April 01, 2005 | Category: Uncategorized

Film Fight: March 2005

Because the beginning of this month was handed over to finishing my final year project, cinema trips were light on the ground. However, unlike January with its one sided fight, March has two competitors.

Constantine is a big-screen bastardisation of Hellblazer. Gone is the mysterious Liverpudlian private investigator, replace by a much more americanised version played by Keanu Reeves. I’m fairly sure every other review of this film by someone who knows anything about the character has pointed out the flaws in the conversion: John Constantine now being an american with black hair (the original character famously looks like Sting), the presence of real action sequences (he’s more of a thinker than a fighter), the lack of character (both Reeves and Rachel Weisz are atrociously bad in this film), and other less important factors.

Strangely, the film is reasonable up until a point, if ignoring the acting. It’s watchable if mindless entertainment. Once the cross shaped shotgun appears the film dives into cringeworthy territory. Thankfully, this happens late in the day. Not bad, but not great either.

The Life Aquatic, With Steve Zissou is quite a different beast. An oceanographer (played by Bill Murray) goes on a mission to find the mysterious and possibly fictional Jaguar Shark. In the mean time, he has to deal with his waivering marriage, his newfound 30-year old son (Owen Wilson), financing troubles, a reporter intent on exposing his idiocy, pirates and more.

The comedy found in this film is as deadpan as it comes. Dry, but never without character, the jokes (if you can call them that) expose a lateral wit that lets us explore the quirky cast throughout; as funny as it is charming.

The characters themselves are well-thought out and the acting is phenomenal. Murray shines as Zissou, Wilson manages to get passed his usual smug and awkward characterisation to play a Kentucky gentleman with aplomb, William Dafoe is hilarious as the jealous German left hand man, and the others are equally good.

A clear win for The Life Aquatic, an interestingly offbeat film that deserves more acclaim that it seems to be getting.