IR Film Review: GUNS AKIMBO [Saban]

The trajectory of high octane, almost video game mentality genre has its great moments. A couple years ago “Hardcore Henry” showed at Toronto Film Festival, the extreme levels from which a lot of ideas could flow. Ryan Reynolds’ upcoming “Free Guy” will appproach it from another perspective but one with more money and mainstream humor. “Guns Akimbo” is much more gritty but takes its point of view from similar approach. Daniel Radcliffe plays a mousy if not slightly passive game/code designer who trolls website with the implication that he will eventually be called on his miscredence. The overarching villain aspect of the piece is a form of Death Death Kill where opponents are set against each other in the real world trying to kill each other. The big winner is Nix, played by Samara Weaving of “Ready Or Not”, going full bore into a nightmare version of Tank Girl mixed with Harley Quinn. One can see glimpses of her uncle, Hugo Weaving in some of her viscosity. After “Ready Or Not”, this almost seems too archaic for her, though definitely powerful and comedic.

Ultimately the progression is about subverting expectations. Although some of plot twists start to play melodramatic so they can be ripped to shreds, the losses and stakes never really add up to much. The pace is fairly fast and furious. Some of the set pieces, especially a road race per se where Radcliffe can barely drive the car because guns are nailed to his hands, uniquely gratifying. These nailed hands is the main visual structure of the piece and Radcliffe embraces them as possible. When it was announced, the film was expected to played to its graphic novel beats. Radcliffe as always picks material not necessarily for the character itself but its concept within the world. Within the trinity trio of Harry Potter, he has been the one who has taken the most risks though Emma Watson has gone for bigger budget fare with varying success. The thematics here of identity and who we want to be and who we think we are definitely integrate into the story. The resolution is typical graphic novel style overload but undeniably entertaining with the set up ripe for engagement and continuation. “Guns Akimbo” is good fun with its tongue-in-cheek, a good sense of itself and a flagrant style.

B-

By Tim Wassberg

IR Short Takes Special: HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 – Blu Ray Release [Warner Bros.]

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Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part I – Film Review

The inherent structure of Harry Potter points to the fact that trevails often lead to tragedy through the unwilling participation of those around. With the first part of a two-pronged finale in “Deathly Hallows”, the question becomes one of loyalty and trust versus betrayal. Ultimately in the climactic end of the “Half Blood Prince”, Dumbledore is no longer there to protect Harry. Now it is just a matter of strategy since the dark lord Voldemort is evidently more powerful than his younger and forthrightly righteous competitor.

What is experimently different about this installation beyond the fact that it takes place exclusively away from Hogwarts is the framework that places most of the film purely in the progression of the three lead (now) adult actors in the forms of Harry, Hermoine and Ron. Ultimately, as the last couple pictures have shown (and without this viewer having read the books), is the fact that this triangle will undeniably be how the fate of the world is decided. At one point when a heated argument erupts between Ron and Harry over their quest (and by extension Hermoine) [which is in no small part aided by an amulet that makes it wearer funnel darker feelings], the tension is palpable. In casting these kids back more than 10 years ago, one could not know what their eventual acting chops would become.\

Harry has become the steadfast hero but it is Hermoine (a subtle but intense Emma Watson) who is the rock through which everything balances. The comedy (especially between Watson and Ron) is what keeps the brevity of the piece light. Ron becomes a bit more vicious in this installment showing a bit more confidence instead of always being the go-to comic foible. Interestingly enough most of the film doesn’t use extensive visual effects instead using the backdrop of certain overlooks in England and parts of Scotland to good use. However it is in the moments combing certain elements of special effects and acting to good use that truly heightens the film and lifts it up further.

The first occurs two thirds into the film after an argument has taken place. It is an ode of sorts to a vision of Camelot and the Lady In The Lake. This, in turn, offers a mythological context which narrows the structure of the story we are truly seeing with Harry. While being a bit obvious in its psychological context, the end of this scene where Ron has to destroy an artifact with mystical powers turns all his fears against him. While the intrinsic nature of what he is wrestling with maybe goes a little too far in terms of physically showing what he fears, it definitely gets the point of cross.

The other specific moment of note has an almost Gollum quality in how exceptionally good one death scene towards the end of the picture functions. Interaction between these two worlds (real actors and CG characters). of course, always balances on if you have a great actor behind the digital character. Like Andy Serkis, the actor here (who has not been seen since the early movies) more than nails the point forward.

While the climax of “Hallows: Part 1” retains an “Empire” functionality to it, the ideas point to a dark end for Harry in keeping with a evolution that has made these movies a destination for more serious film lovers as the series moves towards its inevitable conclusion. The balance of acting and effects sometimes feels independent in its delivery (which can be good). While it is, at times, jarring, it is, for the most part, effective. Unlike some of the earlier movies, it also doesn’t overtly rely on the guest stars that this franchise is humbly know for. For its truism and intent, I give “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows – Part 1” a 3 1/2.

First Look: HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART I – WB

Warner Brothers just provided IR with this still from “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows – Part I” starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint & Emma Watson, as part of their 2010 preview. The movie casts its spell on November 19th, 2010.