Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review 193: "Stoker"

"We don't need to be friends.
We're family."

Prison Boy

      Yes, I'm sure you've all heard of this one. The box-office smash hit of the year. Sure to win all the MTV Movie Awards. Right, and I can get Christopher Nolan to smile. Yes, this isn't what you'd exactly call a "popular" movie. It barely made back it's budget and and critics either loved it or wanted it burned. I almost passed it by, but then a learned of a little interesting fact about this film. Directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy) and written by Wentworth Miller (Prison Break), the film follows India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) as her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) comes to stay with her and her mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) after her father, Richard (Dermot Mulroney) die in a car accident. As her mother and uncle grow closer, she begins to unravel the mystery of a secret that her uncle seems to be keeping.

A favorite hobby of mine, too.
Lazy Spoiler Warning

      Now, before I get on with the review, I will try to get a many reviews and posts as I can in the next few weeks, especially seeing as how I'm close to 200 reviews. That said, I do have a school project to finish and I seem to have had the energy of a damp sponge the last few days, so that might put a damper on things. Anyway, the most remarkable thing about Stoker is that it's written by Michael from Prison Break, a show I still honestly surprised I remember watching. And it's actually pretty damn good. Stoker is one of those movies I didn't really want to stop watching. It just keeps drawing you in. Mostly because of how nuts it is. I'll try to make this a spoiler-free as possible, but since 90% of Stoker is spoiler, that might just be a problem. First, the non-spoilery bits. The acting is pretty good. Wasikowska is absolutely fantastic in the lead role. She's interesting, likable and complex, though I can't get into why without rewriting the ending. Goode is also good, which I am thankful for because then I couldn't use that hilarious joke. He plays the role well for what is essentially one giant secret. The film is really only let down by Kidman, who seems to have been trying harder in Just Go With It then here, which I honestly can't seem to wrap my head around.

Storytime in Crazyland

      The real draw though of the movie is how it keeps trying to one-up itself. This is my first Chan-wook Park movie, but I have been planning on seeing Oldboy very soon. And he does a nice job directing. He keeps the tension high, the viewer interested and lets some of the more insane part play out without much unnecessary stylism. And when I say crazy, I do mean it. The film is very fond of making the film look like it's going one way and completely doing the opposite and making it all actually feel natural and organic and not like not like M. Night Shyamalan lost even more of his talent. It all works and the film, while not a terrible original film, is a very fun one. There were more than a few time in which I was left in completely shock about what just happened, though not because of what happened but because I couldn't believe that actually pulled this or that twist. Unfortunately, it all doesn't really add up to much and I can't say that a year or two down the line I'll want to rewatch this film, but I still had more fun with this than I did with Man of Steel, so that's always a plus. 

It's like if How I Met Your Mother was
actually competent.
The Verdict

      I had more fun with Stoker than I did with with several big-budget blockbusters this year. It may look like more of an art-house film, but really it isn't. Yes, there is some great acting, including an award-worthy performance by Wasikowska, a cool style and good character development and ideas. However, the twists and turns the film takes are purely enjoyable for really anyone, as long as you like fun, which I know most people do. The film is slightly letdown by Kidman's performance, a lack of originality and a weak replay value, but still, Stoker is a film that everyone should check out. Stoker gets 5 and a half stars out of 6. 

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