Crimson Rivers - Angels of the Apocalypse

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by dwatts, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. dwatts

    dwatts Active Member

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    Indiana Jones. The Brood. Die Hard with a Vengeance. Black Hawk Down. To the Devil a Daughter. Alien 3. Current Religious fears.

    These are all things that crossed my mind in one way or another while watching Crimson Rivers - Angels of the Apocalypse.

    For a film such as this, that's not a bad thing.

    Writing as someone who was gravelly disappointed in the first Crimson Rivers film, one might wonder what would have possessed me to even give this one a try. I put it down to having $20 burning a hole in my pocket, and needing just one more DVD to complete by $20 for 3 deal.

    That's not to say the first film didn't have its merits. It is wonderfully shot, quite stunning. It's use of locations was excellent, there was a bit of gore, some mystery. Sadly, it was let down, tripping at the final fence, with just five minutes of time remaining. The final scenes just had me throwing rolled up paper at the TV screen. What were they thinking?!?!?!

    But it is strange how that kind of reaction can end up working for a movie. You see, going into the sequel, I was expecting basically - nothing. In fact, I actually found myself trying to guess just when they were going to undo some of the mystery at the end, and introduce the scenes that would let air out the ball. I wasn't disappointed either. However, having anticipated them, I was able to look passed a rather disappointing conclusion and to enjoy the whole. After all, this isn't the first film to have a less than perfect climax, right?

    I should start out by saying that this Crimson Tides doesn't quite have the scope of the original film due to more claustrophobic sets. Having said that, it does look wonderful. The opening scene - a stormy night, monks moving int he darkness between lightening flashes, rain pouring over the courtyard - it's never been done better. It just feels right.

    The camera is so fluid, using all three dimensions. It pans left, right, up down, backwards and fowards, shifts the axis. The camerawork alone is a piece of art. it really is just plain fun to watch such a well made film, even if the plot itself is a tad hackneyed.

    STORY

    Three cops are on the way back to the station after performing a raid. On the way, they run down a man, who looks suspiciously like Jesus. Despite being injured, the victim gets up and stumbles toward an old church, before collapsing on the steps. Muttering about the coming apocalypse, he is taken to hospital until he is well enough to speak.

    In the mean time, Inspector Niemans (Jean Reno) is investigating a series of murders himself. The murders do not seem related, other than symbols that have been left near each of the bodies. When a body is found at a monastery, he calls in an expert on religious studies to help him decipher the clues. It turns out this victim had a connection to our road victim (bringing together Neimans with a new, younger, cop buddy).

    Both victims were part of a religious sect that emulated Christ and the apostles. One by one these new apostles are being killed. Who is killing them? Why? And is the end of the world nigh?

    OPINION

    There are both good and bad things about this movie. I love a good whine, so let's start with the bad.

    Number one, the climax just doesn't deliver. Oh, it's got thrills and spills, but trust me, much of the promise dissipates in seconds. This isn't air slowly coming out of a balloon, the balloon just bursts, okay? Especially for horror fiends like us. I wanted more, but I didn't get it. This mirrors the first film, and probably (I've not read them) mirrors the novels on which these stories are based.

    Number two, I don't see this film working in mainstream America because the plot is, well, complex. It's not that, once you've seen the film, you're going to be confused, I don't think you will be. However, there is a lot to discover, and you're discovering it as the cops do, so the pieces don't always fit together, two plus two equals three, and you're left scratching your head much of the time. It's probably what it is really like being cop - but movie audiences tend to like being let into the secrets in a rather more obvious way.

    Number three, the color palette. I actually stopped this film at the twenty minute mark, and went and played it on my PC for a bit, convinced my projector was failing. The colors here are all greens and yellows. All the lights in the movie flare. People have yellow faces, and the sky looks like the inside of a melon. I went into the menu system on my projector and cranked the blue, surely something was wrong? Nope - that's the color palette. It took a bit of getting used to, particularly because the crystal clear first movie had set a precedent.

    Number four, it's daft. Well, at times. This is type of movie where something will get explained to you, your brain acknowledges - yes, they've taken care of that strange plot point - but all the logic alarms in your head are saying, BUT!!!!

    Approach this film as you would say, the Bourne Identity, and you'll be much better off. The dialog is better, the plot more complex, it looks brilliant, but it's mostly a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's not new, it's just slightly different.

    Alright, the good. There's a lot of good, I'm going to keep myself to four, to even out the bad.

    If I went through each of the film references that opened this review, I'd have to explain way too much of the plot. It might be more fun to approach this film yourself, and have you figure out if you know what I mean. However, it won't ruin much if I tell you a couple of things.

    Number one, monks rule. Oh sure, we're used to seeing monks walk around with their quiet little voices, bald spots, and a wooden cross in their hands. Forget that. How about lean, mean, fighting monk machines? Ever wonder what would have happened if those little kids in the Brood had gotten religion? Well come one down! The kids are back, and they're on a mission (sic). Seriously though, some of the scenes with the monks are really out of this world. This film redefines what they symbolize cinematically. Stuck in a rut for all time, it seems, this film gets them on the road and out into the streets. It's really a joy.

    Number two, action sequences. This film actually delivers on that old cliche "Heart-pounding adrenalin rush". Really. The first fight scene in the movie is astonishing, and a chase sequence really cranks the tension. The filmmakers knew what they were doing here. I'm the type of person who actually can get bored with the same old fight/chase sequences, predictable as they are. I didn't with these. There is so much energy on display here, it's better than a car rally. Excellent stuff.

    Number three, the opening sequence. A film can endear itself to you right from the get-go by giving us a credit sequence we'll remember for a long time. This film really delivers. A camera pans across a sculpture, carved out of what appears to be wood. he slow crawl is punctuated by streams of blood and water, pouring into the crevices, dripping down, and hanging in droplets. As the credits come to a close the camera pulls back, and we're looking at Christ, crucified, head hung down drenched in the redness. Powerful stuff. A credit sequence you could watch on its own.

    Number four, current affairs. To go into too much detail here would be to ruin some of the film. However, I did want to mention how topical parts of this film are. A religious belief has, for centuries, been sold to us as an ideal, something wonderful, pure. However recent events have been different ideologies to the forefront, and faced with the strange, faced with things we can't really grasp at the same level of our own religiosity, we're seeing something perhaps not unexpected - suspicion and anger. This film touches on this, and I found it interesting. It examines it not from "our" side, either, but from the other side. What if those who believe differently from us aren't exactly out to destroy us, but rather, simply don't care about us? Bummer, this is something I'd like to explore more, but to do so would ruin the film... oh well.

    Summary

    Not every film has to be perfect. Not every film has to have a nice neat story that is easily consumable in one gulp. Not every film has to make total sense. I know this film doesn't. Yet, there are moments that will spark off memories of other films you've seen that just in the end, make it fun. It's not a "homage" type thing, it's just using devices we've seen before, but pulling them together in different ways. Crimson Rivers - Angels of the Apocalypse isn't a new kind of film, it's an old kind.

    But, first and foremost, its fun.

    Christopher Lee pops up in the one, yes, speaking French. Jean Reno does a great job (it's not a demanding role, to be honest). It's certainly filmmaking at a high-level.

    It's a quick 99 minutes due to the amount of action going on, and the fast-paced plot. Yes, it's complex, but it'll take you 90 minutes to truly figure out what is going on. In the mean time, there is action, spills, and yes, some gore.

    It's something else, and I heartily recommend it.
     
  2. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    I sorta liked the first film... but this sequel was just terrible. Everything was wrong with it.
     
  3. Mok

    Mok Family is Forever

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    I keep promising my brother that I'll check this out. I went to rent it once(the first one) and it was out. My bro says that the second film is better than the first too. Should I bother with the first? Do I need to see it to avoid being lost when watching the second?
     
  4. dwatts

    dwatts Active Member

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    The two films have nothing but a character in common. So you're on good ground.

    --Everything was wrong with it.--

    In my review I did say "Not every film has to be perfect. Not every film has to have a nice neat story that is easily consumable in one gulp. Not every film has to make total sense. I know this film doesn't."

    There ARE issues, but it's FUN. Interested to here how, for you, it wasn't ;)
     

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