PG-13, 2 hr. 5 min. Directed By: Shekhar Kapur. Release Date: Sep 20, 2002. DVD Release Date: Feb 18, 2003.
I’ve said it repeatedly. I love these period epics, even when the “period” take a lot of creative license, and is built more on the romantic idea of the period than the historical fact. The Four Feathers seems to have come in and around that period from about ’01 to ’05 when you could watch one of these happen every other month or so featuring a mostly “hot” cast, interspersed with some serious actors.
I did enjoy The Four Feathers, but not nearly so much as I did some of the other period epics of the same period. I thought the cast here was a particular strength, particularly Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, Djimon Hounsou, and Michael Sheen, the latter of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a dramatic role. There were some good moments, mostly between Ledger and Hounsou, who had good chemistry working throughout their scenes. I though Wes Bentley did a fine job, pretty much becoming what I think a British officer in the late 19th century would be. After this, I might make it a point to find more of his work to see what else of note he’s done.
Like most of these movies, The Four Feathers is more than a little dependent on the sweeping camera shots of its various locations, some of course being more exotic than others. We’re treated to a massive load of shots of the Sahara, that desert so vast that the Arabs simply named it “the desert” and the rest of us followed suit without knowing it (Sahara means ‘desert’ in Arabic). We’re also treated to some beautiful scenes of what I think is supposed to be the British countryside. Having never really spent time in England other than Heathrow, I’m only guessing, but I can usually put two and two together.
But, the movie had a few faults. Quite a few faults, actually. Kate Hudson kind of sucked up the air in every scene in which she was featured, which was more than a few. A few of the characters, notably Castleton and Willoughby were treated like major parts of the story, but spent most of the film sidelined and neither was ever sufficiently developed. Michael Sheen’s character only receives some development at the end of the movie. I also feel like maybe thirty minutes of this could have ended up on the editing room floor without sacrificing anything in terms of content or continuity, notably the sweeping camera views of the Sahara. At some point you just have to think that you’ve seen enough bloody sand and they should move their asses.
All in all, I think this is worth watching once. I actually think that I started to watch this a long time ago, got distracted and gave up. The rugby scene initially was very familiar. I think everyone in the cast has better performances out there, but this is engaging enough and I like the… emotion behind it: the idea that someone can do something cowardly and then come back and apologize in deed.