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I went to Crooked Earth to see a piece of New Zealand. What I found was a badly scripted and badly acted echo of the people I know.
Great moments between characters including many of Temuera Morrison and Lawrences Makoares scenes together were often ruined by long and wordy monologues that the actors were forced to stumble through. Beautiful and ill-fitting phrases rattled away from Lawrence in particular as if he were the new Maori Messiah at his pulpit of beer crates.
When watching any film with Maori actors, I've found that I can always pick a half dozen characters that remind me of someone in my life. With Crooked Earth I struggled to find one key character that rung true for the entire two hours. Most including Wiremu and Peka wound up saying or doing things that I didn't understand and couldn't connect with. By the end of the movie the writer had succeeded in alienating the audience where the Maori weren't able to relate to it and the Pakeha were therefore given license to dismiss it. My feeling is that the movies message or at least the main one of several that was being lobbed at the audience is important enough to avoid using character extremities. Unfortunately, no one who read the script before it was filmed thought to pass this piece of advice on.
The soundtrack was invasive, and, as irritating as that horrible `bing-bong' noise that they laced through `Eyes Wide Shut'. The audience was not so subtly auto-cued to laugh, cry or be angry when the music changed. It reminded me of Darth Vader's entrance music in Star Wars: obvious and mildly amusing.
I think that there are some people out there that might enjoy this film. It's funny in parts, has a fair amount of action and has some really powerful scenes. Calvin Tuteao and Quentin Hita did bang up jobs as well. As a whole though, I didn't enjoy the experience as much as I know I should have. Barb Wire, Speed 2, The Island of Dr Moreau and Crooked Earth look like they're going to be Tem's quartet of crap.
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