Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: Steven Knight
Cinematographer: Don Burgess
Producer: Graham King, Steve Starkey, and Robert Zemeckis
by Jon Cvack
I’m not sure what happened after 2000, yet as though infected by the new millennium, Robert Zemeckis took a tremendous nosedive. From 1980 - 1997, he directed the longest streak of back to back great films, with the Back to the Future Trilogy being arguably the most popular modern classic film of the last thirty years. Scattered around and between we have the underrated comedy Used Cars, Romancing the Stone, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Death Becomes Her. Forrest Gump followed soon after that. I’ve grown more comfortable saying that Contact is my favorite sci-fi film of all time. Keep in mind I’m not listing out the great films he directed during the period. These are all of the films he directed from 1980 - 1997; that’s nine home run films in a row; nine films that were not just blockbusters, but embraced by the world, becoming classic stories; an accomplishment that few of history’s greatest filmmakers achieved.
Three years later after Contact there was a strange split. Zemeckis directed two films - Cast Away, where to this day Wilson has remained a cultural icon and What Lies Beneath, with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer in a Hitchcockian thriller, which while starting strong, bombs by the last third, serving as Zemeckis’ first misstep in two decades.
The Polar Express followed in 2004, Beowulf in 2007, and A Christmas Carol in 2009. The Polar Express was okay, falling victim to a book that’s just too good to be topped. I’ve never seen Beowulf, but haven’t heard anything good, and I don’t remember much from the A Christmas Carol. It would take three more years until his next live action film Flight, which I was kind of bored with, thinking it was about the whole Sully situation, which made me then think that Sully was going to be more action oriented like Flight. There is a great cut of the crash scene featuring the Interstellar soundtrack on YouTube. There are some great performances, but it just didn’t seem to be about anything, at least compared to the depth and impact of his other films.
The Walk was good, and though I do wish I saw it in theaters, I actually thought that without the special effects, the documentary was much more intense. Again it didn’t leave me wanting to keep revisiting the world like his other films had.
Tell you the truth, by the time I got to Allied, where I only saw it because the movie I thought was playing at a certain time was not playing, I wasn’t expecting much. I tried avoiding the preview, but walking into a packed theater late and hearing what was going on I figured this was just some throwback to a WWII romance. Seeing Zemeckis at the helm, I was hoping it’d maybe have that classic touch, pushing the genre to its limits and offer a refreshing take. Instead it all felt flat.
I came across a review that was comparing Allied to Casablanca and Notorious, which is a pretty cool idea, though unfortunately not at all what’s on screen. For the most part it did have that classic style, punched up by big violence. It felt expensive and confining, leaving me unsure if the set pieces were computer generated, drawn to look like that classic 1940s style, or actual set pieces. There's not much beyond that. I didn’t want to go through the synopsis, because I didn’t really remember much of what happened; my mind was wandering so much throughout. There was a cool shootout and a sexy love making scene during a sandstorm. The ending is more surprising than I expected, but overall it just didn’t feel like anything new; as though trying to mimic the genre rather than pushing the cinematic boundaries as we've known him to do up until the new century. I'm still confident he's got another Great American Movie in him.
BELOW: Whole thing's pretty much like this; giving about 60% effort
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