Oldboy (2004) vs Oldboy (2013)

OldBoy VS

I chose to watch the remake before the original and immediately regretted that decision after realizing that this isn’t your average revenge flick. It’s a lot darker and filled with more surprises than I first anticipated. Going into the original knowing the general storyline and plot diminished the effect of the first half of the film, luckily due to changes in the remake there were still a few pleasant surprises and twists that I didn’t see coming. I think if I would have been a bit smarter and chose to watch the original first I would have instantly loved it.

The initial reasoning behind watching the remake first was to give it a fair chance so that I wouldn’t be comparing the two constantly, but this is just one of those films where this can’t be prevented. Firstly the story is unique providing plenty of plot twists to keep us guessing. Once knowing these twists, it’s hard to stop waiting for them to happen in the original. Luckily the remake didn’t stay completely true to the original and made a few plot changes but those were the only changes made. That’s what makes the remake incredibly pointless in my opinion. It didn’t offer anything new, apart from a western cast and a neo-noir tone. Why remake a film and change virtually nothing about it. Usually what you’d like to see in a remake is perhaps a unique style true to the director or something different creatively but the 2013 version felt lackluster and ultimately not worth filming especially when you have a pretty perfect counterpart.

Oldboy-5
Oldboy (2013) –
Roze-Rating: 3 / 5

We’re introduced to Joe Doucett leaving a lunch meeting drunk, what first seems acceptable turns unacceptable as he urinates in public and adds more booze into a soda cup before returning to work. He later shouts at his wife for nagging him to attend his daughters 3rd birthday party and hits on his clients wife who has no interest in him. It’s safe to say that he isn’t a pleasant man at all. We’re not meant to like him but we can tell that not even he likes himself as he spits at a mirror while staring at his reflection. He seems to have given up on himself. After a booze filled night he’s snatched off the street and awakens in an unfamiliar room which he’s trapped in.

We don’t really get a sense of that revenge until he is released from the room. Whilst in the room it’s more about his self improvement and redemption in order to be worthy of his daughters forgiveness when he is let out. I suppose that is what prevents him from going insane.

Without giving anything away this film tackles some dark themes which would make a lot of people feel uncomfortable, but this film lacked grit and an appropriate tone to support it. It felt too mainstream and lacked style, the cinematography, characters and locations felt generic which ruined what was supposed to be an eerie film about revenge. Instead it came off as your average blockbuster film.

What I liked about this film was the added noir tone. It felt appropriate during the scenes where Brolin and Olsen are trying to figure out who trapped him in that room. But then there would be an abrupt change in tone during Brolin’s hammer to skull combat scenes. Sometimes it would feel out of place especially the iconic hallway tracking shot. It was always going to be a hard scene to pull off and unfortunately it looked awkward. Having not seen the original before this, I can say that was my first reaction. Brolin was awesome but the extra’s made the scene feel gimmicky with over the top reactions and unrealistic movements, some moments were cool but others were off. Talking about extra’s, they seemed to burden the film with below par acting. Not only the iconic fight scene but a couple of flashbacks too. If someone points a shotgun at you, I’m pretty sure you’d flinch, at least a little bit.

Josh Brolin proves to be one of the few positives coming out of this film , showing that he can be a strong lead and carry a film. Another positive is Sharlto Copley, now cementing his status as king of accents. It may be slightly off in this film but his stiff interpretation of Brolin’s mysterious enemy makes him an intriguing character. It was interesting seeing Elizabeth Olsen for the first time, it gave me the chance to see if she’s Avengers worthy. She was solid but maybe due to the script she felt monotone. We don’t really sense her troubled past or any hardship, the only time we sense it is when it’s spoon fed to us or the first scene we see her with Brolin where she’s wearing a scruffy torn T-shirt, then minutes later we see her wearing a nice blazer. The only thing that signified to me was whether she was homeless or not, not every druggie has a torn up shirt!

Oldboy-3


Oldboy (2004) – Roze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Oh Dae Su is an obvious alcoholic as we’re introduced to him at a police station being a nuisance. He says all he does is try to get through the day, which suggests he struggles in life and in a way might have already given up. He may be unhappy but he shares a sweet spot for his daughter despite continually being absent from her life. From the opening we know he’s done some bad things and may not be a pleasant person. Before we know it he’s been picked up from the side of the street and trapped in a room.

Compared with the newer version, the transition to his entrapment is a lot quicker, you could say the remake spoon feeds the audience the plot and also gives us a more direct interpretation of the character. With Oh Dae Su we can understand him the way we want to. There’s more emphasis on his growing insanity within the room which the remake didn’t touch on, to put the cherry on the top there’s an explanation to why he never gave in to the insanity which is what I was wondering the whole time. When he’s released he saves a man from committing suicide but it becomes apparent that he hasn’t completely changed, he still lacks compassion but he’s fitter and driven with only revenge on his mind. In that respect there is more emphasis on revenge which the remake didn’t have.

Themes of vengeance are relevant throughout the film, when we learn more about the person who trapped Dae Su. We learn the extent to which revenge can go and what holding a grudge can do to a man. For Dae Su, remorse slowly creeps in on him once he figures out who the mystery man is.

Performances are great from everyone in the cast. The lead Min-sik Choi is phenomenal, a character which will stay with me for a long time. He finds the perfect mix of grit, anger and insanity. Gang Hye-Jeong plays the female supporting role convincingly, we buy into her loneliness and hurt, making her a character we believe in. Playing the mystery man is Ji-tae Yu who is portrayed as this charismatic, suave, insane, evil man. In terms of antagonists, this is as good as it gets.

The blend of violence and dark humour is emphasized by the films overall offbeat tone. It gives the film consistency and style which the remake lacked. The screenplay is also better with narration, memorable quotes and metaphoric messages that move the narrative along nicely. There’s no question to why this is a cult classic, I’ve not seen a film as interesting, fast paced and intense as this in a long time.

Oldboy-4


Verdict

The original is miles better than Spike Lee’s remake. I’m all for a remake, but only if it’s justified. Foreign films have been adapted before, it’s not uncommon, but usually there’s a unique spin on them. For instance Prince Avalanche and The Departed. What makes the original so much better is the script, it has all the plot holes filled which the remake had. I don’t understand why you would take a film with a perfect story line and change little things like making the protagonists imprisonment 20 years instead of 15. Little things that create plot holes. As for the characters, as good as Josh Brolin is, he doesn’t come close to beating Min-sik Choi and his awesome hair. But even overall the characters are richer in the original. I didn’t like Elizabeth Olsen’s take on the female role at all. I didn’t buy into her vulnerability as much as Gang Hye-Jeong’s Mido. As for the antagonist, Sharlto Copley was absolute gold but it didn’t feel appropriate for a film like Oldboy, he felt gimmicky. Ji-tae Yu was just as suave as Copley but his anger and desire for vengeance felt real, you almost feel for the character. Overall Chan Wook Park’s film smashes the remake… in the skull… with a hammer.


Advertisements

Europa Report (2013)

europa report 4Roze-Rating: 3 / 5

Europa One will be the first spacecraft to carry Men and Women deeper into space than ever before. Their mission is to board one of 63 of Jupiter’s known moon’s, Europa, one of the closest habitable places in our Solar System. The crew set out for a long journey to their destination leaving them alone in space after communication breaks down with earth. They have to conquer the danger’s of space but also their mental well being.

Europa Report adopts the found footage style of film making, and with editing it literally feels like a documentary/news report. Since the premise sets up a groundbreaking time for mankind and space travel, camera’s are set up within the spaceship so that earth can follow the crew’s every move. This gives the films style a rational reasoning. For its low budget I think this was a pretty smart move because it made little weaknesses in special effects forgiving and added some form of realism to the film. Overall we’re given an even better insight to life in space, if not thrilling it is definitely interesting.

What I found is that this film really focuses on it’s science more than cheap thrills or cliched disasters. Europa is actually the closest habitable place in our solar system and could possibly hold some form of life, we have no idea and in that respect it is quite thought provoking. I’m not much of a space nerd but it does provoke questions about space and life that I rarely think about. If your truly into Sci-Fi and enjoy the Sci more than the Fi then Europa Report may be up your ally. To me it’s what diminished the enjoyment of the film, I quite like thrills and good special effects when it comes to Sci-FI and this didn’t offer much. There was definitely a sense of suspense when intended but I’d like to see more out of a film set in a place that’s actually reachable. All the science stuff kinda went in one ear and out of the other because you expect it to be nonsense.

It was nice seeing some familiar faces in the cast. Sharlto Copley probably the bigger of the few, known for his work in Sci-Fi. Of course he plays more of a tame character in a realistic setting this time as opposed to his over the top badass’s. If your a fan of Dexter, it will be quite a reminiscent moment seeing Christian Camargo again AKA Rudy; luckily over his serial killer ways. The rest of the cast includes Michael Nyqvist (Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol), Daniel Wu (The Man With The Iron Fists), Anamaria Marinca (Five Minutes of Heaven) and the lovely Karolina Wydra in her first major film role. In honesty there are no major performances, what the film lacked was chemistry between the group. The only character that seemed to be connecting with other characters was Sharlto Copley. Other than that they were solid.

Elysium (2013)

Elysium-2

Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

Niell Blomkamp returns with his second directorial and written feature film continuing on with the science-fiction genre he is so fond of. Elysium is set in the year of 2154, where the world has become vastly overpopulated and the overall economic condition has diminished. The poor are left to live on earth while the rich are free to live on Elysium, an artificial planet just off earth. Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) is our protagonist, committed to leaving the criminal lifestyle he once had. Holding a solid job at Armadyne Corp, he is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation forcing him back with his old criminal pals in order to live. Only way to do that is to break into Elysium.

There’s one thing that Elysium will give you and that is an eyegasm. The overall design for this film is amazing, you feel as if your in an apocalyptic world on earth with its shanty town aesthetics and Elysium truly looks like a vista of vivid green vegetation, still lakes and luxury houses. You can tell the design team had a great time during the production of the film. from the start I had an impression that it couldn’t go wrong since it looked so great and sci-fi is typically fun. But for such a profound topic of high classes taking extreme measures just to get away from the poor, it was nothing more than a mash up of Minority Report and District 9. The premise was interesting but it was executed with a cliched plot and storyline.

Elysium is a shallow sibling to District 9, it has the perfect visuals but a weak script. For a sci-fi action film this will satisfy a lot of audiences looking for a fun flick. It has the action, love interest and a showdown fight, it kind of plays like a video game in that respect. In terms of the story that’s all that can be said about it, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The protagonist has a few days to live, in order to live he needs to get somewhere with a cure, along the way there are people out to kill him but once realizing the bigger picture of the results of his predicament, Spock comes to mind, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.

In honesty I enjoyed the action. There are a few cool gadgets used making the scenes a lot more interesting, and in the end gave it that extra bit of appeal. Although there are a few off putting aspects such as the facial reconstruction scene, the machine claims that a mans brain is still somewhat functioning despite a grenade explosion to the face. It’s unrealistic but the scene itself is pretty cool so I can let that go. What I can’t let go is Jodie Foster’s accent. That has to go down as probably the worst accent ever in film. It was as if she couldn’t decide how she wanted her character to talk as her accent was inconsistent throughout the whole film. She sounds like a hybrid of American, English and South African combined, it’s annoying but totally amusing.

As for performances Matt Damon does his thing, it was good seeing him in an action role again bringing back my desires for a Jason Bourne return (needs to happen). Alice Braga is growing on me as she’s now starred in three pretty decent futristic/post-apocalyptic films in Repo-Men, I Am Legend and now Elysium. She has a knack for these roles and fits them. Despite Jodie Foster’s crappy accent, her intimidating aura is weirdly sexy which is quite an achievement at 51 and still looking great. Lastly Sharlto Copley puts in another great performance for Niell Blomkamp. I’m really hoping to see more from him in the near future as he’s simply awesome, he plays the creepy card just as well as the badass card.