Attack On Darfur - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Attack On Darfur Reviews

Page 1 of 3
Super Reviewer
April 26, 2011
This could have been a poweful movie, but the camera work was terribly annoying. Apparently they were trying to go for the live "documentary" feel, but it was just too distracting. Aside from that, this movie is extremely disturbing, and intense. I would love to see it redone by someone with more talent, because it is a horrific story that needs to be told.
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2010
The idea of a filmmaker of Uwe Boll's caliber tackling a subject like contemporary genocide seems like an artistic stretch. The man is mostly known for the poorly made, poorly received video game adaptations. It would be like the Wayans brothers making a stirring expose on supply side economics. The topic just seems far beyond their purview. I mean, maybe if somebody created some Darfur video game I might start thinking of Boll circling the project. Apparently, the despised German filmmaker had something Important to Say About Society. Attack on Darfur (or Darfur in some listings) is a well-intentioned cry for justice for a conflict often ignored by Western media. It's a disturbing and grueling experience; however, the shortcomings of the script hinder the impact of the film and its crusading message. It ends up being a message movie subsumed by its message.

The Darfur region in southern Sudan has been the site of great atrocities. Thousands of people have been injured, raped, killed, and displaced. It is an ongoing civil war pitting Arabs against black Africans. The Sudanese government has been accused of working with death squads and militias, particularly the Janjaweed group. The Sundan government and the rebel groups formed a ceasefire after intense international pressure. But those in the Darfur region still report violent raids. The United Nations has dispatched a group of journalists to investigate a village for evidence that the ceasefire has been breached. Along the way are reporters (Billy Zane, Kristanna Loken, David O'Hara), a photographer (Edward Furlong), a cameraman (Matt Frewer), and others. Shortly after departing the village they can see the Janjaweed approaching in the distance. If they continue to leave then the village will most certainly be slaughtered. If they stay, perhaps they can avoid a bloodbath due to the presence of Western media. Some will go back to help fight for the condemned village and lay their lives on the line.

Attack on Darfur is Boll's attempt to be a serious filmmaker. He's targeted a serious issue and he's going to give it serious attention. And he does, mostly. The first half of the movie is almost entirely expository, attempting to educate an audience ignorant to the depths of the genocide. The film even ends on a post-script lecturing us that because action has not taken place that the world has learned nothing. It's easy to see Boll had some very good intentions with his film, and it follows an Edward Zwick path of preaching. Except while Zwick buries his lessons in easily digestible action. Boll doesn't bury his message. His message is all you will get for 90 minutes. The opening focuses on many establishing shots of village life, and it's truly amazing that the film doesn't condescend or pander. Attack on Darfur feels authentic without having to ratchet up the differences with Western culture. Well, it tips into that territory when Loken hands out deflated balloons to the village kids as a treat. The problem is that all those horror stories end up blurring together, which is a horrible statement. This is because during this 40-minute chunk of exposition, Boll doesn't fully educate about the conflict. All we know is that one group is getting treated really really badly. We don't know about the people's history, about the intricacies of the conflict, or the particulars of who belongs to what.

When the massacre is unleashed Boll doesn't hold anything back. We witness mass murder, rape, baby smashing, baby impaling, baby slicing, child burning, and, oh, more rape. It's a harrowing montage of death and destruction and dehumanization. It's hard to watch, and that's exactly the point. Boll overwhelms with the emotional appeals, trying to raise people's collective sense of outrage. People are lined up and executed. Kids are locked into a hut and then the hut is burned to the ground. Nobody escapes this hellish nightmare. At last, Boll is utilizing commentary with his displays of exploitative violence. However, because of the lengths of degradation, it's hard to even the scales from a storytelling standpoint. The leader of the Janjaweed militia (Sammy Sheik, Charlie Wilson's War) is a way to put a manageable face to a problem too difficult to fix. It introduces a villain that can be vanquished so there's some small sense of satisfaction by the time the movie draws to a close. We yearn for somebody to right these egregious wrongs, and that's who our white journalist characters are supposed to be. I don't exactly know what their plan is considering three head back to save the village and two of them have minimal to no experience with firearms. Three guys with guns vs. much more than three guys with guns? It's even more confusing when our journalists-turned-gunmen stick with their handguns. They fail to grab the automatic weapons from the bad guys they kill, and naturally they run out of ammo when they need it most. While the third act produces some minor level of satisfaction as the bad guys are picked off here and there, we all know where this is headed; there will be no happy ending because that would disrupt the Message.

In the end, despite all the good intentions and horrific displays of violence, I'm left wondering why this story needed to be told? I'm not talking about the backdrop of the Darfur genocide, which clearly needs more attention. But what about this story did Boll and co-writer Chris Roland deem worthy of being their vehicle to garner attention to a worthy cause? The structure follows a very Edward Zwick approach; we're introduced to the moral atrocity and then expected to stand up and make a difference. The first 40 minutes of Attack on Darfur is nothing but characters holding a microphone. That is the only purpose for the majority of our above-the-title recognizable faces. They are mic holders, and perhaps that's a metaphor for the film as a whole but I doubt Boll has thought that deeply. We're treated to extensive montages of village life and the testimonials from actual survivors of genocide (a nice touch by Boll). But what purpose do all of these characters serve if only THREE go back to fight against the Janjaweed? Billy Zane (Titanic, Bloodrayne), Edward Furlong (T2, Stoic), Matt Frewer (Dawn of the Dead, Rampage), and Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3, In the Name of the King)? They all stay in the car.

Completely ignore the poster/DVD cover art. Judging from that artwork, you would think very differently about where the story will head. With Zane front and center, sporting sunglasses and an automatic weapon, you'd naturally think Zane is going to lead a team to defend the victimized. And the bottom half of the artwork contains men in combat armor and attack helicopters looming overhead. But then would you ever guess that those same steely looks and explosions add up to... the advertised thespians sitting in a car looking glum? Their role is to serve as the shocked white faces of anguished reaction so we can truly know how bad things are, because otherwise how would we even know?

Boll is definitely trending upwards in his directing abilities. It's not leaps and bounds but progress is unquestionably being made from the days of House of the Dead. He seems to be aping the visual aesthetic of a different artist with every film. Due to the true-life nature of the genocide it's no surprise that Boll makes use of the Paul Greengrass docu-drama approach: quick edits, swishy camerawork, and extreme close-ups angling to keep the actors faces inside the frame. This visual aesthetic works effectively during the chaos of the massacre, but it proves to be a distraction beforehand. There's no reason that the edits have to be so choppy and the camerawork so self-consciously handheld when characters are just standing around talking. It also somehow manages to minimize the visual urgency of the ensuing massacre. The concluding shootouts are efficiently entertaining without packing any thrills. Boll's command with actors has improved, though this might owe up to the fact that his last couple of his movies have been devoted entirely to improvised dialogue. Reportedly the actors created exhaustive research to study the habits of journalists and create elaborate back-stories for their characters. That's nice. It's also a gigantic waste of time considering the actors have little to do.

Attack on Darfur is a hard film to watch and a difficult one to justify beyond raising awareness. What's the point of the movie's story? Why introduce characters to only have them turn away when danger mounts? I understand Boll wants to communicate the frustration of the inaction to the Darfur genocide. He wants us to get angry when our U.N. peacekeepers keep to the line that they can do no more than observe. Boll wants to compel us to make sure what happens in Darfur will never happen again. Never forget. But this intent to shock and horrify overwhelms his narrative. The message becomes the movie and the characters just get pushed to the edges to make room for more atrocities. Boll would have served his message and his movie better by building a better story.

Nate's Grade: C+
½ June 1, 2014
Another surprising movie of relevance from director Uwe Boll, known mostly for his video game adaptations. This tackles a serious subject and handles it with the proper amount of respect and disgust. The acting is better than average, the action scenes are potent and gut-wrenching. The characters, on both sides of the conflict, needed to be fleshed out more giving the movie a deeper feel instead of just skimming the surface which is what we got.
½ May 13, 2012
Terrible. One of the worst movies I've ever seen. I HATE that damn moving camera. Ever since "Blair Witch" that's been the fad, and I hate it. Eyes weren't meant to follow every movement of the camera. I can't believe people got paid to make this film. Billy Zane has stooped to a new low.
November 28, 2010
This movie is kind of slow and dull but has horrific and graphic content beyond belief. Rape, murder, child & baby killings... it's pretty intense.
½ June 2, 2013
Darfur is directed by the enfant terrible manqué (or the German equivalent) self publishing Uwe Boll. It is a truly awful and grotesque film. Awful in the sense that it is technically bad and an insult to the people of the Sudan. Grotesque in that it is a work of unremitting, charmless terror pornography on the part of Boll. It has a thin, clichéd plot. 2005 Sudan. A group of western journos from central casting drive to a remote village to expose atrocities. There is a quiet, serious journalist, a grizzled cynical journalist, a blond naïve journalist, a war torn cameraman and a young wacky cameraman. Black African men, women and children leading a simple life populate the village.

Arab horsemen arrive. They are armed with AK47 and RPGs. They are lead by a handsome, well spoken, heartless Arab dressed entirely in black. Again, from central casting. I thought he might say 'No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die'. There follows 80 minutes of unremitting, graphic violence. Everyone is chased though the village, cornered, rounded up and shot or hacked to death with machetes, spears and wooden stakes. Women are raped, babies thrown on the grounded and shot or hacked. Blood, limbs and heads abound. The unremitting inevitability of death reminded me of Funny Games but without the art, style and direction. It is a sort of post modern Scarface meets 300 without the jokes. The blood, violence and gore continues, pointlessly for 80 minutes. There are 20 minutes at the end when 3 journos return only to be killed in the action.

All it produced in me was a rising anger against Boll for producing this nasty, sickening and harrowing piece of torture porn. If you want to know about Darfur read Wikipedia and then try and find a film that has a decent story line, character development, non gratuitous violence (ie finely judged and essential to the point and the narrative drive of the film) embedded in a developing plot. Also, try and find a film that doesn't press you with the disproportionate premis that Arab = bad and everyone else = good. I am not a Moslem.

I should also add it is filmed in the most annoying and jerky handheld quasi-documentary style. If the whole effort wasn't so awful I would say it was a work of 1st year film student fans of The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. There was no sense of perspective, proportion or judgment. This film was Bollocks (why hasn't this word hasn't been applied the director before). I dont know what the great actor David OHara was doing in it.
½ May 7, 2013
ATROCIOUS shaky cam, piss-poor acting, and wants to be too much like Blood Diamond or Tears of the Sun.
June 11, 2012
Uwe Boll strikes cinematic gold in what could only be deemed one of the most courageous films in the history of cinema. Anyone who is interested in what is really going on in Darfur absolutely MUST see this film.

Do not wait. Do not go by the negative reviews on this website. See this film. Now.
June 8, 2012
Nice message, poor execution. Terrible camera work, dumb characters, its the feel bad movie of the year. Nice to see Uwe Boll make something with a message but the movie would have been better with a different director.
½ June 7, 2012
It seems as if Boll's heart was in the right place, but he's just a terrible filmmaker. What should be a portrait of real-world atrocities ends up just more Hollywood action nonsense. And seriously, Steadicams are not that expensive.
½ July 13, 2011
Annoying camera work that goes too far beyond the necessity of providing the documentary feel. Incredibly slow moving. Poor dialogue. The only saving grace is the fact its loosely based upon real events and is disturbingly graphic to get the horror of the events across to the viewer.
½ June 18, 2011
The product of a hard working director that reveals the bloody history of Mankind in present day Dafur. Awful Truth.
March 16, 2011
Just because a movie deals with a subject such as this, doesn't automatically warrant it being a good movie. Furthermore, just because I think this movie sucks it does not mean that I think what happened in Sudan was acceptable. This movie was way too melodramatic for it to be good. Now if this movie didn't have brutal depictions of the attack it would have had zero effect at all. Now it did have incredibly brutal depictions of the attack and that was one of the few positives of the movie. Now if it wasn't for the next two reasons the movie would have been okay. Not good, but okay. However, because of the two reasons I am about to give, it sucks.

The camera work is some of the worst I have seen. Now I know that hand held camera work serves some purpose, but it was like watching a home movie of dad filming a baseball game. Shaky, shaky, shaky, and every damn image is never still and the audience can't focus on it. If there was a purpose of having it like that I would be more understanding and possible appreciative of it. However, it is supposed to be this gripping, dramatic, painful story, but you can't focus on anything so how the hell are you supposed to feel anything when you can't see anything.

This is only exacerbated by possibly the worst edit job I have seen. I don't think there is a shot longer than 30 seconds in the whole movie. Now I know that short shots can be effective, and I know that long drawn out shots are not necessarily the best choice either. The fact is, is that the camera is so shaky and you're trying to focus and then it cuts away to another shaky image. This whole movie is just cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, extreme closeup, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, extreme closeup, and more damn cuts. If the shaky camera doesn't make you sick the constant shift of images will. In fact this movie left me feeling sick and not because of their portrayal of the attack, but rather because I was being bombarded with constantly changing shaky images that I could never focus on.

This movie sucks and is not worth the time. The events depicted are something that have been and continued to be addressed, but unfortunately for this film all it doesn't do a good job. Don't watch it.
½ December 17, 2010
It's a damn shame when the most maligned film director of the decade is the only one in cinema who has the balls to make a film with mainstream appeal about the genocide in Sudan. And it's a great film I rank alongside "Sometimes in April" for its accuracy.
½ January 16, 2011
Brutal, unflinching but ultimately overwrought, the people of Darfur deserve better than this melodramatic mistake. With cinematography from the Blair Witch school of jerky handheld cameras, this film is really a disappointment.
January 12, 2011
50% of the movie is just a ruthless slaughter of an african village the murders just get more and more violent for about a 45 minute time period and its not a happy ending. Don't watch it unless you want to feel like garbage.
January 7, 2011
Dafur, named so after the witty one liner in the film where the elder of the village tells the thieves, rapists, terrorists, murderers or plainly ' the bad guys ' he was going to turn his village into an independent country called "Dafur" before taking an AK-47 clip to the chest. This is one of the latest features by the infamous director Uwe Boll who was actually on set filming Dafur when he got another award for being the worst director of 2009 by the Razies. A shame really because everything this guy has done for the past few years has made me blow a gasket in my pants, unfortunately for him it is almost impossible in this world to change a bad first impression in people's minds.

The movie is about a group of news reporters, who go to Sudan to get some footage and stories of the natives while being accompanied by a couple of Nigerian troopers, after hearing about all the bad times for the populace there they decide to leave. When they see a gang of about thirty thugs heading to the village to commit murder they decide to turn back in hope they will leave ' Dafur ' alone because of the presence of the media, unfortunately they don't give a crap...

There is no main character as such in the film, they are all equal which is great as its different and doesn't outline anyone as being safe of certain to die giving it more suspense and freedom of choice for who you select as your favourite. This has to be one of the most barbaric and gruesome things I have seen in some time, the viewer gets the privilege of being able to see babies impaled on stakes, head shots on children and stupid amounts of rape. All this comes with the statement of something needs to be done in Sudan as the movie suggests in its credits. The acting was very realistic even by all the natives that only had small parts in the interviews, the actor Edward Furlong appeared in the feature who has also been in Uwe Boll's "Stoic" which is as equally if not possibly a better movie which was in 2009; he is also known as playing the young John Connor in Terminator two. Another thing that springs to mind when watching Dafur is "Cannibal Holocaust", not only did it have a have a very similar story line but also I was puzzled how Boll managed to afford and get so many fake bodies to the setting of the film with such a small budget for scene when they all get burned.
½ December 31, 2010
Nowhere near as powerful as it thinks it is.
December 22, 2010
Thats exactly whats going in Darfur
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2010
The idea of a filmmaker of Uwe Boll's caliber tackling a subject like contemporary genocide seems like an artistic stretch. The man is mostly known for the poorly made, poorly received video game adaptations. It would be like the Wayans brothers making a stirring expose on supply side economics. The topic just seems far beyond their purview. I mean, maybe if somebody created some Darfur video game I might start thinking of Boll circling the project. Apparently, the despised German filmmaker had something Important to Say About Society. Attack on Darfur (or Darfur in some listings) is a well-intentioned cry for justice for a conflict often ignored by Western media. It's a disturbing and grueling experience; however, the shortcomings of the script hinder the impact of the film and its crusading message. It ends up being a message movie subsumed by its message.

The Darfur region in southern Sudan has been the site of great atrocities. Thousands of people have been injured, raped, killed, and displaced. It is an ongoing civil war pitting Arabs against black Africans. The Sudanese government has been accused of working with death squads and militias, particularly the Janjaweed group. The Sundan government and the rebel groups formed a ceasefire after intense international pressure. But those in the Darfur region still report violent raids. The United Nations has dispatched a group of journalists to investigate a village for evidence that the ceasefire has been breached. Along the way are reporters (Billy Zane, Kristanna Loken, David O'Hara), a photographer (Edward Furlong), a cameraman (Matt Frewer), and others. Shortly after departing the village they can see the Janjaweed approaching in the distance. If they continue to leave then the village will most certainly be slaughtered. If they stay, perhaps they can avoid a bloodbath due to the presence of Western media. Some will go back to help fight for the condemned village and lay their lives on the line.

Attack on Darfur is Boll's attempt to be a serious filmmaker. He's targeted a serious issue and he's going to give it serious attention. And he does, mostly. The first half of the movie is almost entirely expository, attempting to educate an audience ignorant to the depths of the genocide. The film even ends on a post-script lecturing us that because action has not taken place that the world has learned nothing. It's easy to see Boll had some very good intentions with his film, and it follows an Edward Zwick path of preaching. Except while Zwick buries his lessons in easily digestible action. Boll doesn't bury his message. His message is all you will get for 90 minutes. The opening focuses on many establishing shots of village life, and it's truly amazing that the film doesn't condescend or pander. Attack on Darfur feels authentic without having to ratchet up the differences with Western culture. Well, it tips into that territory when Loken hands out deflated balloons to the village kids as a treat. The problem is that all those horror stories end up blurring together, which is a horrible statement. This is because during this 40-minute chunk of exposition, Boll doesn't fully educate about the conflict. All we know is that one group is getting treated really really badly. We don't know about the people's history, about the intricacies of the conflict, or the particulars of who belongs to what.

When the massacre is unleashed Boll doesn't hold anything back. We witness mass murder, rape, baby smashing, baby impaling, baby slicing, child burning, and, oh, more rape. It's a harrowing montage of death and destruction and dehumanization. It's hard to watch, and that's exactly the point. Boll overwhelms with the emotional appeals, trying to raise people's collective sense of outrage. People are lined up and executed. Kids are locked into a hut and then the hut is burned to the ground. Nobody escapes this hellish nightmare. At last, Boll is utilizing commentary with his displays of exploitative violence. However, because of the lengths of degradation, it's hard to even the scales from a storytelling standpoint. The leader of the Janjaweed militia (Sammy Sheik, Charlie Wilson's War) is a way to put a manageable face to a problem too difficult to fix. It introduces a villain that can be vanquished so there's some small sense of satisfaction by the time the movie draws to a close. We yearn for somebody to right these egregious wrongs, and that's who our white journalist characters are supposed to be. I don't exactly know what their plan is considering three head back to save the village and two of them have minimal to no experience with firearms. Three guys with guns vs. much more than three guys with guns? It's even more confusing when our journalists-turned-gunmen stick with their handguns. They fail to grab the automatic weapons from the bad guys they kill, and naturally they run out of ammo when they need it most. While the third act produces some minor level of satisfaction as the bad guys are picked off here and there, we all know where this is headed; there will be no happy ending because that would disrupt the Message.

In the end, despite all the good intentions and horrific displays of violence, I'm left wondering why this story needed to be told? I'm not talking about the backdrop of the Darfur genocide, which clearly needs more attention. But what about this story did Boll and co-writer Chris Roland deem worthy of being their vehicle to garner attention to a worthy cause? The structure follows a very Edward Zwick approach; we're introduced to the moral atrocity and then expected to stand up and make a difference. The first 40 minutes of Attack on Darfur is nothing but characters holding a microphone. That is the only purpose for the majority of our above-the-title recognizable faces. They are mic holders, and perhaps that's a metaphor for the film as a whole but I doubt Boll has thought that deeply. We're treated to extensive montages of village life and the testimonials from actual survivors of genocide (a nice touch by Boll). But what purpose do all of these characters serve if only THREE go back to fight against the Janjaweed? Billy Zane (Titanic, Bloodrayne), Edward Furlong (T2, Stoic), Matt Frewer (Dawn of the Dead, Rampage), and Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3, In the Name of the King)? They all stay in the car.

Completely ignore the poster/DVD cover art. Judging from that artwork, you would think very differently about where the story will head. With Zane front and center, sporting sunglasses and an automatic weapon, you'd naturally think Zane is going to lead a team to defend the victimized. And the bottom half of the artwork contains men in combat armor and attack helicopters looming overhead. But then would you ever guess that those same steely looks and explosions add up to... the advertised thespians sitting in a car looking glum? Their role is to serve as the shocked white faces of anguished reaction so we can truly know how bad things are, because otherwise how would we even know?

Boll is definitely trending upwards in his directing abilities. It's not leaps and bounds but progress is unquestionably being made from the days of House of the Dead. He seems to be aping the visual aesthetic of a different artist with every film. Due to the true-life nature of the genocide it's no surprise that Boll makes use of the Paul Greengrass docu-drama approach: quick edits, swishy camerawork, and extreme close-ups angling to keep the actors faces inside the frame. This visual aesthetic works effectively during the chaos of the massacre, but it proves to be a distraction beforehand. There's no reason that the edits have to be so choppy and the camerawork so self-consciously handheld when characters are just standing around talking. It also somehow manages to minimize the visual urgency of the ensuing massacre. The concluding shootouts are efficiently entertaining without packing any thrills. Boll's command with actors has improved, though this might owe up to the fact that his last couple of his movies have been devoted entirely to improvised dialogue. Reportedly the actors created exhaustive research to study the habits of journalists and create elaborate back-stories for their characters. That's nice. It's also a gigantic waste of time considering the actors have little to do.

Attack on Darfur is a hard film to watch and a difficult one to justify beyond raising awareness. What's the point of the movie's story? Why introduce characters to only have them turn away when danger mounts? I understand Boll wants to communicate the frustration of the inaction to the Darfur genocide. He wants us to get angry when our U.N. peacekeepers keep to the line that they can do no more than observe. Boll wants to compel us to make sure what happens in Darfur will never happen again. Never forget. But this intent to shock and horrify overwhelms his narrative. The message becomes the movie and the characters just get pushed to the edges to make room for more atrocities. Boll would have served his message and his movie better by building a better story.

Nate's Grade: C+
Page 1 of 3