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My biggest fear was that this movie would be a very dry and serious type of drama. However now, after finishing watching it, I actually wish I could say it was too dry and serious one and that was being the movie its only problem.

It's hard to say what this movie was trying to achieve. Was it one supposed to be about the friendship and bond between Ward Allen (Jim Caviezel) and freed slave Christmas Moultrie (Chiwetel Ejiofor)? Or was it supposed to be more of a love-story? Or perhaps one that was all about the Jim Caviezel character and his many 'adventures'. The movie is trying to feature a bit of everything in it, which however is making the movie a very unbalanced and messy one with its storytelling.

You can definitely say that this movie is suffering from a lack of focus. Rather than following one clear main plot line, it instead feels like its weaving a bunch of different subplots together, each featuring different characters as its main focus, in an attempt to turn it into one main plot line. It just doesn't work that way. It makes the movie feel disjointed and there is just never a really good or pleasant flow to its storytelling.

It's also hard to ever feel involved with any of the movie its drama or characters. Even though it's a movie that's all about its characters, it's its actual character development that's terribly lacking in this movie. I guess that the Jim Caviezel was supposed to be one of those bigger than life, free spirited, type of characters but his actions and motivations are actually hard to follow at times. He isn't even all that very likable, due to some of his actions. In other words, this movie gave me little to no reasons to even ever care about him! I definitely felt emotionally detached from this movie, which also made me loose interest in it after a while. It even turned the movie into a somewhat boring one, despite the fact that there is always plenty happening in its story.

The movie also constantly seemed to be struggling with finding its right tone. At times it was going for a more lighthearted approach, while at others it was expecting you to feel touched and genuinely affected by something. The movie however is very inconsistent with this. For instance, at times you when you would think that the movie is going to turn into a more serious drama and, it's suddenly taking a more comical or lighthearted approach to things, causing the drama and some of the story developments to fall flat.

Not sure if this truly was the case but it seemed to me that this movie originally got written with the Chiwetel Ejiofor character as its main one. It also would have made more sense for this movie to completely get told from the perspective of the Chiwetel Ejiofor character and this actually would have worked in the advantage of the Jim Caviezel character as well. He that way could have remained a more mysterious and quiet type of character, which seems like something that would have been more appropriate for this particular character, since they were trying to turn him into an almost legendary type of man. Now, it never feels like his character is being- or ever doing anything all that special. Certainly nothing that justifies why there would be a movie made about his life, for apparently this story is based on a real one and all of its characters truly lived as well.

On a more positive note, it's a technically good looking movie, with also some good acting in it. It's a period piece, set in the late 19th century and it's a rather good looking one, especially when considering its budget. I really liked the cinematography and the overall feel of the movie!

However, this overall just isn't a very well balanced and constructed movie. It definitely showed potential, especially during its first minutes and really, this so easily could have been an award winning type of movie but in the end the movie is a too shallow, uneven and uninteresting one for me to even ever recommended it to anyone.

5/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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