The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)
The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)
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Critic Reviews for The Colossus of Rhodes
It was a film remarkable enough, at a time when the peplums had just about reached the end of their particular line, to warrant good notices for its crowd and spectacle scenes.
It's not that any of this is specifically and irredeemably bad. It's just that none of it is very much good.
...Leone's first credited film as a director, and it shows clearly the course he was charting as a filmmaker.
This ludicrous costume epic complete with hambone acting is interesting to film buffs because it is an early work by the king of the spaghetti Westerns, director Sergio Leone.
Audience Reviews for The Colossus of Rhodes
This grandiose epic directed by Sergio Leone - his first film before he went on to perfect his craft with his well-known Spaghetti Westerns - relies mostly on its stunning visuals, complete with dazzling sets and costumes, and also features some nice action scenes.
We all have to start somewhere, and this is where Sergio Leone kicked off his directorial career. It's an epic scale swords and sandals type of affair that feels more like a campy/kitschy version of the lavish Hollywood Biblical epics from the previous decades than what Leone would produce a few years later. Yeah, it doesn't really fit in all that well with the rest of his work, and I get the feeling that he treated this as "just a gig", but it's still kind of fun, enjoyable, and has some decent moments. Actually, the whole movie is pretty much just that: a strung together set of moments and set pieces that feel pretty jumbled, and not very cohesive. There's not much of a strong narrative. Instead, we get a laundry list of everything you'd expect from a movie like this: conniving schemers, lots of slave torture and an eventual slave revolt, stadium fights, and the titular statue being awesome and destroying lots of stuff. Yeah, this sounds really nutty and goofy, but it is fun. It's not a great movie, and it is overlong, but it is a fascinating look at Leone's beginnings.
Okay, maybe "Colossus" is a tiny bit of an overstatement, or at least by Sergio Leone's runtime standards, because although 140 minutes is impressive by most everyone's standards, when I hear "Colossus" in the title of a Sergio Leone epic, I'm expecting something that would make Bernardo Bertolucci say, "seriously dude, tighten it up a bit." True, this film came out in the '60s, just before the Italian Cinema decided to be edgy and do stuff as crazy as films with massive runtimes, but really, I think that Italians were always into hip new things. Seriously, when you look at the Romans, they're walking around with fine new technology, clothing, shelter and mentality, and doing it all with cockey condescension over everyone else. I guess that means that Italians were the original hipsters, which would certainly explain the crazy facial hair. Okay, maybe I shouldn't be one making hipster jokes, because I just watched the Sergio Leone's Italian 1961 directorial debut that many will never hear of, let alone watch, unless they're into cult classics. Hey, I'm no hipster, though I must admit that they do have decent taste in films, and by that, I mean films to get a couple of unintentional chuckles from. This film, however, wasn't as deep into that batch as quite a few people are saying, being not much more cheesy than other dated epics of its type, which isn't to say that the cuckle-worthy slip-ups are the only things in this film that are same-old-same-old, as the film itself stands to be a bit more refreshing, even though being conventional is hardly the worst thing this film has to worry about. I joke about the film not quite living up to the "colossus" in its name, because the film does have a lot of content for its just barely reasonably large runtime of 140 minutes, though that didn't stop them from popping in a few dull scenes of nothing but meditation on nothingness, when it could have been using that meditation more on making the actual story flow more comfortably, because things feel a bit hurried. By that, I don't necessarily mean that the film feels all over the place, with exposition and story flow tainted by seemingly tossed together and rushed moments, as much as I mean that the film has too much momentum, though not quite enough of an intriguing force to make up for the limited meditation on story, leaving the layers to simply flow into each other and leave the film's transitions to go organic to a fault, as if it's cramming in too much. Now, it's not like the film doesn't slow down and just keeps on moving way more than it needs to, yet the film does feel a spot like it's in a hurry, and, quite often, in circles, at that, in that the film gets to be a bit repetitious, as well as hurried, making the shifts in focus that much more jarring. All of that cuts at the sweep and dynamicity of the film, leaving intrigue and resonance to take a blow, and one that continues to go intensified by the fact that the film is still just so familiar as a '50s-'60s epic of its type. The film has its unique concepts, yet more often than not drowns itself out with its problematic story structure, as well as its fall into being a tad too similar to some films of its type. However, while the film doesn't stand out from its category, it at least falls into the convention of being about as enjoyable as the other conventional films of its type. Now, the film is no "Quo Vadis", let alone a "Spartacus", but its hard to not stick with it, as it does ultimately impress in quite a number of regards, particularly style. The film is well-produced, with the elaborate and nifty production designs that defined films of this type and era, as well as made them so neat. It certainly adds to the action, which may only be occasionally sweeping in score, but more than makes up for that by pulling many a cool, dynamic trick in its action concepts and choreography, with the aforementioned production designs setting you further into the situation and handsome, very celverly-worked cinematography doing a good job of capturing it all in an exra attention-grabbing fashion. Still, with all of the limited scope and intrigue, this film needs to do more than look good if it's gonna keep you going between the action sequences. Well, sure enough, while he's not killing it all that consistently, director Sergio Leone manages to susatain your attention, flaunting the all-too occasional, yet still rather golden moment of that good ol' Italian audacity and taste in filmmaking, pulling a few story tricks that pull you in. Again, Leone is not consistent in his delivery, yet there are still very much nifty points of resonance, engagement and even some tension to break up a consistent workmanlike charm about the film. Leone makes no terribly big boom in his entrance into the wonderful work of stand-alone film directing, but he does show signs of knowing what he's doing more than your typical director of these types of films from way back when. With all the hurrying, conventions, repetition and speaking Italian (If you do watch the Italian version), the film engages and entertains considerably more often than it dismisses, and while the film is not one to remember all that much, it is one to check out for a quick but enjoyable run through the filler gallery of the '50s-'60s epic catalogue. In closing, the occasional collapse into conventions only slightly intensify the blow against intrigue, which already took enough damage from the drifting moments that break up the more prominent moments of hurrying and repetition that leave the film's should-be very refreshingly diverse layers to flow too much into each other and make the film somewhat bloated, leaving the picture rather underwhelming as an epic, yet through fine production and nifty style to compliment some rather impressive action sequences and a fair deal of relievingly impacing moments to break up a workmanlike engagement, "The Colossus of Rhodes" stands as a rather enjoyable piece of filler to serve as both a decent piece entertainment and introduction to the legendary Leone. 2.5/5 - Fair
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