A Very Bad Movie

Previously by C.T. Rossi: The Law Is Dead

"Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life" ~ Oscar Wilde

"The sign of a clever auteur is to achieve the illusion that there is a sole individual responsible for magnificent creations that require thousands of people to accomplish." ~ Louis B. Mayer

I guess that every movie critic's idea of hell is being eternally trapped in a frightful viewing room subjected to some vapid, endless film. To be truly hellish, this 9th circle cinema couldn't be a cringe-worthy, stinker-of-a-flick (lest it have some type entertainment value and perhaps charm by its ineptitude). Rather it must be mundaneness personified and pabulum in its purest essence. It would be the Void that stares back — the banality of evil.

One hopes that grace preserves pious film critics from such a fate. However, the American electorate is not so lucky. Through our passive role in the political system designed to keep us disengaged, we are essentially "watching" such a movie and any unbiased reviewer should find themselves scathingly mad, accordingly:

I went into Election 2012 with low expectations but as it turned out my expectations weren't low enough. Billed as the next thrilling installment of the Election saga, notable previous installments including Election 2000 and Election 2008: A New Hope, what was delivered failed to live up to even the most modest expectations of fans of the series.

The plot of Election: 2012 — loosely based on Sir James Frazier's tale of a dying and reborn man-god, The Golden Bough — was a manager's special of recycled clichés and hackneyed subplots already exhausted by the earlier installments in the series. For those unfamiliar with the mythos, the film is set in a dystopian not-too-distant future, where "The President," an all-powerful leader, must undergo the ceremonial "election" and run the gauntlet of the "electoral college." Incorporating sci-fi elements (lifted from a vastly superior British TV series Dr. Who), how The President accords himself during the trials determines whether he will be "regenerated" into a new form. Even for those familiar with the previous movies, one is left to slog through a confusing and unimaginative screenplay that fails to establish any dramatic tone and never answers the question of why anyone should care about the lead character.

In an overt homage to Luis Buñuel's 1977 classic, That Obscure Object of Desire, the role of The President, in different aspects, is played by two actors: Barack Obama, reprising his role from A New Hope, and newcomer Mitt Romney. However, here (unlike Buñuel's masterful use of both Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina to show different sides Desire's Conchita) the use of the cinematic device was ham-handed, and one could find very little difference in the portrayals of the lead offered by Romney and Obama.

The story, neglecting the powerful (yet underdeveloped) themes of the effects of endless war and impending threat of economic collapse, focused instead on threadbare figure of The President himself. This narrative choice proved disastrous in part because of the wooden performances of the two leads. Obama's handling of the role was sedated in comparison with his performance in the earlier A New Hope, while audiences were subjected to Romney's torturously paralyzed acting style with the notable exception of a few minutes in the Denver action sequence.

The film's much ballyhooed twist dénouement (SPOILER ALERT) where we learn that the action sequences were in actuality the internal dialogues of The President (Do the writers think no one saw Fight Club?) hardly came as surprise to anyone who paid attention to the heavy-handed foreshadowing laced throughout the film.

In a series of unremarkable films, Election: 2012 may prove to be the least memorable and (hopefully) signals the end a franchise which has long run its course. That something new is in the offing may be found in a teaser scene after the credits where a minor character seems to be implying a new direction for the series. You can watch it by clicking here. If the studio and producers build on this fresh plotline, it might breathe new life into the once-great film series. No official announcements have been made, so only time will tell.

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