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17 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

pure fantasy

1/10
Author: locutas from New Zealand
24 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

this film may have good actor's good script etc, but the emotion's the film brings are false, no where does it mention the fact that the strongest team "the All Blacks" at the 95 rugby world cup were poisoned (i wonder if the story would have the same feeling watching morgan freeman giving the order to have the top team taken out...also the spring bok's won by "1 point" and you can see in the real footage how ill the all black's are...it truly annoy's that people can call it a true story but this one is far from it...a waste of time and money..could have told a "True story" but that wouldn't be Hollywood would it....-5 out of 10

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19 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Eastwood, Freeman and Damon equals BOREFEST

2/10
Author: chrisinaltoona from United States
19 December 2009

Not only does this movie lack excitement of any kind, it dumbs down the apartheid issue, among others, to some silly game that nobody cares about. What on earth is Eastwood thinking here? It's like he has become a preacher, it's a total sermon instead of a story, one could not find this interesting even if it had Eastwood come out at the end running across the field with his .44 magnum shooting at Freeman while he blocked the rounds with Damon's ball. Just a waste of over 2hours. If one is going to tell a story, tell it like you mean it. This is a movie about sports, not life! Very disappointed, the ending was like a long drawn out conversation with a dirty wall. One of Eastwood's worst! How this is getting ratings of 7.5 I have no idea.

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19 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Don't believe the hype!

2/10
Author: breadandroses22 from United States
14 December 2009

"Invictus" is the Disney version of apartheid -- shallow, simplistic, and very disappointing. There is little suspense, and worse, next to no acknowledgment of South Africa's heroic efforts to face down its past. It's all rugby and Mandela all the time. The screenplay, with its "Attaboy" dialogue, reads like a 1940s baseball movie. Morgan Freeman's Mandela is stirring but Matt Damon's character is a cipher. And everyone else is just a face in the crowd, including the beautiful country of South Africa. This feel-good approach will no doubt play well in the multi-plexes, but Eastwood's fans deserve more nuance and more thought.

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28 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Invictus Turns The Truly Inspiring Nelson Mandela Into A Platitude Mouthing Yoda-like Character.

1/10
Author: Michael McGonigle (mmcgonigle@philamuseum.org) from Philadelphia, PA.
15 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday. As I reflected upon the day, I thought about the sheer number of unlikely things that have occurred in my lifetime.

Back when I was ten, the idea that Great Britain and the IRA would ever achieve a ceasefire was, at best, a dim prospect. Likewise, no one thought the USSR would ever dissolve or that the Berlin Wall would be dismantled and the idea that a black man would one day be elected President of the USA was given about as much a chance of happening as finding two identical snowflakes.

The thought that South Africa, a county where racism WAS the official government policy would ever end its evil apartheid ways was almost inconceivable. Adding to that, the fact that the citizens of South Africa elected themselves a black president was an almost unbelievable turn of events.

Then, in order to prevent his country from devolving into resentment and revenge, President Nelson Mandela (a believer in the power of forgiveness) established the Truth And Reconciliation Commission where people could admit to their past racist misdeeds and then be publicly forgiven.

This showed me that the people of South Africa, both black and white have achieved a level of grace and civility that we Americans can only dream about.

If you don't believe me, just listen to any Teabagger or wingnut religious conservative on contemporary talk radio. You won't hear more foolish hateful nonsense this side of a fascist dictator. However, what the real Nelson Mandela did to avoid the potential revenge and recriminations of the people is an inspiring story that truly gives me hope for mankind.

So how come Invictus proved to be one of the most annoying experiences I have spent in a movie theater in a long time? Was it because director Clint Eastwood has reduced Nelson Mandela to a supporting player in his own life and instead focused his film on a white rugby team?

Was it because he turned Nelson Mandela into a Yoda-like character sputtering out banal philosophy that would embarrass even the flightiest of New Age nit-wits, or even a serious New Age nit-wit like Deepak Chopra? I mean, what has happened to Clint Eastwood?

How can it be that after directing about 30+ feature films, Eastwood still has not developed any kind of camera sense. I find it hard to accept the sloppy choices of angles and coverage in Eastwood's films, especially since he usually works with very competent cinematographers and editors.

Every poignant plot point is telegraphed well in advance, so any chance of surprise or insight is muffed. Is this what his vast experience in the film industry has taught him?

Clint Eastwood has spoken with admiration of some of the directors he has worked with in the past, like the Hollywood studio trained minimalist Don Siegel and the operatic Italian Sergio Leone, in fact, he's even dedicated films to those two masters. Why Clint Eastwood now desires to direct films like Ron Howard is a true mystery.

But there are a couple of things in Invictus that even the anemically talented Ron Howard would never have done. For instance, what's with all the musical montages that serve no purpose but to slow down an already leaden pace?

What's with the unforgivable instance of showing a massive jet liner buzzing the rugby stadium during the final game? Now, I know that the plane buzzing actually happened, but Eastwood uses this incident as a way to instantly tap into our post 9/11 awareness of planes flying into buildings for terroristic purposes to create a false moment of tension.

I mean, even the most xenophobic American who cares not one whit about what happens outside the borders of the continental United States would have at least heard about a jet liner crashing into a rugby stadium in South Africa during the World Cup game, which, by the way, is actually played for by teams from around the world, most unlike our own masturbatory baseball World Series where we even celebrate the lunacy of two teams from the same city competing with each other, as if this were something culturally significant.

I could have told Eastwood that he was on a fool's errand if he was specifically trying to make an inspirational movie. If an audience finds some kind of inspiration from your film, that's great, but they are the only ones who can do that.

If you try to impose that feeling on people, you will just end up sounding preachy and scolding and believe me, the only thing worse than false sincerity is false inspiration.

Invictus is a two hour plus scolding lesson full of inspirational haranguing that has the effect of pummeling you into brain dead, but laudatory submission. But, when the whole damn fool audience is cheering at the most cliché of sport movie banalities, it is easier to just flow with the crowd.

Although not explained clearly, the title Invictus is Latin for "unconquered" and is the title of a famous poem by William Ernest Hensly that ends with the lines "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."

Apparently, Nelson Mandela used to recite the poem to himself during his long imprisonment to help keep himself sane. But there is a more recent use of the poem Invictus that deserves to be mentioned.

It seems that when Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001, he used the Hensley poem Invictus as his final statement. Why do I find that coincidence much more interesting and intriguing than this film? But hey, if it's inspiring enough for Timothy McVeigh, who am I to argue?

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A great movie about individual and national greatness.

9/10
Author: whmurray from United States
19 May 2010

On my first trip to South Africa, I was taken to the top of Table Mountain. My host pointed out into the Bay. He said, "That is Robbin Island. That is where we kept Nelson. He might have been bitter." On the fact that he was not bitter, history turns.

I have since visited Robbin Island and seen Nelson's cell, now a national shrine. It was smaller than most American elevators.

On a more recent trip, not to say my last, to South Africa, I chaired a professional conference. In my concluding remarks from the chair, I got to tell my audience how proud I am of them and that I take pride in telling their story wherever I travel.

A recent review of this movie suggested that "Nelson," what everyone calls him, deserves to be even more revered than he is. Of course, the reviewer assumes that the portrayal of Nelson in the movie is an accurate portrayal of the greatness of the man. One might well hope that if a movie were to be made of one's life, that one might be portrayed by Morgan Freeman, unlikely in my case because of race.

In any case, Nelson Mandela is a giant of modern history, one who led others to greatness by example. He deserves to be played by Morgan Freeman. Would that I might.

It is a really good movie about a Country that has prevailed under conditions that most of us would not wish on our worst enemies. Enjoy.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

best of the best

10/10
Author: Tariq Aziz from Pakistan
25 March 2010

you will miss one of the ever greatest movie if you even miss a single scene of that..........really !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the fact is how inspirations matters in life... the way it has been filmed through out the movie. each and every quotes is great food for thought. .................... can you think to live for 30 years in a tiny cell and then come out for forgiving those who put you inside that......... .................

i think no one can better explain the character of Nelson Mandela than in above few words ................................... it is not a biopic of Nelson Mandela

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Rugby ended racism in South Africa?

2/10
Author: (hackeron@gmail.com) from London, UK
7 February 2010

The film made up of one half showing the problems Mandela faced during his presidency and how he tried to unite the county after apartheid and one half showing the actual rugby games.

The scenes with Mandela (Freeman) were very well directed and the portrayal of Mandela was close to flawless (as expected from Morgan Freeman). However the focus was on the rugby and it seemed Mandela spent more time watching the games and talking to the players than doing anything else. You are left with a strong feeling of not having enough insight into Mandela's presidency.

This isn't helped by the rugby scenes being filmed akin to a live televised sporting event. You see the same angles ad nauseam and the camera is generally so wide you have no idea what is happening. The director also seems to refuse to use a shallow depth of field at any point - you have no idea what you should be focusing on even on close up angles.

It can be argued all this is intentional as you're not supposed to focus on the game, but should rather focus on the crowd and see just how much impact the game had in uniting the country. However this premise was hugely overplayed in my opinion and the movie makes it look like rugby single-handedly ended racism in South Africa.

With over an hour of rugby footage, it's hard to justify just how poorly the action was filmed and with an overplayed premise, even Morgan Freeman's fantastic acting can't save this one - 2/10.

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20 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Great work from Freeman and the story, but everything else feels average or amateur at best

6/10
Author: DonFishies from Canada
17 December 2009

While not exactly a biopic per se, Invictus does tell an important piece of Nelson Mandela's (Morgan Freeman) life as President of South Africa. With the country's rugby team losing horribly match after match, he looks to Captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) to help unite the team in time for the country's hosting duties of the 1995 World Cup, and in turn, unite a country still reeling from apartheid.

Clint Eastwood continues to defy all Hollywood conventions with Invictus, his ninth film of the decade. The man is going on 80, but he is pumping out more movies than heavyweights like Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. And with each passing film, he continues to up his craft and his scope for what he is capturing on screen. While Invictus is nowhere near the epic undertaking of the twofer of Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, it still stands as a very accomplished work. But much like Flags, it is a very flawed work.

The story itself is fairly well done. It is predictable of course, but is sappy in some wrong places. It is not quite Remember the Titans for adults like I heard it described as, but it borders on feeling much the same way. I find it interesting that the first real story we get about Mandela dramatized on screen is more about rugby than it is about the man, but Eastwood presents it in such a fascinating way that it manages to work as a depiction of him. There is a great reverence on display from the beginning, with actual TV footage digitally manipulated to add in Freeman over the real Mandela, and at every turn, the story stays consistent with these early images. It jumps around in focus between Mandela and Pienaar, but it never feels bothersome and always feels like a well rounded tale. Unfortunately, that tale does not always stay as interesting as it could.

But while the story is not bad, the editing is all over the place. After really beginning to hit his stride, Eastwood seems to be falling back and looking more amateur in some of the scenes on display here. Some run too long, others too short. Others are left far too open ended, and some too preachy. Even worse, some scenes have characters fading in and out like ghosts, pushing a heavy handed message about the unfairness of the system too far. Having seen his previous work, it is clear Eastwood knows better than this, so why allow these elements to take away from what could be a fantastic piece of work?

The ending rugby match that seems to run on forever has a lengthy period of time where everything runs in slow motion. While this is typical for a sports film, especially for the team playing, Eastwood makes everything run in slow motion: the team, the fans watching in the stadium, the fans at home and at bars, Mandela himself. And it runs for more than five minutes like this, overkilling and destroying any suspense or tension the film has going for it because the audience begins to laugh at how ridiculous the scene looks. It reminded me a lot of what I can only explain as the 'Gatorade' sequence from Spielberg's Munich, where one of the most intense scenes in the film is ruined by a goofy slow motion sequence. It takes you right out of the movie; the last thing any filmmaker wants to see happen.

The music fares even worse. While the African inspired songs that play throughout the film are very well used in their sequences, there are a few English-speaking songs that are just wrong for the film. Thankfully Eastwood does not sing any himself (unlike the hilariously bad tune that nearly ruins Gran Torino), but the lyrics are just awful. Again, they took me right out of the film, and made me laugh more than anything. They may help describe what is going on, but in the forms they are given to us, they do nothing but take away from everything. While I was a little disappointed to hear another similar Eastwood score in other cases, the addition of an African influence causes the score to sound all the better and more original. The man can only use a similar score for so many films before it becomes stale, and thankfully it is altered to sound all the more unique.

While his accent is not perfect, Freeman delivers another fabulous performance. The man may be ageing as quickly as Eastwood, but his technique never wavers. His soft spoken and generous nature is only complimented by how easily he slips into the character. He has just the right amount of power and gravitas in each scene that it is hard to realize it is not actually Mandela playing himself on screen. It is a very personal performance that is just as inspiring as it looks. It is not the performance of the year, but it comes really close to competing with it.

Damon on the other hand, does not fare so well. He just does not come off as believable as the rugby team's Captain. His accent falls somewhere between Freeman's great accent here and Nicole Kidman's horrible attempt at Italian in Nine. But even despite that, his character is just not compelling enough to make us really care about his struggle to help Mandela achieve his goals. When he does make it work, he does well for himself. But those moments come too few and far between.

I wanted to like Invictus more than I did. Freeman delivers, and the story is fairly well done as well. But the rest just feels either average or amateur at best. The film is not bad, but it could have been significantly better edited.

6.5/10.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

From a Checkered Past, to World Cup Glory

10/10
Author: sportmeetslife14 from United States
4 March 2011

You need know nothing about rugby, and you need know nothing about South Africa. Clint Eastwood directs, as Matt Damon, perhaps for the first time in career, acts so well that you forget you're watching Matt Damon.

Damon portraits François Pienaar, the captain of the South African Rugby team; a team that is talented but in a wholesale state of disarray. The team's players are listless and unmotivated, while their level of play is evocative of the Bad News Bears. Meanwhile, the nation's black rugby fans cheer not for South Africa but for England.

At the same time, newly elected Nelson Mandela wrestles with the task of running the government and uniting the country while reconciling black aspirations with white fears.

With South Africa hosting the soon-approaching World Cup, the rugby team's management is fired while the new black government coalition tries to change the team's mascot and team name, The Springboks, in attempt to erase all memory of Apartheid.

Mandela quietly calls on captain Pienaar to reset the tone of the team and prepare the Springboks for the unlikely feat of winning the World Cup at home and uniting the nation.

Invictus gets its name from a poem by William Ernest Henley that Mandela holds dear as something that made him stand up when, imprisoned for 26 years, "all he wanted to do was lie down". Like the poem, which speaks of the ability to take responsibility for one's destiny, the film tells the story of South Africa's steps forward in the work-in-progress of setting free the nation, both psychologically and socio-politically from its checkered past.

Invictus has so many important facets at work in a brilliant, exciting, but well-tailored storyline, that you'll digest it for days. Do yourself a favor, and go see it.

written by Andy Frye, MySportsComplex.blogspot.com

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

One of Clint's best films

10/10
Author: LucasNorth
30 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's what I love about Eastwood and what I hate about the majority of the modern movie going audience. Eastwood doesn't look for the most innovative way to shoot his film - which seems to be the biggest complaint about the film - he looks for the best way to shoot his story. Invictus never comes off as pretentious under Eastwood's direction. It doesn't try to shove anything in your face. Eastwood tells us a fantastic, inspiring, story and he simple asks us to go in with an open mind.

Morgan Freeman as South African president Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as François Pienaar, the captain of South Africa's rugby team the Springboks, are magnetic on the screen. Freeman is terrific as Mandela playing the role with charm and charisma. Matt Damon has done the performance of his career. His role doesn't get enough time to develop as much as Mandela but what he does, he does amazingly well.

Invictus is a film with some incredible heart and emotion and it was one of the best films of 2009 by far.

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