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Runaway Bride (1999)
Despite a charming cast, the film suffers from a host of unlikable characters and a silly storyline
Julia Roberts seems to be one of the most hated celebrities on this website. I can't really understand why. I find her to be talented and charming as well as engaging and usually likable, until I saw Runaway Bride. I thought I was going to like this one but it offered some of the most unlikable characters I have ever seen in a romantic comedy. Generally, the audience should want to cheer for the two people to get together but I couldn't care less. I don't think Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) actually deserved to be in a marriage because she was selfish, immature and seemed incapable of love. I just couldn't fathom why anyone would actually be attracted to her. She has weddings like there no big deal and she probably wasted a lot of money between the four failed ones she had. She has her fiancé invest all of his time into the relationship, trying to show her that he does indeed love her only to be left at the altar. I guess the situation was supposed to be humorous and I shouldn't have taken it so seriously but it was tough to overlook all of the garbage the film was trying sell to me.
Acting wise the film was decent, which did save it a little. Julia Roberts gives an okay performance, although it's one of her worst. However, she is working with rather weak material and she's portraying a woman that is just so hard to like. Richard Gere was also decent although nothing special. The chemistry between these two was basically non-existent which made their relationship seem completely fake and unrealistic. It was hard to buy that a cynical man would fall for a woman that has no problem trampling all over a man's heart. They did have a few funny scenes together though which made the film more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the film runs for an inexplicable 116 minutes so there are a lot of dead spots.
Romantic comedies shouldn't really be loathsome movies. The characters should be likable and engaging so it's easy to get behind them and the story shouldn't be too far-fetched. Unfortunately, Runaway Bride commits the worst sin for a romantic comedy by offering unlikable characters, making it basically impossible to really get into the movie despite how talented the cast may be.
Dead Silence (2007)
A run of the mill horror film that offers only a few scares
In the wake of his young bride's mysterious death, grieving newlywed Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) is forced to return to his haunted hometown, where he butts heads with the ghost of a creepy ventriloquist who was infamously murdered years ago.
Dead Silence offers a few chilling moments but for the most part, the film is pretty scare-free. The premise was an okay idea even if it was a little silly. I was kind of interested in it for the story because there usually aren't a lot of horror films that center around dummies. Unfortunately, James Wan and Leigh Whannell weren't able to make an exciting or chilling film. They had a nice, creepy intro that really kicked things off followed by 50 minutes of lame storytelling. During these 50 minutes, the story unfolds and questions are answered however everything moved along at such a slow pace that it never interested me. Part of this had to do with the one dimensional characters. It wasn't that the main character was unlikable, it was just that he was pretty bland. I felt sorry for what happened to him but I never really got hooked by the film.
The last twenty minutes or so were actually pretty decent. James Wan managed to produce a few scary scenes using a lot of different camera angles and quick editing shots. He added an appropriate amount of creepiness and some of the final scenes did offer some chilling moments. The ending was also pretty good because it wasn't common and it was a bit surprising.
The acting was pretty unremarkable with only Donnie Wahlberg giving an above average performance. He was able to add some charisma to his underwritten role and he was fun to watch on screen. Ryan Kwanten was just very bland and forgettable. He was likable enough but he's just too vanilla to be a leading man. Amber Valletta and Laura Regan were both alright although they were also on the forgettable side. Judith Roberts was decently scary although she didn't really have much to do. Overall, Dead Silence is an average horror film that probably should have gone straight to video. Rating 5/10
The Reaping (2007)
It's pretty slick looking but largely generic and silly
A former Christian missionary (Hilary Swank) who now debunks supernatural phenomena is called to a small town in Louisiana which seems to have been struck by a series of bizarre incidents resembling the ten biblical plagues which seem to revolve around a young girl (AnnaSophia Robb).
The Reaping is pretty similar to The Number 23 and Premonition. All three films star talented people and each one has an engaging storyline that was presented in a good trailer. Unfortunately, each film turned out to be disappointing. Out of those three, The Reaping is not the worst but that doesn't mean it's a good movie. It suffers from limp acting and an unsatisfying execution that develops in a predictable fashion. Predictability is forgivable if the film is at least entertaining or if there's heart to be found somewhere in the product but that's not the case here. The film drags many times and with undeveloped characters, it's a pretty hollow feature.
Carey Hayes and Chad Hayes penned the script and they did a better job with House of Wax. Here, they kept things simple and safe. They could have pushed the religious angle a little more to make the plot more interesting but they didn't. They could have written the dialog a little sharper so that it didn't sound so cheesy but they didn't. The could have actually developed the characters so the viewer could actually care for them but they didn't. By the time the ending came around, I simply didn't care anymore. They revealed the evil truths which wasn't very exciting and they hinted at a sequel that no one will probably want to see. Stephen Hopkins didn't do any better behind the camera although some of the plagues actually did look kind of cool like the locusts. Also, the location where they chose to shoot the film was gorgeous and they really took advantage of it so the movie wasn't totally worthless.
For the most part, the acting was pretty forgettable as no one really seemed to be trying. Hilary Swank was just giving her lines without emotion and she looked pretty bored. She was clearly doing this for a paycheck. David Morrissey was better here than in Basic Instinct 2 but he was still pretty emotionless and dull. Idris Elba did alright although he was playing a one dimensional character. Stephen Rea was just ridiculous but luckily he didn't get a lot of screen time. AnnaSophia was okay except I didn't really buy her in this role but she still managed to out act Swank. Overall, The Reaping is not a horrible film but it is a missed opportunity that's not really worth watching. Rating 4/10
When structural engineer Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) learns his wife is cheating on him, he concocts the perfect murder to get revenge without being caught. Assigned to the case is hotshot attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) who is ready to leave the D.A's. office to join a big money legal firm, but when he's challenged by Crawford's case, he's willing to risk everything to prove the man is guilty.
Given the talented cast, Fracture should have been more than a by-the-numbers thriller but that's exactly what it was. It features a few good performances although they are working with some unremarkable material and can't quite lift the film above mediocrity. The uninspired direction was a bit surprising given the track record of director Gregory Hoblit. He managed to keep things safe and predictable without really adding anything special to the film. I guess he was relying on the strength of his cast which only worked to an extent. The scenes with Gosling and Hopkins were interesting to watch but whenever Hopkins was absent, the film seriously dragged and Gosling's character was really unlikable so it was hard to root for him.
The screenplay was only average with some decent dialog being the highlight of it. The way the screenwriter played out the crime was very formulaic and pretty predictable. The ending was fairly obvious from the beginning and it wasn't a big twist ending that makes the viewer feel smart for figuring it out but rather it was an ending that makes the viewer wonder how these supposedly smart characters weren't able to figure it out. So save for some scenes with Gosling and Hopkins, the audience gets to watch a bland story unfold without any real sense of interest.
Luckily, the casting director did a great job and the performances were able to save the film. Anthony Hopkins was playing a familiar character yet it was still great to watch him on screen and he was the best part about the movie. Ryan Gosling was also pretty good and he managed to keep up with Hopkins. Rosamund Pike was decent, a bit dry though. I really liked Embeth Davidtz and it's such a shame that she didn't get a lot of screen time although this was expected. David Strathairn was decent although a bit wasted with an undeveloped character. Overall, Fracture features a strong cast stuck in average material and it ends up being forgettable. Rating 6/10
The Night Listener (2006)
A sloppy and unnecessary film
Gabriel (Robin Williams), a New York writer and late-night radio host, becomes friendly with Peter Logand (Rory Culkin), a young boy who's contracted AIDS after years of abuse by his parents. When Gabriel finds out that Peter is in the hospital, he goes to visit him in Wisconsin to no luck, with the missing boy being protected by his blind stepmother Donna (Toni Collette) and the rest of the town.
The Night Listener has to be the most pointless and forgettable film of 2006. There was honestly no point to it and the film was way too short to have any impact on the viewer. Patrick Stettner did an awful job both behind the camera and with the screenplay. First, he moved things at such a crawling pace that it took the film a long time to reach its boiling point. The majority of the first half was filled with dull conversations that didn't really help move the film anywhere. It took awhile for the film to get going and when it finally did, it did so far past the point of audience involvement or genuine concern. I have never read the book so I have no idea if this is an accurate adaptation or not but it seemed like they could have squeezed some more substance from the premise. Everything was poorly drawn out and the story took a long time to get going especially for such a short film. Also, a lot of the film is pretty dark so it was hard to follow the action. I guess they shot at night to make the budget cheaper but it sure made the film annoying to watch.
For the most part, the acting was fairly forgettable as most of the actors didn't seem to be trying. Robin Williams actually gave a good performance and it was nice to see him in a non-comedy role. After RV and a host of other forgettable comedies, he shows that he still has skills as a dramatic actor. It's too bad that he chose a weak script but at least it was something different. Toni Collette had a few good scenes but she was never more than adequate. Sandra Oh, Rory Culkin and Bobby Cannavale were all forgettable and were just reciting their lines without any real emotion or commitment. Overall, The Night Listener was a disappointing and forgettable film. Rating 4/10
Kale is restricted to house arrest for the summer, and his mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) isn't going to make it easy for him, so Kale's new pastime involves spying on his neighbors, his favorite one being the super-hot Ashley (Sarah Roemer) who just moved in next door. Kale and his cohort Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) have also been watching his creepy neighbor Robert Turner (David Morse), who they suspect is involved with a recent spate of missing persons. When Ashley gets in on their game, things step-up as the trio try to find proof that Turner is responsible for the missing women.
Disturbia proves to be a good thriller that provides some nice entertainment. It may not be original (which has been pointed out endlessly) but at least it offers a good time. I believe D.J. Caruso did a nice job behind the camera. He took about fifty minutes to build the story up and develop the characters before releasing the suspense. There was plenty of suspense in the last thirty minutes or so in the movie and it was more than just "gotcha" scares but actual suspense which really made the film enjoyable. The viewer really gets behind the main character so don't be surprised if you find yourself rooting out loud for Kale's survival.
The writing was also decent even if most of it felt a bit recycled. There were many plot points that were easy to figure out but this didn't damage the movie too much. Some of the dialog was really annoying though like the "You can't have a stakeout without coffee and doughnuts" line but while the lines were very corny, they were only a minor problem therefore not too damaging to the film. Also, for those expecting something like Red Eye or Cellular, look elsewhere. Those films really had the suspense going the entire film while Disturbia really only has a shocking beginning followed by forty minutes of character and story development. I'm not saying the film was boring, just not very suspenseful during those forty minutes or so. After that, Disturbia did get very exciting and it was a lot of fun to watch.
Shia LaBeouf was shockingly good as Kale. Generally, I can't stand him at all yet he was actually pretty convincing here. If he had a given a weak performance then the film would have failed but he was able to give a charismatic performance and he was entertaining to watch. David Morse was effectively creepy as Mr. Turner. His subtleness really crept me out and he was very convincing. Carrie Anne-Moss was decent and it was nice to see her again on screen. Sarah Roemer looked really nice and she was also decent although a bit on the bland side. You will either like or hate Aaron Yoo's performance. Either you will find him really annoying and unbearable or you will think he's actually pretty funny. I thought he played a good supporting character and he was also fun to watch. Overall, Disturbia was a nice thriller that I enjoyed watching. Rating 7/10
The Last Mimzy (2007)
It's pretty harmless yet also fairly forgettable
While vacationing at their parent's beach house, young Noah and Emma Wilder find a strange box. When they open it, they discover several bizarre objects and a child's stuffed rabbit named Mimzy. As the kids play with the objects, they discover that they do seemingly miraculous things. Even more amazing, the children themselves start gaining remarkable new powers. But where did the object come from? And what will happen when their parents, or even the government, learn about their discovery?
The Last Mimzy is a perfectly harmless and bland film. It's mildly enjoyable for kids but it doesn't really offer much for people over the age of 14. I think the film's main problem was the sluggish pacing and dull direction. The film is a little over ninety minutes long but it felt so much longer because everything happened so slowly. Director Robert Shaye shot all of the scenes without really injecting any personality into the movie. Everything felt generic and nothing really stood out; not the acting, special effects or anything. The writing was better because it at least had some creativity to it. The basic premise was intriguing and the film presented some interesting ideas so I can't say that the whole movie was a bore.
The acting was on the forgettable side, much like the actual movie. Rhiannon Leigh Wryn was pretty good as Emma. She's not the best child actor out there but at least she wasn't annoying. She had a few decent scenes and it never sounded like she was just reciting her lines. Chris O'Neil was the exact opposite. He was dull, annoying and he sounded like he was reading his lines. It's kind of sad that he got out acted by a seven year old girl. Although, they did have a realistic brother and sister relationship so he did help to do something right. Timothy Hutton was shockingly invisible. His performance here was quite similar to his performance in "Last Holiday". He showed up, did his lines and left. He didn't seem to put in much effort but of course he's an excellent actor so a simplistic role like this probably wasn't much for him. Joely Richardson was the very definition of bland and was in the same boat as Hutton. Rainn Wilson and Kathryn Hahn were both alright as was Michael Clarke Duncan although he didn't get a lot of screen time. Overall, The Last Mimzy was so harmless that it was really hard to hate. At the same time, nothing about it really stood out and it ended up being forgettable. Rating 5/10
The Number 23 (2007)
An unconvincing thriller that proves to be more ridiculous than thrilling.
"Fate" leads Walter Sparrow to come in possession of a mysterious novel that has eerie similarities and connections to his life, all based around the number 23. As the story unfolds in real life and fiction, Sparrow must figure out his connection to the book and how the story will eventually end.
The Number 23 offers an intriguing premise that is undone by a weak execution. The film just failed on many different levels which is pretty disappointing because it held so much potential. The screenplay was probably the worst part about it. It was filled with silly sequences and laughable dialog that just killed the mood of the movie. It seemed like the screenwriter had a good idea, he just didn't know how to develop it to stretch over a ninety minute running time. The second half of the film was running low on ideas, the twist was pretty obvious and the ending was awful.
Joel Schumacher is responsible for one of the worst movies ever and he did redeem himself a little with Phone Booth and a few other films but The Number 23 reminds me that he's still capable of making a stinker. He has the movie drenched in style but he just can't get a good focus. He moves the film at a clunky and slow pace. He switches from reality to what's actually happening in the book which quickly got annoying. The actual book in the film that's titled "The Number 23" is an awful detective story and the audience gets stuck listening to Carrey narrate it which just bored me to tears. When Carrey is finally done with book, we get stuck watching him run around trying to solve the mystery. At this point, the audience has lost interest and there is no real tension. We impatiently wait for the movie to reach it's horrible ending and unconvincing explanation before celebrating that film has finally finished.
The acting was mostly average and pretty forgettable. Jim Carrey was clearly just sleepwalking through his performance and he didn't even seem to be trying. He was either completely over the top in some scenes or just very wooden. His narration was a complete bore to listen to and he put no life inside his character. Virginia Madsen did the best she could with a limited role but she needs to pick better scripts. Logan Lerman was pretty bland as was Danny Huston. Overall, The Number 23 was an awful thriller that offered more laughs than suspense or thrills. Rating 3/10
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Despite featuring a few heartwarming moments and fine performances, the film was uninteresting and forgettable
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is the type of guy everyone knows and most have been at one point in their life or another - the working poor. He's smart and diligent but unable to catch a break and falling further and further behind in his responsibilities to everything except his young son (Jaden Smith) whom he'd promised to always be around for, no matter the circumstances.
The Pursuit of Happiness is heartwarming in parts but as a whole, the film wasn't very engaging or memorable. The whole thing just felt too manipulative and I think they tried way too hard to get the audience to feel sorry for the main character. For instance, the first half of the film was mostly depressing to watch because the "hero" of the movie was in a bad state so it was hard to watch him suffer. We had to see all of these unlucky scenes and moments where Chris just couldn't catch a break. It got really annoying after awhile to have the film show all of this and it just proved that it was clear pity draining.
The direction proved to be quite lame and it was a big reason to why the movie wasn't very appealing to me. The pacing was on the slow side and it was unbearable at times. This had to do with the fact that the main character himself wasn't very likable so it got tiring to watch him for nearly two hours. We were supposed to root for him which was easy to do because of his situation but I never really viewed him as an interesting person and he was actually pretty selfish. He took on a six month internship which didn't pay any money and he was surprised that his wife wasn't happy with that decision. Even though everything worked out in the end, I don't believe he should have taken that job because his family was in a bad situation already. I admire his determination to get out of the unfortunate situation but not the way he chose to do so.
The most positive thing about the film was the relationship between Will Smith and Jaden Smith. I know that they are related in real life so filming these scenes was probably an easy thing to do yet they did have an appealing relationship and watching them together made you root for Chris a little more because you want the best for the kid. However, I don't believe Will Smith deserved an Oscar nomination. He was really good but there were better performances from 2006. Thandie Newton deserved a razzie for her performance. She was ridiculously over the top and very fake. She had no control of her emotions and was just generally awful. Overall, The Pursuit of Happiness features a few heartwarming moments but for the most part, it didn't really appeal to me. Rating 5/10
Miss Potter (2006)
It's pretty thin on actual substance but it's still a delightful film
Turn of the century England was not a time or place particularly suited for a woman of any social standing to try and make their own way in life, so it was more than out of the ordinary for Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) not only to try and publish her own children's stories, but to be wildly successful at it, eventually becoming one of the most popular children's authors of all time.
Miss Potter is a simple film yet still engaging and delightful. It's not terribly deep or exciting but it is a nice way to spend ninety minutes. I think the main reason the film isn't particularly special is because of the limited information. The film gave the general information about Beatrix Potter but it wasn't very insightful. So if you're expecting an in-depth biopic then look elsewhere because you won't find it here. On the other hand, the film was actually pretty entertaining. All of the characters were interesting despite the lack of development and the film moved along at a nice pace.
The film was very beautiful with plenty of gorgeous scenery and they did a really good job at capturing the time period. Despite the film's interesting style, I don't think director Chris Noonan was that good behind the camera. He seemed to care more about the appearance then anything else which was nice but it made the film a little pointless. The movie could have easily made up the title character and nobody would notice. There just isn't enough information to make the film memorable although it still offers a good time.
The acting was pretty good and it may have saved the film a bit. Renée Zellweger was wonderful as Beatrix Potter. It wasn't an Oscar worthy performance or anything but still a likable and charming performance. Ewan McGregor was decent although they could have found someone better. He seemed a little stiff in a few of the scenes and his chemistry with Zellweger wasn't great but still decent. Emily Watson was good although a bit underused. Actually, it would have been interesting to see Renee and Emily switch roles. Nothing against Renee but Emily seemed more suited for the role. Overall, Miss Potter is a beautiful film that's worth watching, just don't expect anything too deep. Rating 7/10