"Invictus," from the Latin for "unconquered."
You know that DVD from some years ago of a fire burning in the fireplace - cozy, just sit and watch the wood burn. That would be more interesting, exciting, and most certainly more "Genuinely Inspiring," and "Good for the Soul," (like the full page ads in The New York Times) says about "Invictus") than your experience going to this movie. Stay home and watch the wood.
Mean-spirited, not me. Truthful and realistic, yes.
I love Morgan Freeman; he is personable, warm, sly and a truly fine actor" and very good as Nelson Mandela. Matt Damon is always good - good looking, good acting - he can show personality and emotion whether he is being tough or soft "but just not in this movie" where he is nothing but a jock with a South African accent and very blond hair. The only interesting actor on any of the rugby teams was that big Maori on the New Zealand team - now there was one tough player, with personality - not so with Damon.
It's not the actors -they were actually fine, especially President Mandela's staff. The problem is the script - it is dead, deader than the bodies on David McCallum's gurneys on NCSI.
From the minute the film began, I kept waiting for something to happen, around each corner, here, there - the President goes jogging with his bodyguards in pre-dawn morning; an old van pulls up, you think something threatening is going to happen to him, but it is just the drop-off for the morning newspapers.
South Africa was, can still be a dangerous place, but in this movie everyone smiles most of the time. I was there 20 years ago, but I hear impressions haven't changed that much. I went to this movie knowing I liked the main cast, and also wondering how they would handle Joburg.
Where did they film "Invictus"? In some U.S. city? There was nothing to distinguish the scenes. Is that what South Africa wants "to be just another western city. Johannesburg during apartheid had a presence about it of ugliness - a depression of the spirit. This dark malaise permeated everything everywhere, from old buildings to new luxury hotels. You couldn't go to Joburg without wanting to leave.
The movie took place in 1994, only a short time after I was there; come on, change doesn't happen that fast, after generations of misery.
Yes, Mandela wanted to use rugby as a unifying feature for his new government, but there had to be conflicts. There were no conflicts in this movie; movies are made richer with contrasts exposed, human emotions surfacing" and conflict. Hey, the rugby team went on an excursion with their girlfriends to the old prison where Mandela spent 27 years. The movie made it look like a resort excursion, truly.
"The New York Times" click here , called this film an antidote to cynicism. I am not cynical about "Invictus", just bored.
"Invictus" has received two Golden Globe nominations - is this for political correctness? Certainly not for being good cinema. It was a long movie, 133 minutes. We left before it finished. I can't tell you how it ended, I imagine, pretty much as it began.