Category Archives: adventure

Le Pacte Des Loups * Christophe Gans (2001)

Vincent Cassel with a wig and Monica Belluci as a high-class prostitude. Little can go wrong with that, right?

“The Brotherhood of the Wolf” is placed in Renaissance France where an area is haunted by a man-killing beast. An adventurer with his Amerindian bloodbrother go to the area to help the people. They mix in the upper class of the area, but have little luck in finding the vicious beast. Until the end of course.

This was only Gans’ second film, so I wonder how he managed to get Belluci for the part. She is perfect for it though. It is not like this, or Gans’ other films, is a big production. The setting (a historical adventure) is a bit dated, the genre used to be more popular; but also he put in unlikely elements such as the Eastern martial arts Indian.

All in all the film may not be great, but it is a nice film to watch when you feel like seeing something different.

Vikings (series, season 2) * Michael Hirst (2014)

Season 1 did not really convince me, but a year and a half after I saw it, I still got myself season 2.

Well, season 2 is not really much better than I remember number 1, but I would not rate it 1,5 stars. Season 2 is more historical and less based on myths and sagas. It mostly tells the story of Lothbrok raising in power, travelling to England and making friends and enemies. Story-wise season 2 is more of a soap opera with more focus on the relations between people.

I still cannot say that I really like the series. I still might some day watch the third series, but they did not come high up my list after watching the first two.

El Abrazo De La Serpiente * Ciro Guerra (2015)

I found this film because it features the Belgian actor Jan Bijvoet. I have seen Bijvoet in a few smaller and weird parts, but in this film he is one of the main characters.

“Embrace of the serpent” actually tells two stories. Bijvoet plays the scholar Theo who spends much of his life in the Amazon rainforests to investigate the people who live their and the things that grow there. During his travels he built good bonds with some locals. When he gets sick he is escorted to “the wandering shaman” who takes him to the mountains where the Gods reside in order to find a special plant to cure Theo.

The other story plays many years later. Evan follows Theo’s tracks to look for the same cure. He travels with the same shaman.

In both stories there are an open-minded Westerner who travels with a native and an ‘in between’ (a native who has lived most of his life with Westerner). Of course cultures clash, but all parties learn from each other.

The story may not be very original, but it is based on true events, so nothing can be said about that. The time of adventure films in exotic cultures is mostly something of a decade or two ago, but Guerra managed to make a descent contemporary one.

Alice Through The Looking Glass * James Bobin (2016)

Johnny Depp returns to Alice’s wonderland. This film is an obvious sequel to Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland” from 2010. The actors are largely the same as are the way things look. Story-wise Bobin’s film is a bit of a prequel explaining the youth of the hatter and the reason for the Red Queen’s head-size.

“Alice Through The Looking Glass” is amusing, but never reaches the level of Burton’s film. It has the usual Disney mix of children’s and adult’s humor, adventure and weird characters (such as Sacha -Borat- Cohen as Time).

An amusing watch, but not a must-see.

Mutant Chronicles * Simon Hunter (2008)

Man man, what a weak film. I think I found this title because Ron Perlman is in it (and John Malkovich). “Mutant Chronicles” is a sci-fi action spectacle with a far too elaborate story.

It starts in the past with Druids or so who guard a secret. Then we jump to 2707 with a war that looks very much like WWII. A few characters are introduced and also the problem they are going to face. Some zombie-producing 10.000 year old machine that was buried beneath the earth until the mentioned war. This part of the film looks a bit like the story of a massive book had to be compressed into a 15 minute introduction. Then the pace drops extremely when we start to follow a group of people setting out to destroy the machine. Ron Perl is brother Samuel who has a book, a “chronicle”, fortelling events and he believes it also tells him how he can make an end to things. The group travels through tunnels and abandonned cities perpertually chased by armies of zombies with swords-for-arms.

The film is unconvincing, not exciting, not really tense and the bloody action looks corny. Besides a few fair jokes and ideas (a steam-engine space ship for one), “Mutant Chronicles” is rather awfull. The balance makes is just quite weak.

The Maze Runner * Wes Ball (2014)

I had to pick something from the ‘on demand’ menu and “The Maze Runner” has a 6.9 on IMDb, so…

So I really wonder where that rating comes from! The film is a teen-thing, so perhaps teens find this film worth the watch. I did not really.

Thomas finds himself being transported to a strange, walled environment where he meets boys of his age who are trapped in the same situation. Thomas learns that they are stuck in the middle of a gigantic maze, the doors to which open in the morning and at night. “Runners” explore the maze which is -of course- full of terror.

Characters reminding of some from “The Matrix”, a story like that of “The Cube”, teenage actors and situations. Nope, the film never really reaches any peaks and remains a 13-in-a-dozen scifi’ish action thriller that may be not boring, but it certainly is not any good either.

Vikings (series, season 1) * Michael Hirst (2013)

When I heard about these series, I figured it would just be another popularised spectacle about raiding Vikings which of course makes nice battle scene for people who like mindless action. Then I started to hear good things about these series, also from contemporary heathens (often Viking lovers). In the end I bought the first season ouf of curiosity.

Things do not start all that bad. Main character Ragnar Lothbrok got a way (from his patron Odin) to navigate while at sea and he tries to persuade his earl to allow him to sail West, rather than the Baltic lands that the Vikings plunder every season. Ragnar is turned down, yet he sets sail with a group of fellow rebels, lands on Holy Island and plunder the Lindisfarne monestary (had not the Vikings in reality already been there as traders?). Ragnar returns with bounty, but his earl is not amused. A struggle arises and the Vikings prove to be quite like ourselves with wrath, plots and disgrace. Where is the honour of these Vikings? The series mostly portrays the Vikings in the typical way of greedy barbarians. Quite annoying.

On his first raid, Ragnar returns with the monk Athelstan who stays with him as slave, but actually more as an equal. This part of the story reminds of the accounts of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan. There are other famous elements, such as the account of Adam of Bremen with the nine-yearly offers at the temple of Uppsala (Uppsala looks nothing like how Uppsala looks today, the landscape is completely different). Myths are interwoven, sometimes as silly as a scene in which a man accuses his wife of adultery, but the pregnancy is actually called by a man named Rig (from the story of how Rig created the three ranks). Everything is mashed together into a story that supposedly has to look interesting, but I find it all rather silly. The series are -to me- nothing more than an adventure around a bunch of barbarian Vikings and -as far as I can judge- can hardly be seen as a history lesson. Still, the series are produced by the History Channel.

Not my thing I guess, like most of the popular series… I doubt I will ever see season 2 or 3.

The Tripods (series) 1984/5

I saw these series as a kid, judging the year it came out, somewhere around that time. My brother found a DVD version so I saw it again 30 years later. Seeing it now, I wonder if I really did see the series or only parts of it. I remember close to nothing of the story and things that happen.

The series are based on a book trilogy. The two seasons are books 1 and 2 and the first series were cancelled because people thought the series to be too expensive. This makes a very sudden end to the series which is a big pitty. The tripods from the title are massive three-legged robots of alien origin that have taken over earth. Since the tripods rule, earth is in peace. This is mostly due to a process called “capping”. At a certain age, people are taken in to a tripod and receive a cap on their heads through which the tripods can influence them. This capping has become a happy event surrounded with festivities.

Two boys from the UK find out that not everybody is capped. In fact, there is a whole resistance of uncapped people. One of them sends them on an adventure to reach the white mountain where the “free men” live. And so the series become mostly a youth adventure with the two, and later three, youngsters trying to avoid the police and the tripods in order to reach their goal. The first season is mostly this adventure and slightly dull with silly dialogues strange facial close ups. Only here and there the tripods join the party and things become more exiting.
The second seasons shows why the series were so expensive. The series turn into a full-fletch science-fiction series with eleborate stages and story that develops into something much more interesting. And then season two ends and the viewer is left not knowing how thing end and many questions are left unanswered…

In the adventure parts “The Tripods” is a nothing special youth series. Season two does make it worth the watch though, which makes is more too bad that season three never saw the light of day. IMDb.com has a Tripod “in development” so perhaps there are plans for a remake/finish. Until then, we will have to read the books I guess.

A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day * Chris Crow (2013)

In early fall 2014 my girlfriend and me visted Holy Island, a tiny island just outside the British coast better known for the village on it by the name of Lindisfarne. The monestary of Lindisfarne was the first to be sacked by the Vikings opening their flood of attacks of villages and monestaries of the British and Irish coasts (and later also continental Europe). The remains of the monestary that can still be seen on Holy Island are not those of the monestary that the Vikings raided, since this monestary was built well after the Viking period.

“A Viking Saga” tells the story of the Viking attack and I was curious if anything of Holy Island could be seen in the film. Not really. In this rather sad film, the Vikings attack the monestary to lay their hands on the Lindisfarne Gospel, a beautifull illuminated version the of the Bible, because of its power. Since the monks saw this coming, they sent two of their own to bring the book to Iona. That is all the way to the West coast and then behind the island of Mull. Quite a walk! Still the Vikings go after the two monks and even manage to find them.

“Based on true events”. I am not sure how the story went in reality, but in this film you mostly see people fleeing through the woods, chased by a handfull of barbareous Vikings, occasionly coming to a sword-fight. Then there is this strange scene in which a girl who is called Saxon seems to have Pictish symbols on her arm.

Oh well, nothing you need to watch.

Das Blaue Licht * Leni Riefenstahl (1932)

In a remote village in the Swiss mountains, the full moon brings a mysterious effect: a nearby mountain glows with a blue light (from the title). The light hypnotises the men of the village and often a young men will sleepwalkingly walk towards the light, later to be found dead. Near the village lives the wild and bewildering shepherd girl Junta (played by Riefenstahl herself). The villagers connect Junta to the light and hence the death of their young men. Therefor she may be a frequent visitor to the village, she is not a welcome one. One young man goes to find Junta, accidentally finds the source of the blue light and raises greed and destruction in the hearts and minds of the villagers.
“Das Blaue Licht” is semi silent. Apparently by 1932 directors found a way to dub voices, but only where needed and other sounds are not yet dubbed, so you mostly only hear background music. Riefenstahl had an photographer’s eye and comes with beautifull images and she used the possibilies of her time well to add to the effect of high and dangerous climbs in the mountains and mysterious light. The film looks well and is nicely moving. A classic.

Die Nibelungen * Fritz Lang (1924)

A long time ago we bought a nice box in Germany with Fritz Lang’s Nibelungen epic. We had not watched it yet because of the length. I had some three hours in my head, but actually, Lang’s Nibelungen film are two films (“Siegfried” and “Kriemhilds Rache”) which are both well over two hours. Quite a sit!
The films are silent with pompous music and text-screens to show what people are saying. There are not very many of these text-screens so it helps a lot when you know the story. There is of course the continental Nibelungenlied that this film is based on, but the same story also makes part of the Eddas that were written down in Iceland. I think I know the Icelandic version better, since the film has some unexpected elements.
You may know that this is a love story in which dragonslayer Siegried falls in love with Kriemhild. When Siegried dies, Kriemhild takes violent revenge.
Like his “Metropolis”, this film of Fritz Lang looks wonderfull. The stages and the costumes are great, but not very medieval. There are all kinds of weird characters. For the time, there is the usual overacting, but Lang surely had an eye for detail and there is some interesting camera work.
In all, two times 2+ hours of a silent film, but a bit too much, but I am happy to have seen this classic.

The Lone Ranger * Gore Verbinski (2013)

If you want some descent, Hollywood enterainment, “The Lone Ranger” is a good option. It looks like this is my first Verbinski/Depp film, but I felt like watching it anyway. Ironically the film mostly thrives on Depp, also in the media, but Depp is not the lone ranger from the title. As you probably heard, Depp plays an American Indian. Almost as a ghost, he helps the lone ranger from the title. Like with “Pirates of the Caribbean” (from which I did see flashes), “The Lone Ranger” is an adventure/action spectacle with a lot of humour, mostly because of the weird Johhny Depp.
I will not say too much about the story, but it plays in the Wild West and involved magnificent views of nature and of course cowboys, Indians and outlaws.
Entertaining and even a little pedantic, since the film shows how ‘progress’ and economic growth has no regard for the rights of indiginous peoples.

Thor: The Dark World * Alan Taylor & James Gunn (2013)

Obviously a follow up of the 2011 “Thor” film, but with other directors. Reading back my review of the other “Thor” film, I was not too enthousiastic, but this time I was! I do not know if it was the big screen, the 3D (which did not add all that much, but still) or the alcohol consumed prior to and during the film, the “The Dark World” is a true spectacle. The actors are the same so/and ‘mythological wise’ there is a lot to complain, but there are also nice, subtle mythological references. Besides, since the heathen Gods are victorious, this is a nice way to introduce new folks to the old ways, or…?
This time the dark alfs (leaded by a character with an unnorse name Malekith) try to take advantage of an allignment of the nine worlds. Thor’s earthly girlfriend of the first film stumbled upon the powerfull force called “aether” and Thor has to come and save her. Jane is taken to Asgard where war is waged.
Impressive scifi computer graffics and a lot of spectacle make “The Dark World” an entertaining Hollywood production. Do not get annoyed too much about the mythological inconsistancies, just enjoy the references that are there. Not a must-see, but a good option when you are up for some action spectacle.

Cloud Atlas * Tom Tykwer, Lana & Andy Wachowski (2012)

How unfortunate! That it took me so long to watch this film. I was mostly interested because of the directors, but the 3 hour length held me back. “Cloud Atlas” is a brilliant film though and certainly worth the three hours.
I have not read that much about the film, but the way I see it there are 7 different stories which are cut up and presented through eachother. Stories in the past, the future and combinations between the two. Many actors have 7 parts and there are several indications that the different stories are different lives of the same people. What all (or most) stories have incommon, is that the nonconformistic people are some sort of rebels. The different stories allowed the directors to go from pompous (Matrix-like) scifi to maritime drama, Medieval adventure and harsch humour. The stories in themselves are all interesting and contain some sort of mystery. It takes way up to the end before many things fall into place (but I guess watching the film again will do so even more), since the actors are not always too recognisable and also before there are cross-references between the stories. Overall there is this great Wachowski atmosphere.

Ice Station Zebra * John Sturges (1968)

Other than that I did not learn anything else about “The Prisoner” (as I read somewhere) than that Patrick McGoohan always wears the same cloths and has the same way of acting, “Ice Station Zebra” is an unexpectedly entertaining old film. Something happens on the North Pole and an American submarine is sent out to reach a weather station from below the ice because of an ice storm. The submarine contains some secret agents and a nice combination between cold war espionage and submarine adventure unfolds. Then the submarine reaches its destination and more plots surface. “Ice Station Zebra” is a long film (148 minutes!), but watches as the better 007’s from the time. The film is based on a book and perhaps therefor the story is well worked out. Too bad about the poor closing scene. For the rest a recommended classic.