Monday, January 7, 2008

The Great Debaters Review

Though plot and screenplay-wise it's sort of like a mash-up of a cliche sports movie and a Hallmark channel special event, it works thanks to inspired direction from Denzel Washington and extremely strong performances. Washington has grown, visually,...(read more) as a director since Antwone Fisher. Some of his scenes are beautifully crafted and he has coaxed magnificent performances out of his surprisingly superb cast. Both principles, Washington and Whitaker, are very strong. Their mutual scenes have a nice snap, especially a scene set at a family party. In that scene their verbal rapport is one of the best small scenes this year. The three main students, and the supporting ones as well, are very strong. Newcomer Denzel Whitaker (unrelated to Forest) gives a surprisingly nice turn in what would, in most movies, come off as the 'comic relief'. Nate Parker gives a wonderfully intense role, somewhat reminiscent of Derek Luke in Antwone Fisher, that works without becoming a caricature. Jurnee Smollett is also strong without turning into the cliche her character is designed as. I would prefer to not see anymore Oprah productions I think, though, if they're even close to as cliched as this one...

Overall Score: 7/10

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