Mel Gibson’s sophomore directorial effort is a giant leap forward, a rousing 13th century Scottish epic about the life of real-life martyr and hero William Wallace, Braveheart (B). Gibson the actor does a credible job embodying the hero and rallying men to battle for sprawling battle sequences. The screenplay lets him down a bit, as it’s not great. But oh, the final reel, it’s enough to break your Mel-tale heart!
Anchored by solid performances by Brad Pitt and others and filled with gorgeous scenery, Edward Zwick’s Legends of the Fall (B+) is a romantic ode to family and friendship in the early 20th century. Set in the shadows of the Montana Rockies, the film tells the story of three brothers (Pitt, Aidan Quinn, Henry Thomas) a stern father (Anthony Hopkins), a love interest (Julia Ormond) and a world on the brink of love and war. Prodigal son themes and some less successful WWI sequences are all eclipsed by the force of nature that is the central smoldering romances and breathtaking photography told to the score of James Horner. It’s a poetic, intoxicating story about living and learning and taking the journey.
Director John Glen, who has made a career out of taking the final gasps of life out of creaky James Bond film entries in the late ’80’s, originally cast Timothy Dalton but found an even more bland leading man named George Correface to play the title character of Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (D+). Like the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, this vessel is undeniably wooden. Even Marlon Brando can’t muster a glimmer of interest as a high inquisitor. This “Columbus for Beginners” wouldn’t even make a good mini-series if you split it up into episodes. This won’t be playing soon in a classroom near you.