Sometimes you have to wonder what Hollywood is thinking. That was our reaction after watching two dissimilar and yet equally frustrating films.
Stardust may be the worst corporate thriller we’ve ever seen. From the swelling music to the broad acting, not to mention the rich color scheme, it just doesn’t work in that genre. The gratuitous inclusion of a kind of airship, a gay pirate captain, and three corporate “henchwomen” dressed more like witches, detracts mightily from the tension caused by the protagonist’s attempt to get beyond a wall to find the files that might expose those behind the poisoning of some small-time farmers. In an equally baffling move, the opening narration begins by talking about the stars and the moon, providing absolutely no context for the intense action to follow. The addition of unnecessary special effects to what is supposed to be a realistic movie just had us wondering, “Why?”
Michael Clayton, billed as a light romantic fantasy, disappointed us for opposite reasons. Shot in shadows and grainy realism, the movie features a raving wizard whose display of nudity and multiple baguettes falls outside of the realms of “eccentric sorceror.” This guy is really insane. The protagonist is dour and tight-lipped, with a gambling problem, and he spends way too much time talking indoors instead of pursuing the quest on the outside. When he finally does get outside, to pet some horses, he doesn’t ride off into the sunset. Instead, the movie gets even more serious. The pacing is completely off for this kind of fantasy, and the ultra realistic violence completely ruins the mood of the few lighter scenes. Indeed, the lack of any magic to speak of had us scratching our heads.
If the filmmakers had only switched projects, they might each have produced good, interesting entertainments. As it is, it’s all a muddle.