Quick Reviews: 'Crawl', 'Charlie's Angels' | Disaster Horror, Action Comedy Sequel, Elizabeth Banks
Crawl is exactly what it promises to be: fighting alligators in a crawl space during a level-5 hurricane. Directed by horror genre specialist Alexandre Aja, the movie moves forward with fast speed and determination from beginning to end. And while it isn’t the most artistic take on the genre, there’s enough lessons learned from other ”water-creature” films to make it exciting enough.
You got to love a horror film that uses its sets effectively. Much of the running time is spent in the crawlspace and it is utilised to both tension building and slight jump scares. As we move along, we also move to other parts in the house where especially scenes in the kitchen and the bathroom are executed and directed really well. Kaya Scodelario who plays the main character, Haley Keller, is superb in both physical and dramatic scenes. Though we don’t really get to know her, watching her trying to survive is still thrilling. The premise requires some hefty VFX to work and that truly isn’t the issue, the main takeaway being that the alligators look realistic enough to keep you on your toes.
However, characters are severely lacking some bite here, as you don’t really connect with any of the characters—mainly Haley or her dad Dave, who is portrayed by Barry Pepper. This causes us not really being all that invested in their survival or in their father-daughter bonding. There are serious problems with the dialogue, throwing away plenty of ”honest” lines in the most awkward moments when they are fighting for their life. With the crawl space there is also a lack of rules applied as the dimensions seem to change, cheapening the sets just to play up the scares.
Smileys: Production design, Kaya Scodelario, character design
Frowneys: Dialogue, atmosphere
Sometimes you just need something fun. Well, at least I got it here.
It’s always rather disappointing when a movie doesn’t have all of its puzzle pieces fitting together. With this new sequel/reboot of Charlie’s Angels which is helmed by writer-director Elizabeth Banks, there are too many weights tied to the ankles and preventing it ascending. Much of it has to do with the fact that it lacks cohesion across departments which equals a story full of stitches and unnecessary cuts.
The new trio of leads, Kristen Stewart (as Sabina), Naomi Scott (Elena) and Ella Balinska (Jane), are definitely the best part of the film. They have infectious chemistry between them and every single one of them does great work here. Stewart is the biggest surprise as her wild and rowdy character, showing a completely new side of her as an actor with some nice comedic banter. Scott follows up her ‘Aladdin’ stint with another sparkling performance while Balinska takes more charge with the action scenes. From the first moment these three are combined on the screen, it just locks into place. In regard to the story elements, the plot freshens things up a bit whenever there is some type of a plot twist and they never get old or tedious.
Where the lack of cohesion comes though is the stitched-up editing of it all. A lot of things are at fault: redundant drone shots that happen during place/scene transitions, disturbingly unfitting soundtrack which doesn’t fit the tone at all and the way scenes always start by building up to a joke that doesn’t land. The action scenes are an absolute eyesore for a current movie, you can’t make out anything that’s happening from the close-up shots and quick edits to a whole different perspective. Charlie’s Angels also lacks identity when it comes to its visual outlook which is why the score also misses the mark as it doesn’t have anything to hold onto or build itself around.
Smileys: Acting, story
Frowneys: Editing, stunt choreography, soundtrack
These actors deserved better.