Byzantium (2012)

 

Byz 2

Terrible opening leads the way to a pretty damn good, beautifully shot, suspenseful film full of way more gore and violence than I was expecting, especially from a film I initially thought was PG-13 given the rather “Twilight-esque” nature of the premise. The first graphic beheading quickly assuaged me of that notion, let me tell you. Yikes. Just relentless and graphic, not that I’m complaining. Still, the film is pretty good, sort of “Interview with the Vampire” lite with some occasionally hammy, melodramatic moments and a cheesy, on the nose voice over that just about kills the movie dead for the first half hour. It gets better, but man was I worried there for a while.

The plot is interesting, even if it’s nothing particularly new. You know the story: a bunch of lonely, attractive vampires moping around miserable despite their immortality/youth/beauty. There’s a slight twist on the vampire lore which is interesting, and the whole **SPOILERS** “blood cave” bit was a nice touch, and what a visual, **END SPOILERS** even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Something about vampires being formed from **SPOILERS** being bitten by vampire versions of themselves, **END SPOILERS** or something? I don’t know. Was it a metaphor, or did I just miss something? It’s a cool concept, just unusual. Some of the story was confusing, too, especially the first half, though this could have been more due to my not paying as much attention to the film as I ought to have. But I got the gist, I think. It’s a vampire film, for crying out loud. How complicated could it possibly be?

Byz 1

Overall, I liked the film. It has some extremely over dramatic moments, especially at the beginning, and the voice over is just awful, god, and completely unnecessary. And I was surprised at how robotic Saoirse Ronan is here at times. She’s usually a very good actress, but here everything she did felt deliberate, more because of the hammy dialogue she’s forced to deliver than anything else, I guess, but her joyless, uninspired performance certainly didn’t help matters. She’s not terrible, just too stiff and melodramatic to be all that believable, even as a vampire. But she has her moments. Gemma Arterton, on the other hand, is pretty damn good, and so sexy, as usual. That voice, god. And she actually feels like a real flesh and blood person, full of fun and energy and passion, especially in the last third.

So, yeah, decent film, enjoyable, great visuals, good story, heck of a lot of gore and violence. The film is actually quite merciless in that respect, to all its characters, which, again, really surprised me given the seemingly benign subject matter of the film. Looks like violent, blood soaked vampires might be making a come back, even if they are still wrapped in the cloak of a cheesy teen romance, sort of.

Good film though. Worth watching.

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