Directed by: Steven Knight
Run time: 106 minutes
The Lowdown: Holy shit, where to begin.
Serenity, the latest film by writer-director Steven Knight, makes Vanilla Sky seem like a linear masterpiece of existential self-reflection.
Serenity is what happens to good actors when they lose the ability to objectively self-govern their creative choices and fall victim to a crap idea that must have looked a lot better on paper.
Serenity is almost two hours of Matthew McConaughey being tortured by a fish that exists only in his head while he’s pursued by a man who may not be real all the while as he’s propositioned by his femme fatale ex-wife who wants him to kill her new husband who’s an abusive drunk.
Oh, and they may all be living in a dreamlike simulation conceived by a child and created through a computer in response to the violence that’s taken over his once peaceful home.
Serenity is a neo-noir experiment gone awry where A-list-quality talents channel their inner Tommy Wiseau and wax poetic about quixotic pursuits that make zero sense and will never be fulfilled because they simply are not real
Seriously, this may be one of the worst films ever made, and I don’t say that to whet the appetite of cinephiles who fervently seek out the best worst movies they can find.
Serenity is not the “best” worst anything. It falls firmly, almost defiantly, into the avoid-at-all-costs bin of bad ideas.
You’ve been warned.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Anne Hathaway is smoking hot.
Nudity – Brief.
Gore – No.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Anyone involved with the making of this movie who profited in the slightest from you paying to watch it.
Buy/Rent – Neither.
Miss Bala (Sony, 104 minutes, PG-13, DVD): What a long, strange fall it has been for director Catherine Hardwicke, who burst onto the scene as an exciting female director in 2003 with Thirteen.
Maybe it was the intense backlash from Twilight, which was savaged by critics, but Hardwicke has just never recovered, and her latest, Miss Bala, which could have been a solid B-grade genre standout for star Gina Rodriguez, just falls apart the longer it plays out.
Rodriguez is Gloria, the pretty but demure friend to an aspiring model, who suddenly finds herself trapped in the worst day ever after traveling to Mexico to help her friend prepare for a beauty pageant.
Basically, in a nutshell, here’s the plot: Gloria gets accosted by a lecherous, decrepit police commissioner and is captured by assassins who have come to kill the commissioner. When she seeks help, she is taken advantage of by a corrupt cop who hands her over to a drug cartel kingpin who makes her a bomb mule before becoming smitten with her moxie. Later, she’s kidnapped by the DEA and forced to continue working for the kingpin as a drug and gun mule, as well as a federal government snitch.
Then, out of nowhere, Miss Bala morphs into El Mariachi, making a huge show of Gloria’s transformation from mousy friend to bad-ass terminator complete with grenade launchers, AR-15’s, double-crosses and sex trafficking, all before Gloria kills a bunch of bad guys and gets recruited to be a CIA operative.
Seriously. It makes zero sense.
In some B-movies, think Day of the Woman or even the original The Terminator, directors work to create strong female characters who rise above even the most abhorrent abuse and torment to elicit support and construct a bridge and a bond between the character and her audience.
The best examples of this particular subgenre succeed because their heroines earn the merits of their transformation, which in turn gives viewers a reason to cheer because they have been on a journey with the character that’s so extreme, so shocking, so emotionally compelling that it warrants an equally extreme show of force and retaliatory violence.
This is the critical, crucial cog that Miss Bala lacks, which is why we say avoid at all costs.
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