The Four Feathers (2002)

(In theaters, September 2002) It’s hard to see where a swashbuckling, romantic Victorian-era adventure could go wrong with Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) at the helm and such fine actors as Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson in the cast. But it does. It crashes miserably, wallows in interminable desert sequences and infuriates by its pretentiousness. The film is, save for one or two good battle sequences, dull-dull-dull. It’s overlong, badly structured so that the highlights are at the middle rather than the end, doesn’t present characters we can cheer for and don’t do much to erase or subvert the insufferable colonialist mentality of the time. The final battle, which should be a simple fistfight between two men, is transformed in an overblown confrontation using plenty of filtered angles, slow-motion sand throwing and a full orchestral score of Arabic influence. It gets tiresome quite quickly. Actors, director, cinematographer; all are wasted in this unnecessary film that feels about twice as long at it should be.

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