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Inferno

Ouija: Origin Of Evil

October 27, 2016

Inferno (**) PG-13      

Inferno, the latest in the series of film adaptations based on author Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon character (previously seen in Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code) has many problems, chief among them being a certain lack of logic. At the tail end of the picture a character states that overpopulation on our planet must be contained in order to save the earth. I simply sat there thinking to myself that the last time I checked the earth wasn’t going anywhere and anyone of scientific merit will tell you that the earth will continue spinning long after the human species has come and gone. If anything is endangered it would be the people who inhabit the planet and not the planet itself. That, of course, doesn’t stop the plot machine in the film from cranking out a tale springing from the premise that overpopulation will destroy the earth. If you’re willing to swallow that premise then maybe you won’t have as many problems with Inferno as I did.    

At the onset of the film, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), the professor with a penchant for decoding symbols, is lying in a hospital suffering from what appears to be amnesia and nursing a head wound.

Tom Hanks & Felicity Jones in Inferno

It’s funny how his amnesia is so selective that he can’t remember the word coffee but can remember lesser details, although the film, to its credit, does address this in a humorous throwaway line of dialogue. At any rate, Langdon has barely awakened from his semi coma when an assassin attempts to put him out to pasture in the hospital setting the wheels in motion for Langdon and his doctor (Felicity Jones) to make their escape. They remain on the run for the majority of the first hour of the film in repetitive action sequences that have been better executed in other films of a similar nature.    

Just about the time that the film begins to fall into the doldrums a plot twist at around the seventy five minute mark livens things up and sends the movie in a different direction. Plot twists and the identity of the film’s true villain are revealed, although it’s only enough to sustain a moderate level of interest but that’s about it.

Ron Howard, who also helmed the other two pictures in the Langdon series, is behind the camera on this one as well. He does the best he can with the material but that’s not saying much considering how old hat a story involving bio terrorism is at this point. The trouble is that Howard is, as a rule, only as good as his material. Inferno, as a result, is a mildly involving but generally lackluster affair and it will interesting to see if audiences turn up to see this newest entry nearly a decade after the last one appeared. I know I’m curious.

Ouija: Origin of Evil (**)
PG-13

Considering how poorly made and conceived the 2014 horror opus Ouija turned out to be I found myself quite surprised at the positive word preceding the release of the film’s prequel, Ouija: Origin of Evil. Was it possible that the filmmaking team behind this latest entry would actually attempt to do something other than to cash in on the box office returns of the first film? The answer to that question is a resounding no and one would best be advised to not believe the hype.

As one could probably ascertain from the film’s title, Ouija: Origin of Evil is a prequel of sorts in what looks to be a franchise, assuming the latest one brings in the bucks. While the film may be lame as they come in the storytelling department it does deserve some faint praise for some of the technical details, most notably some nifty choices of certain shots (film buffs will especially dig the use of the split diopter lens). The film also has a generally retro feel right from the get go as the old Universal Pictures logo from the 60s/70s scrolls across the screen. There’s also an attempt to make the film look like an actually movie print when, every twenty minutes, a circle in the top right corner appears.  It’s a nice touch for those of us old enough to remember when film prints actually had to be assembled and weren’t beamed into theaters via satellite.

All of the technical prowess in the world, however, can’t disguise the fact that this is a lame movie with virtually no scares.

Scene from Ouiga: OoE, with Henry Thomas at right

There are a few during the last twenty minutes or so but it’s a long and tough sit to get there. The film takes place in 1967 where the recently widowed Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) is attempting to run a fortune telling business out of her home while raising her two daughters as a single mom. Alice makes no bones about the fact that it’s all a scam, which doesn’t seem like a particularly good example to set for your kids, but I digress. At any rate things begin to heat up when Alice purchases a Ouija board to use in her psychic business and things take a turn for the worse.

At least Henry Thomas (Elliot in the classic film, E.T.) turns up as a priest to liven up the party somewhere in the midst of the proceedings.

As a film, Ouija is slightly better than the lame 2014 original but that really isn’t saying much. It wouldn’t take much effort to best that film and perhaps that’s why the filmmaking team behind this prequel seem to be making such a low key effort. When you’re starting at the bottom I guess the only way is up.

Both movies are playing at the Carmike in Hickory and all around the area.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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