All the Pretty Horses Reviews
It is rather unfortunate that this film turned out the way it did, given it's outstanding source material. Studio interference and some poor casting ultimately make All the Pretty Horses a flat and disappointing film with a few high points here and there.
First of all, casting Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz and Henry Thomas, who were 30, 26 and 29 at the time of filming, in roles where the characters are 16, 17 and 17 was a massive mistake. Part of what makes the book so great is the coming of age element, and here that is completely lost on all characters, with the exception of the character of Jimmy Blevins who is played very well by Lucas Black.
However, the main problem with this movie is that it is abundantly clear that the studio ripped it to shreds in regards to running time and even its musical score. The movie was apparently around the 2 hour and 40 minute mark originally, but was chopped down to an hour and 56 minutes. The poor and rushed editing is the film's greatest flaw throughout and seriously hinders character and story development. The music is troublesome as well. I am very curious to know what Daniel Lanois' score was like, but that we'll probably never know, as he refuses to allow it to be licensed since the studio took his music out of the picture and replaced him with Marty Stuart, whose music is superficial at best and cheesy at its worst, and it unfortunately is at its worst far too often. To put it in perspective, Stuart only went on to compose four more film scores.
The saddest thing I take away from this film is that it is very clear that there is a good movie under the surface. Despite the miscast characters, the actors still are doing a good enough job in their roles as they are and the story maintained the important elements of the book. Had it only been allowed to breathe, we might've been given a good Western. As it is, it's merely mediocre.
(2000) All The Pretty Horses
Co-written and directed by Billy Bob Thorton adapting the best selling novel by Cormac McCarthy who was also credited for providing the screenplay. Takes place right after WWII, with best friends, John Grady(Matt Damon) and Rawlins(Henry Thomas) craving for the old western life. But when mom agrees to sell the huge ranch property to the oil companies, so that she can retire to sunny side California, the two then decide to head across the border to Mexico so that they can continue their rustling life. And they end up taking in an underage 16 year old runaway, named Blevins(Lucas Black) unaware what is waiting for them. Although, the movie has an ending, the entire journey seems so artificial.
2 out of 4 stars
The first thing that did bother me, however was the fact that a All The Pretty Horses cuts off a significant amount of the importance from the first scenes in the novel and paces it exasperatingly fast for a western film or particularly one based on such a slow novel. It gives no depth or explanation into why the characters are traveling, rather giving a rushed summary of some of the most important events in the story. It eventually deteriorates into being a dramatically uninvolving story which makes it a boring one with little entertainment value or understanding of what importance it's source novel had as it follows a completely different film style which includes changes such as translating the Spanish language from the original novel which takes away its bleak ambiguity which made it important or relevant whatsoever. Frankly, Billy Bob Thorton takes the opportunity to adapt a classic of western literature and dumbs it down to Kim Kardashian standards. His direction was effortless and terrible on All The Pretty Horses, and he deserves a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for his errors as director of Cormac McCarthy's western piece.
Eventually, All The Pretty Horses deteriorates into being an unintentional comedy because the general quality of it is so low and so poor that watching the blank expressions on Matt Damon's face became humourous to me. I mean, I didn't really enjoy the novel but the film is one of the most scandalous western wastes I've ever seen, and remember I've seen Heaven's Gate. All The Pretty Horses should have its entire title dubbed to something else so audiences don't think it's pretty or in anyway related to Cormac McCarthy's novel. Truly, Billy Bob Thorton gives some of his worst direction here, because he decides to strip the subplots off down to the bare story as then only bother to capture less than a third of it in an inaccurate and poor manner, dragging down the talents of the cast with him by wasting their skills on a mediocre script and having them use sub-par acting.
When I say sub par, I mean that Matt Damon underacts, and Penelope Cruz overacts so poorly that they have the chemistry of William Shatner and Kristen Stewart. And in case that reference isn't clear, that would be bad chemistry. And this IS bad chemistry. And eventually, I forgot the character Blevins ever existed because Henry Thomas seems to have just petered out along the way.
This film just sucked, as did its editing, shaky cinematography and rough visual quality.
The only thing keeping me from calling it one of the worst movies of all time was that I found myself generally impressed with Lucas Black's performance as Jimmy Blevins was great. He put understanding into the character and conveyed who he was: a confident and strong man in a chulds body, and I believed him. I actually learned more about Jimmy Blevins thanks to Lucas Black's performance, so things completely bad even though he gets stuck with a flimsy script.
Also, the music was ok.
But overall, there is nothing Pretty about All The Pretty Horses and I'm sure 57 better films could have been made on the $57 million budget that this film was produced on.