Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.


Illustration for article titled Godsend


• Exploiting the complicated human-cloning debate for the sake of another "creepy kid who sees visions" movie


• Relying on cheap shocks instead of honestly exploring how the parents of a dead child might feel about raising his clone

• Contributing to Robert De Niro's late-career makeover as a mumbly paycheck-casher

Defender: Director Nick Hamm and (occasionally) director of photography Kramer Morgenthau

Tone of commentary: Descriptive and excitable. Hamm belongs to the school of British directors who spend most of their commentaries telling viewers what they're seeing, while pointing out the pointless symbology. ("Again, note the red shirt there.") And when he sees a cut or a camera move he likes, Hamm exclaims in shorthand, shouting, "Blaring light! White flares! Everything handheld!"

What went wrong: Hamm does a lot of jabbering about film stocks and how Hitchcockian principles of concealment make a thriller more effective, but he never notes that he's using these techniques in service of a stupid story about a little clone boy who's been genetically altered to be evil.

Comments on the cast: A few words about the consummate craft of Robert De Niro: "Bob wanted to know precisely how many mushrooms were in the salad, what's the color of the pepper, and when he opened the fridge door, what was going to be inside it. If you're that precise with Mr. De Niro about his requests, the scene will play."


Inevitable dash of pretension: Aside from insisting that the color scheme means something—"You're going to notice, on a photography level, that the colors in the first part of the film are a little warmer"—Hamm tries to downplay the pretension and to talk about the movie exclusively on the level of technique. But over the final scene, he finally gets into the ethics of cloning, yelping, "This is happening in your neighborhood! On your street!" It is?

Commentary in a nutshell: Hamm breathlessly describing a simple reaction shot: "Here he's looking at the axe, because the other kid that was injected into his body is a murderer!"