Lucy


Viewed – 26 August 2014  Cinema

I went into this a little bit apprehensive.  For a long time now it seems I have waited for director Luc Besson to wow me again, at least on a par with his sci-fi opus The Fifth Element, even if I wasn’t quite expecting something as genre defining as Leon.  This director who in recent memory has stuck to producing and writing credits, has failed to really get his mojo back.  The trailer to this latest offering however held promise.  It had current hot property Scarlett Johansson in it, and had all the high concept cool I had grown to love about Besson’s work.

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Johansson plays Lucy, a seemingly ordinary girl with a few suspect friends, staying in Taiwan who gets unwittingly involved with a group of gangsters, headed by Old Boy star Choi Min-sik.  Before she realises what’s going on, she’s drugged and wakes up in a hotel room, quickly discovering a bandage around her mid section, and is informed she will be a human courier for an experimental drug that has been concealed inside of her(!).  However shit goes down as it normally does and soon Lucy is feeling the affects of this drug that begins to open her brain to greater than normal ability, gifting her with various super-human powers like telekinesis and the ability to transform her hair colour … to start with.

This is flashy, stylish and very much a fun ride for Johansson and it’s clear Besson loves the concept.  Johansson captures vulnerability, bad-ass toughness and out of control mania with ease, whilst delivering some very cool action ‘beats’ along the way.  Morgan Freeman is also on hand as a scientist, but doesn’t really do much out of type for him.  Stand-out moments involve a great car ride (I won’t say ‘chase’) and some trippy special effects (Lucy seeking out a telephone call by weaving her hand through the various phone signals), and that bit in the airplane toilet … wow.  However this was also a concept begging for restraint, needing the breaks applied now and then (I really wanted more of Lucy kicking ass) but Besson instead applied the accelerator and in the closing moments – it got pretty insane.  Choi Min-sik in his first American movie may lack any English dialogue but still had presence to spare … with a great entrance suitable to his legacy. 

This was very enjoyable despite shortcomings (why was Lucy chained up in that cell?), so for Scarlett Johansson fans and anyone after something a bit different – I say check this out.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

The Fury


Viewed – 29 November 2013  Blu-ray

Growing up this was one film I kept catching on TV, and it left a long standing imprint on me as a movie fan.  Brian De Palma’s 1978 thriller was sort-of his follow up to Carrie, exploring again psychic telekinetic individuals, this time two instead of one and bringing back Carrie’s Amy Irving now alongside screen legend Kirk Douglas.

Douglas is a secret agent whose son has powerful telekinetic abilities that his shady friend, John Cassavetes wants to take advantage of.  After an explosive opening where Douglas is betrayed and his son kidnapped – we switch to 11 months later where we meet Gillian, a young woman only just discovering her abilities who seems to have a psychic connection with Douglas’ son – and therefore becomes of interest both to Douglas and Cassavetes.

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With a haunting, eerie score by John Williams and several stand-out set-pieces (the fairground ride, the slow-motion institute escape) this is De Palma at full tilt.  Strangely it remains one of the famed director’s lesser known efforts, but with a solid turn from Douglas and an emotional performance from the often underrated Amy Irving – I still got a kick out of this, even all these years later.  It’s still scary, especially with Douglas’ son’s powerful, malevolent incidents (hovering in the air in a darkened room, the murder of a woman by making her body spin…) although at times it resembles a 70s cop show with unfortunate comedy bits – and for a movie often labelled as horror – gore and scares are infrequent.  Overall though this is one 70s movie I highly recommend seeing again.

The Blu-ray from Arrow Video is decent.  The picture is vivid if at times a little soft and over-saturated but in good shape mostly – and the sound punchy and fitting to the period. The 4.0 DTS soundtrack can jump about at times from clear dialogue to an echoey locked in a closet sound (?), so I found the 2.0 soundtrack the most pleasing.  Extras are also plentiful with documentaries, interviews, an isolated music score, a nice booklet with a new write up on the movie, and a reversible sleeve with new art work.  Again another stellar job from Arrow.

Verdict:

(the movie): 4 /5

(the Blu-ray): 3.5 /5