Archive for the ‘Disaster’ Category

They showed the prestigious HBO series about the Chernobyl disaster on national tv last week. In the midst of the corona crisis lockdown.

It’s that show that you want to see, because so much has been written about it. And watching it now gives you extra thrills. While the covid-19 pandemic confronts us daily with a possible apocalyptic disaster and conspiracy theories, it’s interesting to see how a similar threat was dealt with 30+ years ago.

In 1986 an explosion at a nuclear plant near Kiev (Ukraine) threatened to devastate an entire area and possibly affect the entire European continent. But the catastrophe was contained and somehow forgotten quite soon. Yes, there are still memes going around that make fun of the effects of exposure to radioactivity (one that says ‘I went to Chernobyl and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’ and shows a t-shirt with several armholes). And yes, adventure travel reporters like to visit the area to see how dangerous it still is to walk around in the area. But apart from that, nobody really thinks about it that much.

Until now.

Sure, it’s an interesting series. It focuses on the actual diaster and tries to explain what really happened, but it also focuses on the efforts of getting it contained and the treatment of those who got exposed to the radio-activity. However, the series also wants to expose the cover-up of the Russian authorities. Which most likely happened, no doubt, but it gets annoying after a while. This soon feels like a fictionalized anti-Russian Cold War propaganda show from the eighties. With an underlying tone that a similar disaster in the West won’t happen and would have been dealt with differently. It’s an obvious angle, but it just feels biased. And the main reason for that is simple: the entire cast speaks British English! British English! Mineworkers, locals, doctors, scientists, state officials, Gorbatsjov! They all speak like they live in the UK! This happend in the Ukraine! The show shows Belarus and Russia. Yet, you don’t hear Russian or any other slavic language.

How is this possible? How is this believable? Apparently they didn’t want the actors to speak with Russian accents (thank God, that would have been even worse). but choosing British actors over Russian actors just is a crappy decision. It’s already annoying when Tom Cruise plays Graf von Stauffenberg in Valkyrie and doesn’t speak German.Or Willem Dafoe playing Van Gogh and not speaking any French or Dutch. Why are so many people incapable of reading subtitles? Why is it so difficult to find actors who at least speak the language of the characters they portray?

That aspect of the show is very distracting. By episode 4 you are still watching British actors interpret what people from the former USSR were experiencing. You’re still not feeling these characters at all. Apparently they are making a Russian series about the show, which will also be biased and which will focus on the patriotic heroism of the mine workers and others who stopped the diaster from spreading around Europe. It’ll also be propaganda, but at least it will feel more natural when they speak the original language!

Aaaaarrghhhhhh!

That said. Interesting stuff though. A bit slow, quite technical and too depressing, but intriguing. Yet, fictionalized and thus overrated. (check: https://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/chernobyl/)

www.imdb.com/title/tt7366338

 

Kursk – *(*)

Posted: November 13, 2018 in 2018, Belgium, Disaster, Drama, Luxemburg, X1/2

Kursk is an ambitious movie about a Russian submarine disaster that happened not that long ago. It focuses on the crew that survived the initial blast and got stuck at the bottom of the sea waiting to be rescued. It also shows the despair and frustration of the family members waiting for news about their loved ones. And it’s a big critique to the malfunctioning Russian marine. So far so good.

However, this is a Belgian movie (!) with an international (European) cast who all speak English with an accent. They don’t even try a Russian accent. No, they speak English with a French, Swiss, German, Danish, Swedish, Flemish, Dutch accent. Oh, there are some British actors too, but they play  British navy staff so that’s ok. It’s initially very difficult to accept. Especially during the (overlong) character introduction. Here you have a bunch of Russian marines and their wives at a wedding in a remote Russian village and they all sound like exchange students speaking English as a common language.

But then the story moves forward as the submarine experiences a first explosion, which happens faster than expected once the ship sails out. Several crew members manage to survive the blast and are locked up in a small compartment trying to figure out how to get enough oxygen. Outside, the Russian navy is trying to figure out how they are going to rescue the survivors with their malfunctioning equipment. Further outside is the British navy offering help, to no avail.

The appreciation of the storytelling depends on your knowledge of the outcome of the events. The appreciation of the actual movie experience depends on what your expectations are of a disaster movie made with a budget of 20 million euro.

It’s not such a bad movie really. It’s not going to get a wide release though.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4951982

Bølgen (The Wave) – *(*)

Posted: February 20, 2017 in 2015, Disaster, Drama, Norway, X1/2

The Wave is a Norwegian disaster movie about an earthquake that creates an avalanche in the fjords, which causes a devastating tsunami. Hence the title. A huge wave of water runs through the fjords and destroys all that it’s passing by.

It’s a brief moment though, somewhere in the middle.

Before the wave actually hits anything, you are forced to like the main character, a maladroit geologist who’s been studying the activity of the fjords for several years, but has now accepted a job in the oil industry. Of course on the day that the removal truck emptied his house, there is some alarming data coming in at the research station. Yes, the fjords are awake ! Then the wave happens. And then the geologist, who got separated from his wife and kids,  starts looking for them single handedly.

If this was a production from the Scifi Channel, nobody would care. But the fact that it’s not made in Hollywood kind of makes it exotic, interesting and by definition more credible. Well, NO. This disaster movie may start of exotic (it looks like the Norwegian Board of Tourism financed it to attract more tourists), interesting (this tsunami scenario is real) and credible (the science is explained in a educational way), the actual tsunami scene is pretty unspectacular and the aftermath (the last hour or so) just makes you want to watch Lo Impossible again. A family gets separated and needs to find each other again. Boring!

But hey. It was a 99 cent rental.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3616916

 

San Andreas – **

Posted: June 8, 2015 in 2015, Disaster, Drama, USA, X1/2

Ten reasons why I finished this simplistic action movie:
– It’s primarily set in San Francisco
– It stars The Rock, who one day may actually be a convincing actor, but now just impresses by just being The Rock
– Iconic buildings collapse both in LA and SFO
– The digitally depicted destruction is entertaining and amazing
– The suspense is predictable, but suspenseful nevertheless
– Kylie Minogue has a cameo… Surprise !
– It’s quite a feat to lack humor and still conjure laughs at times
– the bad guy is a real estate mongul
– the sound effects are in full digital surround
– it’s 90 minutes of mindless, forgetful entertaining fun

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2126355

Ten years already!

Christmas 2004 is a date a lot of people will remember.

This is a great documentary made for the UK tv based on interviews of survivors and using a lot of video material from the survivors themselves and others who filmed the horrific events with their cellphone or video cameras.

It’s not easy to make a coherent documentary with amateur footage, but the makers pull it off. You can discuss why some of the images weren’t edited out (the dead bodies, the references to God, … ), but in the end it’s a real captivating document, which a documentary should be all about.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1638939/

It’s all on youtube:

 

Noah – 1/2

Posted: August 7, 2014 in 1/2, 2014, Adventure, Disaster, Fantasy, Historical, USA

If it weren’t for my upset stomach, I would have fallen asleep after half an hour. What a load of crap.

Noah gets a vision from the Creator (let’s not call him God) that he should build an ark and save the animal species (and some plants too) from extinction. There’s a flood coming and all human kind will die. Yeah!

Enter Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel who wrote a movie script based on this well-known biblical tale (which even atheists must have heard about at least once in their life). They add some giant rock creatures to help Noah build his ark and protect him from the evil descendants of Cain who came to rule the earth and they  depict the flood-defier as some lunatic man on a mission ready to kill his granddaughters because they could pro-create, hence repopulating this planet with humans again once the flood was over.

But hey, we’re still here. So he didn’t kill his grand daughters!

There is absolutely NO tension in this movie at all. The action is boring. The special effects are ridiculous. The acting is more like rehearsing for a school play. The way the gorgeous and talented Emma Watson expresses her joy of being pregnant would be slammed by any acting teacher. DRAMA!

This movie makes me appreciate season 2 of Game Of Thrones much more. At least that fantasy show looks good. This just doesn’t.

The building of the ark is one of those cool stories from the bible which appeals to many of its readers. Even the critical ones. It’s apocalyptic and it has all these animals! It makes you wonder why the animals didn’t kill each other during the flood or why there weren’t any native americans, blacks or asians on board of the vessel. Sure it’s all a fairy tale retold over and over again from the Greeks to the Jews to the Christians to the Muslims. But it’s an important one. Read the book of genesis (for children) and fill in the gaps with your own fantasy. Skip this interpretation.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1959490

 

 

The Impossible – **1/2

Posted: December 28, 2012 in 2012, Disaster, Drama, Spain, XX1/2

Eight years ago a tsunami hit Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives and other South Eastern countries. It’s one of those shocking moments in life that make you realize how fragile we still are. I don’t really remember where I was when I heard the news, but I remember how devastated I was seeing the images in the aftermath.

And now there’s a movie, produced and made in Spain but staring an English-speaking cast, that will draw all those people to the cinema, who want to know what really happened there. It’s based on a true story about a family of five getting separated by the tsunami and hoping for the impossible to reconnect. It’s very dramatic, but the fact that it’s a true story makes it acceptable. The tsunami scenes are impressive and it’s very emotional when certain family members reunite. This is a perfect example of a good drama with all the ingredients that  you get taught at the movie directing school. It’s just missing that extra originality that makes a good movie great. And there are a few scenes that are unintentionally funny when they should scare or touch you emotionally. Like when Ewan McGregor makes a phone call home for instance. Not your best acting, mate!

The stand out performance in this movie is not coming from Naomi Watts, but from the young Tom Holland who absolutely steals every single scene he’s in. Not since Jamie Bell in Billy Elliot did a young kid perform this good.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1649419/