Talking Movies: The Summit of the Gods, Red Room and Wonder Woman 1984

Spling reviews The Summit of the Gods, Red Room and Wonder Woman 1984 as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.

TRANSCRIPT

Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about an animated adventure drama, a crime thriller and a fantasy action adventure.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…

THE SUMMIT OF THE GODS

A photojournalist’s obsessive quest for the truth about the first expedition to Mount Everest leads him to search for an esteemed climber who went missing.

Director: Patrick Imbert

– Centred on the sporting prowess, the 14 Peaks documentary captured the record-breaking and incredible journey of a mountaineer, who together with his team did the seemingly impossible.
– The Summit of the Gods offers a more contemplative, ethereal and philosophical take on the idea of getting to the highest points on earth.
– We get a more intimate account of the rigours of the sport, both physical and mental, as a climber wrestles with his compulsion to reach the summit.
– Taken from the perspective of a photojournalist, the story is swathed in the mystery of a camera with undeveloped film, which belonged to a pioneer who perished just short of the top.
– These solo expeditions were more dangerous than today’s world where the sports and technology has advanced.
– Being animated, the storytellers have more freedom to capture some of the more metaphysical aspects and moods of such endeavours.
– Yet, they aim for accuracy in their representation of the characters against the detail of their expeditions, whether rockface or snow.
– While The Summit of the Gods recalls other mountaineering films, it’s based on a manga series.
– It’s a beautifully realised and sometimes poetic depiction of a restless spirit and man’s desire to conquer the natural world with echoes of The Red Turtle.
– Moving at its own pace, constantly aiming to transcend the medium and capturing the essence of the extreme sport, it’s as fearless as its climbers…

It did just enough to get…

An excellent 8 on the splingometer!
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Moving on to a movie now on Showmax…

RED ROOM

A pregnant woman loses everything only to discover a welfare centre’s dark secret.

Director: Sans Moonsamy

Stars: Khanyi Mbau, Pakamisa Zwedala and Charlie Bouguenon

– Red Room is a crime drama thriller about a vulnerable woman who is given board and lodging at a women’s centre.
– Being homeless and penniless, the once affluent Zama is knocked off her pedestal at the mercy of the state and strangers.
– Unable to lean on friends and family, the promise of safety and security for her firstborn becomes more of a challenge.
– Featuring a solid ensemble of local actors, Mbau serves as this film’s figurehead, toning down her Cleopatra airs for a gritty role.
– The thriller touches on many pertinent social matters including: crime, homelessness, violence against women, misogyny and human trafficking.
– I Am All Girls tackled the unabated crisis that is human trafficking of children, whereas Red Room addresses the matter as it relates to women.
– Contrasting the confines of the basement’s Red Room with the wide open spaces of the rooftop, the filmmakers use the full potential of their primary location.
– While timely in terms of themes, Red Room is overlong and undermined by a thin script and insubstantial characters.
– While game, Mbau is miscast as its lead, the performances are inconsistent and the thriller’s pulpy handling seems off-key.
– Combining elements from Red Sparrow and 7 Prisoners, the story had promise and edge but is restrained by these fundamental flaws.

A flimsy 4 on the splingometer!
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And finally another movie on …

WONDER WOMAN 1984

Diana rekindles an old flame and contends with the ensuing chaos of a powerful missing artifact.

Director: Patty Jenkins

Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig

– Wonder Woman is a film that outperformed expectations and placed a great deal of pressure on the sequel for its celebrated star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins.
– This pressure to capture lightning twice extended to creating a space for the charming Chris Pine to reprise his role and complete the co-lead dynamic from the first film.
– Set in 1984, the sequel takes delight in immersing itself in the age in terms of mis-en-scene, by adopting fashion, hairstyles and even befitting attitudes in the time before the Internet.
– This nostalgic throwback blends a hybrid Quantum Leap and Kate & Leopold story element, which could have served as a stand-alone film concept.
– Except, this is also about Wonder Woman who has become a lone wolf more in tune with the challenges of The Highlander.
– Competing with her is another origin story – the closest thing we’ll ever get to Cat Lady, taking the super-sized sequel into the role of Spider-Man 3.
– To complicate matters, the sequel latches onto and tries to contain a high concept around wish fulfilment, the very thing it’s trying to offer its audience.
– Veering from fantasy romance to superhero actioner, the balancing act remains precarious as Jenkins tries to throw a tarp over this ambitious undertaking whilst reaching the lofty heights of the first Wonder Woman.
– At 2 1/2 hours, the spectacular sequel is long but playful, entertaining, funny and even touching enough in parts to endure.
– Unfortunately, as hard as it works to entertain and raise the stakes, it struggles to consolidate all of its promising yet diverging elements.

A flat 5 on the splingometer!
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So just to wrap up…

THE SUMMIT OF THE GODS… a well-crafted, ethereal, fearless, poetic and beautifully realised animated adventure drama… An excellent 8!

RED ROOM… while timely, provocative and leaning on important themes, this crime thriller struggles to overcome fundamental flaws… A flimsy 4!

WONDER WOMAN 1984… while spectacular, entertaining and fun, this overly ambitious and overlong sequel never truly sets… A flat 5!

For more movie reviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.

And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!

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