Thursday, July 31, 2014
Retro Review: Dances With Wolves (1990)
Even though this isn't considered a remake, I would say that since Avatar practically has a similar plot only with aliens, that film is like a case where the remake outdoes the original since this film, Dances With Wolves, offers much more bark than bite.
Dances With Wolves follows the story of a U.S. Lieutenant named John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) who becomes suicidal after his leg is injured in battle. But he decides to be assigned to go out onto the Western frontier. There is where he encounters a Native American tribe and slowly starts to become a member. Along the way, he falls in love with a white woman that was adopted by this tribe named Stands With A Fist (Mary McDonnell).
I feel this section is going to be pretty small. But I did like the beautiful scenery. I liked how the film didn't use studio sets and actual locations in the states of Wyoming and South Dakota. I think that is very neat. Other than that, there isn't a whole lot I liked.
First off, this movie is too long. WAY too long. I watched the Director's Cut, which is just about 4 hours and this movie was way longer than it needed to be. I swear, if you were to get up from your chair and make popcorn or take a shower without pausing the film, you wouldn't miss a whole lot. Trust me, you wouldn't need to rewind to find out what you missed because hardly anything happens. Avatar may be like "Dances With Smurfs" and may have a near 3-hour running time, but at least that one has repeat value since it is entertaining. This doesn't.
Another thing that I didn't like was how certain characters were used as plot devices. John Dunbar, or "Dances With Wolves" as the natives call him, serves as an aide for the natives to lead them in battle, hence becoming the "White Savior" of this White Savior movie. Stands With A Fist is just a love interest who also serves as a translator for her tribe so that Dunbar doesn't get a headache trying to figure out what the natives are saying. There are even a couple characters who (*spoiler alert*) are killed off so that Dunbar's fellow soldiers don't find out where he is. Just out of plot convenience and not the natural flow of the film. Plus, the narration that Dunbar gives makes the film seem almost too "on the nose" since he is practically saying exactly what he is feeling. I would've rather they just showed Dunbar revealing his feelings without saying anything.
Overall, Dances With Wolves is an overlong and rather overindulgent film that is more like dancing the Robot than the Tango. I guess I would say give it a watch since it won Best Picture (although it really should've gone to Goodfellas) or to formulate your own opinions. As long as it is, I will say this, it is miles better than The Boring, I mean, The English Patient.