Movie Review-Back to 1942

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Review-Back to 1942 is the latest historical film by Well Go USA that depicts the deadly draught and famine that happened in the early 1940’s to one of China’s provinces. Tim Robbins and Adrien Brody are on hand to give American moviegoers some star value, but to be honest they are sort of lost in this film for the most part. The film centers basically around the well to do landlord in Master Fan, who we get to watch rise from well off to not so much. The descent he goes thru is very slow and you can see it coming from a mile away, and shocked that he did not pick up on it. He seems to have this stockpile that gets targeted by thieves, and when all hell breaks loose, he just goes thru bad deal after bad deal. He finds himself joining the many others on this trek westward to find food and escape the invasion by Japan. From there the film deals with a religious subplot of an arc and a Priest who is named Sim. Sim sees in other people’s suffering a means to spread the word of Christ. Robbins and Brody’s roles are of a Priest that Sim confides in and a Time Magazine correspondent. The film is hard hitting in its message but very weak in its core. On the surface to take this film at face value, the film is pretty much a finger pointing accusation view into what may have caused this tragedy. It also touches on other subjects like people who used the war as an excuse to become almost a refugee not so much to escape a foe but to look for sustenance. The production of this film really captures the look and feel of this era, the blood and gore scenes looked very realistic, and did not go overboard. The depictions of the constant Japanese air raids that showed the bombs raining on the soldiers and innocent people were pretty graphic, and at times seemed a bit overly dramatic. I hate films that feel the need to keep on and on trying to get the viewer to give an emotion thru the manipulation of watching innocent people suffer. This film showcases human tragedy and it makes the point that we should all be ready to be victims at sometime in our lives no matter how successful we are, or well off. It paints a story that feels so farfetched that fortune is more of a cycle then anyone working for it. I mean Chinese film in the last twenty years have grown leaps and bounds and when it comes to their period pieces some of them are so story heavy, that they really try to keep the viewer involved thru imagery and character depth, but this film is just too heavy in its story that it almost feels like a history lesson more than a movie experience. Feng Xiaogang is very much a great director and this film is not so much a bad film as it is a heavy handed misunderstood one. I think a viewing of this may be ok, it is at least recommended to watch one time but for repeated views, I do not think people have that kind of patience or care to see this film play out again.

7 out of 10