Director: John Madden
Starring: Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Richard Gere, Ronald Pickup, Tena Desae, Celia Imrie, Lilette Dubey
With its all-star cast of ageing British thespians, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was one of the surprise hits of 2012. It grossed $135 million worldwide – an astonishing figure for a film more interested in seventy-year-olds than seventeen-year-olds – by tapping the potential of the oft-ignored ‘grey-dollar.’ With none of its ensemble having ‘checked out’ how could 20th Century Fox resist a return visit with the riskily titled The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Sonny Kapoor’s idea was to outsource retirement to India, and eight months on from the events of the first film business is booming. The young entrepreneur has expansion on his mind and US retirement company, Everygreen has agreed to send an assessor to Jaipur to determine whether the Marigold Hotel is a worthwhile investment. When Guy, an American novelist claiming to be on a research trip, arrives shortly after, Sonny is adamant that he must be the assessor and sets about doing everything he can to impress him, though Guy seems to be more interested in Sonny’s mother than his hotel. In his single-mindedness, Sonny is neglecting the preparations for his upcoming wedding to the frustration of his fiancée Sunaina. Continue reading
Director: Stuart Beattie
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto, Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney
Mary Shelley could never have seen this coming when she created one of the horror genre’s iconic characters back in 1818. In I, Frankenstein her creature becomes the latest classic to be reimagined for the screen via the graphic novel.
Having lived in secrecy for 200 years, Frankenstein’s monster, here named Adam, finds himself in the middle of a centuries old battle between demons and gargoyles. When a demon is killed its soul descends to hell and it can only return to Earth if it can find a living body without a soul. So Naberius, the leader of the demons, sees in Adam the secret to reanimating corpses into soulless vessels, and therefore the key to a potentially limitless army.
I, Frankenstein is the latest idea from the mind of Kevin Grevioux, the co-creator of the Underworld. That reasonably successful action/fantasy franchise concerned the ongoing war between vampires and werewolves, so I, Frankenstein is not so much a new idea as a variation on a theme. Between its effects heavy battle scenes, the movie labours through some truly ridiculous dialogue. At times this is the result of some poor writing, but largely it is because the premise of this film is such utter nonsense that when characters are forced to verbalise it they can’t help but sound ridiculous. And therein lies I, Frankenstein’s biggest problem. The film contains no acknowledgement of its ludicrousness, and therefore there is no sense of fun, humour or satire. Instead it takes itself far too seriously and it simply cannot afford to.
Turning Frankenstein’s monster into an action hero requires a stark reimaging of the famous character, so Aaron Eckhart’s monster bears little resemblance to Boris Karloff’s iconic lumbering giant. Eckhart has got himself in impressive shape for the role, so impressive in fact that in one scene in which he removes his shirt the creature even attracts a lustful double-take from Terra, the respected electrophysiologist who had been working for Naberius before she discovered his true identity. This version of the monster also does significantly more talking than any we’ve seen before. It might have made for a more interesting, if less action-packed, film if the monster was more traditional – a helpless innocent caught in the centre of this ongoing battle rather than a bad-ass butt-kicking machine.
The film closes with a voiceover from the creature in which he promises to go on fighting demons and protecting mankind, clearly setting itself up for a franchise. Fortunately I doubt we’ll ever see it. I, Frankenstein is an early contender for worst movie of the year.
Review by Duncan McLean