Recent, acclaimed films found to be sufficiently underwhelming

[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Unique premises fall flat due to reliance on clichés, poor plot pacing
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BY LAUREN BEIZAK ’13
Editor-in-Chief

I typically endeavor to only see those movies at the theater which knock a viewer’s socks off by means of awesomeness. This awesomeness can manifest itself in many ways, in obvious ways some might say, and I would be inclined to agree that visuals, plot, and overarching symbolism are three ways in which an excellently made film can satisfy. In the case of three recent ‘critically-acclaimed’ movies, all ‘fresh’ on RottenTomatoes.com, those three qualities coalesced to create something thoroughly underwhelming; I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m upset I paid a gazillion dollars to sit through them, but I’m also not saying I would recommend it.

3. Warm Bodies
This film, still in theaters, is adorable. It has a refreshingly unique take on the whole zombie canon, mixing light romance, un-death, and poor NYC as the backdrop. As a big plus, consumption of braaaainnnss is used as a plot advancement device. I loved the main zombie, affectionately known as R, who is, at first, the only zombie who still appreciates good music or thinks about anything other than human meat. Main girl Julie (yes, R and Julie, an obvious representation I, in a fit of ridiculousness, missed completely) is also passably good at being a human smuggled in through zombie lines.

The rest of the plot, though, feels winding and disorganized, slightly purposeless until motivated to continue via the big Hollywood cliché machine. I was underwhelmed because the movie was too short for its awesome premise, and it felt like this was due to filmmaking laziness. I have on good authority that the book Bodies is based on is a deep work involving philosophical wanderings and fleshed-out ideas, but this movie really, really, really does not capture the “IT” factor apparently nestled within its pages. Also, spoiler alert, the two characters kiss before R is really kissable…it was narsty.

2. Wreck-It Ralph
I LOVE Disney-Pixar films. Really, what churchgoing, God-fearing American doesn’t? That’s why this 3D animated film courtesy of Disney, minus the Pixar gold stamp of approval, is both confusing and unsettling. Was the plot not exciting enough for Pixar to animate? Did Disney not care and forge ahead anyways, like egotistical maniacs, sure they are ready for big boy bicycles, who’ve ripped off the training wheels in a fury of self-aggrandizement? The world may never know.

What I do know is with a dearth of modern game references and only a handful of modern game ‘copies,’ Ralph falls short on its gigantic steaming heap of possibility, happy to flounder in the kiddie pool of video game satire. Was it kid-appropriate? Mostly. Was it adorable? Fair to middlingly. Was it disturbing to adults at points? Surprisingly yes, even more so than Toy Story 3’s death acceptance scene. The major problem was, despite a sprinkling of cuteness and semi-intelligent ideas, the movie was too childish for adults to appreciate in most respects and way too horrifying in the remaining ones.

1. Skyfall
Oh boy, did Bond have fantastic opening credits. Watching them in IMAX created the best hallucinogenic experience we never wanted to have. But that song plus those artistic, wildly waving visuals commingled to produce the perfect summary of the film. In fact, if you’re considering seeing the film in anything other than IMAX, just watch the credits. Congratulations, you just saved two hours of your life.
Now, I’m not saying this was a bad film. It wasn’t. It was expertly filmed, excellently acted, and fairly well-plotted, three things that typically make a good or even great film, some might say. But what Bond lacked this go around was that extra oomph to make the viewers really care what’s happening; there are sexy scenes, there are scary fights, there is quoting of my favorite Tennyson poem  — but meaningless sex, helicopter vs. Scottish moor shoot-em-ups, and blasé repartee do not take the strong foundations any further than cruddy apartment drywall.

Questions? Email Lauren at lbejzak@fandm.edu.

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