Tag Archives: Milla Jovovich

Bob Rafelson’s No Good Deed

It’s kind of rare for rambunctious actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Milla Jovovich to sit still for something as dramatic and dialogue heavy as Bob Rafelson’s No Good Deed, but it’s nice to see. This is a thriller of sorts, but it’s more low key than that and ends up being a chamber piece about two characters getting to know each other that just happens to take place against a criminal backdrop. Jackson plays a police detective on a routine investigation who turns up at the wrong place at the wrong time and gets drawn into a weird bunch of felons all hiding out and planning a bank job. Stellan Skarsgard is Tyrone, their volatile, violent leader, Jovovich is his quiet but intuitive and underestimated girlfriend, left alone to watch Jackson, now their hostage. This leaves acres of script space for Milla and Samuel to play, manipulate each other, bicker, banter, become close and twist the situation to both their ends while gradually catching feels for each other. It’s interesting that Rafelson casts these two because they’re usually to be found in action heavy stuff, shooting guns, swinging swords and tasked with stylized dialogue. Here they are laid back, oddly but nicely paired and the most quiet I’ve ever seen them, and it… kind of works. Skarsgard is mean and nasty, which he’s always been great at, journeyman oddball Doug Hutchison plays another lowlife in their gang, while Joss Ackland and Grace ‘Sarah Palmer’ Zabriskie play the senior faction of the crew, a strange husband wife duo who can still wield a shotgun when the situation calls for it. This is based on a Dashiell Hammett story which probably means it was sitting in someone’s desk drawer for decades before being found and reworked for this century. Rafelson gives it the pacing of something by Elmore Leonard and eccentricities to spare. It’s not a super memorable thing or a great film by any standards but works well enough as a sleepy, romantic crime thriller. Oh yeah, this is the legendary Rafelson’s final feature film before apparent retirement, so it’s worth checking out for that reason too.

-Nate Hill

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Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Raise your hand if you think that Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is going to indeed be the last film in the franchise. I have this sneaky feeling they’ll pull a Friday The 13th and just cheerfully keep on trucking after this one as if they never said the buck would stop here. Or not, maybe they’ve gotten their sillies out for real, I mean this is the sixth film. Either way works for me, I kind of love these things. Say what you want about them (I’ve literally heard it all), they do wonders when you get a craving for action/horror with wall to wall carnage and not a minute spent on plot beyond the obligatory five minute hyper stylized recap at the beginning of each one, narrated by Milla Jovovich’s endlessly endearing, sultry voiced super warrior Alice. The first three films are the closest this series has been to what you might call ‘down to earth.’ There was the claustrophobic zombie siege thriller, the urban outbreak sci-fi horror and then the post apocalyptic Mad Max esque third entry. After that… they truly went balls out and kind of just had a free for all of decimated cities, giant monsters and more excessive bloody special effects than the franchise had seen before, until they arrived here. The good news is that this has more of a story than the last two did by far, and although doesn’t concretely wrap up this insane runaway train of a franchise, it does serve to cap off what we’ve seen so far and even includes a few narrative surprises that sort of don’t have to play by the rules of logic considering they threw them out the window like four films ago, but it’s nice to see the wheels turning anyways. After being betrayed by evil Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) in DC, Alice pursues deranged megalomaniac Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen, even more fun here than in Game Of Thrones) back to the Hive in Raccoon City where it all started in hopes of taking down the impossibly powerful Umbrella Corporation and finding a cure for the T Virus. Cue a deafening roar of tank chases, grisly zombie hordes, medieval style sieges in a derelict city, furious hand to hand combat, flying bat dragon things, other giant monsters and Jovovich in hysterical old age makeup at one point, which is part of the film’s big surprise. Milla is a trooper with these films and seems to never run out of steam, as countless other actors come and go, she’s the constant and the series wouldn’t be the same without her. I enjoyed the stuff about Umbrella’s backstory and events dating back before the first film, but they really just serve to bring on more frenzied R rated action set to Tool-esque hard rock music, which is fine by me. These films are either your thing or they’re not, but they’re definitely their own thing, that’s for sure. Nothing like the games anymore, or even the borderline restraint of the first film, they have carved out their of very bizarre niche in the realm of action/horror. Fun times.

-Nate Hill

Paul WS Anderson’s Resident Evil: Apocalypse

As the doors of the Hive blast open and gory mayhem eats up the streets of Raccoon City, so too does Paul W.S. Anderson plough past the restraint and pacing of his first chamber piece horror show for something that resembles all out chaos and splatters across the screen on a much larger scale. Is that a good thing? Well… the short answer is.. sort of. The first RE is the only one that is actually a great film, and everything after is commotion, a bunch of competing ideas stuck in a blender, left on tumble dry and scattered throughout a laser tag arena while music videos blare in the background on double volume. That’s not to say they aren’t any good though, there’s definitely fun to be had, but the sleek viscera and unmistakable style of the first film are out the window. Milla Jovovich’s Alice has become a walking government weapon, decked out with genetically altered killer instincts and superpowers, on a bullet ridden quest to eradicate that pesky T Virus and all the abominations it has brought with it. The super memorable team of mercs from the first are all but decimated (the film severely misses Michelle Rodriguez’s presence), the city’s population dwindling with the Zombie threat and the nefarious Umbrella Corporation preparing to seal it off for good, because apparently their power supersedes that of the actual government. Alice is joined again by Matt (Eric Mabius) or at least a version of him, and aided by a few ass kicking newcomers like super cop Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), hotshot mercenary Carlos (Oded Fehr, honestly one of the coolest characters in the whole franchise), wise ass street hustler LJ (Mike Epps), a TV reporter (Sandrine Holt) and more. There’s a lot of slow motion jumping, kicking, fucking shit up and busting through more plate glass windows than the grips could haul in by the hour, Anderson shows he can operate in a vast, spacious playground like Raccoon City (actually Toronto) as adeptly as a close quarters science lab full of slicing lasers and undead dobermans. German character actor Thomas Kretschmann does an icy, evil turn here as Umbrella bigwig Major Cain, a quietly deranged, power mad asshole who unleashed the freaky Nemesis monster, an ugly golem with built in weaponry and enough horsepower to bash through brick walls. It’s all a lot of wanton sound and fury, but Anderson makes it fun, fast and gory as all hell. As far as the sequels go, I consider this puppy to be the best, or at least the most entertaining. Watch out for Jared Harris as an Umbrella guru who literally and figuratively fathered the infamous ‘Alice’ computer program that begat this whole freak show, and Ian Glenn briefly as a new villain in a setup for Extinction, which is kind of like the hangover after Apocalypse’s raging block party. Good shit.

-Nate Hill

Kurt Wimmer’s Ultraviolet

I feel sorry for everyone and anyone involved with the disaster that is Kurt Wimmer’s Ultraviolet, because it has to be one of the worst films of the century. Wimmer also made Equilibrium, which is excellent, but this seems to be like the stylistic antithesis of that, everything that worked right subtly and in moderation there has been employed at a furiously excessive level here. The entire thing looks like it was shot against a green screen and then rendered sloppily by a roomful of monkeys. Poor Milla Jovovich has been a trooper through some crap in her career but this has to be the ultimate embarrassment, she’s stuck playing some pseudo vampire warrior chick who babbles in monotonous inner monologues about nothing in particular and crashes her way through sword fights and stunt work like she’s fighting her hardest to escape the film and go make another Resident Evil movie, right after she fires her agent. Set in some dystopian future world where viruses reign supreme and blah blah, she’s protecting some kid (Cameron Bright) who lives in a carry on suitcase (literally, it’s like a Harry Potter tent), from a big bad megalomaniac villain (Nick Chinlund does his best, but man is the writing bad) who wants to use his blood or DNA for something blah blah. The great William Fichtner sheepishly mumbles his way through a supporting turn that adds nothing but ineffective exposition because I still have not a clue what happened. Every action set piece has the numb, ineffectual scream of mediocrity, and your eyes glaze over quicker than Milla whips her katana around at nothing. At first I thought this was a failed anime adaptation a lá Aeon Flux or something, but nope, Wimmer has the sole writing credit. I’ll always love the guy for Equilibrium, but man he struck out big time with this giant fucking pile of excremental detritus. The only plus side? Milla is smoking hot as usual.

-Nate Hill

Knights be Damned: An Interview with Silvio Simac by Kent Hill

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Knights of the Damned is a film of a type you don’t see much of any more. When I was a kid there were fantasy films by the country mile – with titles including Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, Sword of the Valiant, Hawk the Slayer, The Archer, Zu Warriors, Knight of the Dragon.

But then, like the Western before them, they dried up and have henceforth become sporadic and fleeting. Knights of the Damned marks a return which sees the fantasy genre clash with the zombie phenomena in a film which sees a band of returning nights having to fight their way back to the castle of their sovereign lord through dragons, sirens and dark alchemy which has caused the dead to rise and stalk the living.

It is an exciting throwback to those fantasy films I know and love, as well as being something fresh and a little bit different. So, thrilled I was to speak with the star of show, Silvio Simac. And, thrilled was I to learn that KOTD is the first installment in an epic trilogy. Silvio is no doubt a future action movie notable and comes to the Damned with a CV of great roles in a vast array of high-concept cinema.

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So, for all you fantasy lovers out there that secretly yearn for a return to the heady days of high adventure – I won’t spoil it for you – check out Knights of the Damned now, and press play to listen to a fun interview with one of the knights most bold from days of old, whose mighty sword slashes the heads of those undead . . .

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(Courtesy of Kung-Fu Kingdom.com)

Silvio Simac is a Croatian-born British martial artist and actor who has enjoyed a long and varied three decade career with some outstanding achievements. These include being (multi-time) British, European and World Taekwondo champion. Aside from TKD, Silvio holds black belts in Choi Kwang Do, kickboxing, karate and combat self-defence. Having starred in numerous movies with such action superstars as Jet Li, Scott Adkins, Kane Kosugi and Jason Statham he also regularly attends martial arts and health-oriented seminars and conferences alongside such friends as Benny The Jet, Cynthia Rothrock, Michael Jai White, Don Wilson, Shannon Lee and many more! Silvio is widely respected by his peers for being a fount of martial arts knowledge and experience on training techniques, nutrition and philosophy; he remains a hardcore student of life, happily sharing and communicating what he’s learned with ease, covering those details that can be so easily overlooked by other teachers in this day and age.

Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil


Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil is probably the second best video game adaptation out there (I’ll remain vague so you all lose sleep arguing about what the best is) and a damn fine horror/shocker flick. I’d stay away from most of the sequels unless you’re really invested in Milla Jovovich’s ass kicking Alice character (guilty here), but it can be said that this lean, mean initial entry is a genuinely terrific film full of grisly traps, gnarly zombie dogs and a butch Michelle Rodriguez that’ll make you weak at the knees. The world’s most irresponsible biotech corporation Umbrella is perpetually up to no good, and their underground research lab ‘The Hive’ has been overrun with monstrosities of their own creation which will eventually spill out into the streets of fictitious Raccoon city, and the entire world beyond in some of the bombastic later sequels. Minimalistic claustrophobia is what makes this one work so good, as a hardened team of mercenaries led by Rodriguez and Colin Salmon descend into this manufactured hell for a bit of shoot em up fun. Jovovich is Alice, security expert turned survivalist who they find down there and recruit as a tag along and just happens to be wearing an impractical yet eye catching red dress for the duration. It’s a deliriously fun female bromance between her and Rodriguez, with just the right dose of sexual chemistry, while the rest of the team, including Eric Mabius and James Purefoy as Alice’s shady ex husband, fare pretty well. Anderson regular Jason Isaacs also has an inexplicably brief cameo as Umbrella’s head honcho mad scientist, a character who would later be recast by Ian ‘Ser Jorah Mormont’ Glen in the following films, even though the guy is clearly credited as Dr. Isaacs, begging one’s curiosity as to just what drove Jason away from the role. The thing that makes this one work so much better than any of it’s sequels is the sweaty single location format: we’re with these characters inside the Hive for the entire film as opposed to watching them slice their way through some helicopter filled globetrotting apocalyptic gong show, a classic case of too much thrown into the pot ruining the recipe. Keep it simple, a few scattershot mercs navigating a haunted funhouse full of lethal canine mutants, slobbering undead and bone slicing laser beam grids, all watched like a hawk by a ruthless AI security system designed to look and sound like the red queen from Alice In Wonderland. Pretty cool, eh? I thought so, and still do every time I give it a rewatch during Halloween season. 

-Nate Hill

Conceptually Speaking: An Interview with Sylvain Despretz by Kent Hill

 

Sylvain Despretz really is the personification of honnête homme. And he has been a man of the world since an early age. Travel was a part of his life; the other constant being his love of the cinema.

He is an artist of great style and skill and after his schooling he worked as an art director for a top Madison Avenue agency then moved on to illustrating Graphic Novels in California under the mentoring of the internationally famed artist Moebius. From there he would set out upon what would become and astonishing career as a story board artist and conceptual designer.

 

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His work you’ll have seen, gracing the screen in a myriad of films in a variety of genres. Movies like Gladiator, Alien Resurrection, Panic Room, The Fountain, (Tim Burton’s) Planet of the Apes and The Fifth Element. These including work on Don’t tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead and the coming Luc Besson sci-fi extravaganza: Valerian. He has worked with  and on films directed by the true masters of the screen including Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

But, as you will hear, Sylvain has become disenchanted by the current repetitive nature of Hollywood’s cookie-cutter output. He is now driven by the notion that the only way to usher in change, is to be part of a creative revolution that places an emphasis on original voices instead of corporate responsibility.

 

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To this end he is now embarking on a journey that will see him stepping away from the drawing board and moving behind the camera; bringing his own visions to life using that mysterious blending of industrial light and storytelling magic.

He is a learned Hollywood veteran who has seen the Dream Factory from the inside, and his stories and wealth of knowledge and experience was and is fascinating to experience.

The designer behind the scenes and the future man in the director’s chair, proud am I ladies and gentlemen to present this interview with the one and only, Sylvain Despretz.

VISIT SYLVAIN’S OFFICIAL SITE:

http://www.metaprogram.net/