Scenic Route Reviews
Great Film! The acting, dialogue, and desert scenery combine to make this an awesome movie. The deeper meanings and plot twists will keep you thinking about the movie and its implications for days. I feel that this movie wants you to get some perspective and appreciate your life and what you have, since many of us get stuck thinking about what we lack. It really is a unique film. If you are tired of movies that seem to copy old ideas, then this movie is for you. I highly recommend it.
The relationship between two old friends is tested as they are stranded in the desert.
At this point, we've seen a film like this time and again, and no matter how much this particularly interpretation of an age-old bottle film formula tries to freshen things up with a buddy element that, in some ways, expands on tonal dynamicity and exploration of human layers in a crisis situations, even if it comes at the expense of the subjective immersion value that typically characterizes films like this one, this film still has little to say that's all that unique, even anything to say that's all that enlightening when it comes to developmental depth. Among the most undercooked elements in this film is motivation for the leads to end up in the main desert setting, and that really shakes investment, no matter how much the writer Kyle Killen tries to compensate by bombarding you with expository dialogue, even if its kick is limited, for although there is a lot of talk, expository depth to the characterization that drives this drama goes limited by objective dialogue, rather than more prominence in subjective visuals. The film stands to say more, and yet, it's still draggy, running a short length, but still offering a story so thin that not even a runtime of about 87 minutes is tight enough to prevent storytelling from getting bloated on filler and aimless exposition which are reasonably interesting, but slow down pacing and can't fully replace more immersive subjective storytelling. To tell you the truth, I really like bottle films, in spite of their natural shortcomings, but what a lot of rewarding dramatic, if not intense meditations upon man in claustrophobic environments that test humanity is their immersion value, and while this film is immersive in plenty of ways, all of the aimless rambling between the leads establishes too much objectivity in the place of subjectivity, making it all the harder to get drawn in enough to deny many of the natural shortcomings to this subject matter. As much as I love films like "Cast Away" and "127 Hours", no matter how incredibly well-directed and acted they are, they could never be great, as a story concept this minimalist limits potential something fierce, and it's hard enough to deny that when looking at good bottle films, let alone this one, which not tight enough in structure or realized enough in atmospheric bite for you to overlook dramatic limitations. I've always said that it's interesting how much impact you can get out of films this minimalist, but this time, it's hard to deny what can happen if you do not compensate for natural shortcomings about as much as you can, because even though this film is well-done in a lot of places, there are too many issues in storytelling for the final product to stand a chance of escaping underwhelmingness. Nonetheless, while the effort is not what it could have been, it stands to be a bigger misfire, even as a portrait of an unsettling setting for men to get end up stuck in.
A bottle thriller that is almost refreshingly more driven by dialogue than sheer environment, this film offers a central, California desert setting that is not dynamic enough or thoroughly well-explored enough to be all that immersive, but still pretty distinguished as a compliment to the selling of a claustrophobic environment that is still pretty important in this character study. Fair style and engaging settings are there, and yet, as I've been saying, they're not as played up as they are in other bottle dramas, as this is more about the character interactions, which, in order to succeed as engaging, need good writing, something that is indeed found here, at least to a certain extent, because even though Kyle Killen's script gets to be aimless, dullness is kept at bay by sharp, but still down-to-earth dialogue and humor, as well as some subtly colorful set pieces and, of course, inspired characterization, which is questionable in its excessiveness, yet still thoughtful in drawing interesting humans with relatable and, in some ways, disturbing layers. Really, while the writing isn't especially compelling, it's pretty interesting to learn about these leads, and when the going gets to tough, fall-outs in humanity really do bite, especially when sold by the leads. For a while, leads Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler aren't given a whole lot to do, but they're consistently relatively revelatory in their abandoning their superficial, if not comedic roots in order to share very layered, very effective chemistry, bookended by two distinguished charismas and range whose dynamicity slowly, but surely, builds, until you're faced with dramatically charged performances that are not simply surprises from Duhamel and Fogler, but just downright outstanding. You really do have to see this film to see Duhamel and Fogler showcase just what they're capable of, because even though they haven't completely abandoned their types, they bring depth to their performances that does a whole lot to drive the subtle progressive of this character study, though not without the help of Kevin and Michael Goetz's offscreen efforts. Now, don't be expecting the Goetz brothers to deliver nearly as much as Duhamel and Fogler do in their excellent lead performance, or even as much as Killen does in his pretty decent script, as there is not enough directorial bite to fully compensate for unfocused areas in writing, resulting in a certain underwhelmingness to the final product and, by extension, direction, which is still inspired enough to sustain an atmosphere that never gets dry to the point of losing entertainment value, and whose meditations upon actual dramatic material kick with anything from biting tension to a degree of emotional resonance. Were the film to offer more of a dramatic heart or more intensity, or even less aimlessness, it would have come closer to rewarding, maybe to the point of achieving a somewhat solid status, yet when it's all said and done, through all of the flaws to challenge the memorability of the project on the whole, there is enough inspiration on and off of the screen to endear, no matter how much you'll walk away wishing for a little bit more.
When the trip is over, a little bit of familiarity, a fair bit of underdevelopment and a great deal of aimlessness make it hard to ignore the substantial deal of natural shortcomings that leave the final product to sputter out as underwhelming, yet the immersive locations, clever and well-characterized writing, outstanding performances by Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler, and reasonably inspired direction by brothers Kevin and Michael Goetz prove to be enough to make "Scenic Route" an adequately engaging and sometimes gripping, if generally improvable dramatic-thriller meditation upon two friends whose comradery are tested along with their survival skills when stranded with the elements and personal demons.
2.5/5 - Fair