Tag Archives: soldiers

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries (2011)

World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011
Remember how the cover for the first film has NOTHING to do with the film? Well, consistency is supposed to be good…

Have you ever had the experience where someone you know excitedly says “Hey, ya gotta see this film!“?  Then once you watch it you’re left thinking “What the heck was that about?”, or worse “There is something SERIOUSLY WRONG with my friend!”  Welcome to to World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2.

Immediately you can tell that this project has a higher budget and is visually more satisfying than the 2006 predecessor.  Then you get into the story and you start to see the problems…

The first thing you notice — as with the original film — is that the DVD cover is once again horribly misleading.  The cover art looks better than the film, and it represents something other than the content of the film.

Field full of zombies
I’m warning you — act like threatening zombies or we’ll shoot you!!!

The zombies feel very non-threatening — even less than in the original film.  The make-up is insufficient, the scares nearly non-existent, and the zombies are often so stiff they would be played better by untrained department store mannequins.  Add to that, when it comes to shooting the zombies I get the impression that the British film makers don’t have a clue as to what firearms sound like anymore (especially in the scene pictured).  The firearm sound effects left me non-pulsed — perhaps they were just the on-location recording of the blanks the actors were firing.

The biggest downfall of the movie…

World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011
Yep, they should have stuck with this poster as the DVD cover

… aside from the emaciated plot and the you-are-there hand-held cinematography — are some of the specific content choices that film makers Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates included.  Various gangs of survivors prove to be even more vile than the zombies.  This is well summed up in a review by FlickeringMyth.com when they wrote…

“There are a couple of, frankly, unneeded rape scenes (one on a female zombie) that just felt like Bartlett and Gates wanted to do some kind of rape revenge film, but gave up and worked zombies into it”.

Frankly it left this bagpiper & humble amateur zombie-film reviewer astounded.  I cannot recall feeling this disturbed by any zombie film I have previously seen.  This content included a challenged young man bullied into delivering a beating upon one of the primary male characters, and then pushed into committing a graphic rape/murder on one of the female primaries.  I have to wonder where the writer and his co-director think that this was appropriate, or fit within the film!  I also have to wonder about the actors (or even the crew) assuming they saw the script before they agreed to do the film — why would they participate in bringing this film to fruition?

Is there any redemption for this film?

World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011, gas mask
Me around people who smoke

There are elements to this film that really work — the albeit over-used zombie-trope military element, the military and civilian survivors trying to escape from England, and the guys who ambiguously appear wearing protective suits and gas masks.  However it seems as though Bartlett and Gates thought that their ideas were so great — so sound — that they didn’t think to check their script or finished film with a third party.  And if they did, they didn’t listen to them say “There’s some good stuff here, but over all THIS IS A BAD IDEA.”  Or maybe they just half-assed it and figured this would fill a feature.  In the end, it is as The Daily Mail described the film, it’s an “88 minute waste of electricity.”, and I rate it Red Blood.

Seriously, I’m starting to think I ought to make a list titled “Zombie Films To Avoid Watching“.  Do you think I would have this one on it?  YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!

A List Of Words Irrelevant To This Zombie Film
World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011
At least you see one of these folks in the film — but destroyed city, a massive horde of zombies? Nope nope-nope!
  • Smash hit
  • Phenomenon

Links

pew pew pew
pew pew pew!

Joyeux Noël AKA Merry Christmas (2005)

I’ve wanted to watch the 2005 film “Joyeux Noël” (AKA Merry Christmas) for years — finally got to and I’m very glad I did!  One could easily say that every piper, every musician, and every person ought to.

We all know the setting…

The Great War, which of course later came to be known as World War I and lasted from 28July1914 to 11November1918.  It is viewed as being the first modern war and the most destructive.

Scottish soldiers in a WWI trench
Emerging from the trenches with Silent Night in the film.

During the first year of the war there were a number of informal and unauthorized “Christmas truces“, where men on both sides of the Western Front line stopped fighting to celebrate the holiday … and in some cases met in the middle to celebrate together.  Joyeux Noël is a dramatization of a group of French, Scottish, and German soldiers.  Having heard Silent Night on bagpipes from trench and the singing of the classic song by a German vocalist in another trench, they rose and met on No Man’s Land in one of these truces.

Maybe I think too much, this gets listed as an anti-war film.  I’m not always sure what makes a song or a film (etc) an anti-war piece — or to say, some are more obvious and direct than others.  What I am clear on is that Joyeux Noël shows that we as different cultures can set aside our differences, meet together peacefully, and share what we have in common.  To me some of the significance of this film has to do with universal languages — among those I believe are math and music.  As musicians we bring people together — in good times, in bad times, and bridging our different languages.  The lyrics may sound different but the music is the same.

Here are my side-notes on this film — in other words, these are the not important things I observed …

To me this film looked great — the costumes were good, there were four languages in this film (so long as you count the priest delivering a sermon in Latin), the acting was good, and so far as I could tell everything was period correct.  According to Wikipedia, Joyeux Noël had a budget of $22 million and brought in only $17,709,155 at the box office.  This happens — a well made film with a beautiful message … clearly it did not go unnoticed, and from when I’ve talked about wanting to see it the film apparently resonates in the collective conscious … but I’m saddened that this didn’t get as much notice in the theater that it profited let alone broke even.

As a musician I of course enjoy seeing when singers and instrumentalists are given focus in a film or in a TV show — especially when pipes are featured in a film.  I’m also accustom to these not actually featuring singers or musicians. In the case of this film the actors-not-singing is glaringly obvious — the lip syncing is painful.  The bagpiping in this film is also synced (pipe-synced?), which is understandable — finding actors who play bagpipes is uncommon (yep, sorry — Viggo Mortensen doesn’t actually play pipes in Captain Fantastic, although the filmmakers did a very good job of making it look like he did and Viggo trained hard to look as-so).  The pipe-syncing is both good & bad in Joyeux Noël.  When pipers start playing and then stop playing but the tune continues … that’s bad.  However, at times in this film the actors-not-pipers are seen playing and they actually do a considerably accurate job of appearing to play … so to some extent these guys actually trained — WOW!

The one other hang-up I had, or call it that if you will — there were four sets of bagpipes in the film.  Four clearly bran new, shiny sets of pipes.  I find it hard to imagine that pipes exposed to such conditions would be in such good shape, but this is a small thing so let’s look past it.

Okay, before I get any more into the weeds, let’s just say this — Joyeux Noël was a heck of a film — see it, it well deserves its time in the sun.

Joyeux Noël AKA Merry Christmas

Make no mistake, this is not a buddy-comedy film