Monday, January 5, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an epic sized tale about the life of Benjamin Button, a man that was born an old baby and aged backwards. That’s seriously all I can say about the plot of Benjamin Button, not because I didn’t like it or because I’ll spoil something but because there is really not a lot else to say about the film. Benjamin Button lives his life just like everyone else, except that he ages in reverse; he doesn’t do anything different than any film character you’ve seen before do except age in reverse of the natural order.

I am not trying to be harsh on the film, but I went in expecting something new and brilliant and got Big Fish only an hour longer and without the fantastical aspects. I am disappointed because where I enjoyed seeing Tim Burton break out of his box, there was nothing stale with David Fincher’s style that made him breaking out of his box refreshing. I also feel that the trailers and the actual movie make you feel like there is some large purpose or point behind The Curious Case of Benjamin Button but in the end there was a lot of build up but no pay off, no greater lesson the character learned and wanted to impart on you. I feel like this was the dramatic equivalent of a summer movie – while all the story was nice, and the performances wonderful people really just wanted to see the special effects. I do suppose that’s a valid reason to see it simply because the effects and visuals of the film are stunning, Fincher really does know how to compose a dynamic shot and make a gorgeous movie.

One of the things I didn’t like about the digital effects was the aging of Cate Blanchett, and oddly enough I am not complaining about the effects to make her look older but the ones to make her look younger. When they make her look in her 20’s to me she looks so digitally touched she is practically glowing. This may have been what Fincher was going for but personally I found it distracting.

I was going to mention how much I enjoyed Brad Pitt playing Benjamin at so many ages, but I just checked IMDB and about 5 people played Benjamin before Brad Pitt comes into the film so I must applaud the special effects there (because I couldn’t tell) and yet now I feel I can’t give Brad Pitt the kudos I thought he deserved.

I also think that some of my problems with the film might have been eliminated if they took one more pass in the editing room – I honestly think everything in the present time line could have been dropped and done with voiceovers and made the film’s story pack more of a punch, but I do understand Fincher’s desire to keep what he shot. However, every time the film cut back to the present I did feel that the flashbacks lost a little of their dramatic punch and this could have led to me thinking that the film built up a lot of expectations that it didn’t fulfill.

I don’t mean to come down too harshly on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I did like the movie, think it was well made, and find the story adorable. I merely think that there is an air of pretension behind the film that it would be better without.

Director: David Fincher
Writer: Eric Roth
Daisy: Cate Blanchett
Benjamin Button: Brad Pitt
Thomas Button: Jason Flemyng
Queenie: Taraji P. Henson
Captain Mike: Jared Harris
Elizabeth Abbott: Tilda Swinton

Benjamin Button: I was thinking how nothing last, and what a shame that is.
Daisy: Some things last.


Adam said...

Your comments about the age reversal process are interesting. I had the opposite reaction. I thought Cate Blanchett looked completely authentic. In fact, I didn't even realize they'd altered her appearance digitally. But when Brad Pitt was supposed to be a teenager, it bothered me because he looked really fake.

Also, it's possible that Pitt still deserves the props for his performance that you originally wanted to give him. I don't know just how it worked, but if he had to give a performance that was later going to be transferred to someone else, think of how tough that could be.

Megan said...

Oh I'm sure it was tough, but what I wanted to give him props for specifically was his performance when he was an "old" child and that wasn't even him.

I agree about when Pitt was made into a teen. That looked so cheesy.

I still could have done without the hurricane katrina reference though.

Stefanie said...

I thought the movie was enjoyable. I found the scenes in the present to be distracting from Benjamin's story; sometimes they added something, but a lot of times they just took me out of the story. But throughout the movie I found myself waiting for something (I don't know what) to happen and I think that was because of the hype that surrounds it. Also I think the Hurricane Katrina reference was pointless - they never made anything of it.

I think the digital effects were a bit overdone. They both looked a bit strange when they were younger. They had a strange, almost otherworldly, glow about them. Also young Daisy's voice is strange - it is too mature and deep to be a 5 year old's.

Adam said...

Yeah, I was watching the movie and thinking "DUBBED!" when I heard young Daisy speak. That was annoying. I've picked up some good insights on the film from watching interviews that the cast did as a round table discussion. In addition, some of the interviews that Pitt and Blanchett that I've watched have been informative.

I wondered if there was something that I missed from watching the film, but a lot of people seem to have the same reaction. I'm considering going to see it again to see if I have a different reaction. At the very least, I'd be able to pay closer attention to the smaller details.

Ironically, my dad, who's usually a pretty picky guy who doesn't often out-and-out like new movies he watches, liked the film. My younger brother (16) thought it was the best movie he'd seen in 2008, and he picked it over The Dark Knight.

That made me proud.