Wednesday, November 26, 2014

630. Soldaat van Oranje/Soldier of Orange (1977)

Running Time: 167 minutes
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven
Written By: Kees Holierhoek, Gerard Soeteman, Paul Verhoeven, from the book Soldaat van Oranje '40 - '45 by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema
Main Cast: Rutger Hauer, Jeroen Krabbe, Susan Penhaligon, Edward Fox, Lex van Delden
Click here to view the trailer


Been a busy and (sometimes) frustrating week for yours truly. Being the manager of a grocery store on the week of Thanksgiving isn't fun, add to that the fact that Black Friday is tomorrow and since I'm a Wal-Mart supervisor, I'm stuck in the middle of all that hullabaloo. However, we're now at the calm before the storm, I've just returned from a night out of celebrating Thanksgiving with my family and I'm ready to relax before I'm mauled by hundreds of blood thirsty shoppers, hoping to save a few bucks. It won't be unlike the chaos that a group of college age Dutch faced during the trying times of World War II, trying to survive in a Nazi occupied country (okay, it will be nothing like that, but get a load of that segue!).

The films main star is Verhoeven favorite Rutger Hauer as Erik Lanshof, who upon the movie's opening undergoes the humiliation of being initiated into a fraternity. After a bowl of soup is poured over his head and he's injured by the bowl, the instigator, Guus (Krabbe), comes to apologize a few days later and the two end up as close friends. From there, war is declared and the students are almost excited by the prospect of living in war torn times. However, the excitement and uncaring soon turn to worry and fright, as Erik and his buds realize that being unaffected by the war isn't an option. One of the group, Robby, arranges for Erik and their Jewish friend Jan to escape the now Nazi occupied country and flee to London via plane. During the pickup, however, the group is ambushed by Nazi officers - Erik escapes, but Jan is captured. He is taken back to Nazi headquarters and tortured, where he proves to be anything but weak willed when he refuses to utter the name of the Londoner who arranged for their escape. Jan is eventually killed and Erik is eventually captured. I'll spare you the rest of the details and suffice it to say that the group weave in and out of one another's lives, meeting up and losing touch as the film hurtles toward it's conclusion.

Boy, I just couldn't settle into this one as well as I settled into Turkish Delight, that's for sure. I was really hoping Paul Verhoeven would be my next great director discovery from THE BOOK, but this film didn't do anything to strengthen my opinion of his work. I still consider him a fine filmmaker, but my hopes of finding very few flaws in his work went out the window with this war epic that did nothing for me. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm incredibly sick of WWII tales and this only added to my boredom on the subject. I'm usually more receptive when it comes to Nazi stories, but even that was lost on me here. I will say that the score was superb, as was Hauer's performance (man, I was really missing the boat by being completely ignorant to this guy's work, wasn't I?) and the production grand, but by the time this was over, I was more than ready to call it a day and "earn my tick", as Ray would say. I went in really, really wanting to like this one, hoping this could be one of those few war flicks that kept my attention (see Saving Private Ryan), but ultimately it was not unlike the rest and while I could certainly see someone easily liking this one, it's one that can very well be chalked up as a "not for me" picture - simple as that. And honestly, I probably could've been a bit more receptive, as by the halfway mark, I'd pretty much given up trying to find pros and was focused more on the cons. So I'll take three fourths of the blame for not liking this one and pin the rest on Turkish Delight being so good that it raised my standards too high for this second, more inferior Verhoeven feature from the hat trick (third if you count the great Total Recall, which I watched last year). That's about all there is to it, as sometimes just one paragraph is needed to sum up my thoughts and my rating can put it more precisely...

RATING: 4.5/10  I'll give it notches for the production, the acting & the score and the fact that it held my attention somewhat in the first half, but ultimately a thumbs down for me.


November 26, 2014  11:07pm

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