As I was compiling the best and worst movies I saw in 2007, I found I still had enough for a special category: movies that absolutely don’t deserve to be called bad, even when it’s just me here talking to myself on my stupid blog. But for one reason or another, here are the movies of 2007 from which I expected something a bit more:
28 WEEKS LATER
A disappointingly conventional follow-up to the truly scary original.
I was hoping for a bit more from Ridley Scott and the two fine actors, perhaps another crime epic on the level of Heat. But American Gangster is essentially a biopic, a genre in which good narrative storytelling is often forsaken in favor of a string of illustrated events from history. Yes, it’s interesting that these people actually lived and (more or less) did these things, but a story this does not make.
I loved the recent film version of Pride & Prejudice, and Becoming Jane sure sounded like a good idea: play fast & loose with the real Jane Austen’s biography to create a frothy romance in her own style. But the end result fell oddly flat, with little of the real woman’s spark. The direction and performances were fine; I think the fault lay in the script.
CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR
Probably the finest-pedigreed film of the year, with Mike Nichols directing, Aaron Sorkin writing, and Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymore Hoffman starring. So why doesn’t the movie take off?
I AM LEGEND
The superb trailer all but had me waiting in line at the theater weeks before this movie came out. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it couldn’t live up to the promise; it’s full of preposterous implausibilities and plot holes (and that’s if you even accept the basic premise). The best zombie movie I’ve seen is still 28 Days Later.
I was a big lover of Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but I don’t think Knocked Up quite measures up to its predecessor’s painful hilarity. Additionally, I could just barely swallow the premise that the two characters might hook up in an alcohol-fueled bonding moment, but not at all that they might stay together.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
A complex character study that would have made my personal-best list had it not undone itself in the end by hailing its complicated protagonist a “good man.”
A MIGHTY HEART
Michael Winterbottom is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time, and this movie held tremendous promise for me as it was done in a similar faux-documentary style as Road to Guantanamo. But whereas I wanted to tell everyone I met that Road to Guantanamo is essential viewing for every citizen of the world, I just can’t say the same for A Mighty Heart.
All apologies to Saint Neil Gaiman, for whom nearly all he touches turns to gold, but Stardust just didn’t do anything for me. Gaiman’s and Roget Avery’s script for Beowulf was brilliant, but this adaptation of his illustrated novel by another screenwriter had no pixie dust.
I know Zodiac has been praised to the high heavens, for both its special effects (didn’t notice that it even had special effects? Exactly!) and for its storytelling, but I just didn’t feel it.
Coming up next: the 11 Best Movies I’m Most Embarrassed I didn’t see in 2007!