December 14, 2007, - 3:45 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
While there are several new releases at the movies, this weekend, the only one worth seeing is “I Am Legend.” And even that one isn’t as great as I expected it to be. The highly overrated “Atonement” is just that–extremely overrated. I did not screen “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” as the critics’ screening was held on the Jewish Sabbath (sorry). Here’s the rundown:
* “I Am Legend“: What if you were the last living human in New York City and perhaps the country or even the universe? That’s the situation Will Smith faces as Robert Neville, the genius Army scientist and doctor, in the year 2012. I liked this movie, even with its faults, because it’s like a modern day Noah’s Ark, where the main character thinks the world will end and loses his faith in G-d. But in the end, his belief is restored and G-d works his miracles.
A virologist, Smith/Neville finds himself in the aftermath of a cure for cancer gone awry. The vaccine turns humans rabid. And the rabid humans have murdered and/or eaten the rest of the population that hasn’t been killed by the vaccine. Dr. Neville, a virologist, is alive because he’s one of the rare humans immune to the virus caused by the cancer cure.
This movie is worth seeing for the special effects–with Will Smith racing a Bullitt-style Mustang across midtown Manhattan chasing deer he’s hunting for dinner. Times Square is barren of humans and bright lights. Instead, it’s infested with wildlife, including lions, tigers, and deer. Oh, and weeds. New York is overgrown with them. That includes Central Park, which now serves as a giant crop farm for Neville. He’s so alone–and lonely–that he’s placed mannequins at the video rental store he frequents, so he can talk to them. Other than that, he has his dog.
And that’s the interesting part. Then, there’s the part that ruins the movie. At night, Dr. Neville must steel himself and hide from the rabid zombies–the last remainder of infected humans–who feed on and kill humans. The movie is believable until they come in. The computer-generated images are like other rabid zombie and vampire movie–and those have done it better: “28 Days Later” and so many others. The zombies are uninteresting. And just not believable. They are a bad counterbalance to the genius of Dr. Neville and Will Smith’s very convincing acting job in that role.
Seeing Smith as this man alone on earth and how he deals with it is interesting. Except, if you were the last person on earth, the video you watch with your breakfast every morning would not likely be . . . Matt Lauer and Katie Couric on “The Today Show”?! Um, it’s 2012, and Meredith Vieira took over the boring liberal chick chair, long ago. But, hey, the KV Virus does silly things. Also of interest: In 2012, gas is $6.63 per gallon.
Again, the ending of this one is a positive message about those who have faith in a Creator.
* “Atonement“: This movie is getting rave reviews and all kinds of awards from film critics all over the country. And like most such movies, it’s highly overrated. I expected much more. Got very little.
The story: Robbie (James McAvoy), a young medical student of the non-aristocratic class, is in love with the daughter (Keira Knightley) at the mansion where his parents are the help. The daughter reciprocates and they carry on a love affair. But the daughter’s little sister, jealous and immature, makes up a story. She pins the rape of her young cousin on Robbie, who goes to jail for it.
But then the movie strays off into a a different story. Robbie is fighting in World War II in France. We see endless scenes of him walking around war-torn Europe. Then, finally, when we return to the main story, it’s too late.
Aside from that, the loud music and pounding set to go off in time with a typewriter, bombings, and other instances is maddeningly annoying. And, in addition, the last scene of the movie stars Israel-hater/PLO propagandist hag Vanessa Redgrave. The scene is kind of an afterthought, after the whole tangent that makes up the last two-thirds of this long, boring movie.
Skipworthy. And definitely not award-winning stuff. But, hey, it’s British. And if Jimmy Carter had a British accent, they’d give him awards, too. Oh, wait, they have, indeed, given him awards. But like this movie, he didn’t deserve them.
Most over-rated movie of the year. There’s very little “atonement” in this movie, except that your wife or other significant female other will have to do dragging you to this dreadful, high-brow chick flick (which isn’t even entertaining on a chick flick level, let alone otherwise).
* “The Perfect Holiday“: I’ll never understand why they make Black movies like this. It’s stupid, hokey, inane, and annoying. Frankly, it’s an insult to the Black audiences at whom it’s targeted, because it sends a message that the filmmakers believe this audience is just not sophisticated for anything better.
A single mother (Gabrielle Union) is telling her girlfriends that she is lonely for a man. She wants a man, any man, to just tell her she’s good-looking. Hearing this, her young daughter tells the part-time mall Santa, who just happens to be a very good-looking Black man with singing aspirations. He fulfills the young girl’s wish and, soon, her mother and Santa are dating, except mom doesn’t know he’s Santa. And Santa doesn’t know she is the ex-wife of a nasty rap star, with whom he’s trying to get a deal.
The withholding of info and madcap confusion is as advanced as a typical “Three’s Company” episode, in which Jack Tripper doesn’t tell Chrissy and Janet something important, and mass misunderstandings occur. Haha funny. It’s just absurd. And it’s the stuff of ’80s TV sitcoms, not 2007 silver screen fare. Worst line in this movie (among many bad ones):
Women love a coffee-bean-Black balladeer.
If there’s anything good about this movie, it’s that the rap star ex, J-Jizzy (played by Eddie Murphy’s bro, Charlie Murphy), is a creep and is shown as such. Diddy/Snoop Dogg-esque, he’s a complete dummy, talentless, and a blatant user of his kids for P.R. purposes, who doesn’t care about them. (His rap songs featuer titles like, “I Love Ho Ho Hos” and “I Saw Mommy Cappin’ Santa Claus.”) But that’s not enough to recommend this silly movie.
And it’s hard to believe that someone as kind, caring and smart as Union’s mom character would ever end up with an insufferable egomaniacal rapper like this guy. Also, it’s hard to believe a movie that has a mother and two kids who speak like they are from an upper class neighborhood in Beverly Hills, yet her other kid speaks with the accent of a Black Puerto Rican Barrio in New York. Doesn’t jibe.
Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard co-star as angels who make everything work out. They’re cheesy in this. This movie is about 20 years or more behind the times. And a complete waste of it.
Your Holiday will be far more Perfect without this.
* “Romance and Cigarettes“: It’s easy to see why this John Turturro-written and -directed “musical” sat on the shelf since 2005. It would have been better had it stayed there. And he should stick to acting. This is one of the worst movies of the year.
Starring Susan Sarandon as a wife cheated on by her working-class sleazebag hubby, James Gandolfini, I couldn’t take sitting through this. It’s boring and stupid. And no point in it. Gandolfini’s mistress, Kate Winslet, and his fellow ironworker buddy, Steve Buscemi, talk about some of the most disgusting things and sex moves. The C-word, etc., are most of the dialogue in this “film.” The music and singing just make it worse and even more silly.
Skip at all cost. YUUUUCK!
Tags: 28 Days Later, Arkansas, Atonement, boring liberal chick chair, cancer, Central Park, Charlie Murphy, Chrissy, Debbie Schlussel, Eddie Murphy, Europe, France, Gabrielle Union, genius Army scientist, Haha, I Am Legend, insufferable egomaniacal rapper, Jack Tripper, James Gandolfini, James McAvoy, Janet, Jimmy Carter, John Turturro-written, Kate Winslet, Katie Couric, Keira Knightley, Latifah, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, New York, New York City, Palestine Liberation Organization, Queen, Robert Neville, Steve Buscemi, Susan Sarandon, The Perfect Holiday, Three's Company, USD, Vanessa Redgrave, Will Smith