The acting is good; the principal actor, Bogdan Dumitrache, is very good. The dialogue is credible. The production values are good. One just wishes this had been brought to a close in 90 minutes rather than 152.
Incidentally, there is also a Cuban version of the story, set in post-Castro Cuba, which is also totally unwatchable. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055915/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_4
The plot, such as it is, moves at a snail's pace, inducing boredom and, ultimately, sleep. I went with two of my adult sons and about halfway through we had it and walked out. I almost never walk out of a movie I've paid good money to see but I just couldn't sit through this one.
This is a beautiful movie to watch, with sets, locations and costumes that are both gorgeous and convincing. The run of the John Galt Line is thrilling, and when it crossed the bridge made of Rearden Metal, I wanted to stand up and cheer.
Director Paul Johansson (who also plays John Galt) obviously knew exactly what he wanted to put on the screen, and manged to do it. He is faithful to Rand's story, and in particular to the philosophical message that is at the heart of the work, while maintaining the excitement of the plot.
During her lifetime, Rand did not allow the novel to be made into a film, perhaps for fear that the movie would not be faithful to the book. It's too bad that she didn't live to see this movie because, I believe, she would be surprised and pleased by how well it captures the essence of her work. This is clearly a labor of love that will help make Rand's ideas accessible to many who have not yet read her work. And it's exciting and rewarding for those of us who have been Rand fans for many years. Can't wait for Parts 2 and 3.
If you want to see something good in the theater, go see Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. On the other hand, if you liked Eraserhead or Liquid Sky, you may think this piece of drivel is swell.
The other performances, including Michael Sheen's, are very solid, but Langella has done something truly extraordinary by removing the impression of an actor playing a part. I'll be very surprised if he doesn't earn an Oscar nomination, or even and Oscar as best actor for this performance. Langella has certainly come a long ways from his excellent performance in the underrated 1970 Mel Brooks film, The Twelve Chairs.
Forst/Nixon as a whole is riveting. Given that it's a fairly simple story with a known ending, this is quite an achievement. You don't have to be a Watergate junkie to enjoy this film; even a passing familiarity with those momentous events in our history is sufficient. Not a moment of the 122-minute running time is wasted--or dull.
But the worst part is the really poor payoff, after having to endure what is essentially a soap opera for almost two hours. The big secret they're chasing down--the big, BIG truth that will bring down the government, turns out to be sort of silly. Would anybody really care 15 years later? I sort of doubt it.
Anyway, I can't say I hated the movie--at least I didn't fall asleep. But don't be fooled by the hype. This is an utterly forgettable movie, and you can easily wait to catch it on a long flight or on DVD. Or miss it altogether.
The nice scenery and pretty good photography just don't carry this film. There's no there there. When you're done, you want to punch someone for the two hours out of your life you lost.
The love story between Fiennes and Weisz is barely believable. Fiennes plods his way through another romance with all the spark of a Basset Hound, while Weisz plays the overwrought uber-vixen. These two people have nothing in common, as becomes pretty clearly early in the movie. Fortunately, she gets bumped off early but, unfortunately, insists on reappearing in flashbacks.
The ending is pathetic and pointless. Surely a smart guy like the Fiennes character is supposed to be can find a better way of publicizing the story than going to the middle of nowhere to get butchered--like maybe faxing the secret letter to the London Times. These kind of plot-holes--or more accurately plod-holes--are typical for the movie as a whole which has builds one implausibility on top of another. Like why would a savvy politician Luke Pellegrin *write* a letter like that? And why would Woodrow leave Tessa with the letter and trust her to lock it up, if it was that critical to his career?
The film's only redeeming feature is the gorgeous photography of scenery and wildlife, but that's been done before too, and need not be endured in a film that is so poorly constructed and hits you over the head with propaganda in almost every scene. The sad truth is that there is exploitation of Africa documented in this movie, and it consists of the people who use the scenery and poverty of Africa to make this sorry excuse of a movie--for their own fame and profit.
Not so with the current version. The zombies here are mean and *fast*--and there are zillions of them. The terror and despair are real--as is the drama. Everything is precisely calculated and has its reason. Characters change as they live under the strain of balancing compassion with survival. Unlike the cardboard cutouts in the earlier version, these are real people confronted with an unimaginable horror. Some respond better than others, but both the action and the character development make sense and ring true. Even the music is far superior to the original. This is a masterpiece that has borrowed little more than the title from the original--and a good thing too.
The only character in the movie who seems real--and shows genuine suffering--is Judas who, from the first moment on-screen, shows ambivalence about his decision to betray Jesus, then regret, then despair. A remarkable performance by Luca Lionello, an Italian actor I've never heard of before, but one worth watching.
The film is beautifully shot, and the use of Aramaic and Latin do add verisimilitude, but in the end the movie left me cold, and I was seldom moved to think back on it after I left the theater. Perhaps Mel Gibson is counting on viewers to bring their own emotional content to the movie, and doubtless many do, but in the end the director has failed to give us any new insight into Jesus, his life, his suffering and his death. Which is too bad because, whether one is a Christian or not (and I'm not), the story of Jesus does have much of universal significance that a creative artist could explore. The film is no doubt popular in large part because it gives Christian believers a graphic representation of the events central to their faith. But it is a missed opportunity to reach out to those who do not already share that faith. And this is very much contrary to the universalist tenets of Jesus's teachings.