Monday, May 18, 2015

Forbidden Empire (2014)

Ignore the title, this film has nothing to do with any empires. This is not a knock off or cash in an attempt to steal some of Game of Thrones lightning. Instead this is a remake of a film based on a ghost story by the Russian writer Gogol called Viy. The original title of the film was Viy 3D. Once you can get past what the film isn’t, you can get on to what the film is, namely a kick ass extremely fun humor tinged horror film.

The plot of the film concerns a scientist and cartographer played by Jason Flemyng who flees from the home of his titled girlfriend to use his invention to make an accurate map of the world and thus make his fortune. However once he reaches Transylvania he ends up in the middle of a battle with dark forces who are using a small village as foothold into this world.

The first thing you’ll notice about the film is that it looks good. The village and it’s surrounding environments is the kind of dream world that you only get in the movies. The film in many ways echoes the Hugh Jackman lead film Van Helsing. While normally the echo would lessen enjoyment here it only adds to the sense that this place really exists somewhere. Additionally while I normally hate computer generated imagery here I think it helps out big time. What I hate is that the computer images usually seem to be part of another place, its not the real world, but here that is exactly the effect that they are going for. Here the weird images and hyper reality puts it all in a place that is pure dream. And as for the monsters, they are wickedly cool.

When I started the film I had no idea what I was getting into. I was sent a screener by the PR person and I just put it on. I trust Ted completely and will try anything he send s my way (assuming I have time). Whats the film? Who cares, Ted sent it, so I’ll try it. (ted tends to only work on films he feels strongly about) Since I don’t read press notes until after the film I really had no idea what I was seeing. My first thoughts were that the film seemed to be riffing on any number of other films, The 1960's Soviet version of Viy among them. I didn’t realize it was a remake until I read about it afterward. The film riffs not only on Viy, and Van Helsing but also, Dracula, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Ridley Scott’s Legend. While riffing on so many films usually leaves one with a sense of not being original, but since the film has Viy as a backbone the riffs blend into pure coloring.

When I'm watching a film for review I'malways waiting for the point at which I lose the critical disconnect, the need to take notes and compare the film to other things and just go watch it. If a film can get me to stop taking notes and just eat popcorn, or somehow lose myself in it then I know I'm watching a great film on its own terms.

This is a great little film.

This is a film where 15 minutes in I put the notebook down and was all in just going where ever it was taking me.

Watching it all I could think was I had to tell people. I had to sit down with my brothers and my dad and watch this with them. Better- I want a copy of this film in my collection. This is a blast.

Forbidden Empire hits VOD on Friday and is a must see with a big bowl of popcorn.

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