The Missing (2003)
|Genre(s): Adventure / Drama / Western|
|Columbia, Sony || R - 130 minutes - $19.94 || February 24, 2004|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-02-26|
Writer(s): Thomas Eidson (novel "The Last Ride"), Ken Kaufman (screenplay)
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Eric Schweig, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd, Aaron Eckhart, Val Kilmer
Theatrical Release Date: November 26, 2003
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After watching this film again, I found a lot more flaws than I originally had noticed before. While the acting is pretty good overall, I thought the story was weak at best. Should've been so much better, but in the end, it either didn't hold well for me, or I completely misjudged it.
It was about a year ago that Oscar winning director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer dropped out of doing the epic war drama, The Alamo because of an alleged dispute with Disney. Instead, Howard decided to do his own Western drama, The Missing. We'll have to wait until next year to see how good or bad The Alamo is but today we can see Howard's work.
The Missing stars Tommy Lee Jones as Samuel Jones, a father who walked out on his daughter when she was young. Cate Blanchett plays Maggie Gilkeson, the now grown-up daughter who has her own two children and is a doctor in the late 19th century. One day, Jones comes onto her farm looking reconcile things with Maggie but is met with bitterness and anger (understandably). After meeting more resistence from Maggie's boyfriend, Brake (Eckhart), he promptly leaves.
I could go on and on with the story but to be perfectly honest, it's late and I don't feel like going into the major details. Basically the rest of the plot revolves around Maggie's one daughter, Lilly being kidnapped by a rogue group of Indians in a slave trade ring. Because Samuel lives (or lived) amongst Indians, he offers his help to track them and get Lilly back as a repayment of sorts for the pain he caused Maggie. The rest of the film follows Samuel, Maggie and Dot tracking the kidnappers as they try to figure out a way to get Lilly (and the other kidnapped girls) back.
The acting for The Missing is great. Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett are Hollywood veterans with a massive amount of ezperience between them. At the age of 57, Jones has had a fair share of hits and misses from his Oscar winning performance in The Fugitive to the forgettable The Hunted. But here, he's believable even during the times where the audience needs to suspend some belief.
The same can be said of Cate Blanchett who seems to be in a ton of movies since 2000. She consistently turns in great performances even though the scripts might be flawed. I really first noticed her name with the first Lord of the Rings movie. I'm not quite sure why she's as popular (amongst producers anyways) but she does bring a whimsicle ora to the screen that I haven't seen in other actresses.
Beyond the two leads, two other good performances belong to Evan Rachel Wood and Jenna Boyd. While I found Wood's character to be somewhat annoying as the film went on, she does display some talent. She has already received rave reviews for her job in Thirteen and she should have a nice career. Same as well for Jenna Boyd who was actually in the aforementioned Hunted movie. Of course, when it comes to young actors and actresses, they can disappear from the scene fairly quickly (and then reemerge after several years late, a la Drew Barrymore).
I would describe Ron Howard's direction as patient. He takes a good amount of time setting up Samuel and Maggie's relationship at the beginning, showing her hatred for the man she blames for her mother's death. Beyond the story, though, Howard also does a good job with showing the 19th century West with its beautiful deserts.
The Missing has nice cinematography and great acting but it was really was missing that something to make it a memorable film. I believe the problem for this film came from a generic story. It's not the father-daughter aspect, but the whole kidnapping/cat and mouse game that can be seen on network television but is set in the late 1800s.
I can't say if Ron Howard made a mistake leaving The Alamo (it wasn't -- July 25, 2004) but I can say that his newest thriller/drama is good but nothing special or Oscar worthy.
Movie studios and DVD manufacturers have got in their head that a DVD needs to have two discs even when one would saffice. This set, while filled with a pretty decent amount of special features given how much this film did not make, still could've all been placed neatly on a single disc. Anyways, on with the features:
First up are 5 featurettes that shed the basic light on how and why the film was made. "The Last Ride: The Story of 'The Missing' " (5:37) is interesting with the interview with screenwriter Ken Kaufman who adapted the novel, "The Last Ride". He tells the story of how he and another person bought the rights to the book and such. . . Not overly fascinating but interesting for a one time viewing (as were most of the featurettes, by the way).
Next are 11 deleted scenes and 3 alternate endings that mainly were used to develop the characters more (mainly of the character Maggie played by Cate Blanchett). As the case with a vast majority of deleted scene and alternate endings, there's a very good reason for not having them in the final project, although there's no commentary from director Ron Howard to explain why. In all fairness, most of the time director's leave this stuff on the cutting room floor for one of two reasons: 1) running time and/or 2) unneeded overall.
With the alternate endings, they were a complete waist of time to watch. There were three of them including a "longer version," "Take Me Home" and "A Silent Goodbye". I think the main difference with the former is there's more dialogue intertwined with what we saw in the theaters. With the second version, Tommy Lee Jones' character is actually still alive enough so that he and Maggie can have their final words; and the last one is just a shorter version of the one in theaters.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Overall the sound and picture are fine, although when I viewed it on my PC, I could see the pixels very clearly (mainly in the darker scenes). Since I recently got a new monitor, I put in another DVD and that one was perfectly fine. So with that in mind, I had to knock this down by one star. Good but not great which is not excusible with today's tecnology. People watching on regular TVs shouldn't see anything wrong.
All in all it's a decent DVD that's worth a rental but nothing more. The movie is not that great and the features are one-time viewing (if at all for some).