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Seraphim Falls
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117 out of 147 people found the following review useful:

Powerful but misdirected

7/10
Author: IQpierce from United States
25 May 2007

I think you're going to see some very mixed reviews for this film. The tragedy is that it's going to be picked up primarily by fans of westerns, who are looking for shootouts and plots that can be boiled down to "good guys" and "bad guys." Do not go into this movie expecting that.

This is ultimately a revenge story, but not a straightforward or clean-cut one; in this way I would compare it to "Memento" and "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada".

It's not clear who we're "supposed" to sympathize with at the beginning. We want to sympathize with the revenge-seeker; but we're told almost nothing about why he wants revenge. As he displays at least as many brutal and mercenary traits as anyone else in the film, we question why we side with him, and realize that we're only inclined to do so because our previous experience with "revenge" stories has programmed us to do so.

But the quarry is far from a sympathetic character as well, and we're torn emotionally on what we want to see happen. That is, until the original tragedy is finally revealed. And I've honestly never seen such a well-conceived scene of this type... the tragedy is heart-rending.

I won't say much more except that as the film goes on, the degree to which it will appeal to fans of literal straightforward westerns decreases significantly. You see, as the film begins, Carver's pursuit of Gideon takes them through various isolated episodes: encounters with various characters. As the film goes on, these encounters become more and more obscurely surreal; the final such encounter seems almost supernatural or fantastic. The writer and director have peeled away the internal reality of the story, and are speaking to us through the form itself. Not something that your average Western viewer is likely to accept or appreciate.

Viewers will come to this film expecting a completely realist story; and that's what they seem to be getting at the beginning of the movie. The viewer is not prepared for this realism to slowly and obscurely fall apart - and while that may be the reason that the film creates such a powerful and somehow creepy experience by the end, the same factor is likely to leave most viewers feeling robbed.

Ultimately this film is definitely worth watching, but may not have enduring appeal to lovers of the traditional Western genre. A note while viewing: pay attention to the theme of loss, and how various possessions of the characters are lost.

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96 out of 133 people found the following review useful:

great movie

9/10
Author: jherman-5 from United States
2 February 2007

This is an excellent western - with two great stars that show grit and go beyond their usual work. The photography is stunning and the story is meant to make you think - not pander to the usual formulaic plot. The first 30 minutes will make your hair stand up and the rest will keep you going - definitely a must see. Pay attention to the cameos at the end. They have gone about the heads of some reviewers, but really bring a sense of classical reference to the story. War has been a societal issue since ancient Greece, and perhaps we have not yet learned the lessons that need to be learned.

Kudos to the director who has brought together story, talent, and visual art in one epic piece.

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66 out of 86 people found the following review useful:

solid western

7/10
Author: Roland E. Zwick (magneteach@aol.com) from United States
27 June 2007

Written by Abby Everett Jaques and David Von Ancken and directed by Von Ancken, "Seraphim Falls" is a rough, tough, old-fashioned western set on the dusty plains and snow-covered mountains of western Nevada. The plot is little more than a straightforward revenge tale involving Liam Neeson (sans Southern accent) as a sadistic Rebel army colonel who hires a posse to track down the marauding Union officer he believes slaughtered his family in the days following the Civil War. The officer, played with steely-eyed determination by Pierce Brosnan, is a savvy, quick-on-the-draw survivalist who, through sheer ingenuity and skill, stymies and outwits the colonel and his men at every turn.

What "Seraphim Falls" lacks in substance, it more than makes up for in grit and style. For even though there isn't a great deal of depth to the characters, there's much pleasure to be derived from merely watching two actors of the caliber of Neeson and Brosnan squaring off in a grueling game of cat-and-mouse played out in a punishing, unforgiving landscape. Brosnan's character achieves an almost Superman-like quality as he stays one step ahead of his pursuers, devising ever-more elaborate means of ensnaring them in his traps. The movie takes a decidedly metaphysical turn in its closing stretches, with the divine Anjelica Huston, no less, appearing out of nowhere as a desert apparition to set the boys straight on a few eternal verities like redemption and forgiveness. But it is as a simple tale of vengeance and obsession that "Seraphim Falls" most captures our imagination and interest.

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46 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

Intelligently-made western a refreshing surprise

8/10
Author: Whythorne from United States
17 July 2007

I rented this film without ever hearing of it before, and was pleasantly surprised...something which is becoming more and more rare in my movie renting experience.

This gritty, untypical western appealed to me on a number of different levels. The unusual casting of Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan intrigued me, their film presence was an enhancement without being a distraction to the film. The story was complex and minimalist at the same time, sometimes combining ultra-real and surreal elements. The cinematography is straightforward and beautiful, and a welcome relief from the jiggly camera technique, colorization, and other "contemporary" gimmicks that all too often nowadays cause technique and style to become a major distraction with the story being told. Thank goodness there are still directors that believe in having movies being filmed this way!

While the story grabs your attention from the very beginning and moves quickly, it takes its time in revealing who the characters are, and what are their motivations and the demons they are dealing with.

If you watch this with a preconceived notion of what a western should be, a la John Ford, Howard Hawks, etc. you may be disappointed, as some reviewers here obviously have been. I myself found this intelligent western - that is a little offbeat, with an element of mystery, and not always clearly defined bad guys and good guys - a refreshing change of pace from the racks of slasher film sequels, lame comedies, and Jennifer Aniston vehicles at the video store.

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52 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

Very Good

8/10
Author: mboytiman
12 May 2007

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It's a hunt movie, in the genre of Jeremiah Johnson or The Searchers type. Not gripping,then isn't supposed to be, but contained enough excitement and adventure to keep me fully engrossed. I thought Pierce Brosnan was excellent, almost unrecognizable with his beard and make up; poles apart from Bond. He really looks and plays his character as the quarry very well indeed. The locations photography, New Mexico and Oregon, are stunning. Liam Neeson never seems to give a bad performance plays his character well as the cold hearted, totally obsessed predator, He is well supported by a bunch of bounty hunters/villains lead by Michael Wincott.

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49 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Revenge and the Wilderness Struggle for Survival

6/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
4 June 2007

SERAPHIM FALLS is an odd film, one that on the surface appears to be an homage to the old Westerns, but proves to be a psychological battle for survival between two men engulfed in revenge. There is very little story to relate: Carver (Liam Neeson) with a small posse of bounty hunters (Michael Wincott, Ed Lauter, John Robinson and Robert Baker) treks Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) through snow, forests, mountains, rough water, and desert over a Civil Ear seed of hate. The 'story' fades to a philosophical stance (somewhat clumsily) by the intervention of some ghostly creatures (Anjelica Huston, et al) and ends without much more than a whisper of a memory about the futility of revenge.

Bronson and Neeson do well with their scant dialogue, revealing more of their character's minds with physical action and the power of facial expressions. The mood of the film is in the superior hands of cinematographer John Toll and Harry Gregson-Williams' musical score. Director David Von Ancken keeps the tension at peak level even though the film is desperately in need of editing (just under tow long hours in length). But for a diversion and an appreciation for the wilderness of America in the mid-nineteenth century, SERAPHIM FALLS is a visually satisfying experience. Grady Harp

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78 out of 124 people found the following review useful:

An epic film with heart stopping action.

10/10
Author: (evonancken) from United States
1 February 2007

A film of epic dimensions magnificently filmed in the grand Western tradition, Seraphim Falls combines breathtaking action with fine acting by Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson. Both have taken on roles far from their usual fare and have achieved a level of performance rarely seen. Anjelica Huston, in a cameo role, provides the devilish key to this tale of pursuit and revenge. Director/Screenwriter, David VonAncken, updates the historical American Western with his spare dialog and continual action. The glorious scenery of the West adds another dimension to this full bodied work. Shot in New Mexico and Oregon, under grueling conditions, Seraphim Falls is a must see for those who love the Western genre and long for a great story excitingly transferred to the screen.

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47 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

the best western in a decade or so

8/10
Author: movieman_kev from United States
24 May 2007

Liam Neeson as Carver is hunting Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) through the wilderness of the old west, in this minimalistic western that takes place a little after the Civil War. Very well acted by all involved, and I found myself enjoying it quite a lot. At 2 hours, the film hardly feels it and is seems like a fast watch, never wearing out it's welcome (although coming close to it around the end due to the cameos of Angela Huston and Wes Studi, both parts felt forced and didn't jibe with the film in any way) Aside from that, if you're a fan of the Western genre, you'll find much to enjoy in this one. It's probably the best we've had in a good decade or so. To say Writer/ Director Ancken hit his stride here wouldn't be the right word (I've yet to see his short "Bullet in the Brain", but hear it's excellent), but it IS the film that really made me take notice of his talent and I strongly await whatever he has up his sleeve next.

My Grade: A

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29 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Standing ovations!

9/10
Author: Tobias from Sweden
3 February 2008

Watched this excellent western on a Sunday morning, not knowing more about the film that it was a western - a man being hunted by another and that there was a grudge from the past between them. I always loved a good western movie, stories are usually kept simple, and so is this one. That however doesn't keep it from being a brilliant movie, beautifully shot and with the right cast. Since i didn't know who was starring, it took me all the way to the end before i realized that the leading part was played by no other than Pierce Brosnan, who once again proves to be a top of the line actor who can play a very wide variety of roles - from James Bond to this. If you ever liked watching a good western this is a must, all the way up there with the other nine best western movies of all times!

//Tobey

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59 out of 97 people found the following review useful:

Perfect

7/10
Author: Hugo Pagan from Dominican Republic
22 May 2007

With this film you have to take your hat of for Mr. Brosnan he is great in his acting, This is a movie that will remain as one of the greatest western films of all times and some sequences of this film will be remembered for ever I will not tell anything but if you see it(and you must) you will remember this.

It is beautifully shot and has a solid script, great action and deep emotions mixed along the way. If you like western you will not be disappointed.

When you watch Seraphim Falls you will have your emotions mixed as the movie develops and when the fantastic finale arrives you will be even more pleased. It has one of the mos original showdown finale I have ever seen.

This movie is a must see!

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