Monday, April 22, 2013

Promised Land

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Or we can get our frack on!

Promised Land – 3 out of 5

It’s a movie about fracking…and not frakking as in the swear word from Battlestar Galactica (I really wish that was the case—so say we all!).

This store couldn't be more American even if Toby Keith and Kid Rock
were making love to the flag in front of it.

Promised Land is about a natural gas company coming into a dying farming town with promises of riches if the townsfolk lease their land for the purposes of fracking (fracking being the process of drilling and harvesting the gas and not to mention a complete challenge to me to not make it sound like a dirty sex act within this review). The company sends in the bright eyed, hungry young go-getter Steve Butler (Matt Damon) and his partner Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand) to a small Pennsylvania farm town that, with some minor resistance, is all but welcoming with open arms as the dollar signs are starting to fill the eyes of the struggling members of the community. That is until the environmentalist Dustin Noble (get it? Noble) arrives and throws a wrench into the works as he claims he’s from a town that was financially obliterated by the greedy gas company folks. Noble (John Krasinski) and Butler quickly become heated rivals as Noble turns the entire community against him and the race to get that sweet, sweet gas (or stop that gas from getting got) gets underway.

"Let's try fracking Fargo next."

For the most part, Promised Land is a pretty decent film, however its weakness comes in the fact the film is a character-driven one when it should have been a story-driven affair. While there’s nothing wrong with a film that is all about the characters and their evolution and development but when you have a story about the environmental impact that comes from fracking (HA! I said “impact” and “fracking” in the same sentence) the movie probably shouldn’t suddenly take away all that emphasis and focus on how lonely the gas company employee is and how sad he feels after the environmentalist takes away the girl he was lusting after.

Matt Damon doesn't need alcohol in order to take bar girls home...
because he's rich and famous.

"Are you trying to tell me that my trust fun hippie ways
can't compete against a billion dollar company?
Surely you jest."
 The beginning of the film starts very strong with the movie focusing nearly entirely on the debate about allowing fracking to commence in the small town and once John Krasinski arrives in the story, the movie starts to take a dramatic turn and it seems that the tension is going to be ratcheting skyward. While the drama and tension do start to arrive and heat up, these factors only seem to apply to the characters of Butler and Noble and not their own individual desires for drilling or absence of drilling. Mind you this isn’t a bad thing but throughout the entire middle of the film it feels like it became an entirely different movie as it was less about getting their frack on in the city and more about seeing who can get the most friends; the guy who wants to frack the shit out of your land or the hippie who just wants to cuddle with some trees.

"I'm here to frack it up all night long, America!"

The last thing you'll see if Matt Damon is drowning you.
Promised Land isn’t a terrible movie at all. While it’s a little distracting that the film’s emphasis changes in the mid-section, it wasn’t so awful that it harmed the film in a major way. In fact, the opening and the ending of the film are so strong that the sudden character-centric change the film takes, and the push the story suffers with it, gets completely redeemed. Even the fact that McDormand, Damon and Krasinski aren’t giving the best performances of their career can be overlooked because even at their weakest, they are still enjoyable to watch. Granted Krasinski spends a good portion of the film making it look like Jim quit Dunder Mifflin and left Pam for a life as a man on a crusade against fracking.

"Anyone want to drill on Dwight's property"  It'll be hilarious!"

The film has the potential to offend those who, most likely, have bumper stickers on their truck nut-accentuated pick-ups that read “Drill, Baby, Drill” and those who don’t fully understand what fracking is and decided to become a hippie because they think it’s cool will probably love it even though they don’t know what the hell is going on but, overall, the movie is good enough to watch once and maybe check out again later in life.

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