The Four Feathers - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Four Feathers Reviews

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August 16, 2016
A great film that made a moving impression on me.
½ March 23, 2016
Shot beautifully but woefully lacking in decent characterization or adequate pacing.
½ August 25, 2015
A decent tale of a war otherwise not covered by film. I haven't seen much of any movies taking place in this time, so this is a pretty new thing for me, and although it was good I found it to be a bit lacking. The love story is fine I think, I don't mind them but this one eventually gets in the way of the action, which is something I hate. They are not a good mix. Somehow Harry makes it across the desert by himself to save his friends and regiment, but when he arrives he is a little to late. After dressing like a native I guess he gets to do whatever he wants while in enemy territory, a feat we see only to often. He joins the enemy force that is going to kill is comrades so he can go save them I guess, but given he arrives the same time they do it doesn't work out as well as he had hoped. The action scenes are grab in scale and look good from affar, but up close in the thick of it, the individual battles could have been better. I know it's a 14+ movie and all. But I expected better violence and action, it feels a little too much toned down, even if fighting with swords is hard to portray realistically. At the latter parts I was a bit confused in terms of what was happening with Harry, and felt like I missed something, which is possible I guess. Overall it's a decent movie, nothing spectacular, and in a way like Titanic with the story but with a loosing battle instead of a sinking ship taking centre stage, even if the battle isn't the most important event.
July 12, 2015
a really nice movie! rip heath ledger
½ June 26, 2015
Ledger is very good and the locations are beautiful but the story lags and I lost interest three quarters of the way through.
½ January 28, 2015
One of Ledger's least quirky roles leads to a laid back drama about courage in the late 1800's. Very slow but good performances by Ledger, Bentley and Hounsou raise it a notch above merely watchable.
January 6, 2015
Wow, the negative reviews on this miss the point. This is a 21st century reinterpretation - there is a message in the film that reminds us that colonialism (in this case using military power to make other people's lives and cultures as subservient) was really not the proudest moment in human history. Those of you proud of the British empire should probably watch the 1939 version. The rest of you, relax back and enjoy this love film and coming-of-age epic.
November 21, 2014
Those of you who rave against this film obviously have never served in the armed forces. This 2002 version is obviously aimed at those of us who have and are. THAT is why the politics of the thing are not discussed ("Ours is not to reason why..."), why the Sudanese are not treated as two-dimensional villians and why the theme is, for those of you who missed it, you don't fight and die for a "cause," but for the friend on the left and right of you. He could not abandon his friends. Nor was he abandoned by the man who befriended him. It's not meant to be a documentary of a certain war at a certain time but to represent the endless, focusless gulf wars which have gone on for more than a decade. That's why it was made in America, bad accents and all. The British should and must tell their own stories of the gulf wars. The reviewers never made it out of their own insular would of the cinema. Sad you missed the point. I think those of us who have served did not.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2014
As many times as A.E.W. Mason's classic novel has been adapted, do we still only have four feathers? Well, it's not like we're going to be getting any more adaptations of this story any time soon after this, because this film was pretty critically and commercially underwhelming to have what was a star-studded cast for the early 2000s. That's right, people, there was a time before "The Dark Knight" when the late, great Heath Ledger was getting all kinds of work, but it was way back when people knew who Wes Bentley and Djimon Hounsou are, while Kate Hudson was, in fact, in good movies. Yup, I'm that guy who really likes this film, but it's not completely satisfying, at least as British cinema, because I just made reference to Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, Djimon Honsou and Kate Hudson. I don't exactly know where the Brits are, because even the director is, of all types of people, an Indian, although, in all fairness, the Indian in question is Shekhar Kapur. This is the guy who celebrated Queen Elizabeth in two films, and now he's portraying the British Empire trying to take over Africa, so just in case the Brits end up taking over India again, Kapur's going to be getting some special treatment, although it probably won't be for this film. Again, I really like this film, but I can kind of see why people weren't exactly rushing out to see it, you know, outside of the fact that this would have been, like, the twelfth time they were exposed to this story ("The Forty-Eight Feathers").

As inspired as the film is, it does have a few notably lazy areas, with one of the least of its concerns being a high degree of conventionalism which could have been transcended, and is in a few aspects, but not enough obscure the predictability of a trope-heavy and, well, inconsistent path. Everyone criticizes the film's uneven thematic focus, at least when it comes to a viewpoint on cowardice in the face of an ultimately superfluous danger, but a much bigger issue is inconsistencies to narrative focus, whether it be unevenly exploring the individual leads of this ensemble drama, or jarring from each one of the episodic segments. Exploring a juicy romantic triangle, a brutal war, an adventure towards redemption, and other intriguing affairs and themes, this film takes on epic and layered subject matter, and juggles it a little spottily, being both too draggy in certain spots, and too short to really flesh out the flow in its progression, resulting in a disjointed pace that begets a disjointed narrative. As big an issue as anything in the final product, the uneven plotting reflects a narrative bloating that is further reflected in the melodramatics, not in (Okay... here goes) Mark Pellington's, Bruce Joel Rubin's, Greg Brooker's (*Breathe*), Michael Schiffer's, Risa Bramon Garcia's and Hossein Amini's (Whew) script, but in A.E.W. Mason's original story, which is often driven by manufactured and improbable motivations and happenings that could have been sold if the final product had the control to match its ambition. I've complained about the laziness of the film, but when sentimentality is overblown for theatrical contrivances over genuine tension and drama, ambition really starts to draw your attention to the shortcomings, which includes a laziness in a sense of sweep, for although the scope and depth of this film are adequate, there's something undercooked about the many angles of Mason's classic melodrama. Entertaining and compelling, the film doesn't boast the excitement that it could have taken to a strong, maybe even outstanding point, and under the weight of its predictability, inconsistencies and melodramatics, it is secured shy of what it could have been. Regardless, the final product rewards more thoroughly than many say, because for every misstep, there is inspiration to craft a compelling and, of course, beautiful flick.

The great James Horner approaches this project with his trademark emotive sweep to make the sentimental moments all the sappier, but his score remains outstanding in its range, with hauntingly tender minimalist touches and symphonic touches which encompass anything from tension to realized emotional heights that help in defining the soul of the film, as surely as it defines the epic's aesthetic value. The also great Robert Richardson does further justice to the artistic integrity of this drama, with cinematography whose rugged coloration is gotten used to after a while, but whose stunning lighting and grand scope immerse you into a versatile world that Zack Grobler's, Keith Pain's and the assisting Rachid Quiat's art direction builds lavishly, with the help of Allan Cameron's intricate production designs and Ruth Myers' lovely costume designs. The film is beautiful, there's no denying that, even among those who criticize the substance that accompanies this epic's drama, for the aesthetic aspects of this film do a more consistent job than the storytelling at doing justice to A.E.W. Mason's vision, of an epic which encompasses elements of war in all of its horror, social conflicts, romantic melodrama, and all sorts of other juicy themes within a sweeping scope. There is a lot of intrigue within this story to do justice, and injustice, and the screenwriting team of (Here we go again) Mark Pellington, Bruce Joel Rubin, Greg Brooker, Michael Schiffer (Boo-hoo! Does it ever end?), Risa Bramon Garcia and Hossein Amini do both, formulaically and very, very unevenly exploring Mason's narrative, but still holding your attention with wit, as well as some humor to help humanize the characters, whose other layers are well-drawn enough to make this a compelling ensemble piece even on paper. Not all of the characters are given as much attention as they probably should be given, but they all endear, and that's largely because the acting is so strong, particularly within such supporting talents as the charismatic Djimon Honsou, and Wes Bentley as an honorable military man who finds great personal challenges on and off of the battlefield, and within Heath Ledger, who captures his good-hearted character's transformation from a coward fearing a needless demise, to an adventurer seeking redemption and salvation for himself and his peers. There are a lot of people to drive the dramatic resonance of this undercooked epic, but where the engagement value most thrives is within Shekhar Kapur's direction, whose tight scene structuring unexpectedly sustains a consistent entertainment value, punctuated by grand, if near-bloodless scenes of battle, and by inspired moments in thoughtful dramatic storytelling which transcend, if not utilize the sentimentality to engross, if not provide the occasional glimpse into a stronger film. With more nuance, consistency and sweep, this film could have gone far, but for all of its shortcomings, its heart pumps enough blood into this epic for it to consistently compel.

In conclusion, the familiarity and gross unevenness to the telling of this worthy tale whose melodramatics are exacerbated by sentimentality, and whose scope is betrayed by other superficialities which betray a potential for considerable strength that could have been fulfilled through the beautiful score work, cinematography and art direction, nuanced writing and acting, and colorful, when not engrossing direction which secure Shekhar Kapur's "The Four Feathers" as an entertaining and fairly rewarding interpretation of A.E.W. Mason's classic epic story.

3/5 - Good
½ May 21, 2014
a tale that tried to appear as an epic but just became simple story
April 23, 2014
An ill conceived, politically correct, hatchet job on a classic story.
½ February 28, 2014
Of all the versions of this movie, this is by far the worst. Trite,nonseniscal, idiotically lousily plotted... just plain dumb. A nonsensical waste
½ February 25, 2014
history movie, i'm game!
December 3, 2013
It's quite a bold move to open this period epic with a football game of all things, one that includes Heath Ledger and a bunch of hotties going at it on the field. But director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) can only keep up the ruse for so long before we get the picture: they're playing rugby, the actors are all British officers and The Four Feathers, taken from the 1902 novel by A.E.W. Mason focuses on the 1884 British campaign to attain a key piece of Northern Africa.

Ledger does his best with the material as Harry Feversham, the general's son who resigns on the eve of a battle in the Sudan. His three comrades each send him a white feather, a symbol for cowardice. The fourth is delivered by his fiancee Ethne (Kate Hudson). Talk about a kick in the nads.

From there Harry spends the rest of the movie posing as an Arab and trying to rescue his friends to prove his mettle. It could have been a nice adventure, and it is at times, with brilliantly poetic cinematography from the great Robert Richardson (JFK), who portrays these scenes like beautiful paintings. But then Kapur bogs down the visual awe with stilted profundity.

Then there's the romance angle. Harry's fried Jack (Wes Bentley) does all he can to steal away Ethne, and its a triangle that zaps the film of much needed energy. An to hear Hudson put on a Brit accent defines cringe-inducing, and tat's not even mentioning the character who opens his eyes to the horrors of war after he's blinded. Ugh.
July 25, 2013
This is a real movie I'd say. Portraying more what goes inside of our hearts if we were to pass through things like that in a war like fears and loyalty, I loved it. 5 stars.
July 2, 2013
With an overblown spectacle and bloated emotion, The Four Feathers just barely stays alive with nice shots and good tension in its action scenes. It does suffer from a misdirected style and a blinding Western perspective which are also executed with shoddy editing, squeezing in the most of minimal, unnecessary shots.
½ April 7, 2013
A harrowing film with a desperate plot and horrific moments. Some superb acting thoroughout from Sheen, Ledger and Bentley, not a fun film in any way but an emotional journey through war, imprisonment and cowardice.
Super Reviewer
½ April 4, 2013
Don't care what anyone else says. This is my second-favorite Heath Ledger film (second only to Brokeback Mountain). And Wes Bentley -- for all his personal problems -- is FRICKIN' HAWT in this film. (Wes -- hit me up on Flixster if you wanna date, m'kay?) Costumes and location magic? Holla!
½ March 30, 2013
Awesome cast! The costumes and the locations are gorgeous to look at. But, I just didn't feel for the characters.
March 21, 2013
The late Heath Ledger was decent in this film I Couldn't keep up with it at time but it does seem to have a good premise
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