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Talking Movies with Spling - Macbeth, 10 Cloverfield Lane and Z for Zachariah

Spling reviews Macbeth, 10 Cloverfield Lane and Z for Zachariah as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

Movie Review: Modder en Bloed

Modder en Bloed or Blood and Glory is a war drama, directed by Sean Else, who coaxed some fantastic performances from a stellar cast in his previous feature, 'n Man soos my Pa. This film stars Stian Bam, Grant Swanby and Charlotte Salt, who lead an equally adept ensemble with the likes of Deon Lotz, Edwin van der Walt, Bok van Blerk, Albert Maritz, Greg Kriek and Patrick Connolly.

The "Blood" part has a gritty edge, not shying away from its ruthless Full Metal Jacket boot camp aspirations as we journey with a farmer and family man, who becomes a prisoner-of-war on the notorious St. Helena concentration camp in 1901. Instead of Private Pyle and Gny. Sgt. Hartman, we have a bitter stand-off and power play between Willem Morkel and Colonel Swannell.

Stian Bam plays Morkel, an upstanding every-boer with nothing to lose. After being captured and unceremoniously welcomed to the island by the psychotic Colonel Swannell himself, he adjusts to the oppressive new circumstances finding a place among the dislocated prisoners. Bam has a Russell Crowe quality, carrying an expression of melancholy and suffering that projects his battle-weary disposition. As a tall man, he also stands above the rest as a natural leader, determined to weather the elements of injustice with a determined and headstrong performance.

He's pitted against Grant Swanby as the smug and sardonic Colonel Swannell, an imperialist and bully, whose position of power make him a proud and dastardly monster. Swanby relishes the opportunity to play Swannell, turning in a detestable villain, whose slithery performance makes a sharp contrast with our would-be hero, who Swannell commissions to form an opposition rugby team. While Charlotte Salt is a breath of fresh air to the male-dominated ensemble, offering an outsider's perspective and spiritual dynamic.

Modder en Bloed

"Okay guys... say 'CHEESE'. Okay how about 'KAAS'?"

They may be brow-beaten, but they don't lose their sense of humour mostly thanks to a wonderful performance from Patrick Connolly as Finn Kelly, as a plucky Irishman and fellow inmate. The production values are strong as we're slowly immersed into a bleak concentration camp situation. The story quickly moves from South Africa's veld to the beach sand and grit of St. Helena, where we find some fortitude in a band of prisoners.

Just as the oppressive war drama settles in, the film turns into a double feature with the "Glory" part, reinventing itself as a formulaic sports drama in the vein of The Longest Yard. Instead of Burt Reynolds, we have Stian Bam, who fills his boots as a "Francois Pienaar" leading his hesitant teammates into the fray. The team selection and formation are amusing and the spirited performances certainly add to the charm of the sports drama as the prisoners take on the Colonel's pride and joy.

Modder en Bloed is an entertaining film as it pulls off a seemingly impossible genre balancing act. The historical backdrop holds its own interest as the triumph-of-the-human-spirit drama carries the story forward. While the tonal shift from bleak war drama to optimistic sports drama is welcome, it does leave the film off-balance. It's also difficult to truly embrace as the over-the-top "Last Big Push" score tries to add an extra layer of prestige to a film, which would've done well to keep things simple.

Rugby fans and history buffs will enjoy the curious genre mix and range of amusing characters. While Modder en Bloed is somewhat uneven, it's not short of passion and remains ambitious, spirited and entertaining enough to keep you rooting for the underdogs through all their trials.

The bottom line: Enjoyable

Talking Movies with Spling - Modder en Bloed, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Captive

Spling reviews Modder en Bloed, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Captive as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn't a spoof. It may sound ridiculous, blending Jane Austen's old world romance with the blood-thirsty underworld of the undead, but it's actually quite a refreshing concept. The idea has been executed with style, carrying the same production values as a period piece drama, while injecting some gory zombie action. The mash-up works suprisingly well, immersing us in a time when the infected roam the countryside in search of human brains, while the living do their best to look alive and protect themselves.

While the fun concept has legs, just like its zombie hoardes, it's stuck in limbo. Not fully committing to comedy, romance, horror or action... we're propelled by the tension of a film trying to decide if it's outright silly or dead serious. Japanese martial arts and sword training for well-to-do women, pet flies that can identify dead flesh and a budding romance between "Van Helsing" and "Alice"... the film walks the line without getting beyond the sweet nothings, much like the courtship in a Jane Austen adaptation.

As a result, it becomes somewhat tiresome… lacking impassioned and definitive characters and the charming performances you’d want from such a young cast and kooky mix. It seems content with leaning on its exotic blend without leaving a full impression. There are a handful of imaginative scenes, which show the true potential of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but these stand out among the rest.

Lily James is demure yet quietly confident, Sam Riley has a cold, calculated edge… but it’s like rigor mortis has set in as they’re unable to generate any heat. The ensemble look the part and commit to their performances, but apart from Matt Smith as a camp and funny Mr. Collins and Lena Headey as an over-the-top Lady Catherine, the actors don’t seem to understand the tongue-in-cheek tone. Instead of employing a knowing wink-wink, inside-joke disposition, they’ve given in to the notion that this is entirely plausible.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Movie

"...you're such a baby, just try it."

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies should’ve aligned itself with the satirical tone of Shaun of the Dead, the married espionage action and romantic comedy of Mr. & Mrs. Smith or played up its contemporary edge with rock music like A Knight’s Tale. While writer-director Burr Steers is competent, the genre-mix, jump scare thrills and laughs are underwhelming when you contrast them with what an experienced director like Sam Raimi would’ve been able to achieve.

All in all, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is okay. The genre mix is refreshing for bored Austen and zombie fans, the up-and-coming cast are good, the production values sell the concept and the cinematography is stylish enough to give the film an austere.

Sadly, it's just not adventurous, charming or immersive enough, and the direction seems indecisive when it comes to establishing its own playground. This gives this zombie period piece romance a curious yet increasingly bland overtone that while full of promise, plays it too safe.

The bottom line: Blunt

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