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Missed Opportunities

By Bert Ehrmann
March 7, 2008

Even though I try to see around one new movie a week, I still can’t see everything I want to in the theater. Be it conflicts with other movies, not having the time in a given week to make it to the theater, bad word of mouth or even not wanting to waste my hard earned dough on a movie I suspect will be a stinker, great movies do slip by me.

Thankfully, though, even when I miss a great movie in the theater I can still catch it on DVD release. Consider these three movies an addendum to my “best of 2007” list.

SunshineI didn’t see Sunshine in theaters because, quite frankly, I thought it wasn’t going to be that good. Bad word of mouth followed this film, and a release date change from fall of 2006 to summer ’07 didn’t bode well either. But I was wrong; Sunshine was one of the best movies last year that was overlooked by me and most everyone else. 

In Sunshine, it’s 50 years in the future and the output of our Sun has declined, threatening to freeze the Earth in an extinction winter. Enter the Icarus II, a ship equipped with a bomb the size of Manhattan meant to restart the Sun and save our planet. But things go wrong on the Icarus II after the crew finds the Icarus I just short of the Sun and decides to explore that ship to see if the bomb there is still viable.

Admittedly, the plot of Sunshine sounds like something recycled from a bad episode of Stargate, yet how the story is handled separates Sunshine from the pack. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen characters like the crew of the Icarus II depicted in a sci-fi film before. Each crewmember has his or her own voice and no one seems too gung ho about the prospects of a one-way trip to the heart of the Sun.

Michael ClaytonThough I did see Michael Clayton in the theater, I missed the initial release back in September and only saw it on re-release this January. It was only when the film was nominated for seven Oscars that I figured I should see Michael Clayton while I had the chance. 

In Michael Clayton, George Clooney plays the title character, a lawyer so morally bankrupt in both his personal and professional life he’s hit rock bottom. Enter Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), another lawyer who’s suffered a mental breakdown threatening a multi-billion dollar lawsuit he’s spent the last 17 years of his life defending against. Clayton is called to bring Edens in, but when that much money is on the line there are no limits to what those involved are willing to do to control the ensuing chaos. 

I was amazed as to the structure of the story to Michael Clayton as well as the performances within. I’ve been a big fan of Clooney from his E.R. years, and his performance in Michael Clayton doesn’t disappoint. In fact, the movie is so good and features such star power within; I quite imagine why Michael Clayton wasn’t a smashing success? Michael Clayton is the rare movie I wanted to stand up and cheer at the end.

Gone Baby GoneI never went to see the movie Gone Baby Gone in theaters because I didn’t believe that first time director and co-writer Ben Affleck was capable of creating a great movie. Again I was wrong. Gone Baby Gone is one of the most well written/crafted movies of the last few years, let alone 2007.

In Gone Baby Gone, Ben brother Casey Affleck plays Patrick Kenzie, a private detective with connections to inner-city Boston neighborhoods who is hired to track down missing child Amanda McCready. The story of Gone Baby Gone curls around and takes some unexpected turns along the way to conclusion. Just when you think you’ve got Gone Baby Gone figured out and where McCready is, the story takes a logical left turn into unexpected territory.

All of the movies profiled above are currently available on DVD. Next time I’ll discuss what I consider to be the most overlooked movie gem of 2007 – see you in two weeks!