Sunday, 10 May 2015

REVIEW - BIG GAME (JALMARI HELANDER)


Kudos to Jalmari Helander for bringing Big Game so often to the extremities of plausibility - he has gumption and spirit in spades, though not skill. That's where this action throwback, burgeoning with potential, falls short, in the execution of its fine ideas. The experience of watching Big Game only becomes more distancing and disappointing as the film progresses - a sensation that should have been inverted, as Helander relies on a steady build of awe to propel it forward. We get a kick out of the most outrageous imagery, no doubt, but Helander wastes too much bombast too early, and doesn't find a way to stage many of the film's key moments otherwise; there's only so much slo-mo we can take before interest begins to wane. At least the film shows an acute awareness of its silliness, its (inessential) B-movie characteristics. In the wrong hands, such self-reflexion can swiftly become nauseating, though Helander uses it to engender welcome and frequent levity. His handle on dialogue is only so successful in spurts, though, and not all of the spoken word in Big Game can be excused by the assertion that it's supposed to sound bad. The film takes itself too seriously to account for that, and strives too hard for excellence to be dismissed as such; it's in this pursuit of plain old quality that Big Game is, perhaps, most lacking, as the lazy narrative structure, the haphazard approach to employing genre tropes to innovative ends, and the aforementioned dialogue conspire to betray the film's modest means. Those kudos can only go so far, and Big Game is simply too shoddy a piece of work to take terribly seriously at all.