Saturday, July 18, 2009

What exactly is the problem with Brett Rattner?

X-Men 3 came out with director Brett Rattner taking over the project 2 months into filming, shortly after Bryan Singer dropped out of the production. When the film came out, it opened to some dissapointment and there was a lot of backlash towards Brett Rattner for ruining the film that sort of fascinated me. X-Men 3 is virtually identical in style to X-Men 2. The biggest complaint I heard was that film is packed with too many characters and storylines. This is not the director's fault. Rattner said in interviews that he liked Singer's work with the two previous X-Men films and that his goal was to match the tone of the X-Men franchise as best as he could so that no one would be able to tell it was a different director. From that perspective, I've never heard a legitimate complaint (and I was previously on a message board asking people to give it their best shot) that Ratner did anything differently.

I have a theory that Brett Ratner simply suffers from the same problem Lindsay Lohan or Hillary Duff does (ironically, he's been linked romantically to Lohan): More news comes out about him in the tabloids than for his films.

Let's review:
Brett Ratner was a guy who's been linked romantically to Lindsay Lohan, Serena Williams and a number of other young hotties. Throw that in with the fact that he throws fairly well-publicized parties at his place (his friends Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton have attended) and to a degree, he is somewhat of a tabloid regular.

He doesn't help this image much at all in interviews as a guy who likes the playboy lifestyle of being a Hollywood star. He discussed an interest in Hugh Heffner on AMC's Shootout a couple years back, and in this interview, he decided to publish a book of actor Scott Caan's photography because he said, in part, he likes looking at naked girls.

Then again, in these interviews he also expresses a humongous appreciation for film and a true passion for what he's doing. I find it odd that anyone could have much passion about making 3 Rush Hours but he almost manages to convince you that it's worth seeing. To me, it seems like he has a very interesting duality to him. He throws parties at his lavish mansion but, according to an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, his grandparents also attended. He's a man who loves partying, dating, making social connections (at the front page of his official website is an article of his friendship with Michael Jackson) and he's also a guy with a solid film background who speaks with a clear passion about what he does.

I can't emphasize that solid film background enough: Brett Ratner was accepted to NYU's film school at age 16, making him the department's youngest filmmaker, and an award-winning short got him the funding of Stephen Spielberg's production company to progress to a pretty upstart career.

He never has really done anything the least bit daring with the films he's chosen to direct, however. His resume has 3 genre films: Red Dragon, Family Man, and After the Sunset (a fairly clever heist film with a couple twists thrown in) and he's most well-known for the Rush Hour trilogy (which is actually pretty awful). For my money, I actually liked the three non Rush-Hour films.

His films are solid, but not anything particularly notable. His online biography includes (I'm not making this up) that he has won many awards including an MTV Award for Best Fight Scene in Rush Hour 3 and a TONY for producing Russell Simmons' def comedy jam on Broadway.

If you want to get to the source of the Brett Rattner hate on X-Men 3, it's right there. His reputation has never served his talents justice and X-Men 3 was the first time he was challenged on that by a large fan base.

1 comment:

Reel Whore said...

I've always been curious about Ratner's stigma. I own and liked all 3 X-Men films, but even I'll admit to bad mouthing the man. I enjoyed After the Sunset, Family Man was tolerable (not my genre), and the first two Rush Hour films are funny enough.

That said, I think it's that he delivers average, but not outstanding work that bothers me. The fact they tout him as the prodigal discovery of Steven Spielberg implies greatness, but when watching his films I don't see his work changing the landscape of cinema. It's like those "from a producer of..." or "from the third writer of..." tags they add to most movie trailers; it doesn't necessarily make it better no matter how much they want you to think it does.