Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: The New World (2005)

Englishmen arrive in the Americas and clash with the “naturals.” Less insightful meditations break up the tedium. By “break up,” I mean “add to.”

Where The Thin Red Line was a giant leap forward, The New World is twenty seven short steps backward. The narration is worse, the editing is worse, there’s only the supposed existence of a narrative, no shortage of compositions which fail to impress, even John Savage played a better crazy person last time. They broke their inertial cage hard.

If you’ve seen the Disney film Pocahontas or have read John Smith’s contested accounts, you’re aware of the gist of the story. A Virginia colony has trouble synthesizing, along with a peaceful treaty, and a roustabout falls in love with a 12 year-old. So in that last regard, we’re in familiar Malick territory. The New World goes a bit further with the story and shows the destruction of the tribe and the Princess’s eventual trip to England. Y… ipee?

With a bit too much data in favor of the Injuns to be another Cosmic Perspective thing, we watch glorified melodrama unfold in the most disengaging way possible. Colin Farrell wanders about the countryside, whispers some trite shit about selflessness, receives foodstuffs during the hard winter, there are some battles I think, then he attempts to put his colony back together before abandoning it outright, exits after he has won what he supposedly possesses an intense love for. And you still have 50 minutes of film left to assign some sort of motivation for the characters and the filmmaker.

Assuming that stone-to-statue method I mentioned in the last review has been transferred to this film, it looks like immense raw footage cut down to a somewhat tolerable length, but somebody accidentally kept all the wrong scenes -- the goddamned outtakes. Major events, Captain Smith’s torture or the battle of Jamestown Fort for instance, don’t stick. They just happen. As though we are a lesser form of God and half asleep, and every time we blink we see something recognizable but not enough of its cause or consequence, and when we fully wake up, we won’t remember it at all.

BONUS VIDEO: Christopher Plummer is the man.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Plummer really hit the proverbial nail on the head.

    These reviews have really made me loose interest in ever taking a deeper dive into Malick. Honestly, the guy's early screenplays sound a lot more interesting. "The Gravy Train" is on Youtube and I'm seriously considering watching it.