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Susan Saint James
Normally I leave stuff to this to the fans. I see no implicit reason why I should spoil their fun. But Krorie from Van Buren wrote that "Others should enjoy it as well." And I am one of those others. My preference is Russian opera and hardrock/heavy metal of the early 70's. A great voice is what they have in common: a large range, powerful lungs and cords, a lot of expression. So I do recognize vocal skills. John Denver has stuck in my memory as the vocalist of Calypso, where he shows what he is capable of. Alas he does not in Higher Ground. This is not the place to explain why Calypso rules and others songs not. From my point of view the music in this movie is boring, the fans will have to grant me that. During the music the story comes to an absolute standstill, which means about 15 minutes of boredom. Sometimes I felt watching a documentary without a commentator. John Denvor is not a very good actor either. He heavily relies on his faithful dog expression. Fortunately he was wise enough to surround himself with very capable actors. That has one pro and one con. JD's own deficiencies are not very striking; at the other hand that Scottish policeman puts him in the shadow now and then. But nothing can save the violent scenes; basically Jim's enemies simply do not resist. The story is highly predictable, of Roy Rogers quality, with the usual stereotyped characters. JD plays the Man Who Knows What Is The Right Thing To Do And Does It Without Hesitation, while all the policemen are to dumb, deaf and blind to see who the villain is. Jim's best friend gets into trouble because he makes the wrong decision for the right reasons. The widow and the boy are only there for decoration, to give us some female and childish emotions, in the old-fashioned meaning. They need a Good Man to get them out of trouble. The Native gets his obligatory chance to express his grievances against the white man who has ruined his way of life. Of course the honesty of Jim - with an extra faithful expression on his face - wins him over, of course on the very last moment. Etcetera, etcetera. In the end it comes to this: almost everything serves to prove the spectator the excellent character of Jim/John Denver. Are there positive sides? Sure, excellent cinematography, using the assets of Alaska fully. When JD is not singing the pace of storytelling is nice, even though the predictability makes that the spectator easily can skip ten minutes. I mean, the movie does not drag. As I wrote before, acting is adequate. So the annoyance factor, so typical of several Elvis Presley flicks, is very low. The bottom line is that Higher Ground suffers from all the problems such heroic movies. That is no problem for JD-fans of course, but it means Krorie was wrong.
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