Saturday Apr 19
TheatricalThe Woman in Black (2012)
10/02/2012 | Nikki Baughan

Having relaunched in 2010 with the promise of delivering solid horror films for a modern audience, the output from the rebooted Hammer Films has been something of a mixed bag. While its inaugural release, remake Let Me In, was received with great fanfare, subsequent films The R [ ... ]


TheatricalMan on a Ledge (2012)
03/02/2012 | Nikki Baughan

For his feature debut, Danish filmmaker Asger Leth follows his 2006 documentary Ghosts of Cite Soleil (co-directed with Milos Loncarevic) with something entirely different; a high concept action thriller that is about as Hollywood as they come. That’s to say that everything is [ ... ]


More Theatrical Reviews

Dorian Gray (2009)

Theatrical

The ugly truth...

Oscar Wilde's 1891 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray has long proved a source of inspiration for film-makers across the globe, from the 1945 classic named after the novel to the 2003 actioner The Leaue of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in which the character appeared as a minor player. The original novel's aesthetic may be pure 19th century gothic, but its themes of desire and mortality remain of universal fascination; so it is that we are presented with the latest in a long line of Gray adaptations.

This retelling is directed by Oliver Parker, who has a history with bringing classic works of literature to the big screen having previously helmed Othello (1995), An Ideal Husband (2002) and The Importance of Being Earnest (2002). He was also behind last year's raucous St Trinian's rehash, which may give you an early clue as to what to expect here.

Ben Barnes adds another floppy haired hearthrob string to his acting bow - following similar turns in Stardust, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Easy Virtue - as Dorian, the young lad who comes, fresh-faced and innocent, into the heaving bosom of 19th century London. Meeting Lord Harry Wotton (Colin Firth), Dorian is introduced to the idea of debauchery as entertainment. When painter Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin) captures the young man's beauty in a highly lauded painting, Dorian sees just how good he looks on canvas and, clearly having never heard of Botox, he declares that he would sell his soul to look that good forever. Hey presto the deal is done, and Dorian realises that he can live a live of hedonism, whores and homicide without consequence - well, besides the painting going a bit mouldy. Several decades later, however, and he's discovering just how high a price he's having to pay for immortality...

That the entire premise hangs on the character of Dorian is undoubtedly this film's fatal flaw; Barnes may have a boyband charm but it's unlikely anyone over the age of 14 will understand why every single person he encounters, whether male or female, is enamoured by his beauty to the point of hysteria. And he doesn't provide the emotional range needed to embue the story with the psychological depths it requires - despite the film's many, and samey, sequences of Dorian behaving badly, the narrative lives or dies not in its action, but in its introspection. The true nature of unchecked desire is never truly explored and, by the time Dorian realises what he has become, and Barnes actually showcases some dramatic muscle, it's too little, too late.

Parker, too, has concentrated on the oppulent look and visual gimmicks at the expense of exploring his characters. They are all drawn in too-broad strokes for such an intense story; Firth's Lord Wotton is almost a charicature, spouting one-liners and cliche, and although Chaplin's Basil is the most interesting character - and indeed the catalyst for the strange events - he is woefully underused. Even the painting itself, teasingly hidden until the film's climax, is disappointing, looking more like a watercolour that's been out in the rain than the putrid symbol of a rotten soul. The whole thing plays like MTV meets Penguin Literary Classics, all fast editing and high gloss cinematography that just can't compensate for the lack of any emotional resonance. And, despite its seductive premise, it's just plain dull.

2 stars

ROLL CREDITS...
Stars Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Ben Chaplin
Director Oliver Parker
Screenplay Toby Finlay, from the novel by Oscar Wild
Certificate 15
Distributor Momentum
Running Time 1hr 52mins
Opens September 9

Theatrical Reviews Archive

The Woman in Black (2012)
Orphan (2009)
Night at the Museum 2 (2009)
Man on a Ledge (2012)
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Star Trek (2009)
Tormented (2009)
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Black Swan (2010)
Coraline (2009)
Adam (2009)
Aliens in the Attic (2009)
Terminator Salvation (2009)
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Summer Scars (2007)
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
Red Riding Hood (2011)
Coco Before Chanel (2009)
Moon (2009)
Blind Loves (2008)
Angels & Demons (2009)
Cherry Blossoms (2008)
Helen (2008)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Delta (2008)
Dorian Gray (2009)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Jennifer's Body (2009)
Bottle Shock (2008)
Brüno (2009)
Watchmen (2009)
Hereafter (2010)
The Disappeared (2008)
Just Another Love Story (2007)
Paranormal Activity (2009)
District 9 (2009)
Afghan Star (2008)
Fireflies in the Garden (2009)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Anything For Her (2008)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Last House on the Left (2009)
Sunshine Cleaning (2009)
Heartless (2009)
New Town Killers (2008)
Frozen River (2008)
Zombieland (2009)
500 Days of Summer
Frozen (2010)
The Expendables (2010)
Predators (2010)
Year One (2009)
The Scouting Book For Boys (2009)
Knight and Day (2010)
Public Enemies (2009)
This Is It (2009)
Awaydays (2009)
Hierro (2009)
Tetro (2009)
The Road (2009)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009): Review & Clips
Source Code (2011)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Robin Hood (2010)
Machete (2010)
Fuck (2005)
The Unborn (2009)
The Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call: New Orleans (2009)
2012 (2009)
Shutter Island (2010)
Cemetery Junction (2010)
Lebanon (2009)
The Yes Men Fix the World (2009)
Not Quite Hollywood (2008)
Submarine (2011)
Drive Angry 3D (2011)

Highlights

Airborne

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British actress Kimberly Jaraj shares her diary from the set of upcoming airplane thriller Airborne...

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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Director Rob Marshall, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane and Geoffrey Rush talk Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides...

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Shadow

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As his visceral horror Shadow comes to DVD, we sit down for an exclusive chat with Italian director Federico Zampaglione

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Movie Highlight

The Woman in Black

Having relaunched in 2010 with the promise of delivering solid horror films for a modern audience, the output from the rebooted Hammer Films has been something of a mixed bag. While its inaugural release, remake Let Me In, was received with great fanfare, subsequent films The Resident and Wake Wood have been less successful. So with its first big release, The Woman in Black, Hammer has much to prove – and has piled on the pressure by choosing to adapt a story that’s not only a bestselling novel but also a long running West End play.

An additional challenge is that tale is so effective because of its simplicity; there are no big set pieces for a filmmaker to hide behind. So it’s reassuring to see that, while some elements of Susan Hill’s story have been tweaked to give it more of a cinematic scope, the narrative runs fairly true. At its heart is young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) who, still reeling from the death of his wife in childbirth four years previously, is sent to a remote village in order to organise the paperwork at the isolated Eel Marsh House. On his arrival he finds the locals most unwelcoming, believing that anyone disturbing the peace at the house brings tragedy to the village. Although initially sceptical, Kipps soon discovers that the mansion holds horrifying secrets, and that one of its former occupants is determined to exact terrifying revenge…

READ FULL REVIEW:  The Woman in Black

DVD Highlight

The Walking Dead

The living dead have been a mainstay of horror cinema for decades. Now they maraud onto the small screen in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the graphic novel by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.

Brit favourite Andrew Lincoln (This LifeTeachers) adopts a convincing drawl to take on the role of sheriff Rick Grimes, who wakes from a coma to find the local residents have become flesh-eating ghouls. While the initial set-up is reminiscent of 28 Days Later, these zombies are not Danny Boyle’s fast moving monsters, but the lumbering breed of tradition. That doesn’t dilute their impact; as Rick teams up with other survivors, the zombies are relentless in their pursuit and the tension builds to unbearable levels.

READ FULL REVIEW: The Walking Dead

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