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Film and drama

Screen Themes: The Platform vs Bloodshot

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Are you running out of things to watch during the COVID-19 crisis? Entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out a couple of recent releases to help you cope with lockdown.

The Platform/El Hoyo (2019)

Directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

The Platform is a very odd movie. It starts with a man named Goreng (Ivan Massague) waking up in what looks like a prison cell with a hole in the floor and ceiling, accompanied by an unbalanced man with a knife that never gets blunt. Once each day, a platform loaded with food descends through the building, with each floor getting the remnants of what the floors above them leave behind. It gradually emerges that Goreng has checked himself into this facility for six months to quit smoking and get a university degree, although it’s entirely unclear how the latter works.

At the end of the first month, the inhabitants of the facility are knocked out, waking up on a different level. The lower you are, the less likely you are to get any food and Goreng’s cellmate (among others) immediately resorts to cannibalism to survive. When Goreng is fortunate enough to find himself on level six, he tries to start a rationing movement to ensure the lower levels get food. Unsurprisingly, this does not go well. In case you were hoping for a deep exploration into class warfare, this is as profound as it gets. The people on top shit on the people below them. Literally.

Over the years, Spain has produced a number of standout horror movies, notably Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone and the REC series. Unfortunately, The Platform seems unlikely to join this pantheon. Mind-numbingly dull from a set design perspective (Cube did far better with less), under-developed from a world-building standpoint and filled with unlikeable characters, The Platform’s biggest issue is its failure to land the ending.

While I’m not going to go into spoiler territory, having an ending that’s open to interpretation is great, having an ending that’s entirely baffling is something else altogether. The only way I could really recommend this to you is if you’re the sort of viewer that enjoys being frustrated — but there have to be better movies from that perspective as well.

Bloodshot (2020)

Directed by David S F Wilson

If you ask the marketing people, Bloodshot was the first victim of COVID-19 social distancing, opening internationally in mid-March, just as cinemas were being shut down around the world. I had actually planned to go and watch this on the big screen, but on reflection, I’m rather glad I didn’t.

Based on the little-known comic from Valiant Publishing, Bloodshot tells the story of Ray Garrison, a skilled soldier who is killed in battle and then resurrected as a nanobot-infused superhero. If that sounds slightly confusing, Bloodshot tells an almost identical story to the original Robocop, although without the social commentary, relatable characters or any sense of fun. Bloodshot kills people, Bloodshot gets beaten up, Bloodshot heals with some dodgy-looking CGI. Occasionally, Bloodshot attempts to portray an emotion other than confusion.

Emoting has never been a strong suit for Vin Diesel, a characteristic that remains unchanged as he mumbles his way through a movie that feels far longer than its 109-minute runtime. To be fair, some of the blame must go to novice director Dave Wilson, a former visual effects supervisor who handles the action sequences adequately but fails to make you care about any of the characters. When the big third-act twist finally arrives after endless clumsy foreshadowing, most viewers will be left with a shrug — like, who cares?

Also starring talented actors Eiza Gonzalez, Toby Kebbell and Guy Pearce (who are almost entirely wasted), Bloodshot feels like a movie that was greenlit off the back of Marvel’s box office billions without really understanding that building a cinematic universe is a tricky prospect indeed.

The Verdict

With production shutting down on movies and TV shows around the world, there’s going to be a relative shortage of content over the next year. I say relative shortage because we have access to more audio-visual entertainment at the touch of our fingers than any generation in history, but it’s very clear that volume does not equal quality. The Platform is another cheaply produced horror flick with a concept that probably sounded great on paper but fails to engage.

If you love superheroes and are lamenting the delay of Wonder Woman and Batman, Bloodshot is a very poor substitute. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of direct to DVD action movies like the Universal Soldier franchise, then there’s a chance that you’ll find something to like — it has explosions, and Vine Diesel kills a lot of people, so there’s that.

The Platform – 3/10

Bloodshot – 2/10

Books by John Turnbull are available on Amazon and Kindle, including supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame; action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: EuropeDamnation's Flame by John Turnbull is also available in paperback in the IA store HERE (free postage).

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