MovieHype00624 – Sand Horsies
Awhile back I saw
Underrated is a weird word to use for celebrity actors, especially ones who have just come off performances in arguably the best trilogy of all time. Yet strangely, this title must be given to Viggo Mortensen, and after pondering it for at least 3 minutes, I think I know why: The Brad Pitt Effect.
Brad Pitt is a great actor, but he rarely gets credit for this, mostly because of how big a star he is, and much more importantly, how good looking he is. I suppose the same thing happens to female actors, but I’m not sure there are any drop-dead gorgeous women who are fantastic actors too. I’ll think about that later.
What I’m sure of is that Mortensen’s looks work against him. Earlier this year I wrote about how good he was in A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. In a much different, but equally quiet way, he’s as good in
Set in 1890, the story is of Frank Hopkins, a real life Cowboy of the Old West, who was famous for entering his mustang
Her story was full of holes, but she was hot, and so I rented
HYPERION’S RATING SYSTEM
Suspension of Disbelief: 4 (out of 10). This was a real event with real people. But it is
Genre Grade: Can’t really call this a “historical epic.” It fits more in “Adventure” mode, with RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK getting the A+ and this year’s
Sex/Violence – No sex, although there is a woman
Extras: The DVD stuff was fascinating. They talked about how they made the film (and the difficulties of shooting on location in the desert). They also talked about the horse and how they got him to do the amazing stunts he pulled. If you like extras and have the time, well worth the look.
Pantheon Percentile: Hard to judge. This isn’t the greatest movie ever made, but it made my top ten list for last year. I’d say 84.
I am recommending
Perhaps even better,
I was extraordinarily leery about this movie, for two main reasons. First, Ridley Scott, the director, has been a mixed bag to me. I liked MATCHSTICK MEN and BLACKHAWK DOWN, hated G.I. JANE and GLADIATOR. I will give you this: Scott knows how to make a big sprawling historical movie; I just don’t always care for them.
Secondly: the main star is Orlando Bloom. I’ve written previously about being unsure if that man can really act, or had one good role (Legolas), and has since either been overshadowed or simply terrible.
However, a hot librarian told me they had the movie, and offered it to me first, so how could I refuse? In short: this is one of Ridley Scott’s more worthy efforts, and Orlando Bloom can act. Well, sorta.
What Bloom does is give his main character Balian sort of a bewildered “this is a lot to take in” expression, and doesn’t try to gain an Oscar nomination. That’s good, because A) a blacksmith from BFE suddenly thrust into the middle of the Crusades in
The story is of Balian, a blacksmith in France, who finds out one day he’s a Baron’s son (played by Liam Neeson). The blacksmith thing is a plot contrivance, but it’s stone-stupid in my opinion. This isn’t Bloom’s fault, but c’mon! I knew a blacksmith named Haral Luhhan, and there ain’t no way that Orlando Bloom’s physique could do it. Utterly ridiculous. (Also sad was seeing Neeson along with Bloom in the same scenes. Whatever you think of the young lad, he’s clearly overmatched by the incomparable Neeson, who does that Liam Neeson thing better than anybody ever. Seriously: he’s become the white Morgan Freeman.)
Anyway, soon Balian is off to the holy land to protect some kings and some Christians and some land, and have some adventures. If you wanna know more on that score, watch the movie yourself.
The other supporting characters are all good, especially Brendan Gleeson, who continues his resurgence into one of the greatest minor characters alive. Dating from GANGS OF NEW YORK,
HYPERION’S RATING SYSTEM
Suspension of Disbelief: 3. They try very hard to get the historical details correct, but you still have to swallow a lot to believe that the things that happen to Balian—at least that quickly—and that Orlando Bloom ever held an anvil.
Genre Grade: Historical Epic is the obvious genre here. B-
Sex/Violence: This film is Rated R, and halfway through I was wondering why it wasn’t PG-13. I suppose by the end it sort of earns its R, but there was no sex to speak of, even when there was sex! Ridley Scott has some ‘splainin' to do if I ever see him.
Family Film? I’m doubting most chicks will like this, despite
Pantheon Percentile: 65
(Gleeson got me thinking: here’s a guy who does nothing but stellar work, every time, but in all likelihood will NEVER win an Oscar. Wouldn’t it be sweet if every year they gave an Oscar for “best career character work” ?? It’d be honorary, like the ones they give now to the legendary producers and directors, but earned for a body of work that maybe didn’t garner accolades individually, but overall can’t be ignored. In fact, I’m getting excited just thinking about all the possible nominees.)
Also in the film is Eva Green, as the love interest. Spectacular in THE DREAMERS, Green pretty much has nothing to do here except look mysterious. I think that’s because Ridley Scott never knows what do to with women.
(I just looked up his IMDB page to see if that’s correct; pretty much. BLACK HAWK DOWN: zero women. GLADIATOR: two women; they have nothing to do. WHITE SQUALL and 1492: basically no women. G.I. JANE: two women, both acting like men. Curiously, there movies with women (ALIEN, THELMA AND LOUISE, and I suppose G.I. JANE) all have really “tough” women. Perhaps we need to get Ridley on the couch to talk over his “issues.” Well, another time.)
I haven’t said a whole lot about
Moreover, I liked the examination of what Faith meant back then. Religion in those times was a wholly different thing, and you converted your enemies more often on the tip of a sword more than the pages of a bible. I liked seeing the complexities of the time, and not all simplified for mass consumption. I liked how Faith drove everyone, even the non-believers, searching for forgiveness, and that
I also have to mention there’s a keen side feature called the Pilgrims’s Guide. It plays along with the movie, and gives historical notes about anything and everything during the film. Quite a bit of interesting info. The only problem is that you’ll miss the movie if you put it on the first time, so do it on a second or third viewing, if you like the film that much.