Okay, I'll post my verdict. Sorry about the rambling, but I am heading out of town tomorrow, and i haven't even packed, but I wanted to get my verdict in...
I saw Three Kings
probably about 6 or 7 years ago, and I remember not being terribly impressed by it, given the hype that had been surrounding it, so I was interested to see how my reaction was this time. I think that the first word that came to my mind while watching this film was intense. This film is extremely intense. My jaw was clenched for most of the film, and I didn't even notice. What is so interesting about this film is that it is essentially a heist film set in the backdrop of the end of the Gulf War. After finding what may be a map to the hiding place of the Kuwaiti gold stolen by the Iraqis during the invasion, 4 soldiers set out to find the gold for themselves.
I really loved the look of this film. I was so blown-out or washed-out, or whatever you want to call it. I think it conveys how it feels to be in the middle of a hot desert without a cloud in sight. It is extremely bright, and it adds to the film immensely.
So, things just go from bad to worse over the course of trying to obtain this gold. And like I said, it is intense. I couldn't remember much of the plot, so I was totally wrapped up in the story. I think that the rescue sequence is shot extremely well. So many "battle" sequences are shot so clumsily, but not this one. The editing was tight, and there are some truly emotional moments.
I did have a few problems with the film. I think that it is tries to be a little too clever for its own good, and that takes away from the film for me. For example, the shots of what happens when a bullet rips up your insides, or when one of the characters get shot. It was unnecessary and took me out of the film. As far as the acting was concerned, I was pretty neutral towards it. No one really stood out to me, but no one distracted me either. I think that the one naive, southern soldier bordered on stereotype, but it wasn't enough of a factor to take anything away from the film.
Overall, I was really taken by this film, and I had a completely different response than I did the first time I saw it. I am glad that I got this film in a match up because I don't know if I ever would have watched it again without it.
I first saw Schindler's List when it originally was released. I remembering it impacting me emotionally, but that was about all I could remember. I always wanted to watch it again, especially since I have grown up (I was 14 when Schindler's List was released), and I wanted to see if it still had the same impact on me.
First, I think the cinematography in this film is truly spectacular. The fact that it was shot in black and white I think highlights both the lushness of Schindler's (Liam Neeson) lifestyle at the beginning of the film as well as the bleakness of the situation and the iciness of Amon Goth (Ralph Fiennes) face. I also think the score is very understated in this film, which usually isn't the case in a Spielberg film or with a Williams score. I never felt at any time that it was oppressive or distracting.
As far as the acting in this film, it is superb. I was lucky enough to see Liam Neeson on Broadway when he was performing in The Crucible
, and I remember thinking to myself that this was the first time I had witnessed a truly brilliant live performance. He really is amazing in this film. He can play boisterous (at the beginning of the film) or the subtle (when he is listening to Helen, Goth's maid, explain how Goth beat her on her first day working for him) so well. The look on his face when someone tells him that he is a good man, just tears me apart. Ben Kingsley is wonderful as well. His performance is so understated, yet is the one that I think I will remember the most. I think that Fiennes is good too, he always plays the villain well, but his character is much more one-dimensional.
As far as the whether or not the film still had the same emotional impact on me....well, it did. There are some truly heart wrenching scenes in this film. The liquidation of the ghetto, when the children are being taken away at the camp, when the bodies are being burned, and when the women are taken into the showers at Auschwitz. I really was emotionally involved throughout the whole film. It really is a credit to the supporting characters in this film as well.
However, it didn't all work for me. I don't know how historically accurate this film is, but I did think that the character of Goth was a little too one-dimensional. It is like he is there to serve as the epitome of Nazi evil. The scene after scene of him shooting someone that is just walking by or that is just standing there just seemed a bit ridiculous and didn't seem to have as much impact as some of the other brutal scenes in the film. The other thing that stuck out for me was the ending when Schindler is regretting that he didn't do as much as he could have. I think the initial statement is truly devastating, but that it goes on too long. If Spielberg would have been a bit more restrained here, it would have been a much better scene.
I think that both of these films are really great, and if Three Kings
would have been up against a couple of other films in this round, say Dark City or Election, it would have sailed by, but I have to go with Schindler's List
, it really is an amazing film.