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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 4.17%
Average: 29.17%
Pretty Bad41.67%
Total Crap: 12.5%

2 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Four Feathers, The (2002)
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by Erik Childress

"The Movie That THINKS It's Great"
2 stars

Some movies strive for greatness, others just simply ARE great. Then there are films that seem to be entities amongst themselves, that actually grow a mind of their own and believe greatness is being projected with every passing frame, every muttered word and every note of music. Audiences occasionally fall under their spell and lesser critics and quote whores usually spout out praise of Oscar-caliber work since any film that looks and sounds like The Four Feathers released after August must automatically qualify for the Grand Prize Game.

This film has everything you need for an Oscar campaign. It has costumes and war, betrayal and courage, the 19th century and foreign countries, an attractive cast and a romantic triangle. The only thing missing is the sauce. Thatís right, the sauce. You know, the stuff that brings it all together. When Francis Ford Coppola originally cut The Godfather down to two hours, producer Robert Evans chastised him and said to make it longer. ďI wanna smell the spaghetti,Ē said Evans. And we all know you canít smell the spaghetti without the sauce.

Whoever is to blame, The Four Feathers feels as if a good half hour is missing. All the emotional payoffs are on the screen but none of the setups that should make them emotional. Heath Ledger (A Knightís Tale) plays Harry Faversham, a soldier in the British army who becomes engaged to longtime sweetheart, Ethne Eustace (Kate Hudson). His best friend, Lt. Jack Durrance (Wes Bentley), has always fancied Ethne but has kept it hidden for friendshipís sake. Both relationships are about to be tested when the regiment is assigned to fight the rebels of the Sudan.

Harry, pushed into service by his fatherís loyalty to Queen and Country, chooses to resign his commission. Whether out of panic or for his love of Ethne is never quite clear, but it doesnít matter to his compatriots who brand him a coward and send him three feathers to represent his cravenness. The fourth feather comes from Ethne. When he learns of several soldiers making the list of the dead, Harry packs up and heads to the desert to finally lend a helping hand. Only instead of hooking back up with the fellow friends in uniform, Harry goes incognito to join up with the Arabs. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

This is the kind of storytelling splashed throughout the film and director Shekhar Kapur highlights his own incompetance as a yarn spinner; a quality apparently only few picked up on back with his vastly overrated Elizabeth in 1998. There are big scenes like the chasing of a sniper through a town or the epic ambush staged by the Arabs on the surrounded British, reunions, prison escapes and ironic confrontations, but they curiously unfold like either we should know how the characters got to that point or assume that we know how itís resolved. Sequences come off so nonchalantly like that that even by filmís end, I was unsure if a couple had gotten together or just remained good friends.

The Four Feathers is a handsome effort to be sure. Itís beautifully photographed and the production design is nicely on display, but this is certainly not the Lawrence of Arabia that some are calling it. Comparing this film to that classic is like comparing an empty mirage to Niagara Falls. We didnít do it with Dune, we didnít do it with Ishtar nor the opening credits to Days of Our Lives, so letís not go making an easy analogy to other productions that contain sand. This isnít grand romantic drama nor grand epic adventure. Someday, it will likely be used as an defense attorneyís version of what happened to John Walker Lindh. It will be known as The Four Feathers defense. More than this film deserves.

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originally posted: 09/20/02 14:06:04
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User Comments

9/26/07 Jareed17 Amazing movie! Why didn't people love it?? Great acting! Great scenes! 5 stars
4/01/06 Thomas Semesky Just a long, boring, stupid movie. 1 stars
6/12/05 daveyt plot had gaping holes, beautiful cinematography 3 stars
4/04/05 Ric Nice-looking, but boring and insufficiently developed plot-wise. 2 stars
5/27/03 Becky I liked it because unlike the book, you really see a 'friendship' between Harry and Jack. 4 stars
4/16/03 Andrew Carden Kate Hudson Is The Only Merit Of This Unrealistic, Painfully Boring Melodrama. 2 stars
3/01/03 khakijorsen read the 5th paragraph of the erik childress review...couldn't say it better myself! 1 stars
11/26/02 Ashley Corpening Disjointed, hard to follow, not well elucidating either war or love. 2 stars
9/30/02 John Madden Historically incorrect, The book was not followed 2 stars
9/22/02 Lauren loved the book, loved the movie!! Djimon Hounsou deserves some sort of nomination for this! 5 stars
9/19/02 z0rak Sad, Beautiful, and worth every minute 5 stars
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  20-Sep-2002 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Shekhar Kapur

Written by
  Hossein Amini

  Heath Ledger
  Wes Bentley
  Kate Hudson
  Djimon Hounsou
  Lucy Gordon
  Alex Jennings

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