F-Marry-Kill is a new little column in which we quickly look over the career of a talent and categorize their works. F: You could probably like it, but there’s not much to brag about. Marry: This is really worth it, and you should experience it. Kill: That didn’t go well. Note: I won’t list everything the particular talent has been involved in, only stuff I’ve seen myself. Feel free to voice your own opinion!
Okay, let’s do this!
The Chosen One:
If we’re talking Alba, I think we of course need to talk Biel as well. Both of these Jessicas were often up for the same roles. They’re pretty much equally pretty, equally talented, and equally popular, and while one of them went on to become the CEO of a billion dollar company, the other climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and married Justin Timberlake. The two Jessicas might have been professional rivals for a long time, but there’ll probably be a time when they’ll regroup like Schwarzenegger and Stallone, raising glasses on their professional success. Will we?
Let’s have a look at Biel’s filmography.
These are her watchable works:
Cellular: I bet you’ve long forgotten about this cheesy little thriller starring Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, William H Macy, Noah Emmerich and Richard Burgi. It had Jason Statham as the villain! Still, not remembering is perfectly fine, as it is in fact a truly forgettable movie that could easily have been a watchable TV flick of the week.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry: Like most Sandler movies of the last decade, this got destroyed by most critics. I do think it’s the only Sandler / James collaboration that successfully apes the comedy tone of Kevin James’s series The King of Queens which I kinda enjoyed (love Jerry Stiller and Patton Oswalt). It’s stupid, it’s offensive, it’s broad and simple, but there’s goodwill, charme and it’s never elk-pissing-in-mouth crass (yeah, looking at you, Grown-Ups 2).
Hitchcock: Anthony Hopkins plays the master in what’s a surprisingly light biopic, and Scarlett Johansson’s Janet Leigh steals the spotlight of Biel’s Vera Miles. Hopkins wears a strange looking fatsuit, but the movie never manages to create any real weight. Dial WF for watchable fluff.
Powder Blue: Did I mention that Biel doesn’t have the same no-nudity clause as Alba? In Powder Blue she plays a stripper and actually undresses on-screen. Her role is that of a down on luck single mother who has a son in a coma, in a movie of interconnected story arcs similar to Crash. Ray Liotta, Patrick Swayze, Forest Withaker and Eddie Redmayne build a strong cast. Sadly, it never gets as emotional as it should, Biel can’t really mine much from her tragic character, and I should warn you that all of her nude scenes are meant to be depressing.
Stealth: Yes, they tried to sell Stealth as the coolest thing of 2005 and it crashed hard, not even grossing half of its budget. Biel looks oddly muscular in this, but it’s actually a fun throwback to 80s jet fighter flicks like Iron Eagle, Top Gun, or Firefox. Wait – I’m not suggesting it’s as good as those, but it’s easily not as bad as Stealth Fighter starring Ice-T.
Total Recall: The original is a timeless classic and this Colin Farrell remake won’t ever see Richter at the party. Still, it’s not necessary to rip its arms off. The remake might feel bland, but Len Wiseman crafts a slick looking future and the action is relentless. Kate Beckinsale has never been more fun.
The A-Team: What could have been a total waste of time like Ben Stiller’s Starsky & Hutch is actually rather watchable Sunday morning fluff. Cooper and Copley are really fun to watch, and there’s a tank scene for the ages. What is a total waste of time is Biel’s useless role in this.
The Rules of Attraction: The Bret Easton Ellis renaissance began in 2000 with the brillant American Psycho and ended two years later with this. It’s considerably weaker than the Christian Bale classic, but it’s an entertaining deconstruction. The travelogue is pretty much unforgettable, as is Biel getting drunk and entering a locker room to seduce a whole team (how can you not think of Cartman’s mom and the Denver Broncos?).
The Tall Man: No one saw this and the few who did probably expected a horror movie in the vein of Jeepers Creepers or Slender Man. Understandably so, as it was marketed as such. It is not. Instead it really surprises as an effective drama. You should give this a try.
There simply aren’t “great” movies of hers if we define great as in ‘Lawrence of Arabia is great’. But these are most certainly the best she’s done:
The Illusionist: The Prestige overshadowed this little Edward Norton gem which is just a very small, but very elegant movie about an illusionist who tries to romance a lady. Again, Biel doesn’t really get to have any significance, but that doesn’t change a thing. Good movie.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003): Remaking Hooper’s masterpiece should be considered a mistake, but Marcus Nispel’s approach works really well. R. Lee Ermey brings a lot of menace as Leatherface’s demented stepfather, Andrzej Bryniarski is a fantastic Leatherface you really don’t wanna fuck with, the story is original and not a lazy re-telling, and it’s got several effective scares. That gun scene. Somehow Platinum Dunes were never able to recreate this magic.
Blade – Trinity: Some motherfuckers always try to ice-skate uphill. Goyer loved Biel and Reynolds so much that he reduced Snipes’s scenes considerably in order to prepare a Biel/Reynolds spin-off. Which of course lead to a pissed-off Snipes, and most of Goyer’s creative choices (vampire pomeranians, a pink Dracula monster, Dracula looking like a total tool, Dracula grimacing at Dracula dildos) feel like a middlefinger to Blade’s legacy. Biel doesn’t do anything wrong in this, but compared to Reynold’s motormouth her silent markswoman feels rather boring.
Home of the Brave: Biel shares top billing with 50 Cent on this giant bomb. It cost $12 million dollars to make and grossed only half a million. Rightfully so, as it’s a super dull piece about wounded veterans transitioning back into daily life. At least Biel gets to play a respectable soldier for once, not a piece of ass.
London: Remember Cellular? This is another collaboration between Biel, Statham and Evans. At the time she was dating Evans, and both of them play lovers in a rather intimate, drug-fueled love story. It’s just extremely boring, even more so than Home of the Brave. Watching these two back-to-back will have you yearn for 50 Cent to appear.
7th Heaven: I didn’t see the whole show, only one or two episodes. I shouldn’t have.
Next: Next and last is Next, the terrible Nicolas Cage flick about a guy who can constantly foresee the next two minutes. What could have been used in great effect is a movie completely devoid of spectacle or thrills, and Biel again, again, again is wasted as an object of desire. Just look at the one-sheet which centers on her boobs while pushing acclaimed Julianne Moore, who by the way is the same age as Cage, to the side. I know that Moore plays Cage’s antagonist in this but the one-sheet tells a lot about male viewers wanting their middle-aged heroes to have much younger love interests.
As for Alba vs Biel? I think they’re still pretty equal. Alba may have had her little role in the arguably classic Sin City, but Biel had one of the most memorable scream queen roles of the 2000 decade in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Biel then dared to actually go topless in her stripper role while Alba shyly chose not to, but the latter glows by having worked with James Cameron. Also, not to forget, Biel’s involvement indirectly killed the Blade franchise. It’s hard to pick a favorite, and to be honest, none of these two has ever truly elevated material. Will one of them have a Sandra Bullock turn, leading up to hits like The Proposal or Gravity?