In a recent edition of At the Movies, Michael Phillips argued that Fox is possibly the worst actress in Hollywood. He believes that 500 other actresses could have easily been better suited for the role. A.O. Scott, seated opposite Phillips, retorted that the film is called Jennifer's Body and not Jennifer's Mind!
I am inclined to agree with Scott, especially since the screenplay by Diablo Cody (the writer of the Oscar-winning Juno), embeds characteristics of a well thought-out classic cult-movie. She and director Karyn Kusama give Fox two indisputable yet small scenes to showcase the persona of a high-school cheerleader hottie as she reflects on the type of monster she's become.
However the star of the show — apart from Cody's witty, snappy, teen-speak — is Amanda Seyfried, who as Needy (Jennifer's longtime best friend and confidant) shifts planes from the usual protagonist who walks away alive, into... well, an intelligent protagonist who walks out alive!
On the other hand, one film I barely walked out alive from was Surrogates, a snooze-inducing sci-fi thriller from director Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3 and the bearable undersea thriller, U571). I wish there was some way to sink the final screenplay draft of Surrogates into 40,000 leagues below human excavation level in the sea.
Dire with outmoded clichÃ©d film-making formula, there's a proper technical word film critics use off-hand for films like Surrogates — “astinkinpileofcrappypoo”.
Bruce Willis sleepwalks through an unintelligent retelling of the graphic novel as FBI agent Greer, who walks with the rest of humanity under the drab of a plastic-faced robot controlled via a neuro-network. These robots feel and convey human-like senses and emotions back to the user confined in an open casket-like seat. These robots, dubbed what else but surrogates, also safeguard against real-world crimes and murder. As their human controllers are using them via remote, the only dead participant in a would-be mugging would be the robot and not a human. Everything is fine and dandy until one user actually dies via his surrogate.
Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black) is Bruce Willis' partner, while Rosamund Pike (Pride and Prejudice, Die Another Day) is his inflicted, humanly-scarred wife who hides behind her plastic surrogate. Pike's character, Maggie, is scarred in a future that has people walking in robots' clothing. Ving Rhames and James Cromwell are throw-away characters in a throw-away movie that could only daydream of being a fine cyber-punk thriller.
The synopsis from Warner Bros. defines The Informant! and its lead, Mark Whitacre, as “A rising star at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Whitacre suddenly turns whistleblower. Even as he exposes his company's multi-national price-fixing conspiracy to the FBI, Whitacre envisions himself being hailed as a hero of the common man and handed a promotion. But before all that can happen, the FBI needs evidence, so Whitacre eagerly agrees to wear a wire and carry a hidden tape recorder in his briefcase, imagining himself as a kind of de facto secret agent. Unfortunately for the FBI, their lead witness hasn't been quite so forthcoming about helping himself to the corporate coffers. Whitacre's ever-changing account frustrates the agents and threatens the case against ADM as it becomes almost impossible to decipher what is real and what is the product of Whitacre's active imagination.”
Made in the swiftest Steven Soderberg fashion, The Informant! is an appealing, jaunty, gumptious enterprise. It utilises Matt Damon's startlingly acute comedic timing into the seriously over-smart Mark Whitacre, and turns it into pure farce of grand proportions. In the baddest review at Metacritic.com (a website which charts critics popularity with movies) the Wall Street Journal quotes the film as “overextended and exhaustingly comic”, two traits found on most of Soderberg's movies. As the film moves along, revealing a veil of deceptions and unexpected shocks, we notice that the deliciously cheeky farce is actually played by characters who aren't laughing on-screen.
Motto smartly written words always win against robotically written formula.