Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Tower

There are exploitation films and then some, but this Korean twin-tower disaster epic takes the cake for callously evocative imagery and sentimental schlock.

Jan 10, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1370008-Tower_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

It’s Christmas Eve at Tower Sky, the most luxurious high-rise building in Seoul, which is also the social and business hub of the city. A lavish “White Christmas” party causes building manager and single father Dae-ho (Sang-kyung Kim) to once again disappoint his little daughter Hana (Mina Cho) by working late. Yoon-hee (Ye-jin Son) secretly loves Dae-ho and volunteers to babysit for him during the party. Meanwhile, another committed workaholic, respected fire chief Young-ki (Kyung-gu Sul) has date-night plans with his ever-patient wife. However, everything goes awry when a pair of helicopters, hired to sprinkle “snow” on the guests, accidentally crash into the building, creating an instant towering inferno of death.

The resemblance to the events of 9/11 in The Tower is unavoidable, and the release of a film like this would have been unthinkable ten years ago. But in this “That’s entertainment” millennial world, we are now treated to the eerily evocative spectacle of gleaming glass spires spouting fire, crazed hordes trying desperately to escape, bodies hurtling to the ground, and courageously embattled firefighters. Technically, it’s all extremely well-done and smoothly photographed, with effects which look terrifyingly real and anything but your usual CGI schlock. Dramatically, however, The Tower once more raises the question: Why can’t the people in these disaster epics ever be anything more than bluntly outlined cartoon figures?

Director Ji-hoon Kim and his writer, Sang-don Kim, deliver a “Grand Hotel” assortment of protagonists who run the predictable gamut of terror, heroism and tears. They throw in a hard-working old cleaning woman, a buffoonish chef too shy to propose to his equally gawky beloved, and a rookie fireman who must prove his manhood. As lethal obstacle after lethal obstacle impedes the trapped characters’ escape from the building, often separating them, there must be at least a dozen monotonously poignant reunion scenes between Hana and her guilty daddy alone.

Under the circumstances, the actors can do little more than deliver the rote emotions of their primitively drawn roles, and it will indeed be interesting to see how this film does in the U.S., where memories may not be so forgiving as to be outweighed by the need for a night of light diversion at the mall.


Film Review: The Tower

There are exploitation films and then some, but this Korean twin-tower disaster epic takes the cake for callously evocative imagery and sentimental schlock.

Jan 10, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1370008-Tower_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

It’s Christmas Eve at Tower Sky, the most luxurious high-rise building in Seoul, which is also the social and business hub of the city. A lavish “White Christmas” party causes building manager and single father Dae-ho (Sang-kyung Kim) to once again disappoint his little daughter Hana (Mina Cho) by working late. Yoon-hee (Ye-jin Son) secretly loves Dae-ho and volunteers to babysit for him during the party. Meanwhile, another committed workaholic, respected fire chief Young-ki (Kyung-gu Sul) has date-night plans with his ever-patient wife. However, everything goes awry when a pair of helicopters, hired to sprinkle “snow” on the guests, accidentally crash into the building, creating an instant towering inferno of death.

The resemblance to the events of 9/11 in The Tower is unavoidable, and the release of a film like this would have been unthinkable ten years ago. But in this “That’s entertainment” millennial world, we are now treated to the eerily evocative spectacle of gleaming glass spires spouting fire, crazed hordes trying desperately to escape, bodies hurtling to the ground, and courageously embattled firefighters. Technically, it’s all extremely well-done and smoothly photographed, with effects which look terrifyingly real and anything but your usual CGI schlock. Dramatically, however, The Tower once more raises the question: Why can’t the people in these disaster epics ever be anything more than bluntly outlined cartoon figures?

Director Ji-hoon Kim and his writer, Sang-don Kim, deliver a “Grand Hotel” assortment of protagonists who run the predictable gamut of terror, heroism and tears. They throw in a hard-working old cleaning woman, a buffoonish chef too shy to propose to his equally gawky beloved, and a rookie fireman who must prove his manhood. As lethal obstacle after lethal obstacle impedes the trapped characters’ escape from the building, often separating them, there must be at least a dozen monotonously poignant reunion scenes between Hana and her guilty daddy alone.

Under the circumstances, the actors can do little more than deliver the rote emotions of their primitively drawn roles, and it will indeed be interesting to see how this film does in the U.S., where memories may not be so forgiving as to be outweighed by the need for a night of light diversion at the mall.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

The Congress
Film Review: The Congress

Part live-action, part cornea-searing animation, this cinematic overload is ambitious but ultimately fatigues as it plays with the intriguing notion of a fading Hollywood star selling rights so her cyberspace avatar can rise to superstardom and stay forever young in virtual reality. Flashy animation and cynical stabs at celebrity culture and movie-studio finagling keep things lively for a while. More »

The Last of Robin Hood
Film Review: The Last of Robin Hood

Serviceable vehicle for a salacious story. More »

Last Weekend
Film Review: Last Weekend

A sort of modern Chekhovian study of family tensions over a country weekend, this indie drama is very pretty to look at and at times disarming, but needed more punch. More »

The Notebook
Film Review: The Notebook

An aloof adaptation of Agota Kristof's best-seller that's technically impressive but precludes audience identification. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Neither significantly better nor worse than its predecessor, the belated Sin City sequel is more of a repeat, rather than a continuation, of the original. More »

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here