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Noise’ fails in hackneyed attempt at success

Mark Bemenderfer | Monday, January 24, 2005

In many instances, Hollywood is a lot like a math course. For instance, Hollywood directors and writers often theorize, test and debate with their films. “White Noise” is one such example of Hollywood grasping at straws in an attempt to piece together a hit film. In “White Noise,” director Geoffrey Sax and writer Niall Johnson show they have a firm grasp on hackneyed formulas. “White Noise,” under the combined might of Sax and Johnson, is another uninspired, formulaic piece of Hollywood designed to capitalize on the success of “The Ring,” “The Sixth Sense” and most recently, “The Grudge.” And while it succeeds on some levels, it fails miserably on others.The plot rev-olves around a recent widower, Jonathan Rivers, as he tries to contact his dead wife. Michael Keaton, a capable actor who can’t save the film by himself, plays Rivers. The viewer follows Rivers as he delves into taboo areas while trying to contact his recently deceased wife. He does so with the use of “amazing” EVP, electronic voice phenomena, technology. Supposedly, the deceased are able to communicate to the living through their television sets or radios.Keaton, an actor probably most famous for his role in director Tim Burton’s Batman movies, does a commendable job. Curiously absent from movies in recent years, he is one of the few saving graces within the movie. Keaton is well-suited for the part, having a knack at playing mentally-obsessed, slightly crazed individuals. He is one of the few actors in Hollywood that is almost always enjoyable to watch.Keaton does a decent job in his role, as do most of the principal actors. However, while they are given decent roles to fill, the actual story their characters inhabit feels very lacking at times. The last half hour of the movie is especially perplexing, as events just seem to happen for little to no reason. The movie definitely ends on a poor note, which will cause many to leave scratching their head in a bad way.Taking a cue from the wealth of recent films with a twist at the end, “White Noi-se” tries to shock the audience with an unexpected ending. And while the twist isn’t quite as bad as the one in “The Village,” it still seems hurried and poorly done. The ending is the most important part of the movie, as it is the last thing viewers get to see. So while the first half of the movie was actually pretty good, the second half taints the entire movie.Some credit has to go to the writer though. Johnson has seen enough successful movies to attempt his own and follows their formulas pretty closely. Some of his plot points are fulfilling towards the end of the film. However, other situations that arise near the film’s conclusion were not set up in the least, diminishing the ending. They feel simply tossed into the mix for shock value, which itself wasn’t that great.The ending does make sense if you think of the films “White Noise” tries to emulate. When you look at the formulas of this film’s predecessors, the ending becomes mandatory. In the case of “White Noise,” the ending runs counter to what the movie had previously spent so much time setting up. But who wants to let little details like plot get in the way of proven formulas?