Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pathfinder ★★

    "Pathfinder" is a 2007 plot oriented film that begins with a rather illogical and bold declaration. It is learned that six hundred years before Christopher Columbus stumbled upon North America, a dastardly group of Vikings came to shore, hell-bent on slaying the native culture to purify the land and claim home. This picture is the story of one man, who rose to the occasion and fulfilled the prophecy that would save a civilization.

    A moment of history, that if recorded, would become an indelible and heartwarming memory.

    Unfortunately, this fantasized tale of destiny and fate becomes nothing more than your commonplace action film, complete with underwhelming characterization and a lack of enthusiasm. This is a picture that knows its intention, and still cannot provide enough substance to counter the brutality of its actions.

    Our history lesson begins with an inferior utilization of symbolism. A white stallion becomes the focus of this highly celebrated technique of filmmaking, although it is never efficiently charged with the attitudes and feelings that would warrant success. We are effortlessly told what this creature provides to the context of the film, and then hurled into the intricacies of the plot, which summarizes the film unintentionally.

    We are never meant to think for ourselves. A notion that comes hand in hand with a film of this caliber. We are to be bombarded with action sequences until our intellectual thinking process cannot be conjured any longer. In this respect, this film is a complete triumph.

    A young boy, who is found by a native villager among the wreckage of a Viking ship, is adopted and becomes a member of the "people of the dawn", an early Native American tribe. His adolescence is never indulged, and we are brought to his adulthood at a tumultuous time. "Ghost", a name that suits him quite well, has no identity and is mystified by his existence.

    To make matters worse, Ghost has fallen in love with Starfire, a beautiful woman from an aligned tribe. However, these matters are hardly of significance, as the external conflict of the Vikings arrives rather quickly and plunges this film into constraints that it could never conquer.

    The marauders, a walking group of clunky and oversized armor, attempt to astound us with their blatant symbolism of death, in this particular instance in the form of a raven, and their sound irony. They characterize the Natives as "savages", although it is obvious who possesses these qualities.

   The film progresses into a non-stop barrage of sword fights and confrontation. The suspense is strived for in several scenes and ultimately falls short. An imperfect exhibition of direction includes choppy camera movements and a spasmodic usage of color experimentation. The picture seems to adjust color temperament throughout, adding to the ignorance of its cause.

    Karl Urban leads a cast who are devoid of all emotion and left with a minuscule dialogue to boot. Ghost is a character, who by the end of the picture, finds his purpose. Sadly, this repossession of identity is lost among any consciousness, as his under developing personality justifies a cold shoulder. There is no reason to care.

    Throughout the history of cinema, action films have become a favored experience simply for their entertainment value and escapist mentality. I have reiterated the notion numerous times that these elements alone cannot define a picture. After all, if every film's intent were to merely amuse, there would be a significant loss of intellectual capacity among the minds of humanity.

    Roger Ebert, an inspiration to myself and arguably the most influential film critic of the 20th century, always reserved the notion that it's not what a film is about that makes it good or bad, but how it is about it. Thus, a belief that the supremacy of structure or form is the forefront concern of any criticism. A belief that I have adopted as the foundation of my analysis of the art of film. "Pathfinder" simply does not have a constructive form suitable enough for its motivations. 

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