Today, In Time, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I, and Straw Dogs are on the chopping block.
Grinning and bearing it is underrated. After seeing an abysmal trio of box office successes in the past few days, get ready to feel my wrath.
In Time (2011)
Bonnie and Clyde, meet Will and Sylvia, the new power couple (I guess we might as well call them Willvia). Instead of robbing banks, these radicals steal time, the currency in the world of writer/director Andrew Niccol’s sci-fi/romance/crime/thriller, In Time. Pull out your pun book because this film is packed thick, from “Don’t waste my time” to the classic “Living one day at a time.” Insanely clever script work from Mr. Niccol….anyway, the always fallible Justin Timberlake, treading water after his embarrassing performance in Bad Teacher, stars as Will, the forever 25-year-old factory worker that lives in a world where buying a coffee shaves 4 minutes off your life. Timberlake is tacky and awkward, saying his lines with little emotion, contrasted with periods of over-exaggerated passion. It’s going to take more than The Social Network to convince me that he shouldn’t have stuck with N*Sync and “Saturday Night Live” hosting gigs.
His counterpart is Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!), in an equally untalented showing. Seyfried tends to overact while Timberlake underacts, which equals out…I suppose? Olivia Wilde (Cowboys and Aliens) and “White Collar’s” Matt Bomer play minor roles, as their characters “run out of time” shortly into the story. Wilde plays Timberlake’s mother, commonplace in this world where everyone stops aging at 25. How weird would that be, to have Olivia Wilde as your mother? Cillian Murphy, who plays the “time keeper” who tries to catch these incomparable thieves, is the only actor who was halfway decent.
While the concept at its core is clever, In Time’s weak script and dreadful acting prove that people really don’t even care about cinema, they just like seeing handsome guys shoot guns. Will and Sylvia are just a couple of people who believe in a trickle-down economy. But thanks to them, I lost 109 minutes of my life that I’ll never recover.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I (2011)
I’m sorry Edward and Bella, but your time is also up. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I is the penultimate film in the horrendous franchise of shitty special effects and appalling displays of acting. From the Oscar-winning director (how it hurts me to say that) of Gods and Monsters and Chicago, the third highest-grossing film of 2011 (I’d like to take this time to thank America for allowing a much better film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, to claim the top spot) follows Bella as she marries her beloved subhuman Edward Cullen and has the honeymoon of her life…which turns out to be one that could end her life!
Robert Pattinson (Water for Elephants) flops again as America’s favorite vampire, a fact which surely leaves Bram Stoker rolling in his London grave (upon researching, I found that rolling would be much more difficult for Stoker’s cremated remains). In fact, the best actor in the flick is Taylor Lautner, which says a lot. We see Jacob’s ripped ads within mere seconds of the film’s opening, one of the most popular ways to captivate an audience.
I can’t knock the movie for everything however, because one facet remains nearly impeccable. From the wedding scenes filmed in British Columbia, to the honeymoon scenes filmed in Rio de Janeiro, The Twilight Saga has never had much of a problem finding atmospheric settings. The scenes are beautiful, and then you see the acting.
And who, may I ask, would officiate a vampire wedding anyway? Is the wedding even legally binding? Does it have to be? I think vampirism is sacrilege in about all of the world’s religions, especially any with human pastors.
In the worst of the saga yet, Breaking Dawn – Part I stumbles nearly every second over its pathetic script, an ongoing problem that doesn’t need fixed because people pay to see the movie regardless (I saw it for free, thankfully). The Avatar-esque ending at least provides a small surprise for non-readers, something that they have failed to do in their previous attempts. I look forward to the finale, but only in the hopes that someone else will have a chance to win a People’s Choice Award.
Straw Dogs (2011)
40 years after the original, which I’ll admit to have never seen, writer/director Rod Lurie decided to resurrect Dustin Hoffman’s classic Straw Dogs, in which a man and his wife travel to rural England, where they encounter harsh treatment from the discontented locals. In the remake, James Marsden and Kate Bosworth team up again, and England is replaced with the brutal American South.
Capitalizing on our collective fear of hillbillies, one of the cheapest ways to scare any audience, Straw Dogs succeeds in presenting a more realistic case for Americans than its predecessor. However, realism is far from a success. Questions like “Who in that county would vote for a black man to be sheriff?” and “Why in the world does that football coach still have a job?” clutter the plot with relative impossibilities that shouldn’t simply be ignored. But for the most part, they remain ignored due to the violent, bloody, good vs. evil story that make viewers forget about the intricacies.
Kate Bosworth is positively irritating, annoying me almost as much as the cast tripped and stumbled over the movie’s weak script. The ending, again, is great but by no means surprising, as you knew from the start who would win this battle of good vs. evil. Marsden is solid, but Alexander Skarsgård was the only one who really shone in his role as the evil leader of the locals who had a history with Bosworth’s character. While I recommend skipping this one, it does make me hopeful that the original can be much better. Underrated? Maybe, but this one can still go to the dogs.