So my friend Will and I were talking after a Powell’s book reading. We started off with books being made into TV shows, and the subject of video game adaptations of movies came up – how the vast majority of the time they are disappointing. Uwe Boll’s name was dropped, and we both shared loathing for the guy who keeps making terrible movies out of mediocre games.
Will mentioned Uncharted was a good example of the topic. It has a gritty hero, and the movie adaptation had rumors of Nathan Fillion being tapped to play him. It would have been perfect, as Fillion is not only an amazing leading man, but also can nail the wry sense of humor of the character. What ended up happening, however, was that the part is going to Mark Wahlberg. You know, the guy who gave us an amazing performance as the creepy guy at the beginning of the Sixth Sense. Oh wait, that’s his brother Donnie. The Wahlberg with the acting talent. Mark is the “Hey goat, that’s a nice beard” guy they made fun of on Saturday Night Live. The guy who talks to a plastic plant as if it was about to kill him in that M. Knight Shyama-lama-ding-dong piece of crap about wind being frightening. Or something.
So along with Uwe Boll, I mentioned how Mark Wahlberg is kind of like Nicolas Cage. They both have talented family, but they aren’t very talented (Nick’s uncle is a little director named Francis Ford Coppola). They are pretty, and connected, and thus are successful in Hollywood. But then I realized they have shined in a couple roles in their lives. the more I thought about it, the more I realized I might be wrong. I was completely taken off guard at Nic Cage’s performance in Matchstick Men, Adaptation, Lord of War, Leaving Las Vegas, and Raising Arizona. Then I realized he wasn’t really that bad in The Rock, City of Angels, Gone in Sixty Seconds, the National Treasures, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I realized that, “Damnit, I guess I do kinda like Nic Cage.”
Wahlberg I enjoyed in The Shooter, The Departed (makes a good angry cop), Invincible, The Italian Job, Three Kings, and Fear. He was really bad in Planet of the Apes, which is what got Will and I talking about him, other than the Uncharted leading spot. The Fighter had some hidden quality that I must have missed, since I didn’t enjoy it at all compared to other movies that deserved Oscar nods more last year.
So it begs the question: do actors deserve a bad rap from one bad role? My sister can’t hear Danny DeVito’s name without shuddering from repulsion because he played an overly-disgusting Penguin in Batman 2. But he’s an incredible real actor when you get right down to it. One of the most natural and relaxed acting talents I’ve ever seen (you’ll really notice it next time you see him onscreen, now), yet she hates his guts.
Food for thought.