SFC12: A Fish Called Wanda

Well hello there friends!  Won’t you come in and enjoy a nice warm cup of Summer Film Challenge 2012:  Apocalypse Edition with me?  It’s just like mom used to make! 🙂  Welcome back friends. This week we embark on a different journey than what most of the films I have done this year have taken us on and enter the full blown realm of comedy.  This was another film that I had my eye on for some time now and so I was very excited to see this 1988 classic:  A Fish Called Wanda.

One word sums this film up:  Funny.  No, wait.  HILARIOUS.  Employing and extolling that great, dry, British wit with just a dash of Monty Python-esque schtick, this film is exceedingly funny.  Perfectly cast, the film keeps plot to a minimum in favor of sticking with the laughs (both good and bad).

First and foremost, this was the best cast film I have seen in a long time.  Every member of the team fits their role perfectly.  John Cleese is funny as always in his trademark confused and hen-pecked guy.  Michael Palin shines with a p-p-Pitch p-p-Perfect Stutter and those hilarious faces he makes, and despite the fact that he was relegated to the C plot, he managed to make a predictable set of events really fun and interesting.  One of the biggest breakouts for me was Kevin Kline, who absolutely stole the show.  His antics as the pseudo-intellectual, jealous hitman made him so endearing, and clearly the Academy felt this because they gave him a Best Supporting Oscar for his role.  Just don’t call him stupid.  Trust me…

But the real star of the film is Jaime Lee Curtis who blew it out of the park!  I was so glad to see her give a really mature performance, as my only experience with her has been through her campy “hip” mom thing in Freaky Friday, her scared and unattentive young self in Halloween, and modern JLC in those Activia commercials. 🙂  Her characterization as the lusty and clever Wanda united all of the other cast as the wily “smart guy” amongst a bunch of idiots.  She absolutely nailed it and I loved every second of her performance.

The one critique I do have for the film is that it does lose focus on the plot as it gets further into the mayhem of the hilarity.  I found myself at times asking “What is this about again? Why are they doing this?”  However, I don’t think this detracts much from the film because it is so funny, and I feel that the filmmakers chose to work with minimal plot in order to maximize the laughs which ultimately payed off nicely.  However, it still must be noted that the plot is a little convoluted at times and thus I suggest you stay in the moment and enjoy that rather than trying to go back and figure out what is going on exactly.

Ultimately, A Fish Called Wanda is a really great film that packs in the humor – the dry British kind as well as some good old fashioned schtick.  With some out-of-the-ballpark performances and writing that clearly gets what it wants to do, this film should be high on any comedy lover’s list.

Rating:  9//10

Me as I watched this film (Yes. With Eyepatch)

Boom!  Eleven films done and another 5 on the way.  I am currently a bit backlogged on reviews so…don’t tell anyone….but I have actually seen another 3 films already and have just had those reviews on the back burner for a while.  So, let me know what you thought of the film or the review and be sure to check out the SFC12 Podcast below, where I review this film and Ryan takes a crack at Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai.

Up next I will be hoping back into the world of the classic and handling a film I certainly wasn’t prepared to handle.  So, join me again soon when I will review the second of my Kline Double-Feature – Sophie’s Choice.

SFC12: Sideways

It’s time for another Summer Film Challenge 2012 review, and this time we turn towards the indie…I mean winery.  This movie was one that I had been looking at for sometime now and it proved itself to be a very well thought out, intelligent comedy (not a common occurrence in today’s world).  Brilliantly written and beautifully performed, Sideways is exactly how the comedy genre is turned in this 2004 award-winner.

This film has always been in front of me for some reason.  Perhaps it is the unique quality of the film, or the all-star cast, or perhaps it is just that extremely loud shade of green that the cover sports.Regardless, I have been wanting to see this film since I was in high school and, thanks to Ryan, I now had the perfect excuse to see it.

Sideways surprised me with how well thought out it was.  It started with an over indulgent intro/credits sequence and a soundtrack that immediately put in mind all of those great “indie” films which we love to angst over.  I was afraid that the central metaphor between the cultivation of wines and the difficult task of building a relationship would be too heavy-handed, but I found myself impressed by how the filmmakers managed to make it obvious but not blunt – ever present yet not hammering me in the face.  And the telling of a very deep and emotional story in such a funny way really sold it for me.  The humor was spot on at every moment and it accentuated the moodiness of the film rather than cheapening it.  It was a great relief to see a truly intelligent, realistic comedy amongst the modern raunch and absurdity.

And of course how could I not like a film with one of my favorite actors:  Paul Giamatti!  Beautifully subtle yet perfectly funny, Giamatti brings his trademark sad eyes to this role and I can’t imagine anyone else pulling it off.  The supporting cast was good as well, though I was sad to see Sandra Oh reduced to a stereotypical “sex toy”.  She was brilliant six years later in Rabbit Hole and while she did keep her pot-smoking gambit in that film, I was let down that a very good actress was so under-utilized.

I think the best way to sum up my thoughts on the film is to say that I want to be to story what Miles is to wine – a connoisseur, lover, and evangelist of sorts for that which is good.  Sideways is a beautiful story full of pain and laughter that draws out the dilemma of the artist and the common man.  Funny and poignant, the film drips of High Art and is one that all should see.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go sample a few dozen wines. 🙂

Rating:  9//10

Film number 10 done and only 6 more to go.  I have seen several more of the Challenge films and I will be posting those reviews soon.  Until then, you can enjoy the ramblings of Ryan and I in our somewhat weekly podcast, where we review this film and one that I enjoy thoroughly, Zoot Suit:

Next week I will be taking a hop, skip, and jump across the pond to the great nation of Britain, and begin my double-header of Kevin Kline films.  So, join me again soon for my SFC review of
A Fish Called Wanda.

SFC12: Pan’s Labyrinth

Welcome back for another review on the Summer Film Challenge 2012: Apocalypse Edition. Finally getting away from the joint classics, I found some time to sit down and enjoy a film I have been greatly looking forward to since the Challenge was issued.  As some of you might know, I had the honor of working with the always fantastic Doug Jones on a TV pilot we produced last year.  Ever since meeting him, I have wanted to see a film that he is very acclaimed for, despite his own face never actually making the final film.  Friends and co-filmmakers alike have been raving about Guillermo del Toro’s dark, Spanish twist on the fairy-tale archetype and, knowing that they approved was enough to get me psyched for Pan’s Labyrinth.

First and foremost, let me clear up the trifle matter that is the misnomer.  There is no character in this film named “Pan,” as one would very reasonably come to expect, and thus confusion arises before the film even begins.  Pan is a name used to replace the Spanish word for Faun (think Mr. Tumnus of the Chronicles of Narnia).  Conflicting reports I have found attribute this confusing name change to the directors desire to not confuse American viewers, mistranslations, simple marketing goofs, and most commonly to the Greek mythological character.  Regardless of why it happened, don’t let that little oddity mislead you when you see this film.

Now let’s get at the meat of the thing!  As previously mentioned, Pan’s Labyrinth is a cinematically gorgeous and narratively distinct re-imagining of the classic fairy-tale.  Darker and with a lovely Latin American flavor, this film does a great job of capturing a balance between the horrors of the real world and the magical draw of the fantastic.  It is horrendously visceral in depicting violence, being on graphically on par with several of Tarantino’s works.  Yet I found this goriness to contribute to the unique feel of the film, enhancing the dislikability of both the antagonist and the world in which Ofelia must exist.

And let me expound upon that thought by saying that the acting is absolutely phenomenal all around. But most notably is the magnificent villain Sergi Lopez crafted for the film.  His Commander Vidal is proven to be brutish and unflinching early on in ways that cause me to genuinely believe that he is capable of great evil, much unlike the characterization for many other modern antagonists (e.g. – Red Skull in Captain America).  Yet, del Toro and Lopez also managed to work into the character a wonderful humanity in his desire for a child and a legacy.  Instead of giving him a Rumpelstiltskin-esque, creepy need for a child, I fully believe that Vidal wanted a child for it’s own sake.  This extra dimensional addition to the villain indicates the fantastic level of characterization present in del Toro’s movie.  And, of course, one can clearly see that this is the true origin story for how the certain gentleman got his scars. 🙂

Beyond the fantastic acting, the visual direction of the film is beautiful!  The cinematography is wonderfully designed to accentuate color contrasts, pitting the blues of the barracks against the greens and browns of the woods, as well as the brilliant oranges and yellows of the underworld.  On top of that, each world that Ofelia travels to on her journey has it’s own stylings which separate it – the dark browns and yellows of the frog’s lair, and the reds and greys of the Pale Man’s keep (also played by Doug Jones).  Every aspect of the frame is magnificently composed.

However, despite how much I enjoyed the performances and the stunning visual design of the film, I found myself let down by the narrative wanderings of Pan’s Labyrinth.  Until about the halfway point of the film, I could not place its setting, and found to my surprise that it is set in a Spain torn by World War II.  What truly bothers me about the film is that it sets up a rather fantastic storyline about the young Ofelia, dealing with the new and oppressive world she is brought into, and explores that wonderfully through the tropes of the fairy-tale genre.  Then, almost inexplicably, the film shifts in the second Act to focus on the lives of Mercedes (the cook and rebel informant), the Doctor, and the Commander in their tangled web of cat and mouse; all of this to the entire neglect of Ofelia’s story.  It is only in the final Act that the young girl’s story is harshly refocused on and given its proper conclusion.

Let me clarify that the story of Mercedes versus the Commander is an engaging one.  Dripping with tension and wonderfully paced, the conflict between the two is magnificently crafted.  However, while interesting and fun, it remains a departure from the true narrative.  I am very grateful for the characterization of the minor players, and for the fleshing of the story-world.  Yet, I cannot ignore the fact that the film ceases between Acts One and Three while another film sneaks in to fill the gap.  And it is for this reason that, as much as I enjoyed the movie for it’s new directions and fantastic characters, I have to score the film lower for losing track of itself.

Ultimately I do recommend the film.  It is a fantastic twist on the traditional fairy-tale and the Spanish flavorings make the film a very unique cinematic experience.  Fun, engaging, visceral and viscious, Pan’s Labyrinth is a good film that deserves all of the awards it has acquired over the years. However, it does have at least one rather large story-telling failing which one cannot (and should not) ignore.  And so I recommend it both for the interesting, unique experience it offers, as well as for an excellent aid in narrative pedagogy.

Final Rating:  7//10

There you go!  I am sure that my friends who consider this “the GREATEST THING EVER” will have plenty to say about my review and I encourage and anticipate that wonderful….dialogue later.  I would love to know what you thought of Pan’s Labyrinth so please leave me your thoughts in the comments below!  If nothing else, do me the honor of noticing the distinctly Shining-esque ending, and tell me if the lullaby Mercedes sings reminds you of the song from the end of the Disney classic, The Jungle Book. 🙂

Oh and PLEASE enjoy the SFC Podcast found below!  Ryan and I both get into it a bit as I review this film, and Ryan berates Titan A.E. :

Next time, I will be turning from del Toro’s bizarre vision of 1940’s Spain and traveling the few thousand miles and full half-decade that stand between this film, and Paul Giamatti’s depression issues as he tours through Californian wine country in — Sideways.

SFC12: Planet of the Apes

Welcome back!  I told you they would be coming quickly and here we are again for another review in the Summer Film Challenge 2012: Apocalypse Edition.  This time, Ryan and I knock another classic of the list and turn our attention to one of the all-time sci-fi greats:  Planet of the Apes.

Now, it is EXTREMELY important that I say this before you read the review.  Planet of the Apes is an extremely popular film and has been referenced countless times in pop culture.  It has been parodied by Mel Brooks and expanded upon by six films over the past 40 years.  Thus, it is very difficult to come at this film without it having been spoiled for you.  If by some miracle you have avoided hearing how this film works,  PLEASE DON’T READ THIS REVIEW!!!!!  Seriously.  This is a film that truly defines what it means for a film to be spoiled, so please don’t make me the guy who ruins it for you.  So beware, for **THERE WILL BE SPOILERS**

Damn you, spoilers!!! Damn you all to HELL!!!

First, a quick (and unnecessarily snarky) summary of the plot.  Because Charlton Heston is bored with earth women, he signs up for a space mission involving Light-speed travel experiments.  His team crash lands on an alien planet (earth) where they find Apes lording over Humans.  Heston survives a “hunt” and, after a brief (plot device) neck injury heals, he recovers the ability to speak, which confounds the Apes and starts a religious inquiry into the whole thing.  With an oppressive Minister of Science after him, Heston and some rogue Apes run off to seek proof that something (humans) existed before Apes, and ultimately discovers that, surprise!  This was earth all along.

Let’s jump into this by looking at the large elephant in the room that has a big redacted spoiler written on it’s side.  It is going to be a real challenge for me to review this film because it was so thoroughly spoiled for me that I couldn’t get a very good read on it.  It is nearly impossible for a film that is almost entirely determined by the reveal at the end to be seen when that spoiler is known.  I knew going in how it ended so all through the film, I was seeing every little sign they gave us that this was the case.

I come from a world where Rise of the Planet of the Apes informed me that Caesar is the great Ape who set forth their society, and I had pieced enough together from Spaceballs and other references to understand what the major twist was at the end.  The trouble is that, because I was aware of the end game, I cannot fully tell when they are blatantly handing the answer to me on purpose and when that is a mistake.  I felt the solution was really obvious from the beginning and thus had a very hard time convincing myself that it was an alien planet to begin with.  So yes it was spoiled for me, but the end game felt really obvious so I don’t really know what to say about that.

Let me shift my perspective to the things that I was able to judge objectively.  First let me say that the science doesn’t make much sense to me.  I understand the theory of relativity only vaguely so the concept that traveling at light speed would cause one to age differently does not compute in my brain. However, the one that really doesn’t make sense is that, because of an air leak, the woman traveling with the team, who is half their age, somehow ages much faster than them.  That part makes no sense and it is only because that happens so briefly at the beginning that I can accept it and move on.

The real meat of the film is a direct and slightly heavy handed examination of the relationship between Science and Religion.  Not so subtly critiquing the early church’s foreboding about scientific discovery, I found the issues they raised to be valid ones if not being overly dramatic about them. However, some elements I found to be rather silly such as one important moment when the Ape tribunal recreates the See/Hear/Speak No Evil pose to demonstrate their opposition to the proposed evolutionary theory of Apes descending from Man… 😐  haha. I see what you did there….

As I said, I like what they brought up, but the way they did it was just over the top and at times extremely caricatured to the point of silliness.  At one point I was inwardly screaming at the Ape guards because they sit on their horses for a solid two minutes watching Heston dialogue with Dr. Zaius instead of shooting the human then and there.  Granted, I was inwardly screaming at Heston the whole time for going about that whole situation so poorly.  But then again, every good sci-fi story needs the one character you love as a bad boy but whom you slightly question for how they became a pilot in the first place, and that is exactly who Heston is.  He is the over-the-top space cowboy who somehow convinced NASA that he could lead an intergalactic mission aboard a highly technical piece of machinery.  So yeah for that.  🙂

I am being a real downer on this film when I really did enjoy it.  At first I thought the prosthetics to make the Apes looked silly but over time I began to really respect the actors underneath for bringing forth the emotions with their eyes and making themselves believable characters.  And the technical side was really great too – the cinematography great, score good, and visual style fun.  All in all, I would say that Planet of the Apes is like a more blunt version of 2001: Space Odyssey.  It critiques the roles and actions of humanity while being a fun and engaging story.  If you are willing to distill the heavy-handedness of the message, I think you will really enjoy it.  It is indeed a classic and any lover of classic cinema should give this film a try.  I just hope you can see it without it having been spoiled for you.

Final Rating:  8//10


Sorry!  This is the only good version I could find on youtube.

Welp, there you go.  Another great film down and plenty more to go in the coming weeks.  Let me know what you thought of this film or of my review in the comments below, and be sure to check out the podcast Ryan and I did on it:

I’ve got more reviews coming your way so stay tuned!  Thanks!

SFC12: The Deer Hunter

Strap in, folks.  This is one is going to be rough.  With only a month left in my Summer Film Challenge 2012: Apocalypse Edition, I am getting in the Olympic spirit and making a strong, “Final Lap” push to finish the remaining 11 films before the summer is out.  Ryan and I recently got a great opportunity to cross one of our shared classics off the Challenge in spectacular fashion.  Ryan’s internship in Santa Monica happens to be very close to a tiny little theatre called the Aero, which is affiliated with the American Cinematheque – a society dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of classic cinema.  So, we carved some time out of our busy schedules to make the trip down there one evening and saw the 1978 Best Picture winner, The Deer Hunter, on the big screen.

And let’s just say that I doubt anything on earth could have really prepared us for it.

How is one to talk about this film?  The Deer Hunter is a powerfully disturbing movie, one that I don’t know that people can “like” but rather one that we can appreciate for it’s intense realism and unrelenting dedication giving me a true picture of the chaos of that age.  I have never seen a film about the Vietnam war that more viscerally and unashamedly depicts the horrors of war than Deer Hunter.

Briefly summarized, the film revolves around the lives of five small town friends who live, work, and hunt together.  Robert De Niro stars as Michael, a disciplined and introverted hunter drafted into Vietnam with his friend Nick (Walken).  They enjoy their last days of civilian life celebrating the marriage of their buddy, Steven (John Savage) and then all three are shipped overseas to experience the barbarity of war directly.  **SPOILER** The pair are abducted and stuck in a prison camp where they are forced to play Russian Roulette for the amusement of their captors.  Barely escaping alive, Michael and Steven return to the US, while Nick, still dealing with the emotional and psychological turmoil of his experiences, devolves into a madman.  Michael learns of this and flies back to Vietnam to bring his friend home, only to find him still competing in Russian Roulette games for money – all traces of sanity gone.  His last game goes sour and, upon bringing the fallen hero home, the community mourns the loss of their friend.  **END**

Normally, this is the part of the review where I would begin making jokes about the way Walken acts. However, here I cannot even begin to criticize his work.  Giving the greatest performance of his career, Christopher Walken masters the happy-go-lucky turned Kurtz character and gives life to one of the truest, most heart-wrenching roles I have ever seen.  His portrayal of the man caught up in the “Fascination with the Abomination” that Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness explores is without doubt the epitome of that philosophy embodied.

Beyond Walken’s masterful performance, which earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, the rest of the cast gave phenomenal performances.  Robert De Niro’s serious intensity plays out brilliantly as we watch his character’s love of hunting and rigorous discipline be stripped away as the horrors of war beset him.  And what can one say about Meryl Streep, other than that she is the perfect chamelion – morphing into whatever character she is given and providing a flawlessly passionate performance as always.  The supporting cast shines brightly behind the stars, adding to the story-world’s marvelously real feel, and ultimately they made me believe in the protagonists all the more. Really brilliant all around.

What truly inspired me about The Deer Hunter was the fact that it sought to be a film about “Life After”. Most films about war seek to express the visceral intensity of a single moment in history.  For example, Saving Private Ryan, a film I have never been particularly fond of, is about the extreme situation several thousand soldiers went through in storming the beaches of Normandy.  Consisting almost entirely of that ONE scene, the film then ends with a shot of the old man crying as he remembers that ONE moment in his life.

Deer Hunter chooses a different and, in my opinion, higher path by focusing not on the life-changing event itself, but on the life AFTER that event.  Instead of doing what countless Rom/Com’s do, this film starts on a marriage and then examines what life does to the newlyweds after the honeymoon. Rather than taking that low-hanging fruit of simply recreating a battle, Deer Hunter looks at the effect war has on the soldiers who fight it.  Not stopping at death, the filmmakers make us look at the life after that, and it is that narrative and psychological step which makes this film so much better than any war film I have ever seen.  It perfectly reflects the introspection that the Vietnam War forced Americans to partake in – exploring the world as it really is rather than as it is cinematically portrayed.

To illustrate how powerful this film is, let me tell you that by the end of the film, Ryan and I began to hear people in the audience weeping.  Not tears quietly running down faces, but great heaving sobs which racked my soul as well as theirs.  To me, a 21-year-old college student who’s only experience with war is having family and friends who knew it, the film meant to me only as much as an intellectual and emotional insight into the mentality of post-war America at that time.  But, to those people in the audience, Deer Hunter meant a return to the atrocities they had to live through themselves – either firsthand or by the memories of those friends and family who might not have truly made it back from Vietnam.  My heart went out to those people now living their own “life after” and I can honestly say a hearty congratulations to the filmmakers for making such a profoundly touching movie as this.

To recommend this film to you, I must highly caution that it is not something to be trifled with.  If you are seeking a war film that will lift your patriotic spirit and give you hope, then please find another film. The Deer Hunter is easily one of the most gripping and intense cinematic experiences I have every taken part in and so I do promote it to anyone who is looking for a film that can change their life.  If you are willing to be broken down to the core by a film that has no qualms handing you a tough three hour experience, you will hardly find a better candidate than this film.

Final Rating:  10//10

One final thought before I let this go.  This is the one and only film about the Vietnam War you will ever see that does NOT have a sequence set to CCR’s “Fortunate Son”!   🙂

Well there you go!  Let me know what you thought of this film in the comments below.  Also, check out the podcast below that Ryan and I did reviewing this film!  It gets interesting…

As I said previously, I will be rushing headlong towards September 5th – the first day of school and what Ryan and I have deemed the end of summer – trying to watch the remaining 10 films I have left, plus finishing my tv show.  I have never completed a Summer Film Challenge on time as of yet but I intend to make the last year of existence my first victory there.  So, get ready for a “Slew of Reviews” in the coming weeks and I hope you will join me in this race to the finish of the…
SUMMER FILM CHALLENGE 2012: APOCALYPSE EDITION!!!!

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SFC12: Field of Dreams

Well here we are again.  Another Summer Film Challenge 2012 review, and this time we turn to a classic which neither Ryan nor I had seen.  When we put it on the list, I had really high hopes for it, despite the fact that I knew a lot of what it was about.  Yet, I was really underwhelmed by what some consider a really fantastic film, and I can only say that they must be referring to the potential this film had when they called it Field of Dreams.

Let me first say that when Ryan and I were considering adding this film to our list, I was rather excited. I have a particular affinity for baseball movies, likely because it reminds me of a part of my childhood. So, knowing that this was considered to be a classic bit of American cinema about the great American pastime, I had really high hopes for loving the film.

Part of what I think through me off about Field of Dreams was that I, like any self respecting filmmaker, knew that it was about a guy hearing a voice telling him “If you build it, he will come.”  That part is such common knowledge that I doubt anyone could watch this film with no understanding of its cultural importance.  I also had been **SPOILED** that the phrase was a misdirection, making you think it means Shoeless Joe when it really refers to Kevin Costner’s estranged father.  Now, it is important to note that while I watched the film, I had forgotten that latter part, so I came in thinking “I know what this movie is about, but I just can’t remember it.”  Thus, with some spoilers in place already, my expectations were that Field of Dreams would be about a man trying to build a baseball field in his yard so that he could connect with an old hero.  But clearly my expectations were foiled.

The greatest criticism I have for this film is that there is absolutely NO CONFLICT!!!  When I started college as a young and ignorant filmmaker, I questioned every convention about storytelling – including the necessity of having conflict in a film.  But then I saw Adaptation and was set straight, and this film did nothing but reinforce my certainty that there must be some form of opposition that the characters must deal with.  As I just mentioned, I expected the film to be about the financial and social struggles of a man living a form of the Noah story.  However, I was stunned when, less than 20 minutes into the film, the field was built and the family was moving on to bigger things.  I found myself wondering what was going to happen next and I think I was able to shift my thinking to enjoy the rest of the film.  However, I cannot ignore the fact that what I thought was going to be a central conflict of the film was not even an obstacle for the characters.

The problem is that this set the precedent for the rest of the film.  My friend Ryan had a great thought about the relationship between Ray (Costner) and his wife Annie (Amy Madigan).  Yet, this again removed a very strong potential source of conflict from the mix.  Further, the issue was raised that the family would not be able to pay for the farm if they built the field and for a time that financial issue became a challenge as Annie’s brother, the locale real estate broker, threatened to take their land away.  But, one short game of baseball later, that fell apart too.  Try to convince an old Freedom Fighter to go to a baseball game with you?  No Problem!  Baby girl nearly dies from a bit of hotdog? No Problem!  For heaven’s sake, hearing voices in a large, isolated place is exactly how The Shining came about and even THAT was not enough to slow our heroes down!

All work and no problems make Costner a dull boy….

Really what Field of Dreams is is a glorified Lifetime movie.  It is heart-warming, touching, inspiring, with a solid base of great moral lessons about having faith amidst adversity (?), supporting family no matter what, etc.  Yet it doesn’t have the type of serious external adversity found in other Hollywood films, which makes character transformation and and strong values so poignant.  Honestly, I would say this is, at best, a pre-Sandlot film – explaining how Mr. Mertle lost his eyesight.  It simply doesn’t hold weight.  For me to care about a character’s growth, he/she has to struggle to over come something to get there, so that the development is in fact earned.

Sad to say, this film very simply underwhelmed me.  I was just bored with it and, while I liked some of the acting and the bright tone was very well made, I just can’t get behind a story that involves no real change.  **SPOILER** I mentioned earlier that I had forgotten that the film was about the father.  Well, it only took me about half the film to remember because they began “subtly” reintroducing that concept, and I say “subtly” because half the time the references are so vague that one would never see them and the other half are the type of (ironic appropriate) baseball bat smacks to the head that I have come to hate.  It simply isn’t set up well and therefore doesn’t pay off in the end the way it should.

Still, Field of Dreams is a classic and it definitely should be seen.  While I think it is one of the weakest classics I have ever seen, it still does hold emotional merit and power which earns it the right of being on certain best film lists.  However, prepare yourself for a film that lacks the mental stimulation and topical poignancy that other masterpieces of cinema past.  It’s no Citizen Kane, but how can you say no to the Mariner and Mufasa?

Final Rating:  5//10

Yup!  One of the only 5’s I have ever given for a Summer Film Challenge movie, and I am sure that some of you disagree with me.  Let me know what you thought in the comments about Field of Dreams and my review.   As usual, below you will find Ryan’s and my podcast review for this film:

Next up on the plate is another classic, but this one has a much different tone (and reception).  So, join me again soon for my SFC12 review of the 1978 classic:  The Deer Hunter.  

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