It was, sadly, too late for me to write about them here, but I had two reviews go live at IGN on Friday, one of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” and the other of “Beyond the Reach.” Neither is a good movie, with “Paul Blart” actually managing to be bad.
The interesting thing, to me, about comparing these two is that while “Paul Blart” is the worse film, “Beyond the Reach” is the more disappointing one. Watching them, one gets the sense that the Kevin James sequel didn’t aim for any sort of lofty goal, while the Michael Douglas thriller did and thus the disappointment with it is greater.
There are, as my review notes, missteps throughout “Beyond the Reach,” but it really is the ending which dooms it. I won’t spoil it for you here, but it is this tacked on bit of nonsense placed there seemingly without reason. Talk about a moment when I would love to have 15 minutes to sit down with the director, Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, to figure out where it came from and how he sees it operating.
I think that sometimes it is all too easy for a critic to look at something from a distance and point out the choices that don’t work. I further believe that pointing out what works and what doesn’t is an important role, but it is also terribly crucial to understand why those choices happen. Why did Leonetti put that ending there?
Whether or not it’s in the book—and whether or not it works in the book if it is there—it doesn’t work in the movie. Were there other moments in the movie left on the cutting room floor that would have made the ending feel more appropriate? Was that ending always the way the movie was supposed to end? If not, when did it first get put in the script?
As I say, the ending of “Beyond the Reach” is there “seemingly without reason,” but there is a reason for it. I don’t know what that reason is. I want to however, and I think that anyone who watches the movie should want to. Not only will it help me (you, anyone) understand the movie better, but also to understand the filmmaker better, to get inside their mind a little and see what they’re thinking.
This gets back to the whole idea of engaging with the movie you’re watching rather than letting it wash over you. The “Paul Blart” sequel isn’t a movie that you want to engage with, which is one of the reasons it’s bad, but “Beyond the Reach” you do, you’re just not going to like the answers, which, is one of the reasons it’s disappointing.
So, rereading the above right now, I sit here thinking and I find myself mulling over one question – which movie would I rather watch again? If I were forced to choose to see “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” or “Beyond the Reach” again which is it I’d watch? I don’t have a quick and easy answer there. I tend to lean towards “Paul Blart” because of that disappointment factor; I’m going to be less disappointed watching it again than watching “Beyond the Reach” once more, and I think that’s the more important criteria in how I choose a movie. I would rather watch a bad movie than one that came closer to being okay.
But, I’d still try and get out of a repeat viewing of either.
photo credit: 20th Century FOX/Roadside Attractions