I approached this fairly open minded despite my general dislike of remakes to classic horrors. However my memory of the original Steven Spielberg penned / Tobe Hooper directed Poltergeist is cloudy at best. A family move into a house in a nice neighbourhood and soon find themselves troubled by weird goings on. Yes, it’s nothing at all new and is pretty much following the blue-print of a wealth of other horror movies such as The Conjuring or anything with restless spirits in it.
However with a likeable cast headed by Sam Rockwell (Moon, The Green Mile) and decent production values I still found myself entertained. In an attempt to bring the idea into the modern era we get ghostly apparitions tinkering with cell phones and flat screen TVs as well as electricity and lighting to interesting effect. There’s even a sequence with a drone robot going into a portal that proves pretty creepy. Yet the movie’s key failing is not having any genuine scares (sorry, but clown dolls…again?) and apart from an alarming scene with a drill…it stays decidedly family-friendly throughout. Good use of CGI and a fun if clichéd appearance by Jared Harris (Mad Men) kept me intrigued and some fun ghost pranks like kids being dragged up a staircase or a muddy puddle with a hand coming out of it made this a fun if uninspired evening’s viewing. Characterisation was particularly lacking however (the parents are unemployed…but can still afford a swanky house!!?), the little girl as the focus of the movie just basically said her lines (with the blandest ‘they’re here’ ever delivered) and some better atmosphere wouldn’t have gone amiss instead of a reliance on effects and action.
I’m an old-school horror devotee and yes this left me wanting, but if you’re not as fussy as me or that keen on more hard-core frights … this was a competent if unimaginative remake that may still be worth your time.
The first Sherlock Homes movie I really enjoyed, as although looking back the casting of Robert Downey Jr didn’t seem obvious at first, I was pleased to see his chameleon-like acting skills suited the part immensely, helped by an equally adept Jude Law as Dr Watson. So sitting down to another escapade with this likable duo was easy. This one has Holmes and Watson up against their greatest ever foe, Professor Moriarty (a brilliant Jared Harris) who seems behind a series of bombings and assassination attempts. Holmes leaps into action to piece the clues together and sets forth on an adventure that takes him from London to Paris and many other locales in an attempt to prevent a global catastrophe.
Downey Jr, easily one of my favourite actors is on brilliant form as Holmes, and his quips, excentric behaviour and plethora of increasingly bizarre disguises is a joy to behold. Law is somewhat more subdued this time around but still manages to spar with his on-screen buddy amicably. Joining the cast is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace who makes for a feisty action heroine. Yet above all else this is director Guy Ritchie’s gig with some quite remarkable visual flourishes that enhance the wealth of action sequences and really stamp his identity on the movie. He’s come a long way since Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and has grown into a director with real intelligence and imagination.
The story does get a tad confusing and over-complicated at times, and the comedy is laid on a touch thick for my liking. Yet as a follow-up to an already impressive adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary icon – this is every bit as good as that movie was, and in Moriarty has a villain that actually gives Holmes a run for his money this time around.
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