Freddy Kreuger. The name inspires
fear in the hearts of moviegoers everywhere....
Kevin Costner. The name inspires fear in the hearts of
moviegoers everywhere. Since his Oscar(tm) winning efforts in
Dances with Wolves (eh), Costner has been in such films as Robin
Hood: Prince of Thieves (pick an accent), JFK (okay, he
picked an accent, now give it back), The Bodyguard (and
IIIIIIIIIII...will al-ways change the channel when that shows on cable),
Wyatt Earp (at least Val Kilmer was great...oh wait, that was
Tombstone), Waterworld (everybody is allowed one disastrously
expensive mega-flop), Tin Cup (oooh...Don Johnson AND Kevin
Costner? In a movie about golf? Good-bye sleeping pills!),
The Postman (okay, everybody is allowed TWO disastrously
expensive mega-flops), Message in a Bottle (the message is: see a
different movie!), For the Love of the Game (for the love of pete,
stop with the baseball movies), Thirteen Days (it only felt like
13 days, the movie was only 9 days long...and stop with the accents
already!), and 3000 miles to Graceland (the greatest film to star
two actors who both played Wyatt Earp).
Sure, it's easy to not like Kevin Costner. Just watch his
films. But, lest we forget, he has done some films that weren't
awful. The Untouchables, Silverado, No Way Out: all are
fine films. Some people even liked Bull Durham and Field
of Dreams. So let's keep things in perspective.
Costner likes to go back to the well where he's had success: baseball
movies and Westerns. He fancies himself to be a Gary Cooper kind
of guy. Okay, sure. Open Range is a Cooperesque
It seems like Westerns would be good fodder for fraternity drinking
games. Every time you see a cowboy hat, you drink. A horse,
you drink. Cattle -- one drink for each set of horns. A
campfire? Drink. An Injun, drink (if they're wearing a full
headdress, finish the glass). A pot of coffee? Drink.
A showdown? Drink. A dusty town? One drink for the
saloon, one for the general store, one for the livery, one for the
graveyard...you get the idea. It's not that the Masked Reviewer
endorses drinking, but there are a lot of elements that seem to be
necessary for a Western. The only one that seems to be missing
from Open Range is the Injuns. The Indians were going to be
in the movie, but they had their reservations. Ha! Get it?
We slaughtered them and put the rest on reservations. That's what
you get for bringing corn and squash to Thanksgiving.
Open Range opens with a long, empty, flat, boring landscape
filled with slow-moving animals. This, one fears, is
representative of the rest of the movie. In fact, much to the
Masked Reviewer's surprise, it is not! At least, not until the
very end of the film.
Robert Duvall stars with Costner, as does Annette Bening.
Bening and Duvall either bring out the best in Costner, or just handle
all the important talky bits, leaving Costner to be the silent brooding
type. He does that well; in fact, Costner is able to portray a
character more convincingly with just a look and his body language than
he is when he speaks.
Costner has a goatee in the film, which seemed a bit odd for a guy
living on the open range.
Basically, this is a straight-up
shoot-the-dirty-scoundrels-who-did-the-bad-stuff Western. It takes
a little while before things get going, but once they do, it's
interesting to see what happens. The way things unfold is
unpredictable, which holds the viewer's interest throughout.
There is a love story in the film that isn't particularly well
developed...it doesn't add much to the story and it doesn't seem to
grow. Suddenly two characters who have barely had contact with
each other decide they're in love. Boom. Just like real
The weakest part of the film was the ending. The film ends, and
then there's another half hour of unnecessary dragging on that tells us
nothing new. It's clear when the movie ends to everyone except for
Costner, who also directed the film.
Students of the history of candy might find a scene where Costner, in
the old west, is offered Jujubees, gumdrops, and jawbreakers -- to be a
bit of an anachronism. Jujubees haven't even been around for 100
years! But, that may be nitpicking.
There were some weird lines in the film too. "What they want,
what they've done, and what they should've because of it." Huh?
What does that mean? But, it's only words.
Essentially, it's an old-school Western. There's a lot of
shooting and male bonding and honor and pride. The Masked Reviewer
couldn't have had lower expectations from this film, so the fact that he
sat through it must mean that it's a quantum leap above Costner's recent
(post 1987) work. Costner set the bar so low that he had to dig a
trench for it. But, this film isn't bad.
The acting is fine, the plot moves along (until the end), and the
visuals of the old west are stunning, with rolling fields and open sky.
Of course, it was shot in Canada. But that's a minor point.
Open Range will probably do fairly well, since there aren't a
lot of "serious" films in theaters these days. If you're a fan of
westerns like Unforgiven or Stagecoach, you will find this
film isn't nearly up to snuff, unless you just like the genre. In
terms of Costner's previous work, this film is much closer to
Silverado than it is to Dances with Wolves. It's better
than Sharon Stone's Quick and the Dead, but that doesn't give one
much to go on, does it?
Fans of Duvall and Bening won't be disappointed with their
performances. Fans of Costner...that sounds so weird...may view
this as his best work since Dances with Wolves. The rest of
us will see this as an average Western.
Expectation from the Title: The latest in the line of G.E.
ovens features four burners and a built-in de-greaser.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
It could've been much, much worse.
The Pros: Unpredictable and interesting, fine acting by the
supporting cast, nice cinematography.
The Cons: Too long (almost 2.5 hours), especially the last 30
minutes of the movie which did nothing to move it along.