Se­cret world un­veiled

> The thrilling ad­ven­tures of the pop­u­lar chil­dren’s clas­sic The House with a Clock in Its Walls are brought to life on the big screen

The Sun (Malaysia) - - THE BIG PICTURE - BY BISSME S.

BASED on the first vol­ume in the beloved chil­dren’s book se­ries writ­ten by John Bel­lairs (il­lus­trated by Ed­ward Gorey), The House with a Clock in Its Walls is di­rected by Eli Roth, and writ­ten by Eric Kripke ( Su­per­nat­u­ral).

The mag­i­cal ad­ven­ture tells the story of 10-year-old or­phan Lewis, who is sent to stay with his Un­cle Jonathan (Jack Black, be­low), and who dis­cov­ers a hid­den world of magic, mys­tery and su­per­nat­u­ral men­ace.

When Lewis moves in with Un­cle Jonathan, he dis­cov­ers that the cu­ri­ous man­sion he now calls home is full of se­crets.

He’s not sure which is more as­ton­ish­ing: the won­drous, sprawl­ing house, or his odd­ball Un­cle Jonathan and Jonathan’s best friend, ver­bal spar­ring part­ner and neigh­bour Mrs. Zim­mer­man (Cate Blanchett).

Lewis’ en­tire world turns up­side down when he dis­cov­ers Un­cle Jonathan and Mrs. IN this se­quel to 2015’s Po­lis Evo, In­spec­tor Sani (Zizan), In­spec­tor Khai (Sha­heizy) and their team are pur­su­ing drug lord Riky Ku­molo (Tanta Gint­ing) all the way to a re­mote is­land.

There, the team dis­cov­ers ex­trem­ist re­li­gious leader Haf­syam Jauhari (Has­nul) and his vi­cious cult mem­bers have in­vaded the is­land and taken the in­hab­i­tants hostage, de­mand­ing a ran­som from the govern­ment. Our he­roes have to use their wits to save ev­ery­one.

It can­not be de­nied that Po­lis Evo 2 is far su­pe­rior to Po­lis Evo in al­most ev­ery as­pect – bet­ter pro­duc­tion value, more im­pres­sive ac­tion scenes, and in­tense per­for­mances from the cast.

It is dif­fi­cult to dis­like Po­lis Evo 2. How­ever, I pre­fer the orig­i­nal to the se­quel.

I be­lieve the di­rec­tors have for­got­ten the one im­por­tant el­e­ment that made Po­lis Evo a suc­cess in the first place – the chem­istry be­tween Khai and Sani.

In the se­quel, the di­rec­tors did not ex­plore their friend­ship fur­ther, nor tried to en­hance the chem­istry be­tween them. In fact, Khai and Sani spend most of the film apart, which is not a bril­liant idea.

The di­rec­tors paid too much at­ten­tion to the pro­duc­tion and ac­tion scenes, that they for­got about the hu­man re­la­tion­ships.

The movie also has too many plot holes.

For ex­am­ple, when Haf­syam Zim­mer­man are both pow­er­ful prac­ti­tion­ers of the magic arts.

Lewis is now caught up in some­thing equally wild, with a war­lock and a witch who are on a se­cret mis­sion to dis­cover the source and the mean­ing of a foreboding tick­ing dooms­day clock … hid­den away some­where within the house’s walls.

Throw in some deadly curses, at­tack­ing jack-o’lanterns, end­less hours of home­work, and an evil wizard who has re­turned from the

grave, dis­cov­ers two po­lice spies among his group, he strangely only chooses to kill one of them, while let­ting the other live.

But why? What is his mo­ti­va­tion? Any­one in Haf­syam’s shoes would have killed both of the spies in­stantly, and with­out mercy.

There are other glar­ing plot holes, but re­veal­ing them will only spoil your fun.

My other com­plaint con­cerns for­mer beauty queen Erra Fazira, who plays high-rank­ing po­lice of­fi­cer Datuk Az­izat.

She is woe­fully mis­cast, and Lewis’ new life is more than enough for any clever and cun­ning 10-year-old to jug­gle.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls also stars Kyle MacLach­lan, Colleen Camp, and Vanessa Anne Wil­liams.

Roth has long ex­pressed a de­sire to shoot “a scary kids movie”.

He re­flects: “I wanted to do some­thing that felt like Grem­lins, E.T. or Time Ban­dits– some­thing fan­tas­tic and Hal­loween-themed. This story had pump­kins; it had au­toma­tons. There were so many in­gre­di­ents and el­e­ments in the book and script that I con­nected to. Es­pe­cially Lewis, this mis­fit kid. I did not grow up an or­phan, but I cer­tainly grew up an out­cast and an out­sider.”

For the role of Jonathan Bar­navelt, it was im­por­tant to Roth and his pro­duc­ers to find some­one who would serve as the ini­tially fright­en­ing rel­a­tive to live with…then the re­ally fun un­cle to join you on an ad­ven­ture.

“Jack just en­cap­su­lates all of it,” says Roth. “It’s hard for me to think of any­one else in the role other than him.

I’d seen him per­form live in looks rather like a woman who is try­ing to sell the au­di­ence make-up, rather than a po­lice of­fi­cer who has a cri­sis in her hand. She failed to get un­der the skin of her char­ac­ter.

Please do not get me wrong. Po­lis Evo 2 is not a ter­ri­ble film to spend your time on.

There are some won­der­ful mo­ments in the film, es­pe­cially the ac­tion scenes that will turn your head in amaze­ment, and the ef­forts of Has­nul, whose ma­ni­a­cal per­for­mance as the evil re­li­gious leader will send chills down your spine. Cast: Sha­heizy Sam, Zizan Razak and Has­nul Rah­mat Di­rec­tors: Joel Soh

and An­dre Chiew

E-Value: 7

Act­ing: 7

Plot: 6 Tena­cious D; I’ve seen all of his movies. You think of Jack, and you just laugh; he has so much per­son­al­ity, so much charm, and he’s so funny.

“But he also has such heart. In his films like School of Rock or Bernie, he’s an in­cred­i­ble dra­matic ac­tor. He has such hu­mour, life, and such a soul­ful qual­ity to him. It’s a dream come true to watch him cre­ate this role.”

Black has long thought of him­self as a kid at heart, and like his col­lab­o­ra­tors, he ap­pre­ci­ated Kripke’s script.

De­spite its dark themes of loss and tragedy, the story of­fers les­sons, ex­cite­ment and pure joy.

“This is a movie that kids of all ages can en­joy,” re­flects Black, “but we want to give them a thrill. Some­times you have to go dark to give them that.”

He par­tic­u­larly ap­pre­ci­ates the se­cret at the story’s core: “They’re liv­ing in a house that has a liv­ing clock of doom, and they have to dis­en­gage the clock to save the world.”

One of the core themes to The House with a Clock in Its Walls is honour­ing one’s in­di­vid­u­al­ity. In the film, Jonathan plays cer­tain notes on his sax­o­phone, and it will open up his magic … unique to him.

Black re­veals that el­e­ment is one of his favourites about the story: “Tap­ping into our unique weird­ness is the key to a per­son’s in­di­vid­ual magic. Let the in­di­vid­u­al­ity out.”

Cast­ing two-time Academy Award win­ner Blanchett in the role of Florence Zim­mer­man, one of the most pow­er­ful witches on Earth, was a ma­jor coup for the film­mak­ers.

Known for a body of dra­matic work, Blanchett has also stunned au­di­ences with her darkly comedic chops in films such as Thor: Rag­narok.

The per­former ap­pre­ci­ates Roth’s eclec­tic aes­thetic, and of­fers that the di­rec­tor was one of the pri­mary rea­sons she de­cided to join the pro­duc­tion.

“What I love about Eli is that he didn’t just come at the story from one per­spec­tive,” says Blanchett.

“He has in­cred­i­bly elec­tric tastes, and I felt like he didn’t shy away from the dan­ger and ex­cite­ment. But he was also able to bring such heart to the film.”

The House with a Clock in Its Walls also marks the con­tin­u­ing part­ner­ship of Roth and com­poser Nathan Barr, with whom the di­rec­tor has col­lab­o­rated on

Cabin Fever, Hos­tel and Net­flix’s Hem­lock Grove. – United In­ter­na­tional Pic­tures

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