Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Book to Film Review: The Grey

About the film 
The Grey is an American thriller film that is released on DVD and Blu Ray on 21st May 2012. The film is rated 15 due to scenes of extreme violence and bad language. The Grey has a run time of 117 minutes. The film is based on the short story Ghost Walker by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, who also co-wrote the screenplay.. 

At a refinery in Alaska, crude oil is broken into various elements for commercial use. Workers endure gruelling five-week shifts working extremely long hours. While getting ready to have a much earned two week holiday, one group of men encounter a brutal storm on the flight home. Crashing in the middle of Alaska, the crash kills most people on board except for eight men. Their only hope of survival is to head for civilisation which is a long way away. If the harsh weather conditions weren't enough, the men are hounded by a mysterious (and big) pack of wild wolves looking to protect their home. 

Self-appointed leader of the group is John Ottway, a sharpshooter hired to keep the refinery safe from any wild animal. While killing things like wolves is his job, out in the wilderness he has no weapons to hide behind. The lead the men to safety, John must rely on instinct and smart choices as well as being quick on his feet to get away from the wolves in time.

What I thought 
Going into this film, I wasn't really sure what I was expecting. I hadn't seen a proper trailer for it nor did I know anything about the plot. All I had seen was a poster on a bus stop with Liam Neeson's face taking up all of the space. However, my boyfriend was really interested in seeing this one so I gave it a go regardless of not knowing anything about it. 

As soon as the film started I realised that this film really wasn't going to be anything like what I thought it was going to be. The Grey doesn't take long at all to get straight into the main plot of the men being stranded in the middle of nowhere. Once the plane begins to hit turbulent weather, I soon understood what the film was going to be about. Liam Neeson's character does not fare well with flying and the panic in his eyes, as well as the panic of the other passengers, made me realise that they were going to be in some massive trouble once they crashed. The plane crash was not done in the best way however and it did look a bit cheap at times. The shots were very shaky which showed how bad the weather was but it could have been a lot more dramatic. 

Once the plane has crashed, reality kicks in for the men that survived and there are only eight of them. The crash was massive and destroyed nearly everything that had been on board so the men are left in a very bad situation, especially as they are in the middle of nowhere in Alaska. Passengers and crew are dead all over the place and the surviving men have to figure out how the hell they're going to get home. To begin with, the weather conditions and upcoming blizzards are the main concern but as soon as night falls, the wolves come out to play. Aggressive and annoyed wolves begin to kill off the men one by one, not wanting to be threatened and the group realise that they have a massive battle on their hands. 

For the main part of the film, there is a very small cast. With only eight men surviving, it gives the film a chance to explore a couple of minor sub-plots regarding their lives back home but this never overshadows the main story. The sub-plot with John's wife was a nice touch to add in as it gave the film a bit of romance. Without this aspect, the film would have just been one massive adventure and with not a lot for girls who aren't into this kind of thing. A small amount of added romance widened the audience by a lot which could only do good things for the ratings as well as the takings. 

Out of this small cast, I only knew who two of the actors were; Liam Neeson and Dermot Mulroney but this wasn't a bad thing. While Liam Neeson plays leading man John, the other men are focused on nearly as much. Playing the leader of the group, John is a very demanding and headstrong man who knows what he is doing. Although this is partly down to his job which he obviously knows really well, he is also calm and collected in a bad situation which many of the other men aren't. Neeson plays the role perfectly and is just the right amount of cool and authoritive when needed. At the same time, he is also really likable as a character even when he is being tough. Even though he is the biggest name in the cast, he doesn't completely steal the show which was a good thing.

While the characters in the group of surviving men were quite clichéd, I didn't mind. Yes, there could have been a little more originality and diversity when it came to the character's personalities but the ones that were there made the film interesting and exciting. Dermot Mulroney is someone I have loved in everything I have seen him in so far and The Grey is no exception. His performance is quiet and subdued but a well written character to complement Neeson's character. The banter between the group was great to watch and I liked getting to know a little more about each of them as the film went on. 

As scary as the wolves were, they could have been better. Their size alone was one of the scariest things about them as there was something quite unnatural about the pack. Never have I seen a wolf (apart from crazy werewolves in the Twilight films) as big as these. The wolves are also sly and cunning, clever in the way they act and they did seem to be able to outsmart a group of men. The dark scenery and the contrast in their colour with the snow was a good thing though as it showed them dominant in their natural habitat. 

The story is exciting and fast paced and considering the film is close to two hours long, this was a very good thing. Nothing every drags in the story as something is always happening whether it be the wolves coming back or the men getting to know each other better. The Grey has a great mix of adventure and thrills as well as some softer, more tender moments so there was a really good range of emotions being felt while I watched it. I wasn't quite ready for how much gore there was in this film but I am not against it at all. I actually think that the gore was really well done and very realistic so it was only a plus point for the film in my eyes. 

Something that has to be said about this film is the cinematography. With scenes of remote Alaska, the film takes us on a journey of terror and panic as the blizzards kick in. The men already have a lot to deal with considering the wolves killing them off and having barely any supplies and then they have to deal with a vast amount of land to cover as well. I loved seeing these crazy snowy scenes and apparently, none of them were shot with green screens or special effects which if true, are very impressive. As well as the snow scenes, there are some amazingly stunning views of Alaska from different sides which were great to see. This change in scenery broke up the monotony of seeing so much white all of the time. 

While I didn't know what to expect from this one, I ended up loving it. If you like films like Into The Wild, you will probably like this one as well.

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