Papillon – A decent remake

This movie was supposed to be out in 2017 but the release was delayed and finally released last weekend without any promotion or fanfare. This is a bad sign that the studio just want to dump this movie out in cinema to meet some contractual obligations and hope it dissappear from the cinemas fast.  Last night, I witness the power of advertising, or in this case, the lack of it. I went to the screening at 10pm showtime in New York City, on a Saturday night, when most people go to the movies, and I was THE ONLY person in that sprawling 400 seats cinema watching Papillon!!! Imagine that!
I think there is an article that came out about how Henri Charierre (the real papillon) stole the life story of the actual prisoner who was in the prison with him and that fellow went public to declare Henri as a fraud after the book he wrote became a worldwide sensation. This probably throw a wet towel on the authenticity of the story that Henri told in the book which also affect this movie which the book was based on.
It’s unfortunate for all the talents involved in making of this movie, especially for Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek who invested so much of their crafts in faithfully portraying the characters to reflect what’s in the book and the condition of the brutal prison system. I am not much of a fan of old movie because they tend to be very dated by today’s standard and their dialogues and demeanors are laughable. I’m pretty sure they fit into the time those movies were released back in the days. After watching this movie, I went back and watch Steve McQueen’s original version and I cringed at the scenes in that movie. They don’t really strive for realism at that time, especially when you put Steve McQueen in this role of Papillon, the studio want to make sure tons of people go see it so they make Papillon super macho with riding motorcycle as an escape in one scene. Like I mentioned before, laughable. In anticipation of the upcoming remake of A Star Is Born, I made a mistake of attempting to watch the original 1976 version starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. It was revolting. The movie was so dated and both leads are annoying to watch. The remake can do anything and it will be an improvement of the 1976 version. But back to this remake of Papillon. It set it’s sight towards a realistic portrayal and stay faithful to the book. Charlie Hunnam, like his last movie The Lost City Of Z, once again did the method thing and lost some serious weight to look the part of a prisoner who spent 7 years total in the quiet solitary confinement with one meal a day ration. His haunting eyes and skeletal figure showed how horrific the prison condition in the French Guinea Colony was. It’s a slow movie but I did not lost interest in the least, even when I watched it in the late showing. As far as brutality goes, though, the movie A Prayer Before Dawn, about the irish guy who was imprisoned in the most brutal thai prison system, took the trophy. That movie was very hard to watch, talk about realism.

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