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"Battle in Seattle"

Directed by Stuart Townsend.
Written by Stuart Townsend.
Starring Martin Henderson, Michelle Rodriguez, Andre 3000 and Charlize Theron.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  9/28/08


Here's the best thing I can say about "Battle in Seattle"--thanks to a mishap at the E Street Theater downtown, we got to see this movie for free.

Sometimes, free is bad.

Irish actor Stuart Townsend--it's hard to say what his biggest role was, but it's probably the role of Lestat in "Queen of the Damned"--has mostly produced a poor acting career, but he IS the boyfriend of actress Charlize Theron, and he milks that all the way into a chance to direct this docudrama about the WTO protest riots in Seattle back in 1999.  An interesting take on real events during four days in November of that year, we get a few interlocking stories--the mayor of Seattle (Ray Liotta) and his attempts to allow peaceful protesters to demonstrate; a conflict subject-matter expert (Rade Serbedzija) trying to get his message across despite the protests; the protesters themselves, led by Jay (Martin Henderson, star of the Oscar-winning Ice Cube motorcycle thriller "Torque") and a gang of minions set on showing the world that the WTO is useless; and, a pregnant retail worker (Theron) and her cop husband (Woody Harrelson), who have a wild day of their own amidst the riots.

Initial setup was interesting, but after that, nearly everything goes downhill.  Nearly all of the actors seem to be playing Seattle stereotypes, even those characters that don't appear to even be from Seattle...add typical doom-and-gloom personalities and stereotypical movie-Seattle weather to the mix and we have quite the drab-looking production.  The last 30 minutes of this film were so boring and then suddenly so ridiculous (and, well, sudden) that it almost looked like a movie that had funding for exactly 100 minutes of filmmaking and then realized that they were 97 minutes into this and had to patch together an ending (which, of course, sucks).  My friend Yac and I were sitting there wondering when this business was going to end...both of us were nearly killed by boredom, a nasty player in the business of shitty movies.  The cause that the protesters are fighting for seemed so interesting when it was proposed, but the movie does nothing to create empathy for the cause.

"Battle in Seattle" isn't complete garbage.  I liked the role played by OutKast's André 3000 as the "black, funny guy", and the laughs he gets here are great.  There is naturally a romantic angle between Jay and a new protest recruit played by Michelle Rodriguez, but happily, this is given minimal screen time to not take away from the main storyline.  Seriously, this is mishandled about 90% of the time in movies that feel they need to have the romantic angle to create a connection between characters, but in a movie like "Battle in Seattle", this is minimized, which I loved.

And, I got to see the damned thing for free.

Otherwise, skip this movie, even though I'm giving it a just isn't worth the time unless you have a burning need to hurt yourself.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09