Film Review : Wildling
Do you want to hear a story?
Do you want me to tell you about the Wildling?
“Wildling” is a peculiar film. It’s hard to put a specific label on it. One moment it feels like a teenage movie about a freshly emerging love. On the other hand, you can’t call it a teenage film per se. It’s a kind of coming of age film with an alternative twist. You could also call it a horror film with influences from werewolf films. But a “Wildling” actually belongs to a different kind of family of mythological creatures. And then there’s the moment Anna (Bel Powley) enters our civilization after years of isolation. She suddenly faces our way of behaving and living. Immediately I thought of films such as “Mama” and “Pete’s Dragon” where something similar happened. Add to this the hunting scenes in a wooded area and you can immediately conclude that this film cannot be classified directly under one specific genre. In that respect, it can already be called unique.
Let me enumerate the positive things first.
Let me first praise some elements of this movie. I found the choice of youthful actresses playing Anna amazingly successful. Aviva Winick, Arlo Mertz and Bel Powley each play a different period in Anna’s life. There wasn’t one moment that I thought there was something wrong with the appearance of Anna. They fit perfectly in the timeline. Subsequently, the transformation Anna underwent was well portrayed. Compliments for the make-up department. And finally a pat on the back for Brad Dourif who plays Daddy wonderfully, the person who takes care of and educates Anna in a sealed room. Still, strange I didn’t immediately recognize Brad Dourif. His role as Wormtongue from “The Lord of the Rings” is nevertheless engraved in my memory. How he can display so many emotions in that limited span of time is simply genius. Unfortunately, I found the ultimate role of him in the entire story less convincing.
Some unanswered questions.
But as usual, you’ll find a number of improbabilities in addition to the positive points. Not that “Wildling” drops to a miserably bad level, but it bothered me a little bit. The intro of the film is simply beautiful. Mysterious, intriguing and shocking at the same time. You constantly wonder which direction it wants to go and what’s the ultimate objective. Is Anna a prisoner of a network of morbid perverts? Is the outside world uninhabitable as in so many apocalyptic films? Or is there an element of truth in the story Anna hears for years already about the “Wildling“? And when Daddy starts giving injections, it’s really puzzling. And then there comes that turning point. An event I had questions about. During the film, you’ll see that the person Daddy was an experienced hunter. Well, this is probably the first time that he simply misses his target.
The 30s vibe.
It also seemed unlikely that Anna, after being isolated from the outside world for many years without any interaction with other individuals, adapted so quickly. Wasn’t it better for such a unique person to be protected from the surrounding world? How is it possible Anna could go to a public school without any problem. A hostile environment, full of unknown emotions. I can imagine that this is very confusing for her. Let alone to let her go to a party with deafening booming music and liters of alcohol. She struggles like a fish on dry land. Another laughable moment was when Ellen (Liv Tyler) deposited a pack of sanitary pads in front of Anna. I suppose Anna had no idea what it was and what it was for. By the way, I also had trouble recognizing Liv Tyler immediately (also a “Lord of the Rings” participant). Maybe I miss her fairytale kind of appearance. Or her beauty starts to fade. But that’s a different kind of reverie from me. And finally, I thought Daddy’s final action during the hunt was terribly exaggerated. How he managed that (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it), remains a mystery to me.
“Wildling” is a strange but special flick.
“Wildling” certainly isn’t a bad movie. But in hindsight, it’s all rather blurry and superficial. Not that an extensive and detailed explanation is necessary. But I expected some more background information about the origin of these mythical creatures. Maybe it’s also because the film aims at too many genres. The fairytale mixes with horror elements and then transforms effortlessly into drama. “Wildling” can easily be added to other nature documentaries about animal species threatened with extinction. Never thought of seeing this concept in a soft-horror fantasy story. If there’s one thing this film succeeded in with flying colors, it’s the idiosyncratic use of the well-known werewolf concept. In short, a strange but special film.
My rating 6/10
Maria- It Was Like A Filipino “John Wick” Persiflage.
She’s still alive.
Lily. Lily’s still alive!
John Wick had a good reason to make things difficult for his former boss. They liquidated his cute dog and stole his car. In the movie “Polar“, Duncan Vizla’s retirement savings were compromised. In this Filipino revenge film, Maria (Christine Reyes) leaves a trail of death and destruction because her former employee has murdered her family. You’d start a killing spree for less. What does she have in common with Wick and Vizla? She’s also a retired assassin who has turned her back on the violent life she led. So expect action-rich and extremely violent scenes that are performed according to an excellent choreography.
Maria aka Lilly.
Maria (or Lilly in her previous life) didn’t just simply retire. She went off the grid in a devious way when she had a crisis of conscience at her last job and refused to butcher an innocent woman and her daughter. Instead, she shot Kaleb (Germaine de Leon), her lover back then, through his kneecap and disappeared forever. That is until the same Kaleb notices her when they are making preparations to kill some governor. From then on the hunt for her is opened. The result of this manhunt is the death of her current husband and her lovely little daughter.
The sweet taste of revenge.
Well, “Maria” isn’t really innovative. Countless revenge films have been made recent years (such as “I spit on your grave“, “Revenge“, “The Equalizer” and of course “John Wick“). Don’t expect a complicated and well-thought-out story in this Philippine action film. The film is actually fairly straightforward. And in the end, it’s only the tough confrontations what’s important in such action films. In “Maria” however, they tried to fill the voids with irrelevant sordid stuff. Every once in a while cheaters and inconvenient witnesses are tortured and massacred. So, the most positive thing you can say about this film is that the fight scenes look slick. The rest, on the other hand, was sometimes too bad for words.
Let’s start with the part that annoyed me immensely. I didn’t mind it to be a Filipino film. Even though I didn’t understand a thing. And those who know me a little bit, know that I hate reading subtitles constantly. I’ve made peace with that. But why did these Filipino conversations have to be alternated with an English sentence? It was as if they had taken the dubbing into their own hands. And it wasn’t just this bilingual nonsense that was annoying. The sound of pronunciation was also toe-curling. It was as if all those Philippines suddenly sounded like Andy Kaufman from “Taxi”. Next, let’s talk about the male actors. Some of them are guilty of theatrical overacting (especially KC Montero masters in this). And I don’t know if this is a tradition among Filipino gangs, but I thought it was fairly bizarre that the male protagonists had female furies to do the dirty work. Although I have to admit those ladies could stand their ground without any problems.
Action flick clichés.
Furthermore, “Maria” is again filled with well-known clichés that are used over and over again in action flicks. The hard rock music. Again stupid gangsters rushing forward like sheep to the slaughter. Of course, a nightclub scene had to be included. Whistling blades. Cracking bones. And the sound effects of hard fist-punches reminded me nostalgically of the better Terence Hill & Bud Spencer films. It was like a Filipino “John Wick” persiflage. Only the charisma and the natural coolness of Keanu Reeves were missing. And finally, I found some scenes were overly stretched (such as the flashbacks).
Imagine Denzel Washington posing like that.
All in all, “Maria” is no more than a B-film with a simplistic storyline and moderate acting. Are you a fan of solid fists and footwork then you will certainly enjoy yourself here. And for those who appreciate exotic women, these exotic beauties look really pretty and are certainly no kittens to tackle without gloves. Why they have to walk around all the time in a kind of aerobic outfit is a mystery to me. And Maria’s posing like a model in the rain after the ultimate fight, I found hilarious. Fortunately, Denzel Washington didn’t do something similar in “The Equalizer“. That would look rather ridiculous!
My rating 4/10
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We Die Young – A Fastpaced Gangsta Film That Never Bores
When Rincon started doing his Shakespeare,
you knew some poor bastard’s about to get smoked.
“We Die Young” is not a typical Jean-Claude Van Damme film, where he can show off his trained body. In fact, in this film, the number of times Van Damme is demonstrating his fighting techniques, is almost nil. So don’t expect any splits. Actually, it’s kind of understandable because “The muscles of Brussels” isn’t the youngest anymore. And I can imagine that such efforts are no longer evident.
He’s back again.
There’s one advantage. JcvD concentrates more on the acting part than on the more action-rich part. Films such as “Bloodsport” and “Kickboxer” from the 80s were immensely popular. And I admit that I also look back on that with pleasure. Unfortunately, this successful period was followed by a period with fewer successful films. Such as “Alien Uprising” (probably to please his daughter), “Dragon Eyes” and “Welcome to the Jungle“. After the umpteenth crap movie, my decision was made. Best I avoid JcvD films. Until recently. I couldn’t resist watching “The Bouncer” and was pleasantly surprised. Let me quote myself for a moment: “Just when you think that an icon such as Jean-Claude Van Damme is becoming a caricature of himself and in danger of sinking into oblivion, he surprises you with such a part as in this film. The “Muscles from Brussels” got under my skin with his integer and sensitive acting. ” I couldn’t have said it better.
A war veteran and Latinos.
Naturally, I gave “We die young” a chance. Solely to verify whether he could maintain the same level. And I readily admit that he has wonderfully succeeded in convincing me once again. This time he’s not a bouncer of nightclubs in a Brussels neighborhood, but a retired Afghanistan war veteran. A military past that has left traces in the form of PTSD and a set of damaged vocal cords. The latter issue also ensures that you won’t hear any sound out of Van Damme’s mouth. Daniel (Jean-Claude Van Damme) somehow ended up in a slum near Washington D.C. where Latinos (Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13) are in control. A run-down neighborhood where drug addiction is the source of income for this fully tattooed gang members.
Some more impressive performances.
Next to JcvD also David Castañeda left an impression. His performance as the gang leader and kingpin Rincon is quite impressive. Not only because of his threatening attitude, cruelty, and determination with which he leads his drug gang. But also because he also shows his soft side as guardian of Lucas (Elijah Rodriguez) and Miguel (Nicholas Sean Johnny). And as the protective brother of his physically disabled sister Gabriela (Robyn Cara). The whole story revolves around Lucas who works for Rincon as a drug courier and preferably doesn’t want his younger brother to end up to be part of this gang. When a very important transaction goes wrong, also thanks to the interference of right-hand man Jester (Charlie MacGechan), it’s the start of a nerve-racking and rather action-rich part.
A fastpaced gangsta film that never bores.
Again, don’t expect a typical Van Damme movie. In the end, it’s a rather gloomy film that shows how destructive and dangerous it is to live in a neighborhood controlled by drug gangs. Survival is more the right word because every mistake made, will be punished ruthlessly. This film shows the futureless life of young people there. The title is therefore applicable. Not many can enjoy a long and healthy life in these slums. Of course, you can ask a few questions about “We die young“. Why the hell has Daniel moved there? Was he looking for anonymity? Is he trying to forget about the past? What with his family? Or is he simply alone in this world? Forgotten by those who knew him? Or is it a convenient solution such that he can easily get the painkillers. Those that help him to get rid of delusions and visions? And what about his military skills? Because when it comes to defending, he looks like a klutz. All in all, “We die young” is a must see if you want to see Van Damme again. A fastpaced gangsta film that never bores.
My rating 6.5/10
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