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The Old Guard

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Poster for the movie "The Old Guard"

The Old Guard

Forever is harder than it looks

20202 h 04 min

Ok, so The Old Guard wasn’t a bad movie. Its fatal flaw is that it couldn’t decide what it wanted to do. Is this an action movie? Kind of. Is it a superhero movie? Sort of, but not really. This movie is trying to do a half dozen different things at once and pulls itself in so many different directions it never really accomplishes any of them. The audience is bombarded with tropes and clichés in every sense. From the dialogue to plot structure it feels like everything is…not half-assed, but just running on low battery life.

Now granted, I have not read the comic book The Old Guard was based on. I can’t comment on how much (if anything) they changed for the movie. But if it’s like most movie adaptions, stuff probably got left out.

I mean, I didn’t think any of the actors were bad. They were all clearly trying their best. But when you take someone like Charlize Theron and cast them as the lead, your audience is going to be picturing a high bar. We know that she can portray a total badass from films like Fury Road and Atomic Blonde. And that level of awesome just doesn’t happen in The Old Guard.

Now I will say that the action scenes are fairly well done. The gunfights are realistic, and the hand-to-hand combat was choreographed amazingly. Not to mention how well it was all edited together. None of that shaky camera work where you can’t tell what the heck is going on (I’m looking at you, The Expendables). But as cool as the action sequences were, it can’t make up for everything else the film is lacking. Cause that’s really what The Old Guard did wrong. It’s not so much an issue of “what’s there is bad”, it’s an issue of “what isn’t there”.

Think about any truly great action movie. Terminator 2, Kill Bill, Aliens, take your pick. Are the action sequences awesome? Of course they are! Is that what people remember the most about those movies? No, usually not. Now there are exceptions like The Bride slaughtering her way through an army of mooks at the end of the first Kill Bill. But that is an exception, not a rule. We remember things like the young John Conner bonding with the good Terminator. Or Ripley hopping into the mecha suit to save the little girl from the Alien Queen. We remember the characters being people. Doing the right thing for the sake of what’s good or just acting like genuine human beings. Going through some kind of personal, emotional struggle on top of the physical turmoil. Things that feel real.

The Old Guard tries to do this, but how relatable are immortals? The whole thing about immortals in any story involving them is that they’re removed from society. The fact that everyone else ages and dies makes them forever outcasts. It’s hard to relate to a character like that. They’ve got their own little happy band, but they function alone. And it doesn’t seem like they get all that much character development to get away from that throughout the film. It’s frustrating because The Old Guard is almost a great movie. The ideas were there, but the execution fell short.

September 27, 2020

The Girl with All the Gifts

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Poster for the movie ""

The Girl with All the Gifts

Our greatest threat is our only hope.

20161 h 50 min
Overview

In the future, a strange fungus has changed nearly everyone into a thoughtless, flesh-eating monster. When a scientist and a teacher find a girl who seems to be immune to the fungus, they all begin a journey to save humanity.

Metadata
Director Colm McCarthy
Runtime 1 h 50 min
Release Date 23 September 2016
Details
Movie Media DVD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

I am admittingly not a fan of zombie movies. There are some great ones out there, but for the most part it’s more of the same. However, The Girl with All the Gifts is based on a very good book. And for the most part, the film manages to stay true to the book. There are some changes, some major and some minor, but it is relatively the same story. What really shifts is the tone, which was adjusted (by necessity) to better fit the film format. The change is by no means bad, but the story feels different played in this different light.

The most obvious change is the pacing. You go from a book that took me personally about 6½ hours to read to a 110-minute movie. The opening sequence of the book is a slow build-up that takes about 1/3 of the page count. As opposed to the movie where that whole sequence is completed in under 30 minutes, closer to 1/4 of the running time. And that is with a bunch of scenes and sub-plots being cut out on top of the faster pacing. The rest of the film follows similar pacing changes.

Then there is the tone. The book starts out from Melanie’s POV. We do see scenes excluding her, more often as the book goes on, but it primarily focuses on her. The wording used is being given by a kid. Even though we know the world is dreary and bleak now, we are still seeing it through the bright eyes of a child. The movie does not, really cannot, do that. The audience gets a full, direct visual of how messed up all this is from the very first frame. That level of post-apocalypse bleakness is a lot more direct thanks to the visual element.

And then there are the story changes. Anytime a book is adapted to a film, this happens. And for The Girl with All the Gifts, it is pretty low-key. The changes could have been much, much worse. There are two major changes, the first of which is a character’s backstory being cut. It was not necessarily essential to the plot, but it would have helped a lot. The other big change was the ending. While the end result is ultimately the same, the way it plays out is a bit darker. It is pretty equal in quality compared to the book, but some people seem to prefer one vs. the other. Overall, The Girl with All the Gifts is one of the better book adaptations out there and a great way to experience this story if you do not want to read through a slow-burn horror novel.

May 31, 2020