Exorcist II: The Heretic (Blu-ray Review)

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18 – 117mins – 1977


 

CALL ME BY MY DEVIL NAME

Cynically made on-the-cheap by a new creative team after the two Williams (original Exorcist director Friedkin and author Peter-Blatty) flat-out refused to be involved in a follow-up, The Heretic was also beset by a mountain of production problems (its script was rewritten FIVE times DURING filming by uncredited writers; the final product scarcely resembles the first draft) and – rather predictably – it garnered near-universal derision upon release. Frankly, it’s a miracle that the franchise survived such a monumental blunder, but clearly the power of Pazuzu conquers all set-backs!

… Keep Scuttling!

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TABOO, 1.3 (TV Review)

BBC One – Saturday 21st January 2017 – 9:15pm

Created by: Tom Hardy, Edward “Chips” Hardy, Steven Knight

Written by: Steven Knight

Directed by: Kristoffer Nyholm


A PINCER MOVEMENT

After a fortnight of moaning that episodes 1.1 and 1.2 of the BBC’s Ridley Scott-produced historical miniseries were more concerned with entrenching us in grimy atmosphere than propelling the story forward, with Saturday’s third instalment opening with cunning comeback kid James Delaney (Tom Hardy) weak and wobbly after being stitched up from the knife wound he sustained at the hands of a bonneted assassin, I feared we would be in for another hour of slow burn consternation as our enigmatic protagonist recovered from the thrust of a blade.

… Keep Scuttling!

TABOO, 1.2 (TV Review)

Image result for taboo bbc episode 2

BBC One – Saturday 14th January 2017 – 9:15pm

Created by: Tom Hardy, Edward “Chips” Hardy, Steven Knight

Written by: Stephen Knight

Directed by: Kristoffer Nyholm


LEAGUE OF THE DAMNED

“The King and Company are after your head…”

Now more adamant than ever that his inherited piece of land on the Canadian-American border is not for sale, in this sophomore instalment of the eight part BBC/FX mini-series, troubled rogue James Delaney (co-creator Tom Hardy) is a man on a mission: to recruit a team of trustworthy allies to aid him in reclaiming his poisoned father’s legacy, the Nootka Sound… and stop any number of his myriad enemies from striking him down to take it. And there was me thinking he was a superhuman one-man band?

… Keep Scuttling!

TABOO, 1.1 (TV Review)

Image result for taboo bbc

BBC One – 7th January 2017 – 9:15pm

Written by: Steven Knight

Directed by: Kristoffer Nyholm


RUMOURS, WOE AND RESURRECTION

In a bold show of supreme confidence in the broader-than-usual appeal of their first major new drama of 2017, the BBC scheduled this dark period piece for a prime time Saturday evening slot. With Hollywood hunk Tom Hardy in the lead role and with Ridley Scott as an Executive producer, such star pedigree and lofty production values make it hard to question their decision. But did last night’s debut instalment of Taboo make me desperate to return next weekend?

… Keep Scuttling!

The Legend of Tarzan (Cinema Review)

12A – 108mins – 2016 – 3D


 

THE SPIRIT OF THE TREES

Before his imminent return to the wizarding world with November’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, director David Yates looks to older literary inspiration in bringing Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Victorian ape-man back to the big screen for his umpteenth reimagining.

What makes The Legend of Tarzan unique, however, is that rather than again retelling John Clayton III’s (Alexander Skarsgård) oft-told origin story, we instead join up with Lord Greystroke eight years after he has returned to England with his wife, Jane (Margot Robbie), with crucial flashbacks to his formative years in the jungle integrated into this sort-of sequel.

Christoph Waltz, who I must confess I have never warmed to as an actor, returns to his moustache-twirling devious antagonist comfort zone as Captain Léon Rom, the corrupt envoy for Belgium’s debt-ridden King Leopold II. Rom devises a sinister scheme to lure the renowned Tarzan back to Boma in the Congo jungle, capture him and delivery him to an old enemy for a bounty of diamonds to save his dire government from bankruptcy.

Waltz’s Hateful Eight co-star Samuel L. Jackson plays second fiddle to the titular shirt-shy star as sharp-shooting American envoy George Washington Williams, who accompanies Tarzan and Jane on their overseas expedition, and aids in the rescue of Jane when Rom sees the sinister opportunity to lure his prey out of hiding with some wife-shaped bait.

Sumptuously imagined in a similar CG-heavy approach to Disney’s recent The Jungle Book reboot, this vine-swinging wild ride seems to have been somewhat lost in the wilderness of blockbuster season, receiving a trough of middling reviews where John Favreau’s uncanny Mowgli remake was lauded for its technical wizardry. Sure, the occasional shot is noticeably green screened, but there is far more to make you go “ooo!” than “ergh!” here.

The pacing isn’t perfect, with the grand riverboat finale reached prematurely, despite the action bobbing along nicely up to that point, but the film’s only major misstep is in expecting us to invest in little-seen African tribal leader Chief Mbonga’s (Djimon Air Hounsou) passion for revenge against the film’s hero – despite Tarzan’s earlier murder of his son only being briefly alluded to and never visualised.

Otherwise, I see no reason to lambast screenwriters Adam Cozard and Craig Brewer for their vision, which is as bestial, exotic and adventurous as a Tarzan story can be. Sadly, I fear this Legend going the same way as Disney’s doomed adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other shaggy-haired literary property, John Carter, which flopped for no discernible reason in 2012.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars