Thursday, May 01, 2008

REVIEW: Southland Tales

Southland Tales

Year: 2007
Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mandy Moore, Justin Timberlake
Distributor: Sony Pictures Entertainment
MPAA: Rated R

After the cult popular hit Donnie Darko, people were expecting director Richard Kelly's next film to be another great hit. In enters Southland Tales. Grossing an estimated $366 thousand on a budget of $17 million, Southland Tales wasn't the type of film the studio thought it would be. It also wasn't well received by critics too, with many of them criticizing the movies story to be too complex and un-interesting. To me, this was something that kind of got me to watch the film. I like to watch movies that alot of people complain about because I would like to know if I would feel the same. Out of ten people I asked, one said they liked it, five said they didn't and the other four didn't even know about it so this only got me more tempted. Since I enjoyed Kelly's Donnie Darko, I thought I owe it to myself to gamble and give this movie a chance, but now I regret it so much.

Plot Outline:
Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) is an action film superstar who is married to Madeline Frost (Mandy Moore), the daughter of Senator Bobby Frost (Holmes Osborne) and wife Nana Mae (Miranda Richardson), who hopes to use their development of the USIDent programs Bobby's ticket to the White House as the Republican vice presidential candidate. A couple of days earlier, Boxer disappeared into the desert. It transpires that Boxer, now with a case of amnesia, is currently with Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar) a porn star with whom he has co-written a screenplay about the end of the world that appears to be accurate about whats going to happen.

The story of Southland Tales is terrible. I walked into this movie expecting much more, but I was seriously let down. The plot goes no where and is full of shit in my opinion. At times, it can be really complex with one event happening then another coming out of nowhere. This makes focusing on one part extremely difficult because we are getting introduced to new things that we cant really pay attention to one thing without looking away. Writer and director Richard Kelly just couldn't convince me this was a movie that's worth watching. After watching the movie and trying to follow the story, I just couldn't believe this was the guy who made Donnie Darko, a movie that I very much enjoyed. The characters in the movie are also a let down. I couldn't find one person that I liked or enjoyed watching for more than two minutes. Everyone just seems whack and lacks emotion. I know their are some out their that might have enjoyed this movie and believe in Kelly's vision for the movie, but I'm certainly not one of them.

The cast of Southland Tales is just as bad as the story. Its as almost everyone plays two roles instead of one and we get a cast full of SNL people that hardly go well with the films mood. Dwayne Johnson plays as Boxer Santaros/Jericho Cane. He portrays a character that seems way to of a coward to be writing a screenplay about the end of the world. I see him more of a action star rather than a quite scared writer. Seann William Scott plays as Roland Taverner/Ronald Taverner. He also doesn't give the performance I was expecting from him. Now, I know Scott isn't the best actor, but he can try to be when he really tries. In this movie, it doesn't look like he gave his best effort. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays as Krysta Kapowski a.k.a. Krysta Now and she seems so plain. She feels so plastic with no emotion. I know she was suppose to be playing as a porn star in the movie, but come on. This is just sad. Mandy Moore plays as Madeline Frost Santaros. I cant believe shes in an R rated movie like this when her role isn't even as big as it should have been.

The visual look of Southland Tales is probably the movies best strength. While I can complain about its complex plot or the poor casting, but the visual look of the movie is something that I cant really pick a bone with. The movie benefits from pristine source since the movie was released only a year and a half ago. Their is some grain, but I'm pretty sure that's the directors intent and not the quality of the DVD. Detail is very good with alot of close ups looking nicely clear and full of rich color. The movies color palette is somewhat interesting because a futuristic movie like this shouldn't be color friendly just look at I, Robot, but surprisingly it is. The movie has pretty bold colors that seem well saturated and well used. The movie also features some wonderful cinematography with alot of the outdoor shots looking beautiful.

The soundtrack in Southland Tales is not as impressive as the visual look of the movie, but its certainly much better than its story. The music is composed by Moby who is a popular artist that made one of my favorite songs ever, "Extreme Ways". Since Moby isn't really use to composing music for movies, his soundtrack doesn't live up to be all that memorable. I mean its still good, but its hardly anything that's going to blow me away. Dialogue is heavily used in this film and it was important for that aspect of the film to be really good and clear. Luckily it is and I'm happy to say the dialogue is as crisp as a razor blade. Bass is somewhat on the low side, but it certainly their. Its nothing that's going to bring your neighbors down to complain at you, but it definitely gets the job down. I do however wish it was alittle more stronger and fuller, but that's just me.

Southland Tales is definitely a film that I was really let down by. I haven't seen a film this bad since the 2006 film, Ultraviolet. While this movies isn't as bad as Ultraviolet, its still in the same ballpark. The movies story is too complex to fully understand even if you re-watch it as many times as you want. Its definitely not in the same league as Kelly's 2001 hit, Donnie Darko. The cast is a joke and everyone will most likely annoy you. Justin Timberlake narrating the movie doesn't help either. The visual look of the movie is great with alot of shots looking nicely detailed and filled with color. The soundtrack is good for the most part, but isn't something that's really memorable.Their are some people that have had a different experience with this film than I did and they ended up liking it. I for one don't recommend this movie to those expecting an action packed movie with a good story. It wasn't my cup of tea and I'm sure it wont be yours either.

Grade: D-

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