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Million Dollar Baby

2006-03-30 12:57

And here we have the "The Karate Kid" of boxing, a serious take on the inspirational type of story that follows the underdog contender from zero to hero, only this time with Hilary Swank as the Kid, and Clint Eastwood as a tortured Mr Miyagi. Oh, and not forgetting a whole bunch of Academy Awards.

Clint Eastwood's a crotchety old trainer whose protege deserts him just before he makes it big. And if that's not bad enough, he has issues with his daughter. And God. Clint is a man very much more sinned against than sinning, it seems. But not to worry, Morgan Freeman, freshly paroled from the set of the "Shawshank Redemption", sets him up, via cunning use of guilt, with Hilary Swank - who wants to be a boxing champion. As fate would have it, the young lady has issues relating to her father's death. What a fit!

Clint really, really doesn't want to train Maggie; but Maggie really, really wants to be a fighter and, as soon as she slips under his guard, the race for the world championship is on!

Maggie - my darling, Clint calls her eventually - is a natural, you see. Most of her opponents don't last through the first round, and soon she is, indeed, the "Million Dollar Baby". Until she finds the world title defender to be a lot nastier, crueller and more vicious than she and Clint bargained for.

It's always an odd experience, when you're watching a film that's been hailed by critics and audiences - and awards shows - as a masterpiece, to have it slowly dawn upon you - to your alarm- that what you're seeing is an imperial old codger taking off his clothes, item by item, neatly folding them up and putting them beside him, and then standing up in front a seemingly awestruck crowd. Butt-naked. But solemn and austere as can be. The crowd goes wild, and you're sitting there thinking: oh lordy, that's one nude dude.

It isn't the acting that's off. Eastwood and Swank are fine actors, and Swank's often got my vote in a best Actress showdown (not this year though, thanks to Kate Winslet - but so much for that idea). Morgan Freeman is also a good actor, but here - Oscar wins notwithstanding - he's just trotting out the wise but damaged mentor role - again! Eastwood's direction isn't off, either. But the writing is pretty much by the numbers. I wouldn't go so far as to say the characters are cardboard cut-outs, though Maggie's trailer trash family are disappointingly one-dimensional, even for stereotypes, but there's little real depth to be seen in the main characters.

"Karate Kid", now there was a film... How Ralph Maccio was never even nominated for an Oscar is beyond me. Never mind, Hilary Swank would probably have kicked Ralph's ass, even with the one-legged praying-mantisy hop-on-a-pole move Mr Miyagi showed him.

Wax on, Mr Eastwood.

- By Matthew du Plessis

For all its fine actors and serious intentions Clint Eastwood's zero-to-hero boxing movie doesn't live up to all its Oscars.

Pow Wow 2005/03/10 11:01 AM
Can't believe it won so many Oscars! I don't even like boxing, but the boxing scenes were the only ones I really enjoyed in this film! It was like watching a maudlin Hallmark Channel made-for-TV movie, but with better acting and production values. Hilary Swank going 'Yes, Boss. Whatever you say boss." And cue nasty, greedy family plus tragic event. Ag shame, violins playing. And there's a narrative the whole way through. Maybe 0.1% of good movies have a narrative (and then it's vital to the story / dramatic effect being created), because you should be able to communicate the story through brilliant film-making, not a voiceover - it's the first thing you learn at film school for goodness sake! I saw this movie months ago, before all the hype, so I did not even have any expectations, yet it was rather disappointing considering the cast. And Clint Eastwood should quit the plastic surgery - he's starting to look like Mr. Miyagi. Garden State - best comedy of the year
sean 2005/03/11 11:06 AM
million dollar babe just a 'well done" to Matthew. it's refreshing to hear honest reviews. When I heard oscar results and reviews i was very curious. so yes thank for honest and descriptive reviews. in the name of the father
E 2005/03/11 1:24 PM
Million Dollar Baby Hilary Swank actually had the lead role in The Next Karate Kid or Karate Kid IV. According to an article on Ralph Macchio, 'Karate Kid' star, claimed Hilary Swank is so tough she used to beat him up. So, you were right about that.
Jenny 2005/03/11 3:35 PM
Million Dollar Baby BRILLIANT!!!!!
Raleen Bagg 2005/03/13 10:30 AM
Million Dollar Stillborn Baby Plenty of punches but no punch. Mawkish and manipulative. Matthew's succinct review displayed more creativity, insight and flair than the overstated movie. Movie I'd recomend is anything that did not win an Oscar this year.
Cathy 2005/03/15 3:50 PM
Mrs Absolutely brilliant. Definetely
Ashley Short 2005/03/22 12:36 PM
MILLION DOLLAR BABY An excellent thought provoking movie. It thoroughly deserves every Oscar it won. I would recommend it to anyone who has a soul.
Ashley Short 2005/03/22 12:38 PM
MILLION DOLLAR BABY Excellent thought provoking movie. I would recommend it to anyone who has a soul. Your reviewer has missed the boat. MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Real Life 2005/03/22 2:51 PM
Reality as we don't like to know it! What an escapism/pseudo Holywood-meets-East Karate movie has in common with MILLION DOLLAR BABY is exactly zero. No where in the movie is "nudity" an issue, what a strange analogy? Swank is outstanding! As her character develops, always her cheap & nasty past hovers like a bad odour, but her courage & determination raise her to a level, clearly beyond which her family are capable of aspiring to. There is plenty of emtion, subtle in it's despair, resentment and hope. Finally it is tragedy that releases both souls to follow a new journey. This is not a "happily ever after" candyfloss movie. See it "quietly" without trying to be impressive.
dfx 2005/03/24 3:14 PM
as asd asd
Olive 2005/03/30 4:11 PM
MILLION DOLLAR BABY This film did not deserve to win the best picture oscar or Hilary Swank best actress( all she really said was "Yes Boss")!!!! It was quite boring, slow and the acting not that great. Very disappointing . Finding Neverland
Angie 2006/12/21 12:06 PM
Million Tears Baby Moving and heart renching. Excellent. Leaves you with that saddness that lingers for days every time you think about it. *****
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