The Worst of Times

"That's the worst film I saw since a long time."
(First comment on IMDB page for "Battle of the Brave".)

I am in total agreement with some semi-literate francophone. This movie sucks.

In fact, it's the worst movie I've seen in years. It is so bad I just can't stand to sit through it without doing something else. So instead of hitting the delete button and admitting that I've wasted $2.95 on a movie download, I'm live blogging "Battle of the Brave".

This should be a great movie. It is set in the 18th century at the time the French were selling out their Canadian colonies in an effort to keep the their economy from tanking. There are big geopolitical issues to solve, wars to fight, and hot 18th century babes with large heaving chests to ogle. There are scheming and lying Frenchman, haughty British imperialists, and great American revolutionaries (although this being a Canadian movie, Benjamin Franklin declares that America will soon be a global superpower. Spare me.)

The movie stars several unknown (to me) but seemingly competent Canadian actors/actresses, supported by Tim Roth and an aging Gerard Depardieu. The cast is fine, the cinematography is more than passable, and subject matter is great.

But this movie is bad. Really bad.

First of all, it is just one big PC mess. Although set in the 18th century, the characters walk woodenly through their parts in 21st century Canadian PC straight jackets. The poor are saintly, the rich are scheming. All women are good, all the men bad (except, of course our hero, who fights without striking his rivals and lives among the saintly aboriginals).

Black slaves and native Indians are oppressed and absent of evil. Caucasians are natural oppressors and stand accused of all crimes for the ages. Christianity is a sick cult. Mystics living in the woods and mixing potions are at one with nature. The PC stereotyping just goes on and on and on.

But worse, the characters speak their lines with contrived Quebecois English accents. That, my friends, is making me totally crazy!

The only, and I mean only, redeeming feature of this film is that it was shot at Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Historical Montreal is actually Fort Louisbourg, a town that the Canadian federal government restored in the 1930's to its original 18th century state.* It makes for a realistic looking set. And, of course, the panoramic shots over the Bras D'Or lakes are beautiful.

But that is hardly enough to save this mess of a movie. It makes one wonder if the makers of this film had any idea how their 21st century progressive, humanist world view would make it impossible for them to tell this tale. If not, they need to go back to film school. The freshman at the Toronto Film Institute (if there is such a thing) have a lot to teach them.

Boy and girl just got back together. Maybe we're getting close to ending this fiasco.

(Icing on the cake. Celine Dion is yelping over the closing credits... a la Titanic, though in French. That should bring a tears to the eyes of Montreal suburbanites. God save us.)

* On a visit to Fort Louisbourg several years ago, I was halted at the gate by a faux French military guard. Knowing that the Americans had taken the fort twice during the 18th century, and seeing the all white battle standard of the Dauphin flying above the gate, I noted wryly, in my best American accent, that I was glad the guard was prepared for the inevitable. Needless to say, he was not amused.

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