REVIEW: PROMISED LAND
OVERVIEW: From Academy Award-nominated director Gus Van Sant (Milk, Good
Will Hunting) comes Promised Land, the compelling contemporary drama based on an original
screenplay by John Krasinski (“The Office”) and Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity, Adjustment
Bureau) from a story by David Eggers (Away We Go). Damon stars as corporate salesman Steve
Butler whose journey from farm boy to big-time player takes an unexpected detour when he lands
in the rural town of McKinley with partner Sue Thomason, played by Academy Award® winner
Frances McDormand (Fargo, Moonrise Kingdom), to offer much-needed relief to the economically
hard-hit residents in exchange for drilling rights to their properties. The heartwarming story of
Focus Features’ Promised Land is available on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD, Digital Download
and On Demand on April 23, 2013 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
SYNOPSIS: What seems like an easy job for the duo quickly becomes complicated by a respected
schoolteacher (Hal Holbrook), a slick environmental activist (Krasinski), and Butler’s interest in a
local woman (Rosemarie DeWitt). As they grapple with a surprising array of both open hearts and
closed doors, the outsiders soon discover the strength of an American small town at a crossroads.
FILM REVIEW: I guess essentially this flick could be dubbed an
anti-fracking film that brings consciousness to the masses with the notoriously controversial method of extracting natural gas by fracking rocks. Nevertheless, two time Academy Award nominee for best Director, Mr. Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, 1997), sets up another interesting melodrama-style mystery with his former collaborator, Matt Damon. It is certainly worth mentioning that Damon not only produces and stars in the movie, but also co-wrote the script with John Krasinski (The Office) who played the part of a morally-vacant villain.
In this somewhat touchy topic of fracking, it seems that the subject-matter probes in to areas of mainstream economic hot-buttons that have been affecting the once thriving farm-lands of America. Moreover, it’s a familiar narrative that goes one step further and instead of simply being more of a conventional film pitting corporate villains against eco-green guys, the story delves somewhat deeper, exploring the moral conundrum of big-business offering economic support to depressed communities through questionable methods. And make no mistake; this is a quiet drama of social and personal relevance, about over-the-top corporate greed and immoral profit-seeking. Plus in a skillful, and not so subtly manner, it denounces corruption in the energy industry. Nevertheless, Promised Land is primarily a character-driven melodrama, albeit with undercurrents of environmental politics and sad portrayals of the rural American struggles.
Given Damon’s extensive environmental advocacy, it seems that the natural gas fracking controversy was just a natural fit for him and certainly came as a timely issue. And as the central character in this flick, Damon gives a characteristically genuine performance. His character, despite its obvious flawed undertow, seems to have connected with the audience especially with the manner in which he plays the naive corporate salesman who is both extremely convincing and moving.
On the other hand, Van Sant has been quoted as saying that Promised Land is his opportunity to make a movie in the spirit of Frank Capra, but the maneuverings of Damon and Krasinski’s screenplay have done him a disservice, in meeting that goal, in my opinion. Moreover I certainly believe that with a more polished script that had a little more time spent on it, this flick could have elevated the story to an extraordinary cautionary environmental tale, rivaling the likes of Julia Roberts’ Erin Brockovich (2000). In the end however, it is still a very satisfying crisis of conscience flick that will appeal to the environmentally conscious movie-goer, although I hate to admit, it might not do it for many others. All the same, Promise Land is worth the viewing and deserves three and a half out of five stars for content and relevance.
By Movi-Man Stan
The film is
presented in widescreen in a 1.85:1 aspect ration preserving its
theatrical format. The picture is just flawless. Not only the
picture looks great in this release, also the sound it is good,
a 5.1 Dolby Digital in English that provides a good complement
to the picture. It also includes English
and Spanish subtitles.
Widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital
5.1 Spanish DTS Surround 5.1
Subtitles - English Spanish
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The Making Of Promised Land