GUEST POST: Films with promising premises but poor execution

 SEYI ODUSANYA  –  19 years old, studies Film Studies at Anglia Ruskin University, UK and obviously, a film connoisseur. This week, he wields his legendary frustration and targets those films with promising premises that fall as flat as road kill.

A lot of my friends assume that I’m the guy who hates the films they like just because. “Oh you know Seyi? Seyi hates everything” or “oh Seyi expects way too much from films”. I’m used to hearing a lot of that from my friends. But that’s not really the case. Sure, there are some films that I absolutely loathe with all my soul but it’s certainly not blind hatred. Most of the films I absolutely hate or dislike are the type of films that have a really promising premise, but are executed poorly. To explain what I mean, I’ll be talking about some of the culprits below.

CULPRIT #1: SUCKER PUNCH

Director Zack Snyder brings us the story of a girl named Babydoll (Emily Browning), who accidently causes the death of her sister and is committed to a mental institution by her evil stepfather where she is due to be lobotomised. Not wanting that, Babydoll escapes into various fantasy worlds where she fights towards her dream of freedom. I’ll be honest, I wanted to love this film, I really did, and it sounded like the film I’d been waiting to see ever since I hit puberty. Delving into the mind of a girl how may or may not be crazy filled with crazy action fantasy worlds where Babydoll and her sexy scantily clad companions have to fight clockwork WW1 soldiers and robots and dragons. YES!! On the other hand, this could’ve been a nice drama about a girl fighting for control of her life with some really cool action thrown into the mix.

What it got right
The film is nice to look at and is very stylish. That’s it.

What it got wrong
There are several reasons why this didn’t work; terrible writing (seriously, I was gobsmacked at how poorly this was written), the over use of slow-motion made the action scenes boring, the characters don’t have personalities.

However, these reasons pale in comparison to the number one reason why this film is just atrocious: Zack Snyder turned his female leads into whores. You see when Babydoll first enters the institution, she retreats into a level of reality where the institution is a brothel and she and the other patients are whores. Not strippers, not dancers – whores. I am not making this crap up. In this level of reality, Babydoll and the others (Amber, Rocket, Sweet Pea and Blondie) are prostitutes who would ‘do anything’ for the clients: performing erotic dances (Badydoll’s dance triggers the action scenes, although we don’t ever see the actual dance that seems to be able to reduce people to tears and applause) and are mistreated (with hints of sexual abuse) by the male staff. This brothel world exists for the sole reason of getting these girls to look like sluts and it just doesn’t help the story at all. If the sexual abuse and mistreatment of the girls occurred in the mental institution (the real world), that would provide a compelling reason for them to escape that would get me to care for these characters and the film would be better off for it.

Furthermore, towards the end, this film tacks on this message about self-empowerment that is just ridiculous and dare I say it, offensive.

CULPRIT #2: TRON LEGACY

This sequel to the 1982 Disney cult classic ‘Tron’ (which I like to this day) sees Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) delve into a digital world of computer programs and the like in search of his father; the 1982 film’s protagonist Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who mysteriously vanished seven years after the events of the original film. He finds the digital world in control of evil program C.L.U. (also Jeff Bridges) may have something to do with his dad’s disappearance. With the aid of computer program Quorra (Olivia Wilde),  he sets off to find his father and return to the real world. 

As I said I adore Tron, I saw it when I was little and fell in loved the visuals, the film was pretty much about a guy how goes into a videogame and gets to ride about in cool looking neon bikes. Just like ‘Sucker Punch’ I wanted this to be good, and just like ‘Sucker Punch’ it let me down. 

What it got right
Stunning visually and the effects are really good. The film has a great first act: introducing Sam Flynn and the new digital world aka The Grid pretty well. Some really great battles, namely an awesome duel in an arena in The Grid with a light cycle battle and an aerial battle. But the best thing about this film is the score composed by electronic music duo Daft Punk. It is truly phenomenal, adding a layer of wonder and grandeur to the film’s atmosphere (and it’s worth buying. Seriously, buy it now if you haven’t already).

What it got wrong
The second and third act fall short. The second act is particularly slow and doesn’t keep up with the good pace of the first act. The characters aren’t that well developed even though they show promise earlier on, which is unfortunate.

But this film has one major problem: this film is a set-up film. Disney has made it clear that they want this to lead into a trilogy, attempting to set-up stuff for future films (and fails) so it ends up feeling rather hollow in places, making the story and characters fall really flat. There are subplots that appear and disappear, such as this resistance movement against C.L.U. regime that supposed to be important somehow, but it’s never explored (probably put aside for future films). Quorra is supposed to have some special significance to the story but it’s never really made clear either.

CULPRIT #3 GREEN LANTURN

Based on the DC Comics superhero character, Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, a test pilot who is endowed with fantastical powers via a green alien ring and finds himself inducted into the Green Lantern Corps; a force of intergalactic peacekeepers (space police really). Using his new powers, Hal must face evil in the form of Parallax, an evil space entity that is powered by fear and Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) who is infected by the entity, thereby protecting love interest Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) and save the Earth, and become the greatest Green Lantern of all.

I’m a fan of the character so I kept my eye on this one. The comic plays out like an epic space opera with Hal Jordan battling evil across the Universe. This story has a lot of potential but alas, this was squandered in favour of making a quick cash and grab (which is funny because the film cost 200-250 million dollars to make, and it hasn’t made its money back).

What it got right 
Mark Strong as Sinestro; Hal Jordan’s fellow green lantern and mentor. The special effects are okay.

What it got wrong 
Everything else. The story is full of holes and the characters are under developed and inconsistent (like the story for that matter).The writing it rubbish and the acting is bad; Ryan Reynolds acts like an arse, Blake Lively looks pretty and Peter Sarsgaard screams, a lot. Hal Jordan never comes off as a convincing hero; he trains with the Green Lanterns for a short time before deciding its too damn hard runs off back to Earth. The film is very inconsistent; characters do things that are against their nature purely to push this dribble of a plot along, e.g. Hal Jordan running away to Earth, what the hell!? Why? It makes no sense; this guy who’s supposed to be daring and careless runs away from the opportunity of a lifetime because it’s wasn’t as easy as he thought it’d be. The writers try to create some history between Hal, Hector and Carol, which amounts to a single piece of dialogue that goes something like this. 

Hal: Hey Hector. 
Hector: Oh hi Hal, haven’t seen you since high school. 
Hal: Yeah… well bye. 

That is the level of character development the writers came up with. Impressive isn’t it? But you know what’s worse? This film has no shame whatsoever. Hal’s superhero debut on Earth where he swoops in to save his love interest is just a shameless piece of product placement (to sell Hot Wheels toys no less).

The special effects are decent, but the crappy 3D ruins it. You know for a film that costs over 200million dollars to make, it looks cheap, like something you would see on the telly cheap. This was made to be a superhero blockbuster (and according to Warner Bros, the start of a new franchise) but this film fails at everything it tries to do: the humour is weak, the writing and story are terrible and the characters are also bad. 

Well there you have it folks, I’ve stated my case. I haven’t set out on a mission to hate films (except for all things Twilight) but I’m always hoping for the best, or at the very least to be entertained somewhat. I hate seeing films that should’ve been great and unique turn out into 2 hour torture sessions that I and many others had to suffer through, and pay for!

‘Till next time folks.

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7 Comments

Filed under Review

7 responses to “GUEST POST: Films with promising premises but poor execution

  1. Drew Belmore

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