Red Cliff is obviously a sequel although I don’t know what it’s a sequel to or whether I’ve seen the film that preceded it. If you know The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, then the film by itself will be less puzzling; but if you don’t, then this isn’t really going to make much sense.
It starts at Chapter 41 when Cao Cao is marching south with a huge army under his command. Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei’s strategist, manages to forge an alliance with Sun Quan, King of the Southlands, and Zhou Yu, and together they successfully defeat a cavalry force sent against them. The film ends with Cao Cao’s fleet massing.
I’ve always thought of Zhuge Liang as being old, but in the film he’s only in his mid twenties and goes around looking permanently bemused. Zhang Fei was instantly recognisable and it wasn’t hard to guess when Lord Guan turned up.
The big battle scene was impressive, although I couldn’t help but note that every time someone was wounded, blood was gushing everywhere as if a major artery had been hit. I also note that at one or two points when people were being thrown into shields in the formation, there were no soldiers holding them.
The subtitles were a little too colloquial American at times and completely unsuited to a film of this tenor.
It’s the usual sort of epic film which, perhaps, can only be made in China because of the huge number of extras required. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the PLA had a special Extras Unit along with huge warehouses full of historical costumes.
The premise of Hancock seems quite reasonable: flawed, destructive superhero with an image problem. By chance, he happens to rescue saintly PR guy, Jason Bateman, which is obviously the cue for some comedy as the latter tries to remould Hancock’s image. But Jason’s wife, Charlize Theron, gives Hancock some funny looks and seems a little hostile towards him. Eventually we learn that she, too, has super powers, they’re drawn to each other, and that they’re married. But when they’re together they start becoming mortal, which is when they’re in the most danger.
This is the perfect opportunity for a villain Hancock put away to try and take him out, but Hancock manages to survive and draws graffiti on the moon. Total studio ending.
The premise had promise, but never really delivered. Jason Bateman’s saintliness was a warning that this was going to get mushy. There were some huge plot holes as well. These included the villains somehow managing to get out of jail and seeming to know of Hancock’s weakness because otherwise they would’ve been wasting their time attacking him. [22.08.14. On review, I assume the film is a relationships metaphor.]
Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
Prince Nuada wants to raise the indestructible Golden Army and conquer the world. Only one demon can stop him – Hellboy.
That’s really all you need to know about this by-the-numbers film. You know that Prince Nuada will raise the Golden Army and you know that Hellboy will fight him. If they’d done all this at the start of the film, it would’ve been over in about ten minutes.