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Microwavable zaps Edward Zwick's THE BLOOD DIAMOND at an early test screening!

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...

Heyo -

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.

-microwavable?

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 24, 2006, 11:45 p.m. CST

    But does Jennifer Connelly get naked...?

    by Negative Man

    With or without a baboon...?

  • Aug. 24, 2006, 11:58 p.m. CST

    I'll see it

    by JohnnyS2

    Anything with Connelly.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 12:08 a.m. CST

    WELL

    by THE KNIGHT

    I liked the last samurai... So I'll definitely be seeing this.... I'm sure someone will bring in some samurai hate in a few -_-

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 12:22 a.m. CST

    Violence in 'Total Recall' off the charts?

    by veritasses

    Gut-wrenching? Huh? The one with Arnold Steroidnegger? And "Last Samurai" was an ok movie ruined by an incredibly stupid ending. Machine guns putting 73 bullet holes in every man, horse and tree yet that nut ball who just got fired from Paramount comes away with only a minor flesh wound or two? And of course it's implied he gets the chick in the end. Zwick should've ended Samurai like he did Glory where everyone dies. That would've made more sense.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 12:24 a.m. CST

    wow

    by BadMrWonka

    great review, just the right amount of plot synopsis, personal opinion and critical analysis. AICN, hire this guy. I love Quint, but he needs to be writing full time. I graduate film school in a few months and I want to shoot one of his scripts! as for this film, I'll see it, I love political dramas, add to that something ACTUALLY shot on location (Constant Gardener is an example) in a vastly different part of the world, and I'm there. thanks microwavable.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 12:29 a.m. CST

    it's ed zwick's greatest movie since last samurai

    by Holodigm

    do not dispute me on this...

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 12:41 a.m. CST

    "ASS TO ASS!"

    by crayotic

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 1:38 a.m. CST

    swiped his cell phone????

    by nijoty

    Doesnt this guy own a watch!!! Granted its a little known invention seldom used now a days but i do recall they work quite well at telling the time!!!

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 1:51 a.m. CST

    "DiCaprio Killing A Baboon With A Pocket Knife"

    by Darth Fabulous

    With a Croc Hunter accent nonetheless...count me in!

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 2:51 a.m. CST

    Good review

    by Ribbons

    Thanks microwavable?

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 4:09 a.m. CST

    so it's a mix

    by Windowlicker74

    between City of God, Clear and Present Danger, Hotel Rwanda and Syriana with a bit of Total Recall thrown in? ..could be interesting

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 5:10 a.m. CST

    bobo

    by BadMrWonka

    it's "Give us free!" for god sake...get it right...

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 6:09 a.m. CST

    You had me at...

    by MattCG

    "Leonardo DiCaprio killing a baboon with a pocket knife"

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 7:18 a.m. CST

    I loved Last Samurai

    by DarthMartel

    Sure the ending was hokey with the round-eye only getting a flesh wound while everybody else was turned into bloody, swiss-cheese. But hey, there are instances of people in real life who have been in gunfights and have come out without a scratch. Wyatt Earp comes to mind. In any case, Edward Zwick hooked me as a fan after Legends of the Fall so, I'll be checking this new one out.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 8:09 a.m. CST

    "emerging indignities"

    by JackRabbitSlim

    I'll freely admit - im very low brow - but when was the last time you heard anyone use the phrase "emergining indignities" in conversation?

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 8:27 a.m. CST

    I don't get why Hollywood thinks Leo is a tough guy.

    by brycemonkey

    Perhaps because they are a bunch of panty-wetting bitches... We need a rough tough gang fighter = Leo. We need a rough tough African mercenary = Leo. Puhleeze! I think he acts just fine but he isn't a tough guy.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 8:33 a.m. CST

    re: Connelly naked

    by microwavable?

    haha, no, not a trickle of nudity. Not even a sideboob. Kinda strange, since I thought Jennifer Connelly was required to be nude for half of every movie.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 9:15 a.m. CST

    Romancing the Blood Diamond

    by jackinitraw

    I was hoping this would have been cool but it sounds like Romancing the Stone with a little "WHY WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?!" thrown in for Oscars sake. Gaylameottry.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 10:06 a.m. CST

    Who wants to see the current, gaunt Connelly naked?

    by Osmosis Jones

    Her tits havn't looked ripe and healthy since Dark City eight long years ago. Now she's a victim of the Hollywood Boobie Snatchers.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 12:27 p.m. CST

    Hollywood Boobie Snatchers

    by nemesisdarkside

    Yeah I hate those guys! Are they an official collective/group? Do they have a union? What did Lindsay Lohan have to do to get her's back? Someone should go undercover and infiltrate their upper echelons. Then secretly liberate all the boobies that they have stolen over the years!

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 1:25 p.m. CST

    Give Leo a chance on the action front.

    by Teamwak

    Look how MATTTT DAAAMON suprised us.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 3:30 p.m. CST

    i liked the last samurai too

    by waggy

    i don't get why it flopped. the cruise hating hadn't really started at that point.

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 6:57 p.m. CST

    waggy

    by Chingachgook

    456 million worldwide (boxofficemojo) does not a flop make. When will Americans learn that they are not the only ones who watch movies?

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 11:56 p.m. CST

    Has anybody said this yet?

    by TheRealRatigan

    But when did Harry get into the business of bending over for reserved judgment with that condescending disclaimer before every test review? We all know that it was after Harry "got into the business". This site never used to do that, this site never used to care. One of the things that made AICN what it was is that it was a standard of unqualified, unapologized for opinion and a place for every spy and every Talk Backer to say what they thought without being filtered out. It's what made this place cool to all of us, and what made it a weapon AGAINST hype. More and more it feels like a tool FOR hype. The friendlier and fairer Ain't it Cool is, the less honest and less relevant it's going to be.

  • Aug. 27, 2006, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Intense Gunfights? I'm THERE!

    by Wesley Snipes

    We need a movie with intense, gut-wrenching gunfights considering how badly Miami Vice failed in that department.

  • Aug. 29, 2006, 9:37 p.m. CST

    Hope they don't destroy Africa

    by tobybarlowny

    Hope this film gets its facts straight, or innocent people could suffer. More than 99.8% of diamond trade today is legit. If they lead a liberal stampede against the diamond industry, then democratic governments like Botswana and South Africa will suffer. And it won't be the rich folk who will suffer, it will be the working African. Too many times the good hearted white man comes to an issue too late and doesn't recognize the impact of his "good intentions".

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