Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Silent Hill Revelations 3D: A step in the right direction but...

Continuity is a funny thing. Most of the time you want it, the X-Men series, for instance, while still very enjoyable, has already suffered a continuity breakdown after only five films, trying to figure out how all the films connect is already a headache. We are more forgiving of Bond because 007 has had over 20 films to work with, but Silent Hill is actually a series that is being hurt by its adherence to the film’s continuity.

Silent Hill Revelations sets out to right the wrongs of its predecessor, and in doing so prsents a story which is simultaneously much more faithful to the game it is trying to adapt (Silent Hill 3) and a confusing mess (unless you are familiar with the game series.) You see in Revelations the Order is both a group of paranoid Christian Witch hunters, and a Satanic Cult trying to use Heather to resurrect their dark god Samael (Satan)… They both burnt Alessa as a witch and also as part of a ritual designed to summon the aforementioned god. Heather is Heather Mason, and also Cheryl, Mary (Silent Hill 2), and also Shannon, Harry Mason (Sean Bean doing the best he can with a questionable script) is also Christopher DaSilva (First Silent Hill movie.) You see this movie tries so hard to be all things to all people, fans of the series who lamented that the original strayed too far from it’s source material, and fans of the movie who had no idea what the games were about, and in doing so created a story which was headache inducing, even for a long time fan such as myself.

That said this film is leaps and bounds better than the original. Heather Mason is much tougher than Rose was in the previous outing, she’s actually also a character that actually appeared in the game, she is not defenseless, and the monsters do not just vanish when they become too much of a threat like in the original film, Heather actually has to defeat them. Pyramid Head is not just there without explanation, as he is a manifestation of James Sunderland’s guilt and need for punishment in Silent Hill 2 (the game), there is a rational explanation as to why he is there this time, and the other monsters are explained as well as people being punished for their sins, consistent with the games. These are little details you have to pay close attention for but they are there. In one scene involving mannequins that will make JC Penny’s eternally creepy you actually get to see the town of Silent Hill actively punish a sinner, and a really neat mannequin spider-monster which could have benefitted with a few more layers of texture and a little more time in the CG render room, but was still a neat idea.  

That said there’s too few creatures actually from Silent Hill 3 in this film, closers, numb bodies (replaced with the armless monster from Silent Hill 2), insane cancers are all missing. The film does feature Leonard Wolf in a very faithful adaptation; the missionary is also represented, but shockingly, though he is talked about frequently, the infamous Valtiel and his creepy twitching head are absent sans a stature of the creature which Harry finds himself chained to late in the film. Valtiel never aggressed Heather in the game but always put in an appearance twisting valves, or pulling levers or some such activity which usually triggered the shift to the dark world. It would have been great to see him doing that in the film, especially since he is so unbearably creepy. There are a number of creature encounters with monsters that do not appear in the game, some of them more resemble something you’d have seen in the movie Jacob’s Ladder, fitting in that that film kind of feels like a prequel to the whole Silent Hill experience, but still, I would have liked to have seen more monsters that were actually in this game. The Nurses were handled infinitely better in this outing. Rather than seeming like they were going to break out into the Thriller dance they were dangerous and menacing.

The other major problem with this film is that it is too short, and especially with so much screen time trying to homogenize the film series with the game series an additional half hour could have done this movie a great deal of good, not killing off key characters like Douglas Cartland (who had a major role in the game) and not changing Vincent’s role in the story would have helped too, as would have keeping Harry Mason’s fate consistent with the game as well, Sean Bean usually gets killed in the movies he’s in anyway, but it would have helped get the audience more emotionally invested than just a rescue effort which we all knew would succeed. In the game Vincent is a far more sinister character, and Claudia Wolf’s role is much larger as well, I am a fan of Carrie Ann Moss so seeing her so under used was sad for me, and even sadder was, once again trying to homogenize the game and movie, it turns out she was Cristabella’s sister, a change that is a bit of a stretch, oh and also Vincent’s mother, an even bigger stretch. The film should have spent more time developing the characters, and the most important character that should have been developed is Silent Hill itself. You get to see surprisingly little of it, true that in the game once you got through the mall the game was a little more than half way over, but the movie grabs you by the hand and then rushes to the end like a scared wife at Nightmare on 13th (Yes Becky I’m talking about you.) It doesn’t allow you much time to soak in the visuals, which, like the first film, were pretty amazing, but the first film did allow time to enjoy it, but this film doesn’t, but the movie does make damn good use of Robbie the Rabbit and good on them for doing in the movie what was never, and should have been done in the games with Robbie.  

As far as the 3D goes, I am never doing 3D at the Gateway theater again. They force you to use their own, I believe active shutter lenses, they are not fresh lenses, they are dirty, grimy and over all the picture is darkened. Newer, passive 3D glasses allow more light to pass through them. My home TV even bumps up the brightness to compensate for the loss of luminosity the glasses cause. At home the 3D is brilliant, not so at this particular theater. As a fan of 3D I can see why if this is what people experience with it why they hate it. It was hard to judge the 3D of this movie due to the poor equipment of the theater. Usually Hollywood Connections has great 3D, but the Gateway Megaplex…? Never again.

Lastly I do like this film, unlike most critics; it is an enjoyable popcorn flick. As good as the games? Not even close, but let’s give it points for at least trying a lot harder than its predecessor. Once again it's problems stem largely where it strays from the original source material, but it’s not a completely bad film either and is certainly one of the better game-to-film adaptations out there, with neat visuals and decent acting and a story that has its problems but is good over all I do have to give this film three stars out of five, okay, but nothing to write home about, but still worth seeing.

Final Grade: 3/5

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