Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Ben I'm Still Waiting On: Ben Affleck Underwhelms With Forces Of Nature

The Good: Occasionally funny, Good beginning
The Bad: Mostly predictable character arcs and plots, Acting, Directing, Pace
The Basics: Wildly inconsistent in characters and especially directing, Forces Of Nature has a middle that is fractured and disproportionately long relative to the quality of the end and the beginning.

So, I was forcing myself to watch another Ben Affleck movie because he was good in Daredevil (reviewed here!) and Dogma and I've been waiting to see him in another movie where he was as good. I was horribly disappointed by Reindeer Games, for one. Forces Of Nature didn't re-establish his street credibility with me.

The simple truth is, Ben Affleck either can't act or can only seem to act one way. If the latter, he's typecast too often and too consistently. That is, his character here is almost identical to the other characters he plays. The quality of an actor is evaluated by how well they do different roles. That is to say, the quality of evaluating an actor is how believably they portray diverse roles. For example, William H. Macy is a great actor. I know it by the fact that I found him believable and great as Sam Donnovan on Sports Night (reviewed here!) and as Donnie Smith in Magnolia (reviewed here!). Are the two characters at all alike? Not one whif. A great actor is one who after seeing a film once, I know the character name and identify the character instead of the actor playing the character.

Forces Of Nature, then is easy enough: Ben Affleck plays a guy named Ben. Ben is on his way to his wedding when, at the bachelor party, his grandfather has a heart attack. This puts him in the unenviable position of leaving New York City on a plane later than he expected. The plane he gets on crashes and he ends up having to find alternate transportation to Savannah. From the airport, he and Sarah take a car, which gets impounded by the police, a train, and a bus in the attempt to get to Savannah.

Sarah is impulsive and reckless and she basically gets Ben into trouble along the way. Ben and Sarah take the supposedly comic journey to try to save themselves and each other. Ben, along the way, encounters everyone in the world who has had a rotten marriage. His experiences with Sarah are basically his questioning marriage at the 9th hour.

Forces Of Nature has a strong beginning and a strong ending. Watching the film, I sat there like this:
Beginning - "I can't believe I was prepared to sit here and not like this. I'm laughing!"
Middle (significantly longer) - "I can't believe it became so formulaic so quickly. How could I have enjoyed the beginning?"
End (Post Stripper Scene) - "Well, this got good again. Maybe the person who directed the beginning and the end was replaced for the middle part."

The truth is, this is a remarkably inconsistent film and not in a good way. The characters are erratic, oscillating between depth and cardboard role. The plot is disturbingly unstable, going from an intriguing beginning to an entirely predictable middle (we know whenever anyone lies about their profession there will be cause to test that lie) to a strangely satisfying ending. The actors vary from the predictable Affleck and Bullock (Sarah) to the diverse Maura Tierney (as Ben's fiance) and the funny Richard Schiff (who plays a bus/real estate manager).

In the final analysis, it's these inconsistencies all around that sink Forces Of Nature. Too bad, too; it had such a good beginning and such a nice end and I truly did want to like it.

For other films with Sandra Bullock, please check out my reviews of:
The Proposal
The Blind Side
28 Days


For other film reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment