7 Recent Big-Budget Films That Would Have Been Improved By A Major Character Death
Snow White—Snow White and the Huntsman (2012): Yes, yes, Snow White does eat it briefly in Rupert Sanders’ problematic fairy tale update. When the trailers were first released, I think we were all hoping for some slick post-feminist retelling of Snow White wherein the raven haired princess saves her own damn self and the kingdom all whilst wearing the latest in Joan of Arc fashion mail. But in casting that human splinter of driftwood, Kristen Stewart, as Snow, the filmmakers made a huge mistake. But SWATH isn’t a complete waste. No one chews scenery like a deranged Charlize Theron and Hemsworth was completely, perfectly mud-splatteringly great as the titular Huntsman. Alas, alack, they’re bringing Snow back for the sequel. Wouldn’t you have preferred 90 minutes of Buckskin Ken and Batsh*t Barbie going toe to toe?
Lauren—This Means War (2012): Everyone and their gay brother knows that Reese Witherspoon only served to grind the homoerotic tension between Pine and Hardy to a halt. Ditch the blonde, make them Super Gay Spies Who Loved Each Other and you’ve got something.
Julie Powell—Julie & Julia (2009): It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Nora Ephron’s last project was half of a good film. That would be the half featuring a warm and effervescent performance from Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Stanley Tucci as her adoring husband Paul. I maintain, however, that Julie and Julia is at least three-quarters of a great movie and that if that insufferable, self-pitying harpie, Julie Powell, had died tragically of lobster pinches or steam burns or something, we all would have enjoyed watching her darling husband Eric Powell tearfully, manfully finish her cooking project.
Because ladies? Gay dudes? Bi-curious peeps? Ain’t nothing wrong with a little more Messina in our lives.
Clu 2—Tron: Legacy (2010): I know that having any affection for this glossy sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic puts me squarely in the minority. And, trust me, I usually don’t make this argument. But man alive was Tron: Legacy pretty. I cannot, however, bring myself to rewatch it. And no, not because of the rehashed Zen platitudes that burbled forth from Kevin “The Dude” Flynn. It’s because of this guy, right here. The Mayor of Uncanny Valley himself, Clu 2. He doesn’t look so bad in stills, but was absolutely irritating in action.
What’s Tron: Legacy without a villain, you ask? Oh please, just upgrade Michael Sheen from Androgynous Henchman to full-blown Electronica Overlord and you’re set.
Jane—27 Dresses (2008): Maybe you don’t think there was enough good material in 27 Dresses to make it worth saving. Well you’d be wrong. Marsden churned out a one-man charisma supernova in this fluffy little rom-com. Now imagine, if you will, that Katherine Heigl’s wet blanket of a character (tragically) fell off the bar to her death while belting out the wrong lyrics to “Benny And The Jets” and Marsden found comfort with one of the worthier supporting ladies. Me? I’d take Judy Greer or Krysten Ritter over Heigl any day.
Javert—Les Miserables (2012): Put down your pitchforks, theater geeks. I know we can’t really have Les Miserables without an Inspector Javert. But isn’t there an Obsessive Constable who could have risen up to take his place? Maybe after Javert tunelessly bleated out his first rooftop ditty and lost his footing?
Julia—Oblivion (2013): SOME SPOILER-ESQUE DISCUSSION OF OBLIVION. Dustin already handily covered the limp biscuit chemistry between Tom Cruise and his much younger co-star, erstwhile Bond girl Olga Kurylenko. Though I disagree with his assessment of the other leggy side of the Love Triangle. I thought Andrea Riseborough was aces. But back to The Kurylenko Conundrum. I don’t know that the plot would have suffered if her character, who acts as a key to unlocking Jack Harper’s emooootions, had bitten it early on. We certainly would have been spared some wet noodle hand-holding and, quite possibly, her death would have lent some actual f*cking emotional stakes to the movie. Maybe.