March 16, 2020

ABIGAIL and the Dub(mis)step
ABIGAIL (2019)
Starring Tinatin Dalakishvili, Gleb Bochkov, Eddie Marsan, Rinal Mukhametov, Artyom Tkachenko, Ravshana Kurkova. Directed by Aleksandr Boguslavsky. (111 min)

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😾

Looks like someone behind the scenes brought a steampunk picture book to work.

Visually, Abigail is a hodge-podge of elements typically associated with the genre: quasi-Victorian setting, waistcoats, biomechanical headgear, goggles, gas-masks, gear-driven machinery and, of course, airships that resemble sadistic colonoscopy tools.

It’s all very pretty, but not enough to compensate for the terrible dialogue, dull characters, histrionic performances and a plot so murky that it’s difficult to figure out what the hell’s going on half the time. In a nutshell, Fensington is a walled city run by a police state, which regularly banishes those who are “infected” with a virus. However, it turns out the infected are actually individuals gifted with special abilities and are therefore a threat to the status quo. The title character (Tinatin Dalakishvili) is your standard emo teen who becomes part of an underground movement in order to find her banished dad, who created the device the government now uses to suppress people’s inherent powers.

Black Sunday II.
Or something like that. The story often meanders aimlessly, presumably so we can take-in the lavish production design (which is admittedly impressive). But the narrative shortcomings would be tolerable if not for one monumentally distracting technical issue: This is a Russian production with a Russian cast, but filmed in English. However, the actors’ actual voices are dubbed over to get rid of those pesky accents and the results are atrocious, sometimes comically so. More often than not, the voice inflections don’t match the expressions of the characters on-screen, suggesting the cast had minimal understanding of their own lines. Because of this, the whole thing plays like an English-dubbed anime.

Abigail looks wonderful and features an outstanding score by Ryan Otter. Too bad it’s in service of a nonsensical story that generates zero interest, to say nothing of the boneheaded decision to placate English-speaking audiences when subtitles would’ve been preferable. Anyone who loves the steampunk aesthetic are better off with a picture book.



Anonymous said...

Bro, this movie IS exciting. Why? because it's prophetic, not necessarily because of the plot or dialog. How could these folks have known that the very year after this movie was released we would have a global pandemic... which governments worldwide would use as an excuse to suppress and control their own people? Despite the problems with this movie, the guys who wrote it are friggin psychics and I love it. 10/10 would watch again even with the weird dubs lol

Unknown said...

Dubbing was horrible! Took away from the movie...should not have dubbed

Sweet Angel said...

Why did they dub it? Dubbing KILLS movies. And her hairstyle? Ugh. Other than those two issues, I loved it.

Sloppy said...

This bothered so much I had to look it up to see if it was dubbed less then 15 mins in it's pretty much ruined the movie for me.

Anonymous said...

2 min in and I'm like wtf is up with the dubbing even tho it seemed to match

FRM RVA said...

Two huge questions:

(1) Why did they have Russian actors speak dialog in English when they obviously didn’t understand what they were saying? Their tone of voice, intonation, and even body language often don’t match the dialogue.

(2) Why did they dub over the Russian actors’ voices with English speakers who sound like cartoon characters and not real people?

It would have been preferable to film entirely in Russian and subtitle in English, or even subtitle the actors’ Russian-accented spoken English. This was a surrealistic nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Very accurate assessment of the show...I was initially super excited to watch...wasn’t overly concerned with the quality of the plot...but the dubbing is intolerable.

Unknown said...

Just watched this movie and could not figure out, even with the lavish production and kinda intriguing plot (when it was there), why it was so horrible! After hearing that it was Russian with Russian actors (starring a 28? year old actress playing a teenager??) and dubbed into English, I have watched parts of it again. Not all of it is dubbed! Her father and her younger self are really speaking English I'm sure. The same with other characters. What a mess. My favorite part: "I think we're in an airship. Can you fly this thing?" Of course he can! That's the way to move the plot along. And we go from dazzlingly magic guns to... crossbows!? Lots of eye candy for sure! $7m budget (or so reported by Imdb), but $1m worldwide profit, wonder why. said...

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filmyweb said...

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