Movie Review: The Water Diviner – An Unforgettable Movie Made with Skill and Focus.

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I was kind of dreading the second period drama of the week, The Water Diviner, as the first left a bad taste in my mouth. Add in the fact that I just don’t like Russel Crowe and I expected to be miserable. But really, this was actually pretty well done.

The Water Diviner stars Russel Crowe as Joshua Connor, an Australian farmer with a special skill. He’s great at being able to find water deep underground, using only a stick and his instincts. He’s living a lonely life, as his three sons went off to war in Turkey and never came home. So Connor decides to use his gift for finding things to see if he can find the remains of his sons and bring them home.

Crowe is breaking into directing with this movie and I have to say, he has a gift for it. This is a complicated movie, with multiple venues and several underlying plotlines. But Crowe has a natural gift for pacing and manages to make it all work together to tell a seamless story.

Particularly impressive is that this was filmed on a limited budget, but still manages to look epic and big budget. That might have been due to getting gifted cinematographer Andrew Lesnue, who shot “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” on board for the filming. He managed to catch the endless blue skies of Australia, all the way to the claustrophobic battle scenes of Gallipoli, with the unique ability to capture all the moving parts while presenting a full picture at the same time.

Crowe was buyable as an Australian Farmer, on a quest that defies reason. He’s particularly poignant in his scenes with Turkish Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan), a Major from the opposite side who’s been tasked with identifying countless remains. The dynamic between the two of them is incredible. They are one part adversaries and one part compatriots at the same time. Both of them play their parts as multifaceted, fully realized individuals and you can hate nor like neither one. They both have their reason for behaving the ways they do.

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This is an unforgettable movie made with skill and focus. While the storyline is simple, the complexity of the scenery, direction and characters themselves make it a cut above most of the movies out there right now.

The only problem I see with this film is getting it to appeal to a wider audience. It’s a fantastic film that has been crippled with limited release. What Crowe was able to do on a limited budget is amazing, but I only wish he’d put a little money aside for marketing. This is a gem that could easily be missed because of the lack of distribution.

There’s very little I can say was poorly done in this movie. Even Crowe’s sometimes stagnant stoicism seems to work. The minor characters are all fleshed out and the war is viewed from realistic point of view, rather than as simple hell, or over the top patriotism. It’s a film that strikes the right balance and is easily worth the watch.

Official Movie Trailer and Movie Poster Below.

WE GIVE IT: 4.5 STARS!
four and a half stars

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The Water Diviner Film Poster - 06MAY2015

Movie Review: Wolf Creek 2 (2014)

WOLF CREEK 2 movie poster -- exclusive EW.com imageThe outback version of Saw without the clever plot twists

2 Stars

The first thing I thought when I heard this was coming out was ‘there’s a Wolf Creek 1?’ Then, I checked it out and realized that the first one was made 10 years ago. What’s up with that? So many movies this year have been popping out sequels after a decade. Was this planned? The second thing I thought after I saw it was, “I am never going backpacking.”

To be fair, I never went to begin with, so it won’t be much of a loss.

In this gore filled gem, we meet again with Australian outback psycho Mick Taylor (John Jarrat) as he hunts down three backpackers who made the mistake of well, backpacking. Let’s be honest. There’s not much of a plot here. This is like the outback version of Saw without the clever plot twists.

There were some real frights in Wolf Creek 2. Jarrat himself is downright menacing as the charming one minute, stabbing the next, outback psycho. Unfortunately, he seems a bit cartoony in this effort.

It appears as though the makers are trying to somehow franchise this villain, much like Jason or Freddie Krueger. The problem with doing that is most horror fans have short attention spans. When you wait ten years to make a sequel, the fans have often completely forgotten the killer in the first place.

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Much like what happened with me, because I did see the first Wolf Creek! The thing is, it was a bit more menacing and a bit less ridiculous the first time around.

It seems that the director was going more for shock value in this rendition, and as a result, it just seems like killing for the sake of the gore. The first movie was had way more horror, with half the disgusting scenes.

There’s something a little Mad Max about our anti-hero and this cross country murder trek brings back memories of the Road Warrior. What it lacks was the one thing that made Mad Max…Mel Gibson before he went crazy.

Wolf Creek is nothing more than a new version of Australia based torture porn. Even worse, it’s not even good torture porn. It’s just gross and silly.

This is clearly an attempt at a franchise, and I have to admit I hope it fails. At least Freddy and Jason had their own redeeming back stories, clever quips and some kick ass props.

Seriously, who can look at a hockey mask the same way anymore?

But Wolf Creek 2, even though it’s a sequel, feels like it should be a one-off. This movie is a failed attempt to franchise an un-franchisable character.

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Let’s be honest; sometimes in Freddy and Jason movies, you wanted the bad guy to win. Sometimes it was because the victims were so annoying, other times it was just because they were so damn determined. But Mick Taylor isn’t a serial killer I can root for, not by a long shot.

If I’m going to get involved in a horror franchise, I at least need a serial killer that is likeable. Mick Taylor just doesn’t do that for me.  Watch the official trailer below.

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