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Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel stars a lot of big names, such as Jude Law, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray etc, but fails to live up to its hype.

I'll be upfront about it. I went into the movie expecting something totally different from what I got. Admittedly, I didn't see any of the trailers for it before I watched it but I was expecting something more along the lines of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel than what I really got. Which was disappointing because I liked The Best.....Hotel but I didn't really like The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

One of my biggest issues with it were the characters. So Budapest is about the story of this young lobby boy Zero, who serves in the Hotel. He gets caught up on a wild adventure that involves the murder of a duchess, a world war, a murder conspiracy and a jail-break and escape from a ruthless assassin. The problem is that this really sounds more exciting on paper than it does in the film. 

The film definitely has a very distinct british flavor to it, in the sense that all those exciting-sounding things are portrayed in a very subdued manner so it's never really very exciting at all. Instead, it portrays them in a very quirky, whimsical manner that is almost funny but not quite. And speaking as someone who has watched a fair bit of british humor, this is disappointing. 

And I think that's really the best way I can describe this film. 'Not quite'. It is funny at times but it's never funny enough to warrant the whole film. The action scenes are also 'not quite' there. You obviously have enough subplots to make this an exciting film, but it never quite goes in that direction. The characterization is there but also not quite there. You're told about the characters in the blandest of ways and the voice-over narration doesn't help either and shouldn't have been used as a tool to skip over character development. As an example of what I mean, suddenly we're just shown Zero has a girlfriend whom he's apparently been dating for a while. Before this, there was no indication he even knew her. There was ONE scene shown in the beginning of the movie, which talked about her but never showed them interacting or even meeting each other. Then suddenly, boom, he knows her and has been dating her. Then suddenly boom again, he's married to her. Um...wtf? Show, don't tell. 

It really feels like this is more of a vehicle for the Director to show off certain set pieces or directing cues or techniques than a real serious attempt at a movie. And that's what critics are raving about, the set pieces, the fact that it's not CGI and built up miniature sets etc. But as an average movie-goer, I don't really care about that. 

Even at the end, after all the tension has gone and you think they're going to live happily ever after for a while at least, suddenly boom, both the mentor figure and his wife are dead. Um...yay? In all honesty, I didn't care because both the actors and the writing didn't really make me care for them. 

Overall, I'd say this is a pretty weird film but not one I would buy on blu-ray. Or want to watch again.