Black Rain Reviews
The visual quality of Black Rain is fairly rough. The actual quality of the camera used is somewhat poor because there is a lot of blurry fuzz imposed on the screen which is clear particularly in scnees which are lit clearly. I'm not sure if this is due to the quality of the DVD release or if it hasn't been appropriately remastered to fit in with today's expectations, but either way a $30 million film should really not look as murky as Black Rain does. It really detracts from the experience, and while it is easy to ignore during some of the scenes where the backdrop is mostly a simple few shades of grey and therefore featuring a rather blank colour palette which is actually quite consistent in Black Rain, as a whole it was always something which bothered me. An entire film with this much blur and grain is never a good thing, and while it doesn't make it difficult to actually comprehend what is going on, it does stand in the way of making the visual experience of Black Rain the great thing that it had the potential to become. A lot of the film is good looking, but it is stuck underneath the camera's poor visual quality which detracts from the experience.
Black Rain is a film which comes into comparison with the similarly themed crime thriller from 1985 entitled Year of the Dragon. While I didn't particularly like Year of the Dragon, it at least made the effort to balance the obsessive nature of the protagonist with focus on his personal life and his involvement in the crime world. Black Rain is a lot more shallow as it is bereft of thoughtful characters and instead is very stylishly focused. They both have similar stories, although Year of the Dragon told it's better and did it with more thought. In Black Rain I'll admit that the cinematography of the film is nice because it is consistently atmospheric in the most appropriate manner and the scenery of the film is great because it gives everything a sense of legitimacy, as well as the fact that the action scenes in the flm are a lot better and significantly more exciting. But all of this cannot disguise the fact that the story is a mostly predictable one which is lacking in narrative creativity. Ridley Scott gives the film a certain edge, but it is all in terms of style because the story in Black Rain is only memorable as being one which viewers will remember from countless other films which range from being better to worse. The only consistently good thing in the movie was the musical score because it easily brought the mood of the film into perspective and encourged the atmosphere.
Though Ridely Scott helmed the role of director on Black Rain, the film did not hit as hard as I was expecting. It ended up one of his more generic efforts which is a shame because while he does make it a stylish feature, he doesn't maintain a grip on the story. It doesn't go all that far or break much new ground but rather goes over a formula with a different setting to it. The cultural aspects of the film are interesting to a certain extent, partially because the scenery of the film is beautiful, but the clashbetween Japanese and American culture is never explored enough for it to be that interesting. Ridley Scott seems to take the setting for granted because he fails to dramatise or emphasise the maximum potential of the film, and while this would largely be in part to the lacklustre screenplay that Craig Bolotin and Warren Lewis make him work with, he doesn't seem tobe able to add his own touch. Black Rain is a largely forgettable effort from him which shows no sign that he is the director, and it would have succeeded a lot more as a guilty pleasure crafted by Cannon Films if they had the budget and the scenery. The action scenes are on par with Canon Films in terms of quality, but quantity is where it comes up short. And while this didn't bother me as the film was more of a crime drama than a straightfoward action film, a few more shootouts and motorbike chases could have made the film easier to enjoy. But as that is not the case, Black Rain is not an impressive movie.
But despite all of this, Michael Douglas' lead role in Black Rain is one of the best parts about it. While the character is not sketched to be all that deep, Michael Douglas does justice in the part because he delivers the two neccesarry aspects to the part: He stands firm and strong as a good action hero and brings the right level of grit to the role to elevate it beyond its scriptural limitations. Michael Douglas seamlessly steps into the role and brings his natural persona with him but adds in a touch of gritty tension which makes him an edgy protagonist, and in the process he is able to render himself the driving force of the story. His fearless confidence is just great because it ensures that he is energetically involved with the story on a consitent basis, and the level of tension he puts into the part never drops off. His performance makes the film more enjoyable because he is a compelling and heroic protagonist easily, and he shares a firm chemistry with Andy Garcia. He is a seriously welcome lead in Black Rain.
And Garcia's supporting performance is a decent touch as well.
But despite decent acting, a mostly strong visual style and some great action moments, Black Rain stretches its formulaic premise for too long and lacks enough surprises or originality to truly justify itself.
Ridley Scott à la production.
Avec Michael Douglas. Et à la Musique Hans Zimmer !
2nd, TOHO CINEMAS Nagoya Baycity, 2014/8/7