Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Great Escape. C+

It's based off a true story-a serious one at that-and yet 'The Great Escape' is very light entertainment. It's designed much more as a rollicking prison camp adventure than a grim war picture. Now for the most part the movie is entertaining. But it's also predictable. I felt like I was watching a really long, much weaker version of 'Grand Illusion.' And this story is remarkably similar to Renoir's masterpiece. It's about a group of World War II prisoners in a German camp and their attempt to escape through an underground tunnel system. The movie's advertised star is Steve McQueen (an actor who I've never really liked), yet he doesn't seem very integral to the plotting of the tunnel system. His character is known for his attempts at escaping prison camps, and he does it several times before the movie is over. I never really saw him as a real hero. 'The Great Escape' is sort of confusing. The escape plan is constantly being arranged and rearranged and some of the details are hard to pick up. But as long as you get the prisoner's ultimate goal, it doesn't matter too much. This movie is nearly three hours-far too long for the story it's telling. The whole time I knew that they would eventually at least make an attempt at escaping, so it was hard to really care about all the details. Another problem I had was that the movie hardly focused on character development at all. I don't want to spend three hours just watching a plot unfold. There is no doubt that the picture is well made. Elmer Bernstein's score is a memorable one, and cinematographer Daniel Fapp captures the European countryside nicely during the final hour of the movie. And that last hour is really good, even if it does make the movie drag. But overall I wasn't impressed by 'The Great Escape.' I've seen better war camp movies, and just better movies-period.

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