November 25, 2007

How bad is Pathfinder?

PathfinderNo one in this movie has the slightest motivation beyond either being a killer or trying not to get killed. There are no characters to speak of, no real sense of either society. Director Marcus Nispel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) instead decides to dump us right into the action, and Pathfinder pretty much hits the ground running. Which I would not have a problem with, except it doesn’t run very fast. The action sequences are unbearably dull. Men get slashed with swords and little slow-motion burps of blood bubble from their wounds, but it’s not even remotely exciting. When Nispel isn’t relying on slo-mo, he goes in the complete opposite direction and relies on the chaos factor–quick edits, tight framing, and a lack of continuity so that we don’t know what’s going on. So, we’re either seeing too much or too little, and it’s hard to work up a lather to care either way.

In our heckling of the movie, my friend and I actually brought up Apocalypto, which neither of us cared for all that much. We have to give Mel Gibson credit, though. He essentially made the South American equivalent of Pathfinder, and his movie shows where this one went wrong. He began his movie by allowing us to get acquainted with the community that was going to be under threat, so that his audience would at least have some investment in its fate. Then, when the movie turned into a chase picture, he kept it moving, distracting from how clich? the action choreography actually was.

11 comments:

russell said...

Writerfella here --
That could explain why the film PATHFINDER only made back $10,232,081 on a total production cost investment of $45,000,000, even counting DVD income. So, it flopped. Where does that put it on a scale that shows the number of films made and the income that such films made? Somewhere between the current film experiences of the releases IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH and RENDITION, two 'serious' and critically-lauded films that audiences avoided completely. Thus, it is not the quality of the films involved at all, but whether or not the viewing public wishes to see them or no. And critics continue to fail to be barometers of the viewing public's tastes or interests...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

dmarks said...

Surely the title has to be a factor. Completely bland and forgetable. If this movie named after an SUV had been successful, we would have seen films called "Range Rover" and "Forerunner".

Anonymous said...

I had to drag my fiancee to see this movie when it first came out. She's incredibly reluctant to view anything that touches on our culture because of the long line of insultingly misrepresentative movies she's seen before. I however am a fantasy geek and enjoy anything viking/sword/conquest oriented.

With most of these kinds of movies I don't look for a great plot with moving actors and dramatic scenes. In fact, I've just come to expect they're going to be pretty lame and instead find my entertainment in the sheer cheese factor involved. Well that and hopefully some great visual imagery.

This movie however was TOO damn cheesy. It was like comparing a kraft single (most fantasy movies) to a block of commodity cheese (this movie). I mean, I could have swallowed the whole "Saved by the White Man" premise. It's what Hollywood does; one comes to expect it most times. White people saving the poor savages goes together like mullets and confederate flags. But, did they have to make the Natives so damn idiotic? I mean really, they appeared completely incapable of any kind of independent problem solving. I remember in one part, the "White Indian" had set a trap for the Vikings and caught all the warriors of the tribe who were blindly running through the forest in an attempt to take their people's defense into their own hands. Guess that'll teach us to try and save ourselves.

In any case, my fiancee couldn't take much more after that scene and we had to leave.

It's the rare movie I walk out of (who can afford to these days?), but this one was definitely walk out worthy.

BDW
hasevuvanut@hotmail.com

Rob said...

In the Valley of Elah and Rendition got a 68% and 46% approval rating, respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes. In contrast, Citizen Kane and The Godfather each got a 100% rating. So the premise that your two examples were "critically lauded" is fatally flawed. Try again.

So what if popular movies aren't always critically acclaimed? Indian mascots are popular. Cutting funds to Indian services is popular. Heck, killing Indians used to be popular. Are you seriously arguing that the popularity of something should be the measure of its success? How simpleminded can you get?

Rob said...

Learn more about movie criticism, Russ--a subject you obviously know little about:

How Critical Are Critical Reviews? The Box Office Effects of Film Critics, Star Power, and Budgets

[The authors] find that both positive and negative reviews are correlated with weekly box office revenue over an eight-week period, suggesting that critics play a dual role: They can influence and predict box office revenue.

Art by the Numbers is Mediocrity

"Criticism that is reduced to a statistic is worthless, with due respect to Rotten Tomatoes. The job of a critic, it seems to me, is to add some serious thought to the conversation of films."

That in a nutshell is the difference between us movie buffs, and the general population. Most see movies as a form of entertainment, thus the general public goes to the movies to be entertained. We movie buffs, and all movie critics fit into this category, understand that movies are the dominant medium of artistic statement. Entertainment value is just an added bonus.

Movie critics v. movie box-office

I see my job in my movie reviews as adding value. Some critics do this by being amusingly snarky, but I'm more earnest. I go read the book, Google the history, think about the issues the movie brings up.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
writerfella does not have any need to learn more about movie criticism, as he has no need to critique movies for any part of his existence nor his income. And at least writerfella never has forgotten that movies strictly are for entertainment and not for any advancement of western civilization, save for income. So, either raise the value of movies as they are or lower their significance. At least, make up your mind which is which...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

In other words, ignorance is bliss, eh? That may be your attitude, but it isn't mine.

I don't criticize movies for income or "my existence." I criticize them because they have a major effect on the public's perception of Indians. As you'd know if you had studied the issue.

What you've forgotten (or never understood) is that many movies have overt themes and messages. And many more convey themes and messages whether they intend to or not. A movie's transmission of cultural values goes far beyond its superficial "entertainment value."

I guess you also think minstrel shows and Amos 'n' Andy were pure entertainment with no underlying themes or messages. Same with Indian mascots or Michael Richards's outburst or the recent spate of nooses hung on doorknobs. Which shows how shallow your thinking is.

Rob said...

As usual, you couldn't touch any of my arguments. As usual, you lose the debate by default.

If you had clicked on the links instead of choosing to remain ignorant, you would've found one person's study of the correlation between a movie's popularity and its critical acclaim. He found a 13% correlation in 2001 and a 27% correlation in 2002.

Correlation isn't causation, of course. But if critics had "only" that much effect on a movie's popularity, it would be more than I expected. An effect in the 13-27% range seems significant to me.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
And, as usual, Rob, you regard your 'arguments' as superior to those of anyone else and therefore untouchable. And that is where you err. No one's opinion is sacred, and no one's opinion is insuperable. What emerges instead is that such persons actually believe their own rhetoric as be all, end all, which is ludicrous. The only other such documents ate the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and The Holy Bible. Nice work, if you can get it...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

russell said...

Writerfella here --
POSTSCRIPTUM --
Oops, writerfella forgot the Rosetta Stone, the Magna Carta, and Pax Vobiscum!
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

I don't regard my arguments as untouchable. They only seem that way to you because you can't touch them.

If you had any intelligent arguments at your fingers, you could try to touch them, and then we'd see whose arguments were superior. Instead you've found another way to chicken out without addressing them. You've found another way to say, "I give up. Rob wins the debate by default."

Re "No one's opinion is sacred, and no one's opinion is insuperable": I didn't offer an opinion on the correlation between a film's popularity and its critical acclaim. I offered the mathematical results of a regression analysis. Whether you understand it or not, these are two radically different things.

Perhaps you're so ignorant of math that you think it's akin to magic. Not so. A regression analysis proceeds by a standard formula, not by wishing or willpower. It's not subject to my thoughts or feelings.

Let me know the next time you need some education about the critic's role in the arts. Judging by your ignorance of the subject, you have a lot of learning to go.