Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch (2008) - ActionFest Buffet 2.0: Plate #4

On the Menu:

Ingredients: Tomer Sisley, Kristin Scott Thomas, Miki Manojlovic, Mélanie Thierry, Gilbert Melki, Karel Roden, Steven Waddington, Benedict Wong, Anne Cosigny and Nicolas Vaude. Directed by Jérôme Salle. Run time: 108 minutes. Rated: Unrated.

At First Bite: I had an empty time slot after SUPER and chose LARGO WINCH because I thought I would catch Takeshi Kitano's OUTRAGE the next day (I ended up going to a panel instead). The program mentioned it was "based upon a series of famous graphic novels," which piqued my interest a little more.

Nerio is the head of a major corporation, but he gets snuffed out mysteriously. So, the control of the company falls to Largo. Well, Largo has been distancing himself from his father's business for years. He's basically been traveling the world. His father's right-hand man tracks him down and brings him before the company's board. Since no one has ever seen him before, they're all very skeptical.

He doesn't want his father's business, but, as he sets out to prove his lineage, he discovers there might be something more to his father's death than just murder.

Tough to Swallow: A news program misspells Ann Ferguson's name as Fergusson.

There are some beard length continuity issues with Largo.

The ActionFest program misspelled Nerio (Largo's father) as Niero. Twice.

Something to Chew On: Largo Winch is a Belgian comic book series by Philippe Francq and Jean Van Hamme, published by Dupuis. It was originally written as a series of novels by Van Hamme, but the series wasn't very successful.

The settings of New York and Turkey from the comic series were changed to Hong Kong and Brazil, respectively.

The rights to the comic were bought in the late 1980s by Serge Silberman, who wanted to create a franchise to compete with the James Bond films. Silberman didn't get to see his dream realized; he died in 2003.

For the film, Sisley learned Serbian and performed some of his own stunts.

The action scenes set in Hong Kong were shot guerrilla style.

Aftertaste: Going in, I really had no expectations for this movie other than it would probably be a lot like a James Bond movie. And, it was.

Corporate espionage and murder mystery mixed with decent action. I enjoyed the chases through the streets and the rooftop fighting, especially. Sisler's Largo is definitely a hybrid of James Bond and Jason Bourne; a mix of charisma, intelligence and athleticism. There are loads of flashbacks, which might confuse at times, but definitely help flesh out the story.

This showing at ActionFest was the film's North American premiere. The next film in the series, THE BURMA CONSPIRACY, was released in Belgium and France two months prior to the festival (February 16, 2011). Maybe it will make it to ActionFest 2012. I'll go see it.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Super (2010) - ActionFest Buffet 2.0: Plate #3

On the Menu:
SUPER (2010)

Ingredients: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler, Michael Rooker, Linda Cardellini, Nathan Fillion, Steve Agee, William Katt and Rob Zombie. Directed by James Gunn. Run time: 96 minutes. Rated: Not rated.

At First Bite: I'm fairly certain the first time I heard about this movie was while watching the DVD commentary of DEFENDOR. With all the buzz about KICK-ASS, DEFENDOR ended up with a limited theater release and basically went straight to DVD. SUPER was also set to come out around the same time, but they played it safe by waiting nearly a year later. All I knew at the time of the commentary was, aside from Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page was in it. She's the reason I made sure SUPER was the first film I made time for at ActionFest.

Tough to Swallow: The opening credits animation went on too long, in my opinion.

Roger Ebert put out his review of SUPER via Twitter the night before I went to see it. Needless to say, he ruined a major moment in the film involving a major character. Really, how hard is it to write "Spoiler Alert!"?

Something to Chew On: Fillion and Rooker also appeared in Gunn's feature film directorial debut, SLITHER.

TROMA'S WAR is seen playing on TV in the film. Gunn got his start working with Troma.

There's a nice Bacon and eggs scene, which is chuckle-inducing.

Aftertaste: It's funny at times, but most of the time it's a depressing kind of funny. You really question whether you should laugh or not. SUPER is, in my opinion, much darker than KICK-ASS. It plays more realistic. The Crimson Bolt is a hero without powers, but he doesn't really have the intellect or resources to counteract that deficiency. He runs on pure recklessness and insanity... and love, I guess.

Wilson does a great job of creating sympathy for Frank, who loses his wife to drugs. But, he also brings the crazy. Page is a comic nerd's dream here; she knows her heroes and is super-excited to become the Crimson Bolt's sidekick, Boltie. Her excitement hedges on instability. She might be crazier than Frank.

Yes, her donning of a superhero costume is quite hot.

This movie is not for everyone. If you liked KICK-ASS, then expect to be floored by what you see here, especially toward the end. Seriously.