I watched Hotel Rwanda over the weekend, and for those who don't know the story, here's a synopsis (as best as I could follow it):
Rwanda is a country in Africa. Africa is someplace that must be very hard for Americans to get to. Apparently, back in the early 1990's, there were some rebels who may have been followers of Tootsie, the rollerskating girl from Facts of Life. They were very angry at another group of rebels, who were followers of Dr. Suess, I'm guessing. They were called the Who-To's (I assume a shortened nickname of Suess's Horton Hears A Who-To). Whatever their problem was, it caused a lot of people to be killed. The thing at the end of the movie said about a million were killed (good thing this is just a movie!)
Anyways, there's this guy, played by Don Cheadle (the British guy from Ocean's 11, but here he doesn't use his regular British voice but rather puts on some sort of accent, presumably African), who is the hotel manager at the hotel in Rwanda. He decides to use the hotel as sort of a getaway for the poor people of the country, so he invites all the poor people to come and be guests. I don't know if he offers reduced rates or not, but alot of people come to stay. In the end a bunch of them take a bus to somewhere else. Maybe America? Oh, and the guy from that Eddie Murphy movie (the one where he sings Roxanne in the prison) was in it too. I didn't no he was Canadian!
Anyways, the movie was pretty good. Not really alot of shooting and stuff, but still it was okay (don't you hate it when movies show alot of people with guns but not alot of them shoot them? I mean, what's the point?)
(Look for more movie reviews from American Grade 12 High School student Rob MacD in future postings)
But seriously folks...
I did watch Hotel Rwanda. It's being hailed as this year's Saving Private Ryan (a comparison I don't quite understand, apart from 'both are serious movies about mass death) and/or Schindler's List (one whose 'save them from genocide' plot I can understand). I don't think it lives up to those comparisons, and perhaps my viewing of it was diminshed because those comparisons were in my mind. I was expecting more scenes of uber-realistic fighting (Saving Private Ryan), and it didn't deliver. I don't blame the movie for that. I blame my own expectations based on the comparisons the movie has been given. I also expected it to have the emotional impact of Schindler's List, but again was disappointed when it failed to live up to that comparison.
Good performances and all (Cheadle was very good) but I found the movie lacking enough gravitas. I wanted it to slap me in the face more with its depiction of the horrors and atrocities of the slaughter, and really it only gave me snapshots. I never really felt connected to the characters and always felt like I was merely a spectator (Ryan and Schindler's List somehow pulled me right into the action and heart of their films, making me feel like a participant).
Perhaps it's that it lacked a specific villain to root against, someone to personify the hatred and horrors, or that it lacked a specific task to accomplish. Whatever it was that kept me from "entering" the film (and it could have been my own mood at the time or my ever-growing descensitization to violence), that failing kept this movie from being a great film.
It's a good film, one I'd easily recommend, but I don't (as others do) see it as a great film.
I kind of feel cheated, and a bit guilty because I wasn't as moved by it as so many others claim to have been.
This movie would have been a fantastic HBO movie. Isn't it strange how expectations can alter one's impression?