5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Castle
It is an excellent movie about the classic clash of egos. It is also about the value of experience over simple knowledge.
Published 17 months ago by wordartist
3.0 out of 5 stars Predicted, nevertheless interesting to watch.
I will start with the bottom line: in spite of what I will write further on, this movie is exciting to watch, has clear "good and "bad" sides and a satisfying ending coming after several thrilling fight scenes.
Before the bottom line I will write this: the story is one you know and have seen before. This means you can guess quite well what will be the next step and...
Published on June 15 2003 by Tsila Sofer Elguez
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Castle,
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This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)It is an excellent movie about the classic clash of egos. It is also about the value of experience over simple knowledge.
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak Screenplay,
This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)I used to listen to Rod Lurie on KABC talk radio each Saturday. He had a show on movies and he was very entertaining. His views were strong and very unlike the political correctness that started to sweep this country. I remember when he got his first screenplay together and had to leave the show to direct his first movie. He is the rare movie critic that actually switched careers to make movie. For that, he deserves respect by all.
Now...this film was weak. I agree, the core antagonist/ protagonist relationship was weak...in fact, very weak. The warden was insulted because he has never really done a tour of duty, so collecting war memorabilia is for the weak. This is his soul motivation to prove himself. Yes, man is that fragile, but it needed to be developed thoroughly to base an entire movie on.
The rest of the flic makes one wonder if these guys are really in a prison. There is almost no conflict among the prisoners...they seem so united and too respectful of Redford's character. The movie lacked energy and intensity. The scene with the rocks that Redford dragged went on and on with no climax that moved me.
In short, this was a good looking Hollywood movie that was boring...you keep wondering why this movie was made. Maybe on repeat viewings it will be insightful...however not by me. I'm glad I borrowed it from the library!
Keep trying Rod!
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative,
This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)This movie is creative, but at a less intuitive rate. There is much to be gathered here, despite the predictability on the surface. I think it speaks much to the next 20 years of the United States. Give it a viewing and then give it a couple days to grow on you.
The acting is very good, as is the cinematography. The editing is very good, as is the transfer to DVD.
Overall, one to put on your second-tier viewing list.
2.0 out of 5 stars Slightly entertaining, not worth owning,
This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)I'm glad I saw this film on HBO instead of paying money to rent it. While it was moderately entertaining, I wouldn't be interested in adding it to my home movie collection.
The film starts out with two incidents that it fails to follow up on. The first is a fight in the military prison between two inmates. The music and fight leads you to believe that this will be like a lot of prison films: people leading very hard lives, getting beat up on a daily basis, and having to fight to survive. There was virtually none of this. None of the prisoners are the least bit scary, and you expect them to hug each other by the final scene. Robert Redford is immediately given respect for being a general, and doesn't have to earn anything for himself.
The second surprise is that Redford's situation is left a mystery until halfway through the film. It's alluded to several times early on that he is a 3 star general and he doesn't deserve to be in prison. When it is finally revealed why he is in prison, it is a letdown. You're expecting it to be a fairly prominent part of the film, and he's portrayed as someone who doesn't deserve to be there. The director brushes over the explanation and the viewer learns that Redford, like every other prisoner, DESERVES to be in jail. This makes it very difficult to root for him when he decides to lead a gang of murderers and prisoners in an uprising against the warden.
The other main problem with this film, is that Gandolfini doesn't come off as a very bad character. Unlike the classic prison movies, you have a prisoner who deserves to be in jail, fighting against a warden who is supposed to be evil, but is never developed fully enough to show this.
The whole time through the end of this movie, I kept thinking, these guys are killing innocent American soldiers who were stationed at the prison and are simply following orders. While not many are killed, there are definitely a couple who go down permanently. I'm supposed to be excited about this?
Overall, a lackluster hero, a weak villain, and a lack of a single escape attempt makes this a very weak prison movie. This movie is tailor-made for Dolph Lundgren or Jean Claude Van Damme, not Robert Redford.
1.0 out of 5 stars "They've been around for thousands of years",
This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)But the film seems longer. Ooh, there are some cynics out there. The catapault was obviously hidden in pieces around the prison. Under pillows. In the latrine. Up the inmates left trouser legs. Up...other places. Behind the cigarette vending machine. Behind the poster of Rita Heyworth. Then they constructed it in er, a minute flat and er....
Will the Special Edition have an alternative ending? Redford winches up the American flag. Then after a minute they take it down and someone puts up the Iraqi flag. End titles. Arabic music. Like it, centurion?
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Movie,
This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)The Last Castle rides high on a wave of American patriotism, respectful of military service and protocol, and primed to ignite anyone's passion for justice against corrupted ideals. This intense prison drama begins when a court-martialed three-star general (Robert Redford) is sentenced to military prison for defying a presidential command. The prison's warden (James Gandolfini) is a jealous martinet who's never seen combat, and when the jailed general seizes command of the prison to protest the warden's abuse of power, The Last Castle erupts toward a classic showdown between integrity and cowardice. This movie is very good and has a good cast to compliment the story line. Have fun watching it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a gay culture movie,
This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)Once in awhile there is a movie that promotes something that we have lost long time ago.
No one remember what it means to be a man anymore. This movie is not for Back Street Boys or Spice Girls. But I hope we still have people in a real life that at least partially close to great characters pictured in this movie.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing,
This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)I couldn't really be bothered to read the rest of the reviews which slated this film, but I do not agree that this film deliberately invokes a feeling of patriotism as I am English and do not have much of a substantial liking for the U.S army. After hearing stories of the U.S army in Vietnam and how the U.S army seems to kill a countless numer of allied troops I would usually disagree with any such army related films, however the main point is that this film stirred my emotions deeply and gave an impact regardless of my way of thinking. Basically a superb film.
3.0 out of 5 stars Predicted, nevertheless interesting to watch.,
This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)I will start with the bottom line: in spite of what I will write further on, this movie is exciting to watch, has clear "good and "bad" sides and a satisfying ending coming after several thrilling fight scenes.
Before the bottom line I will write this: the story is one you know and have seen before. This means you can guess quite well what will be the next step and who will be "sacrificed for the cause". The movie is a combination of the "sport" genre where a group of (football/basketball... etc.) losers is trained by the has-been coach which succeeds in overcoming his own problems and making the bunch of losers into a real winning team (lesson # 1 - working together is important) and the prison movie genre - which always starts with its message of "mind your own business" - and hence the conflict of these two messages until the clear victory of one message - yes, you guessed right.
But I do not mean to be cynical. The movie is captivating and you are very much interested to know what will happen to General Eugene Irwin (Robert Redford), a decorated war hero sent to a 10 year sentence in a military jail and if he is going to survive the first weeks in prison and not hang himself as the other inmates anticipate and gamble on. We are very much interested to find out what will happen to the dynamics between Irwin and the prisoners he joins. Also, what did Irwin do to get himself in prison? The answer is only a little revealed through the movie - yet not in full. The fact that Irwin is in prison does not harm viewers and inmates perception of Irwin as a leader and a war hero and the guess is that the reason for his being in prison has something to do with a moral dilemma after which he has decided to "mind his own business" from now on. Robert Redford is Robert Redford. No surprises here. He plays a very rational, somewhat bitter and quite truthful person who knows how to hold himself well in all situations. Irwin is indeed a leader and Redford is able to project his quiet strong power which has the prisoners following him. However, not a surprising figure for Redford and not a lot different then his previous roles.
Playing opposite Redford is Gandolfini as Colonel Winter, the prisoner warden - one that is no real match for General Irwin. Winter gains power by fear and punishment while Irwin gains power by respect . Gandolfini does play a different character then the one we usually see him in. Whereas in the Sopranos his heavy physique and gestures are taken as intimidating and menacing and yet he manages to remain loveable and even humorous, there is nothing humorous about Warden Winter. Throughout the movie we see him deteriorating until his last cover is exposed for what he really is. This character too was quite simplistic and predictable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching Story of Human Dignity,
This review is from: The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)"The Last Castle" is a novel about the inherent value of human life. Even the worst of prisoners and other undesirables are still human beings and if we look deep enough, we can find nobility and value in them too. I enjoyed this film and its' message.
The story's plot revolves around a remarkable man, Lieutenant General Eugene Erwin played by Robert Redford, and his sentencing to a ten-year prison sentence at a military prison for a crime unmentioned until later in the film. As Erwin is brought to prison, we meet the leading antagonist, Colonel Winter, played by James Gandolfini, a quiet soft-spoken man and the prison warden whose personality seems to be much deeper than his civilized exterior. After Erwin and Winters meet some ten minutes or so into the movie, we can see that the rest of the film will be about a test of wills between the two.
The film's climax culminates in the prisoners staging an overthrow of Colonel Winter and his guards by the prisoners led by Erwin. The director really thought up some innovative ideas for how prisoners might deal with helicopters, riot cars with hydraulic hoses, and guard towers. Many of the other reviewers wrote that they thought the prisoners' solutions to the helicopters, riot cars with hydraulic hoses, and guard towers were a bit far fetched. I don't agree and found everything plausible if not very likely. The prisoners use food trays as shields like Roman Legionnaires in Tetsudo formation (a solid line of shields) to protect themselves from the water cannon on the riot car and some of the prisoners crawl under the building and cut off the water main feeding the water cannon. They then use the water cannon to shoot a grappling hook attached to a chain, which entangles the helicopter's landing skids. Even better, then a prisoner, who is also a helicopter pilot, shimmies up the chain and overpowers the helicopter pilot. See what I mean about plausible but farfetched?
Meanwhile the prisoners have built a trebuchet (a gravity catapult) and are using rubber medical hose to lob bags of flammables at the guard towers. I got a particular chuckle out of this one since I remember engineering students at university hooking gigantic piece of rubber medical hose between two antennas on our dorm's roof to hurl water balloons at an opposing dorm. I can definitely vouch that rubber medical hose works fine for lobbing things great distances.
However, the crown jewel of the film is Redford's portrayal of General Erwin. Redford gives Erwin a force of character and a determination that makes it hard not to like him. He's very believable as a general. The film also relates that Erwin is a former POW and Vietnam veteran. Redford's lines about the experience correspond with every novel I've read about the POW experience in Vietnam. Once again, Redfrod's performance rang true. A minor subtheme for the film is chess and all of Erwin's moves are related to a chess game including the eventual overthrow of the prison. One reviewer wrote that Erwin was just as much a manipulator as Gandolfini's Colonel Winters and to this point I disagree. Erwin portrays a general who leads men by example and respect. This is called leadership and has nothing to do with manipulation. A general leads men to accomplish a task that he or she may or may not agree with. A manipulator USES men to accomplish tasks for the manipulator's own ends. There is a strong difference between the two.
I highly recommend this excellent drama.
Review by: Maximillian Ben Hanan
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The Last Castle (2001) (Bilingual) [Import] by Rod Lurie (DVD - 2002)
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