Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: Invictus

Everyone who listens to our podcast, knows me, or even reads here (so nobody), knows that I am a HUGE Clint Eastwood fan. I've seen most of what he's directed, and about half of what he's been in. That may not seem fan worthy, but please go look up how many movies the guy has directed or been in. It ain't a small number. With that in mind, let's take a look at his newest attempt at Oscar-bait, Invictus.

The film is about how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) , the newly elected and released from prison President of South Africa, attempts to bring his country together. After a few months of his country not improving the way he wanted it to, he decides that it's a lack of pride for the most part. He wants the official rugby team of the country to go for the World Cup. Now, this team has been doing terrible, but Mandela has faith in Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), the team's Captain. He hopes that the world will see a new South Africa, and that the World Cup would bring the two different races of his country together.

People have been waiting for nearly two decades for Morgan Freeman to play Nelson Mandela, based purely on looks. I can now safely say that he does a bang-up job. He was nearly perfect in the role. Even Matt Damon was good, which I was weary about. After the eye-rolling performance that Leonardo DiCaprio did of a South African in Blood Diamond, I was relieved to see a better performance of an American doing the accent and, indeed, the whole role.

The movie did have a few negatives for me. By the end of the movie, it seemed to turn into a generic sports film a bit. I know it IS a sports movie, but one would expect more from Eastwood. His direction of the sport is confusing and without focus. (I hated writing that.) Also, at times the message seemed a bit on-the-nose. There's somewhat a bit of a melodrama vibe in this sport/politic biopic. Perhaps it was intended, but it kind of rubbed me the wrong way when the South African children's chorus started up whenever we were supposed to feel elated. It's fine in other types of movies, but I didn't feel it was really needed here.

Overall the movie was very good, but not one of Eastwood's best. Both of the movies he directed last year were better, in my opinion, mainly in regards to directoral style and story. The acting is better here, however. The movie has been nominated for three Golden Globes (Actor, Supporting Actor, and Director). I hope it wins at least one, preferably the first two.

*** 1/2 out of *****. (3 1/2 out of 5)

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