Critic Review - Orlando Sentinel

Glibly put, this challenging time-skipping rumination is the big screen equivalent of watching that "Tree" grow.

June 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Comments (68)
Orlando Sentinel
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Paul D.

Paul Deblinger

I don't know how they pick top reviewers for RT but this is a totally ignorant review by someone who doesn't understand that film is primarily a visual art. He calls the film "indulgent," but it is far less indulgent than insipid films like Hangover II or Avatar. This review is the equivalent of dissing a literary novel like 100 Years of Solitude as indulgent. Moore proves he should be moved to the sports section or perhaps obituaries.

Jun 30 - 04:37 AM

Spec-tac-ular

William Bowens

Burn!! nice one

Jul 6 - 02:24 AM

Dictator Fred

Dictator Fred

No, you are just a god-awful film snob who criticizes entertaining, popular movies like Avatar as "insipid" because they're beloved by ordinary people everywhere, and then worship inaccessable (sp) movies that are more self-indulgant, and really boring like The Tree of Life as literary masterpieces, simply because common people like myself can't stand them. Roger Moore actually likes movies, unlike you. Go back to watching boring black and white or foreign films that nobody cares about, you condescending hack!

Sep 7 - 04:58 PM

Mike Fabi

Mike Fabi

Dictator F, a movies merit has nothing to do with its commercial success. Please do not ignorantly categorize all cinema under such a pretense. There is no real problem with Avatar or any other big budget film that is made decently. In fact many big budget, accessible films will go down as classics. However, saying that less accessible movies are shit or "self-indulgent" just because you cant understand them is pure ignorance. A lot of the time so-called less accessible films, are so because the average person is not capable of digesting the purpose or message behind the movie. Its a shame that the masses can't sit through a movie without an explosion or completely on the nose themes.

Oct 2 - 11:49 PM

Sharron Riddle Houdek

Sharron Riddle Houdek

Anyone who enjoyed this film must really be; A: A film snob and B: enjoy documentaries, because this was like one long documentary. Yes, it was visually stunning. But just becuase some of us didn't enjoy it that does mean we have no taste. Since when is your taste more relevant than mine? How can you rip others for voicing opinions? That makes you not a film snob, just a selimortant snob.

Nov 13 - 04:56 PM

Grand M.

Grand Mesa

Mike F, next time a film like this comes out, we'll put you in the garden in the fruit section to watch it.

Nov 17 - 06:37 AM

Mark Wambui

Mark Wambui

Really??!! Dictator... please review your comment, I don't think you read through what you wrote.

Dec 19 - 12:44 PM

Mark Wambui

Mark Wambui

Really??!! Dictator... please review your comment, I don't think you read through what you wrote.

Dec 19 - 12:44 PM

Mark Wambui

Mark Wambui

Really??!! Dictator... please review your comment, I don't think you read through what you wrote.

Dec 19 - 12:44 PM

Annie Wilson

Annie Wilson

Dictator F, I agree with you. I have to say though.. before you write a comment make sure you spell check and don't make idiotic arguments.

Feb 2 - 03:26 PM

Nate Swissa

Nate Swissa

haha, nice

Feb 18 - 08:43 PM

AmazonBlonde

Helen Lakatos

Roger Moore provides the best and most honest review out there on Tree of Life, which is not a movie as it was advertised, but rather just a compilation of unrelated clips. It does not follow the ideals of good and proper story writing, which is what most people expect when going to see "a movie" which is advertised as a "movie" and not a "visual art".

A gathering of clips that are too long, disconnected, ambiguous and end up downright annoying when edited together so poorly, which in effect caused the majority of those in the audience to want to leave within the first 15 minutes, (as evidenced by simply turning around and noticing the disgust on their faces and listening to the groans after the movie is over) does not a good movie make. Moore describes the movie as it was to him, boring, and doesn't go on about what the movie "aspires to be" as those who liked it tend to write.

If the trailer for this movie didn't pretend to be what most audiences would describe as a movie as they know movies to be, if it didn't promote it as having Sean Penn as its star (he's only in cameo's folks, saying less than 10 words in the film), if the music didn't drone on at constant crescendo (which by the way removes the enjoyable effect a crescendo has in its proper place), if it didn't claim that Sean Penn's character tries to reconcile something which he clearly wasn't demonstrated as doing, the list goes on, then those who dislike it have very good reasons for disliking it.

Viewers will not like this movie if they are someone who believes that a Grade A is deserved for the job done well and not for something that aspires to be good work. If this film's ad promo descriptions and its trailer purported to be "visual art" instead of a movie, I'm sure that Roger Moore may have rated it in comparison with other "visual art" interpretations. In response to another comment here, Avatar at least had a storyline with proper story-writing conventions.

Here are the basics to a good story:
Introduction (Introduces characters, setting, time, etc.)
Initiating Action (The point of a story that starts the rising action)
Rising Action (Events leading up to the climax/turning point)
Climax (The most intense point of the story/the turning point of the story)
Falling Action (your story begins to conclude)
Resolution/Conclusion (a satisfying ending to the story in which the central conflict is resolved - or not -)

For anyone expecting the above basics, you will probably not enjoy this film. By the way, that will not make you ignorant, but simply someone who knows what they like and don't like.

Jul 7 - 02:18 PM

Bushleaguer28

Brian Priestley

"unrelated clips"? The clips are very related

Jul 16 - 11:23 AM

Grand M.

Grand Mesa

I bet you never figured out who your parents were either.

Nov 17 - 06:40 AM

Derek Carter

Derek Carter

"big screen equivalent of watching a 'Tree' grow..."

What's wrong with that? Did you expect anything else from Malick? Have you not seen "Days of Heaven", "The New World", "Badlands" or "The Thin Red Line"? The man gives close-ups to trees, so what else would you expect but a story searching for the organic nature of life through 1950's mid-America?

The trailer did a great job of portraying the mood and tone of the film and anyone basing their theatrical choice simply on a log-line is taking a risk at seeing something their either not prepared for or not in the mood to see. I love Malick's films, but I had to wait a month to see to get the best experience - and I'm glad I did. Malick's storytelling isn't like Hollywood's traditional form of storytelling, which doesn't fully rely on visuals, an overpowering soundtrack, and voice-over to create an emotional experience. I felt like I lived in that family in Waco, TX during the 1950's, though I wasn't alive until thirty years after. While some people love this about Malick, others who haven't seen any of his other films weren't prepared for what makes Malick an "auteur" ("author" in French). Something Hollywood doesn't support, for this reason, because polarizing an audience with a film's budget being $30-70M could have great financial consequences.

Mark my words, in 30 years when "Captain America" and "Transformers 3" will be forgotten about, there will still be people talking about and watching "The Tree of Life" because it is 'indulgent' (what's wrong with being indulgent, especially visually indulgent).

Jul 25 - 09:31 AM

Dictator Fred

Dictator Fred

Hey, don't hate on Captain America, man, and don't compare it to crap like TF3. That movie actually had a plot, and is actually able to be enjoyed by anyone who can actually appreciate movies that don't take themselves too seriously, and anyone who is willing to have a good time. I loved it. The Tree of Life, on the other hand, is pretentious garbage that revels in its inaccesability and incoherrence, and is only praised by pretentious "intellectuals" that want to look really smart and sophisticated but really aren't.

Sep 7 - 05:03 PM

Joseph  M.

Joseph Miller

You still haven't explained why you think "The Tree of Life" is a bad movie.

Feb 5 - 01:14 PM

Cole Jaeger

Cole Jaeger

Well that clearly isn't your type of movie, but people who like it don't think they are smart intellectuals who are above others in their comprehension of movies. If you pay attention and understand the "two ways" before the movie it is actually easy to understand. My parents got it and they don't watch movies like this ever. I guess it just makes you feel better to convince yourself that it's not you that doesn't understand it, but that no one does and everyone acts like they do.

Aug 18 - 07:35 AM

Zachary Kynaston

Zachary Kynaston

My thoughts Exactly, kind sir.

Oct 22 - 01:25 AM

Adam Floro

Adam Floro

"The Tree of Life" is the only Terrence Malick film I've seen, however it did convince me to see more of his films, which, I definitely think is the job of any filmmaker. It had a very captivating visual style, could've been edited a little tighter, but was not as dragged out as everyone made it out to be. The writing, however, was uninteresting, uninspired, and completely incomprehensible. There was a good idea at the beginning, but it didn't seem to go anywhere. What it felt like to me was he stopped in the middle of the script and decided to make that into a movie and threw in a completely unnecessary 45 minute long segment of flying through outer space and going back in time to dinosaurs. This segment was very beautiful, but it took me completely out of the world of the film. I was interested in the characters, but after about 30 minutes I began to wonder if I'd see them again, if I weren't so patient, I'd have turned it off and returned it without finishing it. I imagine many people walked out of the theater at this point. Movies should not be about the intellect. They can be smart, and I do think about films, but seriously, if you want a lecture, go to school. In my humble opinion, movies should go for the heart and the gut.

P.S. Parts of the film did hit me in the gut and there were quite a few heart-wrenching moments, but on the whole, I think the script needed more rewrites.

P.S.S. Brad Pitt was very good in the film. I'd like to see more performances like that out of him. He really came into his own in that role. He's had a good streak lately. I think we're finally seeing Brad Pitt the actor instead of Brad Pitt the movie star.

Jan 18 - 11:16 AM

Datong Liu

Datong Liu

Now THAT was a good review! I also bared witness to people leaving within the first 15-30 minutes of the film. As soon as the planets came up and the dialogued stopped for 5 minutes, I seriously thought I was watching a screen saver with sound. Yes I get it, it's a visual representation of earth and life. However, the slow pacing of the film became absolutely soporific during those moments. The story of trauma, childhood innocence, adolescent rebellion, parenthood and conflicts were good enough to stand by itself as a movie. No need for the "pretentious" screen savers, dinosaur scenes, etc. The cinematography was beautiful, and the story was telling for its time. But I couldn't disagree more with people that call this film a masterpiece.

Aug 2 - 07:41 AM

Jillian Roberge

Jillian Roberge

Datolong L-
AMEN!

Oct 30 - 02:10 PM

Russ Knepp

Russ Knepp

it just sucked

Jul 1 - 06:50 PM

Gino Anello

Gino Anello

Read this: http://bloggingmoviesrus.blogspot.com/2011/06/tree-of-life-review-and-analysis.html
please. Derek C is completely right. It's the difference between film and movie. It's the difference between art-house and hollywood. It's the difference between art and entertainment. You should understand the amazingness of the cinematography, the philosophical and religious messages underlying the piece, and inventiveness of changing the time-structure of a film not seen since Memento(2001).

Also, even though he found the perfect character to fit one of his roles(Sean Penn), he didn't change his original script to get Sean Penn more screen time and dilute his message.

Aug 3 - 12:29 PM

Karen Oberholster

Karen Oberholster

I SO agree with you, I took it from the video store, expecting a 'movie' and was bamboozled by the (albeit beautiful) artistic essence of what I was watching.

Dec 26 - 01:29 AM

Michelle Diaz

Michelle Diaz

I completely agree with this analysis. My husband and I rented this movie based on the trailor and when the film cut to showing scene, after scene, after tiring scene we still stuck in there ... for over 30 minutes. Well, I should say "he" hung in there because after 10-15 minutes of music and clips, I fell asleep. Bash me if you will, but the film really was dreadful. At least to the "ordinary" person.

Jan 24 - 06:29 AM

Elaine Oliver

Elaine Oliver

Agreed. Never had a better movie to fall asleep to

Aug 21 - 09:45 AM

Samuel Curley

Samuel Curley

Idiot

Mar 15 - 10:21 AM

Kristijonas Fussman

Kristijonas Fussman

Excellent post. I couldn't agree more. This "film" is more of a "visual poem" than anything else... which is misleading to an audience expecting an actual film. I thought it was pretentious and bloated... and I'm a pretty open minded person.

Jul 11 - 10:29 AM

Justin Jaeger

Justin Jaeger

Wait til this is considered one of the best movies ever made. It already got placed number 102 on the sight and sound greatest films of all time critics poll

Aug 28 - 06:32 AM

Movie F.

Movie Fan

Although I disagree with the review, it is nontheless well written and unbiased. My comment is in response to the other comment posted in defense of this review.

Simply put, film is whatever it can be. It has no quidelines, no rules, and certainly no "intro, climax, resolution" format that it must follow. Examples of directers that do this are the Cohens and Tarantino (although they have different methods of painting their pictures).

Objectively, I thought the movie was not misrepresented at all, the trailers showed us a whispered narrative with very visual statements and abstract metaphors for the subject matter (no plot was suggested). Additionally, jump cuts were shown which varied from creation, to the family tale, to adult Jack, with abstract images. Clearly thick subject matter that presents itself as a universal statement (which is actually more of a question.)

Subjectivelly, I thought this movie was phenomenal. Visually stunning, stimulating subject matter, and most of all..respect from a film maker..I feel insulted when studios and directors dumb down movie goers to explosions and CG. Which brings me to my only complaint about the film; the CG dinosaurs. A little bit better graphics and a little better editing on two cuts about 7 min. into the movie and this is in my opinion the epitome of cinema.

Jul 15 - 01:38 PM

AmazonBlonde

Helen Lakatos

MovieF - Thanks for a respectful response comment based on factual observations of the movie from your point of view. True, what I provided was more of a guideline for a traditional good story writing. I just did not find Tree of Life satisfying during any part of the movie (other than some of Pitt's or the boy's stories at times) nor in its resolution/conclusion or whatever Malick wants to call his ending or overall message.

Love Cohen movies and really, all kinds of different formats, eras, you name it. This movie just hit me the wrong way at every turn, and a lot of other viewers agree to the point of there has been such a large number of walkouts, many theaters are posting warnings to help people understand the type of movie it is more before they pay. I feel this exemplifies the fact that the trailer and posted description just isn't cutting it.

I just wish those posted warnings had been there when I went!


Jul 15 - 09:41 PM

Ted Lou

Ted Lou

I only saw young Jack "suddenly" grew into adult Jack, interposed by theological mystification. The interim was just simply truncated. Overly simplified religious salvation can't convince, or even remotely, entertain any serious audience.

Dec 10 - 07:35 PM

Grand M.

Grand Mesa

Movie F...if you should be a film student, please do your class a favor and never hold a camera in your hand.

Jan 5 - 08:23 AM

Christian Heinitz

Christian Heinitz

glibly put, roger moore is stupid.

Jul 19 - 06:58 PM

Grand M.

Grand Mesa

Chris, take a look in the mirror lately?

Jan 5 - 08:27 AM

Stanley Steinbeck

Shyam Sundar

Yes that he is.

Mar 16 - 07:51 AM

Lieut Enant Lorcs

Lieut Enant Lorcs

I couldnt agree more with this critic.

Jul 20 - 01:40 PM

Michele Harrod

Michele Harrod

Totally agree

Jul 30 - 11:21 PM

Torin List

Torin List

I absolutely loved the cinematography in this movie. That part of it was stunningly beautiful and emotionally moving. The only thing it lacked was... well, everything else.

Aug 7 - 09:21 PM

Todd Ford

Todd Ford

I've never seen so many people praise the films of Larry Cohen in one place. Good to see. He deserves it. The Coen bros sure, but never Larry before. As for The Tree of Life, why hasn't this thing been released in my town yet? Is it because almost 40% of the people who've seen it have hated it. Hell, Moore is probably doing his job quite well by warning his readership about it being a slow rumination.

Aug 12 - 08:01 PM

Iwan Aziz

Iwan Aziz

seems like he haven't watch 2001 Space Odyssey. Poor guy.

Aug 16 - 10:18 AM

Torin List

Torin List

I loved 2001: A Space Odyssey and disliked this movie. Deal with it.

Sep 10 - 04:58 PM

Isaac Dominguez

Isaac Dominguez

I agree with Moore's review's less than 10% of the time. The man's a complete moron.

The trailer suggested a visual film with the narrative coming strictly from what you can grasp from the situation on screen. All the scenes were completely relevant. They perfectly illustrated what is involved in being an existing person in this universe. It was a spectacular feat of cinema. It was exactly as I expected.

I also expected the director to either underestimate our ability to grasp a concept, or overestimate our ability to sustain an emotion (which is why those final scenes seemed to be quite exaggerated). That's my only critique. The film should've been 20 minutes shorter.

Of course, this movie's message is sort of preaching to the choir, as it may be that I was only fascinated by it because I had already agreed with the message before sitting down. Although, I have different opinions on the displays of the two opposing sides than the director, I believe. But that's a matter of perspective, and I love that this movie showed his difference in opinion.

Can we please take Moore off the Top Reviewers list?

Aug 18 - 09:32 AM

Matthew Thomas

Matthew Thomas

"I agree with Moore's review's less than 10% of the time. The man's a complete moron. "

Is he a complete moron because he doesn't agree with you?

Jan 23 - 11:40 AM

Celestina Azzoni

Celestina Azzoni

"The Tree of Death"? By the end of it I felt like I needed resusitation! Holy toledo...self-indulgent, aimless, pretentious, labourious, non-sensical, too long, painful, tiring, headache inducing, waste of money...enough said!

Sep 17 - 12:49 AM

Alek Sabin

Alek Sabin

Perhaps you could tell me exactly where you are confused about the aims of the film, and then I could try and help you understand them? That way, we are trying to learn from each other and you can get a sense of why I liked it and why others see something very existential. And then I can better understand what you thought was lacking, and why it might have been lacking thus.

Sep 19 - 10:16 PM

John Car

John Car

All comments have very nice theories, but... Malick reads Goethe:

"Grey, my friend, is every theory / And green is Life‚??s golden tree."

Never thought this film was a joke and that your lovely theories were part of it?

‚??If you‚??re good, people take advantage of you‚??, father warns Jack. You are too much full of grace to understand that Malick is manipulating you for his own delight.
Mother told you that there are "two ways through (the tree of) life..." Try nature's.

"delirium...plays with the universe and its laws as if they were toys‚?? (Bataille).
It plays with you too.

http://reviewingtreeoflife.blogspot.com/

Sep 23 - 06:46 PM

Jeremy Anderson

Jeremy Anderson

Many American film goers (I have no basis to comment on other countries) have come to expect every movie they see to be fast food - easily digestible, predictable, forgettable, and over quickly.

This film was sold very accurately and if you took the time to learn ANYTHING about the director, it would not have surprised you... The people walking out were people who went because they love Brad Pitt or Sean Penn.

While there is nothing wrong with a good popcorn flick, many have been led to believe it's ALL that cinema has to offer, which is sad... One doesn't have to like an arthouse film (which this clearly is) to respect it.

I don't enjoy movies like Transformers 3 but respect that without them, smaller fare like this never gets made. I also understand that 16 yr old boys need something to watch with their friends and that people need to get out of the summer heat and be comatose for two hours while assaulted with cgi explosions which allow them to turn off their mind and forget their day - I get it... it's just not my preferred form of escape. There is more that ONE way.

Seldom do "film snobs" come and complain about the big dumb tent poles like TF 3... it's always the people who watch little more than those films who come and complain about films like these - which they don't understand and can't be bothered with trying. As if having a film be too smart or too challenging is a bad thing.

It's like comparing an original and challenging painting you have to sit and ruminate on for hours against a mass copied print you buy at target because the price is right and your walls are bare. One has a meaning and one is filling space.

For the poor soul who commented on the "basics for a good film", I feel sorry for you. That's a narrow, constricted, and elementary school level approach to film.

I also thought I read someone actually bash watching "black and white and foreign films" as if it's a bad thing... I believe your picture is waiting for you to pick up at Target. How about grabbing a big mac on the way home.

Dislike the film if you will, that's fine and it did have it's flaws... but simply bashing one for liking something you don't understand plays you as the fool. Calling one "an intellectual" is only considered a bad thing by people who think subtitles are lame and old films suck because - well - they are old.

Sep 21 - 06:15 AM

Mark Wambui

Mark Wambui

Wise my friend wise

Dec 19 - 12:51 PM

Joe Yuskaitis

Joe Yuskaitis

i agree completely with you; word for word.

Jan 29 - 09:01 PM

Ginny Keniry

Ginny Keniry

Well said.

Apr 28 - 07:01 PM

Jo„o Crastes

Jo„o Crastes

What a perfect comment, seriously.

Jun 22 - 06:26 AM

Subhra R.

Subhra Roy

Problem is, those who disliked tree of life disliked it because it bored them, not because of its flaws, which are not very many. I believe people disliking this film were too ignorant to even find its flaws. They hated it because, as you said, no explosions.

Sep 22 - 08:46 PM

Sean Wu

Sean Wu

I could see what was at fault in the movie, but it certainlt doesn't need a 1.5/4! That's a "your movie sucks" grade in Ebert's book.

Sep 21 - 02:26 PM

Antonio J.

Antonio Jesus

Even if you don't understand the film, visually, it's poetry.
The acting is so real and touching.

With all respect, Mr. Moore, you should review films like The A-Team, or those horrible and predictable series which are shown on TV.

Everybody should accept their limitations. Mr. Moore: You are not capable of reviewing this kind of films. It's beyond your reach.I suppose you can't understand it is not in 3D, and there are no blue cats on it.
Shame on Malick.

Sep 30 - 06:25 PM

Antonio J.

Antonio Jesus

PS: I love action cinema. I'm far from being a snob.

Sep 30 - 06:27 PM

Antonio J.

Antonio Jesus

PS: I love action cinema. I'm far from being a snob.

Sep 30 - 06:27 PM

Jason Staley

Jason Staley

you must be gay

Oct 24 - 06:27 PM

Danny  S.

Danny Scott

yah, some artsy fartsy load shit. NOT A MOVIE

Oct 14 - 08:05 PM

Jason Staley

Jason Staley

this movie blows well said sir!

Oct 24 - 06:26 PM

Grand M.

Grand Mesa

This film was just plain boring with a director who doesn't know how to direct and an editor who is spaced out on a sugar cube!

Nov 17 - 02:39 AM

Megan Elsen

Megan Elsen

go watch 'the thin red line' before you make that assumption.

Nov 27 - 08:07 PM

Travis Tagart

Travis Tagart

I loved it. Not for any other reason than: "It was just beautiful..." And I don't need an addictive story line and 'investment in characters' to enjoy a movie. I need beauty. I need it to make me enjoy it. I enjoyed it.
That's that.

Nov 28 - 10:35 PM

Grand M.

Grand Mesa

Travis T, may I suggest an alternative: try magic mushrooms. But then, you might never want to watch another movie again.

Jan 5 - 08:32 AM

Ted Lou

Ted Lou

I only saw young Jack "suddenly" grew into adult Jack, interposed by theological mystification. The interim was just simply truncated. Overly simplified religious incantations and eventual salvation can't convince, or even remotely, entertain any serious audience.

Dec 10 - 07:44 PM

Sally Dyer

Sally Dyer

Would have been better if the dinosaur had put his foot on Sean Penns head. This movie, and I use that term loosely, SUX!

Dec 17 - 11:25 AM

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