MinnesoTRex wrote in with a look at an early screening of Oliver Stone's WORLD TRADE CENTER.
When considering his thoughts, it's important to remember that Minneso saw an incomplete version of the film. This edit is extremely early, apparently lacking completed effects work and...much more critically...a score (to be composed by Craig Armstrong, if I'm not mistaken).
None the less, this is an interesting look at the project's general orientation and sensibilities. Despite Minneso's misgivings, I'm deeply releived that Stone (apparently) didn't head in the direction many AICN readers were affraid he was headed. Essentially, it sounds like he didn't go off the deep end here (i.e. no conspiracies or general weirdness) -- for which he deserves a tip of the hat, even if the results are as lacking as Minneso says they are.
Went to a "research screening" last night of the new Oliver Stone movie, World Trade Center. They indicated that the movie was not quite finished - image cleanup, effects, music still to come - but it looked relatively close.
I'm sorry to say, no matter what they do to it between now and then, I don't think they're gonna manage to turn it into an actual good movie.
It's strictly TV-movie-of-the-week level, this one. A bunch of decent actors flail around trying to say lines that no one should ever have to try to say with a straight face, and Oliver Stone directs the whole with a sort of plodding determination NOT to be provocative.
The real problem is the script. There were no credits attached to the movie yet, so I don't know if Stone wrote it himself, but the screenplay is just god-awful. ClichÃ© after clichÃ©, with some of the baldest exposition scenes ever, and one character after another basically having to speak out loud lines that are really more like comic book thought balloons.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The film is scripted by Andrea Berloff, based on the real life accounts of John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, who are portrayed here by Nicholas Cage and Michael Pena respectively.
Probably the most glaring combination of bad writing, bad acting, and bad directing comes from the inclusion of this sort of "rogue marine" character who tells his office, "For those of you who don't realize it, we're at war now," and then goes off to search through the rubble of the towers on his own. He's written and played like something out a Terminator movie (again, without the credits, I'm not sure of the actor), and frankly, he creeped me out.
He was, like, so much a part of a different movie that I fully expected him to pull out a machine gun at any moment and teach that pesky rubble a lesson, God Bless America! And then, in one scene, he meets up with another marine played by the guy who played the evil Ethan on Lost, and that just ups the whole weirdness factor by another degree.
An unfortunate casting choice.
In general, the actors were all okay.
The men came off slightly better than the women (Maria Bello seemed particularly lost), but really only Michael Pena managed to transcend the terrible writing. It was nice to see Frank Whaley on screen again, and Jay Hernandez has reigned in some of his loosi-goosiness from Hostel, but in general there just was nothing "real" here for any of the actors to work with.
Which brings me to my real big complaint about the movie.
Here we have one of the most dramatic and moving experiences in modern history, and the movie manages to take all of those real images and all of those real stories and produce exactly NO real moments of emotion or truth. I actually kind of liked the trailer and was expecting a sort of big emotional cathartic event. But the movie manages to suck all of the life out of the true story, and only ever manages to squeak together any moment of epiphany toward the end with a Nicholas Cage voiceover TELLING us what we're supposed to take away.
So - my advice is to check out the documentary footage, search your own memory, watch all of the memorial stuff that will be popping up as we approach the 5th anniversary. And if you really need to see a 9/11 movie, check out the infinitely superior United 93.
It isn't a case that World Trade Center arrived too soon; it's just a case where this ham-handed attempt (or perhaps any attempt) is never going to match the drama, emotion, heartbreak, or ultimate truth of the actual event.