By: Hawk Ripjaw –
Oh boy this looks like shit. I am not the world’s biggest fan of Will Smith. I don’t know what it is, but while I kind of like the dude himself, I’ve never seen a movie because it had Will Smith in it. I thought The Pursuit of Happyness was boring, I Am Legend was overrated, and After Earth was stupid. Collateral Beauty, however, looks to be treading close to one of Smith’s very worst films–Seven Pounds, a monolith of artificially manufactured tearjerking with an ending so stupid, it makes you want to convince other people to watch it just so you can see how angry they get. Those are almost some of the best sorts of bad movies: there are bad action movies, there are awful fantasy films with all of their special effect missteps and weird try-hard script beats… and then there are the bad drama films. Drama can sort of be like comedy, in that like not all people will find certain things funny, not all people will find things compelling or emotional on dramatic level. The bad drama films feel like they’re afraid of the latter, and so they crank the saccharine or the sadness up to 11 in an attempt to cast as wide a net as possible. Winter’s Tale was one recent example, and a movie so gloriously terrible that I pretty much consider it the gold standard of shitty movies.
Collateral Beauty appears to at least be making an attempt to check off as many of the “shitty drama” boxes as possible. Will Smith’s daughter died a couple of years back, and now all he does is ride his bike and look sad, while barely talking. He spends his time writing letters to Love, Time, and Death, which is almost definitely something that only would happen in a movie. And his coworkers try to pull him out of his funk by hiring actors to play those forces. People cry, apparently the title of the movie is name-dropped several times, and everyone collects a paycheck.
I feel like it’s going to take effort to laugh at this one, only because it doesn’t look bad enough to be hilarious. It just looks like shit.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
In a crowded end-of-year market where all of the really good films (and even some final blockbusters) are getting released or expanded almost every week, there is one week in which hardly anyone dares to release in: Star Wars Week. Star Wars doesn’t quite have the universal appeal of Marvel films, which is probably why Collateral Beauty is releasing. Will Smith’s latest is either a) really fucking confident in itself, or b) released so that anyone who finds out Rogue One is sold out asks the box office cashier “what else is new this weekend” while a tired-looking cashier quietly stamps a death certificate for the customer. But for every other movie:
If I’m being honest, I am more excited for Rogue One than I ever was for The Force Awakens. This looks like a truly different, exciting, and dark addition to the Star Wars franchise. And I don’t mean “dark” like “Anakin Force chokes his wife, kills younglings offscreen, and gets yellow contact lenses”–although when you list all of those things together it does feel pretty dark–I mean dark like a true war movie, with the Empire in place and coming to get us, with a superweapon that can end a civilization even faster than a Trump administration. Director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) is incredibly skilled in establishing a great sense of scale and an ominous tone, which is just what this story needs. There is almost an entirely new cast of characters that will most likely get killed before the credits roll. This is a Star Wars movie that feels like it is taking risks, and that’s exactly what this franchise needs.
I’ve been waiting a long time for this.