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Forces Of Nature

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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 5, 2000 | E-mail the Author
Another ride through the road movie, "Forces Of Nature" stars Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck as two travelers thrown together for a trip to Ben(Ben Affleck)'s wedding. What stops them along the way? The forces of stupidity, supplied by a script that is so predictable and obvious it fascinated me. I usually don't take notes in a film, but there was so much pure awfulness in this film that I could barely keep track of it all. Even great cinematography can't make two unlikeable main characters interesting to watch. Most of my notes I can't reprint here, but I will share the last sentence I wrote before the film ended. "This is a stupid, stupid, stupid film."

Ben's getting married to Bridget(Maura Tierny, from the phenomenal sitcom "Newsradio") down South in Savannah,GA. Forces come together to keep Ben stuck in New York City until he can catch the next flight out of the city. He's joined for the flight by a wild looking young woman named Sarah. Incredibly, the filmmakers have chosen the same route that Meg Ryan took for "Addicted to Love". Bullock is covered in excessive makeup early on, making this supposedly free spirit look quite the opposite. The forced plot rolls into motion with a computer generated bird flying into the plane's engine, sending the flight crashing upon takeoff. The two find themselves stranded and choose to catch a ride with what seems to be the first person they see; a strange little man who turns out to be a drug dealer. An even more incredibly inane scene involves Bullock standing on the roof of a train screaming at the top of her lungs. She teaches Ben how to scream as well, which supposedly is meant to symbolize Ben learning to "lighten up." If this isn't the most simplistic scene of a character learning to "lighten up" I've ever seen, I don't know what is. I'm not even going into the absurdity of no other passenger noticing two people standing on top of a commuter train. That's only the outside layer of the bigger problems. There have been many movies like this, the best I've seen would likely be "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", the wonderfully funny and sweet road film that paired Steve Martin and John Candy. That movie worked because, simply, it was funny. Gags were staged with care, written well and had wonderful timing. These were fully written characters that were almost excessively likeable. In "Forces Of Nature" I didn't laugh once, found the comic timing to be far off and found not one enjoyable or likeable character, with the biggest problem being the main character, Ben. Affleck is awkward and dull in the role and he frequently looks like he would rather be anywhere else.

His distress in the role doesn't help the already non-existent chemistry between Affleck and Bullock. His character is absolutely one-dimensional, and we frequently are bombarded with uninteresting details about his job as a guy who writes the copy for book jackets. I certainly couldn't care less during the frequent exchanges about it, mainly because, like the rest of the dialogue in this movie, none of it involves getting the already vapor-thin plot moving. Every step of this movie is to set up the next piece of the plot and some areas, like when Ben is forced to pretend he's a doctor on a bus full of seniors makes it screamingly, maddeningly obvious as to what will happen next. The screenplay of this film makes what happens next so apparent that I frequently found myself feeling incredibly insulted and I sincerely think most audiences will agree with that emotion while viewing this film.

As unlikeable as the characters were and as pointless as the dialogue was during the first half, the film absolutely crashes and burns in one moment with what is likely the most implausable scene I've ever seen. I usually never reveal anything in terms of plot when I review, but this is something I really must talk about to explain clearly how incredibly implausable the majority of this picture is. During the early part of the film, the best man for the wedding is forced to stay behind and catch up later. We go through a whole series of silly scenes with Bullock and Affleck. They're in a town in the middle of nowhere at a local hotel. No one knows where they are. Who should Ben run into but the best man in the lobby of the hotel he and Sarah are staying at. The fact that the script is asking the audience to accept this is absolutely beyond belief. I won't go any further into that part of the film, because simply, this review is already hard enough to write. "Forces Of Nature" is a film that I would like to forget as soon as humanly possible.

The film ends up with a scene of grand stupidity as Ben and Sarah arrive at his wedding, which, even though there is a hurricane taking place, is still going on. People stand around as anything that isn't secured to the ground seemingly is blowing by. At this point, I wished a scene of the screenwriter being picked up into a random tornado would have been inserted. Now that's what I call comedy.

"Forces of Nature" is a complete waste of time. So much seems to go on in this movie, and then at the awful ending, you realize that nothing of any importance has taken place in the seemingly endless last two hours. Sandra Bullock at least gives it all a try, even the dialogue that arrives towards the end about just what her past is that seems completely, utterly, randomly inserted. Cinematography by Elliot Davis provides some wonderful images, but there's so little going on in the film itself that all of his great work here seems completely wasted. "Forces Of Nature" is one of those films that simply doesn't work, and what little does work is swallowed up by the darkness of its truly terrible aspects. It even has quite the annoying soundtrack. It's a truely endless, lifeless, pointless mess. Two hours of my life that were completely, totally, utterly wasted.

The DVD VIDEO: Dreamworks has put out consistently solid DVDs since they began releasing their small batch of titles last year and "Forces Of Nature" is no exception with another high-quality transfer. Images are crystal clear, smooth and very "film-like" throughout. Colors are vibrant and pure throughout, with no instances of color bleeding. Especially beautiful are the clouds and late-day sunlight in the background in the scene after Bullock and Affleck jump from the train. Colors are well-saturated as well.

Detail is quite good throughout, as is depth-of-field. The only problem that I really noticed was the occasional instance of compression artifacts. Nothing terribly distracting, but noticable. Brightness and contrast are fine throughout. Fleshtones are flattering as well, rounding out out what is quite the excellent transfer.
SOUND: Very pleasant overall sound mix. Mainly dialogue, but there are some nice instances of ambient sounds and effects like thunder every so often. The music score itself is somewhat on the annoying side, but it sounds crystal clear and fills the room with solid, pure sound and some nice bass. Dialogue is completely natural sounding and clear with no problems. An enjoyable soundtrack with some nice touches.

MENUS: Very cool fully animated main menus with music playing behind them. Very well done. Completely animated scene selection as well, which is always a nice touch.

EXTRAS: The trailer, 4 deleted scenes(one of them is a rather interesting alternate ending) and a nicely done featurette.

Final thoughts: I could hardly stand to watch this film again on DVD after hating it in theaters, but the disc is certainly another nicely done effort from Dreamworks- if you enjoyed this film, there's certainly nothing wrong with the DVD.

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