Tuesday, March 13, 2007

2006: The Overrated and Underrated

As you may have guessed, I've decided to get cracking with my 2006 awards. I haven't seen some films but I likely won't see them until the summer so it's best to finalise these now, while they have at least some relevance.

There are always films by which their critical reaction completely baffles me. It seems that people can jump on a negative bandwagon for many number of reasons, and equally consume the media hype of others. Some of these films maybe I just don't get, but these are the films I feel were rated far too highly, and the ones that really didn't get their deserved glory.

The Overrated

5. Blood Diamond

It's difficult to concede that of all the political and action thrillers of late, this messy second-rate exercise is among the better of them. Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly watchable. But its characters are very 2D, and the filmmakers are dependent on Di Caprio's deserved Oscar-nominated performance to make it seem like there's a little more to it.

4. Flags Of Our Fathers

It's like any Eastwood film is commanding respect nowadays. Flags definitely has a point it's trying to make, but it's all a little too generic and limp. The battles scenes are excellent, but the structure of the film as a whole is quite chaotic, the film unnecessarily flashing backwards and forwards every five minutes. This isn't a good film.

3. Dreamgirls

I so wanted to like this but at times it feels almost amateurishly put together, from the staging (very odd) to the direction (ragged), to the music (uninspiring - bar one song). It contains a couple of good performances and a host of average ones, and doesn't really grab you the way a musical really should.

2. Thank You For Smoking

Aaron Eckhart is very fun, and consequently breathes life into the film, but I can't help but wonder what on earth we're supposed to take from it. The topic itself isn't challenged a great deal, and neither are the other themes (family, trust). An incredibly strange debacle if ever I saw one. Oh, and its supporting players are less than satisfying.

1. Apocalypto

This just pisses me off. If you're going to make an action film, make an action film. Don't try and dress it up as some kind of historical and cultural insight. Mel Gibson's film is almost entirely independent of context, the extent of Mayan culture being reduced to brutality and mythical supernature, and the narrative a simplistic bore.

The Underrated

5. Silent Hill

I think a lot of critics have a dislike for this kind of blatant commercially motivated project. Ironically though, it's artistically expressive - atmospheric, lively, entertaining, well acted. Granted, the plot is less than polished, but for the most part it works, and works well.

4. Poseidon

People really have to ask what they want from a blockbuster. Even the most successful blockbuster of them all, Titanic, has its major flaws. But this kind of genre has historically, and really should be forgiving of cheese, and a certain amount of obviousness. The questions that should be asked of it are: Does it thrill? Is it worth your time? The answers are yes.

3. Deja Vu

A pulsating, thrilling, excellent film that pushes the boundaries of action, science fiction and crime, demanding attention in its two-hour onslaught. Perhaps the reason why this wasn't as well received as it should have been is because of the surrealist nature of one of its plot devices (concerned with time travel), and the neatly-wrapped ending. Nevertheless, it's certainly the most enjoyable cinematic experience I had in 2006.

2. Marie Antoinette

This was never going to be for everyone. When somebody tries something different, they're always going to get their fair share of haters, and Coppola certainly has that. Yet as awkward as it is in places, its themes are constantly being explored, something that was very absent in 2006. Plus it has perhaps the greatest soundtrack ever assembled. Give it a break!

1. The Good Shepherd

The only reasons I can really think of for this film receiving mixed reviews, and very little awards coverage is because of its topic and running time. Let's face it. I doubt many people were jumping up and down when they heard Robert De Niro was going to make a movie about the C.I.A. It's hardly going to guarantee a rousing time. But Shepherd was badly treated. It's a solid, excellently composed film, and I hope that people come to realise this in the future, when they look back on this sorry year.

1 comment:

DL said...

I agree that Marie Antoinette was terribly under-rated (it was actually my favourite movie of last year). But we all know the only reason that no critics respected it is because it was made by a woman.