I liked eating…LIKED. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) Review

A few nights ago I viewed the uncut version of the infamous Cannibal Holocaust. While the film is indeed as horrific as everyone says it is, its script could do with a few adjustments.

For those who don’t know Cannibal Holocaust is about a group of young filmmakers who disappear in the Amazon jungle while shooting a documentary.

A university professor finds their film cans and brings them back to America. A television network wants to broadcast the footage but after watching it the professor urges the network not to.

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I think this says it all.

Most of the film is shot like a traditional narrative showing the professor going to the amazon, finding the footage and arguing with the TV executives.

That is until forty minutes in when we see the footage.

Cannibal Holocaust is technically the first found footage film so it deserves some credit for that. It did create a sub-genre after all.

The make-up and gore effects are a little mixed. Without getting into spoilers the blood and flesh is pretty convincing however some of the ‘dismemberments’ don’t look as realistic.

The soundtrack by Riz Ortolani is great. It creates an intense, ambient and melancholic soundscape that will stick with you.

The elements of Cannibal Holocaust that need improving are the characters and plot.

The professor has no weaknesses, desires or values. In most good stories the protagonist’s weaknesses, desires and values are challenged and how he or she deals with that is what drives the action of the story.

Since the professor isn’t shown to have any of these qualities its difficult to empathize with him on his journey.

Some critics have praised Cannibal Holocaust for being a social commentary about how civilized people are more brutal and vicious than primitive people. I think this theme could’ve been conveyed better.

The documentary crew suddenly turn violent and start burning the tribe’s village with little explanation. I know the crew are supposed to represent civilization but I think this is a very rushed and two dimensional representation.

Its quite unfortunate that a good soundtrack, a unique format, a decent message and the lives of animals were sacrificed for such an underdeveloped script.

I recommend watching Cannibal Holocaust if you want to see something powerful and memorable but not something solid or thoughtful.

In conclusion Cannibal Holocaust earns a shallow but strong 4 out of 10.

Much Better. Sandman The Doll’s House (1989) Review

The Sandman Volume 2 The Doll’s House is much superior to the previous volume Preludes and Nocturnes.

For example one thing this collection has that Preludes lacked is a good protagonist.

The book follows an American girl, Rose Walker. She goes to England with her mother and tries to find her lost younger brother Jed.

Since she is human and has a very clear desire Rose is a lot easier to empathize with than Morpheus was in the first volume.

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Nice one Gaiman.

Speaking of Morpheus, he has an interesting role in the story. Having regained his tools, he suddenly discovers that four of his creations are missing and embarks on a quest to track them all down.

His journey eventually collides with Rose.

There’s a lot of good stuff in this arc. We get to find out more about the Endless, Morpheus’s realm, his creations and his past.

We get most of this information through the main arc but there’re also some fantastic one off stories that reveal a lot about Morpheus.

The best of these by far is “Men of Good Fortune”. Its in the middle of the book and its about Morpheus granting a man in the 14th century immortality and meeting up with him every hundred years.

It adds almost nothing to the main storyline but its great seeing Morpheus getting social with someone and developing a relationship.

One criticism I do have of the book is the ending. I won’t give too much away but I will reveal that it ends with a Deux Ex Machina which I hate.

Overall The Doll’s House is a pretty damn good read and I’m actually excited about reading the other volumes.

The Sandman Volume 2 The Doll’s House earns a solid 8 out of 10.

Pitch Black: A Christian Allegory?

I remember after one viewing of Pitch Black I went online and looked at the reviews. One of them was on a Christian Film Review site.

It obviously talked about the religious symbolism and how it’s a Christian allegory and other things I don’t remember.

I re-watched Pitch Black a few days and this time I could sense a subtle Christian theme.

This post isn’t going to be an in depth analysis of what the film is actually about, its just going to outline a possible interpretation.

Spoilers ahead by the way.

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One of the characters is a Muslim priest, Imam, who is shown to have absolute faith in god. His character doesn’t really undergo any dramatic change.

The two main protagonists on the other hand, Riddick and Carolyn, who have little to no belief in god, do change.

That to me was a strong hint at the Christian theme and was what fuelled my analysis.

From a Christian perspective Pitch Black could be about how God makes us into better people by forcing us to overcome obstacles that change our character.

This theme can be seen in Riddick and Carolyn’s arcs.

Let’s start with Carolyn. Her desire seems to be to protect her passengers.

Now of course in every story there’s an antagonist who tries to stop the protagonist from achieving their desire.

But for Carolyn there’s no conscious antagonist. The obstacles she faces are just a sequence of inconveniences.

The debris that just happen to hit her ship and force it to crash land on a planet, the flesh eating aliens that just happen to live on that planet, the eclipse that just happens to cloak the planet in darkness for the aliens to come out and hunt.

As unfortunate these incidents are they force Carolyn to fight and change and in the end accomplish her desire, even though it costs her life.

These occurrences could be seen as God’s way of turning Carolyn into the person she wants to be. After all God is said to be in control of the universe.

Now let’s look at Riddick.

Being a prison convict he is immediately judged by everyone and he isn’t given a chance to be anything but a criminal.

Inconveniently however he is on a planet where something worse than him is lurking.

With great physical strength and the ability to see in the dark Riddick is the solution to the crew’s problem and is treated with more respect.

However, Riddick cares only for himself, he ignores the fact that the crew depends on him but by the end Riddick has a change of heart and saves the crew.

Once again, God has altered events so Riddick can change and become a better person.

As an atheist I appreciate how the film conveyed this theme. Its definitely present but its so subtle it doesn’t come across as too preachy and the film can still be enjoyed as a fun, witty sci-fi thriller.

Even though this is just a theory and nothing intended to be truthful, I’m confident enough to say that Pitch Black definitely says something about god and faith.

What is it? I’m not sure. It depends what kind of eyes you have. Watch it yourself and see what you find.

Thanks for reading what I had to say about it.

 

James Patterson: The Michael Bay of Literature. Daniel X: Lights Out (2015) Review

So, this is my first book review on Duffhood.

I’m more enthusiastic about cinema than literature but I still like to read. Mostly Sci-Fi, although I am trying to exit that comfort zone.

Daniel X is a series I’ve been following for quite a few years now.

For those who are unfamiliar the series concerns a teenage boy (Daniel X) who is an alien with the ability to shapeshift, manipulate minds and recreate his dead relatives using his imagination.

After his parents are murdered he takes the responsibility as Defender of the Earth and goes on a quest to eliminate every name on the List of Alien Outlaws.

Lights Out, written by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, is the sixth and final book in the series where Daniel targets The Prayer, Number 1 on the list and the alien who killed his parents.

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Fuck The Great Gatsby.

First off, these books are really silly. They’re crawling with problems and they don’t make a lot of sense.

The biggest problem is the protagonist, Daniel.

Since he has the power to pretty much do anything he is never really challenged and even when he is, he quickly resolves the opposition using his imagination.

This spawns another issue. Daniel never changes.

I think the idea of a protagonist changing when faced with opposition is a fact taught in Writing 101 and Daniel X failed.

So why did I continue to read the series? Well, hating Daniel X is like hating Doctor Who or the Jack Frost films.

They’re silly but they don’t care. Patterson was clearly having fun writing these books and it shows.

Lights Out has the immense action, cheesy humour and crazy imagination the previous five books had.

As a conclusion I felt a little empty handed. I was expecting this to be the biggest and craziest Daniel X book of them all and while it does have great action, it doesn’t seem any bigger than any of the previous entries.

Armageddon, the fifth book, is probably the biggest in terms of scale.

Lights Out however needed to be more epic.

That’s the only genuine criticism I can think of, apart from the countless plot holes but since its Daniel X they’re forgivable flaws.

In conclusion Daniel X: Lights Out could’ve been better but its still just as silly, wild and charming and makes for a decent conclusion.

Daniel X: Lights Out earns an adorable 5 out of 10.

I’ve got a confession to make. The Revenant (2015) RE-Review

Well, this is a first.

I’d like to post a more honest review of The Revenant after reflecting on the film and looking at other reviews.

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In my original review (which you can see here) I gave the film 9 out of 10 based on its technical excellence, strong performances and unique interpretation of an old story.

I still stand by everything I said about it technically. One thing I knew for certain when leaving the cinema was that The Revenant looked like no other Western or genre film to date.

What I wasn’t sure of however was the performances, characters and overall emotional hook.

I think Leonardo DiCaprio is a good actor, particularly in Inception. Do I think he’s great? Have I been blown away by any of his performances? In all honesty, not really.

Seeing him in Titanic, Django Unchained and The Revenant, even though his characters are very different, I never felt I was watching anyone else but Leonard DiCaprio.

Despite what he endured in The Revenant, I thought he was ok. His performance was convincing.

I still agree with everything I said about Tom Hardy’s performance. In fact, I thought he was better than Leo. He was unrecognizable.

As for what I said about the film’s unique presentation, it is unique visually but in terms of substance there didn’t seem to be anything above decent.

I didn’t know what to feel after seeing The Revenant. While the characters’ reactions were authentic, I struggled to empathize with them. I think this actually may be due to the film’s lack of originality.

For example, we don’t see much of Hugh Glass’s relationship with his wife and son other than some dreamy, sentimental flashbacks and the brief conversations he has with his son.

The Revenant didn’t present a clearer depiction of human relationships, just what we’ve seen in films before.

Like I said I didn’t know what to feel after seeing the film. I was confused. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write in this review. So I chickened and wrote what everyone else was saying.

After looking at some other reviews I discovered that other people had the same issues I had. I felt compelled to write this re-assessment as I thought it was wrong to blindly agree with the majority opinion out of fear.

So I did what I’ve just done, conveyed my actual opinion.

Overall The Revenant is a technical marvel but very shallow in character and story which makes it a mediocre but entertaining film.

The Revenant earns a legitimate 6 out of 10.