Unpopular Opinion Tag (Films) II

Last year, in August, I posted a similar post – Unpopular Opinion Tag (Films), where I talked about three movies that people generally love, but I hated. Now, it is time to do a “reversal” post. Here, I will be talking about three movies that people or critics do not like much, but I actually thought there was merit in them or things to love. I am choosing to write about Premonition (2007), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) and Joseph: King of Dreams (2000). Be warned, there may be some spoilers ahead.  

premonition-posterI. Premonition (2007)

IMDb score: 5.9; Rotten Tomatoes score: 8%. 

In 2007, Mennan Yapo shot this film starring Sandra Bullock, and, in my opinion, it does not deserve to be so unknown or all the negative reviews. The film is actually fascinating. It relies on a twisted Groundhog Day/”Deja Vu” (2006) concept to tell the story of Linda (Bullock), a wife and a mother, who finds her world turned upside down when she wakes up one day to learn that her husband is dead and another day – to find out that he is still alive. The truth is that her week days do not follow the natural timeline, but are randomly emerging, and Linda has to find out how her new reality works exactly to possibly save her husband from a deadly car collision. The film is clever (in a way it is a brain-teaser), and it is very interesting to follow Linda on her journey. The film makes you want to pay attention to small details to find out how they may change the next day. The film may lack some fundamental logic and, definitely, plausibility, especially towards the end, but it is so atmospheric, many of its other faults could also be forgiven. It is atmospheric in a way every scene is filled with the feeling that something macabre or threatening is lurking in the background (some unseen force), meddling with the natural clock, and music and the involvement of children make the picture even eerier and more effective. Couple this with the exploration of the issues of sanity and grief, and a few nice jumps, and the result is strangely compelling. It may not be this great thriller, but it is good enough for repeated viewings and Bullock does a good enough job. 

II.  Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

IMDb score: 6.2; Rotten Tomatoes score: 24%. 

From the onset it is important to say that “Sleeping with the Enemy” is quite problematic. Implausibility, tacky representation of menace and predictability are some of the obvious problems. My argument is rather that the film did manage to do some things very right, and it is worthy of a night-in watch. Julia Roberts does play convincingly a victim of a domestic abuse, Laura, who longs for a better life, and, thus, devises a clever plan to escape her abusive husband. Other cast is as good and the script is well-written. Another good thing here is that, actually, the threat coming from Laura’s husband feels real enough and the film becomes scary in this sense. The husband is played by Patrick Bergin, and he becomes really a man to be frightened of, as he shows off unhealthy dosages of obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychopathy and paranoia. The culmination sequence and Laura’s disguised visit to her mother are particularly thrilling scenes to watch. There is a rumour that this film reached number one place in the rental charts back in the day, and there may be some sense in this. 

Joseph_king_dreams III. Joseph: King of Dreams (2000)

IMDb score: 6.5; Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A. 

Everyone says how this animation is not “The Prince of Egypt” (1998) (far from it), and there is surely some truth in it. It was, indeed, made on the back of the success of “The Prince of Egypt“. My point, rather, is that this straight-to-video animation has enough merit to be viewed apart from its more successful brother – as an entertaining and lesson-giving film in its own right. “Joseph: King of Dreams” tells its own fascinating biblical story of a boy who was destined to interpret correctly his own and other people’s dreams. It may have some mediocre songs, a naive hero and a comparatively thin plot, but it is, nevertheless, both moving and beautiful. Joseph is voiced by no other than Ben Affleck, and the animation slowly draws you in as it unveils Joseph’s early life on the farm, and his painful betrayal by his brothers (taking him to the heart of Egypt as a result). Visually, the things most to admire here are probably the dream sequences, sometimes inspired by van Gogh paintings. The animation may be uneven in parts, but it has a broad impact and reach – it tells an inspiration story of hope and forgiveness, and that is more than enough for any screen story to be memorable.

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24 Responses to Unpopular Opinion Tag (Films) II

  1. realthog says:

    I haven’t seen Joseph, but I very much agree with you on the other two. In fact, the good case you argue has minded me to dig out my copy of Premonition for another watch.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Thanks for agreeing with me! If you liked “The Prince of Egypt”, then you will like “Joseph”.

      As for “Premonition”, I somehow never tire of watching it. I also do not understand how some people are angry that this film “allegedly” took the Groundhog Day concept or other movie concept and “made a mess of it”. I really think that Premonition does its own thing here and does it effectively (well enough).

      • realthog says:

        They should be aware that the “Groundhog Day concept” is far from original to Groundhog Day! The idea was explored in the 1993 TV movie 12:01, based on a 1973 Dick Lupoff short story. (There was also a 1990 short that I haven’t seen based on that story.) Then there’s Ken Grimwood’s 1987 novel Replay, which explores the timeloop concept far beyond Groundhog Day‘s ambitions. There are other examples.

        So Premonition is drawing from sf’s common stockpot, as did Groundhog Day. No harm in that, of course.

        • dbmoviesblog says:

          Exactly. You are completely right, very interesting. And doesn’t “Groundhog Day” follow the plot of Leon Arden’s book “One Fine Day” (1981) (remaining largely unknown) like nearly word for word/sequence by sequence? That is what I read that “One Fine Day” is essentially “Groundhog Day” too. There, a bachelor finds his days repeated and has to do good deeds for “tomorrow” to come.
          Besides, the days in “Premonition” are not repeating themselves. Each of them is different, just scattered, that’s also like a substantial difference.

          • realthog says:

            I haven’t come across the Arden book, so must keep a lookout for it.

            Besides, the days in “Premonition” are not repeating themselves. Each of them is different, just scattered, that’s also like a substantial difference.

            Absolutely correct.

  2. Steve says:

    Now I need to see Premonition. Thanks!

  3. You were right on with Premonition

  4. Chris says:

    Premonition sounds underrated from your write-up, will seek out the trailer. The Net (a 1995 thriller w/Sandra Bullock) I enjoy rewatching when it’s on TV despite a pretty low 36% RT score

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      It is underrated. It is cerebral and atmospheric. Even the ending is not as important as the fascinating process – the “day” trials the character is going through. And thanks a lot, I will look into “The Net”.

  5. whit5975 says:

    I’m loving this post! Great idea. I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us!

  6. Paul S says:

    I haven’t seen Premonition or Joseph: King of Dreams, I have seen Sleeping with the Enemy and I think most people tend to overlook how well-done the first act of the film really is. Ruben carefully builds a creepy atmosphere, relying on brief glances, moments of silence and quietly expressive performances to help the viewer understand that, behind the image of a perfect couple, something is very wrong.
    Julia Roberts gave a really great performance, playing the many shades of domestic abuse with subtlety and grace. It’s a keeper.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      You said it just right. Clearly, there is a lot of effort and thought went into this film to make it effective. Sadly, the overall result was not quite what was expected.

  7. I’m with you on “Premonition.” Granted, it’s been years since I saw the movie for the second time, but I remember I enjoyed that it works hard to maintain the audience’s interest instead of just going on autopilot. I never knew when it was going to go next. The plot was always moving so I felt I needed to catch up to it rather than feeling bored.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Thanks for agreeing! “Premonition” definitely keeps you alert and paying attention.
      Giving that I receive so much positive feedback on the film, I am even more surprised it is supposed to be viewed so unfavourably out there – somewhere!

  8. The only one here that I’ve seen is “Sleeping with the Enemy”, and I quite liked it. As you said, it is a flawed film, but it has a lot going for it, especially Patrick Bergin’s performance. (Just the sight of that perfectly-trimmed moustache gives me the creeps…)

  9. I’m with you on Sleeping with the Enemy. I found it to be an enjoyable thriller; not worthy of the critics lambasting and harpooning.
    For me, the Sandra Bullock film that occupies this space is Murder by Numbers. Most people hate it–and, yes, the ending is terrible but, all in all, I find it to be an enjoyable thriller.
    Smart, intriguing post idea. You have more than a few of those.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Thanks for the comment, and the recommendation! I see that Murder by Numbers has a nice cast. I need to check out more of Sandra Bullock other movies. You recommended Murder by Numbers, and above I also can see The Net with her being recommended. It still escapes me a bit how her movies are so consistently underrated.

      • She’s a decent actor who can rise to the occasion with a really good script. Murder by Numbers was scourged by the critics. It’s not great by any means but doesn’t deserve the vitriol. If you do give it a look, let me know what you think if you have the time.

        • dbmoviesblog says:

          The plot of Murder by Numbers definitely appeals to me. I see that Wikipedia says that the story is “loosely based on the Leopold and Loeb case”? That is also appealing. It seems like a number of movies out there have been influenced by this case – another film is, of course, Hitchcock’s Rope (well Hamilton’s play) which I also enjoyed immensely.

          • Yes, it’s based on that tragic case. I watched it the other night, it’s about the third time I’ve seen it. There are a lot of flaws and it’s too long, but I still enjoyed it. Another film I like that most people don’t–and I like this one substantially better than Murder by Numbers–is Miami Blues. I really like that one.

            • dbmoviesblog says:

              Miami Blues? With Alec Baldwin? I really like that movie – have it in my DVD collection since I cannot remember. It has some authenticity to it which I cannot define – not in the plot as such, but in strange relationships between the characters. Perhaps, this feeling is because all do a great job.

              • Yes, I totally agree. George Armitage pumps a very curious, original vibe into the film. Very underrated. Great performances all around. You know Armitage directed Grosse Pointe Blank–another great film that has that same weird authenticity that you write of.

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