I had an unusual childhood. While most people were watching cartoons and stuff geared towards children, I was watching The Simpsons where I developed my sense of humor. I watched the Friday the 13th series where I developed my love for filmmaking as an art and as a business. Also, while most kids wouldn’t dare watch The Golden Girls, I adored it and learned a great deal about humor from those charming old bats. But I also watched a ton of the original Charlie’s Angels TV show. While the show objectively is nothing to write home to mom about, it struck a chord with me. At a young age in the time I grew up in, which is much different from the world I live in today, I thought it was freaking cool to see three women kick ass and be spies. It’s a fun concept, and it makes complete sense to me why the concept has endured throughout the ages. There is a lot you can do with it. While I was less than pleased with the McG versions in the early 2000’s, I was eagerly anticipating the Elizabeth Banks version. I thought this was the perfect time to bring back the angels and see what else can be done with the concept. How’d it go? Well, let’s take flight.
There is no getting around it. Elizabeth Banks just isn’t an action director. While I think she was a fine choice to take on this project, her lack of experience shooting action is evident here. Those sequences aren’t well shot and are easily the worst part of the movie. Which is fine, as not a lot of Hollywood is currently good at shooting action. For example, look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier because it has the same problem this movie does, but with the Russo Brothers’ inexperience shooting action being evident and distracting. But if Banks stuck to it, she could easily improve this facet of her craft. Just like the Russo Brothers. That being said, the stuff that isn’t action oriented is well directed and I totally applaud her attempt here. It is clear while watching the movie that she is passionate about the subject matter and what she is trying to do here with the message.
This is also the unfortunate downside of the picture; the plot does not do the Angels justice. Truth be told, what was going on was so uninteresting that I found myself zoning out a lot of the time. I feel like there is so much you could do with this concept and the film chooses one of the more uninteresting options to pursue. Plus, it’s a film that is built around a “twist” the audience is clued in on from the moment the film opens. So, it has the aura of a waste of time and it never quite shakes that off. This is what I am most disappointed in.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The cast here is great and I knew they would be great the moment it was announced. Kristen Stewart is a great actor. It is kind of sad how the role that has defined her career is her worst one, but even still the hatred toward the performance is way overstated. I am glad to report that she is really good here. She has a good presence about her and she really does have underrated comedic timing. I’d love to see her in more comedic roles and stuff like this. While I have always enjoyed her work, she has never seemed more comfortable than she did here. Naomi Scott is going to be a very big name very soon. Her career is on the cusp of legendary breakthrough. She is also really good in this and really is the anchor here. Ella Balinska gives a solid debut performance in a major motion picture. Banks and Stewart are also clearly having the time of their lives here. So the cast does a good job.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
I’m giving the score half credit because I do miss when all movies had a song made by a popular artist and released with the film as marketing. I mean we had a Men in Black movie released this year that did not have a song by Will Smith or anybody attached to it. It’s a sort of marketing trend that has kind of died unfortunately. I always found it fun. Problem is, said song isn’t very good nor is the rest of the music in the movie. But I appreciate the attempt.
Another real downside here is that the movie just looks generic. The special effects look fine, but also bland. In fact, the movie as a whole just looks rather bland. There is nothing that really makes it pop or stand out from the pack. I feel as if this is the only thing the McG movies did better than this one because for better or worse those movies stand out in how they look and feel. This just looks like a product.
Charlie’s Angels is unfortunately a disappointment. That being said, I wouldn’t say I’m sad or mad about it. It’s just kind of forgettable. It is a movie made with the best intentions, which is commendable. However, a good movie can’t be built just on good intentions alone. The actors and some of the humor works which makes it worth a sit if you are a fan of Charlie’s Angels; it even has a brilliant and funny nod to the other adaptations of it. However, its problems clip its wings.