It’s amazing. It’s amazing as to what constitutes a “bad movie” these days. I keep seeing it again and again. People see like 10 movies in a year, and they say a decent movie is really the worst thing they’ve seen all year. I guess in a way, that’s accurate, but you can’t just watch 10 movies in a year and claim to know what the “worst movie of the year” even is. Not by a long shot. 400 Days is one of these movies. There is evidence to back the “bad movie” claim, like how the movie made less than $400 in the box office overall…but that just means marketing wasn’t all there. That says nothing about the quality of the movie. Or does it? Give me a second and hear me out. I’m about to stick up for a bullied flick. Let’s go.
Four would-be astronauts spend 400 days in a land-locked space simulator to test the psychological effects of deep space travel, but when something goes terribly wrong and they are forced to leave the simulation, they discover that everything on earth has changed. Is this real or is the simulation on a higher level than they could have ever imagined?TheMovieDB
First off, even though I am standing up for the film, I am in no way saying it’s a phenomenal piece of art. I am simply saying that the hate for it is completely unwaranted. So, let’s highlight some of the good here. Any technical issues aside, this film has a fantastic air of mystery surrounding it from beginning to end. This mystery begins sluggish and slowly progresses throughout its entirety. Even after the film ends, it leaves the viewers a number of explanations to what they’ve witnessed. There is no universal explanation to the events of the film because it demands imagination from its viewers. If you have no imagination, you may hate it. But if a filmmaker can successfully demand an audience member to think about what they’ve seen and give them multiple clues throughout the flick, you’ve done something very impressive, and I think that’s just what Matt Osterman did when he wrote and directed this film.
The mystery angle is clearly the strongest genre in 400 Days, even though you imagine it would be science fiction. Yes, this movie is sci-fi, but it’s rather bland when it comes to that genre, to be honest. Promotional artwork looks better than the movie itself, which mostly looks kind of flat. We know that the film had a small budget, but that doesn’t really explain the lack of thoughtful camerawork. For instance, the framing found in the posters and the promotional artwork is brilliant, but there’s nothing in the movie that even comes close to that. When it comes to visuals, even without CGI, they could have looked at lighting and color, and how those things interact with various components in the film, but it doesn’t. I don’t want to call the movie visually ugly, but it’s certainly nothing spectacular either, and that’s unfortunately one of the main things people probably find off-putting about the movie.
I also can’t review this movie without talking about the people in it. If you are a fan of the CW Arrowverse TV series, then you’re going to recognize quite a few faces. There are two people from DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and one from The Flash in this film. Apart from that, there’s even two actors from Mad Men. Then, of course, there is Dane Cook. I have no problem with this cast. It is really nice to see them in these roles, but I’ll be honest…nothing about their characters are really that memorable. Nothing. Another aspect of sci-fi you often expect is for the characters to all have their own strengths, their own independent skillsets into why they are there…and you just don’t ever feel like that’s the case. I feel like they attempted to give them some backstories, but there’s very little pull or weight when it comes down to it. Basically, had they not had those story lines, the structure of the film would remain intact, which makes you feel as if their personal stories are kind of pointless.
At the end of the day, yes, the movie is nowhere near perfect, and you’ll never see me saying it is. But when something negative happens in a movie, I don’t jump to the conclusion that the entire thing is bad. I definitely don’t immediately say it’s the worst film of the year. For 2015, that would be Fifty Shades of Grey at 29%. There’s at least 5-6 movies worst than this film that I’ve seen in 2015 for comparison. That being said, I do say it’s rated significantly lower than average. Take that as you will.
TOTAL SCORE – 58%
Current 2015 Rankings:
Overall: 34th Place out of 65 films
Science Fiction: 13th place out of 21 films
Mystery: In last place out of 8 films
Thriller: 17th place out of 25 films
PEOPLE SCORE (10/20)
Acting (2/4) | Characters (1/4) | Casting (2/4 ) | Importance (2/4) | Chemistry (3/4)
WRITING SCORE (6/10)
Dialogue (1/2) | Balance (1/2) | Story Depth (0/2) | Originality (2/2) | Concept (2/2)
BEHIND-THE-SCENES SCORE (6/10)
Visuals (1/2) | Cinematography (1/2) | Editing (1/2) | Advertising (2/2) | Music & Sound (1/2)
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE (7/10)
Introduction (2/2) | Inciting Incident (2/2) | Obstacles (1/2) | Climax (2/2) | Falling Action (0/2)
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE (4/10)
Rewatchability (1/2) | Fun Experience (1/2) | Impulse to Buy or Own (0/2) | Impulse to Talk About or Recommend (0/2) | Engaging & Riveting (2/2)
SPECIALTY SCORE (25/40)
Science Fiction (5/10) | Mystery (5/10) | CW Actors (5/10) | Halfway Decent (10/10)