Invictus Gives it a Good Try

Human Factor


At first I was really interested in seeing this, since the last Rugby movie I saw (Forever Strong) was like a good Lifetime film. But after reading some of the reviews and hearing some strong disapproving comments from my peers who said this is another Lifetime film made me almost skipped it.

Well I’m glad I saw it in theaters, it was a jolly good time.  I never once felt that the movie was made for TV, and overall enjoyed it.  Its nothing Oscar worthy, and I’ve really got no idea about the true life aspect of it, it was just a fun sports movie with a twist.  Its a sports movie from the perspective of Nelson Mandela rather then the typical star player approach.  Sure that aspect is there through Matt Damon’s character, Francois Pienaar, but its more of a side story then the main event.

Other then that its a pretty paint by numbers sports movie, it was just enjoyable and I felt all the cast did an excellent job.  Damon’s South African accent was really good (Leo should take note) and Freeman gave the best performance he’s given since Shawshank.  As for Clints directing?  It was fine, nothing fancy, maybe too many start low then move high shots.  But overall it was simple and effective.

The only real standout odd moment was the 1970s airplane heist thriller that happened for 5 minutes out of nowhere right before the big match.  Its stupid but the pay off is funny, that’s one of those events were I would like to know if it really happened or not.

As for the Rugby. Well it turned out better then I thought it would, but lack of line outs was sad because those are a lot of fun for everyone.  I felt all the actors looked and acted like Rugby players, the practices and games looked like actual Rugby games.  Clint’s attempt to put you INTO the game was ok, he really only bothers to do it with the final match.  What I did really like about it though was the fact that it felt REAL.  That Matt Damon and his team where playing for a live audience.  Most sports movies typically shot from certain angles as to not show the audience because they don’t have enough to fill the stands or the stands looks really fake.  Unfortunately our projectionist was a bit blind and the whole movie was kind of blurry for everyone I went with, so I could not really tell if the audience was just CGI or real people.  But the matches worked for me, made me want to put on my rugger shorts again.

Overall it’s just a solid run of the mill sports film, its a feel good hit and if you want to enjoy it you will, if you want to get upset over its contrivances or lack of emotional weight of the story for a Nelson Mandela film then you will.  Maybe I should expect more from Clint Eastwood/Morgan Freeman/Matt Damon, but to see none of them show boating and just putting on a good time worked for me.

Oh yeah one last thing, someone tell Chiwetel Ejiofor to look out because Tony Kgoroge is gunning for his career.  Tony played Mandela’s lead body guard and the body guard’s side story added to the enjoyable nature of the film.

Clint Eastwood Topless

Not getting flabby with age?

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About koutchboom


27 responses to “Invictus Gives it a Good Try”

  1. Droid says :

    I saw this last night. It was okay. It did feel a bit “light” though. Funny that the only way they could make a Mandela film was via a sports flick.

    The Rugby scenes felt too staged for my liking. It didn’t capture the thuggery.

    I think overall it felt a bit passionless.

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah I read what you put, and I agree about wanting it to have felt like Any Given Sunday. But this wasn’t that film. This film was about Mandela.

      Plus Rugby really isn’t thuggy during game play, especially at that level. I like that the rugby at least felt real.

      Passionless, maybe, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen Freeman give a real performence. The movie was all about him.

      Also the body guards were really good.

      • Droid says :

        I say thuggery, but what I mean is that I didn’t feel the impact of the hits. Rugby, stupid game that it is, is undeniably brutal. It’s big blokes running full steam ahead into a wall of other, equally big blokes. I didn’t get that from the film. There were at least three shots of tackles where the tackler obviously wasn’t trying to actually land the tackle.

        And just because I didn’t say it enough in that last sentence…


      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah going against that Kiwi. I saw that, where they just sort of lunged at him.

        Also like I said the lack of any dramatic line outs. Maybe Clint had no idea whats going on with them like everyone else who’s never played the game.

        I HOPE that this opens the door to a good just solid Rugby movie. I’ve always wanted to make a documentary about college rugby in America. Because A) I played it, B) They are usually the biggest clubs on any given campus, C) most of them are fully student run with no coaches.

  2. Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

    Passionless is a perfect description of the movie. Glad you liked it Koutch. And you’re right, Damon’s accent was surprisingly great.

  3. Jarv says :

    Hmmm, well, I still don’t buy Damon as Pienaar.

    Good review Koutch

  4. koutchboom says :

    Also though Droid, the tackles in rugby aren’t nearly as dramatic as they are in football. You’d really have to do some stylish slow mo shit to get the full effect of a Rugby tackle.

    • Jarv says :

      I don’t know Koutch- I can think of 2 tackles straight off the top of my head that were massively dramatic- the game’s changed and the culture of big hitting has really come to the fore.

      The Kiwi’s Spear Tackle on O’Driscoll (nasty: youtube it), and Henson on Matthew Tait.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah thats like 2 tackles in forever.

        In football you can easily make every hit dramatic. I’m just saying, even the small hits in football are dramatic. Small tackles in rugby aren’t very hard hitting…and usually those are the ones that hurt the most.

      • Jarv says :

        No- honestly, the change in the last 5 years is frightening. Big hits where a player is really lined up and dumped on his ass are commonplace now. Those 2 are just 2 really famous ones.

      • koutchboom says :

        Hmmm I haven’t watched a game in forever. I’ll have to see. I just know that even when I watch crappy football I’ll see at least 10+ hits a game that are good.

      • Jarv says :

        Christ, don’t watch England then- it’ll put you off forever.

        The 6 Nations are coming up- Wales v France will be a good game with some big fucking hits in it.

        England v Ireland might be but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  5. Jarv says :

    Also, the rules have changed quite a lot as have tactics, especially round competing for the ball.

  6. Continentalop says :

    A good Rugby tackle is the one that French caveman did during their championship season (can’t remember his name). But American Football has more dramatic hits thanks to the pads. It is the nature of the game.

    Gridiron football is a game of colissions; rugby is a game of attrition. One is all knockout punches; the other is just a barrage of body shots and neverending slaps, kicks and hits until you give up.

  7. koutchboom says :

    Yeah its always funny to see a Football player walk onto a Rugby practice. They are dying like 10 minutes into it.

    Wrestles make for natural Rugby players though.

    • Continentalop says :

      The opposite is true for rugby players too. I knew this English bloke who played rugby and he told me how he come to the states and tried football. Said he thought American football players were pussies for wearing all the pads.

      Then he got his bell rung by a 270lbs DE.

      Of course, the same happens to football players who are unprepared for rugby. You might not have as many big impacts, but they make up the amount of force with painful grinding of bone and sinew. Those huddles are like voluntarily being put on the rack or crushed under stones…

  8. Bartleby says :

    good review Koutch. I ‘liked’ this, but thats about it.

    I think that for a movie about Mandela, it should have been so much better and bigger.

    I’m not as interested in rugby, and maybe as a rugby film it works, but as possibly the only film we will get about this particular historical time, it’s a letdown and a disappointment from Eastwood.

    • Continentalop says :

      Bartleby, it’s funny but I had the exact opposite reaction. To me Mandela’s life story and presidency is so big and momentous I doubt any movie could it credit.

      For me Clint did for Nelson Mandela and South Africa what he did for Imperial Japan during WWII: take a single event and use that as a microcosm for the larger issues. Forgiveness, understanding, the power of symbols, looking for positive examples and finding something to band people together are all present here, and in a size that audience members can digest.

  9. jarv says :

    Outside centre

    Because I’m soft

  10. kloipy says :

    great review, but the picture at the end of it is pure beauty…oh wait that’s not Lady Salma

  11. herr milflover says :

    This movie is totally uninteresting to me.

    They should have gone with a Longest Yard kind of story, where Mandela and other political prisoners challenge the Apartheid leaders to a rugby game, with the stakes being their freedom if they win!

    That I’d pay to see!

  12. Tom_Bando says :

    Why do I have this image of our old friend Animal Parts there suggesting they do a West Side Story knockoff w/ this, having the Kaffirs and the Klan play one another–?

    As I said he deserved severe beat downs for his stuff, so I’ll park that line and get back to inbibing the AM caffeine here–

  13. ThereWolf says :

    Good one, Boom. I’ll probably wait for the DVD and borrow it off someone. I’ve never paid much attention to rugby to be honest…

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