two fer

Well it was one of those good nights when I appreciate Netflix Streaming. Friday I watched two entertaining films in a row!

Valhalla Rising First up was Valhalla Rising, a dark grim Viking film. A silent one-eyed man is a captive of a clan, he manages to escape and kill most of them then heads off across the beautiful, yet forbidding, Scottish landscape. He ends up joining up with a young boy who starts following him and encounters a group of heretics (or whatever you call Viking-folk who have converted to Christianity) who are headed to the holy land to help protect the land of their lord and savior. As one-eye doesn’t speak we are left a bit high and dry about his motives but he comes along anyway.

They sail off in their little book for a trip pretty much bereft of any fun what-so-ever. These Christians have no faith in one-eye and tension, conflict and lengthy moments of stoic standing and staring are the order of the day as they end up sailing to an unknown land and proceed to fall apart. It come with that richly-washed, drab-color palette that one can expect these days… but I actually found in fairly nice to watch. I liked the colors and the landscape and I like just about anything that shows a vikingish side (non-lighthearted, at least), and I appreciated the grim seriousness of it. Even if, at times, it felt too grim and serious to really have much depth of character or storyline.

Monsters Also, I watched Monsters, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Featuring really great aliens (they light up and have lots of tentacles!) who came to earth a number of years back and who have since been corralled into a large and heavily defended area comprising the borderlands of the USA and Mexico. Into this area (called the Infected Zone) come two Americans (a photographer and his bosses daughter) who get to the port at the Mexico side, hoping to get her on a ferry back to the USA. Trouble is, they get there the day before the port shuts down for six months. To top that off, the photographer goes off on a big drunk, which ends up meaning that she can’t take the ferry.

With no other options at hand, they set off by land and riverboat through the infected Zone. Now, for a low budget film, this could turn out pretty crappy. But not in Monsters! It is not crappy at all! Not only are the characters, and actors pretty good (most of the movie involves them, rather than any sci-fi or alien scenes) but the scenery and the alien-occupied backdrop are just really well done. I thought that it came across with a very genuine feeling. It was suspenseful without being overbearing and completely involving, both in terms of the character arcs and the Alien storyline. In the end, it is an engaging adventure that leaves you with some questions about the nature of “human versus visiting alien” relationships.

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