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The Pledge (2001/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Perfectly executed *minute spoiler*, 11 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was a very good film, bordering on excellent. It gently mocked some of the more stock-in-trade devices used in modern cinema (and which, in my opinion, are responsible for its malaise).

Very reliable performances from the leads, a thoughtful, well paced film that leaves you thinking after the credits roll. Its not a by the numbers; bad guy vs hero type of film, but the plot is perfectly coherent if you pay attention.

I gave it a 9. I don't rate Penn much as an actor, but if he can come up with more gems like this he may yet merit his fame.

PS The use of Francis Dollarhyde (sp) of Manhunter fame in this film was particularly good.

15 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
An impossible task, 22 May 2004

A wonderful book, it was always going to be difficult to recreate it on the big screen. Whilst there is no denying the quality of the recreation of Middle Earth, this film is not without its bad points.

Firstly, incidental music. Why so much? Can two characters not have an interaction without an orchestra dithering along in the background. Can actors not generate emotion without having to rely on music? I have never heard such an abundance of unnecessary music, at times it was reminiscent of a cheap Australian soap opera.

Secondly, the acting. Whilst it is commendable to not select well known actors for every role, some of the actors, were simply not up to scratch and were unable to muster any sense of empathy in this disgruntled reviewers stoney heart.

Thirdly, the love-interest *sighs*. Why must a mainstream film always shoe-horn in a wholly redundant love interest? Yes, it was in the book, but it was over-egged here.

Fourth, Sam - please lord no! The main reason why I cannot even face the other two installments.

In short, could have been great, but let down by irritating points which could have easily been avoided by better casting and more sensible use of music.

4 out of 10

10 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Can't quite put my finger on it..., 9 May 2004

but this film ticks all my boxes. I have never seen anything quite like it.

I saw this well before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the comparison was painful to my eyes. CTHD was a beautiful film in its own way but it was far too westernised (e.g. it had an eye on the lowest common denominator, concentration on high production values rather than telling a story).

A Touch of Zen was mercifully made in a time before such depressing trends in films. It does not patronise the viewer with overly sentimental gushing that is needlessly inserted in order to generate a love interest. Or with OTT 'mood music' to prompt you how to feel because the script isn't up to the job.

One of the main fighters is a woman, but there is no attempt to portray her as some 'chick with attitude'.

The pacing of the film is also perfect, allowing the wonderful characterisation of the main player to develop fully.

At just under 3 hours, and with the unusual mix of pure action with an intelligent and sensible story, this film is not going to be to everyones tastes. But its well worth a look because if you like it, you are liable to love it.