The Postman

1997

The Postman

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

9%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 35

50%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 55,578
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Movie Info

Kevin Costner directed and stars in this adaptation of David Brin's science fiction novel The Postman (1985), first published in 1982 issues of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Costner's return to directing after his Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves(1990) is a futuristic epic depicting the aftermath of a destructive war. Some 16 years from the present day, America has been turned into a wasteland of separated communities minus a national government. A vagabond (Costner) who travels through these little villages performing Shakespeare is captured by marauders known as the Holnists, and thrown into a totalitarian labor camp run by a Hitler-like dictator, General Bethlehem (Will Patton). Making an escape, the drifter, known to some as "Shakespeare," stumbles across an abandoned U.S. Postal Service jeep and dons the dead postal-worker's uniform. With a scheme simply to get food, he sets out to deliver 15-year-old mail, proclaiming himself The Postman, and discovers that residents accept his lies about a restored United States government because they desperately need something to believe in. This hope leads to the thought that perhaps the United States of America could indeed be restored, so an unusually inspired young man, Ford (Laren Tate) is deputized with the "Neither snow, nor rain..." oath to become the country's second Postman. At the town of Pineview, the attractive Abby (Olivia Williams), who has an impotent husband, asks The Postman to impregnate her. After Abby's husband is killed during a raid by Bethlehem, she is taken prisoner but injures Bethlehem and makes an escape. Pregnant, she spends the winter nursing the wounded Postman in a snowbound cabin. When spring comes, they emerge to discover that Ford has organized an entire squad of mail deliverers who regard The Postman as a mythical hero. The Postman reluctantly accepts his messianic role in the rebirth of the country, even as it becomes clear that the rebel force must ultimately battle and defeat the Holnist army in order to regain the American Dream. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Postman

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (3) | Rotten (32)

Audience Reviews for The Postman

  • Jul 22, 2013
    Its reputation suggests some kind of unwatchable monstrosity, in truth its just okay. See, I appreciate Costner's sort of plucky earnestness about the whole thing (in a weird way its a little refreshing to see a post-apocalyptic film that's about hope and the importance of community), I just which the movie wasn't drenched in buckets of sap.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 07, 2012
    Wow, Kevin Costner is quite the unlucky man when it comes to epics, because critics, including myself, tend to gobble that stuff up, and yet, Costner seems to be gunning to rival Charlton Heston, only for most every epic to critically fail miserably, except for "Dances with Wolves", and even then, people had a lot of problems, which is bogus, because I dug that film. Of course, I've also liked all of the other Costner epics I've seen, including this Razzie-sweeper, so maybe I'm not the most credible critic for Costner epics. What appears to be the most critically successful lengthy film he'd done is "JFK", which, in all fairness, is one heck of fluke, considering that it was almost three-and-a-half hours of people walking around and "talking" about someone getting shot, and yet, it was riveting. Meanwhile, this film that's just a bit under three hours and about some guy delivering mail to someone in a post-apocalyptic future is deemed by many as tedious. Well, in all fairness, that plot description really doesn't sound all that exciting, so maybe the only reason I didn't find it as dull as everyone says is because I kept imagining just how bad "JFK" would have been if it was about as exciting as its plot description. Of course, Oliver Stone is nowhere to be found around the director's chair, only Kevin Costner, who even I can tell is not all that exciting as an actor, alone, because as much as I really dug "Dances with Wolves", I too had some problems with it, and believe me, slowness was not at all absent from that list of problems, and with this film's screenplay being co-written by Eric Roth, one of the best epic screenwriters who often has his work on should-be masterpieces interpreted as glacially slow, it should go without saying that, on most occasions, when I say that this film isn't as slow as people say, that certainly doesn't entirely mean that it's not slow. No, this film's not actually being slow means that it's not slow. I don't know what to tell you, but this film, in my opinion, is not at all slow, much less boring, and yet, in all honesty, it remains rather aimless, not at all limping, yet roaming along in its progress, with only so many lifts and falls in the constant level of intrigue during its lengthy and at least structurally dynamic storyline, leaving the film's story structure to feel a tad uneven and the aformentioned intrigue to start losing a bit of juice, little by little, until it reaches its eventual kicks, and the occasional piece of excess material being among the good deal of editing faults isn't helping. In between, tensions continue to go hurt by the simple fact that the film is tainted by a degree of silliness that's not at all intense to the point of making the film seem dumb, yet there remain points where the film's sting goes pulled back, either by the occasional piece of cornball dialogue or fall-flat comic relief. Still, as you would imagine, the film does hit its fair share of serious points, yet even then, the intensity is occasionally diluted by an overbearingly saccharine tone that's often simply bothersome and occasionally, dare I say, embarassing. The film is bloated with unsubtlety, with even the storyline, as a whole, feeling a touch far-fetched, particularly when it comes to the heavily exaggerated villains, thus leaving the film predictable and rather cliched. There's much wrong with the film, I'm not denying that. Still, for what it is, this film delivers - postman pun not intended - more than it doesn't, on a visceral level. This film is not without its faults, yet as far as pure entertainment is concerned, this product fulfills its duties, being given a boost by the ambitions that it does live up to. I can go on all day saying, "Forget the Razzies" over what they "awarded" this film, but I've just got to really bring that hammer down over their giving this film's "score" Worst Soundtrack (The actual songs that also "won" aren't that bad either, corny though, they may be), for although James Newton Howard's compositions are not really among most original out there, they remain lively and diverse, with grand catchiness that really adds to the film's epic sweep. Something along those lines can be said about Stephen Windon's cinematography, which is not terribly unique, yet boasts a nifty scope that captures the endless dystopia of this post-apocalyptic world in a buyable fashion, while helping in making the occasional acting sequence sweepingly thrilling. Really, I can poke holes in each one of the Razzie's decisions on this film, for although the screenplay is quite spotty in points, it's generally well-structure (He may have co-written for "L.A. Confidential" the same year this film came out and gone on to write alone for "Mystic River", but considering that Brian Helgeland went on to direct and single-handedly write 2003's "The Order", I say Eric Roth is once again to thank for the best parts of the screenplay) and the not nomianated, yet still heavily criticized Will Patton does a fine job as a brutally harsh, yet uneasingly clever antagonist, even if his character is written to be much too exaggerated. As for Kevin Costner's direction, well, it is most certainly the weakest aspect of the film, disappointingly being the very thing that keeps it from being genuinely good, yet the film could fallen deeper into disaster were it not for the strengths within Costner's direction, as he is able keep the film afloat with general intrigue and consistent (Yes, I'm gonna say it) entertainment value, with some resonant moments to break up the charm of the film that goes spawned from not only Costner's direction, but also his performance. Costner's acting performance in this film is not at all one to evoke some of his finest, yet it is an underrated performance, nevertheless, because as much as I joke about him not being the most exciting actor around, when he's given room to charm, he can carry a mess. Well, sure enough, Costner is thoroughly and engagingly charismatic as the lead, capturing his defining charm and spiritedness, broken up by a degree of humanity that gives both his nameless character and, to a certain degree, the film emotional weight. As director, Costner remains the weakest link, yet as lead actor, he is merely one of the fair deal of considerable bright spots in the film that, at least for me, give it enough to strength to power on as an ultimately quite enjoyable effort. Overall, the film is no way dull, yet it is aimless, running a line of limited tonal diversity, creating a degree of unevenness within the contrastingly dynamic storyline, as well as some steam-loss within the intrigue, which goes further tainted by some amateur mistakes, from some bad editing moves to cheesy moments, that not only hurt the film's tension, but leave it rather cliched and unsubtle, yet the film ultimately transcends the sting of its mistakes through an epic sweep, complimented by James Newton Howard's particularly remarkable score work and a generally well-structure storyline, generally well told through Kevin Costner's flawed yet charming and, at times, engrossing direction, topped quite a bit by his electrically charismatic acting, thus leaving "The Postman" to generally deliver (Postman pun intended that time) as a thoroughly entertaining epic, in my debatable opinion. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 10, 2011
    Considering all the flack that The Postman has received, I'm surprised that I enjoyed the film, and that it is actually pretty good. The film is certainly better than what the mainstream critics have said about the film, and I think that this film is quite frankly underrated. The film is pretty entertaining, and has a pretty good cast to support the film. Kevin Costner tends to direct biog, sweeping epic style films, and though this isn't exactly Dances With Wolves, the story is quite grand. What surprised me about The Postman was Will Patton's performance, he was really intense on-screen, and he plays a great villain in any film he does. Patton lights up the screen, and he is a terrific antagonist. The Postman is a very good, underrated film that Costner fans should check out. The Postman is quite frankly underrated and it's a better film than what most critics have said. This film has a good story, despite the fact that it's not perfect, the film is entertaining and has a good cast to boot. The Postman is well constructed post-apocalyptic action drama that doesn't deserve the flack it has received. I agree that the film could have been much better, but for what it is, The Postman is good entertainment. Kevin Costner directs an entertaining film that is far better than what most people have said it would be. Watch this film with an open mind, and you be the judge. I enjoyed it, it's not perfect, but it definitely isn't awful.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Sep 01, 2008
    A little too long. Had they made this in 1/2 hour less time it might be a bit higher rated.
    Mr. C Super Reviewer

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