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United 93

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On this weblog I spent a short amount of time breaking down the elements of movies yet to hit theaters, figuring that I could predict their failure or success simply by assessing public knowledge of it's production, and throwing in a little bit of common sense. I was inspired to do this by a studio executive who admitted that the studios had no real idea why movies have been doing so poorly in the last year or two. I thought I knew the answer.

It was fun while I did it, but when a break of about a week and a half came and no new releases, I had nothing to write about and quickly lost interest. I figure I'll keep it around for historical purposes, but continue writing my thoughts on the big features here instead. I'll begin with a movie titled United 93.

"September 11, 2001. Four planes were hijacked. Three of them reached their target.
This is the story of the fourth."

It's only been four years, and everyone I've talked to thinks this is way too soon. Oddly, this doesn't seem to include the families of the people who died on flight United 93. According to a quote in Newsweek, those families approved of the film unanimously. I have a hard time believing that, but I'm not interested in trying to dispute it, so I'll leave it be.

I share my friends belief that making this movie was a really bad idea. As far as a lot of people are concerned, 9/11 just isn't over yet. That day was the beginning, and we're still dealing with it's consequences, people in Afghanistan and other places are dying and it's just too close.

The Newsweek article I referenced was about some theatergoers who had a negative reaction to a trailer for United 93, and the theaters subsequent decision to stop playing the trailer because of that reaction. "One lady was crying," says one of the theaters managers, Kevin Adjodha. "She was saying we shouldn't have [played the trailer]. That this was wrong ... I don't think people are ready for this." [source]

Paul Greengrass both directed the film, and wrote the script. I've said before how much I hate this practice unless it's a writer who is directing, and not the other way around, and even then it's mostly just a bad idea unless you really know what you're doing.

Greengrass seems to have made a career out of adapting real life events into made for TV movies. You could consider this a good sign; it means he has experience doing things like this. Or it could be bad, meaning it's about all he is capable of. One thing is certain, I've never heard of any of his movies with the exception of The Bourne Supremacy (sequel); he directed it. My take? He's an okay director who can excel when he's focusing on that singular job, and has a talented group of people around to support him. Probably not so great a writer.

The male lead, Christian Clemenson, looks to be a career TV actor. None of the other players names ring any bells, but that doesn't mean they aren't any good. In fact, fresh talent can mean people who are on the verge of breaking out in a big way, given the opportunity. Or they could all suck, you just never know unless you give em a shot and find out.

John Powell composed the score for the film, and his list of credits is incredible: Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Supremacy, Shrek 2, The Bourne Identity, Shrek, High Incident (one of the best TV shows ever to die young), the list goes on and on. His music would be an incredible asset to any project, and should make for some really moving moments in United 93.

The budget is estimated at just $15 million, which is dirt cheap. I honestly believe that at some point, the movie will turn a profit. We'll just have to wait and see how much marketing money gets dumped into it, and whether people will react by staying away from the theaters as I think they will.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.