Quint has seen DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM and the awesome Belgian animated comedy A TOWN CALLED PANIC at Fantastic Fest!
Published at: Sept. 28, 2009, 11:06 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the next pair of Fantastic Fest reviews! Both are foreign flicks, one was big on my radar before the fest and the other was completely not. Not unsurprisingly the unknown film turned out to be one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen of the festival and the bigger film was a let-down.
A TOWN CALLED PANIC is a Belgian animated movie starring plastic toy roommates. There’s a cowboy called Coboy, an Indian called Indien and a horse called Horse. This thing is fuckin’ nuts and you wouldn’t believe me until you see this universe yourself. So here’s the trailer.
If you don’t want to watch 75 minutes of that I don’t want to know you because your heart is devoid of happiness and joy.
Trying to describe the story of this movie is like trying to make sense out of a Uwe Boll movie. It’s difficult and you’ll look foolish trying. As a fan of random humor this movie hit me right where it tickles. Not sexually. Get your minds out of the gutter.
The movie shifts gears multiple times. Initially it’s a simple story about two clueless bumbling friends (Coboy and Indien) who forget their other friend (Horse)’s birthday. Their brilliant brainstorm is to order bricks and build him a BBQ pit. Somehow they fuck up their internet order and instead of 50 bricks 50,000,000 show up, which causes all kinds of insanity.
Eventually it becomes a chase movie as our three friends follow waffle-eating fishmen that keep stealing their walls. Yes, whole walls. The journey takes them to the center of the earth and then to an arctic wasteland where they ride in a giant metal penguin constructed by kung fu scientists solely to throw giant snowballs at distant targets.
The French voicework takes the funny, low rent animation and pushes it over the edge. As you can tell from the trailer, the voice actors are so over-the-top cartoony, with high pitched voices and rapid-fire dialogue, that you’re soon laughing at their inflection, not just the dialogue. I fear any possibility of a US release would overdub this and make it half as funny.
So, yeah. If you dig stuff like ROBOT CHICKEN you’ll really enjoy this flick… if you get the chance to see it. I know Tim League who introduced the film this morning said that he’s already booked it for a run at the Alamo in January, so hopefully you’ll see indie theaters across the country doing likewise.
I just read on Twitter that this movie just won the Audience Award of Fantastic Fest! Awesome and well deserved!
Like most of you out there, I was introduced to the crazy-awesome art of Parkour by DISTRICT 13. Even before the movie started making the rounds at film festivals clips of David Belle doing his crazy acrobatic and high jumps hit the internet and spread around. What the hell was this? Can people actually do this shit? Why isn’t this David Belle guy doubling Spider-Man?!?
If I’m not misremembering DISTRICT 13 hit around the same time that ONG BAK premiered and they both seemed to signal a new era of action. In a way they did, especially District 13. Parkour is now widely used in film, most notably in CASINO ROYALE’s opening, and it was even referenced on this season’s premiere episode of THE OFFICE.
Going into the movie I was excited not just to see David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli reteam to kick some ass in the slums of Future France but to see a new Luc Besson scripted and produced action flick.
I don’t have great news to report back. It’s not tragic news, so you can take the razor away from your jugular. But DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM is a step back from the original, not forward… or even keeping pace. The writing is a bit on the silly side with an ending that is just stupid and undercuts everything that led up to it.
Basically the premise of the flick is that while there has been change in the government the slums are still in full effect. There’s a new, well-meaning president, but the corruption elsewhere hobbles him. He never has trustworthy information, his generals seem to be working against him to promote their own agenda.
A division of governmental security, the DISS, is shadily working to fan the flames of the still tense class relations in order to start an uprising from the poor that will give them huge amounts of money as they’re paid to respond, stop and rebuild in the ruins left behind.
And the company that profits from this class war? It’s called Harriburton. Subtle. A Jewish viewer might go straight to hell after watching this movie it’s so hamfisted with its message.
Cyril Raffaelli is framed to get him out of the way and he has to call in his parkour buddy David Bell to spring him from the joint and expose this vast conspiracy.
In a big bit of contrivance Belle is already involved, holding key evidence that can expose the corruption and stop the class war from happening.
The writing is pretty sloppy (sorry, Mr. Besson… still a big fan, keep at it!), but it’s not a trainwreck of a movie. There is one (and only one, unfortunately) cool parkour chase with Belle and a really nicely executed fight scene with Raffaelli as he’s undercover taking down a drug lord at the film’s opening.
The flick isn’t boring and can be entertaining if you’re fine just watching some charismatic guys get into random fights. It’s also well cast, especially MC Jean Gab’1 who starred in the awesome modern day French blaxploitation flick BLACK is a militant gang leader. The dude should have a giant film career. He just oozes cool.
Elodie Yung plays another gangleader, this time of the Asian population… Everybody is represented, I guess… there’s a Muslim leader and a Skinhead leader (who will beat down a badguy and then call him a “Kike”) which is funny because there’s a big speech about family and unity at the end with a cast of characters out of a Naked Gun movie standing around.
There just isn’t enough action, not enough parkour and not enough time spent making sure there was a coherent story. As it stands right now the ending just doesn’t make any sense and completely takes all the urgency out of the movie and even, on some level, makes the entire movie irrelevant.
I guess that puts me squarely in the middle of the road on this one. Belle and Raffaelli still know what they’re doing and are good together, the action in the movie is fine… there’s just not enough of it to make me overlook the weak script.
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