the dramatic standoff between Hector and Achilles is one) they are too few. The lack of epic feel is largely due to the dreadfully weak musical score, which ruins many a potentially great scene. The script is well-crafted and the performances are generally good, occasionally even great, but "Troy" suffers from an excess of poorly acted reaction shots. It's not a bad movie, but just not good enough. ***

Julie Vinten

"Troy" is definitely the biggest blooper of the year to date. A buffed-up, vaseline-drenched Brad Pitt looks like muscleman Steve Reeves playing Hercules in one of those 1960s Italian B movies. The Oklahoma-born actor's charismatic persona cannot save $185 million worth of pompous drama from failing miserably. This sword-and-sandal epic contributes to some of the worst film acting imaginable. It's amazing how director Wolfgang Peterson manages to ravage Homer's poetic images. Dim-witted and pitiful, the soap opera dialogue sucks. My legs were anxiously jumping to get out of that movie theater as fast as possible. But the tiresome spectacle dragged on and on and on. It's most disconcerting that Orlando Bloom as Paris is a lot prettier than the actress who portrays Helen is. ** 1/2
Laimons Juris G

The Butterfly Effect

This sci-fi drama starts off by quoting chaos theory: "Something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world." Ashton Kutcher plays Evan, who discovers that he can travel back in time. When his childhood sweetheart dies, he tries to change her fate by altering events in their past. But with each thing he changes, a different outcome of the present occurs. This is intriguing stuff, and the movie really does try hard. However, its execution isn't half as good as the idea behind it. As a result of weak scripting, "The Butterfly Effect" becomes repetitive and the movie just isn't as exiting as its makers would like us to believe. The acting doesn't exactly make merry either, with Kutcher's performance being particularly constipated. ** 3/4

Julie Vinten

The movement of a butterfly's wings may cause a hurricane in another part of the world. Inspired by a short story written by Ray Bradbury, this motion picture is not exactly the most enjoyable experience to watch. But you'll be spellbound by the ingenuity of the plot. Actor Ashton Kutcher is completely responsible for keeping this film firmly on track. The likeable actor prevents "The Butterfly Effect" from being just another cliche-ridden sci-fi thriller. You immediately sympathize with Evan, Kutcher's character, and are able to bypass all the gloom and doom that run through the story. The special effects are potent, intriguing and believable as Evan attempts to alter his past to change his future. Life is not a bowl of cherries and everything isn't always ideal and perfect. ****

Laimons Juris G

Infernal Affairs

This eminent thriller shows that the recently struggling Hong Kong film industry definitely still has what it takes. "Infernal Affairs" is a gritty crime drama revolving around a long-time undercover policeman in a triad, and a triad infiltrator in the police force. When both organizations discover that they have moles, a cat-and-mouse hunt follows to find them. The stunning cinematography of this picture skilfully adds to its gloomy atmosphere. "Infernal Affairs" succeeds both as a high-gear suspense story, and a multilayered character drama about two men who live covert lives in that murky zone between right and wrong. The rights are sold. Waiting for the Hollywood remake. ****
Julie Vinten

Since its release two years ago, "Infernal Affairs" has become a cult favorite. Unfortunately, this reviewer was unable to view the Hong Kong production directed by Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak. There are also two sequels to the box-office blockbuster. Martin Scorsese is currently in negotiations to make his next picture based on this trilogy of Chinese-language gangster movies. Brad Pitt is said to be considering a starring role in the film.
Laimons Juris G