thatcow

Not as bad as the hype

This adaptation of David Brin's post-apocalyptic tale was thoroughly drubbed by many, and there's certainly a basis for it, but it's not the whole story. Perhaps Kevin Costner simply it too easy a target.

What's bad about it? Costner's character is something of a dimwit loner, talking to himself, his mule, or whatever handy object. A lot of the setup strains believability - Costner's nemesis leads a cult-like army seemingly with visions of high principles, but is otherwise a raving lunatic that couldn't have inspired his own skin to stay with him. There's also little explanation for why the world came to be this way - it's possibly a peripheral question, but it would serve to explain why people are behaving the way they are, and the general lack of interest in technology and services (previous of course, to the plotline implied by the title). And finally, our main character is known by two names during the film, both of which are descriptive, not given names. There are times when this sort of thing works, in a tongue-in-cheek way, like with the character "Big" on Sex and the City, but the film covers a long period of time and it strains credulity to think nobody would have cleared up who he was at any point. Which, with no explanation given, leaves a feeling that they're just trying to be artsy.

What's good about it? Costner's character is something of a dimwit loner, talking to himself, his mule, or whatever handy object. That is to say, that there are strong character traits, which are well played. Most of the cast does pretty well, in fact, though often, especially early on, we might be cringing - but that can be blamed on the script. What else? There's a number of little touches commenting on the human condition, but unfortunately most don't get followed up on, in favor of the overt plotline.

The film is trying to be about the triumph of the human spirit, or something like that, but a lot of the support structure for that point simply feels manufactured. Maybe the book gives enough detail for everything to fit together, but at nearly three hours, the films hasn't made good enough use of its time - or ours.

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