Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) & Byzantium (2012) Reviews

Saw these two together after really wanting to see them for ages. I was massively disappointed. Here are two quickie reviews…

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Directed & Written by Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A depressed musician reunites with his lover. Though their romance, which has already endured several centuries, is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring. I’d really been wanting to watch it because I find Tilda Swinton interesting, Mia Wasikowska has been pretty decent in things like Stoker, and I always really liked sweet Anton Yelchin (RIP). Hiddleston is okay – I can take him or leave him. Oh! And John Hurt (RIP)! Hurt was awesome (I did a list not too long ago of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies. Luckily, I don’t have to update that list to add Only Lovers Left Alive).

Anyway, Hurt was great in this – he was the best part of the film (for me). Swinton was also fun to watch. I usually like her a lot but, sometimes, she annoys me (like in Okja). Mysterious vampire is the perfect kind of role for her, though, so she was good in this. I suppose Hiddleston did well with the role but all he did was mope the whole damn time. How did Swinton’s character put up with that mopey bastards for hundreds of years (or thousands, maybe – I don’t remember)? If I want mopey “teen-angsty” vampires, I’ll watch Twilight. Can’t vampires be happy?! They’re immortal! That’s cool, isn’t it? Grumpy fuckers. Or is that grumpy suckers? This movie just reinforces my opinion that The Lost Boys is the best vampire movie ever. 😉

Um. What else? I’m bored. Review over! Just so you know, nothing happens in this movie. Hiddleston mopes. Swinton puts up with his moping. Wasikowska is a total bitch who stays with mopey Hiddleston & big sis Swinton for a while, which makes Hiddleston mope even more. Yelchin (the only non-vampire) and Hurt (a dying vampire – I can’t remember how that’s possible and I don’t care) were good and helped to make the movie slightly watchable. Without them… Meh. A movie having no plot is okay as long as you have really great characters (like in Dazed And Confused) and a movie with lacklustre characters is okay as long as you have a great story (like in Circle). Only Lovers Left Alive lacks both a good plot and good characters. But it has a 7.3 rating out of 10 on IMDb so what the hell do I know?!

My Rating: 5.5/10

Byzantium (2012)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring as well. I actually slightly preferred Only Lovers Left Alive because at least that movie had a bit more style & better actors. To be fair, I watched these movies back to back while cleaning the house so I wasn’t exactly paying full attention. But if they’d actually been GOOD, I’d have stopped doing the housework and sat down to watch them properly. Thanks to Byzantium, I now have a very organized bookshelf.

Let’s see… What do I vaguely recall from this movie? I recall hating Gemma Arterton’s annoying accent. I’m terrible with accents so don’t know if she was doing it well or not but it was like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe I just don’t like her… I don’t think I’ve seen her in much but the quality of her acting in this film certainly didn’t impress me. Saoirse Ronan was far better in this film – I usually like her okay and she’s the best thing about this movie.

Er. You know, I honestly can’t remember much of this movie now. Lots of blood. It was a far more bloody vampire movie than Only Lovers Left Alive. More bloody, shittier acting, an actual plot but one that I can barely remember now, less moping but still pretty mopey overall (seriously – cheer the fuck up, vampires!), and no John Hurt or anyone with true star power to help elevate the film. Oh, I now recall that all the first vampires were men & they didn’t want any to be women but then Arterton became the first female vampire (if I remember right). So there’s a bit of a “girl vampire power” thing going on in the film, which was okay but kind of undone by all the terrible treatment of the women in the movie. And I still don’t like Arterton.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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The Girl With All The Gifts (2016) Review

The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

Directed by Colm McCarthy

Based on The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Sennia Nanua

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot depicts a dystopian future following a breakdown of society after most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection and focuses upon the struggle of a scientist, a teacher and two soldiers who embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’ll point out that we’re dealing with a lot of my favorite things when it comes to this movie: Post-apocalyptic, dystopian, an infection that turns people zombie-like… So this movie is totally my type of thing but I have to say that I thought it was really good & quite an original take on a genre I never would have expected to become as mainstream as it has nowadays. I liked zombie movies before they were cool, dammit. 😉 lol

This is from the book of the same name by M.R. Carey & it’s a rare occasion that I haven’t read a novel in this genre before seeing the movie. I really want to read it now (but I hate doing it that way around). Has anyone here read it? It’s had very good reviews. But I have to say that it was nice to watch a movie like this where for once I didn’t know much about it beforehand & had no idea what would happen. So that probably helped but I really did enjoy everything about this film. I liked the story, I really liked the ending (I often complain about horror movie endings), and I thought it had a great overall atmosphere & very interesting score.

The characters are also really good in this, which is always extremely important to me. I’d have liked a little more character development & to know more about their pasts (maybe there’s more in the book?) but the movie still did well with them for its running time & I cared about what would happen to everyone. That’s more than can be said for most modern horror films (like Don’t Breathe, which I’ll review next week – hateful characters in that!).

Glenn Close plays a scientist trying to create a cure for the infection & Paddy Considine plays a soldier. They’re both good & have big roles in this story but the main characters are Gemma Arterton as a teacher & fantastic newcomer Sennia Nanua as her favorite student, Melanie. These two have a great mother/daughter type of relationship that kind of made me think of Ellen Ripley & Newt in Aliens. Being the mother of a daughter, I always enjoy that maternal instinct thing in movies (especially cool movies with aliens & zombies since I’m not a girly girl). Arterton did a very good job but Sennia Nanua was amazing. I immediately looked her up & she’s been in nothing else other than a short film (a ska film set in 1980 – I want to see it!). She’s certainly an actress to watch. What’s with young people being so damn good in movies nowadays? Between her & Jacob Temblay in Room, this has been quite a year for amazing performances from young people (btw – Room was this year in the UK before anyone corrects me).

I don’t want to get too detailed on the plot as, from what I can tell, this movie doesn’t yet have an American release date? That’s a shame – I do recommend it if it makes its way overseas (it’s an English film). If you liked 28 Days Later, this is worth a watch as it has a similar mood & vibe plus, of course, a deserted London thanks to a contagious infection that turns people zombie-like.

I think this is a good one to watch without knowing too much but I promise that it’s not “just another unoriginal zombie movie”. As there are so many now, it’s hard to bring something new to the table but I think this movie does manage to give us something a bit unexpected. It’s a serious film – almost more thriller than horror & more about the relationships between the characters & moral implications involving Glenn Close’s work as a scientist. So, yeah, it has people who want to feed on brains but it’s not a braindead film. I like a movie that makes you think & it’s a good one for discussion afterwards. I’m really glad I saw The Girl With All The Gifts – I hope it gets a wider release & that more people give it a chance. And Sennia Nanua is definitely one to watch.

My Rating: 8/10

**Here’s the trailer if you do want to know a bit more than what I’ve told you. I did see this trailer beforehand & it didn’t ruin anything for me.