Friday, 25 June 2010

The Hollywood Eye

Earlier on I expressed my approval of the Hong Kong movie The Eye. I just rented the DVD of the Hollywood remake and thought I'd share my 'thoughts' about it.

Firstly, why take a movie made in Chinese and redo it as a fairly standard Hollywood shocker? Because millions of people out there can't handle subtitles, I suppose. In this regard I'm lucky. When I was a wee lad BBC 2 used to show lots of foreign films and I got used to reading the often enlightening phrases appearing along the bottom of the screen. I saw - as a child/teenager - some of the classics of European cinema. The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Jules et Jim, Alphaville - all grist to my mill. If you grow up with something it's a bit less threatening.

Anyway, they remade The Eye with Jessica Alba in the title role of Sydney Wells. Good choice. Alba is pretty, petite and does the worried frown, bafflement and fear expressions well. To be honest, she's not required to a lot else, because this is pretty much a movie-by-numbers. The supporting cast - not much to say. Parker Posey as Sydney's sister is somewhat under used, and I forget who plays the doctor. Can't be bothered to look him up. Serviceable is the word for the acting, here.

What of the story? Well, as I expected, the basic premise of the original has been mucked about a bit. Firstly the 'shadowmen' who escort the souls of the departed (or departed souls) are deliberately 'horrored up' with a bit of snarling. Secondly, the original film was about accepting destiny and living with the knowledge that some things can't be changed. The Hollywood version says the exact opposite - you can change destiny and even defy death itself, apparently.

Well, maybe. While the movie is competent enough it's nothing special. Visually it's nice but all the shocks are, by definition, recycled. A few good scenes - notably the one in the restaurant with the hungry ghost - have been lost. The famous elevator scene is a tad perfunctory. And overall I felt this film didn't convey the sense of anguish and redemption that was at the heart of the original. Okay it was a Hong Kong horror flick, but it had charm and style. Best to rent the first, best movie, methinks, if you want to know why Hollywood did a version at all.


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