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* SPOILERS *
OK, I see the point of this movie, at least I think to see it. Shocking, provoking, disturbing, against taboos, politically UNcorrect, without bells and whistles like so many pulp or I'm-a-great-filmmaker movies. Well, nice try... but, in my opinion, an overall failure. There are very good moments, like the rape scene, the rage-and-hate killing of the "friendly" guy being robbed at home, the unexpected flash-death of one of the girls, the "prosaic" ending (compare it to Thelma&Louise super-emotional climax ending, for example). The problem is that they're just moments, spots in an otherwise flat movie. Overall, I didn't really care about the girls and what happened to them. I didn't felt emotionally involved.
It could have been a great movie, but for me it is not. I give it 7/10.
No. It doesn't work.
*** WARNING: SPOILERS!!
First of all: I like Tolkien's work very much. I read LOTR twice and The Hobbit once. In my opinion there's nothing wrong with making a movie from the book, so I went to see the first movie, and I had high expectations, having read so many positive comments about it on Internet and newspapers. Anyway, I had an open mind: OK, many beautiful scenes will not be there (Tom Bombadil, etc.) and it probably will not be able to fully capture the atmosphere of such an huge masterpiece, but, well, I have the chance to finally SEE one of my favourite stories on the screen, as imagined by someone who, as everybody say, loves LOTR and had tried to be as faithful as possible to Tolkien's wonderful work! I went to theater with my girlfriend. She never read LOTR, so I gave her a short intro myself about the story to help her catch as much as possible, then the movie began.
The intro was fine, given the time Jackson had to work with. Stunning effects, cinema, battle coreography. Good explanation of the ring's story. I felt even more excited at what was coming next. My girlfriend was interested. The Shire too was well portrayed, actually even better than I had portrayed it in my mind reading the book, I thought. Amazing! But, when Frodo and Sam leaved, the movie began to sink. I started to feel uneasy when Merry and Pippins appeared. They were... obnoxious. Incredibly stupid and childish. What? They aren't so! As I already said, I was prepared to the cutting of the ancient forest and Tom Bombadil; painful, but you can't have everything in three hours and it would turn the movie into something like a musical. OK, but... why Jackson loses so much time with the dark knights instead of better developing the characters? Why he doesn't show the knights only once from far away, without contact, for example, just to introduce the real danger and build tension? You had a battle during the intro, you'll have more later! Brea episode is overly simplified but not so bad. I understand the reasons behind the amplified Arwen's role, but why Jackson didn't shrink, for example, the attack where Frodo is wounded? I mean, show quickly the wounding by only one knight, almost "easily" defeated, for example, and give extra time to the Elrond's Council, which is one of the most important episodes of the trilogy, if not THE most important one! And please, use things like "X time later..." here and there to show better that the Council takes place a lot of time after the hobbits' departure from the Shire! What about the wizards' battle? Why? Cut even the Caradhras episode telling something like it would be impossible in that season to walk through the mountains, or Saruman made it impossible, if you absolutely need more time to well develop the story! Lothlorien is more important and there are only few minutes to show what happens there! Shrink the battle in Moria before the Balrog appears (the best monster I've ever seen, BTW)! I don't know, but you have choices!
I could go on and on, but this comment is already too long. Constraints also here! ;-) The point is that I feel Jackson didn't choose well what to cut. He filled the movie with action and thrilling episodes, even more than in the book (think to the wizards' battle or the creation of the Saruman monsters), simplifying everything else and rendering the characters almost like phantoms (think to Legolas) or caricatures (think to Merry, Pippins and partially Gimli). The movie is a dark-heroic-war-action-thriller full of unanswered questions about people appearing here and there like mushrooms.
All in all, and I'm very sad to say that, boring. Simply boring. My girlfriend was p****d off when we walked out the theater and I felt very embarrassed. I doubt she'll read the book now. I tried to rebuild the magic of the Tolkien's creation I had talked about before, but probably this movie made too much damage.
This is not LOTR. This is something else and I don't like it. The acting is acceptable (Gandalf, Bilbo and Saruman more than acceptable), given the script. 9/10 for effects, coreography, landscapes... 4/10 for the atmosphere, the characters, the script (more important things in a movie, at least for me).
Soldati - 365 all'alba (1987)
Much more than you think
I gave 8 to this movie, the highest vote up to now. No, I don't like many movies, my taste isn't so "easy". I'm not going to tell you that this is a masterpiece. Actually, nothing spectacular here, but a simple, solid comedy/drama, with a reasonably realistic portrait of life in the Italian army from the perspective of soldiers doing their compulsory service. Me too, I did it, so I know what I'm talking about. The characters of Scanna and Fili are well built; their psychologies are well developed. We see so many little, stupid movies these days ("little" even if sometimes pumped with tons of money). So far, 6 1/2 would be my vote. Maybe 7. Why 8? Because of the open ending. Because this movie reminds us that it's all about war. The army doesn't exist for anything else. Jokes, brainless things, and then, suddenly... something completely unexpected could happen! Especially in Italy, we forget it too often. Almost always. We think to the military service as an incredibly boring year wasted doing completely senseless things in a crazy environment. Yeah, this is usually true (it has been so for me and all my friends, at least), but we absolutely must remember what it's all about: war.
Independence Day (1996)
I just finished to see this movie on TV (I refused to see it on big screen because I heard too many criticisms from friends)... Tonight I told myself "let's give it a chance". I was expecting a super-turbo action, brainless movie. What a disappointment! The effects are great, OK, but there isn't suspense, there aren't strong emotions nor real "heroic action". Maybe Americans skip an heartbeat seeing the White House blown up, but I'm not American. By the way, the "americanocentric" view makes me smile. If Americans would really think this way they couldn't be the most powerful country of the world. From a logical point of view, it's an astonishing piece of junk (yes, it's what I was expecting in this way: brainless). I'm a programmer and the idea of a virus is simply idiotic. If scientists were unable to understand the power source of the captured alien fighter (the chief scientist of Area 51 tells that they were even unable to turn the power on until the alien forces arrived to destroy mankind, and all the ship's instruments started to work!), it's impossible they could understand the logical principles of the computer[s] aboard, nor the programming language to code a virus. Even knowing the computer[s] aboard would not imply knowing the computers aboard the main ships: imagine working on an embedded system built in a Tomcat; knowing it would not mean that you can code a program for, let's say, a mainframe. Anyway, if someone understood everything being a genius monster with an IQ of 938 and a lot of positive imagination, the character of Jeff Goldblum couldn't learn how to code that virus in a matter of hours! ...And what about that hilarious portable Mac "negotiating with host" and "uploading virus"? Well... Let's forget the virus. Could someone explain to me why the fighters piloted by a bunch of non-professionals, overnumbered by technologically superior alien fighters, even without shields, manage to win the 2nd air battle? Probably they would crash the planes simply trying to take off. What about the captured fighter? If it crashed in an accident killing two crew members, how could it fly smoothly? Stop. There are lots of stupid things like these in the movie, but, as I said, I was expecting them. What I wasn't expecting is the complete lack of powerful, heroic action scenes. The air battles are annoying if you don't mind special effects. It sucks.
La vita è bella (1997)
A brave movie
I've read all the previous comments. It's amazing to see someone advocating this is one of the best movies ever and someone else saying this is a very bad and offending show. Very few moderate comments...
Usually a movie so much debated is at least interesting. I believe this is really valuable, first of all because making such a blend of humour and drama isn't easy at all. No other filmmaker did something like "Life is beautiful" in the past: the Holocaust, humour and a lovely story in the same film. Probably this is one of the best movies ever for bravery and originality, yes.
Do you want a harsh, historically correct view of the Holocaust? Please read the books written by survivors, like Primo Levi's "Se questo è un uomo", and watch original footage filmed at the end of the war, for example by the Russians when they entered Auschwitz, if you absolutely need something visual too. Even "Schindler's list" doesn't show the worst of that tragedy, for I believe it's simply impossible to represent such an horror with a fiction work, with actors and special effects. "Life is beautiful" doesn't want to represent the Holocaust, and IMHO this is a Good Thing.
BTW, I'm Italian and Benigni here is a superstar; you see him everywhere on TV. If you saw the Cannes ceremony you have a vague idea about what he's capable to do. I saw him live years ago and he's even completely different: much better!!