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THE UNBORN, 2009
Movie Review

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THE UNBORN
Movie Review
Directed by David S. Goyer
Starring: Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Cam Gigandet
Review by Matthew Toffolo

SYNOPSIS:

A young woman fights the spirit that is slowly taking possession of her.

REVIEW:

The Unborn was a hard film to get into. And witnessing the many people in the audience I was with who kept running in and out of the theatre, perhaps they had a hard time with it too.

I learned a long time ago if you don't know what you want when you begin a project, then you run into a lot of problems. And the creative team of The Unborn seemed to have no idea what this film was suppose to be. It will be categorized as a Horror film, but it kept trying to be something else and then slipping back into the horror genre.

But I do have to say this film had great transition shots as the 2nd unit director weaved us through the streets of Chicago in the most unique of fashions. Shots I've never seen before of the interesting city. And it was a very well executed technical film too.

Of course saying those things are like saying to your friend after you saw a bad theater play they acted in, "The art direction was really well done."

And those positive moments in the film really aren't worth a hill of beans because it doesn't connect to the story at all.

That's what I learned the most when watching The Unborn: If you don't have any connection with your characters, then you just don't care. And we had absolutely no connection or feeling at all for any of the characters in this film, especially our lead. The acting was fine. It's just that they had nothing to work with.

The only real character trait she had was that she had a rockin body, and the director loved showing it to us, but that only can take you so far and the other half of the population really doesn't care how she looks in her underwear.

In order for us to feel emotionally connected to our lead character (and therefore be emotionally engaged in the story), we need two things:

#1 Their must be a trait that they have that we respect.

This trait is usually a quality that many of us respect because it's what we want, but might not have as of yet. Our lead Casey Beldon and all of the other characters in this film have no trait at all that we respect. This film is all plot points and no emotional character connection setups. You can give us all the plot situations you want, but if we don't respect our leads, then we don't like them and then we don't care what happens.

An interesting example is Tony Soprano. Here's a self-absorbed killer who keeps doing wrong moral things. But we feel for him because he has courage and faces all of his conflicts head on. He might not succeed in facing these conflicts, but he still does them. Many of us wish we had the courage of Soprano and because of that we like him and either know it or it's all subconscious.

#2 Their must be a situation between two or more people where loving and caring exists

We all want connection in our own lives and we go to the movies to see it in others as well. The Unborn's main character has four main connections that go nowhere.

The first one is her father who disappears without a trace in the 2nd act. Here's a man who lives with his daughter, but as soon as he reveals the major plot point (which is in the movie trailer - which is another issue for another review), he's gone from the film. A major relationship that isn't even touched.

The second is the boyfriend who has probably 3 lines in the entire movie. He's there to look good and to do to whatever our lead says. Without revealing a major twist in the end, this relationship needs to be developed so the climax works to high emotional levels. But we never know why they are together in the first place and what connects them.

The third is the girlfriend. The token black character of the film. She is also the token 'bad girl' in the film who steals candy from an old folks home. And when she goes away, no one seems to care. So why was she in the film in the first place?

The fourth is the mentor role, Rabbi Sendak, played by Gary Oldman. But there is no scene at all which tells us why he wants to help her. So we're left wondering if Oldman just did the director a favor (he co-wrote The Dark Knight) in exchange for resurging his career in the Batman films. Because he has no real role at all and it's another character invented to push the plot along.

So the bottomline is that this film is all plot with no character or real overall theme at all. And don't they realize by now that no one is going to care if you don't give us any emotion?

There could also be the catch-22 problem of Horror films these days. You need a teenage audience in order for this genre to succeed, so it must have a PG-13 rating. But when you do that, you have make a film that's not scary at all with no gore that horror films must have. So in the end, you're left with a 40 million dollar budgeted movie that has no chance for success.

There's also a blatant setup for a sequel in the end. And it's pretty obvious that this sequel will never be made because this film is so boring.

BORING - the word you just don't want to hear. You can call a film shitty, or even say it sucked. But never say boring. It's the dirtiest word in the business.

I feel bad that The Unborn didn't work and it will be a failure. But the director did co-write The Dark Knight, a film that's made a zillion dollars so far. So you can't feel that bad.

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