Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

06 January 2008

Death Sentence, dir. James Wan (2007)

NIKKI says:

I said to Steve earlier in the day: This is how much I love Kevin Bacon: I'm watching a James Wan film. Wan and his partner Leigh Whannell are a disease; their Saw franchise has secured them comfy spots in Film Hell, and regular hell, too, if there's any justice in the world. My disdain for this pair of whores knows no bounds. Saw was a lame horror movie, but whatever -- lame horror movies abound. But three sequels in as many years? Can you ever have enough money, guys? Really?

Ugh, anyway. That's a whole other rant.

Death Sentence -- Kevin or no Kevin -- was shit. I've had a few hours to think about it, and, yep, it was terrible. I'm offended and appalled that this drivel has the words "based on a novel by Brian Garfield" in its opening credits. Which novel? Because this bears no resemblance whatsoever to Garfield's book of the same name. What So Ever. At best, it's remake of Death Wish II, if only because, like that movie, it shits all over every point Garfield ever tried to make in his books. There's no social value here, just excuses for shoot-outs and blood. And, spoiler alert, killing Kelly Preston was beyond stupid.

So we have a man pushed to the edge because gang members slaughtered his son in an initiation ritual -- he starts killing them back. But that's not good enough -- to really get mean, he needs to lose his wife and other son (almost), too. That's when he gets to head-shaving point, which any good movie watcher knows is the number one sign a character has gone over the edge. Ugh.

Kevin! Oh man. He tried to find the soul here, but he failed. He was always going to fail, because there's no evidence a soul was even lurking at the edges waiting to be found. The question here is not how far can we push a man before he turns into a killer, but how far can we push him (not just his son, but his WIFE too) until his killing becomes our sport? Paul Kersey's original murder-spree in Death Wish was horrible, to the point where the guy had to vomit in the bushes to rid himself of his own bile and disgust at what he was doing. He wanted to make a real change, and used his grief, however misguidedly, to do that. In this movie, it was just vicious violence as in retaliation for same.

And I say again, so Kevin kills them all and them the film is over: what does he do tomorrow? What has he really solved? The film breaks him so much, they forget he will actually LIVE at the end of it. But what has he got?

1.5 out of 5 because Kevin gave his all.

STEVE says:
Death Sentence bares only fleeting resemblance to the novel it's based on, and instead desperately wants to be a remake of the movie that the novel it's based on is a sequel to. (Follow that?) The story was adapted with the same degree of fidelity that Kubrick showed King's book when he made The Shining. "Big scary hotel, drunk guy, psychic kid - let's roll!" That's what Death Sentence feels like: it employed some of the elements of the original story, but only enough so that you'd be forgiven if you didn't recognize it. The same could be said about the recent Jodie Foster flick, The Brave One. While not "based on a book by Brian Garfield" (a book, not the book), Jodie's flick could just as easily fall into the Death Wish remake/sequel category - along with about a thousand other indistinguishable revenge fantasy flicks.

One thing you can say about Kevin Bacon: Even though he's made some questionable film choices (The Hollow Man, Trapped), he's always giving 100%. It's a shame to watch someone like that, acting the hell out of a part, when no one else involved seems to give much of a fuck one way or another.


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