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Non-Review Review: The Water Diviner

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

The Water Diviner is a solid directorial début for actor Russell Crowe, a well-intentioned and relatively under-explored story that occasionally wanders into clumsy melodrama.

Crowe works both in front and behind the camera, directing himself as a father who embarks on a journey across the world to bring his lost sons home. Set in the wake of the First World War, The Water Diviner charts Joshua Connor’s effort to recover the remains his three sons who perished in the battle for Gallipoli. Travelling from the Australia to Turkey, Connor finds himself fighting against bureaucracy and civil strife as he tries to keep the promise to bring his children back to home soil.

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It is a fascinating a compelling story. Crowe is a reliable leading man, imbuing Connor with a sense of humanity and relatability that helps to anchor a somewhat spotty screenplay. Crowe seems to trust his cast a great deal, affording them room to work and never rushing them along. However, he also seems somewhat sceptical of the audience. The Water Diviner is packed with repetitive flashbacks and awkward montages designed to impart information that the audience has already grasped.

The result is a rather uneven film. Much like its title character, it seems like The Water Diviner works best when it trusts its instincts; not when it tries to second-guess itself.

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Non-Review Review: 300 – Rise of an Empire

It is almost immediately apparent that 300: Rise of an Empire was not directed by Zack Snyder. Snyder is credited on the inter-quel’s screenplay, but Rise of an Empire is directed by Noam Murro. Murro’s only other feature-length directorial credit is the forgotten indie movie Smart People, which would hardly make a case for Murro as an obvious choice to succeed Snyder in the director’s chair.

300 was a lavish and rich (and surprisingly shrewd) visual feast – packed with iconic imagery and memorable mosaics, treating it’s muscle-bound stars as props for epic spectacle while casting a knowing look out at the audience. Rise of an Empire feels like an attempt at imitation rather than innovation – with a sense that Murro isn’t bold enough to put his own stamp on the film, instead trying to channel one of the most unique voices currently working in action movies.

Slice o' life...

Slice o’ life…

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Non-Review Review: Clash of the Titans

It has been a couple of years since the last proper swords-and-sandals epic. It’s hard to look past the glossy stylised design of 300 and the discussions of racial politics which surrounded it. Troy and Alexander were hardly solid examples of the genre which had been at the height of its popularity more than half a century ago. Aside from Gladiator, it’s hard to point to another big screen classical action movie that manages to do what it says on the tin. Although it’s a long way from perfect, Clash of the Titans at least delivers the intriguing visuals and impressive action that one expects from the genre. I was pleasantly surprised. 

A friendship in ruins...

 

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