(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Dearest Reviews: Apocalypse, Now


The end of the world is just around the corner...

Alex Garland made an impressive directorial debut four years ago with Ex Machina, one of the best true science fiction films in recent memory, but sadly stumbles with this, a murky and convoluted adaptation of the award-winning novel by Jeff VanderMeer. It starts with a promising premise: biologist Natalie Portman risks her life to save her soldier husband (played by Oscar Isaac, so yeah, it’s easy to understand her concern) by entering “The Shimmer”, a quarantined zone infected by some mysterious alien force. She is joined by a uniquely all-female suicide squad (including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Westworld’s Tessa Thompson and Jane the Virgin herself Gina Rodriguez) who, after experiencing lost time, watching a literally “viral” video, and being mauled by mutated alligators and bears (oh my), are killed off in reverse order of famousness. Don’t fret, this is not a spoiler, as Garland employs early the old “sole survivor” trope, wherein Natalie is grilled by HAZMATted government types who are just a little curious as to why she’s the last lady standing. Alas, her tale – and the movie’s – slowly devolves into pseudo-2001 sci-fi hooey.
(4/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

A Quiet Place:
Director/co-writer John Krasinski manages to inject some new ideas into the over-saturated subgenre of post-apocalyptic thrillers (not an easy feat) with this springtime hit. He co-stars with his real-life leading lady, a luminous Emily Blunt, as the parents of last year's "wonder" kids, Wonderstruck's Millicent Simmonds and Wonder's Noah Jupe; they are a rural family who, having suffered a devastating loss, have managed to turn their farm into a reasonably well-fortified sanctuary... the titular quiet place. Why the need for the silent treatment? Seems the planet has been invaded by a particularly nasty breed of bloodthirsty extraterrestrials (think a hybrid of a Cloverfield beastie and the Stranger Things Demigorgon), whose blindness is more than made up for with their highly-attuned hearing. A tense, tactile atmosphere is maintained throughout, and special kudos for the expert sound work; prolonged silence has never been more nerve-racking. It's a shame that some rather deep plot holes (most acutely the rather obvious weakness of the alien antagonists) nearly derail the whole thing.
(7/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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