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Howdy again, people! This time around we are talking about films! What a stunning departure from the norm! We cover the wondrous delights emanating from Terminator Salvation, Fighting, Fermat's Room and Drag Me To Hell. I can't promise you'll like it, but I am reasonably confident of it.
Starting with our worst foot forward, daffily named (and we use the term loosely) McG shows up to murder the Terminator series with Salvation, the first to be set in the midst of the post Judgement Day man vs. machine war. While John Conner, here played by the normally reliable Christian Bale is present, he's really something of a side-show as the series staple of a tame human friendly Terminator shows up in the shape of Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) to do most of the heavily lifting in saving a young Kyle Reese in order to allow the first film to exist. For all that, it's massively sedate and often boring despite the impressive effects work. It looks pretty, but it's empty, soulless, heartless and has a complete dearth of ideas for something set in a place where you think opportunities were nearly limitless. A crushing disappointment.
Fighting is a film about, entirely unexpectedly, fighting. A young street hustler soon finds himself seeking money in the shady world of underground bare-knuckle fighting tournaments, along the way falling in love, clashing with an old rival and exposing back story somewhat clumsily. Still, Channing Tatum proves to be a likeable lead, forging believable relationships with his co-stars and earning the film a mild recommendation, even if for a film called Fighting, it features surprisingly few and surprisingly tame fights.
Fermat's Room provides our RDA of foreign language oddities, as a group of intellectuals are invited to a remote getaway under the pretence of an enjoyable brainbox talking shop. Taking anonymous aliases, it's not long before things go south in dramatic fashion. With the host leaving, apparently attending to a hospitalised daughter, the remaining inhabitants of the room find themselves getting closer than they had bargained for as hydraulic presses start pushing the walls closer together unless they get to solving daft little brainteasers. As they start unveiling their back story, it soon seems that there are connections between them that must be explored to work out why they've been brought there and how they can get out. Well acted and tightly paced, Fermat's Room proves to be more than compelling enough to look past the massively contrived set up and resolutions and while it's not the easiest film in the world to track down, it's well worth the effort.
Sam Raimi returns to what brought him to the dance in the first place with Drag Me To Hell, a horror comedy that's far heavier on the comedy than it is the horror. Alison Lohman's bank clerk enters a world of hurt after denying an extension of payment terms to an old lady, who promptly attacks her then casts a curse on her. And I thought my workplace was objectionable. In tone, this feels very much like a spiritual successor to the Evil Dead films, with the same hilarious effects work and inventive mayhem that has all of the hallmarks of the classic Raimi that made us fall in love with him in the first place. Highly recommended, the only caveat coming from a trailer that sells this as a straight horror, which it most certainly is not. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
That will be your lot for now, however we'll be back in short order indeed as we kick off our coverage of the Edinburgh Film Festival. Booyah.