Surprisingly slow and relentlessly absurd, Premonition stars Sandra Bullock as a housewife who slowly comes to the realization that she's living out her days in random order - a turn of events that leaves the fate of her husband (Julian McMahon) hanging in the balance. Director Mennan Yapo has infused the proceedings with some seriously bland visuals, despite the fact that Bill Kelly's screenplay essentially demands an over-the-top, Brian De Palma-esque sensibility. Far more problematic, however, is Kelly's use of overtly familiar cliches to propel the storyline forward; there are consequently very few plot twists that one can't spot coming a mile away, with the most egregious example of this undoubtedly the laughably predictable finale (which, to make matters worse, is followed by a headscratcher of an epilogue that's clearly been thrown in at the last minute). Bullock is fine and there is admittedly some enjoyment in attempting to unravel the film's few secrets, but Premonition ultimately possesses all the substance and subtlety of a made-for-Lifetime production (all it's missing are Teri Polo and Charles Shaughnessy).
Shooter (March 24/07)
It's not often that one complains of an action movie not being mindless enough, but that's precisely the problem with Shooter. Director Antoine Fuqua - working from Jonathan Lemkin's screenplay - has infused the film with a surprisingly talky sensibility that's exacerbated by an emphasis on exceedingly tired elements (including a hopelessly routine conspiracy and an entirely needless romantic subplot), and although there are a few admittedly effective action sequences here and there, the film ultimately comes off as an overlong and surprisingly uninvolving bore. Mark Wahlberg stars as Bob Lee Swagger, an ace sniper who finds himself recruited to help stop a potential assassination; problems ensue after he's framed for the crime and forced to go on the run. That Wahlberg offers up a competent yet wholly uncharismatic performance proves to be the least of Shooter's problems, as much of the film's running time is devoted to superfluous instances of exposition; one can't help but wish that Fuqua would just get on with it already, and there's little doubt that the filmmaker's efforts to mix social issues with random bursts of violence fall flat (he doesn't fare quite as poorly as he did with Tears of the Sun, however).
Blades of Glory (March 29/07)
Blades of Glory marks the latest in a seemingly endless line of unremarkable comedies featuring Will Ferrell, following such lackluster efforts as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Kicking & Screaming, and Bewitched. And although the film does initially hold some promise - how could it not, really, with a supporting cast that includes (among others) Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, and William Fichtner - there's ultimately no overlooking the repetitive and exceedingly uneven vibe that's been hard-wired into the proceedings. The story follows two arch-enemies within the skating world - Ferrell's Chazz Michael Michaels and Jon Heder's Jimmy MacElroy - as they're begrudgingly forced to team up following their total ban from the world of singles skating. As has been the case with most of Ferrell's post-SNL output, Blades of Glory essentially consists of a series of sketches surrounding a high-concept premise - ensuring that, while there are a number of genuinely funny bits here and there, there's simply nothing holding the entire production together. The cast is certainly not at fault; Ferrell delivers a go-for-broke performance that's admittedly quite amusing, while the supporting cast - particularly Arnett and Poehler - generally does a nice job of keeping things interesting throughout (Heder seems to be the only weak link here, as the actor offers up the same schtick he's been relying on since hitting it big with Napoleon Dynamite). But despite the film's few positive attributes, there's just no getting around the feeling that Blades of Glory is essentially a one-note gimmick that's egregiously been padded out to feature length.