Sunday, August 27, 2006

World Trade Center

Well, I basically have one word for this:


I saw this last night and don't remember much of what I wanted to say, other than that I really didn't like it. At times I HATED it and thought it irredeemable, but then it would eventually redeem itself at least to the extent that I didn't hate it. But I totally didn't like it either. I think it's my least favorite thing I've seen all year (X-Men: The Last Stand was at least enjoyable on a visceral level, despite its hackishness). Some people obviously like it - my aunt for example was bawling much of the time, cause she gets very emotional about anything related to 9/11 - but I most certainly did not.

I don't know why I thought this would be good, and award-worthy. But it was not. Unless you like mushy, derivative, manipulative, overly sentimental historical dramatizations that trade on an audience's knowledge and emotional connection to a specific event (unfortunately, oscar voters DO seem to like films like this). And not only was it sentimental and manipulative in general, some parts of it were just poorly done. The makeup, etc. was just not convincing, making it seem like a horror spoof or something. And that is in VERY poor taste relative to 9/11. Also, the narrative was rather unfocused, meandering around various 9/11-oriented situations and randomly inserting some stock footage before focusing more on the two central families. I suppose Stone may have been approximating the same confusion people felt after the attacks, but for the film, that vibe just didn't work.

The lead actors did well with what they had (I think Maggie G was best in show), but they had such flat, stock characters that there was not much they could do to impress. And in general, the bit parts were played shockingly badly. I do, however, remember one scene wherein (guess who?) VIOLA DAVIS knocked another cameo perf out of the park, playing a random mourning relative in a scene with Maria Bello. Maybe Viola was truly the best in show. I love her. It's rather telling that her character seemed just as fleshed out to me as the four main characters, if not moreso, in only one brief scene.

Overall, however, I was not moved, despite Viola Davis' best efforts. There were several moving moments, particularly at the rare times when the film would allow itself some humor, but overall I found the film pretentious, manipulative, and utterly predictable (except in how unconvincing some of the scenes were). It almost seems as though Oliver Stone said "I'm going to make a film that firemen would like" and then ended up totally pandering and condescending to the firemen and other humble normal folks who he assumes would want to see his movie. Well, I for one did not appreciate it. To see an example of people managing to pay tribute to 9/11 victims and actually make a good film in the process, see United 93. But World Trade Center was totally unnecessary... and kind of exploitative.

I do think it still has good chances for awards, though. There is always THAT film in every best picture lineup, the overly earnest tearjerker that tries very hard and very predictably to make you cry and take it seriously, and panders shamelessly to the awards-voter contingent, whether by adapting a famous novel, dramatizing a historical event, taking on a touchy issue, or some such. And then everybody somehow gets it in their head that it's a great film. Also, it often stars Tom Hanks.

You know the type, and the examples. Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Titanic (though it is kind of in its own league), Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, etc. Road to Perdition didn't make it, thankfully. But Seabiscuit and Mystic River both did. So did Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby and of course, Crash. So maybe this one will, too.

Some of those films were more successful than others. Titanic for example knew exactly what it was doing, and hit it right out of the park. This one, not so much. Too bad.

Verdict: "Boycott it; don't encourage them."


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Blogger LeperColony said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, and I actually hadn't planned on it any time soon.

What amuses me are the reviews. I mean, it's possible the movie is actually quite good, and it's also possible it's terrible. But either way, which major media outlet or movie reviewer is going to pan it?

4:16 AM  
Blogger Kamikaze Camel said...

I think a few major critics openly hated it.

I think you list of movies at the end is a bit of a generalisation though. Shawshank, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan and most of the others all have good qualities and didn't just score their noms because they were a tearjerker.

And Shawshank, Titanic and Saving Private Ryan are, I would argue with anybody, GREAT films.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Emma said...

Was Maggie G award worthy?

9:10 AM  
Blogger adam k. said...

hGlenn: The list is a bit general. I just mean films that were lifted from real life disasters/famous novels/biopics/etc. that are clearly meant to be oscarbait. They often slip into the bad, unsubtle melodrama/tearjerker vein, but not always. Titanic is my favorite of those I mentioned.

Shawshank REALLY annoyed me in how overbearing and pretentious it seemed, so I kind of hated it, but maybe I should see it again. Titanic I agree is fab. Ryan I don't remember particularly loving cause of how ra-ra "you cannot dislike this film cause look how important it is" it was. But I should maybe see it again, too. It got a lot of critical love.

Mystic$: I didn't think Maggie was particularly award-worthy, but some will think so. If the movie goes over, I think she'd be first in line for an acting nom. But I don't see it happening without a best picture nom to go with it. Bello maybe, too, but she had this grating Brooklyn accent and just seemed less able to infuse anything unique into her character. plus Maggie is pregnant in it. pregnant supportive wife = even baitier

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