Film Friday: ‘The International’ & ‘Friday the 13th’

by W. Andrew Powell

The International

Clive Owen in The International

Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay are set for the battle of the Valentine’s Day box office this weekend, with two distinctly different films. On the one hand, Bay is backing the horror remake Friday the 13th, while Buckheimer produced the escapist comedy Confessions Of A Shopaholic. Also opening this week, Clive Owen stars in the thriller The International, and Under The Sea 3D debuts in IMAX theatres.

The International
You could hardly pick a better subject for our trying times than a movie that tackles corruption and world-wide investment schemes in the banking industry.

Clive Owen stars as Interpol Agent Louis Salinger in this thriller about a powerful investment bank, which clearly has evil ties, and a tendency to kill people with loose lips.

Working with an American District Attorney, played by Naomi Watts, the two go on a far-reaching search for connected individuals who could help them bring the bank to justice.

Their search leads them from Berlin, on to Milan, and then on to New York, building on leads and counting the bodies that start to pile up.

Directed by Tom Tykwer, the man who brought us Run Lola Run, The International has an interesting, if convoluted plot that runs just on the edge between boredom and brilliance. Owen broods his way through the details, but because he invests a lot into this role, he is easily the best part of the film, especially compared to the otherwise half-interesting or half-developed characters.

Watts is especially bad in this film, walking into a closet that the script-writers built for her, and never bothering to turn on a light. Her character also seems like a lost soul, brought in during an earlier version of the script that might have once given her something to do, but in the final cut, it’s hard to care why she would even bother to show up.

Lastly, don’t let Columbia Pictures’ misleading trailers get the better of you. The International is a thriller, with one big, explosive scene, but the rest of the film is essentially a tense drama focused on one great actor.

Friday the 13th
Just in time for your Valentine’s Day plans, and Friday the 13th, comes this remake of one of horror’s top ten films.

Marcus Nispel directs the remake under the watchful eye of producer Michael Bay, going back to Camp Crystal Lake to dig up a legend: the one and only Jason Voorhees.

Starring Jared Padalecki and Danielle Panabaker, not to mention Derek Mears as Jason, the film has as simplistic a plot as you could imagine in a horror film.

This time out, a group of unwitting 20-somethings wander into the path of a killer as one young woman searches for her lost sister. They will, of course, each fall to the masked maniac, unless someone can come up with a way to stop him.

The problem in remaking this legendary horror film is not so much that it shouldn’t be done, but that it should have been done by talented people.

Just look at the filmmakers and you can’t help but shake your head. Nispel’s last screen efforts were with the abysmal Pathfinder, and the writers for the project (Damian Shannon and Mark Swift) were responsible for the successful but awful franchise hit, Freddy vs. Jason.

As my friend Chris Alexander put it, who writes for Fangoria Magazine: “Michael Bay hasn’t a clue how to make a horror film and this glossy, overproduced and underwhelming slog through slasher clichés is about as exciting as marble cheese. Nothing new here, no scares but great sound design and a lovely slit throat or two to spice up the overly art-directed banality. During the scene where a hyper-backlit Jason stands in the middle of the road, I kept expecting Prince, circa Purple Rain, to come wheeling into frame on his motorcycle…”

Let’s be honest though. The film was made for a reported $16 million, and audiences are known to eat up anything horror related, so there is little doubt this film will make a killing, promising us even more horrific horror remakes down the road.

Also out this week…

Confessions Of A Shopaholic
Ill-advised or not, shopping fanatics may find a glimmer of voyeuristic joy in director P.J. Hogan’s ode to the art of consumerism.

Starring Isla Fischer as an obsessed shopper named Rebecca who has a dream: she wants to work for an upscale fashion magazine. The question is, how can she make it happen?

Finding work as a, get this, financial advice columnist, she tries to move into her dream job. But what about all that pesky debt?

Much like The International, Confessions Of A Shopaholic plays the relevancy card to great effect, but the reviews are nothing short of awful. Rotten Tomatoes has the film at just 22% fresh, with most critics pointing out that, for a comedy, the film is not very funny.

Under The Sea 3D
And lastly, the best reviewed film of the week seems to be this IMAX 3D movie that takes a deep-sea exploration of life under the waves.

Exploring the waters of Australia, New Guinea, and other parts of the Pacific Ocean, this stunning documentary is a must-see for underwater fanatics. It also gives viewers some first-hand examples of what environmental pressures are doing to our oceans.

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