Reviews written by registered user
|5 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*** Some BIG spoilers about plot development follow, so be warned ***
I caught this movie a few days ago and I've been thinking about it ever since. I almost never write movie reviews here. I'm glad to see a version of this film has made it to DVD. It is hard to explain exactly what makes this such a great film to me, but writing as someone with a few father/son issues of my own this movie has unexpectedly and profoundly affected me.
The performances from the leads are great, especially from Branden Nadon and Dylan Walsh, and the story moves along well. Young Branden is just excellent here - he breathes real life into his character - making him both toughened and vulnerable at the same time. Where is he? We need to see more of him as an adult actor.
The script may become a little unrealistic at the end to push us towards our happy ending, but I can forgive it that because it's the ending I was hoping for. Some of the other characters are only sketched, but they are all carefully positioned to support the two performances at the heart of this story.
I challenge any audience to remain unmoved by the final scenes between Boon and Nathan. How could anyone want anything else for these characters? Love and redemption win for them both, and they find it in each other. I can honestly say that nothing on film has moved me more than this for a long time.
If you're used to a diet of slick, multiplex fodder then some of the production values may disappoint you occasionally, but none of that gets in the way of the telling of this neatly crafted little story.
Dave Schultz is to be congratulated for creating a very moving independent Canadian film on what I imagine was a limited budget. He successfully navigates a taboo subject to create a little gem of storytelling about fathers and sons.
And the track over the closing titles "Whisper in Time" by Bad Religion is killer! Very appropriate.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Thoughtful, intelligent and touching, Solaris demands some patience
although ironically one of its failings is that it is too short! It is
almost as if Steven Soderbergh realised that this movie wouldn't be to
the taste of much of the cinema-going public and didn't want to try
I have not read Lem's book, but I am lead to believe that it deals much more with the nature of Solaris itself and less with the relationship between the two leads. This relationship forms the major plot of the movie and this is something of a problem - we are left knowing nothing at all about the nature of Solaris or the nature of the intelligence that it contains. Perhaps this is also true of the novel. I would have liked much more to be made of the idea of this as a "first contact" situation - how would one cope if an alien intelligence chose to communicate in this way? Instead, the story is reduced to a "rationalism versus faith" parable in which a man confident in his objective, atheist view of reality is forced to follow his heart instead of his head to exorcise his past.
That said, there is much here to enjoy. Natascha McElhone is perfectly cast as the mysterious Rheya. She is just utterly captivating whenever she is on screen. George Clooney plays George Clooney as usual, but turns in a competent performance. Viola Davis and Jeremy Davies are less effective - I can't help get the feeling that Davis was cast mainly because she is both female and black and they didn't want a stereotypical male, white physicist. As a scientist, the Gordon character seems awfully keen to want to destroy phenomena that are both extraordinary and unique - falling back on primitive fear instead of cool analysis.
The enigmatic Solaris itself is beautifully rendered. Living up to its name it looks like a movie sequence from the solar SoHo probe studying our own star. Prominences and what could almost be cascades of alien, intelligent thought sweep across its surface. We're not even sure if it is supposed to be a star or a planet or an alien being. Coupled with the sparse soundtrack I found the Solaris object to be hypnotic. And surely it was intentional that it looks like a human ovum in that final shot?
First off, I'm not Jewish, but I am British. Several people here have
written about how clichéd the characters and situations are in this
movie. But remember that this is a comedy and so much comedy relies on
cliché and exaggeration for humour. We're meant to see many of these
characters are stereotypes and well, I enjoyed it! It made me laugh and
entertained me. I think I can understand that if you are Jewish you
might not like the idea of such caricatures as being given exposure,
but lighten up - we know that what we're watching isn't meant to be a
documentary on one section of our society.
This is just one of several comedy films centred around so-called 'communities' to appear from the UK in recent years. Previous film offerings such as 'East is East', 'Bend It Like Beckham', 'Anita and Me' and TV series like 'The Kumars' all rely on stereotypes for humour but have focused on the Asian community. I think (I hope) it is a sign of a healthy society that we can laugh together with entertainment like this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some people may view this movie as a simple 'horse and boy' adventure
film for children but I think it is much more than that. This film can
easily be appreciated by adults and sensitive children on a more subtle
and metaphorical level (and if anyone misses this point, one of the
supporting characters helpfully spells it out about three-quarters of
the way through the film!) One reviewer here compares 'The Black' with
Death. I have to disagree with this interesting but flawed analysis
which is due in part perhaps to the colour of the horse. To me, 'The
Black' is not Death but Fate. Capricious, unknowable, unexpected and
impossible to control, 'The Black' is all of these things - as is Life.
He may be many things to many people, but he is not an indiscriminate
destroyer. To Alec, the horse becomes protector and guardian although
'The Black' is capable of great destruction should he wish it. Alec
suffers a huge loss, but it is the chance gift of this mysterious horse
that points the way back to Life for him rather than to a descent into
despair and Death.
The magical horse crosses Alec's path and the boy's life is changed forever. The life he has known (one imagines a familiar childhood of imposed order) is literally swept away and the boy finds himself in an isolated, uncompromising, yet very beautiful wilderness. Seeing the wonderful and unusual treatment this movie was given by Carroll Ballard and his team and the captivating first hour (which is an almost silent ballet), we can also see 'The Black' (and those wonderful Sardinian locations masquerading as a small island) as Nature personified.
At first the horse appears and disappears without explanation. He both requires Alec's help and saves the boy's life (something of a metaphor for the interdependence between man and nature right there of itself). Is the horse a friend or a threat? Alec could choose to destroy 'The Black' to survive for a while, but decides on a different path - a decision that transforms both his own life and ripples out to transform the lives of many others around him. Yet Alec never tames the horse - 'The Black' allows a trust to develop between himself and the boy. The horse allows himself to be touched, to be ridden and to be trusted. One wonders if only a child could have made that leap of faith. There is almost a sense that the two of them, horse and boy, left together for what we suppose to be several weeks, become a kind of single entity, dependent upon each other for both companionship and survival in a timeless world of primal beauty.
I cannot think of anything I have ever seen either in real life or in the imagined world of cinema that has been so effective at presenting an idealised and poetic vision of the interaction of Man with Nature as the first hour of this film.
Alec's return to our so-called 'civilisation' is sudden and almost painful. We a torn away from a world of magical sunsets, turquoise seas and white sand beaches and are cast down into the mundane and the ordinary. The boy's spirit is once more constrained by a world of routine and by the will of others, but his path is not to be consigned to that forgotten domesticity. Fate has touched him, and the boy's destiny lies elsewhere. Alec is keeping an elemental Nature Spirit in his suburban backyard and it cannot and will not be contained. The boy's destiny awaits him and Fate will take Alec far from these confined surroundings and on to greatness whether he wills it or not.
I first saw this movie when I was nine years old and it worked its way immediately and irrevocably into my psyche as you can probably tell. It continues to be a very powerful work of art - as magical to me now as it was to that nine-year-old boy who spent a magical two hours in that movie theatre all those years ago.
The moderate financial success of the excellent original 'Black
Stallion' movie almost guaranteed a sequel considering the series of
novels of available source material.
Unfortunately, the absence of Carroll Ballard's unique vision reduce this effort to a by-the-numbers horse-and-boy adventure story which is likely to be of interest to children only. So, we get a welcome return of 'The Black' and Alec Ramsey, but sadly, the magic is mostly gone.
I have only read the first few pages of the book 'The Black Stallion'. It is obvious that the book is a good children's' story and that Mr Farley's legacy has been to encourage reading in several generations of American children. I suspect that this sequel movie, with its more conventional storytelling approach is closer to Mr Farley's works than the first movie, but this does not make for memorable cinema.
Mr Ballard must have turned this one down, because I can't imagine that he was not offered the director's chair given the reception the first movie received. Maybe he didn't like the 'action movie' script? He seems to be very particular about the movies he makes.
Performances here are generally lacklustre and there is one particularly bad hammy supporting actor turn - if you've seen this, you know who I mean.
One part of me can't help but wish that they hadn't bothered with this. It doesn't spoil the original exactly, but the excellence of the first 'Black Stallion' movie so far outshines this effort that you wonder quite what the point of this was, other than a quick cash-in at the box-office.
One point of excellence - Georges Delerue's theme 'Alec and The Black Stallion' is a wonderful soaring score and could have been a welcome addition to the original movie soundtrack.
Your kids will probably enjoy this. Your mind will probably wander...