I have been in the midst of an almost three week debate about why I thought this movie was probably one of the worst Will Smith/ CGI laden/ pseudo- intellectual/post-apocalyptic action movies ever made and I am tired.
The funny thing is, when I was on line to get into the movie theater (on opening night because some people I live with who shall remain nameless wanted to see it the second it hit theaters), the previous crowd came out highly recommending that I not go in. Being the mild film snob that I am, I thought to myself : "They were expecting a loud, frenetic action movie, they don't know any better." Well, to all the people I dismissed as having no taste in movies....I am sorry. You were right.
Will Smith is becoming a caricature of himself with all the forced, manly screaming, puppy dog eyes when he's vulnerable, macho wisecracking, etc. Monetarily speaking, this is a good thing because he is his own brand. However, as far as the craft of acting goes, if he really wants to be considered for another Oscar nomination, (believe it or not, someone actually tried to do a for your consideration bid for this movie!) he has to stretch it a little more. I realize that having to carry a movie is no small feat but like a lot of other people in the theater, I was expecting more. I couldn't even attempt to give a crap about the story because it was clear that the screenwriters didn't either. Case in point: the plot point about the zombies evolving. It was mentioned once and then never again despite the fact that there was a zombie "leader" who had nasty looking zombie dogs on a leash and everything. And incidentally, the mouth stretching thing that made the zombies look like they were copied from the same code used in The Mummy, was quite unimpressive. How many times did I just type "Zombie" in this sentence? Zombie.
Sadly, I wasn't even all that impressed at the CGI wasteland that New York was turned into and that's probably because there are plenty of vacant lots and neglected parks where I live in New York that look exactly the same. The film opens with a terrific flashback with Emma Thompson of all people, giving an origin story as to what turned NYC into no man's land. This could have been taken in so many directions instead of just copying off of 28 Days later. (still one of the best zombie movies made in the last 5 years) And then Will Smith (kind of unconvincing in a lab coat) goes from being a cynical, mildly insane doctor to a wide eyed mystic in less time than it took for me to swallow my rubbery movie popcorn.
The Oscar should go to the dog, for being able to put up with being in such an underwhelming movie. One plus: Will Smith's body is perfection (go on, try to pretend you weren't swooning during the chin up scene!)
pic via britfilms.tv
link via New York Magazine