Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Defiance

Like I mentioned earlier on in the year, this reviews central may as well be classified as the "reviewing gypsy" because I this is about the tenth different location I have ended up seeing a film in this year. Anyway, forget the gypsy talk, the topic is Defiance, the new movie starring Daniel Craig from the director of Blood Diamond. The story, which truth be told is rather interesting, is that Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell star as a group of brothers who rescue many Jews and take them to live in the forest amongst a community of Jews. What I will say is that I would recommend all people interested in the subject of the persecution of Jews under Nazi Germany to go and see this movie, because this is the kind of story (it is based on a true story) that students would miss. To start with the good points about the film, is that the acting from the three leads is very good. While certainly there is no acting masterclasses on display here, they each play their respective roles with great integrity and with the neccessary skills which their roles demand. Craig is a perfectly suitable and believable lead actor in a role outside of Bond, Liev Schreiber, like Craig, is usually good in anything, even if it is bad, for example The Omen, and Jamie Bell, while getting the least screen time of the three, still makes the most of what he's got, proving once again he is one of the best young actors in the world. Also, Ed Zwick does for this movie what he had done with Blood Diamond, manage to create a mainstream popcorn action flick, while attempting to create a film with a serious message and with a genuine story to tell, rather than the usual bilge that is churned out by Hollywood. Zwick generally works in this manner, and does it rather well, so you know pretty much that if you are going to see an Ed Zwick film it will be popcorn fare, but at least it will have a coherant plot, and not be trying to use story to get to the next action sequence as quick as possible. Also worthy of credit is the cinematography by Eduardo Serra, who lends that intense, gritty realism that he brought to Zwick's previous film Blood Diamond to this. Personally, one of the things that I thought that this film done best was getting across how exactly these people managed to live in the forest for so long. We are shown the community from it's timid beginnings to the point where numbers over a hundred live in it. It really is a fascinating story. However, while Defiance is certainly entertaining fare and well worth a watch, it is no flawless work, and in fact there are many chinks in the armour of what would seem to be an otherwise strong film. It suffers from many of the problems that Blood Diamond does, in that Zwick has a specific style which is more or less consistent in each of his pictures. Zwick's style will work for many mainstream audiences because he bombards them with entertainment and a message at the same time, and it does in a way blind them to the other flaws in his work. He is an intelligent film-maker, but in Defiance, like in his other work, he attempts to accomplish too much at once. In striking a fine balance between popcorn and serious film, he cannot help but neglect certain areas in the film-making process. For example, sacrifices have clearly been made with regards to originality and screenwriting. Every character in the film is a cut-out and archetype from other films, we have the wise, rational brother, the wild, irrational one and one who is stuck in the middle and neutral in the conflict. Also, the other character may as well be non-existent because let's face it, you never really come to care for them. The film has far too many sub-plots and strands to remain coherent and in fact believable. With regards to screenwriting, the cutout, achetypal characters are given the kind of boring dribble you have seen in every other film. Finally, the film is as predictable and cliched as could be. Everything that you expect to happen does happen, everyone who you expect (want) to die does die. This is material that we see in every other film, and maybe it's just me, but as audience, we should expect and deserve more from our films after over one-hundred and twenty-five years of this industry existing. Oh, and one other thing, the score in this film is the kind of soppy, weepy score you'd expect from this kind of "emotional" material, and personally, it is not a good score, it is as obtrusive as someone going to the toilet while you are in the shower, telling you when and when not to cry etc. And no, I did not cry at this film. I would have if it had have been better made. Instead, we unfortunately have missed out on the opportunity to create a genuinely original and stirring film, instead wasted, becoming the usual popcorn fare that we see year in and year out.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 5.7/10

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