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The Films of David S. Goyer

ZigZag (December 21/02)

ZigZag casts Sam Jones III as the title character, a teenager suffering from an undisclosed mental affliction who finds himself saddled with an abusive father (Wesley Snipes' Fletcher) and a sleazy boss (Oliver Platt's Toad). Filmmaker David S. Goyer has infused ZigZag with a deliberately-paced sensibility that's clearly meant to evoke a '70s character study, but - as becomes apparent almost immediately - the underlying problem is that the ZigZag simply isn't all that interesting a figure. It doesn't help that we don't learn much about this kid, aside from the fact that he comes from an abusive home and takes solace in his friendship with John Leguizamo's fellow misfit Singer. But Goyer has smartly peppered the film with an eclectic cast that, at the very least, keeps things interesting. Sam Jones III, best known for his role on Smallville, is surprisingly effective as ZigZag, and the actor deftly avoids the temptation of channeling Dustin Hoffman's Rain Man character. Leguizamo's affecting and subtle performance seems to indicate that there's more to the actor than The Pest might've indicated, while Natasha Lyonne - cast as a proverbial hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold - ensures that the character never quite comes off as a walking cliché by infusing her with a sardonic wit and unexpected vulnerability. Ultimately, however, it's easy enough to see why ZigZag never made it to theaters, as the film suffers from an overly meandering pace and a central character that's just not all that interesting.

out of

Blade: Trinity

The Invisible (November 2/07)

Based on the 2002 Swedish film Den Osynlige, The Invisible casts Justin Chatwin as Nick Powell - a rebellious teen who must solve his own murder after a schoolyard bully (Margarita Levieva's Annie) leaves him for dead in a desolate forest. It's clear virtually from the get-go that The Invisible has been designed to appeal solely to the coveted "tween" demographic - as the film is almost entirely lacking in anything even resembling complexity. Screenwriters Mick Davis and Christine Roum have infused the proceedings with an overwrought and downright silly vibe that's exacerbated by Chatwin's distinctly over-the-top performance; the actor seems to spend much of the film's second half screaming at people, and there's little doubt that his efforts to transform Nick into a sympathetic figure fall completely flat. Far more problematic is the scripters' treatment of Annie, as the character - in a development that's nothing short of absurd - goes from heartless bully to compassionate confidante (the viewer is asked to swallow this pathetic bit of pandering nonsense via the revelation that Annie comes from an abusive home). It's underwhelming elements like that that essentially negate The Invisible's few positive elements, including an admittedly nifty mid-film plot twist and director David S. Goyer's sporadically intriguing visual choices (ie the unbroken take that opens the film).

out of

The Unborn (July 4/09)

Though an original piece of work, The Unborn possesses many of the elements that one has come to associate with the Asian-horror-remake scene - including a spooky apparition with a tortured backstory and a pace that can only be described as deliberate. The storyline - which follows plucky college student Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) as she's confronted with a series of increasingly threatening visions and dreams - boasts few attributes designed to initially capture the viewer's interest, and it's subsequently not surprising to note that the movie remains curiously uninvolving for the duration of its mercifully brief running time. Filmmaker David S. Goyer exacerbates The Unborn's problems by placing an increasingly prominent emphasis on the mystical origins of Casey's pursuer, which - though par for the course with movies of this ilk - effectively ensures that the movie suffers from an aggressively meandering midsection that'll test the patience of even the most easy-going viewer. Yustman's competent yet bland work as the film's protagonist is ultimately easy enough to overlook, as the actress has been surrounded by an unusually strong supporting cast that includes, among others, Cam Gigandet, Idris Elba, and Gary Oldman (with the latter's all-too-brief appearance as a helpful rabbi an obvious highlight). And although the climax - which boasts an impressively visceral exorcism - is surprisingly involving, The Unborn concludes with a irritatingly vague revelation that's not even remotely as shocking as Goyer clearly believes it to be. The end result is a hopelessly misguided endeavor that seems unlikely to appeal to either teenagers or horror buffs, with the egregiously slow pace sure to turn off the former and the conspicuous lack of gore destined to frustrate the latter.

out of

About the DVD: Buena Vista Home Entertainment presents The Invisible with a spotless anamorphically-enhanced transfer, along with over 13 minutes of deleted scenes, two music videos, and two commentary tracks. The Unborn arrives on DVD courtesy of Universal Studios, with bonus features limited to deleted scenes and an "unrated" cut of the movie that runs a whopping one minute longer than the theatrical version.
© David Nusair