Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On deadly ground


So everyone on the planet loved them a little killer, crazy twisty flick called Prisoners and I get it. A-list cast, brilliant director, oscar talk for Hugh "Bub" Jackman... but having just finished watching FROZEN GROUND, I gotta say... how in the sweet kaka did this film fly below the radar?

Ok. Granted, Nicolas cage is hardly the mega million draw he once was... but still.

Deep breath - so, let's chat story before I go all straight critic on your asses. First, true story. As in "Based on actual events". A serial killer of major proportion, Robert Hansen (Played awesomely against type by John Cusack) has been kidnapping and killing women for years.... Until, one day, a young hooker (Vanessa "I was in high school musical" Hudgens) manages to escape and finger him for her kidnap and rape. Of course no one believes her... except for one cop who manages to get the info to the higher up working the case, Nic Cage. Who then realizes he has his man, and now just has to manage to prove it.

So ok let's talk cast here. Nicolas Cage as a likeable and determined man of good, is great, and manages to really sink his teeth into a genuine decent cop. Vanessa as the hooker is bang on here. I am telling you folks; Spring Breakers, now this, forget just shedding her disney image, this girl is announcing herself as a serious actress. The sympathy she manages to pull form the audience, and then shift that into a real caring if she lives, dies, makes it through the film... expertly handled. Also, Dean Norris (Hank from the oh so sad its gone - Breaking Bad) has a nice bit part. Always good to see him on screen.

So you promise, I'll never have to be in another disney movie? 
So this director/writer guy - Scott walker, what of him you ask. Ok, you didn't really ask, because let's be honest here... you had no freaking idea who the hell Scott Walker is. And thats just fine... neither did I, but I do now. At first I was worried, the camera was bouncing all over the place, edits were fast and furious... and then a strange thing happens... I got what he was trying to do: Make you feel like you were witnessing the events, not simply watching the movie about the events. Sound weird? It was, and for my two cents (and we all know how damn valuable Boonsweet cents are) really effective. It takes him a while to get his grove... about 30 minutes in, but once he does, game on!

Little things like leaving the camera in the empty office were you can hear the interrogation in the other room. Setting the camera low at the victims level as Robert parades around her. These little touches pay off... where towards the end the story comes rushing at you. And you feel you have no control... you simply a witness. And you know it's a true story, and true stories don't end like hollywood.... and dammit, yes, I was pretty sucked in here folks.

There was a lot to take in, in a relatively short 105 minute runtime. The shifting from perspectives works most of the time, but it does frustrate on a couple of occasions. I would have liked to see more of Robert Hansen's life. Especial the seemingly stressed relationship with his family. Having looked into the real story a bit after the film, i can tell you yes, liberties were taken... and well, in some points just plain unexplained. The back ground of the prostitution rings, the oil boom, etc, all helpful notes to average audience member in understanding how this place is so full of bad.

What is this photo? Who cares, it's provocative. 

So ya, there are some perhaps could-of-used-them tips left out of the final product. But if I just step back and ask myself if I was entertained. If I was pulled into the suspense, and if I enjoyed my damn self... the answer dear Booniacs is YES!

Do I perhaps still have an unhealthy bromance for the works of Nicolas Cage - YES! Are there those of you that think I am crazy for claiming Vanessa Hudgens may be on her way to be a great actress - YES!

But screw it, you know me folks... from the heart. It's how I roll. This film is a good thriller. Maybe not great, but good. And before anyone goes thinking I am saying it is as good as Prisoners no, I have not watched that film yet, though I am looking forward to it. I am however saying perhaps this film deserved more it got with the barely there theatre release. People have a tendency to dismiss anything with Cage these days, and it's sad... because the man can still rock it given the right material... and this is the right stuff baby!

movie scale 3 out of 5 stars
thriller/serial killer scale 3.5 out of 5 stars

Some white knuckle moments, event if it is had dot follow on occasion. And for the record, I tried very hard to resist posting a pic of Hudgens stripping. So, ya. Tried.

- Chuck Boonsweet


Chris Widdop said...

Nice review, and glad you enjoyed this one. It really is curious how this one got such a limited release, and even then, went mostly ignored with its on-demand release, but I was glad to see it, and it stands up as one of the best I've seen this year. Definitely the surprise of the year so far for me.

Chuck Boosnweet said...

Ya I would definitely describe it as a surprise. I wondered after watching it if perhaps the reason it exceeded my expectations were simply that - I had none. But, then I decided to say screw it, it was a damn fun time.

Glad you dug my line of thinking.