Thursday, September 20, 2012

672. Chariots of Fire (1981)

Running Time: 124 minutes
Directed By: Hugh Hudson
Written By: Colin Welland
Main Cast: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Holm
Click here to view the trailer


Man, I know I said it last night, but it bears repeating: I'm really begging something to come along, something new, something I've never seen before and really blow my socks off. Not counting "Jarmusch Week", it's been nearly two weeks since I've seen a true contender for the next TOP 20 list and "Chariots of Fire" continues the trend, as I languish in the mediocre range.

This would have been a fitting movie to watch about two months ago, as it centers around the 1924 Olympic games, which were held in Paris, France. Zoom the lens in a little more and you'll find that the film centers around two runners: Harold Abrahams (Cross), cocky, Jewish student at the University of Cambridge and Eric Liddell (Charleson), devout Christian and rugby player turned runner. Both are magnificent runners, two of the fastest men in the world and ready to sacrifice for the chance to triumph in Paris in 1924. At one point in the film, the two meet in a publicized race, with Liddell easily beating Abrahams. After his defeat, Abrahams can't handle the thought of his loss and doesn't know what the future holds for him. Enter Sam Mussabini (Holm) who, by request of Abrahams, watches the race and offers tips on how Abrahams can improve. Beyond that, we follow the two men on their journey to the grand stage of the Olympics. That's pretty much the just of it.

I watched some of the 2012 Olympics this summer. Occasionally, if there was nothing else on and there was an event that even slightly interested me, I'd flip it on and give it a watch. I didn't root for a specific team or country, I just watched and tried to understand the rules of whatever event happened to be playing out in front of me. I'm not really a sports guy, you see, as I barely have time to fit in work, movies and quality time with the wife, let alone spending three hours glued to the television hoping that "my team" scores another point. I rarely got excited for the Olympians and oftentimes it was just a distraction until I had to go to work or until something better came on. I can also assuredly say that not once did I yearn to know the back story of any of the Olympians. Which brings me to "Chariots of Fire", a movie that gives us a two hour back story on two European Olympians, circa 1924 - a subject that I had absolutely no interest in garnering more knowledge on. This film was as dull as plain toast, but perhaps even duller than that because I happen to like plain toast. The following statement is nothing against the British people, as I happen to admire the landscapes of the country and think that British people are far too proper and charming to be insulted by me, however, their films are, more often than not, dull, slow and boring. They have a way of being very methodical in their filmmaking, methodical on the brink of sleep inducing.

So that's basically it. Technically, the film is the definition of mediocre, at least from behind my eyes. The acting is fine, no better or worse than your average movie, starring average actors (except for Holm, he was pretty outstanding. Look for the scene where he puts his fist through is wicker hat - good stuff). The cinematography doesn't necessarily warrant awe, nor is it offensive. The Vangelis score, in my opinion, has been played to death over the years, more often than not for comedic purposes, that hearing it where it was intended to be heard actually dulled it. It may have had more of an impact had it not been played to death. That's not the fault of this movie though and had I heard it for the first time during the course of this movie, I probably would be praising it right now. There's also a few other cliches that tend to work on my nerves, including a few montages and a lot of slow motion runners, flexing out their chests, mouths agape, yearning for the finish line. These were very much "give me a break" moments. It's not a terrible film though. The filmmaker's just didn't do a very good job of hooking me and interesting me in the story of Abrahams and Liddell and therefore I really couldn't have cared less rather they bagged the gold or the bronze.

RATING: 5.5/10  Damn. And I had high hopes for this one too. Why would the Academy Awards give the Best Picture Oscar to such a mediocre British film. I don't get their reasoning sometimes, I really don't.


September 20, 2012  2:28pm

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