Sunday, March 16, 2008


After the majesty of There Will Be Blood, everything else was bound to be a bit of a letdown. If that film was a towering example of how cinema can be great, the next two films that I saw were examples of everything that can be wrong with it.

I went to see Vantage Point because of the decent trailer, and the fact that it was packed with decent actors (including Jack from Lost). This film thought that it was ultra-modern and clever, and clearly borrowed a lot of its visual style from the last two Bourne films. It was, however, truly terrible. A creaky plot was told through a clunky device of telling the same 20-minute time period repeatedly via 7 or 8 (I can't remember, and frankly don't want to) different viewpoints. I suppose the makers thought that this would be a brilliant way of telling a twisty thriller story, which is all very well if you don't have a plot in which even a slow child could spot everything coming a mile off. Poor stuff, compounded by a truly horrible action-oriented final third. Even the Friday-night cinema crowd were moaning with derision after about half of the film. If you lose that easy-to-please crowd, you're in trouble.

Probably more enjoyable, but in my opinion more guilty of bad film-making, was 10,000 BC. This comes from the man who brought us Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. Before I slag this one off, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed those two, with their ridiculous central premises: Will Smith defeats an alien invasion, and Jake Gyllenhaal punches a wolf in the face. 10,000 BC carries on the line of outlandish films, being a bizarre mix of faux-history, The 300, Apocalypto, and Stargate. The accuracy of the history in the plot is pretty much an all-time low here: the protagonists hunt mammoths in (presumably) central Europe, which is but a few days walk away from Egypt, where the Pyramids are being built 8,000 years earlier than expected. With mammoths as labour. Putting aside the poor anthropology, the film is still no good. The plot is incredibly (scarily so) cliched, and is as formulaic as I have ever seen. Poor dialogue, poor acting, poor plotting. The film was a perfect example of what is wrong with a lot of films: they under-develop characters and story, so that when something happens to them (or someone dies) you simply don't care. You have to earn it if you really want us to care. And I didn't.

All this is a long way of saying that I saw two very bad films after one great one. I'm not sure what is out in the next few weeks that can reverse the trend...


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