Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Movie Review: "Blood Diamond" (2006)

Edward Zwick is as always, the master of sweeping epics. The commercial appeal of his works is based on his mastery of camerawork and his ability to pull off real characters from drawn aout caricatures like an Irish settler (Far and Away) Civil War soldiers (Glory) Samurai warriors (The Last Samurai) and African revolutionaries in Blood Diamond.

Zwick's film usually demand breathtaking locations and fractured protagonists in a foreign land, as is the case in BD. Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a mercenary turned smuggler trying to make a fast buck in the fast rising yet unstable African diamond trade in Sierra Leone. Meantime, Solomon Vandy(Djimon Hounsou) a native fisherman, gets separated from his village and his family to work as a slave for the rebels in their diamond mines. Solomon stumbles upon a very large pink diamond and hides it near the river where he finds it. This news gets to Archer, now our story begins. In order for them to both get what they want, Archer contacts American journalist Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly). Hungry to expose the truth about the bloody diamond trade, she grants Archer and Vandy access to records that would lead to Vandy's refugee family. The deal is that Vandy would give the diamond he hid to Archer in exchange.

Zwick keeps the story simple but engaging. This year we have seen a lot of movies based on African tyrrany and violence (Last King of Scotland, 3 Needles) BD would probably be the most epic of the lot.
Although the delivery is obviously very hollywood. It doesn't mean that it isn't a really great story told effectively.

Leo never ceases to amaze me. This guy is just an awesome actor. He has proven us that he can play tough guy in The Departed. He is one of the few who can effectively shed his prettyboy image and turn into a man's man in a whim. He got the South African variety of english down. In one scene I find funny, he speaks in some sort of Swahili-inspired english with an african native. It seems that in reality you had to speak like that to them for them to understand you.

Djimon Honsou always gives out a great performance, although it was kind of a cinch for him to play an African peasant.

The pacing is great, except for a few dead spots in the middle, overall it's one of the best movies of the year. Its pretty easy to dismiss this as a 2 and-a-half hour informercial on the African diamond trade. But I have to hand it to the guys, it was a great buddy tale, too.

Rocketboy's Rating: *****(5 out of 5)


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