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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Hack and Slash

I have only seen two films that Brett Ratner has directed: Red Dragon and Rush Hour 2. For what they are and what I remember, they aren't bad, but they aren't spectacular. I did not feel like either film was pandering to the lowest common denominator, but I'm not really drawn to own them on DVD. Rush Hour 2 followed the formula of the buddy-cop movie well. Red Dragon followed the original Thomas Harris novel effectively and features some great acting, especially from Emily Watson and Ralph Fiennes. Yet bringing up Ratner's name in a variety of places prompts scowling, groans and eye-rolling. I'm curious why as to why.

I remember reading Rolling Stone's Peter Travers saying some rather scathing remarks about a making-of documentary on the Red Dragon DVD. Since then, sites like Ain't It Cool and Defamer have taken joy in tearing apart Ratner's films and his personal life. Since I don't know that much about him, based on what I've seen, I'm baffled why people love to bash this guy. I don't mean to defend Ratner, but with his most recent film, X-Men:The Last Stand, I'm seeing even more pitchforks and torches being picked up. Trying to get a straight answer as to why, I just get vague responses.

I keep hearing talk about how Ratner is a hack director, but I don't know what exactly a hack director is. All directors borrow or steal from one another and some are very effective with conveying emotion and some are not. Some have relatively private lives and let their work speak for themselves. Then there are others that have a very public life and oftentimes shoot themselves in the foot. I hear all this talk about Michael Bay and Ratner being hacks, but if I were to cite a major hack, it would be Troy Duffy.

I have not seen Duffy's The Boondock Saints, but I've seen Overnight, a documentary about the making of the film. Duffy's arrogance is on full display in this doc, but until I see his film, I'll decide what's what. That said, Duffy's portrayal in Overnight is not one of a kind person. He insults everyone around him and is so full of himself. Not like that kind of personality is a rarity, but the coldness he exudes is just scary. His lack of passion for filmmaking is painfully on display; especially in a scene where he does a Q&A with a film class. With the insults he throws and his attitude, I don't think you can script this kind of humor.

Yesterday, Frank posted his thoughts on X-Men:The Last Stand and I asked the aforementioned question. I think Frank's comment was the best one: "Ratner gets the flack because he's the director. I'm sure the rot goes far deeper than him, but them's the breaks. If it was a great film, he'd get the hosannas but since it was awful, he gets the blame." I agree, but I wonder if there was a certain thing Ratner did that triggered all the backlash. Am I missing something here?

2 comments:

frank said...

part of the problem was that Ratner, a filmmaker with a not especially distinguished resume, took over from Bryan Singer, who did have not only a lot of critically acclaimed films under his belt but had proven he could handle the X-Men material with aplomb. It would have been so easy to botch the first film but he didn't, nor the second one and for that, he earned the trust of a nation of x-geeks. Then he left for the big blue banana and Fox parachutes in someone who didn't have that trust. And the final product was pretty much the worst-case scenario for a Hollywood X-Men film. Whether it was entirely his fault or not, Ratner facilitated our worst nightmare and for that, he will be vilified. But he'll also be rich from it so I don't think he cares.

josh Mueller said...

Also of note- the studio required that the film come out Memorial Day weekend even after they went through a botched start of production with another director.

I'm no fan of Ratner by any means but it does no justice to any director to put such a short leash on someone building such an effects laden film.

Personally I felt like many others that the films succeeds as an action film but lacks the emotional depth that Singer used to set the first two X-Men films apart from other superhero films.