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1998-05-17 00:00:00 - (REVIEW) The Hunt (minor spoilers) - (Mike Horne <mike@whispers.demon.co.uk>)

It's great to be back... There's minor spoilers in this one. Also, forgive me if this isn't as well written as last season's - it's been a while. The Whispers Reviews (formerly just plain ole The Outer Limits Reviews) The Hunt "If I were you, I'd run like hell." "The only creature that kills for sport..." "I smell the blood of a robot man." "The thrill of the hunt doesn't mean shooting fish in a barrel, it means fighting on a level playing field." An exciting episode which, while not breaking any new ground or delivering anything stunning, promises and delivers an exciting, fast- paced episode with cracking dialogue and shining cinematography. A van drives into a clearing in a forest, depositing four passengers. When they show confusion as to why they are there, the driver advises them to run like hell. They set off into the forest pursued by four hunters who show an ever-growing zeal in their sport. After a while, one of the hunters shoots an arrow at one of the four original passengers, scoring a direct hit. As the other prey flee, the hunters approach the fallen target. As they are discussing the kill, one of the hunters plunges a knife into the chest of the dead man and we see blue liquid and metal parts within. The man is an android, and this is the new blood sport. For those reading my reviews for the first time, I go through the good and bad aspects of the episode, including acting, direction, writing, music, special effects and anything else I come to as I go along. You'll get the idea, once I do... First off, the good points of the episode, of which there were plenty. Acting. There were seven main players in this episode, quite a high number for The Outer Limits. I tried to get their names right, but you'll have to excuse any spelling mistakes. (At least the National Lottery numbers didn't come over the credits this time). Oh, and I'm not too sure of most of the actors' names, so I'll refer to most of them by character name. The androids were: Cal, Doc and Terra (Sarah Strange; at least I know that one, I should do by now). The hunters were: Pete (I think), Eric, George (Eric's father), Clute (George's brother, played by Bob Gunton). Let's take each in turn. Briefly, though, everyone was good, so it might seem a bit boring... Cal was probably the character that undergoes most change throughout the episode. It is fair to say that the script keeps him in the background for most of the first half and then gradually the story becomes about the changes occurring to him. The actor's performance matches this change in focus and, when it comes time for him to take centre stage, he does so admirably. Doc was the most likeable character. Although he's an android, he has the same characteristics as a human would if he was a hardened emergency medic who's been around for ages and knows his stuff. The actor playing the character is perfectly cast and it's interesting to see how manages to portray a range of emotions from fear (of being chased), to excitement (at finding the blueprints), to outright terror (when he smashes his glasses). As I said perfectly cast, so he must have been good. Sarah Strange (from season Two's 'Falling Star') as Terra was brilliant. She had the most showy part of the three, and Strange handled it well. Now, forgive the slight bias, I'm a huge fan of hers, but again she's perfectly cast as the more rebellious of the three droids. She effectively becomes the group's leader, but without bossing them about. She knows what must be done and she does it, efficiently and ruthlessly. The arguments between Terra and Cal are particularly well done by the two actors. Once again, it just goes to show how an unremarkable episode can be lifted on the merits of the acting. Pete, the hunters' guide, or so it seemed to be, was slightly underplayed, but this suited the dialogue and the character, and also pointed slightly to the revelation later on. Eric, the youngest of the four, was interesting. There was a fine line to be drawn between his willingness and participation in the hunt and the reluctance on his part to actually take any action. Well played by the actor. George, as Eric's father, had a minimal role to play until near the end. There was a good chemistry between the actor playing George and the actor playing Eric, making the father-son relationship believable. He was also pretty strong during the confrontation scenes with his brother, Clute. Clute was played by Bob Gunton, an old genre favourite who has been in any number of films over the years. He is a respected character actor and he brings along with him a lot of quality and integrity. The character he was given was slightly unbalanced, verging on the psychotic in places, and Gunton played him to a 'T'. It'd be nice to see him back next season with a much bigger role. That's the acting out the way. Next up: Direction. Mario Azzopardi has, once again, crafted a visually impressive, well-paced and snappy episode. Looking back, he wasn't actually given much to work with. There only three 'sets' in the entire film: the forest, the cabin and the top of the dam. The forest is used for about 75% of the time, yet he manages to come up with new angles and compositions each time. As usual, I'll go through some of my favourites. The opening chase sequence is frenetic: very fast, tight angles and smooth cutting. It makes an exciting start to the episode and sets the overall feel of the story: that of the chase, the hunters and the hunted, each handled in different ways. In the cabin, just before Terra's operation, there is a nice sweeping shot around to her exposed back. This shot is becoming something I look for from an Azzopardi episode. It's a smooth sweep, stopping at the perfect shot composition. At the same time as these striking camera angles and movements, Azzopardi seems to shooting the script in a very 'raw' way. There are plenty of long-ish pieces of dialogue where he simply places the camera in front of them and lets them speak. There are no zoom-close-ups (which irritate the hell out of me), no looking-up-a-nose angles. It's a raw situation, very old - the hunt. Human against animal, animal against human, human against android. The whole point about the hunt is that expresses primal urges. Primal urges don't have Winrich Kolbe-style shots. (see DS9's Crossover for an absolutely terrible example). One scene that I liked in particular was with the hunters in the cabin. There are very few shots where all four are not in the camera frame. In one instance, Gunton is sitting with his face towards the camera and you can see Eric and George over his right shoulder as they talk to him. It's simple, but effective. The panic-stricken scenes where the hunters are being fired upon by the androids is a cool little sequence. Fast paced, disorientating. One last thing: although Terra's flashbacks are very short, it's important to mention the shooting of them - it's all very psychedelic and I wondered whether this was how the androids saw the world. Unfortunately, I didn't get an answer, but it made me think for a moment. Writing. Sam Egan, who previously gave us the very 'talky' episodes Second Thoughts and New Lease, here delivers an exciting script with some very good points to make. It's impressed me before, in the two episodes I've just mentioned, how he takes an episode and presents it as one idea and then merges another, more subliminal, message into the background. The Hunt is no exception. Yes, on a superficial level, it is a 'chase' episode, and could even be accused of being a filler. But, at the same time, it has some wonderful things to say about the value of life, and even what constitutes life. It is a clever script, but never too clever for its own good. There is some snappy dialogue, but the chase aspect is still kept near the front of the story in order to hold the audience's attention. More Sam Egan, more. Special effects were good this week, especially the android innards and blue gunk. Believable, seamless, and very visually impressive. I'd also be interested to know if there were any matte shots this week - if there were, they must've been good, because I didn't spot any. Randy Miller's music was mostly unobtrusive and I seem to remember there was a very nice theme at one point, but it didn't stick in my mind. I haven't seen his name that often, although I think he put in some hours on the dreadful Hearts and Minds last year. I'd like to hear a bit more of his work, though. Okay, here we go. These are the bad points of the episode. There aren't that many, just a few comments. There was nothing wrong with the acting, certainly. The direction was almost flawless. However, I could've sworn Terra got hit in the other shoulder... Writing-wise, there was one obvious twist, that involved a jacket and a gun (trying not to spoil it). However, credit should go to Egan for getting it out of the way quickly. It was obvious, yes, but the twist happened almost as soon as I'd guessed, so there was no great disaster there. And that's about it. A good, strong episode with a tight script, great acting and sharp direction. I'm looking forward to next weeks. It's on video, so time to go and watch it. Oh, forgot... Score: 9.1, I think. -- Mike Horne mike@whispers.demon.co.uk * http://www.whispers.demon.co.uk "They say life is a river..."

1998-05-18 00:00:00 - Re: (REVIEW) The Hunt (minor spoilers) - (stoodin101@aol.com)

> Okay, here we go. These are the bad points of the episode. There< >aren't that many, just a few comments. My biggest gripe is the script's derivation from MOST DANGEROUS GAME, though that isn't much of a gripe, as Egan manages to give the hoary concept a "new lease" on life, so that I didn't have any "second thoughts" about the final score. It isn't the best of the new season, though..... I can think of at least 3 that I have liked better: IDENTITY CRISIS, JOSH and THE VACCINE. NECRONOMICON, all-instrumental electronic music inspired by H.P.Lovecraft, now available on c-60 cassette. E-mail StoOdin101@aol.com for details.