Promised Land (2012)

Promised LandPromised Land

Release Date: January 4, 2013

Director: Gus Van Sant

Stars: Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski

Runtime: 106 min

Tagline: What’s your price?

Corporate salesman Steve Butler (Damon) arrives in a rural town with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (McDormand). With the town having been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, the two outsiders see the local citizens as likely to accept their company’s offer, for drilling rights to their properties, as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job for the duo becomes complicated by the objection of a respected schoolteacher (Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by a man (Krasinski) who counters Steve both personally and professionally.

This environmental drama reunites Good Will Hunting star Matt Damon and director Gus Van Sant. While it has the same good acting and fine direction, it doesn’t quite have the best characters or writing. Thus proving Ben Affleck’s writing was one heck of a contribution to Good Will Hunting‘s screenplay.

The characters in this feature are simple and generic. Damon’s character of Steve Butler is decent, but his beliefs seem distorted throughout the feature. He goes through a roller coaster of emotions where he tells the people one thing, but he thinks something else. However, that character change is necessary for the screenplay because his soul is supposed to be changed and touched by the people themselves. Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand) is a fairly uninteresting character merely established as a mother on a business trip who just really wants to be back with her son. Krasinski’s Dustin Noble is playing the nice guy routine, trying to convince the people of the town that Global will ruin the local economy instead of helping it.

Global is a natural gas company that uses a process called fracking to go underground and retrieve the valuable resources. This film raises awareness of this dangerous process. This is also an analysis of how big companies don’t care for the environment or the people themselves, they only care for making money. But this town has something to say about that. The only other 2012 film that has a louder message of the environment is Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. But really, that is tailored for children, and many aren’t clever enough to realize when an idea is being hammered down their throats. However, this is an adult drama and the majority of adults know when an idea is loud or preachy.

The only things that set this film apart is the rather loud message and the change of heart Steve has. Though, it really doesn’t stop it from being generic and often bland. Some redundant plot points that do not do anything for the story whatsoever are less interesting than a man snoring loudly. It is also a very by-the-book feature that goes through the motions. Sure, it’s a decent watch, but it’s nothing more. The cast is stellar (also including Scoot McNairy, Hal Holbrook and Rosemarie DeWitt) but none of the talented actors are given thoroughly interesting characters.

In a nutshell: Promised Land is a decent, but far from good, experience that isn’t more than that. It’s an environmental drama that tries to explore unique concepts like fracking and greedy large companies, but it needs Ben Affleck on as a writer. The end product comes across as usually bland, predictable and very generic. It goes through the motions of this type of drama until the very end.

55/100

Celebrity Birthdays: October 8 – 14

Chevy Chase (October 8)

Happy 69th birthday to Chevy Chase who is probably best known for his role in National Lampoon’s Vacation films as Clark Griswold. He’s also well known for his improvisational role of Ty Webb in 1980’s Caddyshack. Nowadays he appears on the NBC comedy TV Series Community, as the racist, clueless, offensive, rich and often hilarious Pierce Hawthorne. What’s your favourite Chevy Chase movie or TV role, and favourite movie featuring him? My favourite roles portrayed by Chase are Ty Webb in Caddyshack, and his role as Pierce Hawthorne, on Community,  is a close second. My favourite films featuring Chase are 1) Caddyshack as Ty Webb and; 2) Hot Tub Time Machine as the hysterical Repairman and;  3) Snow Day as Tom Brandston, the weatherman.Though, I’ve only seen four of his films. The fourth is Zoom, but frankly, who truly enjoys that one? I’d count one of the Vacation films, but I can’t remember which one I’d seen…

Matt Damon (October 8)

Happy 42nd birthday to Matt Damon, star of The Bourne trilogy, Good Will Hunting, and The Departed. I won’t go into what my favourite Damon flicks are because I haven’t seen a lot of his work to judge. But what I have seen him in, I can say that he evidently has great talent.

Sigourney Weaver (October 8)

Happy 63rd birthday to Mrs. Sigourney Weaver. Weaver is sort of just an extraordinary Queen of Science Fiction/Horror. She is the star of the Alien series as Ellen Ripley. Unfortunately, I have not seen those films at all yet. She has also been in Ghostbusters and Avatar. I’ve only seen three of her films that she has a primary role in, and they are ranked: 1) Holes as Warden Walker; 2) Avatar as Grace and; 3) Ghostbusters as Dana Barrett.

David Morse (October 11)

Happy 59th birthday to David Morse, who is best known for The Green Mile, Contact, The Hurt Locker and The Rock. He’s a great and diverse actor that can be creepy in films like Disturbia and touching in films like The Green Mile. I really love the work that I have seen him in. He has been nominated for two Primetime Emmys for his work in the TV miniseries John Adams and House. My favourite films featuring him are: 1) The Green Mile, as Brutus ‘Brutal’ Howell; 2) Disturbia as the creepy Mr. Turner and; 3) The Hurt Locker as Colonel Reed (who got about two minutes of screen time).

Hugh Jackman (October 12)

Happy 44th birthday to Hugh Jackman, an Australian born actor who is best known for his role in The Prestige and as Logan/Wolverine in the X-Men series. My favourite role is him in The Prestige. That’s really the only stuff I’ve seen him in.

Sacha Baron Cohen (October 13)

Happy 41st birthday to Sacha Baron Cohen, who is the creator of great characters such as Borat, Ali G, most recently Aladeen from The Dictator, and then there was Bruno. He is often very hysterical, and has even gotten an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay for Borat. My favourite Cohen character is definitely, without any question, Borat. He’s freaking hysterical. My favourite films featuring Cohen are: 1) Borat, where he played the titular character and; 2) Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, where he played Jean Girard and; 3) Madagascar where he voices the hilarious Madagascar lemur, King Julien.

Other Birthdays: Oct. 10, Aimee Teegarden (23). Oct. 11, Michelle Trachtenberg (27). Oct. 11, Joan Cusack (50). Oct. 12, Josh Hutcherson (20). Oct. 14, Roger Moore (85). Oct. 14, Mia Wasikowska (23).

So, what do you guys think of one of my newest features? And who is your favourite actor/actress on this talented list?

My reviews of films they have starred in: 

Sigourney Weaver: Holes (2003)

David Morse: Disturbia  (2007)

Joan Cusack: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Josh Hutcherson: The Hunger Games (2012)