Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Films of the Holiday Season - part 1

Movie name: I Am Legend
Year of release: 2007
Director: Francis Lawrence
Stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Dash Mihok, Salli Richardson, Emma Thompson, Willow Smith
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Action
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Adapting Richard Matheson's novel for the third time proved to be a really good bet. This version is an offbeat blockbuster, surprising for it's intelligence and for the desire to go in a different direction other than just blowing aliens and bad guys (unlike the film that made Will Smith a star, Rolland Emmerich's "Independence Day"). The premise of the last man on Earth is very well explored, and the first part of the film creates a very palpable tension, all based on the emptiness of the spaces and the closeness that Will Smith brings to the part. Francis Lawrence continues to show a really offbeat perspective on his films, following "Constantine" that adapted the comic book with very interesting results.

Movie name: National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Year of release: 2007
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Harvey Keitel, Bruce Greenwood, Ty Burrell, Michael Maize
Genre: Adventure, Action
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 1

Following the success of the first film "National Treasure" back in 2004, the same team comes back with a sequel that aims to get big bucks (which is succeeding), with a lot less intelligence and respect for the viewer. This is probably one of the worst written films of the year, with a screenplay (?) where the viewer is asked to leave his intelligence, common sense and something else at the door (this kind of premise sometimes works for over the top and fun films, this time it just feels stupid and forced). Nicolas Cage an actor worth admiring, continues his long journey into mediocrity - since his Oscar turn with "Leaving Las Vegas", he has only done two films where he actually stretched his talents, Spike Jonze's "Adaptation" and Ridley Scott's "Matchstick Men". It's actually shocking to see so much good talent in a film that is so forcibly stupid. Strongly avoid.