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The Grey


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#21 mrmando

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 03:29 PM

Well, wherever two or more are gathered, jokes can happen.

#22 Overstreet

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:36 PM

I'm starting to hear some surprisingly good things about this film, but A&F is silent on Day 2. Anybody here see it? Is it much more substantial than the trailers made it look? (That's what I'm hearing.)

#23 Anders

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:38 PM

I'm starting to hear some surprisingly good things about this film, but A&F is silent on Day 2. Anybody here see it? Is it much more substantial than the trailers made it look? (That's what I'm hearing.)


If I catch it this week I'll report in. I'm intrigued. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's review on mubi was some nice writing, but something tells me it's not up your alley, Jeff.

#24 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 03:38 AM

It's not bad. The dialogue is a little hardboiled and overcooked at times, and sometimes you find yourself thinking "Do wolves REALLY behave like that?", but I think the good points outweigh the bad, overall.

#25 BethR

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 11:32 AM

It's not bad. The dialogue is a little hardboiled and overcooked at times, and sometimes you find yourself thinking "Do wolves REALLY behave like that?", but I think the good points outweigh the bad, overall.


I have a friend, Paul Smith, who's a zookeeper (no, he didn't buy a zoo; he works for one) who expected to hate it, but according to his Twitter review, ended up liking the cinematic aspects & the human acting a lot. However, the wolf behavior was (his words) "bollocks. I have no patience for films that ascribe almost supernatural menace to wild animals." (@Haunt1013).

For those who don't care so much about actual wolf behavior, or who are willing to view them as metaphors, it probably works pretty well.



#26 Jason Panella

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 11:43 AM

I like director Joe Carnahan's 2002 movie Narc quite a bit (a like I question with each terrible movie he's released since), so it's good to see that it seems like he's made that that isn't completely dreadful.

#27 Christian

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 12:24 PM

I like director Joe Carnahan's 2002 movie Narc quite a bit (a like I question with each terrible movie he's released since), so it's good to see that it seems like he's made that that isn't completely dreadful.

Ah, this comment calls to mind our back-and-forth in the Smokin' Aces thread. I've enjoyed telling fellow critics who mention The Grey to me that I enjoyed Smokin' Aces, then watching their reactions to my comment.

#28 morgan1098

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 10:53 AM

I'm starting to hear some surprisingly good things about this film, but A&F is silent on Day 2. Anybody here see it? Is it much more substantial than the trailers made it look? (That's what I'm hearing.)


It's good. The trailers make it look like that Anthony Hopkins/Alec Baldwin movie The Edge, but it's nothing like that. There's a lot of stuff about fathers and children and the silence of God. Some of Liam Neeson's cohorts are "ex-con" stereotypes at first, but then those stereotypes are shattered as the movie progresses.

#29 Jason Panella

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 11:06 AM

It's good. The trailers make it look like that Anthony Hopkins/Alec Baldwin movie The Edge, but it's nothing like that.


Oh, the David Mamet-penned The Edge? (Which, despite the fact that I own it, I still can't decide whether it's an OK-but-clever film, or just mediocre.)

Edited by Jason Panella, 31 January 2012 - 11:57 AM.


#30 morgan1098

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 12:08 PM


It's good. The trailers make it look like that Anthony Hopkins/Alec Baldwin movie The Edge, but it's nothing like that.


Oh, the David Mamet-penned The Edge? (Which, despite the fact that I own it, I still can't decide whether it's an OK-but-clever film, or just mediocre.)


Yes, that movie, as I remember it, is a man-vs.-nature, overcoming the odds type film. In The Grey, we see Liam Neeson with a gun in his mouth contemplating suicide within the first five minutes. And it only gets darker after that.

#31 Joel Mayward

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 11:07 PM

Stay until after the closing credits on this one. The final shot works well as an ending in itself--despite being ambiguous--but the FINAL final shot allows the ambiguity to remain while offering a bit of hope in a fairly grim film. This film is better than you might expect (if what you expect is Taken with wolves).

#32 Overstreet

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 04:48 PM

McCracken:

... the first truly great 2012 release.
...
The Grey has its mind on God, or at least His imprint on it. What gives humans the grace to die well? What is it really that separates us from animals and makes us, for example, willing to appreciate a handshake, a memory, and a mountain vista in our final moments of life? The image of God which we bear. It sets us apart. It is the light that gives reprieve from the “only the strong survive” darkness. It is the light which, in clashing with the dark, creates the grey.


Edited by Overstreet, 06 February 2012 - 04:49 PM.


#33 SDG

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:23 AM

There is no hope in this film, in the final shot or elsewhere. There is grace, perhaps, but hope, no.

Spoiler


My review.

The Grey is a thoughtful, tough-minded little tale of survival and attrition that sets its sights a bit further than its firepower takes it. Its assets include a sweeping Alaskan canvas as breathtaking as it is punishing, a consciousness of mortality and meaning rare in an action film, an uncompromising story-arc—and, crucially, the haggard face and haunted eyes of Liam Neeson, who balances indomitable toughness and brittle brokenness better than perhaps any other Hollywood star today...

Its liabilities include some plodding dialogue and lapses in plausibility at times bordering on the perverse, particularly with regard to an almost mystical wolf pack dogging the ragtag band of humans stranded in their territory by a plane crash in a blizzard. One of the characters wonders, in a quiet moment, whether the odds against their having survived against such odds suggests that they were “meant” to live. By the climactic scene’s ironic twist, it’s hard to avoid the impression that the universe has been toying with them and was out to get them from the start...

The circumstances are dire. Perhaps too dire. The wolves are not only extraordinarily large and powerful and ferocious, but uncannily cunning as well. In one sequence the remaining humans go to astonishing lengths to move on from the wolves’ territory—but as soon as one of them missteps, the wolves are right there to pick him off. For the record, a review of the film at the International Wolf Center blog calls The Grey a “monster movie,” adding that it’s about “as accurate a portrayal of wolf behavior as King Kong was about gorillas.”...

The idea of a wolf pack deep in the wild harrying a group of several able-bodied men and picking them off one by one is unrealistic, though the movie’s biggest gaffe is the conceit of “the den” as a sort of established home base for the entire pack, littered with the carcasses of past kills. In reality, a den is a temporary home for birthing mothers in the spring...

Can we accept those conceits for the sake of the movie? After all, King Kong is generally considered a pretty good flick. Well, yes and no. King Kong is overtly escapist fantasy, while The Grey seeks to be a grimly realistic survival movie. I appreciate that unlike last winter’s nihilistic tale of attrition, the execrable Sanctum, The Grey doesn’t cheapen life and death, and shows some interest in the big questions. But stacking the deck too improbably against the survivors is as damaging to suspension of disbelief as benevolent coincidences ushering a happy ending...

It is possible to discern a ray of grace in the darkness that surrounds Ottway. Like the real world, the world of The Grey doesn’t oblige us either to acknowledge God or to deny Him. If we choose, we can hear His voice speaking a word of reassurance. If we don’t, the movie doesn’t press the point. In the end, though, it’s on this world that The Grey has its eyes.



#34 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 02:18 PM

SDG wrote:
: There is no hope in this film, in the final shot or elsewhere.

Do you mean the FINAL final shot, or just the final shot before the credits?

#35 SDG

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 02:54 PM

: There is no hope in this film, in the final shot or elsewhere.

Do you mean the FINAL final shot, or just the final shot before the credits?

I mean that nothing that follows the event described in the spoilered text above, either the final shot or the final-final shot, changes what I described above. Ottway is dead. Period.

#36 Nick Olson

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 11:21 AM

Some spoilers here if you haven't seen The Grey.

A little late, but here are my initial thoughts on the film:

One of The Grey’s most significant problems is a predictability that seems governed by life’s supposed ontic cruelty. Not only is it almost certain that Neeson’s character is going to be the last one remaining, but the others’ deaths are sometimes laughably predictable, the only source of light in what is often an assaultingly grim experience. At what seems like the film’s climactic moment of anguish, Ottway, all alone in the Alaskan wilderness now, cries out to God for help in a profanity-laced tirade. Yelling at the sky, he calls God “fraudulent” and pleads “show me something real!” When there’s no answer in the way that he’s demanded, Ottway, in what is pitched as a heroic moment, states that he’ll do it himself.

Ottway is in the middle of the wolves’ den, and he alone must fight against a god seemingly identified with a heartless nature. Having saved the wallets for the families of the deceased, Ottway takes a tragic look at the familial mementos that fill each of the wallets. On the film’s terms, all that we have to cherish in this world is each other: if we lose our loved ones, then all is lost. And since we will lose them, then emptiness — nothingness — is our fate. All that remains is striving to survive.

What a shame that these wallets don’t function to reassure Ottway in some small but powerful way — a shame that his fears were not assuaged by the truth of humanity’s desire for home in the fullest sense. Perhaps the significance of the wallets’ contents could better clarify the seemingly gray fog of God’s transcendence and humanity’s existence than a relentless pack of wolves in the dead of an Alaskan blizzard. Faith being belief in the evidence of things unseen, these wallets — along with Ottway’s persevering commitment to help his comrades survive, and even the film’s serious treatment of death — pose quite a formidable case for something at the heart of existence that is less dire than man versus wild.


Edited by Nicholas, 16 February 2012 - 11:22 AM.


#37 Nick Olson

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 01:58 PM

Just read through your review, SDG. "Stacking the deck against the survivors" is precisely the problem I had (well, one of them).

#38 SDG

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 02:11 PM

Just read through your review, SDG. "Stacking the deck against the survivors" is precisely the problem I had (well, one of them).

Yep, I agree with your comments above pretty much beat for beat.

#39 morgan1098

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 02:50 PM

Just read through your review, SDG. "Stacking the deck against the survivors" is precisely the problem I had (well, one of them).


I liked this film quite a bit, but I had a negative reaction in the opposite direction. I don't think the deck was stacked ENOUGH against the survivors. The only real peril comes from the cartoonish wolves. The frigid temperatures, hunger and thirst never seem to be real issues for these guys as they stumble about in the wilderness. As SDG notes, Neeson's character falls in an icy river. Yes, in real life he'd be dead within an hour. But I don't think the movie even bothers with that detail. In the next scene, he looks dry and ready to rumble with the big bad wolf. There's nothing to suggest that Neeson's character was in danger of succumbing to the cold. It's all about the wolves, baby.

#40 SDG

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 03:17 PM

I liked this film quite a bit, but I had a negative reaction in the opposite direction. I don't think the deck was stacked ENOUGH against the survivors.

I don't think this is a contradiction, actually. The circumstances themselves are perversely inhospitable, but the survivors are allowed to be ridiculously hard to kill.

It's all about the wolves, baby.

True.