Hey folks, Harry here with a test screening review of Ed Zwick's THE BLOOD DIAMOND, due out December 16, later this year. From the sound of this review - this may be Zwick's best film in quite some time. Now remember - this is a very early review of a rough cut of the film, without the final music, editing, color work and effects work. So Zwick will only be fine tuning it from here on out, but from the sound of it... he's made a pretty great film. Let's hope this part of the process helps him to refine the final elements till we're left with a truly great Zwick flick! Here's Microwavable with the low-down...
Username microwavable? here, I just caught the 8/24 Chicago screening of the new Edward Zwick flick "The Blood Diamond," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, and Jennifer Connelly. Not a bad movie overall, but let me be the first lame-o to say it's a . . . wait for it . . . diamond in the rough. ZING!
The film was mostly finished, with silly Times New Roman titles and odd music recycled from "The Road to Perdition." It clocked in at somewhere around 2 hours and 40 minutes (though I can't be sure since they swiped my cell phone).
It tells of the emerging indignities associated with diamond mining and trading in South African countries, an issue that the movie (and perhaps many diamond retailers) will ultimately tell you peaked in the late 1990s. Hounsou stars as Solomon Vandy, an African fisherman whose family gets swept up by a nasty group of rebel fighters funded by diamonds mined in the area. DiCaprio is Danny Archer, an African mercenary of sorts who chases diamonds, and Connelly is Maddy Bowen, a cliched American knockout journalist with an edge. Solomon and Danny team up to seek a huge diamond that Danny discovered and hid while enslaved, and Maddy just kind of cheers them on while bemoaning the injustices of it all.
DiCaprio carries an accent that is bizzare at first, kind of like the Crocodile Hunter crossed with that annoying African bit Brad Pitt does for a minute in "Meet Joe Black." His character is a gun-toting meathead, with an ongoing internal struggle about whether he's partaking his quest for riches or for African family values. It's a little vapid on paper, but DiCaprio makes it work.
However, he's clearly overshadowed by the chops of Hounsou throughout the entire movie. It's striking. The plot centers around Solomon and how he is forced to barter his hidden diamond for his lost family - and every scene in that tale is gritty and feels authentic. However, the film tries to interweave this thread with Danny and his own sort of live-free-die-hard values. It'd work if DiCaprio's character were pared down to a sort of Jack Sparrow type, but something is wrong when more time is devoted to Danny idly kissing Maddy than Solomon's climactic confrontation with his troubled son. It's just too Hollywood for a moment or two.
This movie is clearly adults-only, as the violence is off the charts. Some guy in the discussion panel compared the gun battles to "Total Recall," and that felt about right. Of course, they aren't as silly, but just as gut-wrenching. In fact, all of the action sequences feel sort of like a mix between "City of God" and "Clear and Present Danger."
It's cool that Hollywood is banking more politcal/suspense movies lately, and one could chalk this one up somewhere between "Hotel Rwanda" and "Syriana." But some edges in "The Blood Diamond" need trimming before it really glosses.
Of course, any movie that has Leonardo DiCaprio killing a baboon with a pocket knife gets a wacky bonus.