Saturday, April 29, 2006
Sean Bean and Quality, V's point of view
Okay, firstly I must apologize to M for not acknowledging the importance of TV quality. I was wrong to suggest that a TV quality actor is necessarily sub-par or inferior (although sometimes this is certainly the case). When M says that Sean Bean is TV quality, he means that Sean Bean's TV films are very much quality. They are quality for TV. I agree, wholeheartedly. But I must go a step further and reassert that Sean Bean is just overall Quality, both in films and TV.

Secondly, many thanks to M for the nice Regency Sean Bean. You don't have to spend a lot of time with me to become acutely aware of my obsession with the Regency period (it well eclipses my obsession with Beverly Hills, 90120). I am doubly impressed that this Mr. Sharpe is an officer, this is precisely the sort of thing that set the hearts of Regency ladies aflutter. Still, no match for Mr. Darcy.

Thirdly, I had occasion yesterday to see Sean Bean's latest masterpiece of modern cinema, Silent Hill.

Oh my, where to start?

Despite being the #1 film at the box office, this has gotten pretty crappy reviews. But I'm not a girl to care much about reviews - if I want to see something, I see it. And I try to see things with an open mind, especially horror films. The thing to remember about most horror films is, they're formulaic, and the the characters pretty much always make stupid decisions. Even the good horror films are like this to some degree. Foreign films are usually an exception to this, although if you watch enough Asian horror, I promise you'll get well used to angry dead girls who haunt/curse people via modern technology.

But I digress. Fully aware that Silent Hill was getting completely panned by the critics, I went to see it anyway. I thought the trailers showed promise, but I'm a sucker for creepy imagery. Maybe I should also mention that I've never really played the game for more than about 20 minutes (but this was due to my incredibly lame inability to aim the gun, and not because I didn't like the game). Thanks to the two obnoxious dorks I shared the cinema with, I know that the film was "awesomely true to the game, man!" and "really captured the awesomeness". So, make of that what you will.

I really don't know what to say about this. The plot was a bit thin, and at times completely nonexistent. Arrgh, I'll start from the beginning.

Sean Bean and Radha Mitchell have adopted this creepy little girl who sleepwalks and has nightmares about Silent Hill. Sean Bean wants her to have therapy, whereas Radha Mitchell wants to take her to Silent Hill to try to get to the bottom of it all. This immediately seems like a bad idea, but Radha Mitchell does it anyway. On the way, they stop at a diner. A lady cop becomes a little suspicious of them, probably because both Radha Mitchell and the kid are acting like psychos. Lady cop follows them down the road and tries to pull them over. Radha Mitchell guns the engine and tries to outrun the cop. Not only does this immediately seem to me like a bad idea, but they never attempt to explain why she does this AT ALL.

So yeah, Lady Cop and Radha Mitchell wind up in Silent Hill, only it's not really Silent Hill, it's some freaky haunted alternative dimension of Silent Hill. The freaky kid has gone missing, there's some mystery about Who Is The Freaky Kid Anyway, blah blah blah. But then it gets kind of... I dunno. Hard to describe.

For me, the bulk of this film was a lot like The Cell, in that there is A LOT of really neat, awesome imagery. When I saw The Cell, I thought it was great eye candy, but if you'd asked me immediately afterwards, "Hey V, what was The Cell about?" I would have said "Huh?". Now that I think about it, the second Matrix film was a lot like that, too. So yeah, Silent Hill gets an A+ for having many, many scenes of superdeformed corpses in various states of decay, moving in numerous creepy badwrong ways, and doing generally creepy badwrong things. This was great. I could look at that shizz all day.

"But V," you're thinking. "How did this advance the plot? What was its significance in relation to the narrative?"

Um... huh?

I just can't tell you. I dunno. I gather that a lot of bad stuff went down in Silent Hill, and there are a lot of angry superdeformed ghosts out there, thirsty for human blood or something. I guess that's the best explanation any of us can hope for. Maybe I should have asked the two obnoxious dorks.

Another problem is that a lot of those scenes, while being fascinating to look at, did look a lot like one was watching a video game being played. Lady Cop and Radha Mitchell were all the time being chased into corners by various superdeformed things. There was lots of shouting "OH PLEASE GOD! HELP ME! HELLLP! SOMEONE! PLEASE! PLEASE! HELP!" and then at the last minute something lame would happen, like Lady Cop would fire a single bullet into the air, and it would all just stop. And like I said, it didn't really further the story at all, it was just sort of filler, and an excuse to put these two characters in perilous situations.

By the time the film got back to the regular plot, I was a little lost. Sean Bean and the cops have been searching the real Silent Hill (read: not the freaky haunted alternative dimension of Silent Hill) for his wife and kid with no result. Sean Bean becomes frustrated when the cop won't tell him the real story of what happened in Silent Hill, so he breaks into the police station after hours (a bad idea) and then goes to an orphanage and threatens a nun (so totally a bad idea) and the cops finally get fed up with him and make him go home.

Sean Bean was only in this for maybe fifteen minutes of screen time, but it was fifteen Quality minutes.

So eventually Radha Mitchell quits being a whiny bitch (and really, what was up with that? She was such a badass in Pitch Black). She goes to confront some demon, which is alternatively referred to as 'the demon' or 'the darkness' by the freaky residents of Freaky Haunted Alternative Dimension Silent Hill. This whole thing just seems like the ultimate bad idea, but hey.

Right around this point, Radha Mitchell stops speaking normal English and starts saying crap along the lines of "forthwith I confront you today prithee blah blah blah" and I had to wonder where the hell that came from. The dialogue started sounding completely forced and unnatural and totally out of place for that character.

I'm not going to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't seen it (or played the game, apparently), but I will say that I found it utterly confusing, which is just more points off its overall score really.

So yeah, ultimately it was watchable, and it wasn't utter crap. But I do think that with just a little bit more effort and attention to detail, it could have been a much better film.