Movie Review – Jumanji, United 93 & Talladega Nights
Today we welcome special guest reviewer Robert Nowotny to fernbyfilms.com, a fellow film connoisseur and purveyor of his own opinions across at Friend Site, Need To Vent. Robert gladly accepted my challenge to write something about the films he hated, and I was most impressed when he came up with three! One of these choices is destined to be highly controversial, I’ll admit, but that’s what we’re here for, to debate the merits of film.
Today we welcome special guest reviewer Robert Nowotny to fernbyfilms.com, a fellow film connoisseur and purveyor of his own opinions across at Friend Site, Need To Vent. Robert gladly accepted my challenge to write something about the films he hated, and I was most impressed when he came up with three! One of these choices is destined to be highly controversial, I’ll admit, but that’s what we’re here for, to debate the merits of film. Before I let Robert vent his spleen about cinematic travesties, I’d like to thank him for his contribution here, and point you towards his website should you feel the desire to read more of his work.
And so, without further ado, here’s Roberts thoughts on Jumanji, United 93, and Talladega Nights.
– Summary –
Director : Joe Johnson
Year Of Release : 1995
Principal Cast : Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, David Alan Grier, Jonathan Hyde, Bebe Neuwirth, Adam Hann-Byrd, Laura Bell Bundy, Malcolm Stewart, Annabel Kershaw, Patricia Clarkson.
Approx Running Time : 104 Minutes
Synopsis: A young boy opens up a world of adventure when an enchanted board-game suddenly whisks them into a world where the jungle comes alive!
– Summary –
Director : Paul Greengrass
Year Of Release : 2006
Principal Cast : Khalid Abdalla, Christian Clemenson, Cheyenne Jackson, JJ Johnson, Sarmed al-Samarri, David Alan Basche, Omar Bedouni, Jamie Harding, Gary Commock, Olivia Thirlby.
Approx Running Time : 110 Minutes
Synopsis: An account of the bravery of the passengers of United Flight 93, hijacked above American soil on 9/11.
It is almost a full twenty-four hours since I left the Marketplace Theatre in New Braunfels after seeing United 93.
I am still shaking.
Yes, I continue to shake uncontrollably from this intense experience—but the cause is not for any of the reasons you might logically assume.
To begin with, my trembling has nothing to do with the inherent nature of the story. When it comes to a deeply visceral screening experience you can find about as much emotional intensity in an old Sky King rerun.
Nor is my malady a result of witnessing once again just how inept and incompetent the US military, the FAA and this nation’s government was on 9/11. For example, hours pass by and, ultimately, a grand total of four jet fighters are scrambled. Yes—only four jets can even get into the air—and two of these were unarmed. You’ll normally find that many zipping past at the opening ceremonies of a NASCAR event each weekend. It’s enough to make the average person quiver like an aspen leaf; but this is old news and it isn’t the cause of my current woes either.
Finally, let me reassure you that my spasms are not a debilitating reaction to observing every passenger’s cell phone working perfectly and without interruption as their Boeing 757 rockets along at over 550 miles per hour, across several states and at altitudes ranging from 33,000′ down to 3,000′ and less. This technological accomplishment is singularly unfathomable to me, but I have elected not to dwell on my personal cell phone experiences and so the cause of my present condition lies elsewhere.
You see, the real reason for my ongoing involuntary twitching lies solely with Director of Photography Barry Ackroyd’s unrestrained cinema verite style of filming that has the camera shaking more violently than Nancy Pelosi’s vibrator. Not even fans of The Blair Witch Project could possibly appreciate the excessive jerkiness, in-your-face-but-out-of-focus cinematography found not only in the not-so-friendly skies, but also on the ground, in the terminal, even in the NORAD bunker. Ninety plus minutes of wide screen, uninterrupted visual chaos will leave you shaking, too.
I find it fitting that Cinematographer Ackroyd’s next project will be an Irish/UK co-production titled The Wind That Shakes The Barley. What do you want to bet he wears a self-winding watch?
– Summary –
Director : Adam McKay
Year Of Release : 2006
Principal Cast : Will Ferrell, John C Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Gary Cole, Jane Lynch, Amy Adams, Andy Richter, David Koechner, Ian Roberts, Jack McBrayer, Pat Hingle, Greg Germann, Molly Shannon, Ted Manson, Rob Riggle.
Approx Running Time : 108 Minutes
Synopsis: Ricky Bobby is a race-car driver who wants to go fast. Amidst the turmoil of his personal life, his sponsor troubles and his kids, he suddenly finds a new driver on the circuit who threatens to put him out to pasture.
11 thoughts on “Movie Review – Jumanji, United 93 & Talladega Nights”
I can't agree or disagree with the reviewer's thoughts on United 93 as I haven't seen the film. But I have no plans to see the film and that's the problem. What was the need to make a film about such tragic events. I can't understand it. I know how I'll feel throughout it because I know all about the events – everyone does. So why would I bother watching it?
I completely disagree with Roberts summation of United 93, having seen the film and considering it to be a wonderful work of art, and a testament to human bravery under circumstances nobody should ever have to deal with. While United 93 isn't a film you can "enjoy" in the true sense of the word, the film is a low-key doco-style attempt to explore the actions of those people on that plane, what they had to deal with and how they stepped up when it counted. The same argument can be levelled at Oliver Stones World trade Centre (which wasn't as good a film, but worthy of a look). That aside, Roberts aversion to the shaky-cam style of United 93 is prevalent amongst the films critics, so your appreciation for it can be weighed on your appreciation for films such as Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project.
I guess your persepective on films dealing with tragic events, in this case 9/11, depends on whether you're a glass-half-empty or full kind of person. Some people never want to relive or explore what happened, how it happened and why, while others need to explore their grief and sorrow in other ways, to gain some sort of understanding over the inexplicable. The half-empty people will say that a film like this shouldn't ever be made, since it's just regurgitating a tragedy, while the half-full people would say that showing how people overcome such adversity can lead to a greater understanding of ourselves. Much like the victims, many of whom will spend a very long time dealing with these events in therapy and whatnot, exploring said events can often lead to acceptance of them, and then the ability to move on. Each argument, however, is a personal one, and each is equally valid.
I think films like this are made less for "entertainment" purposes, and more for "understanding" purposes.
Why make a film about such tragic events? Especially so soon after the fact? People need heroes, I guess. People need to know that in the midst of the horror of such enormous tragedies (9/11, the Boxing Day Tsunami, the London Bombings etc etc) that the good in humanity will endure. That's the way I think about it anyway.
Personally, i'm a huge fan of "United 93"… Greengrass handles "faux documentary" extremely well, as he proved with "Bloody Sunday". While i get the problem of the "hand-cam", it didn't bug me in this movie. In Greengrass's "Green Zone", however, the shaky camera ruined the movie for me. Go figure.
I haven't seen Green Zone yet (I have iton my PC ready to watch after we've finished moving house!) but I'm generally okay with the shaky-cam style filmmaking: Bourne Supermacy & Ultimatum were nowhere near as hard to watch as Bloody Sunday (a great film for those who've not seen it, it comes with my highest recommendation!) but I can understand how some people get put off by it.
I don't think it's a problem with exploring a tragic event to understand why, what, where, and how. I would consider watching a documentary on the subject and have watched several about 9/11. My problem is with Hollywood's need to profit from the tragedy.
@ Dan, yeah that's a fair point. I disagree with Hollywood trying to make money from a tragedy, but then, if they can't make a movie about ANY tragedy, they'd make a lot fewer films. Although, in hindsight, maybe that might have stopped Michael Bay making Pearl Harbor. I think it's a fine line between exploiting a tragedy for financial gain, and making a movie to honour the victims of said tragedy. Often, people take the view that whenever Hollywood get involved, it's cynically exploitative, which probably isn't far from the truth. In the case of United 93, I believe it's less about the financial success and more about giving a voice to the numerous victims.
@ Al – I agree, I enjoyed the fact that the cast of United 93 were all unknowns, if not actual participants in the event; it did indeed give an level of authenticity you'd not find had Angelina Jolie been on-screen.
i totally get your point, Dan, and i'm the same. i think what set "United 93" apart for me was that it's a small production, almost an art film, and there are no real big name actors in it (or at least they weren't big name when the film was made). The movie really touched me and i found it very powerful. i had goosebumps watching the credits when they went over the performers from the military bases and control towers (this is from imdb):
Thomas Roberts … Himself
Ben Sliney … Himself
Tobin Miller … Himself
Rich Sullivan … Himself
Tony Smith … Himself
James Fox … Himself (as Major James Fox)
Shawna Fox … Herself – Senior ID Tech (as Staff Sgt. Shawna Fox)
Jeremy Powell … Himself (as 1st Lt. Jeremy Powell)
Greg Callahan … Himself
Rick Tepper … Himself
A huge percentage of the "actors" were the people who were really in those chairs on 9/11 and that gives the movie a chilling authenticity.
I appreciate everyone's comments. I acknowledge that UNITED 93 is certainly a controversial choice for a "Worst Films Week List." Having said this, I stand by my (minority) opinion. I wonder what comments we would have received if I had listed FORREST GUMP instead??? Yes, I hated FORREST GUMP also…
i hated "Forrest Gimp", too.
"Forrest Gump" was a like a box of chocolates: saccharine and the whole thing gave me the runs.
Al K Hall — I love your description of GUMP. Glad to know I'm not the only one who did not like this film. Hanks was never, for a single moment, believable…