Old 12-17-2008, 08:54 PM
Seven Pounds

Seven Pounds (2008)

It's amazing to see Will Smith take on a role like this. It's hard to believe that this is the same man who, not too long ago, was known as "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," and then went on to do two "Men in Black" films plus "Independence Day." I never did get around to watching "The Pursuit of Happiness," put that performance did earn him an Oscar nomination, so it must have been pretty good. With his new film, "Seven Pounds," he certainly shows that he has come a long way from being the "Fresh Prince."

Will Smith plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent who is trying to help complete strangers. He meets Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), who has a heart condition and must get a transplant, Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo), a woman with two kids and a violent husband, and Ezra Turner (Woodly Harrelson), a blind piano player. Ben observes these people in an attempt to judge whether they are worthy of the gifts that he wants to bestow upon them. He gets to know Emily very well and begins to get very close to her, but Ben's dark past comes back to haunt him as he tries to make amends for what happened that one night that changed his life.

This is those movies that you just have to roll with and hope that it pays off in the end. We are not told why Ben is trying to help these strangers until the end of the film. He has flashbacks that start filling in pieces of the story but the truth of that one night doesn't come until we see what his final decision is regarding the people he has chosen.

This method of plot/structure may turn some people off from this film as it can be quite annoying to be kept in the dark for a majority of the film. In fact, I was considering giving it the ole "thumbs down" because I thought it was taking way too long to get to the point, but it's the ending that made me change my mind. When we are finally told exactly what he is doing and why, I found it to be a very satisfying and touching ending.

After watching the film though, I was left with a few questions that never got answers. Such as, Why did he start an intimate relationship with Emily if he knew exactly what he was going to do in the end? I found this relationship kind of awkward in the first place, like it just didn't really fit into the movie, but then the ending just made it seem even more strange. My other main question which was never addressed was, and I'm trying not to be spoilerish here, Why was Ben not put in jail for what happened that night? It just seemed strange that nobody ever said anything about it.

This is Grant Nieporte's first big-screen screenplay and it was quite impressive. He took a big risk by structuring it the way he did, but it paid off in the end. If I had any negative criticism of the script it would probably be that I would have liked to have gotten to know some of the other characters better. Ben didn't really seem to spend much time at all with Ezra and Connie before making his decision. I would have like to see their characters developed a little more becuase they both seemed like interesting characters and Nieporte could probably have done more with their backgrounds.

The performances were also very impressive. I have already mentioned that Will Smith has come a long way from his past roles and shows us that he can do drama as well. This is similar to what Robin Williams did in moving from mainly comedic roles to drama, which earned him an Oscar for "Good Will Hunting." Will Smith already achieved the first step towards getting an Oscar by being nominated, so I wouldn't be surprised if he got one in the near future.

Another reason I would have liked to see Ezra's character developed and used a bit more is because I enjoy Woody Harrelson's performances. In this film, he is only given about 3-4 scenes and not much to do with them. I think this is the first completely serious performance I have seen from Rosario Dawson and she made it very believable, which is even more surprising when looking back over the films I have seen her in like "Eagle Eye," "Death Proof," "Sin City," and "Clerks II."

Overall, it's worth seeing if you are willing to wait for the ending. It runs nearly two hours, so some audience members may get a little restless before then. I was even hoping it would get to the ending a little faster myself, because some of the scenes felt like they could have been trimmed down a bit, but I was still satisfied with the final product. Now, if only I could figure out why it was called "Seven Pounds." 3/4 stars.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:36 AM

One of the toughest movies I have ever seen in terms of summing up. It might not be what you think its about. The first half of the movie dragged and dragged. Everything is summed up in the last 10 minutes or so. Halfway through the movie I still could not figure anything out. Will Smith was great but I expected more, I expected to be wowed or something. What his character does is quite a gift, I'll say that. You'll either really like or dislike this film. I give this movie a 5.5 Ken
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