Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bad Lands - Andy's post

Karl and I watched this movie a week and half ago, and I've struggled about what to say about the film. I didn't care for it, and my comment to Karl when we were finished was, "well, I'm sort of upset that I didn't fall asleep earlier in the movie."

Jason - your comments were great. And I appreciate your emails giving me ideas about what to say about the film. I get your point, and it's well taken.

My problem with the film is that the characters, in my opinion, are completely unrealistic. Here's my perspective. My youngest three brothers are adopted, and each of them have severe fetal alcohol syndrome. They have all suffered from impulse control problems, and one of them has had a difficult time understanding consequences of his actions. Also, as a criminal defense attorney, I see lots of adults who have failed to figure out life.

Sheen's character, although almost amusing, was completely unrealistic. So was Spacek's. Both kids were far too removed from reality and consciousness to functioning at any level. Spacek's character had no history of trouble, and although her father was extreme, nothing leads me to believe that she didn't love her father.

I'm not saying that kids don't act without thinking, but we are to believe that some great period of time went by as the characters create a "Swiss Family Robinson" type living situation by the riverbed, and I don't buy it. The story on which this (and other similar sprees) film is based occurred in a comparatively short period of time. This makes sense because even irrational and impulsive kids come to grips with their actions after a period of time.

I also didn't buy that Sheen's character would shoot his tire at so he could get caught. I didn't see his character as enjoying the lime light. He just wasn't daring enough.

I hope I haven't stepped on anyone's toes, but I just didn't like the film at all. I saw "Bonnie and Clyde" about four weeks ago, so admittedly I'm comparing the two films. In fairness though, I didn't really care for "Bonnie and Clyde" either, although the character development made more sense to me.


Jason Pyles, Movie Critic said...

I agree, Andy, that the two characters' states of mind were eerie to the point of creepiness, particularly Holly's perpetual, catatonic daze. It might have felt more credible if their weirdness was drug-induced, but there was no evidence of drug use. So, I get what you're saying about not believing the characters.

But here's my question for you: To you, does a movie have to be realistic (and do characters' motivations have to be credible) for you to like it?

I'm just curious. Some people only like films that try to portray reality convincingly. But personally, my favorite films are those that portray astounding events as credibly as possible, like "The Dark Knight," for example.

Jason Pyles, Movie Critic said...

Andy's comment to Jason's post:

Jason - good question. No, a movie does not necessarily have to be realistic, but if it's not realistic, I like to know that my characters are intentionally not realistic (i.e. Batman). The point of badlands was to show a crazy couple of kids who kill without remorse and understanding, but all the while trying to get us to believe the characters are "actual" in their basis.

I think that's the difference between "Badlands" and "Bonnie and Clyde."