I was on vacation last week (It was great, thanks for asking) so I’m going to double up this week if you don’t mind.
If you don’t like double reviews, the thing to do is read one, stop and have a cup of tea and then come back and read the second one. Make sure you exit the page though, so it will show as more page hits.
Now then, first up is “HANNA” starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett.
It follows the 16 year old Hanna, played by the amazing Saoirse (pronounced “Seer-Sha”) Ronan, who has been raised in the great white north by her Father to become the perfect killer and the perfect survivor.
Her father was a top agent for an unnamed Government agency (Read: CIA) who disappeared into the ether with Hanna after the murder of Hanna’s mother.
Now, 15 years later, Hanna is a great hunter, cold eyed killer and master of hand to hand combat but she is lonely and ready to get out into the wide world she has read about but never experienced.
Her Father tells her that in order to have a normal life, she must kill Marissa (Cate Blanchett) before Marissa kills her.
The reasons for all of this are explained, sort of, but this is not the kind of film that lives or dies by its plot. It lives and dies by its characters and in the central character of Hanna we have something wonderful. She is a well rounded and sweet girl who longs for a real life.
Saoirse Ronan is completely brilliant in this role. This girl is going to be an Academy award winner at some point in the future I almost guarantee it and in a perfect world, it would be for this role.
She perfectly embodies the characters naivety and awkwardness around regular people without turning it into a clumsy comedy. We feel her need to connect with the young girl on holiday she meets in Morocco and we feel the undefined longing she expresses on her first date with a young boy.
There is a moment that should be studied in acting class. It’s the look on her face as she hears music for the first time. She tries to process it and slowly her face takes on a look of pure joy that is breathtaking.
I have spent a good deal of words talking about Saoirse Ronan and how great she is at the character moments, but she also shines in the action scenes. Her escape from an underground government installation is a thing of beauty. She completely sells the beat down she gives guys three times her size. She never loses her cool demeanor and you can almost see the switch flip in her when her training kicks in.
With the Bourne films, there was ushered in an over reliance on shaky cam action sequences that have made fight scenes in otherwise great films hard to follow (Ahem….Batman Begins, I’m looking at you) so it’s actually kind of refreshing to see none of that in Hanna.
There is a scene at just about an hour in where we follow Eric Bana as he steps off a bus and walks down into an underground subway station as confronts six assailants that is a thing of beauty.
I’m almost sure there are hidden cuts somewhere but it plays as one long shot and either way, it’s a great scene to watch.
If I have a complaint, it’s with the usually great Cate Blanchett. She still does great work but she isn’t given a lot to do beside stalk around with a ridiculous southern accent and floss her teeth until they bleed.
It might be that he scenes were relegated to the cutting room because it does seem like she is trying to imbue the character with something, but it never makes it to the screen.
Tom Hollander, best known from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is the best villain in a film light on them. There are plenty of faceless foes for our young heroine to fight, but none with a personality that comes close to matching Hanna or even her taciturn father.
But then again, the film is called Hanna and not “Hanna and the villains” so that is really only a small complaint.
Hanna is a great piece of filmmaking; Scream is a good piece of pulp entertainment.
They ARE two different things.
Your feelings towards the fourth Scream film will be dependent on your feelings towards the first three films in the series.
Confession: I love them.
I think the first film is a masterpiece. Yep, you read that right. I love the movie without hesitation.
Now, it’s important to keep this in perspective. Scream came at a time when horror was pretty much dead and buried as a genre. There were still low budget films of course, but they always seemed to take themselves way too seriously and each one seemed to exist in a world without horror movies.
This led to all the clichés that people still snicker at. Woman in their underwear going into the basement to check out strange noises, guys going outside to check out same after at least three people have been hacked up…you know, all the stuff that people do in horror films.
Scream was the first film to take these things head on and comment on them inside of the film. It was the first film in which the characters knew they were in a horror film situation and acted accordingly.
The first film played with the conventions of horror films. The 2nd film played with the conventions of sequels and the 3rd with the conventions of trilogies.
The 4th film sets out as a comment on remakes and reboots but then seems to jettison that idea about a quarter of the way in.
What it finally becomes is a sort of in film commentary on remakes versus originals and comes down hard on the side of originals.
I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing the old crew back on the big screen again. It was a blast seeing the meta film references flying fast and furious again and done the right way. There has been a slew of snarky films in the wake of the original scream, so many that I’m sure most of the target audience for this knows nothing but.
It’s hard to really give an unbiased review of this film because if you like the scream films, you’ll like this film because it has the hallmarks of the other films. There is comedy, great kills, plenty of gore, lots of inside film references and a nice twisty ending that I for one did not see coming.
In fact, the ending was what I enjoyed most about this film. I liked where they went with this. The comment on the nature of fame in the digital age was a lot more interesting than I was expecting.
The same thing I said at the top of this review still stands: If you liked the other three films, you’re going to like this one.
If you didn’t like the other three, do yourself a favor and wait for the next Saw atrocity.
Until next time, keep the projector threaded.
HANNA 5 stars
SCRE4M 3 ½ stars